The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
In mid-20s New York, Newt Scamander, the British young activist wizard, arrives in town, holding a mysterious leather suitcase which shelters a wide array of diverse and magical creatures that exist among us. Amid an already fragile equilibrium of secrecy, and the increasing disasters ascribed to the dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald, Newt's precious suitcase will be lost--and to make matters worse--several creatures will manage to escape. Before long, this situation will catch Senior Auror Percival Graves' attention who will target Newt, in the background of an invisible, devastating, and utterly unpredictable menace that still wreaks havoc on 5th Avenue. In the end, is there a hidden agenda behind Graves' intentions; moreover, what will happen to the remaining fantastic beasts still loose in the streets?
The year is 1926 and Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident...were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt's fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.
- In the year 1926 in the Harry Potter universe, the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald is terrorizing the magical community. Witches and wizards from all over the world are on high alert as he prepares to launch his next attack.
Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) travels from London to New York City with a briefcase full of magical creatures, or fantastic beasts. When he arrives, his case is inspected by a customs official, but Newt is able to hide the magic from muggle eyes.
Some men are inspecting a building downtown that has been torn through. The auror Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) comes by to see the damage. An unseen force runs underground and destroys part of the street.
As he walks through the city, Newt comes across Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), a fundamentalist and leader of the Second Salemers, an anti-magic group. With her adopted children -- Credence (Ezra Miller), Modesty (Faith Wood-Blagrove), and Chastity (Jenn Murray) -- she spreads a hateful message about magic folk and how they need to be exterminated. As she tries to get Newt to join her, a niffler escapes from his case when it sees a shiny silver coin. It makes its way into the bank, forcing Newt to go after it.
Inside the bank, Newt meets Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a factory worker who is there to apply for a loan so he can open a bakery. Newt runs off when he sees the niffler, leaving behind an occamy egg that Jacob picks up. Newt tries to catch the niffler while Jacob meets with a bank employee to get the loan, but since he uses baked goods as collateral instead of something valuable, he is denied. Before Newt can grab the niffler, Jacob notes that the egg is hatching. Newt uses his wand to pull Jacob toward him, which is seen by Porpentina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), an American witch. Newt and Jacob find the niffler in the bank vault just as a bank employee catches them. Newt petrifies him and gets the niffler to drop all the things it stole before he apparates himself and Jacob out of the bank. Newt prepares to obliviate Jacob and wipe his memories, but Jacob grabs his case and hits Newt in the face before running off. Tina catches Newt and takes him with her after seeing what he's been carrying.
Tina brings Newt to the headquarters of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) because he was using magic in front of no-majes (the American term for muggles). The MACUSA president, Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo), is not happy to see Tina there since she was once an auror but was dismissed due to a previous incident. Tina takes Newt to her old office and is confronted by Graves and other aurors. When Graves demands to see what's in the suitcase, they find that Newt grabbed Jacob's case full of pastries.
Jacob brings Newt's case to his apartment and accidentally opens it, setting loose a few of the creatures, including the niffler.
Mary Lou is seen operating an orphanage where she teaches children about the evils of the magical community. Modesty sings songs about killing witches, while Credence suffers physical and emotional abuse from Mary Lou. She takes the children to meet Langdon Shaw (Ronan Raftery), brother of Senator Henry Shaw, Jr. (Josh Cowdery). Langdon brings Mary Lou and the kids to meet Henry and their father, Henry Sr. (Jon Voight), but both he and the senator dismiss the Barebones as freaks, which appears to irk Credence.
Credence meets in secrecy with Graves, who needs Credence's help in locating a child with immense powers. In return, Graves promises that he'll help Credence get away from the abusive Mary Lou.
Newt and Tina find Jacob's building, which has been partially destroyed. Jacob has been attacked by a murtlap, which has scratched his neck. Newt grabs the creature and throws him back into his case, while repairing the apartment. He and Tina take Jacob with them away from the apartment.
The three go to Tina's apartment, which she shares with her younger sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), an expert legilimens (she can read minds). Jacob is immediately smitten with her, and Queenie can see it but she doesn't mind. Newt and Jacob go to rest in their room, but Newt hops inside his briefcase and invites Jacob to join him. Newt gives Jacob a treatment for his neck wound and then shows him the various habitats made for the creatures that dwell in there. Newt shows Jacob a thunderbird named Frank, which Newt claims is the main reason he traveled to America: he wants to return Frank to his natural habitat in Arizona. Jacob comes across a particularly dark entity encased in a bubble, called an obscurial, which Newt orders Jacob to stay away from. He then asks for Jacob's help in retrieving the missing creatures. Jacob agrees.
Newt and Jacob go on the town and find the niffler trying to rob a jewelry store. Newt chases the niffler through the store, causing significant damage to the whole place. The cops arrive as Newt catches it. The cops are distracted when they see a lion walking through the streets, giving Newt a chance to apparate himself and Jacob out of there.
The guys continue walking through the city and see other zoo animals running loose. They see another creature, a huge erumpent, wandering around. Newt gives Jacob a helmet in preparation for catching the beast, then does a bizarre mating dance to lure it toward him. The erumpent sees Jacob and goes after him instead, but Newt manages to pull it back into the briefcase. Tina, who has gone looking for the guys after seeing they weren't in their room, sees them catching the erumpent.
A conference is held for Senator Shaw as part of his bid for presidency. A rumbling shakes the entire building before an unseen and powerful force sweeps through the place, grabs Shaw, and slams him to the floor, killing him. Henry Sr. goes over to his son's body while Langdon knows it's the work of witches.
Tina brings Newt's briefcase to the MACUSA as they are gathered with other witches and wizards from around the world in the wake of Shaw's death. Tina opens the briefcase to let Newt and Jacob out. When the aurors learn that an obscurial was responsible for Shaw's death, and that Newt and Tina have let Jacob, a no-maj, become aware of their world, Graves confiscates the briefcase and has the three arrested.
Graves interrogates Newt about the obscurial in his briefcase. Believing him to be a fanatic of Grindelwald's in his agenda to put the magical community above the non-magic community through murderous means, Graves sentences Newt and Tina to death. Queenie overhears this as she reads Tina's mind.
While locked up, Newt explains to Tina and Jacob that an obscurial is a dark force created out of a magical child's suppression of their powers. The children who conjure up obscurials don't live past the age of 10.
Newt and Tina are brought into a room where they are to be placed into a pool that will kill them. One of the witches extracts some of Tina's memories. One shows her as a child; in another she attacks Mary Lou and tries to comfort Credence. Before Tina is killed, Newt unleashes one of the creatures in the room to escape with Tina. When Queenie shows up, they get Jacob and she sneaks them out in the briefcase.
At the Barebone home, Credence is growing more and more unstable. He finds a wand in Modesty's room, which Mary Lou sees and thinks belongs to him. She gets ready to beat him again until Modesty admits the wand was hers. The obscurial gets loose and kills Mary Lou before destroying the rest of the house, leaving only Credence and Modesty alive. Graves later finds Credence and urges him to find Modesty, since Graves now believes she is the child that he foresaw.
Newt, Tina, Jacob, and Queenie go to a magic speakeasy in Harlem called the Blind Pig. They ask the owner, a goblin gangster named Gnarlack (Ron Perlman), for information on finding the last missing beast, a demiguise that Newt named Dougal. Gnarlack wants something in trade, and he has his eyes set on a little bowtruckle resting in Newt's jacket pocket. Newt reluctantly hands over the bowtruckle, which reaches out for Newt. Gnarlack tells them to go searching in a Macy's. Almost immediately, Gnarlack reveals that he sold the heroes out to the MACUSA, who come in and go after the heroes. Jacob punches Gnarlack in the face before they have to escape.
The heroes go to the Macy's and find Dougal, who is looking after an occamy (a large, winged, serpentine creature) hiding up on the ceiling. It causes trouble in the store for the heroes, but Newt tells Jacob and Tina to get an insect and a teapot. Jacob gets a roach and Tina grabs a teapot; Jacob tosses the roach into the teapot, allowing them to catch the occamy as it shrinks and is caught in the teapot.
Inside the briefcase, Queenie sees a picture of a girl named Leta Lestrange (Zoë Kravitz), who has an old connection to Newt. He doesn't want to talk about it as their relationship seems to have ended unhappily.
Graves and Credence find Modesty in her old family home. When Graves makes it clear that he will not help Credence despite his promises, Credence's rage intensifies, and it turns out that he is the one who has been possessed by the obscurial. His advanced age has allowed him to build up his power, making him the most powerful obscurial alive. Credence sets off through the city streets, leaving a trail of destruction behind him.
Newt goes after Credence since he knows the aurors will kill him without knowing the truth about him. He tracks Credence to an underground subway station and soothes him back into his normal form. But when Graves, Tina, and the aurors all arrive, Credence returns to his obscurial form. Although Newt and Tina urge the aurors to let them handle Credence, Picquery orders them to kill Credence. They fire their wands at Credence and destroy him. Graves then berates the aurors for their rules and handling of the magical and non-magical communities. Picquery orders Graves to hand over his wand and surrender, but he defies her and fights the other aurors. He is able to protect himself against their blasts, but he is subdued by Newt and is bound. Newt uses the Revelio charm on Graves, revealing him to be none other than Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). He is promptly arrested.
Newt uses Frank to take a potion into the sky so that it can rain over all the no-majes nearby and obliviate them. Picquery thanks Newt for what he did, but reminds him that Jacob has to be obliviated as well, since there are no exceptions. Jacob tearfully says goodbye to Newt, Tina, and Queenie, then asks Newt why he let him stick around. Newt says he likes Jacob and thinks of him as a friend. Jacob stands in the rain, but Queenie steps in with her wand to create an umbrella to kiss Jacob. When he opens his eyes, the three are gone.
Jacob returns to his old factory job, still unhappy with where he is. Newt bumps into him and drops a briefcase full of occamy egg shells, which are made of silver, and a note explaining this so that Jacob can use it as collateral to open his bakery.
Newt is going back to London and says goodbye to Tina at the ship terminal. He promises to return with a manuscript of his book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so he can personally give it to Tina.
A while later, Jacob's bakery business is booming, as he has fashioned his pastries to look like some of the beasts he vaguely remembers encountering. Queenie visits the shop. Jacob sees her and appears to remember her a little.