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  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold:
    • Android 18 when she turns good. Also, her daughter, Marron.
    • Goku and Gohan, once they master the Super Saiyan transformation and curb the Blood Knight tendencies it induces. This also applies to Goten.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: It helps that Saiyans are incredibly similar to humans, but genetic mixes often prove to be stronger than purebloods. Gohan, Goten and Trunks are all half-Saiyan, and Pan is quarter-Saiyan and, thus far, the only female to use a Kamehameha (and only in DBGT, at that).
  • Half the Man He Used to Be
    • Frieza gets sliced in half twice during the series proper. The first was near the end of the Namek Saga when he was sliced in half with his own energy disc. He survived this (as well as the explosion of Namek) and came back as a cyborg, only to be finally finished off by Future Trunks when he came to Earth to seek revenge. And how does Trunks finish him off? He uses his sword to split Frieza in half lengthwise before proceeding to slice him up into itty bitty pieces and then blow him away with a powerful Ki blast.
    • Piccolo slices Babidi in half while Babidi desperately tries to plead for his life by stating that he's the only one who can seal Buu away. Piccolo doesn't believe him and promptly cuts him in half. He gets better however.
  • Hand Blast: Androids 16, 17, and 18 fire blasts of energy from their hands. This energy is different from ki, however, and other characters aren't able to sense them (at least not directly).
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: It only works if you're a Saiyan and to a lesser extent a Namekian and not a normal Earthling.
  • Happily Married: All the couples in the series are this.
  • Heavyworlder:
    • The Saiyans from Planet Vegeta with gravity 10x that of Earth. The Saiyans also routinely train in high-gravity chambers beyond 150 times Earth's gravity in some cases. This was used hilariously when a lower level Elite Mook in the beginning of the Buu Saga challenged the Saiyans, thinking that changing the environment to his home planet, which had 10 times Earth's gravity, would give him a sizable advantage. Boy, was he wrong.
    Vegeta: Maybe... if your planet had five hundred times Earth's gravity, you'd have an advantage, but ten? I don't even feel it!
    • The series also gets around the whole issue of Heavyworlders logically being short by having the Saiyans be invaders from another planet, which presumably had gravity closer to ours. Indeed, Vegeta's original inhabitants were noticeably smaller than humans.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Many, many characters starting with Yamcha and Oolong. Vegeta is but one example.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Bulma has this reaction when she learns that Future Trunks is her son. She's very happy that her son will grow up to be a hottie.
  • He's Back
    • Both times Goku returns from the dead. The first time, Nimbus scoops Gohan up right out of the blue before Nappa can stomp on him. Then everyone turns around to see Goku looking all badass as he floats a few feet away. The second time, he pulls a Big Damn Heroes, stopping Super Buu from blowing up the Earth using his best friend's signature technique, the Destructo Disc.
    • He does it twice on Namek. First, arriving on the planet just in time to save everyone from being killed by the Ginyu Force. Then, recovering and rushing to the battle to confront Frieza.
    • Piccolo has this moment after he is wished back to life and teleported to Namek to help the other heroes fight Frieza.
    • Vegeta, after he recovers from his injuries from Earth practically screams this. He also gets another one when he's semi-revived to battle Buu after sacrificing his life.
    • Cell has a villainous example when he returns as Super Perfect Cell after having been blown to bits by his own Taking You with Me technique; Once he's done regenerating, a wind kicks up out of nowhere, blowing sand up and obscuring vision, then lightning starts circling around said obscuring sand, and finally a pointed index finger extends from the sandstorm, firing a ki-attack which nearly One Hit Kills one of the heroes. The kicker is Cell's nonchalant quote afterwards.
    *evil chuckle* "My aim is as good as ever!" *smug laughter* "It's so good to be back!"
    • Frieza gets a double-dose of this: first, after his defeat on Namek, he comes to Earth as a cyborg to dole out some vengeance...before being dispatched by Trunks; then a second time in the movie Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, where he's wished back with the Dragon Balls, more dangerous than ever.
  • Hell Has New Management: When Dabura dies, King Enma is afraid that if he is sent to Hell (as he rightly SHOULD) he would end up liking it there because it's similar to the Demon Realm. So, King Enma sends Dabura to the most peaceful part of Heaven. Later in the series, Dabura is seen again, and has turned into a character so peaceful and loving that the protagonists are creeped out by him.
  • Helping Would Be Killstealing:
    • Goku tries to pass the torch to Gohan during the Cell Games and refused to help even when Gohan was getting the life crushed out of him. He wanted Gohan to be the hero on top of wanting a fair fight. It took Piccolo yelling at him for being heartless before he was ready to interfere.
    • The primary reason why Goku refuses to kill Majin Buu when he had the chance. He wanted the younger generation to handle it since he was dead and his friends couldn't depend on him anymore to protect them. This led to the Earth being destroyed along with everyone being killed except Dende, Mr. Satan, and Bee. Although, Goku somewhat got his wish since Buu was finally killed with the help of everyone on Earth giving him energy for a giant Spirit Bomb.
  • Hereditary Hairstyle:
    • Goku inherited his hair style from his father and Goten also inherited the same style.
    • Everyone in Vegeta's family inherited the same vegetable hair style.
  • Hero Killer: Ironically the only main Z villain not to gain this honor is Vegeta.
  • Hero on Hiatus: Goku so very much. The fights with the Saiyans, Ginyu Force, and Frieza all basically consisted of the good guys desperately trying to stay alive until he showed up or finished healing (they occasionally got the edge on Frieza, but he just kept transforming). He also spends half of the Android/Cell Saga bedridden, although he was useless in that instance since Androids 16, 17, 18, and Cell were stronger than him.
  • Hero, Rival, Baddie Team-Up: Goku fights along with Piccolo and Vegeta, both were former enemies that made the Heel–Face Turn and now they battle together. The difference is that Piccolo is more a Friendly Rival for Goku, but Vegeta goes as a Stock Shōnen Rival and sometimes closer to an Anti-Villain, like in the Buu Saga when Vegeta makes a Face–Heel Turn just to be more powerful to defeat Goku.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • (More like anti-heroic) Vegeta suffers one for about half of the first Broly movie after The Reveal that Broly is the "Legendary Super Saiyan" and therefore unbeatable. Even a pep-talk from Piccolo is unable to clear it up, Vegeta only joins the fight when his royal pride gives him a kick in the pants.
    • Before then, Vegeta suffered a major one once he realized that even after coming back from near death, he was still no match against Frieza. He actually cried in frustration and didn't fight back as Frieza plummeted him.
    • Gohan completely gave up after he was badly injured protecting Vegeta against Cell after the latter returned stronger than ever. It took Goku talking from the grave for Gohan to muster the resolve to face Cell one more time.
  • Heroic Lineage
    • Goku started a lineage with his first son, Gohan, and then Goten, both of whom are heroes in their own right. This extends to his granddaughter, Pan.
    • As far as Earthlings are concerned, Videl and Pan come from the heroic lineage of Mr. Satan.
    • How 'heroic' Vegeta is is questionable, but he made a lineage with Trunks, his future counterpart, and Bra.
  • Heroic RRoD:
    • Especially Goku's Kaio-Ken power-up technique. It strained his body so hard that Yajirobe's congratulatory slap on the shoulder was agonizingly painful to him. If Goku became a Super Saiyan and used the Kaio-Ken at the same time, the energy limitations make it so that if he tried using both for more than a few seconds, he would completely deplete his energy reserves and disappear, something even the Dragon Balls can't fix.
    • The Super Saiyan 3 transformation. It was attained by Goku by harnessing the unlimited energy supplied by his dead body, and he had trouble controlling it in his more limited living body after being revived. This was a major factor in his fight against Kid Buu, where he could match Buu's power but didn't have the endurance for a long fight - eventually being rendered unable to power up due to the strain, losing all his remaining energy, and downgrading into a heavily weakened normal state.
    • As a Super Saiyan 2 in Vegeta's fight against Fat Buu, he spends all of his life energy on an attack and dies, disintegrating Fat Buu... for all of thirty seconds before the latter regenerates.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Done quite a bit with various levels of success:
    • At the beginning of the series, Goku sacrificed himself to kill Raditz by holding him down while Piccolo fired his Special Beam Cannon at them. Raditz died and stayed dead throughout the series and Goku was revived by the Dragon Balls, which he knew would happen at the event of his death.
    • Yamcha being killed by the Saibamen's self-destruct move was viewed as this by Krillin. He was about to fight them after Tien, when Yamcha stopped him, noting that he had been revived once already, and couldn't be brought back again. Seeing Yamcha die in his place sent Krillin into an Unstoppable Rage that wiped out most of the remaining Saibamen.
    • Chiaotzu blew up on Nappa knowing that he was too under-powered to really help and to keep Tien from being killed. He also knew that he couldn't be revived with the Dragon Balls, since he was brought back to life before, so if he died, he would be Killed Off for Real. His sacrifice didn't work and Tien died shortly later, but they were both revived with the Namekian Dragon Balls.
    • Piccolo shielded Gohan from an energy blast that would have killed him. He knew that if he died Kami would also die and the Dragon Balls would be rendered inert. Thankfully, Vegeta revealed there was another set of Dragon Balls elsewhere before Piccolo was killed.
    • In the anime, Piccolo knocked Goku out of the way of Frieza's attack after Goku's Spirit Bomb failed. In this case, his death would have not only killed Kami (again), preventing the use of Earth's Dragon Balls, but also prevented the revival of the Namekians and their currently-inert Dragon Balls. Had he actually died, every death would have been permanent. It was sheer luck that he lived long enough for the necessary wishes to be made to save everyone, himself included.
    • Android 16 attempted to blow up Cell using the bomb that was built into him. Unfortunately for him, Bulma removed the bomb without telling him and got blasted into pieces by Cell for his trouble. Reduced to just a head, he convinced Mr. Satan to throw him towards Gohan, who was watching his friends and family be beaten by Cell Jrs. He gave Gohan words of encouragement so he could release his full power and was stepped on by Cell, killing him. Since he was an artificial life and never really alive to begin with, once he died he stayed dead. 16's death was the trigger Gohan needed to become Super Saiyan 2.
    • Goku sacrificed himself to stop Cell from blowing up the Earth after Cell turned himself into a bomb by teleporting him off the planet to King Kai's world. Unlike the first time, Goku knew he couldn't be revived since he was already brought back by the Earth's Dragon Balls. It did save the Earth, but Cell regenerated not long after and nearly blew it up again along with the solar system.
    • Vegeta blew himself up to try and take out Buu, who regenerated. Krillin also tried to fight Buu knowing he was hopelessly outclassed so 18 could lead everyone else to safety. Krillin was turned into candy within seconds, followed by 18 and their own child Marron. Everyone else, save Dende, met the same fate. In both of these cases, neither could be brought back with the Dragon Balls since they were already revived once.
    • Dende was saved because Mr. Popo threw him off the Lookout before Buu could turn him into chocolate.
  • Heroic Second Wind: In reality, Heroic Fourth and even Fifth Winds are not uncommon in any major fight. The most notorious of these was in Frieza saga where Goku got enough winds to keep coming back stronger and stronger till he went Super Saiyan and still had a couple more afterwards. Vegeta and Gohan in particular get the worst trashing of all characters and keep coming back a record number of times.
  • Hero-Worshipper:
    • A mild example. Out of all the characters, Krillin puts the most faith in Goku to solve their problems. He wanted to retreat after Goku fell ill, and after everyone was beaten by the androids, Krillin said things would have been different if Goku were there. It takes Tien pointing out that Goku can't be that much stronger than Trunks and Vegeta for him to see the flaw in his logic. His hope is also completely restored once Goku get well and is still willing to fight despite the odds.
    • Gohan thinks really highly of his dad. It's to the point that he didn't think it was possible for him to surpass his father, until Goku points out to him how strong he'd become. Even as an adult he constantly calls Goku the strongest in the universe and the greatest fighter ever, even during times when he was stronger.
    • Gohan also adores Piccolo, saying he admires him almost as much as his dad. Until near the end of the Buu Saga, his gis were based off of Piccolo's clothes. He outright wore a complete copy of Piccolo's gi and cape during the Cell Games.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Goten and Trunks. Also, Tien and Chiaotzu.
    • It's less severe since they both do get married (not to each other!note ) and have families, but Goku and Krillin were this from almost the very beginning to the very end.
  • High-School Sweethearts: Gohan and Videl.
  • History Repeats:
    • Videl finding out that Gohan killed Cell in a similar fashion to Chi-Chi finding out Goku killed Demon King Piccolo.
    • Gohan beat Cell with one of his arms disabled, much like how Goku defeated King Piccolo. They both even did a one-handed Kamehameha.
    • Also, Gohan defeats Cell after reaching Super Saiyan 2, right after Cell provoked him into doing so by killing Android 16. Similarly, Goku won the fight with Freeza by attaining the original Super Saiyan form, which was due to Freeza killing Krillin.
    • Both Goku and Piccolo put Gohan into battle when he wasn't mentally prepared. With Piccolo, it was against the Saiyans when Gohan was only five and never been in a real fight before that moment. Goku sent an eleven-year-old Gohan against Cell when he wasn't ready to kill. In both cases, they had to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to cover for Gohan's lack of experience and their own short-sightedness.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Typical cause of villain mastermind death.
    • Freeza was nearly killed by his own Kienzan-like energy attack. (He got better.)
    • Dr. Gero got his head blown off and crushed by #17. And it happened to him again in the afterlife, which by their rules means he's Killed Off for Real.
    • Babidi was killed by Buu after he went through so much to revive him.
    • For Buu, it was absorbing the Grand Supreme Kai who weakened and mellowed him into Fat Buu.
    • Fat Buu is turned into chocolate by his own beam and eaten by Evil Buu.
    • In the films and anime filler, Garlic Jr. ended up in his own Dead Zone twice. Unfortunately for him, he's immortal.
    • In Movie 8 (Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan), Paragus was crushed in his space pod by his son Broly, and then thrown into Comet Kamori, the comet he'd planned on using to destroy the planet and everybody on it, including Broly. Lampshaded by Paragus himself, whose dying words question his ironic fate.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Employed subtly. When Goku starts suffering from a viral heart infection, it goes under the radar as simple shortness of breath at first. As he fights Android 19, however, the shortness of breath and subsequent exhaustion become worse, and he starts to clutch at his chest as it hurts.
  • Holy Halo: Worn by dead characters.
  • Hold the Line:
    • DBZ might as well be the trope codifier. Every saga involves the current fighters holding off the Big Bad until Goku either arrives, heals, or finishes powering up.
    • Averted in the Cell Saga. Perfect Cell waited until everyone had time to get in extra training before the Cell Games.
    • Also subverted throughout the earlier portion of the saga, where at multiple times other fighters had the strength to kill Cell, but for one reason or another failed to seal the deal. (Piccolo and Trunks allowed Imperfect Cell to escape, Android 16 got distracted and allowed him to absorb 17, Vegeta got cocky and let Semi-Perfect Cell absorb 18 for a challenge.) Goku would've been completely unnecessary if the others had just gotten their acts together earlier.
    • Subverted with Super Buu. When they had to hold him off so Gotenks could learn Fusion in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, he responded to a request for patience by killing every person on Earth in a single attack. Of course, it was Piccolo who suggested that Buu kill time by killing some more humans, knowing they could always wish them back later.
  • Homage:
  • Home Field Advantage: Babidi's base can simulate various environments and his henchmen use it to their advantage. The one time his henchman tried to exploit this, however, he chose to fight Vegeta on a planet with 10x gravity, the same as the Saiyan homeworld and a 1/50th of the level Vegeta had long since mastered. What was already a hilariously one-sided beatdown remained so.
  • Home Sweet Home: At the end of the Frieza story arc, the final scene gives the feeling of being home after a dangerous and grand adventure with us seeing Gohan and his family settling back into a normal routine as they wait for Goku to return from space. The original music from the Funimation dub is even called 'Home Sweet Home'.
  • Homeworld Evacuation:
    • When the Namekian homeworld is set to explode by one of Frieza's attacks, a wish is made on the Dragon Balls to save their lives by evacuating all the Namekians to Earth. Then they promptly had the dragon make them a new one and had themselves beamed there.
    • Goku and Vegeta are forced to do this after Kid Buu made an energy ball so big it would destroy the Earth. However, at that point there's only a handful of people left on Earth.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Son Goku's unfailing and unconditional love for all life has turned practically every villain he'd met, with the exception of Freeza and Cell, into paragons of heroism.
    • Even Buu, who is pretty much evil incarnate, was transformed into an incredibly nice yet timid person after being killed simply on Goku's wish, and NOT to a dragon.
    • During the Cell Saga, Cell provides Goku a moment to eat a Senzu Bean before continuing the fight. Vegeta comments that Goku's Saiyan honor wouldn't allow him to use such a dishonorable "crutch". In fact, Goku gives Cell the Senzu bean before letting Gohan fight Cell.
    • With Vegeta it's more pride before reason. He refuses to fuse with Goku because it's unfitting to a warrior.
    • In the last leg of the fight with Majin Buu, Vegeta didn't want to use the Dragon Balls to summon Gohan and Gotenks to help with the battle. Instead, he wants Goku to make a giant Spirit Bomb using the energy from the people of Earth. He wants the Earthlings to defend themselves for once.
  • Hope Bringer:
    • Goku inspires hope in all who knows him even when he is not currently the strongest fighter. There are more than a few times when his friends and family will burst into tears when they hear he's coming to the battlefield. This, just like his ace status, gets Deconstructed from the Frieza Saga onward. Because he is the bright hope of his group, everyone becomes deflated and pessimistic when he isn't around or out of action. His friends and family are also not quick to put their hopes in anyone else, but him. When Goku tries to make Gohan into his successor, no one really believes him, and the cast is skeptical when Goku ensures them that Goten and Trunks can beat Buu with the Fusion Dance.
    • For the everyday Earthling, Mr. Satan. He kept the people of Earth somewhat sane during Majin Buu's rampage and to a lesser extent Cell since they completely believe that he can defeat such monsters. The Z-Fighters don't mind, although they were annoyed by Satan's showboating.
    • Goku tries to make Gohan into this during the Cell Games in his bid to have Gohan succeed him. He's only half successful. Goku's friends think Gohan is too young to hold such responsibilities and Gohan himself has little faith in himself. Even so, he restores hope in his disheartened friends by standing up to Cell one last time. When Gohan returns after getting his power-up from Old Kai, he is seen as the last hope for the universe against Buu and raises the spirits of Piccolo, Goten, and Trunks. Unfortunately, this is cut short after Buu absorbs Gotenks and he's later absorbed as well.
  • Hope Crusher:
    • Frieza thrives on being this, preferring to have his victims terrified, hopeless, and killed knowing they never had a chance of defeating him, which is why he transformed into his final form when he could have crushed Vegeta, Krillin, Gohan, and Piccolo in his third form. It also makes his fight with Goku more fitting.
    • Cell strives to become this. He holds the Cell Games not only to fight strong opponents, but to crush the hope of everyone on Earth by defeating their strongest fighters before he mercilessly hunts them down and murders them. He nearly achieves this status after he came back from his near-death experience which killed Goku. After his return, he kills Trunks and badly injured Gohan and Vegeta, which broke the Z-Fighter's spirit. It takes Goku talking to Gohan from the afterlife to will him to keep fighting.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Sharpner toward Videl. She finds him completely obnoxious.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: Dragon Ball Minus ends on this note. Frieza destroys Planet Vegeta, killing Bardock, Gine, and all but four of the Saiyans. However, one of those survivors is Kakarot, the boy who will grow up to become Goku and beat Frieza during their fateful confrontation on Namek.
  • Hope Spot: Several throughout the series:
    • One of the most vicious ones in the series happened after Goku successfully dropped the Spirit Bomb on Frieza's head. The heroes, exhausted from their long battle and saddened by the genocide of the Namekian race, licked their wounds and prepared to return home. Then, Frieza returns, largely unhurt. Cue Mass "Oh, Crap!".
    • Before then, everyone thought Vegeta was dead after getting hit by the Spirit Bomb. Before the heroes could get too relaxed Vegeta's body falls from the sky. Krillin, thinking that he's dead, goes over to him and prepared to at least bury him. Vegeta then open his eyes.
    • From the Frieza Saga, Vegeta just got a massive power-up from coming back from near death. He becomes so powerful that he can see Frieza's attacks, which no one else can do. He battles well against Frieza's final form at first before Frieza shows that he isn't really trying and kicks Vegeta's best attack like a ball. This completely breaks Vegeta's will to fight.
    • Before Vegeta is killed by Frieza, Goku is healed and arrives on the battlefield to save him. Frieza shoots Vegeta in the heart while he's bragging about Goku being a Super Saiyan.
    • The first half of Goku's fight with Frieza. Goku is fighting almost evenly with Frieza and seems to have the upper hand at several points. Then, Frieza starts using half of his power and beats the tar out of Goku, even tanking a 20X Kaio-Ken Kamehameha.
    • When fighting the Ginyu Force, Vegeta did a vicious series of attacks on Recoome, seemingly killing him. When the dust clears, only Recoome's clothes are damaged.
    • Two particular bad ones from the Cell Games. The first, Gohan punched Cell so hard that he vomited out Android 18, reverting him back to Semi-Perfect Cell. In this form, at least three of the heroes outside of Gohan can easily kill him. Cell refused to be killed and chose to self-destruct, taking the Earth and everyone with him. Before he could, Goku teleported him off the planet and died along with King Kai. Gohan has a breakdown about not killing Cell when he has the chance and all the other heroes are saddened by Goku's death, taking some peace that Cell is finally dead. Just as they are about to leave, a sudden wind appears along with a rush of energy. Before anyone knew what was happening, Trunks is killed instantly by an energy blast to the chest. Cell is back.
    • In the Buu Saga, it looks like Buu will be redeemed by Mr. Satan who got him to swear off killing. Then, some stupid humans come, shoot the dog and Mr. Satan, causing Buu to blow his top, giving birth to Evil Buu. Let's just say that things went downhill in a hurry from there.
    • Before that moment, Vegeta blows himself up trying to kill Buu, fighting for the sake of others for the first time in his life. When Piccolo returns to see if there is anything left of Vegeta, he only finds pieces of Buu scattered across the ground. Not long afterwards, Buu started to reform himself, completely undamaged by Vegeta's sacrifice.
    • The fights with Super Buu have a lot of Hope Spots. After Gotenks bluffed about being low on energy, Piccolo destroys the door to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, trapping themselves with Buu for an eternity. Buu escapes by screaming. Once Gotenks escapes using Super Saiyan 3, he fights Buu and comes close to killing him, only for his fusion to break at that moment. Gohan then shows up and dominates Buu easily. Buu escapes, but Gohan can kill him at any time. When he does return, he tricks Goten and Trunks into fusions and then absorbs them along with Piccolo, becoming smarter and stronger. Gohan can do nothing against this new form of Buu, so the Kais bring Goku back to life and give him a pair of earrings so he can fuse with Gohan. Before they can fuse, Buu's power drops because Gotenks' fusion ran out. He's weak enough for Gohan to kill him. Cue Buu absorbing Gohan.
    • Goku and Vegeta have successfully rescued Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo from Majin Buu and have forced Buu to transform again into what appears to be a weaker childlike form. Without any warning, Buu released a blast to destroy the planet which Vegeta stops. So, Buu makes an even bigger energy blast that would destroy the Earth ten times, making it impossible for Goku and Vegeta to stop. The pair can only run for their lives.
    • After spending so long charging up the Spirit Bomb using the life energy of everyone on Earth and with Vegeta safely out of the way, Goku throws the Spirit Bomb at Buu. Buu catches it.
  • Horns of Villainy: Every member of Frieza's race has sported horns of some variety, and all have been sadistic conquerors.
  • Horrifying the Horror:
    • Goku does this often with Frieza being the most memorable since the tyrant was left permanently traumatized after their battle.
    • After becoming perfect, Cell was completely unstoppable and became The Dreaded to the people of Earth after he announced the Cell Games. This same monster is left shaking in complete terror after Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2 and beats him senseless. Cell is left so horrified that he calls Gohan a monster.
    • Vegeta did this to the final form of Buu not by overpowering him, but because he won't stay down no matter how badly he's beaten.
    • Being the fusion of Vegeta and Goku, Vegito has this in his very being. By the time Buu decides to absorb him, he puts the fear of god into Super Buu.
  • How Much More Can He Take?:
    • Vegeta attacking Android 18 even after she breaks his left arm at the elbow. In fact, no matter what anyone throws at him, he just won't stay down! Heck, he and Frieza are the only canon characters that have ever stood up after being hit by the Spirit Bomb. The first time he died, it took a blast straight through the heart to finally get the job done, and even then, it took a few minutes for him to actually die. There's also his epic beatdown by Kid Buu. No matter what Buu did to him, he wouldn't stay down, which actually scared Kid Buu.
    • Saiyans in general seem to have very durable bodies. Goku had all his limbs broken or disabled and was still able to beat King Piccolo and Piccolo. He also got beaten so badly by King Piccolo that his heart stopped and restarted on its own. He got hit multiple times in pressure points and got up after a few seconds with only minor pain. When Goku and Raditz were hit by Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon it took Goku several minutes to die despite having a giant hole in his chest (or a giant burn mark in the Kai version). Piccolo had to crush Raditz's head in to kill him quickly since, hole or no hole, he was still able to talk and brag. Goku got pummeled to a pulp by Frieza for several episodes and still had the endurance to become Super Saiyan without fainting, something that is supposed to be highly exhausting the first time. Not to mention, Gohan got his freaking neck broken and was still alive.
    • The fight at the end of the Saiyan Saga actually showed what Goku and Vegeta's limits were; getting stepped or landed on by a 50-foot tall ape is apparently too much.
    • Piccolo had his own share of beatdowns. The most famous being when Cell broke his neck, shot him point-blank with an energy blast to the chest, and threw him into the water to drown. He not only survived, but he'd healed his own broken neck and got to shore.
    • Spopovich vs. Videl turns into this, to the point that Gohan turns into a Super Saiyan and threatens to intervene.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Gohan and Videl. GT's art style skewered it, but in most manga images, her shoulders are level with his waist. Also inverted with Krillin and 18: she's normal size, but he's short.
  • Hulking Out: Goku and Gohan's Oozaru transformation.
    • And, to an extent, their initial Super Saiyan and SS2 transformations (respectively), both being shown to increase their muscle size noticeably (Gohan actually appears to get taller).
    • The 2nd Grade Super Saiyan (AKA "Ascended Saiyan") as shown in the Cell Saga by Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks; the latter actually took it even further to 3rd Grade, becoming so bulky that it hampered his speed and rendered the power increase pointless.
    • Broly. Unstoppable, giant force of extreme power unleashed by pure rage.
  • Human Aliens:
    • Saiyans in particular. Aside from having tails they look exactly like humans. In fact, they can even breed with them with no trouble at all.
    • Some of Frieza's helmeted mooks also qualify. There is also Recoome from the Ginyu Force who looks like a really big human.
  • Humanoid Aliens: Almost all of the aliens in the series fall into this when they're not Human Aliens, including the Namekians who are based on slugs.
  • Human Mom Nonhuman Dad: Have five of these, all born from Saiyan dads and human moms: Gohan, Goten (sons of Goku and Chi-Chi), Trunks, Bra (children of Vegeta and Bulma) and Pan (daughter of Gohan and Videl).
  • Humans Are Morons: It turns out that humans are selfish, childish, misguided idiots who only worry when something bad happens to them, can't put anything in perspective, and will only do anything as simple as, say, raise up their hands to fuel the Spirit Bomb when a voice encompassing the Earth asks (Vegeta actually said "please" the first time, although he didn't even tell them why they had to put their hands up). The only exception seems to be the Budokai announcer, who recognizes Goku and realizes he defeated Cell, not Mr. Satan.
  • Humans Are Special: Early on it was established that while humans are very low on the overall power scale compared to the rest of the universe, their martial arts gave them two particular talents that kept them just barely able to stick around in a fight. The first is their ability to "raise" their power level, as being able to fool the alien Power Level reading scouters would give them a false sense of confidence, at several points they would deliberately hold their power level to an absolute minimum (or wear weighted training clothes) before striking hard and fast. The second was an ability to sense ki and follow the movements of their enemy without an obvious line of sight, as the aliens relied on their scouters for everything without them they could easily overlook someone hiding or be distracted by dust clouds.
  • Humans Need Aliens: Dragon Ball both plays this straight and subverts it.
    • On one hand, humans would have gone extinct without the Saiyans and Namekians protecting them and wishing them back with the Dragon Balls.
    • At the same time, the majority of the show's conflicts would have never happened if Goku and Vegeta never came to Earth and Kami never made the Dragon Balls, which most of the sagas revolve around. Not to say that humans would be completely better off since the Red Ribbon Army would still exist, King Piccolo would be older, but still terrorizing humans, and not to mention Babidi coming for Buu.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Probably the biggest reason why Earth haven't been destroyed (permanently at least). To recap:
    • Goku was a savage toddler who may have went on to kill people if it wasn't for the kindness of Gohan Sr who taught him love. His head injury could have helped too.
    • Piccolo, who wanted to conquer the world and didn't care who got in his way, came to know love from Gohan, who is half-human, and renounced his evil past.
    • Vegeta, who was a ruthless murderer and Blood Knight, softened up and started a family once he began to live on Earth.
    • Fat Buu, much like Vegeta, was a mass-murderer until he was shown the error of his ways by Mr. Satan, and now lives a peaceful life.
      • In short, although humans are the weakest fighters in the series, their very humanity has turned some of the most powerful beings in the universe into their allies.
    • In a negative example, the Nameless Namek was affected by all the negative aspects of humanity corrupting his good nature. To purify himself he split himself into Kami and the original Piccolo.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes:
    • It's noted by several aliens in the series that humans are really fragile creatures. When Raditz kills the farmer who shot him, he scoffs at how weak humans are. When Nappa takes out Tien's arm with a single punch, both Nappa and Vegeta laugh at how fragile humans are. Piccolo muses how he's glad that he isn't a human after Krillin keeps complaining about how cold he is when they are searching for Gero's lab.
    • When Android 17 kills Dr. Gero by stepping on his detached head, everyone, save for Vegeta, is shocked. Krillin talks about how unbelievable it is that the android killed their own creator. Vegeta scoffs at them, saying that humans are the strange ones since most species kill anyone who gets in their way, regardless if they're their parents.
  • Humble Hero: Despite their obsessional attitude towards training and breaking their own limits, the heroes never bother about fame and being recognizable. Although later they are quite annoyed by Mr. Satan's Fake Ultimate Hero behavior, they never make any attempt to correct the official version.
  • Humiliation Conga:
    • Happens at least Once a Season to Vegeta:
      • He gets the crap beat out of him by Goku after he activates his Kaioken and deflects Vegeta's Galick Gun. Then when he regains his advantage by turning into a Great Ape, he gets his tail cut off and nearly killed by a Spirit Bomb. Just when he's sure he can kill everyone, Gohan turns into a Great Ape and lands on him just as he cuts off Gohan's tail. He's then left at Krillin's mercy and is only spared because Goku begs for his life.
      • When he reaches Namek, he easily kills Cui and Dodoria and steals one of the Dragon Balls. He then gets his butt handed to him by Zarbon. Although he eventually defeats Zarbon and steals Frieza's and Krillin's Dragon Balls, Gohan steals the Dragon Ball he hid right from under his nose. Once the Ginyu Force arrives, he gets manhandled by Recoome. After all of that, he finally gains access to all seven Dragon Balls, but can't use them because he doesn't know the password and has his chance at immortality denied because the Namekian dragon dies before the wish can be granted. Frieza then arrives and beats and humiliates Vegeta before killing him in cold-blood. When he comes back to life, he learns that Goku became a Super Saiyan. He's really not happy about that last part.
      • In the Android/Cell Saga, Vegeta finally becomes a Super Saiyan and beats one of the androids without any problems. He then gets curb stomped by Android 18 and learns that there is an even more powerful android running around. After training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for a year, he becomes so strong that Semi-Perfect Cell can't even harm him, which goes to his head and he lets Cell absorb 18 to have a better challenge. Once Cell becomes perfect, he beats Vegeta effortlessly and Vegeta never touches Cell again, even after he murders Trunks.
      • After seven years of training, Vegeta is stronger than Gohan, who has been slacking off. He then learns that Goku is still stronger, so he gives his soul to Babidi to bridge the gap and fight Goku one last time. Their battle awakens Buu, who seemingly murders Gohan, causing Vegeta to realize that he's made a terrible mistake. To make amends, he fights Buu, but can't do any lasting damage and is almost killed. He chooses to sacrifice himself to stop Buu, knowing that he will go to Hell because of his past deeds. His efforts utterly fail and he dies for nothing. He is semi-revived to fight Buu and has to fuse with Goku to even have a chance, something he hates. His actions also lead to Buu's pure evil form returning and Buu destroying the Earth along with his son. And to add salt to the wound, he performs even worse against Kid Buu then he did against Fat Buu, nearly being beaten to death, even when he's still dead. This final Humiliation Conga finally makes Vegeta a much more humble person.
    • Frieza's spectacular fall from grace. First, he awakens a Super Saiyan (the very thing he was trying to prevent), gets his butt kicked by a 'mere monkey', fails to have his wish granted twice, is shown mercy from said monkey after being told point-blank that he lost and to go crawl into a hole, gets cut to pieces by his own technique, has to beg for his life, is blasted by an energy wave, and has a planet explode on him. And soon as he recovers from the above, he goes out to get revenge only to be cut to pieces again and then blown to kingdom come. Then he gets owned every time he appears in non-canon anime content as a dead man. Even in the canon movie he doesn't fare that much better. How the mighty have fallen.
    • Cell gets this twice:
      • His entire fight with Super Vegeta in his Semi-Perfect form is basically Vegeta making an absolute fool out of him, leaving him a whining, pitiful mess. It's only when he convinces Vegeta to let him absorb 18 and become Perfect does he turn the tables on Vegeta.
      • His entire fight with Gohan once he pushes too many of the kid's buttons. It rivals Goku's epic beat down on Frieza.
    • Super Buu's 'fight' with Vegito. After absorbing Gohan, Buu was close to being invincible. Then Vegito comes and makes an utter fool out of him. Vegito didn't even need to go Super Saiyan (in the anime at least) and he beats Buu as a piece of candy.
  • Hybrid Power: Saiyan-human hybrids have far more inherent power than pure members of either race. The effect seems to get stronger with successive generations. At age five, Gohan could flatten mountains and stagger Freeza if he got angry enough. Goten and Trunks could go Super Saiyan without even thinking about it.
  • Hypocrite: Bulma tears the Z-Fighters a new one for depending on Goten and Trunks to fight Majin Buu, especially after Piccolo traps them in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, where they will remain forever until Buu kills them. While she makes a valid point and the Z-Fighters are being too casual about death, she never made this protest before when kid Goku would go off on dangerous adventures, one that she started with the first Dragon Ball hunt, and even encouraged Goku to come with her. She also had no problem with kid Gohan fighting super-powered, mass-murdering aliens and androids, and didn't bat an eye when he asked to go to Namek with them. It's not until her child is in mortal danger that she suddenly realizes the negative implications of having children fight on the front lines.

     I 
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Done so many times you will get alcohol poisoning if you attempt to make a drinking game, especially with Frieza who might as well be the page image.
  • I Am X, Son of Y:
    • Vegeta to the point that it's his catchphrase: "I Am Vegeta, Prince of all Saiyans!"
    • In Fusion Reborn, Gohan, as the Great Saiyaman, reintroduces himself to the resurrected Frieza as "Son of Goku, guardian of all that is good: Gohan."
    • Gohan does this a lot as a kid, usually to psych himself up. His speeches usually follows the lines of: "I am son of Goku, trained by Piccolo."
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Kami invokes this at the beginning of the Piccolo Jr. saga, when talking with Mr. Popo about how to deal with King Piccolo's offspring, since killing him means he would die as well. When the situation gets bad enough, he tries to get someone else to kill him, though Goku intervenes.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight
    • Goku briefly tries this on Majin Vegeta during the Buu Saga... only to discover that Vegeta is in full control of himself and let Babidi possess him in order to increase his power.
    • Mr. Satan tries to get through to Super Buu by reminding him of his vow to never to kill again and shows him the puppy he saved. Buu laughs at him and Piccolo harshly tells him that the Buu he made friends with is gone. It later turns out that Fat Buu isn't gone, he just has no control of Super Buu since he's a different personality altogether.
  • Identical Grandson:
    • Goku's family. Goku looks exactly like his father and Goten looks exactly like Goku (until Toriyama changes his hairstyle as Goten ages). Gohan, despite having different hair to Goku, has the same facial features. In the Japanese version, they all sound alike as well. One notable aversion is Raditz, who looks nothing like Goku or their father, instead looking more like Vegeta.
    • Bulma's family. Both her son and especially her daughter look most like their mother, although Trunks has some of Vegeta's facial features, and Dr. Brief's hair.
    • And Vegeta himself still plays this straight with his father and his brother (Tarble).
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • Goku's orange turtle gi. Since he got the Turtle Hermit uniform, he always wears a version of it, with the exceptions of the last episodes of Z where he switches to a version of his original blue gi and Dragon Ball GT where he wears a modified version of the EOZ gi.
    • Piccolo's purple gi, turban, and long white cape with the long shoulder guards. He always wears this and never changes his clothes like Goku at the EOZ or Vegeta during the Buu Saga.
    • Vegeta's Saiyan armor with his blue undergarments. He only went without his armor in the Buu Saga and the EOZ
  • Ideal Hero:
    • Goku zigzags. Specifically, Goku himself fulfills the trope by being the best man you'll ever meet or hear of. He is the Hope Bringer to all who know him, can inspire people who have been evil their entire lives to become good people like Piccolo and Vegeta, will spare enemies and only kill as a very last resort, and has laid down his life twice without hesitation protecting others, but he will focus on his training to the exclusion of everything else, sometimes including family. Goku also tends to fall under a mild case of Adaptational Heroism. In the dub and in the Japanese anime, Goku's heroics are played up more. Toriyama originally wanted Goku to be a hero, but a somewhat questionable and selfish hero who grows stronger not to protect others, but to fight stronger people. He even says that he wanted people to wonder if Goku is really a good person. That changed a bit after Character Development took over and Goku becomes more heroic and unquestionably good. He is still selfish and will put a good fight above the safety of the world, but his heart is usually in the right place.
    • Gohan parodies one when he's dressed as the Great Saiyaman. When he's in Super Hero mode, he's a mixture of Power Rangers and Superman with his poses and grand speeches. In reality, he's really a Classic Anti Hero, since he is always bogged down with self-doubt and lives in his father's shadow.
  • Idiot Ball: Android 18 watched Cell kick the crap out of Android 17 and Piccolo (who had shown himself to be at least as powerful as 17), instead of running when 16 told her to leave. After Cell absorbs 17 and is about to do the same to 18, Tien jumps in and immobilizes Cell with his Tri-Beam, allowing 16 and 18 to escape, although they only leave after Tien almost killed himself from overexertion. And then again, when Vegeta fights Cell, 16 and 18 decide that escaping is decidedly less important than watching Vegeta kick Cell around.
    • Introduced retroactively. King Kai knows Instant Transmission, and says he could have taught Goku. So why did Goku have to Race Against the Clock, traveling back down Snake Way? Couldn't King Kai have taken him.
  • Idiot Hero: The Trope Codifier for modern Shonen heroes. At the same time, he isn't a straight example since Goku is more naive and too trusting than outright dumb and does show a surprising amount of wisdom outside of fighting to the point he gives life advice to his friends and sons. It is hinted in Dragon Ball Minus that Goku's good heart came from his mother and not just from his head injury like most of his friends believe. There is also no real hint of Goku having brain damage given that he was raised in extreme isolation for most of his childhood which is why he is naive about the rest of the world and never really integrated into human society.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die:
    • Goku's feelings for letting Frieza murder Krillin, especially since Krillin can't be revived with the Earth's Dragon Balls. This was his second death.
    • Gohan blames himself for Tien's death during the Saiyan Saga. He froze during Piccolo and Krillin's team attack. He also blames himself for Android 16's death from Cell.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Goku is very proud to be an Earthling, referring to himself as a Saiyan from Earth.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice
    • Goku and Raditz were impaled by Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon, killing both of them.
    • Frieza runs Krillin through on one of his horns after his first transformation. He then proceeded to shake Krillin until he lost consciousness.
    • How Vegeta met his end the first time. He took an energy blast to the chest that pierced his heart.
    • Poor Yamcha got impaled by Dr. Gero's hand after he had his energy absorbed. He retired from fighting shortly after this incident.
    • Dabura impaled Fat Buu with a spear after realizing how dangerous the Majin was. Naturally, thanks to Buu's healing factor, it did no lasting damage.
  • Impending Clash Shot: At least one per fighting antagonist arc, an episode will have a Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame (usually based on a panel from the manga) of either the characters charging into the fray or one if not both at ready fighting stances. Like Freeza charging (flying) with his energy aura at Goku's Super Saiyan Kamehameha in one episode.
  • Impossible Task Instantly Accomplished:
    • Kid Buu takes it Up to Eleven, mastering both the Kamehameha and Instant Transmission on sight.
    • Mr. Satan tells Videl she's only allowed to date a boy who can beat him in a fight. So she does.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Remember Chi-Chi being a princess? Well, raising two half-Saiyan boys ain't cheap when their father isn't around to hunt and fish. She manages to blow through her father's entire fortune raising Gohan and Goten, to the point that she makes the uncharacteristic move of letting Gohan take a leave of absence from school in order to prepare for the World Martial Arts Tournament because they need the prize money. When she meets Videl, she accuses her of being a hussy trying to corrupt her son, but she changes her tune real fast when she finds out Videl's family is rich.
  • Inaction Sequence: Very common of the fanbase is the immense amount of talking, taking several episodes to gather enough energy, or just flat out delaying fights for a later time.
  • Incompletely Trained
    • This is a large part of why Gohan struggles in some of the later arcs. Due to Chi-Chi's over-protectiveness and Goku's absence, he's never fully trained himself in the use of his natural abilities.
    • Goku himself is able to get by despite leaving in the middle of his training more than once because he manages to learn everything on his own anyway.
    • This is suggested to be the primary reason that the Supreme Kai is not as competent as one would hope for his rank. He was actually a junior Kai back before Buu slaughtered all of his superiors, so all the authority fell to him before he was fully ready for it.
  • Inexplicably Awesome:
    • Despite being born and classified as a lower class Saiyan, Bardock has a power level around 10,000 before he died. For reference, Goku didn't get that high until he trained with King Kai and he was still only around 8 to 9,000 without the Kaioken. That also makes him much stronger than Nappa, an elite solider. In fact, he's about as strong as King Vegeta. Some of this is explained as Bardock regularly coming back from missions half-dead.
    • Goku at the start of the series. Nothing was known about his past other than that he was found in the mountains by his grandfather and was raised in isolation for a number of years. Everything else about Goku was up in the air like why he was so powerful, had a tail, and why he turned into a big ape during a full moon. His friends and enemies openly debated if he were even human. By Z, we learned he's a Human Alien from a warrior race and he's actually a weakling by their standards. Even then, his ungodly strength and seemingly endless potential still isn't fully explained given he outpaces the Saiyan Prince, who is said to be the strongest their race has to offer. Part of it is a lot of hard work, but, as the series has shown, hard work alone can't match natural talent unless it is maintained.
    • For decades, no one knew why Frieza and his family were so powerful. His power was so unrivaled that it took a legend to defeat him and every villain afterward was either demonic in nature or created to be the strongest in the universe. It's not until much later that we learn that Frieza's family are mutants among their race and Frieza himself is a prodigy even among them.
  • Infant Immortality: Strongly played with, when it's not being outright averted. Notable aversions include:
    • The Namekian children being slaughtered either by Vegeta or Frieza and his goons. Dende himself is taken out by Frieza who realizes it might be wise to Shoot the Medic First.
    • Trunks and Goten die when Kid Buu blows up the Earth—thanks a lot Kakarot!
    • And then there's all the times the villains of a particular saga decide to blow up an entire city...or wipe out all of the sentient inhabitants of a city or an entire planet just to show off.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: The entire Son family. They are known for their pure hearts.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Goku's rivalry with Vegeta is entirely filled with this subtext. Goku is unintentionally dismissive towards Vegeta after the events of the Frieza Saga which only fuels his resentment more. This comes to a head during the Buu Saga, where Vegeta learned that Goku was holding back the entire time in their previous fight.
    • Krillin and 18's daughter, Marron, is like this, saying Master Roshi is too old to compete in the Martial Arts Tournament. She is three, though, so it make sense.
  • Irony: Chi-Chi spends the Cell Games terrified that Goku will get Gohan killed. Ultimately, Gohan's Super Saiyan 2 bloodlust gets Goku killed.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Most of the aliens and gods have this view of Earth. It was more or less said in Dragon Ball Minus that Frieza would have no interest in Earth and King Cold is famous for calling it (in the Funimation dub) an insignificant mudball. Even the Galactic Patrolman couldn't care less about what happens to Earth.
  • Instant Expert
    • Vegeta seems to instantly learn to sense people by their ki energy (as opposed to needing a scouter to detect them) between his defeat in the Saiyan Saga and his return in the Frieza Saga. Since this isn't even something that can be "observed" at all, apparently he instantly learned to do it simply by being told it was possible.
    • Subverted with Captain Ginyu, who is extremely weak after performing a body switch with Goku, whose greatest fighting potential (at the time) requires the use of the Kaioken technique, which Ginyu does not know. He does begin to get the hang of Goku's body, but just how far it would have gone is unknown.
    • Taken to extremes with Goten and Trunks, who somehow master the Super Saiyan transformation before they even hit puberty, whereas their fathers spent months or years training in deep space under extreme conditions to learn it. Even more than that, they skipped several requirements of achieving the transformation, such as experiencing a moment of pure rage. Handwaved later with the explanation that hybrids are able to access the transformations more readily at the cost of lower overall enhancement from said transformation.
  • In the Doldrums: The "Room of Spirit and Time" ("Hyperbolic Time Chamber" in the dub) is an infinite White Void Room where a year passes for every day outside. This, combined with increased gravity and wildly fluctuating temperature, can have an erosive effect on your sanity - Goku is mentioned to have tried it when he was younger, only to barely last a month.
  • I Surrender, Suckers
    • Raditz pulls this off when Goku grabs his tail and Piccolo readies to kill him with his Special Beam Cannon. Raditz convinces Goku to let go by saying that if he does, he would leave Earth without causing any damage to it. Despite Piccolo's warning, Goku believes him... and just as soon as he lets Raditz go, he is struck in the stomach.
    • Frieza does the same after being cut in half by his own energy disc. After pleading for his life, Goku gives him enough energy to escape the soon-to-be-exploding planet (since he can survive in space). Instead of escaping Frieza uses the energy to attack as soon as Goku's back is turned. Subverted as this time Goku just turns around and blows Frieza away.
    • Even the Z-Fighters, or at least Piccolo, aren't innocent of this. When Cell managed to drain Piccolo's arm, Piccolo apparently seemed resigned to his fate of being absorbed by Cell and instead asks that Cell at least explain to him what he is, what his plans are, and how he came to be. Turns out, this was a gambit thought up by Piccolo (or rather, the Kami half of him) to not only get Cell to tell him everything, but also buy enough time to recharge his Ki energy so he could remove his arm and regenerate without weakening himself even further.
  • Is That the Best You Can Do?: This taunt gets thrown around a lot.
  • Interspecies Romance: Several. Chi-Chi and Goku, Vegeta and Bulma, Gohan and Videl.
  • In the Back
    • Krillin attempted to do this with his Destructo Disc against Vegeta when he was transformed into a Great Ape (it failed) and Frieza (after his first transformation), where he only managed to lob off some of the latter's tail. Though if the villains hadn't reacted RIGHT when they did, Krillin could've easily killed them both, despite them being vastly stronger than him.
    • Yajirobe actually pulled a successful back attack to cut off Vegeta's tail.
    • Frieza himself tried this when Goku turned his back on him after he was defeated. It didn't end well for him.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Happens to Goku a lot despite his best efforts. The most extreme is the Frieza fight. Not only was he the only person able to fight Frieza after becoming a Super Saiyan, Frieza and he were the only ones left on the planet during the final leg.
  • In the Name of the Moon
    • The Great Saiyaman is made of this trope, which is fitting given that he is a parody of this archetype.
    • Goku's "I am" speech, both versions!
    Z: "I am the hope of the Universe! I am the answer to all living things that cry out for Peace! I am the protector of the innocent! I am the light in the darkness! I am truth... Ally to good! Nightmare to you!"

    Kai: "I am the Saiyan who came all the way from Earth with the sole purpose of defeating you. I am the one you've heard of in legends! Pure of heart and awakened by fury, that's who I am... I AM THE SUPER SAIYAN, SON GOKU!!"
  • Intergenerational Friendship:
    • Gohan and Krillin, particularly in the Frieza Saga.
    • Gohan and Piccolo too note 
  • Intimidation Demonstration: Mr. Satan loves to do this. His favorite method of showing off is to take a stack of bricks and break them in front of his opponent.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Gohan when he becomes a Great Ape before permanently losing his tail.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: The first time Gohan goes to school, he ends up playing baseball. He grew up among superhuman fighters and didn't realize that the average person can't jump 30 feet into the air.
  • Irony
    • Frieza's attempts to wipe out the Saiyans so a Super Saiyan couldn't rise among them and challenge him as the strongest in the universe backfired for several reasons:
      • Because Frieza recalled all the Saiyans to their home planet so he could kill them all in one shot, Bardock was alerted that something was wrong. In response, Bardock and Gine sent their toddler son to Earth for his own protection. That child would grow up and challenge Frieza years later on Namek.
      • Frieza's habit for Sparing the Aces came back to haunt him since he didn't kill Vegeta because of how talented of a fighter he was. Although Vegeta couldn't directly challenge him and was killed by Frieza's hand, he set in motion events that led to his downfall, like making the Earthlings go to Namek to wish back their fallen friends, wounding Goku to make him stronger, and keeping Goku's friends alive (directly and indirectly).
      • Finally, his terrible habit of toying with his opponents which kept Goku alive long enough to drop a Spirit Bomb on his head, which led to him picking off Goku's friends right in front of him, causing him to transform into a Super Saiyan.
      • As a final kick in the head towards Frieza, he was killed off by the future son of Vegeta in the main timeline, who was also a Super Saiyan. In the end, Frieza himself is the reason why the Super Saiyans exist, the very thing he was trying to prevent.
    • Goku's very existence is a big slab of irony:
      • His friends and fellow Saiyans believe he was sent to Earth to wipe out all life. Instead he ended up being the Earth's and the universe-at-large's greatest champion, fighting off evil beings like his own race and the person who was supposed to be his boss.
      • Goku was born the son of a low class warrior and a pacifist mother. He was also born with a less than impressive power level. Through a series of events, he ends up becoming one of the strongest beings in the universe, surpassing the gods even before he became a god himself.
      • He is one of the nicest people around and almost all his friends are former villains who have done some horrible things, with Vegeta regularly committing genocide before he's reformed. Yet, he's the one who is target for revenge all the time. Although he's known for sparing people so they can return to challenge him, most of the people seeking vengeance against him are people he wasn't merciful to and even went out of his way to wipe out like Mercenary Tao, the Red Ribbon Army, and King Piccolo and his family. It got so bad that Goku thought it would be better to stay dead to keep these people from coming after him.
      • Adding even more irony onto that last part: it turns out that Frieza's army was scared shitless of Goku and stayed far away from Earth because he was there.
    • Piccolo and Gohan's relationship. Piccolo kidnaps Gohan to train to leave something of his legacy behind on Earth since he feels he may die to the Saiyans. He also wants to corrupt Gohan into his image and even muses about turning him against his own father. Instead Gohan corrupts him, turning the former Demon King into a good person who died protecting Gohan. This goes even further in the anime where Piccolo takes a shot meant for Goku saving his life.
    • The irony of Dr. Gero creating Cell. He wanted to make a bio-android so strong that it will kill Goku, the man he hated for destroying the Red Ribbon Army. Cell is made from cells of Goku, which means even if he did kill Goku part of him will still exist within Cell.
    • Few characters in the series have never been killed. The one who was never killed that was featured the most prominently was Hercule, who also happened to be the weakest of all the characters to never be killed.
    • Likewise, few of the good guys on the series ever stay dead. The two biggest exceptions are Guru and Android 16, each of whom could be listed as being among the most benevolent characters of the series. Each also had an incredible passion for the preservation of life in general, with Guru at one point literally passing away because the destruction of his people was too much to take, and 16 becoming entranced with the natural beauty that he felt around him on Earth.
    • Despite Vegeta being the primary villain of the Saiyan Saga and a villain through most of the Frieza Saga, he is the only main villain in the series to not kill any of the heroes.
    • At the start of Z the Saiyans were a race feared by the universe. Having even a Saiyan baby sent to a planet was considered a death sentence. The entire cast of Earth was terrified of them and saw them as the greatest threat the Earth had ever faced, far worse than the reign of King Piccolo. Over a decade later, the Saiyans and those who carry their blood are consider the greatest champions of not only the Earth, but the entire universe. The remaining Saiyans also became far stronger than they ever were when they were evil.
  • It's Personal
    • Vegeta's deep hatred for Frieza is almost unparalleled in a series full of personal conflicts. And that's BEFORE he finds out Frieza was the one who blew up Planet Vegeta and wiped out most of the Saiyan race.
    • Goku had a lot of friends die since the beginning of Z, but it was Frieza's cold-blooded murder of his best friend Krillin that triggers his ascension to Super Saiyan.
    • The entire Android/Cell Saga could be seen as a big 'It's Personal' towards Goku since Dr. Gero built the androids specifically to kill Goku as vengeance for destroying the Red Ribbon Army. Yes, at least two futures were completely ruined and another almost blown apart because of one man's personal vendetta.
    • The Supreme Kai has this relationship with Majin Buu since Buu murdered all his friends and mentors.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Vegeta by Android 18.
    • A mechanical and physically augmented girl nonetheless.
    • Krillin and Zangya.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Krillin's willingness to invoke this trope in regards to Android 17 and 18 (who he mistakenly believed were a couple) is part of what endeared him to 18.
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     J 
  • Jerkass: Almost all the main villains, especially Frieza and Cell. Both are incredibly arrogant, cruel, and self-centered. Frieza, although occasionally sophisticated, he is racist and despotic. And Cell has this from Vegeta's cells.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • In the Saiyan Saga, Yajirobe invokes this after the fight against Vegeta, calling out Chi-Chi for focusing entirely on Gohan, who was merely unconscious, while ignoring Goku, who didn't have a single unbroken bone in his body.
    • Vegeta killing Burter and Recoome in cold blood after Goku defeated them. Goku states that Vegeta was being cruel, but Vegeta then retorts that their deaths were deserved, especially since Gohan and Krillin were on the verge of death, and that they had killed countless people under Frieza's orders. While Goku states that having a little compassion isn't a disadvantage, sparing the Ginyu Force would have caused far more harm than good. This is further emphasized later on when Goku spares their even more sadistic leader Frieza's life at least twice - which only prompts Frieza to try to stab Goku in the back both times; though, to be fair, Goku only spared Frieza the first time out of Cruel Mercy instead, not compassion.
    • After saving the heart virus-stricken Goku from being killed by Android 19, Vegeta proceeds to chew him out for it, reminding Goku that he was warned about the heart virus and should have known that fighting in his condition, let alone going Super Saiyan, would have only made it worse.
    • Vegeta gets another one after beating Android 19 so thoroughly that 19 flips out and tries to make a break for it, to which Dr. Gero/Android 20 shouts at Vegeta that it's enough. As Vegeta rightfully points out in response, Gero and 19 had clearly come all this way to destroy him and the other Z Fighters, and it's only "enough" because they're losing.
    • Although Vegeta was too harsh with Gohan about him getting weaker in the Buu saga and how his fight with Dabura was a "disgrace," he made a good point: Gohan was struggling against a foe that, seven years ago, he wouldn't have had such a problem with, and it was in their best interest to beat these foes as quickly and efficiently as possible. In fact, Vegeta's arrogance notwithstanding, it's highly probable that he could have defeated Dabura with relative ease had he been the one to fight instead.
    • Vegeta gets another one in the climax of the Buu Saga when he calls out Goku for leaving his children to die while Kid Buu blows up the Earth, and choosing to rescue Mr. Satan and Dende instead. While he's doing so, Goku just sits there and has absolutely nothing to say in his own defense.
    • During the Saiyan Saga, when Gohan wants to learn martial arts from his father instead of Piccolo, Piccolo states that Goku is too soft-hearted to be an effective teacher. These concerns prove to be justified in the Cell saga when they go into the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and Goku initially holds back for fear of hurting Gohan accidentally.
    • As obnoxious as Chi-Chi can be (mostly anime), she has a point in not trusting Piccolo too easily. Keep in mind, Piccolo was once a threat to the universe. She had witnessed him beat the shit out of Goku and put a gaping hole through Goku's body. So it was only natural of her to freak out when she finds out that he killed Goku (granted Goku wanted Piccolo to do it, but it still counts) and then kidnapped her (then) 4-year old son.
      • There's also the fact that around the time she shows she utterly adamant against Gohan fighting alongside Goku and the others, he really was too young to go to battle. Case in point: when Gohan fought Cell, he was 9. As a mother, the thought of her (then) only child going to what was essentially warfare must be unthinkable.
    • While it was extremely stupid of Chi-Chi to slap Buu in the face and to get herself killed, she had every right to feel contempt towards Buu. It was implied that he was responsible for the death of her older son Gohan, and any parent would be understandably pissed if he or she had to stand in the same area with his/her son's killer(s).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Piccolo. Cold and aloof, but he does care for his friends, especially Gohan.
    • Vegeta slowly evolved into this and finally becomes this trope near the end of the Buu Saga.
  • Just a Kid: Gohan, and to a lesser extent, Trunks and Goten are called this.
  • Just Toying with Them: Standard practice for most villains (and some heroes) when their power significantly eclipses that of their opponent. This often leads to their undoing, but not always:
    • Nappa versus the Earth's defenders. When he did use a little of his full power, he was able to One-Hit Kill Piccolo who was the strongest of the group.
    • Vegeta tried to do this with Goku during their first fight. It didn't go well after Goku used Kaioken X3 on him.
    • The Ginyu Force's preferred fighting style. Until Goku came along, they made sport of Vegeta, Krillin, and Gohan.
    • Frieza lived this trope. After going through many fights against the heroes and reaching his final form, he reveals to Goku he's only been using a fraction of his total power (1% in the dub) and proceeds to start using one third. This is more than enough to beat Goku silly, and at one point he briefly decides to give Goku a fighting chance by not using his hands. Once Goku goes Super Saiyan, however, Frieza stops playing around and convinces Goku to allow him to fight at full power. Unfortunately for him, his chance at victory has already flown out the window. Goku even points out to Frieza why he's going to end up losing: having done nothing but toy with weaker opponents for nearly his entire life, when he actually goes all-out to fight Super Saiyan Goku, he's got little-to-no practice fighting an equal or superior opponent, and has such terrible endurance (especially by this point) that after only a short time at full power, he starts getting rapidly weaker.
    • Goku himself starts to do this towards the end of his fight with Frieza. He was so weak that he couldn't even keep up with Goku anymore and Goku spent his remaining time playing mind games before declaring Frieza was boring him.
    • Vegeta toying with Semi-Perfect Cell. This wouldn't have been a problem had he not allowed Cell to reach his perfect form so he'd be more challenging, though.
    • Gohan slowly toys with Perfect Cell after becoming a Super Saiyan 2, which cost his father his life after Cell decided to self-destruct and take the Earth with him.
    • Gotenks not taking his fight with Super Buu seriously. This is an example of someone without a power advantage playing the trope.
    • Buu, or more specifically Super Buu, toys with Gotenks, not taking the younger boy seriously at all. It wasn't until Gotenks became a Super Saiyan 3 and starts kicking his butt that Buu became serious.
    • Super Buu, after absorbing Gotenks and Piccolo, slowly takes his time with Gohan, using him as a testing ground for his new techniques and power.
    • Vegito toying with Super Fusion Buu. This was actually part of his strategy rather than an act of arrogance, though. Doesn't make it any less fun to watch.

     K 
  • Karmic Death: Frieza wiped out the Saiyan race, only to be defeated by a Saiyan (Goku), then killed by the son of a Saiyan (Trunks). Then in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, he was killed again by a Saiyan (Goku).
  • Kiai: Even if you never watch the show, Dragon Ball is known for this.
    • The Funimation dub seems to take this even further... just check out Goku's Super Saiyan 3 transformation and then wonder how Sean Schemmel is still voice acting today. The editing of the clip suggests some reuse of the best voice take— but he hopefully still got a few days off to recuperate.
    • Kiai is stated in Daizenshuu 7 a Ki Attack used to knock away opponents or deflect attacks.
    • Kid Buu upon his introduction lets out a LOUD one that caused an apocalyptic storm all over the world.
  • Kick the Dog: During the Saiyan Saga, Vegeta and Nappa crash land on an alien planet ruled over by a cruel tyrant. They kill the usurper simply because he got in their way, and a courageous prince is reunited with the woman whom the tyrant forcibly took as his bride. Nappa is almost amused, but as they leave the planet Vegeta decides to blow it up just to dash the aliens' hopes at their newfound freedom.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: In a universe filled with Jerk Asses, Smug Snakes, and Smug Supers this trope comes up more than once:
    • After Nappa fails to defeat Goku and can only nearly equal his strength (without Kaio-Ken) and got his back broken, Vegeta throws him up the air and obliterates him. Although the action itself is pretty surprising (Nappa was his partner), Nappa had spent most of his screentime slaughtering thousands of innocents and most of the Z-Fighters and nearly killed Gohan while laughing about it. Still, many fans do see this as Vegeta's lowest moment.
    • Vegeta IS this trope in the Namek Saga with his fight against Zarbon being among the best moments. Until about an arc and a half later when he makes a more genuine Heel–Face Turn, Vegeta is basically an evil guy killing even eviler guys.
    • However, contrast this with final form Frieza's fight against Vegeta— whilst Vegeta's actions up until now have hardly been worthy of any sympathy, the fight plays out to evoke as much sympathy for Vegeta as possible. The fact that he is finally facing up to the cruel tyrant who has held him in bondage his entire life, and getting smacked around and humiliated because of it, resulting in Vegeta breaking down and crying, is fairly emotional despite his villainy. Helps that King Kai lampshades that Vegeta's treachery was about to be paid back.
    • When one thinks about it, Frieza's genocide of the Saiyans. Yes, killing the people he's been working with for years just because he's scared of their ever-growing strength was cruel and unnecessary, but one must keep in mind that the Saiyans were not gentle and kind beings like Goku. As a matter of fact, they were selfish, arrogant, and ruthless; they had no remorse over sending children into space nor killing BILLIONS if not TRILLIONS of people. Even Vegeta killed his partner Nappa just for being crippled by Goku.
    • Frieza who gets his well-deserved beatdown from Goku, despite the fear that Goku was losing himself to rage and was becoming a threat to himself and others. If Goku had ignored Frieza's pleas for mercy as he lied dying on the ground, no one would had thought badly of him.
    • Even if 17 and 18 had turned out to be as evil as their future counterparts, most still would cheer when 17 stepped on Gero's decapitated head.
    • It was frightening to see sweet-hearted Gohan torture Cell after the former went Super Saiyan 2. Although, it was frightening for Gohan's sanity and not Cell who deserved everything he got.
    • Buu killing Babidi by crushing his skull in. Although Buu went on a complete rampage afterwards, no one regretted Babidi's demise.
    • Van Zant, an Ax-Crazy Trigger Happy lunatic who had gone on a killing spree for fun with the justification that Buu would be destroying the Earth soon anyway, decides to drop that excuse and try to kill Majin Buu so he can go on killing people. Instead, he causes Buu to spawn Evil Buu, and the very first thing Evil Buu does is completely vaporize Van Zant. With the fact that he had been shooting innocent people For the Evulz, and had previously shot Buu's puppy Bee for fun, it's hard not to cheer when Evil Buu kills him.
  • Kid Hero:
    • Subverted with 9-year-old (physically 10) Gohan during the Cell Games. Gohan's hybrid human-Saiyan heritage make him potentially the most powerful being on Earth. Too bad his gentle personality rendered him unable to use that power and potentially kill Cell, even when the villain threatened not only his life but the lives of his friends.
    • Goten and Trunks, especially their fused form, Gotenks. They were built as the heroes who would save the world from Majin Buu.
    • Played straight with Goku in the original Dragon Ball. A caring, gentle boy who unlike Gohan was perfectly capable of using his status as one of the strongest guys on the planet.
  • Kid Hero All Grown-Up: Goku, as well as most of the other kid characters from the original Dragon Ball
  • Kill 'Em All: What Majin Buu eventually did to natives of Earth. You can do that when you have an attack called "Human Extinction."
    • The only characters who don't die in the entire series are Mr. Satan, Fat/Good Buu, Lord Enma, Fortune Teller Baba and the minor characters born post-Buu arc do not die either.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Goku in Future Trunks' timeline. He died of a heart virus, which meant that he couldn't be wished back with the Dragon Balls (neither Earth's set nor Namek's allow a person to be brought back if they died of natural causes, which is what a virus would technically count as).
    • All the heroes from Trunks' timeline since Piccolo was killed, making the Earth's Dragon Balls turn to stone forever and they had no means of reaching New Namek.
    • Trunks, from the timeline Cell came from, is Killed Off for Real for the same reason as the above.
    • Android #16. The Dragon Balls couldn't bring him back (presumably) because, as a completely artificial being (unlike #17 and #18 who were, to an extent, human), he was never "alive" in the first place. Therefore when Cell killed him, he killed him for good.
  • Killer Space Monkey: The Saiyans. They used their power to transform into giant "apes"note  during the full moon to conquer planets for Frieza. And calling the Saiyans 'monkeys' was a bit of a racial slur used by Frieza and his underlings.
  • Kirk Summation: At the end of Dragon Ball Z, before annihilating Buu with the Spirit Bomb, Goku briefly reminisces about the events of the arc, and how Buu went from a mostly-innocent manchild to a ruthless killer after losing the battle against his inner evil, and says how Buu will now learn what it's like to have his own life taken away against his will. He also makes a wish that Buu will come back as a better person, so he can fight him again.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Raditz, being the first villain in the series.
    • Frieza in his saga. Mainly considering he was quite an evil villain in his time.
    • Cell. He is a man-eating bio-android whose hunt of the androids is played very dark and compared to the other androids, he is lethally more competent.
    • Super Buu/Kid Buu. He murdered or caused the deaths of nearly the entire cast, the entire human population, and blew up the Earth, something no villain had ever succeeded at prior. Not to mention numerous planets after that. A sharp contrast to Fat Buu, who was child-like and mostly played for laughs, even while destroying things.
    • Broly, though appearing in the non-canon movies, manages to be the darkest villain of the franchise. While Frieza and Buu have some comedic traits, and Cell, who while taken very seriously before his demise, was repeatedly ridiculed in Hell afterwards, Broly is a disturbingly straight example, as he has no comedic or cartoonish traits. His ax crazy behavior makes him even more frightening.
  • Knotty Tentacles: Goku faced a giant snake called Princess Snake. He defeats the snake by flying around it until it ties itself into a knot trying to eat him.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Especially Buu, despite having no bones.
  • Kung-Fu Sonic Boom: Every time from the Freeza Saga onward.

     L 
  • Lack of Empathy: Common Z villain trait. Some learn empathy like Vegeta and Fat Buu.
  • Large Ham:
    • Mr. Satan. Honorable mentions to Vegeta and Frieza
    • The Ginyu Force. Those guys are about as hammy as they come.
    • Cell always had a certain bravado, but the Kai incarnation of Cell is even hammier than his predecessors.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • The Saiyans are the victims of a mass genocide by their own boss. Although the betrayal is cruel after they served Frieza loyally for years, it's a fitting fate for a race that perform planetary genocide on a daily basis.
    • Frieza's fall from grace and eventual death is all his chickens coming home to roost. First, his genocide of the Saiyans is what causes Goku to be sent to Earth and his cruel murder of Krillin is what set Goku off to become a Super Saiyan. Second, his final attack against Goku is a modified version of Krillin's Destructo Disc, the same attack that cut him to pieces, indirectly allowing Krillin to avenge his own death. Third, he is nearly killed by a planet exploding on him, the same planet he destroyed himself. Finally, he is killed by the son of one of the survivors of the Saiyan genocide. His Humiliation Conga both canon and non-canon are all extra doses of karma.
    • Happens at least once per season to Vegeta:
      • He created a fake moon to turn into a Great Ape and nearly crushed the life out of Goku. He is done in by Gohan turning into a Great Ape and nearly crushing him to death.
      • Partially, Vegeta during the battle with Frieza. He attempts to get a zenkai (the Saiyan power-up gained by surviving near-fatal injuries) by getting blasted through the chest and then getting healed by Dende. However, Dende refuses to heal the man who slaughtered many of his fellow Namekians, saying he's no better than Frieza. It would be a full example, except that Piccolo convinces Dende to heal Vegeta after all...and his "reward" is a swift kick from Vegeta, who adds "Be thankful I didn't beat the shit out of you!"
      • Vegeta loves to terrorize the people he fights by overwhelming them with his power and bring them to despair before they die. This is exactly what Frieza does to him before coldly murdering him.
      • He helps Cell to become perfect so he can have a better fight. He is promptly and mercilessly beaten up. Cell even toys with him, the exact same way Vegeta did to him earlier.
      • And probably the most vicious dose of karma of all, Vegeta sold his soul and killed thousands of people to get Goku to fight him. Not only is he absolutely no match for Buu, whom he helped awaken, but Goku is still much stronger than him. Meaning he literally sold his family, friends, and his own convictions for nothing. Even worse, when he is semi-revived, he is of no use to Goku power-wise outside of being fusion fodder since he stands no chance against any form of Majin Buu. It's little wonder why Vegeta became more humble.
    • Cell took advantage of Vegeta's pride in order to achieve his Perfect form. His own pride made Gohan stronger than him by purposefully pissing him off.
    • Despite Fat Buu being redeemed with the help of Mr. Satan, he still had to pay his dues. Namely, being the weakest and least skilled Buu form, he gets his butt kicked mercilessly by his evil counterparts. He gets turned into chocolate and eaten by Evil Buu, exactly what he did to many of his victims, and later he is overwhelmed and beaten to near-death by Kid Buu, again just like he did to his victims.
    • Super Buu is one of the most evil characters in the entire series, second only to Frieza and King Piccolo. He also goes technically undefeated since he absorbs anyone stronger than him and Vegito threw his fight. Which is why it is somewhat fitting that he is the only villain to be erased. After Vegeta pulled Fat Buu free, Super Buu dissolves away, reverting Buu back to his original form who has a different personality. Once Kid Buu is killed, he is reborn as Uub, meaning that Super Buu can never return in any form in this world or the next. A fitting end to such a Jerkass.
  • The Last Dance: Dragon Ball Online reveals that Goku, upon sensing that he will soon die of old age, invites Vegeta to join him in the depths of space for a final battle to settle their rivalry. Neither are seen again, but years later astronomers discover supernovas that are believed to be the remnants of their battle.
  • Last of His Kind
    • Since Kami and Piccolo are technically the same person, Piccolo is the last Namekian left in existence after Frieza's genocide of his race. Thankfully, the Dragon Balls fixed this.
    • After Frieza murdered Vegeta, Goku became the last pure-blooded Saiyan in the universe.
    • After Goku's death during the Cell Saga, Vegeta became the last pure-blooded Saiyan in the universe.
    • In Trunks' timeline, he is the last one with Saiyan blood.
  • Last Request: After Vegeta is shot through the chest by Frieza, his last request to Son Goku is to avenge the genocide of the Saiyans at Frieza's hands and for turning Vegeta into the monster hed become. Goku buries Vegeta afterwards and promises to honor his last request.
  • Last Villain Stand: Frieza's last shot at Goku. Frieza had lost all his minions, failed to obtain immortality, had been demonstrated as not being the strongest in the universe, had even been cut in half, and was only alive because Goku decided to give him enough energy to survive his injuries. Instead of using that energy to try to escape Namek before it exploded, Frieza tries to kill Goku one last time.
    Goku: You FOOL!!!
  • Later Installment Weirdness: For the Buu arc, Toriyama decided to inject the humor-focused mantra seen in the earliest Dragon Ball stories. However most western fans of Z fell subject to this trope as a result, due to the unfamiliarity and obscureness of Dragon Ball in relation to the surging popularity of Z.
  • Laughably Evil:
    • Frieza is pretty evil, but he has some hilarious lines.
  • Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid: Goku offers to spare Raditz's life and ends up spending his own to make up for that blunder. He doesn't get smarter later on, but his power level usually made up for it.
    • Albeit, some of his Idiot Ball moments are as much due to naivete as stupidity. He wises up a little as the series goes on. Goku appeals to the better nature of his enemies, but if they prove irredeemable, he has no problem doing what he must.
  • Laughing Mad:
    • Frieza while he is destroying Planet Vegeta. Well, he did seem a bit too exhilarated at blocking Bardock's attack as well as destroying Planet Vegeta.
    • Majin Buu in his true, Kid Buu form. Kid Buu is, by a significant margin, the batshit-craziest of the Buus, and pretty much 95% of his dialogue is either grunts/screams or deranged laughter to show just how far off his rocker he is.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: The strongest Super Saiyan form, the Super Saiyan God, grants the user red hair, red eyes, a flaming orange aura, and a red tint to their skin.
  • The Law of Power Proportionate to Effort: Many, many examples.
    • Super Saiyan:
      • When first introduced, nobody knew how to turn it on. However, once done for the first time, it became easier subsequently but with heavy concentration. It still required emotional stress and physical fatigue when activated on subsequent occasions. We're also told that it wastes a ton of energy, but this was mostly an Informed Flaw.
      • Before the Cell Games, Goku and Gohan intentionally Invoked this trope. Through training, they modified Super Saiyan form so that it barely took a thought to activate, and used almost no energy. In other words, it had become their new "normal" state, meaning that when great emotional stress hit this time, Gohan ascended to Super Saiyan 2.
      • Unlike the others, Super Saiyan 3 (the most powerful form, excluding Dragonball GT and the movies) could be activated deliberately. Even so, it took Goku several minutes to charge up with a living body (he developed it while having an immortal, dead one). Both he and Gotenks were also under a lot of strain the whole time it was activated, limiting the time they could remain in that form.
    • Kaioken: When Goku is first taught the Kaio-ken (an ability that multiplies his base power), he's hardly able to use more than the fourth level before the stress on his body is too much to bear. Through training, he's eventually able to use twenty times with barely any effort, but by that point the technique had become So Last Season.
    • Kamehameha: Downplayed for this technique; when someone uses a Kamehameha, the longer it takes them to say its name, the more power they're building up.
    • Spirit Bomb: The Spirit Bomb is, by far Goku's strongest technique, but it needs both charging time and mental concentration. Meaning that unless he has someone to cover him for the several (or even dozens) of minutes it takes to complete it, he won't survive long enough to get it off.
  • LEGO Genetics: The logic of Cell's creation: He's created from Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Freeza, and King Cold's. He's born knowing all their techniques, and those of the rest of the Z-Fighters, and possesses all their strengths.
    • It's even implied that many of Cell's personality traits derive from some of his "parents". He inherited Goku's love and desire for a challenge, while at the same time getting Frieza's tendency to lose it when he realizes he's outmatched. His politeness comes from Freeza, his cunning from Vegeta, and his arrogance from both of them.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    • Krillin. He may be scared out of his mind, but when things get serious he takes charge of the situation. He was the de facto leader on Namek before Goku arrived, keeping Gohan and Bulma alive, and safe guarding one of the Dragon Balls. It was also his idea to go to Namek to look for a new set of Dragon Balls.
    • Gotenks. When he finally gets serious, he kicks Super Buu's butt and nearly kills him. Too bad he acted too late since his fusion broke the moment he was ready to finish Buu.
    • All forms of Buu. They are playful, Psychopathic Manchildren, who enjoy sweets, but when it's time to kill, they do so with relish, all without losing their childish demeanor.
  • Lethally Stupid:
    • Vegeta's Saiyan pride always brought him and others trouble. Especially when he let Cell absorb Android 18.
    • Justified with Buu, as he was created to be evil, but does it more out of stupidity and moral ignorance than actual malice.
  • Lettered Sequel: Dragon Ball Z is one of the earliest sequel naming practices of adding a letter Z after a title of the original work in the anime industry. What Z means also is pretty much unexplained within the show and has no mention in the original canon at all.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: When Goz uses a seesaw to send Goku flying into the air to get out of Hell, this trope occurs when Goku gets close to the clouds and falls down.
  • Licked by the Dog: Gohan's got an entire musical number dedicated to how much he loves Piccolo, the self-proclaimed embodiment of evil. Also happens to Buu later on.
  • Lighter and Softer:
    • The Cell Games, at least compared with the rest of the Cell Saga. For example, Mr. Satan, his students, manager and two newscasters are present. Occasionally, the show cuts to them to give a break from the battle for some comedy.
    • The Buu Saga starts out as this with many comedy elements from the original Dragon Ball returning. Then Buu is revived and things do become darker, but there is still a lot of comedy. Then Super Buu is created and things become much bleaker. Things actually get worse once Buu goes back to his original, pure evil self.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • Broly. He's a walking mountain of muscle, with the power and brute force to match, but still possesses speed enough to completely avoid the attacks of Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Future Trunks and Piccolo (he simply chooses not to for most of the fight). It's Lampshaded in the second Broly movie, where several characters comment that he is a slow relative to his strength, but he's so bloody powerful it doesn't matter.
    • Super Saiyan 2 Gohan when he's a young teenager fits this to a shell. He's very muscular for an 11-year-old (9 in the manga), very tough, and is the most powerful person and the fastest by far on the planet with only Super Perfect Cell coming close. Trunks even states that Gohan did it right when it comes to Super Saiyan forms. He got all the power of Ultra Super Saiyan, and his speed also increased.
    • At 100% power, Freeza's final form is almost three times bigger than it is at base level power. Unlike the other examples, the additional bulk does not slow him down, and in fact he is at his fastest (and strongest, and toughest) while in this state. For the record, the drawback is that this power is uncontrollable.
  • Lightning Glare: Bulma and Chi-Chi of do this at least twice in the series. Once in the Garlic Jr. Saga when Maron calls them old ladies and they're arguing about their beauty for their ages. Another time is during the "Bojack Unbound" film when they're fighting over which son will win the tournament that is hosted by Hercule. There's also a DBZ trading card called "Bulma and Chi-Chi's Stare Off", which has a picture of them doing this trope in the "Bojack Unbound" film.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Bulma is one of the only characters seen with more than two outfits throughout the entire series.
  • Literal Surveillance Bug: Doctor Gero used a small fleet of those to spy on the heroes between the Red Ribbon and Android Sagas.
  • Little Bit Beastly: All Saiyans and even some of their hybrids are born with monkey tails. They need their tails to transform into Great Apes.
  • Living Emotional Crutch:
    • Goku is this to his son, Gohan. When Goku isn't around, Gohan tends to have less self-confidence in himself and it's his father's encouragements that inspires him to make one final stand against Cell.
    • Goku is this to Krillin. He is the first real friend Krillin ever had and they were training buddies. When Goku isn't around, he is noticeably pessimistic (more than usual) and is more prone to depression. He also values Goku's opinion above all else. He gets over his guilt about smashing Android 18's controller just by Goku saying he had his reasons.
    • Krillin is also this to Goku. Very few things can get Goku angry. Hurting or killing Krillin is one of them, and he will go into a murderous rage as King Piccolo and Frieza learn.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Toriyama admitted to having forgotten some of them entirely.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Goku's transformation into a Great Ape when the moon is full is a secret known by most of the main cast. Goku doesn't know this since he has a memory blank-out when he transforms and his friends never tell him to save his feelings (he accidentally killed his own grandfather when he transformed). This comes to bite Goku in the butt when he was caught flat-footed when Vegeta transforms and doesn't know he could have changed him back by cutting his tail.
  • Long Runner: The manga started in late 1984 and ended in 1995. The anime started in 1986 and ended in 1997 with Dragon Ball GT. Dragon Ball Kai may or may not count as additional seasons. Including the movies, there are now 15 of them with a movie coming out April 2015. Two of said movies are considered canon. Starting in June 2015 an anime called Dragon Ball Super is going to air. There are also a number of TV specials and OVAs. Official spin-offs like Jaco the Galactic Patrolman may also be included. Meaning Dragon Ball is still going strong for over 30 years.
  • Look What I Can Do Now!:
    • Goku is the king of this trope:
      • After coming back from the dead the first time, he shows off his Kaioken by breaking Nappa's back. He then shows further mastery of the Kaioken when he made fools of the Ginyu Force. After recovering from his last fight, he was able to hold his own against Frieza until the latter started using half his power. Then he became a Super Saiyan, the first in thousands of years.
      • When he returned to Earth after being gone for a year, he shows off his Instant Transmission and his ability to become a Super Saiyan at will.
      • When he was back from the dead for a day and he was on Babidi's ship, he showed briefly during his battle with Yakon that he could become a Super Saiyan 2. Afterwards, he showed Buu Super Saiyan 3, something no one knew even existed.
    • Vegeta is no slouch either:
      • When he arrived on Namek he showed Frieza's men exactly what he learned on Earth. Namely, the ability to hide his power and to read ki.
      • In the Android Saga he became a Super Saiyan, taking everyone by surprise, and then surpassed it in the same arc.
    • Goten and Trunks showing that they could become Super Saiyans. They were only 7 and 8 respectively.
    • For Mr. Satan, seeing his daughter fly.
    • Gotenks showing Piccolo that he could become a Super Saiyan 3.
    • Gohan returning, after everyone thinking he was dead, and showing off the power he gained from Old Kai, easily wiping the floor with Super Buu.
    • Super Buu also gets one after he absorbs Piccolo and Gotenks. He shows Gohan all his new powers and techniques he gained from his friends. Even earlier, he revealed that he could now sense energy after eating Fat Buu.
  • Losing Is Worse Than Death:
    • Goku is guilty of this at least twice, once when fighting Piccolo and again during the Cell Games.
    • Vegeta explains that all (full-blooded) Saiyans are like this. It's part of their race's Blood Knight heritage. It's also pretty much the main reason why Vegeta was so hell-bent on surpassing and/or having a re-match with Goku. Goku sparing Vegeta instead of finishing him off was an insult to their race's way of life.
  • Lots of Luggage: This wasn't intentional on his part, but Gohan is often forced by Chi-Chi (being the Doting Parent she is) to carry some massive luggage, usually bigger than he is, as is seen in The Tree of Might and on his trip to Namek with Krillin and Bulma.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Delves into this during the Buu Saga. Majin Buu is a destructive, evil creature Made of Magic that is thousands of times more powerful than the universe's God-equivalents and has successfully murdered or absorbed all of them except one. Buu also successfully wipes out humanity and destroys the Earth along with several other planets. Thankfully, most of this is reversed thanks to the Dragon Balls.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: When the Cell Jrs. are killed in the manga, they get gibbed. Also, the result of Frieza getting hit by his own destructo discs.

     M 
  • Magic Countdown: Infamously, with Freeza's "five minutes" until Namek is destroyed lasting twelve episodes. This was originally due to the anime having Overtook the Manga and padding out the episodes rather than go past what Toriyama had written. Kai implies that Freeza is more or less guessing and just got the count way wrong.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Goku accidentally injured his wife Chi-Chi by attempting to give her a reassuring pat on the back, only to send her flying through a wall, a tree, and half a boulder. Chi-Chi doesn't even scream in pain or go to the hospital. However, in the next scene, she's seen with a few bandages and her arm in a sling.
  • Make Room for the New Plot: At the end of the Frieza arc, "Frieza comes back to Earth with his dad for revenge" would be a major plot conflict. But then Future Trunks arrives, beats the snot out of both of them single-handedly, and warns the heroes that they need to prepare to fight an enemy far stronger than Frieza. Not that there would be a plot if Future Trunks wasn't there anyway. Supplementary material claim that Goku would have defeated Frieza and King Cold almost immediately if Future Trunks didn't.
  • Man Bites Man: Goku may like to fight fair, but he will bite his opponent if he has no choice or they bite him. He bites Frieza's tail when he tries to strangle him with it and he bites Kid Buu after he bites his arm.
  • Maniac Monkeys: The Saiyans are like this. They are galactic conquerors who can transform into giant apes during the full moon. Their only simian-like characteristic in their normal form is their monkey tails.
  • The Masquerade: Downplayed and possibly zigzagged. The Z Fighters and their special ki powers only became a big secret because a certain Mark surged in popularity after winning a Tenkaichi Budokai that they couldn't attend due to being out in space, then started claiming all the stuff from before was all "light shows and tricks." Even then, their reaction to his hogging up all the fame has fluctuated from slamming his antics as ridiculous to finding it useful depending on the context. If Online and Xenoverse are any indication, this is eventually done away with altogether.
  • Mass Resurrection: The Earth Dragon can revive a virtually limitless number of people at one time, with some restrictions. At one point, it is used to revive everyone killed by Frieza in the past year, or on his orders, which affects a staggering number of people, including most of the population of the planet Namek.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: So many across the series:
    • Goku alone has several chains:
      • Mutaito > Master Roshi > Son Gohan, Sr. > Son Goku > Son Gohan, Pan, and Uub
      • Master Korin > Master Roshi > Son Gohan, Sr. > Son Goku > Son Gohan, Pan, and Uub
      • Kami and King Kai > Son Goku > Son Gohan, Pan, and Uub
    • Gohan has several, including one created from Future Trunks' timeline:
      • Piccolo > Future Son Gohan > Future Trunks
      • Piccolo > Son Gohan > Goten
      • Son Goku > Son Gohan > Goten
    • Mutaito > Crane Hermit > Tien & Chiaotzu
    • Mutaito > Master Roshi > Ox-King > Chi-Chi > Son Goten
  • Master of All: Every fighter either is this or aspires to this. The one attempt to specialize (by Trunks, during the Cell Saga) results in Crippling Overspecialization. Other than that, speed, strength, invulnerability, and ki control all seem to increase proportionally with power level. Some less-powerful characters are said to be greater strategists, but this is inconsistent and tends to be a bit of an Informed Ability in any case.
  • Master Race: Before their annihilation, the Saiyans were, as a rule, disdainful of anyone who isn't a Saiyan. They show care, compassion, and anger when one of their own is hurt or killednote , but take delight in wiping out other species and constantly talk down to them like garbage.
  • Manchild:
    • Goku and Android 17 (the latter much more subtly, and in the Bad Future's case, much more darkly than the former).
    • Applies to Fat Buu as well, who, aside from enjoying wanton destruction, also likes eating sweets.
    • Goku and Vegeta in the Avocado OVA. They both go Super Saiyan on each other because each had eaten the other's intended food dish.
  • Mayfly–December Romance:
    • Implied. Saiyans appear to age more slowly than humans. This becomes quite noticeable later in the series, where pure-humans Chi-Chi and Bulma have gradually aged while pure-Saiyans Goku and Vegeta have barely aged at all; even Pan, who is one-quarter Saiyan, is confirmed to live to at least 110.
    • This also appears to be the case with Krillin and #18's relationship. In GT Krillin is almost an old man while 18 hasn't changed at all; likely due to her cybernetic enhancements slowing down her aging considerably.
  • Meaningful Funeral: In Dragon Ball Z, when Vegeta dies at Frieza's hand on Namek, Son Goku buries him on the spot with a few understanding words. In the English dub, the eulogy is a bit more long-winded.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Happens to Frieza twice on Namek as part of his Break the Haughty and Humiliation Conga:
    • After calling the Ginyu Force, he successfully gathers all seven Dragon Balls, only to find out that he can't use them since he didn't know the password. And to add further insult, he killed just about everyone who could have told him.
    • He successfully makes his wish to the Namekian dragon, beating out Dende who hesitated. The dragon completely ignores him since a wish much be spoken in Namekian. Goku is right there to rub this fact in his face.
    • In the end, Gero got what he wanted. Goku is killed by his greatest creation. Cell, however, is soon killed afterwards by Gohan and Goku returns to life seven years later. And Dr. Gero himself is dead and is in Hell.
  • The Medic:
    • Dende is this since he has the power of heal all wounds. It was the primary reason he was killed first by Frieza.
    • Kibito can also heal. He uses his power to heal the Supreme Kai and Gohan who were on the brink of death from fighting Majin Buu.
    • Buu, once he becomes good, has a healing power that surpasses Dende since he can give sight to someone who was born blind.
  • Meditation Powerup
    • This is the primary way Piccolo trains by himself. Goku is seen doing so as well, and it's suggested part of Vegeta's inability to catch up is due to his unwillingness to do this.
    • Demon King Dabura spends some time meditating in order to prepare himself for a fight. When in an actual fight though, he's quite Hot-Blooded.
  • Men Don't Cry:
    • Subverted after Goku's second Heroic Sacrifice; Gohan and most of the other fighters (who are primarily men) are crying. Justified in that they might also count as Manly Tears.
    • Played Straight with Goku himself. With the exception of when he meets his grandpa again after he came back for one day, he hasn't cried since he was a baby.
  • Merger of Souls: By putting his hand on Nail and later Kami, Piccolo absorbed them, gaining not only extra power but also their memories. This process was permanent; Piccolo's personality also seemed to undergo slight changes after each absorption. A similar case was when Goku and Vegeta used the Potara earrings to fuse; however, in this case, they split when they entered Buu's body, although it's the only way to split, and that fusion is otherwise permanent. The personality of the fused being seemed to be a mix of both Goku's and Vegeta's personalities.
  • Messianic Archetype
    • Son Goku. The guy came to Earth from the stars, saved the world three times before he turned twenty, gave his life twice for the Earth and is described as like an angel by his friends and family.
    • In the original Japanese version of the chapter where he achieves Super Saiyan 2 and saves the world from Cell's genocidal killing-spree ("Son Gohan Erupts!!"), the subtitle blurb of the chapter cover is "Savior, Thy Name is Son Gohan!!" This of course, is changed to "A Great Fighter, His Name Is Gohan" in the English version to avoid offending the religious.
  • Mighty Glacier: Trunks when he reaches Ultra Super Saiyan (a level that sits between Super Saiyan 1 and 2), which sacrifices speed for power. In this state he possesses enough power to kill Perfect Cell, but lacks the speed necessary to make it useful. Perfect Cell, Goku and Vegeta also reach this level, but are savvy enough to figure out its critical weakness and elect not to use it (Vegeta choosing to stop at Ascended Super Saiyan, and Perfect Cell and Goku going onward to the Full Power stage). In fact, Trunks doesn't figure out this form's weakness until Cell explicitly tells him why he can't win with it.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Saiyans who still have their tails turn into gigantic weremonkeys when exposed to the light of the full moon (or a similar enough substitute), becoming savage and violent no matter how docile they are in their human-like form. Only Saiyans who have had the proper training can stay in control while transformed. Likewise, there's the Super Saiyan transformations, which turn even the nicest Saiyans (like Goku and Gohan) into the ruthless, cold-hearted warriors Saiyans are known as throughout the universe, with no desire other than to exact painful revenge on whomever angered them enough to trigger the transformation.
  • Mistaken for Quake: During the Namek Saga, Bulma tries to rationalize the ruckus being created by Vegeta and Frieza as "only an earthquake."
  • Mix-and-Match Man: Cell is made of the DNA of several characters. This also really confuses the main characters when he first appears, since even his Ki aura is a mixture of all the people he's made of. They swear they can sense Piccolo, Goku, and Frieza all in the same place (despite knowing that one of those is dead, and another is bedridden due to sickness). Cell is also a composite of several characters' personalities. When his arrogance doesn't get the best of him, he is cunning and calculating like King Piccolo and can create children like him. He has the Blood Knight tendencies, the brutality, and a constant desire to grow stronger like the Saiyans. He is vicious, cold-blooded, loves to torment people both physically and emotionally, has a set of transformations, and acts very polite and complimentary when calm, all of which call Frieza and his family to mind. When he is in control, he is laid back and somewhat lazy like Goku, but will Rage Quit like Vegeta and Frieza when he loses his advantage. After his near death experience he gains a Super Mode and has the same Sanity Slippage as Goku and Gohan when they first transformed, though his is less Unstoppable Rage and more being Drunk with Power.
  • Mode Lock:
    • After transforming into his true form, we never see Freeza's other forms again until Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ where he reverts to his first form.
    • Subverted and played straight with Cell. He's not supposed to revert after absorbing the androids, but was forced to after Gohan knocked Android 18 out of him. However, after coming back from near death he regains his perfect form.
  • Momma's Boy: Gohan is a Downplayed example. Chi-Chi doesn't make every decision for him in his adulthood, he just has a close relationship with her.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Old Kai sacrifices himself to revive Goku by transfering his lifeforce to him. Sad music plays, Kibito and Supreme Kai Shin visibly break down from it, and Goku says he won't let his death be in vain. Right after that, Old Kai gets up (now sporting a halo) and shouts at Goku to hurry up and go.
  • Mook Horror Show
    • Vegeta gets a scene when he stalks a completely outmatched Jeice throughout Frieza's ship horror movie style, including many instances of Offscreen Teleportation, before finally killing him as he vainly attempts to fly away. Neither of them are good guys at this point; Vegeta's in the middle of an Enemy Mine with the heroes, but doesn't let this stop him from being as sadistic as possible. He is also like this to many of Frieza's other Mooks. In particular Cui, Dodoria, and Appule, who was watching him heal in Frieza's ship.
    • Trunks invokes this when he returns to the future on the evil Androids and Cell, intentionally making them know just how screwed and helpless they are against him, because this was exactly what they'd done to their victims.
    • Goku's arrival on Namek sees him mowing down the members of the Ginyu Force, leaving both Recoome and Burter down and Jeice visibly freaking out and forced to retreat.
    • Super Saiyan 2 Gohan, especially in the anime, where he certainly takes his time to kills Cell Jrs. while they're shaking in fear. To drive the point home, the screen turns creepy blue whenever a mook dies.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Present In-Universe:
    • Goku kept things civil with Frieza, even when they were trying to kill each other, seeing him as a Worthy Opponent. That is until he murdered Krillin and threatened Gohan. At that moment, Frieza became utterly unforgivable in Goku's eyes.
    • Despite Cell being a monster who drank 600,000 people, murdered thousands on his quest for perfection, killed an alternate version of Future Trunks, and nearly killed Piccolo, Gohan is still unwilling to kill him and begs Cell to repent for his crimes. It's not until Cell crushes 16's head underfoot that he crosses the line with Gohan.
    • Gotenks didn't take Buu seriously, despite him killing 80% of the planet during his rampage. Even as the more ruthless Super Buu who crushed Goten's mom after transforming her into an egg wasn't enough to make Gotenks be serious. It's not until Buu ate everyone on the Lookout, including Trunks' mom, that Gotenks became righteously pissed and swore to kill Buu for everything he has done.
  • Moral Myopia
    • In the TV special, Bardock is furious that his crew is betrayed and murdered by Frieza's men and goes on a bloody rampage to avenge them. Although noble and understandable, Bardock and his crew are still hired murderers who regularly perform genocide.
    • Vegeta despises Frieza for destroying his planet and driving the Saiyan race to the brink of extinction. This is despite Vegeta being a Space Pirate who destroyed a number of species and he killed Nappa himself for getting injured and refused to even consider bring Raditz back because he considered him a weakling.
    • Dr. Gero, aka Android 20, has two moments:
      • Starts screaming at Vegeta that that's enough after Vegeta beats 19 so brutally that 19 is running for his life. Vegeta quickly calls him out on this, pointing out that they had come to kill him and the Z-Fighters in the first place, and it's only "enough" because Gero is losing.
      • His entire grudge against Goku stinks of this. Gero only cares that he lost his job when Goku destroyed the Red Ribbons; never mind the fact that they were an evil army who terrorized innocent people, and Gero willingly built killer robots for them to help them do so.
    • Babidi wants to kill the Supreme Kai because he killed his father to stop Majin Buu's rampage. Babidi's father caused the death of millions if not billions by unleashing Buu, including all of the Supreme Kais except one. Babidi also regularly murders others, including his own men, without care.
  • Morality Pet:
    • Gohan to Piccolo. More than once Piccolo says he's only a good person because of Gohan.
    • Bulma and Trunks become this to Vegeta, much to his annoyance.
  • The Movie A lot of movies, Nineteen in all across the series, two of which are canon.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Future Trunks. To lesser degrees, Goku and Vegeta, Piccolo (for some), Gohan too.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • When Raditz first arrives on Earth he is accosted by a farmer wielding a gun. The farmer shoots him only to have Raditz catch the bullet and half-heartedly toss it back hard enough to kill him.
    • During the Saiyan Saga, Vegeta and Nappa crash land on an alien planet inhabited by Insectoid Aliens during their journey to Earth. The planet is ruled over by an Evil Overlord who usurped the throne and oppresses his people, and the two Saiyan warriors are promptly thrown in jail. After they get bored they decide to overthrow the tyrant and kill everyone in their path.
    • The androids 17 and 18 are attacked by a group of gangsters. Those are thrown into the sky.
    • Majin Buu, now a nice guy, is shot during a hold-up in a jewelry store. Being a blob, he absorbs the bullet, spits it out, then playfully throws it back with enough strength to put a crater in the wall behind the crooks. Said crooks promptly gave up and surrender to the police. Gohan and Videl show up and strike a pose reminiscent of the Ginyu Force only to be completely confused about why the bad guys are surrendering before they beat anybody up.
  • Mukokuseki: Power up, become white.
  • Mundane Utility
    • Yamcha used his super powers to become a major league baseball player. Not that they were really useful for anything else by that point of the series anyway.
    • Ki, not only good for blasting enemies into dust, but also good for lighting fires, warming food, and being a replacement flashlight.
    • Flight too, which Gohan uses for his daily commute and in Battle of Gods Trunks uses to travel twenty feet instead of walking, which Pilaf lampshades.
    • According to Word of God, Tien using his ability to create many arms and multiply himself to farm land when he isn't training.
    • A minor example is seen in the 7th Dragon Ball Z Movie, "Super Android 13". Goku and Gohan are seen shopping with Chi-Chi and Goku is seen carrying enough boxes of merchandise and clothes that would crush a man.
  • Mutant: In the Dragon World, some beings who are born extraordinarily powerful and talented are classified as mutants. For example, the entire Ginyu Force, Frieza, and his father King Cold are mutants among their species, which is why they are so powerful. It is also suspected that all of Frieza's top men are mutants. When Ginyu meets Goku, he thinks he's mutant too since he's extremely powerful for a Saiyan and lacks a tail.
  • My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad: Between Goten and Trunks. (Vegeta also gloats after Trunks wins, boasting of the superiority of his offspring.)
  • My Defense Need Not Protect Me Forever:
    • Goku has tried everything else to no effect against Frieza, and has to resort to his trump card, the Spirit Bomb. The problem is, it'll take him several minutes to create a big enough Spirit Bomb, and he has to stand motionless and let Frieza pummel him while doing it. This means the much weaker Piccolo is forced to step in and fight a losing battle to keep Frieza distracted long enough. Subverted, as while the Spirit Bomb causes a lot of damage to Frieza, it fails to defeat him.
    • Happens again during the last leg of the battle against Kid Buu. Goku is charging his Spirit Bomb and is helpless to help Fat Buu who was getting the tar beaten out of him by his Evil Counterpart and then Vegeta who didn't fare much better. Even earlier, Goku was left open as he attempted to charge to full-power of Super Saiyan 3, while Vegeta played decoy. Unlike with Frieza, the Spirit Bomb does kill Buu.
  • My Grandma Can Do Better Than You: In the Toonami version, a virtual Saiyan warrior (conjured by Mr Popo's training room) uses this line to ridicule the secondary characters' power levels.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: How Goku feels about the Saiyans. Thanks to being raised on Earth and his head injury, Goku is a softhearted, kind man, while the Saiyans are ruthless Jerkasses who commit planetary genocide for profit. When Goku learns that he is a Saiyan, he denounced his race and wanted nothing to do with them. After the events of Namek, he does embrace his Saiyan heritage, although he makes a point to say that he's a Saiyan raised on Earth.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Tends to happen all the time, given the characters' abilities to sense ki, which they often use to track how a battle is going. However, a special Shout-Out needs to be given to a scenario that plays out after Kid Buu destroys Earth. We cut to a various number of places to see the reactions of people, with the most noteworthy being the Namekians on their home planet (despite it being located on the other end of the galaxy). Elder Moori is seen looking up to the sky immediately as the planet explodes. He then stands up, clearly disquieted. It's this action that led to him getting the other villagers to gather the Dragon Balls for Dende's arrival shortly afterwards.
  • Mysterious Past:
    • Despite being one of the major villains who most directly impacted the universe and the lives of several main characters, there is little known about Frieza. We don't even know the name of his species. From the little supplemental materials we learn that Frieza and his family are mutants who are born ungodly strong among their race and are also unnaturally cruel. And that's about it. His relationship with the Saiyans isn't even clearly defined.
    • The Saiyans themselves. Going just by the canon of the manga we know nothing about them outside of the fact that they worked for Frieza plundering planets, there used to be good Saiyans among them who banded together to create a Super Saiyan God (which may or may not have happened before they worked for Frieza), and got wiped out by their boss. Even using information from the anime opens more questions than answers. For instance, it's hinted that Planet Vegeta wasn't the Saiyans' original homeworld and that they actually came from another planet which may or may not have been destroyed by the original Super Saiyan. Super clears some of this up, in that Planet Vegeta wasn't the Saiyans' original homeworld. They originally came from Planet Sadal, which was destroyed by infighting.
    • After his origins have been retconned, nothing is really known about Majin Buu outside of being as old as the universe and summoned to act as Bibidi's weapon for universal conquest.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When powering up for his fight against Cell, Goku mimics part of the original intro to the series.
    • In the English dub, when Goku is introducing Majin Buu to the various phases of Super Saiyan ability, a confused Buu replies with "Super... Saiya-jin?". Saiya-Jin refers to the original Japanese pronunciation.

     N 
  • Near-Villain Victory: Almost every arc features the villain achieving near-complete annihilation of the heroes at some point.
    • The Saiyan Saga
      • Yamcha, Tien, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo have all died fighting the Saibamen and Nappa. Gohan and Krillin are all that are left and Nappa makes short work of them. Worse, the Dragon Balls are gone so no one can be brought back to life. Just as Nappa moves to crush Gohan and end the last shred of Earth's resistance, Goku arrives on the scene more powerful than ever and ready to fight.
      • Vegeta's withstood everything that Earth's defenders could throw at him. Goku's body is trashed, the Spirit Bomb's been expended, and none of the remaining fighters are capable of putting up much of a challenge to him. All hope seems lost until Goku hits upon the idea to use Vegeta's own false moon to transform Gohan into a Great Ape.
    • The Frieza Saga
      • Recoome beats Vegeta within an inch of his life, crushes Krillin, and breaks Gohan's bones. It's only the surprise arrival of Goku that prevents him from completely team-killing the heroes.
      • After Goku throws the Spirit Bomb at Frieza, he shares a brief moment of relief with his friends before Frieza announces his survival by dropping Piccolo in one shot and killing Krillin. Before he can do the same to Gohan and Goku, however, Goku's rage explodes and transforms him into the legendary Super Saiyan.
    • Kid Buu introduces himself by destroying the planet Earth. Goku, Vegeta, Hercule, and Dende survive by being whisked to the planet of the Kais by the Supreme Kai, but before they can make a plan, Buu follows them there.note  All hopes rest on Goku's Super Saiyan 3 form, but a misjudgment over the form's drawbacks results in Goku losing all of his power and becoming unable to defeat Buu. It's only a last-ditch plan utilizing the Dragon Balls and the Spirit Bomb that makes victory possible.
  • Necessary Drawback:
    • The Special Beam Cannon when it was first introduced. It is so powerful that it killed Raditz, who was almost three times more powerful than Piccolo. However, it takes five minutes for it to charge and he is defenseless during that time period. Once mastered, Piccolo can use it much faster, but it appears to be much weaker.
    • Goku's Spirit Bomb. An extremely powerful attack that can nuke enemies stronger than Goku or can be used to add to his strength, making him many times stronger. Despite its power, however, it takes a long, long time to charge and it leaves Goku wide open to attack, as he's asking everything on the planet for a little bit of energy. It's never a problem in the series proper, but until after he trains for the Cell Games, he can't use it as a Super Saiyan.
    • Vegeta's Final Flash is powerful enough to present a serious threat to Perfect Cell, despite Cell being so much stronger than Vegeta at that point that it was borderline ridiculous. Given the size of the beam and the amount of damage a glancing blow did, it likely would've vaporized Cell and ended the arc prematurely had it hit cleanly. But it also took most of an episode to charge up, time Vegeta was able to get by appealing to Cell's Blood Knight tendencies and daring him to try and No-Sell the attack. Cell realized at the last second that it was an actual threat and tried to dodge, but still lost an arm and a good chunk of his chest. Later against a Cell Jr., Vegeta tries skipping the long charge-up sequence but this makes the attack much weaker and thus ineffective.
    • Pikkon's lightning fireball attack from a filler arc was insanely powerful, but Goku caught the flaw in that there was a long prep time and a long execution time, giving him a chance to sneak in quickly.
  • Neck Snap
    • Dodoria snaps the neck of the Namekian Elder after Frieza kills one of the escaping children with a smile on his face.
    • Recoome breaks Gohan's neck at the end of their fight.
    • In Piccolo's second fight with Imperfect Cell, Cell breaks his neck before firing a blast into his chest and then throwing him into the water. Yes, Piccolo actually survived this.
    • This is subverted in the Tournament Saga: Videl apparently snaps Spopovich's neck in self defense when it was becoming apparent that he is trying to kill her, and nearly gets herself disqualified as a result, but then he not only revives himself, but even spins his neck back into place in the most disturbing way possible.
  • The Needless: The Namekians don't need food, only water. Frieza (and presumably the rest of his family) doesn't need to breathe.
  • Nemean Skinning: As Goku said to Bulma and the others when appearing in an attire based on the skin of a tiger: "It was either him or me, I swear!"
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Gohan.
  • Nerf: Gohan, between the Cell and Buu sagas. It's commonly speculated that Gohan could've finished fat Buu off if he kept up with his training instead of studying.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: At one point, Goku learns a technique called the Spirit Bomb. He stops using it after the fight with Frieza. Years later, he is reminded to use this technique on Kid Buu by Vegeta, and Goku is still able to use it like a pro.
  • Never Say "Die": Taken to the extreme in the first 53 episodes of The Ocean Group dub. Getting blasted into ashes was called "being sent into another dimension". After the Ocean dub resumed in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, as well as other English-speaking countries, the show went from that to merely saying "destroy", "hurt", and "gone" as well as other words that essentially meant to kill or be dead. Late into the Buu saga, however, the dub suddenly stopped this, and "kill" and "die" were used as often as in the Funimation dub, which was completely exempt from this. The "another dimension" thing is sort of justified as death is a multiverse of many heavens for different planets that even a few living people can freely travel to. Note that this only took effect from the fifth episode of the original broadcast. Some lines were re-recorded for subsequent airings of the first two episodes but episodes three and four kept references to death even (or especially) on the DVD release. Episode 66 of Daizenshuu EX featured some sound clips.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • Goku reads Krillin's mind when he arrives on Namek to catch up on current events. This was given some Lampshade Hanging, with Krillin asking, "Where did you get such an ability from?!", and Goku replying he wasn't even sure that would work. The mind-reading does have some justification since Master Roshi and Korin can read minds better than him (Goku needs to physically touch someone for it to work) and Roshi claimed that any high-level martial artists can do it.
    • Goku showing off Super Saiyan 3 to Majin Buu. Unlike the other Super Saiyan forms that had some hints or foreshadowing (Super Saiyan being the legendary transformation spoken of by Vegeta and Frieza and surpassing the level of Super Saiyan in the Cell Saga), Super Saiyan 3 literally came out of nowhere. This is lampshaded by everyone.
    • Gotenks does the same thing when he reveals that he too can become a Super Saiyan 3.
    • Gohan's Ultimate form. After accidentally freeing Old Kai from the Z-Sword, Old Kai performs a ritual to unleashed all of Gohan's latent power and pushed them past its limit. This comes off as extremely convenience, especially since Gohan had his potential unlocked before by the Elder Namek, and his unleashed potential pushes him to surpassed almost everyone in the series. On top of that, not only is Gohan's Ultimate form powerful, it has none of the power drain issues of Super Saiyan 3, making it the best power-up in the franchise until Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: A lot of the bad that occurs is often due more to the heroes rather than the villains; especially the Cell and Buu sagas, and is so infamous that it now has its own page.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • Majin Buu turns Vegito into a Coffee flavored Jawbreaker and believes he's won. Except... that it turns out that Vegito has not only retained all his power, but now is much faster than ever and impossible to hit with his small size (not that Buu could touch him before anyway). Hilarity Ensues as Buu gets his most embarrassing, worst ever beating of all, with his ass handed back to him in humiliating fashion. To add insult to injury, it's accompanied by a You Fight Like a Cow dialogue from the "strongest piece of candy there is".
    • Frieza, who ended up doing all he could to send Goku over the edge and becoming a Super Saiyan - the very thing he was hell bent on preventing from happening.
    • It started even earlier than that for Frieza. If he hadn't recalled all the Saiyans back to their home planet in a bid to destroy them all at once, Bardock and Gine wouldn't have felt the need to send Goku to Earth.
    • Gero creating android #16, who very nearly put a stop to Cell before he could absorb #17 or #18 (though this is more a result of him failing to create a homicidal machine and really didn't want #16 to be woken up).
    • Cell thought it was a good idea to make Gohan angry so he would have a better fight. It didn't end well for him.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: All the main characters are this some extent, but some characters stand out.
    • It is one of Goku's defining characteristics even with his Saiyan heritage. When he was a kid, he allow his opponents to get free hits on him so he can see how powerful they are, often with him playing dead or acting injured. When he is paralyzed by Chiaotzu, he gets hammered mercilessly by Tien and got back up each time, causing the Crane Hermit to wonder if he were an immortal. Despite the beating both Tambourine and King Piccolo gave him (his heart outright stops after the fight with Piccolo) he still lived and was able to walk, although barely in the case with Piccolo. He also took attacks that leveled a city and an island with little injury, all this when he is still a kid and a teen. In his adult years, he is able to hold Raditz, even if he is weakened, with all of his ribs broken. He also survives having all his bones broken by Vegeta, something Vegeta himself complimented. For a third of the fight against Frieza, he got his butt kicked. When everyone else went down in a few hits, Goku kept getting back up and even formed a Spirit Bomb during the beating. While everyone else fainted or could only maintain Super Saiyan for a few seconds the first time, Goku not only maintains it, but overpowered and defeated Frieza.
    • Piccolo thanks to his healing factor. The most standout example of his endurance is when Cell breaks his neck, blows a hole through his chest, and then tosses him into the ocean. He lived through all of that, healed himself, and managed to get himself to shore before losing consciousness.
    • Vegeta is the only heroic character that rivals or even surpasses Goku in durability without a healing factor. The difference between them is how their damage is usually portrayed. Most of the time, Goku takes a lot of punishment with no visible effect on him outside of minor annoyances or pain. Vegeta's battle damage is shown more realistically with him bleeding, limping, coughing up blood, and limbs broken. None of that stops him from getting back up and fighting. His endurance frightened Kid Buu, who showed no fear of anything outside of the Super Spirit Bomb, and he also takes several hits from Beerus when even Goku went down in two hits.
    • At the time he was introduced, Frieza's ability to survive punishment was downright unreal. Later villains had the excuse of regeneration. Frieza was just ungodly tough. He walked off a Spirit Bomb large enough to qualify as a Colony Drop (only losing some of his tail), survived being bisected at the waist, survived an attack that Goku (by all appearances) intended to be fatal, and survived the destruction of the entire planet within minutes of that. Certainly he would have died without treatment, but that he lived at all is impressive. Trunks had to outright vaporize him to assure viewers he was gone.
    • Cell is not only physically tough, he has regeneration abilities that far surpass the Namekians'. In the English dub, he can regenerate from any single cell and come back stronger than ever like a Saiyan. He had to be vaporized to the very last cell to make sure he was dead.
    • Buu may come apart like pudding and be the only Z villain that bullets can pierce, but he has regeneration abilities that put Cell to shame. While Cell can return from a single cell, Buu can come back from vapors. He had to be utterly atomized to kill off.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
    • The Saiyans are a race of were-monkey caveman space pirates.
    • Majin Buu is a shapeshifting bubblegum space demon.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction:
    • Unlike most of the other Blood Knights in the series, Goku wants to fight people who actually have a chance at beating him, not just give him a decent fight until he decides to curb stomp them like Vegeta, Cell, and Super Buu. However, since he's one of the strongest beings in the universe, he has to restrain himself most of the time, usually by not going beyond Super Saiyan, to get a decent challenge. It's heavily implied that the reason he's so anxious to train Uub to fight him someday is out of boredom because he hasn't been pushed in a long time. This is shown during his afterlife training, when the Western Kai challenges him to show off his moves with ten tons of weight attached to each limb; when King Kai tells him to just go Super Saiyan, Goku responds, "Won't that make it too easy?"
    • As an unrepentant Blood Knight, Vegeta loves a good fight and fighting people that can push his limits. Unlike Goku, however, who enjoys fighting people who can beat him, Vegeta only wants his opponents to be strong enough to last for a while. This can be seen when he fights Goku on Earth. At first, he enjoys toying with Goku since he assumes that he's only strong enough to give him a decent battle, but as soon as Goku begins to overpower him, he completely loses it. Also, when he fights Semi-Perfect Cell, he quickly becomes bored after knocking Cell around for a few minutes and complains about how Cell is so weak that he can't fully test his new power. Cell takes advantage of this and tells Vegeta that if he becomes complete that he will easily beat him. Vegeta allows Cell to absorb Android 18, assuming Cell will only become strong enough to give him a good fight, not that he can actually beat him.
    • After becoming perfect, Cell quickly becomes bored after stomping Vegeta into the ground and Trunks' Ultra Super Saiyan form proves to be too slow to give him a good challenge. So, he decides to create the Cell Games so Goku and his friends can become stronger to challenge him and test his perfect power. He never once considers the possibility that any of the Z-Fighters could become strong enough to defeat him, only expecting them to be able to give him a good fight. This eventually leads Cell to pushing Gohan to his breaking point so he can unleash his hidden power after Goku declares Gohan to be the strongest fighter in the Cell Games. He gets his wish, and promptly gets his ass kicked, resulting in an epic Villainous Breakdown.
    • Much like Cell, Super Buu sees himself as the strongest in the universe and wants to test his ability against strong opponents. Anyone who can't provide him with a challenge is immediately killed. At the same time, he only wants to fight people he knows he can beat. When fighting against an opponent who completely outclasses him like Ultimate Gohan and Vegito, he has a breakdown.
  • Noble Demon:
    • Several of the Saiyans fall into this:
      • Despite being a ruthless Blood Knight, King Vegeta does show some care for his sons. He sends Tarble away instead of executing him for being weak and Frieza taking Vegeta is what motivates him to rebel against the tyrant.
      • To Bardock's credit, he comes to feel love (or at the very least, pride) for his son Kakarot in the final seconds of his life, and he did legitimately care for his teammates, as evidenced by his anger towards Dodoria and Frieza after they mercilessly slaughtered his team on Planet Meat. Otherwise, he is still a black-hearted villain who enjoyed partaking in planetary genocide and mass murder. In Dragon Ball Minus, Bardock is even more of a noble demon by showing real concern and care for his son Kakarot and sent him away from the planet when he sensed impending danger. One of his last words to his son was to stay alive no matter what. He also loved his wife despite her being a White Sheep among her race and even comments about her soft heart rubbing off on him.
      • Despite being a mass murdering planet destroyer, Nappa was extremely loyal to Vegeta and showed some care towards Raditz, wanting to wish him back with the Dragon Balls. He was also the only one who stood up to Frieza, and was shocked when he heard that Vegeta didn't care about the Saiyans dying.
    • Ginyu, surprisingly, has a slight honorable side. During the fight with Goku, he gets furious at Jeice for helping him out, threatening to kill him if he does it again. That is, until he learned Goku is much stronger than him then he loses all of his noble qualities and use the game-breaker body switch technique.
    • Whether or not the curse comes into the equation, Dabura remains admirably loyal to Babidi even as he is abandoned by the ungrateful mage, warning his master that Buu will not stay loyal and will be the death of him if not quickly sealed. He was, naturally, completely right. He also challenges Gohan, Goku, and Vegeta to attack him all at once, thinking he'd be too much for any one of them (an overestimation of his power, but it's the thought that counts). When Babidi asked him where he'd like the fight to take place, he requested a planet similar to Earth, so as not to give him an unfair advantage.
  • Nobility Marries Money: Gohan and Videl, though they fall in love quite on their own. Amid the focus on his Saiyan heritage, it's easy to forget that Gohan is a prince, but after Goku's death, his grandfather the Ox King spent nearly all of his treasure supporting Gohan and Goten.
  • Nobody Poops: Subverted in a Funny Moment by Super Buu (and Majin Buu, although it's somewhat easy to miss it).
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Raditz's fight with Goku, which ended with him stomping on Goku's chest breaking several ribs.
    • Frieza delivers one of these to Krillin and Vegeta and even Goku before he goes Super Saiyan.
    • Goku returns the favor to Frieza once the latter's stamina started to dissipate.
    • Kid Buu to Vegeta, in the final battle. Also Buu to Vegeta in their first battle...
    • Buu to anyone bar Goku, Gotenks, Gohan (at first) and Vegito. Even Buu himself is not safe from having his ass handed to him by Buu.
    • Gohan, once he got powered-up by Old Kai, came back and put the beatdown on Super Buu, nearly killing him with brute force alone.
    • Vegeta, Gohan, and Videl take some of the worst beatings in the series history. Vegeta and especially Gohan also got to pummel others into submission.
    • Krillin is almost always a victim of one of these.
    • Goku faced the worst beatdown of them all, having all his bones crushed by Great Ape Vegeta, and then getting further tortured afterwards. Of course, the man's a Physical God, so of course he laughs it off.
    • Before the heart virus fully took effect, Goku was handing Android 19 his pale butt. Once Goku became really sick, however, 19 beats him up.
    • Cell constantly switches which side of the beat down he's on, at first fleeing whenever Piccolo shows up (being massively outclassed) to beating on both Piccolo and #17. Android 16 then hands his ass to him until he absorbs #17 and stomps #16. This is all in the same fight. And this is before Vegeta shows up and the tables continue to turn...
    • What Gohan lays on Cell once he becomes a Super Saiyan 2. Even Cell calls him a monster.
    • Videl in the tournament is subject to a stomach-churning one by Spopovich. It's in many ways much more visceral than any other in the series, because Videl is not Made of Iron — she's a young girl screaming and weeping in pain as she is brutalized by a man three times her size, who will not stop.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Many, the more extreme ones on PLANETARY levels. Frieza destroyed the entire Saiyans' homeworld as well as causing the destruction of the first Planet Namek. Cell planned to destroy the entire Earth once he finished off the Z Fighters, but was defeated before he could try. Kid Buu ACTUALLY SUCCEEDS in blowing up the Earth out of boredom, then proceeds to blow up any nearby planets he finds.
  • No Name Given: Frieza's race, despite their ever-growing role in the series, and even being Promoted to Playable in recent games, still doesn't have an official name.
  • No-Nonsense Nemesis:
    • Although he gets very little screen time, King Cold. He tells Frieza that they can destroy the Earth from orbit instead of going through with Frieza's long-winded revenge plan of killing everyone on the planet. After Trunks kills Frieza and he turns down King Cold's job offer, he attempts to kill Trunks quickly.
    • Cell while imperfect — as he knows he is too weak to win against his stronger foes without gaining power, he instead deliberately and mercilessly kills to gain power. When fighting those he knows he can defeat, he methodically goes after anyone who makes themselves a threat — once he is struck by anyone entering the fight he immediately makes sure they can't return later to screw up his plans before continuing his main goal. After he becomes Perfect, however, he starts holding the Villain Ball more often. Given that the likes of Goku and Vegeta were used as sources for his DNA, a Blood Knight nature is literally In the Blood for Cell, and once he's complete he just can't hold it back anymore.
    • Once Super Buu enters the fray, his first move (after gruesomely killing a bystander) is to fly straight to Kami's Lookout and demand that Piccolo present the "worthy opponent" that he had been promised (Gotenks). When Piccolo tries to stall for time by pointing out that there are people left on Earth for Buu to kill, Buu immediately annihilates just about every bystander left on the planet Earth with an energy wave he calls the "Human Extinction" attack, to the horror of everyone. He then demands, with no further distractions, to see his opponent. He later declares that, if Goku and Gohan were to fuse, they still couldn't defeat him, but then immediately adds that he isn't going to take the chance and will just kill them now to be certain.
    • Kid Buu one ups even Super Buu. Instead of fighting the heroes, he simply blows up the entire planet, knowing that he can regenerate from almost anything. Goku and Vegeta are forced to fight Kid Buu on the world of the Kais because it's one of the few planets he can't oneshot.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond:
    • Any Saiyan upon hitting Earth.
    • For a Saiyan, Goku was born weak. According to Bardock: Father of Goku, he only had a power level of two. By the standards of Earth, he was very strong, especially for a baby (the farmer Raditz first met had a power level of five). Even before training with Master Roshi, Goku was bullet proof, could break steel, beat up trained martial artists like Yamcha and Krillin.
    • By the standards of a fighting Namekian type Piccolo was weak to average and wouldn't even be considered an Elite Mook in Frieza's army. On Earth, he was the Demon King reborn who was more powerful than his father who single-handedly took over the world. His only equal was Goku, a fellow alien.
    • At the beginning of Z. Raditz is a very low-level minion of Frieza's, but on Earth, he easily pulls off a Bullet Catch against a shotgun-wielding farmer and is powerful enough to curb-stomp both Goku and Piccolo, the two strongest beings on the planet, simultaneously.
    • Every hero inside Babidi's Spaceship. Pui Pui suffered the worst of this.
  • No-Sell: Happens too many times to count, but they are some memorable examples:
    • Piccolo attacked Raditz with an energy blast when they first met and the former didn't even blink. The normally stoic Piccolo is left shaking in fear.
    • Goku takes a dead hit from one of Frieza's Death Beam after going Super Saiyan. At that point, that same attack put holes in everyone else.
    • Cell no selling Krillin's Destructo Disc after achieving his perfect body. Keep in mind, the same attack cut Frieza who was many times stronger than Krillin.
    • This was actually subverted in the fight between Perfect Cell and Vegeta: Vegeta dared Cell to take his Final Flash full-on. Confident that Vegeta couldn't hurt him, Cell accepted the challenge. Cell ultimately changed his mind at the last second and decided to dodge the blast, since it was far more powerful than he expected, but he still got part of his torso blown off. Had Vegeta not aimed the blast upward, it would've destroyed Cell completely, along with the Earth.
    • After going to his max power Cell decks Gohan across the face. The attack did nothing.
    • After going Super Saiyan 3, Goku allows Buu to punch him in the face. It had no effect.
  • No Social Skills:
    • Goku and Chi-Chi had both lived pretty sheltered lives before they turned 12, the latter's was only so because her dad was needlessly violent and overprotective of his wealth and daughter, not to mention living on top of Frypan Mountain. Goku, on the other hand turned into an Oozaru in a full moon, and accidentally killed his grandfather, and he only taught him how to fight, fish, and be nice to girls, and that's it. No important social skills were taught to Goku, unfortunately, and he had to learn some of them himself (such as, humorously, the difference between boys and girls). Even to this day, he still struggles, but at least he looks good in a tuxedo.
    • Then there's Majin Buu, the Laughably Evil Big Bad who isn't actually all that evil, just misguided. Ironically, when Goku fought him and the relationship between Babidi and Buu was now breaking down, he asked him why he listens to Babidi as Buu is too gifted a fighter to do so. This ironically played a part in Buu getting rid of Babidi. When Mr. Satan asked why he kills, he answered that his creator Bibidi said "kill", while Babidi said "destroy". Mr. Satan pointed out that those two are gone, and he could do something better and kinder with his time. When Buu asked if killing is bad, Mr. Satan said it is. Afterwards, Buu simply said "Okie-dokie! Buu no kill no more." For that short time, Mr. Satan actually saved the world by asking the Big Bad to stop.
    • There were also the Saiyans, notably Vegeta, who were raised for fighting, not really manners or socially acceptable actions.
      Vegeta: Service woman! Bring me a drying cloth at once!
  • Not Quite Dead: Some villains were quite notorious for this, more so in the movies.
  • Not So Different:
    • This exchange between Goku and Frieza:
    Frieza: Why do you loathe what I've done so much? Saiyans are just as ruthless as I am! They were killers, all of them! And you have the gall to condemn what I've done. You and your bloodthirsty race!
    Goku: They paid for their mistakes!
    Frieza: Heh heh heh heh. Is that why they died? I thought it was because I killed them!
    Goku: You're just a beast, with no conscience!
    Frieza: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! So I'm a beast, huh? Oh, and what about you, Mr. Super Saiyan! Aren't you just like me?
    Goku: Hmph.
    Frieza: So the jury's still out on that one. Let's just give it a little more time.
    • When some of the Z Team witnessed 17 mercilessly kill Dr. Gero, they were all shocked, save for Vegeta.
    Krillin: I can't believe it... he... killed his own creator...
    Vegeta: So what? When you don't like someone, you kill him. That's the Saiyan way, too!
    • All of the villains from King Piccolo onward share many aspects with Goku. King Piccolo and his son Piccolo share similar backstories to Goku. The Saiyans all share Goku's love for fighting, pride in their power, and challenging themselves. Like Frieza, Goku has an enormous amount of raw natural talent, represents the strongest his race have to offer, and becomes just as sadistic as Frieza after turning Super Saiyan. After becoming perfect, Cell gains Goku's laid-back demeanor and gives his opponents sporting chances so he can enjoy the fight longer. Majin Buu shares Goku's love of food, fighting, playfulness, crude manners, and is much smarter than people give him credit for. He is also among the most feared beings in the universe. The fact that Goku has a conscience and a set of morals are what set him apart from his enemies.
  • Not So Invincible After All: Despite surviving many close calls, having every bone broken in his body at one point, and defeating the strongest being in the universe, Goku is laid flat on his back by a virus. In Trunks' timeline, it actually kills him. Future Gohan even lampshades this when musing about how he thought his father was invincible.
  • Not Too Dead to Save the Day:
    • Even death won't stop Goku from helping his friends and family:
      • In the final battle against Cell, Gohan is cheered on by Goku's spirit in the middle of a Beam-O-War, going so far as to mimic the Kamehameha stance. The scene is so memorable that several of the games have included the "Father-Son Kamehameha" as its own attack. Better yet, since Goku can teleport and his spirit was shown to be watching the situation, it's entirely possible he was actually there.
      • In Bojack Unbound, and Broly: Second Coming, Goku's spirit returns to help his sons save the day. In the former, he punches out Bojack as he squeezes the life out of Gohan. In the latter, he helps Gohan and Goten do a Kamehameha wave to defeat Broly.
    • Goku sees images of Vegeta when he's losing his fight against Frieza (reminding him of what happened to their race). His dad and King Vegeta also showed up.
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: In the Ocean dub of one DBZ episode, Krillin mutters out this prayer when he and Dende are confronted by Vegeta on Namek, until a whale shows up and distracts him.
  • Now, Let Me Carry You:
    • After saving Gohan and Krillin from Nappa, Goku sent them away so he could fight the much more powerful Vegeta without worrying about their safety. Then when Goku got into trouble during the fight, Gohan and Krillin returned saving him.
    • After Piccolo sacrifices his life to save him, Gohan goes through Hell and beyond to bring his mentor back to life. He also rushes Frieza when he almost killed Piccolo.
    • When Goku falls sick during the battle with the androids, Yamcha, who has been protected and saved by Goku several times, physically carried him back to his house and helped care for him along with his wife.
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  • Obsolete Mentor:
    • By the time the Saiyans arrive, every main character surpassed Kami after he finished training them.
    • Played With regarding King Kai. Goku has to become stronger than him just to have a remote chance against the Saiyans, who happened to be stronger than him. Despite his weakness, King Kai is still very useful giving advice and information.
    • Played all over the place with Goku. In the Cell Saga, he works to make Gohan stronger than him. He succeeds even before Gohan becomes a Super Saiyan 2, surpassing him in every possible way. He even cites this as one of the reasons why he chose to remain dead. This becomes Subverted in the Buu Saga where Goku becomes stronger than Gohan because his son slacked off. It's then Played Straight again after Gohan trains under Old Kai and unlocks all his hidden power. Then it's subverted, again, because Gohan slacks off and Goku is empowered by Super Saiyan God form.
  • Ocular Gushers: In one episode of the Cell Games Saga, when Chi-Chi sees Gohan's blonde hair (at this time, she doesn't know what a Super Saiyan is), she acts shocked and cries because she felt that Gohan became a "punker."
  • Oddly Common Rarity: Later on in the series, almost every surviving Saiyan and their offspring, with the sole exception of Pan, ends up a Super Saiyan. It's even lampshaded:
    Vegeta: [after hearing from Trunks that Goten can also go Super Saiyan] "What is this?! Some kind of Super Saiyan Bargain Sale? When was it that the transformation to the legendary warrior of the Saiyan race was reduced to a child's play thing?"
  • Off-Model: Due to this being a Long Runner, it's bound to happen often.
    • In particular, sub-contractors Last House and Studio Live have earned their (rather negative) reputation traits like pointed chins. On top of that, they handled no less than half of the entire franchise combined.
  • Off the Rails: Dragon Ball Z's Tournament Arc, in which Goku shows up despite being dead, thugs under control of the Big Bad interupt a match to steal Gohan's energy, Trunks and Goten knock out a masked fighter and steal his costume so they can compete, two thirds of the contestants fly away during the first round, and Mr. Satan tries to salvage the tournament by turning it into a battle royale. Then Vegeta blows up a chunk of the stadium.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Captain Ginyu's look when his Body Change technique is about to hit a wrong target...
    • Frieza after seeing Goku become a Super Saiyan.
    • Android 17 seeing that Piccolo wasn't firing randomly and was instead setting up an unavoidable attack.
    • In one dub, Cell literally says "Oh, shit!" when he realizes that taking Vegeta's Final Flash head-on just to show off was a terrible idea.
    • Supreme Kai also gets one when he realizes that Vegeta is about to be brainwashed by Babidi.
    • Babidi gets a couple of huge ones, the biggest one coming when he sees Goku's transformation into a Super Saiyan 3.
    • The Supreme Kai freaks out when Goku and Vegeta separate Good/Fat Buu from Super Buu causing him to turn back into Kid Buu. Goku and Vegeta also freak out when they notice he's getting stronger and stronger as he goes along the Bishōnen Line.
    • Goku has this reaction, then everyone else does, while fighting Kid Buu, when he realizes he's all out of energy (and thus can't push the Spirit Bomb towards Buu). Then, when Goku's energy is restored and starts pushing the Spirit Bomb back, Kid Buu, while not able to vocalize the feeling, undoubtedly has this is his reaction when he's about to be destroyed by the Spirit Bomb.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe example. Piccolo is so ashamed of his past as a demon king that he got angry at Krillin for mentioning it one time during the Majin Buu Saga.
  • Older Than They Look:
    • Saiyans, in general, age very slowly so they can fight longer.
    • Mrs Brief does not appear to age throughout all her appearances.
  • Ominous Pipe Organ: Heard sometimes in more dramatic moments during Namek and Android arcs, at least in the original Japanese version.
  • Ominous Walk: Cell does this regularly knowing that his enemies' own fear will make them easier to defeat.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Nearly every Big Bad, with Kid Buu being the ultimate distillation of the trope. Subverted with the prime timeline's #16, #17, and #18.
  • One-Gender Race: The Namekians as described by Akira Toriyama, Namekians are designed after slugs, and in-show they reproduce asexually. That said, their secondary sexual characteristics are distinctly male.
  • One-Winged Angel:
    • Frieza is the Trope Codifier for its modern definition. Prior to him, anime and western villains alike would only transform into a monster, dragon, giant, etc in the final battle and the multiple battle forms would appear in very little known series, his display of forms is what led to both hero and villains alike to transform into beautiful or hideous forms in order to fight their enemies.
    • Zarbon's case is an interesting one - in his natural form he is a large, ugly, and powerful hulking monster, but being obsessed with his own beauty, he most often uses a much weaker Bishōnen form. He is also incredibly reluctant to transform even temporarily into his ugly-but-powerful true form, and consequently determined to beat the shit out of the protagonist whose power forces him to do so or lose.
    • Cell every time he absorbs one of the androids. He gets another one after coming back from near death, becoming Super Perfect Cell.
    • Majin Buu has the most transformations of any character in the entirety of Dragon Ball, as he assumes a new form and undergoes some personality changes every time he absorbs a person. He was born as a shrimpy little guy who has no vocabulary whatsoever and blows up planets for giggles; becomes very buff after absorbing the Southern Supreme Kai; turns fat and goofy after absorbing the Grand Supreme Kai (the form the heroes first encounter him in); expels the embodiment of its evil side as a pale, wiry thing; becomes muscular and savage when the evil side reabsorbs the good side; absorbs Piccolo and Gotenks to become smarter and more powerful with a more human face and a longer antenna; reverts to a Piccolo-based form when Gotenks' fusion runs out; absorbs Gohan to take on his most human form yet; and then when Goku and Vegeta free all the fighters he absorbed he finally reverts back into his original form before all the transformations began. Buu also crosses over into Power Limiter territory as The Grand Supreme Kai kept him from using all his power while also making him much more sane and nicer.
    • Then there's the whole Oozaru thing. In an episode of the Saiyan saga Vegeta has a move that allows him to go Oozaru by creating a ball of energy that looks like the full moon; he uses this move and turns Oozaru. Amazingly he's still able to speak while being in this form, which was explained as him being trained to have some control over the form (as opposed to the only other Oozaru appearing being entirely untrained kids: Goku and Gohan).
    • After the Great Ape, Saiyans have their Super Saiyan forms which are far more practical and powerful.
  • Only a Flesh Wound
    • In Goku's fight with Piccolo, he was shot by a ki blast that punched clean through his shoulder. He got back up, much to Piccolo's shock, saying that he missed his vital organs. He was also shot in his other limbs, and suffering from heavy blood loss. One Senzu bean later and Goku is perfectly healed. He takes a similar beating from Vegeta, and until he gets another Senzu, he's stuck in the hospital.
    • Vegeta gets his arm broken by Android 18 and the other one dislocated. This doesn't stop him from trying to fight.
    • Frieza has it as an ability: he is able to survive and function in the most horrible conditions: He got his tail chopped off twice, got vivisected and lost his left arm, then was caught in the explosion of the planet he was on, resulting in the loss of half his head. When he was found floating among the debris, he was (semi-)conscious. And as if that weren't enough he survives for at least a few seconds after being vivisected AGAIN, vertically this time.
    • It gets really nasty when the next major villain combines that power with regeneration, and the ability to get stronger from being near death: Cell survives getting half of his torso and his full upper body blown up, and HIS OWN SELF-DESTRUCTION as well.
    • Buu is even worse since his regeneration ability far outstrips Cell. He can survive being reduce to vapors without ill effect. Thankfully, he doesn't get stronger from being close to death.
  • Only Sane Man: The Budokai announcer is probably the only person outside the Z Fighters circle to realize Hercule is full of it and Goku and co. really defeated Cell.
  • Only the Pure of Heart: The condition for riding the Nimbus or controlling the Spirit Bomb. For the record, the number of people in the show who can do either can be counted on one hand. Baby has his own version of the Spirit Bomb; created by pure hatred.
    • This is also a requirement for becoming a Super Saiyan, at least at first. Vegeta proves it's a Pure Is Not Good situation, though.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Goku has several throughout Z:
      • One of the few times we see Goku truly terrified is when he meets his brother. Even before Raditz formally introduces himself, he has Goku trembling and he didn't even try to fight him. He only gets over his fear after Raditz threatens Gohan. After Raditz kidnaps Gohan, Goku is willing to do anything to beat his older brother, including teaming up with his Arch-Enemy Piccolo and fighting Raditz in a two-on-one fight. He also planned to disable Raditz by grabbing his tail, a Saiyan's weakness, and have Piccolo give the finishing blow. Before then, he even considered using the Dragon Balls to stop Raditz and only gives up that idea because it will take too long to find all the Dragon Balls. For someone like Goku who believes in fair play, his anything-to-win mindset against Raditz really stands out and shows how desperate he is. When Raditz reveals that his two companions are even stronger than him, instead of being excited about fighting stronger opponents like Piccolo expects, Goku tells Piccolo that he's terrified at the idea.
      • After making sure Krillin and Gohan are okay, he tells them to stand back so he can fight Nappa alone. Krillin starts to protest, then steps back in fear and tells Gohan to listen to his father, saying that he has never seen Goku so angry.
      • When Goku becomes a Super Saiyan he tells Gohan to leave. When Gohan doesn't immediately obey, Goku yells at him, startling Gohan. He also allows Frieza to power-up to his maximum strength despite King Kai telling him to finish Frieza off. Goku refuses, wanting to fight Frieza at his very best so Frieza will experience utter defeat and shatter the tyrant's pride. He then spares Frieza not out of the goodness of his heart, but because he wants Frieza to suffer with the knowledge that he lost to a lower being. King Kai notes that this isn't Goku, but the Super Saiyan.
      • Prior to the Cell Games, Goku admits that he can't beat Cell. He acts so normal and calm despite this that his friends all get unnerved and figure he must have some trick to beat Cell. Which he does, in the form of Gohan.
    • Gohan also has a few moments:
      • Gohan yells at his mother after she tries to forbid him from going to Namek to revive Piccolo. Up to this point, Gohan has never raised his voice to his parents.
      • He ignores his father who begs him to finish Cell off before he does something desperate. Until that moment, Gohan has always obeyed his father, even more than his mother.
      • Any time Gohan loses his docile demeanor and becomes intent to kill. It happened when he ascended to Super Saiyan 2 and again when he confronted Super Buu.
      • As Cell is charging his Kamehameha to destroy the Earth, Vegeta apologizes to Gohan for being a burden. Gohan is shocked and concludes that Vegeta much knows that there is no hope if he's apologizing.
    • When Trunks returns to the future, he quickly destroys the Androids. Months later, he prepares to go back to give his friends the good news; however, as he is telling his mother farewell, he hears Cell (from his timeline) approach. Trunks, knowing Cell's abilities, asks his mother to go inside. Bulma, thinking that Trunks has a new girlfriend that he's embarrassed to tell her about, ribs him to tell her. Trunks, who normally would be left sputtering at a comment like that, merely looks off to the side. Bulma notices, thankfully, and goes inside.
  • Opt Out: Goku's giving the right to fight Cell to Gohan and also his initial refusal to be resurrected by the Dragon Balls.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: The Dragon Ball universe runs the idea of a branching timeline. When Future Trunks came to the past to help the Z Fighters prepare for the Androids, he changed their future but his remained the same. When he came back, he crossed over from his timeline into the main timeline, and again when he came back in Super. During that entire era of the show, things can get a little confusing to keep track of.
    • In Future Trunks's timeline, Goku died to a heart disease, leaving nobody strong enough to stand up to 17 and 18. All the Z fighters were killed, the earth was devastated, and Trunks went back in time to change the future. note  When he arrived back, he was surprised his own timeline didn't change. He had to come back again because things weren't going well, but he used his new strength to kill the Androids and Cell. The Earth recovered for a while, but a new threat rose up that necessitated the entire timeline be wiped out. (Two or three new timelines popped up in the process, so Future Trunks had a time to go back to...just that there would be two of him from that point.)
    • Branching off from this timeline, before going back to the past again, Cell managed to kill Trunks and hijack his time machine to go back to a time when 17 and 18 were still alive. he overshot by a few years, but managed to come back to the main timeline and absorb them.
    • In the main timeline, the Z Fighters get strong enough to overcome the Androids, but only after Cell managed to absorb them and declare his challenge to Earth. 17 and 18 are eventually recovered and rehabilitated.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: During the Saiyaman Arc, the series briefly turns into a teenage superhero story. All of the tropes are there, with Gohan leading a double life as a super hero while simultaneously having to survive high school, discovering romance and dealing with a bully all while trying to keep his powers secret. In the manga, this genre shift lasts for about a week, at which point Gohan blurts out his secret identity during his first in-costume encounter with Videl.
  • Out of the Inferno: A lot of Big Bads, but Cell is the worst offender...particularly after he achieved perfection.
  • Outside-Context Problem:
    • For Frieza's army, they had a hard time dealing with the Earthlings because they couldn't track them. The characters from Earth knew how to hide and surpass their power, so not only didn't they track on the scouters but when they did find them, Frieza's men underestimated them because they showed a low battle power. Almost the entire Ginyu Force got stomped into the ground because they kept assuming Goku only had a power level of 5000. They were also caught off-guard that the Earthlings and Vegeta could read powers without a scouter.
    • Trunks manages to be this to Frieza for being a Kid from the Future on top of being a Super Saiyan. Until that point, Goku was the only known Super Saiyan in the universe so Frieza had no way to expect Trunks, at all.
    • Despite monitoring Goku and his friends for over a decade, the Super Saiyan manages to be this to Dr. Gero. Since he fails to follow the heroes to Namek, he's caught completely by surprise when Goku transforms. The only point of reference he has is Goku's Kaioken.
    • Goku transforming into a Super Saiyan the first time also counts. Up to that point in the series a transformation like this has never been seen before and Frieza and Gohan are baffled about what just happened. Frieza lampshades this by saying he knew Saiyans turned into giant apes, but he had never seen anything like this before.
    • Each new villain tends to be this to a varying extent, but special mention goes to famous Evil Overlord Frieza whose power advantage over all the protagonists (and antagonists) combined was akin to helpless mortals opposing a god. Even though later villains could make mincemeat out of him, they almost always started out in a similar "tier" of power to the heroes; Frieza started out several tiers ahead.
    • Also worth mentioning is Raditz for literally having an alien background, embarrassing the Big Good and previous Big Bad simultaneously and generally shaking up the status quo with his mere introduction. All this despite only being the Starter Villain of the new story arc.
    • Majin Buu also deserves a special mention. He is literally an Eldritch Abomination. This bizarre pink genie creature has terrorized the universe, cowed the gods themselves, can transform you into conscious food while eating you alive, or absorb you by using its own malleable flesh to break off and consume you as it reintegrates with him and transforms into a new form, taking some of the traits of the victims (this happened to God), and, sufficiently enraged, he can tear down dimensions. His pure, untainted form, Kid Buu, is even worse. Unlike all the other villains, he can't be reasoned with, he has no pride to take advantage of, no desire for anything except killing everything. In order to beat him, they literally had to go to a planet that he couldn't blow up in one shot. Even then, he was close to being an immortal given his endless energy and regeneration. Not to mention, he can teleport into the afterlife, killing you for good after he kills you the first time. His origin is even Retconned to make him an Outside-Context Problem for the entire universe. Originally, it is thought that Bibidi created him using magic. We learn later that Buu is an old as the universe itself and no one knows where he came from or how he was created.
  • Over-the-Shoulder Carry: Happens when injured characters are carried away from the battlefield. One of the few times it happened to a female character was when Bulma tried to stop Trunks from training to fight Majin Buu and Krillin carries her away like this.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Krillin is THE poster boy for this, but it applies to just about anyone who isn't a Saiyan.
    • Mr Satan gets this really bad too. He is a genuinely talented martial artist (he won all the tournaments the years the Z fighters didn't attend fairly), and he is legitimately the strongest normal (non-ki using) human. But in a universe where even weak fighters can blow up planets without even trying, he just doesn't stand a chance.

     P 
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Say what you will about his parenting skills, if you mess with Gohan or Goten, Goku will make you pay for it. Part of the reason why he went Super Saiyan, besides Krillin's death, is because Frieza threatened Gohan.
    • Piccolo towards Gohan. If Goku doesn't kill you, he will. He personally cut Babidi in half when he believed he ordered Gohan's death.
    • After character development set in, Vegeta becomes this to Trunks. He lost it when Cell murdered Future Trunks.
  • Parabolic Power Curve: The end of the Cell Saga provides a non-video game example. Goku decides that torturing their bodies in the Time Chamber will only help until a certain point, so he and Gohan practice maintaining the Super Saiyan form until it feels natural. Sure enough, this accomplishes more in one visit than Vegeta or Trunks manage in two, although there were some domestic issues.
  • Parents Know Their Children: An inversion of this occurs during the Namek Saga. Captain Ginyu has switched bodies with Goku and planned to use this to his advantage when he approached Krillin and Gohan. Before Ginyu can open his mouth, Gohan is quick to tell Krillin "That's not Dad!"
  • Parents in Distress:
    • Gohan powers up when his father, Goku, is in danger. He's not too pleased when his Parental Substitute Piccolo is injured either.
    • Future Trunks saved his mother, Bulma, and his past self from an attack from Android 20. He later tried to save Vegeta from Android 18, but is stopped by Android 17.
    • Trunks manages to save Vegeta from being beaten to death by Majin Buu by sending him flying with a kick to the head.
    • In a cruel aversion, when his mother Chi-Chi was killed by Super Buu, Goten couldn't do anything but watch, since he lacked the strength to confront Buu even if he merged with Trunks.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Type 2 is Videl's opinion of her father's fangirls, and this is before she found out he was a total fraud.
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: For particularly tense or dramatic cliffhangers.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: After being beaten up by Vegeta and sent to the hospital, Goku repeatedly tries to escape the hospital to train (he actually succeeds once, but he's sent back to the hospital).
  • Pay Evil unto Evil:
  • Pedestrian Crushes Car: Majin Buu had some fun playing with cars during an early appearance. They weren't matchbox vehicles, but may have been Pintos.
  • Percussive Prevention: Future Gohan does it to Future Trunks before going off to fight the Androids (which ends in Future Gohan's death). Then in the main timeline Majin Vegeta does it to Kid Trunks before going off to fight Majin Buu (which ends in Vegeta's death).
  • Perpetual-Motion Monster: Androids 16, 17, and 18.
  • Perpetual Storm: During the infamous Fake Namek Filler arc, one of the areas on the imitation planet was buffeted by a permanent sandstorm. Unfortunately for the heroes, one of the (fake) Dragon Balls was inside of a cyclone right in the middle of it.
  • Practice Target Overkill: In Buu Saga, before the Tenkaichi Tournament, Son Goku says all his friends and allies that use a minimal of their power to pass the punching dummy machine so they can't be noticed easily. Omitting deliverately this warning, Vegeta simply put a good punch to the machine destroying it to the surprise of all the normal people out there.
  • Present Absence
    • From the TV Special History of Trunks, Goku's absence is greatly felt. He dies within the first minute of the special leaving a gaping wound as the other heroes are mercilessly killed off by the androids. Gohan wears a replica of his father's gi in his memory and Bulma often talks about him, saying how he could have changed things if he had lived. A big part of the special is Bulma making the time machine to give Goku the medicine that will save his life.
    • From the same special, Piccolo's death is the most felt after Goku's since his final death means the Dragon Balls are forever inert, rendering all deaths permanent.
    • Piccolo dying in the Saiyan Saga causes the others to go into space searching for Planet Namek, causing the events of the Namek/Frieza Saga.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Everyone. ...except Mr. Satan.
  • Pet the Dog: Piccolo took Gohan to train him to fight the Saiyans, but ended up caring about the kid. Fat Buu literally did this with a puppy he found, learning that being nice can be more fun than hurting people.
  • Phosphor-Essence: Every character who goes Super Saiyan glows. While other characters can summon a Battle Aura, Super Saiyans are constantly glowing, as indicated by their clothes and skin tone being lighter even when the Battle Aura is off, and the hyper saturation of their hair in a special.
  • Physical God
    • The Kais are the closet thing the series has to actual gods. They have many mystical abilities like being to create objects and clothing out of thin air, heal, bring out the hidden powers of others, telepathy, telekinesis, and teleportation. They are also very strong, their strength depending on their status. The lower Kais like King Kai are weaker than an elite Saiyan, while the weakest Supreme Kai is below Super Perfect Cell with the strongest being able to fight on par with Majin Buu.
    • For his time, Frieza was consider the closest thing to a physical god to the point that Vegeta didn't want to even consider fighting him until he gained immortality. His telekinesis rivaled those of the Kais and he has extreme survivability that allowed him to live in space and survive with most of his body missing.
    • Perfect Cell was already strong enough, but Super Perfect Cell is the one that really qualifies. He was designed to be the perfect life form, and his designer succeeded. Among other abilities, he has: super strength, super speed, and super durability, instant teleportation (just like Goku), the ability to spawn powerful warriors who are god-like themselves (the Cell Juniors), regeneration From a Single Cell, the ability to come back stronger after being blown to bits, extremely powerful telekinesis (which he uses to build an arena, among other things), the ability to absorb things and gain their power with his tail, the ability to survive any injury (including half of his body being blown clean off), and energy blasts powerful enough to destroy entire solar systems.
    • Then there's Dabura, who is the King of Demons. And unlike Demon King Piccolo, that isn't a title. For Dabura, that's his description. Power-wise, he's around Super Perfect Cell's level on top of having magical powers like being able to create objects like the Kais and his spit turning anyone who touches it into stone, effectively killing them.
    • Majin Buu on top of being an Eldritch Abomination is this. He has all the abilities of Super Perfect Cell (except the ability to grow stronger from near-death and create mini-mooks), but with greater regeneration, teleportation, absorption, and raw power that makes Cell looks like a wimp. He is also an immortal with nearly endless endurance and a Reality Warper able to turn people and objects into anything he wants. He can also break dimensions just by screaming. Buu is more of a god than the gods in the series.
    • From the movies there are Super Janemba, Beerus, Whis, and Broly. Super Janemba needed the fusion of Goku and Vegeta as Super Saiyans to defeat, meaning he was as strong as Majin Buu. Beerus is an actual god who's far more powerful than any character, god or otherwise. Beerus took care of Super Saiyan 3 Goku with a flick of his finger and a karate chop. Even Super Saiyan God Goku wasn't enough to stop him and Beerus was only using 70% of his power. Whis is even stronger. On a scale of 1 to 10, the author gave him a 15. With Broly, Goku needed all his friends' energy to win, and that only put Broly in a coma.
    • Out of the main heroes, Goku fits. His Nigh-Invulnerability, Super Strength, and Super Speed have been an integral part of his character since the start of the series. He's also displayed limited telekinetic, telepathy, the ability to read minds if he touches someone, can grow stronger from near-death, learn abilities after only seeing them a couple of times, become immune to techniques because he knows how to counter them, and can teleport anywhere he wants as long as he can sense energy, including the afterlife. He even becomes a legitimate god in Battle of Gods.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse:
    • Vegeta. He is one of the shortest characters in the series and one of the strongest. This is very apparent in his introduction standing next to Nappa who tower over him.
    • In his true form, Frieza only comes to Goku's chest. He was the strongest being in the universe before Super Saiyan Goku came along.
    • After becoming a Super Saiyan 2, Gohan became a powerhouse of pure power able to kick Cell's ass.
    • Gotenks, the merger of two kids, is one of the strongest characters in the series.
    • Majin Buu's true, pure form. He looks like a ten-year-old kid and yet he was the strongest thing in the universe for billions of years.
  • Planet of Copyhats: Goku starts off as a strange kid with a monkey tail, and a talent for (and love of) martial arts. In Z, his people, the Saiyans, are introduced with fighting as their hats. While they tend to be evil and ruthless, unlike Goku (and it's implied Goku would have been, too, if not for a Tap on the Head in his youth), they share a lot of Goku's most famous traits (e.g. huge appetite, the ability to turn into giant were-monkeys, and a tendency to give their opponent an advantage to make a fight more fun).
  • Planet of Hats: The series gives us two races, the Namekians and the Saiyans. Both with justifications:
    • We were introduced to the Namek race by Piccolo and Kami, who were original one person. Everyone in the race is green, reproduces asexually, is one gender (male), has mystical abilities, and is peace-loving with the exception of Piccolo who was the Nameless Namek's evil side that was corrupted by living on Earth. Part of the reason for the uniformity is that the Nameks we see in the main story, with the exception of the Nameless Namek, all came from one father after the race was brought to the brink of extinction, which means any culture or other unique differences would be all but lost since everyone came from the same gene pool and raised by the same person. However, there are still subtypes or 'classes.' There are two castes; the Dragon Caste (consisting of those with magical abilities and being able to create Dragon Balls i.e. Dende and Kami) and the Warrior Caste, those who are powerful in combat (Nail and the original King Piccolo). Piccolo Jr. (the good one) could be considered a hybrid due to being a fusion (but lacks Kami's abilities of creating the Dragon Balls.)
    • The Saiyans were introduced by Goku. Once Raditz comes we learned that all Saiyans are freaking strong, have monkey tails that allow them to transform into giant apes under a full moon, have dark hair and eye color, are prideful, and are Blood Knights. Goku is unique among his race because he doesn't have the Saiyan bloodlust. This is a combination of being raised on Earth, a head injury, and inheriting his mom's good nature. Part of the justification for the Saiyans is that there were good Saiyans, but they were banished or repressed by the more violent parts of their race, like Tarble and Gine. The Saiyans' dark nature was also exploited by Frieza who used them to wipe out planets and made them advance too fast so they never evolved past their barbaric ways. Saiyans mostly look alike physically because they had a low gene pool. At their peak they only numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
  • Plant Mooks: The Saibamen are used by Saiyans as sparring partners and low-level infantry. Six are unleashed on Earth by Nappa, who plants their seeds in the ground. They are defeated by the Z Fighters, but manage to take at least one with them.
  • Plot Hole:
    • Bojack, an evil space pirate assumed to be on the same level as Cell was sealed away by the four Kaio centuries ago. Now take into consideration that Goku surpassed each of them in strength before the first saga of DBZ was over.
    • After Goku and Vegeta save Gohan, Goten, Piccolo, Trunks, and Fat Buu from Evil Buu's body, he technically should have reverted to his original gray self. Instead, he becomes another Kid Buu, as the original turned into Fat Buu after absorbing one of the Kais.
    • A major plot point in the series is the characters using multiplied gravity for massive strength boosts in a short time. Goku Trains at 100x Earth's Gravity on his way to face Frieza, and Vegeta later trains at 300x. However, if an average human's power level is 5, then 300x gravity would be felt the same as normal gravity to someone with a power level of 1500, which was roughly the same as Raditz. Considering that Goku's original Super Saiyan transformation was 150 million, he'd need to train at over 3 million times Earth's gravity to feel any difference. Goku reached King Kai's planet which has 10x gravity, and he was initially barely able to stand. By then, he must've been barely stronger than Raditz. The effects are largely the same across the the board.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Much like in the original Dragon Ball, Krillin takes the role as both the funny man and Butt-Monkey. Later, Goten and Trunks take up this role, especially Gotenks who doesn't take any fight seriously even when his opponent is Super Buu. And there is, of course, Mr. Satan, the local Fake Ultimate Hero. He provides much of the humor for the Cell Games and the Kid Buu fight.
  • Polite Villains, Rude Heroes: A common theme since Goku is a country bumpkin with No Social Skills and is often Brutally Honest. Most of the primary villains such as King Piccolo, Piccolo Jr, Vegeta, Frieza, Perfect Cell, and Super Buu after he absorbed Piccolo are all Faux Affably Evil who have polite mannerisms and often compliment their opponents, before mercilessly torturing and killing them.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Goku is more often the victim of theses:
      • No one telling Goku about the Great Ape transformations. See Locked Out of the Loop.
      • A lot of deaths could have been prevented if Trunks told Goku that the androids can't be sensed like normal enemies. He also fails to tell him what they look like. Then again, this most likely would just add to confusion since Androids 19 and 20 look nothing like 17 and 18.
      • When fighting Android 19, Yamcha suspected that the androids could absorb energy through their hands given what happened to him when Android 20 grabbed him. He warns everyone, except Goku. No one finds the need to tell Goku until 19 absorbs his Kamehameha and recovers from all the damage done to him. Worse, Goku is already falling sick and wastes a bunch of energy on what he thought was the finishing blow.
      • In the battle against Cell, Goku blew half of Cell's body away with a Warp Kamehameha. He is then left baffled for several minutes about why Cell's remains still have so much energy. It isn't until Cell is about to recover that Krillin warns Goku that Cell can regenerate. Goku could have used the time before Cell regrew to try and finish him.
      • Goku's mom, Gine tells Raditz that she sent Goku to Earth. What she fails to tell him, apparently, is that Goku was sent to Earth for his protection, not to purge the planet. If she had told Raditz this, he most likely wouldn't have gone to Earth and tried to bully his baby brother to wipe out the population, which got both of them killed.
    • Despite Krillin saying that they came to Namek to revive several of his friends that were killed by the Saiyans, no one bothered to tell him that the Dragon Balls of Namek could only revive one person at a time.
    • The Grand Elder never told Krillin or Gohan the password needed to summon the Namekian dragon or that all the wishes needed to be spoken in Namekian. Even Guru wonders why he didn't tell them, forcing Nail to fight Frieza and nearly be beaten to death.
    • When Piccolo was wished to Namek after being revived, they never told the Namekian Dragon where to teleport him. So, he was on the other side of the planet when Frieza found them.
    • When the Grand Elder was about to die for the final time, he told all the Namekians to gather only to find an entire village missing. Turns out it was because the wish stated to revive those killed by Frieza and his men. Vegeta killed that village and he wasn't working for Frieza.
    • Goku not telling Gohan that he will be the one to fight Cell. Gohan being mentally unprepared to kill along with his general self-esteem issues nearly gets everyone killed by the Cell Jrs.
    • Gotenks not telling Piccolo that he could transform into a Super Saiyan 3. Gotenks wanted to play up the dramatics and pretended to be low on power to surprise everyone when he made his sudden comeback. Piccolo took Gotenks at his word and destroyed the door to the time chamber, trapping them all inside.
    • The Supreme Kai never warned anyone that Buu can absorb people through his flesh. If he did, then Gohan and the others may have seen past Super Buu's trickery and prevented Gotenks and Piccolo from being absorbed.
  • Power Copying:
    • Despite being The Ace, Goku never creates his own original technique in the series. All of his signature techniques are all moves he adapted from his friends.
    • All of Cell's techniques are stolen from the cells of the people he is created from.
    • After he absorbs someone, Majin Buu can use any technique they know. He can also learn just by watching others do it.
  • Power Dyes Your Hair: The Super Saiyan transformations turns the Saiyans' hair gold.
  • Power Floats: When characters raise their Power Level. Combines with - in order of ascending power - Dramatic Wind, Swirling Dust, Chunky Updraft and finally Psycho Electro.
  • Power High: Piccolo's infamous "Yes! Yes! I feel great! I can do this!" moment when he fuses with Nail.
  • Power Levels:
    • DBZ, Saiyan Saga to Frieza Saga, after which it was abandoned as the numbers became more noteworthy. Toyed with in the Buu Saga. Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta, who is the strongest character in the series, has a power level that is easily calculated at above 80 billion!note 
    • Lampshaded in the 2008 special, Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!!, by none other than Vegeta. In the special, his younger brother Tarble is introduced, saying that a couple of remnants of Frieza's army followed him back to Earth, and that he needs help fighting them. Naturally, Goku immediately obliges, but Tarble uses his scouter on him and reads a hilariously low power level, so the young Saiyan prince politely refuses Goku's help on the grounds of him being "too weak". Cue Vegeta saying that scouters are not reliable measurement for the real power level of a warrior, and Goku demonstrating this by turning Super Saiyan in front of him and making Tarble's scouter literally explode on his face due to overloading.
    • Another point is that towards Buu Saga, the real increase comes from finding new levels and fusion - the lower levels have pretty much ceased growing exponentially. Goku's Super Saiyan form is only marginally stronger than what it was in Cell Saga, and so it isn't of much use compared to Super Saiyan 2 and 3.
  • Power Limiter:
    • Unlike the other transformations in the series, Frieza uses his different forms to suppress his power. He has trouble controlling his full power and he suffers notable Sanity Slippage.
    • Majin Buu is an interesting example. The Grand Supreme Kai allows himself to be absorbed by Buu acting as his limiter, turning him into Fat Buu. In this form, Buu is more sane, innocent, and can't reach his full power.
    • At the beginning of the series, weighted clothes. Goku and Piccolo use them for their training. When removed, they become stronger and faster.
  • Power Makes Your Hair Grow: Super Saiyan 3 makes Goku and Gotenks' hair grow down to their knees.
  • Power Makes Your Voice Deep: In the English dub, Goku and Gohan's voices becomes noticeably deeper in Super Saiyan 1 and 2 respectively. Goku becomes an outright Bad Ass Baritone when he transforms into a Super Saiyan 3.
  • The Power of Friendship: Despite being an Omnicidal Maniac, Super Buu remembers Mr. Satan befriending him as Fat Buu, and won't harm him. Even as the wild, primitive Kid Buu he can't bring himself to harm him... until he spits out Fat Buu.
  • The Power of Hate: This, along with extreme anger, is needed to become a Super Saiyan. At least until Trunks and Goten came along.
  • The Power of Love: Goku and (even more so) Gohan are always able to find a hidden reserve of power to protect the ones they love.
  • Previously On: Every episode has an opening narration to let you know what happened in previous episodes. In order to draw out epic action in later episodes, they sometimes had a Previously On segment to let you know what happened earlier in that episode.
  • Prehensile Tail
    • The Saiyan's tails, though only Goku gets the best use of it. Young Saiyans, like Goku, have tails capable of supporting their body weight, but it's unknown if adult Saiyans can suspend themselves with their tails. In fact, Saiyan tails are notoriously sensitive, & the only instance of a full-grown Saiyan using their tail to attack was when Raditz knocked Krillin through Kame House early on in DBZ.
    • Frieza is especially notorious for using his highly prehensile tail to not only bludgeon opponents, but strangle them. Unfortunately, his tail becomes a minor weak point when Goku decides to bite him to avoid being decapitated.
    • Cell is quite similar, strangling Trunks with his tail before stealing his time machine and attempting to do the same to Android 16.
  • Pride: Is one of the ongoing themes of the series and also the Fatal Flaw in many characters.
    • Vegeta runs on his pride and it causes the major conflicts in Cell and Buu Saga. His pride in power allowed 17 and 18 to be awakened and Cell to reach his perfect form. His pride in being a ruthless warrior prince drove him to sell himself to Babidi and revive Majin Buu.
    • Frieza's Fatal Flaw is his pride. It is his inability to accept that he lost to a Saiyan that destroys him. First, Goku offers him mercy after his power began to rapidly drop, but instead of accepting it, he tries to slice Goku when his back is turned. Then, he is cut to pieces by his own energy disc, reduced to pleading for his life, and Goku offers him energy to escape the exploding planet. Instead of leaving, he shoots Goku with the energy he gave, which causes Goku to blast him. After the planet explodes on him, his body is nearly completely destroyed and left floating in space, but he is saved by his father. Once again, instead of learning from the experience, he chose to go to Earth to get his revenge where he is killed by Trunks. A long fall for someone who was considered The Dreaded of the universe.
    • Cell's pride in his power and perfection also led to his downfall. It never once occurred to him that anyone can surpass him, even when Gohan warned him what will happen if he lost his temper. Once Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2 and mops the floor with him, Cell has an epic breakdown and he only has himself to blame.
    • Goku himself has a lot of pride, although it is much more subtle compared to most characters. He refuses any help from his friends, even when he is in grave danger like when he was fighting Android 19. He also refused to eat a Senzu even when Cell offered it. Unlike most, however, Goku tends to know when to swallow his pride, best seen where teamwork is used to take down Vegeta and Majin Buu.
  • Pride Before a Fall
    • A version of this happens to Frieza after he's rebuilt into a cyborg. He goes to Earth, stronger than ever with his dad, ready to seek vengeance against Goku for his defeat on Namek. Not even five minutes after landing on Earth, he's cut to pieces by Trunks and unceremoniously blasted to hell.
    • Android 20, better known as Dr. Gero. He makes his grand entrance by putting a hole through Yamcha and nuking half of a city. He is sure, thanks to his data on all of Earth's great fighters, that he and Android 20 are more than strong enough to kill Goku and the others. Even a sick, weakened Goku was on the verge of defeating Android 20 before Vegeta finished him off, and Android 20 was completely outmatched against Piccolo, even after he drained some of his energy. He's reduced to retreating and activating Androids 17 and 18, who kill him.
    • Not long after Super Buu becomes nearly invincible after absorbing Gohan, he had to fight Vegito. It didn't end well for Buu.
    • Happens every time Vegeta gets a huge power boost. He goes to Namek, stronger than ever after his fight on Earth, and gets nearly killed by a transformed Zarbon. After he got a boast from that battle, the Ginyu Force comes and wipe the floor with him. Then again, he gets a major power-up to fight Frieza and he gets easily murdered. His luck doesn't improve in the Cell or Buu Sagas. By the end of the series, he finally became more humble.
  • Primal Scene: Subtly averted. A few days before the Cell Games, Goku has Gohan stay on the Lookout for reasons that boil down to "because I said so." Goten was conceived roughly around this time.
  • Privileged Rival
    • Vegeta is the Prince of all Saiyans, while Goku is the lineage of a low class soldier.
    • This applies at the end of the series, where they become Vitriolic Best Buds: Vegeta lives with Bulma at Capsule Corp., while Goku lives in the mountains as a farmer.
  • Probability Pileup: The legendary Super Saiyan transformation was seen as impossible to achieve, yet so powerful and dangerous that it merited the destruction of the Saiyan homeworld and the near-genocide of their race. It took Goku, who was prophesied to get it, amazing emotional and physical stress to achieve it. Ditto for Future Trunks, Vegeta, and Gohan. Then they discovered that there are levels to the Super Saiyan transformation. Then Kid Trunks and Goten, Vegeta and Goku's pre-teen children, discovered they could transform at will, just because. And then they discovered that the key to the truly legendary transformation (the one that warranted the genocide in the first place) were the Saiyan tails that Goku and Vegeta had long since gotten removed as liabilities.
  • Prodigal Hero: Piccolo may count, as he (or rather, his father) had been apart from Namek for years and only comes back when it's targeted by Frieza.
  • Properly Paranoid: Gohan may be a Half-Saiyan, but Chi-Chi was not okay with Gohan leaving to go to Namek for two months. While Chi-Chi may be unreasonable sometimes, she was rightfully paranoid with Gohan going to a potentially dangerous planet and leaving her alone for two months (she had not seen him for a whole year) to revive Piccolo, the same guy who blasted a hole through Goku, her husband, and killed him in the Saiyan arc. She displays this trope throughout the series when Gohan goes up against the Androids and Cell, fearing for Gohan's health and well-being when he's fighting bad guys.
  • Protagonist Power-Up Privileges
    • Goku is always the first to train at a new training ground, then moves on to a new one when the rest of the heroes make it there. He's also the first to reach Super Saiyan and Super Saiyan 3.
    • Gohan is the first to reach Super Saiyan 2 and the only character to get an ultimate form thanks to Elder Kai.
    • Interestingly, the other characters tend to gain power incredibly quickly, even faster than Goku in some cases, but never enough that they actually surpass him.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy
    • The Saiyans' instinct to fight in addition to their incredible natural strength, ability to transform into giant apes under a full moon, and, later in the series, their power to become Super Saiyans, make them hugely dangerous and feudal; though Vegeta, the Prince of all Saiyans (as he is very quick to point out), seems under the impression that he's the last of a race of noble, honorable warriors that lived by their strength alone. Goku and half-Saiyans like Goten and Trunks have less of an idea of honor but retain the Saiyan fighting instinct. In the former's case, Vegeta hints the Saiyan sense of honor is inherent in pure-blooded Saiyans since Goku knows nothing of Saiyan culture, and still would've rather died (or gave up the fight) than achieve victory over an opponent by eating a Senzu to win.
    • Averted by Gohan, who is half-Saiyan (and very powerful) but doesn't really enjoy fighting as much as other Saiyans. He doesn't much bother with training unless he anticipates having to fight a villain.
    • Future Trunks is much the same as Gohan. He doesn't seem to enjoy fighting, but has to since he is the only one who can fight the androids in his time. He doesn't care about Saiyan pride and only wants victory no matter the means, which is why he couldn't understand why Goku didn't take a Senzu when offered by Cell or why they didn't attack Cell all at once when he was weakened from fighting Goku.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • All incarnations of Buu. They love sweets, see mindless destruction as fun, and are prone to temper tantrums. Fat Buu acts this way because he doesn't know any better and Kid Buu is close to being a mindless machine of destruction. Super Buu is a Blood Knight who hates anyone stronger than him.
    • Frieza as well despite being an elegant speaker and somewhat polite. Usually behaves in a similar way to that of a spoiled child, especially when he meets someone stronger than him.
    • Deep down, Broly is still that baby boy who was annoyed by Goku's crying.
    • Despite being a centuries old wizard, Babidi acts like a spoiled brat. He is prone to throwing tantrums, whining, and bullying others when things don't go his way. He also treats hurting and killing people like some kind of game, laughing in delight when Buu ate entire cities or when his former loyal servant Dabura was beaten and killed.
    • Beerus throws a tantrum and decides to destroy the Earth because he wanted pudding, and Buu ate it all first. Fortunately, Beerus has Whis to keep him in check.
  • Psychotic Smirk:
    • Vegeta, especially as a Majin.
    • Super Buu gets an honorable mention for having a particularly perverted psycho smirk.
    • Trunks, after being possessed by Baby in Dragon Ball GT.
    • Frieza got into these time to time.
    • Cell, especially after coming back from his near death experience.
  • Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Vegeta and Goku have been on both sides of the punching. Mr. Satan is frequently the puncher when he's around.
  • Puny Earthlings
    • The humans (and inexplicable Funny Animals) of Dragon Ball and its offspring are completely, pitifully underpowered. Case in point: the term "power level" was used liberally in the first season of Dragon Ball Z; the higher someone's "power level," the stronger they were. An average human's power level is 5. The first villain we encounter in the series has a power level of 1,200. Add the Sorting Algorithm of Evil into the mix and you've got yourself a race that has apparently survived its entire existence on little more than a wing and a prayer.
    • Even the aliens who live on earth, Goku and Piccolo/Kami, are pretty weak compared to others of their species. At least, at first.
    • However, for some reason human/Saiyan hybrids have the potential to be far more powerful than both races...
    • Ironically, it was by all appearances the exact opposite for a long time: the Earth of Dragon Ball was portrayed as a Death World of Badass where you couldn't take two steps without running into monsters, magic, demons, dinosaurs, or humans that could match any of the above with Charles Atlas Superpower, Supernatural Martial Arts, or super-science like mecha and robots.
      It was only with the change from fantasy-adventure to sci-fi that several of the most powerful beings on Earth turn out to not be native, it's shown a single Mook from the galaxy's major power could enslave the entire planet (if not destroy it entirely), and Earth in general changes from a Schizo Tech World of Weirdness to a place much more like real life in the modern-day.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Happens a few times:
    • The end of the Saiyan Saga; while the Saiyans are repelled, with Nappa being killed and Vegeta retreating in bad shape, more than half of the Z Fighters are killed (Yamcha, Tien, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo) in the battle, and even the survivors are in pretty rough shape. Even worse, the Dragon Balls have ceased to exist due to Piccolo's death, meaning that no one can ever be brought back to life.
    • Trunks goes back in time from a desolate future and finds the key to defeat the androids running wild across the world: the blueprints to their shut down remote. He brings them back to the future, has his mother make one, and gets rid of 17 and 18. Then he gets murdered by Cell who steals his time machine. Thankfully, the Trunks we see does two years worth of training instead of using the remote and aptly kicks Cell's ass.

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