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


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    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 most of his fights ends in a curbstomp. The only people to really hand him a defeat was Master Roshi as Jackie Chun after an intense four hour fight, Mercenary Tao who defeated Goku in seconds, and King Piccolo who beat him so badly that his heart literally stopped.
  • Action Bomb: What Ninja Murasaki attempted to turn Android 8 into when he refused to fight Goku.
  • 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 Shuu) but they're 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 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.
  • 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 moreso), 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: Although no one knows it yet, Goku, Piccolo, and Kami.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Android 8 was 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 developed a crush on Yamacha despite him trying to rob and kill them.
    • She also fell for General Blue who was also trying to kill her and steal the Dragon Balls. Unlike Yamacha, he didn't return Bulma's feelings and found her disgusting.
  • Alternate Continuity: The non serial movies 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, much like Goku, always look younger than what he is. This is Justified since he is a midget.
    • Chiaotzu looks like a five years old china doll despite being at least 15 when he's introduce.
  • As Long as There Is One Man: Muten Roshi fails to re-seal Piccolo Daimaou, 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, which implied he had some redeeming qualities despite being a total jerkass.
  • Attack the Tail: 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 learned the Kamehameha. He also learned the After Image Technique after seeing it once and managed to improve upon it after seeing it used a second time with a double. He also learned the Solar Flare after seeing it used only twice and used it against Tien, its creator, at the next tournament. In the 22nd tournament he copied King Chapa's Hasshu-ken, Eight-Arm Fist, in his fight against Tien.
    • Tien, much like Goku, learned the Kamehameha by watching Yamcha use it. Yamcha and Krillin also learned the Kamehameha from observation since Master Roshi never taught them.
  • Ax-Crazy
    • General Blue, who executed a soldier for picking his nose and loving the sound of gunfire executing soldiers.
    • King Piccolo who murdered and caused suffering to countless people because he enjoys it. His son, Piccolo Jr, was only mildly better.
  • Back from the Dead: The single most-granted wish from the eternal dragon in the series.
  • Backstab Backfire: 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: Loads.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Goku and Kid Chi-Chi.
    • Trunks and Goten have a similar dynamic
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • Despite being Overshadowed by Awesome by the end, Master Roshi up to the King Piccolo Saga was one of the strongest people in the world. He actually held the title of World Strongest before Goku and his group came along.
    • Master Korin the 800 years old house cat. He trained Master Roshi and later Goku.
    • Gohan Sr who fought an almost even match with Goku after he single-handedly Curb Stomp the entire Red Ribbon Army.
    • 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 who started off as an aging villain who went on to kick everyone's butt. He completely tore Goku a new one without even trying and Master Roshi outright refused to fight him. He became even more Bad Ass after he regained his youth.
    • Kami who was even more powerful than King Piccolo.
  • Badass Normal: All the humans, but especially Yajirobe since he can't use energy attacks. He fought evenly with an enraged Goku and killed one of King Piccolo's henchmen in a Single-Stroke Battle.
  • Bad Boss
    • Emperor Pilaf who 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 owe way.
    • Commander Red is a more straight example. He executes his men for failure even if they are partly successful, like having Blue fight Tao despite bring back the Dragon Radar which was much more accurate than their own device. It gets even worse when Black finds out that the quest for the Dragon Balls were all for Commander Red using them to get taller instead of taking over the world.
    • 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 subvert. He does cares for his minions and calls them his children. He also gets upset when one of them is killed and goes out of his way to avenge them. With the above said, he plays this straight with his human minions, who are forced to serve him after he takes over the King Castle.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: King Piccolo succeeded in everything he wanted. He got the Dragon Balls to give him eternal youth and killed the dragon so no one could ever use the Dragon Balls against him. He also killed a number of the strongest fighters in the world, and seized control of the entire world. Fortunately for everyone his reign was short-lived thanks to Goku.
  • 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. This was part of the reason why Goku was so desperate to restore the Dragon Balls.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • Kid Krillin and Kid Goku.
  • Bastard Understudy: Adjutant Black to Supreme Commander Red of the Red Ribbon Army.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space:
    • There's a much earlier, and often ignored example of when Goku used used Nyoibou to extend and put Boss Rabbit and his Mooks on the Moon. You can likely excuse Goku for him holding his breath, but the rabbits?
      • The manga was in a much more comedic setting at the time, and Toriyama once stated he just didn't care. That only made thing worse when you think about the rabbits when Master Roshi (as Jackie Chun) later blew up the moon.
  • Battle Aura: Features distinctive colors for different characters and situations.
  • Battle Strip: Goku removed his weighted clothes in his rematch against Tien at the 23rd World Tournament.
  • Beam of Enlightenment
  • Beam-O-War : This series is likely the Trope Codifier.
  • Beam Spam:
    • King Piccolo abused this trope in his second battle against Goku.
    • Vegeta in particular is notorious for using this... to little effect.
  • Berserk Button: Has its own page.
  • Berserker Tears: Goku shred tears as he ran off to avenge Krillin, who was killed by one of Piccolo's minions.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Goku is genuinely one of the nicest people in the series. However, if you hurt or worse kill those he cares for he will hunt you down and put the hurt on you. Also, Goku was far less merciful as a kid, having no problem killing those who made him angry. The downfall of the Red Ribbon Army and King Piccolo can vouch for that.
    • Android 8, a pacifist who despise fighting and would rather be destroyed than cause harm to others. However, the moment he thought Goku been killed by a bullet in the head, he loses and punch General White right out of Muscle Tower.
  • Big Bad: Emperor Pilaf, Commander Red, Master Shen, King Piccolo, and Piccolo Jr.
  • Big Eater: Goku, so much that he made it a trait for all future Shōnen heroes to have.
  • Big Good: Master Roshi >Kami > King Kai > Supreme Kai.
  • 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. 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 Eyes of Evil: Fat Buu has normal eyes (when he opens them) but Super Buu has black sclera and red pupils matching his more psychopathic tenancies
  • 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.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Many, depending on your version.
  • Blondes Are Evil:
    • General Blue. A man who enjoys hearing his own men be executed.
    • Launch's alternative personality, who was a trigger-happy bank robber, before she Took a Level in Kindness.
  • Blood Knight: Goku is the most obvious example, but all the main fighters in the show have this trait, especially Yamacha and Tien.
  • Blood Upgrade: General Blue fights far more seriously the moment he sees his own blood.
  • Body Horror: Tien's Four Witches technique. It involves his shoulders bulging out before two extra arms shot out.
  • Boobs of Steel: Played straight with Ranfan, a finalist of the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament. Her entire fighting style revolves solely around flashing her boobs as a distraction (which being a Shonen manga it always works) given how she had battled her way through the Elimination round without anyone discovering her secret weapons she must logically be a very skilled martial artist when fighting fair.
  • 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 has only failed ONCE, and that was against Omega Shenron, it works on everyone else, guaranteed. It only gets used every once once and a while for some unknown reason when the strategy of "Blind enemy then kill them while they're trying to recover" is a legitimate strategy.
  • 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.
  • Break the Cutie: The King Piccolo Saga was anything but kind to Goku. First his best friend is killed receiving the stuff he forgot after his fight with Tien. When he runs to avenge Krillin, he is beating badly since he's exhausted from his earlier fight and the Flying Nimbus get destroyed. When he does finally kills the monster who took Krillin's life, Piccolo shows up and curb stomps him and take his Dragon Ball. Barely able to walk, he has to be driven to Korin's Tower so he can get more training so he can beat Piccolo only to find out that Korin can't help him since he is already stronger than him. He also finds out that his master and father figure was murdered by Piccolo. It's a little wonder how Goku kept going after all of this.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • In the 8th chapter of the manga Son Goku sends Yamucha in the air with his punch but Yamucha 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.
  • Brick Break: Oolong dared Goku to break a stack of bricks with a karate chop. Goku broke the stack with one finger.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early on (in volume two of Dragon Ball), Oolong comments that Goku's amazing qualities have to be due to him being an alien. Fast forward a decade or so...
      • This was a complete coincidence and not a true brick joke, though. At this point the series was still at gag martial artist manga status, and given the fact that he's known for his forgetful nature, there's no way this was something Toriyama had planned all along.
      • However, Major Metallitron scans Goku, and it says in a corner he's not human, though doesn't know what he is. Which happened in the Red ribbon arc.
    • 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?
  • Brother Chuck: Almost all of the original characters from Dragon Ball vanish completely by the end of the Buu saga. Akira Toriyama has admitted that for some of the characters it was simply because he forgot they existed, like Lunch.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Bulma. Taken more literally in Playboy Bunny outfit when she and Goku encountered Monster Rabbit. Her father, Dr. Briefs, also qualifies.
    • Muten/Master Roshi definitely counts. Imagine an elderly pervert being titled "The Invincible Master" of martial arts.
    • Kid Goku given that he's extremely naive and childish, but is the most competent fighter in the group.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: More like Planet Full Of Innocents during the Buu arc.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Krillin and Yamcha. This is lampshaded in Dragon Ball Z Abridged where there is an actual tally of how many times Krillin is treated like a butt monkey (the "Krillin Owned Count").
    • Also lampshaded in the World's Strongest movie/special. After Piccolo and Gohan are repelled by the Big Bad, Krillin flies in to take a shot, only to be knocked away before landing so much as a single punch, at which point we hear him thinking "Nope, didn't think so..."
    • Some of the villains such as Ninja Murasaki qualify. Not too many villains can say that they had a Power Pole shoved up their butts.
    • Goku himself has had a fair share of pluckiness in his life, often occurring when neither Krillin or Yamcha are present, his brick-tough nature usually lets him shrug it off though. In fact, one of his first mishaps involved falling off a cliff as a toddler and nearly dying from the impact to this head. A scene later in the DBZ series involved his hand being trampled on by a herd of elephants.
    • Master Roshi is quite a butt monkey himself. In his case, however, he mostly has it coming, him being a Dirty Old Man and all.

     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 Your Attacks: Blink and you miss it: Called out very early on by a Wolf who fought Yamcha in the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament. This was at a time where the only named techniques were the Kamehameha, Yamcha's Wolf-Fang Fist, and The Janken Technique.
  • Came Back Strong: Just about everyone repeatedly.
    • It is implied that Android 8 was once a regular person who was brought back to life as a machine.
    • An innate ability of all Saiyans whereby what doesn't kill them will literally make them stronger.
    • As of the Saiyan arc any Z fighter who dies ends up training with King Kai who takes them on as pupils. Goku is the only one he taught his Spirit Bomb and Kaioken
      • Goku after dying a second time creates a brand new Super Sayian transformation
  • Came from the Sky:
    • How Saiyans usually arrive on earth.
    • The same with the Nameless Namek who would become Piccolo and Kami.
  • 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.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Demon King Piccolo and his spawn/clone Piccolo Jr. (up until his Heel-Face Turn anyway) mark some of the few times this trope is played seriously.
  • Cash Lure: Appears in the censored version, to replace Bulma using a lure of panties.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Tri-beam attack that can kill Tien through overuse.
  • Cavalier Competitor: Most of the fighting cast, save for the villains.
  • CCG Importance Dissonance:
    • Tapkar was a gag character during Dragon Ball Zs World Games Saga who's 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 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 Piccolo Daimaou'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.
    • Yamacha 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: To a ridiculous extent, all throughout the series.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower:
    • Taken to extreme levels where all living things have ki as a sort of mystical lifeforce. Apparently with training you can make your 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.
    • Being an alien (Saiyan) seems to give you the highest ki "potential", but then the human members gain strength far surpassing what is possible (although they're still extremely weak in comparison to said aliens).
      • Although, considering that it is outright stated that ki use literally causes the user to become stronger, more resilient and faster, and that most ordinary humans are ignorant of the EXISTENCE of ki, never mind how to use it, it's unclear whether it qualifies as this trope. In Dragon Ball those who know of its use are mostly human martial arts masters, though; it's only later on that aliens like the Saiyans who have a natural affinity for ki utilisation are introduced, although even some Saiyans like Vegeta were unable to use skills like Ki Sense until meeting the Z Fighters of Earth.
  • Charlie Brown from Outta Town:
    • Jackie Chun, Mighty Mask.
    • GT brings us Papayaman.
  • 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 Gun:
    • Early in the first story arc, Bulma and Goku meets some random Turtle Hermit who happened 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 learned the Ox-King was a former student of the Turtle Hermit and became friendly with Goku.
    • Also, Yamcha recognized Goku's Power Pole belonging to Gohan, a powerful martial arts master. When Ox-King sees the Power Pole, he learned Goku is Gohan's grandson, 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.
    • When Goku first met Chi-Chi he told her to climb on the Nimbus so they could find Master Roshi. She had some troubling getting on and grabbed Goku's tail, exposing his weakness to Yamcha. When Goku turned into a Great Ape and seemed unstoppable, Yamcha remembered the weakness and used it to paralyzed Goku and change him back to normal by cutting his tail.
    • In the Red Ribbon Army Saga, Goku nearly froze to death in a winter area and was rescued by a young girl named Snow. She told him that he was frozen solid when she found him. When Goku was fighting Buyon he lamented that the monster's soft, jelly body made it impossible to land a solid hit. When he remembered how he nearly froze, he punched a hole in the wall and allowed the cold air to freeze Buyon before finishing it with a kick that literally shattered the monster.
  • 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.
  • 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: Absolutely mandatory. A fight is not a fight otherwise!
    • With Goku you could accurately predict where they are in the battle by measuring how much its been damaged. Or even the saga itself.
    • Actually true for everyone to various degrees.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Bulma's parents. Bulma herself sometimes skirts on this from time to time.
    • Goku's overwhelming nativity can make him come across as this.
  • Collectible Card Game: Three of them, with honorable mention of DBZ being the theme of a set of Ani-Mayhem. The first game was surprisingly popular and well-liked, lasting for several years and covering all of Z and GT.
    • And spawning a video game as well.
    • The first Score of the games (they made two) still has fans who buy, sell, trade, and play the game AND it inspired the community to create an online CCG based around fixing the rules and broken play styles.
    • There is also a card-based battle game on the Gameboy Color called DBZ: Legendary Super Warriors. There are 125 cards in this turn-based game, some cards can be only used by specific characters. There is also a super-rare card with 'AKIRA' written on it in Japanese. To get this card you must win all of the story mode battles without losing a single match (resetting the gameboy does not count, as long as progress is not saved as a loss).
  • Combat Commentator: There is a recurring character who fills this role whenever a World Martial Arts Tournament is taking place. It seems like he has been announcing every single World Martial Arts Tournament since his introduction in the story during the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament. It's interesting to note the gradual change in his physical appearance as the plot progresses, with him being first introduced as a blonde, clean-shaven young man wearing a suit and sunglasses, and on the next tournament he grows a mustache, and on his most recent appearance, on the Buu Saga, he has a lankier physique and a more proiminent widow's peak on top of his mustache. This characters is also perhaps the only human other than Goku's friends who knows that it was the Z warriors, and not Mr. Satan, who have saved the Earth from all the dangers that threatened it.
  • Combat Pragmatist
    • Goku would occasionally fight like this. The "scissor" move of his Rock Scissors 'n' Paper technique was eye-gouging and sometimes he'd use this technique by pretending to use one move and instead using another one (shouting "paper" and using "rock" instead, for example). He also resisted Tien's Solar Flare technique by wearing Master Roshi's sunglasses.
    • Krillin was very much this as kid. He tried 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-out Jackie Chun by throwing panties on the ground and kicking him when he dived for them. He also most infamously allowed Yamacha to win against the invisible man by causing Master Roshi to nosebleed on him when he pulled down Bulma's shirt.
    • King Piccolo was also this. He immediately killed Chiaotzu when he tried to sabotage King Piccolo's quest for immortality by making his wish to Shenron before Piccolo did. He also checked Goku's pulse before confirming he was dead in their first battle. He's a magnificent bastard for a reason and the only villain to ever outright win.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: In Dragon Ball, the only thing that actually changes about Goku is his age and strength; he's still basically the same person throughout the entire story. Dragon Ball Z, on the other hand, has his son Gohan gradually getting stronger with each battle, eventually surpassing his father.
  • 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.
  • Crazy Consumption:
    • Goku and Gohan (possibly all Saiyans) are pretty crazy eaters.
    • Humans can become this too after a lot of hard training.
  • Cross Over:
  • 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.
    • Goku, Gohan, Goten...and even Krillin.
    • The entire Ginyu Force basically personifies this trope. The only reason they come off goofier after the fact is because Goku shows up and easily takes them out.
  • Crutch Character: It is even more obvious than in Z how much Goku is this trope since, unlike DBZ, no one within Goku's circle of friends ever surpass him not even for a short amount of time. Through the entire first story arc he beat everyone up with little effort with Yamcha only doing so well the first time because Goku was hungry. He never really needed his friends help in the Red Ribbon Army Saga and ended up protecting them when they were around. In fact they actually slowed him down by the final arc since he could had taken all of Baba's fighters without help. In the King Piccolo Saga, besides for Yajirobe, he was the only one causing real damage to Piccolo's plans. By the end, no one could handle Piccolo Jr, not even Kami.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: How did Yamcha get those scars?
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Most of Goku's fights end up like this. It is easier to list the battles he struggled with.
    • Android 8's "fight" against General White. It took one punch.
    • Master Roshi versus the Red Ribbon Army unit. Poor saps never stood a chance. He also easily dismissed Yamcha when they fought at the 21st Tournament.
    • Piccolo's second oldest son, Tambourine, made quick work of all his victims.
    • Yajirobe took out Cymbal with a single strike.
    • Much like Goku, 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 versus everyone not named Piccolo.
  • Cute Bruiser: Goku and Chi-Chi.

     D 
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • The Mafuba/Evil Containment Wave. The original and classic Dangerous Forbidden Technique, seen specifically in the original series. Using it would allow you to seal someone (usually an baddie or Big Bad) inside of a small household object like a little jar or a electronic rice-cooker. However it always kills the user (with the sole exception of when Kami does it and Piccolo reverses it on him, and it's likely only because both weren't human that they didn't die from it), even if it fails, like Muten Roshi does when trying to stop Piccolo Daimaou.
    • Another possible candidate for this in a different fashion is also the dub-named "Devilmite Beam", which allows the character Akkuman to use a single move to kill anything with a speck of evil in their hearts as long as they can't regenerate themselves (luckily Goku is pure-hearted, so it fails to work on him). It doesn't have any ill effects, but it's probably considered forbidden in a different way.
    • Tenshinhan's Kikou-hou or Spirit Cannon is also very definitely this: a Cast From HP technique that reduces the user's lifespan every time it's used. It's powerful enough that Tenshinhan was able to temporarily stop second-tier-Cell from attacking when no one else could even touch him, to allow for the Saiyans to finish their training in the Room of Spirit and Time. This, of course, caused Tenshinhan to very nearly die (he was saved by a Senzu bean, as usual).
    • King Kai teaches Goku two: the Genki Dama/Spirit Bomb, which is made from the life energy of everything nearby and while strong requires a huge charge up and can raze continents, and the Kaioken which briefly multiplies the users strength but leaves them drained and can seriously injure them and Goku is told to never go past 3 times his power (though Serial Escalation means that by the time he's fighting Frieza he's using it nonstop at 20 times his power to no avail)
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The King Piccolo Saga, which started Dragon Ball move from a light-hearted, comedy manga, to an action-drama.
    • Subverted with the Buu saga, which while still darker, has a lot more comedy than the previous arcs combined.
  • Darkest Hour: The entirety of the King Piccolo Saga. To review, Piccolo successfully took over the world and plunged it into terror, killed several beloved characters including three from the main cast, killed Shenlong so no one could be wished back, and was going to blow up a section of the world every year; things were not looking good.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Taopaipai and Freezer from Dragon Ball Z were both rebuilt as half-cyborg, after Goku severely damaged them, in order to survive (both had several parts of their bodies replaced by mechanical components because of the damage sustained).
  • David Versus Goliath: Discussed in the Ocean dub version of one Dragon Ball Z episode ("Time's Up!"), when Piccolo tells Gohan, "Remember the story of David and Goliath..." before they sense a premonition that Goku is approaching.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: Both versions of Goku contract a heart virus. Unfortunately for Future Goku, he dies from the virus. Later, most Z fighters from the alternate timeline are killed, except Future Gohan, by Android 17 and 18. Future Gohan gets killed thirteen years later.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Goku's son Gohan, named for Goku's adoptive grandfather.
  • Deal with the Devil: How Pilaf ended up working with King Piccolo.
  • Death Is Cheap:
    • Every single character, with the exception of Supreme Kai and Mr. Satan, dies at least once, and only two good characters have stayed dead permanently ( the Namekian Grand Elder and Android 16).
    • In short, this is the poster-series for this trope. There's a reason why the fandom doesn't so much as blink when somebody good dies-they'll be revived soon enough.
    • Averted in the case of Piccolo before his merging with Kami; if Piccolo dies so does Kami which means the dragon balls are also gone, then all deaths are final. After Piccolo and Kami fuse back into the same being Dende becomes the new guardian of Earth, meaning that if he dies then the same thing happens.
    • Also averted in Future Trunks' timeline, where Piccolo and Kami are dead and Dende is still on New Namek, therefore there are no more dragon balls.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion:
    • How King Piccolo died.
    • Same with Officer Black, but he was piloting a model suit at the time of his death.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Yamcha, Oolong, Tienshenhan, Chaotzu, and Piccolo all started out as enemies.
  • 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.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • One of the reasons why some fans prefer the original series over DBZ is that while DBZ is an infamous offender of this trope, the original series for the most part averted this.
    • Basically, if you appeared in the original series at all and your name wasn't Goku, Piccolo or Krillin this happened to you. Hell, even Piccolo and Krillin were sort of getting there towards the end.
    • The abridged series has a scene that beautifully points this out.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?:
    • Demon King Piccolo does the unthinkable after getting his big wish and blows the Dragon into pieces with one shot. At that time in the series, that was pretty much equivalent to killing God.
    • Goku killed King Piccolo, the Satan of the Dragon World. And he did it again against Piccolo Jr, although he didn't kill him.
    • Arguably this happens constantly from that point onward, as every villain after that is way stronger than Piccolo.
    • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: frequently. Aside from the Mafuba (which kills the user and was used to seal Piccolo) the heroes usual end up broken with a pile of dead comrades at the end of their battles. Bonus points to Goku who by the end of his battle with Vegeta has broken every bone in his body
  • Dirty Old Man: Muten Roshi, Tsuru-sennin and the Old Kai.
  • Disney Death:
    • Probably an even more overused use of this trope than the trope namer itself.
    • Old Kai is sort of an aversion/subversion of this trope. While he does die when giving his life force to Goku, all that happens is he gets a halo because he's already in the place people go to when they die.
  • Dispense With The Pleasantries: 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.
  • Ditzy Genius: Bulma, especially in her teenage years.
  • Doing In the Wizard: DBZ kinda does this. It doesn't do away with fantasy elements completely, mind you, but it does explain Goku and Piccolo's powers as being alien rather than supernatural. It doesn't explain all the other weird stuff in the series though...
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Piccolo Daimao introducing himself as the new ruler of the world, and Cell announcing the Cell Games.
  • The Dragon: Pretty much one per story arc, from Mr. Black to Commander Red all the way to Dabra to Babidi. The best example being Captain Ginyu, leader of the Quirky Miniboss Squad, The Ginyu Force, to Frieza.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Officer Black to Commander Red. He was far more competent and realized early on that they stood no chance against Goku and recommended abandoning the Dragon Balls and escaping to rebuild the army. He also tried to recruit Goku.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang: The titular Dragon Balls summon a wish-granting dragon when brought together.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • In North American where Z was broadcast before the original Dragon Ball, Goku's origins become this. Throughout the original series many characters make off-hand comments about Goku being from another world because of his quirks. This irony is in full force during the King Piccolo Saga since Piccolo and his children are dismissive towards Goku because they believe he's just a human.
    • For the same reason as the above Piccolo Jr also falls into this. After Goku spare his life all the characters are horrified, asking Goku did he really think the Demon King would ever change. There is also Piccolo's vow to kill Goku someday.
    • The entire Red Ribbon Army Saga is a dark twist to this trope for the American audience who saw Z first. Although most characters take the Red Ribbon Army seriously, they are mostly a joke to Goku with only General Blue given him any real challenge. Their commander doesn't even want the Dragon Balls to take over the world, he wants them to grow taller which gets him executed by his second-in-command. The story of the Red Ribbon becomes harsher in hindsight because of the Android/Cell Saga.
    • 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 attacked Master Roshi's island because they believed he was the scientist who built the Dragon Radar. They came to this conclusion because Roshi is an old man. The audience knew this invasion was doomed from conception.
    • Commander Red turned off the security defenses around the base because he thought Tao was returning with four of the Dragon Balls. We the audience know 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
    • Goku was this to the Red Ribbon Army. He inspired fear in all the soldiers and the commanders, except for General Blue. When he came to the Red Ribbon base to take their Dragon Balls you can see the collective Oh, Crap from everyone. Goku was also the dreaded to Pilaf's gang, causing them to shake in fear whenever they knew he was around.
    • Mercenary Tao. He was called the world's greatest assassin and it's not an exaggeration. Anyone who knew who he was quaked in fear. Master Roshi actually didn't believed Goku when he revealed that he beat him.
    • King Piccolo was the original dreaded of the series. Everyone who knew him were terrified and Master Roshi, one of the biggest badasses at the time, absolutely refused to even consider fighting him.
    • To King Piccolo, anyone who knew the Evil Containment Wave. He nearly had a panic attacked when he believed Goku was going to use it and ran in terror when Master Roshi revealed he knew it.
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole:
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Master Roshi gambled his life to seal King Piccolo using the Evil Containment Wave. He failed, but he left King Piccolo literally paralyzed in terror to the point that he didn't move for several seconds after Master Roshi had died. It was the first time we Piccolo scared witless.


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