Part one, “Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France,” is set in 1941. SS-Standartenführer Hans Landa interrogates French dairy farmer Perrier LaPadite as to the whereabouts of the last unaccounted-for Jewish family in the area, the Dreyfus family. Landa suspects that they are hiding under the floor and, in exchange for the Germans agreeing to leave his family alone for the rest of the war, LaPadite reluctantly confirms it. Landa orders his SS soldiers to shoot through the floorboards, killing all but one of the Dreyfus family; Shosanna, the daughter, escapes. As she runs, Col. Landa decides to spare her.
Part two, “Inglorious Basterds,” is set three years later. Lieutenant Aldo Raine of the First Special Service Force rounds up and recruits Jewish-American soldiers to the Basterds, a paramilitary unit formed to instill fear among the German soldiers by killing and scalping them. The Basterds include Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz and Sergeant Hugo Stiglitz, a rogue German soldier who murdered thirteen Gestapo officers. In Germany, Adolf Hitler interviews a young German soldier, Private Butz, the only survivor of a Basterd attack on his squad, who reveals the details of the attack and that Raine carved a swastika into Butz’s forehead with a knife so he could never hide that he served in the German Heer.
In part three, “German Night in Paris,” Shosanna Dreyfus is living in Paris four years after the murder of her family, operating a cinema under the name “Emmanuelle Mimieux”. She meets Fredrick Zoller one night as she is setting up for movies. Seemingly the next day, she learns about his reputation as a war hero. Zoller is a celebrated German sniper who killed 250 soldiers in a single battle and stars in a Nazi propaganda film, Stolz der Nation (Nation’s Pride). Infatuated with Shosanna, Zoller convinces Joseph Goebbels to hold the premiere of the film at her cinema. Landa, who is the head of security for the premiere, interrogates Shosanna about how she acquired the cinema at such a young age while giving hints that he may know who she is. Landa ultimately forgets his most important question and leaves her to proceed with the premiere. Shosanna plots with her Afro-French lover and projectionist, Marcel, to set the cinema ablaze during the premiere and kill the Nazi leaders who will attend.
In part four, “Operation Kino,” Intelligence Corps Lieutenant Archie Hicox is recruited to lead Operation Kino, a British plan to attack the premiere with the Basterds. Hicox, along with Basterds Stiglitz and Wilhelm Wicki, goes to a basement tavern in German-occupied northern France to meet an undercover agent who will be attending the premiere in Paris, the German film star Bridget von Hammersmark. Hicox inadvertently draws the attention of Wehrmacht Sergeant Wilhelm and Gestapo Major Dieter Hellström with his unusual German accent and mannerisms; he ultimately gives himself away by using a British hand gesture. Their covers blown, Stiglitz and Hicox shoot Hellström, triggering a gunfight that kills everyone in the tavern except Sergeant Wilhelm and von Hammersmark, who is shot in the leg. Raine arrives and negotiates with Wilhelm for von Hammersmark’s release, but she shoots Wilhelm when he lowers his guard. Raine, believing von Hammersmark set Hicox and his men up, tortures von Hammersmark, who convinces him that she is not a spy and reveals that Hitler will also be attending the film premiere. Raine decides to continue the mission. Later, Landa investigates the aftermath at the tavern and finds von Hammersmark’s shoes and a napkin with her signature.
Part five, “Revenge of the Giant Face,” takes place at the premiere. Omar Ulmer, Donny and Raine, who have explosives with timers strapped to their ankles, pose as Italian guests of von Hammersmark, hoping to fool the Germans unfamiliar with the language. However, Landa, who speaks fluent Italian, converses briefly with the Basterds before allowing Donowitz and Ulmer to take their seats. He takes von Hammersmark to a private room, verifies that the shoe from the tavern fits her, then strangles her to death. Raine and another Basterd, Smithson “The Little Man” Utivich, are taken prisoner, but Landa has Raine contact his superior with the OSS and cut a deal: he will allow the mission to proceed in exchange for safe passage through the Allied lines, a full pardon and various benefits after the war ends.
During the screening, Zoller slips away to the projection room to see Shosanna. After she rejects his advances, he becomes aggressive. She pretends to acquiesce, then pulls a pistol and shoots him. Zoller, mortally wounded, manages to shoot and kill her before he dies. As Stolz der Nation reaches its climax, spliced-in footage of Shosanna tells the audience in English that they are about to be killed by a Jew. Marcel, having locked the doors of the cinema, ignites a huge pile of flammable nitrate film behind the screen as Shosanna’s image laughs and the theater goes up in flames. Ulmer and Donowitz break into the opera box containing Hitler and Goebbels, killing them. They then fire their submachine guns into the panicked crowd until the bombs go off, killing everyone in the theater.
Landa and his radio operator drive Raine and Utivich into Allied territory, where they surrender. Raine, however, shoots the radio operator before ordering Utivich to scalp him. Despite agreeing to Landa’s deal, Raine has him restrained and carves a swastika into his forehead, professing it to be his “masterpiece”.