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Adaptation Induced Plot Hole / Dragon Ball

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The Dragon Ball franchise was especially prone to mistakes in continuity due to Toei Animation anime adaptation, due to being a tightly plotted series being adapted as the source material was being written. Since Akira Toriyama's Writing by the Seat of Your Pants style meant he didn't bother with giving the anime team notes, and the anime was in a constant state of Overtook the Manga meant they had to create a ton of filler to buy time, it creates a lot of cases where something depicted in the anime directly violates major plot points.

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See also SeriesContinuityError.Dragon Ball, which covers inconsistencies not associated with filler. There you will find any inconsistency with Dragon Ball Super and Dragon Ball GT.

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    Dragon Ball 
  • The anime expands the fight in the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament to show Krillin hitting Bacterian in the face, but the Japanese version leaves unchanged the manga line from the announcer saying Krillin was about to lose without landing a single blow.
  • When Tao Pai-Pai gets killed trying to take the Dragon Balls off of Goku, in the anime he learns about this immediately because of a tracker he put on Tao. This isn't corrected later in the script, so when Red spots some Dragon Balls approaching Red Ribbon HQ via their radar, he doesn't realize it's Goku and not Tao until he gets a visual. Accurate to the manga, but contradicts the earlier episode.
  • In one filler episode of Dragon Ball, Master Roshi tells a story of the creation of the Dragon Balls. The scene predates Toriyama exploring the subject by almost two years and thus is inaccurate in just about every way, and it also contradicts Roshi not knowing what Dragon Balls were when Bulma first met him in the opening arc. The only saving grace is that Roshi prefaces the story with "or so I heard" and doesn't insist that it's the truth, and it's possible he learnt the story after meeting Bulma (although neither of these are made clear in the episode).
  • In a filler episode of the Dragon Ball anime, Goku meets Dr. Frappe, a professor who lives not far from Jingle Village and was pressured by the Red Ribbon Army into creating Android 8. No such character existed in the manga, which caused some problems when several years later (when the anime became Dragon Ball Z), Dr. Gero is introduced as the creator of the Red Ribbon Androids. Daizenshuu 7 addresses this and proposes that Frappe might have been Gero's colleague during Android 8's creation.

    Dragon Ball Z 
  • In one early episode, Krillin goes to Goku's house to tell Chi-Chi her husband's dead and her son's been kidnapped, but gets cold feet and can't do it. After he spends the night there, Bulma chews him out the next morning for not telling Chi-Chi the bad news while she and Roshi are playing a board game. Soon after, we get a scene from the manga where Bulma finishes repairing Raditz's scouter after staying up all night working on it, only to get mad when she finds Krillin and Roshi having fallen asleep overnight. Kai fixes this by removing the part where Krillin stays at the night at Chi-Chi's.
  • A filler episode during the Saiyan arc has the pod Goku was sent to Earth in project a hologram of the moon which causes Gohan to transform, but Vegeta's later explanation of how the Saiyan transformation works (it's caused by their eyes absorbing a special kind of radiation made when sunlight reflects off distant celestial bodies) is something a hologram couldn't reproduce (unless it uses Blutz Waves like Bulma's machine in GT, but the hologram predates Vegeta introducing them).
  • Goku's pod is the source of another contradiction: Piccolo destroys the pod to remove the hologram and return Gohan to normal... only for the manga to have Dr. Briefs recover the pod and rebuild it into a larger ship so that Goku can go to Namek. Dr. Briefs makes no mention that the pod was destroyed when explaining to Goku how he built it.
  • An episode of Z has King Kai tell the story of how the Saiyans were wiped out, and attributes it to the "Kami-sama" (or God) of their galaxy summoning a meteor to strike Planet Vegeta in order to rid the galaxy of the Saiyans and their evil ways. As it turns out, this is far from the truth, as Frieza was the one who destroyed the planet, and for less than noble reasons (and planet Vegeta's God has never been seen or mentioned). Of course, one could excuse it as King Kai lying to Goku since he later told him not to fight Frieza in the early half of the Namek arc. Less excusable is that King Kai tells Goku that Saiyans transform into Great Apes when they look at the full moon, which contradicts the future manga event where Goku doesn't learn this until he sees Great Ape Vegeta (which makes him realize he was the one who killed Grandpa Gohan, which doesn't happen at King Kai's).
  • When King Kai tells Goku about the Saiyans, we see that they all had multiple hair colors while wearing armor identical to Raditz's. Then there's Vegeta's odd colors right until he lands on earth where he had red hair and green armor, and dark blue body suit. Later on, Vegeta would be colored as he was properly shown in the manga. Vegeta even states that all Saiyans have black hair upon meeting Future Trunks.
  • The anime shows Nappa throwing off his armor, which is apparently a massive and heavy object. However, the Frieza Saga later reveals that the armor issued to Frieza's soldiers is not only very elastic, but also extremely light. There's not even an attempt to explain why Nappa's armor was so heavy compared to everyone else's.
  • During the Namek Arc, the line from the manga is cut where Zarbon tells Vegeta that Frieza can transform, leaving a bit of a head-scratching moment when Vegeta references it later on. Kai does not fix this.
  • The anime adds scenes of Frieza killing his henchmen Orlen and Namole, as well as Captain Ginyu killing Frieza's men who fail to pose properly. This raises the question of why they aren't brought back to life when Mr. Popo wishes on Earth's newly-restored Dragon Balls to revive everyone killed by Frieza and his army in the past year.
  • One of the most egregious examples is the filler scenes after everybody on Namek has been transported to Earth. Vegeta starts acting like a dick, which is typical of him, but behaves in a way completely contradictory to his established character motivations. He claims in a flashback during his time working for Frieza that he knew he blew up his home planet all along, even though he was shocked when Dodoria told him this and said he would have revolted if he knew. When the news breaks of Goku and Frieza's "death's", he brags that this makes him the strongest by default, antagonizes the Namekians, and lords it over Gohan's head and then pummels him in a fight before flying off. And then in the next episode he's standing under a tree as if nothing happened, Gohan has no scratches or bruises, and he suggests a method of wishing Goku back to life so he can find out how to become a Super Saiyan and defeat him with Gohan thanking him for it.
    • And speaking of which, after Vegeta resurrects on Namek, he sees Goku and Frieza fighting, and becomes ecstatic when Goku became a Super Saiyan. In the manga, he was sent to Earth immediately after Dende made the wish to take everyone except Goku and Frieza to Earth. The former contradicts what happens right after Porunga teleports nearly everyone to Namek, and Vegeta reacts in shock when Gohan proudly tells Piccolo that Goku became a Super Saiyan. Taken a step further in the Android Saga once Goku returns to Earth, he and Trunks transforms in front of everyone, and Vegeta angrily shakes his fist seeing it as if it's the first time he saw it.
  • The Garlic Jr. Saga is basically one big adaptation-induced plot hole. Neither it, nor any of the movies, occur in the manga. It directly follows the movie Dead Zone, which is supposed to take place before the start of Dragon Ball Z. If Dead Zone was canon, then there's no reason Krillin and the others don't know about Gohan in the first episode of Dragon Ball Z and are surprised when he unleashes his power on Raditz and act like Goku and Piccolo have never teamed up before. Even more bizarre is that Gohan's pet dragon Icarus, who debuted in The Tree of Might, appears in the Garlic Jr. saga and early Androids Saga filler. The Tree of Might is even more impossible to fit into continuity, as Piccolo, Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu all appeared when they should've been dead at that point in the story, and Gohan, Krillin, and Bulma should be on Namek. It was eventually stated that The Tree of Might and some other movies took place in an alternate timeline where Goku managed to get back to Earth from King Kai's planet earlier.
  • In the Garlic Jr. Saga, Krillin briefly has a girlfriend named Maron, who he ends up dumping by the end. In the eight-year time skip between the Cell Saga and the Buu Saga, however, Krillin marries Android 18 and has a kid with her with the very similar name of Marron. Although it's not exactly a plot hole per se, the fact that Krillin would have a daughter with such a similar name to his ex-girlfriend comes across as incredibly odd. Interestingly enough, this actually ended up getting a Lampshade Hanging of sorts in Dragon Ball Super - when Android 17 meets Marron, he mispronounces her name as Maron. 18 promptly gives 17 a Death Glare, and threatens to kill him.
  • In the English dubs of both Z and Kai, when Krillin and Future Trunks arrive at Goku's house, Yamcha recognizes Future Trunks and calls him by name, even though Yamcha left the fight with Androids 19 and 20 to take Goku home before Piccolo revealed his identity to everyone else.
  • In the original Funimation English dub, Goku’s visit to King Kai’s planet to find New Namek has King Kai recognize the Instant Transmission technique and claim that he could have taught it to Goku. This is a contradicts the Saiyan Arc where a big deal is made of King Kai forgetting Goku has to travel all the way back down Snake Way after being wished back to life: if King Kai knew the technique, he could have easily zipped Goku to the check-in station for Kami to pick him up.
  • In the Manga, the only ones who can give Cell Jrs a fight are Vegeta and Trunks, but in the anime Piccolo not only gives a fight to a Cell Jr but actually seems to be winning. This wouldn't be a problem if Cell didn't still say that the only ones putting up a fight are Vegeta and Trunks, as he does in the manga.
  • In the manga, Cell explodes immediately after Goku Instant Transmissions both of them to King Kai's planet, with Goku only having time to apologize to King Kai before they all die. The anime has more time between the Instant Transmission and Cell exploding to use up more of the episode's length, with Goku and King Kai getting some back-and-forth and Cell spending a good few seconds screaming before he explodes, begging the question of why Goku didn't just grab King Kai and company and zip back to Earth in the time he had.
  • When Vegeta is about to self-destruct himself to destroy Majin Buu, he asks Piccolo where he would be in the afterlife. Piccolo responds that since Vegeta has been a ruthless Saiyan for most of his life, he would be sent to Hell where he would not only lose his body, but his soul would also be purified until he is reborn without any memories. While it makes sense in the manga as we never saw what Hell looks like at the time, it doesn't explain why many villains such as Frieza, Cell, and others in filler, movies and Dragon Ball GT keep their bodies and no one even lifts a finger in an attempt to purify them. In filler scenes, "Hell" just looks like a mildly unpleasant place, with no torture. Then in Super, we see that they actually are tortured, with Frieza rendered immobile as sickeningly sweet creatures cavort around him. It's possible that this is a process that happens before purification, but if so it's never clarified.
  • Scenes not from the manga frequently make the error of characters having nightmares about enemies they hadn't seen yet and thus shouldn't know what they look like. On Snake Way, Goku has a nightmare about Vegeta and Nappa, even though he had yet to meet them. Later in the Android Saga, he has a nightmare about Android 17 and Android 18, even though he once again hadn't encountered them. Later, Gohan has a nightmare about Cell, who once again he hadn't met yet, which outright contradicts the manga: a scene has Goku tell Gohan to imagine Cell killing everyone he loves, only for Gohan to point out that he has no idea what Cell looks like (they settle for Frieza instead).

    Dragon Ball Z Kai 
  • Dragon Ball Kai fixes some plotholes (like the Vegeta-dickery mentioned in the above folder), but creates some new ones thanks to the fact that it retains some filler while excising others. For example, the Buu Saga retained a scene in Hell where the previous villains watch the final battle on a giant crystal ball. Two of the Oni present recognize Goku as "that fellow who fell off Snake Way a while back", referring to a Saiyan Saga filler episode that didn't make the cut.
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