All of Dragon Ball’s Timelines Explained

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All of Dragon Ball’s Timelines Explained Goku

Before delving into each timeline, it is important to note that there are different timelines in Dragon Ball. The series does not follow the linear timeline that most anime have, so it might get really confusing for new fans. But worry not as we've come up with the ultimate Dragon Ball timelines guide for fans!

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Why Does Dragon Ball Have Different Timelines?

Why Does Dragon Ball Have Different Timelines

Dragon Ball does not follow a typical timeline wherein there is only the past, the present, and the future. The fantasy anime uses the concepts of alternate timelines and time travel which add complexity to the overall series.

In fact, there are some timeline rules that need to be followed and remembered for each timeline to make sense:

  • New timelines are only made once there are changes done in the past that triggered a paradox
  • Time Rings will only work if it goes to the future and then to the present. They do not trigger alternate timelines even if there are changes made in the future.
  • The silver Time Ring only refers to the reference timeline or the main timeline while the green ones are considered alternative timelines
  • Timelines can be erased, but when this happens, the Time Ring also disappears
  • Each timeline flows at the same rate. No timeline is slower or faster.
Why Does Dragon Ball Have Different Timelines goku time ring
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The word 'paradox' is mentioned in the rules, but what is it, and what does it have to do with the whole concept of time traveling and alternate timelines in Dragon Ball?

In the manga, a paradox was explained using an example made by a teacher.

In the example, it said that Trunks went back in time to give his mom some rice cakes. She accidentally choked on the rice cakes and thus failed to give birth to Trunks.

But how is that possible if Trunks was able to travel back in time?

A paradox is when a new timeline is created, so in this sense, there is a timeline wherein Trunks is alive and another wherein he is not.

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So, How Did the Timelines in Dragon Ball Start?

How Did the Timelines in Dragon Ball Start
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In the manga, it was explained that a mortal from Universe 12 was the first time traveler in history. The time machine he or she used was confiscated, which led to time travel getting banned.

It was not explained what this mortal did but it was said that Timeline 1 was divided into Timelines 1 and 5.

In Dragon Ball Z, it was shown that Trunks went back to the past, which is 20 years ago. He gave Goku heart medicine, which led to saving his life.

The paradox then was that Goku was alive in the past and there is a Trunks in the future. This means that Timeline 1 was once again divided into Timelines 1 and 3.

In Timeline 3, Goku is dead, which means that Timeline 1 is no longer the original timeline.

Trunks made another trip, but this time, he went three years after Timeline 1.

How Did the Timelines in Dragon Ball Start Trunks
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Based on the rules mentioned above, any change in the future does not create a paradox, so no new timeline has been made as a result of this trip.

What caused a paradox was when Imperfect Cell took the time machine and traveled three years later to go back to Timeline 1, which is the year before Trunks came.

Since Cell went back to the past, he created a new timeline, which is now considered Timeline 4.

This trip divided Timeline 1 into Timelines 1 and 4, and three additional timelines have been added since then.

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What Are All the Timelines in Dragon Ball?

What Are All the Timelines in Dragon Ball Cell

All in all, there are a total of 7 timelines in Dragon Ball. Here is a summary for each timeline:

  • Timeline 1: This timeline follows the story of Dragon Ball. It is the usual “present” time in the series. Trunks and Krillin destroyed Dr. Gero's lab, while Cell is in the incubator during this timeline.
  • Timeline 2: The future Trunks resides in this timeline. He warns the Z-fighters about the androids and Cell. He goes back to this timeline to kill androids and Imperfect Cell.
  • Timeline 3: While this is somewhat related to Timeline 2, what makes this timeline different is that Trunks is not aware of Cell. Imperfect Cell ends up killing Trunks and using the time machine to go back in time.
  • Timeline 4: Future Trunks was able to kill the androids and warn the Z-fighters but they are not knowledgeable about Cell’s existence. However, Timeline 4 is considered vague by most fans because it is a timeline where Trunks is not around, considering that he was killed in Timeline 3.
What Are All the Timelines in Dragon Ball Future Trunks
  • Timeline 5: This is considered the first alternate timeline wherein the first time traveler went back in time and time travel has been banned.
  • Timeline 6: In this timeline, Zamasu learned about Goku and the Super Dragon Balls. He planned to switch with Goku’s body so he decided to kill Goku and Gowasu to be Black. He then took the Time Ring and went to Timeline 2.
  • Timeline 7: Trunks and Mai created a new timeline after they traveled to Timeline 1. In this timeline, Black does not exist.

Take note that the timelines listed here are based on what was available in the manga and the anime.

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