Dragon Ball / Tropes A to D

This page covers tropes found in Dragon Ball.

Tropes A To D | Tropes E to N | Tropes O to Z | YMMV


    open/close all folders 

    A to B 
  • The Ace: Goku. He serves as the Always Someone Better to all the main characters, even the ones who are supposed to be his rivals. He learns techniques after seeing them only once, is naturally very strong, and rapidly outpaces foes who had proven insurmountable as recently as his last fight. Other characters frequently speak of him as though he's unbeatable or aspire to try to surpass him. From the start of the series, being able to hold your own against Goku is the bar to meet to be considered an impressive fighter.
  • Achilles' Heel: Until he trains himself out of it, Goku can be rendered helpless by grabbing his tail, even as a Great Ape.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • In the original manga, Bulma, her father, and her two children all have purple hair (although Bulma did also appear in some color illustrations with blue-green hair). In the anime, Bulma's father and son still have purple hair, but Bulma and her daughter have blue-green hair. Also, Bulma is also shown to have violet eyes in some of Toriyama's color illustrations, while the anime goes with blue.
    • The manga has Korin colored white, brown, or blue. The anime keeps him white.
    • Piccolo's non-green skin patches are yellow in the manga and a pinkish color in the anime.
    • Goku's gi is a pale yellow color in the manga but orange in the anime.
    • Pilaf's robots at the Red Ribbon Arc's end are different colors in the anime (blue for Pilaf, pink for Mai and green for Shu) but they are all orange in the manga.
    • The full-color re-release of the manga alternates between showing young Goku's first gi as either a pale orange or deep blue.
    • Minor character Ranfan (who appears in the first tournament) is a redhead in the manga, but has violet hair in the anime. Her clothing color scheme also changed from her wearing a pink top and gray pants, to a navy blue top and green pants.
  • Adaptation Expansion
    • In the manga, there's a scene where a female Red Ribbon officer, Colonel Violet, (and apparently the only one in the whole army) presents Commander Red with a Dragon Ball. In the anime adaption of that episode, not only do you see her retrieve it, but later, upon realizing that Goku's attack is going to spell the end of the Army she loots Red's riches and gets out of Dodge.
    • The search for the six-star Dragonball in the Red Ribbon Army Saga is also expanded greatly. In the manga, Goku swoops in, beats up two mooks, beats up Colonel Silver, and leaves with the Dragonball. In the anime, this storyline is expanded to include the Pilaf Gang, Chi-Chi, the Ox King, and a shifty antique shop owner.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole
    • One of the more infamous examples occurs in a filler episode of the Red Ribbon Army Saga. In this episode, a "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.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Two examples are listed below.
    • In the manga, Pilaf and his henchmen Mai and Shuu aren't introduced until Goku and friends have collected 6 Dragon Balls and reached his castle (Chapter 18). In the anime, he shows up in the very first episode, and acquires the Dragon Ball that he has in the manga. For the rest of the meta-arc, their various exploits in attempting to acquire the other Dragon Balls are depicted. Which means, since Goku and friends get all the rest, Failure Is the Only Option for these exploits.
    • The introduction of Tenshinhan (Tien) and Chaozu. In the manga, they first turn up at the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai. But the anime introduces them as the villains of a filler episode while Goku is doing his solo training.
  • Adorkable
    • Yamcha was adorkable during his teenage years but he grew out of it a little as he got older. Yamcha was afraid of girls and super awkward around them when he was a teenager, even though his dream was to fall in love and get married. He even wanted to use the Dragon Balls to make it so he would not have panic attacks around girls anymore.
    • Kid/Teen Chi-Chi (the former more so), because of her massive crush on Goku and her constant blushing and crying.
    • Kid Goku with all his nativity and wide-eyed wonder at the world. He thoughts the lights in the city were stars.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Goku get a few of these from Master Roshi and his grandfather when they briefly meet.
  • The Ageless
    • Master Roshi and Fortuneteller Baba, both having drank from the Fountain of Youth.
    • Being an android, Android 8 never appears to age.
    • King Piccolo first mentioned wanting to wish for eternal youth from Shen Long so he could rule the world forever, but for some reason when he got the balls he changed his wish to just having his youth restored (he was even stated to be holding back against Goku at first because fighting as full strength makes him age faster).
  • Alien Among Us: Goku is a member of a warrior race from another planet sent to Earth to exterminate its population, a fact that even Goku is ignorant of.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Inverted by Android 8, who is made to be an unstoppable killing machine. Instead, the army gets a pacifist who refused to fight even in the face of death. He even hides the Dragon Ball from the army so they wouldn't execute the local village.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys
    • Bulma develops a crush on Yamcha despite him trying to rob and kill them.
    • She also falls for General Blue who is also trying to kill her and steal the Dragon Balls. Unlike Yamcha, he doesn't return Bulma's feelings and finds her disgusting.
  • Always Someone Better: An ongoing theme of the entire series. No matter how powerful you become, there will always be someone better out there to challenge you.
  • invokedAngst? What Angst?: People often notice Goku's tendency to be carefree and get over big shocks quickly:
    • Bulma asks Goku how can he be so happy when he tells her that his grandfather died, leaving him to fend for himself for several years.
    • After the first time his tail is cut off, Goku freaks out for about five seconds and then gets over it, causing everyone around to do a Face Fault.
  • And I Must Scream: King Piccolo spent hundreds of years trapped in a rice cooker at the bottom of the ocean before Pilaf found him.
  • Arch-Enemy: Goku and King Piccolo and later his son Piccolo Jr. Goku despises King Piccolo for murdering Krillin and Master Roshi and made it his personal mission to kill him. Piccolo Jr hates Goku for killing his dad and ruining his plans to take over the world. It isn't until they join forces against Raditz later that they stop being enemies.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Master Roshi is Made of Iron and fast enough to catch bullets, but whenever he gets on Bulma's nerves (usually by trying to grope her) he always ends up the worse for wear.
  • Artistic Age
    • Despite being 12 and then 15 after the timeskip, Goku doesn't look a day past 8 or 10 years old. He finally looks his age after turning 18. We learn much later that Saiyans age slower than humans and therefore have longer childhoods.
    • Krillin, like Goku, doesn't seem to age until after the timeskip.
    • Chiaotzu looks like a five years old china doll despite being at least 15 when he's introduced.
  • As Long as There Is One Man: Master Roshi fails to re-seal King Piccolo, expending his life in the process. He then tells Piccolo not to feel too comfortable, as one day someone strong enough will come to challenge him, and dies afterwards.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • General Blue who nearly killed Goku and his friends countless times and executed his own men for minor infractions is done in by Tao in a very anticlimactic fashion.
    • Commander Red sent countless of his own men to their deaths and ruined the lives of many others just so he could obtain the Dragon Balls to grow taller. Officer Black shot him personally in the head.
    • Giran was murdered by Tambourine after terrorizing an animal village and stealing food. He was eventually revived by the Dragon Balls.
  • Attack the Tail: Justified; because grabbing his tail would cause him to lose his unnatural strength, Goku was often the victim of this early in the series. It was the only way to stop Goku rampage after turning into a Great Ape in the first story arc. He eventually grew out of this around the time of the first timeskip.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!:
  • Avenging the Villain: Piccolo Jr. is out to avenge the death King Piccolo, his father/reincarnation, at the hands of Goku and he actually does fulfill this goal.
  • Awesome, but Impractical
    • Goku's self-invented technique Tornado. He spins around like a top and nearly pushes Nam out of the ring. Before Nam could fall out, Goku became too dizzy to continue and nearly lost the match. There is a reason why he never used this again.
    • At first, the Kamehameha. It took a lot of energy out of Goku and got progressively weaker every time he used it.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis
    • How Goku learns the Kamehameha. He also learns the After Image Technique after seeing it once and manages to improve upon it after seeing it used a second time with a double. He also learns the Solar Flare after seeing it used only twice and uses it against Tien, its creator, at the next tournament. In the 22nd tournament he copies King Chapa's Hasshu-ken, Eight-Arm Fist, in his fight against Tien.
    • Tien, much like Goku, learns the Kamehameha by watching Yamcha use it. Yamcha and Krillin also learn the Kamehameha from observation since Master Roshi never teaches it to them.
  • Ax-Crazy
    • General Blue, who executes a soldier for picking his nose and loves the sound of gunfire executing soldiers.
    • King Piccolo, who murders and causes suffering to countless people because he enjoys it. His son, Piccolo Jr, is only mildly better.
  • Backstab Backfire: During the fight with Mercenary Tao in the Red Ribbon Army Saga, Tao promises that he'll change his ways, but then throws a grenade at Goku as soon as the latter let his guard down. Goku then threw it right back at him, resulting in it exploding in his face.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Goku is a sweet and innocent child capable of challenging the world's greatest martial arts and single-handedly dismantling the most powerful military force in the world.
    • Chi-Chi is introduced as an adorable little girl who blows up a Tyrannosaurus with a helmet laser.
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • Despite being over 300 years old, Master Roshi is the strongest martial artist in the world through the 21st Tournament. He becomes Overshadowed by Awesome not long after, but his wisdom and expertise still have a profound effect on the development of both Goku and Tien.
    • Master Korin is an 800-year-old house cat. He trained Master Roshi and later Goku.
    • Before the series began, Gohan Sr. warned Goku never to look at a full moon, the stimulus that causes his uncontrollable Great Ape transformation. That he lived to give Goku the warning implies that he survived at least one rampage in the past. During the Baba arc, he finally gets a chance to demonstrate his skills. Fresh off of winning second place in the 21st World Tournament and single-handedly dismantling the Red Ribbon Army, Goku is stymied by Gohan's skills and fought nearly to a standstill.
    • Despite being shown very briefly, Master Mutaito, Roshi and Shen's master. He single-handedly put a stop to King Piccolo's original rampage at the cost of his life.
    • King Piccolo started off as an aging villain who went on to kick everyone's butt. He completely tears Goku a new one without even trying and Master Roshi outright refuses to fight him. He becomes even more Bad Ass after regaining his youth.
    • Kami, the good counterpart to King Piccolo, is even more powerful than him.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Yamcha is introduced as a desert bandit with some martial arts skill. He almost wins a fight against a starving Goku before being forced to retreat and later makes it through the preliminary rounds of the 21st World Tournament. In the years that follow, he picks up some special abilities through his training.
    • Yajirobe never gains any special powers. He can't fly or use energy attacks. Despite his lack of special powers, he fights evenly with an enraged Goku and kills one of King Piccolo's henchmen in a Single-Stroke Battle.
  • Bad Boss
    • Emperor Pilaf regularly abuses and even tortures Mai and Shu. However, he is one of the lesser bad bosses in the series since despite his abuses he never kills his allies and does respect them in his own way.
    • Commander Red executes his men for failure even if they are partly successful. When General Blue returns without a Dragon Ball but carrying Goku's Dragon Ball Radar, Commander Red makes him fight the deadly Assassin Tao so that he can see the killer's skills with his own eyes. He constantly throws good lives after bad trying to claim the Dragon Balls from Goku for the selfish purpose of becoming taller.
    • Those serving under Commander Red are not much better. General White wanted Android 8 destroyed for not wanting to kill Goku and tried to force him to make a sadist choice between Goku and the mayor's life. General Blue had two of his men executed. One for picking his nose and the other for missing Goku's submarine when they were chasing them. Officer Black, once he took over, attempted to nuke the entire Red Ribbon base to kill Goku, despite many of his own men still being there.
    • King Piccolo is a rare subversion. He cares for his children and gets upset when one of them is killed and goes out of his way to avenge them. That said, he plays this straight with his human minions, who are forced to serve him after he takes over the King Castle.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Those killed by Piccolo and his minions are forced to spend the rest of eternity in limbo unable to crossover to the afterlife. Reviving Piccolo's victims to spare them from this fate is part of the reason why Goku is so desperate to restore the Dragon Balls after Piccolo destroyed them.
  • Bastard Understudy: Supreme Commander Red of the Red Ribbon Army spends most of the arc expositing his plans and goals to Adjutant Black. When Black learns that Red only wanted the Dragon Balls to become taller, however, he murders Red and tries to seize control.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Early in the series, Goku uses Nyoibou to extend and strands Boss Rabbit and his Mooks on the Moon. There are regular rabbits living there already.
  • Battle Aura: Energy auras in a variety of distinctive colors for different characters and situations become more common as the series progresses.
  • Battle Strip: Goku removes his weighted clothes in his rematch against Tien at the 23rd World Tournament. Also, Ranfan strips to her underwear in her fight with Namu in the 21st World Tournament.
  • Beam-O-War: One of the series' staples. The manga would not feature one until the Saiyans arrived much later, but the anime featured a brief clash of beams in the battle of the Kamehamehas during Goku and Jackie Chun's fight in the 21st Martial Arts Tournament.
  • Beam Spam: King Piccolo in both of his fights against Goku. His favorite technique is firing his finger beams rapidly.
  • Bee Afraid: Roshi trains Goku and Krillin in the original Dragon Ball by tying them to a tree with a beehive and watching them freak out.
  • Berserker Tears: Goku sheds tears as he runs off to avenge Krillin, who was killed by Tambourine, one of Piccolo's minions.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Android 8 is a pacifist who despises fighting and would rather be destroyed than cause harm to others. However, the moment he thinks Goku has been killed by a bullet in the head, he loses it and punches General White right out of Muscle Tower.
  • Big Bad: King Piccolo. He is the reason that the titular Dragon Balls exist. Kami created them as a symbol of hope to humanity after Piccolo's first rampage. Even after his death, he lives on through his son, Piccolo Jr, who inherited his soul and all his memories.
  • Big Bad Wannabe
    • Pilaf pictures himself as the main villain, but is more of a whiny, spoiled brat. It would be a while before any really evil villains showed up.
    • Commander Red of the Red Ribbon Army. He sees himself commanding an army that can take over the world and hunts down the Dragon Balls for his own vanity. He is brought down almost singlehandedly by Goku and is killed by Officer Black when he learns the real reason why Red wanted the Dragon Balls.
    • Master Roshi's friend turned rival, the Crane Hermit, shows up at the 23rd Martial Arts Tournament seeking revenge on Goku and his former students, but is quickly chased off.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Goku pulls this off several times like a pro. He comes to save Bulma and Krillin from General Blue seconds before Krillin's skull could be crushed in and he rescues Tien before Drum can crush his heart.
  • Big Eater: Goku frequently eats a large table's worth of food by himself. In the 21st World Tournament, he eats so much that it costs Master Roshi all of his tournament winnings to cover the bill. The success of Dragon Ball codified this trope as a trait for all future Shōnen heroes to have.
  • Big Good:
    • Master Roshi for most of the series. He trains and mentors Goku, Krillin, and Yamcha. Even after being surpassed in the 22nd World Tournament, he still uses his advice and wisdom to redeem Chiaotzu and Tien, encouraging them through Goku's example to abandon their sinister aspirations. When King Piccolo rises, Roshi explains the history of the Demon King and enacts a plan to defeat him. His failure to overcome Piccolo brings an end to his role as Big Good and reinforces the Cerebus Syndrome that's settled in.
    • In preparation for meeting Piccolo again in the 23rd World Tournament, Kami trains Goku and then attends the tournament in disguise in order to imprison Piccolo and prevent his evil from ever threatening the world again. His plan ultimately backfires, however, leaving the fate of the world to be decided in martial combat between his pupil Goku and the sinister Piccolo.
  • Bilingual Bonus: 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."
  • Bittersweet Ending: The end of the King Piccolo Saga in the animenote . Piccolo has been defeated and the world is free. However, the capital of the world got destroyed, many beloved characters are dead, and Shenron is gone making it impossible to wish anyone back. Also, Piccolo released one last off-spring before dying.
  • Black and White Morality: There is very little grey in this series. All the villains are either irredeemably evil or make a Heel–Face Turn. The heroes are mostly good people with some mean-spirited or selfish streaks.
  • Blood Knight: During his developmental years, Goku learns from Master Roshi to never become complacent in his ability because there is Always Someone Better. He takes this lesson to heart and makes it a core value of his character, constantly seeking stronger foes to test his skills against.
  • Blood Upgrade: General Blue fights far more seriously the moment he sees his own blood.
  • Blunt "Yes": When Bulma gives Roshi a large diamond, Turtle suggests he give it to him for safekeeping so he doesn't blow it on something he doesn't really want.
    Roshi: Are you insinuating that I don't made sound financial decisions?!?!
    Turtle: Yes.
  • Body Horror: Tien's Four Witches technique involves his shoulders bulging out before two extra arms shoot out.
  • Boring but Practical: Solar Flare/Taiyoken. This attack blinds the opponent temporarily by having the user emit a light as bright as the sun. It's not as flashy as the increasingly large energy attacks that get thrown around, but is always successful at stunning or stalling the recipient long enough for the user to escape or follow through with another attack.
  • Bowdlerise: The first Dragon Ball dub done by Funimation, which only dub the first 13 episodes, edited out a lot of stuff such as nudity, changing the dialog to get rid of the sexual humor which completely rewrote Master Roshi's character, and cutting scenes like Goku taking off Bulma's underwear.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • In the 8th chapter of the manga Son Goku sends Yamcha in the air with his punch but Yamcha bounces off the frame's border back to the ground.
    • In later chapters there are a few instances, where different characters refers to the fact that it's a manga, such as discussions of acceptableness of dirty jokes in a manga for children.
    Krilin Hey, Wait a minute! What's Toriyama pulling? These panels have gotta be photocopies!
  • Brick Break: Oolong dared Goku to break a stack of bricks with a karate chop. Goku broke the stack with one finger.
  • Brick Joke: In the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai, the announcer calls out Master Roshi for blowing up the moon in order to stop a rampaging transformed Goku, citing several petty reasons including the inability of werewolves to transform. Three years later in-universe, one of the competitors at the 22nd Budokai is a Man-Wolf who is angry with Roshi for removing his chance to transform. Roshi reverts him to human form using hypnosis, whereupon he happily leaves, saying he can now pick up women. This leads to another brick joke: Roshi notes that Man-Wolf's human form is a gonk and that he's unlikely to be any more popular, but when he's revived at the end of the Piccolo Daimao arc there's a pretty girl mourning at his grave, suggesting he did manage to score after all.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu:
    • Centuries before the story takes place, a human martial artist named Master Mutaito is forced to confront King Piccolo, the embodiment of evil. He uses the Mafuba to imprison Piccolo in an urn, but only at the cost of his own life.
    • Subverted when Master Roshi attempts to follow in his mentor's footsteps and reimprison Piccolo inside an electronic rice cooker with the Mafuba. He manages to pull off the technique against Piccolo but misses the rice cooker. Piccolo remains free while Master Roshi dies for nothing.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Muten/Master Roshi is an elderly pervert who, despite his eccentricities, bears the title of "The Invincible Master" of martial arts.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Krillin from his first introduction in which he tries to impress Master Roshi by jumping off his ship only to land head first into the sand. He also suffers from the Worf Effect in which he is beaten up by General Blue to show how strong he is and humiliated by Draco Man during Baba's tournament. To make it worse, Draco Man is taken down by Upa and Puar, both non-fighters. He is also the first main character to be killed; murdered offscreen by Piccolo's henchman and not Piccolo himself like Master Roshi and even Chiaotzu.
    • Any time Yamcha appears, something is likely to go very badly for him. He's forced to abandon his first fight in a humiliating fashion due to gynophobia. He suffers The Worf Effect in nearly every subsequent appearance to illustrate the villain's strength and, in many cases, pointless cruelty. He's never made it past the first round of the World Tournament and, during action sequences, is usually relegated to staying with the non-combatants if he's not outright broken or killed to show off the villain's strength.

     C 
  • Call Back:
    • Much of the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament contains flashbacks and comparisons to earlier in the series to juxtapose Goku as a Child and Goku as a Teenager going on Adult. This ranges from Goku's first meeting with Chi-Chi after asking her to marry him, to more subtle things like Jackie Chun/Goku knocking Yamcha/Chi-Chi out of the ring without touching them.
    • When Chi-Chi meets Master Roshi she doesn't believe he could be the same man who trained her father so she throws her boomerang at him, which he completely fails to block. When Goku meets Old Kai he doesn't believe he could be as strong as he says so decides to throw a energy beam at him. Guess what happens.
  • Calling Card: Piccolo's minion, Tambourine, leaves a paper with the symbol for "demon" near the bodies of the martial artists he kills.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Several attacks throughout the series involve shouting the name of the attack as it's used, including the Kamehameha, Wolf Fang Fist, Solar Flare, and Tri-Beam.
  • Came Back Strong: With his final act, King Piccolo reincarnates himself into an egg and launches himself across the world. This deed results in him living on as Piccolo Jr., who returns in the 23rd World Tournament stronger than ever to take revenge against Goku for killing him.
  • Came Back Wrong: Subverted. When Krillin is killed, Bulma is worried that if his body decomposes before he can be resurrected with the Dragonballs he'll come back as a zombie, so she builds a stasis pod to keep him fresh. She later builds similar pods for Roshi and Chaotzu. And when Goku finds out that Kami has the ability to restore the destroyed Shenron, he tells his companions not to burn the bodies. As it happens, however, the Dragon can restore anyone perfectly so long as there hasn't been too much time since their death.
  • Canon Immigrant: Because of how impressed Toriyama was with the Bardock special, Goku's father gets a cameo later on in the manga. Later, he created his own interpretation of Bardock in Dragonball Minus
  • Can't Catch Up: Although not as obvious as Z since everyone in the cast remains useful to various degrees, but once Goku surpasses someone they never become his equal again. Both Tenshinhan (after Goku manages to defeat Piccolo Daimaoh) and Yamcha (when he hears that Goku is training under Kami-sama) note this in-story.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Justified by Demon King Piccolo and his spawn/reincarnation Piccolo Jr. (up until his Heel–Face Turn anyway), who are unashamedly evil and proud of it. The character is the physical incarnation of the evil that once lurked in the heart of the Nameless Namekian, opposite his good qualities manifested in Kami.
  • Cash Lure: In the censored version of Dragon Ball, Bulma uses money as a bribe instead of her panties.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Tri-beam attack draws power directly from Tien's life force. Every time he uses it, it risks killing him.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Demon-king Piccolo is able to create eggs which hatch into specialized and competent minions, but doing this depletes his own life force and accelerates his aging. He seeks the dragon balls in order to regain his youth to counteract this.
  • Cavalier Competitor:
    • In the 21st World Tournament, the final match between Jackie Chun and Goku is a tense, suspenseful battle for the course of Goku's future, but only to Jackie Chun. For Goku, it's a fun and exciting opportunity to test his skills and learn some new techniques. Ultimately, his good-natured willingness to rise to every challenge and copy every move Jackie makes costs him the fight.
    • In the 22nd World Tournament, Goku's good sportsmanship and genuine love of the activity contagiously redeems Tien. He enters the match seeking vengeance for Goku's defeat of Mercenary Tao, but with a bit of guidance from Master Roshi, he finds himself enjoying the fight for its own sake. When Chiaotzu uses his psychic powers to paralyze Goku so that Tien can strike his vengeful blow, Tien turns on Chiaotzu and even offers Goku a free hit out of a newfound sense of fairness.
  • CCG Importance Dissonance:
    • Tapkar was a gag character during Dragon Ball Zs World Games Saga whose in-show stint was as a Fragile Speedster, but in Score's original Dragon Ball Z card game his card powers were so over powered not only was he banned, they named a redemption after him.
    • The still limping (maybe crawling?) game community (as of 2011) discovered the Supreme West Kai, who only shows up in a Flash Back, was far superior to all the older strategies.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: All souls in the afterlife have their deeds listed in a file like a resume, and stamped by Lord Enma/King Yama for approval to go Heaven or be sent to Hell.
  • Censor Suds: In episode 49, Bulma stands up in her bubble bath and bends over, conveniently covered by soap suds.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • The series went though this after Krillin was killed by King Piccolo's henchman Tambourine.
    • Inverted with the Buu Saga, which had a far more humorous tone than much of the preceding material.
  • Character Development
    • Goku had no problem killing or causing massive harm to his opponents at the start of the series. By the end, he is much more reluctance to kill and has better control of his emotions since he doesn't loses his temper as easily.
    • Krillin goes from being rivals with Goku to becoming one of his closest and dearest friends. He also gains some self-confidence in himself and is much more willing to work to improve himself.
    • Yamcha was shy around girls to the point that he could barely function. Now, he has no problem talking to the opposite sex and no longer robs people.
    • Bulma was selfish and used Goku as a means to an end. Although she is still a little selfish, she mellowed out and sees Goku as a true friend and often worries about him.
    • Launch, at least her blond personality, when from shooting at Goku and his group to seeing them as her friends and actually tries to protect them.
    • Tien went from being an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy to an honorable fighter who respect his opponent.
  • Character-Magnetic Team: What started as Goku and Bulma's adventure to find the Dragon Balls grows at a phenomenal rate. Whether through mutual goals or just because they love matching their skills against Goku's, the protagonist cast expands with new additions in every arc.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: All living things have ki as a sort of mystical lifeforce. With training, otherwise unremarkable humans can make their ki pool larger and stronger and learn how to channel it into shooting energy beams, flying, being bulletproof, telepathic, and have Super Strength that'd make them outright near Superman level. You'd still not really be much of a match for most androids and aliens, but still.
  • Cheated Angle: Besides Goku's hair, the Dragon Balls themselves always have the stars in the same configuration and always facing the camera.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Goku's Power Pole is used early in the series to identify him as the adopted grandson of Gohan. Once the initial arc is over, it just becomes a signature weapon for Goku until the end of the King Piccolo arc, where its true significance is revealed: the pole is meant to connect Korin's Tower to Kami's Lookout. By putting the pole to its intended use, Goku is able to meet Kami for the first time.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Early in the first story arc, Bulma and Goku meets some random Turtle Hermit who happens to have one of the Dragon Balls and gives the Nimbus to Goku as a reward for helping his pet turtle. Several episodes later, they learn that the Ox-King was a former student of the Turtle Hermit and became friendly with Goku.
    • Yamcha recognizes Goku's Power Pole as belonging to Gohan, a powerful martial arts master. When Ox-King sees the Power Pole, he also learns that Goku is the grandson to Gohan, his old martial arts partner and also a student of the Turtle Hermit. He tells Master Roshi this and he takes Goku on as his student.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • When Goku first meets Chi-Chi, he tells her to climb on the Nimbus so they can find Master Roshi. She has some troubling getting on and grabs Goku's tail, exposing his Achilles' Heel to Yamcha. When Goku turns into a Great Ape and seems unstoppable, Yamcha remembers the weakness and uses it to paralyze Goku before changing him back to normal by cutting his tail.
    • In the Red Ribbon Army Saga, Goku nearly freezes to death in a winter area and is rescued by a young girl named Snow. She tells him that he was frozen solid when she found him. When Goku fights Buyon, he laments that the monster's soft, jelly body makes it impossible to land a solid hit. When he remembers how he nearly froze, he punches a hole in the wall and allows the cold air to freeze Buyon before finishing it with a kick that literally shatters the monster.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Chichi and Goku first meet as children, and Goku promises to marry her, thinking marriage is a kind of food. He says so when an angry and all grown-up Chi-Chi brings it up in the Tenkaichi Budokai; Chichi is saddened upon realising that she had been sort-of waiting in vain... but Goku then adds that he doesn't want her to be sad and that he takes his promises seriously, so he officially asks her to marry him right there.
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Played With. When Goku was a kid he was often hailed as a prodigy for not only his natural strength and talent for fighting, but his ability to learn advance techniques after only seeing them once and being able adapt quickly while fighting. Then, it's Subverted when he learns that he's an alien from a super strong alien race that was born for battle and his abilities are considered normal. In fact, he's on the low end of his race. However, this trope is Played Straight again when Goku's quick adaptability and natural talent far surpasses any in his race, even the Saiyan Prince who really was a child prodigy, to the point that his low power level compared to other Saiyans at the start of the series could easily be chalked up to being raised on Earth and not fighting strong opponents in space like the other Saiyans.
    • A Down Played exampled. Krillin never was as talented as Goku, who's is a Human Alien from a fighting race, but compared to other humans he was an exceptional strong child. He was able to survived Master Roshi training regiment and would have been second only only to Goku in the 21st Martial Arts Tournament if Master Roshi didn't entered. He also learned the Kamehameha on the fly with no prior training at the age of sixteen when it took his master fifty years to developed it. The only things that really held Krillin back was his lack of self-esteem, which was an effect of the bullying he received from the monks at his former temple, and his occasional bouts of arrogance.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: At times, Oolong. In the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, Bulma is standing on Oolong's shoulders to observe the elimination round while wearing a rather short skirt. One of the fighters scares Bulma and she loses here balance pulling Puar down and falling to the ground. Puar is scared and has latched on to Bulma's face, and Bulma is now scared and is flailing about. Cue Oolong staring at Bulma's panties. And then a larger group of random men. Oolong alternates between trying to block their view and getting a peek himself.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Launch. She disappears after the Saiyan Saga in season 1 of the anime, and after the first chapter in the manga.
  • Circles of Hell: Hell - also known as the Home For Infinite Losers - seems to have a number of layers.
  • Clark Kenting: Master Roshi's "Jackie Chun" disguise involves removing his sunglasses and putting on a bad wig, and that's it. Several characters do manage to either figure it out or come close to figuring it out, but he always manages to somehow convince them that he's not Roshi after all.
  • Clothing Damage: As the more serious battles progress, the characters involved find their outfits steadily ripped to shreds, usually resulting in the last fighter standing having the tattered remains of their pants and nothing more.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Bulma's mother never seems to age and frequently seems completely divorced from reality.
    • Although he means well, Goku's overwhelming naivety and unusual priorities can be very off-putting to other characters and make his choices difficult to understand.
  • Combat Commentator:
    • The Announcer at the World Tournament provides an enthusiastic commentary of the action for the crowd assembled to watch as well as declaring the victor at the end of each match.
    • Whenever he's not in the ring, Master Roshi in his guise as Jackie Chun provides explanations of the more powerful and dangerous attacks being used by the fighters, such as explaining Tien's Tri-Beam or pointing out that Goku's multi-armed technique was an optical illusion created by moving his arms quickly.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Many. Oh, so many...
    • Goku would occasionally fight like this. The "scissor" move of his Rock Scissors 'n' Paper technique is eye-gouging and sometimes he uses this technique by pretending to use one move and instead using another one (shouting "paper" and using "rock" instead, for example). He also resists Tien's Solar Flare technique by wearing Master Roshi's sunglasses, and will continue this tradition in Z.
    • Krillin is very much this as kid. He tries to beat Goku at the 22nd Tournament by grabbing his tail and pulling the old 'looking over there' trick when that failed. He almost ring-outs Jackie Chun by throwing panties on the ground and kicking him when he dived for them. He also most infamously allows Yamcha to win against the invisible man by causing Master Roshi to nosebleed on him when he pulls down Bulma's shirt.
    • Kami will do whatever it takes to protect the world from Piccolo. Most infamously, he headbutts Yamcha in the crotch during the 23rd Tenkaichi, and gets away with it in spite of being an illegal move by making it look like an accident. He only attends the tournament in the first place so that he could cheat and use it as an opportunity to seal away Piccolo with the Mafuba. Even after the tournament's completion, he tries to take advantage of Goku's victory to assassinate Piccolo while he's unconscious.
    • Master Roshi. Especially in the 21st tournament: in his battle with Krilin he uses spittle to gain a temporary advantage and ultimately knocks him out with an attack from behind, and against Goku he resorts to Drunken Boxing, hypnosis (the announcer actually calls him out on this. Roshi replies it's Goku's own fault for falling for this), an electric torture attack (this one would have forced Goku to surrender, had he not seen the full moon right as he was admitting defeat), and using Goku's own Awesomeness by Analysis against him.
    • Subverted by Tien and Chiaotzu. Chiaotzu tries to cheat at the 22nd World Tournament to avenge Mercenary Tao's defeat at Goku's hands. He uses his telekinesis from the crowd to paralyze Goku, leaving him open to Tien's strikes. During the match, however, Tien finds himself moved by Goku's sincere fondness for the art and turns on Chiaotzu, demanding he stop cheating. He then allows Goku to take a free hit on him to make things fair.
    • After being overpowered by Goku, Tao begs for his life so Goku will lower his guard. Once he does, he throws a grenade at him. This backfires badly.
    • A lot of King Piccolo's actions are inspired by fear. He is terrified of the Evil Containment Wave, which is why he sends his children to murder every martial artist on the planet. He later uses Tien as a human shield after freaking out that Goku survived his most powerful energy blast.
  • Continuity Snarl: The One Piece x Toriko x Dragon Ball special, being a crossover special, brings out a truckload of these.
    • Zoro and Zebra stalemating with Vegeta's Galick Gun. note 
    • Luffy and Toriko able to fight with Goku on even footing.
    • Gohan being worfed before he gets to do anything.
    • Luffy and Toriko and their allies able to last against an enemy Goku and the Z-Fighters had difficulty against.
    • Luffy and Toriko being able to damage the Akami whereas Goku needed his Super Saiyan forms to do so.
  • Crossover:
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Master Roshi. He's short, old, and is an unabashed pervert. Yet he easily takes out a squad of Red Ribbon Army soldiers that invade his island, destroys an entire mountain and later the moon with his Max Power Kamehameha, and comes close to defeating King Piccolo on his own.
    • Many characters refuse to take Goku seriously due to his youth and innocent naivety. This is always a mistake. He might be small, wide-eyed, and easily distracted by simple tricks, but he also fights the greatest martial artist in the world nearly to a standstill as a preteen and personally dismantles the most powerful military force in the world at 15.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Between the 22nd and 23rd World Tournaments, Yamcha leaves to train on his own. When he returns after the timeskip, he has a cross-shaped scar on his cheek that remains for the rest of the series. The origin of the scar is never explained.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • In the early parts of the series, Goku frequently gets matched up against foes that are sorely outmatched by his strength and skill. Much of the fun in the Red Ribbon Army arc is watching the most powerful military force on the planet succumb to the dawning realization that everything they have is worthless against this small child's overwhelming abilities. As the series progresses, however, Goku's fights start to even out more.
    • Android 8's "fight" against General White takes one punch to send him flying over the horizon.
    • Master Roshi makes short work of a Red Ribbon Army unit sent after him. He also easily dismisses Yamcha when they fight at the 21st Tournament.
    • Mercenary Tao crushes Goku on their first meeting. Goku only manages to astonish him by not dying from a few hits, but fails to do any damage to the assassin. It's only because of Tao overlooking a Pocket Protector that Goku survives.
    • Piccolo's second oldest son, Tambourine, makes quick work of all his victims. Most notably, he kills Krillin offscreen without any of his friends outside even noticing that something's amiss.
    • Yajirobe takes out Cymbal with a single strike.
    • Almost all of King Piccolo's fights falls into this trope. The only fight in which it didn't end in a curb stomp was his second fight with Goku.
    • Kami effortlessly humiliates Yamcha while in his guise as the bumbling fool Hero during the 23rd World Tournament.
  • Cute Bruiser:
    • Even as a little kid, Goku is able to withstand the force of being hit by a car and shot in the face. His childlike features masks an inhuman level of strength.
    • Downplayed with Chi-Chi. Both her early appearance and her fight with Goku in the 23rd World Tournament suggest that she is incredibly strong in hand to hand combat despite being a seemingly harmless young girl, but she gets few chances to demonstrate it. Her skills impress Master Roshi and the other spectators, but Goku easily knocks her out of the ring with the wind from punching the air. She's strong, but by the time her only fight comes around, she's already been Overshadowed by Awesome.

     D 
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • The Mafuba / Evil Containment Wave can imprison a foe inside a small container such as a jar or electronic rice-cooker, but it takes a lethal toll on its user's body. Master Roshi learns the technique from his master Mutaito, who imprisoned King Piccolo with it but died from the effort. Master Roshi attempts to do the same when King Piccolo is set free, but misses his target and dies for nothing.
    • Tenshinhan's Kikou-hou or Spirit Cannon is a Cast From HP technique that reduces the user's lifespan every time it's used. During the final round of the 22nd World Tournament, he used the attack to destroy the stage in an attempt to force Goku to ring out. While the final moments of the fight didn't go according to plan, his gambit was ultimately successful.
  • Darker and Edgier: The King Piccolo Saga started Dragon Ball's move from a light-hearted comedy manga to an action-drama.
  • Darkest Hour: Near the end of the King Piccolo arc, the world is at its lowest point. King Piccolo has conquered the capitol and outlawed the law itself, swearing to destroy one city each year just to savor the despair and chaos. The world's greatest martial artists have been murdered, including Krillin. Goku is missing and believed dead. Master Roshi died in a failed attempt to reimprison Piccolo, and Chiaotzu was killed trying to use the Dragon Balls against him. All that stands between Piccolo and complete global domination is Tien, slowly being broken down by Piccolo's demonic spawn Drum.
  • Death Is Cheap: Every single character, with the exception of Supreme Kai and Mr. Satan, dies at least once. Only two good characters have stayed dead permanently ( the Namekian Grand Elder and Android 16).
  • Defeat Equals Explosion:
    • Justified by Officer Black, who is piloting a model suit at the time of his death. Goku punches through the suit, causing it to explode and kill him.
    • King Piccolo is defeated by Goku punching a hole through his chest large enough to fit through. In his final moments, Piccolo reincarnates himself into an egg, projectile vomits it across the planet, then promptly explodes for no reason.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Yamcha, Oolong, Tienshenhan, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo all started out as enemies. Each was defeated by Goku or, in Chiaotzu's case, Krillin. Each became a loyal and dependable ally for future arcs.
  • Defeat Means Respect: After being reborn, Piccolo respects Goku a lot more, seeing him as a major hundle to surpass if he wants to take over the world.
  • Deflector Shield: Very common in the anime, but rare in the manga as it requires a lot of ki and concentration and its just easier to dodge or deflect the attack.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Roshi proclaims that either Krillin or Goku will get dinner, whoever finds the rock that was thrown, and not both.
  • Department of Redundancy Department
    • The term "senzu bean" when senzu means "holy bean."
    • Roshi means master so Master Roshi's dub name is Master Master.
  • Desperation Attack: As a child, Goku only uses the Kamehameha as a last resort, because it drains most of his energy and he can only fire it once or twice before succumbing to hunger.
  • Detonation Moon:
    • Master Roshi, as Jackie Chun, blows up the moon during the 21st Budokai Tenkaichi to stop a rampaging Oozaru Goku. Later in the series, Kami restores it, but only after he permanently removes Goku's tail...
    • ...only for Piccolo to blow it up again in the Saiyan Saga to stop a rampaging Oozaru Gohan. It occasionally disappears and reappears after that.
  • Didn't Think This Through: After seeing Roshi fail to seal King Piccolo with the mafuba because he missed the rice cooker he was using as a container, Tien makes a point of practicing with ki blasts until he can reliably hit the rice cooker. When he turns up to fight King Piccolo, he realizes the rice cooker is now broken from being hit with ki blasts and can't serve as a container any more.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Since the beginning of the series, Shenron is a force beyond imagining. He's a magical wish-granting dragon conjured by the gathering of all seven Dragon Balls who appears long enough to grant one wish to whoever summons him, then disappears again and scatters the Dragon Balls across the world. The idea that such a being could be physically harmed is unthinkable until King Piccolo, after wishing for his youth to be restored, tests his strength by killing the mighty dragon with a single attack and rendering the Dragon Balls inert.
  • Dirty Old Man: Master Roshi is several centuries old and has a profound lust for women. He trades a Dragon Ball to Goku and Bulma in exchange for Bulma flashing him. Goku later seeks his guidance for training, but Roshi demands a price: Goku must bring him a woman. When Krillin arrives, Roshi doesn't want to train him either, but Krillin buys his chance with porn magazines and is thus sent to accompany Goku on his quest to find some female companionship for Roshi.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: Invoked when a squadron from the Red Ribbon Army comes to recruit Master Roshi, thinking he is a scientist, the leader of the group utters this phrase word for word after an extended conversation where Roshi is mocking the organization.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Goku opts to call the mouse he rescues from Pirate Cave...Mouse. Also, Muten Roshi's turtle is named Kame, the Japanese word for Turtle.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Piccolo Daimao introduces himself as the new ruler of the world by kidnapping the King and forcing him to broadcast the new world order.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Bulma and Yamcha's relationship is physically abusive in the anime. In the filler episode, "Danger in the Air", Bulma slaps Yamcha after misunderstanding his fight with the thief Hasky to be cheating on her.
  • The Dragon: Downplayed when Tien arrives at the capitol to fight King Piccolo and save the world, Piccolo creates Drum on the spot as a physical test of Tien's abilities. To earn the right to face Piccolo, Drum must first be defeated; a feat that Goku accomplishes with ease when he arrives in the nick of time.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Officer Black to Commander Red. He's far more competent and realizes early on that they stand no chance against Goku and recommends abandoning the Dragon Balls and escaping to rebuild the army. He also tries to recruit Goku.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang: The titular Dragon Balls summon a wish-granting dragon when brought together.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • Master Roshi wears a wig to pose as Jackie Chun at the World Tournament as a lesson for his students, Goku and Krillin, who are also enrolled. Part of the reason why Goku and Krillin don't believe Jackie Chun is their master is because they believe Master Roshi would curbstomp both of them in seconds, while Goku fought about evenly with Jackie and Krillin did respectively well.
    • The Red Ribbon Army attacks Master Roshi's island because they believe he's the scientist who built the Dragon Radar. They come to this conclusion because Roshi is an old man. The audience knows this invasion is doomed from conception.
    • Commander Red turns off the security defenses around the base because he thinks Tao is returning with four of the Dragon Balls. The audience knows that it isn't Tao coming, it's Goku.
    • In the same saga, Goku's friends rush to help him since they believe he will be killed fighting the Red Ribbon Army by himself. Since we see how Goku is doing, we know very quickly that he doesn't need their help. But, it's the thought that counts, right?
    • Throughout most of the King Piccolo Saga, all of Goku's friends believe he is dead and only Tien and Yamcha are left to oppose Piccolo. They don't learn that he's alive until he challenges King Piccolo for the final time.
  • The Dreaded
    • To the Red Ribbon Army, Goku inspires fear in all the soldiers and the commanders except for General Blue. When he comes to the Red Ribbon base to take their Dragon Balls, the audience can see the collective Oh Crap! from everyone. Goku is also terrifying to Pilaf's gang, causing them to shake in fear whenever they know he's around.
    • Mercenary Tao. He's called the world's greatest assassin and it's not an exaggeration. Anyone who knows who he is quakes in fear. Master Roshi actually doesn't believe Goku when he reveals that he beat him.
    • King Piccolo. Everyone who knows him is terrified by his return and Master Roshi, the Big Good at the time, absolutely refuses to even consider fighting him.
  • The Drifter: Goku becomes this after he's told to Walk the Earth by Master Roshi. In the filler in-between the end of the Red Ribbon Army Saga and the next tournament, Goku is shown going from town to town, helping people along the way and then leaving as soon as his task is completed. He's also like this during the previous saga when he's looking for his grandfather's Dragon Ball.
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Invoked in the first arc by Oolong, who drugs Goku and Bulma with sleeping powder so he can fondle Bulma while she's unconscious. Fortunately, Yamcha and Puar accidentally ruin his plans when they break into the trailer to steal the Dragon Balls.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Master Roshi gambles his life to seal King Piccolo using the Evil Containment Wave. He fails, but he leaves King Piccolo literally paralyzed in terror to the point that he doesn't move for several seconds after Master Roshi dies. It's the first time we Piccolo scared witless.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/DragonBall/TropesAToD