Dragon Ball Super has yet to quite live up to Dragon Ball Z, but what it does have over its predecessor is hundreds of hours’ worth of material to call back on, in its infinite quest to pander to the Dragon Ball audience. Whether by resurrecting characters or recreating some of their finest moments, Super is at least making an effort to connect to the old series’ fanbase.
When it comes to anime, fan service is generally a term for showing off a character’s sexuality. The broader definition refers to the moments within the series that hold no weight, but are simply thrown in for the sake of the audience. We’re actually stretching the meaning of fan service to include call backs and tie-ins to both Dragon Ball and Z, which are meant to remind audiences of some of the franchise’s greatest characters and moments, whether they work in the series or not.
We’re also including moments from the Battle of Gods and Resurrection F movies, which are both canon and have since been adapted into Super arcs.
So, with full Dragon Ball Super spoilers to follow (and Dragon Ball Z spoilers for those who have been living under a rock), let’s countdown the 13 Biggest Moments Of Fan Service In Dragon Ball Super.
13 Blue Vegito
Vegito is the fused form that Goku and Vegeta take when they each wear a potara earring, while Gogeta (who has never actually been seen in animated canon) is the result of the pair performing a fusion dance. Since we last saw Vegito, Gogeta has appeared in the non-canon Fusion Reborn movie, as well as in Dragon Ball GT, so the fans have been made to wait to see the former back in action.
Whether or not it was worth seeing Vegito again is a different matter entirely though, as his fight with the recently-fused Zamasu and Goku Black lasts barely five minutes. Additionally, the whole point of the potara fusion is completely rewritten so as to bring Vegito back in the first place. The potara fusion is permanent, and while Supreme Kai and Kibito have unfused, Vegito’s power is supposedly too high to maintain the fusion, and it wears off almost instantly.
That said, it was only right that the strongest character in all of Dragon Ball Z showed up at some point, and seeing Super Saiyan Blue Vegito was a moment we had been waiting for since Resurrection F.
12 Kamehameha/Final Flash/Galick Gun Combo
There are energy blasts all over the place in the Future Trunks arc. Vegito performs a Final Kamehameha, while Vegeta and Trunks let loose a father/son Galick Gun attack. But it doesn’t get any better than when Goku, Vegeta and Trunks launch a Kamehameha, Final Flash, and Galick Gun triple whammy on Zamasu.
Unlike Vegito, the combination of arguably the three most iconic attacks in Dragon Ball was not something we necessarily expected to see, which made it all the sweeter. However, it still goes down as fan service on the grounds that it served no real purpose other than to appeal to the nostalgia of long-time Dragon Ball fans.
The attack ultimately has zero effect on Zamasu, whose immortal spirit surrounds the planet following his defeat by Trunks. Between that and the fact that there is very little build-up to what could have been one of the single greatest Dragon Ball moments, you’d be forgiven for missing it entirely.
11 Gohan is Training Again
After Frieza’s Earth-destroying hissy fit at the end of Resurrection F, Gohan is one of the few survivors. With Videl, Pan, and the Dragon Balls gone, a powerless Gohan is saved by Whis’ time do-over, and vows to never let his family down again. Gohan resumes his training with Piccolo, and he's shown in something like his Ultimate form on the poster for the Universal Survival arc, starting in February.
Goku and Vegeta are the faces of Dragon Ball Super, but it wasn’t always that way. As we all know, Gohan’s rise from innocent child to Saiyan warrior and protector of Earth is some of the best character development in all of Dragon Ball Z. Slated to become the main character after the Cell Games, Gohan was later reduced to a secondary character, there to get beaten up until Goku comes along.
His potential return as Ultimate Gohan reminds us of a time when it wasn’t all about Goku. Gohan actually stepping up and succeeding his father as Earth’s protector is a long way off, but Super is dropping hints that he might at least return to the action.
10 Resurrection F
We’re not talking about the saga as a whole, but the “F” in question, whose resurrection was more or less guaranteed since Battle of Gods was first announced. The franchise in general has been looking for ways to bring Frieza back into the fold ever since his battle with Goku. He returns immediately in the Trunks saga only to be defeated again, while he appears in Hell at the end of Dragon Ball Z. He also shows up in Fusion Reborn and GT, fighting Gohan in the former and facing off against Goku in Hell in the latter.
Frieza is the most iconic villain in Dragon Ball, and it was about time he was resurrected in canon, even if it didn’t make all that much sense. Frieza became flat-out stronger than Super Saiyan Blue after just four months of training (if he had trained for a year would he have surpassed Beerus?), but bringing him back with a new form for the Resurrection F movie was a sure way to connect the old series to the new, and to make sure a whole lot of people tuned in.
9 Captain Ginyu
Though he never appeared in the film of the same name, Captain Ginyu returns in the Resurrection F arc of Dragon Ball Super. Still trapped in a frog's body after a rare moment of quick thinking from Goku on Namek, Ginyu tricks Tagoma, Frieza’s most powerful soldier, into speaking the word “change”.
Tagoma’s body actually makes Ginyu stronger, despite his inability to fully adapt to Goku’s body in the Namek saga, but his transformation from frog to walking, talking servant of Frieza was long overdue (even if it meant that Tagoma had to become a frog instead).
Ginyu is fairly easily dispatched by Super Saiyan Gohan, and later killed by Vegeta, but he makes pretty quick work of the rest of the Z-Fighters. It’s something added in solely for fans-- realistically there’s no way Ginyu should be anywhere near base Gohan and Piccolo’s levels, but it wouldn’t have been any kind of Frieza arc with a Ginyu pose.
8 Emperor Pilaf
Emperor Pilaf was introduced early on in Dragon Ball as a small man-thing with big aspirations. His dreams of ruling the world gain him two followers: a full-grown woman and a ninja dog, and between them, they manage to mess just about everything up, despite actually gathering the Dragon Balls several times. Their first wish is stolen by Oolong, and in Resurrection F, their chance at world domination is interrupted by Sorbet, who wants to bring Frieza back to life. They do summon Shenron twice on their own, wishing for eternal youth only to be turned into children in Battle of Gods, while it is their wish that turns Goku back into a child in GT.
Pilaf and company were comical villains from the very beginning of Dragon Ball, and their ineptitude has become a running gag through the entire franchise. Now reappearing in Super, they serve no real purpose (although Future Mai has a part to play in the Trunks saga), other than to connect the series to the original Dragon Ball, but they succeed in doing just that.
7 Goku vs. Copy Vegeta
Now that Goku and Vegeta are legitimate friends, or at least, legitimately on the same side, we thought we had seen the last of their famous battles. Though their rivalry continues, the only time we were ever going to see them fight for real was if Vegeta were turned into an evil copy of himself made of pink sludge. Unbelievably, that’s exactly what happens.
When Vegeta is absorbed by the mysterious liquid Commeson, his power is drained entirely, and the pink liquid forms itself into Vegeta’s clone. The only way to save the real Vegeta is to defeat the clone, which retains all of Vegeta’s power. Gotenks fails to beat Copy Vegeta, but Goku shows up in the nick of time, just as confused by the whole thing as we are.
Goku eventually wins out after Monaka accidentally weakens Copy Vegeta. The whole thing is kind of a farce, but realistically, it’s the only way we were ever going to see a Goku/Vegeta rematch, and it makes for a few comedic episodes of worthwhile filler.
6 The History of Trunks
Future Trunks is basically walking fan service at this point, as he and his sword return to the series with more backstory, some old techniques, and a brand new power up. The fact that he returned to the series in the first place is a sign of how popular he is within the Dragon Ball fanbase, but there’s one Trunks moment in particular that stands out as maximum fan service.
The morning after his first appearance in the present, Future Trunks catches up with Piccolo and Krillin, and the former tells Future Trunks that Gohan is now a scholar. Surprised at what has become of Gohan, Trunks recounts the tale of the initially non-canon Dragon Ball Z movie: The History of Trunks, in which Gohan is Trunks’ teacher and only friend.
Besides Future Trunks’ hair colour, the flashbacks reveal History of Trunks to be historically accurate, and therefore canon to the main Dragon Ball saga. History of Trunks is generally considered to be the best-loved and most consistent of the original Dragon Ball Z films, and so legitimizing its story is a real tip of the hat from Dragon Ball Super to its fans.
5 Special Beam Cannon
Although we don’t like to admit it, Piccolo’s Special Beam Cannon became kind of irrelevant after the very first Dragon Ball Z saga, in which he uses it to kill both Goku and Raditz. While it does appear through the Android and Cell arcs, it is usually deflected fairly easily, and given the time it takes to charge the technique, Piccolo generally resorts to other methods.
During his battle with Frost at the Multiverse Tournament, we finally get to see the Special Beam Cannon back in action. The attack doesn’t according go to plan-- in fact it completely misses its target, but Piccolo outsmarting Frost to stay in the game while he charges the move is a great callback to the Dragon Ball Z Piccolo we know and love.
Frost actually has to resort to cheating to beat Piccolo, who had expanded his arm to trap the Universe 6 equivalent of Frieza (go figure). He does admit though that the move would have wiped him out, and it’s nice moment of recognition for one of our favourite Dragon Ball attacks.
Goku later faces off against Hit at the same tournament, adapting quickly to Hit’s time-stop technique after seeing it performed on a defeated Vegeta. Still heavily overpowered by the Universe 6 assassin, even in his Super Saiyan Blue state, Goku announces that he has been working on a new technique, but there’s a 90% chance it will destroy his body. This being Goku, he perfects the move just in time for him to show off on the big stage, and the Kaio-ken returns for the first time since the Frieza saga.
The Kaio-ken supposedly doubles the user’s power for a brief time, and so Goku going straight to Kaio-ken x10 in his strongest form yet does make you wonder why he never used it toward the end of Dragon Ball Z. Still, the Kaio-ken finally gets the credit it deserves, and after combining the technique with Super Saiyan Blue, Goku gets a new power up, and reaches his strongest form yet.
3 Master Roshi
Let’s face it: Master Roshi holding his own against Frieza’s men is ridiculous. Granted, they’re weaker than Frieza’s original army, but Roshi is hundreds of years old, and hasn’t improved since Dragon Ball, when he was overtaken by Goku long before Super Saiyan was even a thing. He has also been picked by Beerus as one of the 10 fighters to represent Universe 7 in the upcoming Universal Survival saga, over Goten and Trunks (who presumably aren’t allowed to enter), and even Yamcha, who has trained on King Kai’s planet and far surpassed Roshi at this point.
But Dragon Ball wouldn’t be Dragon Ball if it made any sense at all. Roshi returning to action goes some way toward fixing one of Dragon Ball Z’s biggest problems; that the original Dragon Ball characters faded into obscurity once the Saiyans were introduced. We’re not exactly sure how it works, but we appreciate the sentiment, and seeing Master Roshi wipe out a whole bunch of dudes with a full power Kamehameha this far down the line is the stuff of legend.
2 Someone Other Than Goku Defeats a Main Villain
We already mentioned that Gohan is a fan favourite in the Dragon Ball community, and the reason is clear. Dragon Ball has always had an ensemble cast, but ultimately, you know how every saga is going to end. We’ve seen it with the Saiyans, Buu, now twice with Frieza, and at the Multiverse Tournament; the Z-Fighters will get a shot at the minions, but Goku will always show up when the real threat steps forward.
Gohan’s defeat of Cell represents a genuine moment of shock and excitement, as someone other than Goku steps into the limelight to take on and actually beat the main villain. The History of Trunks being officially canonized makes it the only other exception to the Goku rule, as Goku hardly features at all in the film.
So it is only fitting that Trunks gets his moment to shine in the present timeline. Cell and the Androids were Trunks’ problem, but his inexperience showed, and he needed Goku and Gohan to step up. This time, when Zamasu explains that his Zero Mortal plan was a result of Trunks’ meddling, the young Saiyan transforms into Super Trunks, and this time, it doesn’t go to waste. With one upward stroke with his Spirit Bomb-infused sword, Trunks rights all of his past wrongs, and momentarily distracts from the Goku and Vegeta Show.
1 Yamcha’s Hole in the Ground
Episode 70 of Dragon Ball Super, “Champa’s Challenge,” is both the perfect call back to Dragon Ball Z, and the single greatest episode of filler in the history of Dragon Ball. It feels almost impossible to do the episode any sort of justice in a single paragraph, but here goes nothing.
Champa challenges Beerus and Universe 7 to a baseball tournament, and Goku and Vegeta get far too carried away in their own personal rivalry to the point that the game gets out of hand. Yamcha steps up as the only member of either team to understand baseball, but he is greatly overpowered by just about everyone on the field. When the Gods of Destruction leave a hole in the ground after an argument that ends the game, they find Yamcha passed out in the crater (sound familiar?) having made it to home plate, and Universe 7 gets the win.
This is Dragon Ball Super acknowledging that Yamcha has become a running joke. It’s Dragon Ball Super giving Yamcha a rare moment of victory in the only way it knows how. And it’s Dragon Ball Super at its absolute best.