In the world of anime, Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball is arguably the most important and influential work in the history of the genre, simply because it was the first globally popular work that brought the world of Japanese animation to television screens around the world. Now, decades after the original series’ premiere, the world of Dragon Ball has evolved to include a series of different shows and movies.
In this article, we are going to bring you the complete chronological watching order for the whole Dragon Ball franchise, with the movies included. The works are going to be ordered chronologically according to the in-universe timeline, with each of the sections containing some basic information on the iterations and their respective plots.
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 causes confusion with the fans and that is why we have decided to bring a detailed chronological guide of all the material before we actually continue with the analysis of each separate installment.
This is an overview of the chronological order in which you should watch Dragon Ball:
Now that this is over, let us go into the list in more detail.
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.
This anime tells the story of the childhood and adolescence of Son Goku, a little boy very gifted for martial arts, and who has a mysterious monkey tail.
He meets a young woman named Bulma, and the two go together in search of the Dragon Balls (seven magical crystal balls which, if they are together, allow to summon the dragon Shenron, then proposing to grant the wish of the one who pronounces a specific formula in front of him), meeting on the way many adversaries (most of them competing in the quest for the famous balls, often for selfish or even evil purposes), some of whom subsequently become allies, such as Yamcha or Ten Chin Han.
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 afterwards).
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 of 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.
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 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. Goku, meanwhile, enters the underworld and undergoes training at North Cayo, where he improves his physical performance and also 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.
There Frieza and Vegeta are waiting for them. Vegeta and Goku’s friends team up against Frieza, but they lose. By that time, Goku arrives after them, having undergone training under gravity 100 times stronger than Earth. But this power is not enough to defeat Frieza. Upon seeing Krilin’s death, Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan, and is ready to fight on equal terms with Frieza.
As a result, Goku wins, but does not kill him, and Freeza is destroyed by Hint. With the help of the Dragon Balls, Goku’s friends manage to save all the Namekians and transport them to Earth. On earth, they resurrect everyone thanks to the Namekian Dragon Balls, but when they decided to resurrect Goku, it turned out that he was still alive, and did not want to return to Earth, because he was training on the planet Yadrat.
After some time, Freeza flies to the ground to kill Goku, but Trunks is already waiting for him there and kills him. Later it turned out that Trunks came from the future, and also that he is the son of Bulma and Vegeta, who will be born 3 years later. He also says that after 3 years, 2 dangerous androids will appear on the earth – №17 and №18.
After 3 years, it turned out that there are two more androids – Cell and # 16. Cell absorbs the seventeenth and eighteenth and assumes its perfect form. He is hosting the Cellular Games martial arts tournament, and if no one defeats him, the earth will be destroyed.
Now that we’ve gone over this, let us see the movies:
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.
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 feels no love for 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 will warn 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.
This is a series of four films that you need to watch between episodes 107 and 108 of Dragon Ball Z. Since they form a single narrative unit that fits between 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 are collected by Dr. Kochin. Kochin wished for the release of Dr. Wheelo’s lab from ice, which ultimately resulted in the heroes having to fight Dr. Wheelo himself.
The Tree of Might sees our heroes fight a group of Saiyan space fighters led by Turles, who looks a lot like Goku. Turles’ intention is to plant the titular Tree of Might on the planet, but the tree would end up sucking the planet’s 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.
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 so that he becomes strong enough to face them, which the latter accepts.
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.
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.
As we did above, we simply combined the two movies that 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 he was later rebooted by Toriyama himself.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dragon Ball GT is also another unit that you can watch uninterrupted, like Dragon Ball. The show needs to 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 end of the Dragon Ball Z animated series. Son Goku ends Oob’s training in the Almighty’s palace. Pilaf, the enemy of Son Goku since the beginnings 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 in search of the crystal balls scattered throughout the galaxy.
Dragon Ball Super luckily has only a few “interruptions” and can be, for the most part, 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:
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.
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.
The beginning of the film 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, goes in search of his son on this planet, and ends up finding him. To allow him and his son to survive, he has no choice but to kill his companion.
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 used 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.
After their second fight, Piccolo overpowers Gamma 2, who then stops the fight between Gohan and Gamma 1. After a turnaround, Gamma 1 and Gamma 2 help Gohan and Piccolo save Pan. Hedo attempts to assassinate Magenta, but before he dies, Magenta activates Cell Max and releases him as a giant Kaiju-type monster.
Gohan, Piccolo, Gamma 1 & 2 now with Goten (who managed to crack Cell Max’s skull), Trunks, Android 18, and Krillin battle Cell Max. Gamma 2 sacrifices himself to injure Cell Max and destroys his left forearm. Piccolo battles Cell Max until he is seemingly killed in his giant form, causing Gohan to transform into a new, angry form, further increasing his power.
With his new form, Gohan destroys Cell’s brain with the special beam cannon while Piccolo restrains him. After the fight, Gamma 1 and Dr. Hedo join Capsule Corp. In a post-credits scene, Vegeta wins against Goku on Beerus’ planet.