While the original Dragon Ball tends to be overshadowed by Dragon Ball Z, it is still great. Here are the anime’s highest-rated episodes on IMDb.
Before Goku found out he was an alien, traveled to space, and fought gods, he was a young boy with a tail, living off the land and thrust into an adventure to find the magical Dragon Balls. The original Dragon Ball anime ran for 153 episodes and followed the early adventures of Goku and his friends. This series had a more magical and mystical adventurous feel compared to the science fiction action of Dragon Ball Z.
In America, Dragon Ball Z was dubbed and released years before Dragon Ball, so casual fans of the series might have never watched the original. Whilst it is very different tonally from what came after, it’s a fun adventure and showcases Goku’s early training days as well as introducing many important characters. Below are the top ten Dragon Ball episodes, as rated by IMDb.
- Goku Strikes Back (8.7)
Goku begins his battle against King Piccolo, throwing him into Piano, which kills the latter instantly. Tien watches in shock as he sees how much Goku has improved in such a short time. Goku and Piccolo fight hand to hand, with Piccolo releasing his full power after he sees no other choice.
Piccolo’s ferocious strength causes the surrounding area to break apart including the king’s castle. Piccolo delivers a hit to Goku that launches him into a hole in the ground. As the villain heads toward Tien, Goku rises and prepares a massive Kamehameha wave.
2. The Notorious Mercenary (8.7)
General Blue returns to Red Ribbon HQ and offers the dragon radar to Commander Red, however, he is displeased with Blue failing to retrieve any Dragon Balls. As a result, Red informs Blue that he won’t kill him if he can defeat the great Mercenary Tao.
The two battle and Tao manages to kill Blue by simply pressing his tongue against his temple. After being given a picture of his target (Goku), Tao takes off toward Korin tower to complete his job.
3. Battle Cry (8.6)
In Central City, Tien takes on Drum, whilst Goku races to the scene. He is held up slightly along the way as he encounters Ox-King and Chi-Chi as they are being attacked by soldiers.
Tien uses the evil containment wave but Drum takes the blast, whilst King Piccolo destroys the rice cooker. Tien survives but is severely exhausted from the technique. As Drum goes in for the death blow, Goku arrives, killing Drum with one blow. Having consumed the Ultra Divine Water, Goku is ready to take Piccolo down.
4. The Fallen (8.5)
This episode marks a major turning point for the series. It is here that the Tien Shinhan saga comes to a close and the King Piccolo saga begins. From here on, the series starts to deal with darker content and dials back the humor in favor of a more serious storyline.
In the episode, Goku and Tien both fall towards the ground outside of the ring at the same time, however, Goku hits a car, causing him to lose the match. After the tournament, Krillin offers to return to get Goku’s power pole as the characters head out for dinner. After he leaves, Goku has a sinking feeling in his stomach and returns to find Krillin has been killed.
5. The Trap Is Sprung (8.4)
Jumping back to the General Blue Saga, the series 50th episode focuses on the exploits of Goku, Krillin, and Bulma as they attempt to escape the Red Ribbon Army. The characters are chased deep within a cave, eventually reaching a room with traps.
The group continues making their way through the various rooms and finally finds a port with an old ship. Meanwhile General Blue decides to quietly pursue them in the hopes the trio will find their way to the pirate treasure.
6. Stepping Down (8.3)
Whilst Yamcha recovers in the hospital, Tien and Jackie Chun begin their battle. During the fight, Jackie displays abilities that intrigue Tien, to which the former explains to the latter that he must leave the destructive path he is on to gain this knowledge.
Master Roshi explains to Tien that he must keep a level head when fighting and he can teach him the right way. Roshi decides to retire the character of Jackie Chun and steps out of the ring, leaving Tien the winner.
7. Episode 25: Danger From Above (8.3)
It’s Goku vs Nam in this round of the 21st Martial Arts Tournament. Nam reveals that he plans on winning the tournament to use the prize money to buy water for his village. The two battle ferociously but ultimately Goku is the winner.
Jackie Chun approaches Nam, revealing he is actually Master Roshi, and gives him a capsule that he can fill with water, thus providing his village with the much-needed resource. Roshi explains to Nam his reasons for taking on his students under this disguise, as a means to make them continue to achieve new heights.
8. Episode 53: Blue, Black, And Blue (8.3)
Deep within the pirate cave, Goku faces off against General Blue to protect Krillin and Bulma. Blue uses his psychic eyes technique on Goku and beats on the latter until he realizes the cave is collapsing. General Blue pulls a capsule containing a shotgun out and threatens Goku for the location of the Dragon Ball.
When Blue loses focus, Goku breaks free from his control and pokes him in the eyes, incapacitating him. Goku retrieves the Dragon Ball, leaving the rest of the pirate treasure behind, and meets the others in the submarine so they can make their escape. General Blue, still alive, ends up being left behind as the cave collapses in on itself.
9. Episode 136: Tien Shinhan Vs. Mercenary Tao (8.2)
The original Dragon Ball loved its World Martial Arts Tournament, this episode takes place in the Piccolo Jr Saga during the 23rd tournament. It features Mercenary Tao in his last appearance until the Cell games in Dragon Ball Z.
Tien takes on Mercenary Tao, the brother of Master Shen, who attempts to kill the former for joining the Turtle Hermit School. Tien makes short work of Tao by destroying his knife and surviving his Super Dodon Wave before taking him out with one hit.
10. Episode 99: Tien’s Insurrection (8.2)
This episode takes place during the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament in the midst of the battle between Goku and Tien. At this point, Tien is cold toward Goku and sees him as the enemy since he is a student of Master Roshi, his own master’s rival.
Tien notices that Chiaotzu has paralyzed Goku, which is why he has been winning the fight. He then starts to realize the evilness of his Master and decides not to kill Goku but fight him on fair terms. Later on, Master Shen attempts to kill Chiaotzu, forcing Roshi to blast him out of the arena.