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  • Adorkable:
    • Yamcha was adorkable during his teenage years but he grew out of it a little as he got older. Yamcha was afraid of girls and super awkward around them when he was a teenager, even though his dream was to fall in love and get married. He even wanted to use the Dragon Balls to make it so he would not have panic attacks around girls anymore.
    • Kid/Teen Chi-Chi (the former moreso), because of her massive crush on Goku and her constant blushing and crying. You can't help finding her Adorkable.
    • Goku. Huge goofball with a high voice. Having to grow up by himself, isolated from a lot of the world, he was very childish and adorably curious and oblivious to a lot of things as a child, such as love, or even what girls were like. And even though he wisened up as an adult, he still retained a lot of his adorably goofiness and childishness.
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  • Americans Hate Tingle: Well, "hate" is too strong of a word, but in the U.S., while DBZ is a cultural icon, the original series is far more obscure and mostly known only by fans of the franchise. In parts of Asia and Europe, it's Dragon Ball that's the better known of the two.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Goku. Over the course of his fighting career, he's been beaten up, tortured, killed, had every bone in his body broken, almost drowned, had literal holes punched through his body on several occasions, and has had to experience the pain of losing many of his friends and family to various villains over the years. Despite all this, Goku still loves to fight, and relishes the thrill of battling a strong opponent, regardless of how much damage that opponent could do to his home and loved ones if he loses.
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  • Archive Panic: The manga ran for 42 volumes and 519 chapters for 11 years. The anime spans for 508 episodes, counting 153 episodes from Dragon Ball (covering volumes 1 to 16), 291 episodes from Dragon Ball Z (167 episodes in the Dragon Ball Z Kai recut; covering volumes 17 to 42), and 64 episodes from Dragon Ball GT (anime-original content). Additionally, Dragon Ball Super has 131 episodes as an anime and thirteen volumes as a manga. There's also the 20 theatrical films, four specials (all of which have both anime and manga versions),note  two short films, hour-long crossover with One Piece and Toriko, two-part OVA serving as a strategy guide for one of the video games, dozens of said video games (some with their own unique characters and stories), one volume of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman (a Stealth Prequel), various spin-off manga (such as Dragon Ball SD), various guidebooks, and tons of other content that's still being documented.
  • Awesome Art: Akira Toriyama is considered to be one of the greatest mangaka of all time for a reason - Dragon Ball's art is consistently gorgeous and brilliantly panelled.
  • Badass Decay: While many of these characters don't complete theirs until DBZ, they do have a noticeable decline in effectiveness as the series goes on:
    • Master Roshi: At the start of the series, he is stronger than Goku. He even beats Goku during the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament. By the Piccolo Jr. Saga, he is Demoted to Extra, and he stays that way through DBZ. This was intentional to show how his students were steadily surpassing him.
    • These days, Yamcha's mostly known for getting his ass kicked a lot. Most fans forget that when he was first introduced in the series he gave Goku his first real fight and defeated him when Goku ran out of energy from hunger near the tail end of the fight.note  The only thing that prevented him from finishing the fight was that Bulma happened to wake up and Yamcha ran away because of his crippling fear of pretty girls. He was also the first person to use a ki technique and ended up saving everyone from Goku's Great Ape form at the end of the story arc.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Yamcha. A cool badass who just has bad luck, or someone who can't win a fight?
    • Krillin. A similar argument is made against him as the one against Yamcha. Is he a good fighter who tries his best, or a fighter who is too though others find him a humorous Joke Character.
    • Bulma. While she has plenty of fans, many found her constant whining grating. This was especially troublesome in the Namek Saga, because unlike all the other instances of Bulma complaining, it was in an arc where she was completely unnecessary. It got even worse in Super due to her being much more involved in that series than before while her importance to the plot of the episode often varies between her being negligible or not
    • Goku, despite being the most popular anime character out there, isn't really liked by everyone. Some see him as an unlikable moron who dooms the people around him for the sake of a fair fight, and thinks nothing of it, and his dopey attitude can even come off as callous at times. The fact that he's constantly touted online as the most powerful, unbeatable fighter in all of fiction can also make some people just sick of him and the arguments that he could beat anyone. There's also the fact that he's not meant to be a character you can root for and someone who outright refuses to change from the Nominal Hero status, and yet he's the main focus and always the one to save the day, which can make for a very frustrating experience.
  • Broken Base:
    • Dragon Ball vs. Dragon Ball Z is a not as commonly debated over in the 21st century, but it still happens. Now, when the entire Saiyan concept and the "Z shift" first landed in Japan for the Japanese fanbase back in the 1980s...
    • A big one in Spain regarding the translation of the Kamehameha technique. In the manga, it was left untranslated, but in the anime it was translated as "Onda Vital" ("Vital Wave"). Some people consider it a good adaptation, specially since the literal translation was way too ridiculous and impossible to make it match the characters lips otherwise. For others, it's painfully cringeworthy. However, ever since Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the dub team has always used the original Japanese name, so the debate is moot outside of nostalgia. Although that hasn't stopped the Flame Wars between Spaniards and Latin Americans, since some of the latter Never Live It Down, and in the most extreme, but not too uncommon cases, even use the term as an anti-Spain slur on social media.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: As divisive as her voice may be for non-Japenese fans, Japanese fans just can't imagine Goku (nor Gohan, nor Goten, nor Bardock, nor Goku Black) with a voice that is not Masako Nozawa's. Considering she's been in the voice acting business for far longer than the vast majority of Dragon Ball fans have been alive, and that, despite her voice being so associated with Goku, she's far from being a Pigeon Holed Voice Actor in Japanese media, even calling it a massive achievement would be an understatement.
  • Creator Worship: Fans love to make fun of Toriyama's lack of planning, forgetfulness, and his tendency to leave behind his human characters, but make no mistake that the fanbase loves him and are skeptical of any work that doesn't have his involvement. This love extends to other manga authors like Eiichiro Oda, who practically worships him.
  • Cult Classic: The series gets this treatment in the United States due to being ignored for the anime that only adapted the second half of the story, DBZ.
  • Escapist Character: Son Goku. He is an All-Loving Hero who is The Ace and Hope Bringer among his friends and the universe at large. He is considered one of the strongest beings in the universe, regularly defeats super-powered aliens, androids, demons, and even gods, and can learn about any technique by just seeing it once. The fact that he was born weak and gained his strength through good old-fashioned hard work on top of being extremely talented endears him to a lot of people, which is part of why he is seen as a better main character than his son, who is much more down to Earth. There's reason why he became the Expy to many modern day Shōnen protagonists and often compared to Superman.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception:
    • Specially outside the U.S., and specially among people who prefer the original manga to the anime adaptation, some people really take issue whenever Dragon Ball Z is called "the sequel to Dragon Ball", since that's not how the story was originally conceived. The manga never used DBZ for its title in Japan and most other countries, and it was always presented as a single series. Also, by the time the anime got its name changed, the manga was almost reaching the Frieza Saga. The fact that in Japan DBZ was marketed, not as a sequel, but as a rebranding to signal that (at the time) the show was thought to continue for only one, two seasons more, tops, doesn't help the issue.
    • Inside the U.S., you have an, admitedly less common, but not any less enraging case with people who call the original Dragon Ball "the prequel to Dragon Ball Z.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With Saint Seiya fans in Latin America, particularly Brazil, where both were Gateway Series for anime and manga, leading to discussions among both fandoms about which one was the best.
    • Dragon Ball has a rivalry with One-Punch Man for the same reason as Superman. There have been wars over whether Saitama is stronger than Goku or vice versa. Ironically, One-Punch Man is an affectionate parody of shonen tropes with characters being expies of Dragon Ball characters (e.g. Boros). Still, that doesn't stop fans from comparing who is stronger of the two.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • "Mystic Gohan" for his Buu Saga power-up, which was never given a name.note 
    • "Mirai Trunks" to Future Trunks, just plain "Mirai", "Mirai Briefs" in some fanfiction when he returns to the normal timeline and lives with the "other" Trunks. Crosses with Gratuitous Japanese. Became Ascended Fanon in Dragon Ball Super, with Beerus calling him "Mirai" in the Japanese dub.
    • "Kushami" (Japanese for "sneeze") for Lunch's blonde form, "Ranchi" (the Japanese approximation of "Lunch") for her blue-haired form. The first was coined in early manga summaries before the series was translated, and they are/were very common Fanon.
    • Majin Buu has several, depending on the people he's absorbed (the main ones being "Buutenks"/"Super Buu 2", "Buuccolo"/"Super Buu 1.5" and "Buuhan"/"Super Buu 3"). Also, Ultra Buu for the briefly-seen muscular form he gained from absorbing South Supreme Kai.
    • Frieza, his family, and his race as a whole, have been given the name "Icejins." They have also been called "Changelings". In the fan comic Dragon Ball Multiverse, they're called "Frost Demons", and this name is used by Cell in the English translation of Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Another common name is "Arcosian," picked up from the name used in the Funimation dub for the race that gave the Saiyans their battle armor tech, thanks to both giving the Saiyans better technology and the "Arc" part fitting their ice theme naming.
    • For nearly all of the male Son family and other characters, it's possible for those who are indulgent enough in the Chinese dubs to make use of the Chinese-to-Japanese Bilingual Bonus to name them via their Chinese/pinyin names respectively: Son Goku -> "Sun Wukong", Son Gohan -> "Sun Wufan", Son Goten -> "Sun Wutian", Tenshinhan -> "Tianjinfan", and Muten Roshi -> "Wutian Laoshi".
    • Attributive nouns are regularly used to distinguish the same character at different arcs/ages. Thus, the adolescent Goku is always "Kid Goku", and the pure, original form of Majin Buu becomes "Kid Buu".
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • In general, Dragon Ball and pretty much all of its successors in the Battle Shonen genre: One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Fairy Tail, My Hero Academia, etc, etc. Albeit friction isn't unheard of, and friendliness between said successors isn't nearly as common, Dragon Ball fans tend to gladly follow the later generations in the genre, and are happy to see Toriyama's legacy continuing on and even evolving. Fans of these later entries tend to also enjoy Dragon Ball and express a profound respect for it as the series that started it all and still use it as the gold standard in many respects.
    • Quite the overlap has formed between fans of the Dragon Ball franchise and those of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. A major part of this is that both series' abridged series are in close collaboration with each other, but on the official side of things, the mid-2010s saw both franchises get new anime installments in the form of Dragon Ball Super and Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V, both seen as major returns to form for their respective series. It also helps that they aired concurrently for a good chunk of their runs, broadcasting new episodes within hours of each other each week.
    • Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball have a wide shared or at least friendly fanbases in the Americas and Europe, one often seen as something of a Distaff Counterpart to the other. It was probably spurred by the two airing on many of the same channels and blocks, sometimes right after each other. It helps that both have enough similarities for the fanbases to find common ground, but different enough they aren't seen as competition. The fact that several seiyuu worked on both shows (and counting dubs, quite a few English VAs worked on both Kai/Super and Sailor Moon's 2014 re-dub) doesn't hurt either. To a lesser extent, fans of Dragon Ball have also enjoyed Saint Seiya and YuYu Hakusho (and vice versa).
    • Has one with the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever since the release of Avengers: Endgame due to both franchises having similar time travel rules. Comments on a video regarding one of the two's time travel rules referencing the other are quite common to find in YouTube.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Special mention to Europe (especially France, Spain, United Kingdom and Italy) and several countries in Latin America, where the Dragon Ball franchise is not only probably the most popular anime in history, but also a full-blown pop culture classic. The fact that it became popular in those territories way earlier than in the U.S., definitely helped.note 
  • Ho Yay: Has its own page..

Original Anime and Manga

  • Adaptation Displacement: A lot of the pop culture references in Dragon Ball go unnoticed by the overseas fandom, so expies and parodies of old Chinese or Japanese film or TV characters became more famous because of this series than their original incarnations:
    • Goku was originally conceived as a parody of Sun Wukong of the classic Chinese fantasy novel Journey to the West, and his name is in fact identical to the Japanese approximation of Sun Wukong. Note that Goku being more well-known is only the case overseas; in China and Japan, Wukong is a widely-known mythical figure who has dozens of shows and big-budget films based on his adventures.
    • Many other characters in the first arc were meant as parodies of Journey to the West characters too, most notably Yamcha, Oolong, and the Ox-King.
    • Tao Pai Pai is nigh-identical in appearance and personality to Sheng Kuan, the main villain of the martial arts action film Snake in the Eagle's Shadow.
    • Chaozu is, in design at least, a Jiangshi, a type of undead Chinese vampire. Toriyama probably threw him in there because Jiangshi films were huge in China, Japan, and Korea at the time, and throwing one into your story offered it an automatic bump in popularity. This doesn't really translate to modern North American, South American, or European viewers.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Not technically in the series itself, but in the FUNimation theme song: "Rising, rising, mesmerizing, unbridled ecstasy!"
  • Angst? What Angst?: At the start of the series, Goku is alone in the mountains, never seeing another person until Bulma ran him over. His grandfather, the only family he has ever known, died years before the main story, crushed to death by a giant monster. And as far as Goku knows his biological parents abandoned him in the woods. Yet, Goku shows no distress about any of this, even smiling when explaining being found in the mountains. Even saying his grandpa is dead provoke little emotional response, except when talking about how he died. Bulma even ask how can he be so cheerful. Justified in early Dragon Ball by the fact that it started off as a pure comedy.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: In the anime, when General White describes Murasaki, we see a scene of him being absolutely badass and destroying several opponents without getting hit. But when he actually does meet Goku, he can't even hurt him in a significant way. Also consider that he's sandwiched in-between two opponents who actually do provide a challenge for Goku.
  • Arc Fatigue: While not as bad as the DBZ arcs, the Red Ribbon Army Saga is the longest pre-DBZ arc and can take quite some time to sit through, particularly in the anime where there is a plethora of filler to drag it out even longer.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The Penguin Village episodes. The segment is actually a crossover with one of Toriyama's other works, Doctor Slump. However, to fans who don't get the reference, it comes off as being simply bizarre.
  • Breather Boss: Pilaf and his gang play this role at the end of the Fortuneteller Baba Saga, which is also the only time they're directly fought against. Goku at this point has gone through the Red Ribbon Army, Tao Pai Pai, and Baba's fighters, so the trio is a cakewalk in comparison, and the only thing they succeed in accomplishing during the whole fight is burning off the lower half of his gi.
  • Crazy Is Cool:
    • Goku, when he wasn't defeating armies on his own armed with only a magic pole and a flying cloud, he was transforming into a giant Ape and destroying anything in his path, using air to one shot his opponents, kicking peoples asses with rock-paper-scissors, using his tail to fly like a helicopter, flying into the air and punching holes through demon aliens with only one arm and using his power pole to sodomize a ninja. And this stuff happened when he was a child. As an adult, he reeked of awesomeness, so much so that him just powering up nearly destroyed the planet.
    • Tao Pai Pai killed General Blue with his tongue and he did this during his debut in the series. His crazy awesomenes then goes to a whole new level when he taps a pillar and breaks it out, while leaving the building completely intact then throws the pillar and jumps onto it while it's moving. Tao Pai Pai's only comment on that matter is, "Who needs a jet when when we've got a perfectly good pillar."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The announcer for the World Martial Arts Tournament, so much so that when he didn't appear in the Cell Games Saga, some fans got quite irate. Fortunately, he makes his return in the Buu Saga.
    • General Blue, for being pretty much the only competent member of the Red Ribbon Army - starting at the point where he strangles an electric eel to death while it's still electrocuting him. There is also the fact that he is the first villain to almost kill Goku in a straight fight.
    • The villain who follows Blue, Tao Pai Pai, who kills Blue with his tongue and is the first villain to flat-out defeat Goku, not to mention the first legitimate Knight of Cerebus the series has ever had, before even Piccolo.
    • Akkuman/Devilman for having what could be considered the most powerful attack in all of Dragon Ball/DBZ. Hell, he was even a playable character in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 (where he even gets his own what-if story), Dragon Ball: Advanced Adventure and Dragon Ball: The Revenge of King Piccolo.
  • Evil Is Cool: Piccolo and his father, King Piccolo. They're just both completely badass. King Piccolo is one of the first villains to be competent, as he's a Hero Killer several times over, and Piccolo Jr. almost defeated Goku in the 23rd Budokai.
  • Fair for Its Day: General Blue is a cringeworthy Camp Gay stereotype, but he was also Dragon Ball's first serious and nuanced villain. Most of his cringey moments are also exclusive to filler.
  • First Installment Wins: There's a substantial amount of fans who prefer the first part of the manga (adapted as Dragon Ball) to what came after (adapted as Dragon Ball Z), due to the greater focus on martial arts and a supporting cast that wasn't sorely outclassed by Goku like they would be later on.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Early in the manga, Bulma asks Goku about his parents, and Goku answers that he doesn't remember. Depending which media of his Origin Story you preferred, Goku was sent to Earth out of pure luck (Bardock the Father of Goku) or his parents sent him to Earth for his protection, but the end result that he loses his memories of them (Dragon Ball Super: Broly). The latter is even harsher with his mother Gine's last words to him were "Don't forget us, Kakarot!".
    • Given what Dr. Gero did to avenge the fall of the Red Ribbon Army it makes Commander Red's real goal even more disturbing.
    • Oolong's off-comment about Bulma not having a pretty death does happen later on as she ends up one of the victims of Super Buu, being turned into chocolate and eaten alive.
    • Master Roshi's destruction of the moon to reverse Goku's Great Ape transformation becomes horrifying when one remembers that's where Goku dropped off Boss Rabbit and his goons, though supposedly Toriyama said in an interview that Boss Rabbit and his goons got off the moon somehow.
    • A lot of the manga's gags having Kid Goku often run around stark naked as well as the early Running Gag involving him patting other characters in the crotch because he couldn't tell their gender otherwise can be unsettling with the knowledge that Gerard Jones, who wrote the English adaptation of the manga for Viz, was arrested for possessing child pornography in 2016.
    • The first thing Bulma does upon meeting Goku is shoot at him. Come Dragon Ball Super, the Bulma of the alternate future was killed by a villain in Goku's body.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Kami allowing Goku's friends to use the Dragon Balls to wish back those killed by King Piccolo and his men despite the fact that it's only a few days since the balls have been used is already courteous enough of him but what makes it even more heartwarming is that in Dragon Ball Z, it is revealed that the Dragon Balls cannot wish back multiple people if over a year had passed. In other words, Kami willingly broke the rules specifically so that the heroes can undo the horrors the King Piccolo had done as a way of atoning his own actions for inadvertently creating his evil half in the first place.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The short-lived Harmony Gold English Dub from the late 1980s (predating the FUNimation dub) has Barbara Goodson and Cheryl Chase providing the English voices of Goku and Puar respectively. A few years later, Barbara Goodson would become best-known as Rita Repulsa in the Power Rangers series, while Cheryl Chase would become best-known as the voice of Angelica Pickles in Nickelodeon's Rugrats.
  • Inferred Holocaust: While the Dragon Balls are used after the King Piccolo Saga to revive everyone he killed, including those killed by his offspring, during his reign Piccolo abolished all laws and released all prisoners, encouraging the people to sow chaos and mayhem. There's no telling how many were killed or otherwise victimized during this period of terror.
  • Informed Wrongness: Goku meeting Chi-Chi at the 23 Tenkaichi Budokai and not remembering her is treated as an example of him being an idiot. While Chi-Chi's identity is obvious to the audience, Goku had only met her once, over six years earlier. It actually speaks well of Goku that he remembers her at all. It's less blatant in the anime where he had seen her in a few filler arcs between then, but he still only had two other meetings with her in the past six years.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Mai and Shu, especially when they're being verbally and/or physically abused by Pilaf. Their status as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains also helps.
    • The Crane Hermit, Master Shen. He is an evil and bitter old man, but he's like that thanks to King Piccolo's cruelty. He watched his fellow students and friends be slaughtered by Piccolo's children and was then forced to watch his master humiliated by Piccolo himself. After witnessing the futility of being good and the failure of justice, he turned away from his master's teachings.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Demon King Piccolo formed after the Nameless Namekian who would become Kami expelled his evil became Earth's most dangerous threat yet. His previous reign thwarted when the martial artist Mutaito performed a Heroic Sacrifice to seal him away. Released centuries later, he showed he had learned from his prior defeat sending his children to hunt down and dispose of every martial artist in the world as a precaution. When Goku kills his children, rather than shrug off their deaths Piccolo confronts the problem directly, beating Goku so thoroughly that his heart stops. Coming into conflict with Master Roshi, Piccolo lets Roshi hide his Dragon Balls and swallows his own, then summons Shenron to restore his youth, killing the eternal dragon after his wish has been fulfilled. Continuing his dark reign over the Earth, King Piccolo all but wins. Even after his death the demon king spits out an egg that carries his reincarnation to finish where he left off. As cool as he was evil, King Piccolo was fondly remembered for being one of the first truly threatening adversaries.
  • Memetic Badass: Monster Carrot's Story-Breaker Power is often brought up by fans to point out that he could theoretically defeat any opponentnote . Nevermind that he's a spineless coward, if he can so much as touch an opponent he instantly wins.
  • Values Dissonance: Several of the jokes in the early parts of the manga when it was still largely a comedy have not aged well:
    • One very early chapter features Oolong drugging Bulma and trying to molest her in her sleep, which is Played for Laughs. Though Oolong wasn't fully reformed at this point, the fact that Bulma was fully aware that Oolong might try something like that makes her eventual acceptance of him feel unearned.
    • Similar to Oolong is Master Roshi. He frequently tells Bulma that he'll only help her out if she gives him a peek or fondle, which in after the #MeToo era would be considered coercion and when Bulma doesn't need a favour from him, he just helps himself to her. He also told Goku and Krillin that he'd only train them if they brought him a woman, making them complicit in his attempt to get a sex slave. Keep in mind this guy has enough physical strength to take on martial artists in their prime.
    • General Blue being a Depraved Homosexual is played absolutely straight, which would've been considered more acceptable for publication in the mid '80s. The anime makes Blue even worse by implying him to be a pedophile on top of being gay.
    • The manga's explicit depictions of nudity and sexuality in its early years fail to resonate well with Western audiences, particularly in America, due to the fact that most of the characters who are shown naked or involved in sexual activities are below the legal age of consent in much of the country.note  The fact that 11-year-old Goku's genitals are shown more than anyone else's doesn't help, nor does the fact that Bulma once attempted to seduce him in exchange for his Dragon Ball.
    • Though he's most likely meant to resemble a Djinn, Mr. Popo's appearance is a point of contention for Western fans, since his pitch-black skin and red lips make him look uncomfortably similar to a minstrel character. The actual black characters in the series aren't much better, since Toriyama tends to draw them with cartoonishly large pink lips.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Upa was initially believed to be a girl, even by other characters.
  • Woolseyism:
    • Oolong's wish is "For the panties of a hot girl", but the English dub changes it to "The world's most comfortable pair of underwear!" which many fans thought was actually funnier.
    • In the Japanese version, the announcer mispronounces Goku's name by reading the kanji for Son Goku as Mago Gosora. In the English dub, where Alternate Character Reading isn't exactly a thing, it's localized as him mispronouncing Goku as gah-kay-ah. Viz's translation of the manga, meanwhile, takes a slightly different path by having the announcer misread "Son Goku" as "Song Oku".
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