Adventures in search of someone, or in grind of something, is a song that is passed over many generations, countless works, and a watch order list for eons. Usually sprinkled with mystery, intrigue, power, inspiration, and of course, an entire cast of literally colorful characters that spring out of a fun, afternoon MMO misadventure session with good old friends.
We’re not saying that it is a stereotypical guild adventure as advertised by its first few chapters. But keep in mind that Fairy Tail, as a series, is still going to be the somewhat lighthearted-ish version of Mashima’s previous work, despite how serious it gets between story arcs. A Fairy Tail watch order, in essence, doesn’t warrant any super smart expositions, or highly intellectual analysis that other shounen series are best attributed for.
Basically, you only need to cover the TV series, insert the OVAs in the correct order that they appear (or seem to make the best sense to appear), and put the movies within their respective release date timelines. There are separate arcs, of course, as well as filler episodes. But in our humble opinion, watching the supposedly non-essential (original, not adapted from manga) parts of the anime versions are also very much part of the “adventurous fun” viewing experience of Fairy Tail.
1. Chronological Order
We’ll include episode stretches for each season to indicate which arcs are separate from one another. With the exception of the Fairy Academy OVA, which doesn’t even take place in the same universe. Dragon Cry is a weird outlier in this one, as it can still be enjoyed later on its own even if you don’t take it directly as part of the anime’s final arc.
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 001-002)
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 003-004)
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 005-008)
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 009, 010) (comma means not related)
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 011-019)
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 020, 021-029)
Fairy Tail: Memory Days (OVA)
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 030-032)
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 033-041)
Fairy Tail Season 1 (Episodes 041-048)
Fairy Tail Season 2 (Episodes 049, 050, 051)
Fairy Tail Season 2 (Episodes 052-068)
Fairy Tail: Welcome to Fairy Hills!! (OVA)
Fairy Tail Season 2 (Episodes 069, 070-072)
Fairy Tail Season 3 (Episodes 073, 074-075)
Fairy Tail Season 3 (Episodes 076-095)
Fairy Tail Season 3 (Episodes 096-100)
Fairy Tail Season 4 (Episodes 101-122)
Fairy Tail Season 4 (Episodes 123-124, 125)
Fairy Tail: Fairy Tail x Rave (OVA)
Fairy Tail Season 5 (126-150)
Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess (film)
Fairy Tail: Fairies’ Training Camp (OVA)
Fairy Tail Season 6 (Episodes 151-170)
Fairy Tail: The Exciting Ryuzetsu Land (OVA)
Fairy Tail Season 6 (Episodes 151-175)
Fairy Tail Season 7 (Episodes 176-201, 202, 203)
Fairy Tail: Fairies’ Penalty Game (OVA)
Fairy Tail Season 7 (Episodes 204-218)
Fairy Tail Season 7 (Episodes 219, 220-221)
Fairy Tail Season 7 (Episodes 222, 223-225)
Fairy Tail Season 7 (Episodes 226, 227-233)
Fairy Tail: Natsu versus Mavis (OVA)
Fairy Tail Season 7 (Episodes 234-265)
Fairy Tail Season 8 (Episodes 266-275)
Fairy Tail Season 8 (Episodes 276-277)
Fairy Tail Season 9 (Episode 278-284, 285)
Fairy Tail Season 9 (Episode 286-328)
Fairy Tail the Movie: Dragon Cry (film, supposedly occurs within 288)
Fairy Tail: Fairies’ Christmas (OVA)
2. Release date order
The obligatory season-based arrangement, plus throwing the OVAs where they actually belong.
Fairy Tail Season 1 (2009)
Fairy Tail Season 2 (2010)
Fairy Tail Season 3 (2011)
Fairy Tail Season 4 (2011)
Fairy Tail OVA 1: Welcome to Fairy Hills!! (2011)
Fairy Tail OVA 2: Fairy Academy (2011, different setting and universe)
Fairy Tail Season 5 (2012)
Fairy Tail Season 6 (2012)
Fairy Tail the Movie: Phoenix Priestess (2012)
Fairy Tail OVA 3: Memory Days (2012)
Fairy Tail OVA 4: Fairies’ Training Camp (2012)
Fairy Tail the Movie Prologue: The First Morning (2013, BD/DVD exclusive)
Fairy Tail OVA 5: The Exciting Ryuzetsu Land (2013)
Fairy Tail OVA 6: Fairy Tail x Rave (2013)
Fairy Tail Season 7 (2014)
Fairy Tail Season 8 (2016)
Fairy Tail OVA 7: Natsu versus Mavis (2016)
Fairy Tail OVA 8: Fairies’ Christmas (2016)
Fairy Tail: Dragon Cry (2017)
Fairy Tail Season 9 (2018)
Plot of Fairy Tail
Natsu Dragneel is in search of his adoptive father, the dragon Igneel, around the world of Earth-land. While traversing the Kingdom of Fiore, he encounters Lucy Heartfillia, a celestial wizard and member of the guild Fairy Tail. Upon joining, they form a core team along with other guild members, such as Gray Fullbuster, Erza Scarlet, and Wendy Marvell, all of whom have different aptitude levels of magic within their respective classes. This then reflects the bigger world of Earth-land, where such abilities are the norm for all adventurers.
Upon exploring other regions of the world, they encounter even more majestic sights and figures, legendary identities of a bygone era, as well as places and cultures (past and present) that reveal more of what the world has to offer. This never meant that the Fairy Tail guild was the center of the world though, as the bigger realms of Earth-land itself have each its own agenda, and are moving to achieve their own aspirations as well.
What it means to be Fairy Tail
Look, depending on the type of enjoyment that you really want in a typical action shounen series, Fairy Tail could either land on the “too stereotypical” or “strangely nostalgic” tier. It is, after all, intended to be a less harsher version of Rave, which by itself didn’t really start out as a high-stakes off a series as it turned out in the end (even though foreshadowing has already done its good work since Rave’s early chapters).
And if you’re a player of classic MMORPGs, you’d probably relate to the characters and their easier story arcs much better. Because the existence of the high-fantasy magic style setting, with a guild adhering to various missions and adventures befitting of each member’s personal quirks, pretty much sets up the stage the way Hiro Mashima has intended to all along.
Looking for more silly, power-level-based adventures? Check out our best shounen anime list!