Figuring out Dragon Ball Z filler is not easy.
Start with a long-running manga series. Add in an anime adaptation, and four sequels. Actually, one of those sequels probably isn’t canon, one retools existing canon, and the most recent “midquel” takes place during a timeskip.
And that doesn’t include Dragon Ball Daima, which will start in fall 2024.
If you’ve always wanted to watch Dragon Ball, but you were intimidated by the number of episodes, we can help you separate out the filler.
Dragon Ball Z Basics
Weekly Shonen Jump first published Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga series in 1984. From 1986 to 1989, Dragon Ball was adapted into a shonen anime series, which lasted for 153 episodes.
The sequel series, Dragon Ball Z, added 291 episodes. In 1996, Dragon Ball GT — not based on any of the original manga — added another 64 episodes.
This was followed by the reboot/ revised Dragon Ball Z Kai in 2009. Kai added 167 episodes. Finally, the midquel manga series Dragon Ball Super (by Toriyama and Toyotarou) was adapted into a new anime series, which added 131 episodes.
In 2024, Dragon Ball Daima will help the franchise celebrate its 40th anniversary.
Dragon Ball Z Plot
The story soon dropped the Journey to the West allusions in favor of martial arts. In addition, Dragon Ball Z added a whole lot of villains, including the Saiyans, Majin Buu, and Frieza.
Today, Dragon Ball is known mostly for the fighting, but the series still retains its sense of fun, humor, and adventure.
Dragon Ball Filler
Dragon Ball story arcs are called sagas. For easy organization, we will divide the sagas by Dragon Ball, DBZ, GT, Kai, and Super. We will also examine the overlap between Kai and DBZ.
If you want to compare chronological order vs. release date, we have a separate guide for that. This guide will go by release date.
We won’t go into Heroes, which exists in a separate continuity.
Dragon Ball Story Arcs
- Pilaf — episodes 1-13
- Tournament — 14-28
- Red Ribbon Army — 29-45
- General Blue — 46-57
- Commander Red — 58-67
- Fortuneteller Baba — 68-83
- Tien Shinhan — 84-101
- King Piccolo — 102-122
- Piccolo Jr. — 123-153
Dragon Ball Filler
- Episodes 30-33 — part of Red Ribbon Army
- Episode 45 — Danger in the Air, part of Red Ribbon Army
- Episode 79-83 — part of Fortuneteller Baba
- Episodes 127-132 — part of Piccolo Jr.
- Episodes 149-153 — part of Piccolo Jr.
Note: Goku’s marriage is canon. But the wedding (ep. 153) is considered filler.
Dragon Ball Z Story Arcs
- Raditz, 1-6
- Vegeta, 7-35
- Namek, 36-67
- Captain Ginyu, 68-74
- Frieza, 75-107
- Trunks, 118-125
- Androids, 126-139
- Imperfect Cell, 140-152
- Perfect Cell, 153-165
- Cell Games, 166-194
- Great Saiyaman, 200-209
- World Tournament, 210-219
- Babidi, 220-231
- Majin Buu, 232-253
- Fusion, 254-275
- Kid Buu, 276-287
- Peaceful World, 288-291
- Episodes 9-10, part of Vegeta
- 12-16, part of Vegeta
- 39-43, part of Namek
- 100, Gohan Returns
- 102, Duel on a Vanishing Planet
- 174, The Puzzle of General Tao
- 274, Mind Trap
- 288, He’s Always Late
Dragon Ball GT Story Arcs
- Black Star Dragon Ball, 1-16
- Baby, 17-40
- Super 17, 41-47
- Shadow Dragon, 48-64
Is All of Dragon Ball GT Filler?
Shueisha, the publisher of Shonen Jump and Dragon Ball, included GT events in an official timeline.
In any case, you can skip GT without missing major events.
Dragon Ball Z Kai Story Arcs
- Saiyan, 1-18 — Raditz and Vegeta, start of Namek
- Frieza, 19-54 — Namek, Captain Ginyu, and Frieza
- Androids/ Cell, 55-83 — Trunks, Androids, Imperfect Cell, Perfect Cell, start of Cell Games
- Cell Games, 84-98 — Cell Games
- World Tournament, 99-122 — Great Saiyaman, World Tournament, Babidi
- Majin Buu, 123-140 — Majin Buu
- Evil Buu, 141-167 — Fusion, Kid Buu, Peaceful World
Dragon Ball Z Kai Filler
While many episodes contain filler, only two are complete filler:
- 101, Videl’s Crisis? Gohan’s Urgent Call-out!
- 165, Peace Returns! A Time of Rest for the Warriors!
Dragon Ball Super Story Arcs
- God of Destruction Beerus, 1-15 — based on Battle of Gods movie
- Golden Frieza, 16-27 — based on Resurrection ‘F’ movie
- Universe 6, 28-41
- Copy-Vegeta, 42-46 — anime-only filler arc
- “Future” Trunks, 47-76
- Universe Survival, 77-131
Dragon Ball Super Filler
The canon status of Dragon Ball Super has been a topic of debate. Some say that it’s less canon than GT.
However, many episodes are based on the Dragon Ball Super manga. Some episodes are also linked to a pair of Dragon Ball movies, which are (probably) canon.
These episodes are anime-only:
- Episode 4, Aim for the Dragon Balls! Pilaf Gang in Action!
- Episode 15, Make a Miracle, Satan the Hero! A Challenge from Outer Space
- Copy-Vegeta Saga
- Episodes 68-70
- Episodes 73-76
Where to Watch Dragon Ball Z
If you want to watch Dragon Ball online, we have an article on where to stream the franchise.
Today, if you live in North America or parts of Europe, your best bet is Crunchyroll. If you’re having trouble with Crunchyroll, we have an article for that, too.
How to Watch Dragon Ball on Crunchyroll if The App Isn’t Available in your Country
As of this article, Dragon Ball is available on Crunchyroll in the U.S. However, if Dragon Ball is geo-locked in your area, a VPN can help.
The following method works on both desktop PCs and mobile phones or tablets:
- Purchase (or start a free trial) of a VPN. NordVPN works, as well as Surfshark.
- In the settings, choose U.S. as your location.
- Fire up the VPN and wait.
- Once you’re connected, navigate to Crunchyroll (browser or app).
- Search “Dragon Ball” in Crunchyroll and you should see Dragon Ball pop up.
Enjoy! Please note that if Crunchyroll doesn’t update to reflect the country you selected in your VPN, you may have to clear the Crunchyroll cache and try again.
To do this on mobile, go to settings -> apps -> Crunchyroll -> clear cache. To do this on PC, you have to clear the cache in your browser.
- A huge library
- Geo-locked in some regions.
Price: $7.99 for “fan” level; $9.99 for “mega fan”; and $14.99 for “ultimate fan.”
2. Other Options
- Amazon Japan offers the first episode for free, with no translation.
- You can buy episodes at Amazon U.S.
- Hulu has Dragon Ball Z Kai dubbed.
I hope you enjoyed this filler guide. Long runners can be intimidating, but cutting the filler can help a lot.
Once you know what to watch, and how to watch it, there should be nothing keeping you from watching this classic anime.