This isn’t my usual content, but I’ve been re-watching DBZ recently and was inspired to do a viewing order in the same style as my comic book reading orders.
Dragon Ball is a Japanese Manga series
created by Akira Toriyama that has spawned multiple television series and video games, the most highly-regarded of which is Dragon Ball Z.
Unfortunately the continuity of these series is anything but straight-forward. The Dragon Ball and DBZ television series are based on the Manga so they’re considered to be the canon timeline, but there are several splintering timelines that are explored in a number of movies.
A recent Dragon Ball video game called Xenoverse explored the idea of splintering timelines even further, as the player travels through the timestream to repair damage to the timeline and make sure events proceed as they’re supposed to.
The newest television series Dragon Ball Super is currently being aired, and the remastered Dragon Ball Z Kai Blu Rays have recently been released, so I’m writing this guide to help anyone interested in those things to understand how it all fits together.
Dragon Ball TV Series
The original Dragon Ball television series was set well before DBZ when Goku was a child. Most of the main characters from DBZ are introduced during this run. These episodes haven’t been remastered like DBZ Kai but they’re worth watching if you haven’t seen them before.
Emperor Pilaf Saga - Episodes 1-13 Tournament Saga - Episodes 14-28 Red Ribbon Army Saga - Episodes 29-45 General Blue Saga - Episodes 46-57 Commander Red Saga - Episodes 58-67 Fortuneteller Baba Saga - Episodes 68-83 Tien Shinhan Saga - Episodes 84-101 King Piccolo Saga - Episodes 102-122 Piccolo Jr. Saga - Episodes 123-153
Alternate History There were a handful of DB movies that cover similar ground to the television series, but they’re considered retelling’s with some changes to the events and timeline.
DB Movie 01- Curse of the Blood Rubies This story is a retelling of the Emporer Pilaf saga with heavy modifications. DB Movie 02 - Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle This story is a retelling of the Tournament saga with some new elements. DB Movie 03 - Mystical Adventure This story is a retelling of Goku’s first meeting with Tien and Chiaotzu. DB Movie 04 - The Path to Power Another retelling of the first saga to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of DB.
Dragon Ball Z TV Series
The continuity of DBZ is very complicated as there are a dozen non-canon movies set at various points in the timeline. I’ve tried to group these together in chunks and explain the conditions of each timeline so that they can be watched and understood at the most appropriate point in the viewing order.
The episode numbers are for the recently released Dragon Ball Z Kai Blu Rays as I consider these to be the best version of these stories. They’re remastered, re-dubbed, and re-cut to remove all the filler and improve the pacing.
The Saiyan Saga
DBZ Movie 01 - Dead Zone DBZ Special 01 - Bardock: Father of Goku
The Vegeta Saga - DBZ Kai Episodes 1-17
Alternate Timeline These movies exist in a timeline where Goku arrived on earth in time to defeat the Saiyan’s before the deaths of Piccolo, Yamcha, Tien and Chauzu.
DBZ Movie 02 - World’s Strongest DBZ Movie03 - Tree of Might DBZ Movie 04 - Lord Slug
The Freiza Saga
The Namek Saga - DBZ Kai Episodes 18-27 The Ginyu Saga - DBZ Kai Episodes 28-35 The Freiza Saga - DBZ Kai Episodes 36-54
Alternate Timeline These movies exist in a timeline where Goku defeated Freiza with the Spirit Bomb instead of transforming into a Super Saiyan.
DBZ Movie 05 - Revenge of Cooler DBZ Movie06 - Return of Cooler (Set after Trunks arrives on Earth)
The Android Saga
The Garlic Jr Saga - DBZ Episodes 108-117 (Not included in DBZ Kai) DBZ Special 2 - The History of Trunks (Best viewed after episode 64) The Android Saga - Episodes 55-67
Alternate Timeline This movie exists in a timeline where Goku took the antidote ahead of time so that he and the Z Fighters are able to defeat the androids.
DBZ Movie 07 - Super Android 13
The Cell Saga & Beyond
Imperfect Cell Saga- Episodes 68-79
Perfect Cell Saga - Episodes 80-98 Seven Years Later… The World Tournament - Episodes 99-106
Alternate Timeline These movies exist in a timeline where Vegeta defeated Cell in his semi-perfect state during the Imperfect Cell saga.
DBZ Movie 08 - Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan DBZ Movie 09 - Bojack Unbound Seven Years Later… DBZ Movie 10 - Broly: Second Coming DBZ Movie 11 - Bio-Broly
The Bio-Broly story is set in an alternate future where Babidi was thwarted prior to Majin Buu being hatched.
The Buu Saga
The Majin Buu Saga - Episodes 107-116 The Fusion Saga - Episodes 117-133 The Evil Buu Saga - Episodes 134-159
Alternate Timeline This movie exists in a timeline where Goten and Trunks defeated Majin Buu as Gotenks during the Fusion Saga
DBZ Movie 12 - Fusion Reborn
Canon Dragon Ball Z Movies
These movies are all set after the end of the DBZ series. There’s some debate as to whether Wrath of the Dragon is Canon or not but the most recent films have been said to exist in the main timeline.
DBZ Movie 13 - Wrath of the Dragon DBZ Movie 14 - Battle of the Gods DBZ Movie 15 - Resurrection F
Dragon Ball GT TV Series
Alternate Timeline This series was written as a sequel to Dragon Ball Z, but it’s not based on the Dragon Ball Manga. This is an alternate timeline where Goku is transformed into a child by the Dragon Balls.
Black Star Dragon Ball Saga - Episodes 1-15 Baby Saga - Episodes 16-40
The Dragon Ball video games usually focus on retelling the story from the Manga and Anime, but Xenoverse tells an original story with a new character that can be created by the player.
The story centers on two villains named Towa and Mira who are travelling through the timestream and manipulating history. As a fellow time traveler, Trunks asks Shenron to send him a hero who would help him restore the timeline.
The player visits several periods in Dragon Ball history to make sure the battles go the right way in order to restore the timeline to how it should be. This is one of the most well-received DBZ games, so it’s worth playing if you have an interest.
Dragon Ball Super TV Series
The newest Dragon Ball television series is believed to be more of a true sequel to Dragon Ball Z. The first stories are set before, during and after the two most recent Dragon Ball Z movies, which are considered canon.
Battle of Gods Saga - Episodes 1-9 Resurrection F Saga - Episodes unknown The Sixth Universe Saga - Episodes unknown
The latest storyline further explores the idea of alternate timelines. There are twelve universes in the Dragon Ball multiverse where things happened differently, and this story will shed more light on the sixth of these universes.
That’s the end of this guide to the Dragon Ball universe. I did a lot of research while putting this guide together but I don’t consider myself an expert, so if you notice any mistakes or have any suggestions please let me know. Thanks for reasing