If you enjoy Dragon Ball you know there’s a ton of story there. Going by the anime, there are several hundred episodes, as well as over a dozen movies. Obviously its popularity isn’t in question even after all these years, but a series going that long can result in other problems. It becomes hard for even the creators to keep track of all the rules and storylines they’ve made, and eventually inconsistencies start to crop up.
Most people aren’t watching any of the shows in Dragon Ball for a deep story, but even in a show that’s simply about fighting, plot holes become noticeable. And for fans who have gone back to watch the shows over and over, those flaws only become more apparent. As much as we enjoy the franchise, there are moments that still leave us scratching our heads. Many of us grew up on the English dub of the original anime in the series, and not everyone is going to go looking in the video games, manga, or supplementary material for answers. So looking back through the franchise’s English anime we’re going to examine the scenes that could leave fans scratching their heads. See if you can figure out these problems better than us, because here is Dragon Ball: 15 Massive Plot Holes In The Franchise.
15. WHERE WERE ALL THE UNIVERSE’S POWERFUL FIGHTERS WHEN KID BUU WAS DESTROYING THE UNIVERSE?
For the most part, the Kais and the gods of the world of Dragon Ball seem to do their best not to interfere in matters concerning mortals. Obviously this habit gets put aside more and more as the villains of the franchise grow increasingly powerful. By the end of Dragon Ball Z, the Kais call off all their rules, and allow both Goku and Vegeta to go back to the mortal world despite being dead so they can fight Kid Buu. It’s an understandable plan, but it raises the question, where was everyone else?
For starters, there were other powerful dead characters like Pikkon who could have been brought in for the fight. But then in Dragon Ball Super we find out there are all sorts of other powerful characters spread throughout the universe like Whis and Beerus. Surely the Kais could have at least tried going to them for help, even if Beerus might have refused. And if that didn’t work, why not reach out to the other universes and try and get someone like Hit for back up? Surely one of the rulers of the afterlife knew these characters existed. Buu had become a danger to every world out there, so why weren’t they bringing in the big guns?
14. WHO DIES AND DOESN’T DIE FROM BUU’S CANDY BEAM
We first see Buu’s candy beam in action against Dabura, when Buu uses the attack to transform his opponent into a cookie, eats him up, and kills him. We know for a fact that Dabura is killed by this because we see Dabura in the afterlife later on in the show. Besides, it just kind of goes without saying that if someone gets eaten then they would die, right? But where things get really weird is some of the later “snacks” eaten later on.
Besides eating his opponents, Buu can also absorb them into his body and utilize their power. People Buu absorbs are shown in pods inside his body later on, comatose but alive. The odd thing is that Fat Buu is in one of the pods too, even though we clearly saw Evil Buu turn his counterpart into food and eat him earlier! So why did it kill Dabura but not Fat Buu? And how come when Vegito was turned into candy he retained his ability to move and talk while Dabura and Buu couldn’t do anything? How Buu’s candy beam works is pretty mystifying honestly.
13. BEERUS SAYS HE KILLED OFF THE DINOSAURS BUT THEY STILL EXIST
With Akira Toriyama taking a more hands-on approach in the franchise again, many fans were hoping Dragon Ball Super would be free of the continuity errors that came about in Dragon Ball GT. But right off the bat, with the movie that ushered in Super, we already get introduced to a weird plot hole. Battle of Gods introduced fans to Beerus, a god who is so powerful that he can defeat Goku with minimal effort, and has committed genocide against planets that have angered him. He even states that he caused dinosaurs to go extinct on Earth. The problem with that last part is that dinosaurs aren’t extinct in the world of Dragon Ball.
We clearly see dinosaurs throughout the original Dragon Ball, and they even show up in Dragon Ball Z. Worse yet, there’s even a dinosaur in Battle of Gods! Was Beerus just lying to try and sound impressive? Probably not, since he can actually do everything else he claims. So are we supposed to go with a Monty Python and the Holy Grail explanation for this one? Beerus actually did kill all the dinosaurs, but they just got better? It was just such an odd line to add for Beerus when the movie would have worked fine without it.
12. NOBODY MENTIONS FRIEZA HAS A FAMILY BEFORE KING COLD SHOWS UP
Considering how briefly King Cold is in the series, you wouldn’t think there was much reason to pay attention to him. The problem is that he’s a king, so he’s clearly someone important among Frieza’s race. So how come we never see him or hear about him before he just shows up out of the blue one day? Sure, Frieza is probably trying to stake out his own legacy, but people repeatedly refer to him as the most powerful being in the universe. They call him a tyrant and talk about all the planets he destroys, but it never gets mentioned that he’s doing this stuff in the name of his father?
Presumably King Cold was the biggest threat in the universe before Frieza was born, so you’d think he’d get mentioned by Frieza or one of his minions at some point during the events on Namek. Or even better yet, when Frieza was having trouble against the Z Fighters, why not call in King Cold for backup instead of the Ginyu Force? This isn’t like Raditz, where Goku had no way of even knowing he had a long-lost brother. King Cold clearly knew his son. Introducing this new family member for Frieza made it really weird that everyone seemingly just forgot he existed.
11. WHY CAN’T FEMALE SAIYANS TURN SUPER SAIYAN?
We mention this subject a lot in Dragon Ball articles, but it really is one of the most glaring issues with the franchise. It clearly gets progressively easier for each generation of Saiyans to tap into their power. Goku and Vegeta had to suffer tremendously before they could transform into Super Saiyans because they were the last of the pure-blooded Saiyans. Then Gohan manages to not only transform as a kid, but also taps into even greater power by becoming the first Super Saiyan 2. Then Goten and kid Trunks both transform at an even younger age. So you’d think the generation after that would be transforming as toddlers.
When it comes to the female Saiyans, though, this isn’t the case. They simply don’t transform at all. For Bulla, the daughter of Vegeta and Bulma, you could argue that she just isn’t interested in fighting so she has no reason to transform. But Gohan and Videl’s daughter Pan clearly loves to fight, as seen at the end of Dragon Ball Z. Despite being extremely young, she tosses around adults with ease. Then in Dragon Ball GT, she never gains any new transformations. Maybe you can chalk that up to GT being considered non-canon, and it could be something Dragon Ball Super introduces later on. But as of the time this was published, there haven’t been any in the anime.
10. PURE BLOODED SAIYANS AREN’T SUPPOSED TO GROW HAIR, THEN GOKU AND VEGETA GROW BEARDS
A lot of Dragon Ball Z fans probably recall how after training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, Future Trunks comes out with longer hair while Vegeta’s hair is unchanged. Vegeta comments that this is because a pure-blooded Saiyan’s hair always stays the same. A lot of fans have interpreted that to mean that a Saiyan is born with the hairstyle they have for life. The mechanics of how that would work is a bit odd to think about, but whatever, we can accept it. A Saiyan like Nappa is shown having hair when he was younger, so presumably he shaved it at some point and can just never grow it back.
But what about with Goku and Vegeta? Over the course of his adventures Goku has had bits of his hair slashed off by attacking enemies, and even lit on fire. So if their hair doesn’t grow, then how would Goku’s hairstyle have grown back to stay the same? Vegeta also gets a haircut in GT, but his hair does change styles over the course of the series. Trying to figure out how haircuts work for Saiyans is just weird.
9. FRIEZA’S FIVE MINUTE COUNTDOWN
This is one of the most oft cited goofs in the franchise. Frieza realizes he’s on the losing end of his fight against Goku, so he says he’s going to make the planet self-destruct, and that it has five minutes before it explodes. Given that this is a TV show, we could be generous and say the timing can be off by a few minutes. Cell actually does a very similar thing when he plans to destroy the Earth, and his timing is off too, but that’s only by like five extra minutes or so. Frieza’s timing is off by several episodes’ worth of time. That’s way off from five minutes.
You could say that maybe Frieza was just bluffing to try and scare off Goku, or that he overestimated his abilities, but Frieza clearly really is capable of blowing up an entire planet in less than a minute. He does this exact thing to kill off the majority of the Saiyans, launching a blast from his finger at planet Vegeta and obliterating the planet.
Then again, a lot of characters are said to have the ability to destroy a planet in Dragon Ball, only for their abilities to seemingly be scaled back later. Resurrection ‘F’ even showed Frieza could detonate a planet super fast if he wanted to, and even survive the blast. So why didn’t he do this on Namek or when he went to Earth with King Cold?
8. GOKU IS SHOWN DYING ON NAMEK, BUT THEN IT’S REIMAGINED
Speaking of problems during the Namek saga, this is another one that isn’t mentioned as much as Frieza’s inability to tell time, but is even harder to explain. After Goku defeats Frieza, the planet is finally exploding, so Goku rushes back to Frieza’s spaceship to evacuate, but can’t get it to work. So the spaceship falls into the lava, and Goku flies up and watches as the planet starts to explode, seemingly ensuring his death.
Obviously Goku doesn’t die here, though. He later shows up on Earth and tells everyone how he escaped. We see a flashback to Goku on Namek on Frieza’s ship. Everything seems to be playing out just like we saw it the first time… then Goku sees another ship fall past as Frieza’s ship is going into the lava. Goku hops into this other ship and escapes the planet safe and sound. Except we already saw the first time that there wasn’t another ship, so Goku’s escape was shown in two contrary ways.
7. SOME PEOPLE REAPPEAR ON EARTH AFTER BEING WISHED BACK TO LIFE, SOME ON KING KAI’S PLANET
Everyone remembers that when Vegeta and Nappa attacked Earth, the Z Fighters were waiting for Goku to come back and help them. The reason they had to wait was because, even though they wished Goku back to life, he had to get back to Earth on his own via Snake Way, which was thousands of miles long. So in the meantime, Tien, Chiaotzu, Yamcha, and Piccolo were all killed in battle. If only Goku hadn’t needed to travel all that distance! But those are the rules, right?
Well, later in the franchise, those rules evidently went out the window. In fact, Piccolo was really the last character who was inconvenienced by this system, necessitating him being wished back to life, and then wished to Namek to help fight Frieza. But nobody else had to get back to where the fight was by being wished there or traveling Snake Way.
Remember how Vegeta was killed on Namek? Then he and all the Namekians Frieza had killed were wished back to life… and were immediately placed on Namek where they died. Vegeta even had to dig himself out of his own grave. So how come none of them had to travel Snake Way like Goku? Maybe after having Yamcha on his planet, King Kai just changed the rules so he wouldn’t have to have people bugging him all the time.
6. WHY DON’T THE Z FIGHTERS ALL TEACH EACH OTHER THEIR TECHNIQUES?
For all the talk the franchise has about the characters going off to train, they sure don’t make the most of their training very often. Remember how Goku learns Instant Transmission at the start of the Android saga, and from that point on can teleport anywhere that he can clearly picture, even other planets? That’s a pretty useful ability. So why would Goku not share how to do that with someone else at some point?
You might say some of these techniques require special training, like the Spirit Bomb and Kaio-ken techniques that only King Kai is supposed to be able to teach. Goku learned those abilities while he was dead and spending time training with King Kai. You know who else died and went to train with King Kai? Piccolo, Tien, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu. So why weren’t any of them taught these useful moves? Gohan happily teaches Goten and Videl how to fly, but nobody thinks it’d be useful for the rest of the Z Fighters to know how to teleport?
5. NO SAIYANS AFTER GOHAN GROW TAILS
For something that was such a big deal in the original Dragon Ball, this part of Saiyan heritage sure disappears quickly in Dragon Ball Z. Gohan, Raditz, Nappa, and Vegeta all have their tails at the start of the new series, but then all of them die except Gohan and Vegeta. Those two have their tails cut off during Goku’s fight against Vegeta, leaving none of the Saiyans with tails anymore. The problem is, Saiyan tails are supposed to grow back.
Goku’s tail grew back numerous times in the original Dragon Ball, and Gohan’s tail has been shown growing back as well. So why doesn’t it ever happen again in Dragon Ball Z? Even more odd is how Goten, Trunks, Bulla, and Pan are never shown with tails. You could say maybe their parents had them removed when they were babies, but again, they grow back. So what happened to all the tails? Speculation is that Akira Toriyama simply forgot about them.
4. PEOPLE THINK THE Z FIGHTER’S POWERS ARE FAKE BUT THEY HAVE BEEN WITNESSING THEM SINCE THE ORIGINAL DRAGON BALL
Depending on who you ask, Hercule is either one of the best or one of the most annoying characters in the franchise. In the Cell saga, he totally steals all the credit for the defeat of Cell since there’s no video evidence to show how Cell died. Hercule takes advantage of that to say that he delivered the final blow, and all the special attacks of the Z Fighters were just the result of props, lasers, and other tricks. And everyone believes him. The problem is that the denizens of the world of Dragon Ball have been seeing this stuff for decades, so why would they suddenly not believe it was real?
In the original Dragon Ball there was the annual World Martial Arts Tournament, and every year the fighters would bust out extraordinary techniques. Tien and Chiaotzu flew in the tournament, Goku used the Kamehameha, and everyone was powerful enough to blow up parts of the arena. The audience saw this with their own eyes every year. So why do they suddenly believe it’s all a trick during the Cell saga? Such things are clearly an ordinary part of this world for talented fighters.
3. WHAT PARTS OF THE MOVIES ARE CANON?
Your immediate response might be to say “none of them“, but that’s not quite true. When Battle of Gods was coming out, it was being touted as the first canon Dragon Ball movie. Presumably Resurrection ‘F’ is meant to be canon as well since it was the basis for one of the sagas in Dragon Ball Super. The issue is that the TV series changed some details around; in the movie for Resurrection ‘F’ Piccolo doesn’t die, while in the anime, he’s killed by Frieza. So if you were talking about how many times Piccolo has died, do you count his death here or not?
It gets even more muddled thanks to the TV series introducing other elements from the movies. The whole Garlic Jr. saga in Dragon Ball Z? That doesn’t really make sense unless you consider the Dead Zone movie to be canon. And what about Future Trunks’ sword? Did he get the sword from Tapion in Wrath of the Dragon, or is just a coincidence that kid Trunks gets a near identical sword? And what about the History of Trunks movie that gives a different account of Future Trunks’ first time becoming a Super Saiyan than what we see in the TV series?
Obviously some parts of the movies are meant to be taken as actually happening, but it creates this weird game of trying to decipher which parts could actually fit into the story of the show, and which parts are just what-if scenarios.
2. THE CONFLICTING STORIES OF WHEN PLANET VEGETA WAS DESTROYED
Since the anime begins after the destruction of planet Vegeta, we have to rely on second hand information to explain what happened to it. At first, it seems like this is taken care of by Raditz. Upon meeting Goku, he explains they are long-lost brothers, that they are Saiyans, and that Planet Vegeta was destroyed three years ago by a meteor. Okay, fair enough.
Things get messy when we later learn Frieza destroyed the planet, and he had just been lying to the remaining Saiyans to get them to cooperate with him. So Raditz was misinformed about the meteor. Makes sense so far. The only problem is that planet Vegeta was destroyed the day that Goku was sent to Earth, and since Goku is a young adult by the start of Dragon Ball Z, that means the planet must have been blown up at least around twenty years ago.
So where does Raditz get three years from? Frieza can’t lie about that. If Raditz thinks it was only three years, he must have seen the planet shortly before then, but that’s impossible since it was gone for decades.
1. GOKU AND GOHAN HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT ANTAGONISTS THEY’VE NEVER EVEN MET
Early on in Dragon Ball Z, some mistakes in the series are understandable. If you’re watching the original dub for the anime, the voiceovers are at their weakest here, and the pacing can be bloated with filler episodes. So it’s probably not too surprising that a plot hole slipped in early on. When Goku is on Snake Way, he winds up falling asleep and having a nightmare about his family being attacked by the Saiyans the Z Fighters have been warned of. Then he perfectly dreams up what Vegeta and Nappa look like, despite never seeing them at this point. An early screw up like that is understandable, but then it happens again in the Android saga, where Goku has a nightmare about Android 17 and 18 despite never seeing them either.
So can Goku just see the future? Possibly, since Gohan has the same ability. When Gohan and Goku are training for their battle with Cell, Gohan has a nightmare that Cell comes into the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and kills Chi-Chi, leaving Gohan to wake up screaming. Gohan has never even seen any of Cell’s forms, yet perfectly dreams up what Perfect Cell looks like. Nobody ever mentions Saiyans being psychic though, so it’s pretty tough to explain why this keeps happening.
Do you know any other big plot holes in the Dragon Ball franchise? Let us know in the comments!