In early 1858 Texas, brothers Ace and Dicky Speck drive a group of shackled black slaves on foot. Among them is Django, sold off and separated from his wife Broomhilda von Shaft, a house slave who speaks German and English. They are stopped by Dr. King Schultz, a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter seeking to buy Django for his knowledge of the three outlaw Brittle brothers, overseers at the plantation of Django’s previous owner and for whom Schultz has a warrant. When Ace levels his gun at him, Schultz kills him and wounds Dicky. Schultz insists on paying a fair price for Django before leaving Dicky to the newly freed slaves, who kill him and follow the North Star to freedom. Schultz offers Django his freedom and $75 in exchange for help tracking down the Brittles.
Django and Schultz kill the Brittle brothers at Spencer “Big Daddy” Bennett’s Tennessee plantation. Bennett rounds up a posse whom Schultz ambushes with explosives, killing most of them while Django kills Bennett. Obliged to Django, Schultz takes him on as an apprentice and agrees to help him find and rescue Broomhilda. They return to Texas where Django collects his first bounty, keeping the handbill as a memento. He and Schultz rack up several bounties before spring, when they travel to Mississippi and learn that Broomhilda’s new owner is Calvin J. Candie, the charming but cruel owner of the Candyland plantation, where slaves are forced to wrestle to the death in brutal “Mandingo” fights.
Schultz and Django hatch a plan. They know that if they offer to buy Broomhilda Calvin will price her beyond reach, so they will instead offer $12,000 (equivalent to roughly $365,000 in 2018) for one of his best fighters as a pretext to acquiring Broomhilda for a nominal sum. They can then feign second thoughts about buying the fighter and leave with just Broomhilda. They meet Calvin at his gentleman’s club and make the offer. Intrigued, Calvin invites them to Candyland plantation.
En route the group encounters Calvin’s slave trackers who have cornered D’Artagnan, an escapee and disfigured Mandingo fighter. Calvin has Stonecipher sic attack dogs at D’Artagnan, who maul him to death. Having told Broomhilda of their plan, Schultz offers to buy her as his escort while negotiating the initial deal during dinner. Calvin’s house slave Stephen realises that Broomhilda knows Django, accurately deduces their plan, and alerts Calvin. Calvin alters the deal at gunpoint so that Broomhilda will be bought for $12,000 instead of the fighter. Schultz reluctantly agrees. During the finalization of the sale, Calvin threatens to have Broomhilda shot if Schultz does not shake his hand and Schultz instead shoots him dead. Calvin’s bodyguard kills Schultz, and Django goes on a rampage, killing the bodyguard, the lawyer, and several of Calvin’s gunhands, but is forced to surrender when Stephen takes Broomhilda hostage.
The next morning, Django is tortured and about to be castrated when Stephen arrives to say that Calvin’s sister Lara has taken charge and that Django will be sold to a mining company and worked to death. En route there, Django uses his first handbill to prove to his escorts that he is a bounty hunter. He claims the men on the handbill are at Candyland and promises the escorts all but $500 of the reward money. Once released, Django kills his escorts and returns to Candyland with a bag of dynamite. Recovering Broomhilda’s freedom papers from Schultz’s corpse, Django avenges him and D’Artagnan by killing Stonecipher and the other trackers, and frees Broomhilda just as Calvin’s mourners return from his burial. At the mansion, Django kills Lara and the remaining henchmen, releases the two remaining house slaves, and kneecaps Stephen before planting dynamite throughout the mansion. Django and Broomhilda watch from a distance as the mansion explodes before riding off together.