Diving into the vast universe of Dragon Ball can be as thrilling as Goku’s first Kamehameha, but with so many episodes, movies, and spin-offs, where do you start? If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed trying to figure out the ‘Dragon Ball’ watch order, I’ve got your back. I’ve meticulously crafted this guide to ensure fans experience the story in its intended chronological order, including every adrenaline-pumping movie. So, without further ado, let’s embark on this Z-fighter journey together!
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to bring you the most up-to-date watch order, including the series that are considered to be outside of the main continuity.
How Many seasons of Dragon Ball are there?
The complete Dragon Ball anime is separated into several segments. The Original Dragon Ball spans seven story arcs and 153 episodes, followed by Dragon Ball Z with five story arcs and 291 episodes. Then we have Dragon Ball GT, which spans three story arcs and 64 episodes. The original Dragon Ball was then remade with Dragon Ball Kai which includes three story arcs and 167 episodes, followed by Dragon Ball Kai: The Final Chapters, which span 69 episodes and one story arc.
Dragon Ball Kai was then followed by the continuation of the story Dragon Ball Super which spanned five story arcs and brought us 131 episodes. The last and currently running segment of the anime is Super Dragon Ball Heroes, with 46 episodes and seven story arcs. So in total, there are 921 episodes of Dragon Ball anime across all segments.
All Dragon Ball Seasons and Segments in order -at a glance
- Dragon Ball (1986-1989) – 153 episodes, 7 story arcs
- Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996) – 291 episodes, 5 story arcs
- Dragon Ball GT (1996-1997) – 64 episodes, 3 story arcs
- Dragon Ball Kai (2009-2011) – 167 episodes, 3 story arcs
- Dragon Ball Kai: The Final Chapters (2014-2015) – 69 episodes, 1 story arc
- Dragon Ball Super (2015-2018) – 131 episodes, 5 story arcs
- Super Dragon Ball Heroes (2018-present) – 46 episodes, 7 story arcs
Dragon Ball: The Complete Chronological Watch Order
Anime series, at least such big ones as Dragon Ball, usually have a lot of seasons and several movies, which expands the narrative to a large degree. Now, if the franchise runs for decades, the amount of material accumulates and gets released, but necessarily in the right in-universe chronological order.
This often confuses the fans, so we have decided to bring a detailed chronological guide of all the material before we actually continue analyzing each separate installment.
This is an overview of the chronological order in which you should watch Dragon Ball:
- Dragon Ball
- Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 1-86
- “Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku” (TV special)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 87-107
- Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z: The World’s Strongest (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 108-123
- “Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks” (TV special)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 124 and 125
- Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 126-146
- Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13 (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 147-173
- Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 174-194
- Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 195-207
- Dragon Ball Z: Broly’s Second Coming (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 208-250
- Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 251-253
- Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 254-288
- Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (movie)
- Dragon Ball Z episodes 289-end
- Dragon Ball GT, all episodes
- Dragon Ball Super episodes 1-3
- Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods (movie)
- Dragon Ball Super episodes 4-18
- Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F (movie)
- Dragon Ball Super episodes 19-end
- Dragon Ball Super: Broly (movie)
- Super Dragon Ball Heroes (ongoing)
- Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (movie)
Now that this is over let us go into the list in more detail.
1. Dragon Ball (1986 – 1989), 153 Episodes, 7 Story Arcs
Dragon Ball, the anime series, is the first thing you should watch, as it introduces not only Goku but also the whole world of Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. This is a great starter work as it will tell you everything you need to know, and you can watch it uninterrupted, as the 153 episodes, which ran from February 26, 1986, to April 19, 1989, are all in the right chronological order.
Already very strong in his normal form (even before having undergone formal training, he stands up to high-level adult fighters), Son Goku transforms into a giant ape after staring at the full moon, then deploying immeasurable destructive power ( without being aware of it and without having the slightest memory afterward).
With another young boy named Krillin, he undergoes very rigorous training with Kame Sennin, known as “Tortue Géniale,” a renowned martial arts master, hiding a great power under his appearance as a lustful old man who prepares his two disciples for the Grand Tournament. martial arts (Tenkaichi Budokai).
More and more formidable enemies appear until the incarnation of Evil in the form of the Demon Piccolo.
2. Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (1989) – watch before Dragon Ball Z
Garlic Junior, a demon like Piccolo, returns from another dimension to enslave the planet. Desiring to reunite the seven crystal balls, he removes Son Gohan (wearing a hat with Su Shinchu). Son Goku and Piccolo will team up to fight this new enemy.
Joined by the Almighty, they enter Garlic’s palace. While the Almighty fights against Garlic, the others go to free Son Gohan. Then they come back to lend a hand to the Almighty. But Garlic, who has achieved immortality, keeps getting up and decides to end them by throwing them into an inter-dimensional breach he has created. Fortunately, Son Gohan gets angry at the right time.
3. Dragon Ball Z (1989 – 1996), 291 Episodes, 5 Story Arcs
Dragon Ball Z is a rather complex unit that is, in many ways, divided and “interrupted” by numerous movies that fit somewhere between the series’ long run. In this section, we’re just going to sum up the whole series order and then refer to each of these movies separately so you know how they actually fit in.
The anime takes place five years after Goku and Chichi’s wedding. Since then, they have had a son named Gohan. A new story begins with the fact that a mysterious space warrior named Raditz, Goku’s older brother, arrives on Earth from another planet, and that, it turns out, Goku is also from the extraterrestrial race of warriors – the Saiyan, of which only four are now alive.
Goku sacrifices himself to have Piccolo kill Raditz. But the troubles for the land did not end there. There are still two living Sayans – Nappa and Vegeta, and they go to the ground to get Dragon Balls and use them. Meanwhile, Goku enters the underworld and undergoes training at North Cayo, where he improves his physical performance and learns techniques such as kayoken and genki dame.
One year later, Goku’s friends resurrect him. The Sayans have already arrived and all together are trying to protect the Earth, but in the end, most die. Nappa dies, but Vegeta managed to escape. Since Piccolo died, so did the Kami of the Earth, and therefore, all the Dragon Balls disappeared. Bulma, Gohan, and Krilin travel to Hint to take advantage of the Namekian Dragonballs.
4. Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku (1990) – watch between episodes 86 and 87
On the planet Vegeta, a lower-class warrior, Bardock, is an example. His missions are all crowned with success. In addition, he recently had a boy. But he does not love him because his combat strength is only ten units, which is very low even for an infant among Saiyans. This child bears the name of Kakarotto.
Following the death of his companions, Bardock warns the other Saiyans to unite them against Frieza, but they do not believe him and laugh in his face. He, therefore, decides to face Frieza during a final face-to-face, risking his life to change the fate of the planet Vegeta, his own, as well as that of his second son (the first being the eldest, Raditz), Kakarotto, on his way to Earth, where his destiny will be fulfilled. Bardock, before dying, has as his last vision of the future his adult son confronting Frieza and finally triumphing over the tyrant. He dies smiling.
5. Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock (2011), Dragon Ball Z: The World’s Strongest (1990), Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (1990), and Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (1991) – watch between episodes 107 and 108 (in the order written)
This is a series of four films you need to watch between episodes 107 and 108 of Dragon Ball Z. Since they form a single narrative unit that fits the two episodes, we have decided to group them together.
Episode of Bardock is a 20-minute short anime film adapted from the eponymous three-chapter manga released in 2011. It shows that Bardock survived the destruction of his home planet and the genocide of his entire race, having been sent into the past to a strange planet where he battles Frieza’s ancestor, Chilled.
The World’s Strongest follows Gohan and Oologon on their search for the Dragon Balls, which Dr. Kochin collects. Kochin wished for the release of Dr. Wheelo’s lab from ice, ultimately resulting in the heroes fighting Dr. Wheelo himself.
The Tree of Might sees our heroes fight a group of Saiyan space fighters led by Turles, who looks much like Goku. Turles intend to plant the titular Tree of Might on the planet, but the tree would end up sucking its energy, destroying it in the process.
Finally, Lord Slug sees the heroes fight a group of powerful aliens led by the titular Lord Slug, who wishes to become the Earth’s new rules.
6. Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks (1993) – watch between episodes 123 and 124
The story begins, in an alternate future, with sad news: Piccolo, Yamcha, Ten Shin Han, Krilin, Bulma, Yajirobe, and Vegeta learn of the death of Son Goku from a heart virus, while his wife Chichi and his stepfather Gyumao remain at his bedside, joined by Son Gohan who discovers the lifeless body of his father.
Later, two cyborgs, C-17 and C-18, attack the southern capital. Piccolo, Vegeta, Yamcha, Ten Shin Han, Yajirobe, and Krillin are killed by them, trying to stop them. Thirteen years have passed, and cyborgs continue to wreak havoc. Seeing for himself the damage done by the cyborgs and feeling helpless that he cannot do anything, Trunks begs Son Gohan to train him to become strong enough to face them, which the latter accepts.
7. Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge (1991) – watch between episodes 125 and 126
Cooler is on the trail of Son Goku, the last descendant of the Saiyans. He arrives on Earth not to avenge Frieza, his brother, but to avenge the humiliation suffered by his family because Frieza was defeated by a simple Saiyan, with his henchmen, the most powerful of them is called Sauzer.
Four men are with him. As time went on, Son Gohan, Krillin, Son Goku, and Piccolo, who faced them, were all almost finished by Cooler. Son Gohan went to the Karin Tower to bring senses to his father, who was badly injured with a burn on his back. Piccolo had almost disappeared from the battle because of Cooler. Son Goku finally recovered and set out in search of a Cooler.
His men took it upon themselves to kill him, but he proved too powerful for them when Cooler appeared. The fatal fight began. It was first in favor of Son Goku, then Cooler, in bad shape, transformed into his final form and took the upper hand over his opponent, who was, unfortunately, no match for him.
After the correction that was inflicted on him, thinking back to his friends, Son Goku still finds the strength to get up, releases his anger, and transform into a Super Saiyan. When the alien triggers his Death ball, Son Goku controls the giant ball and then sends it back to Cooler, who crashes with the energy ball on the Sun.
8. Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! (1992) – watch between episodes 146 and 147
C-13, C-14, and C-15, new cyborgs from Dr. Gero, are released. Their mission: to eliminate Son Goku. After Trunks and C-15 eliminate C-14 by Vegeta, C-13 picks up the electronic components of the two destroyed cyborgs and absorbs them to transform into a new robot: a C-13 more powerful than the original. Son Goku destroys him by creating a Genki Dama, which he absorbs as a Super Saiyan, making him almost invincible.
9. Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (1992) and Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (1993) – watch between episodes 173 and 174 (in the order written)
As we did above, we combined the two movies to form a “unit” that fits between episodes 173 and 174 of the Dragon Ball Z anime. In The Return of Cooler we see the heroes face Frieza’s brother, Cooler, once again, after he had already been defeated by them once (see above). Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan, on the other hand, introduced the villain Broly to the narrative community, although Toriyama himself later rebooted him.
10. Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (1993) – watch between episodes 194 and 195
The story begins when the Cell Game is barely over. A billionaire organizes a very special new Tenkaichi Budokai. This tournament is intergalactic. Extraterrestrials arrive to participate in this exceptional match. But the latter are eliminated by a gang of thugs led by Bojack, thus taking their places in the tournament.
Krillin then confronts Zangya, the chief’s subordinate, but is beaten. Trunks fights Gokua the Swordsman and defeats him with no problem but is surprised by Bojack. One of the finalists was beaten by Bido, and Son Gohan faced off against Bujin the illusionist. Piccolo, Yamcha, Ten Shin Han, and even Vegeta are no match for the four thugs, and Son Gohan is forced to face them alone.
11. Dragon Ball Z: Broly – Second Coming (1994) – watch between episodes 207 and 208
Broly did not die in the fight in which he faced Son Goku. While seriously injured, his shuttle crashes to Earth, but he is trapped in ice. Meanwhile, Videl, Son Goten, and Trunks decide to search for the Dragon Balls just to see Shenron.
In their quest, they arrive in a poor mountain village where a dinosaur threatens the inhabitants. They then propose to kill the monster, which terrorizes them. Videl offers herself as bait, and while she doesn’t tell Trunks anything about stealing a cake, she doesn’t want Son Goten touching it and slapping him.
He starts to cry to make Videl give in to give him a cake, but his crying wakes Broly up, as they are very similar to the ones he had known when he was young with Son Goku. Broly gets into a fit of unprecedented anger and breaks free from the ice.
12. Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (1994) – watch between episodes 250 and 251
Baron Jaguar Batter sends his cousin Men Men to call Mr. Satan, his old childhood rival, to invite him to his home and have him fight with bio-warriors. Mr. Satan asks Trunks, Son Goten, and # 18 to fight in his place, telling the latter that the more he fights for him, the more money he can receive. The cyborg accepts and, with the two Saiyans and the martial arts champion go to the baron’s villa.
The three quickly defeat all the bionic warriors, and Mr. Satan is exalted, stating that he doesn’t even need to intervene. Goten and Trunks then go to snoop around the house and after meeting the scientists, they see the best bionic warrior locked up in a capsule filled with a strange liquid. This bio-being turns, and the two see that it is Broly and wonder, in fear, why he is still alive.
In fact, the baron had been given the DNA of the legendary Super Saiyan (through the blood present in the spacecraft). With biotechnology, he created a clone almost equal in physicality, character, and power. Bio-Broly is released, and a strange yellowish substance covers him from head to toe.
13. Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (1995) – watch between episodes 253 and 254
In the world of the afterlife, a purifier of souls destined for Hell explodes, letting them escape and take over the body of a young wizard, transforming him into a huge yellow monster with childish looks: Janemba.
He encloses purgatory, the Enma Palace, and all the surroundings in sort of bubbles covered with extremely resistant protection that can only be broken by sending him insults, which Paikûhan ends up discovering. With the effects of King Enma’s power canceled, Mr. Satan, Son Gohan, Trunks, and Son Goten must face the dead returning to Earth. Zombie, armies, as well as the former enemies of Son Goku, invade the city.
14. Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (1995) – watch between episodes 288 and 289
The story takes place sometime after Boo’s death. Son Gohan and Videl bear the nicknames of intergalactic warriors and bring peace and justice. One day, an old man, Hoi, threatens to kill himself if we don’t help him.
He actually wants help to free his friend Tapion locked in a music box. No Saiyan can open it: even Son Gohan and Son Goku fail. Only the dragon Shenron can open this famous box using his magical powers. A soft melody is then resounded. From the music box springs, in the middle of strange celestial phenomena, Tapion, a lonely young man, appears before the eyes of Son Goku and his friends playing the ocarina.
Then, without saying thank you to his benefactors who allowed him to get out of his prison, he goes alone. The young Trunks is dazzled by this hero and decides to find him to bring him food.
15. Dragon Ball GT (1996 – 1997) 64 Episodes, 3 Story Arcs
Dragon Ball GT is another unit you can watch uninterrupted, like Dragon Ball. The show must be watched after the conclusion of Dragon Ball Z and just before you start with Dragon Ball Super.
The story takes place five years after the Dragon Ball Z animated series ends. Son Goku ends Oob’s training in the Almighty’s palace. Pilaf, the enemy of Son Goku since the beginning of Dragon Ball, wishes to use the Dragon Balls to dominate the world.
He discovered the existence of ancient Dragon Balls created by the Almighty (Kami-sama) before he parted ways with Piccolo Daimaô (his evil part) in the Palace of the Almighty. He, therefore, invokes Kyûkyoku Shenron, which is red in color (unlike the classic Shenron, which is green). As usual, Pilaf misses his wish, and Kyûkyoku Shenron changes Son Goku into a child.
Unfortunately, these evil Dragon Balls (created by a still imperfect Almighty) not only disperse throughout the universe (while classic Dragon Balls disperse on Earth only) but are also destroyed after a year, the planet where the vow was made. Son Goku, therefore, has one year to reunite them and prevent the disintegration of the Earth.
He sets off with Trunks and Pan searching for the crystal balls scattered throughout the galaxy.
16. Dragon Ball Super (2015 – 2018), 131 Episodes, 5 Story Arcs
Dragon Ball Super luckily has only a few “interruptions” and can be mostly watched as a single unit. The Super Dragon Ball Heroes web series should be watched after you finish with Dragon Ball Super.
The story of Dragon Ball Super is a direct sequel to Akira Toriyama’s manga and the Dragon Ball Z series. It takes place after the end of the Boo arc and before the start of the 28th World Martial Arts Championship. It, therefore, does not resume the scenario of the Dragon Ball GT series.
As for the movies that are set within the timeline, they are:
17. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2013) – watch between episodes 3 and 4
Boo’s threat has been stopped, and peace has returned to Earth. But, Beerus, the god of destruction, wakes up from a long sleep of 39 years and decides to go in search of the divine Super Saiyan, an overpowered warrior who should offer him a fight to his measure. That’s what the Oracle Fish predicts to Beerus.
Beerus then begins his quest with the surviving Saiyans of Earth. He then meets Son Goku at the northern Kaioh, who offers the god of destruction a fight, but is then beaten with disconcerting ease. Goku being of no help in his quest, Beerus heads for Earth hoping to find this divine Super Saiyan.
18. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (2015) – watch between episodes 18 and 19
Two soldiers, Sorbet and Tagoma, from the army of Frieza, the former tyrant having been defeated by Son Goku on Namek, set out in search of the Dragon Balls on Earth to resuscitate him. Once resuscitated, Frieza’s only goal is to get revenge on Son Goku.
He is informed that Goku has greatly gained in power and managed to defeat Boo. Frieza decides to train for four months, claiming to be able to surpass him in this period of time.
19. Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018) – watch after Dragon Ball Super and before Super Dragon Ball Heroes
The film’s beginning traces the past of Goku, Vegeta, and Broly on the planet Vegeta. King Cold visits the Saiyans, accompanied by his son Freeza and his army, announces that he is retiring, and leaves his empire to his son. King Vegeta discovers that Broly, the son of a warrior named Paragus, is more powerful than his.
Viewing his great power as an affront, he dispatched Broly to an inhospitable asteroid named Vampa. Paragus, accompanied by a Saiyan, flees, searches for his son on this planet, and finds him. To allow him and his son to survive, he has no choice but to kill his companion.
20. Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022) – watch after Dragon Ball Super: Broly
While on Beerus’ planet, Goku and Vegeta continue training and improving their skills under Whis, now assisted by Broly to help control his anger. Meanwhile, on Earth, the resurrected Red Ribbon Army, led by Magenta and Carmine, recruits Dr. Hedo, Dr. Gero’s grandson, to exact revenge on Piccolo and Gohan.
Under Hedo’s tutelage, the Red Ribbon Army creates two new androids, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2, to appear in public as superheroes. The Red Ribbon Army uses Gamma 2 to attack Piccolo, who loses the fight and is seemingly killed, but he tracks Gamma 2 to the Red Ribbon Army’s base. There, Piccolo discovers that Magenta and Hedo are working on a new android called Cell Max, a new model of their old enemy Cell.
To get Gohan to fight her, Magenta decides to kidnap his daughter Pan. After learning that she has been kidnapped, Gohan drops out of college and confronts the base with Piccolo, who uses the Dragon Balls to achieve a new form called “Orange Piccolo.” Gohan unleashes his potentially raging form, battling and overpowering Gamma 1, while Piccolo battles Gamma 2 with his orange form.