The generally accepted translation of the title is No Need for Tenchi or Useless Tenchi, though at the time of its appearance it was also translated variably as No Heaven and Earth and This Way Up due to the original title's pun nature and multiple meanings.
The original series began with a six episode OVA called Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki (天地無用! 魎皇鬼, Tenchi Muyō! Ryōōki?) released in Japan on September 25, 1992. The series was released by Pioneer LDC in the United Kingdom on 1994. As its popularity grew, it spurred a seventh episode titled Tenchi Muyo! Special: The Night Before the Carnival (also known as the Tenchi Special) and a stand-alone Tenchi Muyo! Mihoshi Special. The second OVA series was directed by Kenichi Yatani and released on 1994, featuring episodes 8–13. The third OVA series was also directed by Kenichi Yatani was released on 2003, featuring episodes 14-19 followed by a special twentieth episode.
A twenty-six episode anime TV series called Tenchi Universe (天地無用!, Tenchi Muyō!?) was released on 1995 retelling and expanding upon the original six-episode story, documenting in an alternate timeline the adventures of the cast as well as changing the back stories of some characters. Tenchi in Tokyo (新・天地無用!, Shin Tenchi Muyō!?) is another alternate version, chronicling Tenchi Masaki's move to Tokyo.
Additionally, there are spin-off series (such as Magical Girl Pretty Sammy), as well as adapted into manga. The franchise has also spawned soundtrack CDs and other merchandise released both in Japan and in the United States.