The Dragon Ball series began as a simple Japanese comic, and has since evolved into one of the biggest multimedia properties of all time. Arguably, its popularity grew to exponential proportions mainly due to the success of the Dragon Ball Z anime series. Although we at TheGamer are big fans of some of the recent games in the franchise, here we'll be concentrating on memes about the anime.
Over the years, we've been graced with a plethora of memes that exemplify the major flaws of the characters, plot, and pacing of the series. There are the easy targets, like the token nods to Krillin dying too often, or the undying 'over 9000' jokes. We've had to sift through hundreds of poorly-made memes; many of which touch on the same subjects, continuously beating the dead horse. We can attest, a majority of the memes on the internet are trash, and Dragon Ball Z memes are no exception to that rule.
Despite this, we've sought out the dankest of memes, that reached the top of popularity on various sites. We've kept the focus on jokes that you would only get if you were an actual fan of the series, so kudos to you if you're a big enough fan to get them all! If not, don't worry, we're aren't above spoiling the joke by explaining it. And speaking of spoiling, expect minor spoilers ahead!
20 How Long Is Five Minutes Really
Here's an easy one, albeit one of the most popular memes regarding the series. Frieza sends down a particle of energy into Namek's core, beginning a countdown to its total destruction. He does this knowing that even if he loses the fight against Goku, the hero will not be able to breathe in outer space. Since multiple episodes span this 'short' five minutes, Frieza's claim is now known as one of the biggest lies ever told in anime of all time.
Some versions of this meme estimate the duration of this Namek's destruction as low as three episodes, and others as high as twelve. Though, this doesn't actually imply that any of them are exaggerating, since the number of episodes varies between the different localizations and versions of Dragon Ball Z that the viewer watched.
19 Krillin Can Beat Us All Up
We all know that Krillin is the butt-end of most jokes in the series. This is understandable, as the man's loss count is probably the highest out of all the characters. Despite this, if you don't count the hybrid-Saiyans, the androids (who are actually cyborgs), or the reincarnation of Kid Buu, Krillin is likely the actual strongest human being on Earth in the series.
Krillin's strength is easy to forget, as he's been killed and brought back by the Eternal Dragon since the old Dragon Ball days. His later death in the Frieza saga is the catalyst for which Goku first becomes a Super Saiyan. Even in Dragon Ball GT, old man Krillin dying is still a meaningful moment. But we see that against people (like tournament semi-finalists and robbers), Krillin wins easily.
18 They Used To Be Bad Guys
This meme also calls back to and reverses a quote from The Dark Knight, and I lol'ed. Fans of Dragon Ball Z that followed along since before the quintessential Frieza saga know that Vegeta was the first major villain that the heroes needed to train to face. However, not everyone can recall that Piccolo too was a major villain, the final boss of the original Dragon Ball.
Both of these together are prime examples of a common pattern in many battle anime where villains become heroes as the seasons go on. Very few will remember that both Tien and Yamcha were antagonists to Goku in the old days. And even after Vegeta, this pattern persists as there are times now when the Androids, Majin Buu, and even Frieza joins up with the heroes.
17 Episode Previews Are Jerks
The huge influx of homemade rage comics have steadily declined over the years. But this is still a memorable kind of meme. And here, we can't be sure whether to blame the localization teams, or if the original Japanese titles were also this boldly obvious. Still, this may be endemic to a greater issue overall, as anime across time have fecklessly spoiled episodes with their previews (of course I'm exaggerating).
I'm sure I'm not the only one who can empathize with this experience. Back when we didn't all know everything that was going to happen (and before we had the forethought to predict the pacing when it was clear that the heroes would win) it was still ridiculous when moments like these happened. And this isn't something rare, in DBZ it wasn't uncommon at all, in fact.
16 Saiyan Logic
Our heroes have faced a deluge of wicked foes over the course of hundreds of episodes. And yet, no matter how much danger the planet is in, there are very rarely times when the protagonists engage in anything other than solo combat. While I can respect their penchant for keeping fights fair, sometimes the stakes are such that maybe someone should be the voice of reason to reconsider.
Of course, there are times when this can't be helped. But more often than not, Saiyan pride is what stands in the way of others trying to help during a battle, as it might take the challenge out of it. This too, I can respect (since it isn't my home hanging in the balance), but even in recent episodes of Dragon Ball Super, Goku and Vegeta refuse to gang up on an enemy when their entire universe's erasure is at stake.
15 Vegeta Loses A Lot
There's one power level that always ascends to the highest of heights, and that is Vegeta's pride. It's slowed down some in later years, but still, we can't forget who is guiltiest of constant claims to be the strongest in the franchise. And despite these claims, Vegeta ends up losing too many of the major villains in the series (Frieza, the Androids, Perfect Cell, Majin Buu).
Another version of this same meme rather references how often Vegeta is also guilty of allowing his pride to let the bad guys get stronger (not destroying Androids before they wake up, letting Cell reach his perfect form, or gathering enough energy for Majin Buu to awaken). Vegeta's my favorite character, but I can't deny the enormity of his careless heedlessness.
14 Scumbag Goku
Much like Frieza's "five minutes" in the series, Goku is also capable of having a grating mismatch between events in anime time and events in real-time. Many moments in the series must be instantaneous and/or simultaneous in order for "ten seconds" to take an episode or more. That, or Goku must be severely underestimating how long it would take for him to gather up energy.
Despite the joke, the Spirit Bomb isn't actually supposed to be capable of missing. Its ability is such that the pure life energy within it communicates to the wielder the optimal moment that it should be thrown in order to catch the opponent off-guard (usually by surprise, but sometimes by ricocheting off of someone good-hearted). As well, it seems it also follows evil energy.
13 Piccolo's Real Age
I'd like to point out that this meme is actually completely accurate. Gohan is at the tender age of four when Piccolo kidnaps him to train for the coming attack from Vegeta and Nappa. It is entirely ridiculous for such a small child to be one of the Earth's mightiest defenders, and yet few recall that Piccolo himself is actually only eight at the time.
Although Gohan has some visible baby fat, he's also incredibly astute for his age, making many fans never realize that he isn't even a grade-schooler by the time he later faces Recoome and Frieza. Piccolo, on the other hand, is hatched a few years before the series begins, after his father the evil King Piccolo spits out an egg and dies. He's a tall kid, but what can I say, Namekians must develop quickly.
12 Goku's Trump Card
Talk about Goku's honorable values in a fight all you want, but the man is no stranger to a few cheap tactics. In the original Dragon Ball, Goku would poke out an enemy's eyes or stick his staff up an opponent's butt and laugh. There is precedent, as Goku bit King Piccolo's thumb in the prequel. The series did, after all, have large roots in comedy.
So in high-intensity situations, the adult Goku will still resort to biting his opponent if he feels the need arise (he later also bites the God of Destruction Beerus). This is likely the creator's attempts at injecting more humor into the 'serious' Dragon Ball Z, as well as highlight Goku's childishness (biting Kid Buu was actually in retaliation for the creature biting him first).
11 Akira Toriyama's Naming Schema
For those of you who don't get it, you miss out on a gold star! This is a summary of one of the earliest episodes in the series. We all know Akira Toriyama has some silly naming schemes, anything from minions named after spices to gods named after alcohols. Here, we see Piccolo shoot his 'Special Beam Cannon' at Goku as he holds down Raditz.
This is soon after the reveal that Goku is actually an alien, whose name at birth was Kakarot. This begins the pattern with Saiyans being named using vegetable etymology like Vegeta, Broly (Broccoli), Caulifla, and Cabba (though Nappa was another kind of cabbage). Also, few remember that King Piccolo's underlings back in the original Dragon Ball were named along the lines of Drum and Piano.
10 Piccolo Isn't As Good As Everyone Says
Many fans might have disdain for Goku's inattentive parenting skills, and in turn glorify Piccolo as some kind of tough yet (secretly) devoted surrogate father to Gohan. Admittedly, I feel this way too, even getting teary-eyed when Piccolo stood behind Gohan at his wedding. But despite the way Dragon Ball reinforces this idea, our favorite Namekian is probably even more abusive that Gohan's real father.
Piccolo is furious with Goku for sending the boy to fight Perfect Cell at the end of the Cell Games. This seems completely hypocritical if the audience recalls that most of Gohan's other fights when he was much younger and weaker, were at the behest of Piccolo. At the very least, this time when Gohan fights the final villain of the saga, the boy was strong enough to win.
9 Yamcha Enters The Fight
Okay, we needed to at least take this cheap shot if we're going to be singing praises for the series punching bag, Krillin. Yamcha is such a joke to the series that he just becomes a non-factor. Rather, why does he even bother to train for the coming of the Androids? He needed to become at least as strong as a Super Saiyan to become relevant. Well, maybe that's not fair. Tien (if he should really be counted as human) was still useful.
The current arc of Dragon Ball Super had Goku gather ten fighters to represent their universe, in a team tournament where only the winning universe isn't erased. When Yamcha hears about the tournament, he's excited because he believes he'll be called upon to join. In fact, he isn't even considered for a spot. The joke is that Yamcha even gets his hopes up.
8 How Does Korin Deplete His Supply?
Korin supplies the characters of Dragon Ball Z with Senzu beans. And well, it seems like this cat has nothing better to do than harvest them since he never leaves his tower. So, why is it that the team doesn't have a near-endless supply of these instant cure-alls? Oftentimes, we see the heroes carrying a small stash of Senzu beans, perhaps a handful at most. Why isn't there ever a second bag?
Perhaps it would make the series boring if the characters could always Elixir-up all of their health when they're at the end of their rope. Someone should be using these to exploit the 'Saiyans multiply in strength every time they recover' mechanic. Well, perhaps Korin is giving these to the heroes off-screen during their trading periods, or maybe he's supplying some other heroes.
7 How To Avoid Raising Kids
What is Goku doing while his old rival is throwing his almost-toddler son into the wilderness? He's dead. Admittedly, he did die while trying to save said son. However, Goku just isn't present father that his wife wants him to be. After Goku returns, you can be sure that he'll be trying to get out of parenting duties by fighting, training for a fight, or recovering from a fight.
The fanbase is conflicted about the efficacy of Goku's parenting skills. He repeats the old 'too dead to raise his son' shtick again when his second son, Goten, is born. How much is this Goku's fault? It's arguable that he's usually sacrificing his family life for the sake of every other family. But at the same time, it also seems like he goes out of his way not to return home.
6 Cat Loves Food
Here we might recognize the song Yamcha sings, that he claims he heard it in a cat commercial, and uses to annoy Puar. Most fans mistakenly attribute this joke to Team Four Star's popular 'Dragon Ball Z Abridged' series. Since then, the song has become a meme where you blow people's minds that this was actually in a real episode. And, we add this to the excess of material that exists for mocking Yamcha.
Alas, there was no reason for Funimation to take away what little dignity Yamcha had left with this poor attempt to layer some "fun" into the scene. I doubt there was a single person who laughed when this scene first aired. Recent dubs have done away with this completely, and have stayed loyal to the original Japanese version where no such nonsense grates our ears.
5 Bulma Wins
At first glance, this may seem completely straightforward, and you would be mostly correct. But to those of you who haven't been keeping up with the most recent Dragon Ball Super media, perhaps you don't know the proportions to which this now extends. At first, Vegeta seemed completely disinterested in Bulma and his son. But as the years go on, Vegeta becomes better husband and father (arguably better than Goku).
One example of this is when his daughter Bra is about to be born. Rather than follow his desires and join Goku for some serious fights, he chooses to instead stay with his wife until after childbirth. In another example, Vegeta had become stronger than Goku and did actual harm to Beerus when the God of Destruction had slapped Bulma.
4 Vegeta Doesn't Get It
Dammit, Goku. Well, for those of you whom this isn't apparent, the joke is that Vegeta never achieves Super Saiyan 3. Nothing is revealed about what in particular is necessary to shift into this state. Goku gains this mode off-screen, and it is rarely used in the series. When it is first used, Goku is on borrowed time before needing to return to the afterlife, so we aren't given much of its highlights.
So perhaps it doesn't matter that Vegeta never becomes SS3, as it seems to be a ridiculously flashy transformation that lengthens the user's hair and wastes a huge amount of energy. Rather, in Dragon Ball GT, Vegeta skips right on to Super Saiyan 4, and in Dragon Ball Super, he skipped SS3 over onto Super Saiyan God (then Blue).
3 Freezing Time Is Nothing New
Recently, Dragon Ball Super introduced Hit, the greatest assassin of all time. Characters that witnessed his beatdown of Vegeta were astounded to learn about the mysterious hitman's Time-Skip ability. With it, he is able to move around with time stopped for a fraction of a second. As he is able to move around at incredibly high speeds, this is enough time for him to do some major damage.
Still, fans of the series are confused as to why we should be impressed. Don't get me wrong, Hit is damn cool. But years ago we met a villain in the Ginyu Force who could keep time stopped for as long as he held his breath. Guldo may have been too weak and inattentive to have been a threat, but it makes one wonder if Akira Toriyama forgot this little guy.
2 Hercule's False Facts
Here's another easy one. Remember this guy? His name is Mr. Satan, but many know him by a particular localization's censored name for the man, Hercule. For a long time, he believed himself to be the strongest man alive. Indeed, he could probably beat most human beings in a fight as he was the world champion in his prime.
But the man was in for a rude awakening when he first witnessed the heroes of Dragon Ball Z. Without any ability to utilize ki, he was only an insect to Perfect Cell. As he watched main characters fight to save the world with flying and energy beams, the only way he could rationalize what he was seeing (to both himself as well as his viewers) was that it was just some sort of trick, with special effects and lights.
1 Gohan Is Naive
This was a little jab at Gohan for his speech to Perfect Cell. He sings praises for his father, and yet the man literally gave up right before this fight, in order to have his son fight against the monster instead. Ignoring Piccolo's hypocrisy, fans too were surprised that Goku forfeited and stated that there was a warrior stronger than himself to take down Perfect Cell.
To be fair, Goku abdicated his spot because he knew Gohan was stronger at the time. In addition to this, it was Goku's intention that he no longer be relied upon for saving the world (nor bringing new threats to it) and instead wanted to leave the mantle to his son (though this doesn't come to fruition). Alas, Gohan never ceases to have respect for his father and view him with rose-colored glasses despite the man's many flaws.