After over 300 episodes, Hiro Mashima’s shonen epic Fairy Tail is about to come to an end. It’s been a long ride, as when counting the two hiatuses the series has been around for a full decade. But everything must come to an end, and with the Alvarez Empire story winding down it’s time to say good bye to Natsu, Lucy, Erza, Gray and the others. (At least until someone can get 100 Years Quest off the ground.)
But before we leave the Kingdom of Fiore for good, it’s time to count down the ten best story arcs Fairy Tail ever had.
10 ALVAREZ EMPIRE
The last arc of the main series, the Alvarez Empire storyline has a few weaknesses to it. The Spriggan 12 is hyped up as this unstoppable force, yet several of them get wiped out in comedic and unsatisfying ways. This arc makes it onto the list primarily because it does wrap up many of the mysteries which have been around in the series since day one. However, it does feel somewhat unsatisfying as end series arcs go—there aren’t many final power-ups or incredible battles like fans have become accustomed to by this point. In that respect, arguably the Tartaros arc was far superior.
The sixth story arc in the series focuses on the Fairy Tail guild member Loke. It’s a short arc that explains the character’s background as a Celestial Spirit, and how a being that technically belongs to an entirely different world was able to remain in the world of humans for so long. Though the storyline is meant to focus on Loke, it also gives Lucy her own moment in the spotlight. In addition to giving us a glimpse into the rules and world of Celestial Sprits, this is also one of the first times we get to see just how much the Spirits have meant to Lucy.
8 TOWER OF HEAVEN
The Tower of Heaven arc gives both the viewer and the guild the opportunity to learn about the backstory of Erza, the so-called Queen of the Fairies. After a couple dozen episodes of seeing Erza as the strongest person in the room at all times, this arc goes a long way towards showing the cracks underneath her magic armor.
Seeing her backstory with Jellal and how she spent her early years as a slave is heartbreaking, and seeing how hard Natsu and her guildmates are willing to fight for her shows us just how much the guild means to one another.
7 PHANTOM LORD
The Phantom Lord arc is arguably the first time things get really serious for the entire guild. The first few arcs were spent slowly introducing the world of Fairy Tail, and setting up the character dynamics for the main characters. But this arc sees the entire guild under attack by a rival guild by the name of Phantom Lord. Over the next nine episodes we get total chaos, with attacks on each other's guild halls and showdowns between different members of the group. This is the first time fans get to see just how much Makarov cares for his guild as the master, and why he’s not the old guy to mess with.
6 ORACION SEIS
Over the course of Fairy Tail, the team eventually battles against every relevant Dark Guild on the continent. But you never forget your first. Oracion Seis was an incredibly powerful guild made up of six members—a small number, but large enough for Fairy Tail to form an alliance with not one, but three other guilds in order to have a chance. Even then, it takes everything all four guilds have to bring down just the first five members of the team, to say nothing of their even more powerful leader. The Oracion Seis arc goes a long way towards expanding the overall world of Fairy Tail, giving us an inkling of just how huge everything is.
5 BATTLE OF FAIRY TAIL
Smack in the middle of the Tower of Heaven and the Oracion Seis arc is the Battle for Fairy Tail, where the guild owner’s grandson Laxus Dreyar comes to try and claim Fairy Tail for himself. Though Laxus and his Thunder God Tribe are outnumbered, they give some of the strongest members of the guild a run for their money. This arc is one of the best in the series if only for two reasons: the showdown between Laxus versus Natsu and Gajeel, and the “Fairy Tail” symbol during the Fantasia parade. Though this battle of guild members got more serious than any of their past ones, this arc showed that the bond between members of Fairy Tail couldn’t ever be broken.
4 TENROU ISLAND
Fairy Tail’s Tenrou Island arc is where the series finally sets in motion some of the plots that are just now paying off. During their annual tests for promotion to S-Class, a select group of Fairy Tail mages are attacked by the dark guild known as Grimoire Heart.
As usual, the dark guild pushes the team to its limit, as they face a host of new, esoteric magics that make victory look near impossible. But most importantly is the ending, where the final boss of the entire series is introduced: a giant dragon who nearly kills the entire team by expending almost zero effort. Can’t say Mashima doesn’t know how to up the stakes.
3 GRAND MAGIC GAMES
However impossibly, it took Fairy Tail over 150 episodes before they ever thought to actually do a tournament. After being gone for seven years thanks to Tenrou Island, even the strongest members of Fairy Tail have been left behind, with their guild in shambles. The Grand Magic Games appear as an opportunity to allow the team to put themselves back on the map. This arc was filled with some great fights not only for team Fairy Tail, but it also let some of the other guilds make themselves relevant as well, including Mermaid Heel and Fairy Tail’s new rivals: Sabretooth.
When the entire Fairy Tail guild is transported to a world where magic is scarce and even their own magic powers no longer work, things start to look pretty bleak. Fortunately, the entire guild is made up of people too stupid to know when to give up. Transported to an alien world, the team of Fairy Tail comes face to face with the true origin behind Happy, Natsu’s adorable talking cat partner, as well as the story behind their fellow guild member, Mystogan. They also get to meet alternate universe versions of themselves, which ranges from hilarious for Natsu’s daredevil race car driver expy to terrifying for Erza’s completely evil expy.
Sure, the Tartaros arc has Erza’s worst, most nonsensical fight ever. But setting that aside, it’s full of some of the best moments in the series. Finally meeting Gray’s father. Seeing Laxus’ devotion to the guild and his friends. Wendy going full on Dragon Force mode. Lucy summoning the Celestial Spirit King. The entire guild teaming up to take on the final villain. It’s too bad this couldn’t have been the final arc of the series, as it gives us a ton of reveals and pushes the heroes to their limits. The Alvarez Empire is just a disappointing epilogue chapter by comparison to this arc.