Shin Godzilla lumbers off into the distance in "Shin Godzilla"

We Ranked EVERY ‘Godzilla’ Movie in a Kaiju-Size Spectacle

A ranking of all Godzilla movies from worst to best? This list is gonna be bigger than Godzilla itself, and twice as destructive to the cityscape of my psyche! How can one possibly a half century worth of films? In face of the impossible, one must always try one’s best.

Recommended Videos

36. Godzilla (1998)

Godzilla stomps through NYC in "Godzilla 1998"
(Toho/Sony Pictures)

At least I have a good place to start—a foundation for this skyscraper, if you will. Godzilla from 1998 is trashola. The first-ever American attempt at a Godzilla film is the worst travesty in the history of the franchise. It’s a root canal in film form, not even “so bad it’s good.” Just bad. Not deep. Not fun. Doesn’t make you think. Should crawl back into the ocean like Godzilla himself.

35. Godzilla Raids Again 

Godzilla does battle with a giant turtle monster on a Japanese castle in "Godzilla Raids Again"
(Toho)

Godzilla Raids Again was the first time Godzilla was pitted against another monster, and the franchise began to die slowly because of it. It’s nothing but a cheap special effects slugfest between two giant beasts. Pass.

34. Godzilla: The Planet Eater

An animated Godzilla does battle with the spectrail King Ghidorah in "Godzilla the Planet Eater"
(Netflix/Toho)

How could an anime Godzilla movie go wrong? Exactly like this. Godzilla’s final battle with the star scourge King Ghidorah is boring. We waited a whole trilogy just to be let down? Why would you do this to us, anime gods? What did we ever do to you? It sours the whole thing, so we’ll put the whole trilogy here together: Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters, Godzilla: City on the Edge, and Godzilla: The Planet Eater.

33. All Monsters Attack

Baby monster Minilla talks to a little boy in "All Monsters Attack"
(Toho)

Godzilla? God no. This cinematic travesty centers around a cross-species friendship between Godzilla’s son Minilla and a local boy. They bond over the fact that they’re both bullied, making the movie more of an anti-bullying PSA than a monster movie. I don’t want a moral. I want mortal peril.

32. Son of Godzilla

Godzilla teaches his son Minilla how to shoot radiation breath in "Son of Godzilla"
(Toho)

Blegh. Godzilla’s son Minilla returns in all his ugliness. He’s the Scrappy Doo of the franchise, a child that is somehow responsible for generating a torrent of hate. Sadly for this little monster boy, it’s deserved.

31. Invasion of Astro Monster

Godzilla dances in the mountains in "Invasion of Astro Monster"
(Toho)

Godzilla. The once mighty metaphor of a monster is reduced to a shoddy dance sequence. He battles Ghidorah. He wins. He busts a move. It’s as remarkable as the color beige.

30. Godzilla 2000: Millennium

Godzilla faces off against a giant monsters in "Godzilla 2000"
(Toho)

Godzilla fights a giant monster named Orga in the same exact formula that all bad Godzilla movies follow, except this time it’s bad late 20th century special effects rather than mid century. Ew. This film came and went like a fart in the wind. Stink, then nothing.

29. Godzilla vs. Gigan

The robotic monster Gigan in "Godzilla vs. Gigan"
(Toho)

Godzilla vs. Gigan only gets points because Gigan is a cool robot dinosaur alien guy. But it loses all those points after the first five minutes. It’s another “giant monsters punch each other” plot, but at least Godzilla and his friend Anguirus get to pair up like monster buddy cops—not enough to be good, but not the most God awful.

28. Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla

Godzilla and Space Godzilla square off in "Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla"
(Toho)

The title alone is frustrating enough. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Godzilla fights a clone that is only made marginally different by the prefix “Space.” It’s just lazy writing.

27. Godzilla vs. Megalon

Godzilla tailslides into battle in "Godzilla vs. Megalon"
(Toho)

This film is the best of the worst of the Godzilla films for one reason: Godzilla’s memeworthy tail slide kick attack. That and Godzilla’s monster friend Jet Jaguar, because how can you not love a creature with such a name? It’s so bad it’s actually a little bit good.

26. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II

Godzilla fights Mechagodzilla in "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II"
(Toho)

Like leftovers, Godzilla’s brawl with Mechagodzilla just wasn’t as good the second time around. The plot differences are cosmetic. They just fight again. Yawn.

25. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep

Godzilla battles the crab monster Ebirah in "Ebirah, Horror of the Deep"
(Toho)

Godzilla fights a gross Cthulhu crab monster. Points awarded for the design of the eldritch horror. But Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, despite its attempt at a fear inducing title, is terrifyingly bland.

24. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.

Godzilla and Mechagodzilla face opposite directions in "Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S."
(Toho)

This movie scores points for establishing the canon fact that Mothra has fairy minions, who inform the giant moth that Japan is soon to come under attack from Godzilla. Honestly, Mothra steals the show, but the show just isn’t all that good to begin with.

23. Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth

Godzilla roars while Mothra flies in "Godzilla and Mothra- The Battle for Earth"
(Toho)

Mothra returns to steal the show again! Humanity has to battle against the spirit of the Earth Battra, which is basically just a heavy metal version of Mothra. The Earth has summoned Battra in an effort to preserve itself, making humanity the bad guy. Ballsy move. Points awarded.

22. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus

Godzilla roars in "Godzilla vs. Megaguirus"
(Toho)

Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is a bold sequel to the original Godzilla film, ignoring half a decade’s worth of other movies. Points for being bold and petty! In order to fight Godzilla, Japan has invented a black hole cannon. Unsurprisingly, it backfires and opens a portal to an insect dimension, where Big G has to fight giant bugs. Creative!

21. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah

godzilla squares off against king ghidorah in a field in "godzilla vs. king ghidorah"
(Toho)

Godzilla and time travel? Sounds like a B-movie good time. The plot is an absolute mess. Time travelers attempt to go back in time and stop Godzilla from being created, but inadvertently get the trans-dimensional King Ghidorah involved. It plays out like a story a really creative six-year-old would tell. Fun.

20. Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Ghidorah roars wreathed in flame in "Godzilla: King of the Monsters"
(Toho/Warner Bros.)

2019’s American Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a beautiful CGI mess of a Monsterverse film. King Ghidorah arrives and does aerial battle with Rodan. Godzilla only adds to the devastation. The movie wins points for rendering these beasts in modern-day digital detail. It’s a good-looking film light on plot.

19. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla 

Closeup of Godzilla roaring in "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla"
(Toho/Sony Pictures)

It’s Pacific Rim as a Godzilla movie! A human-powered robot Mechagodzilla battles the flesh and blood blueprint for supremacy over the Earth. While it lacks the classic flair of the original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, it still makes for a fun little watch. Mechagodzilla’s redesign goes hard.

18. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire 

Godzilla and King Kong stand in the desert in "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire" 
(Toho)

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire is the closest we’ll ever come to Godzilla/Kong slash fiction. The pair team up to take down Hollow Earth-related threats in an explosion of CGI glory. Watching this film is like listening to a Dream Theater album. Ostentatious. Over the top. Epic. Not for everyone.

17. Destroy All Monsters 

Godzilla fights Ghidorah alongside other monsters in "Destroy All Monsters"
(Toho)

Alien ladies from Planet Kilaak decide to release all of the Earth’s monsters, and the United Nations has to scramble to contain the threat. It’s the Godzilla film equivalent of a bench-clearing baseball brawl where literally every monster shows up to smack down.

16. Godzilla: Final Wars

Godzilla roars in front of flames in "Godzilla: Final Wars"
(Toho)

It’s the 50th anniversary Godzilla film! Coulda been better! Coulda been worse! The best part of Final Wars? The out-of-nowhere Matrix-inspired martial arts sequences. It was 2004, after all. The worst part? It’s really long, and gets a little big for its Godzilla-size britches. Sometimes less is more.

15. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster 

Godzilla and Ghidorah battle in promo art for "Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster" 
 (Toho)

Big points for introducing Godzilla’s ultimate foe: the higher dimensional godlike King Ghidorah. The plot is abject nonsense, but the lovingly rendered giant monster battle sequences make up for it. Godzilla manhandles a three-headed dragon. That’s cinema.

14. Godzilla vs. Hedorah

Godzilla battles slime monster Hedorah in "Godzilla-vs.-Hedorah"
(Toho)

Hedorah might just be one of the coolest, grossest villains that Godzilla has ever had to face. It’s essentially a space traveling microbe that grows to The Blob-like proportions after eating toxic waste, and humanity is next on the menu. Luckily, Godzilla is there to save the day! We stan hero Godzilla. We stan.

13. Godzilla vs. Biollante

Godzilla fights against the cellular horror biollante in "Godzilla vs. Biollante"
(Toho)

Plot? A scientist’s daughter dies, and her grief-stricken dad decides it would be a good idea to fuse her DNA with plant matter and a couple Godzilla chromosomes. It doesn’t end well. The horrifying Biollante is born! It’s basically the Godzilla version of Full Metal Alchemist episode four. If you know, you know.

12. Terror of Mechagodzilla

Godzilla battles Mechagodzilla and another lizard monster in "Terror of Mechagodzilla"
(Toho)

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is a playful giant monster movie romp, but Terror of Mechagodzilla takes itself much more seriously. Third Planet of the Black Hole are going to be rebuild the destroyed robot. Okay, it doesn’t take itself THAT much more seriously, but one doesn’t have to dig too deep to see the metaphor about foreign invaders laying waste to Japan.

11. Godzilla vs. Mothra

A giant egg bearing Mothra washes up on shore in" Mothra vs. Godzilla"
(Toho)

Godzilla vs. Mothra introduces one of the most enduring monsters in Godzilla canon, the giant moth monster Mothra! Unlike Godzilla, Mothra is a friend to humanity! After an egg bearing the being washes up on shore and hatches at the advent of Godzilla’s return, scientists beg the moth monster for her help!

10. King Kong vs. Godzilla

King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962)
(Toho)

Credit where credit is due, King Kong vs. Godzilla marks the first time that these two giant monsters squared off against one another. The titan of Hollywood cinema meets the monster of Japanese film. It was a brilliant marketing tactic for everyone involved and inspired a slew of later films. Win.

9.  Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla stands tall in New York City in "Godzilla"
(Toho/Warner Bros)

This film is good because of the efforts of one man: Bryan Cranston. It would have even even better if they didn’t kill him off in the first third of the film. Sadly, 2014’s Godzilla fails to find a human character captivating enough to replace him, leading to a film that is only 33% really good.

8. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla

Godzilla squares off against Mechagodzilla in "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla"
(Toho)

Godzilla fights giant robot version of himself? Alright, I’ll bite. His new foe shoots lasers and missiles from its iron carapace? Honestly, I’m hooked. It’s just old-school giant monster movie fun. The best of B-movie entertainment. Put it on at a party for the vibe.

7. The Return of Godzilla

Godzilla rears his ugly head in "The Return of Godzilla"
(Toho)

1984’s The Return of Godzilla marked the King of Monsters’ (you guessed it) return after a decade-long absence, rendered in (then) groundbreaking special effects! The best return of all was Godzilla returning to metaphorical origins. Here? He’s the Cold War incarnate.

6. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah

Godzilla breaths fire in "Godzilla vs. Destoroyah"- 1995
(Toho)

As far as ’90s special effects go, 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah looks GOOD. Burning Godzilla, Godzilla’s new fiery form, is totally just cinematic and awesome. Watching him take the oversized Destoroyah to school is a pleasure.

5. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

Monsters appear on the poster for "Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah- Giant Monsters All-Out Attack"
(Toho)

Godzilla is many things. A hero. A metaphor for the military industrial complex. The product of environmental abuse. Rarely is he a force of pure evil. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack is the exception to the rule. The giant white-eyed lizard requires the combined forces of all the other monsters and the might of humanity to be taken down. It’s a clever spin on the old formula!

4. Godzilla vs. Kong

Artwork for Godzilla vs. Kong
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

Most of the time, giant monster battles are nothing but a cheap cash grab. Every once in a while, they just work. Godzilla vs. Kong belongs in the latter category. It’s one of the best-looking giant monster flicks ever made, with the two rival kings of the planet duking it out in glorious CGI detail.

3. Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla lumbers off into the distance in "Shin Godzilla"
(Toho Co.)

Shin Godzilla features the most unsettling of all the Godzilla iterations, a prehistoric dead-fish-eyed monster that flops onto the shore guided only by brute animal instinct. The beast then evolves into a terrifying and clever metaphor: It is a cancer created by humankind’s tampering with nature.

2. Godzilla Minus One

Godzilla chasing a boat in Godzilla Minus One
(Toho)

Godzilla Minus One wins because it focuses on the strongest aspect of Godzilla movies: human drama. It revolves around survivors of the U.S.’s bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the lingering trauma they caused. Godzilla looms as a stark physical reminder of the devastation, a god of destruction—tragedy and death, the end result of all war.

1. Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla, a giant lizard-monster, stomps around a city in a black-and-white still from 1954's 'Godzilla'
(Toho)

The king of the monster movies is the all-powerful original; what did you expect? This film has more than first-strike advantage. It began an international conversation around the nature of modern warfare and the use of the atomic bomb. Godzilla is a symbol of the inescapable devastation that the technological arms race inflicts. It’s a powerful metaphor that stands giant-monster-tall.


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
related content
Read Article Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock Are Reportedly Returning to Cast Another Spell with ‘Practical Magic 2’
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in 'Practical Magic'
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in 'Practical Magic'
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in 'Practical Magic'
Read Article Adults Need ‘Inside Out 2’s Important Point About Hobbies Just as Much as Kids Do
Inside Out 2, Riley (trailer still)
Inside Out 2, Riley (trailer still)
Inside Out 2, Riley (trailer still)
Read Article ‘Hellboy: The Crooked Man’ Enlists the Big Red Guy’s Creator for Another Reboot
Hellboy from the comic book by Mike Mignola
Hellboy from the comic book by Mike Mignola
Hellboy from the comic book by Mike Mignola
Read Article Is Netflix’s ‘The School For Good and Evil’ Worthy of a Sequel?
The School for Good and Evil, Netflix poster
The School for Good and Evil, Netflix poster
The School for Good and Evil, Netflix poster
Read Article Hugh Jackman’s Next Movie Sounds a Lot Like ‘Babe,’ and We’re Into It
Hugh Jackman at the 2024 Met Gala opposite the cover of Leonie Swann's 'Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story'
Hugh Jackman at the 2024 Met Gala opposite the cover of Leonie Swann's 'Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story'
Hugh Jackman at the 2024 Met Gala opposite the cover of Leonie Swann's 'Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story'
Related Content
Read Article Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock Are Reportedly Returning to Cast Another Spell with ‘Practical Magic 2’
Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in 'Practical Magic'
Read Article Adults Need ‘Inside Out 2’s Important Point About Hobbies Just as Much as Kids Do
Inside Out 2, Riley (trailer still)
Read Article ‘Hellboy: The Crooked Man’ Enlists the Big Red Guy’s Creator for Another Reboot
Hellboy from the comic book by Mike Mignola
Read Article Is Netflix’s ‘The School For Good and Evil’ Worthy of a Sequel?
The School for Good and Evil, Netflix poster
Read Article Hugh Jackman’s Next Movie Sounds a Lot Like ‘Babe,’ and We’re Into It
Hugh Jackman at the 2024 Met Gala opposite the cover of Leonie Swann's 'Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story'
Author
Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.