You’d be hard-pressed to find an anime as iconic as Akira Toriyama’s legendary Dragon Ball franchise.
The hair, the clothes, the characters, the humor and, yes, the explosive battles have burrowed their way into the cultural psyche of multiple generations, and following the success of the latest series and newest movie, it doesn’t seem like Dragon Ball will be going anywhere else but up for a very long time to come.
That said, when it comes to a series as long-running as Dragon Ball, there are bound to be a few dots that no longer connect, or long-running plot threads that are abruptly cut or never adequately tied together. Worse yet, some elements may never even successfully make it out of the creator’s mind.
Considering the Dragon Ball franchise’s countless characters and increasingly complex plot, the aforementioned issues are impossible to escape, but have no fear! Today, with our list of 25 Amazing Things Deleted From Dragon Ball (That Would Have Changed Everything,) we’re going to dig deep into the forgotten, retconned and aborted plot-lines and plot points that never saw the light of day.
These range from character origins and motivations all the way through to entire plot arcs. Much of the content in this list is based on confirmed facts, but we’ll readily admit that we’re going to be tackling some well-founded theories as well.
Summon Kintoun, grab a sack of Senzu, and hold on to the Dragon Radar, because we’re about to go on a mystical adventure through the entire Dragon Ball franchise!
25 Piccolo’s Demonic Origins
Piccolo is one of the best characters in the entire franchise (if not THE best,) and rightfully so. Going from heartless, malevolent villain to beloved father figure and stalwart defender of the Earth, Piccolo shows tremendous growth and is a fighter that can always be relied upon, no matter the odds.
That said, Piccolo’s origin went through a major change, and it’s been a point of contention ever since.
In Dragon Ball, Demon King Piccolo, the father of the current Piccolo, was a literal demon and basically the devil, but in Z, we discover that Piccolo’s not actually a demon, but an... alien? Yeah, the retcon really flies in the face of his demonic origins. Needless to say, if they had continued the demonic origin story for Piccolo, it would have made his transition to hero even more fascinating.
24 The Grand Priest’s Scheme
While it’s certain that there will be a new series after Dragon Ball Super and the recent Broly film, details are generally pretty scarce. That said, there’s one seemingly abandoned plot point from Super that could make for a good story.
Although just a theory, the idea of the Grand Priest and the majority of Angels being manipulative evil-doers has a lot of evidence justifying it.
For example, during the Tournament of Power, the Grand Priest seems to be manipulating Zen-Oh, but the most curious and chilling evidence is the malevolent stare and small smirk he gives Goku during the erasure of the first Universe. Heck, even that Universe’s Angel has an aloof chuckle about it.
Judging by the visuals and motivations, it seems like this plot point was far into development before the plug was pulled, but we’ll still have to wait to see if there’s any merit to it.
23 Bardock’s Original Story
For all the great things going for the latest movie, Broly, there’s one major negative that’s stirred the fan-base into a grumbling tizzy: the retcon of Bardock’s original story.
In the first Bardock special, our “hero” is painted as a ruthless, heartless Saiyan who cares little for anyone or anything, including his newborn child. Eventually, he grows a heart and tries to rally his race against Frieza, but fails, with his only solace being the knowledge that his son would face-off with the tyrant in the future.
In Broly, Bardock is basically turned into Jor-El, being a good hearted Saiyan who loved his wife and children, fighting valiantly to protect them.
Alas, this neutered his charm and personality, and we wish that the original, unique characterization had remained.
22 Garlic Jr. And His Father
Garlic Jr. is generally a disliked figure in the fandom, mostly due to him starring in the equally-generally disliked Garlic Jr. saga, but it isn’t fair treatment for the imp. For one, he attained immortality. Secondly, his backstory is insane. His father attempted and failed to become Kami, he raised an army of demons and monsters, laid siege to Earth and had to be sealed away.
Alas, Garlic and his son have been essentially wiped out of canon, but their well-developed motivations would make for an excellent return, perhaps with father and son teaming up and unleashing a new horde of “Demon Clansmen.”
21 Gohan Taking Up The Mantle
When Gohan achieved Super Saiyan 2 and destroyed Cell in a climactic Kamehameha clash, fans rejoiced across the world. Gohan had successfully become the most popular character in the series, surpassing his father, and enrapturing countless fans.
Akira Toriyama fully intended Gohan to take up the mantle as the protagonist and lead Dragon Ball for the foreseeable future, but he admittedly found it difficult to write an action series from the perspective of a character who very much did not care for fighting as much as his father did. This can be seen clearly in the manga's depiction of Great Saiyaman, where Toriyama dropped the idea within four chapters, easing Goku back into the story with the 25th Tenkaichi Budokai.
20 Frieza’s Extended Family
Toriyama must have some kind of fascination with Bardock, as he’s been revisited multiple times and given dramatically retconned stories. While Dragon Ball Minus was the source for the Superman-inspired take on the character for Broly, Bardock also starred in another special where he went back in time, became a Super Saiyan, and caused Frieza’s ancestor to perish.
While that’s interesting in its own right, we’re more concerned about Frieza’s family. Is this ancestor canon? We know Frieza has a father, but what about the mother? And following the success of rebooting Broly, are we finally going to see Cooler return to the series for real?
There’s a lot to work with here, and we’re eager to see if these cut characters come back.
19 Goku’s Mind Reading Powers
One of the greatest moments in Dragon Ball Z is when Goku finally makes it to Namek. Up until this point, the plight of the heroes seemed beyond dire, with no one being even remotely capable of stopping Frieza or his henchmen. Goku’s arrival was a beacon of hope, and the rest is history… especially that one part where he used mind-reading powers that were never seen again.
Instead of having Krillin tell him what was going on, Goku straight up read his mind and learned everything there was to know about the situation. This has never happened again, but surprisingly does have some relevancy in the series as the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai establishes through Jackie Chun that martial arts masters can read minds... too bad this never comes up again.
18 Chiaotzu’s Relevancy
Oh poor, poor Chiaotzu. Once a major player in the original Dragon Ball, his relevance very quickly dropped after his introductory arc only for him to be almost entirely written out of Super and beyond, Chiaotzu has faced a truly disheartening journey to irrelevancy.
Toriyama is known to sideline characters when he's either done with their arcs or doesn’t know what to do with them (which we’ll get into even more later on,) and we’re not even saying that we care if Chiaotzu is relevant… it’s just a shame that a character with such a long history has been more-or-less deleted, with any shreds of potential left behind to rot.
17 Android 17’s Family
To be fair, Android 17’s real reintroduction to the series came very late into the game, so it’s not totally surprising we didn’t learn more about his family.
What IS surprising, though, is that we never seen any genuine evidence of them, not even during the finale where they’re supposedly with him on a cruise.
Now, we’re not trying to say they’ll never show up or be revealed, but certainly they had something planned regarding them. It’d be weird to build up to them and then have no pay-off unless something had to be left on the cutting room floor due to budget or time.
16 The Original Saiyan Backstory
This is a pretty intense issue to tackle, but at this point, the Saiyan backstory has been redone so many times that we’re not even sure that Akira Toriyama himself has any idea what’s going on any more.
The only constant has been that the Saiyans were a warrior race. The rest of the details, from how they came to Planet Vegeta, who their allies were or even where their iconic armor and scouters originated from have all been shifted around.
Currently, Frieza and his father are the one’s who gave the Saiyans scouters, but before them, the technology was stolen from the Tuffles. Considering the original anime's penchant for filler, we currently have a franchise where any given detail is subject to be changed as Toriyama has next to no interest in Toei's original material.
15 Two Kamis?
It was an interesting concept for the characters of Dragon Ball to interact with God himself so regularly, but it’s just another element that makes Dragon Ball Dragon Ball.
There’s a problem though: it’s been implied multiple times that Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball take place in the same universe, but the Kami in Dr. Slump is definitely NOT the Namekian Kami from Dragon Ball.
Obviously, Kami being Namekian (or the good half of an evil demon) made the most sense for Dragon Ball’s story, but if Toriyama had stuck with the original, human Kami, things would have been vastly different.
14 The Android/Cell Saga Before It Was Meddled With
It’s safe to say that Akira Toriyama is one of the greatest creative minds of our time. He appears to have boundless creativity as he practically whips up fascinating worlds, stories, characters, and concepts without a break.
That said, sometimes a person’s greatest creative triumphs can come from outside pressure, like budgetary constraints or, in this case, a nagging editor reigning you in.
As such, the original concepts for the Android and Cell sagas were vastly different, particularly in terms of the designs regarding the titular villains, but Toriyama’s editor continually forced him to rework the concepts until we got the versions we’re familiar with today.
13 Krillin And Maron
This list deals with deleted and abandoned concepts that would have dramatically altered the Dragon Ball series as we know it. So far, we’ve tackled theories, retcons, things left in the editing room, along with abandoned characters, and plots… but what about abandoned characters and plots that seemed to be aborted midway through without ever being totally removed?
That brings us to Krillin and his strange relationship with one of the worst characters in the franchise, Maron.
Serving no other purpose than to be Krillin’s girlfriend, Maron had less than one dimension of characterization and just about zero relevance to anything in the series.
If there were ever any plans to start with, they must have been abandoned in the blink of an eye.
12 Dr. Gero’s Purpose and Origin
Dr. Gero is a fascinating character. While often getting overlooked due to his far more prevalent creations like Androids 17 and 18, along with Cell, Gero deserves at least a smidge of respect.
It’s mind-boggling to consider, but he was able to create beings more powerful than Frieza with nothing more than his brain and technical prowess, which is insane. And he also great motivation: hating Goku for his acts against the Red Ribbon Army during Dragon Ball. What a great way to bridge the gap between the two series!
… except Dr. Gero didn’t exist in Dragon Ball, only Z.
Acting like something of a reverse deletion, Dr. Gero was an amazing thing INSERTED into Dragon Ball that DID change everything… but couldn’t they have just picked an actual character from Dragon Ball to really make this work?
11 Yamcha’s Abandoned Lovelife
Whether curled up in a crater or being shamed online, Yamcha has a hard life. Despite his hardships, his goofiness and infamy have still earned him a legion of fans, and the baseball episode of Super was a wonderful way to pay homage to his most die-hard admirers.
Despite that, it’s a shame that Yamcha has never really been given a real chance to shine. To make matters worse, almost all of his plotlines have been tossed aside… especially his quest for love.
All’s he’s ever wanted was a girlfriend, but following Bulma and a few brief no-namers, he’s been all alone.
Come on, Toriyama, give our lord and savior a proper conclusion to his love life!
10 Saiyan Tails
Like the Saiyan backstory’s many revisions and outright deletions, the most iconic element of a Saiyan’s biology has faced a similar, if not more permanent, fate. The tails, and their transformative powers, played a huge role in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, as did their ability to weaken a Saiyan if grabbed. Heck, even GT took advantage of the dormant Oozaru concept.
Alas, even with that late-game reference, tails have more-or-less gone extinct. Gohan was the last Saiyan to have a tail, while the Universe 6 Saiyans never had them from the start thanks to evolution. These awesome and, at one time, critical components to Dragon Ball lore have gone by the wayside, and we don’t think they’re coming back.
9 The Mechanics Of The Multiverse
Dragon Ball Super has vastly expanded the fictional world of the franchise, introducing us to all kinds of gods, angels, aliens, and, yes, entire alternate universes. The multiverse of Dragon Ball is a major concept in Super, and is the subject of two tournaments, one of which dictated the fate of every last bit of the many universes.
Sadly, despite being introduced in Super, the concept has already gone through a major deletion: twin universes. For example, it was stated Universe 7 and Universe 6 are paired, so their Gods of Destruction, races and planets are all alternate versions of one another.
That was really the last we heard of this concept, though, as the Tournament of Power showed no other universes sharing this kind of existence.
8 Gohan’s Teenage Drama
When Cell was defeated at the hands (or hand, rather) of a severely wounded, but still immensely powerful, Gohan, it was believed that the young half-Saiyan would take up his dearly departed father’s mantle and become the world’s savior.
While this didn’t exactly pan out, we did get a taste of what a Gohan-led series would be like… but only a very, very brief (and strange) one.
Before the Buu Saga really got started, we saw Gohan as an older teen attend high school and even adopt a superhero persona. While this would contain the building blocks for later plot elements, any real exposure to Gohan living a normal life seemed to end almost as fast as it began.
7 Majin Buu In The Tournament Of Power
In all honesty, we’d bet that it was Akira Toriyama’s intention all along for Frieza to come back for the Tournament of Power, and Majin Buu being a team member was nothing more than a Red Herring. That said, there’s something about the whole situation that makes us wonder if this really was the plan after all.
Regardless of the was or was not, it was awesome seeing Buu get into shape, and it would have been fantastic to finally see Buu do something other than say how much he loves Mr. Satan or how much he loves to eat.
Still, we’re glad he fell asleep, because seeing Goku and Frieza team-up was totally worth trudging through the series’ torturous first three quarters.
6 New Namek’s Dragon Balls
Future Trunks is a fan favorite character, and for good reason: he was the second Super Saiyan we ever saw, he made Frieza look like a joke, and he had a sword. His backstory was also captivating, as he hailed from a ravaged future where the rest of our heroes had perished in battle.
But here’s the thing: why did Trunks never go to New Namek to use their Dragon Balls to help reclaim his world during any of the events that led to cataclysm? It's possible that Trunks and Bulma simply couldn't figure out where New Namek was in the future (along with lacking the proper space ship,) but it's still odd that Trunks never mentions this possibility.
5 Where Is Lunch?
Earlier we mentioned that Akira Toriyama is notorious for side-lining characters who have served their initial purpose and he no longer knows what to do with them. Sometimes he keeps them around as pointless set dressing (if that) but other times, like in Android 17’s case, he brings them back after they’ve rested.
This brings us to Lunch. Not unlike Chiaotzu, Lunch was an integral part of the original Dragon Ball, and was a unique, if not one-dimensional, character that would change between a kind-hearted woman and destructive rogue after sneezing.
After Dragon Ball, she barely even got the set dressing treatment, being relegated to nothing more than the briefest of cameos instead.
4 Goku and Uub
After Majin Buu is defeated in Dragon Ball Z, there is a time skip to the “Peaceful World Saga,” where Goku decides to train with Uub and they sail off into unknown adventures.
Dragon Ball Super takes place before this moment, so we’ve only gotten a single reference to Uub. Dragon Ball GT, on the other hand, has some explaining to do.
Taking place five years after the Peaceful World Saga, we never once get to see any of the training that Goku and Uub apparently did together, and Uub himself is barely in the series, despite the huge set-up in Z.
3 The Grand Kai
This is a big one: where in the (other) world is the Grand Kai? Dragon Ball’s ideas regarding the afterlife and various deities have always been fascinating and unique, but Super adds so much to it the already stuffed concept to the point that it barely makes sense. A casualty of this rapid expansion is the Grand Kai.
Basically a mix between a hip old dude and a traditional concept of a bearded God, Grand Kai rules over the four quadrants of the universe, with the four kais serving beneath him. He was then swept under the rug by the introduction of the Kaioshin, and was essentially never heard from again. For a figure that was painted to be immensely important, his abandonment as a concept is especially jarring.
2 Future Zen-Oh’s Big Secret
Fair warning: this is major theory territory and, unlike the idea of the Grand Priest being malevolent, it has far less substantial evidence.
Despite this, there are still some very curious quirks regarding the character of the Future Zen-Oh that receive no pay-off, which suggests that there might’ve been something planned, but it was held off for later (if ever.)
In short, the way that Future Zen-Oh always needs to correct what he says or what gesture he uses when with his present-day self is suspicious, to say the least, and it’s given a sizable chunk of fans concerns that he might actually be Zamasu in disguise after somehow surviving his apparent eradication.
We know it’s only a weak theory, but still… why put in that odd quirk if it served no purpose?
1 Pikkon And The Other World Fighters
The greatest loss to the Dragon Ball franchise, even when compared to everything else on this list, is Pikkon.
Despite having a comparatively minimal role, Pikkon, a deceased fighter first met by Goku in Other World, was quick to acquire a sizable fan base (and one that we’re happily part of.)
Way before Super showed us powerful fighters from multiple universes, it was awe-inspiring to see a hero from another world be Goku’s rival in terms of power.
Even now, during the age of Super, people still clamor for Pikkon, with many wishing that he would have replaced Buu instead of Frieza.
In truth, Pikkon has likely sailed into the sunset as he was always a filler character, and we should send our hopes and dreams for his return with him.