With Dragon Ball Super done for the foreseeable future, the Dragon Ball franchise still has lingering questions about the canonicity of the anime series Dragon Ball GT. Since it aired in Japan for 64 episodes and a television special from 1996 to 1997, the series' status as being canon has been an ongoing debate among fans even before Super was announced as it is the only series lacking direct involvement from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama, who only gave the project his blessing and named it GT (short for Grand Tour).
With Super taking place within the ten-year time jump after the end of Dragon Ball Z, the possibility remains that GT could still be considered canon so here's an overview of the divisive series as we figure out if the events of Super contradict GT and seal the events of the series as non-canon once and for all.
When Does Dragon Ball GT Take Place?
GT begins five years after the finale to Dragon Ball Z, where Goku departed with the pure-hearted, human reincarnation of Majin Buu, Uub, train him and unlock his full potential. The anime starts with an epic sparring match between the two at the Lookout high in the Earth's atmosphere with Goku declaring that Uub has finally completed his training. In the interim, Goku's granddaughter Pan is now a teenager, as is Vegeta and Bulma's daughter Bulla. Trunks has become the President of Capsule Corp. while both Gohan and Goten have dropped out of training; Gohan to pursue his career in academia while Goten is more interested in chasing women.
As Goku and Uub spar, an elderly Emperor Pilaf with his minions Shu and Mai sneak into the Lookout and discover the Black Star Dragon Balls created by the Namekian that watched over Earth before separating into Kami and Piccolo. Caught by Goku, Pilaf accidentally wishes Goku to transform into a child before the Dragon Balls scatter across the cosmos, which kickstarts the events of the series.
Dragon Ball GT's New Characters and Transformations
Even with his body reverted to that of a child, Goku is still able to transform into a Super Saiyan and Super Saiyan 3 though he has trouble sustaining this form in his tiny body. While Goku hunts for the Black Star Dragon Balls across the universe, the Truffle weapon Baby takes advantage of Goku's limitations by possessing the other warriors of Earth before settling on Vegeta's body as his host. Nearly overwhelmed, Goku regrows his Saiyan tail and transforms into the powerful Super Saiyan 4 to ultimately defeat Baby and cleanse the people of Earth.
After destroying Super Android 17 and gathering the Dragon Balls to resurrect those he killed, including Krillin, the Dragon Balls crack open from overuse unleashing the evil Shadow Dragons on Earth. Goku tracks down and beats all of them, using a Universal Spirit Bomb to destroy the final Dragon, Omega Shenron. Upon Shenron's defeat, Goku agrees to travel with the Eternal Dragon, reappearing a century later to observe his identical grandson fight Vegeta's grandson during the World Martial Arts Tournament.
HOW DOES DRAGON BALL GT FIT INTO DRAGON BALL SUPER?
The biggest discrepancy between Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball GT is the power levels. Super has Goku and Vegeta reach entirely new levels of strength and transformations that are never seen in GT despite taking place years before. Admittedly, this is because the Super forms hadn't been created yet, but their absence in GT does raise questions about canonicity. This extends to Frieza, who returns in GT from beyond the grave but is unable to transform in his more powerful golden form that debuted in Super.
The other major contradictions include Android 17, who is seen as a loner in GT while Super depicts the former villain as reformed and with a young family of his own. Additionally, Pilaf and his associates who have grown quite elderly by the start of GT are actually restored to their youth by the Dragon Balls some time before the events of Super, in an inversion of how GT begins. That the trio would suddenly be at old age a little over a decade later seals Dragon Ball GT's fate as no longer canon.
The Dragon Ball franchise has no shortage of out-of-continuity stories with the majority of its spinoff animated films in direction contradiction to the series and seen as non-canon side stories by Toriyama. GT certainly falls into this camp as an alternate future if the events of Super never happened with its difference in transformations and depictions of several key character; it just happens to run for 64 episodes and a TV special.
Dragon Ball Super Volume 7 is available on Blu-ray now.