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Tear Jerker / Dragonball Z

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Dragon Ball Z may be best known for its serious and violent battles, but that doesn't mean it can't make you cry.

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     Saiyan Saga 
  • Goku's Heroic Sacrifice against Raditz was the very first Tear Jerker in Z that showed just how Darker and Edgier Z was and considering how dark the Piccolo Daimao arc was that's saying something.
  • Gohan's training in the wilderness during the Saiyan Saga really makes you want to grab hold of the kid and hug him. He's out there all alone with only Piccolo keeping an eye on him to monitor his training from afar.
    • In the filler episode "The Strangest Robot", Gohan discovers an ancient probe robot in a cavern underground. After Gohan reactivates the robot, it tells him not to disturb it, but reconsiders when the boy starts to cry and, reluctantly, watches over him, as Gohan is still a child dependent on others. Gohan tries to dig the robot out of the ground but the unstable cavern begins to crumble around the two, and the robot sacrifices itself to send Gohan back to the surface, being smashed in the collapse. In the dub, the Robot's last words are telling Gohan to be strong. Tears streaming down his face, Gohan overcomes his sorrows, walking away back into the desert.
    • In the filler episode "A New Friend", while hiding in a cave he discovers he's not alone as a Dinosaur is with him, luckily its a vegetarian and is wounded. Gohan helps it heal up getting it food and puts a salve on its wound like Goku taught him. So you think Gohan's made a friend right? Wrong: Another Dinosaur, this one a T-Rex, shows up and attacks the other one. Gohan tries to save him but gets knocked out by the T-Rex. When he comes to his senses, he sees the bones of the other Dinosaur as the T-Rex had eaten him. Seeing the tears form in his face over what happened really gets you.
    • One of the most heartbreaking fillers would have to be the one when Gohan washes up on a beach and is found by the local orphans, titled "Escape From Piccolo". The episode is adorable in that Gohan makes friends with many children his own age for probably the first time in his life. But just as Gohan gets comfortable with his new friends, some people from the local foster home come to take the kids away. Gohan then meets the leader of the kids, Pigero and helps him protect the orphans. One of the adults tries to tell them that if they come with them, they will go to a place where they will get new clothes and hot meals, but Pigero believes that she is lying and tells her off. Later that night, Gohan explains he still has a mother, and was on his way to see her before he met them. Much to his surprise, the other children tell him it doesn't really matter to them whether he's an orphan or not. When Gohan tells them where his house is, they all come up with a plan. The next day when the adults leave the van, they are immediately bombarded with rocks. With the men distracted, Pigero commandeers it, then signals to Gohan and the others. They all pile in just as the police show up. Pigero orders the kids to scramble and they all rush to get away, but they are surrounded. While kids are grabbed they fight to keep from being taken. Unfortunately, it's not enough as the police soon overwhelm all of the kids except for Gohan, who barely manages to free Pigero. Then poor Pigero, considering the future of the other orphans, grabs Gohan and they escape in a stolen police-car and drive away with tears in his eyes, to the betrayal of the other kids. After they've escaped Gohan demands to know why Pigero left the others behind. Pigero tells him his reason is because he cannot provide enough for them and that maybe the people from ''the home'' can do more for them. After he drops Gohan off, Pigero drives away as he sets off to start a new life. It may have only been a single filler episode, but good God.
    • And later on, he finds out he's near home and rushes up the road a smile on his face and sees his house and his Mother inside. He wants to go in and hug Chichi who he hasn't seen in half a year but slowly he realizes what he has to do, his smile fading he turns and runs away from home, just missing his mother, who sensed him for a moment. After a distance, he discovers Piccolo looking down on him and tells him that there will be nothing left if the Saiyans are not stopped and Gohan knows this, abandoning his chance at a normal life so he can protect her.
  • The ending to the filler episode "Trouble on Arlia". Vegeta and Nappa kill the tyrant King Moai and Atla, the Arlian who'd tried to befriend the pair is reunited with his wife Lemlia. But as he and Nappa leave, Vegeta almost absentmindedly decides to destroy the entire planet. Just as Atla and Lemlia are reunited no less. Talk about a Downer Ending.
  • In the manga and Kai during the break from the Saiyan battle, Piccolo's grief to Gohan only lasted for one moment, too short to be tear-jerking but in the original anime where this is expanded, Piccolo berates Gohan for panicking behind a rock when a good opportunity to attack Nappa while he was defenceless presented itself. While Krillin defends him by saying he's only six years old at that point, and the fact he's even on the battlefield is remarkable enough. Piccolo at that point denounces Gohan as a coward, declares he's wasted all that time training him, refuses Gohan's request to train him in a three-hour break, and finally dismisses him. Krillin tries to call Gohan back as he walks off, and Piccolo won't even face him. However, Piccolo sadly contemplates that he already taught Gohan everything he knows, and maybe as cruel and harsh he was being, that was his way of deciding that Gohan was probably better off going home. Granted the scene was ruined by Mood Whiplash and Nappa's comically dickish behavior, but apparently in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, it's shown that Gohan's guilt for coming up short back then still affected him.
  • Watching warrior after brave warrior that we have come to love during Dragon Ball being slaughtered by Nappa during the Saiyan Saga. It was a wise narrative choice on Toriyama's part for Vegeta to not have personally killed any of the heroes, allowing the possibility of redemption in the audience's eyes for the Warrior Prince.
    • Yamcha's death. Especially since Krillin actually goes over and confirms he's dead. You see Puar crying against the TV, calling out to him... and then the POV switches to a shivering, pale, almost BSOD-ing Bulma. Her scream of despair as she breaks down in Muten Roshi's arms is tear jerking.
    • Particularly heartwrenching is the Senseless Sacrifice of Chiaotzu, whose Super-Power Meltdown did not even scratch the Saiyan brute, much less hurt him.
      • This is even more moving in Dragon Ball Kai considering that Chiaotzu knew that he couldn't defeat Nappa and that he had been revived with the Dragon Balls once, and wouldn't be able to be revived again, but the real moving moment is what Chiaotzu says right before he dies:
        Chiaotzu: Tien, just... just don't let him kill you.
      • The real heartbreaker is watching Chiaotzu knowingly sacrifice himself in an attempt to prevent Tien from dying, but shortly afterwards, seeing Tien using the last of his energy to try to avenge Chiaotzu's death, and dying in the process.
    • The moment leading to Tenshinhan's Heroic Sacrifice in the battle against Nappa certainly fits in. As the battle gets intense, an injured Tenshinhan sees his friend Chiaotzu, who has already died, saying sorry for not being strong enough, and then fades away. Then he regains the strength to stand on his feet and say, "Chiaotzu, I won't let your sacrifice be in vain, I promise! This Saiyan goes down right now... or I'll be...with you again soon!" A montage is then shown of the times they had together, and it ends with Tien firing his last one-armed Kikoho at Nappa, which only damaged parts of his armor, and a few scars, before the triclops passes away.
      • It says something that Dragon Ball Z Abridged still manages to keep this Tear Jerker intact, in their own way.note 
        Nappa: (to Piccolo and Krillin) At least you didn't uselessly self-destruct like that Pokémon.
        Tenshinhan: You stupid... ugly... Son of a bitch. His name was Chiaotzu! KIKOHO!
      • Tien's death made even Krillin cry. And he cried out for Goku to arrive soon, to prevent more Senseless Sacrifices. Unfortunately, it goes From Bad to Worse:
        Krillin: (Teary-eved) Poor Tien, he used up his life and that attack didn't even faze him! Goku!! Please hurry!!
    • Piccolo's Final Speech after Taking the Bullet for Gohan.
      "Pathetic... to think that the Demon King Piccolo should fall protecting a child... I have been... contaminated by the decency... of both you and your father... Gohan... though I have been... cruel towards you... you remain the... only person who has ever spoken to me... with kindness... These last few months with you were not that bad... Please don't die... Gohan..."
      • It's even sadder in the dubs. In English (Ocean dub, kept by Funimation until Kai) version, especially one of Piccolo's last lines: "Gohan, you're like the son I never had," while in the Latin American Spanish dub he actually says "I love you" to Gohan.
      • Made even sadder because he is the reincarnation of someone who had as equally horrible children; meaning that all the Demon King really wanted was a son that would actually love him and see him not as a monster.
      • In addition, Piccolo's death also means Kami's death, as their life forces are connected; one cannot live without the other. He only has enough time to say a few last words to Mr. Popo before fading away, leaving a grief-stricken Popo to cry out his name.
        Kami: Take care, old friend. I leave the rest to you... (fades away)
        Mr. Popo: Kami... KAAMIIII!!! (weeps inconsolably)
  • One rather understated moment, when Krillin agrees with Goku that he and Gohan should leave the battlefield. Krillin takes one last moment to lament their losses again. In the anime, as Krillin mentions how hard everyone fought, we see a shot off all the fallen Chiaotzu, who's iconic hat is all that's left of him.
  • In hindsight, Nappa's death is kind of tragic. Yes, he was a mass murdering space pirate who brought about the deaths of many of the heroes, but he still came off as a somewhat better person than Vegeta. Nappa actually showed some care for the Saibamen, and suggested reviving Raditz. Both he and Raditz were shocked to hear that Vegeta didn't care about the deaths of their race. What makes his death tragic is that he came off as more humane than Vegeta, yet Vegeta was the one of the two who got to live and turn his life around. Considering how Vegeta changed, Nappa could have easily changed as well if he had the chance. What makes it worse is the way he gets killed. He asks Vegeta, his prince, who Nappa had served the role of aide to from the time Vegeta was just a child all the way until Vegeta was an adult, to help him after he has been crippled by Goku. Vegeta throws Nappa into the air and kills him. Nappa, the more sympathetic of the two, gets killed by the man he had loyally served for over 20 years and gets left in Hell forever, while Vegeta, the more evil of the two, gets to change.
  • After Vegeta turns into an Oozaru, Goku remembers Grandpa Gohan's stories of a giant ape that would come out during the full moon, and how he was murdered by that monster one night. Connecting the dots, Goku concludes that Vegeta is that monster, only for Vegeta to explain that any Saiyan can become an Oozaru upon looking at the full moon, so long as they have a tail. Goku then remembers Grandpa Gohan warning him to never look at the full moon, and Kami requiring Goku to permanently remove his tail in exchange for restoring the moon after Roshi destroyed it. Connecting the dots further, Goku realizes that he was the monster that killed Grandpa Gohan. With tears in his eyes, Goku promises to personally apologize to Grandpa Gohan in heaven, because he knows that this is a fight he can't win. It may not be given much coverage because it happened in the heat of the battle, but just imagine being in that situation. What it would be like to learn that you had murdered your only family...
  • After Bulma and co. arrive to rescue the living and recover the departed, Chi-Chi's refusal to acknowledge Goku's presence is baffling and sad. Even if she was worried to death about Gohan, and even if she was (irrationally) steamed at Goku, any decent parent knows you don't badmouth your partner in front of your child. Not to mention that Goku, having freshly returned from the dead, nearly died again saving Earth from the Saiyans, she literally leaps over his prone and crippled body to dote on Gohan. Even Yajirobe calls her out on this, and her response of blaming everything on Goku and claiming her child's welfare outweighs the fate of the world (on which he lives) makes her seem like a twit. Fortunately this is the only occurrence of Chi-Chi showing such callousness towards Goku, but seeing him be so neglected by his own wife after everything he had done was incredibly depressing that she is very lucky that Goku doesn't know the concept of grudges, otherwise their marriage would have crumbled then and there.
  • After the Saiyan saga, watching everyone mourning the loss of the fallen Z Fighters and moving the coffins with their bodies onto the ship. This scene is made even more powerful with the beautiful song playing in the background of Dragon Ball Kai.
  • When Mr. Popo brings Bulma to the Yunzabit Highlands to investigate a potential spacecraft, he tells her part of Kami's past, mainly his childhood. From the time he could remember as a child up to perhaps 20 or 30 years, Kami lived in solitude waited patiently for the parents he was sure he possessed to come back. They never did. Due to a head injury that caused memory loss (sound familiar?), he did not know at the time that he had been sent away from planet Namek by his own father, Katas, in order to spare him from the calamity that reduced their population to a mere handful. At least Goku had Grandpa Gohan- Kami had nobody.

     Namek Saga 
  • Vegeta's outright massacring of the Namekian's who possessed the four star Dragon Ball. Expanded on in the anime, wherein the villagers try to put up a fight.
  • In Showdown!! The Embodiment of Flame in a 20-Fold Kaiō-Ken Kamehameha, when Frieza drowns Goku, while he was slowly dying he has a nightmare of Frieza killing everyone he loves. It was heartbreaking in the Dragon Ball Kai version to hear him so distressed when he cries out Gohan's name only to get no response.
  • Vegeta breaking down and crying Manly Tears as he lies dying, his heart punctured by Frieza, telling Goku the story of how their race was murdered by the tyrant.
    "Defeat Freeza... I beg of you... Frieza must die... by... a Saiyan's... hands..."
    Frieza: It seems our game is over, Vegeta. Now that we're done here, it's time to send you crying home to mommy.
    Vegeta: My mother's dead.
    Frieza: I know.
    "Kakarot... Listen. Destroy... Frieza. He made me what I am...don't let him do it to anyone else... Whatever it takes...stop him...please..."
    • The fact Vegeta is reaching out to Goku with blurred vision from tears makes this all the more poignant. This is directly after he's told Goku that Frieza took him when he was just a child and used the threat of killing his father to keep Vegeta under his thumb and then did so anyway.
    • Same scene yet again, but this time, the FUNimation dub of the uncut version of Kai takes this up a notch, while staying close to the translation of the Japanese text from the aforementioned original Z:
    "I beg you, Kakarot...please beat him... for me. For the pride of our race... Please. He must die by... a Saiyan's... hands..."
    • In all examples, the true Tear Jerker moments of the scene are that Vegeta even when dying does not ask for Goku's pity, but simply to be avenged as he reveals the evil the Saiyans did under the manipulation of Frieza making the viewers realize that they were loyal to him, but Frieza killed them to protect his own megalomaniacal agenda and out of fear they were becoming too powerful.
      • What hits home in this poignant scene is that though Vegeta is telling the story as he is dying of a punctured heart, Goku tries calming him down, warning him not to waste his breath in talking lest he end up killing himself; but Goku (and the audience in particular) knows that his warning could be useless, and that Vegeta is about to die anyway. The sad music in Dragon Ball Kai (along with slightly improved dubbing) makes this scene all the more heartbreaking.
    • This scene is made even more powerful considering what Goku said right after Vegeta's death:
    Goku: Goodbye, Vegeta. You weren't as cold-hearted as you thought you were. A heart of stone couldn't have shed tears like that. You must have been holding them back your entire life. (sadly) I'm the only one left. (creates a grave) Now I see. You weren't grieving for your own death, or the death of our home planet, you were grieving because he made you what he wanted you to be! You never had a chance to decide for yourself! (lays Vegeta to rest) Well I still respect you. You may have made a lot of mistakes, but now I see that they weren't all your fault. You had the fiery will of a Saiyan. Please share that with me now, because I need it. Thank you for saving my son's life and buying time for me to recuperate. I will do all that I can to carry out your wish. [to Frieza] Vegeta's right, you have no honor! For him, and for everyone else you've destroyed, I am going to finish you!
    • The original version is even more moving, as it is a pivotal point in Goku coming to respect and take pride in his Saiyan heritage.
      Goku: To think that a man as yourself would shed tears... and to beg... what you endured must be unimaginably frustrating. I understand... moreso than having your entire race murdered; it is to have your free will and pride ground under his feet; a pain I cannot start to imagine. I hated you so much, but I've always respected you for proudly defending your race's honor... Now lend me some of that pride, for I am a Saiyan who grew up on Earth!! (Turns to Frieza) For the Saiyan race you exterminated, and for all the Namekians you murdered, I shall defeat you!!
    • Don't forget the Kai version.
      Goku: For you to actually cry... For you to beg me for my help... I can only imagine how hard that must have been for you to do. I get it now. It wasn't losing your race that made you so angry. At least not entirely. You were mad because he forced you to be his puppet. You couldn't stand losing your pride. I may have hated you when you were alive. But I always respected your pride. And now it's time for me to share that pride. Pride in myself. [to Frieza] I am a Saiyan that was raised on Planet Earth. And in the name of every single Saiyan that you made suffer..! For them and all the people of Planet Namek too..! I will defeat you!
      • The music that plays (or played?) in the background of this scene (and the other scene below) in Kai? "Tears of Grief", accompanied by a Lonely Piano Piece. Give it a listen... and please try hard not to sob like Vegeta... or at least bring your Kleenex along.
  • Not long after Vegeta's death, and Goku is on the brink of death at the hands of Frieza, Vegeta's spirit appears (either in naked form in the original version and in Kai (with the bottom half obscured in the latter), or shirtless in the FUNimation dub), telling him to remember what Freeza had done to the Saiyan race and their home planet and encouraging him to destroy Freeza. Also accompanying Vegeta are his father, followed by Goku's father Bardock.
    • The FUNi dub of the uncut version of Kai is the icing on the cake:
      Vegeta: [voice only] Kakarot! How dare you give up! You're a Saiyan warrior, take some pride in your heritage!
      Goku: [lamenting] I... I am not a Saiyan like you!
      Vegeta: [voice only] Please. Stop trying to convince yourself; you personify our race!
      Goku: Just stop! None of that matters now anyway! Even together, we— [scene cuts to Vegeta's body lying on the ground; Goku gets shocked and confused] Uh... Vegeta... [scene then cuts to Vegeta's grave before cutting back] Where—?
      Vegeta: [appears in spirit form] The blood in your veins, that perfect instinct for battle, there's no denying what you are. Reach down deep, feel the pain of those of us who failed! Your brethren were all decimated, your homeworld lost! Does it not enrage you to stand before the man responsible for driving us to extinction?! My father.... your father. Both gone...
      [he then transforms into his younger self before continuing]
      Kid Vegeta: Dead. Killed by him... Lord Frieza. [brief scenes of Bardock and then King Vegeta getting killed] You are the last of our kind, Kakarot. Everything we were survives now, only in you.
      [reverts back into his adult form]
      Vegeta: And he won't rest until every trace of that has vanished, because he's haunted every day and night by a single overriding fear: [transforms into Ōzaru Vegeta]
      Ōzaru Vegeta: That the legendary Super Saiyan will rise up from the ashes and obliterate him! [reverts to normal Vegeta]
      Vegeta: I dreamt... [his father, King Vegeta, accompanies him]
      Vegeta & King Vegeta: [in unison] I yearned to be the one to avenge us... [Bardock now accompanies them]
      Vegeta, King Vegeta, & Bardock: [in unison] Yet he battled and broke me just as he did the others. You cannot know the torment I've died in!
      Vegeta: [now alone] Unless you're the one to finish this, we'll be lost... lost forever... to the memory of time. [vanishes]
  • The Namekian grand elder's (a/k/a Guru) second death. Despite the happy ending (living just long enough to appoint a new elder, most of the Namekians coming safely out of the struggle on their home planet, etc.) the reactions of his family (and the few Earthlings involved) surrounding him just adds that extra touch of emotion.
    • The first death of the Grand Elder was particularly moving, especially with the Bruce Falcouner music playing as you saw Dende crying and Guru's lifeless body sitting in the chair.
  • Dende's death by Frieza on Namek. It was sad enough watching his brother Cargo killed by Dodoria earlier, but this took it to a whole new level.
    • In the manga, it was Frieza who was behind Cargo's death. In the exact same way, finger beam too fast for anybody to react and help the kid.
  • The scene where Goku first transforms into a Super Saiyan in Dragon Ball Kai: It's not enough that Krillin gets launched up into the air and then blown up - worse if you notice the blink-and-you-miss-it frame of Krillin's chest heaving as the energy ball expands to blow him up from the inside. Poor Gohan, who just lost an Honorary Uncle, is standing over the unconscious body of his mentor looking like a deer in headlights while Frieza threatens his life next. Goku is off to the side with his back turned, shaking with rage, and the only words he can get out of his mouth are "You ruthless... heartless... bastard... I WILL MAKE YOU SUFFER!" As if the impact of hearing those words coming from Goku of all people didn't do it, as soon as he transforms, he turns to address not Frieza, but Gohan, telling him to leave. Previously, it had seemed to mean, "get out of here, kid, the fight's about to get really ugly." But the Dragon Ball Kai version drops this line:
    Goku: Do as I tell you! Right now - before I LOSE WHAT LITTLE SENSE OF REASON I HAVE LEFT!!
    • And it's that moment that you realize that Goku has no idea what is happening to him and doesn't trust himself around his own son.
  • This speech that Goku made for why he is letting Frieza get to 100% power in Kai:
    Goku: Krillin can't be brought back to life a second time and I refuse to take the death of my best friend sitting down! He was a good man! One of the bravest I've ever known! The fate this bastard dealt him was the last thing he deserved! Before I am done with him, he will bleed.
    • King Kai then laments to the deceased Z-Fighters that after failing to reason with him, whatever was there of the kind-hearted Goku may be no more, the vengeance-driven Super Saiyan has taken over him.
  • Moments before teleporting to the New Namek, Dende gives Gohan a quiet farewell with a smile. As he is fading away, the latter suddenly notices a tear on the young Namekian's face, who vanishes while holding his hand the entire time.

     Garlic Jr. Saga 
  • Shortly after the Black Water Mist has infected everyone at Master Roshi's. Piccolo laments having to fight Chi-Chi, Bulma, Yamcha, Oolong, and Puar after they'd been transformed into vicious monsters.
    • Gohan's understandable distress at the thought of his own mother trying to kill him.
    • That and his heartbroken reaction when he's face to face with the supposedly brainwashed Piccolo.
  • Filler it may be, but in the episode 'You’re My Guy... Krillin! The 101st Proposal', the final minutes are wrenching: watching Krillin realizing that Maron would have agreed to marry him and then running off with another guy moments later is bad enough, but the final scene where he tries to laugh it off with his friends but the audience (and perhaps Gohan as well) can see the tears hidden behind the sunglasses is just heartbreaking.
    • Could add a level of Fridge Horror to his participation in the Android Saga. Krillin's death count rivals Chiaotzu's. Chiaotzu was discouraged from joining the fight because Tenshinhan knew he couldn't possibly come back a third time. While Chiaotzu had someone concerned for his well-being, Krillin had just lost his first real girlfriend, leaving him with no-one to talk him out of fighting the androids. In other words, Krillin was on a suicide mission.

     Android/Cell Saga 
  • After Goku falls in his battle against Android 19 because of his sickness, Gohan kneels at his father's side and begs him to cling to life while shaking him. Goku's other friends also encircle him, asking if he's okay.
    • Similarly, when Yamcha is flying Goku back to his house he tells Goku that they weren't going to let him die and not to worry about the androids.
  • Future Trunks explaining why Future Bulma sent him back in time even after discovering that it would just make another timeline and would not negate the Crapsack World they live in.
    Future Trunks: My mother wanted the world to have a good future, even if she couldn't live in it.
  • From The History of Trunks, a young Trunks finding Gohan's body after he had been killed fighting the Androids. The young man mentored him and was like a brother to him. It is his grief at Gohan's death that allows him to finally become a Super Saiyan.
  • Goku lying in bed just screaming in anguish as the virus ravages him. To see someone as strong as Goku, who looked death in the face countless times, helpless and in so much pain is enough to make anyone tear up a little. Chi-Chi's heart-felt pleas for him to get well didn't help.
    • One of these also gives us an insight into Goku's mind: a nightmare scene that Goku has about the Androids coming to his house. He is unable to do anything but watch his best friend, son and wife be killed mercilessly by them. When he first sees Gohan and Krillen die, his first instinct is to try and avenge them but is shocked when he sees he passes through them. But when Chichi gets killed, he goes into a anguished rage and tries to attack them over and over but nothing hits. Gets even worse when Trunks tries to fight them, only to die by his own sword.
  • The flashback of Trunks leaving, seeing the countless people hiding from Androids 17 and 18. It gives a sense of hopelessness, and in constant fear of the threat.
  • While he wasn't the most likable of people, watching Android 17 being absorbed was heart-wrenching. #18's Freak Out! afterwards is completely understandable.
    • Episode 152 of the anime even has him screaming as he's absorbed, also counts as Nightmare Fuel.
  • Poor #18's absorption is worse than her brothers, with everyone (save Vegeta, the jerk) trying their hardest to protect her. Even Trunks, who knew her better as the sadistic, Ax-Crazy version from his Bad Future, only thought about protecting her, only for all his and the others' efforts to amount to nothing.
  • While a minor point, it’s still worth mentioning. To achieve Super Saiyan, the individual has to be triggered by intense rage. Gohan’s trigger is intense anger at HIMSELF for all the times he feels that he’s failed. Given he’s only 10 years old, for him to have such a low opinion of his own abilities is pretty heart-breaking.
  • Gohan watching the Cell Jrs beat up and brutalize his friends and can't do anything to help them and in his thoughts, all he can think is fear and horror that he can't do anything and how if he has all this power, why can't he use it? And then things get worse.
    • What's more, it had been established that even after becoming the new Guardian of Earth, Dende couldn't change the Earth's Dragon Balls rule of only being able to revive people who hadn't died before, so not only would Goku, Krillin and Vegeta be at risk of dying for good, but so would Piccolo, Yamcha and Tenshinhan. Death Is Cheap no more.
  • #16's dying speech to Gohan:
    "Gohan... let it go. It is not a sin to fight for the right cause. There are those who words alone will not reach, Cell is such a being. You are gentle, you do not like to hurt. I know because I too have learned these feelings, but it is because you cherish life that you must protect it. Please, drop your restraints, protect the life I loved, you have the power, my scanners sensed it, just... let it go."
    • The original Japanese speech is just as heartbreaking and poignant:
    "Son Gohan... it is not a sin to wage violence for a righteous cause... some people simply cannot be reasoned with. Let your feelings flow free, and unleash your power. I understand your pain, but there is no need to hold back any longer... The forests and animals that I love so dearly... Please protect them for me... I'm counting on you."
    • Made especially potent by the way #16 looks right into Gohan's eyes as Cell crushes him.
    • Similarly, everyone's reactions when Cell blows up #16. Their horror would lead one to think he'd been unofficially absorbed into the crew. Even Bulma, who just got through explaining how she and her father removed his bomb due to distrust of the Android, screams in horror when she sees what Cell does to him.
    • Gohan going SSJ2 as "Day of Destiny" plays in the original version.
  • The moment Gohan realizes that things have gotten out of control and that he should have heeded his friends' pleas and urgings to destroy Cell when he had the chance.
  • Goku's second death. His Heroic Sacrifice might not get you, but Gohan's anguish afterwards certainly will ("It's all MY FAULT!!!!"). The chapter in the Viz translation of the manga is aptly named Gohan's Pain.
    • The punch to the gut comes in if you catch the fact that Gohan, by this point in the series, had started to call Goku "Dad" or the more formal and mature "Father." He's still in SSJ2 mode, he just literally kicked the shit out of Cell and caused him to have a Villainous Breakdown. But, just for that one moment, he snaps back and becomes the scared little kid from the first few episodes of the series.
    • Goku's Last Words on Earth: considering how infamous Goku is for being gone a lot of the time, and the whole marriage thing with Chichi could be understood as him having gotten himself into an Arranged Marriage, there are always people skeptical about how much Goku cares about his wife, and sometimes even his son. But after saying goodbye to his friends, and getting ready to teleport, the comically insensitive and oblivious husband Goku usually is tells Gohan to apologize to Chichi for him for always being so selfish and just doing what he wanted; this lucid statement reflects how Goku really felt about his wife, and now he will never get a chance to make things up to her.
      Goku: You've worked hard up to now, Gohan. You were amazing!
      Gohan: D-dad...
      Goku: Tell your mother I'm sorry. Goodbye, son, I love you. [disappears]
    • Krillin's reaction to Goku's Heroic Sacrifice is quite heartbreaking as well. The first time Goku uses Instant Transmission to teleport to Semi-Perfect Cell he let's out a Big "NO!". (In the Japanese version he screams Goku's name.) And when Goku teleports himself and Cell away he falls to knees and tearfully calls Goku's name again. It really does put into context how much Goku's friendship with Krillin means to him.
      Goku: Goodbye, friends.
      Krillin: Goku, wait, don't leave us...
  • Overprotective mom Chichi? Most people after Gohan unintentionally KO'd the cameras via powering up the SSJ2 couldn't watch any further. Chichi, on the other hand, had an crystal ball that could let her see what was happening. How do you think it felt for her to watch her precious little boy temporarily turned into an torture-loving sadist?
  • Vegeta's Unstoppable Rage after Cell kills Future Trunks, followed immediately by his effortless beating by Cell and Gohan taking a blast for him, which left the only warrior strong enough to stop Cell badly injured. Realizing that the death of Trunks and impending Doomsday were all due to his reckless decisions, Vegeta sincerely apologizes to Gohan.
  • In one scene during the Cell saga, Cell returns and Gohan is fighting him. As his Kamehameha wave is being overpowered by Cell's, we see Goku speaking to Gohan and telling him how much he believes in him.
    • Similarly, one can't help but feel for Krillin, Tien, Yamcha, and (especially) Piccolo, who all attempt to help Gohan by blasting Cell, only for the latter to incapacitate them by simply powering up more so that his energy overwhelms them. They succeed in distracting him momentarily, but after they get blown away for the last time, each of them can only apologize for not having the strength to help more. Thankfully, Vegeta blasts Cell at the last moment, giving Gohan the opportunity to strike the killing blow.
      • Another subtle one. When Piccolo makes the charge to help Gohan by himself, Krillin's initial response is to run after him, shouting "No, Wait!" and scream Piccolo's name. It's clear that he's worried the effort will just be a futile one that ends with Piccolo's death.
  • The English dub of the end of the Cell saga, with Vegeta admitting to himself that he could never be as great as Goku because of his recent Heroic Sacrifice and resolving to stop fighting was hard enough, but the final scene in the episode "The Fight is Over… Thank You, Son Goku" is especially saddening due to the narration, and Goku's image laughing in pride from the afterlife.
  • Chi-Chi's reaction when Gohan tells her that Goku died in battle against Cell. Sure, we see them argue a lot, but it was only in this arc we really got to see how much they cared for each other. The poor woman was devastated. Made even worse with the realization that around this time, Chi-Chi was pregnant with his second child. Supplementary material reveals that she'd cry herself to sleep for several nights over Goku's death.
    • It's actually worse in the manga. Where in the anime Gohan managed to cheer her up a little with some encouraging words, the manga just shows her falling over crying.
  • When Trunks returns to the future, he explains to his mother all that happened, and Bulma was saddened to learn that despite their efforts, Goku ended up dying in that world anyway, just as it was in their own. But it's cathartic to see the efforts paid off nonetheless, as both Trunks' and Goku's timelines are finally free from the Androids and Cell.

     Buu Saga 
  • Videl's horrific beating at the hands of Spopovich. Not only is it horrific, but it's heartbreaking as everyone's begging the amoral landmass of a man to stop or to get someone to stop the match and it's obvious that everyone wants to run down to rescue her (and that probably includes the viewer, too), especially as Spopovich is just inches away from crushing her head like a bug. From the proud daughter of Mr. Satan to a scared teenager way over her head...
    • This scene actually did make Kara Edwards, Videl's English voice actor, cry after initially recording it for DBZ. She confirms it during the commentary for the same episode in Kai.
  • This may seem minor, but there's a scene in the Buu arc when Gohan scolds Goten for allowing himself to get hurt and he says "Do you know how mad mom would have been if I went home for dinner and told her you were dead?". It also doubles as Fridge Horror because Gohan may have still been traumatized with his experience after fighting Perfect Cell, which may explain why he was so angry and worried for his little brother.
  • Despite Vegeta, allowing himself to be turned evil again being extremely selfish. Selling his soul to bridge the gap between himself and Goku, killing a stadium full of innocent people, and allowing Buu to be revived by his actions. It's still easy to feel sorry for him. As he explains in episode 231 of the anime, even after years of living on Earth with the Z fighters, he's still confused why people would be kind to each other, calling the heroes weak for being sentimental. He's still behaving much like the man who kidnapped him and murdered his father all those years ago. It's easy to forget underneath all that badassary that there was a little boy stolen from his father and forced to live a life chosen for him by someone else, and it's sad to see Vegeta just can't fully escape Frieza's influence.
    Vegeta: I was the perfect warrior, cold and ruthless! I lived by my strength alone, uninhibited by foolish emotion! But slowly over the years... I became one of you. My quest for greatness gradually giving way to this life of mediocrity. I awoke one day to find that I had settled down, formed a family. I had even grown quite fond of them... Would you believe, I almost started to think the Earth was a nice place to live? Now do you understand? That's why I needed Babidi to set me free, by releasing the evil in my heart! He has freed me of these petty attachments, and I have to say it feels pretty good.
  • How about Piccolo's reaction when Gohan was (apparently) killed by Buu? When he first overheard Babidi gloating about it he actually let out an audible gasp - which, given the character, says a lot. Then, a little later, when Goten (who didn't know) said, "If I were Gohan, you'd let me go," the look on Piccolo's face is just... heart-wrenching. The beatdown he gave Babidi later, accompanied by an enraged lecture, only serves to hammer the point home.
    • Vegeta's reaction to Gohan's apparent death also counts. The way he says to Fat Buu "So you're the one who killed Gohan" borders on Tranquil Fury, but the snarl of Papa Wolf rage is still there. And for a man like Vegeta that says a lot.
  • Everything leading up to Vegeta's death against Fat Buu in the anime episode, "Final Atonement". EVERYTHING
    ''Trunks... Papa has not hugged you once... not since you were born. Please let Papa hug you."
    • What really drives this one home is Trunks' reaction. On the one hand, he's much too cool to let his best friend see his papa hug him, but it's a very happy kind of embarrassed.
      • Not to mention Goten's reaction of looking innocent and sucking his thumb.
    • And his last words especially.
    Vegeta: Trunks... Bulma... I do this for you. And yes, even for you, Kakarot.
    • This is exactly why so many people were so upset that this ended up being a Senseless Sacrifice.
    • The others' reaction to learning of his and Gohan's deaths. Especially Bulma and Videl.
      • It's specially hard with Bulma, as she is surprisingly not very prone to crying. It was only that bad when Yamcha died in the fight against the Saiyans.
      • In the limited scenes she gets since then, Videl refuses to believe that Gohan is dead. She breaks down about it in her next appearance.
    • Also, when Goten and Trunks were crying over the loss of Gohan and Vegeta. Goku then tells then to get a hold of themselves and that they were Earth's only hope. It may have been harsh, but Goku was trying to get them to pull themselves together because there was no time for crying.
    • While Vegeta's in the middle of his self-destruct attack, two things happen. Krillin, the one who had every reason to hate Vegeta's guts literally screams Vegeta's name. Piccolo, who likewise has every reason to hate Vegeta's guts, can't stand to watch this and is about to fly over to put an end to it. Krillin grabs his cape and says basically, "...He needs this, Piccolo." That's right. Two people who wouldn't be blamed for not caring about Vegeta after all the crap he's done to them are literally having to wrestle with and accept that Vegeta is about to die. Of his own volition to protect the Earth and his family.
    • Prior to this, Vegeta was screaming at Goku about how living on earth he had become soft, and how he of all people has a loving family. He is pissed that he is no longer the amoral Prince of Saiyans that once terrified the galaxy and chose to let Babidi control him just so he could get rid of his morals, which he demonstrated by obliterating hundreds of innocents. What turns him around from actually wanting to turn into the evil invader he was? The thought of his son and wife dying because of him (had he not fought Goku, Buu would not have awakened). The moment Goku brought this up, Vegeta not only regains his humanity, but completely breaks Babidi's control from him.
  • In the Majin Buu Saga episode 237, after Vegeta knocks Trunks unconscious so he can fight Buu alone Goten, understandably confused, freaks out and demands why he did it. This might just be mostly due to the voice acting, but as soon as he gets to "Why did you hit him? Why did you hurt him?" ALWAYS gets to me. Just how innocent he is and how confused he is really comes out there.
    • Of course his line just before Vegeta knocks him unconscious is heartwrenching as well, "You're his dad! Dads aren't supposed to do bad things to their sons!"
  • From the English dub, the narrator's words as Vegeta dies.
    "And so, one of the Earth's greatest warriors has vanished in a blinding flash of light. Having made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of his loved ones. His name, was Vegeta, a proud Saiyan prince."
  • Goku leaving during the Buu saga. He's managed to pass on the fusion technique and now his time on earth is up and he has to go back to Other World. So we see Goten speechless, and giving him one last hug, and trying so hard not to cry, and it's all set to ridiculously relaxing music. GOD JUST RIP MY HEART OUT WHY DON'T YOU.
    • This is specially harder when you read it on the manga, as Goten wasn't as readily welcoming to his father's return in the first place.
    • On top of that, the scene where a meek Goten runs up to embrace Goku before the World Tournament was only in the anime, in effect elevating this moment to Final First Hug status for the two if you're going solely by the manga. Either way, seeing Goten curl up into a ball in his father's arms as he's forced to part with a father he never knew until that very day (keep in mind that Babidi's plan to revive Majin Buu massively derailed Goku's one day to return to the world of the living) will do a number on your tear ducts.
  • After their first failed battle against Buu as Gotenks, Chi Chi gives Goten a spanking, after which she tearfully tells him to not risk himself like that again because he's the last thing left for her in this world, since both Goku and Gohan are dead. It was all Anger Born of Worry from a mother. And judging from Goten's expression, those words hurt him more than her palm.
  • What happens to Bee, Buu's dog. That was before Buu managed to heal the dog, of course.
    • The worst part of the whole ordeal was seeing Majin Buu's devastated expression of shock and trauma as he saw his dog Bee get shot. It's the first time his eyes were open when he WASN'T responsible for a violent act, which made this scene both a literal and figurative eye-opener for the reformed Majin Buu.
  • When Buu is screaming at Mr. Satan to take the dog and leave, he knows what's happening, he knows he can't stop it, and he's desperately trying to keep his friends from getting hurt, It's just heartbreaking.
    Majin Buu: Go away. Take Bee and go. Run.
    (Mr. Satan seems shocked, then bemused)
    Mr. Satan: What do ya mean, Buu? I'm your friend!
    (Walks up to Buu, to reach out his hand, but Buu swats it away)
    (Steam explodes out of Buu's head) Majin Buu: GO NOOOOOOW!
    (Mr. Satan scared out of his wits) Mr. Satan: R-r-right! Okay!
  • The Human Extinction Attack is both this and Nightmare Fuel. Especially its aftermath as Piccolo, who tried to buy Gotenks time by suggesting that Buu could kill some humans while waiting, falls to his knees in despair after watching Buu casually locate and exterminate every last remaining human with one attack.
    Piccolo: What Have I Done!? I won't fail you, I'll wish you all back!
    • It gets worse when you consider that the only people who survived Buu's attack were those on the lookout, Those skilled enough to dodge and most heartbreakingly, Mr. Satan and Bee. Some fans have taken them surviving as Good Buu's final act of defiance against Super Buu.
  • Let's not forget about Buu turning Chichi, of all people, into an egg and killing her by stepping on her while her son, Goten, watches in horror. Whether you like Chichi or not, it's very traumatizing and horrifying for someone so young as him. May also count as Alas, Poor Scrappy for those that despised Chichi.
  • The episode where Super Buu kills everyone on the lookout by turning them into chocolate and eating them. The manga mostly just avoids this and only shows Goku and Supreme Kai's reactions, but the anime makes this scene much more tragic by actually showing their deaths as they all fruitlessly try to escape Buu. The worst moment comes when Krillin ends up being the first to die by taking on Buu directly even though he knows he doesn't stand a chance, made worse from the fact that he's already been revived by Shenron once before, so he's knowingly committing permanent suicide just to buy his wife and daughter time in the hope that they'll somehow escape. Just to make it even more cruel, it ends up being for nothing, as Super Buu immediately targets, transforms, and eats both 18 and Marron after he kills Krillin.
    • Even worse, Roshi dies in this episode (episode 260). It was the last time his original Japanese seiyuu, Kōhei Miyauchi, would voice the character, as he died shortly after recording his lines. And his final line? "Kurririn!"
  • Bruce Faulconer helps to create a particularly heartbreaking one with one of Mr. Satan's conversations with Super Buu. In it, Super Buu has completely forgotten who Hercule was and has been consumed by the evil that's taken hold on him. Hercule is desperately trying to get Super Buu to remember who he once was by reminding him of his promise to not kill anymore, as well as how much he loved Bee, only for Super Buu to maniacally laugh in his face. Sad in both versions, but it was Bruce's music that really drives home how completely and utterly destroyed Buu's kindly side has become, as well as the sense of loss and desolation throughout the whole conversation. See here.
  • Old Kai giving Goku his remaining lifespan (by his estimate about a thousand years, which is nothing to a Kai) so Goku can return to Earth and assist in the fight against Buu. "Let the old men sacrifice their lives so that the young ones can live."
  • Episode 268 of the anime, the speech Goku gives when trying to get Vegeta to fuse with him:
    Goku: Wake up! Majin Buu's eaten everyone we care about! Everyone is gone! Even Bulma! They've become part of Buu! They can't even die! I just thought the least we could do is put our old differences aside, just this once, and really work together! We owe that to our teammates! Our families, Vegeta! Our friends! Look, you've always talked about our Saiyan race, how we're the last of a mighty people. Well, it's time we accept we're starting a new race, one that can be just as strong, just as proud! But not if we're caught up in so much of our old birthrights to see what we have right in front of us! We've lost our old race, Vegeta! Let's not lose this one too!
    • Vegeta's reaction when Goku tells him that Bulma was one of Buu's victims. The brief look of shock on his face that quickly turns to anger is downright heartwrenching.
  • The end of the episode "Earth Disappears!! Buu’s Reverse-Transformation of Evil" where Kid Buu uses his Planet Burst attack to destroy the world and Goku and Vegeta (who are holding Hercule, Dende, and Bee) look behind them and see Buu's attack swallow Piccolo, Gohan, Goten, and Trunks while they are powerless to save them from being destroyed along with the Earth before they escape to the Kai's planet. Vegeta's subsequent rant to Goku drives home just how much their failure stings, as do Dende's quiet apology and Falconer's music.
    Goku: (smacks the ground with his fist) Gohan, Goten, and Trunks. I-I let all of them down.
    Vegeta: (grunts, walks over to Goku) And what do we have here? (picks Goku up by the collar) Ugh! Idiot! How could you?! You saved the Namek boy and that big oaf instead of your own sons?! HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?!
    Goku: (looks away, ashamed)
    Dende: Vegeta... (looks down) Sorry.
  • Mr. Satan tearing up when he finds Fat Buu after Kid Buu spits him out. "Please Wake Up... you're the only friend I have!" And that line really puts Mr. Satan's entire character into perspective. Although his Fake Ultimate Hero status has made him essentially the most famous man on Earth, other than Buu, he has no friends. His wife is dead, his daughter knows he's a liar, and he knows that all those fans love the lie he created, not him. Were the truth ever to come out, they would all abandon him.note  Of course, this becomes Heartwarming in Hindsight come Dragon Ball Super, where he gets along quite nicely with Goku as well.
  • When Goku is fighting Kid Buu in the last few episodes. Throughout all of Dragon Ball Goku never ever stopped fighting, never gave up, and wouldn't stop. This was the one time it was too much. Goku could NOT win. Pretty much the strongest anime character of all time is getting his ass handed to him by a LITTLE PINK BUBBLEGUM KID. Goku stomped a planet destroying tyrant into the floor. Avenged his entire race, done pretty much everything, and he finally is bested by Buu... I cried harder than ever.
    • Goku finally finished charging up the Spirit Bomb, calling for Vegeta to flee the area. Only for Vegeta to explain that he'd been too badly injured while distracting Buu to move. Vegeta even goes so far as too tell Goku to just fire the bomb, willing to die again in order to stop Buu.
  • On the last episode of Dragon Ball Z when Goku decides to train Uub, Pan cries to Goku and begs him not to leave.


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