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Movies/OAV/TV Specials

The Dragonball series contains many movies, tv specials, and an OAV (or OVA, stands for "original animated video or original video animation). Most of these have plots outside of the original story arcs that are seen in the tv episodes. Several are a kind of "what if this happened instead or on this side?" type of plot scenario.

The movies are roughly 60-90 minutes in length and were seen in Japan's movie theaters when originally released. TV Specials were as they say, were first aired via tv. Their lengths are about the same as the movies. The OAV was a direct-to-videotape event. It didn't appear in theaters or on tv.

Here is the breakdown by series:
Original Dragonball: 3 movies & 1 TV Special
Dragonball Z: 13 movies, 2 TV Specials, & 1 OAV
Dragonball GT: 1 TV Special (no movies)
I have given the translated Japanese title as well as the English title, IF it has been released in the US commercially. If not, no English title is given.
Movie 1:
English title: Curse of the Blood Rubies
Japanese title: The Legend of Shenron
This movie is actually a retelling of when Goku originally meets up with Bulma, Yamcha, and Oolong. It is actually a compact summary of the first several episodes of the Dragonball tv episodes. The group is looking for the dragonballs as is a monster with an unstoppable hunger. Naturally our "heroes" and this monster with the same goal clash.
Movie 2:
English title: Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle
Japanese title: The Princess in Devil's Castle
This movie almost seems to recap more of the Dragonball tv episodes. Goku discovers who Roshi is and seeks him for training. He also meets Krillen, who is also seeking training under Roshi. To earn the right, Roshi sends them to a castle called, Devil's Hand where a princess lives. Whoever brings the princess back to Roshi will receive his training, but there's more in the castle than just a princess. This movie is a good telling of how Goku's and Krillen's friendship developed.
Movie 3:
English title: Mystical Adventure
Japanese title: Mysterious Adventures
Another retelling of more Dragonball tv episodes. Goku and Krillen have completed Roshi's training and enter the Tenkaichi Budoukai to test their skills. Emperor Chaozu is sponsering the contest. Chaozu's wife is kidnapped and Chaozu's evil advisor suggests that he needs to get the dragonballs in order to get her back. While Goku & Krillen compete in the tournament, Bulma sets out herself to find the dragonballs.
DB 10th Anniversary Special
Japanese name: The Way To Become the Strongest
This special begins with yet another retelling of how Goku meets Bulma, Oolong, and Yamcha up to where Goku destroys the Red Ribbon Army. The animation of this special is done by the artists who also did the Dragonball GT series. It is well drawn and shuts up those who knock the GT artists for not conforming to Dragonball standards by not drawing the characters correctly. They prove they are here.
Movie 1:
English title: Dead Zone
Japanese title: Return My Gohan
Garlic Jr. is gathering the dragonballs so he can attain immortality then takeover Kami's spot as God of Earth. Little Gohan is owner of one of the dragonballs (it sits atop his hat) and so Garlic Jr's henchmen kidnap the boy. Goku of course, wants his son back. Piccolo and Krillen join him (they get bested by the henchmen and want to get even for that). Garlic Jr. attains his goal, but nobody expects a new hero to show hidden strength and rise to the occassion to thwart him.
Movie 2:
English title: The World's Strongest
Japanese title: The World's Strongest Man
Dr. Kochin uses Shenron to free his master, Dr. Wheelo from his icy jail. Wanting the strongest body found on Earth, Dr. Wheelo goes after Roshi, who was the strongest at the time Wheelo was imprisioned. He soon learns that it is a man named Goku however and focuses his attention on him.
Movie 3:
English title: Tree of Might
Japanese title: Ultimate Decisive Battle for Earth
Turles, a full-blooded saiyan who looks like Goku uses the Earth to grow the Tree of Might. Anyone who eats the tree's fruit will obtain massive power. Turles also notices Gohan and his tremendous potential. Turles and his lackeys defeat most of the Z Warriors, including Goku, but Goku isn't finished quite yet. With the entire planet and his son in danger, this hero never says never.
Movie 4:
English title: Lord Slug
Japanese title: Super Saiyajin Goku
In effort to regain his youth, evil Namekian Slug lands on Earth to obtain the dragonballs. Once he gets his wish, he tries to destroy the Earth. since it is becoming an icy wasteland due to the sun being blocked. Goku enters to thwart him and return the planet to normal, but not without the help of Piccolo and Gohan.
Movie 5:
English title:Cooler's Revenge coming soon...release Jan.22, 2002
Japanese title: The Best of the Strongest Versus Strongest
To avenge his dead brother, Frieza, Cooler arrives on Earth to kill the super saiyan. Cooler defeats the Z Warriors present and Goku, until he reaches the point where he fears the death of all life on Earth, when Goku finally transforms. Will Cooler's final evolved form be enough to defeat a Super Saiyan?
Movie 6:
Japanese title: Clash! 10 Billion Power Warriors
With New Namek being eaten by a planet-eating star, the Z Warriors fly to the planet to help save it. The entire remaining Namekian race has been enslaved by large robots. Several of the Z Warriors (and others such as Roshi and Yajirobe) try to help free the prisioners but end up caught as well. The find out the person responsible for all this is a reformed, now metal Cooler. He is taking revenge on the people of the planet where his brother, Frieza was killed. With Goku now in the fray, he also has another opportunity to avenge Frieza. Vegeta steps into the skirmish in his classic fashion as the two full-blooded saiyans take a stand against Cooler and a whole army of clone Cooler's. Can Vegeta and Goku stand alone and defeat Cooler, destroy the Ghetti star, and free the Namekians and their friends?
Movie 7:
Japanese title: Utmost Limits of Battle! The Three Super Saiyajin
Dr. Gero's computer has survived and creates three new androids, 13, 14, &15. It sends them out on Dr. Gero's original plan, to destroy Goku. They meet up with the happygolucky saiyan at a shopping mall where he is shopping with his family. Future Trunks, Krillen, Roshi, and Oolong are also present. Goku & Trunks lead the Androids away from the mall and populated city and to an icy region. They fight valiantly but are losing, that is, until Piccolo, Gohan, and Vegeta enter the skirmish. 13 then shows off his "super" form which turns the tide in favor of the Android once again. Can Goku, Trunks, and Vegeta defeat this Super Android?
Movie 8:
Japanese title: Burnout! Fierce Fight, Violent Fight, Super-Exciting Fight
Another full-blooded saiyan arrives on Earth. His name is Paragus and he is seeking Vegeta. He claims he has found a new planet, a New Vegeta. He wants Vegeta to rule over it as their King. Vegeta follows, but the planet and Paragus aren't what they seem. Paragus's son, Brolly IS the legendary super saiyan, having been born with a powerlevel of 10,000 (Goku only had a powerlevel of 2 when he was born). He was born the same time as Goku and the two shared a nursery together. Goku was the only one who ever made Brolly cry and Brolly hates this fact. He tries to destroy Goku and everyone. Can Goku's super saiyan strength defeat the LEGENDARY super saiyan?! This movie gives a little more insight to the saiyans, their culture, and the super saiyan transformation.
Movie 9:
Japanese title: The Galaxy is in Danger! The Super Awesome Guy!
This movie seems to take place immediately after the Cell Games. Future Trunks is still around as well.
Another Tenkaichi Budoukai is being held. Mr. Satan invites everyone on Earth to the competition on a remote island. Some of the Z Warriors opt to join in. Goku, however is still dead, though he is watching the events from heaven. After the elimination rounds, the winners head to another island. Bojack and his henchmen, disguised as the supposed fake alien students of Mr. Satan are awaiting their challengers. Each winner ends up fighting one of these fighters one-on-one. Most are eliminated by these very lethal foes. One stands against all of them, a boy by the name of Gohan. His hesitancy is once again revealed until his dead father gives him some words of encouragment (and a strange little bit of help). Gohan's SSJ 2 is sparked as he is forced to fight for his life and all the others. Can a boy stand up to a very strong, evil gang of aliens?
Movie 10:
Japanese title: Dangerous Partners! Super Warriors Never Rest
Goten, Trunks, and Videl are searching for the dragonballs. Apparently Brolly survived his bout with Goku in Movie 8 and crash landed on Earth. These three dragonball hunters fight valiantly but are no match for the legendary super saiyan. Luckily, big brother Gohan is en route and takes over the fight just in time. Gohan struggles however. His lack of training for many years has decreased his stills and powerlevel. He's not the same level as he was during the Cell Games. All seems lost until the dragonballs perform a miracle to assist brothers, Gohan & Goten in their most desparate time of need.
(This movie is my favorite of all the DBZ movies. Being a Gohan fan, I enjoyed his time in the spotlight in this movie. This movie also has some great humor (Goten & Trunks are a riot!) and a little peek at more of Gohan & Videl's friendship).
Movie 11:
Japanese title: Crushing Super Warrior! I Am the Winner!
Challenged by his own cousin, Mr. Satan heads to his cousin's island with Android 18 in tow. She follows because she wants her money for throwing the tournament and letting him win (tv episodes). Goten & Trunks stow away in the trunk of the car (classic Speed Racer theme here!) in search of some possible adventure. Also on this island is a huge genetic research center. It is creating Bio Warriors. Goten & Trunks join in on the fight when 18 and Mr. Satan find these BioWarriors a bit of a problem. The two halfpint super saiyans discover more about the genetic center...they see a full-blood saiyan in one of the vessels! It is Brolly! Bits of Brolly's blood, DNA were obtained after his last battle. Goten & Trunks are forced to face off against the Brolly clone. Krillen also joins them, but even as a team they are losing. Trunks and Goten discover a new way to defeat the monstrous Brolly by using their brains.
Movie 12:
Japanese title: The Rebirth of Fusion! Goku and Vegeta!
A young worker in Hell doesn't pay attention to his soul cleaning machine. It explodes and releases all the evil in the machine. A large, powerful demon named Janemba is created. Heaven and Hell are contorted and even Lord Enma (King Yamma) is imprisoned and rendered powerless by the strange events. Goku and Pikkon answer the call for help. The only way to right all the strange wrongs is to destroy Janemba. Goku flies to Hell to deal with him while Pikkon tries to free Enma. Even Goku's SSJ 3 struggles against the demon, especially when Janemba assumes his sleeker, deadlier form. Vegeta arrives and joins the fight, but the two still fight a losing battle. Goku knows the only way they can defeat the demon is through Fusion. Will Vegeta allow it and could it really be strong enough?
Movie 13:
Japanese title: Dragon Fist Explosion! If Goku Can't Do It, Who Can?
A strange old man stages an incident to draw in the Great SaiyaTeam. He contains a strange music box and knows that the two teen heroes know about dragonballs and Shenlon. They take the man and his box to Bulma's place so they can examine the box. It can't be opened by mortal strength. So, they gather the dragonballs and summon Shenlon. It releases a warrior named, Tapion, who is playing his ocarina. He is terrified that he has been released for he holds a secret that can destory an entire galaxy! (This is the movie that shows how little Trunks obtains his sword).
DBZ TV Special 1:
English title: Bardock: Father of Goku
Japanese title: A Final Solitary Battle! The Z Warrior Son Goku's Father Challenges Freeza
After destroying an entire race of aliens, Bardock and his team relax and discuss various things. One alien, however is still somewhat alive. He launches a surprise attack at Bardock and bestows the ability for Bardock to forsee the future. Bardock sees his planet and race destroyed by Frieza and also believes is infant son will also die. Bardock and the others return to Planet Vegeta to try to rally the Saiyans to kill Frieza. None believe him so Bardock flies off to challenge the tryant himself.
DBZ TV Special 2:
English title: The History of Trunks
Japanese title: Defiance in the Face of Despair! The Remaining Super Warriors-Gohan and Trunks
Set in the Future timeline, Goku died from his viral heart disease and all the Z Warriors meet their death in a grand fight with Androids 17 & 18. Only Gohan survives that last stand. For years after, the planet is ravaged and plundered by the two androids. Trunks grows up and asks Gohan to train him in order to assist in putting an end to the androids. The two begin to challenge the androids together, but are severly beaten. Gohan has to give early teen Trunks the last remaining senzu bean to save the boy's life. This leaves Gohan with only one arm. Trunks is plagued by his inability to obtain super saiyan form. When the anrdoids attack Western Capital City, Gohan leaves alone to fight them. He dies in the attempt. Trunks discovers his body and it is only then that the boy triggers his super saiyan transformation. Still, it isn't enough to defeat the android duo. Years later, Bulma completes the Time Machine. She wants Trunks to use it to travel back in time, but being the teen that he is, he wants one last crack at the androids, thinking his more mature body and super saiyan form will be enough. He pays dearly and nearly loses his life. It is only then, that he opts to do as his mother wishes and leave for the past in her time machine.
TV Special
Japanese title: Goku's Supplement! Proof of Courage Is the Four-Star Dragon Ball
Set 100 years after the events of Dragonball:GT, Pan is the last surviving character from that series. She is raising her grandson, Goku Jr. who thinks by setting out to get the 4-star dragonball, he can save his ill grandmother (Pan). He figures with the one ball, he can ask Shenron to heal her. Unfortunately, Goku Jr. is a coward and totally unaware of his true power. While on his journey, he is joined by a bully who picks on him at school. Together they set out for Goku's old house in Mount Paozu in search of the 4-star ball that resides there.
DBZ OAV Special
Japanese title: Plan To Destroy the Saiyajin
While gathering firewood, Goku and Gohan discover the forest area around them wilting and dying. Mr. Popo arrives and informs them that a gas called Destron is destroying all life on Earth (including humans). If not removed within 72 hours, all life will be gone. Trunks, Vegeta, and Piccolo join the father and son to destroy all the Destron-emitting machines. Just as they destroy one, another is found. The final one has a protectvie shield that even Goku's attacks can't penetrate. So, they are forced to journey to the Dark Planet and face Dr. Raichii, the creator of the gas. There are some little surprises in this oav both good and bad as this film wasn't quite up to normal DBZ standards, but it is entertaining nonetheless.