The overall structure of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball franchise is relatively complex. There are several iterations of the main canon series (both manga and anime), but also a lot of additional materials, such as movies, OVAs, games, and whatnot. Most of this additional content is, to be honest, not canon so you don’t have to worry about it, but with some of the recent movies becoming canon, it’s not a bad thing to know your Dragon Ball chronology.
As we have said, most of the movies aren’t really canon, and that is a good thing. But still, they are very interesting standalone stories and definitely deserve our attention, which is why we have decided to talk about their chronology a bit. In this article, we are going to focus on the 15 Dragon Ball Z movies, as we are going to bring you the proper chronological order in which you should watch them.
Dragon Ball Z movies in chronological order at a glance
Dragon Ball Z is the second iteration of the larger Dragon Ball canon. It follows an adult Goku and his friends as they face new threats, most of which are not from their own world. A total of 15 Dragon Ball Z movies have been released and this is their proper, chronological watching order:
- Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone
- Dragon Ball Z: The World’s Strongest
- Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might
- Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug
- Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge
- Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13
- Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler
- Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan
- Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound
- Dragon Ball Z: Broly’s Second Coming
- Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly
- Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn
- Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon
- Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods
- Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’
This list includes only the movies and their internal chronology. If you want a proper chronological guide to the whole series, as well as the relation of the movies to the episodes of the anime, you should check out our complete Dragon Ball watch order.
Dragon Ball Z movies in chronological order explained
1. Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (1989)
Garlic Junior, a demon like Piccolo, returns from another dimension to enslave the planet. Desiring to reunite the seven crystal balls, he takes off 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.
2. Dragon Ball Z: The World’s Strongest (1990)
Gohan and Oolong search for the Dragon Balls and their radar shows them that the balls are being collected by another unknown group. They investigate near a large wall of ice where Piccolo is training. Meanwhile, the mad scientist Dr. Kochin, having managed to collect all the spheres, summons the dragon Shenlong and wishes that Dr. Wheelo’s laboratory be free of the ice.
The ice breaks and a building emerges and Gohan and Oolong are attacked by Dr. Kochin’s “biomen”. Piccolo saves them but is defeated by three mysterious warriors while Gohan and Oolong escape. Dr. Kochin and his biomen soon report to Master Roshi, who refuses to accompany them to Wheelo’s lab and defeats the biomen.
Dr. Kochin kidnaps Bulma to force Master Roshi to go after them. In Wheelo’s lab, Master Roshi is forced to fight three “bio-warriors”, but is quickly defeated. Bulma discovers that Dr. Wheelo’s mission is to get the body of Earth’s strongest warrior to host her brain, which is currently separated from her deceased body and kept alive by his advanced technology.
Bulma informs him that Goku will definitely come to their rescue and that he is much more powerful than Roshi. Meanwhile, Goku learns of the situation and arrives at Dr. Wheelo’s lab and confronts Misokattsun, Kishime, and Ebifurya, Dr. Kochin’s three bio-warrior henchmen. Goku defeats Misokattsun, but is frozen by an ice attack launched by Ebifurya.
Gohan and Krillin arrive to help but are no match for Kishime. Goku breaks free from the ice with his Kaio-ken technique, defeats the two remaining biowarriors, and confronts Dr. Wheelo. Piccolo, who has been brainwashed by Dr. Wheelo, attacks Goku. Gohan tries to stop Piccolo, but is unsuccessful, causing Piccolo’s anger to erupt, destroying Dr. Wheelo’s brainwashing device.
Dr. Wheelo is stunned by Gohan’s power and wishes to steal Gohan’s body. He breaks his robotic body to free him from the ice wall, causing Dr. Kochin to fall down a shaft to his death. Dr. Wheelo attacks, overwhelming the combatants and only Goku and Piccolo remain to oppose him. Goku launches Dr. Wheelo into the atmosphere and begins to form a Spirit Bomb.
Wheelo interrupts him before he can finish gathering the energy for it, requiring Goku’s allies to distract Wheelo. Goku successfully launches the Spirit Bomb and Wheelo dies.
3.Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (1990)
Bulma, Krillin, Oolong and Son-Gohan are camping in the forest when a space probe ignites the forest by landing during the night. Krillin and Gohan successfully fight the fire and save the forest animals. The holy dragon Shenlong grants her wish to restore the forest to its original state. By rescuing Gohan, he gains a small hya dragon as a friend.
The space capsule was sent to Earth by space pirates who are on their way there to plant the tree of power. They succeed, and the fast-growing tree begins to strip the earth of all minerals with its roots, threatening to wipe out all life on the planet. Goku, Krillin , Tenshinhan, Chao-Zu and Yamcha want to destroy the tree and save the earth from destruction.
Their mission is unsuccessful and they meet the space pirates who defeat the friends. Son Gohan intervenes in the fight and thereby arouses the interest of the leader, Tales, who looks confusingly like Son Goku. The Saiyan Tales is looking for Son Goku, whom he knows as Kakarott, and wants Son Gohan to join the space pirates.
He refuses and Tales uses a ball of light to force him to transform into a were-monkey (Oozaru). While trying to protect Gohan, Gohan attacks him and tries to kill Goku. When the little Hya dragon appears and the were-monkey Son-Gohan calms down and releases his father, Tales kills the dragon. Son-Gohan then attacks Tales, who now wants to kill Son-Gohan as well.
Goku prevents this by cutting off the monkey’s tail with an energy disc and Gohan transforms back into a little boy. The tree of power continues to drain energy from the earth and its fruits begin to ripen. Son Goku now faces five space pirates, all of whom he defeats.
In the final fight, Son Goku succumbs to Tales, who had previously eaten a fruit and gained strength as a result. The earth is about to fall and Son-Goku uses the last of his strength to extract all the energy from the ripe fruit of the tree. He forms a Genkidama with it and uses this fighting technique to kill Tales and destroy the tree of power.
4.Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (1991)
Son Gohan and his dragon go to Piccolo to show him a dance. The young Saiyan hisses, but the Namekian can’t stand it and orders his disciple to stop. Meanwhile, a comet populated by enemies approaches and threatens to destroy Earth. Son Goku and Krillin try to deflect it with a combined Kamehameha, but in vain and at the very last second, it changes course.
Against all odds, a strange ship lands there and out comes soldiers from the army of Slug, an evil Namekian who intends to rule the Earth, as well as the other planets. Son Gohan and his mother Chichi easily defeat the soldiers, but she is incapacitated by one of them.
Slug retrieves the four-star Dragon Ball from the young Saiyan’s hat, and orders his subordinates to fetch the other six, entrusting them with the Radar Dragon stolen from Bulma, after reading the Terian’s mind. Once the mission is accomplished, he asks Shenron for eternal youth and his wish is granted.
Then, one of his devices spreads a cloud over the entire surface of the globe, turning the planet into freezing terrain which kills animals and plants, and covers the Sun, which is the weak point of his soldiers. Son Gohan faces them alone, but Piccolo arrives as reinforcements. The Namekian easily eliminates Zeûn, but his disciple has a hard time with Metamatcha.
Angira and the latter bombard the protecting Namek, but are quickly defeated by Son Goku, who has come to join them with Krillin. Then comes Slug. This very easily puts the Terran out of harm’s way without effort, and gives a hard time to the Saiyan who, despite his hard training, is no match for it.
As he is about to finish off his opponent, the latter transforms into a fake Super Saiyan and takes over, until the Namekian becomes a giant, reversing the situation again. Piccolo helps him by asking Son Gohan to whistle, who complies, which weakens the enemy. He then gives his energy to Goku, who manages to pierce his opponent and eliminates him with a Genkidama.
5. Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge (1991)
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 due to the fact that 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 senzus 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 was finally recovered and set out in search of Cooler.
His men took it upon themselves to kill him, but he proved too powerful for them the instant 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 transforms into a Super Saiyan. When the alien triggers his Death ball, Son Goku manages to control the giant ball and then sends it back to Cooler who crashes with the energy ball on the Sun.
6. Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! (1992)
C-13, C-14, and C-15, new cyborgs from Dr. Gero, are released. Their mission: to eliminate Son Goku. After C-14 is eliminated by Trunks and C-15 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.
7. Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (1992)
The planet Neu-Namek is overlaid by a metal planet called the Ghetti Star. Dende, who became God on Earth, sends Son Goku and his friends to New Namek. Once there, they find that Cooler, now made entirely of metal, has survived and is using his robotic soldiers to arrest the Nameks. While the robots battle Piccolo, Krillin and Son Gohan, Goku faces Metal-Cooler.
However, this seems to be superior to him, even when Son Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan. However, when Vegeta gets involved, there is still hope of defeating Cooler. Meanwhile, Krillin, Son Gohan, their friends, and the Nameks are being held in the Ghetti Star and are about to be sacrificed to that star. Piccolo tries to free his friends from the Ghetti Star, but encounters other Metal Coolers and has to fight against them.
Meanwhile, Son Goku and Vegeta are battered, but are still able to defeat Metal-Cooler, who is replaced by new warriors. The reason for this is that the ghetti star has created several metal coolers. The two let out their last reserves of strength and wake up in the ghetti star. Cooler tells them that his brain has been brought into the star’s magnetic field, allowing him to create a new body from any piece of metal, which is connected to the central computer. He wants to drain both of their Super Saiyan powers and thus create new Super Saiyan robots.
But his plan goes awry as too much power has been drained and slowly everything begins to fall apart. Piccolo was able to free Son Gohan and the others from the star and Metal-Cooler quickly builds a body because Son Goku and Vegeta still have enormous reserves of power and attack him. Eventually Cooler is defeated by Son Goku and Vegeta and they all manage to get out of the ghetti star before it explodes. In the final scene, Vegeta crushes the Ghetti Star’s last chip, destroying it completely.
8. Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (1993)
After a Super Saiyan wreaks havoc on the southern galaxy and makes its way to the northern galaxy, Master Kaio enlists Son-Goku’s help. While Son Goku goes in search of the Super Saiyan, a spaceship lands on Earth. On board the ship is the Saiyan Paragus, who also escaped the destruction of the planet Vegeta, the ancient homeworld of the Saiyans, at the hands of Freeza.
He now asks Prince Vegeta to follow him to the new home planet of the Saiyans, where he shall begin his rightful inheritance as the Saiyan King. Traveling from the future to the past, Trunks is suspicious and follows his father into the spaceship. Son-Gohan, Krillin, Muten Roshi, and Oolong eventually join Trunks.
Son Goku follows the aura of the Super Saiyan and uses instantaneous teleportation to get to the new home planet of the Saiyans. This soon turns out to be a trap for Vegeta. Under the servitude of Paragus and his son Broly, slave laborers have created a setting to fool Vegeta on the planet: the chosen planet is doomed due to an approaching asteroid. Paragus wants to kill Vegeta in revenge, since Broly’s father, King Vegeta, gave the order to kill him shortly after Broly’s birth due to his tremendous fighting power.
Goku finally finds out that Broly is the legendary Super Saiyan. When Broly sees Son Goku, whom he still knew as Kakarott, childhood memories come to life: Broly and the constantly crying Kakarott lay right next to each other in the nursery. The memory now drives Broly to unleash his powers. Broly first kills his father Paragus, who wants to escape with a capsule because of the asteroid.
Then a fight ensues between Broly and the other Saiyans and Piccolo, who also landed on the planet with a spaceship. The fighters from Earth don’t stand a chance until they all transfer their power to Goku in a final act, giving him the strength he needs to defeat Broly. At the last moment, Goku and his friends use the momentary teleportation in Piccolo’s space capsule to escape from the planet before it is completely destroyed by the asteroid.
9. Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (1993)
The story begins when the Cell Game is barely over. A very special new Tenkaichi Budokai is organized by a billionaire. 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.
10. Dragon Ball Z: Broly – Second Coming (1994)
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 go in search of the Dragon Balls just to see Shenron.
In their quest, they arrive in a poor mountain village where the inhabitants are threatened by a dinosaur. 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.
11. Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (1994)
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, together with the martial arts champion, they 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, 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) and, with biotechnology, he had created a clone almost equal in physicality, character, and power. Bio-Broly, then, is released and a strange yellowish substance covers him from head to toe.
12. Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (1995)
In the world of the afterlife, a purifier of souls destined for Hell explodes, letting them escape who 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 an 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.
13. Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (1995)
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 and from the music box, springs, in the middle of strange celestial phenomena, Tapion, a lonely young man who 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.
14. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2013)
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 then heads for Earth in the hope of finding this divine Super Saiyan.
15. Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (2015)
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, in order 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.
Do you need to watch the Dragon Ball Z movies in order?
Well, since these movies are not really canon, it doesn’t – ultimately – matter how you watch them. If you want to make sense of the whole story, it is best to follow this guide, as well as our full watching order for the whole Dragon Ball series. Still, since these movies aren’t really canon, you won’t be doing anything wrong if you watch them in a random order.