Starting from the first manga series in 1984, and the first anime series in 1986, Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball has grown into a Saiyan Empire of TV shows, movies, and other related items.
But the sheer size of the thing can also make it more intimidating than Frieza in a bad mood (which is always). For those of us who watched anime on Toonami, it was easy to get episodes out of order as well.
This article will look at the number of Dragon Ball Z episodes, the story arcs, and how to avoid the filler. To help us keep our sanity, we’ll concentrate on Dragon Ball Z, and skip sequels Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super.
How Long Is It?
The Dragon Ball manga started in 1984 and lasted until 1995. The manga has 42 volumes, or 519 chapters.
Jump Comics in Japan didn’t initially separate the manga into Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z. (VIZ did that to match the anime.) Therefore, international DBZ volume 26 is also Japanese Dragon Ball volume 42.
How many Dragon Ball anime episodes are there? When you add up Dragon Ball, DBZ, Dragon Ball GT, Dragon Ball Z Kai, and Dragon Ball Super, it comes out to 798 episodes. The original Dragon Ball contains 153 episodes, while Dragon Ball Z has 291 episodes (nine seasons).
What About Dragon Ball?
Dragon Ball Z wouldn’t exist without the original Dragon Ball. A lot of DBZ situations build upon themes which were introduced in the original series. And it’s a good, fun series which is worth watching.
However, it is possible to watch DBZ without reviewing Dragon Ball. If you want to know more, we have a separate article which includes the original Dragon Ball arcs.
All Dragon Ball Z Anime Arcs
There’s a lot of DBZ arcs: Raditz; Vegeta; Namek; Captain Ginyu; Frieza; Garlic Jr.; Trunks; Androids; Imperfect Cell; Perfect Cell; Cell Games; Other World; Great Saiyaman; World Tournament; Babidi; Majin Buu; Fusion; Kid Buu; Peaceful World.
- Raditz (episodes 1-6)
Five years after Dragon Ball, Goku has married Chi-Chi. Their son, Gohan, is something of a wimp because Chi-Chi won’t let him train.
Raditz, the first of many Saiyans, arrives and reveals that he’s Goku’s brother. Goku, aka Kakarot, was supposed to be a Saiyan invader.
Goku and Piccolo join forces to rescue Gohan from Raditz. Goku sacrifices himself, and Piccolo kills Raditz.
- Vegeta (Episodes 7-35)
Gohan trains with Piccolo. In the afterlife, Goku trains with King Kai. Master Roshi uses the dragon balls to bring Goku back to life.
Vegeta and Nappa arrive on Earth, and they want the dragon balls. The toughest fighters on Earth battle the Saiyans, but it goes badly without Goku. Piccolo dies protecting Gohan. Goku finally arrives, and Over 9000 memes are created in the battle.
- Namek (Episodes 36-67)
Bulma, Gohan, and Krillin voyage to the planet Namek in search of more dragon balls. Vegeta races to beat Frieza (first appearance) to the balls. The elite but goofy Ginyu Force arrives.
Goku once again arrives at the last minute. It looks like he might be Super Saiyan (not yet).
- Captain Ginyu (Episodes 68-74)
Goku continues to battle the Ginyu Force. While Goku battles Captain Ginyu, the others try to recover the balls. Goku and Ginyu temporarily switch places. Vegeta boasts he is Super Saiyan (he isn’t). Goku ends up in a medical tank.
- Frieza (Episodes 75-107)
Piccolo is wished back to life. Vegeta fights Frieza, who transforms. Frieza defeats Gohan. Piccolo battles Frieza, who continues to transform. This time it is his Final Form. Goku returns. Goku Spirit Bombs Frieza. He finally goes Super Saiyan after Frieza kills Krillin.
Everyone gets wished off Namek except Goku and Frieza. Lots of people get resurrected. Namek is destroyed. Goku isn’t dead, but he’s not ready to return to Earth yet.
- Garlic Jr. (Episodes 108-117)
A filler arc, based on the Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone movie.
- Trunks (Episodes 118-125)
Frieza comes to Earth with his father, King Cold. A mysterious Super Saiyan kills Frieza. Goku returns. The Saiyan is Future Trunks, Vegeta and Bulma’s son. He warns Goku that Dr. Gero (from the original Dragon Ball) is back, and new androids will arrive. Everyone trains.
- Androids (Episodes 126-139)
Three years pass. Androids 19 and 20 fight Goku and his allies. Android 19 is destroyed. Android 20 is revealed to be Dr. Gero. Androids 16, 17, and 18 are activated. Krillin and Android 18 have the weirdest first kiss ever.
- Imperfect Cell (Episodes 140-152)
The mysterious Cell shows up via time machine. Cell is made of cells from the strongest warriors. He can absorb power from others, and he needs 17 and 18. Piccolo fights 17. Cell interrupts the battle, and 16 fights Cell. Cell absorbs 17.
- Perfect Cell (Episodes 153-165)
Tien Shinhan fights Cell while the remaining androids escape. Vegeta and Future Trunks complete their training. Goku and Gohan train. Vegeta goes Super Saiyan. Cell absorbs 18 and transforms into Perfect Cell. Future Trunks goes Super Saiyan.
- Cell Games (Episodes 166-194)
Goku and Gohan are now full-power Super Saiyans. Goku forfeits his battle against Cell. Gohan fights Cell. Android 18 reemerges from Cell. Cell threatens to destroy the Earth. Goku dies to save the Earth. Somehow, Cell survives and kills Future Trunks. Gohan Kamehamehas Super Perfect Cell to death. Cell’s victims are wished back. Goku can’t be wished back. Future Trunks returns to the future.
- Other World (Episodes 195-199)
The other filler arc. There’s a big tournament in the afterlife.
- Great Saiyaman (Episodes 200-209)
Teenage Gohan becomes a superhero. Yes, this is canon. Mr. Satan’s daughter Videl blackmails Gohan. Krillin married Android 18; they have a daughter Marron. Gohan has a brother, Goten. Goku can return for the tournament.
- World Tournament (Episodes 210-219)
Goten and Trunks fight in the junior division. The tournament is interrupted by Supreme Kai Shin, who needs to stop Babidi from resurrecting Majin Buu.
- Babidi (Episodes 220-231)
The heroes fight Babidi’s minions. The tournament ends with Android 18 making a deal with Mr. Satan. Babidi changes Vegeta into Majin Vegeta. Goku fights Vegeta.
- Majin Buu (Episodes 232-253)
Childish, pink blob Buu emerges. Vegeta sacrifices himself, but Buu regenerates. Goku teaches Goten and Trunks the Fusion Dance. Buu turns people into chocolate. Goku reaches Super Saiyan 3, and battles Buu.
- Fusion (Episodes 254-275)
Evil Buu eats Good Buu, and transforms into Super Buu. Buu waits impatiently for a superstrong warrior. Goten and Trunks fuse into Gotenks, who fights Buu in an attempt to trap him. Gohan confronts Buu. Buu absorbs Gotenks and Piccolo. Goku + Vegeta = Vegito. Buu turns Vegito into candy. The candy fights back. This is canon (chapter 505; episode 272). Vegito goes inside Buu. The absorbed fighters escape.
- Kid Buu (Episodes 276-287)
Super Buu becomes Kid Buu. Buu destroys the Earth. Goku and Vegeta fight Buu. Good Buu emerges. Earth is restored with a wish. All Earthlings unite to create a Super Spirit Bomb, which defeats Super Buu.
- Peaceful World (Episodes 288-291)
There’s a victory party. Ten years pass. Gohan and Videl have a daughter, Pan. Goku trains Uub, the reincarnation of Kid Buu.
Dragon Ball Z Filler Episodes
Unlike some shows, Dragon Ball Z doesn’t have large chunks of filler arcs which take up whole seasons. Garlic Jr. (108-117) and Other World (195-199) are exceptions. For the most part, filler is lightly sprinkled throughout.
If you want to watch Dragon Ball Z without filler, here’s a list: episodes 9-10, 12-16, 39-44, 100, 102, 108-117, 124-125, 170-171, 174, 195-199, 202-203, 274, and 288.