Wise-cracking, larger-than-life grandma Madea first appeared on screen in 2005. Since then, we’ve seen Tyler Perry’s character sort out countless family rows, solve relationship woes, dish out idiosyncratic words of wisdom, get in trouble with the law and, erm, do battle with zombies. But how do you watch the Madea movies in order?
With their blend of broad slapstick humour, heightened melodramatic storylines and often didactic messages, the Madea films have certainly proved divisive and prompted some scathing reviews. Despite that, though, Perry’s movies have been reliably successful at the box office, helping the actor and filmmaker to build up a billion-dollar entertainment empire.
Madea, Perry says, was inspired by the female family members he grew up alongside. "Madea is a cross between my mother and my aunt," he told USA Today in 2019. "She’s the type of grandmother that was on every corner when I was growing up… She’s a strong figure where I come from, in my part of the African-American community."
The character started life in Petty's 1999 play I Can Do Bad All By Myself (not to be confused with his later film of the same name, which has a totally different plot), and then featured again in his stage follow-up Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which would later form the basis of the first movie.
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In each film, Perry himself dons heavy prosthetics to play the family matriarch, and also crops up as Madea’s grouchy elderly brother Joe and her nephew Brian, among other roles. Though 2019’s A Madea Family Funeral was initially intended to be the character’s last hurrah, the filmmaker went on to strike a deal with Netflix to bring her back for A Madea Homecoming three years later.
Whether you’re new to the Madea cinematic universe or want to return to the franchise after catching up with the latest offering on Netflix, here’s the complete Madea watch order.
How to watch Madea movies in order
Whether you're wanting to watch the Madea movies in order by release date or by chronological order, the watch order is as follows:
- Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
- Madea’s Family Reunion (2006)
- Meet the Browns (2008)
- Madea Goes to Jail (2009)
- I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009)
- Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011)
- Madea’s Witness Protection (2012)
- A Madea Christmas (2013)
- Madea’s Tough Love (2015)
- Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016)
- Boo 2! Madea Halloween (2017)
- A Madea Family Funeral (2019)
- A Madea Homecoming (2022)
Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
It all began in 2005 with Diary of a Mad Black Woman, the screen version of Perry’s play. Helen (Kimberly Elise) is about to celebrate her 18th wedding anniversary with husband Charles (Steve Harris), until she returns home to find all of her belongings in a moving truck. Charles, it turns out, has been having an affair with a younger woman and is kicking Helen out of the house. Happy wedding anniversary, indeed. Helen heads to her grandma Madea’s house, where her older relative teaches her the true meaning of "what’s mine is yours" (clue: it involves a sofa and a chainsaw).
Madea’s Family Reunion (2006)
In this second instalment, a judge orders Madea to take in Nikki, a troubled foster child played by Keke Palmer, to avoid jail after violating the terms of her house arrest (Madea boasts a pretty extensive criminal record, we learn, starting with petty theft at nine years old). Though the pair clash at first, Madea’s guidance helps Nikki get back on track. Family tensions rise as her nieces deal with relationship issues (including a controlling fiancé), and things reach boiling point at a reunion held at Aunt Ruby's (Georgia Allen) home.
Watch out for the cameo from Maya Angelou as Ruby's daughter May, who performs the poem In and Out of Time along with legendary actress Cicely Tyson (who plays Madea’s daughter-in-law, Myrtle).
Meet the Browns (2008)
If you're a stickler for rules, technically Meet the Browns is not a Madea movie: it focuses on single mother Brenda (Angela Bassett) who travels to Georgia for the funeral of the father she never knew, and ends up meeting her extended family for the first time. One of them, Cora, just so happens to be the daughter of Madea. Cue a scene where the family tune in to watch the news on TV as Madea is chased by the police at high speed and eventually arrested.
Meanwhile, Brenda embarks on a tentative romance with her son’s basketball coach, played by Rick Fox. The film went on to inspire a sitcom of the same name, focusing on the antics of family patriarch Leroy Brown (David Mann).
Madea Goes to Jail (2009)
After the antics of Meet the Browns, Madea manages to avoid prison by opting to take anger management sessions instead (presided over by none other than former Oprah Winfrey Show star Dr Phil). However, it’s not long before she ends up behind bars for another offence. In jail, she befriends inmates like TT, a killer played by Sofia Vergara, and Candace, a sex worker who has struggled with addiction, played by Keshia Knight Pulliam. Candace’s story drives the film’s more serious plotline. Rising attorney Josh (Derek Luke) offers to help her, as they were close friends throughout childhood, but his fiancée Linda (Ion Overman), also a lawyer, gets jealous and starts doing her best to ensure that Candace remains in prison. Viola Davis also makes an appearance as minister and former addict Ellen.
I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009)
Taraji P Henson joins the Madea cinematic universe for this fifth instalment, starring as alcoholic nightclub singer April. When Madea catches three children breaking into her home, she takes them under her wing. After learning that their mother is dead and their grandmother has gone AWOL, she reunites them with April, who happens to be their only other relative. April is less than impressed by their arrival, and isn’t exactly thrilled when the pastor suggests that she also takes in Sandino (Adam Rodriguez), a Colombian immigrant who is looking for work.
The supporting cast for I Can Do Bad All by Myself features a handful of music legends, with Mary J Blige cropping up as Tanya, who works as a bartender at April’s club, and Gladys Knight as Wilma, a member of the church congregation.
Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011)
Once again, it’s up to Madea to bring her fractious family back together. This time, her niece Shirley (Loretta Devine) has been diagnosed with cancer. Her three children, Byron (by Shad Moss AKA rapper Bow Wow), Kimberly (Shannon Kane) and Tammy (Natalie Desselle-Reid) are so consumed by their own relationship dramas that their mother struggles to find a moment to tell them the sad news. Madea’s task is to reunite them all for a family dinner, but Byron’s endless rows with Sabrina, the mother of his child (played by Teyana Taylor), Tammy’s squabbles with her husband and a trauma from Kimberly’s past threaten to overshadow the event.
In a side plot, Cora (who first appeared in Meet the Browns) begins to doubt that Leroy Brown is her father after learning that they do not share the same blood type: fast-forward to the end of the film and the pair, along with Madea, are on talk show Maury for a paternity test.
Madea’s Witness Protection (2012)
Schitt’s Creek’s Eugene Levy stars in the seventh Madea movie as George Needleman, a finance officer who is shocked to learn that his company is in fact a Ponzi scheme run by the mob. When he’s framed by his boss for money laundering, the FBI gives him a chance to testify against the gangsters - but first, he and his family must enter a witness protection programme orchestrated by Madea’s lawyer nephew Brian (also played by Perry). That’s how George, his wife Kate (Denise Richards), mother and two children end up, you guessed it, hiding out at Madea’s house in Georgia.
Though at first the two families don’t exactly see eye to eye, it’s not long before George and Madea are cooking up a scheme to recover the charity money stolen in the Ponzi scheme.
A Madea Christmas (2013)
In this festive outing for Madea, ‘tis the season for more family drama. The action shifts to Alabama, where Madea is spending the holidays with great-niece Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford) and her daughter Lacey (Tika Sumpter). Eileen has invited herself to Lacey’s home for Christmas, bringing along her daughter’s ex-boyfriend in the hope that they might reconcile. What she doesn’t know is that Lacey is already married, and fears that her mother won’t approve of her husband, who is white. When Lacey’s in-laws turn up too, it becomes harder and harder to keep the secret.
One Tree Hill star Chad Michael Murray also appears as a corn farmer who is feuding with Lacey’s husband Conner (Eric Lively).
Madea’s Tough Love (2015)
This time around, the Madea cinematic universe makes its first foray into animation. As Madea watches a cartoon while eating breakfast and finds herself wishing that she could discipline the rowdy kids on screen, she’s drawn into the animated world.
Even in cartoon form, though, Madea manages to get in trouble with the law and is sentenced to do community service at a local youth centre. When she learns that the venue has been condemned under new plans to rebuild the neighbourhood, it’s up to Madea to rally the locals and save the centre.
Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016)
This spooky instalment in the series started life as a joke in a Chris Rock movie. In the film Top Five, Rock’s character is gutted when he learns that his latest film project has been defeated at the box office by a (fictional) Madea Halloween film, titled Boo! The parody then prompted Lionsgate, the studio behind the Madea films, to suggest that Perry actually made a movie along those lines.
Boo! A Madea Halloween sees the title character tasked with keeping an eye on Tiffany (Diamond White), the teenage daughter of her nephew Brian. It’s fright night, and Tiffany is desperate to attend a Halloween house party - but if anyone can stop her, it’s the formidable Madea.
Boo 2! Madea Halloween (2017)
After the box office success of the first Madea Halloween movie, a second film arrived in cinemas the following year. This time, Tiffany is looking forward to her 18th birthday and plans to celebrate at another spooky-themed frat party, much to her dad’s disapproval. This time, the bash is being held at Lake Derrick, so Madea and her pals Bam (Cassi Davis) and Hattie (Patrice Lovely) embark on a trip to bring her back. Once they arrive, though, they find themselves terrorised by a ghostly figure.
It was a case of diminishing returns at the box office, with the film taking $48.3 million worldwide, a significant drop from the first film’s $74.8 million total.
A Madea Family Funeral (2019)
After a spate of themed movies, it’s back to business as usual for A Madea Family Funeral. Madea and her extended family gather in Georgia to celebrate the 40th wedding anniversary of Vianne (Jen Harper) and Anthony (Derek Morgan). The devoted husband, though, has actually been having an affair with Vianne’s best friend. When Anthony dies of a heart attack in her company, the reunion pivots from anniversary celebration to mourning, with Madea and Anthony’s son AJ doing their best to hush up the real circumstances of his death.
A Madea Homecoming (2022)
Though Perry had planned to retire Madea after A Madea Family Funeral, he backtracked on those plans to create this movie for Netflix, which also features characters from Mrs Brown’s Boys (yes, really). This time around, Madea is gearing up for her great-grandson Tim’s college graduation, when more family drama inevitably kicks off.
What’s the Mrs Brown connection, you ask? She is introduced as the great aunt of Davi, Tim’s best friend, and manages to cause almost as much carnage as Madea.
How many Madea films are there?
There are 12 films in the Madea cinematic universe, though Meet the Browns and Madea's Tough Love are sometimes discounted from that total, the former because Madea only makes a brief appearance during the car chase, and the latter because it’s an animated spin-off rather than a live-action movie.
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