If you are at this site, I am going to assume that you have at least some knowledge of the show, or the dub at least.
I have to give a warning though, that the chronology and back story of the show that I will give you here is taken from two cannon sources: the Japanese (original) version of the anime, and the original manga. Out of the two however I will generally pick what I feel works the best. If you've read the original manga and have seen the original anime, you may consider one better then the other, or you may have your own combination of the two.
So as a reminder, this is my own interpretation, but I am avoiding any fictional sources and am just balancing the original anime and manga. If you've only seen the dub however, you may either not know this, or have a different version. Myself, I have not seen any of the dub past the R series, as a matter of principle, so I will not attempt to reconcile, or guess at any events that may have been depicted differently (butchered) in the dub.
I may also take a few liberties with some events, but I will be as faithful as I can to the events depicted in the series.
A long time ago there was life on all of the planets, and it was an era of peace called The Silver Millennium. Each of the planets had a warrior called a sailor senshi (senshi literally means warrior, though the English dub called them scouts for some reason). These warriors were called with the name of their planet, and they were also the princesses of their respective planets (no there were no male sailor senshi, nor according to Takeuchi Naoko will there be any). The only planets without a sailor senshi were Earth and the Moon (not a planet per se, but it makes sense to refer to it as such here). While Moon eventually got a sailor senshi, as we will see eventually, Earth did not, leading to a myriad of Sailor Earth's, that seem to be as common in fan-fiction as pigeons are in New York City (and generally as annoying), but I digress.
The sailor senshi were split into two main groups, the Inner Senshi, consisting of Sailors Mercury, Mars, Venus and Jupiter, whose job it was to protect the princess of the Moon, and the Outer Senshi consisting of Sailors Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, whose job it was to protect the solar system from outside threats. Saturn was technically neither an inner nor an outer senshi, and her destructive powers were eventually used to destroy the remains of the moon kingdom.
Each of these sailor senshi also had powers that were associated with their planet (for the most part at least, as Pluto and Saturn seem to have switched places).
The central civilization of this Silver Millennium was the one of the Moon, the ruler of which was Queen Serenity, and her daughter, who will play a large role in this show was Princess Serenity.
The civilization of the Earth had a prince named Endymion, who was in love with Princess Serenity. Princess Serenity herself often went down to the Earth to see him, in secret.
However things were not well on the Earth at that time. A person by the name of Beryl was rising to power with the aid of an evil creature called Queen Metallia. With Metallia's powers Beryl had taken over a large part of the Earth, and the Shitenou (generals) whose job it was to protect Prince Endymon of Earth to her side. The Shitenou were
Kunsite (called Malachite in the dub)
In the manga at least these generals were the lovers of the Inner Senshi:
Jedite and Mars
Nephrite and Jupiter
Zoicite and Mercury
Kunsite and Venus
It is interesting to note that in the original manga Zoicite and Kunzite had no homosexual relationship, but they did in the original anime, and it was censored again in the English dub, which turned Zoicite into a woman.
With Beryl poised to attack the moon, as she felt that it was a threat to her, all visitors from Earth were suspect (and if you follow the cannon of the Another Story game, many Earthlings were under control of Beryl by that time already), and thus not allowed on the Moon. However Prince Endymion, not able to keep away from his love Serenity, had snuck in under a disguise (a tuxedo with a mask, a top hat, and a cane -- wow) to have at least a dance with his beloved. It turned out to be their final dance, as that was the time that Beryl chose to launch an attack against the Moon.
In the battle Endymion challenged Beryl. When his death appeared certain, unable to consider living without him Serenity went after him and they both were both killed by Beryl's final blast. (In the manga Endymion is killed in battle, and Serenity kills herself on his sword)
The Inner Senshi also died in this battle, fighting to protect the princess and the moon palace.
In the end the only person left alive was Queen Serenity. Whether Beryl let her live to be able to gloat or she survived of her own power is unknown. The only other survivors were two cats, Luna and Artemis.
With nothing to lose, Queen Serenity used the power of the Maboroshi no Ginzuishou (Silver Crystal) to send all of the people, including her daughter and the other senshi into the future, to be reborn without their memories, and sealed away Beryl and Metallia. However her spirit was overcome with sorrow when she created the seal, and as such she was unable to use the full power of the crystal, that is why the seal eventually became defective.
*fast forward to the near present*
Artemis awakens, and remembering his mission seeks out Aino Minako and awakens her memories, and she takes on the guise of Sailor V. One of her duties was to pretend to be the Moon Princess until the real one is found.
If you follow the manga, she spends her time in Japan, going to Greece once. According to the anime, though she spent most of her time as Sailor V in England.
And now the story begins.
Luna (after a few mishaps) finds Usagi and gives her the moon brooch, allowing her to transform to Sailor Moon (this is the first time a Sailor Moon appears, as there wasn't one during the Silver Millennium). She faces Jedite a few times, and shortly thereafter Sailors Mercury (Mizuno Ami) and Mars (Hino Rei) rejoin her, fighting the Dark Kingdom. They are at times aided by Tuxedo Mask (Mamoru Chiba) who instinctively feels the need to protect Sailor Moon.
After too many failures Queen Beryl punishes Jedite by being sealed up in a crystal for eternity, and Nephrite takes his place. Unlike Jedite whose mission was to only gather energy, Nephrite was also searching for the Guzinshou, for that purpose he used the Kurozuishou (Black Crystal). In his human guise he used the name "Masato Sanjouin" (note that the initials are the same as Maxwell Stanton, which is the name he used in the dub). As Masato Sanjouin he falls in love with Osaka Naru (Molly) and he is killed by Zoicite while protecting Naru.
Zoicite takes over from Nephrite and using the Kurozuishou starts searching for the Nijizuishou (Rainbow Crystals). At this time Sailor Jupiter (Makoto Kino) is awakened, and joins the current senshi in their fight against the Dark Kingdom. Tuxedo Mask, while helping the Sailor Senshi, is also trying to gather the Nijizuishou for himself, as he feels that it is the key to restoring his memories, and to finding the young woman who keeps appearing in his dreams.
Kunzite and Zoicite launch an attack, which succedes in capturing all of the senshi in a dark dome, and attempt to bargain their lives for the rainbow crystals in Tuxedo Mask's possesion. Their plan fails, when the last inner senshi, Sailor Venus appears and saves the day.
When Zoicite, having found out Tuxedo Mask's identity, lures Mamoru to get the rainbow crytstals that were in his possesion, Usagi follows him. During this encounter she transforms in front of Mamoru, showing him that she is Sailormoon. She is also caught unawares though, when he reveals to her that he is Tuxedo Mask. During the battle with Zoicite, Tuxedo Mask is mortaly wounded, and as Sailor Moon holds him, their memories return. They remember their last moments on the Moon. Sailor Moon becomes Princess Serenity, and the rainbow crystals come together to form the Ginzuishou. Mamoru is kidnapped to the Dark Kingdom, and Beryl executes Zoicite for not following her orders.
Queen Beryl brainwashes Mamoru, and he becomes one of her minions, working with Kunzite in order to obtain the Ginzuishou. After several attacks by Kunzite, who instead of Youma uses brainwashed humans, and a few appearances by Endymon, the sailor senshi go on the offensive.
They have Sailormoon pretend that she wishes to quit the team, and hand over the Ginzuishou in exchange for Mamoru. Even though this is a trap, Usagi gives her wand and the crystal to Mars for safekeeping. The trap fails, but the youma is defeated by the senshi working together.
Finding a portal to the Dark Kingdom, they are confronted by Kunzite, but before he could attack, the senshi vanish, to reappear on the moon. There the spirit of Queen Serenity appears to them and shows them all the final day of the moonkingdom, and the attack from Earth.
While they are on the moon, Kunzite attacks Luna and Artemis, and the senshi barely return in time to save them. During the battle with Kunzite, Sailormoon deflects his energy blades at him, killing him.
After a temporary retreat to allow everyone, cats included to heal, the senshi head out for the Dark Kingdom once more.
From the Hikawa shrine, they teleport to the north pole, to face Queen Beryl, in a final attack. Five youma are sent out to stop them. The senshi are killed off one by one, but they take one of the youma with them. Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus die one after the other, untill it is only Moon and Mars who are left. Mars takes the remaining two youma out with her, and Moon is left alone, to fight the final battle.
As she begins to lose her will, the spirits of the four senshi appear to her and encourage her to go on.
Sailormoon's first opponent is Endymon himself. She attempts to heal him with her attack, but it fails, as Beryl gloats that the power of Mettalia wiped all of his memories from his mind. Endymon attacks Sailormoon, using a black rose to hit her with energy, and then lifting her by her neck and continuing the attack. After hitting him once with a Tiara Action, Sailormoon, held out a music box from their past, and upon touching it, Endymon's memories flowed back. Beryl, seeing this tosses a crystal shard attempting to kill both of them, but Endymon's rose shatters the crystal and buries itself in Bery's chest. However a fragment of the crystal hits Endymon in the back, killing him. Sailormoon considers kissing him, but desides against it, as none of the other senshi had such a chance.
Meanwhile Beryl had, in an attempt to survive, melded her body with the conciousness of Metallia.
As Moon walked towards her, Beryl/Metallia attacked with a wave of dark energy. Out of the attack came up a tower of ice, its top burst open, revealing Princess Serenity, brandishing the ginzuishou.
In the attack, Serenity drew on the power of the other senshi to help her defeat this evil, and used the power of the ginzuishou along with that energy.
A huge sphere of energy engulfs Beryl/Metallia, then Serenity and the bodies of the senshi, as well as Endymon's body, and all of the dark kingdom. We hear Usagi's voice, wishing for a normal life.
We cut to the Tsukino household where we see that life has returned to normal. On Usagi's way to school we see each of the four senshi, as well as Mamoru, who have no memories of each other, or of their battles, but are also living a normal life.
The first season ends here.
More to come later ^_^;;