The Dragon Ball franchise is one of the longest-running anime franchises of all time, spanning across over 40 manga volumes, multiple anime series, movies, and countless video games. With such a long history, it's almost expected for there to be a few hiccups in the continuity of the franchise's canon, and boy are there.
These errors and unanswered questions mostly exist in Dragon Ball Z, which introduced a ton of new elements to the story, as well as a ton of filler that didn't exist in the manga. Creator Akria Toriyama has often stated that he would just write the story as he went, not thinking too far ahead or referencing past chapters that often.
This is most likely the main reason for a few slip-ups in the canon and continuity of the show. Again, a lot of these happened in Dragon Ball Z, since it had insane, over-the-top elements like Super Saiyans, intergalactic villains, androids, and ancient evil alien monsters.
So what are some of the worst and/or craziest continuity errors in the franchise? We gathered up some of the biggest unanswered questions and head-scratchers to bring you Dragon Ball: 15 Biggest Continuity Mistakes In The Franchise.
15 TAILS AND GREAT APES
In the original Dragon Ball series, Goku was meant to be an adaptation of/homage to Sun Wukong, the monkey king, protagonist of Journey to the West. This is where the idea to give Goku a tail came from, and as the franchise progressed, we learned the contextual reason for the tail. It turns out that Goku is an alien, a Saiyan from Planet Vegeta.
Like Goku, all Saiyans have monkey-like tails, as well as the ability to transform into giant apes when looking at the moon, with the transformation ending when the tail is cut off. However, tails have been shown to grow back on several occasions with only fan theories to explain why.
To add further confusion, Gohan seems to be the only half-breed who's ever had a tail, and the explanation by Toriyama is even stranger. The creator says that tails are recessive traits, but if that was true then how did Gohan get one?
Toriyama has also stated that he grew tired tails and great apes so he just stopped including them.
14 ANDROIDS OR CYBORGS?
The term "android" is defined as a robot with a human appearance, but someone didn't tell that to Dragon Ball, since it's used the term to describe actual androids, genetically engineered organisms, and cyborgs.
Androids have long served as adversaries in the world of Dragon Ball, starting with the Red Ribbon Saga of the original series and continuing into the Android and Cell sagas.
The term Android is accurate for some of the robotic enemies seen in the franchise, like Android 16 and 19, but Android's 17 and 18 should more accurately be called cyborgs, since they were modified humans. To be fair, this inconsistency might just be a translation issue since the original Japanese term used to describe the Androids is Jinzōningen, which translates to "artificial human." Then again, this might also imply androids rather than cyborg.
Don't even ask us where Cell fits in to all this!
13 WHEN WERE THE SAIYANS DESTROYED?
This is definitely explainable, but still worth mentioning since it's pretty interesting how it came about.
In the original Ocean dub of Dragon Ball Z - a collaboration between FUNimation, Saban, and Ocean - there were a few inconsistencies. The series was heavily edited and condensed for an American audience, resulting in quite a few errors. One of them is when exactly the Saiyans were eliminated.
Planet Vegeta was destroyed by Frieza, an attack that occurred just before Goku, in Superman fashion, was sent to Earth.
However, when Goku was 24 at the start of Dragon Ball Z, Raditz showed up and stated that their home planet was destroyed only 3 years prior.
This one is definitely the result of bad translation, but who knows - maybe Raditz is just bad at counting.
12 JUST HOW TALL IS KRILLEN?
Krillin is often stated to be five feet tall, and usually he appears that way. However, there are multiple occurrences in Dragon Ball Z where his height seems to randomly change, sometimes in the same scene. One particular example comes in the first episode of Dragon Ball Z, in which Radtiz arrives on Earth.
When Goku and his friends are shown reacting to his brother's arrival, Krillen is almost as tall as Bulma, listed as 5'5," but when approaching Raditz, he doesn't even reach the Saiyan's waist.
Raditz has no "official" Dragon Ball Wiki height listing, but that kind difference seems pretty inconsistent. Not to mention the fact that he was shown almost as tall as someone who is 5 inches taller than him.
Maybe his height changes for dramatic effect, or maybe everyone's heights are inconsistent, since Raditz was shown to be as tall as both Goku and Piccolo, the latter of which is listed as 7'5''. It's all very confusing.
11 CAN SAIYAN'S BREATH IN SPACE?
One of the arguments brought up when fans debate if Goku could beat Superman in a fight is that Superman can survive in the vacuum of space, while Saiyans cannot. However whether or not this claim is true is not actually clear.
Because the Dragon Ball Z anime was produced just a few chapters behind the manga's release, it was subject to a lot of filler arcs - bonus episodes not adapted from the manga, meant to give some wiggle room so the anime didn't catch up to the manga's story. The canon of these filler arcs are often subject to question due to causing a few continuity errors.
In one of these filler arcs, Nappa and Vegeta are seen surviving, and even conversing, outside their space pods. However, in the Frieza Arc, Frieza himself states that he could survive in space while Goku could not. So what's the right answer?
It certainly doesn't help that Goku fought Beerus outside Earth's atmosphere as a Super Saiyan God in Battle of the Gods and Dragon Ball Super.
10 KING COLD?
Before his defeat by Goku, and later Trunks, Frieza was referred to as one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Many feared Frieza for his massive power level and multiple transformations that further increased that power. However, there is one thing that was never quite explained about Frieza: his alien race.
When Frieza showed up at the beginning of the Android Saga, rebuilt as a cyborg, he brought along with him his father, King Cold. But wait - if he was the most powerful being in the universe, then how come we never heard of his father, who, as a king of some kind, should be more powerful than Frieza?
Resurrection F and Dragon Ball Super would later explain that his people are naturally gifted with massive power and multiple transformations, further confusing fans over why Frieza specifically was the most feared over others of his race.
9 HOW DID GOKU GET OFF NAMEK?
During his fight with Goku on Namek, Frieza destroys the planet's core, causing it to grow unstable. The planet eventually explodes, and Goku and Frieza are left to perish in the explosion and loss of atmosphere. However, both characters are shown to survive the destruction of the planet.
As we established earlier, Frieza's kind can survive in a vacuum, and he was luckily saved while floating in space before his fatal wounds killed him. Goku's survival on the other hand is a big of a mystery.
When he is recounting the tale to his friends and family, he says he found one of the Ginyu Force's space pods and used it to get away. However, we saw that same scene a few episodes prior, wherein the pod descended into lava, making it unusable. So what's the truth?
8 POWER LEVELS
Power levels as a concept are pretty inconsistent throughout the Dragon Ball franchise. The concept was introduced in the Saiyan arc through the use of scouters, devices that measure the maximum ki output of an individual. However, as the series progressed, what power levels represented, how they worked, and the power levels of specific characters were constantly in flux.
However, this inconsistency might be explainable. Akira Toriyama himself has stated that power levels were introduced for two reasons; to show how a weaker enemy could defeat a stronger enemy and to show how unreliable power levels could be.
Essentially, the power levels were meant to be too relied upon by enemies that would underestimate Goku and others. However, this didn't stop fans from being confused by how power levels work.
7 SAIYAN AGING
Any Dragon Ball fan can tell you that Saiyans age slower than humans, staying in their prime longer so they can maintain their fighting prowess.
Goku's appearance hasn't really changed since he hit his 20s and Vegeta has shown no signs of aging since his introduction. However, does this aging pattern also slow their growing process?
We ask because Goten and Trunks have been seemingly been the same age since the Buu Saga, not appearing to age through several arcs of Dragon Ball Super. In the Buu Saga, Goten and Trunks were depicted as being seven and eight, but their appearances haven't changed in the first arc of Super, where are are listed as being 11 and 12.
Gohan had clearly grown when he was that age, so what's going on?
6 CASUAL GOD TRANSFORMATION
In both Battle of the Gods and the Dragon Ball Super adaptation of the story, we are introduced to the concept of the Super Saiyan God transformation. Unlike other Super Saiyan forms, this one requires the help of five Super Saiyans combining their power into a sixth Saiyan. After accessing this form, both Goku and Vegeta were able to tap into the god power and create the Super Saiyan Blue form.
After Super Saiyan Blue was introduced, Super Saiyan God wasn't seen again - that is, until the Tournament of Power arc. There is a point in the battle where Goku randomly turns Super Saiyan God to take out a foe, a move that Whis says is wise, since the form doesn't eat up energy and stamina. But how the heck did he transform?
It's never explained. If he could do that the whole time, why didn't he use it to take out everyone in the fight with the strength of a god?
5 TRUNKS & ALTERNATE TIMELINES
Though not exactly an inconsistency, the many alternate timelines of Dragon Ball are just as confusing. Apparently, there are seven separate timelines in the Dragon Ball universe. Yes, seven. All but one of these timelines is the result of Future Trunks' time traveling, usually to get help from past warriors to defeat a foe too strong for him.
There is the main timeline, wherein all of the events of the series take place, from Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball Super. Then, there's the timeline that Future Trunks came from, where the androids took over the world after Goku died from a heart disease. The third timeline is the one in which Cell killed Trunks and stole his time machine to come back to the main timeline.
There are four other confusing timelines, including the one in which Goku Black exists and the one in which Zamasu is destroyed before he can become Goku Black. Man, where's Doc Brown with a chalkboard when you need him?
4 GOKU'S FORGOTTEN POWERS
We already talked about how Goku doesn't turn into a great ape after the events of Dragon Ball, but that's not the only power he never uses anymore.
By mastering ki control, Goku has a whole arsenal of powers and abilities at his disposal, but he only seems to use a few of them: flight, ki blasts, and instant transmission. However, he has so many more abilities than just these - ones that could have helped him out a lot in some of his toughest battles.
Goku has shown to have telepathy, mind reading, telekinesis, and the ability to heal others with ki. All of those would have come in super handy in pretty much every battle he failed to use them in. Dragon Ball Super managed to bring back the evil containment wave and the Kaio-ken in some creative ways, at least.
3 THE AFTERLIFE
Pretty much everyone dies in the Dragon Ball universe, it's kind of a rite of passage at this point. All joking aside, all of the main Z-fighters have died in battle, only to later be resurrected by the Dragon Balls.
However, since there are sometimes rules against wishing someone back to life (we'll get to the confusing wish rules later) characters sometimes stay dead and head for the afterlife.
But here's the problem, the afterlife, known as Other World, makes no sense, and the rules/continuity are constantly thrown out the window. Some people get to keep their bodies after they die and others don't. Goku got to keep his for fighting for good, but villains were seen keeping their bodies in the next world.
Also, it's never clear whether or not souls can die after death. Seriously don't even try going down the wiki rabbit hole that is Other World.
2 THE Z-FIGHTERS' EXISTENCE
In the early days of the Dragon Ball franchise, Goku and his ki-powered friends never seemed to hide their extraordinary abilities from the public. In fact, during the Cell Games, they were out in the open - flying and going super Saiyan on live television. However, from that point on, the Z-fighters were not only happy to let Hercule take the credit for all their work, but they actually perpetuate this facade.
One might write it off as the Z-Fighters not seeking glory like Hercule, but really, why so much secrecy? Heck, why hasn't the world figured out that Saiyans and Namekians and ki exist? They were all present at various televised martial arts tournaments. Gohan even made a big deal of not going Super Saiyan at the 25th world martial arts tournament.
1 DRAGON BALL WISH RULES
Though this one has been partially "explained" with various retcons, the rules of the Dragon Ball wishes are kind of all over the place.
The Dragon Balls are what started the whole series; Bulma and Goku searching for the magical orbs to ask for a wish from the great dragon Shenron. However, you can't just wish for anything, as there are some rules.
Originally, Shenron could only grant one wish per summoning, but that was later upgraded to three, or two if one wish uses a mass amount of power. Further his powers are linked to that of his creator, so he cannot be used to defeat someone more powerful than whoever created him.
And that's only the beginning. There are so many rules to wishes, most of which were added later to stop the Dragon Balls from being all powerful.
To make things even more confusing, there are separate rules for the Earth and Namekian Dragon Balls, which bring up some confusing concepts when both have been used to resurrect the same person.
Did you notice any more continuity mistakes in Dragon Ball? Do you have explanations for the ones we listed? Share them in the comments!