These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Vegeta has a lot of this, with two major debates among fans.
First, just how evil was Vegeta before his Heel-Face Turn? Was he only evil because Freeza made him that way, or would he have been a villain all on his own?
Second, how deep did Vegeta's Heel-Face Turn go? Some fans say that he actually did become a good person but others disagree, saying that while he did at least stop murdering innocents he remained a selfish Jerkass with little regard for others.
Cell gets this sometimes, mostly because it's not entirely clear how much of his evil is his own, and how much is due to Dr. Gero's programming. On one hand, he flat-out ignores his programming to kill Goku to host the Cell Games instead. On the other, he later decides to wipe out all life in the universe because he believes that's the ultimate purpose Dr. Gero built him for.
Goku gets some with questions raised as to whether or not he really is dumb or if his childish nature just stems from growing up without anything that would qualify as a parental figures.
Goku seemed awfully curious who Bulma's Super Saiyan child's father was. Combine that with his decision to give up the Nimbus to Gohan (which only the "pure of heart" can ride), and some fans suspect that he had an affair with Bulma prior to her hooking up with Vegeta.
Americans Hate Tingle: In Japanese polls, Mr. Satan typically scores really high; in Dragon Ball Forever's poll, he even beat Roshi, Yamcha, Tenshinhan, Bulma, and Yajirobe in that order. In American polls, he ranks considerably lower. He doesn't rank well in Europe either.
Angst? What Angst?: It's impressive how quickly all of the characters get used to the fact that Goku had come back from the dead after seven years in the Buu saga, especially for Goten who until that point had never even met him.
Conversely they're fairly bereaved when Goku chose to stay dead, and in fact some of their life choices were based around Goku's death (Chi-chi allowing Goten to train, Vegeta and Bulma getting married).
This is actually addressed (though Played for Laughs) in the Buu saga. Mr. Satan is in tears over the fact that his daughter is dead, and despite the fact that everyone they love is dead, the surviving main characters are extremely nonchalant over it, even the seven-year-old boy who watched his mother be murdered.
Nappa was easily defeated by Goku, though admittedly he killed several of the Z Fighters before then.
Babidi, who was defeated by Piccolo without much effort.
In the movies: Once Gohan reaches his state of Super Saiyan 2, Bojack simply is no match for him. In Fusion Reborn, Frieza himself became this for Gohan, and Super Janemba for Gogeta.
Arc Fatigue: Z's sagas in general, though Freeza and Buu were the longest. Buu moreso in the anime, since in the manga, it went by quicker since at that point it was more like series fatigue for Akira Toriyama. The Frieza, Cell and Buu sagas were incredibly long and padded out with an incredible amount of filler. The series was so infamous for this that Arc Fatigue was once called "Are They Still On Namek?"
Ass Pull: Cell's From a Single Cell ability, especially since before that his regenerating used part of his ki whenever he did it.
Awesome Ego: Vegetto, which Vegeta fused with Goku, takes this Up to Eleven, how else can you make being turned into a chocolate ball into something awesome?
The first Z movie, Return My Gohan! / Dead Zone: when Goku and Piccolo attack Garlic Jr. together, you get this - a mix of Goku's and Piccolo's themes.
Perfect Cell's Themealso deserves a mention. It sounds like an evil techno/metal fusion. If only they actually played this version in the show. That said, the version they do have in the show that loops over and over is an Ear Worm.
Hironobu Kageyama's "Unmei no Hi: Tamashii tai Tamashii" (translated as "Day of Destiny ~Spirit vs Spirit") was played during Gohan SSJ2 Transformation, and even amongst those who are more familiar and/or prefer the dub appreciate its value.
The various DBZ composers are considered a broken base by their respective fanbases. The original composer Shunsuke Kikuchi, the FUNimation Falconer Productions composer team, and even Kenji Yamamoto who composed Kai, most of the video games, and several insert songs for the original Z.
Vegeta's Hell's Bells and Super Saiyan Theme. It goes without saying that these two themes are easily the most recognizable themes in all of the English Soundtrack, most due to how they would always play whenever something epic happened in the show, whether it was Vegeta or non-Vegeta related. They're also awesome tracks on their own.
The Super Saiyan 3 Power Up Theme. Yet another theme that would always play when something epic would happen and was a great standalone theme on it's own.
Badass Decay: In the anime, Freeza was damn near unstoppable when he was the Big Bad, as was Cell. They're a lot less threatening in Hell, even when they team up, and Pikkon defeats them with a fraction of the effort it took Goku and Gohan. Counts as Villain Decay as well. Freezia, however, looks to be getting some of his badass back, since the 2015 film is set to have a resurrected Freezia as the Big Bad.
A number of the Z Fighters suffer from this (in part because they Can't Catch Up to the Saiyans).
Vegeta. Even he gets sick of being relegated to a second-string hero, and eventually attempts a short-lived Face-Heel Turn to reclaim his badass status.
Gohan also suffers from this early in the Buu Saga due to the fact that he more or less gave up fighting and focused on academics after defeating Cell (seven years prior). After watching Gohan struggle against Dabura, Vegeta points out that he had actually gotten weaker than he was seven years ago. However, he gets a power-up later on in the saga that makes him stronger than ever. Too bad he still got shafted in favor of Goku at the last minute.
These days, Yamcha's mostly known for dying a lot despite only dying twice(the same amount as Goku) in a series where Death Is Cheap. Most people forget that when he was first introduced in the series, he actually almost defeated Goku in battle. The only thing preventing him from the finishing blow so was that Bulma happened to wake up at that time, and Yamcha left because of his crippling fear of pretty girls. He was also the first person to use a KI technique and ended up saving everyone from Goku's Great Ape form at the end of the story arc.
Base Breaker: There are some topics and characters that the fans are divided on:
Vegeta. A strong badass who gets more development than Goku or a whiny adult who keeps getting his ass kicked as a result of aiding the villain resulting in several Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments?
Krillin. A similar argument is made against him as the one against Yamcha. Is he a good fighter who tries his best, or a fighter who is too Overshadowed by Awesome and needs to leave the fighting to more competent characters?
Buu, especially to American fans. Is he an interesting and threatening villain with varied personality changes, or a whiny, childish brute that doesn't cover any territory previous villains hadn't already? To be fair, the Arc Fatigue that the Buu Saga went through does nothing to earn him any popularity points.
The Saiyan race as a whole. There's one camp that says the Saiyans are great and the original cast were too boring, and another that feels the Saiyans are boring and one-dimensional characters compared to the original cast and hates them for it. Most fans split the difference and say that the Saiyans were cool and interesting, but that the series shouldn't have shafted the Earthling cast.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Vegeta's desire to take over the Earth and fighting with Gohan after finding out that both Goku and Freeza had (apparently) died. It's a complete non-sequitur (it's anime-only filler that doesn't occur in the manga), it's odd considering that Vegeta later said that he actually wants to see Goku alive and it's never mentioned again, Gohan is seen in the next episode uninjured and Vegeta, who flew off, is standing exactly where he was in the previous episode, also uninjured.
Dragon Ball vs. Dragon Ball Z is a not as commonly debated over but it happens.
The Buu Saga, some like Buu, the introduction of Super Saiyan 3 and the Fusion Dance, while others thought the saga went far too long.
Videl becoming more "girly" after the Buu Saga has also met with mixed results.
The quality of the Funimation dub is another topic of debate. Some thinking its great and faithful to the original, others not liking it and thinking it added too much Dub Text, changed the characterization of cast members too much among other things.
Goku's insistence on Passing the Torch in the Cell and Buu sagas. The reasoning behind this was because Toriyama wanted to retire the character, but Goku's characterization led to half the fanbase scratching their heads over why Goku would put the world at risk for the sake of giving his kids a chance to shine.
The debate on which form of Buu is stronger, Super Buu or Kid Buu. Does not help that the manga never explicitly say which is stronger, only that Kid Buu is the most dangerous because he's insane. Goku himself offers little help because although he did not want to fight Super Buu and was evenly matched against Kid Buu, he lied or misled people several times throughout the arc about how strong he was. Namely, he claimed he was weaker than Fat Buu (which wasn't true) and led Vegeta to believe that they were even in power because he did not reveal that he could become a Super Saiyan 3.
Goku's origin story. With the revelation of Dragon Ball Minus, fans are very divided on the official background of Goku provided by Toriyama himself. Some fans were happy that a new dimension to that characteristics of the Saiyan were brought through Bardock and his wife Gine and the fact that Goku didn't suffer any head trauma creates more possibilities for significant character development for Goku growing up on Earth as a child. However, many fans were unhappy that the chapter retcons a majority of what occurs in the TV special Bardock: The Father Of Goku which is seen by many fans as a superior origin story and the fact the story of the manga strongly resembles the origin story of Superman.
Complete Monster: Frieza, Cell, Babidi, and Super Buu prove to be the most evil characters in the show, especially Frieza and Super Buu. For more information, see Dragon Ball.
Vegeta, turned Saibamen into pulp and made Cui explode like a firework by just pointing at them and did it so casually.
Freeza, he impaled Krillin in the chest with one of his horns on his head and then started to shift his head up and down, further injuring Krillin and causing more blood to leak out of him, used a paintball style Beam Spam on Piccolo, threw a mountain at Goku using his mind and imprisoned Goku in an golden sphere of energy and then toyed around with like a soccer ball and made Krillin implode from the inside out without touching him.
Gotenks, not counting the Awesome Ego nonwithstanding, he is able to tear dimensions with his scream, his attacks are summoning explosive ghosts and even turns Super Buu into a ball at one point to be played in a game of catch. There's also the ability to turn Super Saiyan 3 with little effort, actually managing it better than the person who showed them the technique. The person in question, Goku in comparison finds the transformation exhausting and it takes everything to draw out its power in an all out battle.
Vegito is even more ridiculous, while overpowered on his own, even by the show's standards, he takes it Up to Eleven when he manages to deal humiliating damage to Buu after being turned into a chocolate jawbreaker, noting that normally one can't move or think, let alone speak well enough to taunt Buu some more.
Majin Buu as a whole is literally made of Crazy Awesome and with each new form, the amount of crazy awesomenss he produces skyrockets:
Fat Buu turned Dabura, the King of the Demon Realm, into a cookie and then ate him, destroyed a city by breathing at it and turned dozen of human into clay and used that clay to build his own house.
Super Buu goes even further. The first thing he does in his debut is kill a psychopathic gunman by pouring himself down the gunmen's throat until he explodes, while laughing. Then he murdered the entire human race in under a minute without having to move an inch by firing billions of ki blasts into the air. Oh, and he did this out of boredom. To cap off his crazy awesomeness when Piccolo attempts to outsmart Buu by blowing up the entrance to the time chamber, locking him in the pocket dimension. Buu's response is to tear a hole between the dimensions and escape.
Kid Buu takes this trope Up to Eleven. Being completely unrestrained in battle; his fighting involves Beam Spam while using Self-Duplication stretching his limbs to extreme lengths and even taking time to whistle or beat his chest in midst battle. And unlike most villains who are Arrogant Kung-Fu GuyUp to Eleven, Kid Buu is too crazy to care about ego and how to attack.
Janemba, who releases all the denizens of Hell at one point, while turning the Afterlife into a jelly bean dimension, creating a clone of Goku to counter the Kamehameha technique, a bunch of clones and control of inter dimensional portals to launch attacks. After going One-Winged Angel, he takes it Up to Eleven by enhancing his dimensional portals to teleportation, beats a Super Saiyan 3 Goku, a feat that the aforementioned Kid Buu couldn't pull off and has a sword that cuts through dimensions from the swipes of the sword
Beerus, used King Vegeta's head as a footstool in front of his own son Prince Vegeta while making him treat him to an Eight-Course Banquet, curbstomped Super Saiyan 3 Goku with a single chop on the back of the knock, used chopsticks to defeat Tien and knock Piccolo with pressure point attacks, defeat Super Gotenks by spanking him, effortlessly defeats Vegeta with a single pressure point attack to the forehead. And yes, he also one shot all the other Z-Fighters including Android 18, Ultimate Gohan and Majin Buu. Oh, and he also needs the sounds of multiple bombs exploding continuously and simultaneously just to wake up.
Creator's Pet: Inverted with Vegeta, he's popular among fans, but author Akira Toriyama stated that he was his least favorite character.
Die for Our Ship: Yamcha frequently gets this from a vocal minority Vegeta/Bulma fans who portray him as a rapist/womanizer. Glossing over Yamcha's selfless deeds for both characters, Bulma always flirting with other males while with Yamcha, and Vegeta not fully caring about Bulma and Trunks until Future Trunks death by Cell.
King Vegeta. He is always listed as evil in all materials such as the video games and he never express any regret for his actions. According to King Kai in Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans, King Vegeta wiped out the Tuffles without any provocation. He's even seen trying to kill a baby (Broly). Yet many fans think King Vegeta was just a benevolent ruler whose evil was entirely forced on him by Frieza. Once again, Dub Text plays a heavy part.
Frieza's brother, Cooler. Possibly because he was powerful, handsome looking, and one of the few villains in the franchise to actually show care for his henchmen (though that might've contributed from how respectful they are towards him).
Bardock since the movie about his conflict with his race's predestined end at Freeza's hands (or rather finger), earned him Canon Immigrant status, and was even said to have almost single-handedly continued the series.
There's also Seripa/Fasha, who despite only appearing briefly in the Bardock movie before her death has quite a fan following, due to being the only named fullblooded female Saiyan in the series for over two decades. She's often featured in a lot of fanart and fanfiction, and even managed to be popular enough to be featured as a playable fighter in the 3rd Budokai Tenkaichi game.
The Ginyu Force, what with their Super Sentai parodying.
Android 18 (reason why she became a regular character).
Broly. Ever since his epic debut in the Legendary Super Saiyan movie he has achieved memetic status in the Dragon Ball fandom and the franchise really can't be imagined without him.
There's a surprisingly large fanbase for Zangya, who only appeared for ten minutes and had only one line. It's gotten to the point where she's become a Breakout Character.
There's also Janemba, Cooler and Tapion.
Evil Is Cool: Many villains are considered this, as is usual in Dragon Ball Z. Vegeta, Frieza, the Androids, Cell, Cooler, Broly, Zangya, Super Janemba, even Super Buu.
Mr. Satan's name is not Hercule. Hercule is his censored name for the North American version. Satan is not his last name either, but his ring name. His real name is apparently Mark.
Never ask a group of DBZ fans which English dub they prefer: FUNimation or The Ocean Group.
Ask if the Orange Boxsets are worth buying.
Entire flame wars can erupt just on how a name should be spelled. It doesn't help that there are fans who insist on spelling every name with their literal romanized Japanese transliterations (Bejiita, Pikkoro, Buruma, Bebi, etc.), despite the fact that most of the Japanese products already have official romanized spellings (i.e. Saiyan, Vegeta, Piccolo). Flame wars will also erupt when you try to defend a character who is hated by the majority of the fandom.
Z vs. Kai is another issue with base-breaking potential.
Never say you like the anime more than the manga because of the Adaptation Expansion elements it created.
A lot of fans of Dragon Ball Z never took well the comparisons with Superman, specially in Europe and Latin American. However, after the release of the movie Man of Steel it has become more rabid than ever. Try to say that Man of Steel is "like Dragon Ball Z, but actually well done" (or some variation of it) or fail to mention that its action scenes are clearly influenced by Z, and you risk receiving a flood of hate mail.
Fandom Rivalry: Few topics on the internet (outside of Shipping) can match the volatility brought about by the question: who would win in a fight between Goku and Superman? Fanart, essays, and ridiculously detailed videos have been created in an effort to solve that question.
An example is Yamcha was fired from his baseball career (which was thought by Toriyama for the anime) for being in a fight. Not only is this never mentioned and was Yamcha explicitly holding back, but the characters indicate that fights breaking out were a common occurrence in the stadium(likely a reference to Hockey riots). Yamcha is also seen playing after the saiyan saga, disproving this. This one was seemingly motivated by Ron the Death Eater.
Another example is that Yamcha was terrified of the saibaman and only decided to face them after Tien because of a desire for glory. Not only does Yamcha never display any fear of the saibaman, but he explicitly volunteers in place of Krillin because the latter had already died in the King Piccolo storyline and thus couldn't be revived by Earth's Dragonballs.
Fountain of Expies: Goku is the direct base and inspiration of several of the shonen protagonists in this generation, including: Naruto Uzumaki, Monkey D. Luffy, Zatch Bell!, and Toriko. This means, that every badass thing, no, every single thing, these guys do; it's because of Goku.
Ask the American audience who was the best villain in the series is, Cell would most likely get the most votes. In Japan, he actually ranks behind both Frieza and Buu.
The Z series in general is even more popular internationally than it was in Japan. For example, in the week of September 16-22 2002, Dragon Ball Z was once the highest rated show on cable and one of the top three shows in all television (cable or broadcast) for preteen/younger teenaged boys (9-14) in America.
Growing the Beard: With regards to the manga, this could be placed around the time Goku goes to train with Roshi. At this point, Toriyama dropped a lot of the Journey to the West stuff, stopped breaking the fourth wall, cut down on the gags, and refined the action sequences. Even though the earlier parts were entertaining, this is where the series really came into its own, and began its move towards that as which Dragon Ball is really known - a lengthy, fighting-based shounen saga.
Admit it, you were shocked when Trunks appears, turns Super Saiyan kills Frieza and King Cold.
Vegeta performing his Final Flash technique against Cell. The sheer scale of the attack was unlike anything Dragon Ball Z had provided prior to it.
Gohan going Super Saiyan 2.
Goku transforming into a Super Saiyan 3.
The Buu saga could be pretty uneven in tone, but it was still pretty shocking when Super Buu killed every single human being on Earth in the span of about 3 minutes, and then later successfully blew up the Earth as Kid Buu.
Many people watching DBZ in the present consider it to be an unremarkable anime with far too much screaming and powering up.
Broly's extreme popularity within the fandom has this effect on some once they finally watch his movies.
Idiot Plot: The Android/Cell saga comes dangerously close to being this, with a lot of the problems happening because of terrible decisions being made by the characters (mainly Vegeta, Trunks, and Krillin). What keeps it from being too bad an example is that the decisions are consistent with already established character flaws. The Buu saga, on the other hand, suffers from this problem a lot more, with just about every character on both sides making bad decisions to keep the plot going.
It Was His Sled: Most spoilers in the series have been mainstream for years, despite being shocking at the time. This lends itself to the fact that Z is where most of the international fans caught onto the franchise, and a number of them still aren't even aware that the examples of this trope were supposed to be as surprising, and the listed below isn't even all of them!:
Goku is a part of an alien race called Saiyans, he has a brother called Raditz. He also dies in his fight with him.
Cell. In his imperfect form, Cell runs rings around the Z Fighters as he masterfully evades their attempts to ambush him while draining countless cities of their populations' bio extract. Upon finding himself sorely outclassed by Vegeta later in the series, Cell tricks the Saiyan prince into allowing him to absorb Android 18 by promising to provide him with an opportunity to test the full extent of his newfound power. In the ensuing rematch, he succeeds in reaping vengeance upon Vegeta by breaking him down physically and psychologically. When facing Trunks, he shows how savvy he is about how raising his strength and muscles only slow him down. And then, rather than kill Trunks and everyone else, Cell instead opts to hold a martial arts tournament where all of Earth's greatest fighters can challenge him and be defeated....and he announces this to the entire planeton TVjust so he can see them panicking and living in fear. During the Cell Games, however, Cell becomes increasingly reckless and overconfident in his actions until he ultimately loses control when Gohan became a Super Saiyan 2. And said state was precisely what he was seeking; the problem was that he never really calculated that Gohan's power increase would be far greater than his.
Super Buu goes for this after he's born, and until Vegito comes on the scene, he's successful at it.
Vegeta was also this when he was a villain. Frieza tried his hand too, but overall lies firmly in Smug Snake territory.
Marty Stu: Seemingly played straight but later deconstructed. In his early appearances, Trunks showed several signs of being a Marty Stu. He's the result of essentially a Crack Pairing of two established characters (one of whom had been with another since the beginning of the series), looks completely different than anyone else of his species even allowing for the fact that he's a Half-Human Hybrid, is a pretty big "generic Badass" stereotype, has a tragic past, and makes his entrance via Worfing an established villain and said villain's even stronger father. However, as the arcs progressed, his Fatal Flaw came to light: father issues, and trust us, this ends up costing him big, to the point where he's not even the one to finish off his own Arch-Enemy, in fact things happen the other way around. He does finish him in his own timeline though, making a case of Earn Your Happy Ending.
The fandom jokes about Krillin always dying. He's been killed four times, by Piccolo, Freeza and Buu.
Yamcha is known as the one defeated by a Saibaiman.
Raditz is an absolute weakling, compared to other Dragon Ball Z villains, like Vegeta or Freeza. In Dragon Ball Z Abridged, he's considered the Evil Counterpart to Yamcha. Unlike other examples, he really never leaves this status.
Vegeta: "I don't know what this 'Yamcha' is, but it sounds just like Raditz."
Memetic Molester: Cell. If his habit of sticking his tail in people and sucking them dry wasn't creepy enough, the way he advances on 18 before absorbing her...
Memetic Sex God: Krillin. He dated two very beautiful women over the course of the series (and is Happily Married with one today, much to the fans surprise).
Misaimed Fandom: Many fans tend to sympathise with Bardock and his fellow Saiyans too much. While it is true that they were quite badass and that Bardock in the end faces off against a far greater evil, it is often forgotten that the Saiyans weren't exactly a bunch of nice, cool people, but a horde of heartless Star Conquerors.
No, Toriyama didn't write the anime. He wrote the manga it was adapted from. The pacing of the anime was actually out of his hands; they intentionally made filler arcs with his mild supervision, and padded the episodes so they wouldn't overtake the manga. Also, while Toriyama originally planned to end the manga as early as the first volume-or-so, he kept going due to the popularity it achieved. He also has admitted in interviews that he did not plan anything out ahead of time.
FUNimation is usually blamed for having a female voice actor for Freeza, but the Ocean dub had already done so before the recast.
Moe: Kid Goten and Pan are seen as this by the fans.
Dr. Gero kidnapping 17 and 18 to turn them into cyborgs definitely qualifies. And while it's clear they don't like him, they're decidedly subtle about it. Just what did he put them through?
In the Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans OVA, Goku & Gohan seem to consider genocide of the Tuffle is this for most of the saiyans at the time.
Cell crushing Android 16's head. Up until that point, he could have justified his actions as a mix of programming and harmless fun (since the Dragon Balls could easily fix the damage he'd caused).
Babidi has several moments that could qualify, with the murder of Spoppovich and Yamu (who had exceeded his expectations) being the first. He then writes off Dabura, the loyal servant he appeared to actually like, once Majin Buu is on the scene.
If it wasn't learning how Freeza killed Vegeta's father and race after promising he wouldn't, then killing Dende and later Krillin was probably Freeza's big crosser for many fans. In-universe though that's peanuts compared to the millions of people he's slaughtered up to that point. What made the Saiyan genocide worse was despite being evilPsycho for Hire, they were nothing, but loyal to him, and not only that, during the destruction of the planet, the blast not only took out the Saiyans, but several of his soldiers that happened to be in the way, were loyal to him and begged him not to do. Freeza continues anyway and then gloats how "the fireworks are splendid".
Super Buu crosses this for many fans when he ruthlessly kills Chichi in front of her son, Goten, turning her into an egg to smash it because she was annoying him. He then proceeds to kill almost the entire cast by turning them into chocolate and eating them.
It's hard to tell exactly where Van Zant, the ax-crazy gunman from the Buu Saga, crossed this line. Could it be when he decided that since "everyone's gonna die soon anyway", he's going to satisfy his sociopathic impulses by going around and randomly killing people with his arsenal of guns? Perhaps when he on-screen snipes a harmless old lady in the head right in front of her husband, and then has his lackey shoot the husband too? Or when we later see them going on a killing spree through a major city, killing at least 40 people? Or perhaps when he comes across the recently Heel-Face Turn-ed Majin Buu playing with his new puppy, and shoots the puppy right in front of Buu? Or then, when he shoots Mr. Satan - Buu's first and only friend - leading to Buu ejecting his evil half, which consumes him and becomes the above-mentioned Super Buu?
Paragus either crossed it when he forced a mind-controlled Broly to destroy the South Galaxy, or when he tried to abandon his own son to die.
Broly himself crossed it when he tried to kill an unconscious Gohan just to torment Goku.
In a desperate attempt to catch Gohan off guard, Bojack casually sacrifices Zangya, who was nothing but loyal to him.
Kid Buu inmediately crosses this when destroys the planet Earth.
Bojack telling Gohan that he will kill him despite the fact he is heavily outmatched by him in his Super Saiyan 2 state, even after he punches him through the stomach and makes him cough up blood.
For some English viewers, Goku's Japanese voice comes off as this.
Gogeta's birth in the dub of DBZ movie #12. It goes to show how a few music and dialogue changes can totally ruin a scene. In the Japanese version Gogeta was very stoic (he said two short sentences) and the music fit very well. In the dub the music was replaced with the same generic rock themes and the two things Gogeta said were both narmy and long-winded ("I'm not Goku or Vegeta, I'm Gogeta!").
Vegeta's fear of worms and him screaming "It's over 9000!!". Fans usually make art of it, along with Goku's fear of needles.
Goku giving Cell a Senzu Bean would be another thing that fans best remember him for, along with his fear of needles only appearing in the anime.
Yamcha getting killed by a Saibaman.
Krillin dying a lot.
Mr. Satan taking credit for beating Bojack, Cell, and Kid Buu.
At the end of the Saiyan Saga, Chi-Chi is completely neglectful of Goku's health, and only paying attention to Gohan. This is what fans best define her for, despite this never happening again, and the fact that she's one of the characters who did the least bad things in the series.
Once Dragon Ball's plot became more space oriented, it became increasingly similar to the Superman mythos. This was lampshaded in the Dragon Ball Z Abridged Bardock special when Granpa Gohan considers naming Kakarot as Clark.
The Problem with Licensed Games: Both subverted and played straight. Some of the video game adaptations such as Budokai 3, the Budokai Tenkaichi series, Legends, Legendary Super Warriors, Origins & Origins 2, Attack of the Saiyans, Legacy of Goku II, and others are considered both great adaptations of the series and solid games. Others, such as Sagas, the first Budokai, Taiketsu, Ultimate Battle 22, Final Bout and the NES game released in North America as Dragon Power, range from mediocre to almost unplayable. About the only redeeming quality in some of the latter games is their music.
Recycled Script: The Dragon Ball movies are all very loose adaptations of story arcs from the original manga and TV series. While the DBZ movies are more unique, they can be matched up to certain fights from the TV series as well.
The Dead Zone mirrors the battle with Raditz. Common elements are the introduction of Gohan, Piccolo and Goku teaming up to rescue the kidnapped Gohan. Garlic Jr. even has Raditz' voice in the Japanese version.
The Tree Of Might matches up to the battle with Nappa and Vegeta. The lesser characters fight the minions and lose, while Goku stops them easy, a parallel to the Nappa fight. Turles is an evil Saiyan who has come to Earth to take advantage of a precious resource (mirroring Vegeta's quest for the Dragon Balls). Goku has the upperhand over Turles, until he eats the fruit of might and becomes incredibly strong (Vegeta transformed in the main timeline) and is defeated only by a group effort (Spirit Bomb in the movie, and over the course of the fight with Vegeta everyone takes a bite out of him). Also, Gohan turns into a Great Ape.
Cooler's Revenge is a very obvious duplicate of the Frieza arc, both ending with Goku turning Super Saiyan. Cooler is even Freeza's older brother.
The Return of Cooler plays off of Frieza's transformation into a cyborg by having Cooler return as a rebuilt robot.
Super Android 13 is based off the Android Saga. Featuring the three main Super Saiyans battling three androids who attack a city. Also plays with a bit of Cell, as Android 13 absorbs his allies, 14 and 15.
Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan is based off the battle with Cell's second form and Goku's fight at the Cell games. Broly is somewhat weak (kind-of, his actual power was hinted to be much stronger than initially led to believe, but a large bulk of it was forcibly suppressed by his father via a SlaveCrown) until he transforms into his ultimate form, leaving the characters powerless against him. In the anime, Cell was easily defeated by a powered up Vegeta, but when he got an upgrade he was unstoppable. He fought Goku in the Cell games and it ended with Goku quitting. The movie ends with Goku getting thrashed, but at the last second wins. One of the more original movies.
Bojack Unbound is a very obvious spin on Gohan's fight with Cell. Goku is already dead and Gohan becomes Super Saiyan and fights Bojack, loses, then comes back as Super Saiyan 2 and wins with the help of his father. Mr Satan ends up taking the credit. Also, Bojack's minions represent the Cell Jr's, who fight the other characters.
Then in the very next movie, Broly: Second Coming, Gohan and Goku's father/son Kamehameha is used, except this time, it's Gohan and Goten who are assisted by their fathers spirit. Also, Broly, is frozen in ice for an extended period of time, just like how Buu was sealed in a magical ball for millenia.
The main characters of Bio Broly are Goten, Trunks, Android 18, and Mr. Satan...the very same characters who fought in the final round of the Budokai tournament toward the start of the Buu saga. Also, there is a Quirky Miniboss Squad fighting for a very weak Big Bad, and the main villain is discovered in a chamber a la Cell, or even Buu if you accept the fact he is technically sealed and about to be released.
Fusion Reborn is based off the Buu Saga. A large, fat and jovial enemy is beaten on by Super Saiyan 3 Goku, only to transform into a smaller and sleeker form, who is ruthless. It takes a Fusion to beat him. Parallels the Buu Saga, where the main villain is a fat clown who takes a slimmer and more diabolical form and it takes a fusion of Goku and Vegeta to stop him (Vegito in the manga, Gogeta in the movie).
Wrath of the Dragon is based on Super Buu and Kid Buu. Hirudegarn is a monster (Super Buu with a few absorptions) that can beat even Gohan, and when it looks to be defeated it grows into an even deadlier form. It takes Goku and his ultimate move to destroy the villain. Very obvious.
An evil Namekian wants to use the dragon balls to regain his youth, (and with it, much of his lost power) before taking over the world with his strange and sometimes demonic looking minions. Quick, are we talking about the Lord Slug movie, or the King Piccolo arc from the original Dragonball? This was lampshaded and mocked mercilessly in the abridged treatment of the movie, where Slug's own minions keep mistakenly calling him King Piccolo, (despite the fact that this is Slug's Berserk Button and he kills several for it) and even Shenron the dragon thinks this really reminds him of something.
Fat Buu wasn't very well received when he first appeared, mostly since despite his build up as this galaxy-destroying Eldritch Abomination, he was a silly pink blob that turned people into candy. After he kills Babidi and starts gradually making a Heel-Face Turn, though, he won some fans over. Helps also that the saga got more legitimately intimidating villains with his later forms, Super Buu and Kid Buu.
Mr. Satan, or Hercule if you prefer, also managed to get a pretty big dose of this right at the same time. His general personality of Small Name, Big Ego and taking credit for defeating Cell after everything the Z Senshi went through pissed off a lot of people. The Buu Saga ultimately revealed that even with his ego he actually does appreciate his fans and would refuse to betray their trust and he was ultimately granted a neat pair of awesome moments near the end both his What the Hell, Townspeople? moment and his rescue of an injured Vegeta. Some fans of the anime and manga still feel his cons ultimately outweigh his positives, but it's safe to say he's a lot better received compared to when he first appeared.
Yamcha gets this in fanfics, being portrayed as a drunkard or unfaithful in relationships. Here's one of many examples. Fans also try to exaggerate his personality and make him out to be an evil person, despite him causing far less damage than the other reformed characters of the series. While Yamcha started off as a bandit, he never made any goals to seek immortality or murder many innocent people. The Funi Dub of the anime doesn't help either, because many lines they wrote make him out to be an asshole, when really, he's a nice guy.
Goku gets this when it comes to his fathering skills. While Goku won't be winning any parent of the year awards because of the mistakes he made, fans tend to act as though he is a terrible father who doesn't care about his kids.
Chi-Chi. Fans tend to call her a horrible person and the worst parent of DBZ, despite other parents doing far worse than she did. Even though she did mellow out and gave up being overprotective, fans ignore this and portray her as a hateful/abusive person in many fanfics. Even the Funimation Dub of the anime gets in on this, by portraying her as a completely unpleasant person, when she's really chill in other versions of the anime. Fans also tend to blame her for Gohan's usually less than badass demeanor.
Also Goku. Goku was meant to stay dead after the Cell Saga, with Gohan becoming the new protagonist. There was even specific buildup for the Take Up My Sword moment. Turned out in the end, Goku was just too liked by the masses. It helps that Goku had been the protagonist for two anime series and over 30 volumes of the manga, whereas Toriyama had set-up Gohan to be his replacement in about a volume or less.
Seasonal Rot: The Buu saga is seen as this by many fans. Most of the issues pointed are the story being more over-the-top than ever with examples such as the Super Saiyan 3 form, Piccolo being Demoted to Extra, Buu being almost the same as the previous villain Cell to the point of lacking a motivation, Vegeta making a Senseless Sacrifice despite an attempt to develop him, Goku being the spotlight stealing squad when the series appeared to be focusing on Gohan, Goten and Trunks, and the anticlimatic and sudden ending.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Not as severe as most that suffer from this effect, but seeing the massive influence it had, has, and will probably continue to have on shonen manga. Its somewhat unavoidable. The degree of the effect has generally ranged from "it's kinda boring compared to stuff now" to "it flat out sucks."
Sequel Displacement: Dragon Ball Z is much more popular than Dragon Ball, in the West. Critically, the original is better received plot-wise.
Special Effect Failure: In the FUNimation dub of the episode "The Renewed Goku", when King Kai makes a premonition that Vegeta would die at the hands of Frieza after failing to destroy him, you notice that his voice sounds faded out. It's as if the voice actor portraying Kai (Sean Schemmel) was talking through a microphone that was turned off while another mic was a little bit far away from him.
Strawman Has a Point: In the FUNimation dub, Goku gave Vegeta a What the hell moment after the latter kills Burter and Recoome, whom both were unconscious, saying he was being pointlessly cruel. How does the latter respond? That they did deserve it, especially since Recoome would have KILLED Gohan and Krillin had Goku arrived late, and then proceeds to tell Goku that his kindness would bring about his own defeat.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: For all the hate directed towards Yamcha, there's a substantial minority of fans who feel this way about him and the other Z fighters, and lament the fact that the human Z-Fighters hardly ever get to accomplish anything really badass or score major victories on their own. For all their interesting personalities and techniques, anyone who isn't half-Saiyan becomes a glorified benchwarmer at some point.
Raditz, He's the long lost brother of the main character Goku, so you would expect him to be a major part of the plot. Instead he's killed at the beginning of Dragonball Z and rarely mentioned again.
At first, it was set up that the Z Fighters would face 17 and 18, but then Cell shows up and the conflict changes to him. One wonders if how they would've dealt with enemies that weren't wholly malign instead of another monstrous sadist like the last arc.
Nappa plays a huge role in the Saiyan saga, being the one who kills off most of the heroes. However, after being killed by Vegeta, he stays dead in a series where death is famously cheap. Any time Nappa appears again, it's just a quick cameo in Hell. Granted, he does finally get to confront Vegeta again in GT...only to be curb-stomped. It could have been interesting to have seen a fight between the two with Nappa actually having a fair chance at winning, or even to have Nappa pull a Heel-Face Turn like Vegeta. Additionally, at the end of the Frieza saga, they use the Dragon Balls to wish back everyone killed by Frieza and his men. Since Vegeta was in Frieza's command at the time, Nappa should have been revived, too, but wasn't.
Too Cool to Stay Fused: Vegito is widely regarded as the strongest fighter in the entire Dragon Ball continuity, so strong that he toys with Super Buu (+ Gohan) and easily has the capability to destroy him. He only lasts for four episodes before getting swallowed by Buu and reverting back to Goku and Vegeta. Goku and Vegeta crush their Potara earrings, and Vegito is never shown again.
The Androids were an attempt at this for having facial features radically different from the series' norm. It didn't quite work, as both 17 and 18 are often considered adorable (even in-universe by Krillin about 18), and Chiaotzu predated the bleach-white 19 by several years.
Semi Perfect Cell and 4th form Frieza play this straight.
In-Universe, very few people actually like Vegeta, probably because he killed (or helped to kill) most of themnote And he stole Yamcha's girlfriend. Goku, Bulma and their children together seem to be the only ones that like him, and even they sometimes get tired of him. To many fans though, he's one of the best things about DBZ.
Zangya. In "Bojack Unbound" only appears in ten minutes, speaks very little and is not even respected by the main villain. Not to mention that in "Fusion Reborn", she only appears in a second. But she is incredibly popular among fans, and many see her as Draco in Leather Pants.
Frieza and Cell are more straight forward examples. Nearly everyone in the show either fear or hate them but are among the two of the most popular characters in the fanbase.
There's the fact that the Super Saiyan form has blond hair, and green/blue eyes. Westerners and Japanese can take vastly different negative interpretations from this due to cultural differences. Westerners can interpret that Super Saiyans are supposed to be Aryan ‹bermensch Warriors. However, in Japanese society dying your hair in radical colors is seen as a clear sign of heavy rebellion, being blond one of the most common. Thus, Japanese viewers might see the form as a idealization of punks. Toriyama lampshaded it with Chichi's reaction to the first time that she saw her two sons becoming Super Saiyan, saying that they had become criminals (a joke that was Lost in Translation in some languages).
In many of the nude scenes, Americans see Ho Yay or even shotacon that no Japanese viewer would see.
Having your 11 (9 in the manga) years old son fight a psychopathic, murderous android comes across as cold and uncaring. However, around the same age Goku was living on his own, traveling the world, and fighting an evil army. To him, what he's doing to Gohan is no different than his own adventures as a child.
Puar's supposed to be male via Word Of God, but ended up female in the anime dub. It didn't help that, in all versions, Puar is voiced by a woman.
Chaozu as well. While Chaozu more obviously looks male, the fact he's voiced by a woman in all versions, the fact that he seemingly wears make-up plus his relationship with Tenshinhan can make the whole issue seem rather confusing.
It took quite some time for a lot of viewers of the English dub to realize Freeza wasn't a woman. The polite manners, large lips, pink and purple, and sexual innuendo didn't help much, either. Lampshaded in Dragon Ball Z Abridged:
Majin Buu. He has regenerative powers that surpass even Cell's, curbstomps Gohan and Vegeta, the latter goes through a Senseless Sacrifice against him, then Majin is able to imitate everybody's techniques quickly, and comes up with several upgrades whenever it looks that he is about to be defeated, and it takes everybody's powers to defeat him. And the obese Buu that started the slaughter is Easily Forgiven, though he had the advantage of being Obliviously Evil and learning empathy from Hercule/Mr. Satan, of all people.
Wangst: Vegeta throws angry tanctrums whenever it looks somebody has surpassed him. By the end of the series he gets better though.
Warped Aesop: Not wanting your timid 5 year old son to go to a dangerous planet after he was kidnapped by your husband's mortal enemy who had a history for murder for a whole year makes you a bad mother and a bad person.
Not forgiving someone easily for having a history of genocide means you need to stop holding grudges, even if said person's actions almost endanger the world.
What Could Have Been: Gohan was slated to become the protagonist after the Cell Saga, however, later decided against it believing he wasn't fit the role. There were several instances where the story could have been drastically different. This page goes into more details about what could have been.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: This is a series for ten year old boys that can bring cheesy grins and Manly Tears to high schoolers, college students, and young adults around the world. Then there's the high amount of violence that wouldn't pass for a kids show in the States.
Having Masako Nozawa voice Bardock and Scholar Gohan. Although all of her other voices from the family are spot on, hearing an old woman's raspy man-voice as a ruthless warrior and a bespectacled adult man can be rather jarring. Raditz also got away with having different voice, so why not those two?
Hikaru Midorikawa as Tenshinhan, from 2006 onwards. While Midorikawa is an excellent voice actor, more than competent and has a very quirky, recognizable voice, he sounds absolutely nothing like Hirotaka Suzuoki. Plus he already plays Android #16. A better choice would have been Ken Narita, seeing as Narita has already replaced Suzuoki for Mobile Suit Gundam (beginning with Unicorn) and Rurouni Kenshin, and sounds just like the late Suzuoki.
Pauline Newstone from the Ocean dub and Linda Young from FUNimation as Frieza. Subverted with the casting for Chris Ayres, when it was at least a little more spot on.
Future Trunks, what with being the only hope left in an apocalyptic hellhole of a Bad Future where the villains could kill him at most any time and just leave him alive to toy with him for roughly twenty years until he finally turns the tables and it was awesome.
Chi-Chi also qualifies. While she can be annoying, overprotective of Gohan, and can sometimes be selfish when it comes to her priorities, she's shown many times that she loves her family very much, yet fans ignore her good qualities and portray her even worse in fanfictions, possibly bordering on Moral Event Horizon treatment of Goku and her sons. Also, in the show, she had to go through watching Goku (who was her fiance at the time) almost getting murdered by Piccolo, who was his mortal enemy. She also had to go through dealing with her son Gohan getting kidnapped by Raditz and then Piccolo. Is it any wonder she was so angry when Gohan said he wanted to go to Namek to revive Piccolo? Not to mention, she has to deal with a lot of stress because of her son and husband getting put in dangerous situations. This may be why she wants Gohan to become a scholar, because she feels that education is the only way to survive, and she may not want Gohan to depend on fighting forever.
Gohan is also a woobie for having to go through witnessing his father die twice. He never was a fighter at heart and ever since he was 4, his childhood has been nothing but struggle. In the Cell Arc, he's shown to have a lot of self-esteem issues. During his battle with Cell, it was hard for fans to watch Gohan turn from a Nice Guy into a homicidal manic that would make Frieza proud. Considering all the things Cell did, it's kind of hard to blame him. He does get better in the later Arcs.
Android 18 has some of woobieness in the Cell Saga. She was a human forcibly converted into an android and programmed to kill Goku, and was in the middle of the saga being chased and stalked by Cell, got to see her brother eaten, and got absorbed herself on the verge of death.
Fat Buu. He just can't win against another form of himself. First, Evil Buu quickly beats him into submission, not even really toying with him. Then Mr. Buu defends Hercule and helps buy time in facing the final Big Bad, Kid Buu. This version is in all likelihood vastly stronger than the lean, grey earlier version, but takes his sweet time mercilessly slaughtering Mr. Buu and eventually causing the latter to depleting his ki reserves. It takes a freakin' lot to ellicit that feeling between two amorphous blobs which usually take shape, when it probably doesn't make sense how the match is even possible. (It doesn't affect him on a deeper level, but when you have *fanfare* "The Woooorld Champiooon" on your side, what will?) But he's far from the first in the series.