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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 
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Kame Sen'nin/Muten Roushi, Tsuru Sen'nin, Baba Uranai, Kami.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Pilaf releasing King Piccolo.
  • 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.)
  • Eyedscreen: When Trunks falls.
    • When Trunks dies.
  • Eyelid Pull Taunt: Kid Goku does this to "Jackie Chun" during their match.
  • Eye Lights Out

     F 
  • Face Fault: During the Other World Tournament mini-arc, an entire stadium of people execute a Mexican Face Fault!
  • Fan Disservice: Early on, Goku got a full-frontal nudity shot in every volume... and he was only a kid.
    • In some parts of the world child nudity (or even adult nudity) isn't as big a deal as it is in the U.S. Kids, especially boys, aren't considered sexual beings, and they are free to run around naked until they decide on their own they're too old to have no sense of shame whatsoever. Child nudity is often played for laughs, but it can also highlight the innocence and the purity of the nude child, which in Goku's case is actually true.
      • It, however, veers into Unfortunate Implications territory in GT, when Goku is reverted to the body of a child, but still has his adult mind and is therefore 'old' enough to have a sense of shame/be a sexual being.
    • Recoome suffers enough clothing damage to where viewers get a good look at his bare ass for a good number of scenes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 be a complete and utter moron, 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 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
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Holy Halo: Worn by dead characters.
  • Immune to Bullets: Goku and his friends, along with most of the villains. Bullets are shown to hurt, but that's about it.
  • 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 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.
  • Indy Escape: Very early in the original series, Emperor Pilaf menaces Goku and friends with a gigantic pinball that chases them down a hallway.
    • Lampshaded in Dragon Ball Kai where King Kai jokes that Goku should be called 'Slow-Ku.'
  • Infant Immortality: Strongly played with, when it's not being outright averted. Notable aversions include:
    • Krillin being killed the first time by Tambourine in Dragonball.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Invulnerable Attack
  • 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.

    K 
  • Kiai: Actually the name of a type of Ki Attack that strongly resembles Make Me Wanna Shout.
  • King of All Cosmos: Nearly every deity.
  • 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 
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Look What I Can Do Now

    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 Kai everywhere else. Some of the games released early during Kai's run have been marketed under Z in the US as well.
  • 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.
  • 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 that, too.)
    • Kami. (Also a variation, as he raised himself.)
  • 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.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya

    N 
  • The Napoleon: Commander Red.
  • 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • No One Could Survive That: Any major ki attack as far back as the Piccolo Jr. 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 Ontological Inertia: Half the tension and drama in the entire series is based around the Dragon Balls vanishing if their creator dies.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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