It's not a secret that Dragon Ball Z is one of the most popular anime series, from the beginning to the end of the Dragon Ball timeline. The show, which first aired in Japan in 1989 and ran for 291 episodes until 1996, has inspired dozens of spin-offs, remakes, and live-action adaptations. The iconic Dragon Ball universe has inspired every Dragon Ball movie, game, and spin-off.
The story follows Goku (initially named Kakarot) as he trains to become Earth's greatest warrior under the tutelage of Master Roshi. Along with his friends Bulma, Gohan, Krillin, and Vegeta, Goku battles numerous villains from Frieza to Cell as he tries to protect Earth from their evil plans.
The original Dragon Ball manga was written by Akira Toriyama and published by Shueisha in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1984 to 1995. It was adapted into an anime series by Toei Animation from 1986 to 1993, followed by two sequels (Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT).1
In addition to these animated shows, there have been several movies based on the franchise: Battle of Gods (2013), Resurrection F (2015), Resurrection' F': Super Android 13! (2016), and Super (2019). While not part of the Dragon Ball Z timeline, these films provide insight into the universe and characters.
Additionally, several video games based on Dragon Ball Z can be enjoyed by fans and gamers alike. The most popular titles include Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (2008), Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 (2010), Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (2016), and Dragon Ball FighterZ (2018).
The Dragon Ball timeline is complicated, but here are some of the most significant events and arcs.2
Finding the Dragon Balls is the Easy Part
Finding the Dragon Balls is the easy part. The hard part? Keeping them safe from all villains and monsters that want nothing more than to use them to grant their own good or evil wishes.2
Here's how you can watch the entire Dragon Ball series in order and make sense of it all:
Dragon Ball — Episodes 1-153 (1986-1989)
The first portion of Dragon Ball covers Goku's early years as he trains under Master Roshi and eventually teams up with his fellow warriors Yamcha and Krillin to enter martial arts tournaments across the globe. The episodes are mostly standalone stories about each character's journey toward becoming stronger fighters. However, later seasons introduce some recurring characters like villainous Emperor Pilaf and his minions Shu and Mai.
Dragon Ball Z — Episodes 154-291 (1989-1996)
The first portion of Dragon Ball covers Goku's early years as he trains under Master Roshi and eventually teams up with his fellow warriors Yamcha and Krillin to enter martial arts tournaments across the globe. The episodes are mostly standalone stories about each character's journey toward becoming stronger Dragon Ball Z fighters. However, later seasons introduce some recurring characters like villainous Emperor Pilaf and his minions Shu and Mai.
Dragon Ball GT — Episodes 292-313 (1996-1997)
The final part of Dragon Ball GT focuses on Goku's attempts to stop an evil wizard named Baby from taking over Earth. Baby uses a device called the Black Star Dragon Balls. The device can grant wishes if all seven balls are collected after being scattered across space by Pilaf's minions during Dragon Ball Z. He also transforms into an even stronger form than Super Saiyan 3 by using an item known as the Sacred Water from planet Pital.
Dragon Ball Kai (2009 - 2011)
In 2009, Toei Animation released Dragon Ball Kai: The Final Chapters, which remastered the original Dragon Ball Z TV series from 1989 to 1996. This new version featured updated animation techniques and removed content deemed too violent or inappropriate for children by modern standards.3 The result was an edited version of Dragon Ball Z that provided a better experience for younger viewers while preserving many memorable moments from the original series.
Dragon Ball Z Kai — (2014 - 2015)
This abridged version of DBZ condenses everything from the original series into one season. Each episode is 15 minutes long instead of 30 minutes like in the original Dragon Ball series. This makes it easier for new fans to get into Dragon Ball Z without having to sit through long weekly episodes. The downside is that the director removed some story elements to make room for more action scenes and cutaway gags, so it might not be as exciting for longtime fans who want their favorite moments preserved in full detail.
Dragon Ball Super — (2015-2018)
This is where things get a bit tricky. Dragon Ball Super takes place after the events of Dragon Ball Z but before the events of Dragon Ball GT, which means it's technically part of both series. For the sake of simplicity, we'll consider Dragon Ball Super to be a separate entity for now.
The series picks up with Goku and his friends fighting against an alien named Majin Buu, who has been unleashed on Earth. The episodes are mostly standalone stories about each character's journey toward becoming stronger fighters. However, later seasons introduce some recurring characters like villainous Emperor Pilaf and his minions Shu and Mai.
Super Dragon Ball Heroes (2018 - Present)
This is the anime that is currently airing on Toonami. It's set after the events of Dragon Ball Super but before the events of GT and Super. The main character is a young boy named Fu who wants to be like his hero Goku. He gets transported into the alternate universe, where he meets up with various other heroes and villains, and they all have to fight against evil forces trying to destroy their world.
Every Dragon Ball movie and show has raised questions among its avid fans, like who is the strongest in Dragon Ball Z? or which is the best Dragon Ball Z movie or show? But the beauty of this series is that everyone can have their own opinion.
A Break Down of the Major Events of the Series
Confused about the Dragon Ball Z timeline? This guide breaks down the series' major events, starting with Goku's arrival on Earth.
The Saiyan Saga
The Saiyan Saga is the first saga of Dragon Ball Z and kicks off the main story of DBZ. It starts with Goku arriving on Earth and ends with Goku fighting Vegeta in a battle to determine who will be king.
The Namek Saga
The Namek Saga is arguably the best part of Dragon Ball Z. It sees Goku and his friends travel to planet Namek in search of the Dragon Balls, which they use to revive Piccolo's father, despite being warned not to do so by King Kai.
The Frieza Saga
This is where things get serious! Frieza is introduced as he murders King Vegeta and his son Nappa. After this, he kills Nappa for having such low power levels. He defeats Piccolo, Krillin, Tien Shinhan, and Yamcha before facing off against Goku.
The Cell Saga
The Cell Saga is one of the most memorable parts of Dragon Ball Z because it features Goku and Vegeta going Super Saiyan 2 for the first time against Cell, who is trying to absorb Android 18 into his body. It's also where Future Trunks shows up and helps save the day with his own time machine.
The Buu Saga
The Buu Saga begins with Buu absorbing Gotenks and Piccolo together before turning himself into an even stronger creature called Super Buu.
Super Buu then proceeds to kill almost everyone in the universe by turning them into candy and eating them. After this, he faces the remaining heroes on Earth, who have been split up into two groups: Vegito and Gohan's group.
The next chapter of the DBZ timeline is the Uub Sagas. Uub is a young boy who becomes Goku's apprentice after he defeats him in a fight. After training for several years, Uub fights against Kid Buu and defeats him, becoming Earth's savior.
The final two sagas of Dragon Ball Z are GT and Super. The GT Saga focuses on Goku traveling through space to find his son Gohan. Goku eventually finds his son, along with Vegeta (who left Earth at the end of GT) and Trunks (who returned to Earth after training with his father), but they're all sucked into a black hole that's created by Baby, a villain who turns people into evil cyborgs known as Bio-Androids.
The Future Trunks Arc
The Future Trunks Arc takes place in an alternate timeline where Trunks returns from his future to warn everyone about what happens if someone doesn't defeat Majin Buu soon enough. The arc occurs immediately following the Cell Games and introduces a new villain named Goku Black.5
The story begins when Frieza uses his newly-acquired power-up to destroy King Vegeta and take over the Saiyan race. He then destroys Planet Vegeta, killing all but three Saiyans: Goku (who was off training), Vegeta (who escaped with his father), and Bulma (who was on Earth at the time).
In this alternate universe, Bulma is killed by Frieza's men when she tries to save one of her sons from being killed by them. However, she managed to send her son away before she died; this young boy would grow up to be Trunks.
Trunks ends up traveling back in time using a time machine that Dr. Gero built in hopes of altering history so that he could rule the world without interference from Goku or those around him.
There are Many Things to Look Forward to in the Culturefly Dragon Ball Franchise
From the best Dragon Ball Z episodes to the strongest characters, this series has been loved by many worldwide. Dragon Ball Z is one of the greatest works of entertainment in the anime and manga genre, rivaling anything we have seen or will be seeing in the future. Every mystical adventure of the Dragon Ball universe is iconic. Fans and new viewers should jump into this wonderful work as soon as possible.
CultureFly is the leading destination for Dragon Ball Z merchandise with the Dragon Ball Z subscription box. Suppose you're a fan of the anime. In that case, you'll be happy to know that CultureFly sells everything from action figures and collectibles to apparel, accessories, and more—and Toei Animation officially licenses it.
You can purchase a CultureFly nerd box in two ways: online or in-person at a CultureFly retail location. You can also buy online from other retailers that sell CultureFly products if you'd prefer not to shop directly through them. You can find their store locator here—select your state or country, then enter your city or zip code to find a nearby location where you can shop in person.
1 Every Single Dragon Ball Series (In Chronological Order)- https://www.cbr.com/dragon-ball-series-chronological-order/
2 10 Best Fan-Made Dragon Ball Z Games Of All Time- https://www.thegamer.com/dragon-ball-best-fan-games/
3 Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters- https://wetv.vip/en/play/akk9f54ztjldyrx
4 Everything You Need to Know About 'Dragon Ball Super'- https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2017/01/dragon-ball-super-facts
5 Future Trunks - Son of Vegeta- https://dbzgt77.weebly.com/future-trunks.html