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Every Dragon Ball Z Filler Episode You Can Skip

To say Goku's story is a sprawling epic is an understatement. His most popular series alone, "Dragon Ball Z," clocks in at 291 episodes, which originally aired over a span of seven years. The great thing about "Dragon Ball Z," however, is that it's a fairly easy show to get into, as pretty much everything you need to know that happened in the anime before it, "Dragon Ball," is explained as the series progresses.

Still, with that many episodes, it's understandable for newcomers to feel a bit intimidated about diving in. Luckily, like many anime series, "Dragon Ball Z" has its fair share of filler material that's generally easy to skip. Should you choose to watch the original "Dragon Ball Z" series rather than "Dragon Ball Z Kai" (which is the filler-lite, remastered version of the same show). WIth that in mind, here's a cheat sheet of episodes you can safely avoid so you can focus on the key parts of Akira Toriyama's classic "Dragon Ball Z" series.

Most of Gohan's wilderness and Goku's Snake Way adventures

The first eight episodes of "Dragon Ball Z" are required viewing, but Episodes 9-16 mostly fall squarely into the "optional" category. "The Strangest Robot" and "A New Friend" (Episodes 9-10) essentially tell the same story twice, having Gohan make an unexpected friend in the wild — first an abandoned robot, then a dinosaur. "Terror on Arlia" (Episode 11) features a detour for Nappa and Vegeta that doesn't impact the overarching "Dragon Ball Z" storyline. "Global Training" (Episode 12) centers on a Tien, Chiaotzu, and Launch adventure whose only real relevant scene involves Tien accepting Krillin's offer to train with Kami. Similarly, "Princess Snake" (Episode 14) has one major relevant development, namely the human warriors of "Dragon Ball Z" arriving at Kami's Lookout, while the rest is an inconsequential Goku adventure.

It's not that these episodes are bad, necessarily. "Dueling Piccolos" (Episode 15) lives up to its name with style, while "Plight of the Children" (Episode 16) is a touching story that allows Gohan to finally interact with other kids. The problem, however, is that they don't leave a major mark on the larger "Dragon Ball Z" saga. Sure, Gohan matures, but he's separated from all the friends he makes, invariably ending up back where he started. The one filler episode you might want to watch, however, is Episode 13, "Goz and Mez," as the two characters end up being pretty important to later anime-only material that's hard to skip.

Nappa's Rampage

The Saiyans declare a three-hour break from fighting the heroes to give Goku enough time to return to Earth, but that doesn't stop Nappa from causing all kinds of destruction in Episode 26, "Nappa's Rampage." None of it moves the story along, however, and the most important event in the episode, Goku's actual return, doesn't happen until the episode's end. Regardless, you won't miss a lot of you give this episode a pass, especially as the next episode, "Nimbus Speed" (Episode 27), recaps almost everything you need to know about Goku's arrival on Earth. In fact, the only omission is the scene where Korin hands Goku two Senzu beans (one of which he eats). 

It may seem odd to skip an episode in the middle of a battle as important to the series as Nappa's brutal attack on Goku's fellow warriors, but you'll hardly notice you missed anything. Neither would Nappa, for that matter.  

The two alien kid army episodes

One of the most infamous stretches of filler material in "Dragon Ball Z" involves Bulma, Krillin, and Gohan's trip to Namek. While the manga depicts their voyage as being fairly direct, the anime includes several side adventures that don't really add anything hyper-substantial to the mythos. 

Episode 39, titled "Friends or Foes?" begins that stretch, featuring the three Earthlings meeting an army of alien children whose planet was raided by Frieza's forces. Yet despite their connection to one of the most infamous villains from "Dragon Ball Z," these armed kids end up being more or less of a footnote in the series and never appear again after Episode 40, "Held Captive." At least that episode has a notable Vegeta scene, but otherwise, you could probably skip both. Funnily enough, the storyline almost seems to suggest at the end that more is in store for the alien kid army — perhaps plans involving their return never materialized?

Every Fake Namek episode except the last one

While some filler episodes in "Dragon Ball Z" are beloved, others earned a level of notoriety, with the Fake Namek episodes being among the most infamous. Set right before Bulma, Gohan, and Krillin land on the real Namek, the four-part mini-arc has them land on a planet they mistake for the one they're looking for, when it is actually a trap created by two pink, most definitely not-Namekian alien giants. Other than having no real bearing on the wider "Dragon Ball Z" narrative, one can't help but wonder if introducing a false Planet Namek right before the real one is a bit redundant. 

There are some important scenes, however, involving Vegeta recovering from his battle on Earth and learning that Frieza is going after the Dragon Balls. However, if you simply skip to the last "Fake Namek" episode, titled "Brood of Evil" (Episode 44) in the U.S., the recap portion tells you everything you need to know. In fact, one can go from the previous major "Dragon Ball Z" episode, "Nursing Wounds," to "Brood of Evil" pretty seamlessly. Why watch the last episode of a non-essential arc, you ask? Simple — only the first half of it is filler, while the second finally gets the gang to Namek and introduces the next major villain, Frieza, in person.

Destination: Guru

In the "Dragon Ball" manga (which is split into "Dragon Ball" and "Dragon Ball Z" in the US), Bulma doesn't get a lot of panel time on Namek as the battle against Frieza and his forces intensifies in later chapters. Really, Bulma doesn't feature prominently until she and her friends are teleported to Earth with the Namekian populace. The "Dragon Ball Z" anime tries to rectify this, however, by adding a lot of new Bulma moments, including "Destination: Guru." 

This episode focuses on her efforts to retrieve the runaway Four-Star Namekian Dragon Ball from several underwater creatures, including giant clams and, most famously, one mammoth of a crustacean. While it gives Bulma something to do and certainly has its humor, it's not really central to the major goings-on in the "Namek Saga." If you're a big Bulma fan and need your fix, check it out, but you'll probably feel more rewarded watching the episodes where she trades bodies with Captain Ginyu.

Bulma's Big Day

The immediate continuation of "Destination: Guru," in which Bulma has to figure out how to get away from two Frieza soldiers who've kidnapped her, is also largely unessential, save a scene near the end where Vegeta begins tailing Krillin and Gohan. Still, it's a great display of Bulma's ingenuity, as she manages to outwit her captors, Blueberry and Raspberry — yes, those are their names as puns are pretty much a must when naming Dragon Ball characters — multiple times by using both their inner greed and her knowledge of the Dragon Balls to her advantage. 

The episode also nicely dovetails with the previous one by bringing back one of Bulma's earlier obstacles in a clever way. Despite all this, however, there's not much you'll be missing if you simply move onto "Hidden Power" (Episode 61), which recaps Bulma's zany adventure and the major Vegeta scene in the first few minutes.

The Garlic Jr. Saga

While most "Dragon Ball Z" sagas come straight from the "Dragon Ball' manga, a major exception is the Garlic Jr. Saga, which brings back the villain from the first movie produced for the series, "Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone." The arc, which lasts from episodes 108-117, sees Garlic Jr. and the Four Heavenly Kings of the Demon Clan (humorously called the "Spice Boys" in the U.S. dub) turn most of the planet evil with the Black Water Mist. Garlic Jr. and his underlings get a huge power boost thanks to the Makyo Star, which has come within Earth's proximity and allowed Garlic Jr. to free himself from the Dead Zone, which is where Gohan traps him in at the end of the film.

The Garlic Jr. Saga certainly has its fans, as it allows major characters other than Goku to save the day while giving longtime supporting cast member Kami a more active role in the plot. Still, no major repercussions come out of this arc, other than Krillin's girlfriend created for the saga, Maron, returning briefly when the Androids appear for a subplot that doesn't really go anywhere. Its canonicity is also questionable, given how it's a sequel to a movie that contradicts the anime in a few ways.

Z Warriors Prepare

The "Dragon Ball" manga doesn't really show Goku and company preparing against the impending danger of the Androids. As such, it's probably not surprising to hear the decision to have "Dragon Ball Z" actually depict their training doesn't result in a must-watch episode. That doesn't reflect on the quality of "Z Warriors Prepare" (Episode 124), however. The episode helps smooth out a rather shocking twist — Bulma having a child with Vegeta — by showing how Capsule Corp's famed green-haired genius starts caring more for the proud Saiyan prince as she Yamcha drift apart. 

"Z Warriors Prepare" also serves as a turning point for Yamcha as a fighter, as he is forced to acknowledge his limits when he finds himself unable to train in 300 times Earth's normal gravity, as Vegeta can. It's not difficult for viewers to draw a line between this episode and his eventual retirement as a martial artist in the years after Cell is defeated. Therefore, while the episode may not be required viewing, it does provide some useful connective tissue as far as characterization goes.

Goku's Ordeal

Skipping this one almost hurts. While the last few minutes show Goku, Gohan, and Piccolo heading to face the Androids, the rest of the episode is completely absent from the manga and doesn't move the main story forward. Yet it's also really fun, as it depicts Goku and Piccolo trying to get driver's licenses and the hilarious antics they get into as a result. 

The premise is a little odd, of course, when you consider Goku and Piccolo have much faster ways of traveling. Sure, Goku could use a car for moving many items around and to avoid shocking people by teleporting into, say, a busy city, but Piccolo has even less use for a car since he rarely interacts with human civilization. Moreover, the episode does a pretty good of demonstrating that Chi-Chi is probably the one who would get the most out of having a license, especially since wild boars are less likely to mess with someone in a car than a person on foot. 

Still, the unusualness of "Goku's Ordeal" (Episode 125) is part of its charm, and it's bound to make you laugh at least a few times. If you like downtime episodes, try this one out, but if you're in a rush or want to get to the big stuff, such as the arrival of the Androids, give this one a pass. You can always come back to it later, and the next episode, "The Androids Arrive," recaps the important events.

The downtime episodes of the Cell Games

Cell gives the warriors of Earth ten days to prepare for his tournament, the Cell Games, and some pretty important events happen during that time. For instance, Goku and Gohan emerge from the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, Earth gets Dende as its next Guardian, and the planet's Dragon Balls are restored. However, the majority of that period can be otherwise be safely removed from your watchlist. 

Skip episodes 170 and 171 ("A Girl Named Lime" and "Memories of Gohan") and resume regular viewing with 172, "A New Guardian." After 173, however, safely jump over 174, "The Puzzle of General Tao," and head onto 175 to get right to the Cell Games. Sure, you'll miss the anime-only return of longtime "Dragon Ball" villain Tao Pai Pai, a.k.a. Mercenary Tao (incorrectly referred to as a general in the U.S. dub), but his episodes don't really amount to much more than a cool cameo, rather than a momentous occasion.

Gohan's First Date

A first date is a major milestone for many, but not so much in Gohan's case — or at least not for a "Dragon Ball Z" viewer. That's not to say the episode isn't enjoyable, however, as Gohan goes on a date with a new girl he's met in his class, Angela, who claims to have uncovered a great secret of his. Gohan is certain that she's referring to his double life as the Great Saiyaman, which is an understandable deduction, as he does accidentally change out of costume in front of her. 

The actual "secret" Angela's keeping tight-lipped about is too hilarious for words, as are Gohan's attempts to keep her from spilling the beans. Another interesting detail about the episode is that Angela constantly accuses Gohan of secretly dating Videl. This, of course, quite overtly foreshadows the real relationship between the teen half-Saiyan and the daughter of Dragon Ball's most beloved con man that starts just a few episodes down the road. Still, you won't really notice if you give this one a pass and jump straight to the next important Great Saiyaman episode.

Rescue Videl

You'd think an episode called "Rescue Videl" (Episode 203) would be pretty key to Gohan's Great Saiyaman adventures. After all, Videl has made it her mission to both unmask the Great Saiyaman and figure out just what the deal is with her unusual new classmate, Gohan. Yet like "Gohan's First Date" before it, "Rescue Video" doesn't have the major impact on the main series or Gohan's life that you might expect. 

The episode features Gohan trying to avoid Videl's efforts to learn Saiyaman's identity and find a way to sneak out of class to stop the Red Shark Gang and its formidable leader Rock, who've taken Satan City's mayor hostage. Gohan's troubles are right out of the superhero playbook, making it a fun watch for fans of the genre. Even more amusing is the fact that the episode's U.S. title is actually a bit of a fake-out, as Videl's reaction to the Great Saiyaman thinking she's in trouble is very funny and true to her character. 

However, if you're trying to keep your "DBZ" viewing experience high on essentials and low on filler, skip straight to the next episode, "Blackmail," which does feature a major Gohan and Videl moment. Without spoiling much, let's just say Videl learns something significant about Gohan that makes sure that episode lives up to its title.

He's Always Late

Hot off the heels of their victory over Kid Buu, the heroes of Earth decide to celebrate by holding a barbecue at Bulma's house. Late to the party — hence the episode's title, "He's Always Late" — is Goku, who's tasked himself with making sure the eggs of a dragon couple near his home hatch safely. However, this task ends up being a little more complicated than he anticipated.

And that's about it. Other than Goku's mini-adventure, the episode features the cast of "Dragon Ball Z" eating, dancing, socializing and just generally having a good time. It's primarily a heartwarming episode focused on Goku's caring side with plenty of good moments, such as Goku reminiscing about his grandfather, Good Buu quickly acclimating to his new friends, and Chi-Chi's very unique style of "dancing." It's a huge downtime episode, even as far as filler goes, though, meaning nothing crucial results from it. Of all the episodes on this list, "He's Always Late" (Episode 288) might be the easiest to skip.