Dragon Ball Tropes A To D Discussion

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07:32:11 PM Sep 18th 2017
Should the spoilers on this page be marked? I know it's an old show, but there are still interested viewers who may not have seen it.
04:02:00 PM Feb 18th 2016
edited by Ramona122003
01:11:15 PM Feb 18th 2016
Per the trope page:

"Oftentimes, games will try to prevent the notion of Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards from seeping into their games. Every character or character class is as valuable as another, or must rely upon one another for game balance purposes.

Crutch characters, however, are player characters (typically available early on) who start out powerful enough to carry your party to victory on their own, but who Can't Catch Up with the increased powers of newer enemies or their fellow characters, or because they simply leave the party at some point (possibly because they are The Mole), or they are killed, forcing the player to somehow come up with a replacement. Worse, without Leaked Experience, the crutch may actually cripple your party if you lean on them too heavily - if they leave, or if their diminishing returns make their levels empty, then you've functionally wasted experience points that could have made other characters powerful.

There are six reasons for this trope occurring:
  • The character is forced to Level Drain.
  • Weaker enemies give less EXP to more powerful characters, so the character Can't Catch Up.
  • The character is a Guest Star Party Member.
  • The character leaves, and doesn't come back until everyone else has caught up.
  • The character is meant to be A Taste of Power that lingered for too long, who later leaves or dies.
  • The character simply has bad stat growth; they don't gain as much from leveling up as the other characters do.

Thus, they are like a crutch - you can lean on them to overcome a weakness early on, but eventually, the game will kick the crutch out from under you, and your other characters must have learned to stand on your own two feet by that time, or you are doomed to fail.

The Crutch Character serves two purposes his strength prevents the player from being overwhelmed in the early stages of the game when he's still learning the rules, and he provides a useful object lesson. Most novices, given a powerful unit, will come to overly rely on him, and won't raise their other units enough, leaving those characters weak and unable to defend themselves. By quickly obsoleting or otherwise removing the Crutch Character (or perhaps making the Crutch's later function different), the designers deter this strategy; in other words, it's a way of attacking the Unstable Equilibrium. Of course, if the designers forget to deter this strategy, you have a One Man Party."

The Crutch Character is an awesomely powerful character meant to act as a temporary handicap for the player while they're learning their way around the game, before eventually f*cking off and leaving the main characters to thrive on their own.

Goku starts powerful, but he IS the main character. The only time he's obsoleted is when he passes the torch to Gohan, and he gets it right back in the next arc. There's never any indication that the protagonists are supposed to do anything but overrely on him.
04:09:37 PM Feb 18th 2016
edited by Ramona122003
A Crutch Character doesn't have to leave, you're thinking more the lines of Taste of Power, and they don't necessarily become obsolete. Some balance out and remain useful, they're just not overpowered anymore. Being a main character also doesn't mean you're not a Crutch Character, one of the examples on the page in the none-video game section is the main character of Swords Arts Online.

And as I mentioned in the edit all the Crutch Characters from the Fire Emblem games are permanent members unless you get them killed and it was the original trope namer, the Jagen, after the games' very first Crutch Character. Even then, most of the Jagen from later games remain useful, some even are good picks for end game battles. They just can't One-Man Army their way through the enemy lines like they can during the first few chapters.

Goku starts powerful and is the one every leans on to the point of dependence. As the enemies become more powerful, he stops being able to One-Man Army and the other characters do need to help him once and awhile. Part of the reason why Goku tries to past the torch later is because he wants his friends to stop depending on him.
12:16:22 PM Feb 19th 2016
edited by TobiasDrake
A Taste of Power and Crutch Character complement each other rather than contradicting each other. See this passage:

"This is sometimes done by means of a Crutch Character, who leaves, is killed, or is depowered after the segment is over, weakening your fighting strength."

It's true that a Crutch Character doesn't have to leave, but even when they don't, they're still expected to fall out of usefulness through a sluggier rate of growth. At the very least, they degrade from being insanely powerful relative to their peers to being on equal level. The other characters are meant to catch up and possibly even surpass him, so that he can become obsolete in some way. The Crutch Character starts strong, but Can't Catch Up and falls out of focus.

The opposite is what happens to Goku. He is constantly surpassing everyone. He races past Kame-sennin, races past Tenshinhan, races past Piccolo and Vegeta. Instead of becoming less useful as the story progresses, new characters constantly have to be introduced to replace the old ones, who fall out of focus due to the inability for anyone else to keep up with Goku's insane growth rate.

He starts becoming more and more challenged with each foe he fights, but it's the rest of the cast who become obsolete as the story progresses, never Goku. Even when he does pass the torch in the Cell arc, he gets it right back when Buu rolls around. This is actually a popular complaint fans have about the series: the fact that, Cell Games excepted, Goku never stops being the only protagonist who matters.
12:57:02 PM Feb 19th 2016
edited by Ramona122003
That isn't completely true about Crutch Characters becoming less useful. Using Fire Emblem again the Crutch Character can become one of your strongest units next to only the main character and maybe two other units in the later games. In fact, in one of the Fire Emblem games the Crutch Character is second only to the main character in stats if the RN Gs favor you.

In fact in one of the Fire Emblem games that never made it overseas the Crutch Character for the first half of the game was not only the main character, but one of the most powerful units in the entire game. The game balanced the character by having huge maps, making it impossible for the character to just one man army the entire map.

The key if a Crutch Character is dependent. If you rely on this unit and don't train up you other units you're going to have a hard time later, which is what happens to Goku. His friends depend on him so much that they didn't properly level up and are screwed if something happens to Goku. This is especially bad later in the series where characters would say everything is fine because is there and become largely helpless whe he isn't around.

And it should be pointed out the reason why Goku tries to pass the torch later is because he doesn't like that his friends and family depend on him so much. Him failing doesn't omit that.
03:00:00 PM Feb 22nd 2016
edited by TobiasDrake
That doesn't sound like the Fire Emblem example is a Crutch Character, then. Again, the trope describes it as,

"Crutch characters, however, are player characters (typically available early on) who start out powerful enough to carry your party to victory on their own, but who Can't Catch Up with the increased powers of newer enemies or their fellow characters, or because they simply leave the party at some point (possibly because they are The Mole), or they are killed, forcing the player to somehow come up with a replacement. Worse, without Leaked Experience, the crutch may actually cripple your party if you lean on them too heavily - if they leave, or if their diminishing returns make their levels empty, then you've functionally wasted experience points that could have made other characters powerful. "

That's the point of the Crutch Character: It's not just a character who starts out strong and then continues to be the best character ever. it's a character who starts out powerful as a handicap for the player, but is steadily obsoleted as the difficulty increases until they're no better than the rest of the party and, in many cases, actively worse if not missing entirely.

EDIT: Also, sorry for the long absence. I'm going to make an effort to be more available for discussions after work and during weekends.
05:39:45 PM Feb 22nd 2016
edited by Ramona122003
The examples I gave are Crutch Characters in Fire Emblem. I am somewhat active in that fandom. It is just in the some Fire Emblem games, especially the recent ones, the Crutch Character remains useful and in few cases one of the best units. The name of this type of Crutch Character is the Oifey archetype, which you can read about on the Crutch Character page.

The very definition of a Crutch Character is someone who carries your team early on before you're suppose to grow your team because eventually you will reach a point where the Crutch Character can't save you even they remain a powerful unit either because they can't One-Man Army anymore or the map prevents them from reaching units quickly. So, it is still very important to train up your weaker units instead of dumping all the exp into the Crutch Character, otherwise you will run into some serious problems later on.
07:56:13 AM Feb 23rd 2016
I have to say, the trope merits mentioning. This was genuinely a concern for Goku, that people were over-relying on him and that he wouldn't always be around. This definitely comes into play in the Cell Games, and is part of his reason for staying dead, I believe. And an important part of the Saiyan and Frieza sagas was basically the cast coping with not having their crutch around and how screwed they are.

That said, I'd say it only merits mentioning in the Z parts of the franchise. In DB he remained the strongest among the heroes consistently and this didn't really come up.
09:55:08 AM Feb 23rd 2016
That's fair. I can agree to listing Goku as a Crutch Character for Z, but not for DB.
10:08:33 AM Feb 23rd 2016
edited by Ramona122003
I think that is fair too. Although the characters depending on Goku too much did somewhat come up during the 23rd Tournament where Master Roshi says that they can only depend on Goku and Kami says the same after he's freed, but it doesn't become a big issue until around the Saiyan Saga.
02:01:14 PM Feb 15th 2016
Three things:

Beware the Nice Ones

Does Goku really count as "nice"? Refraining from cruelly harming people for selfish pleasure isn't exactly a high bar to meet; by that measure, nearly every character in the series is a "nice one".

The trope describes a "nice one" as sweet, polite, gentle, and peaceful. None of these adjectives can be applied to Goku.


The Kamehameha between Goku and Kame-sennin didn't do this. Their beams collided, immediately exploded, and knocked them both backwards.

Beam Spam

Is this an anime thing? Because in the manga, Piccolo fired a handful of aimed finger shots, but he didn't do a spam with dozens of rapid-fire shots like the trope describes.
04:56:42 PM Feb 15th 2016
Yes, King Piccolo uses beam spams in the anime, look online if you don't believe me. The example I gave for beam o war still counts. Roshi and Goku's battle just ends in a tie. And I will take the last example to ask the trooper.
07:27:33 AM Feb 16th 2016
edited by TobiasDrake
Okay. Both Beam-O-War and Beware the Nice Ones are still in deliberation over at ATT but I've readded Beam Spam. Now, there's these points of disagreement to address:

Bittersweet Ending

Piccolo Daimao's death isn't the end of the arc. It segues directly into Goku seeking Korin's advice to recreate the Dragon Balls, recovering his Nyoi-bo, and using it to meet God. God agrees to restore the Dragon Balls if Goku returns after making the revival wish to train under him, which he does.

This all appears to happen in the space of a single day, the same day as Piccolo's death, or close to it. It's the epilogue to the arc, not the beginning of the next.

Big Good

It was not Kame-sennin's plan to use the Dragon Balls to seal away Piccolo. It was his plan to use the Mafuba to pull that off. He gets the urn, he attempts the Mafuba, he fails, he dies, and that's the end of his involvement in the arc.

Here, he isn't acting as Big Good. He's just one of the protagonists whose attempts to defeat the villain ends in disaster before Goku can ride in to save the day, a common occurrence after Cerebus Syndrome has settle in.

EDIT: Because the Bittersweet Ending entry is really a question of where you would consider the Piccolo Daimao arc ended and the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai arc to have begun, I've posed the question to the forum to get some more opinions.
07:52:01 AM Feb 16th 2016
Actually it is. In the anime, the King Piccolo arc end officially with his death. I don't know how it works in the manga, but in the anime King Piccolo and the Piccolo Jr Saga, as Funi calls it, are two different story arcs. Now you can make a note that the manga is different, but those are the official English separations.

Roshi is technically the Big Good up until he gets killed. He trains the main characters and guide Tien to become a good person. He is also the one who explains who King Piccolo is and enacts a plan to stop him. Him dying really doesn't negate that.
09:38:04 AM Feb 16th 2016
I concede the Big Good point as the trope page itself points out that the Big Good Worfing to the villain early in an arc is something that happens from time to time.

Putting up a compromise on the Bittersweet Ending debate.
09:41:28 AM Feb 16th 2016
edited by Ramona122003
I will also concede that the example I wrote is not Beam-O-War since apparently the struggle needs to last for a few minutes or something.

With that said, I think Goku and Piccolo Jr did have one at the 23rd tournament, but in that instant Goku almost instantly pushes Piccolo's attack back if I remember correctly.

I am also willing to compromise that Kid Goku is not an example of Beware the Nice Ones, however, I will maintain that his teenage and adult self are for reasons listed on ATT since he does become much more passive, less willing to kill, and more merciful after training with Kami.
11:59:14 AM Feb 16th 2016
I checked out the anime version of the move and you're right, in the anime it does linger for a few seconds before exploding. There's no such lingering effect in the manga. The beams collide and immediately explode. Toei must have added that to pad out the fight.

With that in mind, I'm willing to accept a similar compromise to what I added for Bittersweet Ending. It exists in the anime but not the manga.
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