Welcome to the Showa Timeline. Here, you will find a chronological listing for all the major events seen in the classic Toho series that started it all. Information from this timeline has been pulled from the all 15 Godzilla features (listed below) produced between 1954 and 1975, a collection of other Toho kaiju/science fiction films (also listed below), several official Toho reference books/publications, art books, shooting scripts, promotional material, interviews, and more. Sources will be noted where applicable.
(NOTE: This timeline is still very much a work in progress. Currently, the only material present below pertains to events leading up to those of the original 1954 Godzilla. Additions pertaining to further events are coming soon. Furthermore, since this is such a vast universe of films, new research on how these events fit together is being done between updates. Determining which classic Showa films are “canon” to the Godzilla franchise is one of this project’s biggest challenges, and the inclusion of each potential film must be decided based on as little theorizing and “head-canon” as possible. That said, discrepancies within the continuity are inevitable, and filling in those gaps is part of the fun. Any conjecture on my part will be noted as such. More such instances will be included as the timeline continues to grow and be updated. Until then, enjoy!)
Timeline at a Glance
Owing to the vastness of the Showa universe (and the debatable nature of many of its films), I’ve included a couple of handy lists worth considering before diving into the full timeline.
The first of these lists is a full list of the Showa-era Toho films (and one TV show) considered by this timeline to exist in the same universe. This is by no means a “definitive” list, as arguments can be made for the inclusion of other films and the exclusion of films included below. That said, based on years of research and interest in the subject, it’s my belief that the below list is the most inclusive list possible when attempting to acknowledge the greatest number of films. Once again, I must stress that this is by no means a 100% accurate, Toho-approved list of canon films. It is, however, a fun and (hopefully) entertaining one.
The second list places these films in an in-universe chronological order. One of the guidelines for this timeline is the assumption that – unless otherwise stated in a specific film or in officially-published material about said film – each film takes place in the year it was produced. This is a safe assumption for many of the films, but not so for others. A good example of the former would be the original Godzilla, which is generally accepted as taking place in 1954, the year of its production. The best example of the latter is definitely Destroy All Monsters, which takes place in 1999 despite having been produced in 1968. Some dates are debatable (such as Monster Zero‘s “196X”, for example), but in these cases, I’ve employed Occam’s Razor and assumed that the simplest explanation – that it takes place the year it was made – is the correct explanation.
Finally, the third list compiles the Showa-era Toho kaiju/sci-fi/horror/fantasy films that were not included in this timeline for various reasons. Some of these omissions may be a bit surprising at first glance (including All Monsters Attack and Gorath, among others), but the reasoning behind each film’s omission was determined after careful consideration and research. Gorath, for example, cannot exist in the same universe as the Godzilla films due to its depiction of the moon’s destruction. Since the moon is a major setting in Destroy All Monsters, the two films’ universes are incompatible. If anyone is curious about the reasons why certain films were left out, please feel free to reach out to me and ask away. Who knows, you may convince me to include them!
It’s also worth noting that, while the films in the timeline below may represent one continuous continuity, they were never planned to be as such. In other words, Toho never set out in 1954 to make a closely-knit, Marvel-style shared universe of monster movies. The “Showaverse” that eventually evolved (beating Marvel to the punch by decades, of course!) did so organically, film by film. This means that connecting many of these movies reveals cracks in the continuity, and accepting that such cracks exist is by no means a slight against the era’s films or the people who made them. On the contrary, I think this is where the fun of assembling a Showa timeline really begins! Joining these films together in a cohesive way is a creative challenge, and with a little imagination (and thankfully, more than a few hard facts), connecting the proverbial dots is not only possible, but fun. So, let the fun begin!
Half Human (1955)
Godzilla Raids Again (1955)
King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)
Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964)
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)
Invasion of Astro-Monster (Monster Zero) (1965)
War of the Gargantuas (1966)
Ebirah: Horror of the Deep (Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster) (1966)
King Kong Escapes (1967)
Son of Godzilla (1967)
Destroy All Monsters (1968)
Latitude Zero (1969)
Space Amoeba (1970)
Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
Zone Fighter (26 episodes) (1973)
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
Chronological Film Order
Godzilla – 1954
Half Human – 1955
Godzilla Raids Again – 1955
Rodan – 1956
Varan – 1958
Frankenstein Conquers the World – 1960
Mothra – 1961
King Kong vs. Godzilla – 1962
Matango – 1963
Atragon – 1963
Mothra vs. Godzilla – 1964
Dogora – 1964
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster – 1965
Monster Zero – 1965
War of the Gargantuas – 1966
Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster – 1966
King Kong Escapes – 1967
Son of Godzilla – 1967
Latitude Zero – 1969
Space Amoeba – 1970
Godzilla vs. Hedorah – 1971
Godzilla vs. Gigan – 1972
Godzilla vs. Megalon – 1973
Zone Fighter (26 episodes) – 1973
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla – 1974
Terror of Mechagodzilla – 1975
Destroy All Monsters – 1999
Invisible Man (1954)
The Mysterians (1957)
The Mutant Trilogy (1958-1960)
Battle in Outer Space (1959)
The Three Treasures (1959)
All Monsters Attack (1969)
The Bloodthirsty Trilogy (1970-1974)
The War in Space (1977)
Sayonara Jupiter (1984)
Princess from the Moon (1987)
Various disaster/war movies
PART 1: PREHISTORY
Carboniferous Period (Between 358.9 and 298.9 MYA)
- An increase in oxygen levels on Earth leads to a proliferation of gigantic insect species, including cat-sized spiders, three-meter-long centipedes, and giant dragonflys known as the Meganula. Masters of areal hunting, these immense insects protected their larvae by burying their eggs deep underground, insuring their protection from other predators. (NOTE: Meganula are, of course, real animals that existed during this era, although their size and abilities would be greatly exaggerated for their roles in Toho’s monster films.)
Jurassic Period (Between 201.3 and 145 MYA)
- The reign of the reptiles on planet Earth is at its peak; the cold-blooded creatures have evolved to fill a myriad of different ecological niches, and have diversified into many different varieties, including the marine reptiles, the flying Pterosaurs, and the mighty dinosaurs. During this time, there exists a species of theropod dinosaur, a holdover from ancient times that represents an intermediary point in evolution between land-dwelling and sea-dwelling. This creature, capable of effective hunting and locomotion on both the land and in the water, would come to reside in the lands that would one day transform into the islands of the South Pacific Ocean, virtually unchanging physically or behaviorally for millions of years.
Cretaceous Period (65 MYA)
- The KT Event causes a mass extinction on planet Earth. The ecological fallout following the massive meteor strike in the Gulf of Mexico wipes out more than 65% of all life across the globe. Very few of the diverse reptilian species that dominated the planet survive, with the majority of holdouts being aquatic species such as crocodilians and sea turtles. However, in isolated places spread across the planet, small breeding populations of several large reptile species (including the ankylosaurs, pteranodon, and several species of theropod dinosaurs) continue to live, and will cling to existence for millions of years as the world around them continues to change. (NOTE: The KT Event is, of course, a very real cataclysm that nearly wiped out life on Earth. While most paleontologists agree that the dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and nearly all of the marine reptiles perished during or soon after the event, things didn’t quite go that way in the Toho universe…)
Between 7 Million and 5 MYA
- The first modern human beings appear on planet Earth after millions of years of mammalian evolution.
Between 1,000,000 BCE and 10,000 BCE
- Various populations of ancient creatures begin either entering a state of dormancy or seeking out new places to live and breed. Giant beasts from various periods of prehistory become sealed underground, cut off from the surface world, and begin a multi-million year slumber. Other creatures retreat to mysterious ecosystems deep underwater or take up residence on newly-formed islands. These creatures come in many forms: some are reptilian, able to burrow, swim, or even fly. Others are insect-like, and several emerged from mammalian ancestry. Many are dinosaurian, and others appear as the dragons and monsters of mankind’s myths. Among these immense beings is one – the intermediary organism that emerged in the Jurassic Period – who will one day rise to become the king of all earth’s monsters… (NOTE: Determining which Showa-era monsters likely emerged or existed daring this time is a tricky puzzle to assemble. Between the fall of the dinosaurs and the beginning of the 20th Century, at least 15 or 16 different monsters exist on Earth (at least when acknowledging the films included in this version of the timeline). Among these monsters are Godzilla (at least three of them survive to the Atomic Age, including Minilla) Anguirus (again, two), Rodan (at least two, arguably three), a bunch of Meganulon, Varan (two), Baragon (two), Manda (potentially two), Gorosaurus (again, likely two), Titanosaurus, and potentially King Kong, Megalon, and Mothra. With such little information on where many of these monsters came from, it’s up to the reader to use their imagination and connect the pieces themselves. Try it, it’s fun!)
- An advanced human culture develops in the area that will one day be known as the South Pacific. The civilization, possessed of scientific advancements unknown to other primitive peoples, occupies a massive continent in the region, and declare themselves the Mu Empire. Ultimately, Mu meets an untimely demise at the hands of a cataclysm that sinks much of their continent into the sea. However, the people and much of their infrastructure survive the catastrophe, and the now underwater civilization would soon rebuild their empire, constructing an artificial sun and continuing to exist for tens of thousands of years. (NOTE: Mu occupies the same place in the myths and legends of Asia that Atlantis, Lemuria, and Hyperborea do in other cultures. The exact time of its supposed existence and demise is unknown, and has therefore been placed in a wide time window to allow for reader interpretation.)
- Within this same timeframe, a second advanced civilization also suffers destruction from a great cataclysm. Like Mu, this civilization survives and rebuilds under the ocean, adopting the same of “Seatopia”. (NOTE: It’s unknown what relationship – if any – Seatopia has with Mu. It’s entirely possible that the same cataclysm wiped both civilizations out, and equally as possible that the two were somehow connected culturally and technologically (both developed artificial suns, for example) before or after they sank. Perhaps Seatopia was a colony of Mu, or, as is implied in the 1973 film Godzilla vs. Megalon, was more related to the lost continent of Lemuria. Either way, the presence of mostly Caucasian inhabitants in Seatopia contrasts with the Asian population of Mu, making any close cultural connection between the two unlikely. In the end, accepting 1963’s Atragon as part of the Showa timeline means accepting that two potentially unrelated advanced civilizations exist beneath the surface of the ocean… both with artificial suns, both with monster gods, and both with ambitions of surface invasion. And things are about to get even more crowded as the timeline continues…)
- An ancient, Paleolithic culture settles to become the first inhabitants of the land mass that will one day be known as the Japanese Archipelago.
- A Neolithic hunter-gatherer culture develops in Japan, which includes the earliest ancestors of the Yamato and Ainu peoples.
Between 5,000 BCE and 1900 CE
- A series of small cultures begin to spring up across the South Pacific, Philippine, and Polynesian Islands that center around the worship of gigantic, god-like beings that call their respective islands home. These include the islands that will one day be known as Odo, Faro, Infant, Mondo, Selgio, and Okinawa. (NOTE: The exact origins of these monsters are, in most cases, unknown, as are the specifics of the religions that formed around them. However, this isn’t an oversight; the backstories of many of these Monsters and cultures – such as Mothra and her worshipers on Infant Island – were kept intentionally vague as part of the storytelling. Keeping these origins mysterious made the monsters mysterious in turn, and in many cases, this mystery helped them succeed as characters in their respective films. The mystery, as they say, is part of the fun!)
- A small mountainous region in the center of Japan, which will one day be known as the “Tibet of Japan, begins its multi-generation reverence for a dreaded monster-god known as “Baradagi”, a creature said to bring death upon all who gaze upon him.
- A tribe of isolated mountain people form their society around the worship of an increasingly rare race of large, hairy humanoid creatures who make their home in the snowy peaks of the Japanese Alps.
Between 3,000 BCE and 2,000 BCE
- The planet Venus in what will one day be known as the Milky Way Galaxy is besieged by a horrific space monster: a three-headed destroyer of worlds known as King Ghidorah. The planet’s entire, highly advanced civilization is wiped out in a single day, and Venus is rendered a toxic wasteland of poisonous gasses and barren landscapes. The remaining Venusian population – a race of prophetic humanoids – flee their world and emigrate to the nearby Earth. (NOTE: This horrific event is detailed by Princess Salno – herself a decendent of Venusian refugees – in the 1964 film Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster. In the dialogue, she identifies the timeframe as being 4,000 years before the events of the film, hence its placement of between 2,000 and 3,000 BCE on this timeline.)
- Over centuries of assimilation and interbreeding with humans on Earth, the decedents of the Venusians who escaped their dying world began to gradually lose their high intelligence, with only their ability to foresee the future remaining in select individuals over the succeeding generations. (NOTE: This veers into “fan theory” territory, but might the presence of Venusian prophetic powers in present day humans explain the behavior of other characters in the Godzilla franchise, such as little Ken Yano from Godzilla vs. Hedorah and Princess Nami from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla? Who knows…)
Between 500 BCE and 2,000 CE
- The primitive people of Okinawa construct a divine guardian to protect their kingdom. The hairy giant is sealed away, and his fate is entrusted to the Azumi royal family. (NOTE: The exact timeframe of King Caesar’s construction – and just how/by whom that construction was done – is unknown. What is known is that the monster isn’t flesh and blood, but rather a golem-like automation made of brick, mortar, and machinery. This fact is known thanks to cutaway art of the monster that has appeared in official Toho publications.)
- The Island of Okinawa is besieged by invaders from mainland Asia. The invasion is thwarted when a member of the Azumi royal family is able to summon a mighty monster – a hairy golem-like beast made in the image of the Shisa – to defend them. Following the Okinawan’s victory, the monster – dubbed King Shisa (or Caesar) – returns to its slumber, and a prophesy detailing his eventual return is passed down for generations among the Azumi family. (NOTE: There is no documented invasion of Okinawa before the year 1291, when Mongolia attempted to conquer the island. Dialogue in the film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla places the emergence of King Caesar “thousands of years ago”, making the only 700-year-old Mongolian invasion an unlikely candidate for the invasion in question. Furthermore, Okinawan culture only dates back to 500 BCE, making their entire history a relatively-brief 2,500 years. These discrepancies can easily be explained by accepting that Okinawan history went a bit differently in the Showa universe than it did in our own.)
- A statue bearing the likeness of King Caesar – and the prophesy of his return – is sealed away in what will eventually become the Gyokusendo caves in Okinawa.
- The beginnings of true Japanese culture emerge with the start of the Heian Period.
- Craig McKenzie, future captain of the Alpha submarine and figurehead of the undersea utopia known as Latitude Zero, is born. (NOTE: In the 1969 film Latitude Zero, McKenzie states that he is 204 years old. This would place his birthday in the year 1765, although the exact date and location of his birth are unknown.)
- A baby boy named Malic, future madman, designer of the Black Shark submarine, and hopeful world conqueror, is born. (NOTE: In the 1969 film Latitude Zero, McKenzie states that Malic, his arch nemesis, is 203 years old. This would place his birthday in the year 1766, although the exact date and location of his birth are unknown. Malic’s full name is also unknown. Like McKenzie, he appears to have aged shockingly well.)
Between 1800 and 1900
- A scientist in Europe begins experimenting with reanimating dead tissue. He eventually succeeds in creating a living being with an immortal heart. Over time, the creature created of the man known as Dr. Frankenstein is “killed” on numerous occasions, only to rise again when his heart is properly nourished with protein and other energies. The heart eventually makes its way to Germany, where it is studied for decades. (NOTE: While no previously-created Frankenstein story is confirmed as being cannon to the events of 1965’s Frankenstein Conquers the World, a version of the events first written about in Mary Shelly’s immortal novel must’ve occurred in this timeline. Since the novel was first published in 1818, I’ve decided to place these vague events sometime between 1800 and 1900. I’ve also kept the location of these events vague; while it might be easy to simply cite Germany as the birthplace of Frankenstein’s monster, the novel sees the creature’s creation take place is Geneva. The exact specifics of this version of the story are therefore up to you, the reader, to decide.)
- An advanced prototype submarine dubbed the Alpha is launched from Hebrides, Scotland. (NOTE: In the film, a plaque on the Alpha’s bridge denotes its launch date as being an incredible 164 years before the events of the film in 1969. How this is possible is – like so many other things in the film – never explained. It’s unknown if the Alpha had any connection to Latitude Zero at the time of its launch, or if the undersea utopia even existed at the time. It’s also unknown whether or not its famous captain, Craig McKenzie, was at the helm on its first day. If he was, he would’ve been a sprightly 40, a relatively young age for a man who lived to at least 204.)
- March 31
- The “Black Ships” of United States Navy Commodore Perry arrive on the Japanese coast, signaling a forced opening of the nation to the outside world and the onset of a period of rapid modernization, Westernization, and cultural upheaval.