The Dragon Ball franchise came back in a really big way recently. That isn’t to say that the series ever waned in popularity… as what is undoubtedly the most recognizable anime franchise in the entire world, Dragon Ball had permanently supplanted itself into the collective conscience of fans everywhere, leading to countless cosplays of fitness-focused fans trying to replicate Goku’s physique (and, less successfully, his various hairstyles) while online forum members would argue the internet’s oldest debate of whether he could beat Superman in a fight (although lately it’s been One Punch Man’s Saitama that tends to be pitted against the Super Saiyan).
But it was the recent revival series, Dragon Ball Super, that managed to take the limits of the franchise’s popularity to new and greater heights, much like the lead hero and his quest to go beyond his limits in strength. Combined with a couple of new movies, a new (and visually incredible) fighting game, and a tournament finale that managed to draw hundreds of thousands of South Americans to fill entire streets and stadiums to watch the final showdown live, have led to Dragon Ball retaining its title as the king of anime for another couple of decades.
But it wasn’t a flawless comeback: the new series touched a few nerves of longtime fans for some of the liberties it took with the original source material, as well as some other questionable story decisions and occasionally lackluster animation. Some of the show’s biggest offenses have been cataloged below, as well as a few supplementary materials released alongside it.
23 The Animation
One would think that Toei Animation would put all the necessary resources into ensuring that their number one property would have the best production values. Instead, much of Super’s run resulted in several cut corners and janky frames of animation, a big blunder for a series that thrives on beautifully fluid and blazingly fast fight scenes.
It wasn’t until the final arc where the show switched to a more stylized look as well as several standout battles. Working on a weekly anime series is understandably tough work, but hopefully Toei can better manage their production when the inevitable next series hits.
22 The Worst Movie Adaptations
Despite being a direct sequel to Dragon Ball Z, a good chunk of Super’s content was already experienced in a bigger budget form. Prior to the new series, theaters around the world were graced with two new films: Battle of the Gods and Resurrection of F.
Rather than assume that everyone already saw these movies, Super chose to just re-adapt the films into two TV arcs, which are considered massive downgrades in comparison due to worse animation, dragged-out content and several baffling changes (including Piccolo having to sacrifice his life to save a pathetically weak Gohan from Frieza’s attack).
21 Gohan Is A Joke (Until The End)
Speaking of whom, the young prodigy who was once billed as Goku’s successor (and at one point, even stronger than his father), Gohan became progressively weaker with every new appearance. While it is understandable that he chose the life of a family man over endless brawling, his humiliating defeat by Frieza left many longtime fans angry over the treatment of the character.
Thankfully, Gohan finally achieved much of the power he lost by training for the Tournament of Power.
Hopefully, he won’t fall back to retirement now that the latest threat has passed.
20 Tien Is A Joke (All The Time)
Dragon Ball has long been criticized for under-utilizing (if not outright ignoring) many of its older characters in favor of adding more Super Saiyans with each new arc. Tien, who devotes himself to training every single day, is one such character who is routinely tossed aside whenever the newest threat emerges.
With many other characters getting a chance at the spotlight with the Tournament of Power, there was hope that Tien would finally get brought back to relevant status. Instead, he is once again dispatched unceremoniously, his only accomplishment resulting in a draw come tournament time.
19 Goten And Trunks Are Useless
Much like Gohan, Goku’s second child and Vegeta’s only son were billed as the next generation of Super Saiyans, able to reach the same heights of power their fathers did at a fraction of the time. And again like Gohan, they have both been tossed to the wayside and are rarely even given a chance to participate in any of the major conflicts.
The few times they did participate didn’t amount to much either. The most embarrassing moment was when the two fused into Gotenks against an alien copy of Vegeta, unable to land a single damaging hit.
18 Android 17 Got Stronger Fighting Poachers
With the Tournament of Power bringing back a lot of old characters, it meant that the writers had to come up with contrived explanations for each character’s power-up, since the tournament would bring together the strongest opponents from each universe.
No explanation was more ridiculous than Android 17’s, who demonstrated that he had gotten so strong as to be able to fight Goku to a draw. His training regimen? Fighting poachers who would try to hunt the animals he swore to protect. It seems beating up regular human poachers is enough to grant someone the power of a god. Who knew?
17 Roshi Was Holding Back
On second thought, this one might be even more ridiculous due to its implications. During an episode where Master Roshi was mind-controlled, Goku remarked that he was able to face his former teacher at full strength, implying that the turtle hermit was holding back his true power this whole time.
If Roshi was truly this strong, then where was he during previous threats to the world, including Raditz, Vegeta, Frieza, and Cell?
Many casualties could have been avoided if he was able to lend a hand.
Perhaps he was simply too lazy and would rather sit home watching his exercise tapes…
16 Jiren Is Stronger Than Time
Even by Dragon Ball standards, Jiren was ridiculous; the soft-spoken ultra-muscular alien was the biggest threat in the Tournament of Power, displaying all sorts of incredible feats just through his sheer strength alone.
But even power-level fans had to throw their hands up in protest when Jiren was able to break free of Hit’s attack, which trapped him in a time net. Even students who slept in physics class could tell you that time is a concept and not something that could be physically punched, but that didn’t stop the hulking alien anyway.
15 The Goku Black Arc Makes No Sense
The Goku Black arc was where a lot of lapsed fans turned around, praising the unique new villain as well as bringing back Future Trunks to the series.
But nearly everyone can agree that the actual plot itself is an incoherent mess. Not simply content with saying that Goku Black was merely a time-traveler, the show went to ridiculous lengths to try and explain the numerous timelines the villain interfered with. Diligent fans even tried creating a multi-timeline chart that ultimately proved that there were too many inconsistencies and plot holes for it to work.
14 The Goku Black Ending Destroyed Trunks’ World
On a further note, the climax of the Goku Black arc was surprisingly more tragic than normal for the series. In a last-ditch show of defiance, Goku Black became an unending entity that eliminated all remaining life on Trunks’ world, resulting in Zen-Oh erasing the entire universe altogether.
As the only survivors, Trunks and Mai were forced to move to another timeline, one where a Trunks and Mai already existed, leaving them to live there as nomads separate from society. Couldn’t they just, you know…use the Dragon Balls instead?
13 Goku And Beerus Never Got A Rematch
Beerus was the first new adversary to kick off the revival of Dragon Ball. The God of Destruction initially dispatched with Goku with a mere flick of his finger, but also introduced the Saiyan to a new level of power he never dreamed possible: Super Saiyan God.
Fans have been eagerly awaiting the eventual rematch between Goku and Beerus, but such a showdown never happened in Super, and there is no indication when and if the two will ever have a second fight to determine who is the strongest being in Universe 7.
12 Beerus Ordered The Destruction Of The Saiyans
Fans of long-running franchises are no stranger to the concept of retcons. Sooner or later the original author of a series will go back and reinvent the lore out of plot convenience or to modernize the story.
The introduction of Beerus also revealed that it was he who ordered Frieza to destroy the Saiyan homeworld, a fact that still remains hidden to Goku and Vegeta.
It is unknown if the surviving Saiyans will ever discover this fact, or how they would react with this knowledge.
11 The Tingly Super Saiyan Feeling
The introduction of two female Super Saiyans was an instant hit with the fandom, although one clumsily-written contrivance marred the pair’s introduction somewhat.
When it came time to show how Kale and Caulifla would become Super Saiyans, the latter described the process as “a tingling feeling” on the back of the spine. Dragon Ball has simplified the Super Saiyan process more and more with time, but this was a whole new level of simplification over what used to be an impossible feat to achieve.
10 Goku's A Jerk
Turns out that original creator Akira Toriyama was never a fan of Goku being depicted as a hero, as he claimed that the character, while good-natured and willing to help others when needed, cared more about the next big fight.
Super tried to roll this back but went overboard in spots. One of the worst examples is an episode where Krillin is traumatized by the hallucinations of former enemies (many which ended him), whereas Goku is unable to comprehend why his best friend isn’t excited to fight these foes again.
9 Goku Started The Tournament Of Power
By far Goku’s biggest blunder was convincing Zen-Oh to start the Tournament of Power, despite numerous warnings by Beerus not to disturb the unpredictable deity. Sure enough, the Tournament was planned with an extra unforeseen caveat: in the end, only one universe was allowed to survive.
It turns out in the end that Zen-Oh knew that the other universes would be resurrected with the Super Dragon Balls by the end, but no way did Goku know about this.
Endangering zillions of lives for his own fighting amusement was reckless, to put it mildly.
8 Cell Is Ignored
Super paid quite a bit of lip service to Frieza, having the Saiyan-hating tyrant receive a new power-up as well as participating in the final Tournament of Power arc.
Unfortunately, little love was given to Cell, a villain just as iconic as Frieza and was responsible for possibly the greatest moment in the entire series.
The biological Android was instead given proper due by fans during TeamFourStar’s hilarious Dragon Ball Z Abridged series, which wrapped up this year after an extended hiatus.
7 The Manga
While Akira Toriyama was credited as the author and artist of the original Dragon Ball, he did not return to illustrate the manga adaption of Super. Instead, that honor went to Toyotaro, a manga artist who gained notoriety for his fan comics based on the franchise.
Unfortunately, the manga has been criticized by fans for having less expressive art as Toriyama’s, not to mention story-based changes that are considered even worse than the anime. Toyotaro was even accused of plagiarism, seemingly tracing the cover of a Captain America comic and repurposing it as a Dragon Ball cover instead.
6 Mai's Age
Agent Mai was originally part of a three-man squad of comic relief villains in the original Dragon Ball, only to disappear along with her boss Pilaf for the entirety of Z. The group made a return in Super, only this time transformed into pint-sized kids due to Pilaf’s wish with the Dragon Balls to make them younger having backfired.
While this sets up an adorable relationship with the kid version of Trunks, that relationship does come with the fact that Mai is technically in her forties by this point, while Trunks isn't.
5 Mai In Future Trunks' Timeline Makes No Sense
Speaking of Mai, by the time the story flashes forwards to Future Trunks’ timeline, Mai is seen roughly in her teens, having now grown up alongside Trunks.
Yet her inclusion in Trunks’ future already breaks the established rule that timelines cannot be altered, instead every action in the past creating a separate new timeline. Since this is the same Future Trunks who fought alongside the heroes during the Android Arc, Mai shouldn’t exist at all in Trunks’ future, unless the writers are going for the “she was there the whole time, out of sight” excuse.
4 Launch Remains Forgotten
On the subject of missing female characters, there has been a growing vocal outcry over the extended disappearance of Launch, who was once part of the group in Dragon Ball but has seemingly vanished from existence ever since Dragon Ball Z.
Launch was the first female character strong enough to handle herself (as long as she was transformed), resulting in a cult appreciation, but with Tien now having a far less interesting love interest added in Super, it seems all but certain that Launch will never return to the series proper.
3 Baby Pan Is Stronger Than GT Pan
Gohan’s daughter (and Goku’s granddaughter) Pan played a key role in Dragon Ball GT, the controversial sequel series that has since been replaced in canon by Super. In a case of hindsight hilarity, the baby version of Pan seen in Super has already displayed fantastic feats of power that her older counterpart in GT could never hope to achieve.
GT Pan was perhaps the most squandered of potential characters, having never achieved a Super Saiyan form and being explicitly written to always be a damsel-in-distress in order to make Goku look more heroic by comparison. Hopefully, the retconned Pan will prove more independent.
2 Monaka... Just Monaka
When someone has conceptualized characters for as long as Toriyama has, you can’t always expect every design to be a winner. Yet even the most avid of Toriyama’s fans were bewildered by the inclusion of Monoka, a diminutive alien who is either really cold or really happy to see you.
The gag was obvious, as Monoka was meant to appear weak and pathetic while being billed as the strongest fighter in the universe, an obvious lie told by Beerus in order to motivate Goku to train harder. Predictably, Goku believes the lie and frequently challenges the cowering Monoka to a match.
1 Dragon Ball Heroes Is Insane
Dragon Ball Heroes is a Japanese-exclusive arcade game that involves collectible cards in order to unlock new characters and abilities. It was rebranded as Super Dragon Ball Heroes in order to take advantage of the new series, resulting in some of the craziest fanfiction-tier scenarios to have ever been possible.
Golden Cooler, Super Saiyan 3 Bardock and Possessed King Vegeta are just a tiny sample of the insanity Heroes offers.
Considering the massive financial success of the card game, the creators have no choice but to keep coming up with more and more ludicrous what-if characters to keep up the demand.