In the world of Dragon Ball, there exists a canon story and its non-canon supplements. “Canon” is everything and everyone in the original storyline of the Dragon Ball manga made by Akira Toriyama and products simply stated as canon by him. (BoG, TV Specials, OVA).
If something is said to be “non-canon” it means it never actually occurred in the original story of the manga. This goes for all filler episodes produced by Toei Animation, all movies other than Battle of Gods1 (which was directly stated as canon by Toriyama), all OVAs except the 2008 Jump Super Tour Anime Special, “Heya! Son Goku and His Friends Return” (since Tarble was mentioned in Battle of Gods, he is canon, and therefore this OVA is canon), and now the Dragon Ball Z 2015 movie, Dragon Ball Z: Revival of ‘F’ 2.
If something is non-canon, it should NOT be intermixed with canon. Therefore, theories of when the movies took place are all incorrect. The movies never actually occurred in the series timeline (although they can be roughly placed in between events of the series if attempted to do so, but they are still by no means part of the official story). Any character from a non-canon product does NOT exist in the canon storyline and therefore cannot be intermixed.
As a result, we have omitted Broli, Turles, and all other Saiyans from the movies, since they are not canon and DO NOT exist in the series official storyline.
In a nutshell, the only canon Dragon Ball content is the manga for both Dragon Ball and Jaco The Galactic Patrolman, “the Trunks and Bardock television specials” 3 (the Trunks special simply because it was a bonus chapter in the manga), 2008 Jump Super Anime Tour Special, Battle of Gods and Revival of ‘F’. Everything else is not canon, and therefore does not really exist in the series at all. They’re mere “what if” side stories that have absolutely no relevance to the plot (although it is not wrong to acknowledge their existence!).
1 Bardock was the first originally filler character to later be included in a panel of the manga. He appeared in Chapter 307, “Kick-Starting the Super Decisive Battle!!” (Or episode 86 in the anime). This scene contains flashbacks to that of the TV special known in English as “Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku”. This is not to be mistaken with “Episode of Bardock”, (Where he goes back in time and turns SSJ, which is by NO means is canon).
2 With the retelling/expansion of Battle of Gods in the new Dragon Ball television series “Dragon Ball Super“, a lot of questions are being asked regarding what is canon in the film as opposed to what is canon in the television series. The short answer? It is really up to you do decide. Both are a product of Toriyama’s work, but with the freedom’s that Toei Animation has in terms of script manipulation, the overall story draft initially provided by Toriyama is subject to change.
3 Again, much like with Battle of Gods, in the TV series Dragon Ball Super the events of the film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ are somewhat being retold. Once again, this is really up to you to decide as a fan what you consider to be what “actually happened”. And once more, both are a product of Toriyama’s work, but with the freedom’s that Toei Animation has in terms of script manipulation, the overall story draft initially provided by Toriyama is subject to change.
The canon questions continue:
Goku’s journey was retconned, he was sent to Earth to be spared from Freeza’s attack on Planet Vegeta, not to kill the planet’s inhabitants. However, it could be a misconception that Raditz THINKS Goku was sent to destroy the population and unaware of the real circumstances. Raditz was young at the time so even if Gine told him the predicament, he had complete faith in Freeza and believed the meteor story, so it is likely that he didn’t really believe Gine when she told him the attack story. So that part of the manga is not contradicted by Dragon Ball Minus. Not only this, but Goku was still a Saiyan and still naturally violent when he came to earth, so Bardock’s new soft personality didn’t have to be passed down to Goku at the start, so his becoming soft as a result of hitting his head is also not contradicted like some people believe.
Bardock is made out to be a loving, caring father, but he says that Gine has rubbed off on him, meaning that he could still have had that old personality seen before during his son’s birth, but this takes place three years after Goku’s birth so during that time he got softer.
Freeza knows about Super Saiyan God. It just adds to his fear of Super Saiyans, urging him to further along in his attack on Planet Vegeta. People use this as an argument but a) SSJ God is common knowledge after Battle of Gods and a myth just like the standard SSJ was, and b) it doesn’t change the fact that he destroys the planet in the end, it should give him even more incentive in fact.
Is Dragon Ball Super Canon?
Akira Toriyama is heavily involved in writing the story of Dragon Ball Super. He does not write the script or draw the manga, but he writes the overall scenario and develops the basic story he wants to advance in his own way. The anime is more directly connected to his work, while the manga is more of a method of advertising the series. The manga is written by Toyotarō, who previously worked on a fan manga “Dragon Ball AF” under the name Toyble. Toyotarō was chosen by JUMP for his incredible ability to more or less emulate Toriyama’s drawing style perfectly. This has created confusion among fans, who might think Toriyama himself draws the manga. This is not true. The manga already has evident differences from the anime, which Toriyama is directly involved in. Toyotarō has the power to manipulate and adapt Toriyama’s basic story just as the anime staff can do, so this creates discrepancies between the two mediums. In the end, the DBS manga cannot be considered in the same light as the original DB manga was. It is used solely to advertise the anime, however, that does not mean in cannot be considered a part of the official canon of Dragon Ball Super and the series at large.
In short, once again the question of “canon” is up in the air. In this case, there may not be an official “canon” when comparing both the anime and the manga. Both stories were given an original draft by Toriyama, but both Toei and Toyotarō adapted the story in their own way.
We are, by no means, trying to attack anyones beliefs on what Dragon Ball really is or how it goes. Therefore, IF YOU think that the Broli or any other movies’ events really took place is up to YOU and we respect that. We aren’t forcing our ideals upon you. This is just a factual explanation of what the whole canon and non-canon deal really means for those who are still confused or are trying to understand.