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- We note that this one is exclusive to anime filler, non-canon movies, and Dragon Ball GT, as it is notably averted in the manga canon. Powerful warriors both good and evil come through the pike in the Other World once they're destroyed.
You'd expect: Yemma-Daio and his people to dispose of the warriors' bodies before sending their spirits to their "final" destination unless keeping any of them around is absolutely necessary. (This is precisely the case in the manga, Resurrection ‘F’, and Dragon Ball Super.) At the very least, make sure only the good guys get to keep their corporeal forms.
Instead: Everyone with a modicum of relevant power is later seen still with a body. Including the bad guys sent to Hell.
You'd then expect: Some powerful dead face to stand guard in Hell making sure that any chaos doesn't last. Either make it one warrior who's generally antisocial or doesn't mind making the sacrifice, or a cycle of guys that get shifted in and out for one another (with Goku and Paikuhan being obvious players).
Instead: Goz and Mez seem to be the only thing keeping the bad guys in line over there, up until GT where Piccolo dies permanently and, after a complicated gambit to get Goku out of Hell, does exactly that.
The result: All it takes is for two evil scientists to get together and create an android, or for one Saike Oni to completely lose track of the soul cleansing chamber while listening to his music, and literally, all hell breaks loose. The Piccolo solution above is devised only after the Z-Fighters are mostly done cleaning up the GT outbreak, and he wouldn't be there to do it if he hadn't sacrificed himself to get rid of a different problem earlier.
- There have been many, many occasions when Krillin has been watching his friends be knocked around by an opponent. Nappa, Vegeta, Recoome, Freeza, the Androids and Cell all instantly come to mind. During all of those fights he had access to both the blinding Taiyoken technique and the cut-anything Kienzan technique. It's also well-documented that his ki control and awareness relative to the power he actually has is among the best in the series, or at least the best among the human fighters.
You'd expect: Krillin would take the opportunity his friends are providing by being knocked around to sneak up, use the Taiyoken technique and then cut them in half with the Kienzan. Even if the opponent in question can regenerate or is powerful/fast/skilled enough to recover from the Taiyoken and dodge or deflect the Kienzan, or otherwise somehow dilute the effect of either technique, it's a weapon the opponent has to take seriously enough to leave an opening for his more powerful allies to gain the upper hand.
Instead: Krillin often just stands there and watches, not even bothering to intervene on one on one battles when he has no reason to not gang up on the enemy. During their fights with the Androids he doesn't even bother to fight. Even when he does use one technique, he doesn't think to use the other, which usually results in the Kienzan being dodged rather easily or the Taiyoken being utterly wasted on just escaping the enemy's pursuit. In fact, Cell makes much more fruitful use of the Taiyoken at one point than Krillin ever does (for more on that, see below).
- Goku has access to the Instant Transmission/Instantaneous Movement technique. It allows for Teleport Spam during a battle, and failing that, allows for immediate withdrawal from a hostile situation providing you can find another ki location to lock onto. Seeing how friendly ki locations are all over Earth and on other worlds, this is not a problem. Also, you can teleport anyone and anything that is currently touching you or you are currently touching. Modern armies would be green with envy.
You'd expect: For Goku to teach this technique to everyone. Even if the technique is useless because the opponent is too strong for direct combat, then it could be used in a support role (fetching Senzu beans, getting Dende to heal combatants), for simple evacuation procedures (moving injured fighters), or other purposes (fetching Earth or Namekian Dragon Balls, teleporting allies to the battle). Even if it takes considerable time to learn, they have access to several magical wish-granting dragons as well as a Hyperbolic Chamber of Spirit and Time and thus can easily address that concern.
Instead: Goku doesn't teach anyone the technique that could save many of his friends or make any battle a whole lot easier. In fact, no one even thinks to ask Goku to teach them the technique.
- Anytime a new enemy has arrived and his tremendous power could potentially destroy the entire universe.
You'd Expect: For the Z-Fighters to simply finish him off as fast as possible. No time to have a good fight when said enemy could possibly endanger the innocent lives of everyone around them, Dragon Balls or not.
Instead: They don't even take their enemies seriously, instead seeing them as another powerful opponent that they could possibly compete with. Unsurprisingly, this ended up causing a lot more problems than if the Z-Fighters just followed Trunks' example and pretty much kill them immediately.
- Among the most notable traits of the Saiyan race is that anytime they are healed from a near-death state, their power will exponentially grow.
You'd Expect: Knowing this fact, any of the Saiyan cast would abuse the hell out of this to get extremely strong really quickly. While the rarity of Senzu beans would make instant healing difficult to come by, they could recuperate conventionally and the boost would arguably be worth the wait. This is even worse after Dende is appointed as Earth's guardian, as his Healing Hands are basically a limitless Senzu.
Instead: Vegeta is the only character to ever think of this, and only does so once in an extremely desperate fight against Frieza, i.e. precisely the worst time to exploit it. Instead they stick to their regular old training style, which is proven to be pointless when the villain easily beats the hero, and they only survive by sheer luck.
King Piccolo Saga
- King Piccolo has Goku right here he wanted to, crippled and disabled as a result of him using Tien as a human shield and now wants to finish him off by flying into the sky with a Ki blast.
You'd Expect: That he makes sure he disables all his arms and legs so that he won't retaliate at all.
Instead: He apparently chose not to check his body and arrogantly thinks that Goku wouldn't fight back at all, allowing Goku to use his right hand in order to use Kamehameha and kill Piccolo with one last punch.
You'd Then Expect: Since Goku has been weakened and couldn't fly, Piccolo would simply fly away and dodge the attack. Then with his Ki spent, he goes ahead and finish Goku off.
Instead: He apparently decides to face the attack head on and chose to block it, which result in the punch penetrating right through his arm and torso and ended up getting killed for it. Guess we know now why his son Piccolo Jr. teaches Gohan how to dodge.
Dragon Ball Z
- When Goku and Piccolo fight Raditz, they manage to catch him off guard and Goku grabs his tail, rendering him helpless. Raditz apologizes and says he'll leave Earth if Goku lets go.
You'd Expect: That Goku would have enough sense to know that he's lying.
Instead: Goku releases his tail, and gets crushed ribs for it. He manages to restrain Raditz again, but winds up dead along with him when Piccolo fires his Special Beam Cannon at them. Raditz calls him stupid throughout the whole experience, and he's right. At least Goku got some training in the afterlife.
- As Goku and Raditz are dying, Raditz is in utter disbelief that Goku would sacrifice himself. Piccolo is standing over Raditz as he ponders this.
You'd Expect: Piccolo to quickly finish off Raditz.
Instead: Piccolo feels the need to tell Raditz that Goku will later be revived with the Dragon Balls and talks about how they can grant almost any wish. Raditz has the information relayed to his Saiyan comrades, and they take an interest in the Dragon Balls and decide to abandon their current mission to come to Earth. Piccolo later finishes off Raditz, but it's too late. He just kickstarted the whole plot of Dragon Ball Z.
- In the Saiyan saga Goku splits a magic bean in two parts, so that Gohan and Krillin can both have their part. They are fully recovered, even despite eating just half a bean.
You'd expect: That from that point on they'd split every single bean to double their supply. For that matter, given the split worked in the first place, they would figure out the bare minimum amount of bean necessary and divide along those lines.
Instead: No one splits a magic bean ever again…
- Vegeta has gone rogue and killed Cui and Dodoria, then massacred an entire Namekian village to take their Dragon Ball, then hides it in the water. Shortly afterwards, he runs into Zarbon, whose transformed state easily overpowers the Saiyan Prince. After receiving reports that Vegeta is in possession of a Dragon Ball, Zarbon takes Vegeta back to Freeza's spaceship for questioning. On top of that, Saiyans have the fan-named Zenkai Boost, which allows them to come back stronger every time they're defeated or nearly killed, and the prior fight left Vegeta in pretty bad shape already.
You'd Expect: That they would wait for Vegeta to regain consciousness normally, while keeping him wounded enough so he couldn't escape. They should know about the aforementioned power boost as well, considering Saiyans used to be under their employment (and up until recently, they still were).
Instead: They put him in a healing pod, which will completely heal him up.
You'd Then Expect: If that's the case, then Zarbon should look after Vegeta and make sure to jump him while he's still getting used to his healed wounds.
Instead: Zarbon leaves Appule with Vegeta. To quote Dragon Ball Z Abridged, "Appule couldn't handle a bottle of raspberry schnapps much less Vegeta".
Result: Vegeta is fully healed and stronger than ever. He kills Appule, escapes with all five of Freeza's Dragon Balls, and then later kills Zarbon even after he transforms.
- According to Word of God, Krillin's Kienzan technique is capable of cutting through anything. Now, let's look at a certain point in the battle with the Ginyu Force: Recoome is about to use his Recoome Eraser Gun on Vegeta, while Krillin moves up for a sneak attack on him.
You'd expect Krillin to bust out a surprise-attack Kienzan, slicing Recoome in half while he was busy with the attack and eliminating yet another member of the Ginyu Force, as well as making some headway toward not being regarded as a joke by the fans.
Instead: Krillin slams Recoome's mouth closed mid-beam, accomplishing little more than knocking out his teeth and severely annoying him.
Result: Krillin, Gohan, and Vegeta are nearly killed by Recoome and Goku has to save them.
- While the gang is trying to survive Freeza, Goku is currently undergoing a healing treatment on his ship, but the rate of recovery is going very slowly. Krillin and Gohan have just discovered Dende's healing ability after he saves them both from otherwise fatal wounds.
You'd expect: Gohan and/or Krillin try to sneak Dende away to where Goku is so Dende can heal him instantly as well and he can join the battle while Freeza is either distracted by Vegeta or Piccolo or focusing on transforming into one of his more powerful forms, or even just let Dende head to Goku on his own since Freeza doesn't know about Dende's healing power and considers him "small fry".
Instead: Nobody thinks of doing this. Freeza eventually finds out about Dende's healing ability and quickly kills him to keep him from healing anyone else, and by the time Goku has finally recovered Vegeta is near death and the others are exhausted and worn out.
- When Goku is charging the spirit bomb to try and kill Freeza, Freeza catches him doing it, but to Freeza, it just looks like Goku is standing there with his hands raised.
You'd expect: Freeza would either look up (you know, the direction Goku's hands are pointing) or immediately attack him while his guard is down.
Instead: Freeza stands there for a good few minutes trying to figure out what Goku's doing, never thinking to look up. By the time Freeza decides to just attack Goku, the spirit bomb is close to being finished; it's even closer by the time he actually looks up; and, after Piccolo steps in to distract Freeza, Goku is able to finish it.
- In the manga, Freeza reveals that he survived the spirit bomb, and has a weaken Goku right where he wants him.
You'd expect: Since Goku is the strongest of the bunch Freeza shoots a death beam straight through Goku's heart, and then finish off the others.
Instead: He chose to make Goku suffer as much as possible by killing his loved ones first before killing him, thus he shoots the death beam at Piccolo (The anime subverts this by him trying to shoot Goku only for Piccolo to Taking the Bullet for him), not even killing him, and then blows up Krillin. He then threatens to do the same for Gohan, triggering Goku's ascension to Super Saiyan.
- In an anime filler arc, after Gohan finally had enough and decides to retaliate against the Sadist Teacher Mr. Shu for continuously whipping him, the latter decides to call Chi-Chi and try and make Gohan look like a bad guy for attacking him.
You'd Expect: For him to continue telling her a made up story about how much of a bad guy Gohan is while faking innocence at the same time and try not to anger the student's mother at any opportunity.
Instead: Right after making up a false story, he had the galls to insult Goku, aka Chi-Chi's husband, and decides to whip Gohan right in front of her, no mother would want him as a tutor after everything he had done and that includes Chi-Chi whose response after hearing it is to throw him out of the house and to never come back again.
- At the beginning of the Cell-Saga, Chi-Chi doesn't want Gohan to fight (for understandable reasons) and would rather have him study instead .
You'd Expect: For Chi-Chi to realize that although her concerns about her son getting harmed and even killed are valid, Gohan would have no successful academic future if the world is destroyed.
Instead: "That's right mister! There's nothing more important than Gohan's studies right now. If Gohan takes three years off, he'll fall behind!"
- The Z Warriors are fighting Androids 19 and 20. Bulma is however upset about not being involved in the action like before.
You'd expect: She'd invest in long range surveillance equipment so she can see the battle from a safe distance, especially since she has a baby now.
Instead: She flies right into the battle, giving 20 the distraction needed to escape and activate the androids that Trunks did know about.
What's worse: Vegeta destroyed 19 with his Super Saiyan form and Piccolo had 20 ready for the kill when Trunks comes back from the future and tries to explain that 19 and 20 aren't the androids he warned them about. If Bulma didn't show up, 20 would likely have been killed before he could reach his lab, the other androids might've been tracked down and destroyed, preventing Cell from transforming at all.
- Regardless of their power, the Androids are still forced to follow their programming (17 says he hates having to follow Gero's wishes of seeing Goku death, but can't do anything about it).
You'd expect: That Gero would have programmed the Androids with at least the following directives: 1. Never harm Gero under any circumstances, and 2. Follow every one of Gero's orders without question.
Instead: He merely programs them just to kill Goku, and expects them to obey him because he's their creator (unaware that they absolutely loathe him for turning them into robots).
- The most extreme turning point of the saga was only ever possible due to a massive avalanche of dumbassery on the part of damn near everyone involved.
- Cell interrupts Android 17 and Piccolo's much-lauded even battle, which Androids 16 and 18 are watching in the background, and makes it perfectly clear that he wants to absorb 17 and 18 to achieve his perfect form. When Cell nearly kills Piccolo and utterly curbstomps 17, 16 steps in and stops Cell before he can absorb 17, then proceeds to more than hold his own against the bio-android.
You'd Expect: For the Twins to immediately take the opportunity to RUN FOR THEIR LIVES.
Instead: They stand and watch.
What's worse: After 16 fires his Hell's Flash blasters on Cell, 17 ignores 16's warnings that he should flee since Cell isn't dead yet and comes back into the battlefield area and states that he will be the one to finish off Cell. Cue 17 being absorbed and 16 rendered nearly nonoperational by Semi-Perfect Cell.
- Follow that up with a series of events which involves Tienshinhan putting his own life on the line with a furious assault of Neo Kikoho attacks to keep Cell back, and Cell destroying an entire fleet of islands because he can't find 18.
You'd Expect: 18 to take these opportunities and get AS FAR AWAY AS SHE POSSIBLY CAN, even if she has to abandon 16 to do so—in which case she should trust that Cell can't sense him either and wouldn't care to even target him.
Instead: She only gets as far as hiding on one of the islands with 16. Only by fortune is her island the last one left that he doesn't destroy.
- Meanwhile, Goku is up on the Lookout with Gohan, and both are able to sense everything that is going on, yet Goku knows that neither of them has gained the strength to take on Cell and survive.
You'd Expect: For Goku to use the Instant Transmission technique to get his allies off of the island before their lives are on the line, and grab 18 while he's at it so Cell can't absorb her.
Instead: Goku sits on his butt, doing nothing but making horrified expressions and explaining to Gohan that there's nothing they can do, hits Gohan to stop him from going to help Piccolo, only rescues his allies when they're both on the brink of death, and doesn't even think to grab 18.
- Afterwards, Cell goes searching for 18, threatening to destroy the islands unless 18 comes out.
You'd Expect: This to just be a bluff, there's nothing to gain from risking the death of 18 which he needs to achieve his perfect form, and he could conduct a more thorough investigation to make sure he doesn't screw himself over.
Instead: Cell starts firing of island-destroying energy blasts, risking killing 18 and being left hopelessly outmatched by any future opposition. If it weren't for everyone else's stupidity he may've very well spelled his own doom.
- Krillin arrives on the battlefield near 16 and 18's hiding place with an emergency suspension controller created by Bulma to shut off the cyborg twins so that they can be destroyed easily. By this point he's most likely sensed Cell's increasing power and figured out that Cell got 17. Despite his growing crush on Android 18 and his having discerned that the twins aren't evil incarnate, he knows that he probably has to do this in order to make sure Cell can't absorb 18 and become a full-on intergalactic menace. Also worth noting is that at this point Vegeta has arrived on the battlefield an Ascended Super Saiyan and is laying a physical and verbal smack-down on Semi-Perfect Cell.
You'd Expect: Well, first off, for 18 to have FINALLY MADE A BREAK FOR IT BY NOW so that she wouldn't even BE THERE for Krillin to find. Barring that, for Krillin to be able to get a grip, immediately go to 18, convince her to leave and then lead her the hell away from the place, tell her about the suspension controller and make sure to keep it just in case his best efforts to save her fail and he has to use it anyway.
Instead: 18 is STILL hiding practically right underneath Cell, gawking at everything as it goes on, even amidst 16's own warnings to run away and forget about him. As for Krillin, he spends a good 10-plus minutes lollygagging about his crush on her, makes the decision to destroy the controller, THEN comes over and tells her to run. It is at this point that Cell finally spots 18.
- The crowning achievement of stupidity, however, has to go to Vegeta, who, again, while effortlessly curb-stomping Semi-Perfect Cell, acknowledges Cell's last transformation.
You'd expect: That he would also acknowledge his son Trunks' warnings, considering that he knows a great deal about Cell, and annihilate the evil android while he still had the chance and prevent the destruction of the world as well as thousands of lives.
Instead: Vegeta, despite seeing immediately that Cell's appeal to his massive overconfidence and lust for battle is a pathetically blatant ploy, inevitably gives in and agrees to allow Cell to attain his perfect form, which allows Cell the time to even spot 18 in the first place, then attacks his own son Trunks to get him out of the way, thinking only about getting a decent fight from the whole deal.
- Even Future Trunks isn't immune, despite being the Only Sane Man in the situation. While keeping Cell away from Android 18, he knocks Cell down and far away on a couple of occasions, making it clear he is Cell's physical superior and could finish him off just as easily as Vegeta.
You'd expect: Him to immediately strike and kill 18 when he has the chance, not only because of his own deep-seated issues with the Twins, but as a pragmatic measure to ensure that Cell can't absorb her and is thus destined to become Super Saiyan chow. Like with Tien above, she could even be the one to suggest it if we're worried about making Trunks look too heelish. By this point she's already threatened to blow herself up, so it wouldn't be unreasonable. Barring that, you'd expect him to just kill Cell while he's punching the shit out of him.
Instead: He's caught up in defending her like she's an ordinary innocent victim and not the Living Battery Cell needs to go One-Winged Angel, as well as protecting Vegeta's pride by not letting him think he's stronger than him. So not only does he hold back too much power when fighting Cell, he finds himself within striking distance of 18 at least once yet only thinks to shout at her and tell her to run. And again, she still does absolutely nothing conducive to helping her own escape.
Furthermore: Any of the worries from either solution are easily alleviated with only a little extra forethought or knowledge.
- The result of all this (plus a Solar Flare): Cell absorbs Android 18, transforms into his Perfect Form, and proceeds to kick the crap out of Vegeta, Trunks, Krillin, and Android 16 while treating them all as a warmup, now capable of threatening the entire solar system with his power. Nice Job Breaking It, Heroes!!
- Cell interrupts Android 17 and Piccolo's much-lauded even battle, which Androids 16 and 18 are watching in the background, and makes it perfectly clear that he wants to absorb 17 and 18 to achieve his perfect form. When Cell nearly kills Piccolo and utterly curbstomps 17, 16 steps in and stops Cell before he can absorb 17, then proceeds to more than hold his own against the bio-android.
- The Full-Power Super Saiyan means that by remaining transformed as a SSJ for extended periods of time the users can control their energy consumption much better than any other form of SSJ, thus they become stronger in training than any other form of SSJ would make them. While the FPSSJ users Goku and Gohan exit the training room in this state Vegeta and Trunks notice how genius this kind of training is, Vegeta even comments about this.
You'd expect: That during their second year-long-training Trunks and Vegeta entered they'd be SSJ all the time, thus not only becoming FPSSJ but they'd be if not stronger at least equally strong as Gohan and Goku.
Instead: Vegeta and Trunks completely forget about the benefits of training as a SSJ all the time, thus even though they trained double the time Goku and Gohan did, they were far weaker.
- Having seen Gohan's latent power, Goku decides that his own son will succeed him in defeating Cell.
You'd Expect: That he tells the other Z-Fighters about his own plans and try to give convincing arguments as to why he has to do so.
Instead: He did not bother telling anyone of this plan, causing most of his friends especially Piccolo to think that Goku did not really care about his son. Without Cell's own idiotic moment, Goku's idiotic actions would have directly caused the end of the world.
- When Goku wants Gohan to take his place in fighting against Cell as part of the aforementioned plan. He thinks of giving Cell a Senzu Bean to insure that the fight will be "fair" because he didn't want Gohan to win without it feeling like a real victory.
You'd Expect: For Goku to realize that fair fights do not matter in situations when an Omnicidal Maniac is trying to destroy the universe, and let Gohan fight Cell at his weakest instead, or better yet, Goku decides to fight Cell himself.
Instead: He foolishly gives Cell a senzu bean!!! Really Goku, who really cares about being fair in situations like this??
- Right before this, during Goku's fight with Cell he's managed to get the android to use up a good bit of energy. Now that he's weakened, Trunks suggests that all of the Z Soldiers attack Cell - as strong as he is, not even he can match all of them fighting against him at their peak while he's lost much of his strength.
You'd Expect: That everyone listen to Trunks! Remember, if Cell decides nobody can defeat him he's going to blow up the planet and kill everyone!
Instead: Vegeta calls Trunks an idiot and berates him for daring to choose a "cowardly" option, and the other Z Soldiers all silently agree with him that they shouldn't do a joint attack. It kind of makes you wonder how it somehow took all the way until the Buu saga before a villain was successfully able to destroy the Earth considering the standards the Z Soldiers operate by.
Even Worse: Ultimately, once Cell comes back from exploding, kills Trunks, and injures Vegeta and Gohan the remaining Z Fighters just team up to try and kill Cell just as Trunks had suggested anyway. However, because the Z Fighters hadn't done so earlier when they had the chance only ones left are far too weak and Cell had gotten a massive power boost at that point for any of their attacks to have an effect. It isn't until Vegeta manages to get up and attack that anything they do does anything more than irritate Cell, and even Vegeta's attack only manages to distract Cell long enough for Gohan to win the Beam-O-War.
- When Goku decides to have Gohan fight Cell himself, he declares to Cell that he will have an opponent even stronger than Goku himself if he builds up Gohan's rage long enough.
You'd Expect: Knowing full well that he did the same trick on Vegeta and is going to have the same outcome, he instead kills (or at least threatens to) Gohan and demands that Goku eats his Senzu Bean and have a rematch, knowing that he already has an even fight with the Saiyan.
Instead: He accepts Goku's offer and makes Gohan angry to the point of turning SSJ2. No surprise that Cell ends up being stomped by the angry child.
What's worse: This is the entire plan that Goku's string of earlier idiotic actions was leading to all along. Meaning not only was Cell Out-Gambitted by Goku, said gambit was predicated on daring Cell to be an even bigger idiot than him and Cell took the bait.
- Not even Gohan is immune after his SSJ2 transformation. Near the end of the Cell games, Gohan had the chance to finish him off. Cell was badly wounded and couldn't regenerate, which would mean another attack would be enough to actually finish him off for good. Goku urgently yells at his son to do so now, as if the battle gets too drawn out Cell could grow desperate and try something really nasty.
You'd expect: For Gohan to listen to his father and finish things immediately. Plus, it's not like he and his father haven't dealt with something like that before, as was the case with Freeza when he started growing desperate during his fight with Super Saiyan Goku, which of course led to Namek's destruction. Goku is actually speaking from firsthand experience.
Instead: Gohan smugly feels Cell's suffering needs to go on and flat out ignores Goku's warnings, allowing him to restore his body. Eventually during the battle Cell is reduced to his Semi-Perfect Form, and Gohan still doesn't pounce on the chance to finish him off—which is what causes and allows Cell to decide to self-destruct, taking the whole planet with him as one last act of spite.
Also: Seeing that Cell was knocked back into his Semi-Perfect form, Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks could've just jumped into the fight and killed Cell themselves. Goku could even have grabbed Cell once he powered down, teleported him to King Kai's planet, killed the monster in Other World, and teleported back to Earth. Oh, and speaking of King Kai's planet…
- While Cell is triggering and charging up the bomb in his body in rage from the previous event, Goku decides to use instant transmission to teleport Cell away from the planet. Goku can only teleport where there are auras he's familiar with, but luckily that means King Kai's planet, where only three people live.
You'd Expect: Goku immediately grabs Cell and brings him there, grabbing King Kai, Gregory and Bubbles right after that and taking everyone but Cell on Earth, having a very angry King Kai but saving the day.
Instead: He waits until the last possible second, and then doesn't even try to escape the blast, spending his last seconds trying to apologize to King Kai. Come Dragon Ball Super and King Kai never lets Goku hear the end of it.
Majin Buu Saga
- During the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai, Videl is getting badly beaten by Spopovitch. Gohan rushes to warn her to give up and that she isn't able to defeat Spopovitch.
You'd Expect: Videl to take Gohan's advice and save herself from possibly dying.
Instead: Videl continues to fight Spopovitch and he almost kills her by stepping on her skull, attempting to crush it.
Thankfully: Yamu becomes disgusted of the beatdown and demands that Spopovitch end the match immediately, thus he was only forced to kick her out of the ring.
- Goku reveals Super Saiyan 3 to Majin Buu and Babidi. He then proceeds to fight Buu. Sometime after the fight, Piccolo asks Goku if he could have defeated Buu. Goku claims he could have if he really tried.
You'd Have Though: Goku would fight Majin Buu with all his might and destroy him as fast as possible and if he managed to accomplish the deed, he would simply have Piccolo train the new generation without the universe at stake.
Instead: He only fights Buu in order to buy some time for Trunks to reach Capsule Corp and retrieve the dragon radar. He then tells Piccolo that its should be left up to the new generation to defeat Buu. He then teaches Goten and Trunks the fusion technique before he returns to Other World. So, he's putting the fate of the world in the hands of 2 little kids who have never experienced serious combat in their lives.
- Yamcha is piloting a plane containing Bulma, Chichi, the Ox King, Master Roshi, Videl, Puar, Android 18 and Marron. A powerful shock wave destabilizes the plane and damages the controls, which results in busted engines and a dangerous loss of altitude. Everybody is panicked.
You'd expect: Yamcha to fly out of the plane and use his strength to stabilize it enough to allow a safe landing.
Instead: When Bulma screams at him to do something, he responds that he cannot do anything with damaged engines and braces himself for the impact... somehow forgetting that he can fly and is strong enough to land the plane safely.
Thankfully: Android 18 does that and saves the day.
- Chi-Chi is at Kami's lookout and she's struck with grief because of Gohan dying (her anger is justified though, because Gohan is her child and she only feels like how any decent mother would). She wants to give Super Buu a piece of her mind.
You'd Expect: For Chi-Chi to listen to the others and not try to tell Super Buu off because she has no chance in even harming him.
Instead: She walks up to Buu and slaps him in the face for supposedly killing Gohan, then Buu kills her by turning her into an egg. Then again, this is Chi-Chi we're talking about, but even she should know better. It was probably Worth It in her head though, and Buu was going to kill them all anyway.
- Having unlocked the absolute peak of his potential and becoming far more than powerful enough to annihilate Super Buu effortlessly, Gohan ends up in a similar situation to the one that got Goku killed back in the Cell Games.
You'd Expect: Learning from what happened with Cell, Gohan to just blast Buu into nothingness immediately.
Instead: Apparently having learned absolutely nothing, Gohan just toys with Buu for an excessive period of time including allowing Buu to blow himself up and even waiting an hour for him to regenerate and come back to fight, arrogantly believing there's nothing Buu can possibly do to defeat him.
Result: Buu remembers his long unused absorption ability, absorbs Gotenks and Piccolo, and then with the power he gets proceeds to manhandle Gohan before Goku's intervention forces Buu to absorb Gohan as well.
- After Super Buu has absorbed Gotenks and Piccolo, Gohan mentions that Buu's newfound strength is on a time limit due to Gotenks' fusion.
You'd Expect: Gohan to play things a little conservatively and stall Buu long enough for Gotenks' Fusion to wear off, severely diminishing his strength and putting him on equal if not inferior terms again.
Instead: Gohan completely forgets this and foolishly tries to fight Super Buu head-on, with Buu constantly taunting Gohan and chipping away at his fighting focus and confidence, all the while easily beating him.
Result: Goku is forced to come back with the Potara Earrings, but doesn't get them to Gohan in time, who also winds up absorbed.
Even Worse: Gohan was right. Gotenks' fusion eventually does wear off, significantly crippling Super Buu, but by then it was already too late.
- After Gohan and Gotenks have been absorbed, everyone starts making a big deal about how the only being strong enough to defeat Buu is Vegito, who comes unfused after being absorbed by Buu.
You'd Expect: Goku and Vegeta, both of whom had prior experience with Freeza and Cell, to take into account that the fate of the entire universe and the lives of everyone in it, including those of their loved ones, were at stake, re-fuse at first opportunity, and do everything in their power to defeat Buu.
Instead: Vegeta crushes his earring, because defeating Buu using the fusion would hurt his pride.
Then: Given another set of Potarra earrings, Goku immediately crushes his because he regards it as "cheating"—mere episodes after calling Vegeta out for doing the exact same thing!
- In the episode "Deadly Vision," Goku and Vegeta are traveling in Buu's body and arguing. Buu pops up in his own head.
You'd Expect: For Goku to shut up and try to take on Buu.
Instead: He deliberately tells Vegeta that he is unable to fuse with him, right in front of Super Buu.
Then: Vegeta calls out Goku on it and tells him "Nice work, is there anything else you'd like to tell him?"
- Kid Buu charges up an attack powerful enough to destroy the Earth and then some, causing Goku and Vegeta to flee for their lives. As this happens, Kibito Kai goes to Earth to teleport them to safety.
You'd Expect: Either one to grab Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo, assembling their sons and their strongest backup, knowing that Dende and Mr. Satan (and Bee) would be brought back by the Namekian Dragon Balls. Regardless if he were to grab Dende or not, it wouldn't have done him much good since the Earth will be destroyed anyways, with the Balls.
Instead: Goku grabs Dende, Mr. Satan, and Bee. Goku, it's alright to save Dende and a dog, but why save the guy who stole the credit that your son deserved of beating Cell?
What's worse: Goku let his own children DIE so he could save a lying fraud, his puppy, and a boy he barely knew. And Vegeta, who clearly realized this since he got pissed off at Goku later on for it, doesn't even think to tell Kibito Kai the kids and Piccolo are still around.
Dragon Ball GT
Black Star Dragon Ball Saga
- One of their visits for the Black Star Dragon Balls has a monster named Zoonama threaten to destroy a village with earthquakes unless they give him a bride.
You'd Expect: That either Goku, Pan, or Trunks just casually knock him out and either drive him away from the village or interrogate him on why he is attacking them.
Instead: They apparently decide to have Trunks built up as the bride just so that they can cut the whiskers off with the scissors. Except that nothing stops them from just cutting it off with their Ki blasts.
Super 17 Saga
- Upon escaping Hell, Nappa runs into Vegeta, his former partner and killer, who calls him a "brainless idiot" and a "bald headed buffoon". Vegeta than tells Nappa to leave the area or be killed by him again. Nappa is understandably pissed at Vegeta for killing him, especially since he had served as Vegeta's loyal aid from the time Vegeta was a child, all the way up until when they went to Earth together.
You'd Expect: For Nappa to put his anger aside and leave like Vegeta told him to, as he knows that Vegeta is much stronger than him, and he doesn't even stand a snowballs chance in hell of avenging his own death and killing Vegeta.
Instead: Nappa lunges at Vegeta to try and destroy him. No points for guessing how that works out for him.
- Trapped in hell as a result of the efforts of Gero and Myuu, Goku decides to escape from it and defeat Super 17.
You'd Expect: For Goku to either turn Super Saiyan 4 and just teleport himself out or have King Yenma request the aid of Fortuneteller Baba to transport him back into the real world since he is not officially dead meaning he can return without any penalties.
Instead: Piccolo is forced to act dickish in heaven in order to be pointlessly sent to hell for his "crimes" all because of the characters above do not give any thought about doing this.
- In the Super Android 17 saga, Android 18 steps into Goku's fight against Super 17. Angry over 17 murdering Krillin when his Evil Knockoff had him Brainwashed and Crazy prior to the fusion, she confronts him about becoming a coward, losing his identity and letting mad scientists tell him what to do. Super 17 is visibly shaken at this.
You'd expect: Dr. Myu to relay orders to Super 17 through the "blueprint telepathy" of sorts seen between them in the fight with the other Z-Fighters just before Super 17 went Gatling Good on Majuub, in order to get him to attack 18.
Instead: He runs his mouth literally saying much of the same stuff 18 is saying except trying to apply it against her. 17 gets pissed off. End of Myu. Now, from that point…
You'd expect: 18 to realize he just acted freely of his own volition, whatever the catalyst may have been, and use that opening to try to get the real 17 to overcome the Hell Fighter in his psyche and bring him back to his senses.
Instead: She's still pissed off and perfectly content to resume the fight without even trying to reason with him any further.
The result: She ends up losing her brother in addition to her husband, the Z Fighters don't get the chance at a potential ally who could've aided greatly in the Evil Dragon saga, and we miss out on an amazing Call-Back to Goku's long-established usual method of making friends.
Shadow Dragon Saga
- Later when fighting Omega Shenron, Goku and Vegeta managed to successfully fuse together in their Super Saiyan 4 form and is more than enough of making Omega a fool.
You'd Expect: Knowing which one is the bigger threat, he immediately fires a Big Bang Kamehameha on the Shadow Dragon until he is obliterated and decide on what to do with the aurora sky later.
Instead: Apparently he thinks that the negative energy sky is more important than the universal-threat dragon and toys with him until he reflects the karma ball. He only decide to become serious after the fusion almost wore off. Thanks to that the only contribution they did is preventing Syn from obtaining the Four Star Dragonball.
- The villain Garlic Jr. has successfully gained Complete Immortality and is now immune to death — a point he spends the first half of the movie demonstrating. Finally, he has the heroes where he wants them and...
You'd expect: He, knowing how dangerous the Z-Fighters are and that they defeated (at this point in the series) an entire army and Demon King Piccolo, a.k.a. the evil version of Kami, the guy who defeated Garlic's father despite overwhelming odds, kill them immediately.
Instead: ...he opens up a portal to the titular Dead Zone to send them in. As in the place that is completely unescapable by anyone, immortal or otherwise. No points for guessing who ends up falling in.
Even Worse: In the anime filler Garlic Jr. Saga, having apparently learned absolutely nothing from his earlier blunder Garlic Jr. does the exact same thing again!
Dragon Ball Z: Lord Slug
- While Goku is trapped by a distracted giant Slug, Piccolo wants to give his powers to Goku in order for him to fight back.
You'd Expect: For Piccolo to just stretch his arms out to Goku and give him the energy.
Instead: He apparently forces himself into Goku as he struggles to do it. The abridged version even lampshades this idiocy.Piccolo: I should probably stretch my arms for this...