Time travel and alternate timelines have always been a subject of much complexity that’s not just limited to Dragon Ball, but several other stories like Flash, Back to the Future, Doctor Who, and Steins Gate. We were first given an official explanation in the Daizenshuu 7 showing 4 distinct timelines in Dragon Ball Z. The fourth timeline, called the “Unseen” timeline, has been heavily debated and did not make logical sense to many people.
Hence, today I will explain how the fourth timeline, the Unseen Timeline, CAN indeed fit with logic and explain everything. I have gathered all the information from DBZ, DBS, Daizenshuu, and Chouzenshuu to explain all the different timelines, how they were created, when they were created, and the what if scenarios of the unknown timelines. This will explain timelines in Dragon Ball completely once and for all. It will be a three part series. The first part will discuss the original 4 timelines before Dragon Ball Super and the second part will discuss the new timelines that were added after Dragon Ball Super. The third part is the expanded DB universe (DBO, Xenoverse, DBH, and movies) to see if alternate timelines can be exploited to still have them fit. Without further ado, let’s begin!
A couple of timeline rules before we start:
1. New Timelines are created when changes are done in the past that create a paradox.
So we have to go back to the Daizenshuu 7 and look at the original timeline chart. Note the numbering of the timelines has nothing to do with the order in which the timelines were created. This is just how Toei named them with Timeline 1 always being the main timeline. Main does not mean original though.
So let us begin with the original original timeline before any time travel. As per the Toei chart, we see that the original timeline is the one from which Future Trunks is Timeline 3. Hence, if we opened the box of time rings, we would only see 1 silver ring.
In the future, it takes Trunks one full year (exactly 8 months) to recharge the time machine with Electro Blue no. 15 fuel before he could make another trip. This time, he goes back from Age 785 to Age 767, three years after he last visited. He is not going to a past point in his own timeline, but a future point 3 years AFTER in Timeline 1. There is no paradox and hence, a new timeline is NOT created. In this timeline, Trunks and Krillin find Dr. Gero’s basement lab where they find the blueprints for Android 17 (Chapter 365). Trunks does not stay and immediately goes back to his own timeline (Timeline 3) to give these blueprints to future Bulma. Then, future Bulma was able to create the shutdown controller for Android 17 and 18. Trunks used this to defeat the Androids in Age 785. Imperfect Cell arrives three years later in Age 788 and is unable to find the Androids. He he kills Trunks (who did not train with Vegeta in the Room of Spirit and Time) and takes the time machine back to the main timeline, Timeline 1 to Age 763, 1 year prior to when Trunks had arrived. Note that Cell just pressed a button on the Time Machine and had no idea where he was going. It luckily was just set to Age 763.
This splits the main timeline (Timeline 1) again into Timeline 1 and Timeline 4 where Timeline 1 is where Trunks stays and trains and Timeline 4 is the one where Trunks leaves with the blueprints. Now there are 4 time rings total.
Cell Games without Trunks (Original):
Timeline 1 - Main Timeline. Cell Games with Trunks. Trunks decides to stay and train in the Room of Spirit and Time.
Timeline 2 - New Future Timeline. Trunks kills Android 17, 18, and Cell with his own power.
Timeline 3 - Original Timeline. Trunks gives blueprints to future Bulma to make a remote shutdown controller. Trunks uses remote to defeat Android 17 and 18. Cell kills Trunks and takes the time machine.
Timeline 4 - Unseen Timeline. Cell Games without Trunks. Trunks leaves with the blueprints he finds from Dr. Gero's basement lab and returns to Timeline 3.
Timeline 5 – First Alternate Timeline. A mortal from Universe 12 used the first time machine in history to go to the past.
With me so far? Everything I've told you so far is consistent with the facts in the original DB manga, DBS, Daizenshuu 7, and Chouzenshuu 4.
Now let's begin with Dragon Ball Super. Gowasu opens the time ring box for the first time (Chapter 17, page 9 and Episode 49) and what do we see? We see 4 green time rings and 1 silver ring. That's a total of 5 rings or 5 timelines. This is exactly what we got!
Let’s continue. So after the events of the U6 Tournament, Zamasu learns of Goku from watching GodTube. As to why he picked Goku's body and not Monaka, it was said by Goku that it might be because Zamasu didn't want large nipples.
In Timeline 2, after Trunks killed Cell. A few years later, Babidi and Dabura arrive. Trunks trains with Shin, achieves SSJ2, and kills Dabura with Shin dying in the process, which also kills Beerus. Thus Timeline 2 did not have a Beerus and Black could carry out the Zero Mortals Plan without worry.
He found Future Zamasu and allied with him and kills Future Gowasu. The two Zamasus gathered the Super Dragon Balls, but since Goku was not alive in this timeline, Future Zamasu instead wished for immortality! It works out to Black’s plan because he needed Zamasu to use his healing powers to get zenkai boosts. Note that the only reason Zamasu can use healing powers is because he is the attendant / disciple of Gowasu. If he was a Kaioshin, he wouldn't be able to heal. From each zenkai boost, Black learns Goku’s body more and makes it his own as new cells that are created bond with Zamasu. Future Trunks from Timeline 2 eventually escapes back to Timeline 1. Remember a new timeline still has NOT been created because there's no paradox yet! Trunks warns Goku and the gang of Black. They eventually figure out that Zamasu is behind the whole thing so Beerus hakais him. NOW we have a paradox, splitting to Timeline 1 into Timeline 1 and Timeline 6 with the latter being the timeline from which Zamasu is alive and successfully becomes Black.
Now for the fun part – theory. There is an expanded DB verse that is beyond just anime and manga. It includes Dragon Ball Online (DBO), movies, OVAs, Xenoverse, Dragon Ball Heroes (DBH), and other video games. Apart from DBO, most of these are considered to be “not canon”. Now a lot of people do not like to use the word, “canon”. Rather, it’s better to look at “continuity”. That is, is there a way to fit the above possible stories without contradiction? The Daizenshuu 6 has tried to place the movies in the timeline. There are only two timelines available for us to use for these other stories – Timeline 4 (Unseen) and Timeline 5 (First Alternate Timeline). The latter is a blank slate which means we can make it whatever we desire. I will try to see with logic, if it is thus possible to fit in the expanded DB verse using these two timelines.
So to now summarize based on the above chart from Toei: (italics are theories or fanfiction)
Timeline 1 (light blue) – Main Timeline, the one we watch on tv; Created when Beerus hakai’d Zamasu. Goku is alive. Universe 7 wins the Tournament of Power. Broly arc. Moro arc. You know this story.
Expanded DB verse (theory):
Expanded DB verse (theory):
Timeline 3 – Original Timeline, Future Trunks uses shutdown remote controller to destroy Android 17 and 18. Imperfect Cell kills Trunks and takes the time machine. There are no strong fighters left on Earth. Buu is not revived due to lack of sufficient energy.
Timeline 4 – Unseen Timeline. Trunks arrives a second time and takes the blueprints from Dr. Gero’s basement lab to his own timeline, Timeline 3, never training in the Room of Spirit and Time. Cell Games occur without Trunks. Created when Trunks first travels back in time to give Goku the heart medicine. Events of the Buu saga and Yo Son Goku occur like they did in main timeline.
Expanded DB verse (theory):
Timeline 5 – First alternate timeline. This timeline was created by the actions of an unknown mortal from Universe 12 from Timeline 3 using the very first time machine in history. This time machine was later confiscated by the Universe 12's kaioshin. Black and Zamasu found this time machine in Timeline 2 after killing the kaioshin and planned to use it to follow Goku and co. as Infinite Zamasu. We don't know anything about this timeline, so it's free for our imagination.
Expanded DB verse (theory):
Timeline 6 (dark blue) – Former main timeline, Zamasu switches with Goku’s body to become Black, kills Gowasu and Goku, and takes the time ring to Timeline 2.
Timeline 7 (brown) – New Future Trunks Timeline. Created when Trunks and Mai travel from Timeline 1 to before Dabura. Whis from Timeline 1 wakes up Beerus early and warns him of Zamasu. Zamasu is sealed permanently. There is no Black in this timeline. There are two pairs of Trunks and Mai. Dabura is defeated, Shin lives and hence, Beerus lives. Paragus and Broly still live in Planet Vanpa but since Freeza is not alive, they remain undiscovered.
Expanded DB Verse Theory:
So I was able to incorporate essentially first four DB movies, original 13 DBZ movies, Plan to Eradicate Saiyans, Android 21 arc, Real 4-D, Bardock OVA, History of Trunks. There are two things I could NOT fit and that's Movie 8 with Trunks and Plan to Eradicate with Saiyans with Trunks. This is because Trunks has to leave with the blueprints in Timeline 4 so he never stays and trains with Vegeta. And we know that in the main timeline, it's canon so I can't put these two movies in there. I mean that's not too bad right haha? We still got Hatchiyack and Broly to work with in other arcs like in SDBH.
Questions you’re probably asking: