Fairy Tail, group shot
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10 Best ‘Fairy Tail’ Anime Arcs, Ranked

Fairy Tail is one of the most classic shonen anime of all time. The members of the mage guild, Fairy Tail, go on endless adventures, growing in strength and friendship as they overcome one obstacle after another, giving us numerous arcs to build a top 10 ranking.

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Created by Hiro Mashima, the manga series was serialized in  Kodansha’s Weekly Shōnen Magazine. Like almost every successful manga, which Fairy Tail most definitely is with 72 million volumes in circulation by 2020, it soon received an anime adaptation. The anime premiered in 2009 bringing the stories of Natsu Dragneel, Lucy Heartfilia, Gray Fullbuster, Erza Scarlet, and all the other Fairy Tail members to life. There have been 22 arcs so far, from the opening Macao arc, which introduced us the the world and main characters, to the Alvarez arc which saw the mages of Fairy Tail finally take on the great villain, Acnologia.

There is another arc still to come to anime, which is the adaption of Mashima’s sequel, Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest, so before our beloved characters return to our screens, let’s look at the top 10 arcs the anime series has provided us so far.

10. Sub-Zero Emperor Lyon

Fairy Tail, Sub Zero Lyon Emperor, Gray punches Lyon
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This arc was the first to dive into one of the character’s backstories, focusing on the character of Gray Fullbuster. Sometimes known as the Galuna Island arc, the Fairy Tail team of Natsu, Happy, Lucy, and Gray head on an (unauthorized) S-class mission to the island to investigate a mysterious plague. Gray soon discovers that the island has ties to his past, after coming across a former childhood friend, Lyon.

This arc is the first one to bring up more serious themes within the anime and gives us a great look into the history of Gray. Though it starts off a little dull, once Lyon and Gray go head-to-head it becomes a lot more interesting, taking the focus away from Natsu, and giving us an emotionally compelling arc.

9. Loke

Fairy Tail, Loke Arc. Celestial King stands over Loke and Lucy
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Another arc to pull focus from Natsu was the Loke arc. It gives audiences a much better understanding of the Celestial Spirit World and the Celestials that inhabit it, which happens to include Fairy Tail member Loke. After Lucy becomes suspicious of his odd behavior toward her and then his disappearance from the guild she follows him, discovering that he is, in fact, the celestial spirit Leo (The Lion).

Though the arc does focus on Loke, it gives us a lot more insight into the Celestial world and the rules that govern it as well as allowing the character of Lucy, a Celestial Spirit Mage, to shine. In this arc, Lucy’s true power is showcased as she pushes herself to save her friend, even winning the respect of the Celestial King.

8. Oración Seis

Fairy Tail, Oracion Seis
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The laws of the land state that Legal Guilds may not fight one another, but Dark Guilds are another matter. Orción Seis is the first Dark Guild that Fairy Tail goes up against and it was quite the showdown. The guild is comprised of only six members, but they are powerful enough that Fairy Tail must team up with three other guilds, Blue Pegasus, Lamia Scales, and Cait Shelter.

This arc really shows you the scope of the world in which the story is taking place and also introduces us to a new key character, Wendy Marvell. The battles in this arc are pretty intense and Natsu starts to show his true power as a Dragon Slayer.

7. Battle For Fairy Tail

Fairy Tail, The Battle of Fairy Tail Arc
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Fighting bad guys is one thing, but fighting your own is another. That’s exactly what happened in this episode where the guild must take on the son of Master Makarov, Laxus. Laxus returns to the guild with his Thunder Tribe to prove himself the strongest and take over. He keeps the previously petrified female members of the guild hostage whilst the guys battle it out (a little sexist if you ask me).

Though this arc was a little fluffier than some of the others, it still showed the powerful bond the members of Fairy Tail have and gave us some great fight scenes between some of the strongest members of the guild, with Dragon Slayers Gajeel and Natsu working together for the first time to take down Laxus.

6. Tower of Heaven

Fairy Tail, Tower of Heaven Arc, Ezra confronts Jellal
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Tower of Heaven is one of the earlier arcs that goes into one of our favorite character’s backstory, Erza Scarlet. We learn how Erza came to be the strong, fierce, warrior that she is, but the reasoning behind it is heartbreaking. We meet Jellal, an old former friend of Erza’s who went mad years ago. He is determined to complete the R-System they were forced to build as child slaves and bring back the Dark Mage, Zeref.

Ezra is one of the more interesting members of the guild and to delve into her background was a treat for fans. It also gave us the pairing of Ezra and Jellal, who, after overcoming his madness, becomes a love interest of Ezra’s, one which is still annoyingly being teased and never come to fruition!

5. Phantom Lord

Fairy Tail, Phantom Lord Arc, Natsu and Gajeel butt heads
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This was the first arc that saw two guilds going at it, with Phantom Lord attacking Fairy Tail whilst Natsu, Lucy, Gray, and Ezra were on Galuna Island. Though Phantom Lord guild, though a Legal Guild, attacks Fairy Tale humiliating weaker members and earning the wrath of Makarov. The guilds go all-out against one another, but the reasoning behind the attack is not just to embarrass Fairy Tail, but to capture Lucy whose father wants her returned home.

This arc saw the introduction of the second Dragon Slayer after Natsu in the form of Iron Dragon Slayer, Gajeel, as well as Water Mage, Juvia. Both would end up becoming Fairy Tail Mages after the disbandment of the Phantom Lord Guild.

4. Edolas

Fairy Tail, Edolas Arc, Natsy and Wendy fly over Edolas with Happy and Carlos
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One of the wierder arcs was that of Edolas. In this arc, our main characters are thrust through a portal to a parallel world, which we discover is Happy and Carla’s origins! They are Exceeds from the world of Edolas, a world that does not have magic so choose to steal it from Fairy Tails world. Our protagonists have to find a way to save both worlds.

This is a wacky ride for sure, with Edolas versions of our well-known characters that provide quite the comic angle. We meet a bad-ass Lucy and speed racer Natsu, who is bolshy behind the wheel but a coward out of the car. The arc had quite an emotional depth to it and was a fun jaunt for the Fairy Tail mages, who returned home with even more new members.

3. Grand Magic Games

Fairy Tail, Grand Magic Games Arc, Natsu and Gajeel take on the Twin Dragons
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Here comes the classic shonen arc, the tournament/competition arc. Here we see Fairy Tail go up against all the guilds in the land to reclaim their lost honor after the majority of the guild, including the strongest characters, were trapped on Tenrou Island for seven years. In that time Fairy Tail has declined dramatically, and the Grand Magic Games offer the guild a chance to prove they are back to their former glory.

Thanks to the nature of the arc we get some great fights, with Fairy Tail up against powerful wizards from other guilds including the new power of Sabretooth.

2. Tenrou Island

Fairy Tail, Tenrou Island Arc, Fairy Tail members stand hand in hand
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Tenrou Island, Fairy Tail’s holy ground and the location for the S-Class Mage Promotion Trial. The members of Fairy Tail head there to take on the trial only to discover that the island has something much darker awaiting them. The arc is perhaps one of the most action-packed as it furthers the underlying storyline surrounding Zeref, introduces the guild of Grimoire Heart, and brings forth the evil that is Acnalogia.

Along with the usual slew of battles, this season is one of the more emotional ones, with the Fairy Tail guild risking everything to stay alive. It also serves to show the true danger that both Zeref and Acnologia pose as well as connecting Zeref to Natsu, foreshadowing what is to come.

1. Tartaros

Fairy Tail, Tartaros Arc, Lucy shows her power
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What should have been the final arc, Tartaros took the series to new heights. Facing off against the powerful Dark Guild, Tartaros, filled with demons from Zeref’s very own book, Fairy Tail has to pull out all the stops to defeat them. And pull out the stops they do! Gray meets his father and learns Ice Devil Slayer Magic, Lucy summons the Celestial King himself, Wendy goes into full Dragon Mode, and the Dragons themselves emerge from within the Dragon Slayers, where they had been waiting all along.

This arc had the most drama of any, with insane battles that showcased huge power-ups for our protagonists as they faced off their strongest enemies yet.

You can watch Fairy Tail available on Crunchyroll and Hulu. What do you think of our list? Let us know!

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Image of Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco (she/her) is a contributing writer here at The Mary Sue, having written for digital media since 2022 and has a keen interest in all things Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and anime. She has worked for various publications including We Got This Covered, but much of her work can be found gracing the pages of print and online publications in Japan, where she resides. Outside of writing she treads the boards as an actor, is a portrait and documentary photographer, and takes the little free time left to explore Japan.