One of the most enjoyable things about shonen style anime is that they run for such a long time and are able to tell such an expansive story. There are plenty of anime that are perfect because they can boil down a premise to a succinct 13 or 26 episodes, but other series go on for hundreds of episodes and still have no end in sight.
One of the advantages of having such a wide library of content is that it means that the show’s roster of characters can remain in flux. New characters can come and go or old familiar faces can re-enter the picture after a multi-year absence.
If there are only a handful of episodes to tell a story then clearly the show needs to stick to one core group, but series like Dragon Ball have a real luxury here.
If the show ever becomes stale, then there are ample opportunities to either have new characters come in or to eject problematic characters before the damage goes too far.
Dragon Ball does a relatively good job as it assembles a solid core cast and then slowly improvises with its supporting members as it sees fit. So while Dragon Ball may never completely clean house, there are still a number of characters who have made the show take pause, for both better and for worse.
Accordingly, here are the 10 Character Additions That Hurt Dragon Ball (And 6 Exits That Saved It).
16 Exit That Saved: Nappa
Ahh, the good ol’ days. Nappa and Vegeta’s arrival harkens back to a much simpler time in Dragon Ball Z’s history before it became interested in travelling to different planets, universes, and timelines.
Nappa initially seems like an insurmountable threat. He wipes out a lot of the lower tier members of the Z Fighters while they all await for Goku’s arrival.
However, upon Goku’s return, it’s clear that Nappa is not really much of a challenge at all and whatever potential the burly Saiyan is capable of gets cut short and remains unfulfilled.
Nappa may be Vegeta’s partner-in-crime, but it’s clear that the Saiyan Prince isn’t too attached to the guy.
Nappa helps establish some stakes in the early chapters of Dragon Ball Z, but if he managed to escape with Vegeta and had not passed away, it would have been pretty pointless for Vegeta to have a sidekick around with him all of the time.
The trajectory that Vegeta goes down post-Saiyan Saga is great and the inclusion of Nappa wouldn’t add anything to that.
If anything, Nappa’s survival might have even meant that Vegeta never became one of the “good guys” because of the baggage that Nappa brought with him. Nobody needs a redux of Zarbon and Dodoria.
15 Addition That Hurt: Android 18
The Androids are a rich concept to introduce to Dragon Ball. After fighting a number of flesh and blood villains, these cybernetic threats are more advanced than anything that the good guys have ever encountered.
The Androids make for a creative addition to the series and a strong variety of new foe. After the chaos of the Cell Saga, it makes plenty of sense to keep an Android or two around as a new type of ally for the Z Fighters to depend on.
That’s exactly what happens with Android 18, but rather than becoming a more accomplished fighter, she unfortunately trades in most of her martial arts skills for a family.
Android 18 still does some fighting, but she’s more concerned about her marriage to Krillin and their daughter, Marron.
In that sense, Android 18 is also responsible for why Krillin cools off with the fighting and becomes more of an occasional fighter.
Android 18 still has a ton of potential and she gets a nice run in Dragon Ball Super, but she definitely cuts down on fighting in order to be around for her family.
It might have been better if Android 17 was the one to stick around with the gang and it was 18 who became the hermit.
14 Addition That Hurt: Turles
The Dragon Ball movies all face a bit of an uphill battle, as it’s difficult to introduce a villain and make him interesting in the short hour-long runtime.
The Tree of Might tries to get creative on the matter and comes up with an idea that makes sense on paper, but isn’t taken nearly as far as it could be. It’s appealing to have another evil Saiyan as a villain, but Turles in The Tree of Might feels like a half-fleshed out concept that never fully comes together.
Turles is basically just a dark version of Goku, which is interesting, but the movie never even attempts to explain why Turles looks nearly identical to Goku. Are they related? Is he a clone? Who knows.
It might have been better to somehow bring Nappa or Raditz back into the fray for this movie (or a Saiyan who just looks different than Goku) rather than adding Turles and the many headaches that result from his addition.
Turles has also become increasingly popular in Dragon Ball video games and other side projects, but he’s now even more irrelevant after the addition of Goku’s evil dopplegänger, Goku Black, who is at least a legitimate threat.
13 Exit That Saved: Maron
A lot of people like to give Krillin a hard time, but out of all of the humans from Dragon Ball, the guy is extremely powerful. Not only is he arguably stronger than Tien and Yamcha, but he also appears to be the ultimate ladies man.
Krillin ends up married to Android 18, but even before that, his dating habits show that the little guy can punch well above his weight. This is even before he decides to let that luscious head of hair grow back, too.
It’s very easy to forget about Maron, Krillin’s flighty girlfriend. The character appears with him in the Garlic Jr. Saga and then shows up again during the invasion of the Androids.
It’s nice to see Krillin get a romantic foil, but Maron really doesn’t serve a purpose other than acting as a damsel in distress and looking suspiciously similar to Bulma (seriously, Maron looks more like Bulma than Bulma’s actual sister).
Maron is a character who doesn’t bring anything to the table, and the series obviously decided that it was better to trim the fat with her than try to figure out a reason for her to stick around.
Hey, if Launch couldn’t make the cut and stay in the series, then someone like Maron surely doesn't deserve to.
12 Addition That Hurt: Frieza
Frieza’s inclusion as a negative addition to the series may be a controversial opinion, but once Frieza enters the Dragon Ball universe, the show never really stops using and returning to this evil tyrant.
Dragon Ball becomes addicted to Frieza, and even after he’s finally defeated for the first time, he pops up again only a few episodes later.
The series truly gives this character a million chances to finish the job with Goku and it’s getting to the point where Frieza is almost considered Dragon Ball’s Sideshow Bob by fans.
Frieza is a great villain who’s incredibly evil in a way that so few antagonists are, but he has diminishing returns each time he reappears.
For instance, Frieza’s participation in Dragon Ball Super’s Tournament of Power would also have a lot more weight to it if he hadn’t already previously showed up in the series.
Dragon Ball has also started to play with the idea of Frieza turning into a “good guy” much like Vegeta, but it plays out exactly how you’d think it would.
A variety of villains would play better and not push the show into a rut. Or better yet, take Frieza’s extended family from the Dragon Ball movies and use them instead. It could be a lot more powerful if Dragon Ball Super’s Golden Frieza arc involved the introduction of Cooler.
11 Addition That Hurt: Broly
Dragon Ball fans either love Broly or they hate him, but even those who are into the character have slowly begun to turn on the burly Saiyan because of the arguments that surround him.
Broly and the concept of the Legendary Super Saiyan seems like an appealing premise at first, but it really opens a huge can of worms that’s a lot more trouble than it’s worth.
There are still countless debates about who out of Goku, Broly, or Bardock is the Legendary Super Saiyan that the Saiyan legends speak of, but Broly is certainly the series’ first attempt to really dig into the subject matter. Get ready for things to only become more complicated when the Dragon Ball Super movie throws Yamoshi into the mix.
Broly develops such a contentious love-hate relationship with his audience that the character somehow appears in three of Dragon Ball Z’s thirteen movies.
Broly’s motivation for resenting Goku is incredibly flimsy, but the biggest problem with the character is that there is still endless debate on whether he should be considered canon or if he and the concept of Legendary Super Saiyans are just filler.
It doesn’t help that he’s a popular presence in the Dragon Ball video games. Even in Dragon Ball Super, fans were hopeful and looking for ways for the character to finally appear in the anime.
10 Exit That Saved: Captain Ginyu
Most Dragon Ball fans would admit that the whole time that the series spends on Namek can be quite brutal for the sheer length of the material.
Dragon Ball Z’s Namek episodes really push the limits of how far filler can go, but they also lead to some very fun distractions and entertaining villains. The highlight of all of this is definitely Captain Ginyu and his exuberant Ginyu Force.
The Ginyu Force make up a truly unique team of fighters who have more to offer than simply strength alone.
However, while the existence of the Ginyu Force makes for an entertaining span of episodes, it’s for the best that Captain Ginyu doesn’t overstay his welcome and disappears from the series.
This isn’t because Captain Ginyu isn’t a good character-- he’s actually the most charismatic and interesting of the entire Ginyu Force. The issue with Ginyu is that his trademark “Change Now!” body swap attack is so brokenly overpowered that to keep him around would simply lead to too many problems.
It would be insane to have Ginyu loose all the time and constantly do his body switch shenanigans.
Furthermore, the spectacle would become old really fast and it would provide moments like his long-awaited return in Dragon Ball Super with less of an impact if he never left in the first place.
9 Addition That Hurt: Baby
A lot of Dragon Ball fans take exception to Dragon Ball GT for a number of reasons, such as Akira Toriyama’s lack of involvement, the fact that it turns Goku into a child, and its general mismanagement of characters.
One of the dominant reasons why so many fans are cruel towards Dragon Ball GT is because they feel like the material is so lazy and derivative of previous arcs in the franchise.
For example, the threat of Baby possessing and manipulating his victims is extremely similar to what we saw done with Majin Buu.
It’s nice for the series to call back to the original feud between the Saiyans and the Tuffles, but the machinations behind Baby and his push into Baby Vegeta just feels like the series wants to create a new reason for Goku and Vegeta fight each other.
The Majin Vegeta versus Goku battle was an all-time high for the series, but you can’t just recreate that moment so easily. Couldn’t Baby have possessed Gohan, which would have given Goku an excuse to finally fight his son?
An evil Vegeta or even an evil Piccolo is old news, but Baby Gohan as the end game would have had a lot more potential. Baby’s tactics feel increasingly blasé and the fact that it all culminates with the contentious Super Saiyan 4 leaves even more to be desired.
8 Addition That Hurt: Gogeta
When Dragon Ball throws the concept of fusion and its many possibilities into the mix, there are some extremely powerful combined fighters who are born as a result.
Gogeta— the union of Goku and Vegeta, courtesy of the fusion dance— first appears in the 12th Dragon Ball Z film, Fusion Reborn.
The character then makes a return in Dragon Ball GT as well, but both of these inclusions keep the character technically out of the series’ official canon. By all means, a character like Gogeta should be an absolute home run.
The only problem is that the character’s pretty redundant considering that there’s already a super powerful fusion between Goku and Vegeta.
Not only that, but when Dragon Ball Suoer returns to the concept of fusion in the war against Goku Black and Zamasu, it’s Vegito who the two fuse into and not Gogeta. It's a perfect opportunity to bring the character back in a big way, but the series chooses to ignore him.
The reason for all of this is that it’s simply unnecessary to offer up another fused version of Goku and Vegeta, let alone one that’s supposed to be less permanent and powerful than the Potara Earing fusion into Vegito.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with the character, but really, why bother? Stick to just one kind of fusion and try to make everything less complicated.
7 Exit That Saved: Yamcha
In the humble beginnings of the original Dragon Ball, the cunning bandit Yamcha was actually a crucial pillar of the series. This was also during a period when Goku was a child and he didn’t even have a fraction of an idea of what his true powers really were.
It’s kind of sad to think that Yamcha was only able to keep up with Goku when he was a prepubescent boy, but there are few humans in the Dragon Ball world who manage to stay relevant as the series goes on.
To be fair here, Yamcha never truly exits the show. In spite of the character’s many demises, he always remains in the series in some capacity, but the same can also be said for characters like Oolong and Puar, and it’s not as if they’re exactly the most relevant bunch.
So while it may not be a true exit, Dragon Ball does seem to understand that Yamcha works best as a sidelined punching bag rather than as a hero who’s in the spotlight. To put him front and center would only highlight his many weaknesses.
Dragon Ball Super brings certain characters like Master Roshi and Tien back into relevancy via the Tournament of Power, but Yamcha remains a gag through the proceedings and it’s beautiful.
Besides, who would be the focus of all of those memes if Yamcha had never been turned into a background character?
6 Addition That Hurt: Hercule Satan
The Earth has been under attack by aliens or unusual threats so often in Dragon Ball Z that it’s only natural that citizens would begin to ask questions or wonder how things like superpowers make sense.
In the later half of the series, Dragon Ball Z introduces Hercule Satan, who is very much that “grounded” fighter who the world needs to make sense of their lives. He provides an explanation for all of the crazy problems that the Earth finds itself in.
Once Hercule Satan enters the show, he takes up a heavy amount of focus and really steers the comedic direction of the series. He and the reformed Buu also become BFFs, which is awfully cute, but it’s always been a strange relationship for the series.
Somehow, this Neanderthal is the only person who can keep this pink powder keg in check.
At this point, it’s mostly just accepted that whenever the fate of the world is on the line, Hercule will do some public display to save face and be seen as the hero.
It’s frustrating to always see Goku and the rightful heroes hide in the shadows while this imbecile continues to prosper.
It’s comforting that Hercule at least seems to appreciate everything that Goku and company do… or maybe he just knows that he can’t get on their bad side.
5 Addition That Hurt: Kale
Dragon Ball Super expands the scope of the series’ universe in some very monumental ways. Not only does the show introduce new deity-like entities like Gods of Destruction, Angels, and Grand King Zeno, but it also explains that there are actually twelve different universes, with our Earth and characters set in Universe 7.
The introduction of parallel universes means that formerly extinct races, like Saiyans, can suddenly come back to life.
Accordingly, Dragon Ball Super’s Universe 6 brings in a few more Saiyans— Kale, Caulifla, and Cabba— however, these newcomers have been responsible for a lot of fan outrage regarding just how quickly they all have mastered the various stages of Super Saiyan.
It’s a lot of fun to finally have more Saiyans in the series, but for characters like Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, and Future Trunks, it was very difficult to hit the various rungs on the Super Saiyan ladder.
These Universe 6 folk master it all in a matter of hours and even get pretty close to achieving Super Saiyan 3 like it’s nothing.
Not only do these Saiyans feel like a big slap in the face to the OG crew, but Kale is especially problematic.
The character goes into a Berserker mode that essentially turns her into a female version of Broly for no other reason other than to irresponsibly get Broly fans set up for disappointment.
4 Exit That Saved: Android 16
When Dragon Ball brings Dr. Gero’s Androids into the equation, the majority of these mechanized menaces are just meant to be new sources of strength.
The Androids remain focused on destruction and the elimination of the Z Fighters, but Android 16’s software manages to dig a little deeper and find a higher purpose to his bizarre existence.
Android 16 forms a pacifistic outlook and falls in love with the world around him. This tool of destruction adopts a poet’s sensibilities and it turns him into a fascinating counterpoint to what his brothers and sisters have become, not to mention a mild commentary on free will.
Android 16 amounts to a surprisingly layered character, but his exit is the catalyst that’s necessary to push Gohan into Super Saiyan 2 for the first time, which leads to the defeat of Cell.
It might seem like it’d be a good idea to keep Android 16 around, but if he remained a permanent addition to the cast in the same vein as Android 18 (or to a lesser extent, Android 17), the character would likely become less interesting over time.
The whole reason why Android 16 works as well as he does is because his lifespan is so short-lived.
3 Addition That Hurt: Mystic Gohan
Just to be clear, the idea of Mystic/Ultimate Gohan is wonderful, and it’s actually a great moment for the series. Ever since the start of Dragon Ball Z, it’s been clear that the show was slowly shifting its focus from Goku over to his son.
The sprawling Dragon Ball saga was originally meant to be a generational tale, with Gohan taking up the mantel after his father’s passing. Just watch the original opening credit sequence for the Buu Saga and it’s clear how much Gohan is the focus, with Goku merely an afterthought (compare this to Dragon Ball Kai’s Buu Saga credits, which keep Goku in the spotlight because they then knew where things were heading).
Unfortunately, the series ultimately gets cold feet on all of this and decides to endlessly support Goku until the end of time.
Dragon Ball Z attempts to return to this original plan with Gohan’s Mystic trials with Supreme Kai and the Z Sword. It’s amazing to see Gohan become strong again, but then the series completely forgets about all of this.
Gohan turns into a punch line in Dragon Ball Super and it’s all the more painful because Mystic Gohan builds up a lot of expectations.
Where did those powers go? Can Gohan reclaim them? Due to how this character development is just abandoned, it’d be better if there was no Mystic Gohan in the first place.
2 Addition That Hurt: Jiren
When Dragon Ball Super announced that its massive multiversal Tournament of Power would actually be a chaotic free-for-all between all twelve universes at once, it led to a lot of excitement.
Not only would this lead to some incredible fights, but it would also mean that there would have to be some extremely powerful individuals who everyone would need to team up against at the end. Enter Universe 11’s Jiren.
Jiren very well might be the strongest character in the Dragon Ball franchise. He becomes the ultimate warrior to eliminate in Dragon Ball Super’s concluding arc and it takes all of the best fighters from Universe 7 to even make a dent in him, and even then he’s still in complete control.
The problem with Jiren is that while he’s impossibly strong, but the series never gives the audience a chance to connect or understand the juggernaut.
At the very last minute some brief details about Jiren’s past come forward, but he’s still largely a cipher. He makes for a good opponent in strength alone, but he’s otherwise terribly ordinary.
Someone who the show has invested more time and character development on, like Hit for example, could have held a lot more potential as the final foe.
1 Exit That Saved: Raditz
Dragon Ball Z’s very first villain kicks the series off with a bang and does a great job at resetting the status quo and showing the audience that Dragon Ball has grown up.
The development that Goku not only has a brother, but an evil alien brother, is definitely a bold way to start the series.
The battle against Raditz doesn’t spill into the double digits or overstay its welcome. If anything the battle is meant to be a warm-up of what’s to come with Nappa and Vegeta, but it still makes its mark despite being brief.
In Dragon Ball, some villains have a tendency to come back to life and never really leave, but it’s actually a good thing that Raditz exits so early and doesn’t return.
Goku being saddled with an evil sibling who constantly tries to take him to the dark side or Goku attempting to rehabilitate Raditz would likely get quite old very quickly.
It’s also important for Goku to learn to move on past his brother rather than to blindly give him second chances. The dynamic that the series runs with is a whole lot better and it avoids a clunky buddy dynamic.
Can you imagine if Goku had to traverse Snake Way or train at King Kai’s alongside Raditz?
What do you think? Are there any other additions or exits that hurt or saved Dragon Ball? Sound off in the comments!