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Dragon Ball Super Future: What's Next For The Franchise?

With Dragon Ball Super seemingly done for now, where can the Dragon Ball franchise go if and when it picks back up? A number of possibilities exist both in the anime’s past, the manga’s carefully sketched out future, and the non-canonical present. The Dragon Ball franchise has been going strong in anime since 1986 when it was largely about a weird boy named Son Goku, who went on silly adventures. Then came Dragon Ball Z to catapult the franchise to astronomical new heights.

With themes focusing on surpassing your limits and doing what is right, Dragon Ball Z found huge viewership in the west. Dragon Ball Z ran from 1989-1996 and remains the longest of the various incarnations of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball GT followed up Dragon Ball Z the same year it ended but only ran until 1997. The beginning of Dragon Ball GT wound up stripping Goku of his power, reverting him into a child - a move largely seen as a thematic betrayal of what many had come to love about Dragon Ball Z. The entire Dragon Ball GT series was eventually retconned and the Dragon Ball anime franchise went into stasis. That's when Dragon Ball Super entered the stage and began airing in 2015. Despite a bumpy start, Dragon Ball Super won fans back over with a return to the themes of Dragon Ball Z with a number of colorful storylines that pushed the stakes to unprecedented new heights. Then came the end.

Related: Dragon Ball Z: 10 Powers You Didn’t Know Goku Had

Dragon Ball Super had its highs and lows, but undoubtedly the highest stakes in the in the franchise’s history came to its conclusion in the "Universe Survival Saga." Zeno and Future Zeno, the two beings who reign over everything that exists, organize a tournament consisting of the strongest fighters from across the multiverse. As each losing team had all their fighters knocked out, their universes were destroyed. It all comes to a head between Goku and Jiren, one of the strongest foes Goku has ever faced. Following that fight, Goku and friends restored the multiverse and returned to Earth. Dragon Ball Super supposedly ended there and hasn’t been renewed (yet), but the enduring legacy of the anime, the evolving story of Akira Toriyama’s manga, and the massive success of Dragon Ball Super: Broly all make a triumphant return very likely.

The Possible Futures of Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball Super Cast

Dragon Ball Super: Broly opened up new opportunities for the franchise. It’s the first movie to bear the Dragon Ball Super moniker and seemed to support the possibility that a continuation of the anime might dredge up some of the most interesting parts of the long abandoned Dragon Ball GT series. Most notably, Dragon Ball Super: Broly hinted at a variation on the Great Ape Super Saiyan form, commonly referred to as Super Saiyan 4. That form was only ever seen in Dragon Ball GT. That being the case, its appearance means that Akira Toriyama might be interested the possibility of other elements from Dragon Ball GT coming into the mainline Dragon Ball universe.

Looking at the manga that inspired an anime can often be the best indicator of what will happen. Dragon Ball Super the anime might be taking a break, but the manga keeps going strong. Galactic adventures, planet-eating monsters, and potentially universe-destroying magic abound in the continuing adventures of Goku and friends. The next arc in the manga, "Galactic Patrol Prisoner Saga," has yet to conclude. It’s entirely possible the anime will stay on hiatus until the manga has built up enough material to adapt smoothly. Toei Animation created Dragon Ball GT without a manga to guide them or the confident hand of Toriyama to steer it and the anime ended in disaster. They likely don’t want to repeat that mistake going forward.

Related: Dragon Ball Super: Broly Channels Everything You Love About Dragon Ball

A third, less likely possibility exists, hinted at in the non-canonical anime advertisements for Super Dragon Ball Heroes. Super Dragon Ball Heroes is a digital trading card game that has exploded across the world. As a result, the anime ads have taken on a story of their own that seems to pick up where Dragon Ball Super ended. None of the content related to the card game is canon, so neither are the ads. However, given the history of non-canonical storylines and characters coming into mainline Dragon Ball, we could be seeing glimpses of where Goku might be going in the future.

What Dragon Ball GT Could Bring To Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball GT Was Decent

The Super Saiyan 4 form was introduced in Dragon Ball GT as a way for Saiyans like Goku and Vegeta to harness the potential of their ancestry. Rooted in the potential fighting power of the Great Apes - the colossal, werewolf-like forms of the Saiyans under the light of the full moon - it requires very specific circumstances. To attain it, a Saiyan must transform into a Great Ape, go Super Saiyan, and then gain conscious control over their normally berserk form. Dragon Ball Super: Broly hinted that this might still be canon, as Broly seemed able to tap into his Great Ape power to achieve a level of combat ability far beyond even Goku’s most potent abilities - and Goku has shown himself able to fight gods of destruction.

However, if Super Saiyan 4 comes back into the picture, even somewhat reworked, that means we could see some of the more interesting aspects of Dragon Ball GT resurrected as well. It would be amazing to see Toriyama’s version of villains like Baby. Baby might be one of the most interesting antagonists in Dragon Ball. He’s the final creation of the Tuffles, a race of aliens that lost a war against the Saiyans and were believed to be extinct. Baby possesses the ability to enter the bodies of others, implant them with a mind controlling egg, and then leave to find a more powerful host. He’s a capable fighter in his own right, but can combine his abilities with that of his host to become nearly unstoppable. It was a clever way of seeing the various characters of Dragon Ball fight one another, all presided over by a smug Baby.

Related: Dragon Ball Super: Broly Ending Explained

The Shadow Dragons were another concept that never came together well in Dragon Ball GT, but they easily stand as the best conceptual villains Dragon Ball GT has used yet. The entire series of Dragon Ball centers on the titular balls of the title, relics that are able to grant wishes when someone gathers them all together. However, the Dragon Balls have been used by both heroes and villains over the course of the franchise. The negative energy built up by the overuse of these spectacular orbs eventually causes them to crack and summon the Shadow Dragons, draconic demons of immense power that could conceivably destroy the entire galaxy. The Shadow Dragons sound great on paper but were lacking in the anime. With some additional narrative tweaking and character design reworks, the concept would make for a great continuation of Dragon Ball Super.

Page 2 of 2: Dragon Ball Super's Manga Future & Longshot Possibilities

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