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When it comes to manga and anime, few franchises are quite as well-known as Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball. Since starting life as a manga back in the early eighties, it’s gone on to spawn seven anime series and counting, not to mention more than twenty movies and a string of successful Dragon Ball video games. Due to the chronologically confusing nature of its naming conventions, however, figuring out how to watch Dragon Ball in order can be more than a little tricky.


Dragon Ball: The 20 Most Powerful Saiyans, Ranked According To Strength

Saiyans are some of Dragon Ball’s strongest characters. Like Goku and Vegeta, these are the most powerful Saiyans of them all.

Though some might assume that it’s simply a case of watching the series in the order that they were first released, this isn’t actually the case. This is because one of them is effectively an abridged HD remaster of the one that came before it, while another inexplicably decides to revert the main protagonist Goku back to his childhood form. As a result, the best order to watch Dragon Ball isn’t quite as straightforward as it appears at first glance, especially when the movies are taken into account.

Updated February 6, 2024, by Tom Bowen: Few anime franchises are quite as accessible as Dragon Ball. Thanks to its enduring popularity and prominence in modern pop culture, it’s considered a lot less niche than some of the other Japanese anime that have made their way West and is a lot easier to find online and on TV as a result. One of the only obstacles preventing people from watching it is the franchise’s chronologically confusing timeline, which is made up of multiple overlapping series and more than twenty movies. That’s okay, though, as those looking for the best order to watch Dragon Ball ahead of the release of Dragon Ball DAIMA can find it right here.

The Best Order to Watch Dragon Ball (All Dragon Ball Series in Order)

Goku from the Dragon Ball series (Z, GT and Super)

  • Dragon Ball (1986-1989)
  • Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996) or Dragon Ball Kai (2009-2011 & 2014-2015)
  • Dragon Ball GT (1996-1997)
  • Dragon Ball Super (2015-2018)
  • Super Dragon Ball Heroes (2018-Present)
  • Dragon Ball Daima (2024)

Dragon Ball

IMDb Rating: 8.5/10


  • Original Air Dates: February 26, 1986 – April 19, 1989
  • Number of Episodes: 153
  • Number of Sagas: 3 (Son Goku Saga, Red Ribbon Army Saga & Piccolo Saga)
  • Number of Arcs: 9
  • Main Villains: Mercenary Tao, King Piccolo & Piccolo Junior

Much like some of the humor, the animation in the original run of Dragon Ball is starting to show its age a little, though this is perhaps to be expected given that it’s now more than three decades old. The stories explored during the series’ 153 episodes remain thoroughly enjoyable, however, as too do some of the iconic Dragon Ball characters who feature in them.

When combined with his childlike innocence, Goku’s immense power makes him an incredibly intriguing protagonist, while characters like Master Roshi and Krillin provide viewers with both humor and wisdom in equal measures. Dragon Ball is also a little more grounded than its many sequel series, with much more of an emphasis placed on martial arts than on ki blasts and energy balls.

Dragon Ball also introduces many of the key characters who are found in later series and so should be interesting to those who’ve only ever seen Dragon Ball Z. In particular, Bulma, Tien, and Krillin all play much bigger roles than they do later on, so fans of those characters would do well to check the series out. Of course, the same also holds true for those who are new to the franchise, as it’s where Akira Toriyama’s epic story first begins.

Dragon Ball Z

IMDb Rating: 8.8/10


  • Original Air Dates: April 26, 1989 – January 31, 1996
  • Number of Episodes: 291
  • Number of Sagas: 4 (Saiyan Saga, Frieza Saga, Cell Saga & Majin Buu Saga)
  • Number of Arcs: 19
  • Main Villains: Frieza, Cell & Majin Buu

For most Westerners growing up in the nineties, Dragon Ball Z will likely have served as their first real introduction to anime; and what an introduction it was. Though the Saiyan Saga starts out quite slowly, things begin to ramp up once the Z Fighters arrive on Namek, and, aside from the odd filler saga here and there, they don’t really slow down until the very end of the series.


Every Major Dragon Ball Voice Actor (And Who They Play)

The Dragon Ball series is among the most iconic anime of all time, thanks in part to the voice actors who brought life to the characters.

With iconic Dragon Ball villains including Frieza, Cell, and Vegeta all making their debuts across Z‘s 291 episodes, most consider the series to be the very pinnacle of the Dragon Ball franchise. In retrospect, it did have a few issues when it came to pacing, though some will argue that this only helped to elevate the suspense. For those with less patience for padding, however, there is thankfully a viable alternative.

The impact that Dragon Ball Z has had on the world really is phenomenal, with many people able to recognize the likes of Goku and Vegeta despite not being fans of the show. The series also spawned a number of fantastic video game adaptations, with titles like Super Butoden and Ultimate Battle 22 helping to establish the trend of adapting anime into fighting games. Of course, there have been a few Dragon Ball Z RPGs over the years as well, but these are very much in the minority.

Dragon Ball Z Kai

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10


  • Original Air Dates: April 5, 2009 – March 27, 2011 & April 6, 2014 – June 8, 2015
  • Number of Episodes: 167
  • Number of Sagas: 7 (Saiyan Saga, Frieza Saga, Androids Saga, Cell Saga, World Tournament Saga, Majin Buu Saga & Evil Buu Saga)
  • Main Villains: Frieza, Cell & Majin Buu

Despite the Dragon Ball manga having a sizeable headstart over the anime, it really didn’t take too long for the latter to catch up. As a result, viewers were forced to sit through several filler arcs to prevent the show from overtaking the source material. This can be seen quite a lot throughout Dragon Ball Z and is one of the main reasons why Toei Animation opted to release a revised HD remaster of the series in 2009.

The Saiyan, Frieza, Androids, and Cell sagas were broadcast back-to-back over the course of two years, with the World Tournament, Majin Buu, and Evil Buu sagas arriving four years later. Though some found enjoyment in the original series’ filler content, many consider Dragon Ball Z Kai to be the better of the two series and the definitive way to enjoy the core content explored throughout Z.

Interestingly, despite serving as an abridged retelling of Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Z Kai actually boasts three more chapters. This is because the series isn’t separated into arcs like the ones that came before it, with each of the seven sagas effectively serving as one big continuous arc. The total episode count is a lot lower though, with only small amounts of filler surviving to help push certain episodes past the 20-minute mark.

Dragon Ball GT

IMDb Rating: 6.8/10


  • Original Air Dates: February 7, 1996 – November 19, 1997
  • Number of Episodes: 64
  • Number of Sagas: 4 (Black Star Dragon Ball Saga, Baby Saga, Super 17 Saga & Shadow Dragon Saga)
  • Main Villains: Super 17, Baby & Omega Shenron

Dragon Ball‘s creator, Akira Toriyama, had once planned to have Gohan take over from his father as the franchise’s main protagonist. Despite the young Saiyan’s heroics during the Cell Games, however, neither viewers nor readers ever really warmed to him in the same way that they did to Son Goku. As a result, Dragon Ball GT, which Toriyama himself had very little involvement with, instead opted to use a young Goku as its main hero just like the original series.


Dragon Ball: 22 Strongest Fusions, Ranked

Fusions have given fans some of the most interesting combinations in the dragon Ball universe. These are the strongest fused fighters we’ve seen.

If the circumstances that led to him becoming a child weren’t bizarre enough, the fact that Goku occasionally reverts back to his adult form is puzzling, to say the least. Despite this, some of the storylines in GT weren’t actually half bad, and one or two of the battles were every bit as epic as the very best offerings from Z. It still remains the black sheep of the Dragon Ball family, however, and isn’t considered canon due to Toriyama not being involvement.

One of the most notable things to come out of Dragon Ball GT was the incredibly divisive Super Saiyan 4 transformation. Though it still isn’t considered canon, the ape-like transformation has since gone on to appear in numerous Dragon Ball video games as well as another non-canon Dragon Ball series, Super Dragon Ball Heroes. Love it or loathe it, it’s hard to argue that it’s not an original idea, though having Goku inexplicably become an adult again while using the form was a strange design choice, to say the least.

Dragon Ball Super

IMDb Rating: 8.3/10


  • Original Air Dates: July 5, 2015 – March 25, 2018
  • Number of Episodes: 131
  • Number of Sagas: 6 (God of Destruction Beerus Saga, Golden Frieza Saga, Universe 6 Saga, Copy-Vegeta Saga, “Future” Trunks Saga & Universe Survival Saga)
  • Main Villains: Zamasu, Frieza & Beerus

Many Dragon Ball fans were a little surprised by the announcement of Dragon Ball Super, which was released as both a manga and an anime series in 2015. This made it the first new Dragon Ball story in almost eighteen years and the first with original creator Akira Toriyama’s direct involvement since the conclusion of Dragon Ball Z all the way back in 1996.

With Goku once again taking his adult form and many fan-favorite Dragon Ball characters also making their returns, the series was a huge hit with both returning fans and those who were new to the franchise. The Universe Survival Saga that brought the series to a close may not be to everybody’s tastes, but the Golden Frieza and “Future” Trunks Sagas are incredibly reminiscent of classic Dragon Ball and are well worth a watch.

Super Dragon Ball Heroes

IMDb Rating: 6.7/10


  • Original Air Dates: July 1, 2018 – Present
  • Number of Episodes: 52
  • Number of Sagas: 4 (Universe Mission, Big Bang Mission, Ultra God Mission & Meteor Mission)
  • Main Villains: Cumber, Hearts & Fu

Like Dragon Ball GT before it, Super Dragon Ball Heroes isn’t actually considered canon. This perhaps bodes well, as it’s effectively a mini-series designed to promote a video game, which itself is built firmly around peddling Dragon Ball trading cards to Japanese school children. It’s also fairly inaccessible, with viewers in the West typically having to rely on unofficial translations or fandubs due to the lack of an official North American release.


Dragon Ball Super: What Happens After The Anime?

Just because Dragon Ball Super has ended, that doesn’t mean that the wheels on the Dragon Ball bus have stopped spinning entirely.

For all of its flaws though, there are some pretty cool battles in Super Dragon Ball Heroes, not to mention a handful of really interesting characters. Cumber, in particular, wouldn’t feel at all out of place in one of the previous Dragon Ball series, while other characters like Hearts and Fu also have their moments. For those willing to put up with the show’s sporadic release schedule, there are certainly worse ways to spend one’s time.

Should the rumors surrounding a Dragon Ball Super revival turn out to be true, it will be interesting to see what exactly happens to Super Dragon Ball Heroes. Having two different Dragon Ball series airing at the same time could cause a lot of confusion among viewers, even if one of the two series is considered to be non-canon. With this in mind, it’s entirely possible that Super Dragon Ball Heroes will be winding down soon, so fans should make the most of it while they still can.

Dragon Ball Movies & Specials


As is often the case with successful anime and manga series, there have been plenty of Dragon Ball movies over the years as well. None but the Super movies are really considered canon, though this doesn’t mean that some of them aren’t worth watching. For those looking for a chronological, albeit non-canonical way to watch Dragon Ball, the order below is arguably the best way to do so.

Dragon Ball: The Path To Power (1996) has not been included here due to it being more of a soft reboot than a continuation of the Dragon Ball story. For similar reasons, Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies (1986) has also been omitted on account of it being a reimagining of the Emperor Pilaf Saga from the original series.

Dragon Ball (Episodes 1 – 153)

Dragon Ball: Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle (1987)

Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure (1988)

Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone (1989)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 1 – 86)

Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku (1990)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 87 – 107)

Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock (2011)

Dragon Ball Z: The World’s Strongest (1990)

Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might (1990)

Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug (1991)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 108 – 123)

Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks (1993)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 124 – 125)

Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge (1991)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 126 – 146)

Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! (1992)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 147 – 173)

Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler (1992)

Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (1993)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 174 – 194)

Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (1993)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 195 – 207)

Dragon Ball Z: Broly’s Second Coming (1994)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 208 – 250)

Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly (1994)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 251 – 253)

Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (1995)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 254 – 287)

Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon (1995)

Dragon Ball Z (Episodes 288 – 291)

Dragon Ball GT (Episodes 1 – 64)

Dragon Ball GT: A Hero’s Legacy (1997)

Dragon Ball Super (Episodes 1 – 3)

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of the Gods (2013)

Dragon Ball Super (Episodes 4 – 18)

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F (2015)

Dragon Ball Super (Episodes 19 – 131)

Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018)

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero (2022)

Super Dragon Ball Heroes (Episodes 1 – 52)

Dragon Ball DAIMA

Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball
Akira Toriyama

Toei Animation


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