The Despicable Me and Minions timeline explained

From dinosaurs to the Anti-Villain League, Gru and co have a history…

Gru in Despicable Me 4
Despicable Me 4 is the latest entry in the animated series. (Universal)

The Despicable Me timeline goes back further than you think.

From encounters with dinosaurs and brushes with deadly vampires to clashes with the Vicious 6 and a throng of colourful supervillains each of whom is out to get Gru (Steve Carrell), this hugely popular animated film series has had plenty of key moments since it started in 2010.

With Despicable Me 4 set to take audiences on a new adventure when it hits cinemas on Friday, 12 July — and a fifth Despicable Me film already in active development — there couldn’t be a better time to get reacquainted with the story so far, including its Minion-shaped spin-offs.

With that in mind, here’s a handy little cheat sheet that tells you everything you need to know about the Despicable Me timeline so far.

Kevin, Bob and Stuart in the film Minions
Prequel film Minions was released in 2015. (Universal)

Technically the first film in the Despicable Me timeline but one that was released five years after the first film, Minions is a prequel that tells the origin story of Gru’s loyal yellow helpers.

Far from being the simple supporting characters you might think they are at first glance, this 2015 spin-off reveals that the Minions have been around since the beginning of time and served a wide variety of masters — from a T-Rex and Count Dracula to an Egyptian Pharoah and Napoleon.

However, there’s a catch: they usually end up accidentally killing everyone they try to help.

Thankfully, their luck changes (temporarily at least) in the 1960s when Minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob meet Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) at a villain convention who hires them to steal Queen Elizabeth II’s crown.

The trio’s stumbled attempt at stealing this Royal object results in Overkill turning against them — and a scuffle that sees Kevin, Stuart and Bob fight for their lives. Overkill’s attempts at offing the trio are ultimately foiled at the last minute by a young Gru who befriends the Minions and hires them as his new side-kicks.

Gru and the Minions in a scene from Minions: The Rise of Gru
Minions: The Rise of Gru landed in cinemas in 2022. (Universal)

Released in 2022, Minions: The Rise of Gru follows the Minions’ first adventure with their new master after meeting Gru at the end of their first spin-off film. Set in the 1970s, an 11-year-old Gru attends an interview with an elite supervillain group known as the Vicious 6.

With the meeting ending in disaster, Gru decides to steal the Zodiac Stone in an attempt to impress them but he’s dismayed to discover that a new Minion, Otto, has traded it for a pet rock.

Angry, Gru fires minions and is soon kidnapped by the Vicious 6’s old leader, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) who tells the Minions that if they don’t get the stone to him, he’ll kill Gru.

The Minions set off to save Gru and retrieve the stone all while Gru becomes unlikely friends with his evil captor. Eventually, Wild Knuckles becomes Gru’s mentor, teaching him his villainous ways.

Before long, the Viscous 6 catch up with the Minions, Wild Knuckles and Gru and a battle ensues with Otto using the power of the Zodiac Stone to turn the the villain group into rats. Towards the end of the movie, we see Gru hire Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand), a character who later becomes his assistant in the primary Despicable Me films.

Gru and the Minions in a scene from Despicable Me
Gru tries to steal the Moon in the first Despicable Me film. (Universal)

Years later, Gru is now a professional supervillain but he’s upset to discover that a new bad guy has upstaged him by stealing the Great Pyramid of Giza. As a result, Gru sets out to try to steal the Moon but his assistant Dr. Nefario tells him the task will be too pricey.

While attempting to get a loan from the Bank of Evil, Gru is told he must first steal a shrink ray which has recently been stolen by Vector (Jason Segel), the new villain on the scene who stole the Great Pyramid of Giza.

In an attempt to gain access to Vector’s fortress, Gru adopts three orphan children Margo, Edith and Agnes who help him steal the shrink ray. While first considering the trio a bit of an inconvenience, he eventually warms to them — and when Vector kidnaps the girls, Gru is forced to trade his recently stolen Moon for their safety.

By the time the film ends, Gru has stopped Vector and become an adoptive father to Margot, Edith and Agnes.

Gru and the Minions in a scene from Despicable Me 22
Gru leaves his imposed retirement in Despicable Me 2. (Universal)

In 2013’s Despicable Me 2, a dangerous substance is stolen and the Anti-Villain League calls upon Gru to leave his self-imposed retirement and help them to get it back.

After initially refusing thanks to his new, non-villainous life of fatherhood, Gru eventually agrees and is stationed in a mall with Anti-Villain League agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) to try and figure out who has the substance.

Gru soon starts to suspect that someone at the mall might be behind this new evil plan, specifically El Macho (Benjamin Bratt), a supervillain who was thought to be dead. At the same time, his adoptive daughters' need for a mother figure grows stronger.

Eventually, Gru discovers that El Macho is indeed behind the theft and is plans to use the stolen mutagen to transform Minions into destructive monsters with a plan to conquer the world.

After a scuffle with the mutated Minion Kevin, Lucy, Gru, the kids and Dr. Nefario find a cure for the mutagen and eventually put a stop to El Macho's deadly plans. By the end of the movie, Gru and Lucy get married and begin a happy family life together with Margot, Edith and Agnes.

Gru and Balthazar Bratt in a scene from Despicable Me 3
Gru is sent to recover a stolen diamond in Despicable Me 3. (Universal)

2017’s Despicable Me 3 finds Gru and Lucy living as a happy married couple — but their life soon changes when they’re sent on an Anti-Villain League mission to recover a stolen diamond from a child star-turned-bad-guy Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker). While they save the diamond, Bratt escapes and when the league gets a new boss, Gru and Lucy are fired.

With his Minions dismissed, Gru attempts to find a new job and soon crosses paths with his wealthy long-lost twin Dru (Carrell). Meanwhile, Bratt re-steals the diamond and plans to use it to power a giant robot that’ll destroy Hollywood and the entertainment industry that led him to a life of villainy.

Dru admits to his sibling that he wants to learn how to be a villain but Gru refuses to teach him. Eventually, the pair team up to try and steal back the diamond from Bratt with Gru hoping its retrieval will help him and Lucy get their jobs back at the Anti-Villain League — but Dru is disappointed when he learns that his brother tricked him into helping.

When Bratt kidnaps Margot, Edith and Agnes, Gru and Dru are forced to fix their relationship and team up with Lucy to defeat their latest foe and save the kids. Before the credits on Despicable Me 3 start to roll, Gru and Lucy are welcomed back into the Anti-Villain League while Dru jets off on a life of super-villainy.

Despicable Me 4 will be released in UK cinemas on Friday, 12 July