The later years.note How late? This image includes Tarble, Vegeta's little brother, who wasn't introduced until 2008, a full 13 years after the manga originally ended.
Dragon Ball Z is the anime adaptation of the second half of the Dragon Ball manga. While the manga kept its original name throughout its run in Japan, the anime's title was changed from Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball Z in 1989, and the focus had changed from a Martial ArtsComedy series (inspired by Journey to the West) to more serious and violent battles (and Akira Toriyamathought it would be ending soon).At the start, it revealed that Goku was not simply a boy with a tail but one of the last of the alien race, the Saiyans. He was sent into space shortly before the Saiyan planet was destroyed (with shades of Golden Bat, Prince of Gamma, and Superman). Goku and his friends, reinforced by former enemies (a recurring theme) had to fight progressively more powerful villains. Although Goku and his martial arts skills (which let him and his friends fly, throw energy blasts and read minds) dominated the battles, the story was mostly about Goku's son Gohan and how he faces the challenges. Running seven years and nearly 300 episodes, the series can be broken down into the four primary big bads of the series: Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu. Both Dragon Ball the manga and Dragon Ball Z the anime came to a triumphant conclusion after Gohan is married and his own daughter Pan enters the "Strongest Under the Heavens" tournament.Followed by the controversial Dragon Ball GT. There was also a MMORPG continuation known as Dragon Ball Online that existed for a while. A filler-free recut, Dragon Ball Kai, premiered in 2009. This sub-series has also spanned fourteen movies and two special episodes. The first thirteen movies are non-serial movies, but the fourteenth movie, Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, is considered canon and set some time after the Buu Saga.Now has a Recap Page, please contribute.
Subverted by the Z Sword. Everyone thinks that it's unbreakable and stupidly sharp, but it's not, though the material it was pitted against was ridiculously sturdy.
Played with when King Cold believed that Trunks only managed to kill Frieza because of his sword (which probably does qualify for this). Amused, Trunks decided to let Cold test this theory and gives him the sword, knowing that Cold would attempt to kill him with it. When Cold uses the sword, Trunks stops the blade with his hand and kills Cold with a ki blast to the heart.
Averted in the final chapter/episode which is set some 10 years after Buu is defeated where everyone (bar Goku, Vegeta, Gohan and Piccolo) has aged as you'd expect (and they have the excuse of being aliens or half breeds with longer life spans)
Acrofatic: Fat Majin Buu and Dodoria, as well as Yajirobe.
Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: When Trunks recounts why he came back in time, and you get a feeling of the despair he must feel being the only defense for all the people against the Androids who have ravaged the entire world, leaving only a handful of people behind.
Acting Unnatural: Frog Ginyu was trying to steal one of the Dragon Balls. When Gohan spots him, he starts leaning against the ball and whistling nonchalantly, which only makes him more suspicious because he's a frog.
There is an inherent problem with translating directly from the manga page, which the original anime did. Primarily showing an explosion on the comic page takes up one panel with a half-second glance while it takes 90 seconds of the anime to animate (to say nothing of talking is a free action). To fit one manga into a half-hour show meant that there was plenty of padding and reaction shots. Kai is cutting that down to a third of its original length and thereby allowing for a swift watch almost equal to reading the manga.
A particularly notable example is Vegeta; in his first appearances in the anime, he looked like this◊; as soon as he got to Earth, however, his armor was the blue-and-white color scheme we're used to and his hair had become black... which extends retroactively to events that take place well before his first appearance, up to and including childhood◊. No explanation has ever been given, but it seems to have been a mistake on the animators' part. The mistake was corrected in the remake, Dragon Ball Kai.
Adaptation Expansion: While the anime contains a lot of filler, it also contains a great deal of expansion of the story arcs, often for the purpose of developing the characters. The most positive version of this was the Saiyan Saga, which showed us the year that passed before the Saiyans arrived, as far as fleshing out Gohan's training and Piccolo's heel face turn as a result of his time with Gohan. Toriyama himself was also indirectly involved with some of the filler, with the anime's producers developing it based off of his suggestions.
As well as giving some actual screentime to, Tenshinhan, Yamcha, and Chaotzu before the Nappa fight. The latter three heroes also got a well-deserved moment of awesome when they thrashed the Ginyu Force as part of the training they received from Kaio-sama.
Adaptation Induced Plot Hole: Several, due to how the anime was ridiculously close to the manga at almost all times. One particularly jarring example though, happens in a filler scene at the end of the Freeza saga: After Namek has exploded, Vegeta realizes that, now that both Goku and Freeza are dead, he's the strongest fighter in the universe, and is now free to take over the world. Gohan attempts to stop him, and the two have a brief fight which ends with Vegeta being stopped by Piccolo from delivering the final blow, before he flies off on his own. This entire scene is never mentioned again, and it completely contradicts his motivations in the very next episode, where he is back with the rest of the group, completely calm, and shown to actually want Goku brought back to life so that he may fight him again and prove that he is the better fighter. Heck, he's actually the one to give them the suggestion for how to revive him!
There's also a very significant difference between the manga and anime versions of Namek's explosion. In the manga, Goku is shown flying towards Freeza's ship with several Ginyu pods in sight. He finds the ship useless, flies up and says Namek's about to blow (and the view shifts to King Kai). In the anime, Goku is helplessly raging above the ship while we actually see the planet go up in smoke and supposedly take him with it without much doubt. Since we actually see his onscreen death in the anime, his later explanation that he "found a pod, jumped in, hit the button and made it out of there" is certainly in line with the manga. As for the anime version, it's utter canon discontinuity/retcon/ass pullinvoked considering how far they went to show him dying.
One of the more infamous examples occurs in a filler episode of the Red Ribbon Army Saga. In this episode, Dr. Flappe is credited as the creator of Android 8. Years later during Dragon Ball Z, Dr. Gero is revealed as the true creator of the androids. A later guide book would handwave this by saying Dr. Flappe and Gero were partners on the android project.
Adorkable: 16-year-old Gohan. Studious, sweet, socially awkward, and has a love of superheroes while failing to realize that the only person who thinks Great Saiyaman is cool is his 7-year-old brother.
Goku, Yamcha, Krillin (growing up with someone as goofy as Son Goku really rubs off on you), Goten and every lovable and goofy member of the Ginyu force is a rare evil example.
Vegeta's death after Frieza gives him a no holds barred beatdown. Vegeta has been despicable for sixty-something episodes, and has just killed a village full of cute alien children and their big brothers. You'd expect a character of this type to die in a spectacular explosion, then never be seen again. But instead, after Frieza gets impatient and shoots him for describing Goku as a Super-Saiyan, we get Vegeta's lengthy final speech about his genuinely horrendous childhood, and see Vegeta crying as he begs Goku to kill Frieza and avenge their people, before breathing his last in a Big Sleep from his terrible injuries (like almost everyone in the series, he gets better).
Subverted with Frieza's death. A few minutes before his death, he is split in two parts by a reverse attack. He is dying and asks Goku for mercy. Although Goku was aware of all of the horrible things Frieza did, he still manages to show some sympathy and gives Frieza some of his energy. However, Frieza immediately used it to try to kill Goku (again), which fails. Even then Goku is visibly shaken and reeling after having to kill Frieza, although more out of pitying Frieza's self-destructive foolishness than any sympathy for the bastard.
Smitty. Unlike his boss, he did have redeeming qualities and gave off a punch clock villain vibe in his hesitance to shoot an unarmed man. It's implied in the original Japanese audio that he only followed Van Zant's insane rampages because he's Zant's butler. The fact that his end at Super Buu's hands was one of the most horrifying in the series didn't exactly help either.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Bulma was infatuated with Yamcha early on when he was an arrogant rogue, then when he somewhat settled down, she decided that Vegeta (whom she fell in love with) who is as bad as it gets, tickled her fancy.
And in the meantime, she also had the hots for General Blue and Zarbon.
Subverted when she first saw Goku as an adult, who she also had the hots for, and Goku is as good a guy as it gets... only for him to get engaged on the same day with Chi-Chi.
Almighty Idiot: Goku at times, and also the less intelligent forms of Majin Buu.
Chi-Chi in general. Let's not forget that, until #18 gets her upgrade (or, if we're going by natural ability, Videl) Chi-Chi is the strongest woman on the planet. No wonder Goku likes her.
Alternate Continuity: The non serial movies of the original Dragon Ball series are direct retellings of earlier sagas distilled into movie format, entirely incompatible with the manga and anime series. The 10th anniversary special, The Path to Power is another continuity retelling Goku's origins with the Red Ribbon Army and Muscle Tower.
The movies are parodied amazingly during an in universe movie screened at the World Martial Arts Tournament which focuses on Mr. Satan defeating Cell. It even begins with Toei Pictures' trademark intro screen which involves waves crashing against rocks, and has the names of series staff (written in romaji) as an Easter Egg in the credits.
And then there's the what if? situations in the video games and the alternate timelines that Trunks, the Androids, and Cell come from.
The overall canon of Dr. Slump and Neko Majin is also unknown as the crossover with Dr. Slump was mostly used to promote Dragon Ball. In the case of Neko Majin, it is a parody of Dragon Ball that got brought into the franchise solely because Vegeta, Buu, and Goku appeared in the last three chapters, when the two series had no real connections before.
Piccolo tries to inflict this to Super Buu by destroying the door to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. Apparently Buu has a grasp of this, and quite fittingly screams his way out.
Gohan sealing Garlic Jr. in the Dead Zone also qualifies.
Also the likely fate of anyone who falls victim to the Evil Containment Wave, being trapped in an otherwise empty container until someone opens it back up.
And the Adventure Continues: The manga ending is very non-conclusive and almost feels like the beginning of a new story until it just abruptly ends. Completely intentional on Toriyama's part. The movie Battle of Gods also contains several hints of greater things to come what with Beers never unleashing his full power, Goku losing the final battle, and the mention of Whis being even more powerful and the mention that the universe Goku and his friends live in is only one out of twelve parallel universes.
Animation Bump: The anime was animated almost directly from Toriyama's manga drawings, and, as a result, frames and images that come directly from the manga are noticeably more detailed than other frames. In Kai, the designs of the characters during the opening, ending and mid-episode interludes all contain much higher quality.
Future Trunks went back in time to prevent the world being wasted by Androids, after the Z Fighters were killed and Goku died of an alien heart disease.
King Piccolo threatens to destroy every city on Earth at random.
The Saiyans frequently wipe out lifeforms on a planet so it can be traded. Goku was sent to Earth for one of these missions before bumping his head.
Shortly after landing on Earth, Nappa levels a city.
The Namek Elder and the father of Kami/Piccolo were the only survivors of a storm on Namek some centuries before the Frieza saga. Over the course of it, Vegeta and Frieza wipe out all Namekians (then numbering in the hundreds), apart from Piccolo and Nail, before Frieza completely obliterates the planet.
After already wiping out entire cities by absorbing the life energy of humans, as well as blowing up several islands in the search for Android 18, at one point, Cell threatens to take down the entire solar system.
Majin Buu makes quick work of planets (though in his "fat" form, he mostly limits his devastation to humans on Earth, and "Super Buu" has a human extinction attack move), and after learning instant transmission, could wipe out all life in the "universe"(It should be noted that the main Dragon Ball universe only consists of four galaxies). The ultimate one is when while fighting Vegetto, he goes even further to threaten a multi-dimensional collapse when he suffers an epic villainous breakdown.
Artifact Title: After the Frieza saga, the titular Dragon Balls are nothing more than a Reset Button, and collecting them is barely an inconvenience. None of the action or plot revolves around them anymore.
Artistic Age: Gohan during the Cell Games fits Type 1, while little Goku in the original Dragon Ball goes in Type 2.
Ascended Extra: Gohan and Videl's classmates, Sharpener and Erasa, are among the main group in Z's second Japanese opening despite having very little screentime in the actual show.
Asshole Victims of Genocide: Freeza's genocide of the Saiyans was pretty bad, and Bardock's attempt to save them all and rebel against Freeza's empire was, without a doubt, heroic. But, we should always remember that the Saiyans themselves were violent, arrogant, blood-thirsty creatures who probably would have gone out and destroyed worlds anyway, even if Freeza wasn't in power. However, the only reason they were ever in a position to do so is because Freeza provided them with the means to do it in exchange for their service. They were not independently spacefaring, so you have the situation of a barbaric race being given technology well beyond their stage of development and thus never given the chance to grow out of their violent nature (or at least reign it in a little). In essence, they're an example of gone horribly right for Freeza, who wiped them out to nip that in the bud.
Ass Kicking Pose: Frequently. Parodied by the Ginyu Force members, whose poses are anything but asskicking.
The same applies for Gohan as the "Great Saiyaman".
Buu tries to absorb Vegetto, but the absorption fails and Vegetto (now split into Vegeta and Goku) releases all the victims Buu had absorbed previously.
The Supreme Kais weakened Kid Buu into Buff Buu and finally Fat Buu when he tried absorbing them. It seems inconsistent considering how high their power-levels are, but its explained that because they are pure good, and Buu pure evil, the two forces diffused each other.
Autodoc: The healing tanks used by Freeza's forces.
The third stage of the original Super Saiyan form (also known as "Ultra Super Saiyan", gives a huge boost in power, supposedly as much as a Super Saiyan 2. Unfortunately all the muscles that come with it drastically decrease speed, making it practically impossible to actually hit your opponent. Goku and Vegeta both realized that the second form was useless due to the loss of speed, and Cell calls out Trunks for using such a foolish technique.
This becomes an ironic echo when Cell bulks up massively in his fight with SSJ2 Gohan. To top it all off, Trunks lampshades this as Gohan is dodging everything Cell throws at him, remarking that Cell could probably put the hurt on Gohan if he ever managed to hit him.
The Spirit Bomb. Considering it takes a long time to gather enough energy to use and that Goku is left defenseless while doing so, it is difficult to use in live combat. Usually, live bait is used to help him. It was used three different times.
Vegeta: He gets hit with it, but by the next episode he's up and kicking ass again. It takes Gohan falling on him (while transformed) to finally get Vegeta to say "No mas.". The rest is history.
Freeza: He also gets hit with a massive one. However, it does little more than cut his tail in half and hurt his left eye. He gets up, shoots Piccolo through his lungs and kills Krillin in the span of about two minutes. Although if that hadn't happened, we wouldn't have Super Saiyan Goku.
Buu: It's finally decided that this is the only way he's going to be defeated. Goku positions himself and the designated live bait (Vegeta, Fat Buu, and Mr. Satan) proceed to keep Kid Buu busy. Goku finally unleashes it but somehow Buu is still able to fight it off and Goku doesn't have any strength left to force it with his own ki. The final wish is to restore Goku's strength and he finally manages to put it away with a blast of his own helping it along.
The Super Saiyan 3 form can also be regarded as this, as it gives the user incredible power, but at the expense of so much energy that on two occasions it leads to the user running out of juice at a critical moment.
The full powered form of Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon takes a full 5 minutes to power up. He only uses it once against Raditz before using a weaker, but faster version of it throughout the series. Fortunately by that point his Power Creep has made up for the difference.
The non-Potara Fusion: The silliness of the dance aside, it leaves performers vulnerable to incoming attacks. If it's done incorrectly (and in the heat of a battle, a screw-up is nigh-inevitable) leaves the newly created warrior hideously deformed and unable to do anything worthwhile, making them a liability. If it is done correctly, the incredibly powerful fused warrior has all of thirty minutes to defeat or disable his opponent before the effects wear off.
Subverted with Muten Roshi as the main cast have far surpassed him by Z. 5 years prior to the start of the series Kami was the third strongest being on earth but is also soon left in the dust
Dr. Gero plays this straight.
Goku technically becomes one in the epilogue to Z, after Gohan and Videl have Pan. To a lesser extent, Hercule, as well.
Badass Normal: Mr. Satan and Yajirobe are the only fighters with no grasp of ki.
Yajirobe fights an enraged kid Goku to a standstill, single-handedly kills one of Piccolo Daimaou's minions in a single strike, and manages to cut Oozaru Vegeta's tail off when Gohan and Krillin failed to.
Mr. Satan is actually a skilled martial artist and very strong to boot, it's just easy to forget that seeing as the story is about Goku and his pals and his status as a Butt Monkey. Despite the fact that Buu could kill him several million times over, he chose to face him. After multiple, comedic failed attempts at killing him, he eventually befriends him, teaches him that killing is wrong and, because Buu didn't know any better beforehand, Buu swears off killing at the request of his new friend. Of course something goes wrong...
Gohan notes that Videl (an ordinary high school girl) is probably stronger than her father, before he starts teaching her how to control her ki making her truly badass.
In the manga, by the time the Buu arc kicks in, Krillin is acknowledged as the most powerful human being in the world. While he is fairly superpowered at this point, it's all just because of rigorous training. Of course, all characters that are still relevant by then are hundreds of times stronger than he is.
Colonel Silver of the Red Ribbon army is probably the most triumphant villain example. By real world standards he was strong, fast, skilled and cunning - his only mistake was going up against a Saiyan.
The Bad Guy Wins: The Cell Saga. No really. Even though Dr. Gero can only watch his triumph from Hell, he is the only villain in the entire Dragon Ball franchise to have got exactly what he wanted; the death of Son Goku at the hands of his creations.
Barbie Doll Anatomy: Subverted in Kai. Due to the show airing on a morning timeslot, they had to censor baby Goku's penis and balls, but did so through scenery censor.
Barred from the Afterlife: Being killed by a demon does this. Goku and Raditz actually being able to make it to the after life was the first indicator of Piccolo's impending heel face turn.
Bash Brothers: Trunks and Goten. Even Goku and Vegeta to an extent in parts of Z.
Batman Can Breathe in Space: Certain aliens are able to survive without air. Saiyans aren't one of them. Doesn't stop Bardock from flying into space to confront Freeza and speak to him, too.
In some filler episodes, Vegeta is seen flying between planets without a spaceship or any apparent breathing apparatus.
Also when Vegeta blows up the planet Arlia in a filler episode, he and Nappa hang out in space just standing in their open pods.
Freeza survives in space with half his body and head missing. This is suggested a trait of his species. Cell, with Freeza's cells, can also survive in space.
Broly is strongly implied to have this ability as well.
Vegeta and Bardock didn't "breathe in space" for long. It's probable that the Saiyans cannot actually survive in space, but their superior physical abilities and ki powers grant them the ability to withstand vacuum exposure for a limited amount of time.
Battle Aura: Features distinctive colors for different characters and situations. For example, most of the Z Fighters have blue auras, while most of Frieza's forces have purple, the Super Saiyans and Cell have golden auras and Buu has a pink aura.
Especially when the Z Fighters find out that a fight is going downhill for a comrade.
Beam-O-War : This series is likely the trope codifier. And like most tropes, it's taken up to eleven compared to Dragon Ball. For example, the Goku vs. Vegeta and Cell vs. Gohan are among the most stand out examples in the series.
Become Real People: Subverted. Krillin tries to use the Dragon Balls to wish Androids 17 and 18 fully human, but this is beyond the dragon's power. He settles on removing the bombs inside their bodies instead. 17 and 18 are actually augmented humans who are still able to have children.
Befriending The Enemy: Hercule (Or Mr.Satan depending on which version you watch) knowing he can't beat him in a fight befriends the Obliviously Evil Majin Buu, and eventually makes him realize that turning people into candy and eating them is wrong. This resolution doesn't last long though as Majin Buu's evil side splits from the original Majin Buu and becomes the new villain.
Done by Gohan as part of Piccolo's redemption (something that was started by Goku 6 years earlier)
Goku and Vegeta frequently sustain life-threatening injuries, only to quickly come back stronger than before they were injured (and remain stronger going forward). This is one of the Saiyan race's inherent abilities. This is shown at one point by Vegeta ordering Krillin to blow a hole in his chest so he can be healed and become stronger. While he doesn't become as strong as he'd have wished, he still gets a huge power boost. Referred to by fans as a Zenkai, this ability is the first part of why the Saiyans are able to become so unconscionably powerful. It also explains the power of training being so exponential for them.
Now when the heroes die they go and train with King Kai and become exponentially stronger
Cell, bearing Saiyan genes, ends up regenerating into Super Perfect Cell after his own self-destruction, with enough of a power increase to turn what was a Curb-Stomp Battle for Gohan into a nearly-hopeless struggle for the fate of the entire universe.
Beware the Nice Ones: Gohan is polite, kind and will avoid fighting if possible. But he also has a tendency to snap and release incredible power whenever his friends and family are threatened.
The Supreme Kai thinks this when he finds out how powerful the earth Saiyans are. To explain: this guy is the series' equivalent of God and yet his power level is nothing compared to them.
Vegeta becomes obsessed with surpassing the Super Sayian state which most see as crazy (except for Goku) and is eventually achieved by Gohan and later Goku and Vegeta. Goku then later one ups this by revealing SSJ 3 which the others think must be a bluff
Special honors to Vegetto who is the only character to retain all his power and gain an even greater speed advantage due to his size after being turned into a coffee flavored jawbreaker by Buu. This was supposed to make him helpless and harmless like it did everyone else. If anything this is where Buu gets his worst and most embarrassing beating.
Big Bad: Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Buu, and a few others thrown in-between.
The rest of the cast getting curbstomped by the villains mercilessly for a few episodes only for Goku to show up at the last second and save everyone often curbstomping the villains in return happens so often in both the Anime and the movies you could make a drinking game out of it.
Supreme Kai in the first half of the Buu saga, then Old Kai in the second half.
Goku acts this way towards Goten and Trunks, and even uses this as his reason to Piccolo why he didn't go all out. Notably Kami had tried to get Goku to take over from him at the end of  but Goku refused
Freeza: small horned tailed imp -> larger Satanic form -> Xenomorph like form -> streamlined white being. In interviews, Toriyama stated that he did this on purpose to subvert the viewers' expectation that "more powerful" always meant "bigger and more muscular".
Buu starts out as an over weight pink humanoid, which separates into a malnourished grey form, before turning into the muscular Super Buu. With each Z fighter he absorbs he gets further and further into Uncanny Valley with a longer head tail and more lean and muscular each time. His final form looks like a pissed off teenager and is the strongest of all
Inverted by Zarbon, who is normally a Pretty Boy but turns into a hulking monster who's a lot tougher and faster.
Bittersweet Ending: The future Perfect Cell came from. Sure, Trunks the last Z Fighter is dead, but so are all the Androids. Cell has gone back to the past, which means the people of his present aren't subject to him, and Earth is so ravaged and devoid of all its powerful people that there would be absolutely no point for Babidi to revive Majin Buu, and absolutely no one to give him the energy he would need to do so anyway.
The movie The History of Trunks counts as well. Trunks gets beaten badly by the Androids, apologizes to Bulma, and agrees to go back in time. And he eventually destroys the Androids of his time and also the Cell of his time.
Shen Long is Chinese for "Dragon God." The names of almost all his alien characters - along with Bulma's family and Piccolo and his minions - are straight English or derived from it. And apparently according to Toriyama, Vegeta and Trunks use English for their attack names because he thought it sounded "more alien."
In the FUNimation dub, Majin Buu mispronounces "Saiyan" as "Saiya-jin" once.
In the Italian translation the characters names are extremely similar to food. Radish: radice (root), Vegeta: vegetale (vegetable), Kakarot: carota (carrot). And lots of other Sayans. Piccolo has his named changed to Junior (because piccolo means "small/junior" in Italian, and that's not that cool).
Played straight and deconstructed with force fields which are stated to be able to block all damage but usually drain more stamina than just tanking the blows or dodging and are only used sparingly as a result
The Saiyans are an entire race of them. Even Goku is such a gigantic blood knight that, while about to slam a spirit bomb into Majin Buu to finally kill him, he explicitly says he wants him to reincarnate just so he can fight him again!
Cell, having Saiyan cells, loved the thrill of fighting, and even held a tournament, the Cell Games, just so he could fight Earth's strongest. Although, he isn't too fond of fighting stronger enemies; witness his reaction to being on the wrong end of a Curb-Stomp Battle by Gohan.
Super Buu wants to fight and to be the strongest (to the point where he has a Villainous Breakdown). Kid Buu on the other hand just fights and kills he can and Fat Buu is just doing what he's told.
Broly is one, complimenting the efforts of the Z Fighters for fighting him and later licking his blood when Goku hits him.
Janemba, who laughs when Vegeta manages to break his sword.
Body Horror: Anything involving Buu: when Majin Buu enters Vegitto's body through his mouth to take control of his body, Vegitto's muscles become grotesquely enormous. Then Buu enters a gunman's mouth, the man's body growing to monstrously obese proportions and finally explode.
Boobs of Steel: Pretty much inverted completely. The female fighters (Eighteen, Videl, etc.) tend to be modestly endowed, while the non-fighters (such as Bulma) are fairly stacked.
Both Sides Have a Point: In the Namek Saga, Chi-Chi and Gohan have an argument when Gohan wants to go to Namek. Chi-Chi made a good point when she said that Gohan should be having fun as a kid instead of trying to be an adult, and Gohan also had a point since his priority was serious business.
In the first dub, having to meet standards for syndicated kids' shows, the villains were always threatening to blast people into another dimension, scenes of wanton destruction accompanied by throwaway lines implying nobody got hurt, and Tien says that his arm can grow back after Nappa breaks it off. The second dub reduced this, allowing death and even kept small amounts of blood.
Also, in the scene when Vegeta turns into a giant ape via full moon in front of Goku, leading him to the sad truth, the first dub becomes more of a blatant lie: Goku claims that Vegeta was the giant ape who had killed Grandpa Gohan, when in reality it was freaking Giant Ape Goku himself (!) who committed the Accidental Murder of Grandpa Gohan, and Vegeta had nothing to do with it. It seems that this dub, in an attempt to stop kids from committing more violence after watching the show, completely negated Goku's Self-Made Orphan trope and turned it into his "Never My Fault" situation.
Also, in the first dub, extra objects are written to cover all nudity, both front and back. The only thing that was different is Recoome's buttocks. While the first dub had a black strip of clothing covering his butt in a few episodes, the cloth strip is missing in the second dub. And this was shortly before Vegeta used the Coup de Grâce to finish off Recoome.
Mostly Gohan, but Goten and Pan aren't exactly left out. Another example occurs late in Z with the Supreme Kai's comrades/True Companions getting taken out by Buu, and his mentor is killed right in front of him.
Chaozu's merciless wrecking at the hands of Nappa, followed by a tearful farewell and a kamikaze explosion. Which was pointless.
Future Trunks also has this moment when all of the Z-fighters except Gohan die, and even more so when Gohan dies.
One that stuck in the anime: Gohan addresses the audience near the start of the Buu arc that Krillin grew his hair out after quitting fighting.
During the Majin Buu arc, Krillin notices that the author is cheating by recycling panels (to be exact, Goten and Trunks's fusion training sequence is reused over and over) and Toriyama himself pops out behind him to apologize.
One of the most common trends involving Vegeta. He spends large parts of the storyline reveling in his own egotism and power, only allowing his opponents to manipulate his arrogance and humiliate him. Due to stubbornness, his haughtiness broken several times before the lesson actually sinks in. It takes realizing that his actions have possibly doomed everyone he cares about for him to actually start to become truly humble. Somewhat.
Also happens to Gotenks, who has something like Vegeta's arrogance mixed in with a childish bravado and jerkassery. He means well, but he's too caught up in how magnificent he thinks he is to listen to other people or act wisely. Minutes after his first appearance, this results in him being outsmarted by Majin Buu, beaten to a pulp, and then forced to watch helplessly as an army is slaughtered while he can't do a thing. It hits hard, but doesn't sink in.
Early on (in Volume 2 of Dragon Ball), Oolong comments that Goku's amazing qualities have to be due to him being an alien. Later on, during the Red Ribbon saga, Major Metallitron scans Goku. In a corner, it says that he's not human and it doesn't know what he is. During the beginning of DBZ, it is revealed that Goku is a Saiyan.
Very early on in the series, Goku, Bulma, and Oolong run into the Boss Rabbit Gang. After Goku beats up two of the grunts, they call in their boss who threatens to turn them all into carrots. Later in DBZ, we learn Goku's Saiyan name is based off the word "Carrot." Maybe Toriyama is an unreliable source of information?
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Ginyu Force. Frieza hires them as enforcers to take out Vegeta and retrieve the Dragon Balls. After seeing their entrance, full of ridiculous camp, dumb poses, and flowers, you may think he's made a huge mistake. Until you watch one member of the team beat Vegeta like he was nothing, without ever dropping the camp.-
Played straight most of the time. Future Trunks averts this - he's silent during his initial fight aside from normal speech. In at least some cases, it seems to be necessary. Captain Ginyu's body switching attack apparently doesn't work unless he can actually vocalize the "CHANGE NOW!"
Good aversion from Goku: he used Kamehameha quickly, without calling it, to block a mouth blast from Nappa. It's the only time he's ever used it without calling it.
Came Back Strong: When the heroes die they train with King Kai in grueling conditions and so when they are wished back to life they are a lot tougher.
Can't Catch Up: It doesn't matter how much ass the cast of Dragon Ball kicked in the original series. In this series, nearly everybody has a hard time keeping up with the Saiyans. By the end of the series, even the final Big Bad Super Buu is desperately trying to play catchup with the Saiyans. Gohan was able to effortlessly defeat Super Buu without the need (or ability) to transform. Later, when Buu had absorbed Gohan and obtained his power, he was easily beaten by the original Super Saiyan form of Vegetto, who was probably capable of at least one and probably two more levels of Super Saiyan transformations on top of that. The only reason there was any tension at all for the final battle against Kid Buu was that Goku and Vegeta didn't want to fuse again on principle.
Cerebus Syndrome: Stating with the Saiyan saga, it's no longer the sweet story of Dragon Ball and much more graphic.
Character Development: In the beginning of Dragon Ball, Goku literally had no idea what boobs were (he thought Bulma had a butt on her chest). Near the end of the Majin Buu saga, Goku is literally using Bulma's breasts as a bargaining chip to get Old Kaio-shin to go along with their use of the Dragon Balls (to the ire of Vegeta, who suggested that Goku offer his own wife's breasts instead).
Also Gohan becoming less of a whiny, spoiled brat and becoming a Martial Pacifist.
The Spirit Bomb. Goku learns it in the Saiyan Saga, and it does alright. Nothing to write home about, really, but it did send Vegeta running. Frieza just shrugged it off, so it didn't seem like a big deal. Then, 10-12 in-universe years later in the Buu Saga, Goku uses one to completely eradicate his opponent, an unstoppable being of literal pure evil that once came back from being turned into so much smoke.
To a degree, Goku showing Goten and Trunks how to become a Super Saiyan 3 in the Buu Saga.
The artificial moon that Vegeta created to turn Oozaru during his fight with Goku in the Saiyan saga winds up playing a significant part in his eventual downfall.
That weird language Shen (Kami) and Piccolo were speaking in the 23rd Tenka'ichi Budokai? It's actually Namekian, the language of their native planet and Bulma learned to activate the starship that Kami came from to travel to Namek, with Krillin and Gohan, and is needed to use the Namekian Dragon Balls and make wishes to the Namekian Dragon God, Porunga. In a spectacular instance of a Meaningless Villain Victory, Freeza found the latter out the hard way.
Uranai Baba reveals that she can bring the dead to the world of the living for 24 hours at a time in the Red Ribbon arc. About ten real world years later in the Buu arc (approx. 25 years in-universe), this becomes a plot point as she allows Goku to spend 24 hours with his family, and then again to allow Vegeta to fight Buu again.
The Shunkan Idou ("Instant Transmission") technique that Goku learned in Yardrat. He demonstrated it to his friends in the beginning of the Android/Cell arc, and would use it to make an Heroic Sacrifice and the save the world from Cell's Suicide Attack.
He also completely masticates everything that surrounds him in the Latin-American dub. His performances as a Large HamDeadpan Snarker are some of the most hilarious highlights of the series in this version.
The Chew Toy: Supreme Kai, in spades. His introduction is very impressive, but it doesn't last long - most of his contribution to Majin Buu Saga is driven by plan after plan to save the universe that goes horribly wrong in some way or another, while constantly humiliating or injuring him, beginning with him having no idea how outclassed he is. He quickly becomes more of a joke than a revered character, and then just when his last plan goes belly up, his ancestor shows up to save the day and calls him a "shoe shine boy" rather than a hero. Kai simply responds with all the pathetically sad disappointment of a child being told he can't measure up by his father. While the rest of the characters respect him, it seems the universe hates him... which is ironic, given that he's the highest form of god there is.
Chickification: Videl's case is unsurprising. She's a badass normal who is certainly strong but is hopelessly outclassed by the impossibly powerful beings surrounding her. The fact she goes from being on top of the world to being insignificant over the course of a few weeks can't possibly be good for her confidence.
Chronic Hero Syndrome: Goku, which causes him to go out of his way to help people - in combination with his Spirited Competitor personality (which often drives him to seek out new and interesting challenges) this tends to lead him into bigger and more interesting adventures... and as the series goes on leads to him missing a lot of time with his family. Lampshaded by Chi-Chi at the end of the Buu saga.
Chi-Chi: "Can't he stop saving things just for one day so we can be together as a family?"
He ends up passing this tendency on to Gohan, who can never stand by knowing someone's in danger without rushing in to help - occasionally accompanied by Unstoppable Rage. This is a major reason beyond adopting his Great Saiyaman persona.
Cloudcuckoolander: Bulma's parents. Bulma herself sometimes skirts on this from time to time.
Cold-Blooded Torture: This is one of Frieza's main methods of fighting. Kid Buu seems to do this during his fight with Vegeta.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Before they go extinct, they Saiyans are a fairly powerful race. After Freeza kills them, the surviving members start growing exponentially in power until they're the most powerful beings in the universe.
Convenient Decoy Cat: Krillin, Gohan and Dende are trying to hide from Vegeta, who just learned to detect ki. When he sensed Dende's small ki, a dolphin jumps off the water, leading him to think that was the ki he sensed and leave.
Trunks coming to Earth from the future and utterly destroying former Big Bad Freeza in one episode. It previously took Goku & co. an entire saga of fighting him, whittling his body down to nothing, and then ensuring his death by allowing a whole planet to explode, only to watch in horror as he was resurrected by his even more powerful father via robotic technology! After all of that, there's no argument that Frieza had this trope coming to him.
The last leg of Goku and Frieza's battle was a curb-stomp battle. Goku managed to be far more powerful due to his transformation while Frieza was getting weaker. In addition Goku scared Frieza so badly that when he faces Trunks and Trunks transforms into a Super Saiyan Frieza has what can best be described as a panic attack.
Majin Buu makes quick work of both Gohan and the Supreme Kai immediately after getting released from his pod, and it's TERRIFYING. After serving as the Deuteragonist of the series up until then (even finishing off Perfect Cell as a kid), Gohan gets momentarily knocked out by Buu in ONE HIT. Supreme Kai can only stall for a time before Buu cripples him, and when Gohan tries to help (in full Super Saiyan 2 form), Buu unleashes an energy wave that engulfs Gohan completely (eliciting a piercing scream from him), and depleting his life force so much that Vegeta, Piccolo, and Goku all assumed that he had been killed. Gohan spends the next half dozen episodes laying unconscious in a forest, with only Kibito and the Supreme Kai's healing powers saving him from death.
Cute Is Evil: Majin Buu. Naturally the fat pink guy is a genie who destroys the world.
Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Both the Kaioken and the Spirit Bomb can kill the wielder (the Spirit Bomb can destroy the world if Goku's not careful).
Darker and Edgier: Dragon Ball Z wants you to know it's darkier and edgier than its predecessor, doing so by killing someone off on-screen in the first six minutes. While it was only a farmer who's been shown for about two minutes, it's far earlier than the first on-screen death in Dragon Ball (a random store owner during the Red Ribbon Army arc). And the dark tone increases further as each of the main arcs (Saiyan, Frieza, Androids, Cell, Majin Buu) pass.
Dead Hand Shot: As Vegeta draws his final breath on Namek, his tear-blurred vision fades from his point of view, and we next see a close-up of his gloved hand falling onto the ground, followed by a shot of his body shivering with his eyes closed before becoming still and lifeless, followed by a gust of wind blowing on his body.
Deal with the Devil: Vegeta allowing himself to be possessed by Babidi. Babidi grants him a power-up in exchange for servitude, which turns him evil in the process. Unfortunately for Babidi, becoming evil again is part of what Vegeta wanted (as it would allow him to be unfettered by emotions) and he was able to resist Babidi's commands through force of will anyway, so he was able to have his cake and eat it. Interestingly, Babidi was also able to enslave the closest thing Dragon Ball has to the devil (normally a key player in this trope).
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The titular Dragon Balls allow any number of people to be brought back from the dead, but only if they have never been brought back to life before. This results in every major Z Fighter and lots of Earth's population being revived after being killed. The Namekian Dragon Balls circumvent the "only once" rule, allowing numerous characters like Krillin and Goku to be revived multiple times, but only allows one person to be brought back per wish.
Additionally, whilst most people are manifested in the spirit realm as disembodied clouds, many characters whose good deeds were considered great in life are allowed to keep their physical body (or a copy of it) after death, albeit with a halo. This, in addition with Goku's Instant Transmission technique which allows him to travel even between life and the afterlife, means that after his death, he is still pretty much free to do what he wants and give a big two fingers up to King Yemma and all the other supposed "gods".
Denied Food as Punishment: Played with in a filler episode when Chi-Chi threatens Goku and Piccolo not to feed them if they don't get their licenses.
Deus ex Machina: The Dragon Balls both subvert this and play it straight. It's played straight in that they can do anything, except kill a villain directly (due to this being the role of their creator as Guardian/God of earth and it being beyond his power). Their main use in Z is to revive people that the latest villain killed.
Deus Exit Machina: After the fourth time he is conveniently removed from a plot he could punch his way right through it gets just a little obvious. For example, he's in the other world when Nappa and Vegeta attack. King Kai forgot to account for the time it took him to return to Earth. He's still recovering from his injuries when Bulma leaves for Namek, so he has to come later, leaving Gohan, Krillin, and Vegeta to take on the Ginyu Force. He's stricken with his heart virus just as the Androids attack. He's dead again during most of the Buu arc.
When Frieza's henchmen are trying out for the Ginyu Force, Captain Ginyu kills a Mook called Captain Strong because he is also a captain ("There's only one captain on the Ginyu Forces and that's me!" He then kills another of Frieza's henchmen because he touched a Dragon Ball (which Ginyu forbade them to do), and does the same to the rest of the mooks trying out because they lack the style to be on the Ginyu Force.
Broly from the eighth movie hates Goku with a murderous passion because shortly after they were both born, Goku's crying bothered him. It gets to the point where he so hates Goku, that he's willing to murder Goku's sons in his second movie because he thinks they're both Goku!
In the Cell Saga, Vegeta punches Future Trnuks in the stomach, simply because Future Trunks warned him to wait for Goku before he takes on the Androids.
Let's just face it, Vegeta's a recurring example of this trope. At the end of the DBZ series, at the tournament when a guy heckles him, he punches him in the face hard enough for him to forfeit the match.
Ditzy Genius: Bulma. Especially in Dragon Ball and in the anime's Frieza saga.
Majin Buu is more or less this to Babidi; though in a subversion, since he starts out as an overgrown baby, Buu takes a while to realize how little power Babidi has. Majin Vegeta might also counts, and he does realize that Babidi is inferior.
Dr. Gero is inferior to (and killed by) his android creations, though his Dragon Cell never meets him, as Gero dies before he wakes up. Cell expresses admiration for Gero for being so smart as to create him, but it's reasonable to assume that, if Gero were alive, that would probably not have saved him.
In the Red Ribbon Army, there's Officer Black, who is much more competent and threatening than Supreme Commander Red.
For most of his first appearance, Broly is under mind control from his much weaker father Paragus, who led the Z Fighters to the planet to fight his son. When Broly is freed, he quickly disposes of him.
Drum Bathing: Goku commonly uses this as the default bathtub at his house. One notable moment is in the Tree of Might film when he bathes in it with Gohan.
Goku toward villains, over and over again. If Goku ever says he "won't forgive" someone or that there'll be "no mercy" for that person, don't believe him; he's lying. Goku seems to learn this lesson during his training with Kami, as before that he was willing to kill anybody who got in his way without a second thought. After his fight with Freeza he is more pragmatic, recognizing Cell and Buu as being evil creatures that need to be killed while being friendly to characters proven to be reformed like #18, #16 and Good Buu.
Obviously averted in the movies, where there is no time for such drastic character development.
Also deserving of mention is Planet Vegeta, which was renamed after the royal line of the Saiyans' kingnote Every male member in this family who ascends the throne seems to bear this name. after they defeated the Tuffles.
Eldritch Abomination: Majin Buu is an immortal, and almost indestructible creature of magic with a body that can take any shape and the ability to alter matter (for example, he can turn people into food). He can also absorb people for their power and abilities.
Janemba is the best example as he is literally a creature from another universe (other world) and can distort reality while playing havoc with the laws of life and death.
Endless Daytime: the planet Namek had multiple suns shining on it from all sides, keeping it in perpetual daylight.
Enraged By Idiocy: Vegeta is this throughout the whole series. He has spent most of his life dealing with Nappa, and gets extremely pissed at him for being an idiot in his fight against Kakarot (to the extent that he murders him in cold blood for being an embarrassment), and then constantly expresses anger at the perceived stupidity of most of the other Z Fighters (while ironically allowing the Android/Cell situation to escalate to a point where Cell manages to kill Goku).
Freeza vs Vegeta and Bardock. Vegeta is almost a Villain Protagonist on Namek - he and Nappa massacred Earth's heroes less than a month ago and he kills almost as many innocent Namekians as Freeza's men, but he still has the best chance of holding off Freeza's side until Goku gets there.
Exploited Immunity: In one of their battles, Frieza decides to blow up the planet he and Goku are fighting on, because he can see he's going to lose and while they can both survive an Earth-Shattering Kaboom, only he can survive in space.
Ironically, Goku in the early series gave this to Yamcha using his Jan Ken Fist (otherwise known as "Rock, Paper, Scissors Attack") Goku delivers a "Rock" (a punch), which Yamcha blocks, delivers the "Scissors" (eye poke) to his eyes, then finished it off with "Paper" (a slap) that knocked him away.
Vegeta is hit by a blast to his right eye as an ape.
Goku did it during his fight with Piccolo Jr when the latter grew gargantuan. For a guy who's pure of heart, Goku really likes being a dick and hitting people in the eyes.
Fakeout Escape: Vegeta is imprisoned inside a healing tank on Frieza's ship. When he breaks out of the healing tank, it alerts the guards. So he blasts a hole through the wall to them think he has escaped the ship; while Frieza's henchmen are searching for him outside the ship, he takes the opportunity to go steal some dragon balls and then escape.
Frieza's family is a big perfect example. The father (King Cold) has been implicated to be a tyrant, probably responsible for multiple genocides throughout the universe, his son (Frieza) is a sadist who enjoys torturing his victims, and his brother (Cooler) and predecessor (Chilled) are very similar to him.
Babidi's family as well. He and his father Bibidi are sociopathic Omnicidal Maniac that sowed destruction in planets, and probably entire galaxies, and the Bibidi's creation (Kid Buu) is a Psycho for Hire creature whose only skill is killing and destroying.
Fantastic Racism: Freeza's fear-driven extermination of "the Saiyan-monkeys." The Saiyans themselves were, as a rule, disdainful of anyone who isn't a Saiyan.
"Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Vegito gets absorbed by Buu, defuses, and Goku and Vegeta look around Buu's insides for Gohan, Piccolo and Gotenks (now defused as Goten and Trunks). They also find the Fat Buu.
Fat Bitch: Idasa's mother in the World Tournament Arc.
Vegeta qualifies for this trope, as he is the first to charge into battles against opponents that are far more powerful than he is, and even lets them power up because of his arrogance.
Videl sometimes, as shown when she tries to charge against Spopovitch and Yamu when they attacked Gohan.
Gotenks. When he was first born, what's the first thing he tries to do? He rushes into battle with Majin Buu without thinking of the consequences, and ends up getting himself beaten to a pulp.
Chi-Chi. She usually tries to charge into battles to save her sons, without thinking of the possible consequences of her actions (with the other characters having to hold her back). She plays this straight when she walks up to Majin Buu, the scourge of the universe, and slaps him in the face for killing Gohan. She gets turned into an egg and killed as a response.
Filler: DBZ is one of the most notorious of all anime series for this, including not just adding extra arcs, but stretching out battles because the manga hadn't concluded them yet. And we mean stretching them out. An example is the Frieza Saga. There's Namek's Destruction. Five minutes to go, Frieza says. Five Episodes later - "...Two more minutes!..." Two Episodes later - "Only one minute to go!...". Two more episodes later — Frieza's defeated. One episode later — Finally the planet goes Kaboom...and Goku escapes. Ten Full Episodes.
Final Battle: The final battle of the series is Goku and Vegeta vs. Kid Buu in other world. Goku wins by gathering all of the people's energy from Earth to form the Spirit Bomb.
Final Boss: Kid Buu is the final villain to be beaten.
Climax Boss: Despite this, Super Buu is actually the most dangerous and most intelligent villain overall. He has to be taken down via internal sabotage, upon which he reverts to Kid Buu, who blows up the Earth while everyone is knocked out from the earlier struggle with Super Buu, resulting in everyone except Goku, Vegeta, Mr. Satan, and Dende suffocating in space. Granted everyone else being Tein, Chaotzu, Gohan, Goten and Trunks...
Forehead of Doom: All over the place. In fact, it's something of an iconic trait of Toriyama's art style. It's combined with some serious brow-ridges for the Saiyan characters, which seem to get larger with each stage of Super Saiyan, and spreads to pretty much everyone in the anime (as animator Tadayoshi Yamamuro, one of the worst offenders, also did many of the later Z character designs).
Any time a character in the first anime comments on how Goku must be from another planet due to his quirks (having a tail, being a Big Eater, etc). Despite this, it still comes as a shock to everyone when they discover that Goku really is from another planet.
During the Buu saga Trunks and Goten pretend to be one fighter in costume. They also comment being one person is tiring. This is before they actually fuse.
Kid Buu was pretty much this and it's also half of Super Buu's motivation (the other being that he's a massive Blood Knight). Fat Buu also acted like this, before Mr. Satan convinced him otherwise. Although there was the matter of never being told this was wrong, but rather that this was a good way to get his masters to give him cake and that he thought it was a game…
There was also Cell, who's only objective was to test out his "perfect body"…by killing everyone and everything. Even further, he wanted to see everyone's face to contort in terror at the sight of him first.
Frieza does half of what he does for this reason. He kills the Namekians after they give him the Dragon Balls and fully intends to destroy the planet once he gets his wish.
For Want of a Nail: The main timeline is very different than Trunks' timeline, for no discernible reason other than later on in his timeline Cell went into the past, creating the main timeline where he's already there; even though Cell apparently took no steps to actively change anything (in fact, being in a cocoon the whole time), there are several differences, though Kami briefly theorizes this may because time travel just messes with reality in general rather than needing anyone to change anything. Such changes include:
Androids #17 and #18 being inexplicably more powerful but nowhere near as evil.note Apparently, the versions Trunks was expecting killed Gero before he could tune up their perpetual generators and tune down their personalities to make them more controllable.
Dr. Gero turning himself into an cyborg and making #19.
#18 deciding to wake up #16, meaning there are now 3 androids (not counting Gero and #19)
Events happening earlier or later than they're supposed to, like Goku getting sick with his heart disease much later than Trunks expected.note In this specific instance, the stress of teleporting to Earth to fight Mecha-Frieza and King Cold caused Future Goku's heart disease to develop faster; in the main DBZ timeline, he sensed that Trunks was taking care of it and waited for his space pod to arrive, meaning he didn't get stressed until the Androids showed up.
And, of course, Cell being there in the first place, which causes widespread carnage and such.
"Freaky Friday" Flip: Captain Ginyu has the power to switch bodies with anyone, which he does with Goku. Eventually however, it backfires on him when he tries to take Vegeta's body and ends up in a frog's instead, rendering him harmless as his power requires the use of his voice. Later, when he meets Bulma, he acts nice to her and she makes a translator for him. He proceeds to switch bodies, then travels to Gohan, Krillin, and Piccolo, Bulma hanging on. He tries to switch with Piccolo, only for Gohan to throw Bulma frog in the way, fixing everything. Eventually leading a group of frogs in the Capsule Corporation Compound if the series is to be believed.
In the Budokai two normal people note that Spopovitch (while strong) was nothing like what he became in his fight with Videl
Future Badass: Future Trunks and Future Gohan. The latter takes this to extremes compared to his present day counterpart.
Genius Bruiser: Nappa, though it isn't shown much. That attack he uses to blow up a city? It requires a degree in nuclear physics.
Cell and Gero (again not pointed out much). Gero on account of being able to create androids and cyborgs and turn himself into a cyborg (he's noted to be as smart as Bulma or her Dad who are both shown to be brilliant scientists), and Cell on account of having a load of information taught to him by the computer while a larvae
The Gloves Come Off: Vegeta does this in the Buu Saga, by letting Babidi take control of him solely for the power boost that it involved.
God Is Flawed: Very apparent with the Supreme Kai, who is just that: the Supreme God of the Dragon Ball universe, and perhaps the least-knowing God of them all. He hastens Majin Buu's release by allowing Gohan's energy to be stolen at the world Tournament, having assumed Babidi was too strong to beat. He created a block of indestructible metal which destroyed the Z sword (it did release Old Kai, but Supreme Kai did not know that would happen). Finally, he is constantly surprised by the Saiyans, whom he believed were strong but not strong enough to achieve victory. It's only when Vegeta decimates Pui Pui that he begins to realize the Saiyans are stronger than he thought.
Good Is Not Nice: While Vegeta may have eventually turned good, he was never nice (although his sense of camraderie for Goku during their fight against Kid Buu is rather touching).
Gory Discretion Shot: Piccolo is turned to stone by Dabura, and only returns to normal after Trunks has knocked over the statue. When Trunks realizes what he just did, he's the only one who gets to see the gory details. The poor kid goes Blue with Shock and begs Goten and Krillin not to tell - except Piccolo's already back on his feet.
Gratuitous English: Most alien and supernatural creatures have name-puns based off English words, and Toriyama had said that Vegeta's attacks used English names to highlight his alien nature.
Green-Skinned Space Babe: Subverted in the 2008 special where everyone is surprised the wife of Vegeta's brother is an adorable cartoonish alien. The exception is Master Roshi, who points out that Saiyans seem to have strange tastes in women. Unfortunately, he said it in earshot of Bulma AND Chi-Chi, and gets severely beaten for it.
Played straight with Zangya, one of Bojack's henchmen.
"Space Chicks are hot!"
-Krillin regarding Zangya
Inverted with Zarbon, who is a green skinned space man.
There were many earlier examples as well. When Raditz first landed on Earth, a farmer tried to shoot him only for Raditz to catch the bullet and throw it back at him, killing him
Future Trunks easily deflects a few blaster shots just before he kills Frieza. Also, Gohan catches an entire clip from a submachine gun fired on full auto with the same hand, bullet by bullet - something Master Roshi had also done before.
Goku and Gohan, once they master the Super Saiyan transformation and curb the Blood Knight tendencies it induces.
Half-Human Hybrid: It helps that Saiyans are incredibly similar to humans, but genetic mixes often prove to be stronger than purebloods. Gohan, Goten and Trunks are all half-Saiyan, and Pan is quarter-Saiyan and, thus far, the only female to use a Kamehameha (and only in DBGT, at that).
Happy Fun Ball: Do not taunt an angry young Saiyan. Made especially clear in DB Movie 4 "The Path to Power", a combo re-telling of the Pilaf and Red Ribbon Army sagas, when Goku killed Officer Black with his Kamehameha after the latter killed Android Eight.
Heroic BSOD: (well, more like anti-heroic) Vegeta suffers one for about half of the first Broly movie after The Reveal that Broly is the "Legendary Super Saiyan" and therefore unbeatable. Even a peptalk from Piccolo is unable to clear it up, Vegeta only joins the fight when his royal pride gives him a kick in the pants.
Heroic RROD: Especially Goku's Kaiou-ken power-up technique. It strained his body so hard that Yajirobe's congratulatory slap on the shoulder was agonizingly painful to him.
Heroic Second Wind: In reality, Heroic Fourth and even Fifth Winds are not uncommon in any major fight. The most notorious of these was in Frieza saga where Goku got enough winds to keep coming back stronger and stronger till he went Super Saiyan and still had a couple more afterwards. Vegeta and Gohan in particular get the worst trashing of all characters and keep coming back a record number of times.
It's less severe since they both do get married (not to each other!note not that there's anything wrong with that!) and have families, but Goku and Krillin were this from almost the very beginning to the very end.
In Movie 8 (Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan), Paragus was crushed in his space pod by his son Broly, and then thrown into Comet Kamori, the comet he'd planned on destroying the planet and everybody on it, including Broly. Lampshaded by Paragus himself, whose dying words question his ironic fate.
Of course, it was Piccolo who suggested that Buu kill time by killing some more humans, knowing they could always wish them back later.
Homage: Dragon Ball is a homage to the classic Journey to the West, particularly the first arc, with Bulma in a gender-flipped Xuanzang role, Son Goku is Sun Wukong (in turn a homage to Hanuman from Ramayana), Oolong is Zhu Bajie, and Yamcha is Sha Wujing. Dragon Ball Z, at least the first few parts of it, appears to be a homage to Super Hero fiction (including Golden Bat, Prince of Gamma, and Superman) and other Sci-Fi themes.
Home Field Advantage: Babidi's base can simulate various environments and his henchmen use it to their advantage. The one time his henchman tried to exploit this, however, he chose to fight Vegeta on a planet with 10x gravity, the same as the Saiyan homeworld and a 1/50th of the level Vegeta had long since mastered. What was already a hilariously one-sided beatdown remained so.
Homeworld Evacuation: When the Namekian homeworld is set to explode by one of Frieza's attacks, a wish is made on the Dragon Balls to save their lives by evacuating all the Namekians to Earth. Then they promptly had the dragon make them a new one and had themselves beamed there.
Honor Before Reason: Son Goku's unfailing and unconditional love for all life has turned practically every villain he met, with the exception of Freeza and Cell, into paragons of heroism.
Even Buu, who is pretty much evil incarnate, was transformed into an incredibly nice yet timid person after being killed simply on Goku's wish, and NOT to a dragon.
During the Cell Saga, Cell provides Goku a moment to eat a Senzu Bean before continuing the fight. Vegeta comments that Goku's Saiyan honor wouldn't allow him to use such a dishonorable "crutch". In fact, Goku gives Cell the Senzu bean before letting Gohan fight Cell.
Hopeless Suitor: Sharpner toward Videl. She finds him completely obnoxious.
Vegeta attacking Android 18 even after she breaks his left arm at the elbow.
Spopovich vs. Videl turns into this, to the point that Gohan turns into a super saiyan and threatens to intervene.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Gohan and Videl. GT's art style skewered it, but in most manga images, her shoulders are level with his waist. Also inverted with Krillin and 18: she's normal size, but he's short.
And, to and extent, their initial Super Saiyan and SS2 transformations (respectively), both being shown to increase their muscle size noticeably (Gohan actually appears to get taller).
The "Ascended Saiyan" (AKA "Super Saiyan 1.5") as shown in the Cell Saga by Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks (who actually took it so far he hulked out to the point of losing speed and mistook that for surpassing Vegeta).
Broly. Unstoppable, giant force of extreme power unleashed by pure rage.
Humans Are Morons: It turns out that humans are selfish, childish, misguided idiots who only worry when something bad happens to them, can't put anything in perspective, and will only do anything as simple as, say, raise up your hands to fuel the Spirit Bomb when a voice encompassing the Earth asks (Vegeta actually said "please" the first time, although he didn't even tell them why they had to put their hands up).
I Cannot Self-Terminate: Kami invokes this at the beginning of the Piccolo Jr. saga, when talking with Mr. Popo about how to deal with King Piccolo's offspring, since killing him means he would die as well.
Identical Grandson: Goku's family. Goku looks exactly like his father and Goten looks exactly like Goku (until Toriyama changes his hairstyle as Goten ages). Gohan, despite having different hair to Goku, has the same facial features. One notable aversion is Raditz, who looks nothing like Goku or their father, instead looking more like Vegeta.
Bulma's family. Both her son and daughter, her daughter especially, look most like their mother, although Trunks has some of Vegeta's facial features.
Played almost completely straight with the male members of the Son family. With the exceptions of Son Gohan, Sr. (who wasn't biologically related to Goku) and Raditz (Goku's brother), Goku's biological father and his sons bear an incredible resemblance to him (Goten much more so than Gohan). In the Japanese version, they all sound alike as well.
Played straight with Vegeta, his father and his brother (Tarble). Averted with Vegeta's children (although they both look a lot like their mother).
Idiot Ball: Every character seems to get this at some points, but no more so than the Androids during the beginning of the Cell saga. Sure, you could forgive them for not believing Cell was a threat initially (since up until that point, they'd curbstomped every opponent). But once learning that said monster wanted to absorb them, and watching him kick the crap out of Android 17 and Piccolo (who had shown himself to be at least as powerful as 17), 16 and 18 decide that instead of escaping, they'd prefer to just watch.
And then Tien jumps in and immobilizes Cell with his Tri-Beam (and could equally be accused of carrying the idiot ball himself whilst watching the previous fight; if the Tri-Beam had enough power to pin Semi-Perfect Cell, he probably could have taken down Imperfect Cell), 16 and 18 take about 10 minutes to actually bother escaping, waiting until Tien had almost killed himself from overexertion.
And then again, when Vegeta fights Cell, 16 and 18 decide that escaping is decidedly less important than watching Vegeta kick Cell around.
Raditz, Goku's evil brother who kidnaps Gohan and ransoms his life for the lives of 100 humans that he wants Goku to kill, promises to leave Earth in peace if Goku will spare him. It works.
Vegeta prompting Freeza to transform, for no reason whatsoever. Had he not, Piccolo would have been able to defeat Freeza before Goku even finished healing.
Everyone except Bulma (and possibly Krillin) during the Android Saga. Her plan? Gather the Dragon Balls and have Shenron tell them where Dr. Gero's lab is, so they don't have to lift a finger later to train or bring back the people that will inevitably die because of them. It's not like this wouldn't have worked, either; Shenron can't directly affect those stronger than him, but giving out a location would be within his power. The reason why this didn't happen? The "heroes" want to test their strength against the Androids, despite Trunks explicitly saying that they would be massacred. Keep in mind that Goku is the only one capable of dealing with this new threat at this point, despite the fact that Future Trunks is just as strong as he is, and gets his ass handed to him by the Androids on a regular basis.
For much of the Android and Cell Saga, Trunks appears to be tremendously disoriented by the notorious changes of events from his own storyline. Everything that happened in the main timeline appeared to be completely different.
Idiot Hero: Goku, although he lived a sheltered life until he turned 12. And technically, Mr. Satan.
Goku's hick tendencies are considerably downplayed as the series progresses and becomes more actionized (although he did do some dumb things, such as giving Cell a Senzu Bean and not killing Majin Buu while he had the chance).
Impending Clash Shot: At least one per fighting antagonist arc, an episode will have a Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame (usually based on a panel from the manga) of either the characters charging into the fray or one if not both at ready fighting stances. Like Freeza charging (flying) with his energy aura at Goku's super Saiyan Kamehameha in one episode.
A mechanical and physically augmented girl nonetheless.
Krillin and Zangya.
Jerkass Has a Point: Vegeta killing Burter and Recoome in cold blood after Goku defeated them. Goku states that Vegeta was being cruel, but Vegeta then retorts that their deaths were deserved, especially since Gohan and Krillin were on the verge of death, and that they had killed countless people under Frieza's orders. While Goku states that having a little compassion isn't a disadvantage, sparing the Ginyu Force would have caused far more harm than good. This is further emphasized later on when Goku spares their even more sadistic leader Frieza's life at least twice — which only prompts Frieza to try to stab Goku in the back both times.
Although Vegeta was too harsh with Gohan about him getting weaker in the Buu saga and how his fight with Dabura was a "disgrace," he made a good point.
In the Saiyan Saga, Yajirobe invokes this after the fight against Vegeta, calling out Chi-Chi for focusing entirely on Gohan, who was merely unconscious, while ignoring Goku, who didn't have a single unbroken bone in his body.
Kick the Dog: During the Saiyan Saga, Vegeta and Nappa crash land on an alien planet ruled over by a cruel tyrant. They kill the usurper simply because he got in their way, and a courageous prince is reunited with the woman whom the tyrant forcibly took as his bride. Nappa is almost amused, but as they leave the planet Vegeta decides to blow it up just to dash the aliens' hopes at their newfound freedom.
Subverted with 9-year-old (physically 10) Gohan during the Cell Games. Gohan's hybrid human-Saiyan heritage make him potentially the most powerful being on Earth. Too bad his gentle personality rendered him unable to use that power and potentially kill Cell, even when the villain threatened not only his life but the lives of his friends.
Played straight with Goku in the original Dragon Ball. A caring, gentle boy who unlike Gohan was perfectly capable of using his status as one of the strongest guys on the planet.
Kill 'em All: What Majin Buu eventually did to natives of Earth. You can do that when you have an attack called "Human Extinction."
The only characters who don't die in the entire series are Mr. Satan, Fat/Good Buu, Lord Enma, Fortune Teller Baba and the minor characters born post-Buu arc do not die either.
Killed Off for Real: Goku in Future Trunks' timeline. He died of a heart virus, which meant that he couldn't be wished back with the Dragon Balls (neither Earth's set nor Namek's allow a person to be brought back if they died of natural causes, which is what a virus would technically count as).
Android #16. The Dragon Balls couldn't bring him back (presumably) because, as a completely artificial being (unlike #17 and #18 who were, to an extent, human), he was never "alive" in the first place. Therefore when Cell killed him, he killed him for good.
Kirk Summation: At the end of Dragon Ball Z, before annihilating Buu with the Spirit Bomb, Goku briefly reminisces about the events of the arc, and how Buu went from an mostly-innocent manchild to a ruthless killer after losing the battle against his inner evil, and says how Buu will now learn what it's like to have his own life taken away against his will. He also makes a wish that Buu will come back as a better person, so he can fight him again.
Frieza in his saga. Mainly considering he was quite an evil villain in his time.
Cell. He is a man-eating bio-android whose hunt of the androids is played very dark and compared to the other androids, he is lethally more competent.
Super Buu/Kid Buu. He murdered or caused the deaths of nearly the entire cast, the entire human population, and blew up the Earth, the being something no villain had ever succeeded at prior. Not to mention numerous planets after that. A sharp contrast to Fat Buu, who was child-like and mostly played for laughs, even while destroying things.
Broly, though appearing in the non-canon movies, manages to be the darkest villain of the franchise. While Frieza and Buu have some comedic traits, and Cell, who while taken very seriously before his demise, was repeatedly ridiculed in Hell afterwards, Broly is an disturbingly straight example, as he has no comedic or cartoonish traits. His ax crazy behavior makes him even more frightening.
Knotty Tentacles: Goku faced a giant snake called Princess Snake. He defeats the snake by flying around it until it ties itself into a knot trying to eat him.
The Last Dance: Dragon Ball Online reveals that Goku, upon sensing that he will soon die of old age, invites Vegeta to join him in the depths of space for a final battle to settle their rivalry. Neither are seen again, but years later astronomers discover supernovas that are believed to be the remnants of their battle.
Last Villain Stand: Frieza's last shot at Goku. Frieza had lost all his minions, failed to obtain immortality, had been demonstrated as not being the strongest in the universe, had even been cut in half, and was only alive because Goku decided to give him enough energy to survive his injuries. Instead of using that energy to try to escape Namek before it exploded, Frieza tries to kill Goku one last time.
Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid: Goku offers to spare Raditz' life and ends up spending his own to make up for that blunder. He doesn't get smarter later on, but his power level usually made up for it.
Albeit, some of his Idiot Ball moments are as much due to naivete as stupidity. He wises up a little as the series goes on. Goku appeals to the better nature of his enemies, but if they prove irredeemable, he has no problem doing what he must.
Law of Chromatic Superiority: The strongest Super Saiyan form, the Super Saiyan God, grants the user red hair, red eyes, a flaming orange aura, and a red tint to their skin.
LEGO Genetics: The logic of Cell's creation: He's created from Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Freeza, and King Cold's. He's born knowing all their techniques, and those of the rest of the Z-Fighters, and possesses all their strengths.
It's even implied that many of Cell's personality traits derive from some of his "parents". He inherited Goku's love and desire for a challenge, while at the same time getting Frieza's tendency to lose it when he realizes he's outmatched. His politeness comes from Freeza, his cunning from Vegeta, and his arrogance from both of them.
Vegeta's Saiyan pride always brought him and others trouble. Especially when he let Cell absorb Android 18.
Goku also qualifies.
Justified with Buu, as he was created to be evil, but does it more out of stupidity and moral ignorance than actual malice.
Lettered Sequel: Dragon Ball Z is one of the earliest sequel naming practices of adding a letter Z after a title of the original work in the anime industry. What Z means also is pretty much unexplained within the show and have no mention in the original canon at all.
Licked by the Dog: Gohan's got an entire musical number dedicated to how much he loves Piccolo, the self-proclaimed embodiment of evil. Also happens to Buu later on.
Lighter and Softer: The Cell Games, at least compared with the rest of the Cell Saga. For example, Mr. Satan, his students, manager and two newscasters are present. Occasionally, the show cuts to them to give a break from the battle for some comedy.
Broly. He's a walking mountain of muscle, with the power and brute force to match, but still possesses speed enough to completely avoid the attacks of Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Future Trunks and Piccolo (he simply chooses not to for most of the fight). This trait also nullified whatever advantage Future Trunks may have had when he temporarily became a similar Mass of Muscles to fight Perfect Cell.
It's Lampshaded in the second Broly movie, where several characters comment that he is slow relative to his strength, but he's so bloody powerful it doesn't matter.
At 100% power, Freeza's final form is almost three times bigger than it is at base level power. Unlike the other examples, the additional bulk does not slow him down, and in fact he is at his fastest while in this state. For the record, the drawback is that this power is uncontrollable.
Vegeta explains that all (full-blooded) Saiyans are like this. It's part of their race's Blood Knight heritage. It's also pretty much the main reason why Vegeta was so hell-bent on surpassing and/or having a re-match with Goku. Goku sparing Vegeta instead of finishing him off was an insult to their race's way of life.
Lots of Luggage: This wasn't intentional on his part, but Gohan is often forced by Chichi (being the Doting Parent she is) to carry a some massive luggage, usually bigger than he is, as is seen in The Tree of Might and on his trip to Namek with Krillin and Bulma.
Ludicrous Gibs: When the Cell Jrs. are killed in the manga, they get gibbed. Also, the result of Frieza getting hit by his own destructo discs.
Major Injury Underreaction: Goku accidentally injured his wife Chi-Chi by attempting to give her a reassuring pat on the back, only to send her flying through a wall, a tree, and half a boulder. Chi-Chi doesn't even scream in pain or go to the hospital. However, in the next scene, she's seen with a few bandages and her arm in her sling.
Make Room For The New Plot: At the end of the Frieza arc, "Frieza comes back to Earth with his dad for revenge" would be a major plot conflict. But then Future Trunks arrives, beats the snot out of both of them single-handedly, and warns the heroes that they need to prepare to fight an enemy far stronger than Frieza.
Not that there would be a plot if Future Trunks wasn't there anyway. Supplementary material claim that Goku would have defeated Frieza and King Cold almost immediately if Future Trunks didn't.
Mutaito > Mutenroshi > Son Gohan, Sr. > Son Goku > Uub
Also: Mutaito > Tsurusennin > Tenshinhan & Chaozu
Mutaito > Mutenroshi > Ox-King > Chi-Chi > Son Goten
Master Of All: Every fighter either is this or aspires to this. The one attempt to specialize (by Trunks, during the Cell Saga) results in Crippling Overspecialization. Other than that, speed, strength, invulnerability, and ki control all seem to increase proportionally with power level. Some less-powerful characters are said to be greater strategists, but this is inconsistent and tends to be a bit of an Informed Ability in any case.
Man Child: Goku and Android 17 (the latter much more subtly, and in the Bad Future's case, much more darkly than the former).
Mayfly-December Romance: Implied. Saiyans appear to age more slowly than humans. This becomes quite noticable later in the series, where pure-humans Chi-Chi and Bulma have gradually aged while pure-Saiyans Goku and Vegeta have barely aged at all. Even Pan, who is one quarter Saiyan, is confirmed to live to at least 110.
This also appears to be the case with Krillin and #18's relationship. In GT Krillin is almost an old man while 18 hasn't changed at all; likely due to her cybernetic enhancements slowing down her aging considerably.
Meaningful Funeral: In Dragon Ball Z, when Vegeta dies at Frieza's hand on Namek, Son Goku buries him on the spot with a few understanding words. In the English dub, the eulogy is a bit more long-winded.
Merger of Souls: By putting his hand on Nail and later Kami, Piccolo absorbed them, gaining not only extra power but also their memories. This process was permanent; Piccolo's personality also seemed to underway slight changes after each absorption. A similar case was when Goku and Vegeta used the Potara earrings to fuse; however, in this case, they split when they entered Buu's body, although it's the only way to split, and that fusion is otherwise permanent. The personality of the fused being seemed to be a mix of both Goku and Vegeta's personalities.
Mighty Glacier: Trunks when he reaches Ultra Super Saiyan (a level that sits between Super Saiyan 1 and 2), which sacrifices speed for power. In this state he possessed enough power to kill Perfect Cell, but lacked the speed necessary to make it useful. Perfect Cell, Goku and Vegeta also reached this level, but were savvy enough to figure out its critical weakness and elected not to use it (Vegeta choosing to stop at Ascended Super Saiyan, and Perfect Cell and Goku going onward to the Full Power stage). In fact, Trunks doesn't figure out this form's weakness until Cell explicitly tells him why he can't win with it.
Mistaken for Quake: During the Namek Saga, Bulma tries to rationalize the ruckus being created by Vegeta and Frieza as "only an earthquake."
Mood Whiplash: When Old Kaioshin sacrifices himself to revive Goku. Sad music plays and Goku says he won't let his death be in vain. Right after that, he gets up (now sporting a halo) and shouts at Goku to hurry up and go.
Whistling causes physical pain to Namekians because of their superior hearing. (Lord Slug, being a Namekian, is defeated this way.)
As an infant, Goku's constant crying made Broly unable to sleep, and this gave Broly a lifelong obsession with killing him. (In the sequel, Goten's crying sounds so similar it wakes Broly from his coma and starts an almost unstoppable rampage.)
When Raditz first arrives on Earth he is accosted by a farmer wielding a gun. The farmer shoots him only to have Raditz catch the bullet and half-heartedly toss it back hard enough to kill him.
During the Saiyan Saga, Vegeta and Nappa crashland on an alien planet inhabited by Insectoid Aliens during their journey to Earth. The planet is ruled over by an Evil Overlord who usurped the throne and oppresses his people, and the two Saiyan warriors are promptly thrown in jail. After they get bored they decide to overthrow the tyrant and kill everyone in their path.
The androids 17 and 18 are attacked by a group of gangsters. Those are thrown into the sky.
Majin Buu, now a nice guy, is shot during a hold-up in a jewelry. Being a blob, he absorbs the bullet, spits it out, then playfully throws it back with enough strength to put a crater in the wall behind the crooks. Said crooks promptly gave up and surrender to the police. Gohan and Videl show up and strike a pose reminiscent of the Ginyu Force only to be completely confused about why the bad guys are surrendering before they beat anybody up.
Nerf: Gohan, between the Cell and Buu sagas. It's commonly speculated that Gohan could've finished fat Buu off if he kept up with his training instead of studying.
Never Forgotten Skill: At one point, Goku learns a technique called the Spirit Bomb. He stops using it after the fight with Frieza. Years later, he is reminded to use this technique on Kid Buu by Vegeta, and Goku is still able to use it like a pro.
Never Say "Die": Taken to the extreme in the first 53 episodes of The Ocean Group dub. Getting blasted into ashes was called "being sent into another dimension". After the Ocean dub resumed in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as other English-speaking countries, the show went from that to merely saying "destroy", "hurt", and "gone" as well as other words that essentially meant to kill or be dead. Late into the Buu saga, however, the dub suddenly stopped this, and "kill" and "die" were used as often as in the FUNimation dub, which was completely exempt from this. The "another dimension" thing is sort of justified as death is a multiverse of many heavens for different planets that even a few living people can freely travel to. Note that this only took effect from the fifth episode of the original broadcast. Some lines were re-recorded for subsequent airings of the first two episodes but episodes three and four kept references to death even (or especially) on the DVD release. Episode 66 of Daizenshuu EX featured some sound clips.
Majin Buu turns Vegetto into a Coffee flavored Jawbreaker and believes he's won. Except...that it turns out that Vegetto has not only retained all his power, but now is much faster than ever and impossible to hit with his small size (not that Buu could touch him before anyway). Hilarity Ensues as Buu gets his most embarassing, worst ever beating of all, with his ass handed back to him in humiliating fashion. To add insult to injury, it's accompanied by a You Fight Like a Cow dialogue from the "strongest piece of candy there is".
Gero creating android #16, who very nearly put a stop to Cell before he could absorb #17 or #18 (though this is more a result of him failing to create a homicidal machine and really didn't want #16 to be woken up)
Nobility Marries Money: Gohan and Videl, though they fall in love quite on their own. Amid the focus on his saiyan heritage, it's easy to forget that Gohan is a prince, but after Goku's death, his grandfather the Ox King spent nearly all of his treasure supporting Gohan and Goten.
Nobody Poops: Subverted in a Funny Moment by Super Buu (and Majin Buu, although it's somewhat easy to miss it).
Vegeta, Gohan, & Videl took some of the worst beatings in the series history. Vegeta and specially Gohan also got to pummel others into submission.
Goku faced the worst beatdown of them all, having all his bones crushed by Great Ape Vegeta, and then getting further tortured afterwards. Of course, the man's a Physical God, so of course he laughs it off.
Every hero inside Babidi's Spaceship. Pui Pui suffered the worst of this.
No Social Skills: Goku and Chi-Chi had both lived pretty sheltered lives before they turned 12, the latter's was only so because her dad was needlessly violent and overprotective of his wealth and daughter, not to mention living on top of Frypan Mountain. Goku, on the other hand turned into an Oozaru in a full moon, and accidentally killed his grandfather, and he only taught him how to fight, fish, and be nice to girls, and that's it. No important social skills were taught to Goku, unfortunately, and he had to learn some of them himself (such as, humorously, the difference between boys and girls). Even to this day, he still struggles, but at least he looks good in a tuxedo.
Then there's Majin Buu, the Laughably EvilBig Bad who isn't actually all that evil, just misguided. Ironically, when Goku fought him and the relationship between Babidi and Buu was now breaking down, he asked him as to why he listens to Babidi as Buu is too gifted a fighter to do so. This ironically played a part in Buu getting rid of Babidi. When Mr. Satan asked why he kills, he answered that his creator Bibidi said "kill", while Babidi said "destroy". Mr. Satan pointed out that those two are gone, and he could do something better and kinder with his time. When Buu asked if killing is bad, Mr. Satan said it is. Afterwards, Buu simply said "Okie-dokie! Buu no kill no more." For that short time, Mr. Satan actually saved the world by asking the Big Bad to stop.
There was also the Saiyans, notably Vegeta, who were raised for fighting, not really manners or socially acceptable actions.
Vegeta: Service woman! Bring me a drying cloth at once!
Not Quite Dead: Some villains were quite notorious for this, more so in the movies.
Frieza: Why do you loathe what I've done so much? Saiyans are just as ruthless as I am! They were killers, all of them! And you have the gall to condemn what I've done. You and your bloodthirsty race!
Goku: They paid for their mistakes!
Frieza: Heh heh heh heh. Is that why they died? I thought it was because I killed them!
Goku: You're just a beast, with no conscience!
Frieza: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! So I'm a beast, huh? Oh, and what about you, Mr. Super Saiyan! Aren't you just like me?
Frieza: So the jury's still out on that one. Let's just give it a little more time.
No Sell: Sometimes, when the difference in powers is too great, some characters can completely ignore the attacks of their enemies. Once Cell became Perfect Cell, he completely ignored Krillin's flurry of blows as well as a Kienzan to the neck. Broly managed to take the combined strength of all the Super Saiyans in the cast as well as Piccolo without as much as budging from their attacks. This was actually subverted on a fight between Perfect Cell and Vegeta: Vegeta dared Cell to take his Final Flash full-on. Confident that Vegeta couldn't hurt him, Cell accepted the challenge. Cell ultimately changed his mind at the last second and decided to dodge the blast, since it was far more powerful than he expected, but he still got part of his torso blown off. (Had Vegeta not aimed the blast upward, it would've destroyed Cell completely. Along with the Earth). It tends to get deconstructed such as in the fight with Nappa or Cell's and Buu's fights with Gohan when the loosing side gets so desperate they try some very desperate tactics to win, which always leave the heroes in a worse situation. While Nappa tanked Chiaotsu's suicide attack Cell tried to blow up the whole planet (resulting in Goku's death) and Buu decided that he needed to absorb Gotenks to regain his advantage (both as a result of Gohan demonstrating how outclassed his opponent was to break them)
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: In the Ocean dub of one DBZ episode, Krillin mutters out this prayer when he and Dende are confronted by Vegeta on Namek, until a whale shows up and distracts him.
Ocular Gushers: In one episode of the Cell Games Saga, when Chi-Chi sees Gohan's blonde hair (at this time, she doesn't know what a Super Saiyan is), she acts shocked and cries because she felt that Gohan became a "punker."
Oddly Common Rarity: Later on in the series, almost every surviving Saiyan and their offspring, with the sole exception of Pan, ends up a Super Saiyan. It's even lampshaded:
Vegeta: [after hearing from Trunks that Goten can also go Super Saiyan] "What is this?! Some kind of Super Saiyan Bargain Sale? When was it that the transformation to the legendary warrior of the Saiyan race was reduced to a child's play thing?"
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In the ending for Bio Broly, after Broly's mutilated clone was defeated by Goten, Trunks, and Krillin, Goku learns he has to go to HFIL due to Broly acting up and somehow suppress him, to which he ended up delaying to finish his (presumably huge) meal. The fight's outcome, not to mention the fight itself, is never revealed nor shown, as the movie ends right there.
Off the Rails: Dragon Ball Z's Tournament Arc, in which Goku shows up despite being dead, thugs under control of the Big Bad interupt a match to steal Gohan's energy, Trunks and Goten knock out a masked fighter and steal his costume so they can compete, two thirds of the contestants fly away during the first round, and Mr. Satan tries to salvage the tournament by turning it into a battle royale. Then Vegeta blows up a chunk of the stadium.
Oh Crap: A fair amount. Notable ones include Frieza seeing Goku become a Super Saiyan and Android 17 seeing that Piccolo wasn't firing randomly and was instead setting up an unavoidable attack, though these are by no means all of them.
In one dub, Cell litterally says "Oh, shit!" when he realizes that taking Vegeta's Final Flash head-on just to show off was a terrible idea.
The Supreme Kai freaks out when Goku and Vegeta seperate Majin Buu from Super Buu causing him to turn back into Kid Buu. Goku and Vegeta also freak out when they notice he's getting stronger and stronger as he goes along the Bishonen Line.
Goku has this reaction, then everyone else does, while fighting Kid Buu, when he realizes he's all out of energy (and thus can't push the Spirit Bomb towards Buu). Then, when Goku's energy is restored and starts pushing the Spirit Bomb back, Kid Buu has this reaction.
Saiyans, in general, age very slowly so they can fight longer.
Old Pan in the Distant Finale does show her age, but she looks about 80, not her real age of over 110.
Mrs Brief does not appear to age throughout all her appearances.
Ominous Walk: Cell does this regularly knowing that his enemies' own fear will make them easier to defeat.
Omnicidal Maniac: Nearly every Big Bad, with Kid Buu being the ultimate distillation of the trope. Subverted with the prime timeline's #16, #17, and #18.
Only the Pure of Heart: The condition for riding the Nimbus or controlling the Spirit Bomb. For the record, the number of people in the show who can do either can be counted on one hand. Baby has his own version of the Spirit Bomb; created by pure hatred.
Opt Out: Goku's giving the right to fight Cell to Gohan and also his initial refusal to be resurrected by the Dragon Balls.
Out-of-Genre Experience: During the Saiyaman Arc, the series briefly turns into a teenage superhero story. All of the tropes are there, with Gohan leading a double life as a super hero while simultaneously having to survive high school, discovering romance and dealing with a bully all while trying to keep his powers secret.
In the manga, this genre shift lasts for about a week, at which point Gohan blurts out his secret identity during his first in-costume encounter with Videl.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Krillin is THE poster boy for this, but it applies to just about anyone who isn't a Saiyan.
Overtook the Manga: The Garlic Jr. saga and Otherworld Tournament were created as a stopgap before the Trunks and Saiyaman sagas began.
Parabolic Power Curve: The end of the Cell Saga provides a non-videogame example. Goku decides that torturing their bodies in the Time Chamber will only help until a certain point, so he and Gohan practice maintaining the Super Saiyan form until it feels natural. Sure enough, this accomplishes more in one visit than Vegeta or Trunks manage in two, although there were some domestic issues.
Parent with New Paramour: Type 2 is Videl's opinion of her father's fangirls, and this is before she found out he was a total fraud.
The Patient Has Left the Building: After being beaten up by Vegeta and sent to the hospital, Goku repeatedly tries to escape the hospital to train (he actually succeeds once, but he's sent back to the hospital).
Percussive Prevention: Future Gohan does it to Future Trunks before going off to fight the Androids (which ends in Future Gohan's death). Then in the main timeline Majin Vegeta does it to Kid Trunks before going off to fight Majin Buu (which ends in Vegeta's death).
Perpetual Storm: During the infamous Fake Namek Filler arc, one of the areas on the imitation planet was buffeted by a permanent sandstorm. Unfortunately for the heroes, one of the (fake) Dragon Balls was inside of a cyclone right in the middle of it.
Pet the Dog: Piccolo took Gohan to train him to fight the Saiyans, but ended up caring about the kid. Fat Buu literally did this with a puppy he found, learning that being nice can be more fun than hurting people.
Phosphor-Essence: Every character who goes Super Saiyan glows. While other characters can summon a Battle Aura, Super Saiyans are constantly glowing, as indicated by their clothes and skin tone being lighter even when the Battle Aura is off, and the hyper saturation of their hair in a special.
Plot Hole: Bojack, an evil space pirate assumed to be on the same level as Cell was sealed away by the four Kaio centuries ago. Now take into consideration that Goku surpassed each of them in strength before the first saga of DBZ was over.
After Goku and Vegeta save Gohan, Goten, Piccolo, Trunks, and Fat Buu from Evil Buu's body, he technically should have reverted to his original gray self. Instead, he becomes another Kid Buu, as the original turned into Fat Buu after absorbing one of the Kais.
A major plot point in the series is the characters using multiplied gravity for massive strength boosts in a short time. Goku Trains at 100x Earth's Gravity on his way to face Frieza, and Vegeta later trains at 300x. However, if an average human's power level is 5, then 300x gravity would be felt the same as normal gravity to someone with a power level of 1500, which was roughly the same as Raditz. Considering that Goku's original Super Saiyan transformation was 150 million, he'd need to train at over 3 million times Earth's gravity to feel any difference. Goku reached King Kai's planet which has 10x gravity, and he was initially barely able to stand. By then, he must've been barely stronger than Raditz. The effects are largely the same across the the board.
Power Levels: DBZ, Saiyan Saga to Frieza Saga, after which it was abandoned as the numbers became more noteworthy. Toyed with in Buu Saga. Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta, who is the strongest, (albeit non-canon) character in the series, has a power level that is easily calculated at above 80 billion!note To clarify, Frieza's second form is stated to have a power level of over 1,000,000 and is weaker than Goku's base. Super Saiyan 4 is a combination of SSJ3 (x400) and the Oozaru(x10). The fusion dance is stated to increase your power to ten times the fighters' power combined. Even if Vegeta had only barely managed to match Goku's base power from Namek, this puts it at 2 million times ten (fusion, 20 million), times ten (Oozaru, 200 million), times four hundred (SSJ3, 80 billion). And of course, this is disregarding any increases in power levels between the Namek and the Buu sagas (when fusion was first introduced).
Lampshaded in the 2008 special by none other than Vegeta. In the 2008 special, his younger brother Tarble is introduced, saying that a couple of remnants of Frieza's army followed him back to earth, and that he needs help fighting them. Naturally, Goku immediately obliges, but Tarble uses his scouter on him and reads a hilariously low power level, so the young Saiyan prince politely refuses Goku's help on the grounds of him being "too weak". Cue Vegeta saying that scouters are not reliable measurement for the real power level of a warrior, and Goku demonstrating this by turning Super Saiyan in front of him and making Tarble's scouter literally explode on his face due to overloading.
Another point is that towards Buu Saga, the real increase comes from finding new levels and fusion - the lower levels have pretty much ceased growing exponentially. Goku's Super Saiyan form is only marginally stronger than what it was in Cell Saga, and so it isn't of much use compared to Super Saiyan 2 and 3.
The Power of Love: Goku and (even more so) Gohan are always able to find a hidden reserve of power to protect the ones they love.
Previously On: Every episode has an opening narration to let you know what happened in previous episodes. In order to draw out epic action in later episodes, they sometimes had a Previously On segment to let you know what happened earlier in that episode.
Prodigal Hero: Piccolo may count, as he (or rather, his father) had been apart from Namek for years and only comes back when it's targeted by Frieza.
Properly Paranoid: Gohan may be a Half-Saiyan, but Chi-Chi was not okay with Gohan leaving to go to Namek for two months. While Chi-Chi may be unreasonable sometimes, she was rightfully paranoid with Gohan going to a potentially dangerous planet and leaving her alone for two months (she had not seen him for a whole year) to revive Piccolo, the same guy who blasted a hole through Goku and killed her husband in the Saiyan arc. She displays this trope throughout the series when Gohan goes up against the Androids and Cell, fearing for Gohan's health and well-being when he's fighting bad guys.
When Gohan cries a lot in the Vegeta Saga, Piccolo threatens to snap his neck so he could stop.
In the Buu Saga, when Goten and Trunks are crying over the death of Gohan and Vegeta, Goku tells them to stop crying because they were Earth's only hope to stop Majin Buu.
Rage Quit: Most villains in the show are very poor losers and prone to attempting to blow up the planet when it looks like they'll lose a fight.
Kid Buu is a notable aversion: Vegeta started the trend (granted he failed) and Freeza, Cell and Super Buu all got in on the act. Kid Buu however didn't pitch a fit when being backed into a corner and just kept laughing and grinning up until the last moment
Piccolo Jr plays with this trope, being far less evil than his previous life and gradually being tempered and mellowed out by Goku's mercy, Gohan's innocence and two Enemy Mine situations. By the time he has 'redeemed' himself he's only 7 years old...
Readings Blew Up the Scale: Power-detecting "scouters" would helpfully indicate this to you by exploding off of your face. Thankfully, they do this without harming the user, even on humans who should in no way be tough enough to walk away unharmed from such a thing.
In the anime, Frieza and Goku powered up to such extremes that they blew up scales in other solar systems, destroying the whole lab complex *and* killing the goons.
Master Roshi (aka Muten Roshi), despite looking in his 70s since the start is actually 300 years old, as is his rival the Crane Hermit and his brother Mercenary Tao. Roshi and Crane are old enough to have been young monks when King Piccolo ravaged the Earth 300 years ago. Garlic and his son Garlic Jr., nemeses to Kami in a Non-Serial Movie and anime filler are also at least 300 years old. And if you think that's astounding, Roshi's older sister Uranai Baba, is 500 years old. In anime filler, Roshi's Turtle celebrates his one thousandth birthday. Mr. Popo has been attendant to every Guardian of Earth (or at least a large number), so he's much, much older.
The Nameless Namekian separated into Kami and King Piccolo 300 years ago, having already been about 200 when this happened. Non Serial Movie villain Lord Slug and Namekian elder Guru (who actually does look his age) is also from this time. Oddly enough, prior to remerging with Kami, Piccolo Jr., King Piccolo's reincarnation was about 14 years old (though he had already merged with an older Namekian in the Frieza saga). Namekian merging is... complicated.
The Kais are in the millions of years old. The Eastern Supreme Kai killed Bibidi, the creator of Majin Buu, five million years ago, making Bibidi's son Babidi at least that old. Numerous other demons and deities from both the original manga and anime filler are likely at least as old. In fact, Old Supreme Kai is very old even by Kai standards. He actually does look pretty old (only due to his fusion with a witch, though), but he counts his age as "15 generations". Logically, he'd be talking about Kai generations. Considering that Eastern Supreme Kai has not visibly aged in 5 million years, this would be an unbelievably long time indeed.
Red Shirt Army: These show up a handful of times throughout the series. The military attempts to take on Nappa, Cell and Majin Buu, only to get blown up every time. To be fair, these incidents were separated by about 10 years each and outside of them, most people had no idea about other Saiyans, Frieza, the Androids or anything important in the series, really.
This relationship exists with Goku playing the red to various other characters, although Vegeta is the best and longest running example. They even have the right colors on their uniforms.
Mez and Goz, an actual pair of a red oni and a blue oni. Though they are more goofy than badass.
Mirrored to an extent in their sons, Goten and Trunks, who have a much friendlier relationship than their fathers. Trunks being more bratty half pint while Goten being more Keet.
Reluctant Warrior: Notwithstanding his reluctance to kill, from the Cell Saga onwards, Goku shows a strange reluctance in being Earth's protector and always holds back in all his fights, to the point where he again plays his Idiot Hero card. Instead he put his hopes on Gohan, Goten, Trunks, Piccolo and even Vegeta and it really backfired on him in the Buu Saga.
It's not so odd when you consider that by the end of the Cell Saga and up until midway through the Buu Saga, he was dead. What was meant to be a single day to spend time with his family and friends, turned into a race to save the universe from total annihilation. While Goku did what he could, he stressed again and again that as he was dead, it was never meant to be his fight, and the next generation needed to save the Earth in his place. Him being resurrected was something akin to a Godzilla Threshold since a Kai giving his life to a mortal was unthinkable.
Revenge Before Reason: A defining character trait of both Vegeta and Frieza. Frieza, arrogant and downright terrified of the concept of an opponent stronger than him, utterly refuses to let his defeat at Goku's hands lie unavenged even though he clearly does not have the power to defeat him. This first results in a Backstab Backfire, and when he miraculously survives that he goes to Earth for more... and ends up cut in half.
Vegeta is a little smarter about this than Frieza as he is more of a schemer, but it's still there. He almost obsessively remembers those who have slighted him (this is one of his major goals for being on Namek) and in Goku's case dedicated his life to vengefully defeating him, an animosity that lasted far past his Heel-Face Turn. His ego-driven desire to utterly finish if not humiliate those who have defeated him has led to a lot of pain and failure on his part, which of course leads to more bitterness.
Revisiting The Roots: The Buu saga tries to go back to the humor from the beginning of the series, after a long time being a fighting series.
Rise from Your Grave: Justified via the wishes of the Dragon Balls in some episodes in the series. One of them shows Vegeta's gloved hand rising from Namek's dust of his grave for a few moments, and then his fully-resurrected body emerges in wonder.
It's also one of Goku's attack sets, the Janken fist. "Rock" gives a solid punch, "Paper" gives a fierce slap, and "Scissors" gives an eye-poke. Perhaps this is why when fighting a Big Bad, you never "Rock, Paper, Scissors" on who gets to fight him. Ask Vegeta.
This is also how Goku, Gohan and Vegeta decide who fights Puipui, Yakon and Dabura in Babidi's ship. Kaioshin about has a coronary watching them.
Played for laughs when Goku first introduces Gohan to Master Roshi, Krillin, and Bulma. Gohan plays with a crab, who for obvious reasons can only use "scissors".
Frieza single-handedly destroyed the planet Vegeta some years prior to the start of the series.
Vegeta destroy the planet Arlia while he and Nappa are on their way to Earth. This anime only scene is just for showcasing the Saiyans' power. It, however, comes across as a major kick the dog moment as Vegeta destroys the planet just after he and Nappa had saved it from a tyrant, making it harder to see him get a heel face turn.
Sacrificial Revival Spell: An amusing but but still touching instance of this occurs late in the Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z. The beyond ancient Old Supreme Kai gives up his life energy so Goku, as a dead man stuck in other world, can fight elsewhere/live normally again. His halo vanishes and the Old Kai, without pain or distress, gains one.
Sad Battle Music: In Dragon Ball Z episode 25, Krillin and Gohan fight Nappa to a sad fighting theme. Averted in the Western dub, where it is replaced with a more action-y theme.
Frieza slowly kills his enemies rather than outright killing them as shown when he impales Krillin with his horns.
Cell too, to even greater degrees. While Frieza is satisfied with only just the physical suffering of his victims, Cell prefers to add the psychological element to his cruelty, terrorizing and destroying any chance for hope his opponent has, before killing them.
Both Super Buu and Kid Buu.
Same Story, Different Names: The movies do this. Almost all of them are essentially the same plot as the arc they are placed in time-wise, with some of the villains also being expies of the main-story ones.
Discounting the Non Serial Movies, if Frieza had not taken any steps to avert the prophecy of the Super Saiyans, chances are Vegeta would never have turned against him, and therefore Goku would never have reached that point, and it would never have happened. Nice Job Fixing It, Villain.
Taking into account the flashback and the Bardock special, Frieza already seems to have noticed the discontent among the nobles of Vegeta. The final straw was when Bardock, a mere footsoldier, managed to complete a task that even Frieza's elite forces were unable to do. His problems started when he tried to enslave the people of Vegeta, but his genocidal tendencies certainly didn't help matters.
If the followup "Episode of Bardock" is canon, this means that Frieza's fear and the legend of the Super Saiyan was the direct result of his own actions namely, he was the one who sent Bardock to the past AND caused the anguish that triggered his transformation that would become the same legend he feared so much.
Senseless Sacrifice: Very few sacrifices have the tendency to work. Dragon Balldeconstructs this trope thoroughly. The one time it actually did work was when Goku held Raditz for Piccolo, taking a fatal shot in doing so. But even that backfired, as this drew Vegeta's attention to Earth.
Sensor Character: Early on in Dragon Ball Z, the ability to sense ki/power levels without a scouter or other device is part of what separates the good guys from the bad guys. As the series goes on, more and more people become able to do it on their own.
Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Cell's way of eating people does this: After he stabs them, the victim's body is broken down into genetic material and absorbed inside of Cell, giving the impression that the victim is melting, and only leaving behind piles of clothing after the process is done.
Shout-Out: The Strongest Coffee Candy in the Universe — a similar visual shows up near the end of Dr. Slump, his previous work.
Or the Earth Dragon who is even more snake-like than the Namekian one?
So Last Season: During the Frieza saga, the Super Saiyan was built up as being the ultimate warrior, with there only supposedly being only one in the universe. Come the Cell saga, not only do four of the main cast have the ability to become Super Saiyan but it's no longer enough to beat the main villain, but new, more powerful forms of Super Saiyan have to be introduced. Beyond that, in the Buu saga, even the kids are turning Super Saiyan, and the new forms of Super Saiyan (bar Super Saiyan 3, which had its own problems) aren't enough to beat Buu so the concept of fusion takes its place.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The story as a whole probably has the most extensive one ever seen in fiction. Villains span from simple martial artists, to planetary threats (Piccolo, the Saiyans), to galactic threats (Frieza), to universal threats (Buu), and finally, with the most recent movie that is viewed as canon, a literal"God of Destruction".
Spoofed with Their Own Words: One of the earlier episodes has Raditz tearing off Piccolo's arm, followed by the mocking line "Has anyone seen my arm? You can't miss it, it's green!" This line is present verbatim in pretty much every parody, rewrite, or Abridged Series of DBZ.
Stable Time Loop: "Episode of Bardock" implies that one is in place. To elaborate: Bardock survives Frieza destroying Planet Vegeta, which somehow sent him back to Planet Vegeta's prehistory (so far back the Saiyans aren't even living there yet and it's still called Planet Plant), encounters Frieza's ancestor Chilled, goes Super Saiyan during the ensuing fight, and whoops Chilled's ass. Chilled survives, and passes the legend of the Super Saiyan down to his descendants, thus being the cause of Frieza's fear that a Super Saiyan would emerge and challenge him, leading to him destroying Planet Vegeta...
Not to mention Chi-Chi: her entry in the Tenkaichi Budokan was just her way to bully Goku into marrying her because of a promise he had made when they were both ten years old.
Suddenly Shouting: Bulma uses this for snark value when complaining about how recklessly endangering her companions are.
Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Goku had some really close calls in Dragon Ball, only to die at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z. No guesses on how long that stuck.
Suicidal Overconfidence: Plenty of the series' curb stomp fights have this in spades, as characters have no idea what they're up against. Notable examples include Nappa against Goku, Vegeta against Frieza, Frieza against Super Saiyan Goku, Super Vegeta against Perfect Cell, and base-form Gotenks against Majin Buu.
Super Empowering: The Namekian Guru was able to unlock some huge reserves of power in Gohan and Krillin as well as give Dende his healing ability.
Happens multiple times to Piccolo when he "fuses" with Nail, and later in the series, Kami, while still technically remaining himself.
"The blood of the Saiyans must be completely cut off. Not because I believe in ridiculous legends, such as the Super Saiyan, history's greatest warrior, but because I do not feel well with them around."
Tangled Family Tree: Due to equal parts intermarriage, fusion, time travel, cloning and absorption.
Team Dad: Trunks to Pan, Goku, and Gill/Giru in the first half of GT.
You could make an argument for Master Roshi (Kamesennin) in Dragon Ball through about the Saiyan saga for DBZ being the team dad/grandpa.
Another good argument can be made for Piccolo, as he often acts as both the father figure and mentor for several of the younger members, as well as the voice of reason.
Temporal Paradox: Trunks's and Cell's time-traveling shenanigans results in quite the merry-go-round. Made weirder by the discovery that his time machine actually goes into another timeline instead of its own. On the plus side, it avoids the usual Mind Screw.
Episode of Bardock has Bardock go back in time to Planet Plant before it was inhabited by Vegeta. It turns out that Chilled, one of Frieza's ancestors, comes to the planet with a scouting force. When Bardock fights him he becomes a Super Saiyan and totally whoops his ass. This means that Chilled was the one who created and passed down the legend of the Super Saiyan, and that Bardock is the legendary Super Saiyan from 1000 years ago that Frieza and Vegeta are always talking about. Given this new context, Goku being the next Super Saiyan (or at least the one who will defeat Frieza) is completely logical.
Temporal Mutability: The "branching timelines" version, of which there are at least three: one for the main characters, one for Future Trunks, and one for Cell (the one who gets the most screentime), which is why destroying timeline 1's larval Cell does nothing to him and Trunks can't prevent the Androids from existing in his reality. On the bright side, he gets strong enough to take them apart when he returns, along with his timeline's Cell.
The names of Saiyans are all puns on vegetables. Vegeta = vegetable, Raditz = Radish, Nappa = a type of cabbage, Kakarotto = carrot, and Broly = broccoli.
Namekian names are based on snails (e.g. Nails, Dende) or musical instruments (Piccolo Daimao and every one of his children).
Every single member of the Briefs family is named after a type of undergarment; Bulma (bloomers), Bra, Briefs, Trunks and Tights.
The Ginyu Force are all dairy-based (e.g. BUTTAH! JEEZE!)
Frieza's family has a cold motif; Frieza = Freezer, Coola = Cooler, Chiller, and King Cold. Additionally, all of Frieza's minions (the Saiyans as vegetables, other aliens as fruits, and the Ginyu force as milk products) are named after things you would keep in a refrigerator, or perhaps freezer.
There are several dimsum-related puns in the original Dragon Ball series (e.g. Yamcha/Yamucha, Shao and Mai).
Shu, Mai, and Pilaf from the original Dragon Ball series, sharing a theme around rice.
The tiny character Chiaotsu (Alternatively calledJiao Zi or Chow Tsu) is Chinese for Gyouza which are Pot-Stickers. A DBZ magazine once wrote an article stating that the creator admitted that this had more to do with his being uncreative with names than trying to be funny.
Pan. Her name is a pun on pan, the Japanese word for bread (fitting, since almost every character has a food reference in their names), but also on the Greek god Pan, whose devilish appearance fits with the demonic theme naming of her family (grandfather Mr. Satan and mother Videl, which is an anagram of "devil"). There's also a third source for her name; the pan flute, which is a wind instrument like the piccolo. Mr. Satan's name in some translations is Hercule, originating from the Greek hero Hercules, son of Zeus and Hera. Mr. Satan's real name, Mark, is a rough anagram of akuma, the Japanese word for "devil" or "demon".
Chi-Chi. It's not the Japanese meaning that makes this one stand out, but the Spanish translation: it literally means "BOOBS". Which is why her name was changed to Milk in the Spanish translation.
Then there's the Garlic Jr. arc with Garlic Jr. and the Spice Boys.
They Killed Kenny Again: Krillin. He died about three times where everyone else died about twice. Four times if you count GT as canon.
Third Act Stupidity: The Namek saga is notable for the guerilla-style tactics that the heroes are required to use throughout: Krillin and Gohan are no match for most of Frieza's elite henchmen, Vegeta is slightly higher up the power scale and ascends higher but is still forced to play it smart to outwit the godlike Frieza. By the end of the saga, Vegeta directly challenges Frieza in his final form. Even though he can sense ki and could probably sense just how utterly enormous Frieza's power was compared to his own.
This Cannot Be!: Cell's reaction when Gohan finally destroys him for good is to shout "I am perfect!" (hence he cannot be defeated) as his body disintegrates from the blast.
Mr. Satan is literally the champion of averting this trope. Even with the amounts of comic relief pain he suffers (slapped by Cell, being blown away by the Kung Fu Sonic Booms of the Saiyans fighting the Big Bad complete with rocks smacking his face, harming himself when jumping off a cliff of the homeworld of the Kaioshin under the impression it's all his dream, and still afterwards etc.), he ironically is the only non-afterlife-resident member of the cast who didn't ever die. The fact that he even tried to fight Cell in the first place is proof of this, since less than a week earlier Cell had inflicted a One-Hit Kill on the most powerful battalion in the army on live radio, and during his doomsday broadcast had disintegrated a mountain. Even after Cell smacks him into a mountain Mr. Satan continues to believe that he is the only person capable of beating him.
Frieza twice barely survives a battle with a Super Saiyan, the first time due to a mercy act, and the second due to an ass pull miracle. Both times, he deliberately returns for more.
In a more literal example, Bulma's mother, who does not understand the concept of swiftness in a life-or-death situation. For example, upon hearing that West City is going to be destroyed, she decides that she MUST find just the right dress for the occasion instead of packing up to flee the city.
Bulma's father, in the same situation, asks her to hurry up, before remembering that they have to water the plants before they leave.note You know, the ones Piccolo Daimo is going to blow up.
Dr. Gero designs numerous androids that either turn good or turn on him, designs these androids to be stronger than him, converts himself into an android that is weaker than the other androids he has already designed, and constantly orders around and threatens the androids that, again, are stronger than him when he has no way to control them. That he ever lived long enough to be a threat to the heroes at all is nothing short of a miracle.
Anytime Vegeta fights an opponent who can power up. Vegeta's ego always gets the better of him and he allows said opponent to power up, up to and including once punching out his own son just for the sake of his ego. While Goku does this too, Vegeta has horrible judgement when it comes to relative strengths. This has cost him his own life at least once and usually causes him to go into a Villainous B So D after realizing he got outclassed (yet he somehow never realizes he should just stop letting his opponents do this).
Took a Level in Jerkass: Vegeta finally settles on "good guy" and shows no signs of wanting to go back to a villain, until Majin Buu shows up.
Totem Pole Trench: Done by Goten and Trunks to enter an adults-only tournament in Dragon Ball Z. And the best part is, they are competent at fighting in tandem like that, only stopping at #18, who blows their ruse in the semifinals.
Touch Telepathy: Several characters have demonstrated the power to read minds by touching another person's forehead, including Muten Roshi, Goku and Lord Slug. King Kai could share his telepathic link on contact.
Androids 17 and 18. Before they became cyborgs, they were two teenagers who were kidnapped and used by Dr. Gero as experiments.
Vegeta was used by Freeza as a hostage and then had his father murdered and his entire race exterminated by Freeza, who continued to use him as a low-level enforcer afterwards. Goku eventually realizes that Vegeta was largely shaped by Freeza into becoming a remorseless killing machine.
Training from Hell: Gohan's training with Piccolo. The first 3 months was survival training in which Piccolo left a 4 year old child in the wilderness to fend for himself. The training after that involved a lot of serious sparring matches
Tranquil Fury: Numerous examples, but most notable is Goku as the first Super Saiyan who doesn't destroy himself in murderous, unbound rage (though he did take a couple minutes to torment and terrorize Frieza before offering to leave peacefully). Gohan's fight with Cell is similar, though it treads closer to Gohan becoming uncharacteristically sadistic before he regains his composure.
Transformation Is a Free Action: Nearly every time someone charges up, the most that is done about it is stand around and comment on how their power level is going up. At least once, Vegeta waits around for a perfectly killable enemy to power up fully just so he could have a more interesting fight. It doesn't end well.
King Kai desperately tells Goku to finish Freeza before he can hit 100% power, but Goku's so enraged over Krillin's death that he wants Freeza to know he's totally beaten.
Trunks attempts to defy this by attacking Cell while he transforms into his Perfect Form, but his attacks just bounce off Cell's force field
Troubled, but Cute: 20 years of fleeing for your life from two homicidal androids has left Future Trunks emotionally scarred (and serious).
Future Bulma too.
Tsundere: Videl to Gohan. Gohan mentions it to Bulma in a conversation but what makes it less clear is Videl's status as an Action Girl. As Gohan mentions, she has no interest in romance. If you need any more proof, pay attention to the close-ups of here face when Gohan is teaching her how to fly.
The Unfettered: Kid Buu. While Super Buu displays this (only being swayed once and then because of Fat Buu's influence) Kid Buu has literally no conscience and exists solely to destroy worlds and carries this out with manic glee.
It got to the point where the previous Supreme Kai baited Buu into absorbing him in order to act as his conscience (thus creating Fat Buu). The result was a Man Child who destroyed because he still found it fun but didn't know that it was wrong
Unskilled, but Strong: Some Z villains, most notably Frieza, who had innately high levels of Ki, but zero knowledge in how to control it.
Basically, everybody in Frieza's empire. They were in a rude awakening when they went up against adversaries who could control their own levels in order to fool scouters. This concept came as a complete surprise to them, as they never before encountered beings capable of this. Vegeta and Nappa had the benefit of watching Raditz fight Goku and Piccolo, and hence learned of the ability before arriving. Vegeta even picked it up after visiting Earth, becoming one of the people to demonstrate it to Frieza and his mooks.
This was Captain Ginyu's downfall when he switched bodies with Goku. Goku, at the time, was second only to Frieza in terms of strength, but a lot of that rested on Goku's techniques. Lacking that training, Ginyu only had access to Goku's base power, which was enough to make him level with Gohan and Krillin (combined) but completely outclassed by Vegeta.
Zigzagged in the Buu saga. First Supreme Kai shows up and tells them about Babbidi and his powerful minions trying to resurrect an unstoppable force and enlists their help. When Goku and Vegeta face two of Babbidi's great warriors they are horribly underwhelmed. Dabura (who Kai is afraid of too) is noted to be as strong as Cell and the only reason Gohan has trouble is because he's out of shape. Just when everyone starts thinking Buu might not be all that he gets freed and effortlessly beats Gohan, Kai and Vegeta
Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Given the astronomical rate at which the heroes level up, this happens to most of the villains after they been defeated the first time around:
Most famously, Frieza's return to Earth. While Goku had the upper hand by the end, Trunks killed Cyborg-Frieza effortlessly. And Goku implies he could've done the same.
Most egregiously, when a bunch of the Z Fighters are in the afterlife, the Ginyu Force appears at King Kai's planet. They wind up getting curb stomped by the Z Fighters, even though when these villains were in the spotlight, any one of them was a match for the whole cast (barring Goku).
In another filler episode, Goku and Pikkon face off against Frieza, King Cold, the Ginyu Force, and Perfect Cell. The pair easily dispatch the group.
Villainous Breakdown: Several of the villains have this as the heroes start to overpower them, but Frieza's and Cell's are the most memorable.
Vegeta took it VERY badly when Goku managed to wound him in their climactic battle. His response is a full-power Galik Gun aimed right at the planet: if Goku dodged, the planet would be blown to smithereens. This is compounded by the fact Saiyans can't breath in space, meaning Vegeta was either fully aware he was going to die killing Goku or just too pissed off to care.
Frieza: arrogant, composed, fiendishly polite. But as the trial on Namek draws on, you realize that his disdain for the Saiyan race hides a great fear of the legend of the Super Saiyan. Once Goku gains that power, he starts to noticeably lose his composure - he panics, becomes desperate, and goes through waves of denial tempered by lots and lots of fear. This gets an echo when he meets Trunks on Earth. Apparently, meeting Goku has only made him even more fearful. Within seconds, he goes from condescending when he thinks Trunks is a regular Earthling to outright panic when he realizes Trunks is also a Super Saiyan. You can just see the fear on his face. He immediately tries to obliterate Trunks where he stood with a very overkill-esque attack, which turns out to be utterly futile.
Cell goes through one when Gohan turns Super Saiyan 2. It's especially jarring, as the transformation turns the normally kind and gentle Gohan into someone as sadistic and cruel as Cell was. And he's hellbent on making Cell suffer for what he's done. As the fight progresses, it starts to resemble something like a horror movie, with the roles of victim and monster switched around, as Gohan effortlessly advances towards an increasingly fearful Cell, knocking away all his attempts to stave off the inevitablee. It ends with Cell backing away and tripping into a ditch trying to get away. The role reversal is poignant.
Villains Want Mercy: Raditz pulls this out on Goku after being grabbed by his weak point. After Goku lets him go, however, he hits him in the stomach and Goku has to sacrifice his life to defeat him. Later, when Frieza begs SSJ Goku for some energy after being sliced in two by his own attack, Goku complies once again but not before calling out Freezer on how many people had probably begged him some mercy and he hadn't given them any. Frieza, of course, then uses the energy for one last ditch attack, so Goku just kills him (or tried to, at any rate).
Vocal Dissonance: In the Japanese version, Masako Nozawa voices every male in Goku's family other than Raditz. Meaning you have a grizzled veteran of a genocidal race with a nigh-identical voice to a ten year old bratty half pint. Not to mention the fact that she voiced them both as adults and children, meaning Goku or Gohan's voice when fully grown is very similar to their prepubescent voice.
Averted in the Italian dub, that makes fused characters speak with the voice of the most popular character in their fusion (Gogeta and Vegeth speak with Goku's voice; Gotenks speaks with Trunks's voice).
Goku (Wacky Parent) to Gohan (Serious Child). Although they both share their goofy moments and are nice guys, Gohan is shown to be more serious, intelligent and mature than Goku. Justified as they were raised differently.
Mr. Satan (Wacky Parent) to Videl (Serious Child). Satan acts very boastful and silly, while Videl spends most of the series being laid-back and serious when the situations call for it.
Saiyans who haven't trained themselves to overcome the weakness become instantly paralyzed if their tail is grabbed. Goku got over this as a child, while Raditz was still vulnerable to it as an adult. Nappa and Vegeta were also immune, either through training or because they were simply born that strong as elite warriors.
In each of their respective Non-Serial Movie appearances, the embodiments of evil Hirudegarn and Janemba become defenseless when enraged/insulted.
Cell creates miniature clones of himself to battle the "lesser" members of the Z team.
In the non-canon Lord Slug movie, Slug's minion Medamatcha can spawn smaller versions of himself to swarm enemies.
What the Hell, Dad?: Surprisingly, Goku, of all people. He doesn't have a job, doesn't bring any money in even when he could have entered the World Martial Arts Tournament and won plenty easily, he barely keeps in contact with his friends, and chose to spend a year in space away from his family after only being home for a month from his previous year-long absence. He also decides to stay dead after the fight with Cell in order to keep enemies from coming to Earth, even though he had to know by a certain point that Chi Chi was pregnant. Then again, he may not have been keeping a close eye on them after all.
Piccolo delivers this to Goku when the latter sends his 11-year old son (9 in the manga) to fight Cell without helping him.
Funnily enough, Goku delivers it to the aforementioned son (after Gohan becomes his superpowered evil side) when Gohan refuses to finish Cell off.
Vegeta letting Cell reach his Perfect form and letting Babadi turn him into Majin Vegeta are more egregious examples. He even explains why he did it in the latter case. He also tries to throw off his responsibilities to his family, but Goku does not buy his excuse and decks him.
Vegeta later pulls a What the Hell, Hero? on Goku twice after his second death: The first was when he learned about Goku's SSJ3 transformation, and was bitter because not only did this mean Goku held out on him during their fight, but had Goku revealed his SSJ3 to him, Vegeta would not have had to resort to the heroic sacrifice / redemption equals death method in his failed attempt to stop Majin Buu. The second time was when he learns that while Vegeta was still in the afterlife, Goku, in exchange for Old Kai having Gohan unlock his full potential so he could defeat Buu, offered for Old Kai to either grope, kiss, or have nude pictures of Bulma, resorting to a severe (albeit somewhat comical) tongue lashing from Vegeta.
And a little before that, Vegeta yells at Goku again for escaping from the exploding Earth without taking the unconscious Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo with them, essentially leaving their kids to die.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Oolong suggests simply wishing Vegeta and Nappa to be dead and then bringing Goku back later. Sadly this is one of the things Shenlong can't do (similarly Porunga, the Namekian Dragon, seems to be unable to prevent catastrophic events befalling Namek)
Suggested by Bulma when Trunks comes to warn them of the androids but her idea of murdering Gero is shot down by Vegeta and Goku who want to fight the androids
Broly. Big Time (although in his case, his great insanity was more related to his traumatic past than to his actual power)! Baby Vegeta in DBGT is a more straight example, as upon gaining the Golden Ape form, he progressively gets worse in terms of his mental and emotional stability.
Partially with any Super Saiyan or Super Saiyan 2 in the beginning. They struggle to keep ruthless aggression down and are not so nice anymore.
Kid Buu's ridiculous power is only rivaled (and actually augmented) by his utter insanity.
Frieza would lose his rational thinking and grip on reality the more he powered up. This was one reason why he chooses to stay in his weaker forms.
Both Vegeta and Broly implies being this. In the former's case, he had to be taken by Frieza, one of the universe's most evil characters from his father, King Vegeta, when he was a little boy in what was heavily implied to be a deal Frieza forced upon him. Then, Vegeta is forced to obey Frieza's commands or else he would murder his dad, and despite this, Frieza killed him anyways, and then committed genocide against his own people, and even afterwards he was treated by a slave by Frieza and his henchman, especially Frieza and Zarbon. When Goku learns of these details when Vegeta was dying from Frieza puncturing his hear with a death beam, even Goku took pity on him. While in the latter's case, it is heavily implied in his debut film that Broly barely even had a chance to be anything else, as other than Goku's crying next to him, he also ended up being nearly executed by King Vegeta for no reason other than simply because King Vegeta feared Broly's power level of 10,000, a high power level especially for his age. Then he narrowly survived Planet Vegeta's destruction at the hands of Frieza (his powers were literally the only reason he and his dad even survived Vegeta's destruction), and if Shin Budokai is anything to go by, it is also heavily implied that Frieza's destruction of Planet Vegeta contributed a LOT to Broly's Ax-Crazy nature, and he later ends up being brainwashed by his own father.
Gohan isn't evil or villainous in any way, but he is very sadistic and homicidal when he is in the Super Saiyan 2 state during Cell's fight, at point of being an Ax-Crazy. However, considering the extreme bad treatment he has suffered since age 4 by several villains (Raditz, Nappa, Vegeta, Frieza, a Sadist Teacher named Shu and Cell), it's not hard to feel sympathy in him, even when acted that way.
The entire reason that Super Buu exists is that Fat Buu, who had just took a level in kindness gets a major kick the dog from two gunmen, forcing out his inner evil and ultimately being consumed because his friends' suffering were too much for him. That being said, Super Buu himself doesn't care about this reason and is not sympathetic in the least.
Fat Buu for the reasons stated above and that he was too insane to help himself get over his destructive urges.
World's Best Warrior: There are lots of contenders—including most Big Bads. However, at the end of the story, Vegeta dubs Goku as the single best.
World of Badass: One of the biggest ever! Starting from the Saiyan Saga, even the weaker badassess have enough power to destroy a planet.
"World of Cardboard" Speech: Several. Goku's declaration that he has turned into the feared Super Saiyan to Frieza, and later verbally shreds him talking about how he was bested by "a monkey." Vegeta also got a few in the Majin Buu saga, one right before he kills himself to defeat Buu. Some time later he acknowledges that he will never fully surpass Goku, but that realization is what leads to the solution to finally stop Buu.
The Worf Barrage: The Kamehameha was the ultimate energy technique in Dragon Ball and it always did some damage even if it was only clothing damage. Raditz negating the attack full out was a sign of things to come. And the Spirit Bomb is only a finishing move once in the whole series. That being said, the Kamehameha was shown to be still be fairly powerful throughout the series while the Sprit Bomb thing was somewhat averted in the non canonical movies where it was used no less than 3 times to kill the big bad in the films. Besides, the true finishing occasion in the series with the Spirit Bomb? The last big bad (this applies to GT as well).
Writers Cannot Do Math: The Cell games occurred on May 27, Age 767. The 25th Tenkaichi Budokai occurs on May 7, Age 774. Goten was conceived sometime in the 10 days leading up to the Cell Games, yet is somehow listed as 7 years old at the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai. In the anime, Piccolo explicitly states Gohan to be 11 years old while fighting Cell, however after the seven year time skip Gohan tells Goten he was twice Goten's age before he became a Super Saiyan. Making him closer to 14 which would fit with Budokai games that refer to the Cell Game saga Gohan as, "Teen Gohan". Though this all contradicts the manga which states Gohan to be nine while fighting Cell.
Wuxia: The anime adaptaton lovingly pays homage to the conventions of the classic Shaw brothers kung fu films of the '60s, in lighting, movement, costume design and especially the sublime musical score by Kikuichi Shunsuke.
The Snake Way, which leads to Kami's Lookout is actually grayish while the clouds that encompass the background are yellow.
You Are Already Dead: In the seventh movie, Future Trunks battles Android 14, their fight comes to an end when their blows collide with Trunks using his sword, Android 14 comes out seemingly unscathed he runs out at Trunks and his body splits in half just before he reaches him.
You Can't Fight Fate: After being cured of the heart disease that killed him in the bad future, Goku dies a short while later anyway during the Cell Games (although unlike the bad future, Goku always had the option to come back and chose not to).
You Fight Like a Cow: Vegito was a master of this. And then he got turned into a jawbreaker. And continued.
For the minority who don't know: This is literally true. Vegito is turned into a small ball of hardened sugar. That kicks ass. And throws insults. Yes.
Vegito: "I'm not any ordinary candy. I'm a jawbreaker, the strongest piece of candy there is!"
And you can see where Vegito gets it from in SSJ2 Goku and Majin Vegeta's epic battle.
Vegeta: "You've become quite the escape artiste."
Goku: "Maybe you should work on some better finishing moves."
Special mention goes to Frieza whose declarations run on the lines of "You fight like a stupid monkey."
Goku yells this at Frieza just before finishing him off with an energy wave when he refuses to give up the fight. This was Frieza's secondbackstab backfire, after Goku had both invoked cruel mercy and then saved Frieza's life after he cut himself in half.
In the video games, Android 17 yells this during guard counter attacks.