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  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Captain Ginyu leads the Ginyu Force, an elite force of mutants composed of the most powerful warriors in the galaxy. Frieza tasks them with killing Vegeta and recovering the Dragon Balls after Zarbon and Dodoria's deaths at Vegeta's hands, forcing Vegeta, Krillin, Gohan, and later Goku to fight their way through before they can resume their goal of summoning Porunga and resurrecting their friends.
  • Quit Your Whining:
    • When Gohan cries a lot in the Vegeta Saga, Piccolo threatens to snap his neck so he would stop.
    • Piccolo does it again with Yamcha, who is freaking out when Frieza arrives on Earth along with his equally powerful father.
    • In the Buu Saga, when Goten and Trunks are crying over the death of Gohan and Vegeta, Goku tells them to stop crying because they were Earth's only hope to stop Majin Buu.
    • When Krillin has one of his freak-outs, usually when facing an ungodly strong opponent, either Piccolo or Vegeta will give him this response.
  • Rage Breaking Point
    • Goku has a very long temper. He's hard to truly anger and tends to go into Tranquil Fury when mad. However, when he snaps, he snaps big time. His rage is noticeably different from Gohan's in that Gohan tends to go off like an explosion, while Goku is more like an out of control wildfire that someone dumped gasoline on.
    • Gohan is an easygoing person like most in his family, but hurting people he cares for or using your power to abuse others is a major Berserk Button for him. With that said, he only truly reached his breaking point after Cell stepped on Android 16's head, killing him. That trauma on top of all Gohan had been through is what caused him to go Super Saiyan 2 and maintain his power outside his standard explosion of rage.
  • Rage Quit:
    • Most villains in the show are very poor losers and prone to attempting to blow up the planet when it looks like they'll lose a fight.
    • Kid Buu is a notable aversion: Vegeta started the trend (granted he failed) and Freeza, Cell and Super Buu all got in on the act. Kid Buu however didn't pitch a fit when being backed into a corner and just kept laughing and grinning up until the last moment. Though, to make it even more ironic, Kid Buu actually started off by trying to blow up Earth, and he actually succeeded.
  • Raise Him Right This Time:
    • After finally being defeated, Kid Buu is reborn as a kind-hearted child named Uub.
    • Piccolo Jr. plays with this trope, being far less evil than his previous life and gradually being tempered and mellowed out by Goku's mercy, Gohan's innocence and two Enemy Mine situations. By the time he has redeemed himself he's only 7 years old...
  • Rasputinian Death: Where to start:
    • Frieza got cut in half by his own energy disk, then blasted when he tried to betray Goku, and had a planet explode on him and he still wasn't dead. He was revived as a cyborg and it took him being cut to pieces and vaporized to make sure that he was dead.
    • Cell got half his body destroyed by Vegeta's Final Flash, had the upper half of his body vaporized by Goku's Warp Kamehameha, survived a Kamehameha by Super Saiyan 2 Gohan, self-destructed and came back From a Single Cell, to finally being destroyed by a solar system killing Kamehameha that wiped him down to the cellular level.
    • Majin Buu survived a suicide attack that blew him into pieces, got pieces of himself blown away, had his pieces destroyed only to recompose from the vapors, lived through several world-ending explosions, and had one of his personalities permanently erased. It took a Spirit Bomb empowered by every living thing on Earth to finally kill the thing.
    • Vegeta, took one of the most brutal and merciless beatings in the series by Frieza. Despite the vicious beating, it took a shot to the heart to kill him and even then it took him several minutes to die while talking.
    • Goku's no slouch either. He got beaten to a pulp by Raditz, had all of his ribs broken, and still had the strength to hold Raditz, who is many times stronger than him, as he took a Special Beam Cannon to the chest, effectively impaling him. Even then, it took him several minutes to die.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: One of the first things to come to mind when remembering the fight scenes in DBZ. Also the Trope Codifier.
  • Rated M for Manly: Especially in DBZ.
  • Readings Blew Up the Scale:
    • Power-detecting "scouters" would helpfully indicate this to you by exploding off of your face. Thankfully, they do this without harming the user, even on humans who should in no way be tough enough to walk away unharmed from such a thing.
    • In the anime, Frieza and Goku powered up to such extremes that they blew up scales in other solar systems, destroying the whole lab complex *and* killing the goons.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Master Karin of Dragon Ball looks like an ordinary house cat (albeit a walking, talking house cat) but is really over 800 years old.
    • Master Roshi (aka Muten Roshi), despite looking in his 70s since the start is actually 300 years old, as is his rival the Crane Hermit and his brother Mercenary Tao. Roshi and Crane are old enough to have been young monks when King Piccolo ravaged the Earth 300 years ago. Garlic and his son Garlic Jr., nemeses to Kami in a Non-Serial Movie and anime filler are also at least 300 years old. And if you think that's astounding, Roshi's older sister Uranai Baba, is 500 years old. In anime filler, Roshi's Turtle celebrates his one thousandth birthday. Mr. Popo has been attendant to every Guardian of Earth (or at least a large number), so he's much, much older.
    • The Nameless Namekian separated into Kami and King Piccolo 300 years ago, having already been about 200 when this happened. Non Serial Movie villain Lord Slug and Namekian elder Guru (who actually does look his age) is also from this time. Oddly enough, prior to re-merging with Kami, Piccolo Jr., King Piccolo's reincarnation was about 14 years old (though he had already merged with an older Namekian in the Frieza saga). Namekian merging is... complicated.
    • The Kais are in the millions of years old. The Eastern Supreme Kai killed Bibidi, the creator of Majin Buu, five million years ago, making Bibidi's son Babidi at least that old. Numerous other demons and deities from both the original manga and anime filler are likely at least as old. In fact, Old Supreme Kai is very old even by Kai standards. He actually does look pretty old (only due to his fusion with a witch, though), but he counts his age as "15 generations". Logically, he'd be talking about Kai generations. Considering that Eastern Supreme Kai has not visibly aged in 5 million years, this would be an unbelievably long time indeed.
    • The Supreme Kai of Time in Dragon Ball Xenoverse is at least 75 million years old.
  • Reality Ensues
    • Goku may be a Saiyan, but growing up on Earth has caused his bone density and strength to become like that of a normal human (even if Goku was already pretty strong compared to other humans). It takes some intense training for him to re-adapt to high gravity (and be able to reasonably challenge the Saiyans), and Goku's training regimen from then on includes artificial gravity chambers to maintain his strength.
    • Despite training for a whole year to prepare for the Saiyans, Gohan is border line useless against Nappa and has a freak out during a team attack. Piccolo lays into Gohan for being a coward, while Krillin rightly points out that Gohan is five, has never been in a real battle before, and really shouldn't be here to begin with.
    • When Goku gets injured in his fight with Vegeta, there are no Senzu beans available. He recovers at an impressive speed considering his injuries, but he spends a month recovering in the hospital before there are more Senzu beans. Played up even more in a filler arc during this, where Goku escapes the hospital and attempts to resume his training but because he hasn't properly recovered yet winds up injuring himself even more and immediately gets re-hospitalized.
    • Played with this at one point. Videl, fresh from learning how to harness her Ki and fly, is forced to sit a mission out when she's unable to see while flying due to traveling at high speeds without any form of eye protection.
    • Gohan becomes weaker because he doesn't keep up with his training, just like how real world athletics can get out of shape when they stop training.
    • Before his sacrifice against Majin Buu, Vegeta, being somewhat aware that in Dragon Ball Death Equals Redemption, optimistically asks Piccolo whether he would see Goku in the Other World. Piccolo then bluntly tells him (in so many words) "No. Unlike Goku, you've been a selfish, evil asshole for most of your life and this one selfless act will not make up for it. You're going to Hell when you die." And he did. Thankfully, he got a second chance and was brought back to life when the Universe was on the brink of extinction.
    • Being a Super Saiyan may seem cool, but if you can't control the power that comes with it, it can essentially turn into Blessed with Suck as the effect it can have on your mind and body can bite you in the ass in the worst ways. With every new Super Saiyan transformation you either turn into a bloodthirsty sociopath hell bent on making your worst enemy suffer, significantly grow in muscle mass to the point where you practically can't throw a punch and move very slowly to the point at which you're defenseless, bring near total devastation to the world or burn through all of your ki in a matter of minutes and leave you powerless. Even if you master the Super Saiyan transformation doing mundane tasks can still be an issue. Case in point where in one scene, which laps over with Hilarity Ensues, where Goku and Gohan couldn't even hold glass cups without breaking them, even when holding them delicately. They then proceed to unintentionally casually destroy the entire kitchen in Goku's house just because they were in it!
    • Considering how strong the Z-Fighters are any mundane task is difficult. Naturally, because of Goku's Super Strength even the lightest tap could send somebody hundreds flying of feet into the air... which was the case when Goku playfully slapped Chi Chi on the back and sent her flying out of the house, crashing through a tree and crashing into a rock. It's a good thing she's Made of Iron and only suffered a few bruises and cuts. More like fiction ensues. In real life (as any bodybuilder or powerlifter will tell you), you actually need to exert yourself to apply your strength. Unless you have a neurological disorder or some other illness, getting stronger doesn't remove basic motor control. Being martial artists in great shape, they would know how to deal with their strength and have their whole lives. Your brain handles all the little details of how much strength to use for basic tasks, it's only when exerting yourself that you conciously dial how much strength you use, and that's the only time they would have trouble breaking things. You don't see powerlifters breaking every delicate object they touch, because getting stronger doesn't mean you lose the ability to apply less force. Plus, all the "super strength" shown in the series (other than the Saiyans, which again, being primates with great motor control should have no trouble controlling it) is a result of ki usage, which outside a few specific circumstances, needs to be conciously activated and therefore would not be used in everyday tasks. Even then, the characters are shown to be able to dial their ki based super strength with precision unless under extreme stress so it shouldn't even be an issue then.
    • Being a Physical God might make you close to invincible, but unless you're from a species like Frieza, Cell, or Buu who can survive without oxygen, you still need to breathe. Goku nearly died from Frieza drowning him and if Namek exploding didn't kill Goku, him suffocating in space would have.
    • No matter how powerful you become, you can still succumb to illnesses. In the future timeline, Goku dies of a heart virus and in the main timeline, Goku is laid flat for over ten days. Averted. Goku is only able to get that disease because of No Biochemical Barriers. Goku is an alien, and he contracted the heart virus on either Namek or Yardat. It's unlikely that a disease from a foreign planet would even be able to survive on his cells, let alone kill him.
    • Just because you are born the strongest in the universe doesn't mean you shouldn't keep yourself in shape and train. If you don't, you won't have the endurance to fight for a long period of time, something Frieza found out the hard way and still doesn't fully learn even after coming back to life.
    • During Goku's fight with Ginyu Force member Recoome during the Frieza Saga, Recoome realized Goku was a real challenge and brags about showing him his special move, the "Recoome Ultra Fighting Bomber". When he goes into his elaborate windup to prepare the attack, Goku just punches him in the stomach, stopping the move mid action. Lampshaded by Goku, who points out how Recoome was so open to attack, he couldn't help himself.
    • Despite getting a year's worth of training Trunks is unable to phase Perfect Cell. While he's even stronger than his father, he's still too inexperienced to be a real threat to him.
    • Cell announcing that he will essentially destroy the world if nobody can defeat him at the Cell Games in 10 days on worldwide television gets the sort of reaction you would expect... the entire world is thrown into chaos as all of humanity panics in terror at the fact that the world is gonna end in 10 days. Thousands of people try to evacuate from cities worldwide and the world's Army is immediately sent to try and destroy Cell, only for Cell to destroy all of the army without breaking a sweat. And of course, this was the sort of reaction Cell was hoping for!
    • Goku's entire plan to defeat Cell hinged on Cell deliberately pushing Gohan into an Unstoppable Rage, thus unlocking his hidden power. Unfortunately, once pushed to that breaking point, Gohan has no desire to end the fight quickly and deliberately prolongs his beatdown of Cell, wanting him to suffer, something Goku failed to anticipate. Really, anyone who was in Gohan's shoes and didn't do the same thing after being pushed that far would have to be a saint.
    • Majin Buu takes what Cell did Up to Eleven. By the time he turned into Super Buu, he wiped out 80% of humanity and those who survive live in fear and in ruined cities. You then have the raise of serial killers like Van Zant who uses the opportunity to murder their fellow man because, 'it's the end of the world, so I can do whatever I want!"
    • When Majin Buu, now Super Buu, shows up on the lookout demanding to face the fighter he was promised, Piccolo warned everyone to not provoke him in any way because they would surely die. Chi Chi walks up to him and slaps him for killing Gohan; he kills her without a second thought. Lesson is, just because you can get away with acting like a Tsundere around family and loved ones, does not mean you can with anyone else.
    • The TV special The History of Trunks is built around this trope:
      • Gohan tried to take on the Androids on his own after just recently nearly dying and losing an arm. He's overwhelmed by the Androids and dies very horribly.
      • One of the supposed safe haven towns left on Earth has an amusement park that is constantly open and considering how loud amusement parks are it doesn't take long for the Androids to find and destroy it along with all of its inhabitants.
      • When Android 18 goes clothes shopping and after she finishes raiding the store of all the clothes she wanted with the "consent" of the store owner and employees, Android 17 destroys the store and employees inside of it. What, did you actually think they would let them live? Remember, they're programmed to hate all humans, no exceptions.
      • Trunks attempts at bum-rushing the Androids on his own only results in him getting his ass kicked so bad he ends up in the hospital for days in critical condition.
    • One can say that Chi-Chi's overprotective attitude towards Gohan constantly putting his life on the line to fight dangerous monsters (minus the whole Skewed Priorities and Insane Troll Logic) is a realistic portrayal of how real life parents were to act if their children were constantly put in dangerous situations that can result in their children getting seriously injured, or worse, killed.
    • Mr. Satan's reaction to Videl's death in the Buu Arc can count (before, he was unaware of the Dragon Balls). He's totally heartbroken and acts shocked when the other characters act so nonchalant about it.
      • Mr. Satan's bout of Laser-Guided Karma earlier in the arc. He lied about saving the world from Cell, which caused most of the world to hail him as a hero and expect him to save the world again when the next threat came up. Very quickly, he realizes that he is in way over his head and only his Plot Armor keeps him alive.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech
    • Goku gave so many of these to Frieza that it can fill a page. Two of his most famous speeches:
    Goku: "It's done. Your power is decreasing with every blow, in fact, you're not even a challenge to me anymore. It wouldn't be fair for me to keep fighting you. I'm satisfied now, your pride has been torn to sheds. You challenged and lost to a fighter who is superior to you and to make it worse, he was just a monkey, right? It would be meaningless to fight you now, you're too scared and ashamed. Live with the shock, keep it bottled up inside you, silently."

    Goku: "Although you brought this all on yourself, it's a shame that your life has to end in such a miserable way. I wanted to save you, Frieza, but you wouldn't let me. Now share the fate of the Planet Namek, which you yourself destroyed. "
    Gohan: "What are you so afraid of, Cell? Isn't this what you wanted? I warned you. I told you what would happen if you pushed me too far. But you didn't listen. You forced me to awaken my hidden power, and now that you've seen it, you're afraid... because you know that I'm going to destroy you."
  • Redemption Earns Life: This was the case with Vegeta after a wish was made to revive everyone that was killed except for the evil people. Despite being sent to Hell for his previous misdeeds, Vegeta was revived along with the people on Earth. Best part, he wasn't expecting it at all.
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • Subverted with Vegeta's second death. Although he did try to kill Buu to protect his family and was fighting for the sake of others for the first time in his life, Piccolo quite bluntly tells him that one selfless deed doesn't make up for a life time of evil.
    • Played Straight with Piccolo after he sacrificed himself to save Gohan. Although, it is questionable if Kami kept him out of Hell or if Yemma judged him as his own person instead of a copy of his father, Piccolo was allowed to go train with King Kai with the others. Nothing was said if he was actually allowed into Heaven.
    • In Dabura's case, it's more like Death Equals Redemption: not only because dying released him from Babidi's control, but because he was sent to heaven because King Yemma thought he would enjoy hell. He actually quite likes Heaven as well.
  • Redemption Failure: Buu is convinced to stop his rampage by Mr. Satan for a time, but his destructive nature breaks free and later takes control once entirely after a criminal shoots his pet puppy and wounds Mr. Satan.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • All of the main villains post Vegeta (unless you count his Oozaru One-Winged Angel) have this to different degrees.
    • Freeza had completely red pupils, Cell has pink irises though at first they were hellish pupils and finally Buu combines this with black eyes of crazy.
    • Buu goes from having Eyes Always Shut to black sclera and red irises to match his omnicidal tendencies.
  • Redshirt Reporter:
    • The reporters investigating the mysterious disappearance of Ginger Town's inhabitants; they get to suffer the same fate, i.e. being sucked out and absorbed by Cell.
    • Nappa also killed several hapless news crews.
    • The news crew accompanying the army when they attacked Perfect Cell. The army went with them.
  • Red Shirt Army: These show up a handful of times throughout the series. The military attempts to take on Nappa, Cell and Majin Buu, only to get blown up every time.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • This relationship exists with Goku playing the red to various other characters, although Vegeta is the best and longest running example. They even have the right colors on their uniforms.
    • Mez and Goz, an actual pair of a red oni and a blue oni. Though they are more goofy than badass.
    • Mirrored to an extent in their sons, Goten and Trunks, who have a much friendlier relationship than their fathers. Trunks being more bratty half pint while Goten being more Keet.
  • Refusing Paradise: After Goku's first death, he chooses to head to be trained under King Kai and eventually return to Earth to fight the Saiyans, despite being all but guaranteed to go to Heaven.
  • Reluctant Warrior: After dying in the Cell Saga, Goku stepped away from being Earth's protector and always holds back in all his fights, to the point where he again plays his Idiot Hero card. Instead he put his hopes on Gohan, Goten, Trunks, Piccolo and even Vegeta, and it really backfired on him in the Buu Saga.

    While Goku did what he could, he stressed again and again that as he was dead, it was never meant to be his fight, and the next generation needed to save the Earth in his place. Him being resurrected was something akin to a Godzilla Threshold since a Kai giving his life to a mortal was unthinkable.
  • Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?:
    • Goku is well-known known throughout the universe as the person who defeated Frieza. It is brought up a few times by his friends and even the Kais. Him killing King Piccolo is also mentioned now and then, mostly by Piccolo and the King of the World when he sees Goku on television. In the Android/Cell Saga, him defeating the Red Ribbon Army single-handily is brought up a lot since that is the reason why Gero wants revenge on him.
    • Frieza often brags about how he can destroy planets effortlessly and how easy it was to wipe out the Saiyans without going past his first transformation. Which makes his humiliation and defeat at the hands of Goku sting all the more. Super Saiyan Goku even delivers this stinger immediately after standing still and taking one of Frieza's death beams to the face.
    "You can destroy whole planets, but you can't destroy one man."
    • Trunks slicing Frieza into pieces is mentioned often to show what a badass he is, and to show how powerful the androids are since Trunks can't defeat them.
    • Before Pikkon curbstomps the combined force of him, Frieza, King Cold, and most of the Ginyu Force, Cell reminded Frieza that he was the one who killed Goku.
    • Gohan defeating Cell is often used to tell anyone what a badass he is or in Vegeta's case, was.
    • Mr. Satan is hailed by the people of Earth as the savior who defeated Cell. It is often brought up even almost a decade after Cell's death.
    • Buu killing all the Supreme Kais except one is referenced several times and is even a plot point to explain how Kid Buu became Fat Buu. For the heroes, Buu firmly becomes The Dreaded after he kills Vegeta and (supposedly) Gohan. Chi-Chi went as far as to slap Buu because he murdered her son and Goku takes Buu very seriously when they first meet, thinking that despite Buu's silly personality, he did kill Vegeta.
  • Renowned Selective Mentor:
    • Being the Guardian of the Earth, aka god, Kami rarely takes students and when he does it's under abnormal circumstances. He trains Goku because he is he only person able to beat Piccolo outside of himself and Mr. Popo. He can't kill Piccolo without killing himself and Mr. Popo won't do anything that will bring harm to Kami. He then trains the other Z-Fighters because the Saiyans were coming to wipe out all life on Earth.
    • King Kai is one of the lower gods of the Dragon Ball universe and only trains those who can make it to the end of Snake Way. Although he trains Piccolo, Tien, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu, Goku is the only one he teaches the Spirit Bomb and Kaioken to. Goku is also the only one he keeps a personal relationship with.
    • In the entire series, Piccolo only trains Gohan. Although he does help Goku teach Goten and Trunks the Fusion Dance.
    • Next to Piccolo, Goku is one of the few primary characters to take in students to be his successor. So far he has only trained Gohan, Uub, and maybe Pan.
  • Ret Gone: Inverted: Goten, Marron, Pan and Bra didn't exist in the original timeline, but do in the new timeline created by Trunks time traveling.
  • Required Secondary Powers
    • The weakest member of the Ginyu Force has the power to stop time. However, he can only do so for as long as he can hold his breath and maintain the proper concentration. Considering how out of shape he is, this isn't long.
    • Fridge Logic dictates this is why Great Ape form increases a Saiyan's strength and ki ten-fold. Growing to giant proportions allows them to access additional strength and ki, which would be needed to prevent their body collapsing under its own weight.
    • Many characters have super anchoring abilities as addition to their strength, otherwise they will blow themselves backwards when they use an energy attack. This is especially noticeable with Tao Pai Pai, in his Curb-Stomp Battle with Bora. He holds onto Bora's spear, who is unable to even move it one bit, not even upwards even though he should by all means be able to lift Tao Pai Pai upwards as well. Fridge Brilliance comes into play here, these characters fly by pushing ki in the proper directions. So presumably they could do something similar to hold themselves in place.
    • During the Buu Saga, Gohan teaches Videl ki control and flight. However, when the Z-Fighters fly off in search of Babidi's spaceship, Videl eventually has to bow out because she can't keep up, and can be seen shielding her eyes from the wind with her arms. This seems to imply that the energy aura put out by DBZ characters during high-speed flight takes care of all the minor concerns like wind, friction, etc.
    • Training is needed for the characters to breathe in low-oxygen environments, which is how they can fly so high without passing out. As a kid, Goku got dizzy and out of breath when he first went to Korin's Tower and then Kami's Lookout.
    • Fighters are apparently able to control the amount of destructive force a Ki attack causes when it hits something other than an enemy, otherwise by the end of the first third of the series they wouldn't be able to use Ki attacks at all as any Ki blast strong enough to hurt any opponent close to their own level that missed or was dodged would blow up the planet they are fighting on when it landed.
    • Namekians have extremely sharp hearing, able to hear people talking from hundreds of feet away, even in a crowded stadium. Yet, they don't experience any discomfort from loud noises, unless you count whistling, showing that they can control the sensitivity of their hearing.
    • Almost all the characters in the series are Physical Gods capable of destroying a planet with little effort, yet they can pick up an egg without breaking it and be hurt by far less powerful people. They have to train themselves to be gentle. When Goku returns to Earth after being in space for over a year, he sent his wife flying with just a pat on the back. Not actually an issue the characters have to deal with, as anyone who works out in real life will tell you. Unless you have some sort of neurological disorder, even the strongest people in real life have absolutely no issue applying the minimum force necessary not to break things. To use their strength, powerlifters need to actually exert themselves. Basic motor skills don't disappear just because you get stronger. Doubly so because (other than the Saiyans, which again, being primates have excellent motor control) all the characters "super strength" comes from ki usage. Their Ki also acts as a type of shield that must be consciously activated or raise, otherwise even a weak energy blast could pierce their skin. They only have issues controlling their strength when in transformations (not the norm) or in gag panels.
    • All the characters also have good emotional control, yes even Vegeta. It has been shown several times throughout the series that strong emotions make people more powerful or lose control of their powers. When this happens, they can cause earthquakes, weather changes, or dimensions to shatter. An emotional slip like Vegeta going overboard on his temper could destroy the planet.
    • The characters can also move beyond light speed, yet still stop on a dime. This requires some training since inexperienced fighters have been shown stumbling or running into walls when they try to stop.
  • Revenge:
    • The primary reason why Goku transformed into a Super Saiyan the first time.
    • After Frieza's defeat to Goku, he becomes driven by revenge to the point that he rush to Earth to fight Goku after being turned into a cyborg and is promptly killed. In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, as soon as he is healed, he wants another round against Goku, much to the horror of his remaining army.
    • Dr. Gero devoted his life after the fall of the Red Ribbon Army to building androids that can kill Goku since he was the one who destroyed the Red Ribbon Army.
    • Babidi is partly driven by revenge against the Supreme Kai who killed his father after he sealed Majin Buu and took him to Earth. After Piccolo attempted to kill him and Trunks and Goten saved Vegeta, he wants revenge against the three of them, using Buu to terrorize the Earth before he is killed.
    • It is subtle, but this is one of the main reasons why Piccolo sliced Babidi in half. He wanted to avenge Gohan who he thought had been murdered by Buu at Babidi's orders.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • A defining character trait of both Vegeta and Frieza. Frieza, arrogant and downright terrified of the concept of an opponent stronger than him, utterly refuses to let his defeat at Goku's hands lie unavenged even though he clearly does not have the power to defeat him. This first results in a Backstab Backfire, and when he miraculously survives that he goes to Earth for more... and ends up cut in half. Frieza still doesn't learn after being brought back to life and wants to return to Earth against the advise of his own army. Although, he is a little more smarter and actually does train himself before going to Earth.
    • Vegeta is a little smarter about this than Frieza as he is more of a schemer, but it's still there. He almost obsessively remembers those who have slighted him (this is one of his major goals for being on Namek) and in Goku's case dedicated his life to vengefully defeating him, an animosity that lasted far past his Heel–Face Turn. His ego-driven desire to utterly finish if not humiliate those who have defeated him has led to a lot of pain and failure on his part, which of course leads to more bitterness. It is a major part of his Character Development that he learns to let go of most of his bitterness towards Goku by the end of Z.
    • Goku falls into this after becoming a Super Saiyan the first time. He wanted to make Frieza pay for killing Krillin. To that end, he let Frieza power-up to his max level for the sole purpose of humiliating him with the knowledge that even at his best he couldn't beat a "mere monkey". This was around the time when the planet was going to blow up in a few minutes so defeating Frieza as fast as possible would have been reasonable. He also refused to leave when King Kai planned to wish everyone to Earth, because he wanted to finish the fight. By that point, King Kai considered Goku a lost cause.
    • Gohan also fell victim to this after becoming a Super Saiyan 2. He was so hellbent on making Cell suffer that he ignored his father's warnings that Cell would become unpredictable if backed into a corner, probably remembering what Frieza did. Cell ended up blowing himself up and trying to take the world with him, and it took Goku making a Heroic Sacrifice to stop it.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The Buu Saga goes back to the more humor tone from the beginning of the series, after a long time being a fighting series. It gives the Buu Saga an uneven tone where it has some of the funniest moments in the series mixed in with some of the most tragedy and darkest moments.
  • Rise from Your Grave: Justified via the wishes of the Dragon Balls in some episodes in the series. One of them shows Vegeta's gloved hand rising from Namek's dust of his grave for a few moments, and then his fully-resurrected body emerges in wonder.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge
    • Goku has a Tranquil Fury version after he discovers that most of his friends were killed by the Saiyans.
    • Much later, Goku has a full roaring rampage version after Frieza murders Krillin, triggering his Super Saiyan transformation.
    • Vegeta attempts one of these after Cell kills Trunks after surviving his own self-destruction. Unfortunately, not only did it not work, but it made the situation worse because Gohan was badly injured protecting Vegeta from a fatal blast.
    • Trunks, after taking several levels of badass training in the past and helping in the Cell Saga, goes on one of these upon returning to the future. Now stronger than ever, he proceeds to hunt down the Androids and curbstomps them both with little effort, even shouting "THIS IS FOR GOHAN!" before completely obliterating 18 in one blast. Adding even more to it is the fact he makes the entire fight one long "Reason You Suck" Speech, rubbing in the fact he's going to make them feel exactly how they made his friends feel when they killed them. Not quite finished yet, he then waits for Cell to come after him, knowing that with the Androids dead, Cell will try and get his time machine to return to the past, then when he shows up destroy him as well. While this particular Cell really hadn't done anything to Trunks yet, he's still a mass murderer in this timeline as well and Trunks knows it, so it still counts. What makes this even better is Trunks was really toying with Cell before finishing him off, exactly how Cell likes to do it.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: Who can forget that scene with the Ginyu Force?
    • It's also one of Goku's attack sets, the Janken fist. "Rock" gives a solid punch, "Paper" gives a fierce slap, and "Scissors" gives an eye-poke. Perhaps this is why when fighting a Big Bad, you never "Rock, Paper, Scissors" on who gets to fight him. Ask Vegeta.
    • This is also how Goku, Gohan and Vegeta decide who fights Puipui, Yakon and Dabura in Babidi's ship. Kaioshin about has a coronary watching them.
    • Done again with Goku and Vegeta when trying to decide who gets first dibs on Kid Buu.
    • Played for laughs when Goku first introduces Gohan to Master Roshi, Krillin, and Bulma. Gohan plays with a crab, who for obvious reasons can only use "scissors".
  • Rooting for the Empire: In-Universe example. When Mr. Satan and his pupils challenged Cell, most of the cast were rooting for Cell. Krillin admits to this to Gohan and Piccolo hoped Cell would kill Mr. Satan.
  • Royal Brat
    • Vegeta when he was young. Even as an adult, he still have spades of this, especially when he meets someone stronger than him.
    • Despite possibly being 70 years old or more Frieza acts like a brat most of the time when he does not get his way. His brattiness get worse after Goku beats him and he become obsess with revenge and reclaiming his title as the Strongest in the Universe.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something:
    • King Vegeta. He was the commanding hero of the Saiyan Army and led his people to victory in the Saiyan-Tuffle war. Naturally his son, Prince Vegeta, follows suits taking the role of Warrior Prince to ludicrous levels.
    • Frieza. He is called the prince of the trade empire and before Goku went Super Saiyan he was called the Strongest Being in the Universe. He personally went to Namek to search for the Dragon Balls and when all his men were dealt with, he stepped in himself and put the hurt on Vegeta, Gohan, Krillin, Piccolo, and Goku.

     S 
  • Sacrificial Lion
    • In the Saiyan Saga Tien, Chiaotzu, and Yamcha filled this role. These three characters specifically have been around since the original Dragon Ball. They all come back, but that didn't make their deaths any less sad at the time.
    • The Frieza Saga had Dende, Vegeta, and Krillin. Krillin's death was especially important since this was what triggered Goku going Super Saiyan. Vegeta's death also marked the moment where Goku embraced his Saiyan background.
    • In the Androids/Cell Saga Android 16, Goku, and Trunks. Android 16's death more-so since he couldn't be wished back because he was never really alive being an artificial human. Goku's death was also hard hitting since he chose not to come back.
    • Almost everyone not named Goku, Mr. Satan, or Dende in the Buu Saga.
  • Sacrificial Planet:
    • Frieza single-handedly destroyed the planet Vegeta some years prior to the start of the series.
    • Vegeta destroys the planet Arlia while he and Nappa are on their way to Earth. This anime only scene is just for showcasing the Saiyans' power. It, however, comes across as a major kick the dog moment as Vegeta destroys the planet just after he and Nappa had saved it from a tyrant, making it harder to see him get a heel face turn.
    • By the end of the Frieza Saga, the original Planet Namek was destroyed. Unlike the other examples, no one died in its destruction since almost everyone was wished to Earth, Goku escaped in space pod, and Frieza survived the explosion because he's that tough.
    • The Earth itself becomes this near the end of the Buu Saga. Kid Buu showed that he wasn't like any other villain in the series by destroying Earth without even bothering dealing with Goku or Vegeta.
  • Sacrificial Revival Spell: An amusing but but still touching instance of this occurs late in the Buu saga of Dragon Ball Z. The beyond ancient Old Supreme Kai gives up his life energy so Goku, as a dead man stuck in other world, can fight elsewhere/live normally again. His halo vanishes and the Old Kai, without pain or distress, gains one.
  • Sad Battle Music: In Dragon Ball Z episode 25 (and in one Dragon Ball Kai episode, which is now a rerun post-2011), Krillin and Gohan fight Nappa to a sad fighting theme. Averted in the Western dub, where it is replaced with a more action-y theme.
  • Sadist: Almost all the villains, especially Frieza, Cell, Super Buu and Kid Buu. Even Vegeta has some of this.
  • Same Story, Different Names: The movies do this. Almost all of them are essentially the same plot as the arc they are placed in time-wise, with some of the villains also being expies of the main-story ones.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • In the Ocean Group dub, Vegeta suffers this during his battle with Goku. As he powers up his Galick Gun, he starts giggling like a lunatic.
    • Even in the original version and the Funimation dub, Vegeta loses it after Goku makes him bleed. He was going to destroy the Earth, despite being unable to breathe in space unlike Frieza.
    • Frieza begins to lose it after Goku goes Super Saiyan. By the end, he's reduced to screaming and name calling.
    • When Goku went Super Saiyan the first time, he is notably not completely sane. He is nearly consumed by hatred and anger and switches between his normal Tranquil Fury and screaming in rage.
    • Like his father, Gohan's sanity takes a hit after going Super Saiyan 2. He only snaps out of it after his father dies.
    • Cell after coming back from near death experience is clearly unstable mentally. He even has facial ticks and can't stop smiling.
  • Scars Are Forever:
    • Goku mentioned in the second episode that he still has a scar on his head from when he fell down the cliff as an infant, and this is some 20 years after the fact.
    • Vegeta also has scars on his body along with the one Yajirobe gave him with a sword slash.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Buu is reborn as Uub.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: When it seems as though Gotenks will not be able to defeat Super Buu, Piccolo destroys the door to the Hypersonic Time Chamber, imprisoning himself, Gotenks, and Buu in the pocket dimension.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:
    • Discounting the Non Serial Movies, if Frieza had not taken any steps to avert the prophecy of the Super Saiyans, chances are Vegeta would never have turned against him, and therefore Goku would never have reached that point, and it would never have happened. Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!.
    • Taking into account the flashback and the Bardock special, Frieza already seems to have noticed the discontent among the nobles of Vegeta. The final straw was when Bardock, a mere footsoldier, managed to complete a task that even Frieza's elite forces were unable to do. His problems started when he tried to enslave the people of Vegeta, but his genocidal tendencies certainly didn't help matters.
    • Going by Dragonball Minus, which is canon for the manga, if Frieza didn't recall all the Saiyans to their home planet so he could kill them in one shot, Bardock and Gine would have never sent Goku into space, sowing the seeds for Frieza's eventual downfall.
    • If the followup "Episode of Bardock" is canon, this means that Frieza's fear and the legend of the Super Saiyan was the direct result of his own actions namely, he was the one who sent Bardock to the past AND caused the anguish that triggered his transformation that would become the same legend he feared so much.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Very few sacrifices have the tendency to work. Dragon Ball deconstructs this trope thoroughly. In some cases, the sacrifice makes things worse like Vegeta killing himself to stop Buu ruined Goku's plan to use the Fusion Dance with Vegeta.
  • Sensor Character: Early on in Dragon Ball Z, the ability to sense ki/power levels without a scouter or other device is part of what separates the good guys from the bad guys. As the series goes on, more and more people become able to do it on their own.
  • Serial Escalation: It's the bread and butter of the Z series. Each story arc raises the stakes and the power levels of the main villains.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • Goku's brother, Raditz. If Goku was raised as a Saiyan, he would have turned out similar to Raditz.
    • After character development, Frieza to Vegeta. Frieza is everything Vegeta would have become if he succeeded in taking his place as ruler of the universe instead of settling down on Earth.
    • Majin Buu to Goku. If Goku lives only to eat, satisfying his need for battle, and cared for no one outside of himself, he would be similar to Buu.
    • Cell serves as this to different characters in his evolutionary line:
      • In his Imperfect form, he represents what Piccolo would be like if he never met Gohan and became like his father.
      • In his Semi-Perfect form, he is Vegeta if he never settled down on Earth and became completely ruled by his pride and arrogance.
      • In his Perfect form, he is what Goku would be like if he chose only to live for fighting and used his natural talent to terrorized people instead of protecting them.
      • When he reaches his Super Perfect form, he is Gohan if he embraced the rage of a Super Saiyan and becomes an uncaring monster who only lives to destroy.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Cell's way of eating people does this: After he stabs them, the victim's body is broken down into genetic material and absorbed inside of Cell, giving the impression that the victim is melting, and only leaving behind piles of clothing after the process is done.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Both of Goku's sons share his love for food, nature, helping others, and pure heart. Gohan is more mature and serious, while Goten is like Goku as a child except with some social skills. They all also have powerful tempers that flare up when their love ones are in danger.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Or, just like in Dragon Ball, kill off the clown. Krillin is murdered by Frieza, causing Goku to become a Super Saiyan in his rage, which makes his entire personality darker. This is noticeably the darkest the series have gotten with no character acting as comic relief, while even the end parts of the Cell Games and Buu Saga had Mr. Satan.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: Some villains in the series are smart but weak and are also short. This includes the wizards Bibidi and Babidi. There are also a few short-statured intelligent warriors who are also strong, like Krillin, Garlic Jr, Vegeta and Frieza.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Strongest Coffee Candy in the Universe — a similar visual shows up near the end of Dr. Slump, his previous work.
    • While traveling to Namek, Bulma spends a lot of her time in grey underwear strongly reminiscent of the type worn by Ripley in Alien.
  • Showy Invincible Hero
    • Vegetto. He took apart Buu at his strongest and made it fun to watch. He even kicks Buu's ass as hardened candy.
    • When Goku is overpowered, he becomes this. Best seen during the Ginyu Force fight.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • Goku and Vegeta both tend to put a good fight over protecting the planet or the universe.
    • Chi-Chi firmly believes that her son getting a good education is more important than the Earth being saved. Thankfully, she mellows out by the time of the Buu Saga.
    • Gotenks puts being showy above defeating Majin Buu. This cost him the fight and got everyone on Kami's Lookout killed. It also gave Buu time to think of countermeasures against Gohan.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
    • Goku himself is a Nice Guy and Spirited Competitor who dislikes wanton killing and he would never harm innocent people. His brother Raditz is a cruel Dirty Coward who enjoys killing and routinely liquidates entire planets for money. They are both like and unlike most other Saiyans in completely opposite ways.
    • Goku's two sons, Gohan and Goten. Gohan is polite and well-mannered, raised by a severe Education Mama who didn't want her baby fighting. However, after Goku was killed, Gohan was forced into Training from Hell and nightmarish battles for the fate of the world at the age of five. As a result, he doesn't have the same battle-lust that other Saiyans do (unless he's in Super Saiyan 2, which amps up his aggression) and just wants to be a scholar. By contrast, Goten was raised by Chi-Chi alone after Goku's second (and supposedly final) death, by which point she'd loosened up and even trained him in martial arts personally, which he saw as a "game" he played with his best friend Trunks. Goten sees fighting as more of a game, having not gone through the same kind of life-or-death battles as his big brother until Majin Buu was revived.
    • Vegeta is constantly tense and angry, extremely proud, brutish, has a hard time expressing affection even for his own family, and (like all Saiyans) is a major Blood Knight. His brother Tarble (introduced in a 2009 TV special) is gentle, polite, self-effacing, and was actually sent to a remote planet by King Vegeta because of his utter lack of battle instincts. Their taste in wives is also completely different: Vegeta gets with Bulma, who's headstrong, brassy, and cunning (and was the only person who not only put up with Vegeta's crap, but could occasionally bring him in line), while Tarble marries Gure, an alien who's the definition of Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • Signature Move
    • Goku's Kamehameha and Spirit Bomb
    • Krillin's Kienzan/Destructo Disc
    • Gohan's Masenko and Father-Son Kamehameha
    • Piccolo's Makankosappo/Special Beam Cannon
    • Vegeta's Galick Gun, Big Bang Attack, and Final Flash
    • Tien's Kikouhou/Tri-Beam and Taiyoken/Solar Flare
    • Yamcha's Rōgafūfūken/Wolf Fang Fist and later the Sōkidan/Spirit Ball
    • Gotenks' Super Ghost Kamikaze Attack
    • Frieza's Death Beam and Death Ball
    • Buu's Chocolate Beam
  • Significant Anagram: Videl (the daughter of Mr. Satan) is an anagram of Devil.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor:
    • Piccolo. Especially when he first started training Gohan before his full Heel–Face Turn.
    • Gohan from Future Trunks' timeline is much the same way, gleefully watching Trunks drown instead of helping him.
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Any major attack in the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi video game series.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: Level 4 - For all of the filler and overly dragged out fights, when it actually gets around to the action, it's very faithful.
  • Sliding Scale of Antagonist Vileness: With few exceptions, the main villains Z tend to be despicable, even the ones who get redeemed. It took almost the entire series for Vegeta to become a good guy, for the most part, and Fat Buu was only evil because he didn't know any better. The androids from the main timeline were never evil, just rebels with no cause.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Very idealistic, helped by the Dragon Balls that can reset many of the bad things that happens during the course of the series. There are some exceptions like History of Trunks that is extremely cynical and deconstructs many aspects of the series. Bardock, Father of Goku is also very cynical.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Dragon Ball is all over the scale. It started out as a comic manga that became much more serious as the story went on. Still, it never completely left its lighthearted roots, managing to insert comical elements even in serious situations and even the villains. The Buu Saga really slides the scale back to silliness by bring back much of the old humor and Buu himself who is more comical than all the previous Z villains, while at the same time he's by far the most dangerous, especially in his Super Buu and Kid Buu forms.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Effectiveness: Extremely high. Even if the villain fails in their primary objective, they cause a lot of damage before going down like Vegeta and Frieza. Some outright succeed like Cell's quest to become perfect and Buu killing off the human race and blowing up the Earth. Good thing the heroes have the Dragon Balls.
  • Sliding Scale of Villain Threat: All really high. Vegeta alone could destroy a planet. By the time of the Buu Saga, we had a villains who truly threaten the entire universe to the point that the gods themselves tried to intervene.
  • Small Role, Big Impact:
    • Believe it or not, Raditz is essentially the catalyst for the entire second half of the Dragon Ball manga. Had Raditz not remembered his little brother and come to Earth, the entire series would have been turned on its head: Piccolo and Goku would never have teamed up and thus Piccolo wouldn't have joined the Z-Fighters. He may have even remained evil, and continued on with a plan to terrorize planet Earth, had he and Goku not joined forces. Goku wouldn't have trained with King Kai, but merely at his own pace, and would have been far too weak to combat the androids by the time they arrived, assuming he hadn't already died from the heart virus he was to contract. Gohan would never been trained by Piccolo, and thus would never have become a fighter at all. Vegeta and Nappa would never have received the transmission involving the Dragon Balls, and thus would never have visited the Earth, thus remaining under Freeza's thumb — Freeza himself would also never have been killed, allowing the Cold family to continue terrorizing the universe. Despite being the weakest villain at the start of the series, Raditz coming to Earth is what allowed the Z series to be what it became.
    • Dr. Gero. In the timeline Trunks comes from he is never seen, being murdered offscreen by the androids, and he is killed fairly early in the main timeline after getting his butt kicked by Piccolo. Still, his influence causes at least two timelines to turn into hell and nearly destroys the main timeline. Literally every bad thing that happens in Androids/Cell Saga happened because of him and his grudge against Goku.
  • Smart Jerk and Nice Moron: Goku and Vegeta display this while teaming up to defeat Majin Buu. Vegeta often gets outraged whenever Goku does or says something stupid while Goku just remains nice and friendly to his arch-rival.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Raditz. Thought it was a good idea to kidnap Goku's son to force him to join him. He never expected Goku to come and fight him or that his tail would be vulnerable. When he was at Goku's mercy he begged for his life and when he was spared he kicked Goku in the chest, stomp on his ribs, and laughed about how gullible Goku was. He then tried to kill Gohan right in front of his father and had the nerve to turn his back on Goku. When he was once again at Goku's mercy, he begged for his life. This time no one listened.
    • Despite having several savvy moments and being very smart and cunning, Frieza firmly falls into this thanks to his arrogance. He relies on his raw power so much that he has nothing to fall back on once that proves to be ineffective outside of destroying the planet he's standing on since he can survive in space. He is also lazy, using his men to do all the work for him and literally did nothing until they were all dead. On top of all of that, his genocide of the Saiyans largely backfired because he didn't kill the few survivors and toyed with Goku instead of killing him outright. In Resurrection 'F, he's reduced even further into this territory once Goku and Vegeta beats him. He throws a tantrum and whines about how he couldn't lose again.
    • Androids 19 and 20. With all the data they collect on the world's greatest fighters, they figured they could beat anyone on the planet. Too bad for them that they never expected a Super Saiyan or a merged Namekian.
    • Babidi falls into this because he is a physically weak wizard in a world fill with badasses. He needs others to do his dirty works and gets rid of them as soon as they're not needed. His smugness comes back to bite him with Buu.
  • Smug Super: Pick an enemy of the main cast, any enemy:
    • To start with the Saiyans. All of them, except Goku, are extremely arrogant and boost about being the strongest race in the universe. They think lowly of anyone that is not themselves, and even think low of each other depending on if a Saiyan is born a low class. Vegeta was the worst calling himself a super elite because he is the Saiyan prince.
    • Frieza, he continuously called himself the strongest in the universe and wanted to become an immortal so he would basically be a god. He is so self-assured about his strength that he literally did nothing as his men were killed by Vegeta. He also torments his foes when fighting since he knows they can't do anything against him.
    • Cell called himself perfect since he had the cells of the strongest fighters in the universe. He even held a tournament just so he could show off how powerful he was. When he returned from his near-death experience he proclaimed that he would travel to other worlds to destroy them and he was the universe's end.
    • Buu, more specifically Super Buu. Calls himself the strongest in the universe and would absorb anyone who threatens that title. After absorbing Piccolo and gaining a major boost to his intelligence he starts messing with people's heads about how feeble they are to him.
    • Not even the heroes are safe from this trope. Case in point, Gohan after becoming a Super Saiyan 2. He could had easily ended the fight with Cell in seconds, but instead took delight in slowly picking the android apart, making sure Cell knew he didn't stand a chance.
    • Goku himself fell into this when he reached Super Saiyan for the first time. Like Gohan above he could had ended the fight with Frieza in minutes, but he wanted Frieza to know that even at his best he never stood a chance at winning. To that end, he allowed Frieza to reach his max strength and gave him several free hits.
  • Snake People:
    • The Namekian Dragon.
    • No mention of Princess Snake?
    • Or the Earth Dragon who is even more snake-like than the Namekian one?
  • So Last Season:
    • Flight (bukujutsu, or "air dancing") and the ability to sense ki and suppress one's own ki were borderline story breaker powers when first introduced in Dragon Ball, however by the end of the Saiyan Saga they're considered basic techniques that. practically everyone can do. This is especially the case with flight, as Goten's inability to fly despite his power is considered highly unusual.
    • During the Frieza Saga, the Super Saiyan was built up as being the ultimate warrior, with there only supposedly being only one in the universe. Come the Cell Saga, not only do four of the main cast have the ability to become Super Saiyan, but it's no longer enough to beat the main villain, but new, more powerful forms of Super Saiyan have to be introduced. Beyond that, in the Buu Saga, even the kids are turning Super Saiyan, and the new forms of Super Saiyan (bar Super Saiyan 3, which had its own problems) aren't enough to beat Buu so the concept of fusion takes its place. It's not until Dragon Ball Super that the original Super Saiyan gets a new lease on life thanks to the discovery of god energy.
    • This is also noticeable in terms of the mentors that have trained Goku and his friends. Goku was trained by Korin just before taking apart Tao and the entire Red Ribbon Army singlehanded. Later, Goku is trained by Kami before the 23rd Budokai while Krillin, Yamcha, Tien, and Chaotzu receive Korin's training. Out of all of them, Tien does the best in making it to the semi-finals but is beaten by Goku. During the Saiyan arc, they all get trained by Kami and still prove ineffectual against the Saiyans, with Goku, now with King Kai's training, the only one who stands a chance. Finally, Piccolo, Tien, Chiaotzu, and Yamcha receive training from King Kai, with all of them save for Piccolo still left in the dust and unable to do anything of worth after the Freeza arc (and in Piccolo's case, it seems to be more because he fused with Nail than Kai's training).
  • So Proud of You:
    • Goku loves expressing his pride towards his sons.
    • Right before Vegeta sacrifices himself in a (failed) attempt to kill Majin Buu, Vegeta embraces Trunks for the first time and says "I want you to know that... you have made me proud."
  • Sore Loser: Vegeta, Freeza and Cell are all willing to blow up the planet underneath them rather than admit defeat. Super Buu nearly broke dimensions when he was losing.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: The story as a whole probably has the most extensive one ever seen in fiction. Villains span from simple martial artists, to planetary threats (Piccolo, the Saiyans), to galactic threats (Frieza), to universal threats (Buu), and finally, with the most recent movie that is viewed as canon, a literal "God of Destruction".
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Vegeta was close to killing everyone on Earth despite being grievously wounded by the Spirit Bomb. Then Gohan regrew his tail, transformed, and nearly crushed Vegeta to death when he landed on him.
    • Gohan and Krillin become this to both Vegeta and Frieza on Namek. First, Gohan steals the Dragon Ball that Vegeta took and hidden. Second, Gohan and Krillin teaming up with Vegeta against the Ginyu Force kept themselves alive long enough for Goku to arrive and save them, taking out the last major force on Frieza's side. Then, their friendship with the Namekians gave them access to the Dragon Balls, allowing them to wish Piccolo back to life, bring him to Namek, and deny Frieza and Vegeta their chance at immortality.
    • Vegeta did this twice to Super Buu. Him being semi-revived completely screwed Super Buu, who was only seconds away from complete victory since Goku had no one to fused with except Mr. Satan. And when Buu was about to kill Goku, he pulled down the pod that held Fat Buu. This action completely erased Super Buu from existence.
    • In Dragon Ball Minus, Frieza recalls all the Saiyans to their home planet so he can kill them all at once in a month's time. He does this because he fears the Saiyans rebelling and becoming Super Saiyans. This alerted Bardock and and his wife, Gine, so they sent their youngest child away. That child grew up to become the Super Saiyan who kicks Frieza's butt.
  • Sparing the Aces
    • Happens at the climax of the Saiyan Saga: After pushing Goku to use Kaio-ken x3, blasted into the stratosphere by by Kaio-ken x4-charged Kamehameha, having his tail chopped off, hit with the Spirit Bomb, having his back cut and crushed by a Giant Ape Gohan falling on him; Vegeta still had enough strength to crawl back to his space pod. While briefly impressed with his sheer resilience, Krillin decides to kill him with Yajirobe's sword to finally end the Saiyan threat. But Goku calls out to Krillin to ask for Vegeta's life to be spared, since he admired his incredible strength, and thought it'd be a waste to deprive the universe of such a strong warrior, and while not convinced he'd turn like Piccolonote , he wished to have the opportunity fight him once again, Krillin accepts Goku's request.
    • Frieza, despite being a paranoid racist, did this to fighters he found especially strong and talented. It was the primary reason why he spared Vegeta when he destroyed the Saiyan's home planet. He also offered Goku to come into his service, saying that it would be a waste to destroy such talent and was quite upset when he got turned down.
  • The Spartan Way: The Saiyans pretty much exemplify the Spartans to a T, as a warrior race that believed in constant training and one's strength as the ultimate virtue. They even sent their children to conquer planets whose inhabitants are weak enough for a baby Saiyan to slaughter.
  • Spirited Competitor:
    • Goku, he doesn't particularly care if he wins or loses a fight (as long as the fate of the Earth or the universe is not on the line), the challenge is all apart of the fun.
    • Cell acts like one after he becomes perfect, until Super Saiyan 2 Gohan beats the mess out of him.
    • All forms of Majin Buu are incredibly spirited competitor. They're like Goku in many ways. However, Super Buu is less so than the others since he will pitch a fit if he's losing.
  • Spit Take: After Chi-Chi finds out that Videl is rich, she asks Gohan when will he and Videl get married. Gohan then spits out a mouthful of rice at Goten.
  • Split-Personality Merge: Fat Buu + Evil Buu = Super Buu
  • Spoiler Opening: Not the original Japanese opening, but the Ocean dub version with Rock the Dragon. It spoils Goku and Vegeta becoming Super Saiyans, and Trunks is in the character line-up, despite not even appearing until the next story arc after the dub was cancelled. It reveals that Vegeta will join the main cast, he was a villain up to that point, and it also has a blink-and-miss shot of Cyborg Frieza who is being attacked by Trunks, who is in his Super Saiyan form.
  • Spoofed with Their Own Words: One of the earlier episodes has Raditz tearing off Piccolo's arm, followed by the mocking line "Has anyone seen my arm? You can't miss it, it's green!" This line is present verbatim in pretty much every parody, rewrite, or Abridged Series of DBZ.
  • Stable Time Loop: "Episode of Bardock" implies that one is in place. To elaborate: Bardock survives Frieza destroying Planet Vegeta, which somehow sent him back to Planet Vegeta's prehistory (so far back the Saiyans aren't even living there yet and it's still called Planet Plant), encounters Frieza's ancestor Chilled, goes Super Saiyan during the ensuing fight, and whoops Chilled's ass. Chilled survives long enough to pass a warning about the Super Saiyans down to his descendants, thus being the cause of Frieza's fear that a Super Saiyan would emerge and challenge him, leading to him destroying Planet Vegeta...
  • Stalking Is Funny If It Is Female After Male: Videl's stalking of Gohan is usually this. There's also Chi-Chi: her entry in the Tenkaichi Budokai was just her way to bully Goku into marrying her because of a promise he had made when they were both ten years old.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Many of the famous energy sound effects are actually taken from Jikuu Senshi Spielban, made by Toei about three years earlier.
  • The Stoic:
    • Besides frustration, Tien rarely shows any emotion even when badly matched. It helps to make him the Comically Serious. He only shows real anger if Chiaotzu is in danger.
    • In the original series, Piccolo was a crackling villain who was prone to Slasher Smiles. After mellowing out, he rarely show emotions beside frustration or annoyance. He does shows a softer side around Gohan and loses much of his stoic demeanor after merging with Kami.
    • Vegeta tries to be this, often wearing a scowl or frowning. But Vegeta is far too passionate and prideful to stay stoic long and start trash talking his opponent.
    • Not main timeline Gohan, but his future counterpart. After over a decade of tragic and pain, Gohan rarely cracks a smile and has a scowl almost permanently embedded on his face.
    • Future Trunks rarely smiles and is almost always frowning. Giving his backstory, this is completely understandable. He does, however, give tender smiles when he's around his mother, Gohan, and when he first meets Vegeta.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Exactly how strong and fast the characters are compared to a human isn't always vary consistent. To give one example of many, in one episode Gohan is able to stop a barrage of bullets with a single finger. Many episodes later, when he's literally hundreds of times stronger, he fails to catch an earring that was tossed to him. If he was fast he should be this wouldn't have been an issue. Flying speed, especially when a character needs to fly a great distance, just always seems to be "as fast as they need to be to make the plot work." Even in Battle of the Gods, the speed that Beerus and Goku fly around at doesn't seem remarkably faster than the Flying Nimbus back in the Dragonball, and from the relative speed of everyone watching them, it's not a case of them being slowed down for the viewers benefit either.
  • Story-Breaker Power
    • Goku, given all the times he arrives late, is dead, or just not in the picture for whatever reason, Toriyama seems to think he's a story-breaking character. He's one of the strongest, most dependable characters in the series who can teleport, an extremely rare skill on its own, and is the only one besides Gotenks (a fusion of two characters) to reach Super Saiyan 3, which has the power to kill Majin Buu. Many of the sagas would end early if Goku was around from the start, and the time he wasn't around once was enough to plunge Earth into a Bad Future. Also, going by the Movie 7 and the games, Goku can actually absorb the Spirit Bomb into himself, making him many times stronger.
    • Gohan if he trains. He can easily become the strongest mortal character in the entire universe, far surpassing his father and fellow hybrids, if he had a love for training and growing stronger. If Gohan had kept up his training during the seven year timeskip, he probably could have easily killed Fat Buu without any help. Also specific to Gohan is his Ultimate form, the state he gains after Old Kai unleashes all his hidden power. Gohan's Ultimate state is stronger than both Super Saiyan 3 Goku and Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks while lacking the power drain that cripples the Super Saiyan 3 form. So he can fight at full power for a long time without losing any stamina, making it the best power-up in the series before the introduction of Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan.
    • Several characters have the ability to use Solar Flare and Destructo Disc, but they never think to use them together. However, after Frieza, it becomes a moot point because the main villains can all regenerate.
    • Guldo's Time Freeze. As long as he holds his breath, he stops time for the entire universe. With time stop, he can move around freely to escape fatal attacks or attack his opponents while they're defenseless. He's the only being in the series able to manipulate time to this level except for Whis. This power is balance by Guldo being completely out of shape and not being particularly strong. If someone who is truly powerful had this ability, they would be close to unbeatable. If that isn't enough, Guldo has yet another broken technique, Mind Freeze. When he uses this, he paralyzes any opponent even if they're many times stronger than him. He uses this to nearly kill Gohan and Krillin, and would have succeeded if Vegeta didn't save them. The only known drawback is that this technique uses a lot of energy and Guldo only uses it when he's desperate.
    • Surprisingly, Frieza. The monster Goku and the others fought on Namek was naturally that powerful. Without training a day in his life, Frieza was the most powerful mortal in the universe. When he did train, his power rival those of Goku after he ascended past godhood, in just four months. His ultimate form, Golden Frieza, also takes him from being weaker than base Goku to overwhelming him as a Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. If Frieza had Goku's work ethic, he would have been unbeatable on Namek. There is also Frieza's species' extreme survivability. He can survive in a vacuum and even live if he's chopped to pieces. This rigs many battles in his favour since, while any fighter stronger than Namek Saga Frieza can survive a planetary explosion, only a select few can survive in outer space. He uses this to his advantage by trying to destroy Namek when fighting Super Saiyan Goku, correctly guessing that even the Legendary Super Saiyan still needed to breathe.
    • The regular Super Saiyan transformation itself. After defeating Frieza and his immediate family, there are no more naturally occurring individuals in the universe that are powerful enough to even threaten the Super Saiyans. This is why the only serious threats afterwards had to be machines with infinite power sources, a biological android which uses their own DNA against them along with other story-breaking genes, an Eldritch Abomination created by absorbing all the evil in the universe, the Top Gods of the Kais, and the God of Destruction.
    • Captain Ginyu's body switch technique. As far as we know, it's unblockable and paralyzes the person in place. The only thing that can stop it is another living creature getting between the beam and its intended victim. If Ginyu wanted to, he could probably body jack Frieza.
    • Speaking of broken techniques, the Instant Transmission. With this technique, Goku can teleport anywhere in the universe and even the afterlife as long as he can sense life energy. He can even gain access to the World of Kais which is supposed to be off-limits to mortals. Goku can also use his Instant Transmission to move around opponents who are faster than him like Beerus, escape lethal attacks like Cell's Kamehameha, or move dangerous objects or people to another location. Only the Kais themselves have a better version of the Instant Transmission (Instant Movement where the person can teleport anywhere in the lower realm regardless if it has life or not) and even Beerus must rely on Whis to ferry him across the universe. There's a reasons why this technique remains limited to only four characters in the entire series and two of them are dead.
    • Cell can regenerate endlessly From a Single Cell thanks to inheriting Frieza's extreme survivability, and like the Saiyans grow stronger after suffering severe damage. Under the right conditions, he could surpass every being ever depicted in the series. Which is why he needed to go after surviving his own self-destruction.
    • Dabura's Super Spit that can turn anyone hit by it into stone, regardless of power. If you're not expecting it or know about this ability, you're almost guaranteed to be a lawn statue. Once hit, you are for all intents and purposes dead and the spell can only be reverse with Dabura's death. Thankfully, spit tends to be slow, making it somewhat easy to dodge and if the spit hit clothing, they can be remove.
    • Buu's transformation ray can turn anyone into food or an object of Buu's desire, and is also unblockable. The only saving grace is that can be dodged if a person is fast enough or expects it. However, one slip and you're dessert. This is on top of being able to reform from a single molecule, and his absorption technique, taking in any fighter and gaining their knowledge, techniques, and power, though the latter can backfire and make him weaker if he absorbs the wrong type of person. Buu becomes even more broken after he learns how to teleport, destroying a planet, regenerating, teleporting to the next planet, and repeating, turning him into a galactic wrecking ball.
    • Vegito, the fusion of Goku and Vegeta is (discounting the movies and GT, where Gogeta, a fusion of Goku and Vegeta using a different method, gives him a run for his money) the single most powerful being in the universe, capable of defeating Majin Buu's most powerful form with ease, despite not even needing to go beyond Super Saiyan 1. Even after being turned into a piece of candy, he was still too much for Buu. However, after he gets Buu to absorb him (as part of his plan to free those absorbed by Buu before defeating the demon) something about Buu's insides makes Vegito defuse.
  • Stubborn Hair: When Trunks and Vegeta emerge from the Hyperbolic Time Chamber after spending a full year training inside it, Bulma exclaims over Trunks' hair, which has grown considerably. On hearing the Year Inside, Hour Outside explanation for how it grew seemingly overnight, she asks Vegeta why his hair hasn't grown "all shaggy" as well.
    Vegeta: A pure Saiyan's hair does not get "shaggy"! It maintains the same shape from the day that he is born!
    Goku: Huh. Whaddya know. I never noticed!
    Bulma: ...You never noticed you never needed a haircut?
  • Stupid Evil: Frieza is so dedicated to kicking the dog and being as cruel as possible, when he finally gathers all seven of the Namekian Dragon Balls he has nearly made the entire race extinct. However, the only ones that can use the Namekian Dragon Balls are the Namekians themselves, meaning Frieza nearly screwed himself out of immortality simply by being himself.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Bulma uses this for snark value when complaining about how recklessly endangering her companions are.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Goku had some really close calls in Dragon Ball, only to die at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z. No guesses on how long that stuck.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Plenty of the series' curb stomp fights have this in spades, as characters have no idea what they're up against. Notable examples include Nappa against Goku, Vegeta against Frieza, Frieza against Super Saiyan Goku, Super Vegeta against Perfect Cell, and base-form Gotenks against Majin Buu.
  • Super Empowering:
    • The Namekian Guru was able to unlock some huge reserves of power in Gohan and Krillin as well as give Dende his healing ability.
    • Happens multiple times to Piccolo when he "fuses" with Nail, and later in the series, Kami, while still technically remaining himself.
  • Superpowered Evil Side:
    • The kind-hearted and sweet Son Gohan becoming bloodthirsty and sadistic when he fought Cell as a Super Saiyan 2.
    • Goku, to a lesser extent when first transforming into a Super Saiyan.
    • Majin Vegeta is a subversion. Vegeta is Not Brainwashed and is no different with the powerup than he would be otherwise.
  • Super Power Lottery:
    • Frieza was born extremely powerful. The monster we saw on Namek was a mutant who never had to trained to obtain his power unlike the main characters up to that point. When he does finally trains in Anime/Resurrection 'F he's able to match Goku, whose powers are almost on par with Beerus in just four months in-universe. He also have extreme survivability. He can live in space without the need to breathe and live even if he's sliced into pieces.
    • Cell possessed all the abilities of all the major protagonists and villains up to that point (many of which already had New Powers as the Plot Demands), with the worst being his combo of Freeza's power of extreme survival, Piccolo's regeneration, and Goku's ability to power up after recovering from serious injuries - all of which were amped up considerably. This was a guy who could literally come back From a Single Cell, even in space, and come back even stronger than ever. Not only that, but he had the ability to absorb life energy, which made it extremely easy for him to get stronger quickly, and he was a Mook Maker... though his Cell Juniors were hardly mooks, being individually almost as strong as him.
    • Buu at his weakest was better than Cell at his strongest in terms of raw power (Cell was a near match for a Super Saiyan 2, Buu laughably outclassed them). Like Cell, Buu could regenerate, and took it Up to Eleven (his individual atoms were sufficient to resurrect him in seconds). He also had the ability to absorb other beings, gaining their abilities, strength, and skills... which he abused the hell out of. On top of that, he was also magical - pretty much a low-level Reality Warper, with the ability to turn just about anyone into just about anything (usually food). Once he'd gotten the ball rolling, the only being in the entire universe able to stand against him was Vegito, a fusion of the two strongest warriors on the planet.
    • To a lesser extent, the Saiyans. They grow stronger from every battle and near-death experience, are naturally very strong, and with enough training and rage are able to reach a super state that multiplies their power fifty times over, and that's just a regular Super Saiyan. Even a normal Saiyan can transform into a Great Ape (if they have their tails and a full moon) that raise their overall power by 10X. They can even become real Physical Gods in a universe filled with physical gods. Not to mention they are close to being indestructible even without a healing factor. Outside vaporizing them or destroying vital organs, Saiyans are hard to kill. And the real kicker, their human-hybrids are even more powerful.
      • Goku, even for a Saiyan, won the lottery. He can learn and copy techniques just from seeing them once or twice and his uncanny adaptability gives him immunity to techniques he'd seen before because he knows how to counter them. On top of that, he's one of the handful of characters in the entire series who can teleport. He is also a genius when it comes to fighting, able to outsmart people who are many times more intelligent than him.
      • Gohan, his natural gift is so outstanding, even among Saiyan-hybrids, that he can become the strongest being in the universe. For reference, his power level at four years old with no training was more than double of Goku and Piccolo's. He's only held back by not loving to fight and push himself like his father.
    • The Namekians. They are naturally strong, although not as powerful as the Saiyans, can heal as long as their heads are intact, and have mystical powers that allows them to create objects or clothes out of thin air, heal others, and create the titular Dragon Balls. Only the gods themselves rival the Namekians in mystical abilities.
  • Surpassed the Teacher:
    • Early in Z, Goku had to become stronger than King Kai just to have a chance against the Saiyans.
    • Done three times by Gohan. First, he surpassed Piccolo after becoming a Super Saiyan. Then, he surpassed Goku by becoming a Super Saiyan 2. After seven years of peace, Gohan regressed and Goku became stronger again. But then Gohan gets a major power-up from Old Kai, making him stronger than Goku. However, with supplemental material, Goku surpasses Gohan again.
    • Goten is funny. He is already much stronger than his mom, but he isn't nearly as skilled, allowing Chi-Chi to beat him up.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: This line from Frieza.
    "The blood of the Saiyans must be completely cut off. Not because I believe in ridiculous legends, such as the Super Saiyan, history's greatest warrior, but because I do not feel well with them around."
  • Swallowed Whole:
    • In a variation of this trope, Androids 17 and 18 are "swallowed" by Cell, whose goal is to absorb them to achieve his perfect form. After Androids 17 and 16 fight Cell for a bit, Cell manages to sneak up on 17 and opens up his tail like a funnel and engulfs him. 17 is sucked into his body and Cell reaches his semi-perfect form. Android 18 then attempts to evade the much stronger Cell, but she too is eventually found and absorbed by Cell who ten reaches his perfect form. 18 is later regurgitated out of Cell's body when Gohan delivers a powerful punch to Cell's stomach.
    • In another variation of the trope, Gotenks (a fusion of Goten and Trunks), Piccolo, and Gohan are all "swallowed" by Majin Buu. After breaking off pieces of his gooey body, Buu uses the pieces to engulf them and then pulls the pieces back to him absorbs them into his body, gaining their strength, abilities, and appearance. Vegetto (a fusion of Goku and Vegeta) later allows himself to be absorbed by Buu to rescue them, managing to avoid being fully absorbed.
  • Sweet Tooth: Majin Buu. Even the Saiyans can't nearly rival him as a Big Eater. 3 quarters of the world population is turned into candy! He keeps the earth intact so that he can devour sweets on every shop in the planet. And it even unlocks deeper levels of his power!
  • Sword over Head:
    • Vegeta, after a ridiculously long, grueling battle, lays nearly crippled on the ground at the mercy of Krillin, who is holding Yajirobe's sword to his neck. After Goku pleads with Krillin for several minutes to let Vegeta go, he throws the sword away against his better judgment and allows the half-dead antagonist to escape. Which totally saves their collective asses during the Frieza and Cell sagas. Vegeta's The Lancer for a reason.
    • Then Goku tried it again after defeating Frieza, after his legs and arm had been cut off, and actually gave him what he figured was enough power for him to live and escape the about-to-explode planet. But apparently this time Goku forgot that Frieza had committed genocide on at least two different occasions, and as soon as he flew off, Frieza used the energy he received to take one last shot at him. And then Goku demonstrated just WHY he could take that chance; because when Frieza tried shooting him, he responded by turning around and shooting an energy beam at Frieza, killing him. Or... not, as later episodes show.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Vegeta tearfully begging Goku to avenge their race as he dies has this effect on Goku, who makes a grave for him.
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  • Takes One to Kill One: The Saiyans are so overwhelmingly powerful compared to any enemy that the Earth has ever faced that even after a year of training, the Earth's fighters can't even take down Nappa, who is far weaker than Vegeta. Only Goku and Gohan were able to turn the tides and repel the Saiyans, and Goku is a Saiyan and Gohan is a Saiyan hybrid.
  • Tainted Veins: Babidi's human henchmen thick veins covering their bodies.
  • Taken for Granite:
    • Dabura's spit turns people into stone, which Piccolo and Krillin became until he was killed.
    • Vegeta became a statue after sacrificing his life to generate a massive explosion in an attempt to kill Buu.
  • Take Up My Sword: Played with at the Cell Games. Goku initially sets out to have Gohan take over as the Earth's defender for him without sacrificing himself, but when Cell attempts to self-destruct and destroy the Earth, Goku is forced to teleport him off-world and give his life for the planet. When Cell returns, Goku telepathically guides Gohan from the afterlife, giving him the courage he needs to finally defeat Cell and take Goku's place as the hero of the story. At least, until Goku takes his torch back in the Buu Saga.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • Piccolo take the Ki blast from Nappa to save Gohan's life during the Saiyan saga.
    • Piccolo does it again on Namek, this time pushing Goku out of the way so that he can take Frieza's Death Beam. Luckily, he survives this one.
    • Gohan also ends up protecting Vegeta from a blast by Cell that would've almost certainly killed him. While the attack isn't fatal, it does end up crippling one of Gohan's arms, putting him at a disadvantage when he and Cell engage in their Kamehameha battle.
  • Taking You with Me: Tried at various points in the series by both the protagonists and the villains. Has a strong tendency to fail and turn into a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Talk to the Fist
    • When Goku faced off against the Ginyu Force Recoome is doing his "You have no chance" song and dance number, and just before he could finish and attack, Goku one-shotted him with an elbow to the gut. Goku simply said that Recoome just left himself wide open and couldn't resist.
    • A little bit later, Recoome's teammate Jeice is talking trash at Goku who socks him in the nose in the middle of his taunting. While Jeice is still reeling and screaming in pain, Goku said, "You guys keep leaving yourselves wide open, you know."
    • Trunks chides Buu for doing this to him while he and Goten are powering up, telling him that a sucker punch is a move that "only INEXPERIENCED fighters do." Buu is appropriately confused.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: When all the Saiyans at that point couldn't save the Earth, Mr. Satan stopped Majin Buu from turning it into a lifeless mudball doing this.
  • Tame His Anger: Tienshinhan, Piccolo and Vegeta. In fact, most villains that become good later on.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Due to equal parts intermarriage, fusion, time travel, cloning and absorption.
  • Technician vs. Performer:
    • Despite never being able to catch up to the Saiyans or Piccolo, Tien has several powerful and effective techniques that makes him a useful ally. His Solar Flare is one of the best techniques in the series, able to blind even the most powerful opponent and is copied by several characters. His Tri-Beam and Spirit Cannon can pin down monsters like Cell and deflect a planet buster from Super Buu, although at the cost of his lifespan.
    • Piccolo is the most technical fighter in the series. He invented several powerful techniques and can hold his own against fighters who are many times stronger than him thanks to his battle experience and training. Super Buu chose to absorb him specifically for his battle knowledge.
    • Vegeta is the technician to Goku's performer, at least when his arrogance and temper doesn't get the best of him. He uses much more strategy than Goku, is a skilled tactician, and trains longer and harder than any character in the series. His only real shortcomings in this area is that his techniques are limited to being more destructive than the next with very little variation and his over-reliance on beam spam, putting his technical skills below Piccolo and Tien. He also trains too much, not giving his body time to unwind and relax, making him tense, slow, and hinders him from reaching his full potential.
    • Although Goku is a well-trained martial artist who put in decades worth of hard work to become the best fighter in the universe, his technical skills are below Piccolo, Tien, and even Vegeta. He never invents his own techniques outside the move he used to kill King Piccolo and the canon questionable Dragon Fist. Instead, he relies heavily on learning or copying techniques from his enemies, friends, and teachers and improving upon them or creating variations to make them his own. He is also very playful when fighting and coming up with creative ways to outmaneuver his opponent. When he's not training, he's often relaxing with his family. He tends to be too relaxed even in battle, a weakness that Whis says will be his undoing.
  • Teleporters and Transporters
    • Goku learns a specialized movement ability called Instant Transmission, though he can only teleport to places where there are people with ki to lock onto. This means his effective limit is his limit for sensing ki. However, Goku can increase his range by going into the Otherworld, often using King Kai's planet as a jumping point.
    • Cell also learns Instant Transmission after coming back from a single cell. He got it from Goku's remains.
    • The Supreme Kai has the ability to transport to any of the lower worlds, rather if it has life or not, making his teleportation much more powerful than Goku's. This is the version Kid Buu later copies.
  • Temporal Paradox:
    • Trunks's and Cell's time-traveling shenanigans results in quite the merry-go-round. Made weirder by the discovery that his time machine actually goes into another timeline instead of its own. On the plus side, it avoids the usual Mind Screw.
      • It has been hinted that Trunks doesn't actually go into another timeline, but creates a new timeline altogether. The same could be true with Cell.
    • Episode of Bardock has Bardock go back in time to Planet Plant before it was inhabited by Vegeta. It turns out that Chilled, one of Frieza's ancestors, comes to the planet with a scouting force. When Bardock fights him he becomes a Super Saiyan and totally whoops his ass. This means that Chilled was the one who created and passed down the legend of the Super Saiyan, and that Bardock is the legendary Super Saiyan from 1000 years ago that Frieza and Vegeta are always talking about. Given this new context, Goku being the next Super Saiyan (or at least the one who will defeat Frieza) is completely logical.
    • Temporal Mutability: The "branching timelines" version, of which there are at least three: one for the main characters, one for Future Trunks, and one for Cell (the one who gets the most screentime), which is why destroying timeline 1's larval Cell does nothing to him and Trunks can't prevent the Androids from existing in his reality. On the bright side, he gets strong enough to take them apart when he returns, along with his timeline's Cell.
  • Tears of Blood: Vegeta has this when saying farewell to Trunks before his Heroic Sacrifice, as a result of an Eye Poke by Majin Buu.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Future 17 and 18.
  • Teleportation Rescue:
    • After Tien busts Cell's attempt to absorb Android 18, Cell retaliates. Fortunately for Tien, Goku uses his Instant Transmission technique to teleport there, grab Tien (and Piccolo, who was also there) and (since Goku knows he isn't powerful enough to fight Cell yet) quickly teleport to a safe place.
    • In his second Heroic Sacrifice, Goku saves everyone by teleporting Cell to another planet before he self-destructed.
    • Goku attempts to escape this way when Kid Buu released an energy ball strong enough to destroy the Earth ten times. He couldn't get a signal lock onto, however, and the Supreme Kai had to saved Goku, Vegeta, Mr. Satan, and Dende by using his teleportation technique.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In the Cell saga, Perfect Cell does everything he can to provoke Gohan into fighting him from violently beating him up to having his Cell Jr's attack his family and friends. Gohan finally snaps and effortlessly beats Perfect Cell to a pulp. It gets worse for Perfect Cell when Gohan outright says he is going to drag out the fight and not kill Perfect Cell just because he wants him to suffer.
  • Theme Naming: The show uses Punny Names.
    • The names of Saiyans are all puns on vegetables. Vegeta = vegetable, Raditz = Radish, Nappa = a type of cabbage, Kakarotto = carrot, and Broly = broccoli.
    • Namekian names are based on snails (e.g. Nails, Dende) or musical instruments (Piccolo Daimao and every one of his children).
    • Every single member of the Briefs family is named after a type of undergarment; Bulma (bloomers), Bra, Briefs, Trunks and Tights.
    • The Ginyu Force are all dairy-based (e.g. BUTTAH! JEEZE!)
    • Frieza's family has a cold motif; Frieza = Freezer, Coola = Cooler, Chiller, and King Cold. Additionally, all of Frieza's minions (the Saiyans as vegetables, other aliens as fruits, and the Ginyu force as milk products) are named after things you would keep in a refrigerator, or perhaps freezer.
    • The Non Human Sidekicks are varieties of tea (Puar/Pu-erh, Oolong).
    • There are several dimsum-related puns in the original Dragon Ball series (e.g. Yamcha/Yamucha, Shao and Mai).
    • Shu, Mai, and Pilaf from the original Dragon Ball series, sharing a theme around rice.
    • The tiny character Chiaotsu (Alternatively called Jiao Zi or Chow Tsu) is Chinese for Gyouza which are Pot-Stickers. A DBZ magazine once wrote an article stating that the creator admitted that this had more to do with his being uncreative with names than trying to be funny.
    • There's also the Shout-Out Theme Naming of Bibidi, Babidi and Buu (Cinderella).
    • Pan. Her name is a pun on pan, the Japanese word for bread (fitting, since almost every character has a food reference in their names), but also on the Greek god Pan, whose devilish appearance fits with the demonic theme naming of her family (grandfather Mr. Satan and mother Videl, which is an anagram of "devil"). There's also a third source for her name; the pan flute, which is a wind instrument like the piccolo. Mr. Satan's name in some translations is Hercule, originating from the Greek hero Hercules, son of Zeus and Hera. Mr. Satan's real name, Mark, is a rough anagram of akuma, the Japanese word for "devil" or "demon".
    • Chi-Chi. It's not the Japanese meaning that makes this one stand out, but the Spanish translation: it literally means "BOOBS". Which is why her name was changed to Milk in the Spanish translation.
    • Then there's the Garlic Jr. arc with Garlic Jr. and the Spice Boys.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: Krillin. By the end of Z, he died about three times where everyone else died about twice.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Since the beginning Z starting with Vegeta, all of the major villains needed excessive force to be put down. Two of the villains had to be destroyed down to the atomic level.
    • When Cell came back from his near-death experience he was going to destroy the planet with an energy blast strong enough to nuke the entire solar system just because he could.
    • Right after Kid Buu is formed, his first act is to fire a deceptively-small ki blast with enough power packed in it to blow up Earth. When Goku and Vegeta knock it away into space, Kid Buu responds by laughing and then forming a massive energy ball strong enough to destroy the planet 10 times over. And this time, there's no stopping it.
  • Third Act Stupidity: The Namek saga is notable for the guerrilla-style tactics that the heroes are required to use throughout: Krillin and Gohan are no match for most of Frieza's elite henchmen, Vegeta is slightly higher up the power scale and ascends higher but is still forced to play it smart to outwit the godlike Frieza. By the end of the saga, Vegeta directly challenges Frieza in his final form. Even though he can sense ki and could probably sense just how utterly enormous Frieza's power was compared to his own.
    • It should be noted by the time Vegeta and the others confronted Frieza, they literally had no choice but to fight. The dragon died before the final wish could be used, and Frieza was right behind them. They couldn't run since Frieza would just chase and kill them. Although, it was stupid of Vegeta to provoke Frieza to transform when he was more-or-less equal with Frieza's weakest form.
  • This Cannot Be!: Cell's reaction when Gohan finally destroys him for good is to shout "I am perfect!" (hence he cannot be defeated) as his body disintegrates from the blast.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Done several times throughout the series, although never actually said out loud:
    • Goku has a version of this trope when he realizes that the only way to match Vegeta who greatly outclasses him is to use a Kaioken X3. He was explicitly told by King Kai to never go past a double since his body couldn't handle it and he could explode. Having no choice, Goku embraces himself for the pain.
    • In the Buu Saga, Goku has a visible 'this is gonna to suck' reaction when he comes to the conclusion that he had to merge with Mr. Satan, permanently, in order to have even a slight chance against Buu after he absorbed Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo. In the Japanese version, he wonders if he will become weaker from the fusion.
    • Vegeta has a similar reaction after he volunteers to fight Kid Buu while Goku charges up to his max power. Goku needs one minute.
    Vegeta: One minute in this fight is an eternity.
    • He has another one after Fat Buu is taken down by Kid Buu and he has to act as a distraction again while Goku charges the Spirit Bomb.
    • And Kid Buu has this moment as Goku prepared to push the Spirit Bomb to kill him. This is noticeable since every villain in Z either Rage Quit or screamed in disbelief upon their defeat.
  • Those Were Only Their Scouts: At the start of the series when Raditz arrives on Earth, it takes the combined efforts of Piccolo and Goku, some help from Gohan, and even a Heroic Sacrifice from Goku to kill him. During his last moments, Raditz tells of his two stronger companions who will come to Earth in a year. In a larger sense, Raditz is only a Mook within Frieza's ranks.
  • Tickle Torture: During the Otherworld Tournament Goku is the victim of this compliments of a giant caterpillar fighter named Caterpy (no, not that one). Everyone, including the Kais, are flabbergasted by this and the announcer calls it cheap. Goku eventually gets out of it by blasting Caterpy off of him like a rocket. Goku, amusingly, only seems mildly annoyed by the entire thing.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential
    • The Grand Elder can unlock the hidden power of anyone he touches. He uses this to power up both Krillin and Gohan.
    • Gohan becoming a Super Saiyan 2 was seen as him finally unlocking his full potential.
    • This is also Old Kai's special ability, except it's much more powerful. By the time he releases all of Gohan's hidden power, Gohan went from being destroyed by Fat Buu to nearly killing the much more powerful Super Buu with brute force.
    • Goku goes into severe training whenever he needs to get stronger, fast. The most standout examples are when he trains for six days straight before arriving on Namek and when he trains for a year in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber to surpass a Super Saiyan.
    • Vegeta also spends a year in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, trying and succeeding in going beyond Super Saiyan.
  • Time Travel: The Alternate Reality variation is the modus operandi of the Cell Saga. Arguably Timey-Wimey Ball too.
  • Token Evil Teammate: First Piccolo, then Vegeta after Piccolo mellows out.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Mr. Satan is literally the champion of averting this trope. Even with the amounts of comic relief pain he suffers (slapped by Cell, being blown away by the Kung Fu Sonic Booms of the Saiyans fighting the Big Bad complete with rocks smacking his face, harming himself when jumping off a cliff of the homeworld of the Kaioshin under the impression it's all his dream, and still afterwards etc.), he ironically is the only non-afterlife-resident member of the cast who didn't ever die. The fact that he even tried to fight Cell in the first place is proof of this, since less than a week earlier Cell had inflicted a One-Hit Kill on the most powerful battalion in the army on live radio, and during his doomsday broadcast had disintegrated a mountain. Even after Cell smacks him into a mountain Mr. Satan continues to believe that he is the only person capable of beating him. And it's even worse with Buu since thanks to Babidi's magic he saw Buu eat cities and watched Super Saiyan 3 Goku fight, yet still believed he could kill Buu with dynamite. Although the poison chocolate was fairly clever.
    • Frieza twice barely survives a battle with a Super Saiyan, the first time due to a mercy act, and the second due to his ungodly endurance. Both times, he deliberately returns for more.
    • In a more literal example, Bulma's mother, who does not understand the concept of swiftness in a life-or-death situation. For example, upon hearing that West City is going to be destroyed, she decides that she MUST find just the right dress for the occasion instead of packing up to flee the city.
    • Bulma's father, in the same situation, asks her to hurry up, before remembering that they have to water the plants before they leave.note 
    • Dr. Gero designs numerous androids that either turn good or turn on him, designs these androids to be stronger than him, converts himself into an android that is weaker than the other androids he has already designed, and constantly orders around and threatens the androids that, again, are stronger than him when he has no way to control them. That he ever lived long enough to be a threat to the heroes at all is nothing short of a miracle.note 
    • Anytime Vegeta fights an opponent who can power up. Vegeta's ego always gets the better of him and he allows said opponent to power up, up to and including once punching out his own son just for the sake of his ego. While Goku does this too, Vegeta has horrible judgement when it comes to relative strengths. This has cost him his own life at least once and usually causes him to go into a Villainous Breakdown after realizing he got outclassed (yet he somehow never realizes he should just stop letting his opponents do this).
    • The World Army's futile attack on Cell. They had no idea just how powerful he is and assumed they could crush him with their military might. They even thought Cell was retreating from them when all he did was move to not let their attack wreck the arena he made. When they realized their salvo did absolutely nothing to Cell, they tried to retreat, only for Cell to mercilessly kill them all in one shot. He even comments that "stupidity must not go unpunished".
    • The entire population of Earth after Vegeta asks them to share their energy so they could defeat Buu. To an extent, it's understandable given that Vegeta utterly sucks at asking for a favor, but it becomes frustrating that the people of Earth won't even consider that they are in real dangerous despite being murdered by Buu and the other strange happenings. Even after Goku asks much nicer and pleas with them they still can't give a damn. Given everything Goku did for the Earth since he was a child, although he remained in the shadows so the majority the population doesn't know him, the entire planet comes across as Ungrateful Bastards. Goku and even Mr. Satan calls them morons.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Goku, as the poster boy for Look What I Can Do Now!, this is to be expected:
      • Went from being completely outmatched against his older brother to Curb Stomping Nappa like he was a noob.
      • Despite the massive power-up he got in the Saiyan Saga, he was still outmatched by Vegeta. Come Namek, he not only outmatches Vegeta, but easily beats up people who stomped him into the ground.
      • Also from Frieza Saga, Goku being able to fight Frieza equally until Frieza uses half of his strength. Then he became a Super Saiyan, breaking Frieza's pride and nearly killing him.
      • Cell Saga, went from being weaker than Androids 17 and 18, to be able to give Cell in his perfect form a good fight.
      • Buu Saga, showing that not only could he go Super Saiyan 2, but also up the ante to Super Saiyan 3. Something the cast didn't even know existed.
    • Piccolo got plenty of these too:
      • He got easily beaten by Raditz along with Goku. By the time the Saiyan comes, he can easily kill a Saibaman who has the same power level as Raditz.
      • Piccolo was killed by Nappa who was far weaker than Vegeta. When he was wished back and merged with Nail, he was able to go toe-to-toe with Frieza's second form, something that not even Vegeta could do at the time.
      • He got two in the Androids/Cell Saga. First, he was able to beat up Android 20 who is far stronger than Frieza in his final form. Then he merged with Kami and is stronger than Imperfect Cell and evenly matched against Android 17, the same android who easily beat him the first time.
    • Can't forget Vegeta who gets the most Took a Level in Badass:
      • Supposedly, he was evenly matched with Cui before Vegeta left for Earth. Come Namek, he easily beats the guy while showing off some new tricks.
      • Vegeta got his butt handed to him by a transformed Zarbon. After healing up, he beats and kills Zarbon without too much trouble.
      • Recoome destroyed Vegeta when they fought. After being healed, he easily killed Jeice who equaled Recoome in power.
      • Against Frieza, he was outmatched by Frieza's second form. After purposely being brought near death by Krillin and being healed, he is able to fight Frieza's true form for a short time. Although, it helped him little in the end.
      • Android Saga, he became a Super Saiyan and destroyed Android 19 effortlessly. After training in the time chamber, he picks apart Semi-Perfect Cell who is many times stronger than the androids who beat him.
      • In the Buu Saga, he allows himself to become a Majin which allows him to fight equally with Super Saiyan 2 Goku, who he admits was stronger than him before then. Also, him being able to go Super Saiyan 2 and surpassing Gohan's power during the Cell Games counts.
    • Gohan took several levels of badass:
      • He went from not being a match against Nappa to being able to hold off Frieza in all his forms.
      • During the Cell Saga, he became a Super Saiyan and surpassed his father even before becoming a Super Saiyan 2 and beating the daylights out of Cell and saving the world.
      • He did become weaker in the Buu Saga, but then he gets a power-up from Old Kai, returns to Earth, and curb stomps Super Buu, who is many times stronger than Fat Buu who plummeted him.
    • Future Trunks. He is beaten regularly by Future Androids 17 and 18. He fares much worse against main timeline 17 and 18 who are stronger. After training with Vegeta, he's stronger than Semi-Perfect Cell. By the time he returns to the future, he curb stomps Future 17 and 18.
    • Gotenks, the fusion of Goten and Trunks. He got beaten badly by Fat Buu after they first merge. After spending time in the Time Chamber, they were able to go Super Saiyan 3 and out power Super Buu.
    • For what it is worth, the human cast counts as well. They went from being easily beaten to Nappa to the weakest of them being stronger than Frieza's true form.
    • Not to forget the villains, Cell started out being weaker than the androids, to outmatching them after drinking 600,000 people. He took another one after absorbing Android 17, given him the power to beat up Android 16, who he was even with. After absorbing 18, he defeats Vegeta who completely outmatched him before. Then, he self-destructs and comes back stronger than ever before he is finally killed.
    • Majin Buu, who was already the strongest thing in the series became even stronger and smarter after becoming Super Buu. He becomes even more powerful after he starts absorbing people, namely Gotenks, Piccolo, and Gohan. His overall battle power regress a bit after becoming Kid Buu, but he also becomes far more dangerous since he loses any and all restraint.
  • Took a Level in Kindness
    • Piccolo. He went from a Card-Carrying Villain who wanted to take over the world and kill Goku, to one of Earth's protectors and a father figure to Gohan and later Dende. He helped save Goku's life several times and they're fairly good friends. Merging with Nail and Kami also helped mellow him out.
    • Although Vegeta is far from kind, he has come a long way from the mass-murderer space pirate we were introduced to.
    • Fat Buu, thanks to Mr. Satan teaching him that killing was wrong.
    • Androids 17 and 18 when compared to the alternative counterparts.
    • Mr. Satan to an extent. He is still a Glory Seeker ham, but he is much more humble after being introduced to Goku and his friends.
    • Videl, at least towards Gohan who she stalked and bullied before falling in love with him.
    • It happened before the beginning of the original Dragon Ball, but Goku was once a terrible toddler who terrorized Grandpa despite the latter's best efforts to raise him. It is not completely clear thanks to new information if it was the head-injury alone, Gohan's kindness, or a little bit of both that caused Goku to become the good-hearted boy we know and love.
    • Chi-Chi was an overbearing mother and a hard person to be around for most of Z. She started to soften a little after Goku became sick with his heart virus and really mellowed by the time of the Buu Saga. Most of the change happened because of Goku's death during the Cell Games.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Vegeta finally settles on "good guy" and shows no signs of wanting to go back to a villain, until Majin Buu shows up.
    • Every time Majin Buu transforms. He goes from goofy and misguided Fat Buu, to the cunning and cruel Super Buu, to the completely batshit crazy Kid Buu.
    • When Trunks and Goten merge to become Gotenks, he seems to take the worst aspects of both of them, namely Goten's naivety and Trunks' arrogance.
  • Totem Pole Trench: Done by Goten and Trunks to enter an adults-only tournament in Dragon Ball Z. And the best part is, they are competent at fighting in tandem like that, only stopping at #18, who blows their ruse in the semifinals.
  • Touch Telepathy: Several characters have demonstrated the power to read minds by touching another person's forehead, including Muten Roshi, Goku and Lord Slug. King Kai could share his telepathic link on contact.
  • Tough Love:
    • Piccolo's treatment of Gohan. He brutalized Gohan for months when training for the Saiyans. While harsh, he did it so Gohan would be ready for the harshness of a live battle. He also came to care for the boy like his son, wanting him to reach his full potential, which is why he tears Gohan a new one when he chickened out of their three-way attack on Nappa.
    • Future Gohan is harsh on Future Trunks when training him. He leaves him to almost drown and regularly beats him. He does this so Trunks will be ready to fight the androids and he's mimicking Piccolo's training regimen.
    • Gohan gets on Goku for not doing this to him while they are training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. He wants his father to push him to the point of death so he can become a Super Saiyan and surpass him. Although Goku isn't happy about this, he does oblige.
    • Goku orders Goten and Trunks to stop crying after he informs them of Gohan and Vegeta's deaths to Majin Buu. While harsh, Goku's time is limited and he needs to teach them the Fusion Dance before he returns to Otherworld for good.
  • Tragic Villain:
    • Androids 17 and 18. Before they became cyborgs, they were two teenagers who were kidnapped and used by Dr. Gero as experiments.
    • Vegeta was used by Freeza as a hostage and then had his father murdered and his entire race exterminated by Freeza, who continued to use him as a low-level enforcer afterwards. Goku eventually realizes that Vegeta was largely shaped by Freeza into becoming a remorseless killing machine.
    • The entire reason that Super Buu exists is that Fat Buu, who had just taken a level in kindness gets a major kick the dog moment from two gunmen, forcing out his inner evil and ultimately being consumed because his friends' suffering were too much for him. That being said, Super Buu himself doesn't care about this reason and is not sympathetic in the least.
  • Training from Hell
    • Gohan's training with Piccolo. The first 3 months was survival training in which Piccolo left a 4 year old child in the wilderness to fend for himself. The training after that involved a lot of serious sparring matches.
    • Goku's training on King Kai's planet was no walk in the park: even though the planet was so tiny, it had gravity ten times as strong as Earth's, making anything from chasing down monkeys and grasshoppers to simply standing a daunting task.
    • Goku does this for himself while flying on a spaceship to Namek when he accidentally cranks the artificial gravity generator up to 100 times Earth's gravity, then decides to continue training under this gravity after being exposed to it.
  • Tranquil Fury
    • When Goku returns from King Kai's planet and proceeds to tear Nappa a new one with a somewhat stern look on his face the entire time. The chapter was fittingly called The Quiet Wrath of Son Goku. Krillin even remarks that despite how calm Goku looks he had never seen him that angry.
    • The Super Saiyan form is typically unlocked after emotional stress and anger reach its peak. Once it does, the Saiyan becomes truer to their nature, becoming colder and more sadistic, although with enough training these negative traits fade away. The way Goku describes Super Saiyan the first time he reaches it is "a calm, quiet heart awakened by intense anger".
    • When Son Gohan hits Super Saiyan 2, he becomes completely calm and completely cruel. He spends several episodes just dodging and parrying Cell's attacks with zero effort, giving him cold gazes in-between.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action:
    • Nearly every time someone charges up, the most that is done about it is stand around and comment on how their power level is going up. At least once, Vegeta waits around for a perfectly killable enemy to power up fully just so he could have a more interesting fight. It doesn't end well.
    • King Kai desperately tells Goku to finish Freeza before he can hit 100% power, but Goku's so enraged over Krillin's death that he wants Freeza to know he's totally beaten.
    • Trunks attempts to defy this by attacking Cell while he transforms into his Perfect Form, but his attacks just bounce off Cell's force field.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • Gohan has a very bad day at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z. On a trip to see some of his father's old friends, he is kidnapped by his insane evil uncle from space and physically assaulted by said uncle, his father is killed by his then-archenemy in the rescue attempt, he is kidnapped again by said archenemy and told he is going to have to help fight off an invasion by two aliens even stronger than the one who just fought off both badasses combined, he is left to survive in the wastelands for six months with no hope of escape and no tools except a sword and the clothes on his back, and he is attacked by a dinosaur. All of this at the tender age of four.
    • The Buu Saga isn't kind to him either. On the day his dad comes back for one day to visit, he sees his future girlfriend/wife get nearly beaten to death, has his energy drained to the point of losing consciousness, watched two of his dear friends get turned into stone, fails to beat the person who did it because he slacked-off on training and gets chewed out for it, fails to stop Majin Buu from awakening and get nearly killed by the demon, goes through a long and tedious training process only to return to find everyone except Goten, Trunks, Dende and Piccolo dead, and three of them get absorbed by Buu who then uses their powers to beat the ever living crap out of him. And at the end of the day, Gohan is absorbed himself and killed when the Earth blows up.
    • Poor Future Gohan. He loses all his friends in one day thanks to the androids. Unlike the above, it never gets better for him.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: How Super Saiyan is achieved.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Gohan is the embodiment of the trope. He's a child who, because of who and what he is, is continually put in situations he has no business in.
  • Troubled, but Cute:
    • Twenty years of fleeing for your life from two homicidal androids has left Future Trunks emotionally scarred (and serious).
    • Future Bulma too who lost all her friends and her love interest to the androids. Gets worse in another timeline where Trunks is murdered by Cell.
  • True Companions: Despite going years without seeing each other, Goku and his group are very close. This is especially true of Goku and Krillin, and Gohan with Krillin and Piccolo.
  • Tsundere: Videl to Gohan. Gohan mentions it to Bulma in a conversation but what makes it less clear is Videl's status as an Action Girl. As Gohan mentions, she has no interest in romance. If you need any more proof, pay attention to the close-ups of here face when Gohan is teaching her how to fly.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: After training with Kami for three years, Goku learns the value of forgiveness to even the most evil beings in the universe. He forgives Piccolo Jr since he doesn't see him as being as evil as his father and in turn lets go of his grudge against King Piccolo's family. He eventually forgives Vegeta for all the crimes he committed on Earth after he dies the first time, and he forgives Fat Buu, who committed near-genocide of the entire human race, since he helped them kill Kid Buu and Mr. Satan pleas for Fat Buu's life. He even offers a measure of forgiveness towards Kid Buu since he wishes for him to be reborn into a good person so they can fight again. The only people he has never forgiven in his adult years are Frieza, Cell, and Super Buu. In Super, when Frieza is brought back to life, Goku still clearly hates him.

     U 
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Krillin and Android 18.
  • Ultimate Life Form: Cell, who declares himself as this and thinks this is what Dr. Gero intended for him. Unfortunately for him, turns out there's someone higher on the food chain: Super Saiyan 2 Gohan.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance:
    • Goten looks like his father and Goku looks like his father, Bardock.
    • Bra looks exactly like her mother, Bulma.
    • The 2008 special reveals that Vegeta has a younger brother who looks like a much younger version of him.
  • The Unchosen One: A recurring theme in the story is that legends and MacGuffins can't save you. Only a character who is brave enough to fight whatever horrors or villains are out there can fix things. Vegeta lived by the legend of the Super Saiyan, but failed. Gohan was personally picked by the Supreme Kai (the last-remaining Top God) to wield a Sword of Plot Advancement, and this turned out to be a Red Herring.
  • Underwear of Power: Frieza and many of his henchmen, including Jeice, Zarbon, Captain Ginyu, and Nappa.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Both heroes and villains have an absolute terrible habit of this:
    • Vegeta. You can make a drinking game out of how many times he thinks he can handle an opponent only to have his butt handed to him such as Frieza after he purposely injures himself, Androids 18, Cell's perfect form, and even Majin Buu. This also includes Goku when they first met, only seeing him as low class trash. It took Goku becoming a Super Saiyan and defeating Frieza before Vegeta showed him any respect as a fellow warrior.
    • The Saiyans in general have this problem. Raditz was so sure that no one on Earth could hurt him that he was caught flat-footed several times by Goku and Piccolo's ability to raise their power at will, along with Gohan having a power level three times higher than his father's. Nappa was going to catch Krillin's Destructo Disc before Vegeta warned him to avoid it. Nappa also chose to trash talk Goku despite him having a power level higher than his.
    • Goku took Kid Buu lightly when he first saw him. Although Kid Buu isn't as powerful as Super Buu at his strongest in terms of raw power, he proves why he is the most dangerous form of Buu by nuking the Earth, without even bothering to fight Goku and Vegeta.
    • Both 17 and 18 badly underestimated Cell when they first saw him, not knowing who he was. It took Piccolo and 17 being beaten by Cell before they realize what they were dealing with. Subverted with Android 16 who is one of the few characters to never underestimate his opponent and knew what a threat Cell posed along with knowing that Piccolo became stronger.
    • The Supreme Kai could very well be the poster child for this trope. A lot of the events of the Buu Saga could have been avoided if he knew how powerful the Saiyans were. It wasn't until Goku made Yakon explode that he began to realize what powerful beings he had around him.
    • The Ginyu Force became so dependent on their scouters that they firmly believe that Goku only had a power level of 5000. It took Goku taking out Recoome and Burter without any effort before they realized how wrong they were. And Jeice forgot about Saiyans becoming stronger from near death when he fought Vegeta.
    • Even Ginyu himself falls into this. He gets on Jeice for depending on his scouter and quickly surmises that Goku can repress his power just like him. Despite his insight, he underestimates how much Goku is repressing his power and has a breakdown when he realizes that Goku is stronger than him.
    • Frieza actually tries to avoid this trope despite being a Smug Super. He is utterly motivated by the fear of someone approaching him in power, and since he had never encountered someone outside of his family coming close to his full strength, his response would be to utterly overwhelm his opponents with sheer force. His usage of all his One-Winged Angel forms in response to (in that order): Vegeta, Piccolo and Gohan; and the I Am Not Left-Handed trope primarily to Goku, was to completely stomp them into the ground. However, his bad habits of toying with his opponents when he believes they can't fight back is what undermines this, and leaves the door open for Heroic Second Winds, and even the One-Winged Angel trope being used against him.
    • Androids 19 and 20 were certain that their data on the Earth's warriors gave them an edge. Unfortunately for them, they didn't follow the cast to Namek so they didn't know about Super Saiyans or Piccolo merging with another Namekian.
    • Cell is so self-assured in his power that he believes none of the heroes can surpass him even if he gives them the chance to become stronger. When Gohan warns him what will happen if he loses his temper, Cell goes out of his way to provoke Gohan for the sake of having a good fight. It never once crosses his mind that Gohan's rage will make him far stronger than him.
    • Super Buu, much like Frieza, actively tries to avoid this. He either kills or absorbs anyone stronger than him and doesn't give his opponents the chance to become stronger. He still underestimated Gotenks, although most of that was because Gotenks acted like an idiot for most of their fight, and was nearly killed several times by him. He also calls Vegito a paper tiger.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Bulma. Despite seeing powerful enemies that can blow up planets, she doesn't see it as a big deal and calmly goes about her techy business until really strange or out-of-this-world stuff happens. Not even Vegeta's temper-tantrums faze her. In the Androids Saga she's even more unfazed than the heroes themselves at all the powerful villains going around. She even actively follows the heroes when Frieza shows up again, just because she wants to catch a glimpse of him.
  • The Unfettered: Kid Buu. While Super Buu displays this (only being swayed once and then because of Fat Buu's influence) Kid Buu has literally no conscience and exists solely to destroy worlds and carries this out with manic glee. It got to the point where the previous Supreme Kai baited Buu into absorbing him in order to act as his conscience (thus creating Fat Buu). The result was a Manchild who destroyed because he still found it fun but didn't know that it was wrong.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • After being sliced in half by his own attack, Frieza is left dying on the ground by Goku. He pleads to Goku for help and, with much reluctance, Goku gives Frieza some of his energy so he could escape the exploding planet. Frieza then spends his time mocking Goku for saving him and how he would die with Namek despite being the winner. As soon as Goku turns his back to leave, Frieza attempts to kill him with his own energy. That was more than enough for Goku.
    • Earlier in that saga, Gohan grabbed a badly-wounded Vegeta to get him out of the way of Recoome's incredibly powerful Breath Weapon (which probably would have instantly killed him). Just why Vegeta yells at him depends on the translation, but he's pissed off about it.
    • Vegeta has a history of this. When he had Krillin intentionally wound him to the point of near-death so Dende would heal him and make him much stronger, he's horrified to find Dende refusing to do so (due to the rather-reasonable argument that Vegeta has killed a lot of Namekians). When Dende does comes back and heal him (mostly because Piccolo and Krillin insisted), Vegeta punches him in the stomach, with a cry of "You little turd!"
  • Ungrateful Townsfolk: In the final battle against Majin Buu, Goku and Vegeta are begging the people of Earth to give energy so they can finally kill Buu with the Spirit Bomb. The people of Earth don't listen to them and go about their normal lives, despite being terrorized and killed by Buu before being wished back to life along with their cities. With Vegeta, it's more understandable since he was a Jerkass when he demanded their energy, but Goku asked in a much nicer way and several people knew who he was, but only the people directly saved by him gave anything. It takes Mr. Satan yelling at them to finally get all of them to cooperate.
  • Unskilled, but Strong:
    • Some Z villains, most notably Frieza, who had innately high levels of Ki, but zero knowledge in how to control it.
      • Basically, everybody in Frieza's empire. They were in for a rude awakening when they went up against adversaries who could control their own levels in order to fool scouters. This concept came as a complete surprise to them, as they never before encountered beings capable of this. Vegeta and Nappa had the benefit of watching Raditz fight Goku and Piccolo, and hence learned of the ability before arriving. Vegeta even picked it up after visiting Earth, becoming one of the people to demonstrate it to Frieza and his mooks.
      • This was Captain Ginyu's downfall when he switched bodies with Goku. Goku, at the time, was second only to Frieza in terms of strength, but a lot of that rested on Goku's techniques. Lacking that training, Ginyu only had access to a small portion of Goku's power, which was enough to make him level with Gohan and Krillin (combined) but completely outclassed by Vegeta.
      • Frieza himself. He can hide his energy thanks to his transformations, but like everyone else in his empire he can't sense energy. He also has no endurance for a long fight since he completely steamrolled everyone before facing Super Saiyan Goku.
      • The androids, at least the ones in Trunks' timeline. They used their raw power and endless endurance to completely overwhelm anyone they're fighting. Their basic fighting skills are only above a street fighter with energy attacks. They go down quickly when Trunks surpasses them.
      • Androids 19 and 20 are even worse than the future androids. They use no advanced techniques, and don't dodge attacks. They instead rely on their high endurance to take a hit, and grab people to suck their energy. When this fails, they're reduced to cowering and running away.
      • Fat Buu, especially when compared to Super and Kid Buu. He can learn techniques by just seeing them once and is a gifted fighter. However, he relies heavily on his nearly endlessly endurance, power, and regeneration to outlast his foes and eventually overpower them. He tends to get whacked quickly when facing an equally skilled or superior fighter as seen with Super Saiyan 3 Goku, Evil and Kid Buu. He also can't sense energy unlike the other two versions of Buu.
      • Super Buu is an interesting case. Although he can sense energy unlike Fat Buu, his fighting style is very crude and like Fat Buu he relies on his ability to regenerate to get ahead. He subverts this trope later after he absorbs Gotenks, Gohan, and Piccolo, not only gaining their powers, but also their skills and fighting experience.
      • Played With in regards to Kid Buu. He isn't the strongest form of Buu, but he's a mindless, savage brute and fights like one. He is, however, considered the most dangerous villain in all of Z because he is completely unpredictable and unhinged, meaning he is one of the few fighters who benefits from this.
    • Even the heroes can fall victim to this:
      • The half-Saiyans are chronic offenders. They're astronomically powerful, and they all tend to rely on their superior power. Gohan hates fighting and Goten and Present Trunks see it as a game, so they have no interest in training. Future Gohan and Trunks are hindered by the fact that all of the skilled, career fighters in the cast died off when they were young.
      • Gohan was like this at the start of the series, having a lot of natural strength, but not the experience needed to fully use it. Even as a teen he still has specks of this since he tends to fight his opponents by overwhelming them and not fare well against those who are equal to him in power, but superior in skill.
      • Goten, the Super Saiyan that couldn't fly at the beginning of the Buu Saga.
      • Gotenks is one of the strongest characters in the entire series, only behind Vegito, Gohan, and Goku, but he's also by far the most naive. He thinks it's better to show off than to actually save people and most of his techniques fall into Awesome, but Impractical. His lack of experience and self-control caused him to lose to an opponent that he overpowered (his fusion broke before he could kill Buu). Despite his power, he's still the merger of two children who aren't even ten.
      • Although Future Trunks is disciplined and a Combat Pragmatist, since he didn't have anybody to train him after Future Gohan died, he doesn't have a full grasp of fundamental fighting concepts. Cell mocked him for relying on brute force and for not noticing the flaw of the Ultra Super Saiyan form (it increases strength but decreases speed and stamina, making it almost useless against an equal or superior fighter). In contrast, Goku of all people noticed the flaw as soon as he achieved the form and so declined to use it. To quote Goku, "What good is strength if I can't catch my opponent?" His lack of skill may be because his mentor Future Gohan, who was even less experienced than present Gohan, tended to rely on his raw power than technical skill.
      • Vegeta when he was first introduced was by far the strongest person in the series, easily outclassing Goku who trained under King Kai for six months. However, he had little experience dealing with someone equal in strength to him, best shown when he had a freakout when Goku beat him up using Kaioken X3 and chose to become a Great Ape to overpower him. It's not until his defeat on Earth that Vegeta began to acquire skills like sensing energy and suppressing his power. Even then, he relied on the Saiyans' ability to grow stronger from near death to become stronger. It wasn't until Goku became a Super Saiyan and completely surpassed him that he did start training and developing his fighting skills outside pure brute strength, eventually subverting this trope.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Goku, Gohan, and the other Saiyans at times also. Most noticeably when Goku turned Super Saiyan the first time. The same happened when Gohan reaches Super Saiyan 2.

     V 
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Every single time Piccolo or another character with regeneration that isn't Boo gets a limb or a part of him torn off or blown up, the show acts as if they're beyond salvation. Then when he regenerates, it's treated as a shocking plot twist, even though the audience already knew he could do that.
  • Villain Decay: Combined with Villain Forgot to Level Grind, many villains wind up being a joke when they come back after being defeated. Zigzagged in the Buu saga. First Supreme Kai shows up and tells them about Babidi and his powerful minions trying to resurrect an unstoppable force and enlists their help. When Goku and Vegeta face two of Babidi's great warriors they are horribly underwhelmed. Dabura (whom the Kai is afraid of too) is noted to be as strong as Cell and the only reason Gohan has trouble is because he's out of shape. Just when everyone starts thinking Buu might not be much to fuss about, he gets freed and effortlessly beats Gohan, the Kai and Vegeta.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Double subverted at the end of the Saiyan Saga, when its main villain Vegeta tries to leave Earth in his spacepod after the proud warrior has been defeated and humiliated by Goku and his allies, and lost his tail in the process. Just as he's about to get away, Krillin tries to off him with Yajirobe's sword, but then Goku telepathically talks Krillin out of it and Vegeta goes on his way to recover for the next arc.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Given the astronomical rate at which the heroes level up, this happens to most of the villains after they been defeated the first time around:
    • Most famously, Frieza's return to Earth. While Goku had the upper hand by the end, Trunks killed Cyborg-Frieza effortlessly. And Goku implies he could've done the same.
    • Most egregiously, when a bunch of the Z Fighters are in the afterlife, the Ginyu Force appears at King Kai's planet. They wind up getting curb stomped by the Z Fighters, even though when these villains were in the spotlight, any one of them was a match for the whole cast (barring Goku).
    • In another filler episode, Goku and Pikkon face off against Frieza, King Cold, the Ginyu Force, and Perfect Cell. The pair easily dispatch the group, and shockingly enough Pikkon one-shots Cell, who just pointed HE had the distinction of having offed Goku.
  • Villain Pedigree: After becoming the strongest man on Earth, Goku now has to face the strongest beings in the universe; which includes the prince of his own race, a galactic tyrant who is feared by the gods, man-made androids created specifically to kill him, and an Eldritch Abomination who is as old as the universe. A far cry from the human martial artists and demons he fought in his youth.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Several of the villains have this as the heroes start to overpower them, but Frieza's, Cell's, and Buu's are the most memorable.
    • Vegeta took it VERY badly when Goku managed to wound him in their climactic battle. His response is a full-power Galick Gun aimed right at the planet: if Goku dodged, the planet would be blown to smithereens. This is compounded by the fact Saiyans can't breath in space, meaning Vegeta was either fully aware he was going to die killing Goku or just too pissed off to care.
    • Earlier, Nappa has a meltdown when Goku was beating him senseless. He refused to believe that low-class trash could be his superior.
    • Captain Ginyu has an even BIGGER freakout when he reads Goku's Power Level. So much that, at least in the dub, Goku says to Jeice, "I think your friend's having a nervous breakdown!"
    • Frieza: arrogant, composed, fiendishly polite. But as the trials on Namek draw on, you realize that his disdain for the Saiyan race hides a great fear of the legend of the Super Saiyan. Once Goku gains that power, he starts to noticeably lose his composure - he panics, becomes desperate, and goes through waves of denial tempered by lots and lots of fear. This gets an echo when he meets Trunks on Earth. Apparently, meeting Goku has only made him even more fearful. Within seconds, he goes from condescending when he thinks Trunks is a regular Earthling to outright panic and full blown PTSD flashbacks, when he realizes Trunks is also a Super Saiyan. You can just see the fear on his face. He immediately tries to obliterate Trunks where he stood with a very overkill-esque attack, which turns out to be utterly futile.
    • Android 20, aka Dr. Gero, has his own little breakdown when he realizes that his calculations about the Z-Fighters' strength were completely wrong. You can see the utter disbelief on his face when Piccolo very casually slices his hand off. He has another one when Android 17 breaks his remote and doesn't listen to a single order he gives.
    • Cell goes through one when Gohan turns Super Saiyan 2. It's especially jarring, as the transformation turns the normally kind and gentle Gohan into someone as sadistic and cruel as Cell was. And he's hellbent on making Cell suffer for what he's done. As the fight progresses, it starts to resemble something like a horror movie, with the roles of victim and monster switched around, as Gohan effortlessly advances towards an increasingly fearful Cell, knocking away all his attempts to stave off the inevitable. It ends with Cell backing away and tripping into a ditch trying to get away. The role reversal is poignant.
      Cell: "Stay away from me, you monster!"
    • Buu has by far the funniest breakdown after being told that he'll be trapped for eternity with no candy but also the worst when Gotenks matches his strength and he can sense Gohan's power from the afterlife resulting in him absorbing Gotenks, Piccolo, and later Gohan to maintain his status as the strongest in existence. Later on, his fight with Vegito drives him into another one, as all of his tricks fail to work on the fused Saiyan. Finally, he gets one more when faced with the prospect of Cessation of Existence (or Death of Personality, depending on how you see it) at the hands of Vegeta tearing down the pod in his head containing Fat Buu, pleading with him not to do it.
    • Averted by Kid Buu who is the first major villain since Raditz who hasn't had a hissy fit when backed into a corner.
  • Villainous Cheekbones: A few with Dr. Gero and his second body Android 20 as the most prominent example. It makes his head vaguely t-shaped. Later villain Dabura has these as well but it's less important than his huge lantern jaw of evil. Finally, Mr. Hercule Satan has a set of cheekbones but unlike the rest he's not a villain but a hero with his own set of heroics.
  • Villainous Rescue:
    • After picking a fight with Frieza's forces to rescue Dende, Krillin and Gohan flee from Dodoria's pursuit. They evade him with the Solar Flare and before he can pick up the pursuit, he's blindsided by Vegeta who intends to kill him for entirely unrelated reasons.
    • Subverted by Zarbon. Vegeta tries to force Bulma and Krillin to give him their Dragon Ball when Zarbon arrives to recapture Vegeta and take him back to Frieza's ship. Vegeta demonstrates how powerful he's become by killing Zarbon, then resumes coercing the Dragon Ball away from Krillin.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Frieza made the plot of Dragon Ball Z what it is: His corroding influence, and eventual genocide of the Saiyans, led Goku to Earth, and to his eventual downfall. He even in some sense lived on in future Big Bad Cell. It is also his defeat to Goku that led Beerus to Earth seeking a Super Saiyan God, kicking off the events of Battle of Gods.
  • Villains Want Mercy:
    • Raditz pulls this out on Goku after being grabbed by his weak point. After Goku lets him go, however, he hits him in the stomach and Goku has to sacrifice his life to defeat him.
    • When Frieza begs SSJ Goku for some energy after being sliced in two by his own attack, Goku complies once again but not before calling out Frieza on how many people had probably begged him some mercy and he hadn't given them any. Frieza, of course, then uses the energy for one last ditch attack, so Goku just kills him (or tried to, at any rate).
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Goku has this relationship with Vegeta after they put their differences aside during the last leg of the Buu Saga.
    • Also, Trunks and Goten, at least when they're 8 and 7 respectively. Trunks calls Goten an "idiot" or a "little child" numerous times, but with a big grin on his face and clearly no malice; less commonly, Goten calls Trunks out on the fact that he's a member of the world's richest family and has no real reason to be competing for money like he does. Once they become teenagers, this snarking has largely faded, to be replaced by Homoerotic Subtext.
    • Bulma and Chi-Chi develops this by the time of the Buu Saga. They both find themselves arguing over their husbands and sons, but they do get along most of the time.
  • Vocal Dissonance: In the Japanese version, Masako Nozawa voices every male in Goku's family other than Raditz. Meaning you have a grizzled veteran of a genocidal race with a nigh-identical voice to a ten year old bratty half pint. Not to mention the fact that she voiced them both as adults and children, meaning Goku or Gohan's voice when fully grown is very similar to their prepubescent voice.
    • Admittedly, she tries to curb this a bit by playing them a bit differently. Goku talks like a hick, Gohan speaks very educated-like, and Goten talks like Chichi, but, unfortunately, this is lost in translation, since subtitles can only do so much, meaning you'd have to be fluent in Japanese to really notice the minute differences in how they talk. Notably, the dubs have at least one or a few voice actresses play them as kids, then cast male actors to play them as older teens and adults, making the transitions in their ages fit better overall.
    • Krillin and Yajirobe suffer from this as well. Similar to Nozawa voicing most of Goku's male family members, Maiyumi Tanaka continues voicing them into their adult years after she voiced them as children. The voice she uses for them (which is the same because the manga flat-out said that Yajirobe sounds like Krillin, letting her voice him while Krillin was dead for that arc) doesn't fit their character designs or ages at all after a certain point. The English dub uses two different actors for both characters who fit much better with their character designs.
    • Takeshi Kusao, ironically, has the opposite problem when voicing younger versions of Trunks. An almost 30-year-old man (at the time DBZ was recording in Japan) voicing a prepubescent Present Trunks after voicing the more age-appropriate Future Trunks. The effect is almost as jarring as Nozawa voicing Goku.
  • Voice of the Legion:
    • All the fused characters.
    • Averted in the Italian dub, that makes fused characters speak with the voice of the most popular character in their fusion (Gogeta and Vegetto speak with Goku's voice; Gotenks speaks with Trunks's voice).

     W 
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child:
    • Goku (Wacky Parent) to Gohan (Serious Child). Although they both share their goofy moments and are nice guys, Gohan is shown to be more serious, intelligent and mature than Goku. Justified as they were raised differently.
    • Mr. Satan (Wacky Parent) to Videl (Serious Child). Satan acts very boastful and silly, while Videl spends most of the series being laid-back and serious when the situations call for it.
  • Walking the Earth:
    • What Mr. Satan was reduced to when Majin Buu killed off the human race.
    • Tien and Chiaotzu seem to engage in this when they aren't hanging around with the rest of the group, frequently being shown training in empty wastelands (particularly during the Buu saga).
  • Warrior Prince:
    • Vegeta, naturally, as he will remind you, even if you don't ask.
    • If we want to get all technical, his son Trunks might also count seeing a he is fighter and Vegeta's son (but, he is never called a prince, so this more of just adding two and two together.)
      • Paragus refers to him as such in the Broly movie though.
    • Frieza is referred to as a prince by one of King Cold's soldiers and can destroy a planet with a finger poke.
    • Technically, also Gohan and Goten, as Chichi, their mother, is a princess. (Though, like Trunks, both of them were never really called a prince.)
  • Wax On, Wax Off: When Goku first went to train with King Kai he found that the gravity was so impressively strong that he could barely move (precisely, ten times the gravity of Earth). King Kai told Goku that he'd be ready to train when he could catch Bubbles the monkey, and later, use a mallet to hammer Gregory the cricket on the head - because, obviously, it'd mean that he'd strengthened enough that he could move well enough in the high gravity for the training to be any good. The gravity of Kai's world was also the same as that of the planet Vegeta, homeworld of the enemies Goku was training to fight. As Kai noted, Goku would never be a match for them if he couldn't handle the same gravity they did.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Namekians can live for around 500 years, while Supreme Kais can live for millions of years. Downplayed with Saiyans: most have comparable lifespans to humans, but they age more slowly.
  • We Do the Impossible: The primary reason why Goku is seen as The Ace and the Hope Bringer. He is known for doing the impossible from single-handedly destroying an entire army, defeating the Demon King and all his children, doing it again three years later, thwarting an alien invasion from members of his own race, taking down the most elite fighting force in the universe, regularly defeating those called the strongest in the universe, and escaped an exploding planet, twice. At times his friends truly believe that he is invincible.
  • We Have Become Complacent:
    • All the heroes, saved for Vegeta and Goku, becomes this in the Buu Saga. After Cell's defeat, the Earth went seven years of peace without incident. Then Babidi came with his most powerful minion being only as strong as last season's main villain. Still, he is able to effectively kill Piccolo and Krillin, and manhandle Gohan because he actually became weaker from not training. Vegeta also sells his soul for power, making Goku the only person able to stop him. Things get worse when Buu is awakening. He is many times stronger than any previous villain catching the entire cast, except Goku, flatfooted. They spent most of the saga frantically trying to get strong enough just to challenge Buu.
    • Frieza's entire army. Because Frieza himself is so powerful, his army depends on his fear factor to keep others in line. The moment Frieza and his are killed on Earth, Frieza's empire starts to fall apart.
  • Weak, but Skilled:
    • This trope is the bane of the human protagonists' existence. It's entirely possible that Krillin, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu might be able to keep pace with the Saiyans in terms of actual fighting skill, but the uber-powerful foes the protagonists face mean that the humans typically end up as benchwarmers, or are simply beat up as per The Worf Effect. Even if it's only anime filler, Tien, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu do get their own personal Moment of Awesome in Dragon Ball Z when they faced the Ginyu Force while being trained by King Kai. North Kai's training methods, which were so good they allowed Goku to utterly thrash Nappa when he returned to Earth, proved just as effective for the humans in that it allowed them to keep pace with Freeza's elite troops, and come out on top. For further evidence of this, look at the variety of attacks the human fighters have between them. Chiaotzu can paralyze people psychically, Yamcha's Sokidan/Spirit Ball can follow an opponent that dodges it, the understated genius of Tien's Taiyouken/Solar Flare... By contrast, you will rarely see Gohan or Trunks use anything more intricate than a large energy blast.
    • Additionally, the ability to suppress your true power and fool scouters appears to be extremely rare outside of Earth. Not even Frieza can do this; he actually has to physically transform to control his strength, whereas fighters from Earth can easily suppress their power with little effort. This allows the relatively weak fighters from Earth (as well as Vegeta, who picked up this ability after his first trip to Earth) to constantly fool Frieza's soldiers into underestimating them.
    • Piccolo eventually falls into this, especially in the Buu Saga. He is one of the most technical fighters in the series to the point he can fight evenly with opponents whose power surpasses him to an extent like Frieza's second form, but falls behind in terms of raw strength compared to the Saiyans. That said, he's still stronger than an untrained Super Saiyan after merging with Kami.
    • Compared to the Saiyans at the beginning of the series Goku was this. Since he was raised on Earth which had weak fighters compared to the rest of the universe, Goku lacked any real strength when Raditz came looking for him. However, Goku was able to sense energy, hide his power, and had great control of his ki, something that surprised Raditz when Goku bent his Kamehameha and rose his battle strength at various points.
    • Vegeta of all people gets this from Beerus. Strength-wise, Vegeta falls behind Goku, Gohan, and Gotenks since he can only go up to Super Saiyan 2 and can't compete against Gohan's Ultimate Form. However, he has the best showing against Beerus because of his fighting experience. Beerus even says that he's highly skilled, but lacked the power to back it.
  • Weaksauce Weakness:
    • In the Otherworld Tournament filler, Goku shows that he's exceptionally vulnerable to being tickled given that Caterpy is able to hold Goku in place and torture him for several minutes despite Goku being many times stronger than him without becoming a Super Saiyan.
    • In each of their respective Non-Serial Movie appearances, the embodiments of evil Hirudegarn and Janemba become defenseless when enraged/insulted.
  • Weaponized Offspring:
    • Cell creates miniature clones of himself to battle the "lesser" members of the Z team.
    • In the non-canon Lord Slug movie, Slug's minion Medamatcha can spawn smaller versions of himself to swarm enemies.
  • We Need a Distraction:
    • Every time Goku needs live bait when charging the Spirit Bomb.
    • Happens to Goku himself during the fight against Raditz. Piccolo needs five minutes to charged his Special Beam Cannon. To say the least, it was a long five minutes for Goku.
    • Near the end of the Buu Saga, Goku needs a minute to reach the full power of his Super Saiyan 3. Vegeta volunteers himself. It was a very long minute.
    • Krillin successfully distracts Frieza while Dende uses his power to heal a gravely injured Gohan.
  • What Are You:
    • Frieza has a moment after he realizes what a Super Saiyan is capable of. Frieza blasts Goku square in the face with his Death Beam (the same technique that killed Vegeta), sending his head reeling backwards. But Goku just slowly lowers his gaze back to normal like nothing happened. It's at that moment Frieza realizes just what he's dealing with:
      Frieza: You...you...what are you?!
      Goku: I am the hope of the universe. I am the answer to all living things that cry out for peace. I am protector of the innocent, I am the light in the darkness. I am truth. ALLY TO GOOD! NIGHTMARE TO YOU!
    • Vegeta has a similar moment in his fight with Cell. He's so drunk on his new-found power as an "Ascended Super Saiyan" that he lets Cell reach his Perfect form just so he'll have a worthy opponent. He doesn't realize this is a bad idea until Cell takes a full-power kick to the neck without even flinching.
      Vegeta: What...are you? I put everything I had into that attack. You should be dead!
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: The entire Saiyan race, per Word of Toriyama in an interview. They mostly just mated when the urge came and one or the other parent might or might not take some sort of interest in raising the offspring. Goku's mother and father were unusual in actually having a bond. Goku and Vegeta are moderated by Earth culture, but both are not exactly stellar family men.
    • Actually, by the time Super rolls out, Vegeta seems to really care for his pregnant wife and his baby daughter.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Piccolo delivers this to Goku when the latter sends his 11-year old son (9 in the manga) to fight Cell without helping him, whilst making it clear that Gohan doesn't have the same Blood Knight nature that Saiyans do (ie: Goku). This is what makes Goku realize he's screwed up and just how little he understands his own son, despite ignoring everyone's protests up to this point.
    • Funnily enough, Goku delivers it to the aforementioned son (after Gohan becomes his superpowered evil side) when Gohan refuses to finish Cell off right away.
    • Vegeta letting Cell reach his Perfect form and letting Babidi turn him into Majin Vegeta are more egregious examples. He even explains why he did it in the latter case. He also tries to throw off his responsibilities to his family, but Goku does not buy his excuse and decks him.
    • After Vegeta sacrifices himself to kill Majin Buu, Goku chews him out for doing this instead of them working together to beat Buu.
    • Goten called Piccolo out for not letting him help Vegeta who was being beaten senseless by Buu:
    Goten: If I was Gohan, I bet you would let me go!
    • Gotenks got a lot of these from Piccolo. First, nearly getting himself killed several times by Buu knowing he was the last hope for Earth, they didn't know Gohan was still alive. And playing like he was low on energy during his fight with Super Buu for drama, causing Piccolo to destroy the door to the Time Chamber, trapping them all inside another dimension.
    • Vegeta later pulls a What the Hell, Hero? on Goku twice after his second death: The first was when he learned about Goku's SSJ3 transformation, and was bitter because not only did this mean Goku held out on him during their fight, but had Goku revealed his SSJ3 to him, Vegeta would not have had to resort to the heroic sacrifice / redemption equals death method in his failed attempt to stop Majin Buu. The second time was when he learned that while Vegeta was still in the afterlife, Goku, in exchange for Old Kai having Gohan unlock his full potential so he could defeat Buu, offered for Old Kai to either grope, kiss, or have nude pictures of Bulma, resorting to a severe (albeit somewhat comical) tongue lashing from Vegeta.
    • And a little before that, Vegeta yells at Goku again for escaping from the exploding Earth without taking the unconscious Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo with them, essentially leaving their kids to die - and instead saving Mr. Satan and a dog.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:
    • Oolong suggests simply wishing Vegeta and Nappa to be dead and then bringing Goku back later. Sadly this is one of the things Shenlong can't do (similarly Porunga, the Namekian Dragon, seems to be unable to prevent catastrophic events befalling Namek).
    • Suggested by Bulma when Trunks comes to warn them of the androids but her idea of murdering Gero is shot down by Vegeta and Goku who want to fight the androids.
  • Willfully Weak:
    • Goku does this a lot:
      • During the fight against Nappa and Vegeta, Goku limits his use of the Kaio-ken because the strain of using it at high levels can damage his body. He could have used the Kaio-ken x4 Kamehameha that finally defeats Vegeta right from the start, but it wasn't worth the risk until it proved absolutely necessary.
      • When fighting the Ginyu Force, he retrains himself, doing only the bare minimum since he wanted to save himself for Frieza. It is still more than enough to curb stomp the entire team.
      • When Goku fights Vegeta the second time, in order to avoid burning out his remaining time, he decides not to use Super Saiyan 3, instead restricting himself to Super Saiyan 2. Vegeta finds out about Goku's self-imposed limit later on. Needless to say, he is less than happy about it.
    • Gohan is depicted as having the potential to become, quite literally, the most powerful warrior in the entire universe if he wished (and he actually does so a couple of times), but is a pacifist by nature, only fighting when someone needs his protection. Typically, his true strength only reveals itself through Unstoppable Rage.
    • Frieza limits his power with transformations because his body can't handle his full power and he suffers from notable Sanity Slippage. Unfortunately for him, when he does finally go all-out against Goku, it's too late, since his stamina didn't last throughout their fight.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Many examples. The Giant Ape Transformation turns anyone however pure into...well a complete beast.
    • Broly. Big Time (although in his case, his great insanity was more related to his traumatic past than to his actual power)! Baby Vegeta in DBGT is a more straight example, as upon gaining the Golden Ape form, he progressively gets worse in terms of his mental and emotional stability.
    • Partially with any Super Saiyan or Super Saiyan 2 in the beginning. They struggle to keep their ruthless and aggressive instincts down, and are not so nice anymore.
    • Kid Buu's ridiculous power is only rivaled (and actually augmented) by his utter insanity.
    • Frieza would lose his rational thinking and grip on reality the more he powered up. This was one reason why he chooses to stay in his weaker forms.
  • With My Hands Tied
    • Subverted at the beginning of Goku's fight with Frieza. Frieza initially offers to fight Goku without the use of his hands. By the end of the episode he finds himself forced to break his pledge to counter an attack by Goku. Goku offers him a chance to try again, but Frieza refuses.
    • Frieza was more successful when he took on Nail with one hand behind his back.
    • Later near the start of the Buu Saga, Trunks made a bet with Goten that he could beat him using only one arm. He couldn't.
    • Vegito makes a similar bluff to Super Buu, which is part of a larger plan to simply annoy him so much that he'll try to absorb Vegito, allowing him to rescue the others Buu has absorbed. This is also why you might find Vegito's fighting style includes a lot of kicking in the video games.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Both Vegeta and Broly imply being this. In the former's case, he had to be taken by Frieza, one of the universe's most evil characters from his father, King Vegeta, when he was a little boy in what was heavily implied to be a deal Frieza forced upon him. Then, Vegeta is forced to obey Frieza's commands or else he would murder his dad, and despite this, Frieza killed him anyways, and then committed genocide against his own people, and even afterwards he was treated as a slave by Frieza and his henchmen, especially Frieza and Zarbon. When Goku learns of these details when Vegeta was dying from Frieza puncturing his heart with a Death Beam, even Goku took pity on him. While in the latter's case, it is heavily implied in his debut film that Broly barely even had a chance to be anything else, as other than Goku's crying next to him, he also ended up being nearly executed by King Vegeta for no reason other than simply because King Vegeta feared Broly's power level of 10,000, a high power level especially for his age. Then he narrowly survived Planet Vegeta's destruction at the hands of Frieza (his powers were literally the only reason he and his dad even survived Vegeta's destruction), and if Shin Budokai is anything to go by, it is also heavily implied that Frieza's destruction of Planet Vegeta contributed a LOT to Broly's Ax-Crazy nature, and he later ends up being brainwashed by his own father.
    • Fat Buu started as this.
  • World's Best Warrior: There are lots of contenders—including most Big Bads. However, at the end of the story, Vegeta dubs Goku as the single best.
  • World of Badass: One of the biggest ever! Starting from the Saiyan Saga, even the weaker badasses have enough power to destroy a planet.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Several. Goku's declaration that he has turned into the feared Super Saiyan to Frieza, and later verbally shreds him talking about how he was bested by "a monkey." Vegeta also got a few in the Majin Buu saga, one right before he kills himself to defeat Buu. Some time later he acknowledges that he will never fully surpass Goku, but that realization is what leads to the solution to finally stop Buu.
  • World's Strongest Man: Because of the nature of the series, several people holds this honor at different points. By the end of the Buu Arc, Gohan was deemed the strongest unfused character. Supplemental material and the canon movies shows that Goku regained this honor with Vegeta becoming a noteworthy second by Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’.
  • The Worf Barrage: The Kamehameha was the ultimate energy technique in Dragon Ball and it always did some damage even if it was only clothing damage. Raditz negating the attack full out was a sign of things to come. And the Spirit Bomb is only a finishing move once in the whole series. That being said, the Kamehameha was shown to be still be fairly powerful throughout the series while the Sprit Bomb thing was somewhat averted in the non canonical movies where it was used no less than 3 times to kill the big bad in the films. Besides, the true finishing occasion in the series with the Spirit Bomb? The last big bad (this applies to GT as well).
  • The Worf Effect: Happens so, so many times:
    • Vegeta is doomed to this role for most. After and even before his Heel–Face Turn, his place in the plot is mostly getting the crap kicked out of him by the newest villain, including Zarbon (though he makes up for it the next time they fight), Recoome, Frieza (who killed him), Android 18, Perfect Cell, Cell Jr., Majin Buu, Kid Buu, and most recently Beerus. And that's not even counting the movies, besides Battle of Gods, which is canon. It's even acknowledged in-universe with Vegeta lamenting that he's gone soft and that Goku is always one step ahead of him.
    • Piccolo has also suffered from this a few times. At the starts of the series he was swatted like a fly by Raditz and one-shotted by Nappa. After fusing with Nail and fighting Frieza's second form on fairly equal footing, Frieza transforms and utterly trounces him. Likewise, in the Cell Arc, he rejoins with Kami and becomes a "Super Namek," proving himself too much for Imperfect Cell and an equal match to Android 17. Then Cell returns after absorbing several cities-worth of people, and effortlessly defeats and nearly kills him.
    • Even Goku isn't safe. At the start of Z Raditz showed up and took Goku out with one kick during their first encounter and spent most of their second curbstomping him into the ground before breaking most of his ribs. And then Vegeta reveals that Raditz was a scrub.
    • Gohan fell victim to this trope in the Buu Saga. He was built up over the entire series as Goku's successor, and ultimately loses to Super Buu and gets absorbed, even after a significant power multiplier. Although, in this case, Gohan was winning by a lot until Buu absorbed a SS 3 Gotenks and Piccolo. Like Gotenks and Piccolo, he was absorbed by surprise.
    • Earlier in the same saga, Fat Buu easily beat Gohan into the ground and nearly kills him with a single energy blast.
    • Nappa easily defeats all of the Z-fighters who trained for an entire year to fight him, killing half of them, including Piccolo. Then Goku comes and not only curbstomps him, but breaks his back.
    • In a way, Raditz. When he was introduced, he easily beat up Goku and Piccolo. When Nappa and Vegeta arrives on Earth, they grow a stock of Saibamen who are as strong as Raditz power-wise. They are Mooks compared to the Earth's defenders. Krillin takes out three with one blast and Piccolo one-shots one of them.
    • The entire Saiyan race. They were called the strongest warrior race in the universe and everyone trembled before them. It took the Earth's defenders everything they had (including a fellow Saiyan and a half-Saiyan) and many sacrifices just to defeat three Saiyans. Frieza takes out almost the entire race with one energy ball.
    • Recoome utterly dominates Vegeta, Gohan, and Krillin, only for Goku to come in and defeat Recoome in seconds.
    • Frieza gets hit by this too. The epic fight against him took 20-something episodes and after Goku transformed into a Super Saiyan he still could hold his own for a bit. Then he gets rebuilt into a cyborg and more powerful than ever, so when he lands on Earth it's expected that everybody is royally screwed. Only then Trunks shows up and kills him within five minutes in real time. It gets even worse for him in the anime where any filler and movies that have him make a reappearance usually have him taken out in one blow.
    • Trunks get a mild one after he defeats Frieza. He challenges Goku to see how strong he is. Goku defends himself with one finger and didn't even move.
    • You know that sword Trunks used to cut Frieza in half? It ended up breaking on Android 18's arm.
    • Cell himself was hit by this trope two times. The first time, he got destroyed by Vegeta not long after becoming Semi-Perfect Cell, a form that outmatched all of the androids. After becoming perfect, he went undefeated until Gohan went Super Saiyan 2. When that happened, Gohan turned the seemingly invincible Cell into his plaything.
    • Dabura is about equal to Super Perfect Cell, can use magic, and is able to fight back a rusty Gohan. Buu easily beats him up and turns him into a cookie before eating him.
    • Fat Buu has fallen victim to this trope as well. First he get his pink blubber kicked by Evil Buu before he gets turned into chocolate and eaten. Then, he get flattened by Kid Buu.
    • Heck, not even Super Buu escapes this. He was able to fight almost evenly with Gotenks to getting destroyed by Gohan. Then in his strongest form Super Buu gets stomped into the ground by Vegito.
  • Worf Had the Flu:
    • Goku gets his heart virus in the middle of his fight against Android 19. Before he became really sick, he was mopping the floor with the android.
    • When Cell releases the Cell Juniors, only Vegeta and Trunks manage to hold their own against them. Goku is beaten badly by his Cell Junior due to being exhausted from his own fight with Cell and having not taken a Senzu Bean.
    • It is implied by Goku that the reason why he had a hard time maintaining Super Saiyan 3 and had such a weak endurance during his battle with Kid Buu was because he was no longer used to having a living body. He had become accustomed to the unlimited power and high endurance of his dead body and didn't know his new limits.
  • Worthy Opponent
    • Goku hates Frieza, rivaled only by King Piccolo, but acknowledges him as a powerful fighter who pushed him to his limits. Goku was actually saddened as he witnessed Frieza's spectacular fall from grace.
    • Captain Ginyu treats Goku as a worthy challenge for his skills and refuses to take advantage of Jeice's surprise attack. However, when he realities that Goku is actually far more powerful than he is, this attitude goes out the window and he uses his body change technique instead.
    • Cell considered Goku to be a Worthy Opponent once the two got at it in the Cell Games. Cell finds himself enjoying the match so much, that he even offers Goku a chance to take a break and eat a Senzu bean to restore his strength so they can keep fighting.
    • Majin Buu, specifically his final, pure form. Goku had so much fun fighting Buu and saw him as the superior fighter that he wish that Enma would bring him back as a good person so they can fight again. It took ten years, but he got his wish. He's even training him.
    • Vegeta sees Goku as this by the end of the series. First, he learns to respect Goku, then, he learns to understand Goku's motivations. Finally, he makes his peace, recognizing that Goku is simply the better warrior.
  • Would Hurt a Child: No one in this series have any problem hurting, fighting, or killing a child.
  • Wicked Cultured:
    • Frieza when he isn't mad or annoyed, He also views most problems and situations in an intellectual and sophisticated manner and in one scene he can be seen even drinking wine.
    • Frieza's father, King Cold, is much the same. He speaks politely to others and is seen drinking wine. He is also more pragmatic than his son.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The Cell games occurred on May 27, Age 767. The 25th Tenkaichi Budokai occurs on May 7, Age 774. Goten was conceived sometime in the 10 days leading up to the Cell Games, yet is somehow listed as 7 years old at the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai. In the anime, Piccolo explicitly states Gohan to be 11 years old while fighting Cell, however after the seven year time skip Gohan tells Goten he was twice Goten's age before he became a Super Saiyan. Making him closer to 14 which would fit with Budokai games that refer to the Cell Game saga Gohan as "Teen Gohan". Though this all contradicts the manga which states Gohan to be nine while fighting Cell.
  • Wuxia: The anime adaptation lovingly pays homage to the conventions of the classic Shaw brothers kung fu films of the '60s, in lighting, movement, costume design and especially the sublime musical score by Kikuichi Shunsuke.

     Y 
  • Yellow Brick Road: Played with the Snake Way, which leads to Kami's Lookout is actually grayish while the clouds that encompass the background are yellow.
  • You Are Already Dead:
    • Future Trunks' first battle with Freeza's henchmen is actually a Subversion of this: Trunks charges through Frieza's henchmen with his sword. He leaves one henchman standing... whose armor and scouter proceed to fall apart after several seconds, having been cut into pieces in a fraction of a second, and yet the henchman actually survives.
    • In the seventh movie Future Trunks battles Android 14, their fight comes to an end when their blows collide with Trunks using his sword, Android 14 comes out seemingly unscathed and as he runs out at Trunks his body splits in half just before he reaches him.
    • Parodied at one Martial Arts Tournament, when Mr. Satan and Android 18 are fighting. 18 says she'll throw the match if he agrees to pay her double the prize money. He does, and throws a heavy punch to knock her out of the ring. 18 just takes the punch to the face without moving, asks if that was really the best finishing move Mr. Satan could come up with... then throws herself backward out of the ring. Mr. Satan then tries to pass off this bizarre chain of events as this trope to the confused audience: a "delayed reaction" punch.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: After being cured of the heart disease that killed him in the bad future, Goku ends up dying anyway during the Cell Games... although he ends up being resurrected a few years later.
  • You Are Not Ready: King Kai's response when Goku was readying himself to do a Kaioken 3X. He explicitly told Goku to never go past a double since his body wasn't fully trained.
  • You Are Number 6: Dr. Gero's Androids are named in this manner. The good doctor himself is number 20. Cell is technically number 21, though he's never referred to as such. Androids 17 and 18's original names were revealed to be Lapis and Lazuli in an interview.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Vegito was a master of this. And then he got turned into a jawbreaker. And continued to kick ass.
    • For the minority who don't know: This is literally true. Vegito is turned into a small ball of hardened sugar. That kicks ass. And throws insults. Yes.
      Vegito: "I'm not any ordinary candy. I'm a jawbreaker, the strongest piece of candy there is!"
    • And you can see where Vegito gets it from in SSJ2 Goku and Majin Vegeta's epic battle.
      Vegeta: "You've become quite the escape artist."
      Goku: "Maybe you should work on some better finishing moves."
    • Special mention goes to Frieza whose declarations run on the lines of "You fight like a stupid monkey."
  • You Fool!:
    • Goku yells this at Frieza just before finishing him off with an energy wave when he refuses to give up the fight. This was Frieza's second backstab backfire, after Goku had both invoked cruel mercy and then saved Frieza's life after he cut himself in half.
    • In the video games, Android 17 yells this during guard counter attacks.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair:
    • Bulma, Bra and Trunks (light purple, in his case).
    • For the bad guys, Zarbon has green hair and Bojack's group has orange hair.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • This is the primary reason why Vegeta kills Nappa after years of following him.
    • Babidi takes the cake. He kills his men even when they succeed or surpass his expectations.
  • You Leave Him Alone!: When Son Gohan tells you to do this, you better damn well stop beating his loved ones.
  • You Talk Too Much: Due to talking is a free action being very frequent, some characters lampshade this fact, especially as the series went on.
    • Piccolo to Raditz.
    • Even Android 18 remarks this to Vegeta.
    Android 18: "He talks too much."
    Vegeta: "WHAT WAS THAT?!"
    • Super Buu says a variant of this to the Z-Fighters.
    Super Buu: ALL YOU PEOPLE DO IS TAAAALK!
  • Your Eyes Can Deceive You: Babidi tries to give Yakkon an advantage over Goku by teleporting them to the Planet of Darkness (Yakkon can see in the dark). Goku easily decks Yakkon and explains that trained warriors can read air currents generated by the opponent's movements (Goku also cheekily comments that Yakkon stinks, which makes sense since Goku already has a heightened sense of smell).
  • Your Mom: Gohan tells Nappa "Your mother has an outie!" (a Japanese expression that means "gimme a break"); an annoyed Nappa wonders how he could possibly know that.
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