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  • 108: Dende is the Eldest Namek's 108th child.
  • Ability Mixing:
    • Cell has All Your Powers Combined due to being an Ultimate Lifeform created from the DNA of multiple characters. However, he also has some unique powers possessed by none of his components, including the ability to regenerate From a Single Cell. This is actually just a combination of Piccolo's ability to regrow limbs by expending energy, the Saiyan ability to increase in strength after recovering from injury, and Frieza's unique anatomy which allows him to remain alive and conscious even when most of his body is destroyed.
    • Likewise, Buu, after absorbing Gotenks, Gohan, and Piccolo, begins to use combinations of their attacks: Such as a Super Ghost Kamikaze Attack which shoots Kamehameha's and Gallick Guns
  • The Abridged Series:
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • Despite the huge power difference, Yajirobe is able to cut Vegeta's tail with his sword, and later wounds him by slicing right through his armor.
    • Subverted when King Cold believes that Trunks only managed to cleave Frieza to pieces because of his sword's special properties. Amused, Trunks decides to let Cold test this theory and gives him the sword, knowing that Cold would attempt to kill him with it. When Cold uses the sword, Trunks stops the blade with his hand and kills Cold with a ki blast to the heart.
  • Abusive Alien Parents: Before the events of Dragon Ball Z, the Saiyans send their infants/toddlers off to fend for themselves... and destroy planets. Without Freeza's influence, the last Saiyans left alive do care about their young, although this caring generally takes the form of Training from Hell to ready their offspring to better handle combat as opposed to trying to keep them out of danger. According to Word of God, Saiyans don't have much of a nesting instinct. Saiyans thrive on challenge and harsh environments, becoming stronger upon recovering from fatal injuries. This may also explain Goku and Vegeta's parental styles as while they do care for their children, their way of raising would be different (not to mention Goku being raised in the near-wilderness).
  • The Ace:
    • Goku to the point that he borders on being a Crutch Character. He learns techniques with a glance and within a few years his martial art skills surpasses all his masters, and wins the World Martial Arts Tournament before he turned 20 becoming the World's Strongest Man. Then he finds out why he's able to do all those things when it's revealed he's a Saiyan, a powerful warrior race. Even that doesn't fully make it a Justified Trope when he defeats members of his race considered to be elites, one being outright royalty, defeats and/or kills seemingly invincible aliens, monsters, and demons and achieves virtually all the available Super Saiyan transformations. Not bad for someone considered a "low-class soldier". His ace status has been Deconstructed several times by having people rely on him too much and Vegeta being driven mad by it.
    • In a franchise full of genius and prodigy fighters, Frieza may just stand head and shoulders above the rest. Unlike every other villain in the series who were either the embodiment of evil, demonic, or created to be ultimate weapons, Frieza is just a mutant who was born the strongest being in the universe without training a day in his life. He also has an insane amount of durability thanks to his species' extreme survivability and was able to remain sentient after Trunks cut him to bits. With that said, his arrogance in his own greatness proves to be his Fatal Flaw. He never bothers to learn to control his full power, which leaves him with very poor endurance. He loses to Goku on Namek because he burns himself out after only a few minutes of fighting at his maximum power. The mental trauma he suffers after Goku beats him turns him into a Broken Ace.
    • The Nameless Namek, aka Piccolo and Kami. The Elder Namek called him a prodigy among the Namekians and Dragon Clan, which was why they sent him to Earth when the weather changed on Namek. When Krillin tells the Elder Namek that Piccolo was killed by a Saiyan, he asks if it was a Super Saiyan who did it. After reading Krillin's mind and learning that the Nameless Namek split into Piccolo and Kami, he says that if they were whole no ordinary being would have been able to kill him. Nail echoes these thoughts, telling Piccolo that if he had come whole he would have been stronger than Frieza. It is not until the Cell Saga that we finally see the power of Nameless Namek, and he doesn't disappoint. He's stronger than a Super Saiyan and Imperfect Cell, and is an even match for Androids 17 and 18. He also combines the battle experience and wit of Piccolo, and the godly knowledge and wisdom of Kami.
    • Pikkon, a Filler character from the Otherworld Tournament, definitely fits this. He's able to beat Frieza, King Cold, the Ginyu Force, and Cell all single-handed with no effort, and go toe-to-toe with Goku without any real problems. He's presented as the West Quadrant's answer to Goku and faces him in the climax of the Otherworld Tournament arc.
  • Achilles' Heel: Saiyans have sensitive tails that can render them powerless if they are grabbed. They can be trained out of this weakness as seen by Vegeta and Nappa, and Goku from the original series.
  • Acting Unnatural: Frog Ginyu tries to steal one of the Dragon Balls. When Gohan spots him, he starts leaning against the ball and whistling nonchalantly, which only makes him more suspicious because he's a frog.
  • Action Bomb: Many characters resort to exploding when backed into a corner, with varying degrees of effectiveness.
    • In the Saiyan arc, Yamcha defeats one of the Saibamen but then lets his guard down. The Saibaman jumps onto him and explodes, killing itself and him.
    • Shortly after it becomes apparent that none of the assembled protagonists have a chance of defeating Nappa, Chiaotzu latches onto his back and self-destructs.
    • Subverted at the Cell Games by Android 16. He attempts to defeat Cell by grabbing him and activating his self-destruct device. Bulma removed the self-destruct device when she was repairing him prior to the event, however. It fails to activate, resulting in Cell effortlessly killing him and resuming the tournament.
    • After reverting to his Semi-Perfect Form, Cell attempts to use Android 17's self-destruct device to blow himself up and destroy the Earth. Goku teleports him to King Kai's planet instead, killing himself and King Kai but sparing the Earth.
    • After realizing he's not powerful enough to defeat Majin Buu, Vegeta resorts to releasing all of his power in a gigantic blast that kills him and vaporizes Buu. Buu pieces himself back together shortly after.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: When Trunks recounts why he came back in time, the audience gets a feeling for the despair he must feel at being the only defense for all the people against the Androids who have ravaged the entire world, leaving only a handful of people behind.
  • Actually, That's My Assistant: Played for laughs in the Saiyan Saga when Goku starts training with whom he believes to be King Kai. When the real Kai shows up, he is rather amused at the stranger imitating his pet monkey.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Downplayed. In the manga, 100% Freeza put up a decent fight against Super Saiyan Goku, but never had a chance at winning. He puts up a better fight in the anime, and they are more evenly matched, but it is clear that he takes more damage from Goku's hits and his stamina drains much more quickly than Goku's, leading to his defeat.
    • Gohan's future counterpart. In the manga story of Trunks' timeline, Gohan is killed by Android 17, who claims not to have even used half of his power to beat Gohan the last time they fought. In the anime adaptation of History of Trunks, Gohan is actually stronger than the androids individually. He is killed because 17 and 18 gang up on him in a two-on-one fight.
    • When Trunks first shows up. In the manga, he's only about as strong as Goku was on Namek when he fought Freeza. In the anime, he defeats two guys who are stronger than Goku was on Namek. In a Curb-Stomp Battle. note 
    • Inverted; in the manga story of History of Trunks, Trunks could already go Super Saiyan before Gohan was killed. Part of the drama of the anime adaptation was Trunks struggling to obtain his Super Saiyan form and failing to achieve it until he saw Gohan's mangled body.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: When adapting the manga into an anime, Toei had to make some judgment calls on coloration for several characters who had only appeared in black and white. Some of their choices would end up conflicting with Toriyama's later colorations.
    • In the manga, Bulma is supposed to have purple hair. The anime gives her bluish green hair. Toei did eventually get the purple hair down for Trunks, Bulma's son, but by that point Bulma had gone with blue hair for so long that to abruptly change it would be jarring.
    • In his first appearances in the anime, Vegeta has reddish-brown hair and orange armor; as soon as he gets to Earth, however, his armor has the blue-and-white color scheme he's famous for and his hair becomes black, which extends retroactively to events that take place well before his first appearance, up to and including childhood. No explanation has ever been given, but it seems to have been a mistake on the animators' part. The mistake is corrected in the remake, Dragon Ball Z Kai. However, he can occasionally be seen with brown highlights in his otherwise black hair in the anime from the initial fight on Earth onward, though the highlights are desaturated in Super.
  • Adaptation Expansion: A lot of the anime's filler contains a great deal of expansion of the story arcs, often for the purpose of developing the characters.
    • The events between Raditz's death and the Saiyans' arrival are fleshed out to showcase Gohan's training and Piccolo's Heel–Face Turn as a result of his time with Gohan.
    • Goku has several adventures on Snake Road such as falling into Hell and meeting the mysterious Princess Snake.
    • The humans use a magic chamber at Kami's Lookout to visit Planet Vegeta before it was destroyed and hone their skills fighting Saiyans.
    • While the events of the Frieza arc are going on, King Kai brings the Ginyu Force to his planet to test Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu's skills against them.
    • While Goku is fighting Frieza, Captain Ginyu steals Bulma's body, forcing Gohan, Krillin, and Piccolo to combat him once again.
    • Between the Frieza and Android arcs, a villain from one of the movies, Garlic Jr., tries to corrupt the world. Gohan, Krillin, and Piccolo are forced to fight him in Goku's absence.
    • Between the Cell and Buu arcs, Goku attends a tournament in the afterlife where he meets the adaptation-exclusive character Pikkon. Meanwhile, Frieza and Cell team up to try to escape Hell.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Goku is an example according to Toriyama who was dissatisfied with Goku's portrayal in the anime as a 'righteous' hero. He was supposed to be more of a selfish hero who fights mostly for his own enjoyment, not so much to protect others. This, however, is a Downplayed example since Goku is seen as an Ideal Hero even in the original manga by his friends and family, and experiences a subtitle Messiah Creep.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Due to how the anime was ridiculously close to the manga at almost all times, there were several continuity issues caused by Toei's attempts at fleshing out the manga's events.
    • In the manga, Raditz explains when he arrives at Kame House that Planet Vegeta was destroyed by a meteor crashing into the planet. The anime fleshes this out during Goku's training on King Kai's planet by having King Kai tell the story of how the Guardian of Planet Vegeta, their equivalent to Kami, grew dismayed at the cruelty of the Saiyans and summoned the meteor to wipe them out as a form of karmic retribution. Both the manga and the anime would later reveal that the meteor story was a lie covering up the fact that the Saiyans' boss, Frieza, blew up the planet himself. In the manga, this reveal only requires Raditz to have false information fed to him by Frieza's organization, but the anime is left with serious questions as to why King Kai would invent a story and lie to Goku's face.
      • Later (mostly) explained, by King Kai admitting that he did not want Goku to go up against Frieza, and be willing to do anything in his power to ensure he doesn't. At the time, before the Super Saiyan form was known, it was believed that Frieza was unbeatable, and King Kai didn't want Goku throwing his life away.
      • Later yet, there is a flashback where the 4 Saiyans actually discuss about the meteor story being a coverup, and Vegeta dejectedly admits he is aware of the coverup. Raditz therefore SHOULD have known when he explained things to Goku.
    • There's a very significant difference between the manga and anime versions of Namek's explosion. In the manga, Goku is shown flying towards Freeza's ship with several Ginyu pods in sight. He finds the ship useless, flies up and says Namek's about to blow (and the view shifts to King Kai). In the anime, Goku is helplessly raging above the ship while we actually see the planet go up in smoke and supposedly take him with it without much doubt. Since we actually see his onscreen death in the anime, his later explanation that he "found a pod, jumped in, hit the button and made it out of there" is certainly in line with the manga, but not the anime. As a result, Goku's survival in the anime ends up resembling a Cliffhanger Copout.
    • In a filler scene at the end of the Freeza saga: After Namek has exploded, Vegeta realizes that, now that both Goku and Freeza are dead, he's the strongest fighter in the universe, and is now free to take over the world. Gohan attempts to stop him, and the two have a brief fight, which ends with Vegeta being stopped by Piccolo from delivering the final blow, before he flies off on his own. This entire scene is never mentioned again, and it completely contradicts his motivations in the very next episode, where he is back with the rest of the group, completely calm, and shown to actually want Goku brought back to life so that he may fight him again and prove that he is the better fighter. Heck, he's actually the one to give them the suggestion for how to revive him!
    • One of the more infamous examples occurs in a filler episode of the Red Ribbon Army Saga. In this episode, Dr. Flappe is credited as the creator of Android 8. Years later during Dragon Ball Z, Dr. Gero is revealed as the true creator of the androids. A later guide book would handwave this by saying Dr. Flappe and Gero were partners on the android project.
  • Adorkable: 16-year-old Gohan. Studious, sweet, socially awkward, and has a love of superheroes while failing to realize that the only person who thinks Great Saiyaman is cool is his 7-year-old brother.
  • Adult Fear: When Gohan is four years old, he's abducted by his genocidal uncle Raditz. Raditz is killed, resulting in Gohan being instead kidnapped by his father's mortal enemy, Piccolo, and forced to fight Nappa and Vegeta who are coming to wipe out the planet. After they're dealt with, Gohan leaves the planet for Namek. All of this happens while his parents are helpless to do anything for their very young son, continuously thrust into life-threatening situations when he should be in kindergarten.
    • During The Cell Games, Goku forfeits his match against Cell knowing he (Goku) couldn't beat him (Cell). While it's thought to be the end, Goku instead has Gohan, still a (admittedly strong) child, fight Cell, a monster even Goku says he couldn't beat. While Gohan was able to defeat Cell in the end with the power of Super Saiyan 2, the fight before said transformation was extremely brutal to Gohan as Cell didn't hold back any punches, even though he was fighting a child. And this fight was being broadcast live, meaning Chi Chi, along with the rest of the world, were watching this monster try to kill her son, and she couldn't do a thing. And even Piccolo gave Goku a What the Hell, Hero? speech about it.
  • Advertised Extra: Gohan and Videl's classmates, Sharpener and Erasa, are among the main group in Z's second Japanese opening despite having very little screentime in the actual show.
  • An Aesop: Despite the series being known for over the top action and style over substance, it does have several lessons and themes. The biggest one being that no matter how strong you think you are, there is always someone stronger.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Young Gohan is patted on the head quite frequently, even by Vegeta. Though subverted with that last one, as Vegeta immediately knees him in the gut.
  • The Ageless: Master Roshi and Fortuneteller Baba have lived for centuries and have plenty more left in them. In both cases, it's because they drank from the Fountain of Youth.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Vegeta's death after Frieza gives him a no holds barred beatdown. Vegeta has been despicable for sixty-something episodes, and has just killed a village full of cute alien children and their big brothers. You'd expect a character of this type to die in a spectacular explosion, then never be seen again. But instead, after Frieza shoots him for describing Goku as a Super Saiyan, we get Vegeta's lengthy final speech about his genuinely horrendous childhood, and see Vegeta crying as he begs Goku to kill Frieza and avenge their people, before breathing his last in a Big Sleep from his terrible injuries. Although he eventually gets better like nigh everybody else in the series, he does get a decent burial from Goku.
    • Vegeta's second death after selling his soul to Babidi for power and to return to his old evil self. Despite him mercilessly killing hundreds of people and being the one who allowed Buu to be freed by fighting Goku, his Heroic Sacrifice to stop Buu is one of the saddest moments in the series. Made extra heart-wrenching since Vegeta knows he's going to Hell for all his past bad deeds and still blows himself up willingly to save his family.
  • Alien Among Us: Downplayed at the start of the Buu arc. The half-Saiyan Gohan attempts to attend high school in Satan City while keeping the incredible abilities he gets from his alien side secret from the world. He comes up with a couple methods that allow him to fight crime anonymously, first by using his Super Saiyan transformation to mask his identity, then by getting a superhero costume. He does a poor job of blending in, however; having no understanding of what qualifies as normal, he blocks baseballs with his face and leaps dozens of feet into the air to catch a fly ball.
  • Aliens are Bastards: Played with. They run the gamut from sadistic bastards like Frieza and Babidi to benevolent and helpful people such as the Namekians. That said, it's very rarely good news when a group of aliens decide to head to Earth. Even when benevolent aliens show up it's usually to warn of impending danger.
  • Alien Blood
    • Namekians like Piccolo and Nail bleed purple blood.
    • Most villains bleed purple (e.g. Cell and Buu) or dark red (e.g. Frieza), but occasionally you'd see something weirder. For instance, Zarbon (one of Frieza's henchmen) bleeds dark blue, which is also reflected in his skin color.
    • On a side note, there is at least one instance of a retconned blood color: Piccolo's blood was red in an early DBZ episode, censored to light green in the dub. It later becomes purple and is no longer censored.
  • Alien Invasion
    • Subverted by a later work; Goku's arrival on Earth is stated by Raditz to have been an alien invasion/genocide until he hit his head and forgotten his mission. Dragon Ball Minus reveals that it was actually for his own protection.
    • Raditz invades years later and is killed by Piccolo and Goku. A year after that, Vegeta and Nappa invade the Earth and destroy a city immediately. Unlike Raditz, who was looking for his brother Kakarot/Goku, Vegeta and Nappa just want to find the Dragon Balls. Although, they do plan to destroy all life on the planet and sell it once they gain immorality.
    • After hearing about the Dragon Balls, Freeza and his army invade Namek and steal the balls in a very brutal way. They kill almost every Namekian.
    • A year later, Frieza comes to Earth with his father, planning to kill all the Earthlings as revenge towards Goku. He's stopped by Future Trunks.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Subverted by Android 17 who kills his own creator, Dr. Gero, shortly after being awakened. Both 17 and 18 demonstrate a remarkable level of free will, but it's later revealed that they're cyborgs; none of their intelligence was ever artificial in the first place. Androids 16 and 19, on the other hand, are very faithful to their programming.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: During the timeskip between Trunks's arrival and the Androids awakening, Bulma finally ends her on-and-off relationship with Yamcha and has a kid with Vegeta, a genocidal alien who killed several of her friends including Yamcha.
  • All There in the Manual: A lot of new information after Dragon Ball Z ended comes from varies interviews with Akira Toriyama, such as:
    • Android 17 and 18's birth names are Lapis and Lazuli, respectively.
    • Android 16 is modeled after Dr. Gero's son, who died fighting for the Red Ribbon Army. He was given his kind nature so that he would never endanger himself the same way. Android 19, meanwhile, is modeled after one of his son's toys.
  • All Up to You
    • When Goku is too injured from his fight against Vegeta to continue, it's up to Krillin, Gohan, and Yajirobe to stop the Saiyan. He still helps by given Krillin the Spirit Bomb and guiding Gohan when he transforms into a Great Ape.
    • When Goku fights Cell, he decides to drop out at the last minute so that a confused Gohan can defeat Cell instead. Getting called out by Piccolo several times and realizing the horrible mistake he did later, this succeeds...until Gohan gets cocky and gives Cell enough time to screw up with everyone else. It doesn't go well.
    • Later, Krillin, Gohan, and Bulma have to go to Namek and look for the Dragon Balls while Goku is in the hospital recovering. It doesn't go very well.
    • Subverted when Goku comes back for the Buu Saga; he gives up his chance to defeat Buu so that Goten and Trunks can do it instead. It doesn't work, and Goku has to come back to help yet again.
  • Almighty Janitor:
    • Despite being nearly as strong as King Vegeta by the time of his death, Bardock did not hold a ranking of high prestige within Saiyan society. In the English dub, he has some issues about this and part of the reason he takes near suicide missions is to prove his worth.
    • Discussed by Goku and Vegeta at the start of their fight. Vegeta condescends to Goku for being a low-class warrior with garbage genes, but Goku insists that even a low-class can surpass an elite if he works hard enough for it. Goku goes on to prove his point when he meets Vegeta again on Namek, having surpassed Vegeta's level and remaining consistently ahead of him for the remainder of the series.
  • Almighty Idiot: Kid Buu. While other iterations of Buu may qualify, Kid Buu stands out in that he's the only one unable to communicate outside of psychotic fits of laughter, and his fighting style is way more wild and unpredictable than his previous forms.
  • Almighty Mom: Chi-Chi is very protective of her son Gohan and will tell off anyone and everyone who gets in the way of her parenting. Ki-using martial artist, alien conqueror, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters to her is the well-being of her child or, later, children. Deconstructed in the Buu Saga when she finally chews out the wrong planet-crusher. Super Buu has no patience for her and interrupts her rant by turning her into an egg and crushing it in front of her son Goten.
  • Alternate Continuity: The movies are parodied in-universe during a movie screened at the World Martial Arts Tournament which focuses on Hercule defeating Cell. It begins with Toei Pictures' trademark intro screen which involves waves crashing against rocks, and has the names of series staff (written in romaji) as an Easter Egg in the credits.
  • Alternate Timeline: The Android / Cell Saga involves at least three separate timelines: the main series, Trunks' Bad Future, and a slightly-less Bad Future where Trunks managed to beat the Androids, only for Cell to kill him and steal his time machine.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: In the Japanese version of the original series, Chala Head Chala was used as the opening. In the Ocean Dub originally made during the 90s, Rock The Dragon was used.
  • Always Someone Better: An ongoing theme of the entire series. No matter how powerful you become, there will always be someone better out there to challenge you.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance: From all the adventures the main characters had in the first series, everyone thought that our main hero Goku was just a human with ridiculous strength, a monkey tail, and the ability to turn into a giant ape. Just a coincidence right? Wrong! Goku's long-lost brother, Raditz, shows up from outer space to reveal that he isn't human, but instead an alien from a ruthless warrior race sent to destroy every life on Earth. Raditz tries to convince him of this by kidnapping his only son and demanding Goku pile up 100 dead Earthling, but it doesn't fly because Goku got his amnesia as an infant and thus doesn't remember his prior wilder side in the first place. It isn't until the Namek Saga that Goku acknowledges his Saiyan brethren in a positive light, by honoring the fallen Vegeta and representing his race by fighting their tyrannical oppressor, Frieza.
  • Anti-Hero:
    • What Piccolo becomes after his Heel–Face Turn. He is the most ruthless of all the heroes save for Vegeta and he will actively try to kill his opponents instead of disabling them. Even after he merges with Kami, he's still mercilessly towards his enemies, like slicing Babidi in half after he thought the wizard ordered Gohan's death to Majin Buu.
    • Vegeta is one of the greatest examples anime or manga. He created the mold for anti-heroic characters in Shonen anime and manga and went through the whole scale of anti-heroism during his character development in the series.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The manga ending is very non-conclusive and almost feels like the beginning of a new story until it just abruptly ends.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Everyone is told that Babidi can take the smallest seed of evil in someone's heart and corrupt them to work for him. The people who go into his ship to fight him are a God, Goku, and Gohan (who are repeatedly shown to be pure of heart and can ride the flying Nimbus) and Vegeta, who claimed to have become a Super Saiyan by having a heart of pure evil. It's not hard to guess who ends up selling his mind to Babidi for a chance to fight his rival on equal terms (though interestingly, he still retains enough of his will to ignore the other two, despite being ordered to kill them too).
  • Animation Bump: The anime was animated almost directly from Toriyama's manga drawings, and, as a result, frames and images that come directly from the manga are noticeably more detailed than other frames.
  • Anti-Climax: Despite being about as strong as Frieza (or stronger according to the anime), King Cold goes down with no fanfare once Trunks blows a hole in his chest.
  • A Planet Named Zok: The two major alien worlds, Planet Vegeta and Planet Namek, both feature awkward letters in their names.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • Class 1: Planetary Societal Disruption: In Future Trunks's timeline, the world is menaced by a pair of Androids who fly around blowing up cities for their own amusement. Life mostly continues as normal for people not presently under attack by the vicious duo.
    • Class 4: Planetary Species Extinction:
      • The Saiyans frequently wiped out lifeforms on a planet so it can be traded until they were on the receiving end of a Class X.
      • The Namek Elder and the father of Kami/Piccolo were the only survivors of a storm on Namek some centuries before the Frieza Saga.
      • Over the course of the Frieza arc, Vegeta and Frieza wipe out all the Namekians (then numbering in the hundreds), apart from Piccolo and Nail.
      • To buy time for Gotenks, Piccolo suggests to Super Buu that he should finish exterminating all life on the planet. Super Buu responds by launching his Human Extinction Attack, sending out countless ki beams that home in on every remaining human and kill them. In only a few minutes, the planet is stripped of all remaining human life, with only a few exceptions.
    • Class X: Planetary Physical Annihilation:
      • Afraid that the Saiyans will rebel against him, Frieza blows up Planet Vegeta.
      • Having already exterminated all of the Namekians but Piccolo, Frieza goes the extra mile during his fight with Goku and blows up Planet Namek itself.
      • Having been restored to his natural state and, subsequently, lost most of his humanizing reasons for delaying it, Kid Buu promptly creates a giant ball of energy and blows up the planet Earth while its remaining defenders are powerless to stop him.
    • Class X-2: Stellar Physical Annihilation: In his Super Perfect form, Cell threatens to destroy the entire solar system with his Kamehameha.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Frieza has made himself a lot of enemies but probably the two biggest examples are Vegeta and Goku, killing the former's father when he promised he wouldn't and killing the latter's father along with his own minions in a successful attempt in destroying planet Vegeta. It should be noted that Frieza is the only villain in the series to ever make Goku reach such a level of Unstoppable Rage and he is a far more personal enemy to Goku than any other villain in the series (with the possible exception of King Piccolo), as it was Frieza's ruthless actions (and killing of Krillin) that got Goku to transform into a Super Saiyan in the first place. He also made an enemy in Piccolo as he has his entire race butchered in order to find the Dragon Balls.
    • To Frieza personally, he sees Goku as his Arch-Enemy to the point he devotes his life and even his afterlife to getting revenge on him.
    • Vegeta has this relationship with Goku for a long time after he was defeated on Earth. By the end of the series, their relationship evolved into Worthy Opponent.
    • At the start of Z, both Goku and Piccolo were mortal enemies. After Goku sacrificed himself and Piccolo trained Gohan, they became respectable friends.
    • Not so much in the series given how short their interaction was, but games and merchandises tend to show Gohan and Cell as arch enemies. Gohan despises Cell for killing so many people just so he can become more powerful. Things became very personal after Cell tortured his friends and family to unleash his hidden power, and after he killed his father after his failed self-destruction. Cell in turn hates Gohan for humiliating him after he became a Super Saiyan 2 and pushing him into a mental and physical breakdown.
    • The Supreme Kai to Babidi and to a lesser extent Majin Buu. The Supreme Kai personally killed Babidi's father and made it his life's mission to stop Buu, since Buu killed all his friends and mentors.
  • Arc Hero: The series focused on a new hero or anti hero in each arc, mostly because of Goku's extended absences, but he would still come back in time to be the main hero of the final fight.
    • The Saiyan Saga heavily featured previous Arc Villain Piccolo as the first point of contact with Raditz, the co-founding of the Z fighters with Goku to oppose him, the kidnapping, training, and character development he goes through with Gohan, leading the charge against Nappa and ending in a Heroic Sacrifice just in time for Goku to return and take center stage in the final battle.
    • The Namek/Frieza Saga heavily featured previous Arc Villain Vegeta whose relationship with Frieza's Army, the Ginyu Force, and Frieza himself gave context to the battles, as well as his transition from villain to free agent to joining to Z Fighters to even have a chance at beating Frieza. He is also killed in action just in time for Goku to take center stage in the final battle, but not before pouring his heart out to the main hero.
    • The Android Saga overall is about newcomer Future Trunks arriving to warn the others of the Android threat, his strenuous relationship with his father Vegeta in contrast to his hero worship of Goku on full display, and another version of him's time machine being the conduit that Cell came to their Universe. The sub Cell Games Arc looked like it was going to be about Goku,who again takes center stage in the final battle, but he makes a conscious decision to pass the reins on to Gohan.
  • Arc Villain: The series tends to move from one mostly-isolated arc to another.
    • In the Saiyan Saga, Vegeta leads the ruthless Saiyans. After Raditz dies trying to recruit Goku, Vegeta takes his right-hand man, Nappa, to Earth in order to gather the Dragon Balls and obtain immortality.
    • In the Namek Saga, the evil galactic emperor Frieza seeks immortality by gathering the Dragon Balls of Planet Namek, slaughtering everyone as he goes.
    • In the Android Saga, Cell is a time-traveling android from Trunks's future who absorbs the other Androids in order to achieve perfection before setting out to destroy the universe.
    • In the Buu Saga, Majin Buu is an eldritch horror created to destroy the universe.
  • Armor Is Useless
    • Everybody who wore armor either got rid of it or died. Or as often as not, both. However, this isn't due to the uselessness of armor (which was used quite often by even the protagonists) but due to the fact that they eventually got to the point that their superpowers outstripped their armor's ability to protect. It's also explained in some of the earlier seasons, as most characters wore armor or clothing that was weighted for training purposes, and after removing it, they become much faster.
    • One notable aversion is after Goku's first battle with Vegeta. When Vegeta recovers from his injuries, the doctor reveals that the only reason he's still alive is because his armor protected him from being crushed by Gohan.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy:
    • All the Saiyans. They're all overconfident in their abilities, especially Vegeta, and think lowly of the people they're fighting. It is all mostly justified. Even Raditz, who is the weakest of the three, is quite skilled.
    • A staple of most Dragon Ball villains, but Frieza stands out as having all of the power but none of the discipline and maturity as a fighter and this is the main reason he's been defeated so many times. He probably could have competed with Goku's Super Saiyan strength if he had any control over his enormous power, yet he never bothered to train himself to do so and just assumed nobody could ever challenge him. And those he does sees as a threat, like the Saiyans, he destroys before they can even approach his power. Even when he finally decides to train to attain more strength, he was short-sighted enough to not master his newfound power and ended up burning himself out once again.
    • Android 17, especially his future counterpart. He believes nothing is stronger than him and that he's the perfect weapon.
    • Cell, like the traditional Dragon Ball villain. What makes him stand out among the rest, however, is that he is a very skilled fighter who doesn't have the shortcomings of the Saiyans and Frieza. He can sense energies like the heroes, suppress his power down to almost nonexistent, can think on his feet in the heat of battle, and does not rely on pure brute strength to get ahead. He shows more battle experience and understanding of fighting than Trunks and Gohan and actually rivals Goku and Piccolo in fighting instincts. This is mostly thanks to his genetics which gives him the power and experience of the universe's greatest fighters.
    • Of all the Buu forms, Super Buu fits this the best. He prides himself on being the strongest in the universe and will throw a tantrum if anyone surpasses him in power. Before he absorbs Piccolo, he is not that well trained and relies on force and his regeneration. He become much more discipline once he starts absorbing people.
  • Art Evolution: DBZ has a lot more angular lines, muscles that look like they were chiseled out of rock, and blood compared to series start.
  • Ascended Meme: The "Over nine thousand!" meme has been referenced many times, which would just be a Fandom Nod to the popularity of the scene, but one DVD box set features a picture of a screaming Vegeta next to the caption "OVER 900 MINUTES OF UNCUT ACTION!", fitting the meme of putting the line against anything.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Freeza's genocide of the Saiyans was pretty bad, and Bardock's attempt to save them all and rebel against Freeza's empire was, without a doubt, heroic. However, the Saiyans themselves were violent, arrogant, blood-thirsty people who spent several years wiping out planets in service to the Planet Trade Organization after exterminating the native race of Planet Vegeta, the Tuffles.
    • Dr. Gero spends years perfecting murderous androids for the purpose of killing Goku. When backed into a corner, he releases Androids 17 and 18, the latter of which promptly decapitates him and crushes his skull for good measure.
    • Babidi devotes his life to releasing Majin Buu so he can terrorize the universe. Once Buu is released, Babidi indulges in his control over the entity while domineering and vocally abusing him. After some urging from Goku, Majin Buu grows weary of his treatment and kills Babidi.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • Before Planet Vegeta was destroyed, Saiyans would receive ranks based entirely on their power level, first analyzed in infancy. Goku and Raditz are considered low-class warriors because of their relative weakness, with Goku being sent to Earth because the planet was classified as having a low average power and so a low-class child like him could handle it (at least that is what Raditz's believes, truthfully Goku was sent to Earth to protect him from Frieza). Nappa is classified as an elite warrior while Vegeta is a super-elite with a power level of 18,000.
    • The Planet Trade Organization operates entirely on a Might Makes Right mentality. Frieza commands the organization because he's the most powerful mortal being in the universe. The higher ranking employees are the more capable planet-crushers. The weakest members are foot soldiers who receive no respect and are frequently sent to their deaths in battle, even when an elite or even Frieza himself is present.
    • Within the Ginyu Force, Captain Ginyu is, of course, the leader and by far the strongest member with a power level of 120,000. The other members are lower than 60,000.
  • Ass-Kicking Pose: Most characters have a combat stance they adopt when preparing to fight.
    • In the Saiyan arc, Goku uses a low martial stance standing sideways from his opponent with both fists out to either side, while Vegeta faces frontwards on a half-turn with open palms.
    • Parodied by the Ginyu Force members, whose elaborate ballet-like poses are anything but asskicking.
    • The same applies for Gohan as the "Great Saiyaman", who adopts several combat poses right out of Captain Ginyu's playbook.
  • Assimilation Backfire: Majin Buu has a rough history with his absorption ability.
    • During a flashback where Buu's history is explained, Buu absorbs the Grand Supreme Kai, the leader of the Supreme Kais. Instead of making him stronger, however, the Grand Supreme Kai pure innocence and goodness reduces his power level and corrodes his malice, turning him into the childlike Fat Buu.
    • Super Buu tries to absorb Vegito, but the absorption fails and Vegito (now split into Vegeta and Goku) releases all the victims Buu had absorbed previously.
  • Attack the Tail: Saiyans lose all their strength when their tail is grabbed and cannot become a Great Ape without it. This comes up multiple times in the Saiyan arc.
    • When Raditz kidnaps Gohan, Goku forms a plan to defeat him by teaming up with Piccolo and getting hold of his tail. It is entirely successful, but when Raditz appeals to Goku's sense of mercy, Goku lets him go and is promptly punished for it by Raditz resuming the fight. He never gets another chance at that tail.
    • Subverted when the Saiyans arrive. Remembering Raditz, Piccolo and Krillin form a similar plan. Piccolo succeeds in grasping Nappa's tail, but Nappa is completely unaffected by it and smashes Piccolo's head, briefly knocking him out. Vegeta reveals that he and Nappa have trained their vulnerability away.
    • Yajirobe reverses Vegeta's Great Ape transformation by cutting off his tail.
    • Vegeta cuts off Gohan's tail to reverse his Great Ape transformation, but gets crushed under him as he collapses.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Kais mostly run on this system. The Kais of the lower realms who oversee the universe are powerful, but weaker than an elite Saiyan. Their boss, the Grand Kai, is much stronger, able to out-speed Post-Cell Games Goku in his base form, and keep up with Pikkon and Super Saiyan Goku's match during the Otherworld Tournament. Then his bosses, the Supreme Kais, are even stronger with the weakest of them being around Perfect Cell's level. It then becomes Subverted within the ranks of the Supreme Kais. The Grand Supreme Kai was weaker than North Supreme Kai despite being the ruler of the Kais.
  • Autodoc: Frieza's forces use automated healing tanks.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • During the fight with Raditz, Piccolo needs Goku to buy him five minutes to charge up his Special Beam Cannon. He later perfects the move to remove the charging time, although it does appear weaker since the Special Beam Cannon was able to drop an enemy who over three time stronger than Piccolo, but such a feat is never seen again in Z.
    • The Spirit Bomb. Considering it takes a long time to gather enough energy to use and that Goku is left defenseless while doing so, it is difficult to use in live combat. Usually, live bait is used to help him. It's used three different times and on each occasion, a weaker ally has to Hold the Line long enough for Goku to form the attack.
    • The third stage of the original Super Saiyan formnote , gives a huge boost in power, supposedly as much as a Super Saiyan 2. Unfortunately all the muscles that come with it drastically decrease speed, making it practically impossible to actually hit your opponent. Goku and Vegeta both realized that the second form was useless due to the loss of speed, and Cell calls out Trunks for using such a foolish technique.
    • This becomes an Ironic Echo when Cell bulks up massively in his fight with SSJ2 Gohan. To top it all off, Trunks lampshades this as Gohan is dodging everything Cell throws at him, remarking that Cell could probably put the hurt on Gohan if he ever managed to hit him.
    • The Super Saiyan 3 form can also be regarded as this, as it increases the user's power by 400x, but the immense energy drain it comes with makes it impossible to sustain for long.
      • When Gotenks used the form, the energy drain caused his Fusion to end early. He should have had a full thirty minutes to defeat Super Buu, but instead his Fusion ended and Goten and Trunks were kicked back out after only five.
      • When Goku attempts to use the form against Kid Buu, Vegeta accuses him of sandbagging but Goku reveals that he's legitimately trying to defeat Buu. However, Buu's hyper-offensive fighting style is preventing him from powering up to his full strength.note  Vegeta fights Buu for him so that Goku can have time to power up, but the energy drain counteracts Goku's efforts to draw ki. Instead of reaching full power, Goku's ki completely empties and he's kicked out of the form entirely.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis
    • Vegeta teaches himself how to sense ki between the Saiyan and Frieza arcs after having seen the Earthlings do it.
    • When Cell is about to self-destruct, Goku uses Instant Transmission to teleport him away from Earth. After regenerating into his Super Perfect Form, Cell returns to Earth using the technique, having learned it by watching Goku. However, it's suggested that he learned it by Goku's cell teaching him, not just him observing the technique.
    • Buu learns the Kamehameha by watching Goku do it once. He also learns one of Vegeta's techniques this way. Kid Buu learns the Instant Movement from seeing the Supreme Kai use it to save Goku and Vegeta when the Earth is about to explode.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Frieza tries to hide this aspect of his personality, but it's there. He truly enjoys causing harm to others and destroying stuff, best seen with his genocide of the Saiyans where he laughs manically as Planet Vegeta explodes.
    • Van Zant is a twisted and despicable man who enjoys killing innocent people.
    • Majin Buu's natural state, Kid Buu, is a deranged force of destruction. Although he still has a noticeable level of intelligence, he loses all sense of purpose or motive beyond destroying everything and killing everyone.

     B 
  • Backup from Otherworld
    • Goku at the end of the Cell Saga is the Trope Namer when he assists Gohan in delivering a superpowered Kamehameha Wave. Through King Kai, he telepathically advises Gohan, gives him the confidence boost he needs to win the beam struggle, and tells him the exact moment to release his power.
    • A couple even more direct examples occur in the Buu Saga, where first Goku (still dead from the aforementioned example) helps take on the various villains of the arc before he has to return to the Afterlife, and then later, when the previously-deceased Vegeta is allowed to return to Earth to help fight Buu after his Heroic Sacrifice didn't finish the monster off.
  • Backup Twin: After Namek is destroyed in the titanic battle between Goku and Frieza, the now-homeless Namekians use the Dragon Balls to find a new planet that looks exactly like Namek did to live on.
  • Badass Adorable:
    • Gohan is a polite, soft-spoken child when he's first introduced, but he has an untapped well of immense power that he learns to drawn from over the course of the series. He holds his own in fights with several planet-killing aliens before he even hits puberty.
    • Goten is a cute, innocent kid who takes after his father in many ways. He's also a Super Saiyan and one half of the incredibly powerful Gotenks.
  • Badass Army: Before their planet was destroyed, the Saiyans traveled the universe slaughtering the populations of various planets in service to the Planet Trade Organization.
  • Badass Crew: Although not an official group, the Z-Fighters, especially by the end of the series. They're a powerful group of talented martial artists who unofficially assemble around Goku. While their powers and strength may vary from person to person, each member is driven by immense courage and a powerful fighting spirit.
  • Badass Decay: Two In-Universe examples:
    • After seven years of peace, Gohan becomes weaker than he was when he fought Cell. He is still very powerful, however, second only to Vegeta and Goku in power. But he's no match against Majin Buu and is nearly killed by the demon. He eventually subverts this when trains under Old Kai to have all his hidden power unlocked, returns to Earth stronger than ever, and dominates Super Buu, who is stronger than the version of Buu that nearly killed him earlier.
    • Vegeta thinks he's suffering from this after settling down on Earth and had a family. He thinks this is the reason why he can't surpass Goku, so he sells his soul to Babidi not only for power, but to return to the evil prince he once was. Goku calls him a fool for thinking that his family is a burden and his willingness to throw away everything he's gained.
  • Badass in Distress:
    • During the Android arc, Goku succumbs to a deadly heart virus and needs to be protected while his medicine takes action. Meanwhile, Androids 16, 17, and 18 scour the globe to kill him.
    • In the Buu Saga, Vegeta and Goku fight their way through Super Buu's body to rescue Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo, who are being held captive and used to enhance his power.
  • Badass Family:
    • Over the course of the series, the Son family grows larger with each new addition adding to their overall badass credentials:
      • Goku, his brother Raditz, and his father Bardock are Saiyans, a powerful alien race that travels the universe killing entire planets for profit. Goku, in particular, is a trained martial artist and has developed an incredible fighting prowess and has a lot of natural talent that allows him to surpass even the Saiyan Prince and is the first in a thousand years to ascend to Super Saiyan. His father Bardock was also outstanding for a lower class warrior, having a power level of almost ten-thousand before his death, second only to the king. He is also the last Saiyan Frieza sees just before he blows up Planet Vegeta, making Frieza remember him even decades after his demise.
      • Goku's adoptive grandfather, Gohan. He was a legendary martial artist who is one of the few students trained under Master Roshi.
      • Goku's wife, Chi-Chi, is a capable martial artist in her own right as well as the strongest natural human female next to Videl. Her father, the Ox King, is a huge and imposing warrior who was once The Dreaded of Fire Mountain and trained under Master Roshi with Grandpa Gohan.
      • Goku and Chi-Chi's first son, Gohan, has an immense hidden power that he can call upon in moments of extreme rage, often surpassing experienced adult warriors in the process. He kills Super Perfect Cell when he's only eleven and he gets all his latent power awakened by Old Kai, making him the strongest unfused character at the end of the Buu Saga.
      • Goku and Chi-Chi's second son, Goten, becomes the youngest known Super Saiyan in history at seven years old. Sparring with his friend Trunks, Goten easily surpasses the likes of Frieza before he's even hit puberty.
      • Gohan marries Videl, the daughter of Hercule, who is seen as the world's savior since he 'defeated' Cell and later Majin Buu. She is also a renowned martial artist in her own right, surpassing her father when she's still a teenager and is the strongest natural human female next to Chi-Chi. She also fights crime in Hercule City and has a special watch for the police to call her when she's attending her high school classes. Her father Hercule, Fake Ultimate Hero aside, becomes the Champion of the World Martial Arts Tournament after Goku and his friends stops attending. Though his power is far outclassed by most of the characters in the series, Hercule demonstrates amazing courage by befriending Majin Buu and, later, doing everything in his power to help destroy Kid Buu.
      • Gohan and Videl's daughter, Pan, competes in the World Tournament at only four years old and easily defeats capable adult martial artists.
    • The Brief Family doesn't fall too far behind either. Vegeta who marries into the family is the Prince of All Saiyans and is second only to Goku and Gohan in power. Future Trunks is the hero from an alternative timeline where all the other Earth's fighters have been brutally murdered by the androids, forcing him to fight alone for a number of years. His counterpart, present Trunks, is even more powerful than him since he becomes a Super Saiyan effortlessly at only eight years old and is more powerful than Frieza and Goten. And although not a fighter, Bulma is one of the smartest people in the world and provides tech support for the heroes like making the Dragon Radar, Vegeta's armor, creating the shut down remote for the androids, and in Trunks' time, creating the time machine that ends up saving everyone. Her father Dr. Briefs also provides tech support like rebuilding and expanding Goku's space pod in just a month, and helping to rebuild Android 16 for the Cell Games.
    • Frieza's clan is an evil version of Badass Family. Frieza is known as the strongest being in the universe who can destroy planets with his finger, runs an empire that spans the universe, and it takes a Living Legend in order to defeat him on Namek. At least according to Beerus, Goku in his base form is still weaker than Frieza even years after his death. Frieza's father Cold King is just as powerful as him. Depending on if you read the manga or watch the anime, he's either a little weaker than Frieza or even more powerful. Finally, if you count the movies, Cooler, Frieza's older brother, is even more powerful with a fifth transformation.
  • Badass Mustache: Frequently subverted in DBZ, a thick, manly 'stache often indicates a character whose mouth is about to write checks his power level can't cash.
    • Nappa's mustache complements his powerful, manly appearance. He's huge, bald, and overflowing with testosterone. He's also a glorified thug in service to the much smaller but substantially more powerful Vegeta.
    • Dr. Gero's invincible android mustache is an imposing facial feature that serves him well while he's panicking and fleeing in terror from Piccolo and Vegeta.
    • Mr. Satan is an egocentric glory-hound whose handlebar mustache and loose gi communicates his manliness to the world. He's also a fraud who uses cheap tricks and deception to maintain his heavily publicized status as Earth's mightiest warrior.
  • Badass Normal: Mr. Satan and Yajirobe are the only fighters with no grasp of ki.
    • Doubled subverted by Yajirobe. Along with Tien, Yamcha, Krillin, and Chiaotzu, Yajirobe is called to Kami's Lookout to train for the arrival of the Saiyans. Lacking the ability to use ki, Yajirobe has only his sword and strength to rely on and although he trains with the others, he refuses the call to action when Vegeta and Nappa arrive. However, after Vegeta transforms into a Great Ape and crushes Goku, Yajirobe reveals himself and severs Vegeta's tail with his sword, reverting the transformation. He joins Krillin and Gohan for the final stretch of the fight.
    • Mr. Satan is a skilled martial artist who became the World Champion in the World Martial Arts Tournament. Although he is far outclassed by the aliens and ki-using martial artists, his immense courage and the strength of his personality help save the universe from Majin Buu.
  • Bad Boss: All the villains in Z, no exceptions.
    • Vegeta rejects Nappa's request to use the Dragon Balls to revive Raditz, calling him weak and claiming he deserved to be killed. He later murders Nappa himself for being injured, despite Nappa being completely loyal to him to the bitter end.
    • Frieza regularly murders his own men for minor offensives (like cowering before him) and blames others for his own mistakes.
    • Gero tries to bully Android 17 and 18 by threatening to shut them down. Despite the two being much stronger than him. It doesn't end well for him.
    • Deconstructed by Babidi. He mercilessly has Spopovich and Yamu killed despite them succeeding at their mission to collect energy for Majin Buu's awakening. Once Buu is awakened, he sees no problem with Dabura being killed by Buu, despite Dabura being his most loyal servant and the one who came up with the plan to revive Buu. Finally, he bullies and demeans Buu himself, threatening to seal him again for disobeying. When Buu grows tired of the threats, Babidi pays for his abuse with his life.
  • Bad Future:
    • Future Trunks comes from a timeline in which Goku dies of a heart disease and the world is ravaged Androids 17 and 18. The Earth's defenders are killed by the Androids including Piccolo, which results in Kami dying and the Dragon Balls losing their power. Gohan trains Trunks until he, too, is killed by the Androids.
    • Cell comes from the same timeline as Trunks, but from a point further along. In his timeline, Trunks returns to the future with the blueprints for the remote shut-down switch that can turn off Androids 17 and 18. Using it, he destroys the Androids but before he can go back in time to tell everyone, Cell murders him and takes his time machine.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The new opening used in the Majin Saga appears as though Gohan would be the leading character, with focus on his scholarly career and battles as Great Saiyaman, with Goku as a supporting character. It holds true for a while, but eventually, Goku steals the spotlight.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: Subverted in the Saiyan arc when Piccolo kills Goku and Raditz. Being killed by a demon prevents a person from ever reaching the afterlife, but Goku and Raditz arrive without issue. Kami observes this to be evidence that Piccolo's nature has changed, Foreshadowing his impending Heel–Face Turn.
  • Bash Brothers: Trunks and Goten grow up together and spend their free time sparring. Together, they become Super Saiyans at an early age and their matches raise their power to incredible heights. With Trunks standing on Goten's shoulders under a stolen costume, they compete in the World Tournament together as Mighty Mask. After Majin Buu awakens, Goku has Piccolo teach them the Fusion Dance so that they can combine their powers and fight Buu.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space:
    • In a filler episode, Vegeta blows up the planet Arlia. He and Nappa hang out in space, standing in their open pods as Vegeta fires the blast.
    • Freeza survives in space with half his body and head missing. This is suggested to be a trait of his species.
    • Because he inherited Frieza's genes, Cell can survive in space too, something he explicitly notes in the dub after he survives his own self-destruction.
  • Battle Aura: Every character who uses ki has an aura with distinctive colors for different characters and situations.
    • Most of the Z Fighters have blue auras.
    • Goku's Kaioken aura is red, and it overrides his aura for any other situation.
    • Frieza's forces have purple auras.
    • Super Saiyans have golden auras. At Super Saiyan 2, they gain blue lightning flashes through their aura. Cell also has a golden aura and he gains the blue lightning effect when he obtains his Super Perfect form.
    • Majin Buu has his own pink aura to signify that he's a unique entity.
  • Battle Strip: When they arrive to fight Raditz, both Goku and Piccolo are wearing weighted clothes. Stripping off the weights lightens their bodies and increases their power levels.
  • Battle of Wits: Despite what the series is known for, there have been several situations when the cleverest, not necessarily the strongest, person comes out ahead:
    • In the battle against Raditz, Goku and Piccolo are completely outclassed. So they try to beat Raditz by taking advantage of his Achilles' Heel, his tail which is a Saiyan's weak spot. The plan only fails because Goku chose to show mercy towards Raditz after he begs for his life.
    • Done two ways in the battle against Captain Ginyu. Ginyu beats Goku, who greatly out-powers him, by stealing Goku's body after he wounds his original body. Goku then outsmarts Ginyu by tricking him into a frog's body after he tries to body jack Vegeta.
    • Subverted with Frieza. He tries to outwit Goku by destroying Namek after he becomes a Super Saiyan, correctly guessing that Goku can't survive without oxygen. He holds back too much power and Namek doesn't explode immediately, and Frieza never tries to finish the job. Goku comments on this, guessing that Frieza wants to fight him somewhat fairly.
    • After being utterly trounced by Vegeta, Cell manipulates Vegeta into letting him absorb Android 18, saying if he does he would become perfect and Vegeta would stand no chance against him. Vegeta takes the bait and lets Cell become complete so he can have a better challenge, and then he promptly gets his butt kicked. Later, Goku gives up against Cell and says that Cell's true opponent is Gohan, since he's the strongest person on Earth and will easily beat Cell. Goku even gives Cell a Senzu, saying that he will need it. Cell, just like Vegeta, takes the bait, and keeps pushing Gohan until he reaches his Rage Breaking Point and becomes a Super Saiyan 2. And then he gets his butt kicked.
    • Super Buu is a master of this. He keeps Goten and Trunks alive after they defuse since he senses Gohan's power from the World of the Kais. Once he confirms that Gohan is undoubtedly stronger than him, he blows himself up and waits an hour so Goten and Trunks can fuse again. He then challenges them to a fight, knowing how prideful Gotenks is. The second they fuse, Buu absorbs Gotenks and Piccolo, becoming smarter and stronger, and utterly overwhelms Gohan. When Goku shows up, he makes sure a piece of himself is near Gohan so the second that Gotenks' fusion breaks, he absorbs Gohan, becoming even more powerful. However, Buu then gets out-gambitted by Vegito who purposely humiliates and enrages Buu until he gets absorbed. It's all part of his plan to free the others Buu absorbed before killing him.
    • Piccolo is also extremely good at this. In the battle against Nappa, he comes up with several clever plans to take the powerful Saiyan down. The first was a three way combo that only fails because Gohan chickened out at the last second. The second plan has him grab Nappa's tail after Krillin distracts him to give Gohan an opening to blast Nappa. It fails because, unlike Raditz, Nappa trained his tail. In the Cell Saga, he gets Cell to reveal his origins and plans by pretending to be more hurt than he was after Cell disable his left arm. Finally in the Buu Saga, he buys Goten and Trunks weeks worth of training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber by making Buu go the long, long way to the chamber. He then has Buu fight the boys in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. He does this so if Gotenks loses to Buu, he can destroy the door, trapping Buu in another dimension for all eternity.
    • Vegeta can be a very clever tactician, when he's calm and his pride isn't out of control. When Goku proves to be his match during their first battle, Vegeta has the foresight to come to the Earth during the full moon, just in case something like this happened, along with getting an early start with killing humanity. When he realizes that the moon is gone, he creates a false one. Also, all through Namek he is able to outsmart and out-gamble Frieza several times. First, by killing Frieza's top men when they're alone, and then pretending to be more hurt than he is after being mortally wounded by Zarbon so he can blow up the medical bay, cripple Frieza's ship, before stealing his Dragon Balls. He leaves Goku to fight Captain Ginyu and Jeice alone, figuring that they will kill each other, getting rid of two of his rivals and given him free access to the Dragon Balls. In the actually fight against Frieza, he has Krillin mortally wound him so Dende will heal him, therefore raising his battle power. It is also his plan to create a giant Spirit Bomb using the energy from the people of Earth to kill Majin Buu. He also gets the idea to use the Dragon Balls to restore Goku's strength when he was pushed back by Kid Buu.
  • Beam of Enlightenment: Often used when characters come to a discovery. Especially when the Z Fighters find out that a fight is going downhill for a comrade.
  • Beam-O-War: This series is the trope codifier.
    • After becoming fed up with Goku's Kaioken overpowering him, Vegeta launches his Galick Gun at the Earth to blow it up. Goku meets the beam with his Kamehameha. When Kaioken x3 proves insufficient to overpower it, Goku pushes himself to Kaioken x4, giving him the power to push Vegeta's beam back and launch him into the sky.
    • At the end of the Cell Games, Cell throws a Super Kamehameha intended to destroy the entire solar system. Gohan counters it with his own Kamehameha and the beams clash in the middle. With Goku's guidance and a timely distraction from Vegeta, Gohan is able to overpower Cell's beam and destroy him once and for all.
  • Being Good Sucks:
    • While Goku is usually the pagan for Good Feels Good, he does have his moments:
    • The reason Yamcha fought the Saibamen was to protect Krillin who wanted to go next. As he pointed out, Krillin was revived already with the Dragon Balls so him dying would have been permanent, while he could be revived if the worst happens. For his good deed, Yamcha gets suicide bombed by the Saibaman, making him the first casualty of the Saiyan Invasion and he never even gets the chance to fight Nappa. And worst of all, the fandom won't ever let him live this down.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Discussed by Bulma, who assumes that Zarbon must be a heroic savior who arrived to rescue her, Krillin, and Gohan from Vegeta because of how handsome he is. She abandons the idea when he assumes his more monstrous stronger form.
  • Become a Real Boy: Subverted. Krillin tries to use the Dragon Balls to wish Androids 17 and 18 fully human, but this is beyond the dragon's power. He settles on removing the bombs inside their bodies instead. 17 and 18 are actually augmented humans who are still able to have children.
  • Befriending the Enemy:
    • When Piccolo abducts Gohan to train him for the Saiyans' arrival, Gohan uses the opportunity to build a friendship with him. He softens Piccolo's heart enough that the seemingly heartless Piccolo sacrifices himself for him.
    • Hercule, knowing he can't beat him in a fight, befriends the Obliviously Evil Majin Buu and eventually makes him realize that turning people into candy and eating them is wrong. Even after Majin Buu mutates into the more sinister Super Buu and later Kid Buu, his friendship with Hercule renders him incapable of harming him until he externalizes their friendship into a separate entity, Mr. Buu.
  • Bequeathed Power: At the end of the Frieza arc, the Namekian Grand Elder Guru is approaching the end of his life for the final time. Before he passes away, he gives his status as the Grand Elder to Moori, tying the Dragon Balls to Moori's life instead of Guru's.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Chi-Chi flips out at the suggestion that she's old.
    • Vegeta has a sore spot for any insinuation that someone is stronger than him.
      Vegeta: Call me crazy, but you make it sound as if you've become a great deal stronger than I am.
      Goku: Sure. I'm far above you.
      Vegeta: (thinks) Curse you, Kakarot! Always one step ahead of me! No matter how much I progress, you always seem to surpass me! And now you've done it again! You're always there laughing in my face! Why won't you leave me alone?!
    • Majin Buu has a bottomless appetite and becomes violently angry when he feels like his meal is threatened. Any attempt to take away or deny him food is met with excessive hostility.
  • Berserker Tears
    • After Cell crushes Android 16's head, Gohan lets out a few tears in Tranquil Fury before releasing his power and transforming into Super Saiyan 2 for the first time.
    • Also happens to Trunks in the History of Trunks special, who cries tears of rage at Future Gohan's death at the hands of the Androids as he finally breaks the Super Saiyan barrier.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed
    • Frieza appears to do this when he fires a blast meant to destroy Namek. This ends up being subverted since Frieza can survive in space, which Goku can't.
    • Played Straight with Cell. After fully realizing that he can't beat Gohan, he settles with self-destruction and taking the entire planet with him.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Almost everyone within the Son family are good-natured people with immense power that can punish anyone who makes them angry, but the trope is exaggerated with Gohan. He's polite, kind and will avoid fighting if possible. But he also has a tendency to snap and release incredible power that vastly overshadows even the experienced, adult combatants around him whenever his friends and family are threatened.
  • Beware the Silly Ones:
    • Because of how naive and childish Goku can be, he comes off as very silly, or even stupid in some cases. This is mostly Downplayed in Z compared to the original Dragon Ball since most of his silly moments happens outside the battlefield. When he fights, he usually drops all the silliness, although it does pop up in filler or when he's around Vegeta.
    • Gohan when he is dresses as the Great Saiyaman. Yes, he looks like a dork spouting superheroes' cliches and striking poses that would make Captain Ginyu proud. However, this is the still the same person who crushes Cell into the dust, even if he is a little weaker from slacking off.
    • Yes, Buu looks like pink chewing gum who is obsess with sweets and is the most childish villain in the series. He is also the most dangerous creature in existence and was the undisputed strongest being in the universe for billions of years. At his worst, he could destroy galaxies in under an hour.
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • Cell surviving his own self-destruction is such a shock, that Cell himself is surprised.
    • The Supreme Kai thinks this when he finds out how powerful the adult Saiyans are. To explain: this guy is the series' equivalent of God and yet his power level is nothing compared to them.
    • Vegeta becomes obsessed with surpassing the Super Saiyan state which most see as crazy (except for Goku) and is eventually achieved by Gohan and later Goku and Vegeta. Goku then later one ups this by revealing SSJ3 which the others think must be a bluff
    • Buu surviving Vegeta's self-destruction is seen as this. Babidi and Piccolo though Buu had died. When Buu returned, Piccolo can only run in terror.
    • When fighting Majin Buu, Goku's power is so great that it can be felt on the Planet of the Kais. Kibito says that mortal's powers shouldn't be felt here.
    • Buu regenerating from vapors. Neither Piccolo or Gotenks saw that coming; they zapped every last piece of him to Make Sure He's Dead to no avail.
    • The Hyperbolic Time Chamber is a separate dimension that can only be accessed through a single door. Piccolo's back up plan in case Gotenks can't defeat Buu is to trap them all inside. Then Buu escapes by screaming loud enough. This example is promptly deconstructed; if one person can do it then anyone of similar standing can do it, and thus, it was never impossible to begin with.
    • Special honors to Vegito who is the only character to retain all his power and gain an even greater speed advantage due to his size after being turned into a coffee flavored jawbreaker by Buu. This was supposed to make him helpless and harmless like it did everyone else. If anything this is where Buu gets his worst and most embarrassing beating.
    • Potara Fusion is repeatedly stated to be permanent and irreversible by every credible source; thus, it was expected that after they fused into Vegito, Goku and Vegeta would be stuck that way forever. Instead, after being absorbed by Super Buu, just being inside his body causes them to separate.
    • Kid Buu catches Goku's Spirit Bomb and pushes it back. It is so shocking that the person who created the Spirit Bomb, King Kai, is surprised.
  • Big Bad:
    • The Saiyans are the main villains for the first story arc of Z. It was Raditz coming to Earth that allowed Vegeta and Nappa to learn about the Dragon Balls, given them the idea to wish for immorality. Most of the saga revolves around the Z-Fighters trying to become strong enough to beat the Saiyans.
    • Frieza is the primary villain of the Namek Saga and the Bardock Special. He rules the Planet Trade Organization that employed the Saiyans until he destroyed their planet. His invasion and subsequent genocide of Planet Namek results in a three-pronged conflict between his forces, his treacherous former servant Vegeta, and the Earthlings over who will have a wish granted with the Dragon Balls.
    • Cell for the Android Arc.
    • Majin Buu for the arc of the same name.
  • Big Bad Wannabe:
    • Subverted by the Androids. Trunks warns Goku of a pair of Androids that killed all of Earth's defenders and, in response, they spend three years training for the battle. When the day finally comes, Vegeta and Piccolo make short, effortless work of Androids 19 and 20. Then it's revealed that they weren't the Androids Trunks was talking about. The actual threat he warned of, 17 and 18, are awakened. Even the Super Saiyans are helpless against their overwhelming power. Later, Cell comes onto the screen, and proves to be more dangerous than the androids.
    • The Supreme Kai recruits Goku, Vegeta, and Gohan to help him break through Babidi's forces. He warns them ahead of time about how dangerous Babidi and his minions are, but his warnings fall on deaf ears and Babidi's forces are quickly put down. Despite their grandstanding, Pui Pui and Yakon are easily killed by Vegeta and Goku while Dabura only holds his own against Gohan because the latter has let his training lapse. Despite his formidable magic, Babidi himself is easily bisected by Piccolo and survives only because of Majin Buu.
    • Inverted by Majin Buu. Goku and Vegeta initially refuse to take him seriously under the assumption that he's just going to be as underwhelming as the rest of Babidi's forces. This proves to be a terrible mistake when their cavalier choices awaken Majin Buu, who proves too powerful for even Vegeta to handle.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Krillin, Gohan, and Yajirobe all show up to fight Vegeta and stop him from crushing Goku.
    • After Frieza has unveiled his Final Form and made short work of Vegeta, Goku's healing tank releases him and he arrives on the battlefield ready to fight Frieza and save the day.
  • Big Eater:
    • All the Saiyans can eat an entire table's worth of food in a single meal. Goku, in particular, is the trope codifer for shonen heroes with this trait.
    • Even the humans tend to eat several times their body weight after long bouts of training.
    • Majin Buu's appetite for sweets can't be matched by any Saiyan in their dreams.
  • Big Good:
    • In the Saiyan Saga, Kami organizes Earth's defense against the inbound Nappa and Vegeta. He permits Goku to keep his body after death and sets him on the path to meet King Kai. He takes Yamcha, Tien, Chiaotzu, Krillin, and Yajirobe to his Lookout and trains them for the Saiyans' arrival. He even secretly monitors Piccolo's training of Gohan. All to ensure that when the Saiyans arrive, there will be plenty of capable warriors to meet them.
    • In the Android arc, Bulma sends her son Trunks back in time with an antidote for the heart virus that's killing Goku in order to save his life and to warn him and the rest of Earth's defenders about the the Androids that destroyed the world in her time. She also sends him to help them fight when the Androids rise up.
    • Goku takes on a leadership role for the first time after Cell's arrival. He takes everyone to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and suggests using it to catch up with Cell's strength. He trains Gohan to surpass him and take his role as The Hero before giving his life to protect everyone from Cell's Suicide Attack. Even after death, he uses King Kai to telepathically guide Gohan and give him the encouragement he needs to overcome Cell and kill him.
    • Subverted by the Supreme Kai in the Buu arc. When first introduced, he intimidates Piccolo into surrendering and convinces Goku, Vegeta, and Gohan to come with him and defeat Majin Buu. However, once the protagonists arrive at Babidi's ship, he quickly loses control of the situation. It becomes immediately apparent how outclassed he is by the Saiyans once they start fighting and Goku and Vegeta go completely off his script, resulting in the awakening of Majin Buu and the near-death or actual death of everyone involved.
    • Goku in the Buu arc takes over Earth's defense after Buu is awakened. He teaches the Fusion Dance to Goten and Trunks so that they can fight Buu, then oversees Gohan's training. When Old Kai is released, Goku persuades him to awaken Gohan's power so that Gohan can fight Buu.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Shen Long is Chinese for "Dragon God." The names of almost all his alien characters - along with Bulma's family and Piccolo and his minions - are straight English or derived from it. And apparently according to Toriyama, Vegeta and Trunks use English for their attack names because he thought it sounded "more alien."
    • In the Italian translation the characters names are extremely similar to food. Radish: radice (root), Vegeta: vegetale (vegetable), Kakarot: carota (carrot). And lots of other Saiyans. Piccolo has his named changed to Junior (because piccolo means "small/junior" in Italian, and that's not that cool).
  • Birthday Episode: The filler episode called "Memories of Gohan" revolves around the cast celebrating Gohan's 11th birthday.
  • Bishōnen Line:
    • Saiyans, over the years, have formed a very unique take on the trope.
      • From the original Dragon Ball manga up through the Saiyan saga, the most powerful Saiyan form is the Oozaru: a mindless giant ape.
      • The B-Line is first crossed with the advent of the Super Saiyan form. In this form, a Saiyan's hair turns blonde and spikier while the eyes turn turquoise, and they gain a small amount of muscle-mass.
      • Super Saiyan 2 is merely a shinier version of Super Saiyan 1. Itself its own Bishonen Line of the various attempts to surpass Super Saiyan, from the bulky "2nd grade", bulkier "3rd grade", the plain looking but always on "full power" and then true Super Saiyan 2 which rather than growing muscles just radiates more energy including sparks of electricity (TOEI of course missed the point that it was not supposed to grow muscles when adapting the comic into a show but later got it right in Bojack Unbound).
      • Super Saiyan 3 takes a couple steps back to the ugly side of the B-Line. The most prominent change is that a Saiyan's hair gets extremely long, but his eyebrows also vanish, his muscles slightly bulk up again, and his forehead grows, making him resemble a Neanderthal. On the other hand the eyes go from turquoise to a more natural blue with more visible pupils.
    • Inverted by Zarbon, who is normally a Pretty Boy but turns into a hulking monster who's a lot tougher and faster.
    • Freeza: small horned tailed imp -> larger Satanic form -> Xenomorph-like form -> streamlined white being->Bulky full power->Mecha body->Golden Fifth form. In interviews, Toriyama stated that he did this on purpose to subvert the viewers' expectation that "more powerful" always meant "bigger and more muscular".
    • Cell: Insect like Monstrous Humanoid -> larger and midway Humanoid Abomination -> gray skinned human like creature in bug suit.
    • Buu starts out as an over weight pink humanoid, which separates into a malnourished grey form, before turning into the muscular Super Buu. With each Z fighter he absorbs he gets further and further into Uncanny Valley with a longer head tail and more lean and muscular each time making him the strongest. His final form looks like a pissed off teenager and is the most dangerous of all.
  • Bitch Slap:
    • After Frieza kills Krillin and angers Goku enough to turn Super Saiyan. Part of the Humiliation Conga package is getting a rapid fire bitch/pimp slap combo. Since Goku wants to break Frieza mentally and manages to do so to the point where he is far less sane after he was revived by the dragon balls, it's safe to say it got the job done.
    • Goku himself is on the receiving end of one after he gets bound to a mountain by Majin Vegeta, since Vegeta wanted to make Goku understand the humiliation he feels from being in his shadow.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For a series known for its goofiness, Death Is Cheap, and optimistic world view, only the final saga ends with a happy ending:
    • The Saiyan Saga. The Saiyans have been defeated, but almost all of Earth's warriors are dead and those left alive are badly injured, the Dragon Balls are gone forever because Kami died, and Vegeta is still alive and promises to return for revenge.
    • The end of the Frieza Saga. Frieza has been defeated, the Namekians have been saved from extinction, and all the warriors who fell during the Saiyan Saga have been revived. Unfortunately, Namek has been destroyed, Nail is forever fused with Piccolo, the Namekians killed by Vegeta are never revived because of a loophole in the wish, Goku is somewhere in space, the Eldest Namek passes away, and Gohan had to say goodbye to Denda.
    • The world Future Trunks returns to after the events of the Cell Saga. The androids are finally dead and Cell has been defeated too. However, Trunks is the only living warrior left and there are no Dragon Balls to revive anyone who has been killed.
    • The main timeline isn't completely happy either. The androids have either been reformed or killed, but Goku still dies and decides to stay dead for everyone's protection. Kami is also gone forever, merged with Piccolo to become the Nameless Namek, and Android 16, one of the most noble characters in the series, is Killed Off for Real.
    • The TV special The History of Trunks counts as well. Gohan is senselessly murdered, Trunks becomes a Super Saiyan, but is still too weak to make a different, and three years later he gets beaten badly by the androids, apologizes to Bulma, and agrees to go back in time. Eventually, he does destroy the androids of his time and also the Cell of his time.
    • Bardock, Father of Goku, despite Bardock's heroic effects, he is killed along with most of the Saiyans by Frieza. Before he dies, however, Bardock foresees his son confronting Frieza, giving him some comfort that he would someday be avenged.
    • The bonus chapter, Dragon Ball Minus. Gine and Bardock successfully sends their son to Earth where Frieza won't find him. They are killed a month later by Frieza and Goku will never know what they did for him, thinking that he was sent to Earth to conquer it.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology
    • Supplemental materials mention that Tien is descended from the Three-Eyed Clan. In addition to having a Third Eye, they can split and create extra bodies, grow extra arms, and have the ability to look in multiple directions at the same time.
    • The Saiyans are Human Aliens who are insanely aggressive and love to fight, have tails, and can transform into giant apes in the light of the full moon if they still have their tails. Not to mention if they are put close to death and recover, they increase in strength exponentially. Despite this, they can interbreed with humans.
    • Piccolo's race, the Namekians, are apparently modeled after slugs. They have visible musculature, the ability to regrow pretty much anything so long as their head is intact note , and green skin with pink muscles. They reproduce asexually by vomiting eggs and have male characteristics.
    • Then there's Frieza. He can survive the vacuum of space. He can shapeshift multiple times to limit his power so as not to destroy his surroundings. He can also remain conscious and continue to move under his own power after being cut in half and losing an arm, never succumbing to blood loss, shock, or anything else that might kill a human. Because he's a mutant, it's unclear whether other members of his species share any or all of these traits.
    • Majin Buu is a pink, rubbery puff ball capable of recombining parts of himself that get split off or separated back into the whole. He can fill holes blasted in his body and even reconstitute himself from vapor. An antenna dangles off his head that can turn people into various candy treats. He can also pull off a portion of his body to go out and latch onto other people, who are then dragged back into his mass to absorb them and gain their power.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: The Nameks have only one gender (Males). They reproduce by puking eggs containing their offspring out of their mouths. This greatly confuses Bulma. She gives Dende a lesson that's very reminiscent of The Talk Only for him to ask what a woman is.
  • Blasting Time: Some powerful ki attacks are created by charging a ball of energy overhead then lobbing it downwards.
    • In the Frieza and Buu arcs, Goku's Spirit Bomb evolves into a massive ball of energy he collects overhead, combining power from every living thing he can. Once it's finished being charged, he swings it downwards at Frieza/Buu.
    • Frieza destroys the planet Namek with his Death Ball, a sphere of ki he charges above him and then slams through the planet's surface.
  • Black and White Morality: While debatable in Vegeta's case, most of the Z fighters are really good and nice guys, even when their Blood Knight tendencies get the best of them. Moreover, enemies are evil, crazy and monstrous sociopaths willing to destroy worlds.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: Majin Buu has perpetually squinted eyes when initially introduced but after he becomes Super Buu, his eyes open to reveal black sclera with red irises to indicate how much more malicious and cruel he's become. He retains these black eyes when he transforms into his natural state, Kid Buu, as well.
  • Blackmail: After Videl discovers Gohan's secret identity as 'The Great Saiyaman', she forces him to enter the upcoming World Martial Arts Tournament (and teach her how to fly) by threatening to out him as 'The Great Saiyaman' if he doesn't.
  • Black Sheep:
    • Goku to the entire Saiyan race after his head injury. All Saiyans, except for a named few, are violent, ruthless, cold-blooded murderers. Goku is kind, good-natured, and only takes a life when he has no other choice.
    • In Dragon Ball Minus we learn that Goku's mother is very much like her son. She was considered unfit to be a warrior because of her soft heart.
  • Blank White Void: The Hyberbolic Time Chamber, a.k.a. the Room of Space and Time, looks like a small but ornate building with two huge hourglasses flanking it, all of which is located in a white void.
  • Blind and the Beast: Majin Buu meets Tommy, a blind boy, who confuses Buu by not being afraid of him. Buu heals Tommy's sight so that he can see how terrifying Buu is, but the boy is still unafraid of him and the two briefly become friends.
  • Blood Knight:
    • Tien is one of the few human Blood Knights. He lives for battle and trains constantly with his partner, Chiaotzu. Despite being outclassed more and more with each passing arc, he always shows up when there's a fight to be had and steps up to plate against Nappa, Cell, and even Super Buu.
    • Piccolo is a subtle example compared to the Saiyans. He wanted to fight Frieza not only for revenge, but because he wanted to test himself against the person called the strongest in the universe. He went against Bulma's plan to stop the androids early by using the Dragon Balls, despite being the most logical thinker in the group, and he really does enjoy sparring with Goku and Gohan. He mellows quite a bit after merging with Kami, so this aspect of his personality is Downplayed, but he still likes fighting since he wanted to give Goku a good match when he returns for one day.
    • The full-blooded Saiyans are an entire race of them. Goku and Vegeta live for the thrill of the fight. Goku has been known to handicap himself in order to make a fight more exciting, while Vegeta has a tendency to help the villain achieve their full power in order to make defeating them more emotionally rewarding, even if that means letting the villain eat another person. This is stated to be a genetic trait.
    • In a very dark way, Frieza loves killing and fighting. Which comes off as hypocritical since he looks down on the Saiyans for being stupid blood knights who only cares about fighting and lack common sense. His entire downfall on Namek happens because he enjoyed fighting and tormenting Goku when he could have turned him into space dust at any time before he became a Super Saiyan.
    • Cell, having Saiyan, Piccolo, and Frieza's cells, loves the thrill of fighting, and even holds a tournament, the Cell Games, just so he can fight Earth's strongest. Although his intention is to destroy the Earth, he's impressed by the incredible gains Vegeta makes in only a day's time and offers to give Earth's defenders eleven days to get stronger.
    • Goku convinces Majin Buu to turn on Babidi by impressing him with Super Saiyan 3 and offering to let him fight an even more powerful warrior. Buu is thrilled by the offer. After he becomes Super Buu, he still craves the battle he was promised. He even absorbs Gotenks instead of Gohan so that he can have an adversary to fight with his newfound power. This trait is Downplayed once he becomes Kid Buu, who demonstrates how little he cares about fighting fairly by immediately destroying the Earth. At the same time, Kid Buu clearly enjoys fighting Goku, Vegeta, and Mr. Buu.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While the original Dragon Ball series was more light-hearted until Piccolo arrived, Dragon Ball Z really steps up the violence. Goku gets a hole blown through his chest, Nappa breaks off Tien's arm, Frieza gets bisected, etc.
  • Blood Upgrade: Vegeta reacts poorly to seeing his own blood.
    "Blood! My noble blood, spilled by the sheer luck of such - such trash?! No, I will not allow this to stand....I CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO STAND! YOUR INSOLENCE JUST COST YOU THIS WORLD! I'LL BLOW IT ALL TO PIECES, AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP ME!!!"
    • It shows up again when Trunks attacks Vegeta to stop him from interfering in the fight against Cell. He's initially just stunned that Trunks followed through, but once he sees blood on his glove he becomes furious.
  • Bodyguarding a Badass: Downplayed by Kibito. The Supreme Kai is powerful enough to kill Frieza in a single punch and intimidates Piccolo into surrendering at the World Tournament. His bodyguard, Kibito, is only involved in a single fight in which he is killed instantly by one blast from Dabura. As Dabura rivals Super Perfect Cell in power, however, it's unclear whether the Supreme Kai would have fared any better.
  • Body Horror: Anything involving Buu: when Majin Buu enters Vegito's body through his mouth to take control of his body, Vegito's muscles become grotesquely enormous. Then Buu enters a gunman's mouth, the man's body growing to monstrously obese proportions and finally explode.
  • Boobs of Steel: Inverted. The female fighters (Eighteen, Videl, etc.) tend to be modestly endowed, while the non-fighters (such as Bulma) are fairly stacked.
  • Book-Ends: The very first and very last Fighting Power/Power Level readings given in the series are both 5. The first is an oridnary human farmer who's killed by Raditz, while the last Future Trunks, who subsequently overloads all nearby Scouters when he goes Super Saiyan.
  • Boring Insult: SS Goku's final insult to Frieza is to declare that he's no longer a challenge and it's not even worth Goku's time to finish the fight. Frieza reacts poorly.
  • Born Winner: Dragon Ball makes extensive use of the idea that many people are just born special. There are multiple tiers of Born Winner.
    • Goku has a natural in-born talent with fighting due to his Saiyan genetics that makes it easy for him to surpass the humans. His genes, however, are garbage compared to other Saiyans—supposedly, since according to Vegeta during the Cell Games, Goku's natural talent surpasses his own. He can also learn almost any technique from seeing it once and become immune to techniques he has seen before since he knows how to counter them.
    • Gohan has by far the most fighting potential of the entire cast and can become the strongest character in the series if he wanted to. He is also pure-hearted like his father and has an even nobler heart than Goku since he goes out of his way to look for people to save. Ironically, having been raised as a somewhat normal kid who goes to school instead of Raised by Wolves like his father or fed Saiyan doctrine like Vegeta, he instead becomes the weakest of the three adult Saiyans, but with a much better home and family life.
    • Vegeta is the Saiyan Prince, born with an exceptionally high power level even for a Saiyan. He is spared specifically for his talent and reaches levels unheard of by any Saiyan even before he comes to Earth. For reference, the second strongest Saiyan, Nappa, is almost five times weaker than him. He gives Goku a big challenge the first time they meet, after Goku had trained for a year under King Kai and made Nappa look like a fool. He is also one of the only ones to learn how to read energy without any training and figures out how to suppress his power only by observing the Earthlings for less than a day. Despite his amazing talent, however, he views himself as something of a second place loser since Goku is always one step ahead of him and is overall the better warrior, even though he's born a lower class fighter.
      Vegeta: Let me show you a level of power that no amount of hard work can prepare you for.
    • The Namekians have a larger than average battle power along with their mystical talents like some being able to heal, awakening others' hidden powers, and create Dragon Balls. However, the Nameless Namek is a winner even among them. He's called a prodigy among his race and is said to be strong enough to challenged a Super Saiyan and beat Frieza, according to the Elder Namek and Nail.
    • The Planet Trade Organization runs on the premise of powerful warriors being powerful by merit of birth. Every member of their elite Ginyu Force is a mutant as is Frieza himself, who has never trained in his life but boasts a power level of 120 million.
    • Majin Buu. He's a Superpower Lottery Winner like no other in the series. He can regeneration from vapors, learn techniques from just seeing them once, can become stronger (or weaker) by absorbing other people. It takes the energy of an entire planet with billions of people and a wish on the Dragon Balls to put him down.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In the Namek Saga, Chi-Chi and Gohan have an argument when Gohan wants to go to Namek. Chi-Chi makes a good point when she says that Gohan should be having fun as a kid instead of trying to be an adult, and Gohan also makes a good point about the importance of resurrecting their friends and restoring the Dragon Balls.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • In the first dub, having to meet Saban's standards and practices for syndicated kids' shows, the villains were always threatening to blast people into another dimension, scenes of wanton destruction accompanied by throwaway lines implying nobody got hurt, and Tien says that his arm can grow back after Nappa breaks it off. The second dub reduced this, allowing death and even kept small amounts of blood.
    • Also, in the scene when Vegeta turns into a giant ape via full moon in front of Goku, leading him to the sad truth, the first dub becomes more of a blatant lie: Goku claims that Vegeta was the giant ape who had killed Grandpa Gohan, when in reality it was freaking Giant Ape Goku himself (!) who committed the Accidental Murder of Grandpa Gohan, and Vegeta had nothing to do with it. It seems that this dub, in an attempt to stop kids from committing more violence after watching the show, completely negated Goku's Self-Made Orphan trope and turned it into his "Never My Fault" situation.
    • Also, in the first dub, extra objects are written to cover all nudity, both front and back. The only thing that was different is Recoome's buttocks. While the first dub had a black strip of clothing covering his butt in a few episodes, the cloth strip is missing in the second dub. And this was shortly before Vegeta used the Coup de Grâce to finish off Recoome.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: This is a rule of thumb in the series. Characters who rely purely on their brute strength or natural talent to get ahead will eventually meet their match when paired with an equally strong or even a slightly weaker fighter who is exceptionally well-trained. A prime example of this is Frieza. Because he was born naturally strong and easily steamrolled anyone who got in his way, he was completely ill-prepared to fight Super Saiyan Goku who not only was stronger, but had the endurance to fight for a long time, something Frieza severely lacked.
  • Brainless Beauty: Krillin's once-girlfriend Maron during the Garlic Jr. arc is characterized by her attractive physique and dim-witted personality.
  • Brawler Lock: Goku does this with Freeza, Cell, and Vegeta. The former two during their respective arcs, and the latter during the Buu arc.
  • Breakout Villain: Frieza has practically become synonymous with the franchise - likely due to a mix of voice-acting, character design, his seemingly polite personality, and sheer monstrosity. He returns in Resurrection F and the Dragon Ball Super adaptation of the movie. He is the only irredeemable villain to ever return in canon.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Invoked and subverted by Piccolo, who takes the naïve and innocent 4-year-old Gohan and subjects him to harsh and difficult training intended to beat the innocence out of him and sharpen him into a warrior. He is only partially successful. Gohan gets stronger but retains his childlike wonder, while Piccolo winds up softening up to Gohan's innocence instead.
    • Future Trunks grows up in a desolate world being destroyed by Androids 17 and 18. Everyone is dying and the only person who can defend them is Trunks's mentor Gohan, who is fighting a losing battle and ultimately dies as well. In the anime, the despair and rage induced by this moment is the catalyst for Trunks becoming a Super Saiyan.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Not as prominent as Dragon Ball, but there are still are some instances that stand out.
    • One that stuck in the anime: Gohan addresses the audience near the start of the Buu arc that Krillin grew his hair out after quitting fighting.
    • During the Majin Buu arc, Krillin notices that the author is cheating by recycling panels (to be exact, Goten and Trunks's fusion training sequence is reused over and over) and Toriyama himself pops out behind him to apologize.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • One of the most common trends involving Vegeta is to spend large parts of the storyline reveling in his own egotism and power, only allowing his opponents to manipulate his arrogance and humiliate him. Sometimes he learns his lesson but it's usually only for a short time; the next time his power increases, his arrogance kicks right back in. It's essentially his long-running character arc.
      • When he's first introduced, Vegeta boasts of his immense strength and patronizes Goku's ideal that hard work and effort could surpass a Saiyan Elite. But despite being the strongest fighter on the battlefield, Vegeta succumbs to the efforts of four weaker warriors cutting off his tail, hitting him with powerful techniques like the Spirit Bomb and Kaioken, and even turning his own False Moon technique against him.
      • Riding high on the thrill of killing Cui and Dodoria, Vegeta goads Zarbon over his hideous Monster form. He immediately pays for it by being beaten within an inch of his life and plunged into the ocean.
      • On Namek, Vegeta goads Frieza into transforming and mouths off about unlocking the legend of the Super Saiyan and becoming too powerful for even Frieza to overcome. His bravado is shattered twice by Frieza's power-increasing multiple transformations. Frieza leaves Vegeta a broken wreck begging Goku to succeed where he failed before delivering a final killing stroke. To add insult to injury, Goku proceeds to become the first Super Saiyan in a thousand years.
      • After training for three years and becoming a Super Saiyan himself, Vegeta slaughters Android 19 and chases Android 20 back to his lair. Assuming her to be as harmless as they were, he attempts to do the same to Android 18, who proceeds to break both of his arms and his pride.
      • Upon completing his training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, Vegeta effortlessly demolishes Semi-Perfect Cell. Drunk on his own sense of grandeur, he agrees to step aside and allow Cell to absorb Android 18 to gain his Perfect Form so that he can prove his overwhelming might against Cell's true power. Cell's true power ends up being far more than Vegeta can handle.
      • The Cell Games finish the job; after losing his son to Super Perfect Cell and getting Gohan injured trying to protect him, Vegeta is reduced to a broken wreck sobbing out an apology. In the final Beam-O-War, he adopts a supporting role by distracting Cell so that Gohan can defeat him. Upon finding out that Goku isn't coming back, Vegeta flies away swearing he will never fight again.
      • The final breaking of Vegeta's pride occurs in the Buu arc when Vegeta, impatient with what he considers a waste of Goku's limited time on Earth, allows Babidi to awaken his power. Newly enhanced, Vegeta demands his final battle with Goku who seems evenly matched with him. After Majin Buu becomes unsealed, Vegeta sucker-punches Goku, confident that he can handle Buu himself. Upon realizing the extent of Buu's power, however, he's forced to sacrifice himself to stop him, which doesn't even work. Furthermore, he learns that Goku wasn't even using his full power in their fight. Upon seeing Super Saiyan 3 with his own eyes, Vegeta finally makes peace with the fact that Goku surpassed him long ago.
    • Also happens to Gotenks, who has something like Vegeta's arrogance mixed in with a childish bravado and jerkassery. He means well, but he's too caught up in how magnificent he thinks he is to listen to other people or act wisely. Minutes after his first appearance, this results in him being outsmarted by Majin Buu, beaten to a pulp, and then forced to watch helplessly as an army is slaughtered while he can't do a thing. It hits hard, but doesn't sink in.
  • Brick Break: Breaking several stacked bricks is a running gag for Mr. Satan. At least twice, he fails to break the last brick at the bottom.
  • Broken Ace:
    • Vegeta is born the prince of his race and a Child Prodigy so talented that Frieza himself took a liking to him, grooming him into one of his right-hand men. To the remaining Saiyans he is a figure of both admiration and fear, having their complete loyalty. When he is introduce, he is far stronger than anyone in the series, including Goku. He is also a master tactician when level headed. However, Vegeta hates being under the rule of another or anyone stronger than him and despise never being able to escape his oppressor even when he learns said oppressor destroyed his home world. He is also force to live under Fantastic Racism by his own comrades and even his boss. To make matters worse he is surpass in every way by a warrior he considers a low class, who also defeats his enslaver, leading to an Inferiority Superiority Complex that nearly cost him his newfound family and happiness. His cold, uncaring nature also makes it hard for anyone to like or even tolerate him. It's not until the end of the series that he finally begins to recover and makes peace that he will never be the strongest in the universe.
    • What Frieza becomes after his defeat to Goku on Namek. Before Goku, Frieza is the most powerful warrior in the universe and everybody knows it. Few dare to oppose or defy him and they pay for it swiftly. Even King Kai is terrified of Frieza's power and repeatedly warns Goku not to fight him because he is a foe that cannot be overcome. But after Goku defeats Frieza, his ego breaks. He has waking nightmares about him and show signs of PTSD. He utterly freaks out when he sees Trunks transformed into Super Saiyan. Regaining his lost pride by killing Goku becomes his sole motive.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center:
    • One of Goku's defining characteristic. His friends often comment on how he can be so powerful, but also so gentle. This also sticks out since he is an unapologetic Blood Knight.
    • Android 16 is one of the bigger characters in the series, is nearly emotionless, lives to kill Goku, and is the strongest of all the androids outside of Cell. One of the first signs that 16 is more than just a killing machine is that he loves to play with animals. He goes against Cell because he is an enemy to all living things.
    • Future Trunks. He come from a Bad Future and is the most merciless of the main characters who aren't anti-heroes. He also has a soft spot for animals and is often seen playing with squirrels when relaxing.
    • Future Gohan is the same. He is forced to fight After the End where all his friends are dead, which has made him more jaded and cold-hearted compared to his present counterpart. Yet, he is very good around Trunks, treating him like a brother. Bulma lampshades that he inherited his father's gentleness along with his strength.
  • Bullet Time: It is suggested several times that we are seeing the battles as they appear to the main characters, who are all fast enough to dodge bullets and thus have incredibly heightened reflexes, meaning they're pretty much in Bullet Time constantly. This would explain some of the pacing inconsistencies (like the famous "ten-episode-long five minutes"), but the series never says for sure whether this is the case.
  • Bullying a Dragon
    • Dr. Gero repeatedly insults and berates 17 and 18, who were rebellious teenagers before he forcibly turned them into cyborgs. Cyborgs who are far stronger than him, mind you. What happens to him is inevitable.
    • Invoked by Cell to Gohan during the Cell Games. Upon learning of the immense power Gohan unleashes when he gets angry, Cell goes out of his way to abuse him and attempts to murder his friends to try and provoke that response. He ultimately succeeds and the result is far more than he bargained for.
    • Discussed by Goku. Unlike his father who favored the carrot (cake), Babidi prefers to use the stick in controlling Buu. Whenever Buu shows some disobedience, Babidi threatens to reseal him. This continues until Goku scolds Buu for letting such a weak coward order him around and Babidi shortly found himself lacking a head.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • The Ginyu Force. Frieza hires them as enforcers to take out Vegeta and retrieve the Dragon Balls. After seeing their entrance, full of ridiculous camp, dumb poses, and flowers, you may think he's made a huge mistake. Until you watch one member of the team beat Vegeta like he was nothing, without ever dropping the camp.
    • Fat Buu. No one, except for the Supreme Kai, takes him seriously when they first see him. They think he's a dimwitted man-child. Then he takes Dabura out with two hits, manhandles the Supreme Kai, and nearly kills Gohan with one energy blast. Not to mention, killing Dabura by turning him into a cookie and eating him.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: Goku and Piccolo save a bus full of children in episode 125.
  • Butt-Dialing Mordor: The scouters also act as communication devices, and in both cases it was due to their function as communicators that first Vegeta, then Frieza learns about the Dragon Balls' ability to grant a wish. This encourages Vegeta to come to Earth and, later, enables Frieza to get a head start on Vegeta in going to Namek to use their Dragon Balls.
  • Butt-Monkey: Yamcha. He dies from a single Saibaman after being caught off-guard. He returns in life just in time for Bulma to finally end their on-and-off relationship. Then he spends three years training for the Androids only to instantly suffer a near-fatal Dr. Gero salute through the chest. He gives up fighting after this point and gradually drops out of narrative focus entirely.
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     C 
  • Call-Back: Much like its predecessor, the series often has nods to events portrayed earlier in the series:
    • Gohan winds up sprawled on top of Vegeta after saving him from Cell, in the same position as at the end of the Saiyan saga after the two nearly killed one another, as if to highlight how far the characters have come since then.
    • The Buu Arc is a throwback to the gag-heavy atmosphere of Toriyama's earlier works.
    • Some of the shots of Gohan vs. Super Buu mirror Goku and Vegeta's first fight.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Many attacks involve a vocal shout of the move's name.
    • Goku's Signature Move, the Kamehameha, is usually charged by slowly chanting the attack's syllables and firing on the second "HA". However, Goku has used the Kamehameha without calling it to block a mouth blast from Nappa.
    • Exaggerated by Captain Ginyu's body switching attack, which doesn't work unless he can actually vocalize the words, "CHANGE NOW!" After being imprisoned in the body of a frog, he becomes incapable of switching bodies due to the frog's limited vocal capabilities. In a filler arc, he regains the ability to use the move after Bulma provides him with a translator.
  • Came Back Strong:
    • When Goku dies, he spends a year training at King Kai's planet before returning to life to fight the Saiyans. When he returns, his power his increased to over 8,000 and he's learned both the Kaioken and the Spirit Bomb, making it possible for Nappa and Vegeta to be defeated.
    • Subverted by Yamcha, Tien, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo who also train at King Kai's planet after being killed by Nappa. Piccolo gets another power boost immediately after coming back to life which makes it unclear how much can be attributed to his afterlife training, while the others never get a chance to show off what, if anything, they learned after returning to life.
    • A racial trait of anyone with Saiyan blood is that their power increases immensely after they recover from life-threatening injuries.
      • Without even knowing it, Goku abuses this trait. He spends six days overexerting his body in a Gravity Chamber on the way to Namek before eating a Senzu Bean, getting a power boost, and trashing his body some more. By the time he arrives on Namek, his power has swelled to 90,000. In the space of a single recovery leading up to the fight with Frieza, it rises all the way to 3 million.
      • Vegeta makes tremendous use of this racial trait on Namek, starting with the boost he got from his defeat on Earth. He gets successive boosts from being demolished in battle by Zarbon and then Recoome. With the insurmountable Frieza distracted by Piccolo, Vegeta invokes the trope by forcing Krillin to blast a hole in his chest so that Dende can heal him and he can become powerful enough to win the battle; unfortunately for him, it's not enough.
      • After surviving his own self-destruct in his Imperfect Form, Cell's body regenerates back into his Perfect Form and his power increases immensely due to his Saiyan genes.
  • Canon Discontinuity: With the exception of Bojack Unbound and Wrath of the Dragon, (which are non-serial moviesnote ) and Battle of the Gods and Resurrection of Fnote , all of the DBZ movies fall into this tropenote  due to Continuity Snarl(s) in each one, listed below:
    • Dead Zone: It's Broad Strokes in the original Dragon Ball Z due to the existance of the Garlic Jr filler arc, but this trope is played completely straight in Kai due to said arc being removed. While this movie is heavily implied to take place before the events of Z, the only things preventing it from being canon are Krillin meeting Gohan (yet not recognizing him in Z and Kai when the two meet in that show)note , and Piccolo and Goku having their talk about weighted clothes (which they have in both versions when fighting Raditz), and the fact that the Power Pole should still be in between Korin Tower and Kami's Lookoutnote .
    • World's Strongest: Goku having a "Kame" mark on the breast and a "Kai" mark on the back of his Gi would indicate it takes place in between the battle against Vegeta and Goku traveling to Namek. However, Gohan and Krillin are both on the earth when they should both be on Namek (since if Goku could battle Lord Slug, he could easily go with Gohan and Krillin to Namek), and additionally, Piccolo is shown to be alive, despite the fact that he should be dead at the time the movie takes place. Like with Dead Zone, the Power Pole is also present, despite the fact that it should still be in between Korin Tower and Kami's lookout.
    • Tree of Might: For similar reasons to World's Strongest; on top of taking place when Goku should be on Namek, the absence of Vegeta prevents this movie from being canon afterwards (never mind the fact that Goku likely would just go Super Saiyan and end things much quicker).
    • Lord Slug: Aside from taking place on Earth when Goku is on Namek, it references the events of the aforementioned Tree of Might, as well as having Lord Slug terra-form the Earth into a cold and frozen planet, despite Namek (where he comes from) being shown to be a relatively green planet. Additionally, King Kai states that Frieza can't defeat him, as opposed to couldn't defeat him, which would indicate that Frieza is still alive (thus preventing this movie from taking place after Frieza's defeat, meaning that either Vegeta should be in Goku's place, or Piccolo should be dead; and even if Goku knew Instant Transmission at the time, he never had an opportunity to warp Gohan, Piccolo, and Krillin back to Earth).
    • Cooler's Revenge: While the movie could take place in the timeline in between Future Trunks returning to the future and the Androids attacking, since it takes place after Frieza's death, Vegeta being absent while Goku is presentnote , Gohan being the same age as he was on Namek, Goku being alive and on Earth despite not returning for a few years afterwards, the presence of Icarus (who was introduced in The Tree of Might), and the cast being a late Saiyan Saga one prevent this from fitting in with the canon timeline.
    • Return of Cooler: While some factors (Goku's mark-less gi, Vegeta being able to go Super Saiyan, Dende being the guardian of Earth) would suggest that this takes place in the time between the annoucement of the Cell games and their opening, the fact that Gohan can't go Super Saiyan and having his pre-Cell Games appearance, the complete absence of Future Trunks, and the need for a space ship to travel to New Namek as opposed to having Goku just use Instant Transmission would prevent this movie from being canon - and that's not even taking into account the fact that it is a sequel to the similarly non-canon Cooler's Revenge.
    • Super Android 13: It should take place after Gero's death but before the appearance of Cell. However, the complete absence of 16, 17, and 18, as well as Goku's presence (around that time, he was still letting his heart medicine take effect) prevent this from being canon.
    • Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan: Much like with Bojack Unbound and Wrath of the Dragon, it was initially believed it was non-serial, as it fit within the time between the announcement of the Cell Games and their opening (granted, there's the matter of Goku and Gohan being in their base state at the start of the movie, since at the time, they were in Super Saiyan to train against Cell, but that's not the biggest continuity error in any of the movies). However, Dragon Ball Super completely pushes this movie into non-canon territory, due to the introduction of Kale, a Distaff Counterpart of Broly, which caught Vegeta and Goku off-guard. Additionally, the complete absence of Cell despite the fact that Broly would be the perfect opponent for him (he's not even mentioned by Trunks) prevented this movie from being completely canon prior to Super. And if there were any doubts about this movie's canonicity, Dragon Ball Super: Broly completely pushes this (And the other 2 Broly films, for that matter) completely into this territory.
    • Broly - The Second Coming: Due to the Dragon Balls not functioning the way they do in the series proper, as well as Videl learning about the Dragon Balls before Majin Buu is released, this movie cannot fit in the series timeline. And again, his Super film makes this one non-canon.
    • Bio-Broly: The complete absence of Piccolo or any of the Z-Fightersnote , as well as the fact that it's implied to take place at a time where no breaks in events exist (the period right after the 25th World Martial Arts tournament but before Majin Buu awakens) prevents this movie from being canon, on top of requiring the other 2 Broly films to be canon.
    • Fusion Reborn: Goten and Trunks being able to fuse but Goku and Vegeta being dead would place this sometime around the Buu saga (in the two days the kids were learning fusion), but the absence of Mystic Gohan and Buu prevent this from being canon. And if there was any doubt, Super: Broly fully pushed the film into this trope thanks to it introducing Gogeta in a different context.
  • Can't Catch Up:
    • Continuing the trend from the original series, Goku continues to rapidly outpace every new and old character he comes across. Nearly the entire cast falls behind him at some point.
    • Zig-Zagged by Gohan who starts out more powerful than Goku but can only use it in uncontrollable bursts. Goku eventually trains Gohan to replace him which is largely successful until the Buu Saga, when he lets his power fall behind and Goku becomes stronger. Gohan then gets his power unlocked to make him more powerful than Goku again, only to succumb to Diabolus ex Machina and be removed from the plot so that Goku can return to the spotlight.
    • Discussed by Vegeta, who finally accepts and makes peace with the fact that Goku left him in the dust during the Buu Saga.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Many of Dragon Ball's villains are openly and unashamedly evil.
    • In the English dub, Vegeta congratulates himself for stomping on Goku's chest in the middle of a touching moment, saying he's a good villain. He later boasts about how sinister he is after transforming into a Super Saiyan, an act that requires a pure heart.
      Vegeta: Believe me, my heart is exceptionally pure. Pure evil to the core.
    • Frieza's servants call him the Emperor of Evil, a title he does not shy away from as he brags about the evil that he does.
    • In his Super Perfect form, Cell boasts of being as evil as Frieza. He talks at length about how he intends to hunt down and murder every human on Earth one by one so he can see the looks on their faces as they die.
    • Babidi openly professes to being evil and uses his power to enhance the evil in the hearts of others to control them.
    • Super Buu is created when Majin Buu expels the evil from his body in the form of Evil Buu, who overpowers and absorbs him. With his evil side now in command, Super Buu is a sadistic monster who delights in exterminating the entire population of Earth.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Tri-beam attack drains Tien's life energy to use, to the point of outright killing him during the fight with Nappa when he fires it one-handed while on his last legs.
  • Cavalier Competitor:
    • Goku is a combination of the first variety of this and Spirited Competitor, except when his opponent's evil registers to him even more than their power does.
    • Frieza himself is an example of the second interpretation of this trope. He often plays cat-and-mouse with his enemies because he is so certain of his power.
    • Android 17 who enjoys the thrill of a good challenge and even spares the Earth warriors so he can fight them again when they become stronger.
    • Cell thinks he is this, until he starts to lose. Then the cavalier part is dropped like a hot potato.
    • Super Buu, much like Cell before him, plays the second interpretation straight. He's cavalier about a fight so long as he's the one winning. The moment someone stronger comes around, it's no longer fun and he starts to suffer epic breakdowns.
  • Challenge Seeker
    • Goku loves to be challenged when he fights someone, rather they are friend or foe. Unlike other Blood Knights in the series, he wants to battle someone who has a reasonable chance of defeating him, since winning isn't his primary goal, but self-improvement.
    • Vegeta like all pure-blooded Saiyans love to fight and push himself in battle. This has led to making situations more difficult for the heroes, like him allowing Cell to become complete because he was bored knocking around Semi-Perfect, and didn't want to fused with Goku to fight Kid Buu.
    • Cell deliberately spares the protagonists after becoming perfect and sets up the Cell Games just because he wants to have fun and test his newfound perfection. He admits it's probably due to the Saiyan DNA. This turns out, much like Vegeta, to be a Fatal Flaw. Because he's so desperate for a challenging fight, he pushes Gohan to his Rage Breaking Point so he can give him a better challenge. Let's just say that he came to regret this decision.
    • All forms of Majin Buu are this to some extent. Fat Buu doesn't destroy the Earth because Goku promised him a challenging fight in three days. Super Buu demands the challenger sooner, and keeps Gohan around after absorbing Gotenks and Piccolo so he can test his new power. Kid Buu fights Goku, Vegeta, and Fat Buu instead of nuking the planet like he did to the Earth because he was having fun fighting them.
  • Character Development:
    • In the beginning of Dragon Ball, Goku literally had no idea what boobs were (he thought Bulma had a butt on her chest). Near the end of the Majin Buu saga, Goku is literally using Bulma's breasts as a bargaining chip to get Old Kai to explain his ability to unlock potentialnote .
    • Gohan grows from a frightened child to a determined combatant and valued member of the team before developing into a Martial Pacifist.
    • Vegeta eventually comes to terms with the fact that he Can't Catch Up to Goku. He also becomes a better person to the extent that Porunga includes him in a wish to resurrect everyone except the really evil people.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: All living things have ki as a sort of mystical life-force. Apparently with training you can make your ki pool larger and stronger and learn how to channel it into shooting energy beams, flying, being bulletproof, telepathic, and have Super Strength allowing feats up to and including destroying entire planets.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang:
    • The Spirit Bomb is used against Vegeta and Frieza and then never seen again until the climax of the Buu arc, when Vegeta proposes it as a method to defeat Majin Buu. For the first time since Goku learned it, the move succeeds in defeating a villain.
    • The artificial moon that Vegeta creates to turn into a Great Ape during his fight with Goku in the Saiyan saga is still up in the sky later in the fight, allowing Gohan to become a Great Ape and crush him.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Uranai Baba reveals that she can bring the dead to the world of the living for 24 hours at a time in the Red Ribbon arc. 25 years later, this becomes a plot point as she allows Goku to spend 24 hours with his family, and then again to allow Vegeta to fight Buu again.
    • The Instant Transmission technique that Goku learns on Yardrat. He demonstrates it to his friends in the beginning of the Android/Cell arc, and later uses it to make a Heroic Sacrifice and save the world from Cell's Suicide Attack.
  • Chekhov's Time Travel: In the Cell Saga, Bulma, Gohan and Future Trunks discover another version of Trunks' time machine, which was later revealed to have been stolen by Cell when he killed his timeline's Trunks. Flash forward to Dragon Ball Super's Black Goku Saga and it's revealed that Bulma kept the time machine and she pulls it out when Black Goku destroys' Trunks' time machine with the intent on stranding him in the past.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Vegeta completely masticates everything that surrounds him. His performances as a Large Ham Deadpan Snarker are some of the most hilarious highlights of the series.
  • Chickification:
    • In the previous series, Chi-Chi is introduced blowing up a dinosaur and fights Goku at the 23rd World Tournament. By the time Z begins, she's delegated to the role of a nagging wife and belligerent mother who is frequently incapable of keeping her husband and son in check.
    • Videl is introduced as the crime-fighting daughter of Hercule. She trains under Gohan and learns to control ki and fly, and she competes in the 25th World Tournament. However, after she realizes that Gohan is flying slower so she can keep up with him, she bows out of the Majin Buu arc and her role is permanently reduced to being Gohan's girlfriend and, later, Pan's mother.
  • Childhood Brain Damage: It's stated that the reason why Goku doesn't share the violent nature of Saiyans is that he received a blow to the head while he was a baby. Although, it is hinted in Dragon Ball Minus that Goku inherited his good heart from his mother who was not fit for fighting because of her softness. (The difference apparently being an innate desire to massacre, and being more rambunctious than usual.)
  • Child of Two Worlds:
    • Goku is informed by Raditz that he is not an earthling, but a mercenary alien race called the Saiyans. Goku later discusses this trope in his postmortem speech to Vegeta in the fight against Frieza.
      Goku: I'm a Saiyan raised on Earth.
    • Gohan is reminded by Piccolo when he first trains Gohan before the remaining Saiyans arrival on earth, that he also has Saiyan blood in him and should be able to defeat Vegeta and Nappa.
  • Child Prodigy:
    • Gohan is a naturally strong fighter who has the ability to far surpass anyone in the series. At the age of five and a half, his power level is almost three times higher than his father's and by the end of the Cell Saga, he's the strongest in the universe at only 11 years old. He is also very book smart, able to do advanced math at the age of six.
    • Vegeta is a prodigy to the point that Frieza took a liking to him and spared him specifically out of his entire race. In the Bardock Special, he takes out six Saibamen without even trying.
    • Goten and Trunks both become Super Saiyans before the age of ten and both surpass Frieza in power. They also manage to learn the complex Fusion Dance in just two days when it took Goku a week.
  • Child Soldiers
    • In Dragon Ball Minus Raditz is considered a warrior and is sent out helping Vegeta take over worlds despite being no more than five or seven. And although Goku isn't sent to destroy Earth, it isn't unusual for Frontier Babies to be sent out when they're no more than three.
    • Gohan is 'recruited' to fight the Saiyans when he's only four by Piccolo. He goes through the battle on Namek when he's five and fights the androids when he's nine. He's only eleven when he saves the world from Cell. Despite all the above, he still grows up to be relatively normal.
    • Vegeta is enslaved at age five to the same Galactic Overlord who murdered his father, destroyed his race, and blew up his planet.
    • Justified when Goten and Trunks are expected to fight and defeat Majin Buu using the Fusion Dance when they're seven and eight. At this point, they're both powerful enough individually to give some of Earth's most powerful surviving defenders cause for alarm. With Goku, Gohan, and Vegeta already dead or believed to be, Goten and Trunks are tapped because the Earth has run out of options.
  • The Chosen One: Played With. The Saiyans' whole concept of a Chosen One revolves around the "Legendary Super Saiyan", a Saiyan who won the genetic lottery to and was extremely powerful; a birth so rare that the last one reputedly appeared about a thousand years ago. During Namek, Vegeta firmly believes that he's this, something that should be achieved by him since he is the Saiyan Prince. After being beaten to near death by Frieza, he concludes that Goku is the real Chosen One destined to ascend and defeat Frieza. In Bardock's final vision in the TV Special he foresees Goku challenging Frieza, even Minus calls Goku the one chosen to beat Frieza, and Goku is the first one to ascend to Super Saiyan in a thousand years and does defeat Frieza. Then Super Saiyan gets hit with Uniqueness Decay and any Saiyan can become one with the right amount of anger and power. Goten and Trunks achieve Super Saiyan without even trying. With that said, however, Goku is treated as the Legendary Super Saiyan in-universe.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome:
    • Goku, which causes him to go out of his way to help people - in combination with his Spirited Competitor personality (which often drives him to seek out new and interesting challenges) this tends to lead him into bigger and more interesting adventures... and as the series goes on leads to him missing a lot of time with his family. This is best seen when he gives some of his energy to Frieza after the tyrant pleas for his life despite not really wanting to help him and almost immediately regrets it Lampshaded by Chi-Chi at the end of the Buu saga.
      Chi-Chi: "Can't he stop saving things just for one day so we can be together as a family?"
    • He ends up passing this tendency on to Gohan, who can never stand by knowing someone's in danger without rushing in to help - occasionally accompanied by Unstoppable Rage. This is a major reason behind adopting his Great Saiyaman persona.
  • Classical Anti-Hero:
    • Gohan tries to play the Ideal Hero when he is the Great Saiyaman, but he's much closer to this trope since he's often plagued with self-doubt in himself, has no real love for fighting outside of sport (which greatly affects his power), and often depends on his father and Piccolo to protect him when he screws up (which has cost them both their lives at one point). He still fights to protect the world, despite his shortcomings.
    • Much like Gohan, Mr. Satan tries to be an Ideal Hero to the citizens of Earth, and everyone, save for the Z-Fighters, sees him as the savior of the universe. Truth is, Mr. Satan is an unapologetic Glory Hound who stole credit for killing Cell from Gohan. He is more often than not scared of fighting anyone stronger than him and will bribe others to throw fights so he can keep his reputation. At the same time, he does have a noble heart and will fight to protect others, even if it means risking his own life. He helps Goku and Vegeta kill Kid Buu by using his heroic status to get the people of Earth to loan energy for the Spirit Bomb.
  • Climactic Volcano Backdrop: After Freeza blasts Namek's core, the entire planet slowly degenerates into this as he and Goku fight to the finish. By the end, the whole place looks like Fire and Brimstone Hell.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel:
    • Frieza's true form at full power. Because Frieza has never trained his body to handle his full power before, he has no endurance and his power starts to burn out after only a few minutes of fighting. By the end, he can't even hurt Goku anymore.
    • Trunks's Ultra Super Saiyan form. His raw power surpasses Cell, but because of his muscle mass he is also slower, making him easy to dodge.
    • After returning to life, Super Saiyan 3 becomes this. Because Goku has been dead for so long, he is no longer used to the limits of a living body, which isn't as durable and doesn't have the unlimited energy of his dead body. So when he is fighting Kid Buu, he rapidly loses energy and his endurance is terrible, which is an ill fit against the unlimited energy and regeneration of Buu.
  • Clothing Damage
    • Clothing damage is more or less a given in every fight and nearly random in exposure area. Recoome's chest and butt are exposed by a blast from Vegeta, Goku's shirt is stripped off by a fireball launched by Vegeta.... well, the important thing is that someone's shirt gets torn off, at least. In fact, Goku's shirt gets torn so much that you can gauge where in the fight you are by it — if it's still there, and the enemy looks dead, it isn't over yet. Apparently, aliens are immortal unless Goku is topless.
    • In any fight involving fighters with Saiyan armour, the plates extending out over the shoulder or forming the faulds under the waist always get broken off. At the beginning of the Cell Saga, the only character who still wears the stuff is Vegeta, and it no longer features shoulders pads or the faulds.
    • 18 gets her clothes torn up when fighting Vegeta, but gets a new set later.
    • Also, Videl gets her clothes torn up when fighting Spopovitch.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Bulma's mother seems blissfully unaware of everything that happens around her. She's very nice and polite, but doesn't seem entirely put together.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Frieza delights in taking his time killing his enemies slowly and painfully. This is particularly noticeable in his Third Form, where he blasts a defenseless Piccolo over and over with rapid-fire shots that do just enough to hurt him but not kill him, and in his Final Form where he gradually brutalizes Vegeta while boasting to him.
    • After he becomes a Super Saiyan 2, Gohan ruthlessly picks Cell apart and refuses to kill him. He wants him to suffer slowly.
    • When Vegeta tries to buy time against Kid Buu, he succeeds despite Buu's overwhelming power because the latter draws out Vegeta's suffering, sadistically taking his time.
  • Combat Compliment:
    • In the first part of Goku's fight with Frieza, they compliment each other several times when they pull a fast one on each other or when they demonstrate their power. This is quickly dropped after Frieza uses half of his power and pummels Goku.
    • Cell compliments Goku several times during their fight, saying that he's everything he expected. He was designed to kill him.
    • Fat Buu praises Super Saiyan 3 Goku for being strong. Goku returns the compliment.
    • Goku praises Kid Buu for being so powerful, even when he's about to kill him.
    • A very rare compliment came from Vegeta to Goku. During their second match, Vegeta says that Goku has become much stronger, more than he expected.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Vegeta can also fall into this during the Namek Saga. He throws sand in Zarbon's eyes to temporarily blind him, after which he punches him in the back, breaking his armor. Vegeta defeats Guldo when the latter is distracted with attempting to kill Krillin and Gohan. Guldo blames Vegeta for cheating, but Vegeta has a proper response:
      Vegeta: There's no such thing as fair or unfair in battle. There is only victory or, in your case, defeat.
    • In Vegeta's case, he loses this aspect once Frieza is defeated. He becomes worse than Goku by not only allowing his opponents to power-up, but he allows them to transform even if it means eating another person.
    • Once Cui realizes he is screwed against the much stronger Vegeta, he distracts Vegeta by looking over his shoulder and gasping, "Lord Frieza?!”. Vegeta falls for it and Cui mercilessly blasts his foe. Unfortunately for Cui, Vegeta avoids every shot.
    • Frieza subverts. He wants to be this, but he's too prideful to allow himself to cheat. When he tries to destroy Namek since he can survive in space and Goku can't, he holds back in fear of killing himself. He then doesn't try to finish blowing up the planet, something that Goku notes, saying that Frieza wants to fight the Super Saiyan on fairly even grounds. Frieza also refuses to take his father's advice of blowing up the Earth from space, wanting to directly take his revenge on Goku. His few successful acts of being pragmatist is going into his true form despite his third form being more than enough to kill everyone and killing Dende so no one can heal anymore.
    • Unlike his son, King Cold is not interested in striking terror into his enemies or proving that he's the strongest in the universe. Before they arrive on Earth, King Cold wants to simply blow up the planet from space and be done with it instead of trying to fight the Super Saiyan fairly. He also gets on Frieza for 'playing' around with Trunks instead of finishing him off quickly. After Trunks kills Frieza, King Cold 'tricks' Trunks into handing him his sword, thinking it's the source of his power, and tries to kill him with it.
    • Future Trunks, having lived in a horrible future, has no interest in fighting but only in winning. In his fights, he barely gives his foes time to realize how outclassed they are, killing them the first opportunity he gets in every case. He is the only one to even carry a weapon in a life/death/fate of the world fight.
    • Super Buu. Whenever he loses his advantage in a fight, he absorbs the person stronger than him. When Gohan calls him a cheat for absorbing Gotenks, Buu laughs in his face saying all is fair in a fight. Although, he calls Vegito a cheater for merging, something Vegito calls him out on.
    • Kid Buu falls into this on the basis that he's freaking insane. Instead of fighting Goku and Vegeta directly, he chooses to kill them by blowing up the Earth. He then destroys several more planets by teleporting to them and blowing them up without fighting anyone. Goku and Vegeta have to fight Buu on the World of the Kais since it is the only planet Buu can't one-shot.
  • Combined Energy Attack: The Spirit Bomb pulls together energy from everyone and everything its user can reach with their mind, before releasing that energy as a sphere of raw power.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Vegeta: Fuse with you?! I'd rather die!
    Goku: (sighing) Vegeta, you're already dead.
  • Compressed Hair: When Goku's in the hospital recovering from his injuries after the battle against the Saiyans, his head is bandaged despite his impressive Anime Hair.
  • Confusion Fu
    • Before anyone knows who he is, Cell pulls a couple of these on Piccolo, Trunks and the others. Since he has the cells of all of the strongest fighters, he knows almost all of their attacks, many of which are unique to them. He also have the auras of the many different fighters he's built from, which is why it felt like there are two Piccolos, Frieza was alive, and Goku was on the battlefield despite being bedridden. He abuses this to get the upper hand on Piccolo whilst in his Imperfect Form. Piccolo at this point is considerably stronger than Cell, but Cell then performs a Kamehameha, which shocks Piccolo enough to allow Cell to grab him. When Trunks and Krillin show up, he then uses Solar Flare to escape.
    • Majin Buu, especially in his basic or Kid Buu form. The dialogue implies that this isn't the strongest form of Buu, but ends up being the most dangerous because there is no reason to his behavior. Of course, the fact that he's violently insane also helps.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: After Frieza is sliced into quarters by his own energy disc, Goku had every intention of leaving him to die with the planet he destroyed. Then Frieza starts pleading for his life. For several seconds, Goku is frozen in place, conflicted about what he should do, and yells at Frieza for asking for mercy when he never gave it to anyone. After several more seconds, Goku gives into his conscience and gives Frieza enough energy to leave the planet. Unlike most examples, Goku immediately regrets it, given that Frieza is an Ungrateful Bastard who mocks him for his mercy and then tries to shoot him in the back.
  • Contagious Heroism: Most of the villains in series, except for the true monsters, become good to decent people after hanging out with Goku and his friends. Vegeta took the longest, but he eventually became a good person and family man.
  • Convenient Coma: Goku is left comatose for days as he recovers from his heart virus. During the time he's unconscious, Androids 16, 17, and 18 are loose, are more powerful than all the heroes outside of Piccolo, and they are completely undetectable. Cell also comes into the picture and is slowly eating cities to become stronger and absorb the androids, and can run and hide from the other Earth's warriors since he can suppress his energy. Krillin lampshades if Goku was around he could have teleported the moment they felt Cell's energy and have Piccolo kill him. Goku also had knowledge of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber that would have made the heroes stronger instead of leaving everything to Piccolo for several days.
  • Continuity Snarl: At the end of the Cell Games, the Dragon Balls are unable to revive Android 16 due to him being an android as opposed to a humannote , making him one of the few aversions to the series's policy that Death Is Cheap...but when the Namekian Dragon Balls were used to revive everyone who was killed when Kid Buu blew up the earth, amongst those revived were Android 8, Arale, and Obotchaman, despite the fact that they were no more human than 16. Although it's entirely possible that 16 was revived offscreen and has just avoided getting involved in anything, much like how 17 pretty much fell out of the spotlight for the rest of Z after the Cell Games.
  • Convenient Decoy Cat: Krillin, Gohan and Dende are trying to hide from Vegeta, who just learned to detect ki. When he sensed Dende's small ki, a dolphin jumps off the water, leading him to think that was the ki he sensed and leave.
  • Cool Starship: Most characters who travel from one planet to another do so with small pods, but there are some who have their own unique ships for transportation.
    • Bulma, Krillin, and Gohan get to Planet Namek via an ancient Namekian spaceship that Bulma and her father repair.
    • Frieza has a large ship that carries many soldiers. It houses an armory and a medical station with healing tanks.
    • Dr. Briefs creates a spaceship for Goku that can get him to Namek in only six days and houses a Gravity Chamber, allowing Goku to train in up to 100x Earth's gravity. After this ship is destroyed on Namek, he builds a second one for Vegeta with a more powerful Gravity Chamber that goes up to 300x.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Throughout the Buu Saga, there were many points at which the heroes could have ended it earlier:
    • Assuming Goku couldn't handle Majin Buu after witnessing what he assumes to be Goku's full power, Vegeta sucker punches him and goes to do it himself. It ends disastrously and Vegeta is forced to blow himself up to kill Buu, which still fails. Later, Vegeta and Goku argue over this with Goku calling out Vegeta for his pointless self-destruct and Vegeta blasting Goku for concealing Super Saiyan 3 from him, motivating his reckless decision.
    • Gotenks hides his ability to transform into Super Saiyan 3 from Piccolo and fakes losing to Super Buu, wanting to reveal the form dramatically before winning the day. Before he can get that far, Piccolo blows up the door to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, imprisoning them with Buu until the latter manages to escape. Gotenks tries to put the blame on Piccolo, accusing him of jumping the gun, but Piccolo turns it back on him and chews him out for making a game of the battle.
    • Most of the Android/Cell Saga could have been avoided if the Z-Fighters had simply tracked down Dr. Gero and put an end to him before he activated the Androids, especially since Future Trunks warned them three years in advance. Bulma even suggested they do just that, but the Z-Fighters unanimously shot that possibility down.
  • Crapsack World: Future Trunks comes from a timeline where all of the Earth's champions are dead, the Dragon Balls are gone, and nobody can stop the killer androids that are systematically wiping out the planet.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Inverted. As shown in Dragon Ball Minus Frieza recalls all the Saiyans back to their home planet so he can kill as many of them at once. This alerts Bardock and Gine that something is wrong, so they send their youngest child away to protect him. That child is Goku, the same Saiyan Frieza meets on Namek. Despite having the advantage, Frieza toys with Goku, giving him time to form the Spirit Bomb that nearly kills him. In anger, Frieza picks off Goku's friends until he becomes the legendary Super Saiyan, the very thing he was trying to prevent. In the end, Frieza is beaten by a monster that he himself created.
  • Creative Sterility: The Saiyans are depicted as this, at least in the anime. All their vast technical advancements are either stolen from the Truffles they murdered or giving to them by Frieza's empire. Even the armor they wear that Vegeta calls Saiyan formal wear were all from Frieza. At the same time, since the Saiyans weren't natives of Planet Vegeta, they must of had some form of space travel, but it was lost to them for some reason. In the art of fighting, however, they do show some creativity, like their elites being able to create false moons so they can transform into Great Apes.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Every male Son family member has aspects of this trope. They are all an easy-going group who are innocent and a little naive. However, hurt or kill someone they care about and be prepared to have your butt handed to you on a platter. Pray they beat you up quickly instead of dragging out your suffering.
  • Cruel Mercy:
    • Goku gives this as the reason why Vegeta shouldn't kill Ginyu after tricking him into body-jumping into a frog, pointing out that being trapped as a frog is punishment enough. Vegeta agrees and lets him live.
    • Goku tries to invoke this on Frieza, finding keeping him alive with his pride torn apart to be a worse punishment than killing him. Frieza doesn't take it well.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Given the Death Is Cheap nature of the series, it doesn't shy away from giving gruesome, over-the-top deaths to both the heroes and the villains:
    • Vegeta is tortured to death by Frieza who beats him into submission by using him as a punching bag for several minutes, all the while Piccolo, Gohan, and Krillin can only look on in horror. He then pierces Vegeta's heart with a Death Beam and Vegeta slowly bleeds out. Vegeta's death would have been longer, but Frieza got bored since Vegeta lost the will to fight.
    • When Frieza murders Krillin he captures him inside a beam that entered his chest and controls his movements with his finger. He lifts Krillin into the air and made his chest inflate and eventually explode.
    • Frieza's own death isn't pretty. He's cut in half lengthwise, sliced into itty bitty pieces, and then blasted into oblivion. Justified by his previously-established ability to survive life-threatening injuries up to and including bisection.
    • The people killed by Cell in his imperfect form. He stuck his needle-like tail into their bodies and slowly sucked them dry until only their clothes remained. All the while the person is screaming in agony.
    • Cell's death consists of being blown apart cell by cell until his body vaporized. Again justified but still.
    • Spopovich's death was especially gruesome. After Babidi no longer had any use for him he cast a spell on Spopovich that caused his body to graphically swell up until he splattered apart. His distorted screams and gurgles of agony only made it worse.
    • Those killed by Buu by being turned into food. They are still able to think and realize what is happening to them, but they can't move or do anything to save themselves. Worse still when they are eaten alive or, in Chi-Chi's case, stepped on.
    • The assistant of the guy who shot Bee. His death is by far one of the worst deaths in the show's history. Buu turns himself into ooze and forces himself down the man's throat and expands inside him till he explodes.
    • Kid Buu, much like Cell, was blown apart down to his atoms. It was the only way to kill him.
  • Crutch Character: Goku is this to his friends to the point that he tries to pass the torch to others so they won't depend on him. He knows that, eventually, he will die permanently, and if the other characters haven't become strong enough to cope in his absence that will be a huge problem. Unfortunately, the new villains inevitably are so overbearingly powerful that only Goku has the strength to beat them in the end. That and his successors tend to be lazy about training.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: So many times to both villains and heroes:
    • Most of Goku's Big Damn Hero/Look What I Can Do Now! moments in the series are like this, most notably when he comes back from the dead to pummel Nappa after he kills Piccolo and nearly kills Krillin and Gohan, and later when he shows up and beats Recoome in a single blow after Recoome had hammered Vegeta, Gohan, and Krillin for the last three episodes.
    • Vegeta also makes short work of several enemies, notably his fights against Dodoria, Jeice, Frieza's best Elite Mooks, Android #19, Semi-Perfect Cell note , and Pui Pui. Vegeta fights Pui Pui in ten times Earth's gravity and doesn't even have to go Super Saiyan to beat him.
    • Future Trunks utterly destroys former Big Bad Frieza and his father, King Cold. In contrast to the prolonged battle with him on Namek, Frieza barely gets to put up a fight before Trunks cuts him to pieces and vaporizes him. After Cold talks him into handing him his sword, Trunks effortlessly blocks the blade and kills him with a single ki blast through the chest.
      • Then when he goes back to his time after training with the Z Fighters, Future Trunks hunts down Androids #17 and #18 and just easily picks them apart, laughing off everything they throw at him. Then Cell runs into him while looking for the androids and Trunks kicks the alien monster around like a football before frying him. Trunks even toys with them to show off how outmatched they are.
    Cell: "He's just sitting there DARING me to attack!"
    • When Super Saiyan 2 Gohan fights Perfect Cell, Gohan only lands two punches and a Kamehameha on Cell, but they're so insanely damaging that they force him to regurgitate Android 18 and lose his Perfect Form.
    • Majin Buu makes quick work of everyone he fights immediately after getting released from his pod.
      • He turns Dabura into a cookie and eats him.
      • Gohan gets momentarily knocked out by Buu in a single hit. The Supreme Kai can only stall for a time before Buu cripples him, and when Gohan tries to help (in full Super Saiyan 2 form), Buu unleashes an energy wave that engulfs Gohan completely, eliciting a piercing scream from him and depleting his life force so much that Vegeta, Piccolo, and Goku all assume that he had been killed.
      • Finally, he effortlessly demolishes Vegeta and forces him into blowing himself up in a last-ditch attempt to kill him, which fails miserably.
    • Immediately after being released, Evil Buu makes quick work of Fat Buu and even turns him into chocolate with his own attack.
    • Gohan turns Super Buu into his punching bag thanks to the power-up he got from Old Kai. Then Super Buu returns the favor after absorbing Gotenks and Piccolo.
    • Pan effortlessly demolishes the much older and more experienced Wild Tiger in the epilogue.
  • Cute Bruiser:
    • Gohan is a fighter who have been pitted against the likes of the Saiyans and Frieza since he was only five years old and kicked a lot butt doing it, especially when he reaches his Rage Breaking Point. He destroys Super Perfect Cell at the age of eleven (nine in the manga).
    • Goten and Trunks. They maybe children, but they are stronger than Frieza and are able to fused together to create Gotenks, a being so powerful that he overwhelms Super Buu.
    • Despite being a short teenage girl, Videl is incredibly strong and fights crime with only her fists and her reflexes to aid her. She has a juggernaut fighting style of overwhelming her foe with punches and kicks.
    • In the epilogue, the 4-year-old Pan faces Wild Tiger in the World Tournament who she effortlessly overpowers with a punch and a kick that slam him out of the ring.
  • Cute Is Evil: Subverted by Majin Buu. He's initially introduced as a childlike pink puffball whose innocent features lead to being underestimated, but is actually a powerful horror that destroys worlds and slaughters people. However, it's revealed that he just doesn't know any better. Once he's out from under Babidi's thumb, Hercule convinces him to stop killing people as simply as telling him that it's wrong. He does have other, more sinister forms he takes over the course of the arc, but they aren't as cute.

     D 
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The Kaioken increases the user's power but at an immense physical toll on their body that could potentially kill them. King Kai forbids Goku from going above Kaioken x3, but he pushes it to x4 in his fight with Vegeta out of desperation. By the time he fights Frieza, he's become comfortable with Kaioken x10 and even manages to push himself to x20 for a single attack.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Dragon Ball Z wants you to know it's darker and edgier than its predecessor, doing so by killing someone off on-screen in the first six minutes. While it was only a farmer who's been shown for about two minutes, it's far earlier than the first on-screen death in Dragon Ball (a random store owner during the Red Ribbon Army arc). And the dark tone increases further as each of the main arcs (Saiyan, Frieza, Androids, Cell, Majin Buu) pass.
    • The TV special "Bardock: Father of Goku" revolves around the genocide of the Saiyan race. It's about the last days of a man Doomed by Canon who makes a desperate last stand against the tyrannical Frieza and fails entirely.
    • Future Trunks's timeline as shown in the anime TV special "History of Trunks" and the manga chapter "Trunks the History - The Lone Warrior" takes place in a world where nearly all of Earth's defenders have died, the world is under siege by insurmountably powerful androids, and the only hope is to go back in time and prevent it all from happening in the first place.
  • Darkest Hour: During the "Freeza Saga", just when it seemed Goku beat Freeza with the spirit bomb, the latter shows up with only a few scratches and burns and proceeds to axe off our heroes one by one, starting with a shot through Piccolo's chest, then exploding Krillin before Goku's eyes. If it wasn't for Goku's Super Saiyan transformation, things could have ended on a much bleaker note.
  • Dead-Hand Shot: As Vegeta draws his final breath on Namek, his tear-blurred vision fades from his point of view, and we next see a close-up of his gloved hand falling onto the ground, followed by a shot of his body shivering with his eyes closed before becoming still and lifeless, followed by a gust of wind blowing on his body.
  • Deader Than Dead:
    • Android 16 isn't revived with the other victims murdered by Cell since he was never really alive to begin with since he's completely mechanical android, unlike Android 8 who is a human who was brought back to life as an android. In theory, 16 could have been restored on a separate wish, but none of the characters do this and since Android 16 has no soul, there is no afterlife for him. The moment Cell crushes his head, he ceases to exist.
    • This is the fate the personality known as Super Buu suffers. The moment Vegeta frees Fat Buu from Super Buu's body, his personality is erased as Kid Buu returns.
    • Discussed during the Majin Buu arc. If a character is killed and they are already dead, then they are wiped from all existence. This is part of the reason why Goku didn't want Vegeta (who was dead at the time) fighting Kid Buu.
  • Deal with the Devil: Vegeta allowing himself to be possessed by Babidi. Babidi grants him a power-up in exchange for servitude, which turns him evil in the process. Unfortunately for Babidi, becoming evil again is part of what Vegeta wanted (as it would allow him to be unfettered by emotions) and he's able to resist Babidi's commands through force of will anyway, so he's able to have his cake and eat it. note 
  • Death by Gluttony: Yakon, a member of a race who eats light, gorges himself on so much of Goku's power he explodes.
  • Death Is Cheap: The Earth's Dragon Balls make it possible to use a wish to resurrect any one person who has died for reasons other than natural causes, or for the mass resurrection of any number of people who died within the last year under a shared criterianote . The only catch is the Earth Dragon Balls can't revive someone who has already died before. The Namekian Dragon Balls grant three wishes but can't do mass resurrections until they're reconfigured in the Buu arc. However, they can be used to revive people multiple times.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Dragon Ball may have set the standards for modern shonens, but it doesn't shy away from deconstruction its own tropes:
    • Goku alone deconstructs several tropes:
      • From the Android Saga onward, he becomes one for The Ace and the Hope Bringer. Because he is so good and so powerful his friends and family tend to depend on him too much to solve the current problem and they don't put their trust readily in anyone else but him. They become noticeably deflated and pessimistic when he isn't around, and Gohan firmly believes that he can never surpass his father, despite Goku showing him otherwise. Goku's death in Trunks' timeline is one of the many reasons why things got so bad and Bulma invents the Time Machine mostly to save him, firmly believing that he can do something to stop the androids. Vegeta eventually gets so sick of being overshadowed by Goku that he sells his soul for power and unleashes Majin Buu upon the world. Goku himself has realized that his loved ones are far too dependent on him; he knows that one day, he will be dead for good, and if his loved ones don't stop relying on him so much, then no one will be able to counter the next big threat to Earth. Which is why Goku regularly searches for successors.
      • The end of the Kid Buu fight deconstructs Humble Hero. Because Goku always save the world from the shadows no one, outside a few, know of his deeds. So when Goku begs the world for energy to power the Spirit Bomb that will kill Majin Buu, only the people who intimately knows him listened. Everyone else blows him off like Vegeta. It takes Mr. Satan, the resident Fake Ultimate Hero, to yell at the people of Earth before they're willing to help since Mr. Satan, not Goku, is known as the world's savior.
      • He also deconstructs Helping Would Be Killstealing during the Buu Saga. By his own admission, he could have killed the fat Majin Buu at Super Saiyan 3, but deliberately chose not to because he wanted the younger generation to handle it, especially since he was dead at the time and only had a one-day pass back to Earth, so his friends could no longer depend on him to protect them all the time. As a result, Majin Buu eventually becomes Super Buu and wipes out most of the human race.
    • Vegeta has several of his own deconstructions:
      • He deconstructs the tropes The Rival, Overshadowed by Awesome, and The Proud Elite. Because he was born and raise that he was always the best and is the Prince of all Saiyans, he loses it when Goku surpasses him, especially since Goku is a lower class soldier and should be a nobody. It causes him to develop a severe Inferiority Superiority Complex where he always trying to prove himself by fighting strong opponents, which allow Androids 16, 17, and 18 to be awakening and for Cell to reach his perfect state. It reaches a head in the Buu Saga where his obsession in surpassing Goku becomes so great that he sells his soul to Babidi for power and unleashes Majin Buu onto the world, who kills everyone on Earth except for Goku, Mr. Satan, Dende, and Bee, and destroys several other planets before his rampage is stopped. It is only by accepting that Goku is simply better than him that he finally begins to recover and becomes a happier person in the process.
      • He also deconstructs Training from Hell. Vegeta trains harder and more frantically than Goku. He often hurt himself and actually comes close to killing himself on several occasions. And yet, he is still remains weaker than Goku and the power gap between them grows despite his best efforts. He only begins to catch up again after training with Whis, who tells Vegeta that his biggest shortcoming is that he trains too hard and doesn't give his body time to relax like Goku and his training is learning when to take a break.
    • Frieza deconstructs Determinator, World's Strongest Man, and Hard Work Hardly Works. In the case of the former, while his will to live and refusal to give up is certainly impressive, it's also presented as his Fatal Flaw, as his inability to swallow his pride and Know When to Fold 'Em not only leads to his downfall on Namek, but also his death, both times.
    • Babidi shows why being a Bad Boss who is prone to You Have Outlived Your Usefulness is a detriment in the long run. He ruthlessly kills Spopovich and Yamu when they exceeded his expectations and allowed Buu to eat his loyal Dragon Dabura, despite his warnings that Buu would turn on him and begs him to reseal him. When Buu did turn against him, he had no one left to protect him.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable:
    • Many of the major villains are built up to be insurmountable powerhouses before they're fought:
      • The Saiyans are built up to be nearly unstoppable with the weakest of them easily beating the strongest warriors on Earth. Nappa by himself wipes out half the cast without taking any major injury. After Nappa's killed, Vegeta becomes the bar to surpass and takes a heroic effort to defeat.
      • Frieza is feared by King Kai himself and even Vegeta has to swallow his pride when dealing with him. Both King Kai and Vegeta call Frieza unbeatable and say that the only way to have any chance against him is to become an immortal. Instead, it takes the legendary Super Saiyan to defeat Frieza.
      • Majin Buu, an Eldritch Abomination so fearsome that he killed the gods of the Dragon World and made the above mention Cell looked like a wimp even in his weakest form. Buu didn't just destroy planets, he destroyed galaxies and remained the strongest thing in existence for billions of years. He could also regenerate from vapors, making him nearly impossible to kill. It took the power of an entire planet to finally put an end to him.
    • Goku himself falls into this in the Androids/Cell Saga. Given all the androids Dr. Gero built, even turning himself into one, and the creation of Cell, he wants to create a monster that would completely surpass Goku and kill him. Seems Goku left a very strong impression when he destroyed the Red Ribbon Army. In either case, Cell achieves Gero's dream, both surpassing Goku in power and killing him, although that last part is voluntary on Goku's end.
  • Defeat Means Respect: Part of Vegeta's character arc revolves around being surpassed by Goku and accepting that Goku is the superior fighter. It takes a few arcs to get through his stubborn pride, but he finally comes to appreciate how much better Goku is while watching him fight Kid Buu as a Super Saiyan 3, a form he hadn't even realized could exist until he saw Goku achieve it.
    Vegeta: You're better than me, Kakarot. You're the best.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Played with in a filler episode when Chi-Chi threatens not to feed Goku and Piccolo if they don't get their driver's licenses.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Fans with some experience with Japanese may notice that the term "senzu bean" is redundant. Senzu means "holy bean."
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • After Frieza proves to be too powerful for Vegeta even after he had Krillin blast a hole through his chest to power him up, he completely loses the will to fight.
    • The Z-Fighters after they are soundly defeated by Androids 17 and 18. Vegeta can only fly off in anger, Tien declares the androids unbeatable and that there's no way even Goku can beat them, and Trunks can only mourn that the androids are even stronger. Only Piccolo resists the urge to give in to hopelessness and flies away to merge with Kami and gain the power to defeat them.
    • Gohan crosses the line after Goku has to sacrifice his life to save Earth because the former was too focused on sadistic catharsis to kill Cell right away. After Cell returns, he cripples his arm and is about to blow up the solar system. With only half of his power left, Gohan accepts that there is no hope for defeating Cell, and it's only Goku talking to him from the grave that brings him back to his senses.
  • Determinator:
    • Goku, being the hero, runs on willpower. He will keep fighting even if you break all his limbs, or bones for that matter, and heavily outclass him. He's such a determinator that his own heart restarted itself after he was beating to death by King Piccolo. He also takes a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Frieza for several episodes while using a Kaioken X20, charging a Spirit Bomb, and becoming a Super Saiyan that causes everyone else to faint their first time. His determinator status was deconstructed in the fight with Android 19 where he refuses to stop fighting although he knew something was wrong with his body. Vegeta of all people calls him out on this. When Goku did admit defeat to Cell and gracefully surrenders, everyone is shocked, even Cell.
    • Vegeta is one of the most standout examples. The guy can take a beating and still get up to fight, while trash talking the entire time. In the Saiyan Saga alone he was hit with a X4 Kaioken Kamehameha combo after getting the stuffing beating out of him with a Kaioken X3. Then, he gets hit head on with a Spirit Bomb that sent him soaring into the air for several minutes before landing. He still had enough energy to walk and nearly killed an unconscious Gohan before being slashed in the back by Yajirobe. He then fights Gohan who turned into a Great Ape, even cutting his tail, before Gohan landed on him, crushing him. Even then, he had enough strength to call his space pod and crawl into it. Krillin outright asked at one point if Vegeta was immortal. In the Android/Cell Saga he keeps fighting Android 18 even with a broken arm and Cell had to beat him into unconsciousness since Vegeta still wanted to fight despite the mass power different. Finally in the Buu Saga, he gets demolished by Kid Buu and still keeps getting back up to stall for time so Goku can power up as a Super Saiyan 3, which actually freaks Kid Buu out, and when that fails, he stalls for time again so Goku can complete the Spirit Bomb. When Vegeta does loses the will to fight, it is treated as a major OOC moment like when he gives up against Frieza once he realizes that he had no chance at winning even with his major power-up, apologizes to Gohan for screwing up against Super Perfect Cell, and loses the will to fight once he realizes that Broly is the Legendary Super Saiyan.
    • Frieza still wants to keep fighting Goku even after he becomes the Super Saiyan. Goku gives him multiple opportunities to quit the fight once it becomes apparent that Frieza is no longer a threat to him, but he keeps trying anyway. At the end of the fight, he's reduced to half a body and has to plead with Goku for energy to survive Namek's explosion, and he still uses that to try and attack Goku. Then, after the epic beatdown on Namek, he comes back for revenge immediately after being turned into a cyborg which costs him his life.
  • Deus Exit Machina:
    • Goku is frequently removed from the plot for the purpose of having the other characters handle things and keep him from ending the saga early:
      • He's still on his way back from the other world when Nappa and Vegeta attack. King Kai forgets to account for the time it takes to return to Earth, so the rest of Earth's defenders are forced to face Nappa without him.
      • He's still recovering from his injuries when Bulma, Krillin, and Gohan leave for Namek, so he has to come later. This results in Gohan, Krillin, and Vegeta having to face Frieza's forces on their own until he can get there.
      • Immediately after that, he's forced to heal from his ordeal with Ginyu's body switch maneuver, missing out on the early parts of the fight with Frieza.
      • He's stricken with his heart virus just as the Androids attack. Once he recovers from his virus, he can't fight for two days since he allows Vegeta and Trunks to used the Hyperbolic Time Chamber first. By the time he leave the chamber with Gohan, Cell has reached his perfect form.
      • Goku dying of his heart virus in Trunks' timeline is one of the major factors that causes the Bad Future. Trunks goes back in time mostly to save Goku as well as warn him about the androids.
      • Invoked during the Buu arc. Goku deliberately removes himself from the conflict with Majin Buu despite being powerful enough to kill him, because he wants Gotenks to handle it instead.
    • This trope is the entire reason why Vegito de-fuses once he enters Buu's guts. He outclasses him so much that the fight wouldn't have ANY tension whatsoever if Vegito finished it.
    • This is also the same reason why Gohan, Goten, and Trunks are killed by Buu when he destroys the Earth while they're still unconscious. Gohan or Gotenks could have help kill Kid Buu without using the Spirit Bomb. This is lampshaded by Goku who suggests bringing them to help them destroy Buu after they are revived, but Vegeta refuses because he wants the people of Earth to protect themselves for once.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?
    • Recoome literally gives Goku the finger when he hears that his power level is only five thousand. Granted, Recoome truly didn't know he was giving the bird to someone almost three times stronger than him, but it still counts.
    • After being healed by Dende, Krillin sticks his tongue out and pats his butt in front of Frieza after nearly hitting him with several Destructo Discs.
    • There's a title page in the manga that shows some of the heroes literally flipping off Cell.
    • The news reporter for the Cell Games gives Cell the finger while pulling his eyelid down.
    • Mr. Satan did this to both Cell and Buu. In both cases he had no idea who he was dealing with.
    • Despite Goku fighting evenly with Majin Buu (who up to this point had no equal), Babidi still felt brave enough to flip off Goku when he says that Buu was far too talented of a fighter to be controlled by someone like Babidi. In the Japanese text, he flips off Goku when he says that he will ask Yemma to really torture him in Hell.
    • In one of the last episodes, some bully gives Pan the bird. Even if she is a little girl, Pan could have broken that boy in half.
  • Die or Fly: When he first starts training the boy, Piccolo proves his immense power by picking Gohan up and throwing him at a plateau. Gohan is forced to unleash his incredible power and blast the plateau in order to land safely.
  • Dirty Coward: Cui trash-talks Vegeta on Namek but quickly changes his tune when he realizes Vegeta's powered up. He panics when Vegeta attacks him and tries to distract him by pretending Frieza's arrived before blasting him with a spam of beams. When this fails to kill Vegeta, he turns tail and tries to flee for his life only to be killed from behind.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Vegeta frequently responds excessively to sleights against him.
      • In Vegeta's first appearance, Goku makes him bleed a little. Vegeta responds by trying to blow up the entire planet.
      • In the Cell Saga, Vegeta punches Future Trunks in the stomach, simply because Future Trunks warned him to wait for Goku before he takes on the Androids.
      • At the end of the DBZ series, at the tournament when a guy heckles him, he punches him in the face hard enough for him to forfeit the match.
    • In the anime, Captain Ginyu kills several of Frieza's Mooks for shallow reasons while they're trying out for the Ginyu Force. In the English version, he kills Captain Strong because he is also a captain ("There's only one captain on the Ginyu Forces and that's me!", while in the Japanese he kills him because his first pose isn't good enough. He then kills another of Frieza's henchmen because he touched a Dragon Ball (which Ginyu forbade them to do), and does the same to the rest of the mooks trying out because they lack the style to be on the Ginyu Force.
    • Frieza kills his men for acting cowardly in front of him.
    • Dr. Gero's hatred towards Goku for destroying the Red Ribbon Army causes him to make a series of androids to destroy not only Goku, but every other living thing in the world. In both timelines, the androids are set them loose in South City to murder indiscriminately.
    • Played for laughs in the extra Future Trunks chapter after returning to his time following Perfect Cell's death. 17 nonchalantly watches 18 shooting rapid-fire ki blasts, destroying a huge portion of the city. The reason? She lost in a video game.
    • Majin Buu turns Chi-Chi into an egg because she annoyed him.
  • Distant Finale: 2 examples.
    • The episode "Free the Future", in which Future Trunks returns to his own time and takes out the Androids and Cell of that timeline.
    • The ending of Z was set 10 years after the Buu saga.
  • Divine Intervention:
    • As the fight between Goku and Frieza rages on, King Kai and Kami work together to revive the Namekians (and Vegeta) who were wiped out by Frieza and wish everyone to Earth before their planet explodes.
    • After Majin Buu reverts to his true form, he prepares to destroy the Earth with a powerful ball of energy. Before Goku and Vegeta can be killed in the blast, the Supreme Kai appears and grabs them to teleport them to his world. They manage to bring Dende and Hercule with them as well.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength:
    • Goku and Gohan inadvertently break things in some filler episodes.
    • In one of the manga chapters, Goku playfully flicks Chichi and accidentally sends her through a wall and into a tree.
    • The anime has a scene where Goten, while being trained by Chichi, turns Super Saiyan without realizing it and kicks her to the ground.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: At the end of the Buu arc, the universe is saved by everyone on Earth throwing their arms to the sky and praising, "Satan! Satan! Satan!" over and over. The joke becomes Lost in Translation in the edited English version, where the character's name is changed to Hercule. He is called Mr. Satan in the uncut English DVD, but the chant is changed to Champ.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu:
    • When Goku arrives on Namek, Recoome literally flips him off and overtly condescends to him. It doesn't take long for Goku to establish his superiority to the Ginyu Force.
    • Chi-Chi slaps Majin Buu, the scourge of the universe, in the face and gets turned into an egg and crushed in response.
  • Don't Explain the Joke:
    Ginyu: We're going to give you lots of love.
    Jeice: And by "love" he doesn't mean we'll pick you up and pat you on the head! We're gonna put a hurting on you!
    Ginyu: (Stage Whisper) You didn't have to explain it!
  • Doting Parent:
    • When Goku is alive, he heavily dotes on his sons.
    • Krillin and 18 towards their daughter, Marron.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Until he dies, Babidi always has someone under his control to act as his bodyguard. Stopping him is treated as an afterthought if the protagonists can just get past whoever he's controlling.
    • He starts with Dabura, a demon warrior as powerful as Cell. When the Supreme Kai recruits the Saiyans, he treats Dabura as the most significant threat in Babidi's stable. The plan to take down Babidi before he can awaken Buu is simple if they can just get past him.
    • Subverted by Majin Vegeta, who Babidi attempts to seize control of after awakening his power. Vegeta's willpower is too strong and he remains his own agent, enslaved to no one.
    • After Majin Buu awakens, Babidi tries to use him for his plans. Though he has Babidi ordering him around, Majin Buu is the true danger and everybody knows it. Babidi meets his end when Goku presents this point to Buu, who decides he's tired of Babidi's abuse.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • The people on Earth believe that Mr. Satan is the strongest man in the world and that he killed Cell. We know that isn't the case at all and chuckle when Videl talks about how Gohan couldn't beat her dad or when Mr. Satan's being dismissive of the former champion, Goku. During the tournament, Krillin wants to see this irony play out.
    • Through most of the Buu Saga most of the characters thought Gohan was dead. Therefore Goten and Trunks were the last line of defense against Buu. We the audience knew from the start that Gohan was hurt, but still alive and later training with the Supreme Kai.
  • The Dreaded: Due to the immense leaps in power and scale the characters make in every arc, there are a lot of characters who are presented as insurmountable forces of terror when first introduced.
    • The Saiyans for the first story arc of Z. The Earth's defenders spend a year preparing for them and still get destroyed.
    • During the Namek Saga, Vegeta is this to Krillin, Gohan, Bulma, and most of Frieza's men. None of the heroes are in his league until Goku arrives and none of Frieza's men except for a transformed Zarbon are a match for the Saiyan Prince. He's actively searching for the Dragon Balls and is just as ruthless about it as Frieza.
    • Frieza terrifies King Kai and makes even Vegeta humble. When he comes to Earth after his defeat to Goku, he has everyone shaking in terror as if the end of the world has come.
    • For Vegeta, it's the Ginyu Force. Just hearing that they would soon arrive on Namek makes him willing to team up with Gohan and Krillin.
    • Goku becomes this to Frieza upon his defeat. When Frieza comes to Earth looking for revenge, he has a classic case of PTSD at the mere thought of Goku. And even before his defeat, Frieza is deathly afraid of the legendary Super Saiyan.
    • To Future Trunks, the androids, specifically 17 and 18. They turned his world into hell and killed everyone he loves except for his mother.
    • Cell becomes this to the Earth after he starts making cities disappear and announcing the Cell Games. Even years after his death, he still terrifies the people of Earth.
    • Majin Buu, so fearsome that the gods themselves feared him. He also becomes this to the Earth after turning 80% of the population into candy.
    • Played With by Dabura. The Supreme Kai and Kibito are horrified when they learn Babidi had charmed Dabura, the King of the Demon World. Goku and Vegeta, however, don't think much of him since he's only as strong as Super Perfect Cell.
  • Drum Bathing: Goku commonly uses a metal drum as the default bathtub at his house.
  • Due to the Dead: When Vegeta dies tearfully begging Goku to avenge their race on Namek, Goku, out of sympathy, takes the time to give Vegeta a proper burial before fighting Frieza.
  • Dull Surprise: This tends to be Goku's default reaction to many surprising or horrifying events. While everyone fall into despair and shock when they realized how powerful Frieza is, Goku seemed more annoyed. With Future Trunks, he's more surprised that Vegeta has a son and his mother is Bulma than he is that Trunks is from the future and everyone dies to the androids. He doesn't even blink when he hears that Trunks is a Super Saiyan, only congratulating him for reaching it in such a young age. Upon emerging from the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, he takes the news that Cell is still alive and now perfect in stride. When Cell regenerates from having his entire upper body blown off by his Warp Kamehameha, his basic reaction was, 'figures'. Even Super Buu absorbing Gohan and becoming stronger than ever only provokes annoyance from him. It's not until something really bad or unexpected happens that Goku shows more reaction to something.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: Both played straight and satirized.
    • Powerful characters, such as the Z-Fighters, often pull off the pose in true dramatic fashion.
    • Comedic characters such as Mr. Satan/Hercule, Captain Ginyu, and the Great Saiyaman all do this in a satirical, over-the-top manner as well.

     E 
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Thanks to the Spoiler Opening of the Ocean dub the North America audiences got glimpses of Super Saiyan Goku and Vegeta and Trunks who wouldn't appear until many, many episodes later. Cyborg Frieza is also briefly seen.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After so many Bittersweet Endings and so many deaths, including the destruction of Earth, everyone lives after the Buu Saga, after dying at least once (except the rare few who don't die, which includes Mr. Satan of all people).
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom:
    • In the backstory, Frieza destroys Planet Vegeta with a large energy sphere.
    • In a filler episode of the anime, Vegeta blows up Planet Arlia with a ki blast from his fingers.
    • Frieza destabilizes Planet Namek's core with an energy sphere similar to the one that destroyed Vegeta. The effect is delayed, but the end of Goku and Frieza's battle is ultimately punctuated by the planet's explosion.
    • Upon emerging from Super Buu, Kid Buu's first act is to blow up the planet Earth. The anime proceeds to have Buu travel the universe blowing up several other planets before Goku and Vegeta can lure him to the Supreme Kai's world.
  • Easily Conquered World
    • It is initially believe that Goku was sent to Earth as a baby with the full expectation that he would conquer and depopulate that entire planet by himself, although this turns out to be a mistake since Goku is sent to Earth to protect him from Frieza. Still, this is what the Saiyans apparently do for all their children (or according to Vegeta, only the weaker ones), and given how many there were before Freeza killed most of them they were very successful.
    • Planet Namek is taken without much effort by Frieza's forces. While its elite fighters far outpace the Earth's strongest warriors at the start of the series (and, indeed, manage to hold off Frieza's basic mooks), all it takes is Dodoria to take them all down easily. The only Namekian who could really put up a fight against Frieza's forces is Nail, who is forced to spend his time guarding the Grand Elder (far away from the rest of the action), and who has the misfortune of facing Frieza himself (who swiftly takes Nail down).
    • In Trunks' timeline the androids all but take over the world once all the Z Fighters, except Gohan and Trunks, are dead, which they did with ease since Goku had died months before of a heart virus.
    • Even as far down as the Buu Saga, Earth falls quickly once Buu is released, only surviving as long as they do because Goku promises Buu someone to fight in three days. All the remaining Earth's fighters stand no chance against Buu and Goku is dead so he isn't supposed to interfere. Buu eventually does wipe out (almost) all life on the planet with a single attack.
  • Easily Forgiven: Goku, along with almost of his friends, are very forgiving towards their comrades who were once mass-murderers and conquerors.
    • Piccolo becomes an honorary member of the Z-Fighters after he gives his life protecting Gohan. This is despite him wanting to take over the world, trying to kill Goku, and being the reborn Demon King who mercilessly slaughtered millions of people.
    • Vegeta is tolerated by most despite him overseeing the murder of half the cast, slaughtering a Namekian village who was never wished back and merrily gloating about it, murdering countless planets full of people while working under Frieza, and selling his soul to Babidi for power before coldly killing thousands of people to provoke Goku into a fight.
    • Fat Buu is forgiven since he was mostly manipulated into doing evil. Still, Buu did kill 80% of the Earth's population, indirectly murders Vegeta who tries to suicide attack him, and murdered billions of others before being sealed on Earth.
  • Eating the Enemy: Majin Buu resorts to devouring his foes a lot.
    • In the backstory, he defeated both the North and Grand Supreme Kai by enveloping them with his substance and pulling them into his body, devouring them and adding their power to his own.
    • He uses his Chocolate Beam to transform Dabura into a cookie, which he proceeds to eat.
    • He absorbs Gotenks in the same fashion to gain the power to defeat Gohan.
    • He absorbs Gohan to prevent Goku from fusing with him.
    • Defied by Vegito who, after being turned into candy, retains his will and power and proceeds to smack Buu around before Buu reverses it. He later succeeds in using his absorption to consume Vegito, but doesn't realize until it's too late that it's exactly what Vegito wanted him to do.
  • Eat Me: Vegito tricks Super Buu and allows himself to be absorbed so that he can rescue the others who are trapped inside of Buu.
  • Egopolis:
    • Satan City is named after Mr. Satan following his courageous defeat of Cell. He's not actually in charge, but he does have a large influence.
    • Also deserving of mention is Planet Vegeta, which was renamed after the royal line of the Saiyans' kingnote  after they defeated the Tuffles.
  • Egocentric Team Naming: The Ginyu Force, named after Captain Ginyu.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Majin Buu is an immortal, and almost indestructible creature of magic with a body that can take any shape and the ability to alter matter (for example, he can turn people into food). He can also absorb people for their power and abilities.
    • Janemba, the villain of the movie Fusion Reborn, is a being made of the concentrated evil of billions of souls that have been cleansed in Hell. His presence transforms Hell into an incredibly weird landscape and allows the dead to resurrect.
    • The Big Gete Star in the movie Cooler's Return. An absolutely enormous machine that engulfs entire planets and drains life energy fuel itself. It also apparently assimilates living things into itself, as it did with Cooler. The strangest thing about it is that there is zero explanation as to where it came from or who built it.
  • Eldritch Location: The inside of Majin Buu is a strange place that defies logic or explanation. This is especially true in the anime where it's an entire world filled with life and Goku and Vegeta get attacked by dream versions of their loved ones who had previously been absorbed.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower
    • Goku becoming a Super Saiyan. Vegeta and Krillin are dead, Piccolo is critically injured, and the Spirit Bomb that was supposed to have killed Frieza has failed. If Goku hadn't turned Super, the fight would've been over.
    • Gohan going Super Saiyan 2 against Cell. As the Cell Jrs. are slaughtering the protagonists, Android 16's severed head convinces Gohan that it's okay to fight. Gohan lets his power all out at once and transforms into this new form. He single-handily kills all the Cell Jrs and kicks Cell around like he's nothing. The battle would have ended in minutes if Gohan didn't chose to torture Cell.
    • The fusion between Goku and Vegeta. Without it, Buu would have been unstoppable after he absorbed Gohan, Gotenks, and Piccolo.
  • Enemy Mine: Just about all the villains who eventually switched sides.
    • Piccolo started out as the reborn Demon King who wanted to kill Goku so he can take over the world. Then Raditz comes, and he's forced to team up with Goku to stop him since the Saiyans want to wipe out the entire planet and Piccolo can't rule a planet of corpses. He also team up with the other Z-Fighters to fight Nappa and Vegeta.
    • Vegeta is the Saiyan Prince who oversaw the murder of the Yamcha, Chiaotzu, Tien, and Piccolo, and badly injured Goku back on Earth. He also viciously murdered an entire village of Namekian in his search for the Dragon Balls, and wants to wish for immortality so he can kill Frieza and take his place as ruler of the universe. Gohan and Krillin do everything within their power to stop him…until Frieza calls the Ginyu Force. The second Vegeta realized that Ginyu is coming he formed a tense alliance with the Earthling. After that, they never really became enemies again.
    • This trope is invoked by Krillin who wants to fight the androids so Piccolo and Vegeta would have a common enemy and keep them from doing terrible things like destroying the planet.
    • Androids 16, 17, and 18 team up with Piccolo to fight Cell after he finds them during their battle. Piccolo and 17 even formed a Worthy Opponent relationship. Even Trunks defends 18 instead of destroying her when Cell tries to absorb her.
  • Emotional Bruiser: Despite growing to be bigger than his dad, who is anime poster boy for Heroic Build, Gohan remains as emotional as ever. Unlike as a child, his softer side is painted in a much more positive light.
  • Emotional Powers: Anyone with Saiyan blood has the potential to reach new levels of strength if sufficiently enraged, such as becoming Super Saiyan. Gohan specifically become sufficiently stronger when he's enrage since his hidden power is released when he is emotional. He only learns to control this power after becoming a Super Saiyan 2 and later when Old Kai unlocks all his hidden power.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Any professional martial artist or fighter who trains to use ki can become one, much like most of the Z-Fighters. Videl is one of the best examples since she is a Badass Normal capable of taking down thugs much bigger and physically stronger than her. Then she learns how to fly from Gohan.
  • Endless Daytime: the planet Namek had multiple suns shining on it from all sides, keeping it in perpetual daylight.
  • Enraged by Idiocy: Vegeta is this throughout the whole series. He has spent most of his life dealing with Nappa, and gets extremely pissed at him for being an idiot in his fight against Kakarot (to the extent that he murders him in cold blood for being an embarrassment), and then constantly expresses anger at the perceived stupidity of most of the other Z Fighters (while ironically allowing the Android/Cell situation to escalate to a point where Cell manages to kill Goku).
  • Escort Distraction:
  • Dragon Ball Z: When Super Buu arrives unexpectedly early for the match he had been promised, Piccolo eventually gives in to his demands and guides him on his way to the location of the Room of Spirit and Time/Hyperbolic Time Chamber. This is to actually stall him in order to give Goten and Trunks as much time as possible to prepare for their eventual confrontation.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Raditz catches a bullet and flicks it to kill a farmer.
    • Vegeta eats one of the inhabitants of the a world he's conquered, and dismisses reviving Raditz because he's a weakling and an idiot.
    • Nappa gleefully destroys a city by just raising two fingers.
    • Frieza in his first appearance features him ordering his men to murder every Namekian in a village. Even after getting the Dragon Ball he's after, he still slaughters the remaining inhabitants.
    • The Ginyu Force arrive with a flamboyant display of poses. Despite the inherent ridiculousness of their concept, they're still greeted with great respect by Frieza.
    • Trunks owns Frieza's entire army by himself, turns Super Saiyan, and slices Frieza into pieces before vaporizing him. He wastes no time killing the galactic tyrant and his henchmen, clearly demonstrating his no-nonsense approach to protecting the Earth.
    • Cell drags a businessman who is crying and pleading for his life out into the street so that he can suck the life out of him in front of Piccolo, as if to boast of his horrible deeds.
    • Each form of Buu has a different introduction that tells you about their character:
      • Fat Buu dances around like a goofball before goring Dabura in the eyes and punching him into a mountain.
      • Super Buu, upon his birth, turns into liquid and flies into someone's mouth and expands them until they exploded.
      • Immediately after congealing into his form, Kid Buu blows up the Earth with a huge grin on his face. No playing around, no eagerly wanting to fight strong opponents, no real sense of desire or want of any kind beyond the absolutely destruction he unleashes.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Goku particularly have a lot of evil counterparts.
      • His to his older brother, Raditz. They both love to fight and were born on the low end of the power scale of Saiyan society. Goku is brave (not afraid of death) and chose to grow stronger instead of choosing to stay as a "low class". Raditz is a coward who begs for his life when he's about to be killed and remained weak because he hid behind people much stronger than him instead of trying to improve his own skill.
      • Vegeta, initially started out as this to Goku. They are both Saiyans who love to fight and challenge themselves. The difference is that Goku values life and fights to protect those he loves, while Vegeta couldn't have cared less about anyone but himself. Vegeta eventually learns to value others and to accept and return love.
      • Majin Buu, all forms, to Goku. They love fighting and food above all else, learn techniques from just seeing them once, are man children who are smarter than people give them credit for, can be playful and goofy while beating on someone, and are consider to be the most powerful and dangerous beings in the universe. Buu (at least in the cases of Super/Kid Buu) is an entity who doesn't care about anything besides itself and destroys and kills for fun.
    • Cell is an eviler counterpart to Vegeta. Both love to fight and challenge themselves in battle. They are also both extremely arrogant and believe that there's nothing stronger than them and will throw a fit if that belief is proven incorrect. Their pride and arrogance becomes their undoing, first with Vegeta for letting Cell reach his perfect form for the sake of the challenge and Cell pushing Gohan over the edge so he could become powerful enough to challenge him. The difference, Vegeta eventually learns the value of life, family, and does becomes a good person. Cell remained a Jerkass to the bitter end.
    • Cell is also the Evil Counterpart to whomever he's facing. In his Imperfect form, he battled Piccolo - like Piccolo, Imperfect Cell is canny and calculating, preferring to retreat or abuse cheap tactics when the fight goes against him. His Semi-Perfect form contrasts Vegeta as mentioned above, and is also the loudest and crudest of the Cell forms, and the quickest to lose his temper. His Perfect form is a contrast to Goku - like Goku, he is laid-back and uncaring, and prefers to give his opponents a sporting chance whenever possible. When he returns as Super Perfect Cell, he becomes like Gohan's Super Saiyan 2 form - a mad berserker who seeks only to destroy everything and takes pleasure in every bit of pain.
    • Evil/Kid Buu to Fat Buu after he makes his Heel–Face Turn. They are both the evil that lies within Fat Buu. They also inherit most of his power since Buu is originally an evil, chaotic being who became tame and weaken by absorbing the Kais.
  • Evil Duo: Android 17 tends to be impulsive and prone to wild decisions while Android 18 is serious and aloof.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: A running theme with the names in Frieza's family: Lord Frieza/Freeza, King Cold, their ancestor Chilled...
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • After all of Frieza's victims have been resurrected, Vegeta takes an opportunity to gloat about the one village that won't be coming back because they were slaughtered by him instead of Frieza's men. He achieves nothing by doing it except to let everyone know how much of a bastard he is.
    • Frieza even upon his death. Near the end of the Buu arc, Everyone in the universe were witnessing the battle between Goku and Kid Buu, including past defeated antagonists in the Hell Realm. Frieza was yelling for Goku to get beaten bad by Kid Buu out of spite for ruining his ambitions of universal takeover, even ending with blowing a raspberry at the viewing orb. He knew that if Kid Buu wins, it would be the end of the universe as they all know it, but Frieza doesn't care, saying that it's better off destroyed if he can't rule it.
  • Evil Laugh: Frieza, Garlic Jr., and Kid Buu each have a pronounced, sinister laugh.
  • Evil Overlord:
    • Frieza rules over multiple planets as leader of the Galactic Trade Organization. His own minions refer to him as the Emperor of Evil.
    • Invoked by Babidi as a character motivation. Babidi intends to use Majin Buu to cement his rulership over the universe. He inherited this desire from his father, Bibidi.
  • Evil vs. Evil:
    • Vegeta and Nappa, two murderous Blood Knights, depose an Evil Overlord on the planet of Arlia after he made the mistake of locking them both up. The people think they've been saved from an evil tyrant, only for Vegeta to remind them that he's a villain as well when he blows up the planet for shits and giggles.
    • In "Bardock: The Father of Goku", Bardock is a murderous Saiyan who's first seen wiping out a planet as his kind do. He remains a genocidal warrior throughout the special even as he opposes Frieza, who intends to destroy Planet Vegeta and wipe out Bardock's species.
    • Vegeta is a Villain Protagonist on Namek. He and Nappa massacred Earth's heroes less than a month ago and he kills an entire village of innocent Namekians, but he still has the best chance of holding off Freeza's side until Goku gets there.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Super Buu's Human Extinction Attack does exactly what it says. It's an attack that seeks out and exterminates every living human on the planet.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: A common theme in the series: never trust someone's outward appearance.
    • Frieza's final and true form. During their first encounter (at least in the manga) Goku comments that Freeza looks younger than he expected. Krillin also has the same reaction.
    • Vegeta isn't impressed by Cell's Perfect Form, seeing it as smaller and less intimidating than his Semi-Perfect Form.
    • Everyone, except for the Supreme Kai's, reactions to Fat Buu. Goku outright says that they never expected someone so dumb looking to be so powerful.
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy:
    • Justified when Vegeta goes into detail about how Saiyans can become Great Apes at the sight of a full moon and how certain elite Saiyans like himself have been trained to create artificial moons if the natural one is missing. He assumes Goku knows most of this information since he's a Saiyan himself.
    • Frieza explains to Vegeta, Gohan, Krillin, and Piccolo how his transformations work, namely how his different forms are Power Limiters and not enhancements. He also tells Goku how much of his power he's currently using. Given how overwhelmingly powerful he is, it makes little difference.
    • Cell has a really bad habit of this. After thinking he has Piccolo at his mercy since he disabled his arm, he goes into detail about who he is, how he has the ability of several past characters, and his end goal. Piccolo promptly thanks him for the information before regrowing his arm and trying to kill him.
    • Gohan has proven that Cell is no match for him as a Super Saiyan 2. After a brutal beat down in which Cell loses his Perfect Form, Cell decides it is best to cut his losses and self-destruct himself and take the planet with him. The process takes about 60 seconds, in which time Cell explains exactly what he is doing and helpfully adds that attacking him will make him explode faster. This gives Goku enough time to figure out what to do with Cell and even say a few goodbyes before teleporting Cell and himself off planet.
  • Exploited Immunity: Defied twice against Frieza.
    • After Goku becomes a Super Saiyan and starts to overwhelm Frieza, he tries to blow up Namek, correctly guessing that even a mighty Super Saiyan still needed to breath while he can survive in space. His blast hits the core, but it's too weak. Goku is able to defeat Frieza and escape the planet before it explodes.
    • Frieza tries this again against Trunks after all his previous attacks failed. Unlike Goku, Trunks catches Frieza's Death Ball.
  • Eureka Moment: Vegeta gets one during the final battle against Buu. When Goku doesn't have the energy to push the Spirit Bomb to destroy Buu, Vegeta tries to get Mr. Satan to talk the people of Earth into giving more energy, and Mr. Satan refuses, because it would probably kill them (as they had already donated their energy to form the Spirit Bomb in the first place). Vegeta angrily points out that if it wasn't for his plan to use the Namekian Dragon Balls to wish back Earth and its people, they'd all still be dead... and then Vegeta realizes that they still have a wish left, which they use to restore Goku's energy.
  • Eye Color Change: A Saiyan's eyes turn green when he turns Super Saiyan (although it's easily missable, since the other effect of the transformation is much more visible).
  • Eye Scream:
    • Vegeta is hit by a blast to his right eye as an ape.
    • Majin Buu finger jabs Dabura in the eyes after Dabura says that he has no brains or power, and has a stupid face.
    • An Eye Poke that's decidedly not Played for Laughs is given to Majin Vegeta by Majin Buu.

     F 
  • Face Palm Of Doom: Goku does the top of the head variation during his fight with Kid Buu. He combines it with a ki attack that goes right through the Planet of the Kais.
  • Face Realization: Vegeta was a murderous, egotistical, power hungry bastard, but after settling down on Earth, getting married, and raising a family, he found it hard to go back to his more villainous (and in his opinion more powerful) self. He had to cut a deal with a evil wizard to make himself evil again, and even then, he was still too good. It finally sinks in that he is no longer the villain he used to be when, after asking the Namek Dragon to restore every person on Earth who was killed by Majin Buu except for the evil ones, he is brought back to life along with them. Goku hangs a major lampshade on this, declaring that Vegeta is now a good guy. Vegeta is equally shocked by this.
  • Fakeout Escape: Vegeta is imprisoned inside a healing tank on Frieza's ship. When he breaks out of the healing tank, it alerts the guards. So he blasts a hole through the wall to them think he has escaped the ship; while Frieza's henchmen are searching for him outside the ship, he takes the opportunity to go steal the Dragon Balls and then escape.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Before his Heel–Face Turn, Piccolo has a low opinion of humans, seeing them as things to conquer or kill. Even after turning good, he still calls humans fragile and weak. He drops this trait after merging with Kami.
    • Freeza exterminates the "Saiyan-monkeys" out of fear. He considers them so inferior that he sees being beaten by a Saiyan the same as being defeated by an actual monkey, which is another reason why he breaks down when Goku defeats him.
  • Fantastic Slur: Calling a Saiyan a monkey or an ape is a derogatory term often used by Frieza and his men.
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Vegito gets absorbed by Buu, defuses, and Goku and Vegeta look around Buu's insides for Gohan, Piccolo and Gotenks (now defused as Goten and Trunks). They also find the Fat Buu.
  • Fat Bastard: Overweight villains tend to be depicted as sinister but less competent than his peers. Where there is a rotund villain, he is usually the first to try.note 
    • Dodoria is the first of Frieza's elite henchmen to be fought on Namek. He's depicted as grotesquely obese, dim-witted, and is the weakest of the set but no less vicious than the rest.
    • Guldo of the Ginyu Force is short, tubby, and like Dodoria, he's the weakest of the Ginyus and seems to have a lot to prove.
    • Android 19 is a round and merciless robot who eagerly participates in the destruction of a city and tries to murder the protagonists.
    • Inverted by Fat Buu who, despite his obesity and initially hostile demeanor, is actually the nicest and most well-meaning form of Majin Buu to the point that he's redeemed as simply as asking him to stop killing people and eventually makes a Heel–Face Turn to fight his smaller, more sinister forms.note 
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Goku's fatal flaw is his mercy. He is unwilling to kill even the most evilest person. This works out most of the time with characters like Piccolo and even Vegeta, eventually. However, villains like Raditz and Frieza proves to be unrepentant and cost Goku dearly when he tries to spare them. He seems to learn from this and never offers mercy to the likes of Cell or Buu.
    • Vegeta's biggest flaw is his pride. It is literally the driving force of his entire character until the end of the series. A major part of his character development is accepting and making peace with the fact that Goku is simply the better fighter. His pride is also the cause of the major conflicts in the Cell and Buu Sagas.
    • Frieza's pride is also his biggest flaw. He destroys himself both physically and mentally because he cannot accept that he was defeated by what he saw as an overgrown monkey.
    • Cell, like Vegeta and Frieza above, is driven to ruin because he believes he is perfect. He provokes Gohan to get angry because he wants a better fight, never once considering that Gohan may become stronger than him.
  • Faux Affably Evil:
    • Frieza embodies this trope. He may act sensible and polite when things are going his way. But the moment he gets angry and he doesn't get what he wants, he drops all his politeness and is quite temperamental. He becomes an outright Blood Knight as he taps more into his true power.
    • Cell, which makes sense since he does have Frieza's cells within him. He acts polite and sportsman like after he becomes perfect, even suggesting Goku eat a Senzu Bean so they can keep fighting. The moment he starts losing, he throws a fit and attempts to Rage Quit. After he returns as Super Perfect Cell, any form of politeness is gone.
  • Fearless Fool:
    • Videl tries to charge against Spopovich and Yamu when they've already incapacitated Gohan, a warrior significantly more capable than her.
    • Gotenks. When he's first born, the first thing he tries to do is rush into battle with Majin Buu without thinking of the consequences. He ends up getting himself beaten to a pulp.
    • Chi-Chi walks up to Majin Buu, the scourge of the universe, and slaps him in the face for killing Gohan. She gets turned into an egg and killed as a response.
  • Fighting Series: For most of the series, the plot conspires simply to bring characters together and have them duke it out.
  • Filler: DBZ is one of the most notorious for this by stretching out battles because the manga hadn't concluded them yet. And we mean stretching them out. An example is the Frieza Saga. There's Namek's Destruction. Five minutes to go, Frieza says. Five Episodes later - "...Two more minutes!..." Two Episodes later - "Only one minute to go!...". Two more episodes later — Frieza's defeated. One episode later — Finally the planet goes Kaboom...and Goku escapes. Ten Full Episodes. Interestingly, despite stretching out fights, unlike most modern anime there's only one filler arc, the Garlic Jr. Saga.
  • Final Battle: The final battle of the series is Goku and Vegeta vs. Kid Buu in other world. Goku wins by gathering all of the people's energy from Earth to form the Spirit Bomb.
  • Final First Hug: Realizing that he's going to have to blow himself up to try and stop Majin Buu, Vegeta gives a heartbreaking farewell to his son Trunks.
    Vegeta: Trunks... Papa has not hugged you once... not since you were born. Please let Papa hug you.
  • Final Boss: Kid Buu is the final villain to be beaten.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The overreaching theme of the series. People who were once hated enemies or fierce rivals can eventually becomes friends through trials, hardships, and working towards a common goal. Best seen with Vegeta and Piccolo.
  • Flaw Exploitation: The Fatal Flaws in almost all the heroes and villains are their pride and their need for a good battle:
    • In the original dub, Frieza gets Goku to allow him to power-up to his maximum strength by telling Goku that as a Saiyan he should want to see the power of the strongest in the universe. Goku takes the bait, wanting to fight Frieza at his best for fun and to show the tyrant that he never had a chance at winning even with all his power. Goku proves his point.
    • Cell exploits Vegeta's pride by appealing to his desire to fight the most powerful opponent possible. This leads to Vegeta allowing Cell to absorb Android 18 in order to achieve his "perfect" form instead of just killing him when he had the chance; on top of it all, Vegeta knew that's what Cell was doing, but let him do so anyway. Perfect Cell proceeds to trounce him completely, even mocking Vegeta for being stupid enough to help him.
    • Which makes it ironic that Goku did the exact same thing to Cell. He knows if Gohan loses his temper his power will surpass Cell. Gohan even warns Cell this will happen. Cell, assure of his power and wanting a great challenge, goes out of his way to provoke Gohan to lose his temper. After crushing Android 16's head he gets exactly what he wanted. And promptly gets his ass beat.
    • Super Buu uses Trunks and Goten's arrogance and pride to trick them into fusing into Gotenks instead of letting Gohan finish him off. Once they fuse, Buu promptly absorbs Gotenks and Piccolo, becoming stronger and smarter.
    • Later, Vegito beats up on Buu, but not kill him, pushing Buu to the point of despair and frustration. To maintain his position as the strongest in the universe, Buu absorbs Vegito. Exactly what Vegito wanted since his plan was to save Gohan, Gotenks, and Piccolo before finishing off Buu.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Dragon Ball Minus, we learn that Goku's parents sent him to Earth to protect him from Frieza. They suspected that Frieza was up to something when he recalled all the Saiyans to their home planet and knew that they couldn't leave since the scouters would detect them. So, they sent their youngest child to safety since Raditz was already off-world with Vegeta. Unlike most examples, they just wanted Goku to live. Him kicking the ass of their murderer years later was an added bonus.
  • Fluffy the Terrible
    • The most powerful and evilest being in the universe is named Buu. In the Japanese text, several characters say it sounds like a fart.
    • This applies to the heroes as well. Gohan, one of the strongest characters in the series, is named after rice and Vegeta's son is named Trunks. Also the Saiyans, the most feared warrior race in the universe, are named after vegetables with Goku's true name being a pun of carrots.
  • Flying Brick: All of the ki-using characters have flight, super strength, the ability to shrug off bullets, and can project energy attacks.
  • Flying Firepower: Pretty much every one of the recurring characters capable of fighting can both fly and fire devastating ki blasts.
  • Foil:
    • Goku have a lot of foils, which some times overlap with Shadow Archetype and Evil Counterpart.
      • When Krillin first appeared, he was an exact foil to Goku. Whereas Goku was an impossibly pure-hearted child who takes his incredibly strength for granted, and has a lot of confidence in his power, while Krillin was a devious Bratty Half-Pint with a blatant inferiority complex. By the time of the series first Tournament Arc he's largely grows most of this thanks to his training and Goku's influence giving him genuine self-confidence.
      • On top of being an Evil Counterpart to Goku, at least initially, Piccolo is also this to him. Piccolo is cold and dispassionate, while Goku is fun loving and can be quite emotional when angry or upset. Piccolo is one of the smartest characters in the series, while Goku is quite Book Dumb. Piccolo is the responsible one where Goku can be quite irresponsible even when the fate of the world is at stake. Their roles are slightly reverse during the Buu Saga. Piccolo was willing to give himself to Babidi so Buu would stop slaughtering cities. It was Goku who was rational and pointed out that Piccolo sacrificing himself wouldn't help anyone in the long run.
      • Goku's older brother, Raditz. Both are overachievers much like their father before them, born low-class yet fortunate enough to become elite by attrition after their race was wiped out. While Goku embraced the gentle heart given to him by his mother and works his entire life to break the limits of his birth, like his father, Raditz chose to hide behind others stronger than him while embracing the ruthlessness of being a Saiyan, rejecting his mother's kind influence. Also, despite Goku's gentle and kind nature, he maintained his Saiyan pride and spirit, while Raditz's Saiyan spirit has long been driven out of him despite his claims to the contrary.
      • Vegeta, his eternal rival. Both are thrill-seeking Saiyan warriors always looking to test, expand, and overcome their limits. While Goku is a cheerful man who cherishes others, greatly values his Earthly upbringing, and was born weak among commoner parents, Vegeta is a rough, arrogant prince who initially cares only for himself, and was born very powerful and heir to the throne of his planet. Through a series of trials and hardships, they gradually influence each other as their rivalry matures from resentment to respect. Goku comes to understand Saiyan pride and Vegeta learns compassion for loved ones.
      • Frieza serves as this to Goku. Frieza is born extremely powerful, didn't need to train a day in his life, and is the prince of a galactic empire, while Goku is born a low class, is the son of a lower class warrior and pacifist mother, and had to work for his power. Frieza is very polite and well educated, while Goku is somewhat rude and Book Dumb. Frieza thrives on spreading despair and corrupting others with his influence. Goku inspires hope and tends to bring out the better angels within people.
      • Cell. Like Goku, Cell loves a good fight, loves growing stronger, and is a great deal more clever than he initially appears. However, while Goku is a lower-class Saiyan who trains hard to become stronger the good old fashioned way, Cell is literally optimized at a genetic level and cheats, consuming others to steal their hard-earned strength for himself. Most importantly, while Goku ultimately rejects his malevolent Saiyan instincts and chooses to live a (somewhat) peaceful life like a human, Cell embraces his evil nature and eventually seeks to fulfill what he believes to be his creator's will by destroying all life in the universe.
      • Majin Buu. While both are extreme powerful man children who loves to eat and fight, Buu's childish nature is what allows him to do so many evil things. In Fat Buu's case, he is so innocent that he doesn't know right from wrong and needs Mr. Satan to act as his Morality Chain. Super Buu is a child because he doesn't care about anything or anyone else except his own needs and desires. Kid Buu is as pure like a child because like Fat Buu he has no concept of right or wrong, he just wants to kill and destroy everything. He can even hold the Spirit Bomb because he is evil in its purest form. In comparison, Goku's childish nature highlights his innocent and purity to do the right thing no matter what. Unlike Buu, Goku has a high moral justice. Goku also works to achieve his power through years of hard work and dedication while Buu was not only born extremely strong, but can steals other people's work by absorbing them.
      • In a non-villain example, Goku to his son Gohan. They are both extremely gifted warriors who represent the peak of their groups. Goku is the strongest pure-blooded Saiyan, while Gohan is the most powerful of all the hybrids. They are both also pure-hearted, fun-loving, have a love for animals and people, and are somewhat naive about the outside world. However, Goku loves to fight and challenged himself, while Gohan hates fighting and hurting people, and won't train unless there is an immediate danger. Goku is Book Dumb and doesn't work to support his family, while Gohan is very well education and has a steady job by the end of the series.
      • Broly, his fellow Saiyan outlier. Both are powerful Saiyans who ran afoul of the royal family and traditional Saiyan culture, they were kept in the same chamber room after they were born, escaped Frieza's genocide of their planet and people apart from the other Saiyans, they very quickly found themselves dressing and living far outside the Frieza Force/Saiyan Army motif and structure, both are messianic characters, both are recognized as the "legendary Super Saiyan" and both are based on the original Monkey King Sun Wukong. But where Goku lucked into his own self-restraint, became well-adjusted if a bit naive, was born with a ferocious spirit that would eventually earn him the strength to become the first naturally-achieved Super Saiyan in millennia through training, feats, and adversities, looked and lived the part of a common man, became king of his own destiny, and cherishes many loved ones as well as life itself, Broly was born with an uncanny power level and a disconcertingly meek personality causing him to be frightened to tears when subject to continuous loud noises, utterly lost his mind at the first sign of life-or-death trauma as a result, and had to be dressed in attire resembling a regal or holy being that at the same time was used to virtually lobotomize him, and was used as his father's puppet of destruction until his mutant Super Saiyan power burst through and was unleashed in the form of an incredible hulking demon out to kill everything including said father, not even stopping to feel pain unless fatally pierced or torn into.
      • Turles, his death-skinned doppelganger. Both were born low-level Saiyans who looked exactly alike, led a group of allies, escaped and survived Frieza's genocide pretty much on their own, and became stronger than they were supposed to be as time went on. Whereas Goku became a peace-loving defender of the Earth through a head injury and his mother's influence on Planet Vegeta, typically works for his strength and only siphons power from others by asking for it to take out true threats with the occasional Spirit Bomb, Turles is a calculating, cold-hearted marauder with ambitions of conquering the universe, who achieves most if not all of his gains in power by planting a life-sucking tree into planets that it then proceeds to rot to death, then eating from its forbidden fruit.
    • After character development, Vegeta becomes this to Frieza. Unlike his former boss, Vegeta learns to care about others and being able to set his pride aside for the benefit of others and his own sanity. By letting go of the past, Vegeta becomes a happier person. Frieza, on the other hand, never learns from his experiences and remains an uncaring fiend even after he is given a second chance at life. He allows his hatred and anger towards Goku to drive him insane, and it's his inability to let go of his pride and the past that drives him to his death, twice.
    • Gohan to his young brother Goten. They both have many similarities to their father like their pure-hearts, love of animals, and their innocents and fun-loving nature. Goten inherited his father's carefree personality, while Gohan is serious and down to Earth. Goten is quite hyper, while Gohan is very reserved. Goten is allowed to be a child and Gohan was forced to grow up fast because of the constant danger the Earth was exposed to.
    • Future Trunks have two foils:
      • Kid Trunks become this to him after the timeline split apart. Kid Trunks is irresponsible, spoiled, playful during battle, and somewhat arrogance. Future Trunks is very responsible, humble, a Combat Pragmatist, and will kill to ensure peace. Kid Trunks is affected by living during a time of peace with both of his parents, while Future Trunks lived After the End where the androids killed all his loved ones, including his father and mentor, Gohan.
      • To his father. Vegeta loves to challenged himself and fight, even if it means risking the world. Trunks, who grew up in a Bad Future, doesn't care to fight fair or challenged himself, especially when the world is in danger. Trunks is also willing to put the needs of the many before his own desire, while Vegeta only cares about himself and what he wants, at least before character development hits him.
    • Kid Trunks is a foil to his best friend Goten. They're both sons to some of the most powerful beings in the universe, but while Trunks is born into privilege, Goten is born into a common family that is somewhat poor. Goten is also very silly, while Trunks tries to play the serious one.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: Mostly starts with the Saiyan Saga, after which almost all the main characters were trained in ki-sensing.
  • Forehead of Doom: All over the place. In fact, it's something of an iconic trait of Toriyama's art style. It's combined with some serious brow-ridges for the Saiyan characters, which seem to get larger with each stage of Super Saiyan, and spreads to pretty much everyone in the anime (as animator Tadayoshi Yamamuro, one of the worst offenders, also did many of the later Z character designs).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Any time a character in the first anime comments on how Goku must be from another planet due to his quirks (having a tail, being a Big Eater, etc). Despite this, it still comes as a shock to everyone when they discover that Goku really is from another planet.
    • The Eldest Namek was the first to mention Super Saiyan after Krillin explained that Kami, son of Katas, was murdered by a Saiyan. After reading Krillin's mind he says that if Kami was whole no ordinary Saiyan could had killed him. This also foreshadows the power of the Nameless Namek.
    • During the Buu Saga, Trunks and Goten pretend to be one fighter in costume. They also comment being one person is tiring. This is before they actually fuse.
  • For the Evulz:
    • Kid Buu is this and it's also half of Super Buu's motivation (the other being that he's a massive Blood Knight). Fat Buu also acted like this, before Mr. Satan convinced him otherwise. Although there was the matter of never being told this was wrong, but rather that this was a good way to get his masters to give him cake and that he thought it was a game…
    • There was also Cell, who's only objective was to test out his "perfect body"…by killing everyone and everything. Even further, he wanted to see everyone's face to contort in terror at the sight of him first.
    • Frieza does half of what he does for this reason. He kills the Namekians after they give him the Dragon Balls and fully intends to destroy the planet once he gets his wish.
  • For Want of a Nail: The main timeline is very different than Trunks' timeline, for no discernible reason other than later on in his timeline Cell went into the past, creating the main timeline where he's already there; even though Cell apparently took no steps to actively change anything (in fact, being in a cocoon the whole time), there are several differences, though Kami briefly theorizes this may because time travel just messes with reality in general rather than needing anyone to change anything. Such changes include:
    • Androids #17 and #18 being inexplicably more powerful but nowhere near as evil.note 
    • Dr. Gero turning himself into an cyborg and making #19.
    • #18 deciding to wake up #16, meaning there are now 3 androids (not counting Gero and #19)
    • Events happening earlier or later than they're supposed to, like Goku getting sick with his heart disease much later than Trunks expected.note 
    • And, of course, Cell being there in the first place, which causes widespread carnage and such.
  • Four-Man Band:
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Captain Ginyu has the power to switch bodies with anyone, which he does with Goku. Eventually however, it backfires on him when he tries to take Vegeta's body and ends up in a frog's instead, rendering him harmless as his power requires the use of his voice. Later, when he meets Bulma, he acts nice to her and she makes a translator for him. He proceeds to switch bodies, then travels to Gohan, Krillin, and Piccolo, Bulma hanging on. He tries to switch with Piccolo, only for Gohan to throw Bulma frog in the way, fixing everything. Eventually leading a group of frogs in the Capsule Corporation Compound if the series is to be believed.
  • Freaky Friday Sabotage: How Ginyu meets his end, outlined above.
  • Freddie Mercopy: Instead of one, there're two Freddie Mercury expies, specifically in the Buu Saga: At the beginning, the sports teacher has Son Gohan and Videl in their class resembles Freddie, especially when he used a black swearshirt; the second one is at the end, when Trunks in the Tenkaichi Tournament fights against a Camp Gay fighter with a black leather hat, short hair and moustache, which also resembles him (as well Leather Man from Village People).
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: In the movie, "Tree of Might", Goku and Gohan are taking a bath together and as they hold a contest to see who can hold their breath the longest, Goku is seen tickling Gohan underwater.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes:
    • Piccolo is seen as this during the Saiyan Saga with everyone, save for Gohan and Goku, being sad about his death only because Kami was also dead along with the Dragon Balls. Bulma wanted to leave Piccolo to die on Namek when the planet was about to explode and Tien remained distrustful of Piccolo until he merged with Kami.
    • Vegeta becomes this in the late Frieza Saga and the Cell Saga, to everyone but Goku and Bulma — even Trunks sends about as much time berating him as he did seeking his approval. It's so bad that whenever Vegeta gets hurt, no one is in any hurry to heal him, even when he's demanding it. When he first went Super Saiyan, the entire main cast all but groaned. After getting beating unconscious by Cell, Krillin says point-blank that he didn't really care if he dies and is only helping him because Trunks believes in him. Even in Dragon Ball Minus, his own fellow Saiyans didn't seem to like him too much. Bardock calls him a pain in the neck partner when he learns Raditz is paired up with him.
  • Friendship Moment
    • Piccolo laying down his life to save Gohan from Nappa's death blast. It marks the very moment where Piccolo stopped being the Demon King.
    • In the anime, Piccolo pushing Goku out of the way of Frieza's death beam. It shows that Piccolo really is a different person from the person who happily killed Goku earlier in the series.
    • Goku's friends rushing to save him after Android 19 has him down and is sucking his energy.
    • Yamcha caring for Goku while he was sick along with Chi-Chi.
    • Goku and Vegeta giving each other thumbs up after Kid Buu is killed, showing that years of jealousy and adversity has finally come to an end.
  • From a Single Cell:
    • In the dub, Cell can keep regenerating as long as a single cell survives, which is how he survived his own self-destruction. In the original manga and the Kai dub, Cell can regenerate as long as his core cells in his head survives. Which runs into a Plot Hole since Goku blows off Cell's head during their fight and Cell still regenerates.
    • Buu has regeneration powers that puts Cell to shame. He he can regenerate from vapors and doesn't lose energy from healing unlike Cell. He had to be literally atomized to ensure that he died.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • In the Budokai two normal people note that Spopovich (while strong) was nothing like what he became in his fight with Videl.
    • Cell, at least on Earth. He wasn't on the heroes' radar at all until he started to suck up cities. Even seven years after his death, he's well remembered and feared. Subverted with the rest of the universe who never heard of Cell and still uses Frieza as the benchmark for the The Dreaded.
  • Funny Background Event: Vegeta's speech in the Buu saga where he admits Goku is better than him, the culmination of his series long Character Development, is done as narration over a scene of Goku and Kid Buu biting each other during their fight.
  • Future Badass: Future Trunks and Future Gohan. The latter takes this to extremes compared to his present day counterpart. Although, it is a bit of Deconstruction on the part of Future Gohan. Despite training far harder than his present counterpart, he's far weaker, never going past a basic Super Saiyan.

     G 
  • Game-Breaking Injury:
    • Goku getting all his bones crushed by Vegeta took him out of the fight. Although, he was able to provide the Spirit Bomb to Krillin.
    • During the Android/Cell Saga, he fell sick to the heart virus taking and spent half of the saga bedridden. Then, he didn't eat a Senzu after his long fight with Cell and is outmatched against a Cell Jr.
    • Piccolo getting his neck broken and a hole blown through his chest by Cell.
    • For Android 16 it is getting his entire body destroyed, save for his head. Didn't stop him from giving words of encouragement to Gohan.
  • Generational Saga: Starts off as the adventures of a very strong, monkey-tailed little boy named Goku. As the series goes on, he and his friends age and have children, and some of those children fight alongside them. The second half of the story puts a significant amount of focus on his son, Gohan, and his development as a hero, and by the end Goku is a grandfather.
  • Generation Xerox
    • Goku looks like his father, Bardock, and Goten looks like him.
    • Dragon Ball Minus, a prequel manga, introduces Gine, an Actual Pacifist from whom Goku and his progeny ultimately inherited their gentle natures. Goku's brother Raditz takes more after her in looks than Bardock and her great-granddaughter Pan also looks remarkably like her.
    • Played With with Gohan, who seems to start off as something of daddy's boy, even surpassing Goku in potential, but whose gentle, pacifistic nature ultimately drives him to abandon his father's fighting legacy and making him more of an xerox of his grandmother who also chose to abandon fighting because of her gentle nature.
    • Three generations of the Son family have entered a Tenkaichi Budokai. That's every member from Goku's generation and downwards. Three of them beginning as children (though, in Goku's time, there wasn't a Junior Division - all the more awesome when he reached the finals in his first participation). With Pan, that also includes three generations of Mr. Satan's family. In DBGT, Son Goku, Jr. enters, so that's at least four generations of both the Son and Satan families, and he's possibly the fifth if Pan's own children entered.
  • Genius Bruiser:
    • Goku is a Downplayed example since he never had a formal education and can be naive at times. However, Goku is an excellent combatant and a tactical genius, able to pick up new skills with ease. Furthermore, once he gets a basic understanding of something, he learns very quickly. He outsmarts Frieza several times during their battle, the most standout example being when he tricks Frieza into getting cut by his own energy disc. He also nearly kills Cell by combining his Kamehameha with his Instant Transmission. Cell only survives since he can regenerate.
    • Piccolo, naturally, especially after merging with Kami. He comes up with all the plans to defeat Nappa like grabbing his tail while Gohan blast him, which only fails because Nappa trained his tail. He then tricks Cell into revealing everything about his origins and what he wants in the past by pretending to be more hurt than he is and also giving himself time to recover. Although his stalling plan against Super Buu spectacularly backfired, he still manages to make Buu wait half an hour while Goten and Trunks trains in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. When Buu becomes impatient, he makes Buu go the long way to the chamber to buy the kids as much time as possible. He then have Buu fight in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber since if Gotenks proves unable to beat Buu, he can blow up the door, trapping Buu in another dimension forever. Buu is so impressed by Piccolo that he chooses to absorb him for his intelligence.
    • Gohan, is straight A student with a minor in kicking ass since he is one of the most powerful beings in the universe.
    • Nappa, though it isn't shown much. That attack he uses to blow up a city? It requires a degree in nuclear physics.
    • Vegeta can be this during the rare times he's calm and doesn't let his ego blind him. He had the forethought to come to Earth during a full moon and had a backup in case there was no moon for him to transformed with. During the first half of the Frieza Saga he knew he was outmatched against Frieza, so he took his time, waiting for Frieza's generals to separate from him before taking them out. He then made sure to find one of the Dragon Balls and hide it so Frieza's men wouldn't stumble upon it. When he was beating and captured, he used the opportunity to escape, steal Frieza's Dragon Balls, and cripple his ship. He would have had all seven Dragon Balls if Gohan didn't find the one he had hidden (though given how he wouldn't have been able to summon the dragon before Frieza found him without the Namekian password, it likely would have amounted to a Meaningless Villain Victory anyway). He was also the one to came up with the plan that finally killed Majin Buu by having all the people of Earth given energy to the Spirit Bomb.
    • Dr. Gero is a bruiser since he is stronger than Frieza and would have destroyed the Z-Fighters if they never went to Namek and met Frieza, what really makes him dangerous, however, is his mind. He created a series of androids that runs on endless energy, something that Vegeta calls a myth, and are stronger than an untrained Super Saiyan. He then created Cell, the Ultimate Lifeform, who takes the best parts of being a Saiyan, Namekian, and Frieza's clan. His biggest failing was him trying bully Androids 17 and 18 to do what he wanted.
    • Cell, taking some of the best parts of Piccolo that isn't regeneration. After Piccolo proved to be stronger than him, he escaped using a Solar Flare and kept his power down as he hunted and absorbed people to become stronger. Once he was certain he was powerful enough, he found Piccolo who was fighting the androids and made short work of all them except Android 16. When 16 proved to be his equal, he pretended to be evaporated by 16's blast, snuck up behind 17, and absorbed him. When fighting Vegeta and he was being easily overpowered, he used his knowledge of Vegeta's arrogance and pride to manipulate him into letting him absorb 18 so he would be a better match. Unfortunately, once he became complete he held onto the Villain Ball and never really let go.
    • Fat Buu is a Downplayed example since this version of Buu is the most naive. At the same time, he tricks Vegeta into getting wrapped up in his own blubber and he realizes quickly that Babidi needs him to keep him from being killed by Z-Fighters. He also finds away to kill Babidi before he can seal him again by tricking him into coming in close and clamping his mouth shut. Finally, he learns the Kamehameha and one of Vegeta's techniques just by seeing it once.
    • Super Buu Out-Gambitted everyone. And it wasn't just a basic case of Super Buu out smarting them or getting lucky, he covertly came up several plans to become the strongest in the universe and with every plan he came up with, he thought of several back up plans as well. He also manipulated many of the heroes into making himself seem like less of a threat and when the opportunity presented itself from the heroes being arrogant, he would not only take advantage of it but also made sure that there were some contingency plans if things were to go against him. And it worked like a charm, because he technically never loses a battle. And any battle that it seems like he is losing, he's losing on purpose because it's all a part of his plan. It took the Story-Breaker Power of Vegito just to slow him down. In the case of Vegito, however, he purposely prolong the battle so he could be absorbed and rescue the others taken by Buu. Otherwise, he would had killed Buu in seconds. Buu didn't see through Vegito's plan at all.
  • Genre Shift:
  • The Gift
    • Vegeta likes to think he was born with the Gift being a prince from a race of proud warriors who boast about being the strongest in the universe. It doesn't help that he was more or less called special by all those who knew him, even his Bad Boss Frieza. He is not too far off. He is extremely talented and reach levels that none in his race could even begin to comprehend.
    • Goku has an even greater gift for fighting, being able to outpace Vegeta no matter how hard he trains. During the Cell and Buu Sagas Vegeta outright states that Goku has a gift, something that he has denied before by calling Goku low class trash. By the end of the series Vegeta fully admits to himself that Goku is the superior fighter.
    • Both Vegeta and Goku's gifts are outpaced by Gohan who can easily become the strongest in the universe if he desired it.
  • The Gloves Come Off: Vegeta does this in the Buu Saga, by letting Babidi take control of him solely for the power boost that it involved.
  • A God Am I:
    • Frieza was already a Physical God who was called the ruler of the universe. He searched for the Dragon Balls to wish for immortality to make himself into a real god. He even outright says that he will become a god.
    • Cell after he returns as Super Perfect Cell. He never implicitly calls himself a god, but he brags about being the universe's end and how he would live forever. Upon his defeat he could only scream, "I'm perfect!".
  • God-Emperor: What Frieza inspires to be. He already have the power to be consider a Physical God and he wants to use the Dragon Balls to wish for immortality so he can rule the universe forever. Preventing Frieza from having his wish granted becomes so important that Krillin said that he would risk not bringing his dead friends back to life if it meant stopping Frieza's ambitions.
  • God Is Flawed: Very apparent with the Supreme Kai, who is just that: the Supreme God of the Dragon Ball universe. He hastens Majin Buu's release by allowing Gohan's energy to be stolen at the World Tournament (he underestimated how powerful Gohan was) and assumed Babidi would be tough to beat because of the legion of Elite Mooks he's gathered from across the universe. He created a block of indestructible metal which destroyed the Z sword (it did release Old Kai, but Supreme Kai did not know that would happen). Finally, he was constantly surprised by the adult Saiyans, whom he believed were strong but not strong enough to achieve victory so effortlessly. It's only when Vegeta decimates Pui Pui that he begins to realize the Saiyans are stronger than he thought. Part of this is because the Supreme Kai is actually a junior and all his superiors were murdered by Majin Buu, making his training as a Kai incomplete.
  • Godzilla Threshold:
    • Goku teaming up with Piccolo to fight Raditz is this since Piccolo was Goku's Arch-Enemy at the time, and the son of the demon who murdered his friends. Goku also considered using the Dragon Balls to defeat Raditz and only changed his mind since it would take too long to find them.
    • The Spirit Bomb is largely considered to be this ultimate technique. King Kai (or North Kai) described it as this trope to him, explaining that because the Spirit Bomb involves collecting the energy from the environment around the user, up to and including the energy released from the Sun (or any nearby star to the planet), using it has the risk of destroying the planet the user is on, and advised against its usage unless the situation is dire. If things have gotten so south that the person Goku is fighting not only is too strong, but his victory threatens either the world, the galaxy, or even the universe, Goku will use the Spirit Bomb, risking the planet's very destruction along with his opponent, and himself. One proposed gambit near the end of the series involved convincing every person on Earth to sacrifice energy in order to power it up against against the villain that had been casually blowing up planets left and right. It works, but barely, and everyone on Earth is exhausted as a result.
    • After Vegeta is overpowered by Goku's Kaio-Ken X4 and Kamehameha combination, he decides to becomes a Great Ape to beat Goku. He doesn't like it since he sees the Great Ape transformation as a planet destroyer and he shouldn't need it to crush a lower class warrior.
    • When Vegeta hears that the Ginyu Force was heading for Namek, he immediately teams up with Krillin and Gohan to fight them. He even asks Krillin when Goku was coming since they needed the manpower.
    • In the Frieza Saga, with said tyrant mere minutes from arriving and killing everyone, Krillin is convinced by Vegeta that the best thing to do to potentially stop him is to use their last wish to make Vegeta immortal. And at this point in the series Vegeta was still in his ultra-violent Blood Knight stage and would very likely kill the rest of the Z Warriors he'd allied with once they weren't of any more use to him. The only reason he ultimately doesn't get it as at the last second before Dende can complete the wish, Guru, the Namekian who created the Dragon Balls, dies, which causes Porunga to disappear.
    • As Frieza is transforming into his final form, Vegeta orders Krillin to mortally wound him so he can have Dende to heal him, which would greatly power him up and allow him to become a Super Saiyan.
    • Also in the Frieza Saga, using the Kaio-Ken X20 because Goku only mastered the Kaio-Ken up to X10, and using all that power could have caused his body to explode.
    • For Frieza, after Goku becomes a Super Saiyan, he became so desperate to win that he tries to blow up Namek, knowing that he can survive in a vacuum while Goku can't. He didn't completely succeed since he held back too much power, both out of fear of killing himself and out of pride since he wanted to beat Super Saiyan Goku with his own power. When he returns as a cyborg, Frieza tries to destroys the Earth when he becomes outmatched by Super Saiyan Trunks in the anime.
    • During the Android Saga, Dr. Gero activates the rebellious 17 and 18 once his attempt to defeat the Z Fighters himself went south and he had them literally at his door. It doesn't work.
    • Piccolo swallowing his pride and deciding to merge with Kami so he can beat the androids. Kami wasn't quite ready to cross that line until he saw Cell.
    • Goku putting Gohan against Cell. Before that moment, Goku always side-lined Gohan if he's around. He really had no choice but to depend on Gohan to handle things since he was the only one who could beat Cell.
    • In the Buu Saga, Goku becomes so desperate to fuse with another fighter in order to beat the now near-invincible Super Buu that he's willing to do so with the only other person who knows how to fight left in the area: Mr. Satan (in the Japanese text, Goku wonders if he will become weaker). Fortunately, Vegeta happens to arrive right as he's going to do it.
    • Goku being revived in the first place was this to the Kais. Old Kai gave his life to bring Goku back to life after Gotenks and Piccolo was absorbed by Buu and was smacking Gohan around despite his huge power-up. Until this moment, a Kai has never given their life to a mere mortal.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: Goku's original power multiplier was the Kaioken which had him Turn Red and maxed out at 20x base power. When that wasn't enough to beat Frieza, he transformed into a Super Saiyan, 50x base power.
  • Golden Super Mode: Dragon Ball Z is probably the Trope Codifier for this trope. If not, it's probably the first thing most people think of when someone says "golden super-mode". Introduced early on in the series was the super saiyan transformation and higher level forms of the initial transformation that the heroes utilize to fight the villains.
    • The first level of super saiyan is reached when a saiyan with enough power gets enraged enough. This form is the base line and Jack-of-All in terms of super saiyan power. The power boost in this form is 50X that of the user's base power.
    • The next form for super saiyan, super saiyan 2, is achieved after a saiyan has gained full mastery of the initial super saiyan form. As with the first transformation, a powerful emotional upheaval is needed to reach this state. The power boost is equal to twice the first super saiyan from or 100X the base strength of the user.
    • The last form introduced in the series was super saiyan 3. Unlike the other forms, this one is only achieved through intense training and drawing on the absolute limits of super saiyan power. While the power boost is tremendous, it seems to tax the stamina of the user more than any other super saiyan form. This is weakness can be reduced with training but it still isn't suited for prolonged fights. The power boost in this form is 4X the previous super saiyan form or 400X the base power of the user.
  • Gone Horribly Right
    • The Saiyan race is a big example. When Frieza first found them, they were merely uncivilized, barbaric warriors. Seeing their potential, Frieza uplifted them and used them as heavy-hitters in his empire's army. In time, the Saiyans grew so powerful and advanced that Frieza started to fear that they would revolt and overthrow him. So he decided to wipe them all out, just to be safe. Too bad for him, their technology had advanced to allow them to let one Saiyan escape, who grew up to be Goku, who went on to defeat him.
    • Dr. Gero created Androids 17 and 18 to kill Goku. His creations were powerful enough to be able to perform this task. They were also disobedient and rebellious, with the Androids opting to kill their creator and do as they pleased.
    • During the Cell Games, Goku's plan to defeat Cell hinges on Gohan becoming enraged enough to undergo a transformation into a Super Saiyan 2. Cell, likewise, wants to piss Gohan enough to trigger this transformation, for his own entertainment. Both plans work out all too well: when Gohan finally reaches Super Saiyan 2, he easily overpowers Cell, but is so driven by rage that he decides to torture Cell instead of destroying him outright. As a result, Cell nearly self-destructs and destroys the earth out of spite, driving Goku to sacrifice himself to save the Earth.
    • The wizard Bibidi wanted to create an invincible power. He created Majin Buu, who was so powerful that it scared him senseless and drove him to seal his creation away. His successor, Babidi, awakens him later, thinking he can control him. He was soon proven dead wrong.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: For the Namekians, they are shocked that the Dragon Balls, symbols of nobility and hope, would bring upon them such evils such as Frieza and Vegeta. This trait also appeared to passed to Kami, since he was disheartened that humans turned his Dragon Balls into tools of greed and murder. It just never occurred to them that any object that could grant one's heart desire would be used for evil or selfish ends.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: In the series, purple is usually the color of evil characters. Vegeta's Battle Aura was originally purple before it was changed to blue after he became an ally to the Z-Fighters. All of Frieza's forms have purple in it and his aura is also purple. Cell's aura is shown to be purple at times, while Buu is primarily pink, although it some times switches to purple. The heroes usually have red, blue, white, and gold auras.
  • Good Is Not Nice:
    • While Vegeta may have eventually turned good, he was never nice (although his sense of camaraderie for Goku during their fight against Kid Buu is rather touching). He still regularly demeans the humans as worthless, doesn't care for the lives of citizens until the end of the Buu Saga, Trash Talk his enemies when he has the upper hand, and will kill his enemies instead of disabling or sparing them.
    • Although not as bad as Vegeta, Piccolo is also a variety of this trope. He has no problem mercilessly killing his enemies or sacrificing innocents for the greater good as shown in the Buu Saga.
  • Good Is Not Soft:
    • The entire Son family. They are easy going people who love and respect life, but do not make them mad by hurting or god-forbid killing their loves ones. A quick death would the kindest thing they would do to you. Frieza was a subject of Cruel Mercy on Goku's part after he beat the crud out of the tyrant and shattered his pride, while Cell was nearly tortured to death by Super Saiyan 2 Gohan.
    • Future Trunks, which makes sense since his master was Gohan. He is a Nice Guy who is very polite, and values life having come from a Bad Future where all the protagonists have died gruesome deaths. However, he's a Combat Pragmatist who is very serious in battle aiming to kill his opponents and even willing to fight his own allies if the situation calls for it. Such as when his father Vegeta wanted to aid Semi-Perfect Cell to become perfect. Trunks warns Vegeta that he will blast him to stop Cell but Vegeta thinks Trunks is too soft to shoot at his own father. Trunks proves Vegeta WRONG.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: Used in the English Dub of Dragon Ball Z when Freeza was going to kill Vegeta. It's used again in Kai, this time by Cell who was ready to kill an unconscious Vegeta after he achieved perfection.
  • Good Vs Good: The Afterlife Tournament Arc. It kind of goes without saying, since it's established that everyone in the tournament was a great hero before their deaths.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: In a filler episode, a girl caught Gohan wearing teddy bear print boxers and threatened to tell the school about "his secret" unless he went on a date with her (and she actually thought the boxers only added to his cuteness). However, Gohan thought she'd caught him removing his Great Saiyaman costume.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Piccolo is turned to stone by Dabura, and only returns to normal after Trunks has knocked over the statue. When Trunks realizes what he just did, he's the only one who gets to see the gory details. The poor kid goes Blue with Shock and begs Goten and Krillin not to tell - except Piccolo's already back on his feet.
  • Graceful Loser: On the rare occasions Goku meets an enemy he truly can't beat, he admits it without any ego involved (bowing out of the Cell Games and surrendering to Beerus.)
  • Gratuitous English: Most alien and supernatural creatures have name-puns based off English words, and Toriyama had said that Vegeta's attacks used English names to highlight his alien nature.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Frieza. Despite never coming into contact with the protagonists until much later in the story, his transformation of the Saiyan race into genocidal killers-for-hire and his decision to ultimately destroy their planet, Vegeta, ultimately sets the entire Dragon Ball series into motion. Him destroying Planet Vegeta is the reason why Goku came to Earth and he indirectly influence Vegeta's actions during the Saiyan Saga. Vegeta wanted immorality so he could challenged him and takes his place as ruler of the universe. Even after his demise his influence is still felt. The Super Saiyans exist directly because of him, he lives on in a sense in the next major villain Cell (who takes on most of his personality traits), he is the reason why the Namekian Dragon Balls can now revive several people at once (used to be one per wish), and his defeat leads Beerus to Earth seeking a Super Saiyan God.
  • Guile Hero:
    • As he becomes Older and Wiser, Goku uses his head more and doesn't just rely on brute strength to get ahead:
      • He mentally tells Gohan to look at the artificial moon so he can transforms into a Great Ape to beat Vegeta. When it seems that Gohan has lost complete control and is just a rampaging beast, he guides Gohan to attack Vegeta.
      • He manipulates Cell, using the android's desire to fight strong people and his pride. He tells Cell that Gohan is the strongest fighter at the Cell Games and will destroy him even at full power, going as far as to give Cell a Senzu saying that he will need it. Cell takes the bait and tries to goad Gohan into becoming angry. Although Goku's plan has some bumps, Gohan eventually unleashed his hidden power, becoming a Super Saiyan 2 and kicking Cell's ass.
      • In the dub, he gently manipulates Buu into realizing that he is much stronger than Babidi and is far too talented of a fighter to be pushed around by such a weakling and a coward. He also gets Buu to wait three days before destroying the Earth by telling him that an even stronger fighter than him will come to challenged him.
      • To secure Old Kai's help so he will power-up Gohan to fight Buu, Goku offers him a kiss from Bulma. In the Japanese text, he offers him to feel on Bulma's boobs. Vegeta isn't amused when he learns about this.
    • Piccolo is very wise, cunning, and strategic in battle throughout the series. Manipulating the likes of Nappa, Cell, and Majin Buu when it seems they have the upper hand against him. He becomes even wiser after re-merging with Kami:
      • In the battle against the Saiyans, he comes up with all the strategies to try to take down Nappa. He pulls an almost successful three-way combo attack using Krillin and Gohan that only fails because Gohan chickened out at the last second. His next plan was to grab Nappa's tail using Krillin as a distraction, and having Gohan blast him. It works perfectly and he has Nappa by the tail and Gohan pose to attack, only to fail because Nappa had trained his tail.
      • After Cell manages to disable one of his arms, Piccolo acts more hurt than he is so he can get Cell to lower his guard and tell him who he is. After Piccolo gets all the information he needs, he rips his damaged arm off and he regrows a new one. The ploy also gave him time to restore his strength.
      • He tries to manipulate Super Buu, telling him that he can't fight Gotenks until he kills all the people on Earth. This backfires spectacularly and Buu kills all the humans with one attack. Even then, he manages to make Buu wait half an hour while Goten and Trunks trains in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. When Buu becomes impatient, he makes Buu go the long way to the chamber to buy the kids as much time as possible. He then have Buu fight in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber since if Gotenks proves unable to beat Buu, he can blow up the door, trapping Buu in another dimension forever. Buu is so impressed by Piccolo that he chooses to absorb him for his intelligence.
    • Although Krillin is far from the strongest character, he is one of the sneakiest. He will use any weakness presented to him to get ahead. He invents a technique that can cut through almost anything, taking advantage of foes who like to No-Sell everything, kept Frieza busy so Dende can heal Gohan, and successfully hid a Dragon Ball from Vegeta for several days.
    • Vegito manipulating Super Buu by frustrating him into acting desperately and absorb him was the main plan to saving his sons, friend and the whole universe.
  • Guns Are Worthless:
    • As shown in episode 172 when the military tries to kill Cell, and you can guess how it turns out.
    • There were many earlier examples as well. When Raditz first landed on Earth, a farmer tried to shoot him only for Raditz to catch the bullet and throw it back at him, killing him.
    • Future Trunks easily deflects a few blaster shots just before he kills Frieza. Also, Gohan catches an entire clip from a submachine gun fired on full auto with the same hand, bullet by bullet - something Master Roshi had also done before.
  • Gut Punch: At the start of Z Goku is killed making a heroic sacrifice to stop his brother from killing his son. Then, most of the original cast is killed in the battle against the Saiyans. The Dragon Balls are also lost because Kami died, meaning no one can be revived until much later when another set of Dragon Balls is found elsewhere in the galaxy.
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