"I looked for you everywhere and I couldn't find you!"
Say what you want about Chi-Chi, but her devotion to her family is this. Sure she may be harsh sometimes, but there are a lot of scenes that show that she really does care about them. Such as when she beat up the tutor for insulting Goku and hurting Gohan, her arguments with Bulma over their husbands, and (even though it was a Too Dumb to Live moment) when she slaps Super Buu in the face, because she thought he killed Gohan.
One from a minor character: Throughout EVERY tournament the gang has been in, there's only been one commentator. Years after, even when the whole world fell for Mr. Satan's lies, the commentator still believed Goku defeated Cell (close enough). Especially heartwarming since he's known Goku since he was a kid, and has been present in a lot of important moments in his life (his marriage proposal, defeating Piccolo Jr. and so many more). Thus, it feels good to see him talk to Goku like an old friend.
Also, early in the Junior Division Tournament of the Buu Saga, the Commentator expresses shock and pride when he recognizes Goten as Goku's son. We even get to see him briefly flash back to Goku and Jackie Chun's fight from back in the early days of Dragonball, which the announcer remembers as the best match he'd ever seen.
The fact that the Pilaf Gang stick together even in their old age is rather heartwarming. One has to think that they stuck around because they formed a genuine friendship over the years.
From the bonus chapter of Jaco The Galactic Patrolman called Dragon Ball Minus. Whether you take it as canon or not compared to the Bardock Special, it is heartwarming seeing Goku's parents going out of their way to save him when they suspected that Frieza was up to something when he recalled all the Saiyans back to their planet. It gives a new light on Goku's arrival on Earth since he wasn't there to destroy it, like everyone told him, but to shelter him from Frieza. It worked, because Frieza didn't know Goku existed until he was right in his face.
What they did also gets more heartwarming when you considered that this action was completely out-of-character for Saiyans since they usually don't care about their off-spring. At the end of the day Frieza was ultimately done in by a selfless act of love by a race not known for it.
Whenever we saw Master Roshi filled with joy because of how far his students have come. Special mention to the last Tournament arc of Dragon Ball where he's filled with pride seeing how far Krillin has come.
Piccolo saves Gohan in almost every DBZ movie until the Buu Saga. While it might have gotten formulaic, it was still heartwarming to see.
The entire Red Ribbon Army saga is the ultimate heart-warming story of Dragon Ball. It completely embodies the spirit of the original series. It's just Goku as a child wandering the world searching for his lost 4-star Dragon Ball and meeting a lot of new friends and enemies along the way. He rescues #8 and the village elder from General White, he gives away his own heirloom just to resurrect Upa's father, and moved to tears, he meets his grandfather while fighting at Baba's palace.
An easy to miss one during Goku's reunion with his grandpa: Son Gohan, Sr. is fully aware of the Oozaru transformation. He was killed by it. But when he's reunited with Goku there's no anger or resentment towards his grandson whatsoever. He was only concerned that the kid was growing up all right.
The climax of the 22nd Tenka'ichi Budokai in the anime, which led to the fight been taken a few miles outside the arena but ended in Tenshinhan (while completely unconscious) barely winning the match because Goku was unfortunate to land first (he flew a van), the entire audience vacates the arena and runs towards the two combatants to applaud them. Later, a large man offers to hold Tenshinhan on his shoulders, claiming he must be exhausted from the fight. Keep in mind just hours before, Tenshinhan was very much the biggest Heel seen in a Tenka'ichi Budokai thus far and only changed his ways during the fight with Goku. The same is almost done with Goku, and the two are brought closer together to congratulate each other, and they just smile at each other. Even Krillin was getting teary-eyed.
There's something about Goku and Krillin's reunion in the original series episode, "Changes." Krillin had been revived by Goku three years prior but never got a chance to thank him.
Goku's proposal is also adorable. As a naive little kid, he mistook marriage for a kind of food (understandable, given thisisGoku...), but when he's grown, he nearly breaks Chi-Chi's heart when he tells her so, and then turns around and proposes for real.
Goku: Sometimes my brain doesn't know what my mouth is saying. Good thing my heart does. Will you marry me?
It's a miracle he could disengage his arm from her embrace to fight Ma Junior. Or Tien, for that matter.
Dragonball Z - Saiyan Saga
The whole orphanage filler episode counts. Gohan meets up with a few orphans, hangs out with them, and gets to know them. Then, after he leaves them, he wants to meet up with his mom (who he hasn't seen in half a year), but he couldn't do it because he had to train for the Saiyans, or else the world would be destroyed and he has to give up his chance to be with her to protect her and the other humans.
Pretty much any scene of Gohan and Piccolo will have an "aaaawwwww" factor to it, but Piccolo's Heroic Sacrifice in the Saiyan Saga is an obvious one to cite.
Dragonball Z - Namek Saga
A more subtle one is Gohan's rock-steady, not-taking-no-for-an-answer insistence on climbing aboard a centuries-old spaceshuttle and traveling to an alien planet so that he could be the one to personally wish Piccolo back to life. Consider that, prior to this point, Gohan was a sweet, shy crybaby who rarely raised his voice. He's five, by the way!
Say what you want about Chi-Chi, but after the scene when Gohan gets upset and yells at her, the Ox-King and Bulma comforts her and they warmly convince her to allow Gohan to go to Namek. It was also heartwarming to see Chi-Chi happy again while she was cutting and styling Gohan's hair, showing that she loves her family very much, despite her getting upset. This also ends with Goku testing Gohan's strength to see if Gohan was really well enough to go to Namek.
Especially changing out of his "school clothes" on the ship into a Piccolo-style outfit in his honor. Now THAT was awesome. He'd wear it until trading it in for Freeza armor after the battle with the Ginyu Force. But he would continue to wear Piccolo-style outfits for the most part throughout his childhood, culminating with a full outfit, complete with weighted shoulder wear and turban, at the Cell Games. He'd even wear a turban occasionally as the Great Saiyaman.
This realization makes me view the Great Saiyaman as less Narm and more "awww". But only a little...
Think of it this way: it's Narm with the helmet, it's Awww with the bandana.
The Ginyu Force exist because Toriyama used to watch Super Sentai with his son. This is cute enough, but reaches CMOH levels because Toriyama mentions in his intros in the tankobon that he was often too busy with the manga to spend time with his family.
The scene from the Frieza Saga with Vegeta and Krillin. It starts out with Vegeta telling Krillin that he has to hurt him badly in order for Dende to heal him and make him stronger. There's only one problem, Krillin can't bring himself to hurt Vegeta! It was sweet to see that Krillin had started taking Vegeta's presence on the good-guy's side for granted. Not to mention this is coming from the man who, just a few months ago had argued that Vegeta should be killed. He actually wanted to deliver the blow HIMSELF! Vegeta's reaction to Krillin's blubbering was fun to watch too. You could tell he really had no clue why Krillin was hesitating, though his reaction is more like a Funny Moment.
During the Freeza saga, Kami and Popo's reunion when Piccolo's resurrection brings Kami back to life as well. Also the fact that Piccolo was happy that his own revival would revive Kami, considering that his father/previous incarnation would have given anything to be able to safely kill Kami.
The fact that Krillin's death is the one thing to push Goku over the edge to becoming a Super Saiyan. Despite all the others Freiza killed, Krillin finally making him reach something only obtainable through pure, unadulterated rage shows just how strong the bond between the two stayed, despite the fact that Goku is phenomenally stronger than him.
The final episode in the Frieza Sage when you see Gohan and his family settling back into a normal life after all the crap they went through on Namek. The original music in the Funimation dub truly sells the feeling of being home again.
Dragonball Z - Android/Cell Saga
When Future Trunks first came to the present timeline, the first two to really trust him and accept the offered drinks are Bulma and Gohan, his future mother and mentor/best friend respectively. Trunks has this little smile on as he watches the younger counterparts of the two people most important to him.
Also, while waiting for Goku, Trunks keeps stealing glances at Vegeta and again, has this little smile on as he meets his father for the first time.
During the three years before the androids' arrival, Piccolo is invited to train with Goku and Gohan. In one of the fillers, it's even revealed that Piccolo became a regular guest of the Son family. If ever his transition from a lonely Anti-Hero to a full-on True Companion is cemented, it's by this arc.
As Goku is resting after a particularly harsh fight and having a heart failure due to not having taken the medicine for his heart, Future Trunks and Chi-chi are watching over him. Future Trunks is wondering if coming to the past and giving him said meds was worth it or not, since he may have changed the future for the worse. Then Chi-chi smiles gently and comforts the kid, telling him (paraphrased)...
Another scene is that after Goku had been deathly ill from the heart disease, he remarks to Chi-Chi and Master Roshi that he's going back out to fight the androids. Chi-Chi of course is against it at first, nearly losing her husband already with the heart disease (seeing her watch over Goku when he was sick made this troper smile and cry). But the two eventually come to an agreement, knowing she can't stop her husband from going back out there, with the promise that he'll save the earth from the androids. Then...one of the RAREST things I've ever seen. While it's out of focus, we only see up to Chi-chi and Goku's shoulders. But from the look on Master Roshi's face, and the way Goku's hand tenderly squeezed Chi-chi's shoulder-leaning a bit closer to her body... it's easy to assume that Gokuactually gives his wife a good bye kiss! The whole scene screams, "Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other!"
How could nobody have mentioned the time when Goku finally got up after recovering from the heart virus, and teleports into the plane Gohan and Krillin are in. AWWWWW!!
Goku: Hi Krillin!
Krillin: Goku!! (tackles Goku while crying)
Leans a little into CMOF territory when Krillin's tackle sends them both smashing out of the side of the plane.
When Krillin has the opportunity to deactivate Android 18 but can't bring himself to do it. This could even double as a Tear Jerker.
Krillin: I can't do it. I love her.
YMMV on this, but I personally found it heartwarming seeing Goku and Gohan spending time in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. It is somewhat rare to see Goku spend time with just Gohan, even if they are training to fight Cell. You can just see the love they have for each other through all the scenes, and how Gohan practically hero worship his father to the point the notion of becoming stronger than him leaves him in a state of disbelief. More touching is the scene in the anime when you see Goku and Gohan sleeping together peacefully with content smiles on their faces.
Android 16's interaction with Dr. Briefs's cat, Tama.
The warmth he shows towards all life really. Even the other 2 Androids, 18 and 17. Before he fights Cell, 18 is confused about what he's doing and he tells her he enjoyed the time they spent together and thinks they're cool.
Gohan and Krillin's reunion with Dende.
In a filler episode as Goku is relaxing with Krillin before the Cell Games, he admits to Krillin that he isn't sure that if they are strong enough to defeat Cell, but he doesn't want Chi Chi or Gohan to worry and he wants to spend as much time with his family should anything happen.
Goku: These are precious times, Krillin. Being together is everything. That's all that really matters to me right now.
Goku's absolute faith in Gohan's ability to beat Cell is certainly this.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Piccolo's absolute refusal to stand by as Gohan gets pummeled early in the fight is another moment. In particular, he gives Goku a very severe What the Hell, Hero? speech for risking his son's life on a gamble.
Piccolo: Do you want to know what he's thinking? He's not thinking about strength OR competition! He's wondering why his father is standing there, letting him die! And so your son may be the most powerful person in the world, but he's also a scared eleven-year-old boy! I'd rather DIE than wait.
This may also balance with Tear Jerker, but when Gohan cries and blames himself for Goku's death and not finishing Cell off, Krillin tells him not to be hard on himself and that he fought well.
After Cell kills Future Trunks (or at least VERY badly wounds him), it's a wonder Vegeta didn't go Super Saiyan 2 himself. The reason? The look on his face says it all: whatever jealousy he felt towards Trunks, whatever annoyances he had with him, Trunks is HIS SON. He'd called Trunks as such before, but in that single moment, the words "my son" finally hit him like a ton of bricks. The unbelievable rage he unleashes on Cell just solidifies this.
Made better when Trunks is revived and Yamcha tells him what Vegeta did.
Better yet, before Future Trunks leaves, he waves/salutes goodbye - this is as close to Vegeta saying "Good job, son" as he'd ever allow.
During the Beam-O-War in the Cell Saga when Tien, Yamcha, Krillin and Piccolo try to support Gohan, they all lament how Goku and Gohan changed them one way or another.
Piccolo: No, Gohan, I won't let you die out there all alone out there, because kid, you're the only one that showed me what it means to have a friend.
Yamcha: Goku, I hope you know how great a kid you've got. Like father like son, right? Well, I won't let you down.
After Gohan has just defeated Cell, the Z Fighters (including Vegeta) all gathered with smiles on their faces around an exhausted but smiling Gohan after his victory.
The thoughts of the warriors as they come to Gohan's aid, knowing that they are completely outmatched against Cell, but still can't leave themselves to let Gohan fight him alone. Really, that entire episode is a combination Tear Jerker, Moment of Awesome, and Heartwarming Moment for almost all the Z Warriors. Piccolo, Tien, Yamcha, and Krillin note how much having Goku and Gohan in their lives has changed them, spurring them to put it on the line to help Gohan after Goku's sacrifice. Even Vegeta finally gets moved, by Goku's Death, Gohan's Fight, and the Z-Warrior's Struggle, to finally finish breaking that shell he has around himself. This moment marks his biggest character development, as he fights to help former enemies and rivals he's only held at arms length. The moment when you see his Big Bang Attack mark the absolute end of the fight by giving Gohan the chance to finish Cell, for all of these reasons, will give you Goosebumps.
Goku's words to Gohan: "Gohan, I'm so proud of you!"
In the final episode of the Cell Saga, appropriately named "Free the Future", we see Trunk with all the power he had gained from the past not only take out the androids who murdered his friend and mentor, Gohan, but also Cell before he could steal his time machine and repeat the terror from the current timeline. Although it is a bittersweet ending since all the Z-Fighters are dead and there are no Dragon Balls to reverse the decades long damage the androids cause, it still gives a feeling of closure knowing that all the brave warriors had finally been avenged, especially Gohan who placed the hope of the world onto Trunks before he died. Trunks said it best just before he killed Cell, "The nightmare finally ends!".
Dragonball Z - Buu Saga
The development of Gohan and Videl's relationship throughout the early parts of the saga, as well as in Z in its entirety.
Another minor "Aww, Look! Vegeta Does Have a Heart!" moment, but when Vegeta accidentally hits Trunks while they were training together and making him cry, he looks horrified and regretful for having hurt his son. Also given the general sense of the way Saiyans were raised, it says a lot that Vegeta regrets hurting his son while they were training together!
Vegeta's relationship with his son in general, really. With Future Trunks he was in full "Well Done, Son" Guy mode, but seven years later with his "real" son it's clear that he loves Trunks even if he isn't always explicit about it.
Krillin and Android 18 getting married, having a family, and becoming Good Parents. Krillin has been beaten up, stabbed, even killed a few times and is constantly the Butt Monkey. Android 18 was forcibly converted into an android, got to see her brother eaten, and got absorbed herself. By the time the Buu saga rolls around 18 is accepted by the Z warriors, she and Krillin are happily married, and they have a daughter.
Goten and Goku's first meeting (anime only). Goten is seven years old and has never met his father before; he hides behind Chi-chi's skirt for several seconds, staring in silence... then abruptly screams "Daddy!" and rushes into his arms. Even Piccolo was smiling.
Vegeta preparing to sacrifice himself to kill Buu, finally revealing that he has a heart and embracing his son Trunks for the first time... topping it all off with a "You've made me proud." After spending the entirety of the previous major arc not even giving his family a second thought, this was a true indication of just how far the Saiyan Prince had come. It would've been even more heartwarming if Buu hadn't survived and Vegeta hadn't brought back to life the next day.
Goten was so moved by this scene, he sucked his thumb briefly.
He earns double bonus badass-Heartwarmer points when he asks if he will see Kakrot in the afterlife. Piccolo, never one to parse words, point blank explains that while Goku was rewarded for all the good deeds he's done, Vegeta's history is too brutal, and he will ultimately be sentenced to Hell. Vegeta only smiles, with his "of course" face and tells Piccolo to run.
Then, during the explosion, two things happen. First, Piccolo tries to go back and save him (he's of course stopped), and at least in the dub version, there is a moment where the blast radius reaches its apex that underneath Vegeta's theme, his screams are cut off, at which point no one can claim it's not a Tear Jerker.
Heck, if I remember correctly Krillin stopped Piccolo, then he later tried to stop Vegeta himself only to be prevented by Piccolo! Mind you, I think that's how it happened.
Pretty much any time the incredibly emotionally stunted Vegeta and #18 show that they care, especially #18 - at least with Vegeta you get the constant idea that Earth has been slowly growing on him through the series; with #18 you get a while before she shows, however briefly, that she actually cares about anyone - until then you get the idea that she's just hanging around everyone out of habit rather than friendship. Her yelling out to Krillin before his Heroic Sacrifice against Super Buu was a nice "awww, she does care" moment, even if she and everyone elsediddie immediately afterward.
We even see that Vegeta cares for Gohan and Goten, as well; when everyone believes that Buu killed Gohan, Vegeta is enraged and mentions this as one of his main reasons for wanting to kill Buu. Later on, after Earth is destroyed, Vegeta snaps at Goku, not that he let his son die, but that he let their sons die.
Everything about the episodes where Hercule and Majin Buu become friends. Best example; earlier on, Hercule tricks Buu into lying down so he can take a picture of himself standing triumphantly over Buu as "proof" that he "defeated" Buu. But after he and Buu have actually become friends (and had helped save a puppy from a fatal wound), Hercule remembers the picture and, realizing how wrong it was to take advantage of Buu's naivete, tears it up and throws it away. Such a far cry from when he was willing to take undeserved credit in the previous saga.
Let's not forget Buu's healing the blind kid earlier. It showed to the audience that Buu could be a good person once he got past his serious lack of knowledge about right and wrong — something that Hercule was quite willing to fix upon learning this himself.
However this quickly turned into terrifying when Buu flies off to get some milk for the blind boy. He finds an innocent man simply unloading from a truck, then proceeds to turn this man into a carton of milk. Milk that he then gives to the child. IT'S PEOPLE.
In addition to showing that Buu could be a good person, the meeting with the boy is a red herring to those who think that Buu is going to turn over a new leaf BECAUSE of his meeting with the boy. Well, if turning a man into milk doesn't convince you that he's still not a good guy yet, check out what he does right after he leaves the boy.
After becoming Mystic, Gohan has a heartfelt goodbye with his father before going off to face Majin Buu, with Goku believing this is the last time he'll see Gohan until his eventual death. It wasn't but still, incredibly touching.
Goku: Okay, go be a hero.
And later when he returns to Earth, Gohan asks Kibito to change his garb to resemble Goku's as a way to honor his father as the greatest warrior who ever lived.
Vegeta dies fighting Majin Buu and is sent to Hell for the evil deeds he's done in the past. Flash forward about a day and a massive epic fight, in which Uranai Baba briefly brought Vegeta back from the dead because Goku needed help. Dende wishes for Porunga to bring everyone who isn't evil back to life, and Vegeta is reincarnated along with everyone else. The look on his face is just amazing.
Goku: And guess what else, the evil people weren't wished back. The verdict's in, you're a good guy!
After Goku throws the Spirit Bomb and kills Buu, he floats down slowly to the face-in-the-mud Vegeta, holding out a thumbs up, saying "we make a pretty good team after all, don't we?" Vegeta's head slowly lifts, smirks, and he returns the thumbs up.
In the English dub, they even have a good laugh together.
Also the little speech Goku gives about hoping Kid Buu returns as a good person is a heart-warmer, showing just how forgiving Goku can be, especially since unlike Freeza and Cell who were intelligent and chose to be evil, Buu was just a psychotic child who didn't know any better.
As Super Saiyan Goku pushes the Spirit Bomb towards Kid Buu, it shows everyone cheering Goku on; Dende and the Kais on planet Namek, Goku's friends and family on Kami's Lookout... and in Other World, King Kai, nodding happily and saying "I taught him that technique!", and King Yemma holding up the large TV he's watching the fight on and going "attaboy!". Even the villains in Hell are watching, and Babidi is rejoicing (since Buu turned on him and killed him).
Mr. Satan tries to get Fat Buu to wake up after Kid Buu spits him out and says that Fat Buu is his only friend, which is kind of depressing. Luckily by the end of DBZ, Goku has genuinely befriended him and he has Buu as a permanent roommate.
Also, him protecting Buu from Vegeta as the latter prepares to finish Buu off, as it shows just how much their friendship meant to Hercule. He even goes so far as to say that he'd take full responsibility for him to make sure Buu would never cause havoc again.
All of the reunion scenes after everyone is wished back to life in the Buu saga, some of which you have to watch the anime to see. Special mentions go out to Krillin's family — when his daughter runs up to him for a hug, and he looks up to see 18 coming out of the shadows, smiling and waving, and Gohan landing behind Videl and tapping her on the shoulder... and she turns around, is shocked to see him, and starts crying and beating him on the chest. And he just looks adorably confused.
After Goku, Vegeta, Hercule, Majin Buu, and Dende return to Earth following Kid Buu's defeat, we are treated to a touching reunion with all the Z-Fighters, especially with Goku who has been dead for seven years and had given what he believed was his final goodbye just the day before. Chi-Chi crying onto Goku's chest after he tells everyone that he is not dead anymore and that he can go home with his family should leave anyone with a warm feeling in their chest.
One on the manga's very last page. Before the start of the finale, there is one page doubled with a tearjeker, on the page there is the picture of the first meeting between Goku and Bulma, where you see that it really puts into perspective all the times that have passed since them, and how they have moved on since, that never stops to bring me to tears.
This story began with a chance encounter long ago... and now we come at last to the present. From now on, you'll have to see into their world with your own eyes... but maybe that will be even more fun!
Dragonball Z Movies
The intro to the latest Dragon Ball Z TV special is one, taking Opening Shout Outs and combining them with happy glimpses into the lives of all the main characters, with a V-Formation Team Shot at the end. And then there's the rest of the special...
The ending is just as heartwarming, showing how Goku's family grows over the years.
The end of Bardock: The Father Of Goku, when Bardock learns through his ESP that Goku will take down Freeza. The sheer pride he feels for his son, and his wish that he could've hugged the kid at least once, is sincerely touching and heartbreaking (considering this happens when he's about to die).
The ending credits of Bio-Broly showing how Goten and Trunks were born and grow up showing they were the heroes of the movie, and truly inherited the spirit of their fathers.
A particular scene comes to mind from the Z film "Wrath of the Dragon." Early on in the film features a scene with many of the main characters enjoying an evening barbecue. Trunks and Goten's hands are shown sneaking up from underneath the grill grabbing skewer after skewer of shish kabobs, intending to give the food to Tapion. Goku notices them and breaks into a very warm smile and silently moves the last skewer over on the grill towards Trunks' hand.
Another scene from Wrath has Vegeta, who had entered the fight with Hirudegarn with his typical self-centered reasons (his first day off in a month and some monster attacks his home) and is smashed into a crowded office building. Hirudegarn prepares a fire breath attack and Vegeta glances at the people near him and expends all of his energy creating a barrier that shields everyone from the attack. Its a small moment but it shows just how much he's changed from the Ax-Crazy planet killer he was in the beginning. To cap it off, we later see the very same people he had saved helping him up.
When Tarble visits Vegeta, it's a clear showing of Vegeta's Character Development that he tolerates his brother (as opposed to killing Nappa when Goku beat up the big guy).
The entire ending credits sequence, which is a huge nostalgia trip for everyone who has read or watched the series and shows that the movie is a labour of love.
Videl announcing that she's pregnant, along with everyone's reaction to it.
What triggers Goku's second transformation into Super Saiyan God is seeing his friends and family crying out for him, starting with Chi-Chi. Given how often Goku's treated as a negligent father and husband by fans, it's touching to see that he puts his wife first here.
Bills not destroying the Earth, displaying the genuine respect and perhaps even care for its inhabitants. This coming from the being who destroyed the planet of a lesser god because he lost a game.
For that matter, Bills is an unusual example of a DBZ antagonist in that he's not even really actually evil at all. Sure, he threatens to destroy the Earth, but he conducts himself with a great deal of dignity and respect for Earth's inhabitants, and is even polite at Bulma's party. When Goku initially challenges him early on in the movie, he politely accepts the challenge. He legitimately just wants to find out what a Super Saiyan God is, and have a battle worthy of his level of skill. When you think about it, he's actually quite a bit like Goku in that sense.
In Dragon Ball GT: a flashback to a family & friends day out on the beach, before Goku went off to train Uub. Goku, the guy who's always leaving his family behind to fight or train or both, said something that made me almost tear up.
Chichi: It’s days like this that make all of the hard times we’ve been through seem worth it.
Goku: Well, I have to admit, I do miss all the fighting. *turns to look at Chichi, smiling* But here, I get to be with you guys!