Dragon Ball: Tropes E to N

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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     E 
  • Easily Conquered World: King Piccolo takes over the world in just a few hours. The world wasn't prepared for someone that powerful, and admittedly his rule didn't last very long.
  • Easily Forgiven
    • Goku and Bulma holds no ill-will towards Yamcha despite his attempts to rob them and kill the former. Oolong is the only one who remains distrustful of him and even that doesn't last long.
    • After Tien and Chiaotzu made their Heel-Face Turn no one within Goku's group of friends think badly of them despite their Jerk Ass behavior up to that point.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: General Blue, who is some sort of gay Aryan superman.
  • Emergency Energy Tank:
    • Senzu beans, which instantly restore physical energy to 100%, as well as instantly heal injuries (as shown when eating a bean put Vegeta's arm back in place after it was dislocated by a kick from Android 18) and provide 2 weeks worth of nutrition. And when you combine all that with the Saiyan ability to get a power boost after recovering from near death...
    • Conveniently, though, they don't work on deadly heart viruses. Guess what happens to a certain main character? Although, the Senzu Bean may just not work on natural aliments.
  • Enemy Mine: How Yamcha ended up joining the group in the first story arc. Although, no one except Oolong saw him as an enemy at that point.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: These are all Imperfect Cell leaves behind after feeding. He's already done this to an entire city before appearing onscreen, and slowly and painfully absorbs a man onscreen before saying his first line. It's almost horror movie territory.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: After learning who King Piccolo was, Chiaotzu feared that Master Shen released him to get back at Tien and him for betraying him. Master Roshi quickly said that not even Shen would free Piccolo since he knows firsthand how horrible the Demon King is. He did watched Piccolo murder his fellow students and humiliate his master.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Kame Sen'nin/Muten Roushi, Tsuru Sen'nin, Baba Uranai, Kami.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Piccolo to Kami. Piccolo is all the evil Kami expelled out of him centuries ago.
    • Although neither of them know it, King Piccolo to Goku. Both are aliens from worlds that were in distress (one being outright destroyed), they both were raised in isolation away from the civilized world, lost their memories of their old worlds, and had come to see the blue planet as their one true home. Their arrival on Earth also greatly impacted the planet changing it forever. The difference between them is that whereas living on Earth gave Goku the best qualities of humanity, it gave the Nameless Namekian that later split into Kami and Piccolo the worst qualities.
    • Master Shen to Master Roshi. They are both the founders of their respected fighting schools and have two students each. However, Master Roshi uses Martial Arts to enrich one's life and to protect the weak. Master Shen uses Martial Arts to terrorize and even kill.
    • Although not really evil, Yajirobe to Goku. Yajirobe is a short, dim-witted and spiky-haired man who lived alone in the middle of nowhere, phenomonally strong and obsessed with food, mirroring Goku at the start of the series. The contrast here was that Yajirobe was lazy, cowardly and generally much less pure compared to Goku's much more earnest demeanor. A kind of chaotic neutral Counterpart.
  • Evil Laugh: King Piccolo and his sons often indulged into these.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Pilaf releasing Demon King Piccolo.
  • Evil Overlord: King Piccolo becomes this once he takes over the world. He proclaims several times that he wants to turn the Earth into a planet of darkness.
  • Explosion Propulsion:
    • Goku launches himself sky-high at Piccolo using an explosive kamehameha right at the ground below him. Goku is moving so fast after the propulsion that he literally flies through Piccolo, like a human bullet.
    • In a later episode he does the same thing again by firing the kamehameha using his feet.
    • Regular flight is a rather subtle example of this as it involves taking control one's ki and pushing it beneath them to create lift. The technique is called Sky Dancing/Bukujutsu.
  • Expy: Master Roshi is an expy of God from Dr. Slump (not to be confused with Dragon Ball's Kami-sama), at least in appearance. (He frequently acts more like Senbei Norimaki, though.)
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Tien Shinhan's "Volleyball Technique." He hits his opponent into the air like a volleyball. Lampshaded by the announcer.
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: All the characters, although King Piccolo was the least guilty of this.
  • Extreme Omnivore:
    • Buyon, the mutant blob from Muscle Tower ate everything from rocks, bones, to attempting to eat Android 8.
    • Yajirobe, who eats Cymbal after defeating him. This made even Goku recoil.
  • Eyedscreen:
    • When Trunks falls.
    • When Trunks dies.
  • Eyelid Pull Taunt:
    • Kid Goku does this to "Jackie Chun" during their match.
    • This pretty much was Goku's taunt as a kid.
  • Eye Lights Out: After Cell crushes Android #16's head a piece of circuitry with a bright green light falls out, and slowly dims to black, signaling that he is irreparably dead.
  • Eye Scream: Goku in the first story arc gave this to Yamcha using his Jan Ken Fist (otherwise known as "Rock, Paper, Scissors Attack") Goku delivers a "Rock" (a punch), which Yamcha blocks, delivers the "Scissors" (eye poke) to his eyes, then finished it off with "Paper" (a slap) that knocked him away.

     F 
  • Face Fault: During the Other World Tournament mini-arc, an entire stadium of people execute a Mexican Face Fault!
  • The Family That Slays Together: Piccolo sees his sons as one big family who absolutely enjoys killing and tormenting humans.
  • Fantastic Racism: King Piccolo and all his sons despise humanity. No real reason why, just that they see humans being lower than dirt.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Dragon Ball version of Earth is largely based on China, although the Papaya Islands were based on Indonesia according to Word of God.
  • Fanservice: To defeat an invisible man, Krillin removes Bulma's shirt in front of Master Roshi (and the audience), giving him a colossal nosebleed that reveals the invisible man.
  • Fat Bastard: Despite not being a villain, Yajirobe fits this, especially when he first meets Goku.
  • Fate Worse Than Death:
    • Garlic Jr. from the anime continuity is one of the few villains who actually got his wish for eternal life... except soon after, he fell into the Dead Zone. He escapes a few years later... and then falls in again, this time for good.
    • King Piccolo spent over three-hundred years trapped in a rice cooker. He's deathly afraid of that happening again.
  • Father to His Men: King Piccolo's only redeeming trait. Compared to every villain in the entire Dragon Ball series, he actually cares for his underlings and goes out of his way to avenge them, which Goku learned the hard way. Helps that they are actually his kids.
  • Fearless Fool: Goku's friends think he is this when they found out that he was attacking the Red Ribbon Army's base alone and rush to help him. By the time they arrived, Goku had already finished taken care of things.
  • Female Gaze: Probably more of a camera pan tradition of anime, but there are uncountable numbers of shots of boys' and mens' posteriors, usually well defined. This only occasionally occurs for women.
  • Fiction 500: Bulma's family, due to them owning Capsule Corp.
  • Final Battle: The final battle of the original series is Goku versus Piccolo Jr.
  • First Girl Wins: One of the early known animes to avoid this. Bulma is the first girl and is easily the lead female of the first series in every aspect except that she's not the love interest. So when Goku finally grows up and Bulma notices, it's assumed that they'll get together. Then Chi-Chi comes back.
  • Finger Poke of Doom:
    • Most of the villains get one, though the heroes get them as well.
    • Tao Pai Pai gets to have a tongue poke of doom against General Blue in the Red Ribbon Saga. It's fatal.
  • Flip Personality: Taken to extremes with Launch, whose body undergoes a physical change when she switches personalities.
  • Flying Brick: It is this trope that allowed Goku to win against Piccolo Jr.
  • Flying On A Cloud:
    • The Flying Nimbus/Kintoun, a fast, yellow, possibly sentient cloud that Goku got from Roshi who in turn got it from Karin. It only allows people who are pure of heart to ride it, anyone else just falls through it like, well, a cloud.
    • There's also a dark purple version that anyone can ride, even if they are impure of heart (like Krillin) or just plain evil (like Mercenary Tao). Unfortunately for Tao, Karin can make the cloud drop its rider at any time.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • Inspired a lot of current shonen manga. The creators of One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach have all admitted to being inspired by Dragon Ball to certain levels of degree.
    • Naruto goes so far as to having the titular character wear florescent orange/yellow and blue attire, similar to Goku. Except he's a freaking ninja. Also in part two of the series Naruto switches to an orange and black suit similar in design to Goku's gi. They also share a massive appetite and both turn into giant monsters. Even more since Naruto got a Golden Super Mode like Goku before him.
    • Even video games such as Sonic the Hedgehog were influenced by it as well, from giving Sonic a Super Saiyan-esque transformation as early as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to the existence of Silver the Hedgehog in Sonic 2006 being credited to Trunks. In fact, Sonic 2006 features a scene where Sonic, Shadow, and Silver all go Super Hedgehog, evoking strong resemblance to Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks.
  • Foot Focus: There are a whole bunch of scenes in the Dragon Ball franchise of Bulma's feet.
  • For the Evulz:
    • Tao killing Bora for no particularly reason. He also murdered the tailor who remade his outfit in three days, doing a week's worth of work, because he wanted to be paid. It wasn't like Tao didn't have the money.
    • The reason why Tien broke Yamcha's leg despite the latter being unconscious.
    • Why King Piccolo does everything he does. He wants to make others suffer and delights in chaos.
  • Free Sample Plot Coupon: The first attempted quest for the seven Dragon Balls is made easier thanks to the fact that Son Goku already had one of them before the series began, while Bulma already has two, so their first adventure focuses on finding only four more.
  • From a Single Cell:
    • Cell is the trope namer, as he regenerates from, well, a single cell after self-destructing. Combined with the ability to become stronger after recovering from near-death thanks to his Saiyan DNA, he comes back even stronger than before.
    • Majin Buu takes it Up to Eleven, as he can regenerate from vapor, or even atoms. It takes a Spirit Bomb with energy from everyone on Earth to completely annihilate him.
  • From Bad to Worse: Famous examples occur in: the very first arc of the manga, the Piccolo Daimao Arc, the Saiyan Arc, the Namek/Frieza arc, the Cell Arc, and the Buu Arc.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Goku to the Red Ribbon Army. Went from some nameless boy to their worse nightmare by the time he came knocking at their door.
  • Fun with Flushing: Early in the series, Master Roshi gets accidently flushed down the toilet while using a shrinking gadget to peep on Bulma.

     G 
  • Game-Breaking Injury:
    • The final fight between Goku and Piccolo.
    • Still didn't stop him, somehow.
  • Generational Saga: The life and times of Goku's and Bulma's families.
  • Genius Bruiser: King Piccolo, one of the strongest villains in the original series and also one of the smartest. He outsmarted and out-gambled all the heroes despite some setbacks from Goku and Master Roshi. There's a reason why he won even if it was for a short time.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Both Krillin and Yamcha react pretty much how any real person would in these situations, basically knowing beforehand how something is probably going to go down, and how to avoid it or take advantage of it.
    • Demon King Piccolo upon being released from the eletronic jar. The first thing he does is start killing off martial artists, knowing that they are the only threat to him. Later, on getting his Eternal Youth he kills Shenron so no one could (easily) use the Dragon Balls again. His only mistake was not killing Goku sooner.
      • In fairness to him, Piccolo did check Goku's heart to make sure that he was dead. Goku's heart just started beating again after he left. His real mistake was underestimating Goku because he assumed he was just a human. Then again, he couldn't have known what Goku was.
    • Vegeta in the Namek saga. He didn't take on a fight he knew he couldn't handle.
    • Just about everybody of the Main Cast in the 25th Martial Arts Tournament. It was a forgone conclusion to everybody involved that the Final Match of the Junior Division was going to be Trunks Vs. Goten. Krillin lampshades once or twice, and Videl is surprised when Gohan shows very little interest in one Goten's victories.
  • Genre Shift: The franchise started as a comedic Journey to the West meets Indiana Jones treasure hunt, and ended as a serious and often grim Journey to the West meets Superman.
  • God Is Flawed:
    • It is to expected since Kami is an alien and not an actual deity. His biggest mistake being rushing to become god and splitting himself away from his evil nature, creating Piccolo.
    • Another mistake he made is neglecting his training which allows Piccolo Jr to surpass him and put the world in danger when he is capture and swallow by Piccolo. He also did not keep close watch on Goku's training so he didn't know how much stronger Goku became. If he had, he wouldn't have entered the tournament which caused more problems than solved.
  • Going to Give It More Energy: Son Goku does this once. You think Vegeta's going to try this against #19, but he just rips off his arms (which removes the android's energy-draining power) and blows him away conventionally.
  • Good Is Not Dumb:
    • Goku may act like a complete and utter moron at times, but his eldest son Gohan is a full fledged Genius Bruiser who gets straight A's and smashes around beings stronger than the Gods themselves!
    • Goku himself is a genius when it comes to fighting, though.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Goku as a kid/teen. Unlike his adult self he rarely if ever extend mercy to those he sees as his enemy. At his most ruthless he killed hundreds if not thousands of Red Ribbon Army soldiers, including most of the commanders, and hunted down Tambourine and King Piccolo for Krillin and Master Roshi's murders. Not to mention he kicked Drum, one King Piccolo's children, so hard in the face that he not only instantly killed him, but caused his eye to pop out.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal:
    • Piccolo loses his arm twice (as does Nail) and at one point becomes a statue and has his body (but not his head) shattered. Fortunately none of this matters to a Namekian.
    • Cell and Buu provide villainous examples with both of them taking attacks that would have maimed or killed them if not for their Healing Factor.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Twice with Goku.
  • Gosh Hornet: When Roshi "trains" Goku and Krillin in the original Dragon Ball... by tying them to a tree with a beehive and watching them freak out.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Piccolo's name, which in turn came from the musical instrument, can be translated as "small" or "little" in Italian.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: In the Japanese version, of all things. The second opening contains the words "Ippai oppai", written in English letters and appearing completely out of context. It means "Lots of boobs".
  • Gravity Screw: Used the "spherical planet" variation; when Goku reaches the end of the Serpent Road, he looks around and sees something floating in the sky above him, so he jumps towards it. To his surprise, he starts falling towards it. Also the gravity machines the Saiyans use for training later in the series, except those were intentional. And instead of "what goes up must come down" being the norm, it's "what goes down stays down, and everything goes down. No exceptions." Heavy Zone doesn't even begin to describe it—Vegeta claims to have trained (off-screen) at over 400 Gs, and Goku trains at both 10 and 100 (and several levels in between) on-screen.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told:
    • The heroes' exploits often go unnoticed by the population of the world. It all started when Goku single-handedly took down the Red Ribbon Army, a dangerous organization that has terrorized the world for years, but nobody ever found out who did it. When Goku killed Demon King Piccolo, there were reports of a boy fighting the Demon King, but the image was so bad and it was so dangerous to get closer that nobody could tell who it was specifically. When Goku beat Piccolo Jr., all the spectators had long left the premises of the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament once they found out who exactly contestant Ma Jr. was. Freeza and his father are galactic tyrants who were threatening to destroy the Earth, but again nobody ever found out that the Z warriors managed to stop them. Lastly, Mr. Satan took the credit for defeating Cell and Buu. It's a good thing Goku and his friends don't care about fame.
    • It should be noted that, although his world-saving exploits aren't know to the public, Goku is still fairly famous for being a former World Martial Arts Tournament champion.
    • Son Goku is remembered after 100 years since he left the Earth during the 64th Martial Arts Tournament, as he is mentioned to be an ancestor of Son Goku Jr (along Mr. Satan); he is famous as the young boy that defeated Demon King Piccolo and he has a statue on the premises of the tournament.
  • Greek Chorus: Any time a character is on the sidelines, they become this.
  • Groin Attack: There are some.
    • Krillin receiving a vicious one from Goku during their very first tournament match...maybe.
    • Yamcha getting an accidental not really one from Kami after trying to kick him in the head.
    • Super Android 13 flat-out decking Goku in the nuts, which is too much for him to stay Super Saiyan.
  • Growing Muscles Sequence: Done all the time by both heroes and villains activating their Super Modes.
  • Guns Are Worthless: A major part of the universe in so far as martial artists go. Starting with Bulma shooting Goku on there first meeting and later Launch spraying gunfire like confetti at other characters to no effect in Dragon Ball and continuing on to Raditz catching a shotgun blast with his bare hands, guns are fundamentally useless.

     H-J 
  • Happy Fun Ball: Do not taunt an angry young Saiyan. Made especially clear in DB Movie 4 "The Path to Power", a combo re-telling of the Pilaf and Red Ribbon Army sagas, when Goku killed Officer Black with his Kamehameha after the latter killed Android Eight.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Subverted in parts of the original series since Krillin did hold his own against Piccolo, actually freaking him out and Tien was almost equal to Goku until he drunk the Ultra Divine Water. Krillin also gave Goku a decent fight at the 22nd Tournament.
  • Healing Factor: Namekians can regrow lost limbs (or even their bodies if their head is intact) Cell can return From a Single Cell and even vaporization isn't enough to put down Buu
  • He Is All Grown Up:
    • Chi-Chi's reappearance during the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai counts as well.
    • Goku's reappearance at the same tournament is the same way. Even Bulma was starting to fall for him.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu. Yamcha started out as a desert thief who had no problem attacking a kid. Tien and Chiaotzu were both Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who used their abilities to torment other fighters and were general Jerk Ass.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Master Roshi gave his life to try to seal King Piccolo. Too bad his efforts ended in failure.
    • Roshi's master had better luck and was able to seal Piccolo away at the cost of his life.
    • Tien attempted this when he learned how to use the Evil Containment Wave. Depending if you read the manga or watched the anime, he failed because he broke the rice cooker before he confronted Piccolo, or he failed because Drum interfered and indirectly saved his life.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Typical cause of villain mastermind death.
    • Tao Pai Pai was killed by his own grenade. (He got better.)
    • Freeza was killed by his own Kienzan-like energy attack. (He got better.)
    • Vegeta is ultimately defeated thanks the artificial moon he himself had created.
  • Holy Halo: Worn by dead characters.
  • Honor Before Reason: Goku was pissed when Kami dared to interfered with his fight with Piccolo to the point that he allowed Piccolo to have a free hit. He also refused his friends' help when Piccolo was ready to blast him into atoms because he would lose the match if they helped.
  • How Much More Can He Take
    • The last part of the Jackie Chun versus Goku fight. They have been fighting for four hours, both of them are on their last legs and are reduced to just beating each other into submission, and both refused to go down. It ends in a double knock-out.
    • Goku getting brutally beating by Tien after Chiaotzu used his powers to paralyze him. Shen wondered if Goku was immortal surviving such a beatdown.
    • Major Metallitron. Even after losing his hands and having his face blown off, kept fighting. He literally had to run out of batteries to stop.
    • General Blue, despite being beating by Goku, left for dead in an undersea cave, crashing his plane into a mountain, getting his butt handed to him by a robot girl and knocked across the world, he still was up for more. It took Tao killing him with his tongue to get rid of him.
    • In his first bout against King Piccolo, Goku got beating so badly that it actually stopped his heart for several seconds. In their rematch, Goku had both of his legs broken along with one of his arms and that was before surviving a blast that destroyed a city. He still managed to win.
    • Goku's fight with Piccolo ended with him having his legs broken again and both of his arms disable. And before then, he took a blast that destroyed the entire island. Like the above, he still managed to win.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl:
    • Non-romantic: Chichi and her father, the aptly named "Ox King"
    • Most likely the Ox King and his wife as well since there's no way someone like Chichi could had been conceived if her mother wasn't her size.
  • Hulking Out: Goku turning into a Great Ape.
  • Humans Need Aliens: Played Straight and Averted:
    • If Kami never made the Dragon Balls or split himself into two, most of the plot of the original Dragon Ball wouldn't have happen.
    • However, the Red Ribbon would still be terrorizing people and those who are killed could never be brought back. Plus with Goku around he more-or-less keeps the evil people from gaining control of the Dragon Balls.
  • I Am Not a Gun: Android #8 was created as a Killer Robot by the Red Ribbon Army, but refused to kill.
    "I'm not Android 8! My name is Eighter!"
  • It Amused Me:
    • Why didn't Goku just one-shot Murasaki when it became painfully obvious that he was far weaker, because Goku was enjoying humiliating him.
    • This was also why Goku prolonged his fight with Krillin during the 22nd Tournament. Until he got annoyed with Krillin underhanded fighting.
    • Not to mention Goku stealing Tien's belt to showoff how much faster he became after taking off his weighted clothes.
    • Part of the reason why King Piccolo enjoys tormenting humans along For the Evulz.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Kami invokes this at the beginning of the Piccolo Jr. Saga when talking with Mr. Popo about how to deal with King Piccolo's offspring, since killing him means he would die as well.
  • Idiot Hero: Goku thanks to having No Social Skills, being extremely naive about the world, and too trusting for his own good. He gets a little better as he grows up, but he never completely leaves his idiot tendencies behind.
  • Immune to Bullets: Goku and his friends, along with most of the villains. Bullets are shown to hurt, but that's about it.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In the final great battle of his childhood, Goku punched a hole clean through Demon King Piccolo.
  • Impending Clash Shot: At least one per fighting antagonist arc, an episode of the anime will have a Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame(usually based on a panel from the manga) of either the characters charging into the fray or one if not both at ready fighting stances. like before Goku fights Demon King Piccolo in the episode before their fight proper.
  • Impossible Task Instantly Accomplished:
    • Master Roshi took 50 years to develop the Kamehameha Wave, and is first seen using it to extinguish a burning mountain. He levels the mountain, but that's not the point. The point is, Goku performs a weaker version of it almost immediately after seeing this feat.
    • Tenshinhan, who studied with Master Roshi's arch rival, slams Yamcha with a Kamehameha right after his very first one.
  • Indy Escape: Very early in the original series, Emperor Pilaf menaces Goku and friends with a gigantic pinball that chases them down a hallway.
  • Infant Immortality:
    • Brutally averted in the King Piccolo saga by Krillin and Chaiotzu, both of whom were viciously murdered by the Demon King and his underlings.
    • In a filler scene during the King Piccolo Saga, Snow, the girl from Jingle Village, grabs a rifle from a fallen King Castle soldier and takes aim at Piccolo Daimao as his back is turned, but gives up. Piccolo then turns right around and fires eye-lasers in her direction. When the smoke clears, we're relieved to see that he wasn't aiming for Snow at all, but another soldier directly behind her.
  • Instant Expert:
    • Goku and Buu both perform the Kamehameha (a technique that took a lifetime to create) after seeing it just once. Possibly justified, however. Roshi was developing an entirely new technique completely from scratch with nothing to guide him, while Goku and Buu actually had something to work with.
    • Averted with all of Goku's other techniques though. It takes him months of training with King Kai to learn the Spirit Bomb and Kaioken. Energy sensing similarly takes him a long time to master.
    • Played Straight again with the After Image, Solar Flare, and King Chapa's Hasshu-ken (Eight-Arm Fist) technique, all which Goku learned after seeing it once. Somewhere along the way, he also learned Krillin's Destructo Disc.
  • Instant Flight, Just Add Spinning: A young Son Goku uses his tail to fly and avoid touching the ground outside the ring in the first Tournament Arc. He also used his Staff as a rotor repeatedly.
  • Interspecies Romance: There's quite a bit going on here with the Saiyans being human aliens. More obvious with Tarble and Gure.
  • I Need You Stronger:
    • Vegeta and Cell take turns letting their opponent get stronger for a better fight. Doesn't work very well for either of them.
    • Used by Buu when he realizes Gohan outclasses him. He waits till Goten and Trunks can fuse and baits them into doing so in order to absorb them and beat Gohan.
  • Irony:
    • Commander Red hiring Mercenary Tao to kill Goku ended up destroying the Red Ribbon Army since Tao killed Bora on a whim, which made Goku go after all of the Dragon Balls. Before then, Goku was only interested in the 4-star ball.
    • One has to be familiar with Dragon Ball Z to fully appreciate the irony of the Goku versus King Piccolo fight. Both are aliens who have long forgotten their real names and were sent to Earth to save their lives. The big twist, Goku came from a race of ruthless warrios who were also planet destroyers. Piccolo, or more correctly the Nameless Namek, came from a peaceful, benevolence race. After becoming infected by humanity Goku became a good person while Piccolo became corrupted. In another world and time, Goku would have been the conqueror and Piccolo would have been the savior.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: If a Saiyan with a tail looks at the full moon, they transform into giant ape-like creatures that typically go on a berserk rampage. This can be stopped by cutting their tail off.
  • It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: A running gag is made of people mispronouncing Goku's name whenever they see it in writing, usually pronouncing it as "Go-Cow-Uh".
  • It's Always Spring: The majority of episodes/chapters are set in May, mainly due to the Tenkaichi Budokai always being on May 7th and three major storylines directly followed a tournament (Red Ribbon Army, Piccolo Daimao and Majin Buu). The Cell arc was also set in May. The Namek arc was set in winter (with Goku's fight with Freeza taking place on Christmas Eve) but since they're on another planet there is no actual winter scenery, even at the end of the arc which takes place on Earth. But even when the story is set in the fall there is no seasonable imagery (as seen during the Saiyan arc). Possibly justified by the main action of the series happening around the equator.
  • It's Personal:
    • This is what doom the Red Ribbon Army. After Mercenary killed Bora, they made the conflict personal with Goku.
    • At the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament, the Crane Hermit entered his students to show-off the Turtle School. Then he learns that Goku killed his younger brother, Tao. After that, things became very personal.
    • King Piccolo and his children made things personal with Goku when they killed Krillin and Master Roshi. By the final fight, Goku isn't interested in the state of the world so much as making Piccolo pay for taken those dear to him.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Tao Pai Pai (Mercenary Tao) does this when he's losing his rematch against Goku - following up his "surrender" by throwing a grenade. Unfortunately for Tao, Goku deflects it right back at him...
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: General Blue, beating by a hyper-active robotic girl who plays with poop. He never stood a chance.
  • Jerkass: Too many to name. Let's just say that all the villains in this series are either minor to major jackasses.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On a small scale, Yajirobe. A belligerent glutton who loudly declares he wants nothing to do with the other Z-Warriors, yet still always ends up coming to their aid when they really need it. He drives Goku to Korin's Tower after he was badly injured from his first fight with Piccolo and climbed to the top with Goku on his back. When Goku was falling to his death after beating Piccolo, Yajirobe comes from nowhere and catches him.
  • Just a Kid: Goku gets this so much you can make a drinking game out of it. The Red Ribbon Army found out the hard way why Goku isn't just a kid.
  • Just Toying with Them: Just like its sequel series, this happens a lot:
    • As a kid, Goku enjoyed toying with his opponents, but unlike most examples there is no real malice behind it. To him, fighting is one big game and it is no fun if he just curb stomps everyone. He even refers to fighting as playing. He also tends to toy around because his full strength can easily kill most people. This behavior can be seen most in his fight with Ninja Murasaki. Goku could had easily beating the guy in minutes, but played with him, actually playing hide-and-seek and racing. Murasaki is so weak compared to Goku that it doesn't matter anyway and was one-shotted once Goku got serious.
    • Tien toys with his opponents, but it's mostly to show off how superior he is. Chiaotzu was much the same way.

    K 
  • Kiai: Actually the name of a type of Ki Attack that strongly resembles Make Me Wanna Shout.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch
    • Tao is far from a nice person, but you couldn't help cheering for him when he killed General Blue.
    • Officer Black is just as bad as any other officer in the Red Ribbon Army, but he gained a lot of points shooting Commander Red in the head once he learned that they risked their lives just so he could get taller.
  • Kid Hero: Goku up to the 23rd Tournament. Krillin too to a much lesser extent.
  • Kid Hero All Grown Up: Goku, as well as most of the other kid characters.
  • Killed Off for Real: Death maybe cheap, but the Dragon Balls weren't used as a restart button until later in the series.
    • All the commanders, except for Violet and maybe Silver, of the Red Ribbon Army.
    • The original King Piccolo. Piccolo Jr maybe his offspring, but the Demon King did die when Goku impaled him. All of Piccolo's sons, except Piccolo Jr, also died too.
    • Gohan Sr who was killed before the start of the series by Goku.
  • King of All Cosmos: Nearly every deity.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • King Piccolo. The humor and lightheartedness of Dragon Ball ended with him.
    • Tao was a minor example since he was the first real serious villain whose cruelty was played straight and caused the first on-screen character death of the series. He wasn't a full one like Piccolo because of the breakdown he had once Goku surpassed him. That and being The Comically Serious.
    • The Red Ribbon Army itself, especially since the only real villain before them was Pilaf. Their cruelty is played straight and they killed a minor character on-screen in the anime. Several of the commanders and those under them were also murdered by their superiors. The primary reason why they are not full Knight of Cerebus is because a lot of their commanders, especially Murasaki and Blue, are played for laughs or are so incompetent they reached Pilaf's territory. There is also Commander Red's height issues and the real reason why he wanted the Dragon Balls.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard:
    • Definitely Karin, the guardian who lives at the top of Karin Tower. His home is full of magical items and he seems to have some magical abilities himself, including the ability to read minds. He is also responsible for growing the magical senzu beans which Goku and company use as curatives in their journeys. At the same time he is quite a skilled martial artist and was able to out-maneuver Goku with ease the first time they met.
    • While Karin is the best example, other characters can qualify as well, such as Dende with his healing magic and Kami, who is seen to have the ability to grant life to inanimate objects, which is how he created the Eternal Dragon.

    L 
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A humorous example. Krillin cheats during training and as a result gets dinner while Goku goes hungry. However, Lethal Chef Lunch cooks dinner that night with toxic pufferfish, meaning Goku avoids getting sick.
  • Laughably Evil: Almost every single major villain had his fair share of comedic traits. Majin Buu takes this trope to the extreme.
  • Laxative Prank: Bulma does this to Oolong when he refuses to cooperate with her in helping find the Ox-king. She gives him a candy that he thinks is delicious, but really it's a laxative, and every time she whistles, he will have an emergency. Goku tries this on Oolong, too.
  • A Lesson In Defeat: Master Roshi's reason for becoming "Jackie Chun".
  • Let's Get Dangerous:
    • Master Roshi, frail looking old hermit who always wears sunglasses and is a notorious Dirty Old Man. However, when things get serious, he turns into one of the biggest Bad Asses in the series along with being a wise old master. Best shown when he uses his 'Jackie Chun' personality during the 21st and 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament and when he stands off against King Piccolo. In fact, the sex jokes fall by the wayside during the King Piccolo Saga as he takes charge of the situation.
    • Goku, a naive, simple child who have No Social Skills, can barely count, and treats fighting like playtime. However, when things get serious like his friends are in danger or you kill one of them, those parts of his personality completely drops off. This trait becomes much more notable when he is an adult.
  • Lethally Stupid: Pilaf releasing Demon King Piccolo in hopes of mooching off his conquest. Also a case of Too Dumb to Live overlapping with Evil Is Not a Toy.
  • Like Father, Like Son:
    • Does anyone remember Vegeta shoving a ki blast in Cell's face to distract him during Teen Gohan's Ultimate Kamehameha? Now what was it that Trunks did during the second Broly movie again…
    • Frieza kills Vegeta with a death beam, Cell does the same to Trunks.
    • Goku managed to kill Demon King Piccolo with a disable arm, which was broken trying to protect Tenshinhan. Gohan was able to kill Cell with one good arm, the other being disable after shielding Vegeta.
  • Limited Animation:
    • A side effect due to all the filler in Z, It fares better somewhat in the other series though.
    • Even some of the bigger battles (such as the one between Goku and Captain Ginyu) feature limited animation. Though thanks to the fact that this was an '80s anime before the use of computer animation, it is still impressive.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Dabura's spit turns people to stone. Trunks and Goten accidentally smash Piccolo after he gets turned into a statue, not know it's actually him. This leads to a Gory Discretion Shot when Dabura is killed and Picolo turns back into flesh and blood. Good thing he can regenerate, huh?
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: "Goku interviewed by Shonen Jump." Note however that Shonen Jump canonically exists in all Urban Fantasy and Slice of Life manga contained within, so this does make sense in-universe.
  • Living Prop: Bulma and Vegeta's daughter, Bra, and Krillin and 18's daughter, Marron. Given their overall plot relevance (0%), they mainly exist as a way for Toriyama to establish that their parents were/are still romantically involved, without having to actually write romance, as he was both shy about it and afraid he'd be terrible at it. Goten and Trunks served the same function while also being legitimately relevant characters in their own right.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Goku's transformation into a Great Ape is known by most of his friends. They never tell him to save his feelings since he accidentally killed his grandfather when he transformed.
  • Long Runner: The manga started in late 1984 and ended in 1995. The anime started in 1986 and ended in 1997 with Dragon Ball GT. Dragon Ball Kai may or may not count as additional seasons. Including the movies, there are now 15 of them with a movie coming out April 2015. Two of said movies are considered canon. Starting in June 2015 an anime called Dragon Ball Super is going to air There are also a number of TV specials and OVAs. Official spinoffs like Jaco The Galactic Patrolman may also be included. Meaning Dragon Ball is still going strong for over 30 years.
  • Look What I Can Do Now:
    • Goku is the king of this trope. To name a few:
      • Before training under Master Roshi, Goku could only produce a baby Kamehameha that could barely put a hole in the wall. When he was fighting Jackie Chun, Master Roshi in disguise, he was able to produce a Kamehameha that was equal to his master.
      • After getting his tail handed to him by Mercenary Tao, Goku climbs Karin Tower, gets some training, comes back down, and easily beat-up Mercenary Tao.
      • After nearly being killed by Demon King Piccolo, Goku returns to Karin Tower, drinks the Super God Water to gain more power, and when he returns to face Demon King Piccolo he fights him as an equal and wins. He also kills a monster who was easily beating Tenshinhan, who he was equal with at the start of the arc.
      • During the 23rd Tournament, Goku breezes through his fight with Tenshinhan without using any of his best techniques and even copies one of his moves. At the climax of his battle against Piccolo, he revealed that he had learned how to fly.
    • Krillin also get this during the 23rd Tournament. During his three years of training, he learned how to fly.
    • In the same tournament Yamacha managed to hit Kami, who he couldn't even touch at that point, by using his ace technique the Spirit Ball. He still lost, but Kami was greatly impress by his mastery of Kai. In the previous tournament he showed that he too had learned the Kamehameha, shocking Master Roshi and Krillin.
  • Losing Is Worse Than Death: Goku refused anyone's help when fighting Piccolo during the 23rd Tournament, even if it means death.

    M 
  • Made of Iron:
    • Considering a major theme in the series is pushing beyond one's limitations, it should be expected that this applies to a whole lot of the main characters. Later on a lot of characters will brush off attacks, but there are some specific, spectacular moments when characters are severely injured and keep going because they just refuse to give up.
    • The first battle between Goku and "Jackie Chun" at the end of the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament. They each pull out all of their most powerful abilities until they're both so exhausted that they can barely move. In the end the tournament is decided based on who can get to their feet and say "I'm the new world champion" first.
    • Major Metallitron from the Red Ribbon Army story arc. Literally, in fact, since he's an android. First he gets his head blown off by Goku's kamehameha. Next, he loses his right arm when he launches it at Goku and his left when it's destroyed by Goku's power pole. He then gets a massive hole in his chest when Goku dives through him. Despite all this he keeps going, only eventually stopping when his battery runs out of power.
    • General Blue of the Red Ribbon Army. He gets slammed into a wall and knocked unconscious by Goku, buried under a ton of rock when the Pirate Cave collapses, somehow escapes that only to crash his plane into a mountain trying to evade Goku's flying nimbus, then gets headbutted into the horizon by Arale, and none of this manages to stop him. He finally dies as a victim of The Worf Effect, courtesy of Mercenary Tao.
  • Male Gaze
  • Market-Based Title:
    • While the animated adaptations have the same name as they do in Japan, the manga version is only called Dragon Ball there. The French version followed the same title pattern as the Japanese one, but in the United States, the parts of the manga that correspond with the Dragon Ball Z anime were released with the Z attached.
    • More recently, Dragon Ball Kai is only marketed as such in some venues, being called Dragon Ball Z Kai elsewhere. Some of the games released early during Kai's run have been marketed under Z in the US as well.
  • The Masquerade: Subverted. Most people in the Martial Arts world knows about Ki, the Kamehameha, and the Turtle and Crane Schools. Flying also don't make people at the tournaments blink an eye. It isn't until years into DBZ that this trope is Played Straight.
  • The Medic: Anyone holding the bag of senzu fills this roll.
  • Megaton Punch: It's not played for laughs; the characters are simply very strong. Often followed up by the character moving quickly behind the victim (like he just teleported there) and hitting him with a downwards blow that sends the victim crashing to the ground.
  • Mickey Mousing: The Funimation dub did this at times.
  • Misleading Package Size: Anything from the Capsule Corporation (vehicles, appliances, houses, ect.) collapses down for storage in a capsule no bigger than a person's finger.
  • Mook Horror Show: When Goku confronted the Red Ribbon Army for the last time. Just watch him tearing though Red Ribbon Headquarters to get the Dragonballs as a fine example. He dodged shell fired from a rocket launcher literally meters across, then slammed the soldiers into a wall; shrugged off a sniper shot as if it was a pellet from a BB gun, terrifying the sniper; then he kept punching through the ceiling to reach the leader's floor.
  • Monster Protection Racket: Tenshinhan and Chaozu do this in their debut appearance until Goku puts a stop to their scheme.
  • Moses in the Bullrushes:
    • A variation, as Goku was sent to destroy humanity, not to escape death. (Though it inadvertently did save his life.)
      • According to Dragonball Minus Goku was sent away to save his life by his parents.
    • Kami. (Also a variation, as he raised himself.)
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Goku as an adult.
    • Before then, Yamcha and Tien.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • When Goku first visited West City some thieves tried to mug him. You can guess how that ended.
    • In fact, this is how Goku meets several of his future friends. Both Yamucha and Oolong first attempted to scare, rob, or take advantage of him because he was "just a little kid", only to be taught very quickly that Goku is no one to trifle with. Fortunately for them, Goku will forgive almost anyone.
    • During the Crossover with Dr. Slump, General Blue tries to prevent Goku from attacking him by holding Arale at knifepoint. It does work at first, as Goku doesn't know about Arale's strength either, but then he tries to kill Goku, and Arale sends him flying to Egypt.
    • In an episode, some random crook shoots Tao Paipai. Without warning. From behind. Tao Paipai deflects the bullet straight at the attacker with his hand.
  • Mundane Utility
    • Master Roshi seems to possess several fantastical items, many of which he doesn't even realize. One was the Bashousen, a magical fan that could summon wind and rain, which Chi Chi wanted to put out the flames of Frypan Mountain. It turned out he unwittingly used the magical artifact as a coaster only to throw it out when it became dirty.
    • Master Roshi had Goku and Krillin put their great strength and speed to use by doing construction work and delivering milk.
    • The Dragon Balls themselves, at least early on. Except for Emperor Pilaf, who wants to Take Over the World, the others wanted the balls and their powers for completely silly things; Oolong wanted some panties (which he got), Bulma wanted a "super-cute boyfriend", (originally it was a lifetime supply of strawberries) and Yamcha wanted them to get rid of his fear of girls.
  • Mundane Wish:
    • Played With when Emperor Pilaf has finally gathered the seven Dragon Balls, and is so overcome as he begins to make his wish to the dragon for world domination that he stammers a bit. Oolong the anthropomorphic pig takes the opportunity to leap between Pilaf and the dragon and wish for women's panties. Of course, still averted if you consider that Oolong is quite pleased with this turn of events.
    • Played more straight with Commander Red. What did he want the Dragon Balls for? Money? Power for his Red Ribbon Army? Nope, he just wanted to be taller. Officer Black is enraged when he finds out and kills him on the spot.
  • The Multiverse: There are 12 universes, and the manga is set in #7.

    N 
  • The Napoleon:
    • Commander Red. He had planned to ask Shenron to make him taller. Which, when his right hand man finds out, gets him shot in the face. Red earlier led Black and his army to believe that they'd use the Dragon Balls to conquer the planet.
    • Krillin is one of the shortest characters in the series, despite being a year older than Goku. In his teens, Krillin was really upset to be called small or something. In his adulthood, not so much, but he doesn't like it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A very long and extensive list:
    • Piccolo telling Raditz about the Dragon Balls (bringing Vegeta and Nappa to earth)
    • Vegeta letting Cell absorb #18 and Trunks not fighting as hard as he could to stop Cell absorbing #18
    • Gohan's torturing of Cell after getting the upper hand
    • Kaio Shin letting Gohan's energy get stolen and underestimating the Saiyans
    • Goku not revealing his SSJ 3 form to Vegeta (causing the latters Senseless Sacrifice)
    • Goten and Trunks getting baited by Buu (and absorbed)
    • Goku revealing he and Vegeta couldn't fuse again in front of Buu followed by Vegeta removing Fat Buu unleashing Kid Buu again.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • If Commander Red never hunted for the Dragon Balls they would have never crossed paths with Goku, which led to the destruction of the army.
    • The army doomed themselves the minute they told Tao that he could kill anyone who got in his way. He killed Upa's father, who Goku had befriended, which led Goku on a quest to gathered all of the Dragon Balls where as before he only wanted his grandpa's 4-Star Ball. His quest led him straight to the Red Ribbon Army's front door.
    • King Piccolo spitting out a final egg upon his death containing his own reincarnation meant Kami didn't die with King Piccolo, allowing him to to restore Shenron, who revives everyone killed by King Piccolo and his men.
    • Super Android 17 could've easily used Dr. Myuu's influence to mind-control 18 to join him in GT. But he decided to murder Krillin, which instantly broke his control of 18.
    • Frieza's cold blooded murder of Krillin and attempts to kill Piccolo and Gohan drives Goku over the edge to become a Super Saiyan leading to a horribly one sided fight.
    • Done again by Cell murdering #16 causing Gohan to become an Ascended Saiyan.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Early in the series, Bulma's nipples were reveals a few times (when Yamcha was accidently peeping her in the bath, and when Kuririn/Krilin flashed her boobs). Men who don't look too alien have nipples.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh:
    • Freeza in the Japanese version.
    • General Blue. Both of whom are male.
  • Nobody Poops:
    • Oolong and his laxative emergencies in Dragon Ball obviously count.
    • Master Roshi is on the toilet a lot, something that everyone tease him about.
  • No One Could Survive That:
    • Any major ki attack as far back as the King Piccolo Saga.
    • And after we establish that everyone is, in fact, strong enough to survive all but the most devastating ki blasts, Goku doesn't manage to get off Namek in time... He does.
      • If Goku hadn't found Ginyu's space pod, he would have suffocated in space.
    • By the latter Frieza saga, you'd think that they'd have learned that just because someone was hit with a ki blast or disappears from the resulting crater that this doesn't mean that they're dead. But shonen suspense rules apply...
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown
    • Tao is the first to give one of these to Goku when they first met. Goku returns the favor after returning from his training with Korin.
    • Tien gave one of these to Goku when he was paralyzed by Chiaotzu during the 22nd Tournament.
    • Tambourine brutally beats Goku up when they first met since Goku was exhausted and hungry from his battle with Tien.
    • Once Goku is rested and fed he has a rematch with Tambourine. It is one of the most brutal beatdowns in the original series with Goku seemingly beating someone to death with pure brute force.
    • After Tambourine is killed King Piccolo comes to take revenge for his fallen son. He beats Goku so badly that he actually stopped his heart leaving him for dead.
    • Drum, one of Piccolo's minions, were given one of these to Tien before Goku came and saved him.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Half the tension and drama in the entire series is based around the Dragon Balls vanishing if their creator dies.
  • No Sell:
    • General White gave Goku a punch directly to the gut. Goku remarks that it felt like a fly landing on him and returned the blow with an uppercut that sends White bouncing off the ceiling.
    • Taopaipai cannot be harmed by the Kamehameha no matter how powerful it is. It just glances around his body like water. His clothes can't say the same, much to Tao's annoyance.
    • Tien deflects Yamcha's first Kamehameha when they fought for the first time.
    • King Piccolo takes a direct hit from Goku's Kamehameha. It didn't even do Clothing Damage to him.
  • The Noseless: Krillin. Parodied early in the manga when he's fighting someone who defeats enemies through his body odor, which he struggles with until Goku points out he's drawn without a nose.
  • No Social Skills
    • Goku in a nutshell. He lived most of his life in the mountains and never seen another human until he met Bulma at the age of 12. He can't even tell the different between a boy or a girl without touching them and has no concept of tact. He never truly assimilates into society.
    • Yajirobe much like Goku grew up in the wilderness. He's rude and picks his nose without any thought or care.
    • Yamcha in the first story arc. He mainly have no social skills around girls, turning into a blabbering idiot.
  • Not So Different: In the dub at least King Piccolo says that Goku and him are very much alike since they both enjoy inflicting pain.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain:
    • General Blue. Goku made such quick work of the other Red Ribbon officers, it came as a tremendous surprise when Blue turned out to have the edge over him. Especially given that Blue's own superiors were dismissive of him as a bungling idiot who they'd probably dispose of after his next failure.
    • Pilaf. Oh, you thought the first arc's pathetic megalomaniacal loud mouth villain is nothing to worry about? Oh, buggery, he's released the local equivalent of Satan from his prison in a cretinous bid for power.
      • Then all that trouble he caused in Dragon Ball GT in just the first episode?
  • Not Quite Dead
    • Taopaipai gets blown up by his own grenade, but survives and becomes a cyborg in time for the next World Martial Arts tournament.
    • Piccolo is an interesting various of this trope. On one hand, King Piccolo is killed, but his mind and essence lives on through Piccolo Jr. So he is both Killed Off for Real since King Piccolo is dead and Not Quite Dead because his essence still exist.