The Dragon Ball series is one of the most beloved anime properties of all time, with millions of fans around the world who have attested to how their lives have been influenced, enriched, or otherwise entertained by the deep universe-spanning world and its multitude of powerful characters.
But most of those same fans can also admit that Dragon Ball isn’t exactly beloved for its deep storytelling. Certainly, there are plenty of legitimately memorable moments that have tugged at the heartstrings of fans everywhere (such as Piccolo’s sacrifice to save Gohan, the son of his former enemy, or Goku choosing to remain in the afterlife after the Cell Games in order to spare his friends and family the constant threat of powerful enemies, leaving the protection of Earth in the care of his son... though that self-sacrificial gesture admittedly didn’t stick for very long), but there is also a unanimous admittance that the series as a whole would fall more under “dumb fun” rather than an objective work of excellent writing.
After all, if anyone takes even a moment to point out the dozens of plot holes, world inconsistencies or the questionable morals of the main characters, things fall apart relatively quickly. And being a pop culture site dedicated to over-thinking every piece of media, even the ones that were never intended to evoke deep thinking, here’s a list of things that are unexplained, bizarre or just plain wrong with the decades-long Dragon Ball franchise.
25 Capsule Corp Runs Everything
The technological marvel that is Capsule Corp (owned and maintained by Bulma and her family) has been responsible for most of the vehicles, appliances and time travel devices that have graced the series since the very beginning.
And yet Capsule Corp seems to have no competition whatsoever, being the only notable conglomerate in the entire world. While the company’s founders have no evil intentions whatsoever, it generally is never good for the free market when one corporation possesses all the power (something that is inching closer to reality with Disney’s frequent takeovers).
24 No One Investigates Hercule
It’s quite remarkable how Hercule manages to keep his silver tongue so sparkling, as practically every person on the planet follows every single one of his claims of saving the world unquestionably.
This apparently includes the media; while any rookie journalist fresh out of college could easily investigate Hercule’s claims of legitimacy and spot the countless amounts of holes in his stories, no one seems willing to do so. Then again, the fibbing champion has been shown to bribe a few of his opponents, so perhaps his deep pockets have kept most journalists quiet as well.
23 The Namekian Village Destroyed By Vegeta
During the final act of the Namek Saga, most of the victims claimed by Frieza and his men were resurrected thanks to the Dragon Balls...all except a single Namekian village which was destroyed by Vegeta, since he was going against Frieza at the time.
It was never mentioned if the Namekians eventually brought back the victims from this attack.
Even though they had their own Dragon Balls to freely use, the fact that the villagers perished in the original Planet Namek (which remained destroyed) might have ruined their chances at resurrection.
22 The Earthling City Destroyed By Nappa
When Nappa and Vegeta first made their way to Earth, the villainous duo wasted no time leaving their mark on the world, with Nappa ending an entire city and its inhabitants.
While such an act could easily be reversed with the Dragon Balls, this is never shown to happen nor is it mentioned by any of the characters. Keep in mind that anyone not resurrected within a year can no longer be brought back by Shenron, and since the next wish shown was to bring back the fighters taken out by Nappa, this city might have remained a permanent smoldering crater.
21 Vegeta Has Eliminated Millions
In what must be a permanent thought on most of the characters’ minds during one of Bulma’s parties, Vegeta still possesses one of the most notorious rap sheets in the universe despite his years of (begrudgingly) defending the Earth.
Since he was a child, the Saiyan prince eagerly eliminated countless civilians across several planets while working for Frieza, a body count that easily reaches millions. A few years of good deeds hardly makes up for such massive attacks, even if he was technically judged to be good.
20 Master Roshi's Hobbies
The former champion martial artist-turned-recluse turtle hermit was one of Goku’s most prominent teachers, helping the young fighter achieve his signature Kamehameha as well as other techniques.
But as much as a father figure as he’s been to Goku and Krillin, the old man also has several...problematic peculiarities in regards to his treatment of women. This was especially egregious during original Dragon Ball, where he would frequently prey upon Bulma (who was also a teenager at the time). There is also his large collection of magazines and “exercise videos”...
19 The Red Ribbon Army Met No Resistance
One would think a massive army consisting of heavily-armed soldiers, battalions and Androids would fall under the radar of any self-respecting government, but it wasn’t until a single young boy with otherworldly power brought the army down that they faced no resistance despite their hostile takeover of several areas of the world.
The Red Ribbon Army even continued to work behind the scenes afterwards, creating newer and deadlier Androids (and a powerful bug man), only to appear a third time in the story mode for Dragon Ball FighterZ.
18 Frieza Conquered Hundreds Of Planets
While Frieza is no longer considered the most powerful enemy in the series, he is still the most notorious; after all, the tyrant and his army have conquered nearly a hundred worlds before being brought down by Goku while on Planet Namek.
Yet even with Frieza’s demise, his army still seemed to keep hold of his conquered planets, a technical detail that none of the heroes seem aware of or even interested in. Plus, any time Frieza is resurrected, he falls right back onto his position of power. Good thing he’s so focused on getting revenge on Goku.
17 The People Eliminated By Cell
Cell was the first major threat that most of the Earth was actively aware of, as previous attacks by Vegeta and the Androids were seemingly too low-key for anyone to take notice.
By the end of the Cell Saga, all of Cell’s victims were brought back with the Dragon Balls. But wouldn’t a massive wave of people previously eliminated have all sorts of questions, if not severe PTSD? This was actually covered in Dragon Ball Super, where the Dragon Balls were used to wipe away the world’s memories of Buu. Yet this did not seem to apply to the people attacked by Cell.
16 No One Talks About The Afterlife
As mentioned before, millions of people have been resurrected thanks to the Dragon Balls, but there seems to be only one instance in which their memories were erased.
So why don’t people seem to recall their time in the afterlife?
In Dragon Ball’s universe, there is an entire society and civilization when people pass on, something that characters like Krillin can recall with clarity. Perhaps it has something to do with how strong fighters can keep their original bodies, while most are reduced to puffy clouds that may have their memories erased during the passing.
15 Where Do The Beams Go?
The most powerful characters like Goku and Vegeta often have to curve their massive energy blasts in order to prevent the Earth from being destroyed. This has led to several iconic shots of beams shooting off into space, sometimes with an enemy or two on the receiving end.
But where do those beams go afterward? Do they continue to travel the stars until they land on a nearby planet? The universe is no stranger to all sorts of planets with inhabitable life, leaving one to wonder if Goku accidentally wiped out a few civilizations while avoiding the Earth.
14 Only Tien And Yamcha Kept Their Scars
When the heroes of Dragon Ball have fought as many scary battles as they have, they tend to suffer a few grievous injuries as a result. Tien’s scar was the result of a battle against his former master, while Yamcha’s scars remain a mystery.
But even though their previously ended bodies were fully restored, for some reason the scars remained for these two. Even Vegeta, who was once heavily scarred from his battles on Namek, mysteriously cleared up any permanent marks over time.
13 How Did Yamcha Get Scarred?
Speaking of Yamcha, the slacker martial artist was never known for engaging in training regimens as taxing as the ones his compatriots suffer through.
Yet during the time skip in the original Dragon Ball that took place before the tournament against Piccolo, Yamcha appears carrying his trademark facial scars without any explanation whatsoever. The last time we saw him, he was training with Krillin and Tien. Could it be that the duo got carried away while Yamcha suffered a grievous defeat in a typical Yamcha way?
12 Vegeta Only Wants A Rematch With Goku
It’s obvious enough that Vegeta has an obsession to surpass Goku, the first rival to defeat him in battle. His fractured pride won’t allow him to take the loss lying down, especially against a low-class Saiyan who bested a prince.
But what about the half dozen or so other losses he suffered?
Vegeta seems uninterested in ever settling scores with Android 18, Hit or any other character who once defeated him even more easily than Goku did. Apparently, the losses only matter when they involve another Saiyan.
11 Goku Never Teaches His Techniques
Throughout the series, Goku learns all sorts of handy techniques, such as the power-boosting Kaioken or the teleport-literally-anywhere Instant Transmission.
Why then does Goku only keep such incredible powers to himself? The Instant Transmission alone would be incredibly convenient and would have ended the Android arc nice and early when the group was pursuing Imperfect Cell. His friends even trained with King Kai, the creator of the Kaioken technique, yet none of them seemed skilled enough to even be considered learning it.
10 Goku Likes To Hold Back
Almost every pivotal battle rests on Goku’s shoulders, as he is usually the only one skilled enough to save the world (or even the whole universe) against whichever new enemy is threatening it.
Unfortunately, Goku also really likes a good fight, and has a bad habit of not unleashing his full power from the start. This is partially due to mercy, as Goku prefers not eliminating his opponents if possible. The more common reason is that he also doesn’t want a fight to end too early.
9 Gohan Had A Traumatic Childhood
Gohan was barely out of diapers before he was forced to spend his entire childhood enduring harsh training and harsher battles. His first major skirmish was against Vegeta and Nappa, the latter taking out fighter after fighter in front of the boy’s eyes, including his substitute father Piccolo.
While these events did not diminish his optimism, and he did grow up as a more stable father than his actual father, it was a bad series of events that a kind boy like Gohan had to suffer through.
8 So Did Future Trunks
But the future incarnation of Trunks got it even worse by comparison (which makes it rather fitting that the adult version of Gohan was his teacher). The moment he was born, Trunks’ world was devastated by the Androids, and his father perished before he could ever meet him (though maybe that was for the best).
Even when Trunks managed to defeat the Androids years later, he would later have to watch the last remaining people of his life (not to mention his entire world and even his entire universe) be destroyed by the sinister deity known as Goku Black.
7 Vegeta Had A Brother
After Dragon Ball GT, the franchise was pretty much dormant, save for the occasional video game and cameo. Before Battle of the Gods helped revive the series, it was given a previous reunion with a TV special that brought back most of the original characters back.
It also introduced a brand new character in the form of Vegeta’s brother, Tarble. The brother that he never mentioned and whose origin stories are convoluted even by Dragon Ball standards. It seems even Toriyama was displeased with Tarble, because the long-lost sibling was never mentioned again after this.
6 Launch Remains Forgotten
Speaking of characters that faded into obscurity, the Jekyll and Hyde-inspired Launch was once one of the main characters of the original Dragon Ball series. Once the series moved onto Dragon Ball Z, however, Launch never appeared since.
There have been all sorts of theories as to why such a prominent character was left absent, one of them being that Toriyama forgot all about her.
Regardless, the fan favorite’s departure remains sorely missed, and it isn’t looking like she’ll make a return anytime soon.
5 Goku Was Born Sinister
One of the most interesting bits about Dragon Ball’s lore, and one that tends to be forgotten, is that Goku’s kind heart and good-natured attitude are all the result of a bump on the head. Prior to his accident, the infant Goku was a violent Saiyan tasked with eliminating all of the inhabitants of Earth.
It’s an ironic twist involving Earth’s greatest defender, and one can’t help but wonder if Goku could ever revert back to his scary nature if he suffered another blow to the head. Considering how much he’s been knocked around at this point, it’s probably nothing to worry about.
4 Characters Value Pride Over Saving Lives
In fairness, Goku isn’t the only one who enjoys a good fight, even if it puts the lives of everyone on Earth at risk. During the beginning of the Android arc, Bulma proposed using the Dragon Balls to find the location of Dr. Gero before he created his Androids...only to be shot down by battle-hungry characters like Goku and Vegeta.
Even when Trunks proposed that everyone should gang up on Cell while he was busy fighting Goku, he was given a stern lecture by Vegeta about the pride of a warrior, a sentiment even the non-Saiyans seemed to agree on.
3 Bulma Has A Sister
Ever wondered where that oddball alien Jaco came from during Dragon Ball Super? Turns out he’s the main character of a spin-off series written by Toriyama. In this series, which takes place before the events of Dragon Ball, Jaco would go on all sorts of misadventures with his Earth companion Tights, who is the older sister of Bulma.
This is yet another retcon where it turns out Bulma had an extra family member that was never seen nor mentioned.
Even Frieza’s father was briefly mentioned in the Namek arc, while Bulma’s sibling was clearly something decided on years later.
2 Dragon Ball Minus Retconned Goku's Origin
For decades now, most fans were already aware of Goku’s origins prior to landing on Earth: his father Bardock was a typical selfish Saiyan who cared little for his weak son, and instead launched a single desperate counterattack against Frieza, which of course failed and nearly brought all Saiyans to extinction.
In the baffling manga Dragon Ball Minus, Akira Toriyama chose to retcon a big portion of the story, including controversial bits like Bardock being a caring father who sent his son away to protect him. This new storyline will be featured prominently in the upcoming movie Dragon Ball Super: Broly.
1 Bardock Was The First Super Saiyan
The Bardock rebranding didn’t stop there; prior to Minus, Toriyama decided to mess with Goku’s dad some more by releasing a story that revealed that the Saiyan didn’t actually perish when fighting Frieza.
Instead, he was inexplicably sent to the past, where he ended up achieving Super Saiyan to defeat Frieza’s ancestor. Thus, the tales of the Legendary Super Saiyan that would inspire all other Saiyans were actually the accounts of the time traveling Bardock, a revelation that angered lots of fans (especially as it undermines Goku’s own accomplishment in achieving the Super Saiyan form).