With Trunks as the narrator of this special, the scene begins with Gohan finding out that Goku is dead for good as a result of a high cholesterol with every single Z-fighter including Vegeta himself mourning for him...for 6 months before the cyborgs kills off all of the Z-fighters from Piccolo, Vegeta, Tien, and even Krillin, leaving the fate of the earth with only Gohan and Trunks as the survivors.
Fast forward 13 years into the story, and humanity (and country music) continues to become slowly wiped out by the androids with every single of the citizens being apathetic about it (with the radio even making a joke about his own fiancé being killed there). Trunks arrives against Bulma's instructions only for him to stumble upon a deserted city, however fortunately, he managed to meet up with the hero of his timeline; Future Gohan.
Returning home with Gohan in company, Trunks desperately wishes to be Gohan's pupil. Gohan accepts on the condition that Trunks addresses him as Mr. Gohan. Happy to be Gohan's student, Trunks invites Gohan to dinner where Bulma makes them food. When Bulma pointed out at how Gohan looks a lot like his father, he is visibly upset at it, with the Gi being the only remainder of him.
Over the next few weeks, Gohan would begin training Trunks in the art of dodging his attacks, only for Trunks to stumble into the whirlpool, with a frustrated Gohan reminding Trunks that he can fly. After getting out of the ocean, they converse about their own parents including how Gohan looks up to Piccolo as his true father and what Trunk's father looks like (When recounting it, it is a scene of Vegeta beating up a young Gohan, who tries to defend his father's honor). However, when it comes to Gohan's real parents, he virtually abandoned both of them to the point that we see that Chi-Chi is depressed and suffers from a Madness Mantra on how she wished that her own son either talks to her or let her become a grandmother.
Trunk's attempt to turn Super Saiyan out of anger fails to the point that at "Piccolo's" suggestion, Trunks accompanies Gohan to the battlefield the next day, with what the cyborgs having destroyed an amusement park (And once again, the citizens being apathetic about them). At first, Gohan managed to overwhelm 17 only for 18 to join the battle and quickly overwhelm Gohan, with Trunks doing little to no help in turning the tables. As a result, Gohan loses his left arm and the cyborgs won unscathed.
Once Gohan managed to heal from his injuries, they immediately resumed their training on making Trunks a Super Saiyan only to fail once again. When Trunks ask Gohan how, he mentioned the deaths of Krillin and Piccolo (Not his father) that influenced him to become Super Saiyan. Moments later, the cyborgs attack another city and Gohan decides to confront it alone, knocking out Trunks so that he won't interfere.
Just as 17 is about to have a Heel Realization regarding all his atrocities and considers becoming a park ranger, Gohan kicks him through a building which makes the cyborg decides to kill everyone on the planet. Gohan eventually decides to make his Last Stand against the androids only for him to fail and dies. Moments later, Trunks attempt to scour the city for his master only to find him dead...Enraged, Trunks makes a Skyward Scream and turns into Super Saiyan for the first time.
3 years later, Trunks and Bulma are just about to make a time machine that allows Trunks to travel into the past and prevent the Bad Future from happening. Upon hearing the news that the cyborgs are attacking another city, Trunks recklessly decides to fight them, against Bulma's warnings. Predictably, he gets stomped to the ground by them, only surviving because 18 unintentionally took the blast from 17 in order to finish him off.
Thankfully, Bulma somehow managed to find Trunks and heals him back to full health for a few months before he is ready to return back to the past and meet history's greatest heroes (In which the heroes are either an Idiot Hero and a terrible father, or a Jerkass and an Abusive Parent). With the cholesterol medication in hand, Trunks leaves the current timeline to head to the past and turn the world into a cyborg free world...
And these are its tropes:
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Trunks finding Gohan's corpse and turning into a Super Saiyan, which is played depressingly straight and entirely devoid of humor.
- Adaptational Jerkass: Future Gohan outright doesn't care for his parents, a far cry from the original version where he thinks highly of them everytime he is fighting with the androids.
- Adapted Out: Yamcha neither appears nor is even mentioned in this film. Must have been something to do with him hanging himself after realizing that Bulma is pregnant with Vegeta's child.
- An Arm and a Leg: Gohan ends up losing his arm during his second to last fight with the Cyborgs.
- Apathetic Citizens: Even after thirteen long years of the Androids/Cyborgs killing cities and towns across the world, no one is trying to develop technology to stop them in any form. People continue with their everyday lives like nothing is wrong and only panic when they attack the city they are currently in. One guy who runs a roller coaster at an amusement park doesn't even recognize them when they jump in line to the front car. In fact, the radio personalities even casually joke about how a city is not only destroyed but also states that Wombat is now single, with no mourning whatsoever.
- Bad Future: Most of the Z-Fighters are dead, leaving next-to-no opposition to the destructive Cyborgs. Not that anyone cares. However, Gohan disagrees that this trope applies — for him, it's just more of the same.
- Brick Joke: Before Trunks leaves for the past, you can hear Vegeta's scream from Namek finally reaching Earth.
- Call-Back: Trunks' training with Gohan is practically word for word Gohan's training with Piccolo.
- Also, the Androids are consistently referred to as "Cyborgs".
- An example that, due to Time-Travel Tense Trouble, blurs the line between this and Call-Forward. When Trunks goes off to battle against the cyborgs and arms himself with a sword, he mentions that it was given to him "by Tapion, which is a whole other story."
- Compliment Backfire: When Bulma mentions Gohan is like his dad, he responds "In what regard?" This is a callback to Episode 42, when Prime Gohan responds similarly to Future Trunks saying the same thing to him.
- Disposable Fiancé: Parodied. Not only is Wombat's fiancé killed off less than 30 second after being mentioned, he jokes about it.
- Doomed Defeatist: Puar in The Stinger is convinced the crew of USS M'dick are going to die there.
- Handicapped Badass: Gohan is still a Super Saiyan in the future, despite missing an arm.
- Hearing Voices: Gohan has the voice of Piccolo in his head, and some of his more reckless decisions come from listening to its advice. As he's about to die, the voice admits it's not actually his dead master and just a hallucination.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Gohan's fate.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: 17 says he's going to stop all the pointless killing because he is getting bored, and is going to become a park ranger. Then Gohan kicks him in the face...
- Noodle Incident: Trunks once offhandedly mentions obtaining his sword from Tapion, saying that it's a long story.
- Our Slogan Is Terrible: "Hello and welcome to Super World. Slogan pending."
- Played for Drama: The special is probably the darkest episode that TFS did. The death of Gohan and Trunks finding his body in particular is a Tear Jerker.
- Plucky Boy: Trunks is very eager, at first, to fight the Cyborgs.
- Sanity Slippage: Played with frighteningly in the case of Chi-Chi, whom Gohan has completely abandoned (she admits he is most likely dead, though the scene is before his actual death). All she does is mutter about losing her husband and son, and how she should be a grandmother by now. She spends her time knitting clothing for a grandchild she will never have. Ox King lives with her.
- Future Gohan has this, also, he hears voices, specifically Piccolo's, talking to him.
- Shut Up, Kirk!: In his final battle with the Cyborgs, Trunks tries to introduce himself and say he seeks revenge for their murder of Gohan, but 18 interrupts him with an, "I don't care." and punches him.
- Skyward Scream: Trunks doesn't take the death of his mentor well.
- Spared by the Adaptation: A minor example. In the original story, it's mentioned that Dr. Brief is dead by the time the time machine is finished (and whether or not he was killed by the androids or died of natural causes is unclear). In this version, Dr. Brief is shown to still be alive, and he's traversing the cosmos in search of Planet New Namek for their Dragon Balls.
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Trunks' Super Saiyan power is awakened when Gohan dies. The original special even provides the page image.
After the credit ends, we see Oolong, Puar, and Roshi survive thanks to the turtle hermit's submarine, USS M'dick. Unfortunately, it isn't a comfortable one no thanks to Roshi's innuendo such as how he is holding on to "it" for 17 years. Puar remarks that they're going to die in the sub.