- No matter how things may change, never forget who you are. Throughout Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GT, Goku stayed true to himself. No matter what foe he was up against, his innocence and pureness never faltered. His love for life, friends and family, strengthened him against whomever he faced. There were times where he could have thrown it all away. It would have been easy to do, but he refused. Goku kept a firm grasp on who he was and refused to let them go. At times in life, it may be easier to change who we are to overcome challenges but if you lose yourself on your road to achieving your goals, have you truly achieved anything at all?
- You can be more than what society or the system expects from you; Goku's overall progression in strength is a great example of that. Goku was born with a power level of just two, which even by Saiyan standards, was disappointing. As a result of this, people who were a part of Freeza's Planet Trade Organisation, and even Goku's own father, considered him an afterthought on the day he was born. Because of his underwhelming power level he was sent to Earth, which was one of the weaker planets in the Galaxy, in order to destroy its inhabitants and clear the planet for its future sale. However, one day Goku fell down a deep ravine and hit his head, suffering severe head trauma that sent him into a coma and very nearly killed him. After he woke up, he had lost all of his Saiyan aggression, becoming a kind and mild-mannered young boy. The rest is history...
- Never forget who you're fighting for. Gokus victories would not have been possible if it weren't for the love of his family and friends. The strong bonds between the Z Fighters drove them to give everything that they had in order to save each other and their loved ones. Their friendship is truly inspirational. There is no stronger friendship than being willing to do anything and everything in ones power to protect the other. You can give nothing more than everything you have to protect your friends and family. In return, their strength becomes your own and the impossible becomes a reality.
- Nothing is more powerful than a group coming together and uniting under one common goal. The power of numbers can be seen anywhere you look in Dragon Ball Z. This lesson however was mainly inspired by the use of the Spirit Bomb against Kid Buu. While Vegeta was forming his plan, he understood the strength a united group of people would provide. The power he and Goku possessed in comparison to a single person on Earth was far greater, but the combination of each and every individual on the planet was astounding. Each and every person is capable of achieving great things, but when everyone comes together as one in order to succeed, that is true greatness.
- Never be content with what you have and always strive to become better at everything you do. There were a number of times throughout Dragon Ball Z where any single one of the Z fighters could have just said that they gave up because it was too tough or that they didnt feel like it but they didnt. They strive to become stronger, to achieve what their dreams and to protect the ones that they love. If you wish to see perseverance demonstrated in one character in particular, look at Vegeta. He spent the majority of his young life ruled and enslaved. Never did he let that stop him. He continued to train knowing that one day, his opportunity would come and that he would be successful. When Goku ascended to a super Saiyan before him, he did not give up. It motivated him even more to achieve what he believed was his birthright.
- Never rely on numbers to determine or judge the content of a person's character. The reliance on scouters, a device which measures the ki of any sentient being and then outputs it as a 'combat rating', was more of a hindrance to the person using the scouter than an actual advantage. Guys like Raditz, Nappa, Zarbon, The Ginyu Force, Cui, Dodoria, hell, pretty much everybody who worked under Freeza, put way too much stock in the readings that scouters would provide them. Because of this they would often underestimate their opponent's abilities, and their arrogance would naturally come back to bite them in the ass. Vegeta was the only one smart enough to realize that scouters are pretty much useless and impractical in battle and he even mocked Jeice and Cui for putting too much reliance in them, before he executed them with great ease. Probably the most poignant example was when Trunks took on Freeza's soldiers on Earth, his power level was just five when one of Freeza's soldiers took a reading from the scouter and because of this, immediately dismissed Trunks as a threat. Read the spoiler in the second example to know how that fight turned out.
- It should also be noted that Trunks power reading was last reading officially provided in the history of Dragon Ball, and it's justified when you take into consideration that many of the main cast had gotten so strong that scouters pretty much became redundant in measuring a power level because it would just be way too high for the scouter to even comprehend. Ironically, Trunks' battle power was rated at 5, the same as the Farmer at the start of Z who was the first character seen to be given a reading!
- Similarly, physical appearance is no indicator of a person's true worth. There are countless characters who aren't considered threatening due to their short stature or harmless visage, yet they've all displayed incredible strength. Inversely, plenty of fighters who are huge or menacing are often shown to be deeply insecure when confronted by someone who might be better than themselves.
- Particularly during the Saiyan and Namek Arcs, there's an emphasis that there's more to fighting than just raw power. The way Frieza's men fight is often boiled down to brute force with no subtlety, which not only results in focusing on Battle Powers above all else, but also big beam attacks and Beam Spam with no focus or subtlety at all. Two of the most crafty moves in the series were developed on Earth and don't have anything to power: one blinds the opponent, while the other can cut through anything regardless of how strong it actually is. This ties into the Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover point above.
- Pride comes before a fall. Vegeta gets his ass handed to him so many times for his stubborn pride, you start to wonder if he likes it. Few are the characters who have done more stupid things for the sake of their pride. You'd think he would learn to never underestimate his opponents after being beaten by a low class Saiyan warrior (Goku), his five year old son (Gohan), a bald midget (Krillin) and fat samurai (Yajirobe)... but nope! Vegeta's huge ego and immeasurable pride always get the best of him, which lead to him getting his ass kicked by Zarbon, Recoome, Freeza, Android 18, Cell and Majin Buu. In Cell's case he deliberately aided Cell in becoming stronger because his ego wasn't satisfied with how easy the fight was. Let this be a lesson folks, don't be like Vegeta, because it's a case of going one step forward and then ten steps back.
- Freeza is probably an even more appropriate example. He could have killed Goku at any point during their battle but decided to drag out the fight because, like Vegeta, his ego wasn't satisfied with how easy the fight had become and he wanted to make Goku suffer more. His hesitance to finish comes back to bite him as Goku eventually becomes a Super Saiyan and defeats Freeza. And even after that battle and reaching Earth before Goku, he decides not to just destroy the Earth when he has the chance because his pride wouldn't be satisfied with that, he instead wanted to make everyone on the planet suffer; cue another Saiyan, Trunks, who makes quick work of Freeza, his father King Cold and Freeza's soldiers. Frieza's pride and sadism were his greatest weaknesses.
- Above prominent examples aside, nearly every single bad guy has, shortly before having their left butt cheek handed to them, openly mocked their opponents in disbelief that they could even put up a good fight, refusing to take their opposition seriously. When they eventually do get the crap beaten out of them, they refuse to believe it because of their past history of being utter bullies who always get their way. They then say something to the effect of "No, there's no way you're stronger than me!!" and attack again anyway, after which they have their other butt cheek handed to them (and if they're facing Vegeta, they get killed). Characters from Cui right up to Frieza and Cell fall prey to this, and if they weren't so prideful, they'd have a better grasp on the fight and have a better chance at playing for tactics, or know that they should retreat.
- The secret to success is to be ready for when your opportunity comes. Each person has his or her own belief of why Goku is as successful as he is. Most common of course is natural talent, or the love that he has for his family and friends. Both are true, and both are key factors but in many of the battles that Goku is in he outlasts his opponent. Whether this is because of his endurance, motivation, or something else. He always bides his time until he knows he has a chance for victory. When that opportunity does come, it does not go to waste.
- Without defeat there is no victory. Through Dragon Ball Z, you see nearly every single character get knocked down. Some immediately get back up and face their opponent while others cower. In the end, the struggles that they underwent resulted in them becoming successful. Each time you fall is not for nothing. Only through our failures are we able to become better. Do not look at defeat as something that is permanent; it isnt. It is a minor roadblock on your journey to becoming who you are meant to be.
- Often in life, our closer friends were once our hated enemy. Throughout all of Dragon Ball, the theme of mercy towards those who have wronged us is everywhere. Goku could have finished both Piccolo and Vegeta off, and yet he didnt. Whether this was because of his Saiyan blood and his desire to always become a better warrior by fighting people at their caliber, or if it was because of his pure heart, we will never know. But think about it, do you have those few friends that you started out on the wrong foot with them but now youre inseparable? I sure can. It kind of makes you want to forget about first impressions all together
- Wanting to be a humble hero that avoids the limelight is fine, if that's what one desires, but it comes with its consequences. When Goku desperately needed energy from everyone on earth to make the Spirit Bomb large enough to defeat Buu, it was only the people that personally knew him that willingly gave their energy; even if Goku, Gohan, and their team had worked their butts off to save the world from Cell, nobody knows they did this. It isn't until Hercule/Mr Satan, who is known as the savior of the world, steps in and asks everyone for help that every person on earth gladly offers energy. Even if the limelight and fame isn't as great as one might think, it does have its share of advantages.
- For all people talk of Goku's Aesop of "you can surpass any limitation you put your mind to", Vegeta's entire character arc offers a far more realistic and poignant one: there's always going to be someone better than you, no matter how badly you want to be the best or how hard you try, but you shouldn't allow yourself to be consumed by envy. It's only in the late Buu saga when Vegeta accepts that he will never match Goku's power that he becomes at peace with himself.
- Don't give up on yourself just because someone might be better. After Goku's death in the Cell Games, Vegeta loses his fighting spirit. Even with Goku gone and Gohan without a drive to fight, Vegeta hits his lowest when he can never prove himself Goku's better; his fixation on beating Goku clouded any sense of self-improvement. Super takes the above aesop a step farther: While Vegeta no longer displays anger and resentment at being surpassed, he still has the goal of surpassing Goku. Rather than anger and contempt, he simply makes it a motivation and a more healthy rivalry so the two can push each other to new heights, and it shows, with early Super Arcs showing the two as the closest in strength they have been in a long time. Having that hill to climb is as important a point for Vegeta as the goal itself.
Some Anvils Need To Be Dropped / Dragon Ball