Dragon Ball Anime Series Extensive Watch Order & Filler List

By Evanshi Mavani / August 11, 2021

Dragon Ball was the first introduction to anime for many people, including me. From children sitting in front of the television to almost adults, we literally saw the characters grow and develop to their current states. This is why, despite not being perfect, Dragon Ball has a lot of nostalgia attached to it and is loved by almost everyone.

Due to its popularity, Dragon Ball has become one of the most extensive anime franchises of all time. With a massive amount of sequels, spinoffs, and revamped shows, Dragon Ball has been continuously pumping out new content for almost thirty years. However, this wealth of content makes it difficult for newer fans to get into the series.

In order to help with that, we have made an easy watch order for you to follow! Complete with chronological order and filler lists, this article is everything one needs to get started with the Dragon Ball franchise!

I. Dragon Ball Anime Release Order

TV Series




II. Dragon Ball Anime Chronological Order

This is the chronological order (in terms of the story's time scale) for every anime in the Dragon Ball franchise. Please note that this list does not take into account whether each series or film is considered canon or not. Following this order is not recommended and frowned upon by many fans due to the massive amount of content available.

Anyway, here is every release in chronological order:

Dragon Ball Z Kai has not been included since it is the revamped version of Dragon Ball Z and can be substituted with it on this list.

Dragon Ball Watch Order

Dragon Ball's story revolves around Goku Son, a young boy who befriends a girl named Bulma and goes on an epic adventure to find the seven mystical Dragon Balls that can grant wishes. Soon, he meets old Muten-Roshi and disciple Kuririn, with whom he trains to participate in the upcoming World Martial Arts Tournament.

However, their journey is not an easy one. To stop those who would try to abuse power, Goku has to train to become stronger and use his newfound strength to help the people around him along the way.

The previous two lists — the release order and chronological order — are just there for you to understand the anime that fall under the Dragon Ball Franchise. They comprise both canon and non-canonical shows. The latter includes series and films made without any input from Akira Toriyama and doesn't follow the manga's events.

The original TV show, Dragon Ball, helms the canon, with a handful of other series like Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Z Kai, and Dragon Ball Super. However, most of the franchise's films, like Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug and Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest, are anime originals that do not fall in line with the rest of the story.

This canonical list is the recommended watch order for people new to the Dragon Ball franchise.

1. Dragon Ball

2. Dragon Ball Z (Till the end of the Frieza Saga)

Watch Dragon Ball Z until the end of the Frieza Saga (episode 107), or substitute the show with its revamped version — Dragon Ball Z Kai.

2. Dragon Ball Z Kai

3. Dragon Ball Z Special 1: Bardock, The Father of Goku

4. Dragon Ball Z (End of the Frieza Saga to the end of the Cell Saga)

Continue watching Dragon Ball Z from the end of the Frieza Saga (episode 107) to the end of the Cell Saga (episode 194).

5. Dragon Ball Z Special 2: The History of Trunks

6. Dragon Ball Super

IV. Dragon Ball Anime Franchise Filler List

Dragon Ball's franchise is exhausting, and it is challenging to catch up with everything no matter how much we want to. To experience the series better, it is recommended to skip the fillers, aka the non-canon episodes, and revisit them once you're done.

1. Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball ran from 1986 to 1989 and had a total of 153 episodes to its name. With a total of 21 filler episodes, Dragon Ball has a filler percentage of 14%.

2. Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z ran from 1989 to 1996, with a total of 291 episodes aired. Out of them, 39 episodes were reported as non-canon, making Dragon Ball Z's filler percentage 13%.

3. Dragon Ball Z Kai

Dragon Ball Z Kai is an edited and condensed version of Dragon Ball Z that ran from 2009 to 2011. It has a total of 97 episodes, out of which three have been reported to be filler episodes.

4. Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball Super ran from 2015 to 2018 and had a total of 131 episodes. With 14 filler episodes, Dragon Ball Super has a filler percentage of 11%.

Should You Watch Dragon Ball GT?

Dragon Ball GT's story begins as Emperor Pilaf finally lays hands on the Black Star Dragon Balls, which are said to be twice as powerful as the normal ones found on Earth. Pilaf is about to make his wish for world domination when he is interrupted by Gokuu Son. As a result, Pilaf flubs his wish and accidentally turns Goku back into a child.

After the wish is granted, the Black Star Dragon Balls scatter across the galaxy. However, Goku discovers that they will cause the Earth to explode unless they are all brought back within a year. To both save the planet and restore himself to adulthood, Goku must ally himself with Trunks and his granddaughter Pan to find all seven Balls spread throughout the universe. Over time, they encounter foes like Baby, Super 17, and the invisible Shadow Dragons.

Dragon Ball GT is considered non-canon since it does not follow the original manga series and was made without input from the creator – Akira Toriyama. Most fans either love or hate the series, confusing the first-time viewers a lot.

You should watch Dragon Ball GT since it is a part of the franchise and has many interesting concepts. The series has its flaws, but the consistent animation, epic moments, and cool character developments make it worthwhile. You can watch the Imecka arc and skip to episode 15 since the beginning is a little boring.

Should You Watch Dragon Ball Z or Dragon Ball Z Kai?

Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Z Kai have the same plot since Kai is essentially a remastering of the events in the original series with less filler, better pacing, and newer animation.

The story in both series takes place five years after Goku wins the World Martial Arts tournament. Goku's peaceful life with his wife and son changes with the arrival of a mysterious enemy named Raditz, who presents himself as his long-lost brother. He reveals that Goku is a warrior from the powerful but virtually extinct Saiyan race, whose homeworld was annihilated.

However, failing at forcibly recruiting Gokuu as an ally, Raditz warns Goku's friends of a new threat that's rapidly approaching Earth—one that could plunge the planet into an intergalactic conflict. War will soon be fought over the seven mystical dragon balls, and only the strongest will survive.

You should watch Dragon Ball Z Kai since the pacing in the original Dragon Ball Z is terrible. Most fights drag on for 10 episodes, making it a very lengthy watch. Furthermore, there are a lot of fillers, which, while entertaining, break the flow. Dragon Ball Z Kai, on the other hand, only picks the most important parts so that you won't miss any crucial details.

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