The Dragon Ball series debuted in 1984. It originally began as a manga series by Akira Toriyama, but soon spiraled into an anime series, live-action films, and video games. The series started in Japan but has been embraced by fans worldwide.
Dragon Ball has had over three decades of success. The creator has diligently released updates since the series began. The story started with a young boy named Son Goku. As the series continued, it became about his growth as a fighter and turning enemies into friends. Fans anxiously awaited each new story arc to find out if their character would face a significant transformation or suffer a worse fate.
Toriyama and the anime writers have had to do their best to keep fans guessing about what would come next. Since the series has continued to rise in popularity, it can be difficult for the creator to keep up. Even the company in charge of the anime, Toei Animation, has created an original story, Dragon Ball GT, which had mixed results among fans.
Dragon Ball has been well-loved but has also divided fans. Many viewers quarrel about the strongest Saiyan, the best Android, or the best match. One of the most debated topics is which sagas are the best or even the worst. Some story arcs changed the series forever. Since Dragon Ball saga arcs can take several weeks or even years to complete, fans have strong thoughts on which stories helped the series.
Fortunately, there are several amazing story arcs that remain in our hearts for decades. Others have hurt the series, but we can always return to the arcs we know and love. Our spoiler-filled list compiles the worst storylines that hurt the Dragon Ball series.
25 An Internal Battle Between Employees
April Fools Day is the perfect opportunity for companies to play tricks on fans. On the Toei Animation website, the company announced the Society Survival Saga. It was a spin-off of the Universe Survival Saga which was a massive battle of multiple universes fighting for the fate of their worlds.
Toei decided to make Chi-Chi's dreams come true.
In this fake saga, Goku would finally get a job at DB Commercial Affairs. The business world proves to be a complicated world, as he has to navigate through internal office issues. It's no surprise Toei has never mentioned this saga again.
24 Matters Of The Heart
The Dragon Ball series primarily focuses on the Son family. Fans wanted to see their favorites take the stage. They finally had the opportunity to watch old and new favorites, such as Videl, fight to prove who's the best. The World Tournament Saga gave characters their time to shine. It offered little regarding story development. Videl and Gohan continued their on-screen romance. She learns that Gohan was the one who defeated Cell and not her father. Though she's upset at first, she discovers what we already know: Hercule has a habit of stealing the glory from real warriors.
23 Goku Never Has A Moment To Rest
Anime adaptations can move much faster than the source. The Other World Saga was an original story created by Toei Animation. While Goku is in the afterlife, he is placed in the middle of another battle. Four Kai argue about who has the best fighter in their realm. Each Kai picks a warrior to fight in the name. Of course, Goku is one of the leading contenders. Goku doesn't mind because he loves fighting. Though Goku does his best, the final match ends in a draw. His victory doesn't mean much since this storyline does not affect the overall series.
22 Mind-Controlled Battles
Characters in the series don't need much incentive to begin fighting. Goku's love for battle has taken him away from home several times throughout the series. In the Baby Saga, mental strength became more important than physical power.
Baby uses his powers to control several characters in the series, including Hercule and Vegeta.
This alien's primary goal is to revive his race, the Tuffles, while ridding the universes of all Saiyans. Baby's plan eventually fails, and he loses control of his subjects. The last thing the alien ever sees is Goku's Kamehameha.
21 Taking The Fight To Namek
The Z-Fighters, and Earth, rely on Goku far too much. If Goku is taken out of the battle, they depend on Bulma to use her scanner to find the Dragon Balls. In the Namek Saga, the Z-Fighters can no longer rely on Goku or the Dragon Balls. Gohan, Bulma, and Krillin travel to the planet Namek to find another set of magical orbs. While Gohan and his friends have to deal with different lifeforms, Frieza is also searching for Namek's Dragon Balls. Gohan and Krillin are forced to find their hidden strengths, but in the end, they're waiting for Goku to recover to aid them in battle.
20 A Battle Between Adults And Children
The General Blue Saga focused on the battle between Goku and the Red Ribbon general. We also saw more focus on Launch, a woman with two personalities. Both sides are trying their best to recover all of the Dragon Balls. Though searching for the Dragon Balls is a focal point of most story arcs, this saga has some unusual characteristics. General Blue's character is a narcissist, while also being utterly ruthless. He hurts those in his command that are only following his poor orders.
19 Dr. Gero’s Latest Android Saga
Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13! is the seventh film in the series. The movie introduces three more Androids: 13, 14, and 15. Like the siblings 16, 17, and 18, they also have a passion for committing sinister deeds. The film is similar to the Android Saga.
The Z-Fighters have to once again take out evil Androids created by Dr. Gero.
By the end of the movie, the beast has combined its fallen siblings into one super powered-Android. Goku saves Earth by taking out Super Android 13 permanently. Dr. Gero once again failed to take out Goku.
18 Tries To Recapture The Past
After the end of Dragon Ball Z, fans wanted more. They couldn't accept that it was the end of the series. Toei developed a new series called Dragon Ball GT without input from the series' creator Akira Toriyama. North American viewers never had the opportunity to watch the Black Star Dragon Ball Saga, but they may not have missed out on much story progression. The story arc sets the series back because it tries to recapture the original Dragon Ball series. Goku has been turned into a child once again and is traveling the universe with grandaughter Pan and Trunks.
17 Another Wish For A Friend
If one didn't know that Kid Goku was powerful, the Fortuneteller Baba saga made it clear. Goku may not be as serious as his friends, but he's no less of a threat. In this saga, Goku finds the Dragon Balls, which concludes his training for the next World Martial Arts Tournament. Though this saga concludes the Dragon Ball search, it brings Goku all over the world for training. After collecting the Dragon Balls, Goku requests Shenron to help a friend instead of himself. Goku's training could have concluded much sooner.
16 An Imperfect Battle
Cell is an android who wants nothing more than to be the perfect being. During The Imperfect Cell Saga, he torments both the Z-Fighters and Androids 16, 17, and 18. They all unite to take down Cell. This Saga focuses on making the fighters and Cell train to become perfect.
The Z-Fighters go back and forth between intense training to fighting Cell.
These long battles span over several episodes, making viewers wonder when Gohan will finally emerge from the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and when Trunks will step up to help his father.
15 Nothing But A Distant Memory
The creature Buu has several different forms. The Dragon Ball Z series featured seven different story arcs in Majin Buu's tale. The Kid Buu Saga is the conclusion to the long saga. Within his first appearance, he wipes out multiple Z-Fighters, including Gohan, Goten, Trunks, and Piccolo. The few survivors include Goku and Vegeta. The men fight over the passing of their children and the planet Earth. Fans were shocked to see the brutality of Kid Buu. The entire saga is wished away, as Goku requests that the people of Earth forget that Kid Buu ever existed.
14 A Poor Attempt To Keep Goku And Vegeta Busy
Dragon Ball often features small arcs in-between significant storylines. The Babidi Saga occurred before the devastating Majin Buu saga. During this arc, the Z-Fighters learn about the sinister wizard Babidi and what terrible things he can produce. While the Z-Fighters try to defeat Babidi, the World Tournament is continuing. With a threat still at large, most of the fighters have left. Since the Babidi Saga is meant to segue into the Majin Buu saga, it felt like the writers were keeping Goku and Vegeta busy until the terrible creature awakened.
13 An Unnecessary Tournament
Goku is always on a quest to become stronger. After the conclusion of the God of Destruction Beerus Saga, he and Vegeta began to train with their former enemy.
The Z-Fighters end up getting involved with a tournament between two gods: Beerus and Champa.
They fight over Earth and possession of the Super Dragon Balls. As with most competitions, each group fights against each other to prove who's best. The Saga introduces some new interesting Universe 6 characters, like Hit, but the Z-Fighters would again meet them in the future. The tournament ends with Universe 7 as the victors.
12 Kid Goku Versus An Army
Goku has heard rumors of a Four-Star Dragon Ball that contains his Grandpa Gohan's spirit. While attempting to hunt it down, he runs into the Red Ribbon Army. The team is more ruthless than the enemies Goku has previously experienced. They want the Dragon Balls and will do anything to get them. This unusual story arc puts a child fighter against a group of adults. They didn't go easy on Goku, and there were even some questionable moments about the violence shown on-screen. Goku managed to defeat his opponents and escape their wrath.
11 Not The Icy Villian We Wanted
Frieza is one of Dragon Ball's most frightening enemies. He has returned several times to make the Z-Fighters miserable. Fans continue to root for the villain. The showrunners took notice of his fame.
In the film Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge, Frieza's brother was introduced. He has heard of Frieza's failure and is disgusted. Cooler is determined to defeat Goku instead, along with destroying Earth. Goku and the Z-Fighters manage to defeat the villain, only to have him return in The Return of Cooler for a rematch.
10 Haven’t We Watched This Before?
The animated film Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone showed a battle between 4-year-old Gohan and Garlic Jr. Gohan proved to be a child prodigy and quickly defeated his opponent. Garlic Jr. makes a wish on the Dragon Balls to become immortal to get revenge on Gohan. The young half-Saiyan has to defeat Garlic Jr. without Goku's help.
The Garlic Jr. Saga wasn't a story adapted from the manga series by Akira Toriyama.
Though it's great to see Gohan at his best, we already saw him defeat Garlic Jr. in the film, making this arc feel slightly repetitive.
9 Vegeta’s Pride Was The Real Enemy
After the conclusion of the Android Saga, the Z-Fighters hoped they were on better terms with Androids 17 and 18. Just as things looked positive, Cell absorbed both Androids. Cell would continue to strive to be the ultimate fighter for two story arcs. In the Perfect Cell Saga, the Z-Fighters have to keep building their power to defeat the Android threat. Vegeta's pride could always put his friends in danger. Future Trunks can only watch as Cell defeats his father because he refuses help. Vegeta's ego once again a frustrating experience for viewers.
8 Unnecessary Bonds
During the Fusion Saga, there were two fighters who no longer wanted to fight alone. Vegeta has had a long-standing rivalry with Goku. His son, Trunks, is best friends with Goku's son, Goten. They're always seen together and can irritate the other fighters. Their bond becomes closer during the Fusion Saga, where they become a single fighter, Gotenks. We also witnessed the fusion of Goku and Vegeta, Vegito. While fusing amplified their power, it was short-lived. The fighters rarely fused again, preferring to "lend their power" instead.
7 Frieza Refuses To Give Up
Some Dragon Ball villains are defeated and never return. Frieza is one villain who doesn't know when to stay down. In Dragon Ball Super, he is once again reborn in the Golden Frieza Saga.
Frieza yet again wants to get his revenge against the Z-Fighters, especially Goku.
Goku and Vegeta are off training on Beerus' planet, but eventually, return to fight Frieza. This is an important saga because Vegeta would transform into Super Saiyan God mode. However, it's once again a battle between the top fighters and a reborn villain.
6 A Regenerating Cell
The Imperfect and Perfect Cell Sagas were frightening times of what the android could accomplish. He manages to absorb both Androids 17 and 18. Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, and Future Trunks manage to raise their power to new levels and work together to defeat the threat. After these sagas finished, the fight against Cell refused to end. The Cell Games saga made some fans wonder why Cell wouldn't disappear. The Z-Fighters were forced to battle the android several times with no success. However, in the end, Hercule managed to take all the credit for defeating Cell and saving Earth once again.
5 No Lessons Learned
The Shadow Dragon Saga releases the worst villains in the world on Earth. Goku once again tries to use the Dragon Balls to take care of the mess. Black Smoke Shenron refuses and states this is the universe's punishment for overusing the magical orbs. Goku feels guilty that he has overused magical wishes over the years, but not much is resolved afterward. Goku and Pan restore Shenren back to normal, but business would continue as usual. The Dragon Balls would continue to be used at a frequent pace as if they didn't learn anything.
4 A Great Warrior Undergoes A Strange Transformation
Saiyans exist in multiple universes. Though we primarily see Goku and Vegeta, there are others in the universe who aren't so friendly. The Z-Fighters had to face off against Broly, one of the fewer survivors of the destruction of Planet Vegeta.
After his initial defeat in Broly - Second Coming, he returned in a third movie. Villains got a hold of his DNA, creating a clone of the Saiyan.
Before they knew it, Clone-Broly combined with bio-liquid, becoming Bio-Broly.
He gave the Z-Fighters a difficult time in battle but was defeated by sea water, his only weakness.
3 A Case Of Hidden Identities
The Great Saiyaman Saga focused on Goku's eldest son, Gohan. Chi-Chi wanted her son to become a scholar, unlike his father. During this story arc, Gohan finds that he can't stop fighting. He decides to become a vigilante superhero named The Great Saiyaman. Gohan is then forced to hide his real identity as a half-Saiyan warrior while putting on a false act like a meek mannered student. In the end, we know that Videl eventually stops fighting after giving birth to Pan. Her growth appears as a waste since she never assists the Z-Fighters in battle in future arcs.
2 The Saiyan Prince Faces Defeat
If one prideful Vegeta wasn't enough, the Copy-Vegeta Saga introduces a duplicate of the Saiyan Prince. The clone is entirely purple, making him stand out among the rest. Copies of heroes isn't a new concept to the Dragon Ball series. Heroes from the future, such as Future Trunks, have also returned to help out the present-day Z-Fighters. Goku has to take care to restore Vegeta while also eliminating Commeson. By working together, the Z-Fighters restore Vegeta back to full health. Maybe now Vegeta will learn that the Z-Fighters are a team instead of refusing their help.
1 Turning Heroes Back Into Villains
Krillin wished that the self-destruct bombs were removed from his new Android friends. Android 18 chose to live with Krillin and get married. Android 17's fate was unknown. In the Dragon Ball GT Super 17 Saga, a new version of Android 17 awakened with sinister intents. He worked with the villains from the underground to take over Earth.
This Saga contained several large-scale battles but at the expense of the Androids' newfound humanity.
They previously went through a redemption arc at the end of Dragon Ball Z but were once again sinister.