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Reality Ensues / Dragon Ball

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  • 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.
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  • Videl, fresh from learning how to harness her Ki and fly, drops out of the heroes mission to defeat Babidi and prevent the releasing of Majin Buu because she is unable keep up with the others flying speeds, and has yet to learn the same flying techniques the heroes use to prevent herself from being unable to see. She also realizes that if someone as powerful as Gohan is worried about a problem, it means a Empowered Badass Normal like herself has no chance of helping, and leaves to prevent herself from being a liability.
  • 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 into a rock. It's a good thing she's Made of Iron and only suffered a few bruises and cuts. While normally this isn't an issue (Goku does in fact know his own strength and can easily control it), that's in his normal form. Depending on the dub, Goku says that he hasn't, after being in space for over a year, readjusted to Earth's gravity yet.
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  • No matter how powerful you become, you can still succumb to illnesses: in the future timeline, Goku dies of a heart virus, and even in the main timeline where he's able to get treatment for it, he's still laid flat for over ten days.
  • Sometimes, you have to know when it's time to give up and live to fight another day. It doesn't matter how determined you are to win; if your opponent outclasses you in every way, willpower and determination alone can only take you so far and will ultimately mean nothing. Frieza learns this the hard way when his complete inability to give up, accept defeat, and swallow his pride not only leads to his downfall on Namek, but also his death. And when he's resurrected, that complete inability to give up leads to a second death and the complete collapse of his empire.
    • Also, attacking at full force will tire you out fast. After Frieza reached his full power and was at least close to on-par with Super Saiyan Goku, he burned through his energy so quickly that he wasn't even a challenge to Goku after only a few minutes of fighting this way.
  • 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 exactly 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 them without breaking a sweat; of course, this was the sort of reaction Cell was hoping for!
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  • Majin Buu takes what Cell done Up to Eleven: by the time he turned into Super Buu, he wiped out 80% of humanity and those who survived live in fear and in ruined cities; also, there's the rise of serial killers like Van Zant who use 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: you can get angry at anyone who doesn't appear dangerous and/or won't attack you if you do, but if you willingly attack someone who obviously looks dangerous and won't hesitate to attack you (and would even be considered deadly to mess with), things won't end well for you.
  • While he may have been The Load for most of the fight, Gohan being afraid for his life and too scared to do anything for much of the battle against Nappa is a spot-on portrayal of how any 5- or 6-year-old would react if they were suddenly thrown into a life or death battle, and the Training from Hell that Piccolo put him through ultimately did little to mentally prepare him for it; Krillin even brings this up in Gohan's defense when an angered Piccolo attempts to berate him.
  • Training instances:
    • Frieza is infamous for his poor stamina. It's revealed in Resurrection 'F' and Dragon Ball Super he had never really trained a single day in his life, he was just that naturally strong-and poor stamina is a natural consequence of never training.
    • People who weren't formally trained tend to not know what they're doing when self-training simply because they were never taught how:
      • In Resurrection 'F']] and Dragon Ball Super, Whis informs Vegeta that part of the reason he hasn't been able to surpass Goku, despite all the Training from Hell he goes through, is because he trains too hard and doesn't let his body get proper rest.
      • After training for the first time in his life, Frieza not only becomes much stronger and fixes his stamina issue, he acquires a new transformation... That he didn't bother mastering, resulting in his poor stamina showing up again when he uses it.
      • Goku, on the other hand, was formally trained by multiple teachers, namely his adopted grandfather Son Gohan, Master Roshi, Popo, Kami, and King Kai. As much as he includes new exercises he comes up with himself due the ones from his previous masters being inadequate to his new strength, he's also very efficient with it and avoids both of Vegeta and Frieza's pitfalls: he takes care of giving his body proper resting by just not training the whole time but often taking it easy, and once he had time and reason to think about it he quickly realized he could and should master his Super Saiyan transformation and did just that (something Vegeta imitated as soon as he realized it), and will later go on doing the same with his Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue transformations (same with Vegeta, who by that point had received formal training from Whis).
    • Gohan gets weaker by the time of the Buu Saga because he failed to keep up with his training, just as real-life athletes can get out of shape when they stop training: it gets worse by the time of Resurrection 'F' where he can't even keep up basic Super Saiyan, leading to Piccolo temporarily dying at Frieza's hands; after that, he begs Piccolo to train him and tells Goku to train Pan when she gets older.
  • In the original series: it doesn't matter if your skills are just as good as your opponent's, if you're a child and he's an adult and more experienced he has the advantage: Goku found out in his first Tenkaichi, when, in the final exchange, Jackie Chun played him like a fiddle to get him in a mutual flying kick, in which the longer legs of the adult Jackie Chun guaranteed a stronger and deeper kick than those of the still child Goku.
    • In the same arc Goku developed a technique where he spins like a top with enough force to repel his opponent, Namu; Goku almost wins, but became too dizzy and collapsed.
  • The TV special Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks is built around this trope:
    • 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.
    • You want to be the badass lone wolf and take on the enemy with the hope of pulling out a miracle or dying in a significant blaze of glory? Get real. Have a genuine strategy or damn well know you are definitely strong enough to win or things will end very badly. Gohan learned that the hard way. And ultimately him going out in a blaze of glory only made the difficulty of defeating Androids even more improbable for Trunks and it led to Trunks having to go back in time in a last resort to save his world. And that act also unwittingly made things even worse. Although, his little trip to the past made him so much stronger that he was able to kill the Androids.
    • 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.
  • In Dragon Ball Super, jilted superstar Barry Khan attempts to blackmail Gohan by getting an actress to kiss him, making it look like Gohan was cheating on Videl, who is now Gohan's wife. When offered the evidence, Videl tears the photos of the incident in half and calls Barry out on how petty he is for doing something like this, believing the words of her husband over someone who has been obviously antagonistic to the both of them.
  • In the finale of Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta's plan to defeat Buu is to have the people of Earth willingly give Goku their energy for a Spirit Bomb by telling them to raise their hands. Everyone who isn't a member of the main cast thinks that the weird voice is a dream at best; in fact, the first person who tries it is terrified when his energy is drained and suspects that it's actually a demon. When Goku is metaphorically given the microphone, people who were friends with him in the past recognize him and willingly give him their energy... but it still isn't enough; only when Mr. Satan, who is well known by the public, tells them to give up their energy do they listen.
  • When Vegeta tells Mr. Satan to ask the people to give more energy for the Spirit Bomb, which would kill them, Mr. Satan can't do it. He can't bring himself to betray the people's trust, especially since he's harboring immense guilt from pretending to have beaten Cell seven years ago, calling himself a "shameless fake."
  • Future Trunks wastes no time killing his enemies as soon as possible, not wanting any epic fights: he immediately slays Freiza and King Cold; he immediately destroys Cell as a fetus to stop him from being born in this timeline. Back in his timeline, he kills every villain in one episode without hesitation; he even calls Vegeta out for not killing Cell when he had the opportunity.
  • 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 & 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.
    • In the start of the Frieza Saga, Gohan proudly announces that he wants to go to Namek to bring Piccolo back to life. While Chi-Chi was portrayed in the wrong for this, her reaction comes off as understandable. Given Piccolo's history of being the demon king back in Dragon Ball and the fact that Gohan was kidnapped by said demon king (and Chi-Chi hadn't seen her son for a whole year), there's no way Chi-Chi (nor any parent) would be okay with Gohan leaving her sight after that.
  • Mr. Satan's reaction to Videl's death in the Buu Arc can count (before he was aware of the Dragon Balls): he's totally heartbroken and acts shocked when the other characters act so nonchalant about it.
  • Beerus' constant abuse of his status as a God of Destruction (destroying things that annoy him rather than what would be bad for the universe) ends up putting his universe second-to-last in terms of mortal levels; having an insane majin run loose killing anything that moved followed by a few decades of a genocidal megalomaniac empire ended up leaving only 27 inhabited planets in the universe: the only universe worst off than him is one literally populated by amoral psychopaths. It got bad enough that Zeno wanted to destroy his universe outright if not for Goku's suggestion at the tournament: as shown by the four other Gods of destruction with "acceptable" mortal levels, destroying things willy nilly (or even just evil planets) won't cut it; you have to only destroy what is necessary and that takes a lot of research and understanding the mortals under you.
  • Gohan being socially awkward in the Saiyaman Saga also counts as this trope: when he acts awkward and superhero-like in his Saiyaman costume towards other people, almost everybody (except for Goten) looks at him strangely, cringes for him, and/or mocks his costume and poses.
  • At school, Gohan asks to be excused to go to the restroom so he can fight crime as Saiyaman: due to him being gone for a long period of time, his teacher and classmates mock him for being in the restroom for too long.
  • During his time at school, Gohan is forced to play Baseball despite his own desire not to. Despite not being as powerful as he was before, Gohan is still one of the strongest beings on the planet, and so he takes a baseball to the face and suffers no damage. Unsurprisingly, his classmates are confused and startled by how casual Gohan was during it, and one of his classmates afterwards even approaches him to recruit him to join their sports team after seeing that, though Gohan declines.
  • After the announcement of the Tournament of Power, everyone naturally is pissed off at Universe 7 (and especially Goku) for suggesting it in the first place and most of them focus on trying to defeat Universe 7. Goku's nonchalant attitude and Blood Knight tendencies only made things worse.
  • As Piccolo rightly pointed out, Gohan's letting down his guard as well his sadistic and Smug Super tendencies when he grows more powerful ends in it backfiring on him. The first thing Piccolo does to Gohan after he regains his Ultimate form is to train that out of him.
  • Android 17 attacked a fighter right during her Transformation Sequence. Of course, he and 18 know better than to let someone finish their transformation.
  • The show also realistically portrays (& averts) the Easily Forgiven trope. Everyone forgives Piccolo...except for Chi-Chi. Chi-Chi is one of the few who doesn’t seem to like nor trust Piccolo too easily. Seems "bitchy", but considering how Piccolo almost killed Goku (and in fact later did), kidnapped her son for a year, and was partially responsible (along with Vegeta) for Gohan getting seriously injured and (almost) killed in the Saiyan Saga, Chi-Chi had pretty good reasons to not like the guy and was rightfully afraid of him (although this is later subverted in the Buu Arc when she forgives him).
    • This is also the case with Vegeta. In the Cell to Buu Arc, none of the Z fighters seemed to like him due to the horrible things he did in the Saiyan and Frieza arcs. Only Goku, Gohan, and Bulma seemed to have tolerated Vegeta. It's only Piccolo and Tien who flat out disliked Vegeta throughout the series.
  • Krillin was killed by a demon right in front of the tournament announcer. Naturally, the poor guy is terrified when Krillin shows up for the next tournament without any explanation.
  • Demon King Piccolo took over the world and started a reign of terror. His son/reincarnation, also named Piccolo, can never enter a tournament under his real name.
  • Likewise, when Fat Buu, having had a Heel–Face Turn makes it out of the arc alive, they have to use a wish to wipe the memories of the normal inhabitants of Earth. Mr. Satan's friend and turning over a new leaf or not, Fat Buu wiped out and ate cities, Super Buu wiped out every human that wasn't on the lookout, and Kid Buu went on a planet-destroying spree. While said wish is unrealistic, what’s realistic is that there would be no way Fat Buu would be forgiven by the townspeople otherwise.
  • While Gotenks was one of the strongest fighters when he was first introduced, because he is the Fusion Dance of the spoiled Trunks and naive Goten, his immaturity stops him from actually ever achieving anything meaningful. For example, after training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, the two decide to spend time creating Awesome, but Impractical attacks overspending the remaining amount of time left to train, resulting in many of their attacks doing nothing to Super Buu. They even hold Super Saiyan Three back to act heroic, which causes things to get worse because they didn't account for Piccolo having a Godzilla Threshold: destroy the doorway leading back, trapping them inside. This is further shown in the Super version of Resurrection "F" as, despite Frieza being in his first form and easily defeatable, all Gotenks did was fly around the world multiple times just to headbutt Tagoma in the groin. When focused on Frieza himself, his grandstanding lead to his fusion running out.
  • The Z-fighters versus Nappa firmly sets in a message not often seen in shonen manga; in any fight, there is simply a level of raw power that no amount of skill, tactics, training or spirit can overcome. It doesn't matter how much training you do or how strong your heart is, if you are a normal human fighting someone who can crush a battleship with his bare hands, you are going to lose.
    • On the other hand of the above, the heroes are not able to defeat Nappa until Goku arrives, but they do manage to hold out. Even if Nappa is stronger than them, they still are trained martial artists with various abilities to use. They don't win, but they do manage to pressure him a few times thanks to him not taking them seriously, or Nappa just not being smart enough to see through their attacks.
    • The fight between Videl and Spopovich is a repeat of both the above lessons: Spopovich eventually wins due being just that much stronger, but Videl was so much more skilled she pummeled him for a while without him being able to retaliate until she grew tired, and that was while she was holding back to not kill him. It also adds that no matter how skilled you are, [[Combat Breakdown when you grow tired you start messing up: the first clear sign of Videl growing tired is when she kicks Spopovich in the head and breaks his neck (something he could actually heal from thanks to Babidi's magic) due misjudging how much power she had put in the kick.
  • After teaming up with Vegeta to fight the Ginyu Force, Gohan and Krillin fight Guldo, wherein they easily overpower him and force him to use his Psychic Powers to immobilize them. He's about to kill them using it while gloating, only for Vegeta to casually slice his head off from behind with no trouble. Apparently, Guldo forgot Vegeta was a Combat Pragmatist who isn't here to play around.
  • During his fight with Majin Buu, Vegeta asks Piccolo what is expected to happen to him in the afterlife after his Heroic Sacrifice. Piccolo, somberly, tells him that despite Vegeta's plan to sacrifice himself to kill Buu and his help in saving the Earth before, his past deeds will earn him a trip to Hell, as he has killed many innocent people over the course of the series and done some very morally questionable things. Just because he is doing a heroic deed now doesn't excuse his past actions nor justify getting the same heroic treatment someone like Goku received. Its only in the finale in the fight against Kid Buu that he is deemed heroic enough to be revived by the Dragon balls, and that's after showing a desire to avenge his family and stop Buu from killing anymore people.

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