Dragon Ball is a long—and we do mean long—story. It's a franchise that has been going on since the '80s and continues to this day with the release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly. Suffice to say a lot has happened to Goku and his friends over the course of Dragon Ball, DBZ and Dragon Ball Super, each of which are split up into main sagas. Everyone has their favorite Saga of Dragon Ball, so we decided to rank each and every saga of every anime series by how big they were for the series and how great they were. There are a lot of sagas to choose from, especially if you split up certain sagas into the smaller story arcs that make them up, so in order to rank every saga in the franchise, we are going to combine a few into the same saga or consider certain storylines as part of another saga.
Additionally, we are only looking at the main canon of the series. Some fans might argue that canon doesn't really matter when it comes to Dragon Ball, and we're inclined to a degree, but for the sake of keeping things trim and simple, we're gonna look at anime sagas that also appeared in the manga (for Dragon Ball and DBZ), disregarding filler arcs as well as Dragon Ball GT. Additionally, there are some parts of Dragon Ball Super, like the Clone Vegeta arc, that can be considered side-stories, so we're also gonna disregard these kinds of sagas. With all these rules out of the way, lets get into ranking every single main canon Dragon Ball saga from worst to best.
16 HONORABLE MENTION: DRAGON BALL SUPER BROLY
Before we get into the sagas that have already happened, let's just give Dragon Ball Super: Broly a shoutout, since it looks absolutely awesome and is sure to give Broly a proper reboot, written by Akira Toriyama himself. Though we can't exactly consider this a Saga, other recent Dragon Ball movies were turned into Super sagas, so we're just gonna give it an honorable mention.
The movie is shaping up to be one of the best Dragon Ball films of all time, with a story that combines elements of the original Broly movie and some new ideas, as well as a good combo of comedy and action that Super became known for, all of which is sure to make a great addition to the franchise.
15 UNIVERSE 6 SAGA
Starting us off at the bottom is the Universe 6 Saga. This one might upset a few fans, but hear us out. While the saga has an epic battle between Goku and Hit, both of whom get stronger during the fight, it didn't really end up being a good first original concept saga for Dragon Ball Super.
After Battle of Gods and Resurrection F got re-hashed into Dragon Ball Super sagas, the show really needed something good to redeem the watered down versions of great movies, but the Universe 6 Saga was rather subpar in the end. Like we said, the Hit/Goku fight is cool, but the rest of the fights are weird and somewhat boring, with bad animation rounding out the arc's flaws.
14 EMPEROR PILAF SAGA
We wanted to give this a higher rating, since it was the saga that started it all, but at the end of the day, what people ended up really loving about Dragon Ball was the action and martial arts, so in the larger scale of things, the adventure gag storyline that was the Emperor Pilaf Saga is not really one of the franchise's coolest sagas.
Not to say that this saga is bad, just not as cool as the others. The Emperor Pilaf Saga definitely has hits merits, it's funny, it has great adventure storytelling and it's a lot of fun, but in the larger scale of Dragon Ball, it doesn't stack up to the likes of the Saiyan Saga or the Universal Survival Saga.
13 GOD OF DESTRUCTION BEERUS SAGA
Next up is the God of Destruction Beerus Saga, which was adapted from Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the first Dragon Ball Z movie to come out in quite some time. This is a tough one to judge, since the original movie is fantastic, both because it marked the return of the franchise, and because it had some amazing acting, but the way it was rehashed into Super was pretty subpar.
This arc in Super has the infamously bad animation frames that ended up becoming memes, and the small changes made to the story weren't enough to justify it being retold, so we think the best place to put it is at number 13.
12 TIEN SHINHAN SAGA
Some might better know this saga as The 22nd Tenka-Ichi Budoukai Saga, or the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament Saga, but whatever it's actually called, it's one of the most groundbreaking sagas in the entire franchise. Why, you ask? Well, first of all, it was the first time that flight was introduced into the series, and second, it also ramped up the superhuman action and martial arts of the franchise to a whole new level.
On top of flight, this Saga showed that superhuman martial artists were also capable of insane feats, like Tien's four-armed technique. Additionally, this saga was what led us into the King Piccolo Saga, one of the best arcs in the franchise.
11 GOLDEN FRIEZA SAGA
Up next is the Golden Frieza Saga, which was adapted from Resurrection F, much like how Battle of Gods turned into a Super arc. Because it was adapted from a film, and rehashed in a subpar way much like BoG, we also had a tough time ranking this one, but we think number 11 is a good fit.
If we're looking at the film, the story was more interesting than Battle of Gods, since it was more than just Goku wanting to fight someone strong, there were stakes because Frieza was back for revenge. However, because the "canon" version of this story, the Super arc, is not as great (due to poor animation and weird changes) the saga falls just short of the top 10.
10 TOURNAMENT SAGA
Opening up the top 10 is the first Tournament Saga in Dragon Ball. This saga did a lot for the series, even if it's not the most interesting story-wise, there is no denying how much it changed the direction of Dragon Ball for years to come.
On top of being the official mark of Dragon Ball's shift in focus from gag adventures to martial arts and action/adventure stories, the Tournament Saga also introduced Krillin to the series, a character that would go on to be a major part of the franchise and many people's favorite human fighter. Plus, we got to see Master Roshi in action, something that was pretty rare throughout DBZ and Super.
9 RED RIBBON ARMY SAGA
Directly after the Tournament Saga was the Red Ribbon Saga, which we think was better than the former, since it combined the martial arts focus that the series had shifted towards with the adventure elements that it started with, throwing in a lot of fun fights along the way.
During this saga, we saw just how strong Goku was as he took out the entire Red Ribbon Army practically by himself, all so he could find his grandpa's 4-star ball and so he could revive Bora. It's a really well-written and interesting saga that sometimes gets overlooked when people rank their favorite story arcs from the entire franchise.
8 "FUTURE" TRUNKS SAGA
Next up is the "Future" Trunks Saga of Dragon Ball Super, which some also know as the Goku Black Saga. This saga was the second original storyline to be presented in Dragon Ball Super, and it did a lot to redeem the less-than-stellar Universe 6 saga. The arc depicted Future Trunks returning to the past to gain the help of Goku and Vegeta to defeat both a Goku doppleganger and an arrogant kai named Zamasu.
Getting to see an evil version of Goku—which gave English dub VA Sean Schemmel the chance to play said evil Goku to awesome results—was super interesting, as was getting to see Future Trunks return to the franchise. This saga also featured some great animation in the final battles.
7 BUU SAGA
Coming in at number 7 is the Buu saga. Now, some people might not be a fan of the final saga of Dragon Ball Z—Toriyama himself wanted to end the manga long before it—but what it lacked in some originality and nuance, it more than made up for in awesome battles and satisfying story elements.
Seriously, this saga has arguably some of the best fights in the series, not just in terms of animation, but in how different the sequences were, like when Ultimate Gohan fought Super Buu. Additionally, if we're counting the final two episodes of Dragon Ball Z as part of the Buu saga, it was great to see everything wrapped up prior to Super.
6 KING PICCOLO SAGA
If we're talking about Sagas that changed a lot about the franchise's focus and genre, then the King Piccolo Saga is one of the most revolutionary story arcs in all of Dragon Ball. Not only did it further the focus on action and martial arts, but it also introduces the franchise's first ultra-powerful villain that stood as the focus of a saga.
This would become the model for every other saga to follow, Piccolo Jr. coming soon after and the Saiyan, Frieza, Cell and Buu sagas would continue the trend in Dragon Ball Super. Furthermore, the King Piccolo Saga also introduced a number of other important elements that would become the main elements of DBZ when it came around.
5 PICCOLO JR. SAGA
As revolutionary as the King Piccolo Saga was, the follow up arc, the Piccolo Jr. Saga, was much cooler. This saga combined the idea of a the villain antagonist focus and the martial arts tournament that had become a staple of the series, making for a calm, but tense buildup to the final clash between Goku and King Piccolo's son, who was seeking revenge for his father.
The saga's final battle was absolutely awesome, there's simply no other way to put it—it was awesome to see how strong Goku had gotten, it was awesome to see how strong Piccolo's son was, and it was awesome to see how destructive their fight was. Plus, this saga reunited Goku and Chi-Chi, and what's not to love about that?
4 UNIVERSAL SURVIVAL SAGA
Dragon Ball Super had its ups and downs, but it really managed to redeem all of those downs when it came to the final saga, the Universal Survival Saga. The story arc depicted a battle royale between eight different universes as they fought for survival from erasure by the gods.
It was an interesting premise that ended up being incredibly well written and animated throughout most of the episodes within it. There are too many awesome things to point out in the saga, so we'll just pick out the best part, the fight between Ultra Instinct Goku and Jiren, which was the absolute best battle in the series and is up there with the top five fights of the entire franchise.
3 ANDROIDS/CELL SAGA
We almost wanted to split the Androids Saga and the Cell Saga into their own entries, but at the end of the day, one leads into the other so well—despite being written on the fly—that we thought it best to keep them together. The first part of this saga is great because it gave us Future Trunks and a lot of great fights and character moments between Goku, his friends and the Androids.
The second part of the saga, however, is where things got awesome. After Cell obtained his perfect form, he challenged the world's greatest warriors to a battle, leading to the Cell Games, which ended when Gohan achieved Super Saiyan 2 and used the form to obliterate Cell.
2 SAIYAN SAGA
Coming in at our number two pick for the greatest Dragon Ball saga of all time is the Saiyan Saga. This Saga was just as revolutionary as the King Piccolo Saga, if not more so. Not only did it reveal that Goku was a Saiyan, it also introduced Vegeta to the franchise, a character that would go on to be a fan favorite.
Learning that Goku had an alien background was such a great shakeup to the franchise, as it helped breathe new life into the story. It also lead to one of the single greatest battles in all of Dragon Ball, Goku and Vegeta's first fight against each other, a duel that will forever go down in anime history.
1 FRIEZA SAGA
Some of you might have seen this coming, but our pick for the number one saga in Dragon Ball is the Frieza Saga, which encompasses the Namek Saga, the Ginyu Saga and the Frieza Saga. The Frieza Saga is the perfect saga in many ways, so much so that if it ended up being the final arc of Dragon Ball Z, it would have been a flawless end to the franchise.
However, even if it wasn't the end of the franchise like Toriyama intended/wanted it to be, the Frieza Saga is still an achievement in storytelling in every sense of the word; the buildup and structure are fantastic, as is the saga's villain, who is so perfectly depicted as an antagonist.