Dragon Ball: Tropes O to Z

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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    O 
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • It's hard to tell what ratio of Roshi is a senile pervert to noble genius martial artist, but it's probably not an even split.
    • The original series features Shen, an ordinary human who manages to get to the top 8 of the World Martial Arts tournament by sheer clumsiness alone. When he squares off against Yamcha, Yamcha mocks his foolishness...only for Shen to suddenly punch Yamcha out of the ring. He is just an ordinary guy, yes…but one that Kami possessed at the time to fight Piccolo.
  • Obsolete Mentor: Master Roshi, Karin, Kami... Pretty much all the mentor characters, really.
  • Off the Rails:
    • This tends to happen at many tournaments. The third one in Dragon Ball involved the mechanically revived Tao Pi Pi trying to kill off the heroes, Chi Chi and Goku getting engaged after their round of 8 match, Kami coming down and possessing a contestant to get a shot at Piccolo Jr., and a battle between Goku and Piccolo Jr. that, in the end, results in the complete destruction of the entire island that the tournament is held on which, despite the strength of the characters that came through in later tournaments, remains the most destructive tournament battle in the show's history.
      • It's even commented on in the show, where previous to this World Martial Arts tournaments occurred every three years, but the gaps between the next two were 11 and 7 years respectively.
  • Oh Crap!: So, so many. A few examples:
    • Jackie Chun using the Thunder Shock Surprise Attack in the 21st Martial Arts Tournament invoked this reaction from Goku.
    • Every time the Kamehameha failed to take down or hurt a powerful foe gets this reaction from little Goku. Some noticeable examples being Mercenary Tao and King Piccolo surviving direct hits with little to no damage.
    • Of course, Goku subjects this to many people. Giving one to Jackie Chun when he showed that the could produce a Kamehameha equal in power to his, every time he turns into a Great Ape, the Red Ribbon Army's default reaction when they hear his name, Mercenary Tao when he realized that Goku surpass him. Tambourine after Goku beats the crap out of him in their second fight, King Piccolo when Goku waa able to fight as his equal and realized that he couldn't block Goku's final attack, and Piccolo Jr when Goku revealed that he could fly.
    • Master Roshi causes King Piccolo to have a massive Oh Crap! moment when he revealed he knows the Evil Containment Wave .
  • Old Master: Karin, Shin, Kami, and Roshi. Later on, even Goku himself to Uub.
  • Older Than They Look
    • Goku as a kid. At age 12 and 15 he looked no older than 5 and 10. It's not until age 18 that he finally started to look like a teenager.
    • Krillin for much the same reasons as Goku, except he never looked his age. Then again, he is a midget.
    • Chiaotzu, who looks like a 10-year old child through his entire life.
  • One-Winged Angel: Most Big Bads, often resulting in a Bishonen Line.
  • One-Woman Wail: Happens often with tragedies and deaths.
  • "On the Next Episode of..." Catch Phrase: The Japanese version of each anime adaptation has Goku start each episode preview with "Osu! Ora Goku!", roughly "Heya! I'm Goku!", while some episodes in the Funimation dub have Goku say, "Hi, this is Goku! Join me on the next episode of Dragon Ball Z..."
  • Only a Flesh Wound
    • After having his leg disabled by King Piccolo, Goku still continued to fight using his Power Pole as a cane. Then, Piccolo broke one of his arms and his other leg, sending him falling to the ground unable to move. Still, Goku charged a Kamehameha, lift himself off the ground with the energy blast, and used his remaining energy to fly right through Piccolo.
    • In Goku's fight with Piccolo Jr years later, he was shot by a ki blast that punched clean through his shoulder. He got back up, much to Piccolo's shock, saying that he missed his vital organs. He was also shot in his other limbs, and suffering from heavy blood loss. One senzu bean later and Goku is perfectly healed.
    • In the same fight one of Piccolo's arms is badly damaged when Goku made his own attack hit him. Goku suggest for him to quit the match since that is a Game-Breaking Injury. Instead, Piccolo rips the arm off and grow another one.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You:
    • Vegeta's justification for helping Goku, which gradually loses its credibility as their respect for each other strengthens.
    • In one of the movies, Vegeta hilariously shouts "Kakarotto Wa Ore No Mono Da!!" when Android 13 is beating his rival to death, and charges in to protect Goku. The context of this sentence is "Kakaroto is MY PREY hands off him", but "Ore No Mono Da" is usually used by jealous ex-boyfriends to say "belongs to me" (a good English translation is "Kakaroto is MINE").
  • Only the Chosen May Ride: The Kinto'un is a semi-sentient magic cloud that Only the Pure of Heart may ride. (That trope was originally called Nimbus Privileges, after a common dub name for the kinto'un.) Goku, Chi-chi, and Gohan are its most common riders.
  • Only the Pure of Heart
    • The Kinto'un as mentioned above.
    • Goku's pure heart also renders him immune to Devilman's ultimate move, the Devilmite Beam, which works by causing the negative thoughts in a person's mind to explode.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: There is just ONE time in which Goku refused a meal. When he sensed that his best friend Krillin was in danger and rushed to help him. It was too late: Krillin was already dead.
  • Opposed Mentors: Master Shen and Master Roshi. The former trains brutual fighters for benefit and the later uses training for personal discipline.
  • Our Gods Are Greater: The Kaio. Interestingly, a lot of the characters are actually stronger than the Kaio, and the highest ranking Kaio has actually already been killed.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different:
    • Saiyans transform into giant rampaging monkeys when they see the light of a full moon. Cutting off their tails prevents this, but until they reach a certain age, it will grow back.
    • The original series gives us Man Wolf, a wolf that turns into a man at the sight of a full moon.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: In a filler episode, a bunch of pigs from Oolong's village attempt to peep on Chi Chi while bathing in a spring.
    • Another filler has a young Muten peeping Fanfan while she is bathing.
  • Outside-Context Villain: King Piccolo and his sons. Before them, all of Goku's opponents have been mostly human with some robots and cyborgs. King Piccolo's arrival mark a major shift in the story tone and set the bar for the new enemies Goku will be facing.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome:
    • Everyone when compared to Goku. Those who are his rivals one minute are left in the dust the next moment.
    • Master Roshi falls into this as each of his students surpass him in power. By the end of the original Dragon Ball he says that he is no longer their master since they have grown to be so much more powerful than him. Goku, Yamcha, and Krillin still wears the colors of Turtle School in honor of him.

    P 
  • Panty Shot: Bulma provides a few of these in early episodes.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: In the anime, Yamcha leaves the hospital to see Goku's match with Tien during the 22nd Tournament.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: King Piccolo in the original series and later Piccolo Jr in the 23rd Tournament. King Piccolo destroyed an entire city in his battle against Goku, while Piccolo Jr wasted an entire island.
  • Physical God:
    • Kami, as the name implies, was introduced as a physical god and was the strongest being on the planet before Goku surpass him.
    • Goku firmly becomes this after he beats Piccolo and becomes the strongest in the world. Kami even offers him the position of god, which he quickly turns down.
  • Pillar of Light
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse:
    • As a kid, Goku is the second shortest character in the series. However, he is also the strongest, easily beating people who tower over him.
    • Krillin is the shortest character in the series, however, he is only behind Tien and Goku in power.
    • Chi-Chi maybe a crybaby but she single-handedly took down an entire Red Ribbon Army unit.
  • Please Select New Planet Name: After the Saiyans conquered Planet Plant, they renamed it after the warrior - now king - who lead them to victory: Vegeta. Not that Vegeta, his father.
    • Frieza and Cooler also rename planets that the Planet Trade Organization conquers. Though that's a little inconsistent.
  • Planetary Parasite:
    • The Big Gete Star from the Dragon Ball Z movie The Revenge of Cooler probably counts, since it was a mechanical life form that was trying to absorb New Namek.
    • The Tree of Might, from the Dragon Ball Z movie Tree of Might.
  • Planet of Copyhats: When the Saiyans are introduced, they have a lot of the traits that Goku has already become known for.
  • Pocket Protector: In his first meeting with Mercenary Tao, Goku survives a beam shot that should've killed him thanks to an indestructable Dragon Ball inside of his shirt.
  • Potty Failure: Oolong, Krillin, Trunks and even Bulma pee their pants at different points of the anime. Only Bulma's and Oolong's accidents are present in the manga, and these examples sometimes overlap with Bring My Brown Pants.
    • Strangely enough, the scene with Bulma is present even in the edited version of the anime.
  • Power Copying:
    • All of Goku's techniques are moves that he learn from both his enemies and friends.
    • Tien also have this ability, learning the Kamehameha and the After Image after seeing it only once. Although, his ability isn't as advance as Goku's.
  • The Power of Love: Goku becomes stronger and more aggressive when his friends are in danger or hurt.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Bulma trades her Micro Band (a watch that can shrink the person who is wearing it) to Master Roshi in exchange for a submarine. Master Roshi uses the device as a way to spy on Bulma while she is on the toilet, but it failed as he shows up when she had finished. Later, Master Roshi tries to convince Launch several times to take a bath so he can sneak in microscopically and see her naked, but he fails.
  • Previously On: Every episode has an opening narration to let you know what happened in previous episodes.
  • Pride
    • King Piccolo finds it incomprehensible that he can ever lose to a human, despite a martial artist trapping him in a rice cooker for hundreds of years. Then again, it was Goku, an alien, that eventually kills him so maybe he had a point.
    • Piccolo is almost as bad as his father. He believes only Goku poses any threat to him and even then he demeans Goku.
  • Protagonist Power-Up Privileges: Goku is always the first to train at a new training ground, then moves on to a new one when the rest of the heroes make it there. He's also the first to reach Super Saiyan.
    • Though averted with Super Saiyan 2, since Gohan's the first to reach that level.
  • Psychoactive Powers: Goku and Gohan both get stronger when those they love are threatened.
  • Public Domain Character: Son Goku and Gyumaoh.
  • Pummel Duel: Popularized the concept.
  • Punch Parry: Guaranteed to happen at least once in just about any major fight.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: King Piccolo is defeated, but three major characters are dead along with countless minor characters, and the Eternal Dragon have been destroyed making it impossible to bring anyone back.

    R 
  • Reality Warper: Janemba was said to possess powerful psychokinesis and was able to use this ability to almost overthrow the Kais themselves by turning the Otherworld council into small, jellybean like fragments and allowing all of the previous Big Bads to escape from Hell.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Master Korin who looks like an ordinary house cat (albeit a walking, talking house cat) but is really over 800 years old.
    • Master Roshi (aka Muten Roshi), despite looking in his 70s since the start is actually 300 years old, as is his rival the Crane Hermit and his brother Mercenary Tao. Roshi and Crane are old enough to have been young monks when King Piccolo ravaged the Earth 300 years ago.
    • Fortune Teller Baba who's even older than Master Roshi.
    • Kami and King Piccolo. Both are at least 300 years old.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Buu goes from having his Eyes Always Shut (and being simply misguided) to having black sclera with red pupils as his motives change to being in it purely For the Evulz
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Goku and Bulma. Goku is strong, but dimwitted and Bulma is smart, but weak.
    • Goku and Krillin for much the same reasons as Goku and Bulma.
    • Tien and Yamcha. Tien is calm while Yamcha is usually hotblooded.
  • Red Shirt Army: The world military was cut down like cardboard cutouts by King Piccolo.
  • Reincarnation: Dragon Ball loves this trope: Piccolo being the reincarnation of Piccolo Sr. and Uub being the reincarnation of Kid Buu. Interestingly, both of them are good guys, are reincarnations of Big Bads who had epic fights with Son Goku and both had a "rematch" with him in a Tenka'ichi Budokai.
    • Piccolo Jr. took longer to befriend Goku, because he actually remembered his past life; while never as evil as his previous self, Piccolo Jr. was initially quite ruthless and went through a somewhat prolonged Heel-Face Turn (fueled by two Enemy Mine arcs in a row, and Goku's son as a Morality Pet) after his defeat. He also looks the same as Piccolo Sr. because in addition to being his reincarnation, he's also his clone.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation: Made and dubbed during this period (and quite possibly the trope codifier for starting the North American Anime craze of the mid-late 90s). One of the hundreds of Anime spawned during this period and one of the several dozen that caught on in America. You can confidently say that this series is one of the main reasons Anime became popular during the 90s outside of Japan.
  • Renowned Selective Mentor:
    • Master Roshi. When he offers to train Goku, Yamcha (watching nearby) comments on how Master Roshi never takes on students easily and that he must see something special within Goku. When Krillin comes asking for training, Roshi simply tells him to go home. He changes his mind when Krillin shows him several dirty mags. Later when Yamcha ask to become one of his students he turns him down, saying that two was his limit. He quickly changes him mind when Bulma says that she would come and visit if he took Yamcha in.
    • Master Roshi's rival, the Crane Hermit, is also picky about who he trains. As far as we know his only students are his younger brother, Tao, Tien, and Chiaotzu.
    • Korin only teaches those who can climb Korin Tower. Even then, he is more of a trickster mentor since people climb to drank the Sacred Water to become stronger, not to specially train.
    • Being the Guardian of the Earth, aka god, Kami rarely takes students and when he does it's under abnormal circumstances. He trains Goku because he is he only person able to beat Piccolo outside of himself and Mr. Popo. He can't kill Piccolo without killing himself and Mr. Popo won't do anything that will bring harm to Kami. He then trains the other Z-Fighters because the Saiyans were coming to wipe out all life on Earth.
  • Restraining Bolt: Fat Buu is a Laughably Evil Man Child with a sweet tooth and the power to end all life. Turns out the only reason he's like that is because the former Supreme Kai baited him into absorbing him which limited his power but gave him a sort of conscience and a degree of intelligence. When Fat Buu is removed from Super Buu we see what he was like originally...
  • Reused Character Design: Several filler characters have familiar faces:
    • Hasky, a thief employed by the Red Ribbon Army, bears a strong resemblance to Launch's bad form in appearance, with the main difference being Hasky has messier hair and it is slightly paler blonde in tone.
    • Fanfan, love interst of a young Muten, is ideantical to Colonel Violet.
    • Chuu Lee, a girl met by Goku, is a Palette Swap of Tsururin Tsun from Dr. Slump.
    • An unnamed old scientist met by Chichi and Goku looks very similar to an old version of Sherman Priest, a villager of Aru Village who suffered from Oolong's early shenanigans.
  • Revenge:
    • Part of the reason why Goku wanted to beat Mercenary Tao along with retrieving the Dragon Balls. He killed Upa's father for no particularly reason.
    • Goku's entire motivation throughout the King Piccolo Saga. Tien also feels this way after Piccolo murders Chiaotzu.
    • Piccolo Jr wants to kill Goku to not only Take Over the World, but to avenge his father.
    • The Crane Hermit wanted to kill Goku because he killed his young brother, Tao. After the three year time-skip, Tao and him wants revenge against Goku and Tien for betraying them.
  • Rise from Your Grave: First done in the Red Ribbon Army Saga to revive Upa's dad who was murdered by Tao.
  • The Rival: Dragon Ball runs on this, after which it gets demoted somewhat for Z.
  • Rival Dojos: Crane School and Turtle School in Dragon Ball.
  • Road Sign Reversal: Bulma was fleeing from General Blue through an abandoned pirate hideout. She came to an intersection and drew an arrow on the ground in dust to tell Goku which way she went, but Blue got to it first and changed it to point the opposite direction.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Goku during the last part of the Red Red Army Saga. He'd been fighting the Red Ribbon Army for a while, but was never really antagonistic towards him. He just wanted to find his Grandpa's Dragon Ball, and the army tried to stop him, so he kicked their asses. But when the Army hired Tao-Pai-Pai, the mercenary, to take out Goku, Tao killed the father of Goku's new friend. Goku eventually killed Tao, or so he thought, and decided to find the rest of them so he could wish his ally back. So he stormed the Red Ribbon Army base, killed pretty much everyone there, took out the newly-made leader (the former leader was executed by his second in command after the latter learned about the true nature of the original leader's goal involving a wish was completely trivial and actually endangered their existence), and got the Dragon Balls and felled the terrorist army in one fell swoop.
    • The entire King Piccolo Saga was one long Roaring Rampage of Revenge for Goku. He wanted to kill Piccolo and all his sons to avenge Krillin and later Master Roshi.
  • Rock-Paper-Scissors
    • The "Jan Ken" is a fighting move — Rock is a punch, Paper is a chop, and Scissors is a Three-Stooges-style eye poke. Also you have to call out which one you're using whenever you attack with it, which leads to a scene where Goku "cheats" somewhat by saying Paper but doing the Rock move instead.
    • During the King Piccolo Saga, Goku and Yajirobe Rock-Paper-Scissors for the right to fight King Piccolo's minion Cymbal. Cymbal is not amused.
  • Rousseau Was Right: The philosophy that defines the entire franchise; easily missed if all you focus on is the (admittedly awesome) action sequences. The warm heart that drives the story celebrates unconditional kindness and faith in fundamental human decency; proven by the fact that virtually ALL of Goku's friends minus Kurilin, Roshi and Bulma were once selfishly-driven or black-hearted villains who were shown kindness and hence given the chance to earn their humanity.
    • While not such a villain, Krillin did have a bit of a mean streak at the beginning of training with Master Roshi in Dragon Ball. As part of Goku and Krillin's training, Master Roshi picked up a rock, drew a Turtle symbol on it, and threw it into the Forest for only one of them to find. Krillin manages to get the rock by tricking Goku in allowing him to "examine" the rock.
    • Even Bulma was initially a vain teenage girl who couldn't see past her own desire to have a perfect boyfriend and was willing to waste the Dragon Balls on getting one to come along.
    • The same could be said about Goku. Although it happened off-screen, Goku was a mean-spirited child who rejected Gohan Sr.'s love. Although he may of had a kind heart from his mother, so he wasn't as ruthless as others in his race, he still came off as a jerk. By hitting his head, maybe, and Gohan continuing to care for him, Goku greatly mellowed out and became the boy we met at the start of Dragonball.
  • The Runaways: Androids 17 and 18, starting from when they were human.
  • Running Gag:
    • In the original Dragon ball Roshi would offer up wonderful mystic objects as rewards for the hero's good deeds- only to be reminded by Turtle that he'd accidentally destroyed them earlier.
    • A magic carpet that he'd befouled. (Although he substitutes the Nimbus Cloud which is pretty much the same as long as you have a pure heart.)
    • The Bancho fan that he used as a placemat and threw out when he spilled juice on it.
    • An immortal phoenix that died after eating tainted bird seed.
    • Also, Dr. Gero getting killed by Android 17.

    S 
  • Sadist: King Piccolo, his minions, and to an extent his son Piccolo Jr. They all delight in causing pain and suffering.
  • Sacrificial Lion
    • Upa's father, Bora. His first appearance had him being strong enough to take out an entire unit of the Red Ribbon Army long before Goku got there, and was also a noble Indian. He ends up impaled by his own spear by Tao. He has the honor of being the first person revived by the Dragon Balls.
    • Krillin, Chiaotzu, and Master Roshi in the King Piccolo Saga. Krillin especially since he was the first major character death.
  • Satanic Archetype: Piccolo was also placed in the role of Satan for a while after his introduction. Specifically, the first Piccolo went by the title of "Daimaou" or "Demon Emperor". The better-known second Piccolo, the reincarnation of the original, also initially considered himself the Daimaou, but was never actually as evil as he'd been in his first life and eventually made a full Heel-Face Turn.
  • Scare Chord: a recurring one throughout the series.
  • Schmuck Banquet: Goku eats a giant fish roasting out in the open, unaware that it belongs to Yajirobe.
  • Screaming Warrior: Basically all of them.
  • Sculpted Physique: No, not the chiseled bodies of the protagonists, but the seemingly carved from rock, steel, or plastic looking villains and aliens... who also had a set of washboard abs.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Piccolo was one of these, sealed into a simple electric rice cooker. Buu was also sealed in a veiny-looking ball so that it would be easier for Bibidi to control him and transport him from place to place.
  • Sealed Evil In A Six Pack: One movie villain called Hildegarne (or Hirudegarn) was a giant monster split in half and sealed inside two siblings, Tapion and Minosha. The heroes spent a part of the movie fighting the bottom half, until the top half appeared and joined the other half.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: The elder Kai was sealed in a sword; breaking the sword released him.
  • Second Super-Identity: Gohan becomes a crime fighting superhero. At first, he just turns into a super saiyan and is referred to as "The Gold Fighter." Later, Bulma builds him a sentai outfight and he adopts the moniker, "The Great Saiyaman."
  • Self-Duplication: Piccolo had the power to split himself into several copies, which he used as a training technique. His attempt to use it in combat didn't pan out nearly as well.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: While the sacrifices aren't senseless (in both times they prevented the immediate death of the people who could stop the Big Bad and allowed the heroes to understand that overkill was called for) in both cases they could have been prevented had not Gohan and Goku been idiots
    • This trope happens so often throughout both DB and DBZ that, when someone decides to sacrifice themselves, you can almost be sure it won't work.
  • Sentai: The Ginyu Force is an allusion to these kind of shows.
  • Sequel Episode: Most of the story's major arcs have few connections to each other but there are a few proper sequels. The 22nd and 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai arcs are sequels to the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai arc, separated from each other by the Red Ribbon Army and Piccolo Daimao arcs. They also got a partial sequel years later at the beginning of the Buu arc. The Red Ribbon arc got a sequel in the form of the Android/Cell arcs while the Piccolo Daimao arc was immediately followed by its sequel.
  • Serial Escalation: Take your pick. Mostly the special attacks and transformations.
  • Set Bonus: The Dragon Balls.
    • Except they are little more than fancy paperweights if you're missing even one.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Future Trunks' mission. Even though he learns that he can't actually change his future´s timeline, he's still set on making sure this timeline turns out better.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Frieza kills Dende as soon as he realizes Dende is the one who's been healing everybody.
  • Shout-Out
    • Go read Dr. Slump, then re-read Dragon Ball. Despite Emperor Pilaf stating he didn't want to see any references to it there's more visual references than one would think. Example: Vegetto gets turned into a talking coffee drop...
    • The helmet Chichi wears early in Dragon Ball, with the forehead laser and the throwing blade, seem to have been inspired by the Emerium Beam and Eye Slugger used by the eponymous hero of Ultra Seven.
    • King Kai has a chimp named Bubbles.
    • Saibamen to aliens from the 1955 film This Island Earth.
    • In the episode where Nappa destroys several news aircraft, one of them is a Shuttlecraft from the Star Trek movies, complete with Warp nacelles, twin-line markings and NCC-1701-A on the side.
    • The scene where King Cold's mentions rebuild Frieza is an obvious shout out to The Six Million Dollar Man, right down to the dialogue.
    • The Android Saga is basically the plot of Terminator; Trunks' initial character design is almost identical to John Conner's, down to the jacket.
    • To Disney's Cinderella. Say it with us now, "Bibidi, Babidi, Buu".
  • Ship Sinking: Double subverted with Bulma & Yamcha.
  • Shōnen: Considered a landmark series for this demographic; it's influence can be seen in a lot of manga running today.
  • Signature Move: Several. Cell gets a lot of mileage from using these.
    • Goku: Janken Fist, Kamehameha, and in anime-only things like movies and GT, Dragon Fist.
    • Master Roshi: Kamehameha. He's actually the inventor, it took him fifty years.
    • Yamcha: Wolf Fang Hurricane Fist, Sokidan.
    • Kuririn: Kienzan.
    • Tenshinhan: Kikouhou and Taiyoken.
    • Piccolo: Makankosappo.
    • Gohan: Masenko, later Kamehameha.
    • Gotenks: Super Ghost Kamikaze Attack.
    • Vegeta: Galick Gun, Big Bang Attack and Final Flash
  • Single Specimen Species: The Buyon in Muscle Tower back in the early series could resist Goku's Kamehameha unharmed, and no other is ever seen again. Much later on in the series (and curiously also related indirectly to the Red Ribbon army) we get Cell (who does reproduce all by himself, compromising his uniqueness, but that doesn't last long).
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Ginyu Force is seen as this at one point, and one of the earlier opening sequences has Vegeta and Nappa as silhouetttes doing a Power Walk.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness:
    • HIGH. Many examples but notably Frieza annihilating all the Namekians, Dr. Gero succeeding in killing Goku via Perfect Cell, Cell achieved his perfect form and almost destroyed the world and Buu killed almost all of humanity life itself AND did destroy the Earth plus countless other planets.
    • The earliest example of high villain effectiveness was King Piccolo who outright won. He got his wish for eternal youth, killed the dragon so no one could be brought back to life, murdered many beloved characters, and took over the world, plunging everything in to anarchy. His rule was short thanks to Goku. No other villain, saved for Buu, came so close to complete and utter victory.
    • Before King Piccolo the villains' effectiveness ranged from low to moderate, with Tao scoring the highest since he did beat Goku (only failing to kill him thanks to the Dragonball in his shirt) and stole his Dragonballs. Blue was also up there since he did the same as Tao, but got beating up quite a bit.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: Most of the major Dragon Ball enemies are global threats (except the 22nd Tournament, which slid down to a strictly personal threat). Then the threat level started to crank up from the Frieza saga onward, all the way up to threats to all existence in the Buu saga and Dragon Ball GT.
  • Smug Snake
    • Pilaf thinks he is more brilliance than he really is and his arrogance led him to freeing King Piccolo thinking he would share part of the world with him.
    • Commander Red all so much. He refused to abandon the Dragon Balls even when it became obvious to everyone that there was no way to beat Goku and thought it was a good idea to tell Officer Black his real reason for wanting the Dragon Balls, thinking Black wouldn't do anything.
  • Smug Super
    • King Piccolo full stop. He looked down his nose at humans and believed he was the strongest thing on the planet. The thought that anyone could be stronger than him was completely unthinkable.
    • His son Piccolo Jr. Although not as smug as his father since he knows he has to kill Goku first in order to take over the world, he still belittles his opponents and mocks Goku for not being willing to cause harm to people.
    • Tao, more specially after he comes back as a cyborg. He is so confident in his new strength that he sees dealing with Tien as just something to do on his way towards getting revenge against Goku.
    • Tien when he was first introduced. He was extremely confident in his power and never missed a chance to belittle the Turtle School. He used the Kamehameha against Master Roshi just to show that he could and broke Yamcha's leg for no particular reason. Thankfully, Tien mellowed out after his story arc.
  • Snap to the Side: Raditz does this whenever Goku grabs his tail.
    • Happens alot in this show, really.
  • So Last Season: Everything. Attacks, power-ups, warriors, Big Bads, everything. It gets to the point were if something was used last season, you can be sure that it's not going to have any real impact now. In particular, the Spirit Bomb went totally unmentioned after it failed to kill Frieza, so when Vegeta suggested using it against Kid Buu, Goku was visibly shocked at the suggestion.
    • The most notable subversion of this, however, is likely the Taiyou-ken/Solar Flare. It maintains incredible utility far past its original inception back in Dragon Ball, serving as the only form of effective defense against higher level foes. It's even later used by Cell against the heroes themselves to useful effect.
    • May be interpreted as a running theme of the series. Which is that there is no ultimate power, invincible warrior, supreme skill, unbeatable technique, etc. No matter how mighty you are or think you are, someone, somewhere, sometime (possibly even you yourself in the future) will either be or become, better. The pinnacle of Bad Ass of each saga is either directly or indirectly turned into a running joke in the next. This includes the Super Saiyan transformation itself, which goes from legendary uber power-up enabled only by appalling cost, to something schoolkids do for fun.
    • Lampshaded in one of the OVA's. "They are as strong as Frieza you say? Aww, that's boring. But perfect for the kids!" Who are under 10 at this point.
    • This is especially true for each of Vegeta's finishers, of all things. He used his Galick Gun once against Goku, then never again. He used his Big Bang once against Android #19. Not counting anime filler where he uses it against a Cell Junior and against Goku during their second fight, he uses his Final Flash once against Perfect Cell.
  • Solid Clouds: Flying Nimbus, which Goku rides around on before he learns to fly on his own, would probably apply.
  • The Something Force: The Ginyu Force.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Both during the sagas and throughout the entire series.
    • Subverted with Babidi's Elite Mooks who were defeated so easily by the heroes it even shocked the King of All Cosmos. If anything, they were slightly mightier than the Big Bad of two seasons prior. Even The Dragon was just as strong as last season's Big Bad at full strength. The only reason he did so well is because Gohan, who defeated said Big Bad, had done basically no training and was weaker than he had been before, not to mention holding back for no good reason (Vegeta was supremely annoyed by that).
    • Subverted in the Red Ribbon Army Saga. After Goku kicks the grenade into Tao Pai Pai's face, he just mows through an entire army, shrugging off a direct hit from a sniper rifle. Staff Officer Black's powered armour is actually less of a challenge than the ruthless assassin Tao.
    • This is lampshaded in the special Yo! Son Goku and his Friends Return, when two soldiers from Frieza's army who have become even stronger than Frieza show up with the intention of terrorising the Earth. By this point, Goku and Vegeta's youngest sons, neither of whom is older than ten, are more than a match for them.
    • Played painfully straight with Beers from "Battle of Gods", who not only curb stomps Super Saiyan 3 Goku, but Super Saiyan God state, which canonically is the strongest power up in the series, does not even come close to beating him at all.
    • The real kicker of this that not only Beers' assistant, Whis is much stronger than even Beers, but since he's the designated God of Destruction of the Dragon Ball universe which is No 7 out of 12, that means that there are eleven other ones that are even stronger than Beers
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The romanizations of many characters' name tend to vary between Japanese media. Even the English adaptation of the manga and anime can't seen to agree on which spelling to use.
  • Spheroid Dropship: Frieza's Saiyan Pods are of the sufficiently advanced variety that has interstellar capability.
  • Spinoff Babies: Although its anything but this, the original Dragon Ball was both advertised and came off as this to American viewers due to Z being localized first.
    • A more straight example may be GT, which turned Goku back into a kid and pushed his granddaughter Pan to the forefront.
  • Spoiler Title: Pretty much every episode of the English dub of Z had this problem. Particularly bad are when the title of the episode reveals the death of a character.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: Krillin's signature attack (though many of the other Z-Warriors can do it too) is the Destructo Disk/Kienzan; a concentrated disk of Ki energy thinned to a razor sharp tip. Frieza and Cell also have a remote-controlled variation.
    • Some characters, Such as Spike the Devil Man and Dabura, can literally create weapons like pitchforks and swords out of thin air using Magic Materialization/Busshitsu Shutsugen Majutsu.
  • Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Chi-Chi entered the Tenkaichi Budokan so she could bully Goku into marrying her because of a promise he had made when they were both twelve years old.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Launch on Tien. So bad that Launch left home to chase him.
  • Standard Powerup Pose: From the Kaio-Ken to the Super Saiyan, this is done all the time.
  • Stat-O-Vision: Scouters.
    • Androids also have this by virtue of being machines.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Thoroughly outnumbered by aliens individually stronger than they are, quite a large part of the Frieza arc ends up being this for Krillin and Gohan.
    • This is averted briefly when they attack Dodoria in front of Frieza and Zarbon. Of course, they're only strong enough to lightly injure him, and it lapses back into this again.
    • They were seriously lucky Vegeta was providing a handy distraction by killing Frieza's Dragons and Mooks; Gohan and Krillin go almost entirely unnoticed by Frieza until the Ginyu Force arrives. Of course, this meant they had to hide from Vegeta too.
  • Storming the Castle: Goku did this against the Red Ribbon Army at their headquarters. By himself. At age 12. And won.
  • Story-Breaker Power: The devil Akkuman emits waves that amplify every evil or impure thought, causing even saintly people to explode from within. He was defeated only because Goku has a totally pure heart and could not be affected. Unsurprisingly, he never appeared again after the story arc featuring him.
  • Super Mode: Super Modes to be precise. Super Saiyan, then 2, 3 and 4. Not counting False Super Saiyan, Legendary Super Saiyan and the 2 Ultra Super Saiyan levels.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: One of the most infamous examples.
  • Super Power Meltdown: Chiaotzu, Android 16 and 18, and Cell.
  • The Svengali: The Crane Hermit was this towards his students Tien Shin-han and Chiaotzu before they rebelled against him and cast him aside in favor of Kame Sen'nin.

    T 
  • Third Eye: Tien.
  • This Cannot Be!: King Piccolo and is son Piccolo Jr had this reaction when Goku defeated them.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Commander Red. He refused to abandon the base and leave the Dragon Balls when it became obvious that there was no stopping Goku and actually told his real plan to Officer Black, which earned him a bullet in the head.
    • Officer Black after he took command of the Red Ribbon Army. Instead of peacefully surrendering the Dragon Balls to Goku and walking away, he tried to fight him, despite knowing how strong Goku was. Goku showed no mercy chasing him down and killing him.
    • Emperor Pilaf who thought it was a great idea to release the world's version of Satan just so he could rule a piece of the world. Amazingly, King Piccolo didn't have him kill, but he did kicked them off their own plane.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Goku, naturally, have several:
      • The jump in strength between the first story arc and the first Tournament Arc. Goku could barely make a Kamehameha strong enough to wreck a car. By the tournament, he can create a Kamehameha equal to his master.
      • When he first met Tao, the assassin easily beat him and he only survived thanks to his 4-star Dragon Ball. After training with Korin, he returns to Earth and he beats Tao like he is a novice.
      • After being destroyed by King Piccolo, he returns to Korin's Tower, finds the Ultra Divine Water which powers him up, and returns to fight Piccolo, who also became stronger from regaining his youth. They were evenly matched in the second fight.
      • Goku during the third Tournament Arc. He beat Tien with little trouble, despite being about even three years ago, and is able to fight toe-to-toe with Piccolo Jr, who is stronger than his father.
    • Piccolo, both father and son, took several level in badass. First when King Piccolo regained his youth using the Dragon Balls, and then when Piccolo Jr overpowered Kami, who was many times stronger than King Piccolo. Even better, he beat Kami using a reverse Evil Containment Wave, the one technique King Piccolo feared.
    • Krillin and Yamcha by the end of the original series. They went from being weaker than Master Roshi, easily being defeated by him, to greatly surpassing him. Yamcha was able to hit Kami and Krillin gave Piccolo Jr a good fight.
  • Took a Level in Kindness
    • It happened before the beginning of the series, but Goku was once a terrible toddler who terrorize Gohan Sr. despite the latter's best efforts to raise him. It is not complete clear thanks to new information if it was the head-injury alone, Gohan's kindness, or a little bit of both that caused Goku to become the good-hearted boy we know and love. During the events of the original Dragon Ball, Goku was much less merciful to his enemies and had no problem killing them. Android 8 had to stay his hand to keep him from killing General White. After training with Kami, Goku became much more reluctance to kill.
    • Bulma who went from just using Goku to get all the Dragon Balls to coming to actually caring about him and seeing him as a dear friend. Also in the King Piccolo Saga she was truly concern about the state of the world and not just herself.
    • Oolong is still a cowardly, selfish pervert, but he acts generally nicer to his friends and shows concern about them.
    • Yamcha was a thief who Would Hurt a Child. By the end of the series, he is one nicest characters.
    • Krillin who was manipulative, selfish, and treated Goku fairly badly. Not only did he come to see Goku as his best friend, but he becomes quite heroic, willing to risk his life to help others.
    • Launch's other half. She is still quite violent and trigger-happy, but she will fight to defend her friends, especially Tien. She also showed disgust over King Piccolo's actions despite liking some of his polices.
    • Tien and Chiaotzu, both who were demeaning to their opponents, especially the Turtle School, became one of the most selfless characters in the series.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: One of the movies has Goten and Trunks fighting Hitler and an army of zombified Nazis.
  • Time Skip: Several. Roughly 30 years passed from start to finish.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential
  • Time Travel: The Alternate Reality variation is the modus operandi of the Cell saga. Arguably Timey-Wimey Ball too.
  • Touch Telepathy
    • Master Roshi can read minds and communicate with people without talking.
    • King Piccolo is telepathically linked to all his children.
    • Tenshinhan and Chaozu often speak telepathically. In particular, this is how they get away with rigging the tournament match-ups twice.
  • Training from Hell: They keep trying to find ways to top themselves, beginning with weighted clothing and continuing to rooms that can simulate 450 times normal gravity and beyond.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Pretty much every child in the main team, but Gohan is the embodiment of the trope. He's a child who, because of who and what he is, is continually put in situations he has no business in.
  • Three-Point Landing: Almost everybody does this when falling, except when they fall flat to the floor.
  • Trash Talk: Tien loves given these before his Heel-Face Turn, especially to Yamcha.
  • Trope Codifier: Many of the tropes common to the Fighting Series genre were codified by Dragon Ball.
  • True Companions: Goku, Krillin, Bulma, Yamcha, Master Roshi, Ooling, Puar, Turtle, and then any kids any of them might have. Other characters, like Tien, Piccolo and Vegeta, might become something like friends with the rest but aren't usually seen hanging out with the others.
  • Tsundere: Bulma and Blond Launch fits here perfectly.
  • T-Word Euphemism: Lord Pilaf's minions and the English localisers on the "K-word".

    U 
  • Underestimating Badassery: All over the place just like Z.
    • Because Goku is a small, cute child for most of the original series most people tends to dismiss him. Like Yamcha despite knowing that Goku is the grandson of the legendary martial artist, Son Gohan. He never completely takes Goku seriously until Goku knocks his tooth out. Tien also underestimated Goku for being a child until he learns he killed Mercenary Tao.
    • Much like Goku, Krillin is never taking seriously because he's a kid. Although he isn't as successful as Goku, he still manages to shut a lot of people up. One of the most notable examples is when Krillin fought Piccolo Jr at the 23rd Martial Tournament. He put up such a good fight that Piccolo was left shock and contemplating his plans to take over the world.
    • Everyone, except for the Ox-King, underestimates Master Roshi because he's a perverted, old hermit. He quickly proves why he is consider the strongest man in the world by blowing up a flaming mountain.
    • Tao when he fought Tien during the 23rd Martial Arts Tournament. Tao only saw Tien as an amusing distraction before taking his revenge on Goku. Tien completely outmatched Tao and took him down with one punch to the gut.
    • Goku completely underestimated King Piccolo when they first met. He nearly pays for his mistake with his life.
    • Later, Goku thinks he can make quick work of Mr. Popo since he took down the Demon King himself. Mr. Popo handed Goku his tail and reprimanded him for thinking he was the strongest in the world because he beat Piccolo.
    • This is Kami's fighting style. When he was disguise as Shen, he purposely came across as weak, clumsy, and extremely lucky. This cause everyone not to take him seriously, which never ended well for them. Only Yajirobe and Goku saw through Kami's ploy.
  • Unexpected Character: The videogames are featuring more and more of these, particularly Sparking Meteor / Budokai Tenkaichi 3.
  • Unfazed Everyman:
    • Bulma slowly becomes this over the course of the series. Seeing overpowered people able to level islands doesn't even make her blink by the end.
    • Launch too becomes like this the more she hangs out with Goku and his gang.
  • The Unfought: Goku never once directly meets General Red, the commander of Red Ribbon Army, who is later killed by his own sidekick.
    • Not counting GT, he never gets to fight Android 17 either, due to the heart virus; by the time he's recovered from it, 17's already been absorbed by Cell.
  • Uniqueness Decay: The titular magical orbs start out as the awesome Holy Grail of all mystical artifacts, then eventually become relegated to fuel for resurrections as the series continues.
  • Unskilled, but Strong
    • Mr. Popo called Goku this trope when they first met. According to him, Goku has a lot of power, but made poor use of it. His training for the 23rd Tournament consist of Goku learning how to control and focus his power.
    • Further back to the 21st Tournament Master Roshi called Goku wild, but strong. Despite having formal training, his grandfather died before it was completed leaving Goku to fill in the blanks. Master Roshi entered the tournament so neither Goku or Krillin would win on brute strength.
  • Unstoppable Rage: What Goku goes into for most of the King Piccolo Saga. His best friend Krillin was murdered and he later learned that Piccolo killed Master Roshi.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Subverted and then immediately played straight when the Dragon is summoned at Capsule Corp. Everybody else in the city freaks out... until they learn it's from Capsule Corp. and assume it's just another experiment, continuing with their lives.
  • Urban Legend: There's a very oft-repeated one floating around in Hungary, which claims the series got canceled because a kid jumped off a building/out a window, thinking the Nimbus would save him. There is nothing to confirm this, yet many, many fans consider it a fact. In reality, the show was canceled because the TV station that had carried it got into trouble due to the series' timeslot and rating — they handled it as a children's cartoon but the media authorities saw it as strictly meant for adults. It is also known that a 14-year-old named Karcsi threatened the broadcasting company with suicide upon hearing about the cancellation. But the one about a kid jumping to his death is, most likely, a legend.

    V 
  • Villain Decay: Tao was put through this after he came back as a cyborg. He is actually stronger than ever, but all the characters had leveled up to the point where he was no threat to them. It is hinted that Chiaotzu only lost against him because he was shocked to see Tao alive after being told that was dead three years ago.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Officer Black attempted this after he failed to blow up the base, but Goku wouldn't let him get away.
  • Villains Want Mercy: All part of Tao's ploy after realizing that he couldn't beat Goku.
  • Villainous Breakdown
    • Tao had one when he realized that Goku was stronger than him. Once that realization hit, he pulled his I Surrender, Suckers ploy.
    • Commander Red and Officer Black have one when they both realized that they couldn't beat Goku.
    • King Piccolo also had one after Goku tanked a blast that leveled an entire city. He was so freaked out that he called Goku inhuman and ran to get Tien as a shield.
  • Villain Pedigree: Goku has already outgrown most human opponents even before the end of Dragon Ball. Throughout Z, the bad guys are either demons, alien invaders, genetically engineered killing machines or humans who've been cybernetically amped-up.
  • Villain Respect:
    • Before Yamcha became friends with Goku, he came to respect him after he was easily beating by Goku in their rematch.
    • Despite still talking down to Goku, Piccolo respects Goku enough to realize that he can't take over the world as long as Goku is alive.

    W 
  • Walking the Earth
    • What Master Roshi made Goku do this after the events of the Red Ribbon Army Saga. Worse, he can't use the Flying Nimbus, so he have to travel the world by foot.
    • Goku was already doing a version of this when he was searching for his 4-star Dragon Ball.
    • What Yamcha, Tien, Chiaotzu, and Krillin do after King Piccolo is killed. They traveled together at first before going their separate ways.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Master Roshi battles his pupils in the Tenkaichi Tournament under the guise of Jackie Chun. He believes that Victory Is Boring, so he tries to prevent them from winning so that they'll always strive to become stronger rather than rest on their laurels. Though in hindsight, it contributed heavily to Goku's obsession with getting stronger above everything else.
  • Wasteful Wishing: Subverted. Oolong's wish for panties was a waste, but wasting the wish prevented Pilaf's rise to power.
  • Wax On, Wax Off:
    • Master Roshi takes it to comedic excess when he forces Krillin and Goku to work long hours delivering milk on foot, sowing fields with their bare hands, and doing chores at construction sites, all the while wearing weighted turtle shells. He makes a few bucks off it, too. It does really build them up fast, however.
    • Another notable instance of it was when Goku had to snatch a drink from Korin's sacred water. Similar to King Kai, Korin made Goku work for it (not to mention the feat of simply climbing to his tower). At one point Goku was tempted to cheat and drink it while Korin was asleep and couldn't keep it away, but he refused and went back to sleep (Korin was apparently awake the entire time, and silently approved). Eventually, Goku managed to get the water only to learn that it was ordinary tap water. Later, Tao Pai Pai tried to do the same, but Korin decided he was unworthy of training and just handed the water over without a fuss. To further the point home, Korin even provided Tao with a ride back down the tower, so as to prevent him from gaining any sort of training from him (normally climbing up and down the tower was part of Korin's programme).
    • Both this and the above trope come back again during the King Kai arc of Goku's training, where he's told to first catch Bubbles, a monkey, and whack Gregory with a mallet. Sounds simple enough, considering Goku is an alien with super speed. King Kai, however, conveniently forgot to mention that his planet's gravity is 10 times that of Earth, which means even taking a step took tremendous effort on Goku's part, but not for Bubbles or Gregory, who have lived on the planet for so long the latter can fly at subsonic speeds!
  • We Are Team Cannon Fodder: All the same reasons for Can't Catch Up. At one point every main character besides the Saiyans attack the Big Bad while he is preoccupied with dueling Kamehameha waves. And he just shrugs them off.
  • Weak, but Skilled:
    • Although not weak by any means, Master Roshi is this compared to King Piccolo, who outclassed Roshi in everything. However, he was the only one who terrified Piccolo since he knew the Evil Containment Wave.
    • Krillin compared to Goku during their match at the 22nd Tournament. Despite being outmatched, Krillin was able to do as well as he did thanks to his skill. That and Goku was being playful.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • Despite all of Goku's strength, he is render completely helpless when his tail is pulled or grabbed. He eventually loses this weakness by the first timeskip.
    • The only way to defeat Chaozu's psychic attacks is to break his concentration. Krillin does this by asking him extremely difficult math questions. Like 9 - 1. After that his teacher the Crane Hermit immediately gave him remedial math lessons.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Future Trunks is constantly looking for Vegeta's approval. It isn't until Cell kills him that Vegeta realizes how important his son is to him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ginyu as well...yes, 'he' shows up again, but what about his body?
    • He appears in one of the filler episodes, having been teleported along with everyone else from Namek. It still acted like a frog.
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Goku asked Chi-Chi what does she mean when she said she loved him. Granted, Goku may know love in a friendship sense, but not in a romantic one.
  • What Is This, X?: In the Funimation dub of Dragon Ball, in one episode, when Bulma gets surprised that she has to wear a Playboy Bunny costume: "What is this, Easter?!"
  • When You Snatch the Pebble:
    • Goku goes to Karin's Tower to drink the Super Holy Water, which he hears will make him much stronger. Actually getting the bottle of water from Karin, however, is a daunting task because of Karin's swiftness (combined with the high altitude). When Goku finally does get the bottle, he is told that it contains just ordinary water—his attempts to take the water were what increased his strength.
    • Goku tries to be a little sly about this, however, and tries to drink a bit of the water while Karin's asleep. He decides against it. Turns out to be a Secret Test of Character.
    • Used again in his training with Mr Popo on Kami's lookout where he must snatch a bell from Popo (along with a variety of other challenges)
  • Willfully Weak:
    • As Goku becomes more powerful he realizes that he can kill people if he fights at full power. So, when he fights in tournaments he purposely restrains himself. He even tells Tien since he's so strong he can fight normally since he won't die. As an teenager, he restrains himself by wearing heavy clothing.
    • Piccolo Jr went out of his way not to fight a full power through the 23rd tournament since he didn't want to be disqualified before killing Goku. He still gives Krillin a sample of his power when he proves a worthy match.
  • With My Hands Tied
    • Tao Pai Pai combined this with the Worf Effect by fighting and killing General Blue who had nearly killed Goku twice... By using nothing but his tongue. Witnesses are obviously spooked...
    • Piccolo gets Goku to stand and take his long distance attacks by threatening to kill Tenshinhan. Goku had already had one leg broken at this point, and Piccolo uses the circumstances to break Goku's other leg and one of his arms before taking off to finish Goku with death from above. Goku manages to use that one working arm to counterattack, punching a hole through King Piccolo.
    • When Goku and Piccolo fight in the 23rd Budokai, Piccolo gets Goku with a lucky shot then breaks each of Goku's arms and legs, remembering what happened to his previous incarnation. Then he unleashes a blast that apparently vaporizes the hero...but it turns out Goku learned how to fly during the Time Skip, and uses the momentum to knock Piccolo out of the ring, winning the match.
  • Worf Had the Flu
    • In Goku and Yamcha's fight in the first story arc Goku was hungry given Yamcha the edge. The fight was interrupted when Bulma woke from her nap, scaring Yamcha off (he was afraid of girls at the time). In their rematch a well-fed Goku easily curb stomps Yamcha.
    • Much more serious, Tambourine nearly beat Goku to death because he was exhausted from his battle with Tien.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Yamcha was the franchise's original Worf. Whenever Toriyama wanted to show off how badass a character was, it typically revolved around having them beat Yamcha in a fight. Each of the World Tournaments had Yamcha lose in the first round to characters who would be pivotal to the arc.
    • Tao showed just how dangerous he was by effortlessly killing General Blue, the same person who nearly killed Goku three times.
    • Tambourine easily kills Krillin and a host of other renowned Martial Artists without barely trying.
    • Even Goku got hit by this. To show just how much of a Bad Ass King Piccolo was he easily beat the daylights out of Goku, who was the strongest person up to that point.
    • Before his rematch with Piccolo, Goku one-shotted a monster that was handing Tien his ass, who was once his equal.
    • Tao was also a victim of this trope. After coming back strong as a cyborg, he is easily dismissed by Tien. Earlier, it was Chiaotzu hit with the Worf stick to show how much more powerful Tao had become.
  • The Worf Barrage: The Kamehameha is often used to show how Bad Ass a person is when they are completely unaffected by it.
  • World's Best Warrior: By the end of the original series, Goku had earned this title by defeating Piccolo Jr.
  • World of Badass: One of the biggest ever!
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • By the end of the 22nd Tournament, Tien sees Goku as this and spends the rest of his life trying to surpass him.
    • Goku comes to view Piccolo Jr as a worthy rival and let him live, despite everyone telling him how dangerous he is.
  • Wowing Cthulhu: During the climax of Goku's fight with King Piccolo, Goku launches at his foe and tears a hole through his chest. King Piccolo, a Sealed Evil in a Can who is the evil counterpart of Kami, the God of Earth, is simply amazed by his defeat. In the manga version he even praises Goku by saying "brilliant".
  • Wuxia: The anime adaptaton lovingly pays homage to the conventions of the Classic Shaw Brothers Kung-Fu films of the 60's, in lighting, movement, costume design and especially the sublime musical score by Kikuichi Shunsuke.

    Y 
  • Yamato Nadeshiko - Launch, in her blue-haired form.
  • You Are Number Six: Android 8, renamed Eighter by Goku.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Tien and Yamcha's fight easily went into this territory.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Bulma in the anime.
  • You Are Not Ready:
    • Master Roshi's (as Jackie Chun) reaction when Goku claimed he could make a Kamehameha equal to his. He was quickly proven wrong.
    • He had a similar reaction when Yamcha and Krillin used the Kamehameha in their matches at the 22nd Tournament. They both pulled them off flawlessly, although Roshi mused that Krillin would have won his match with Chiaotzu right then if he was proper taught the Kamehameha.
  • Your Eyes Can Deceive You: The lesson that Mr. Popo spent three years hammering into Goku's head when trying to teach him how to read ki and feel his opponent.

    Z 


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