It’s not easy to stay in control of a series that grows to be as popular as Dragon Ball. Akira Toriyama’s addictive manga truly resonated with an audience and through the years it continued to evolve until it turned into the cultural phenomenon that it remains to be today. The various Dragon Ball series have produced hundreds of episodes and hours of content and the franchise is arguably at its peak, decades after its inception. That’s a very difficult task to achieve, but Dragon Ball continues to prove that nothing is impossible.
In order for a series to stay so popular and relevant over the years, it has to be able to keep its audience’s interest, but also figure out new ways to challenge them. Each new series, film, or video game in the Dragon Ball canon tries to add something new to the formula. Even though the franchise is full of exciting moments and groundbreaking storylines, it’s only natural that there will also be some misfires in the mix. Dragon Ball has done an exceptional job at quality control over the years, but that doesn’t mean that the show is perfect. Accordingly, Here Are 30 Dragon Ball Storylines That Fans Want to Forget!
30 Goku Becomes A Child Again
Dragon Ball is a series that has gone on for long enough that it’s not unreasonable for there to be a retread in material every now and again. That being said, Dragon Ball GT indulges in some rather blatant pandering that tries a little too hard to recapture the energy from the glory days of the original Dragon Ball series. The most egregious ingredient in all of this is that Goku is reduced to a child during the beginning of GT.
Goku’s return to childhood falls flat and feels weird more than anything. What’s even worse is that he remains a child for the bulk of the series!
29 Whis Rewinds Time
Beerus and Whis are introduced to have a wide variety of extremely powerful abilities, but Whis demonstrates truly how incredible he is during Golden Frieza’s rampage on Earth. Beerus and Whis tend to play the role of mindful observers and stay out of Earth’s battles, but Whis decides to help out when Frieza actually succeeds with his plan to destroy the Earth in Dragon Ball Super.
Whis saves the day by rewinding time to reverse this, but he stresses how this can’t be abused and the many regulations around it. In the end, it’s a sloppy deus ex machina that’s too powerful to candidly throw out there.
28 The Trip To Fake Namek
The many Dragon Ball series all deal with filler material in various capacities, but by and large this extra material tends to not have the best reputation due to its inconsequential nature. Filler episodes at their worst just feel like excuses to waste time until the real plot kicks in and Dragon Ball Z’s “Fake Namek” saga is some of the most negligent filler out there and an example of how to do it poorly.
“Fake Namek” teases the audience in terms of the show’s goals and even though it’s not quite an “it was all a dream,” twist at the end, it’s not far off from that cliché.
27 The Bailout Button That Zeno Gives Goku
At least at this point in time, Grand King Zeno is the most powerful entity in the Dragon Ball universe. Accordingly, he has quite the revered reputation, which makes Goku’s casual attitude towards the ruler so amusing. Zeno’s child-like nature connects with Goku and the two form an unlikely friendship that confounds others.
An extension of this relationship results in Zeno giving Goku a button that will call him at any moment to fix the present situation. Not only is this the type of victory that Goku would never take, but it’d also be an unsatisfying conclusion to a story. Goku hasn't used this item since the start of the Universe Survival arc, so it’s probably not worth all of the trouble.
26 Baby’s Invasion To Earth
The Tuffles are a race that are exclusive to Dragon Ball Z filler, but Dragon Ball GT returns to that exterminated race in a very big way when a survivor returns for revenge against the Saiyans.
It’s nice to see Dragon Ball return to the Tuffles, but this just feels derivative of the many other parasitic and possessive invader storylines. It disrespects many of the show’s characters like Goten, Trunks, and Gohan, and more than anything it just feels like another way to make Vegeta evil again and get him to face off against Goku. It has its moments, but it’s still very problematic.
25 Old Kai Unlocks Gohan’s Hidden Potential And “Ultimate” Form
So much of Dragon Ball Z’s Buu Saga deals with Gohan training with the Z Sword and undergoing a serious power-up so he can take down the villainous tyrant. This approach helps for a while, but Goku is ultimately the one to save the day. This makes all of the Mystic/Ultimate Gohan material feel like a waste, but in Dragon Ball Super there’s debate if he still even has the power up and how it affects his Super Saiyan skills.
This is all irrelevant anyway since Gohan never becomes a major fighting presence after this, which makes it easier to forget that this never happened. He at least should have been able to defeat Buu!
24 The Appearance Of More And More Androids
The advent of Dr. Gero’s Androids is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the Cell Saga, but they largely exit the picture along with Cell. The seventh Dragon Ball Z film stoops to some serious lows when it reveals that apparently Dr. Gero created three more Androids, Numbers 13-15.
These new Androids are a flagrant attempt to capture the magic of the previous ones by doing the same thing. However, in Dragon Ball GT, the same thing is pretty much done. Dr. Gero returns again and two versions of Android 17 are combined to make Super Android 17, not unlike Super Android 13. It’s just the same ideas with less impact.
23 Goku’s Dragon Fist Attack
Dragon Ball has certainly stuck to some signature attacks for each of its characters, but it’s always interesting when some random ability pops out and then is never turned to again. For instance, Goku’s big finisher in the 13th DBZ film, Wrath of the Dragon, is this insane Dragon Fist move where it looks like he practically turns into Shenron to defeat his foe.
This never comes up again, which makes it even more confusing and clear that it’s just some cool way to end the film, rather than a skill that Goku will continue to foster. It does briefly come up again in GT against Super 17, but it’s still just as unfounded then.
22 Broly’s Original Storyline
Broly dominates three Dragon Ball Z movies and was a highly controversial character. While he wasn’t canon, it seemed like Dragon Ball Super tried to erase him to some degree when it turned out that Kale can also go Berserker and become what looks like a Legendary Super Saiyan. It seemed like Kale was the official Broly surrogate, but then Dragon Ball Super: Broly devotes its entire story to rewrite Broly and Paragus’ past and create a canonical version that works.
So you can now forget about all of that Bio-Broly nonsense. Super’s take on the character is what counts.
21 Kid Buu’s Genocide Of The Planet
With each new villain that shows up in the Dragon Ball series it becomes increasingly difficult to show how this new foe is more evil than the last. These are all enemies that wipe out entire planets and show no remorse Dragon Ball Z really wants to demonstrate how evil Kid Buu is and his Human Extinction Attack certainly gets that point across.
Goku and Vegeta see all of their loved ones perish and once Buu is finally handled, Goku wishes for all of this to be fixed, so it essentially gets erased. It creates some serious stakes towards the end of the series, but most seemed to realize it would be reversed in time.
20 Goku Believes His Grandfather’s Spirit Is In The Four-Star Dragon Ball
There’s a very sweet, familial aspect to the original Dragon Ball series when it kicks off. Goku is a young orphan and the strange bond that he’s built with his Grandpa Gohan via the Dragon Ball is one of the show’s strongest, earliest relationships.
It’s a touching way to treasure the memory of Goku’s grandpa as well as give him a motivation to get these special orbs, but it’s easy to forget that this was Goku’s drive at the start. The concept of spirits in Dragon Balls isn’t returned to again and they’re mostly focused on for their wish powers. Goku doesn’t hang onto the ball as a keepsake of his grandfather or anything.
19 Frieza’s Extended Family
When Frieza first appears, Dragon Ball Z spends a lot of time establishing that he is potentially the strongest threat in the universe. Once he’s out of the picture, the fifth and sixth DBZ films introduce Frieza’s older brother, Cooler, who in theory seems to be even stronger. There’s also King Cold and Chilled, who must be fairly powerful themselves, too.
The series wants to have fun with these echoes of the villain, but doesn’t want you to question the conditions behind them. Furthermore, Frieza is repeatedly brought back throughout the series, yet the rest of his family is ignored.
18 The Destruction Of The Moon
It’s important for Dragon Ball’s characters to prove how strong they are in fantastic ways, but something as drastic as blowing up the Earth’s moon seems a little severe. And yet, this is something that happens several times throughout the course of the series, yet the consequences of such a seismic act are never fully explored. It’s just meant to be a flashy solution to a problem, which it then hopes you won’t think about again in the future.
There are plenty of outlandish events and creatures throughout Dragon Ball, but they oddly usually operate off of some strange internal logic.
17 Vegeta’s Younger Brother, Tarble
In the special, Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!!, it’s revealed that Vegeta has a younger brother named Tarble. The special questions how improbable this is, but it still raises a lot of flags. Dragon Ball is no stranger to throwing missing family members into the mix to spice things up, but this feels like they just wanted to do something big for this special and didn’t really consider the consequences.
Additionally, Tarble hasn’t joined the party in Dragon Ball Super or anything, where there is ample opportunity to involve him, if they wanted.
16 Garlic Jr.’s Mission For Immortality
The Garlic Jr. Saga in Dragon Ball Z is some of the earliest filler in the series and even though it’s a good use of Gohan and his latent powers without having to rely on Goku, it’s something the show very much wants you to forget about.
Garlic Jr. gains immortality here, even though he still gets defeated. What’s worse is that this is just a retread of the first Dragon Ball Z movie, The Dead Zone. Dragon Ball Super would later “redo” films as episodes in order to make them canon, but this is far from that. It just feels like an uncreative way to take up time.
15 Goten And Trunks’ Progression Of Individual Fighters
For a while, there was a real time in the middle of Dragon Ball Z where Goten and Trunks were training and getting stronger in their own rights, essentially poised to be the next Goku and Vegeta. However, once the two learn about fusion, they basically turn to that as a crutch and never go back.
Granted, Goten and Trunks are much stronger and can become Super Saiyan 3 as Gotenks, but it’s their only play at this point. Working on themselves as individuals would still make their fusion stronger, but their time in the spotlight gets severely reduced in Dragon Ball Super.
14 The Tournament Against Universe 6
It’s an exciting moment when Beerus’ Universe 7 decides to square off against Champa’s Universe 6 for the first time, but the weight of this showdown gets severely undercut by the fact that these two universes head off against each other, and the rest of the universes, later down to the road.
It feels like an obvious way to just insert some more fighting into the show before the next big arc begins. It’s fun to get an introduction to characters like Hit, but all of these people show up later, and the tournament has extremely flimsy conditions and rewards
13 Imperfect Cell Woes
The core idea behind Cell, a creature who starts flawed and has to absorb others to become his best self, isn’t bad. In fact, it’s a concept that has such depth that Dragon Ball would return to it several times throughout its run. It’s the execution of this quirk that gets rather sloppy, since a lot of this time revolves around both Imperfect Cell and the Z-Fighters training to become stronger.
There’s so much use of the Hyperbolic Time Chamber here and simply waiting for people to finish training and then show up to help. It’s a slow process, and one that just wastes time until everyone’s ready.
12 The Existence Of Ultra Super Saiyan
Dragon Ball Z has a very strong story after the defeat of Frieza, but many audiences were just hungry to see the next Super Saiyan transformation go down. Obviously these transformations had to be milestone events, but the series tries to compromise to some degree on the matter.
These Super Saiyan steps between the “official” next level feel like a way to feature transformations and create stakes where there are none. This middle stage is stronger, but it’s so slow and bulky that it fails to actually be useful. Trunks still sticks to it in Dragon Ball Super, but it’s generally abandoned once stronger transformations are introduced.
11 The Return Of The Demon Containment Wave
During the fight against Zamasu, who is immortal, the gang remembers the old Mafuba technique that was used against King Piccolo to entrap evil entities. A lot of time is spent troubleshooting this plan and it’s eventually put to use in a limited capacity, but it’s not the solution to the problem that it looks like it will be.
It’s cool to see this vintage Dragon Ball technique return, but it ultimately feels like it’s just there to pad out time. It does make another appearance during the Tournament of Power to greater effect, but it doesn’t play a grand role in the tournament.
10 Arale Pays A Visit…
Dragon Ball isn’t the only series that Akira Toriyama has created and there have been a number of occasions where his universes have crossed over in very fun ways. Arale from the world of Dr. Slump has actually appeared in Dragon Ball, Z, and Super, yet the reception is kind of split on these gag episodes, especially the one from Super.
Arale and her reckless attitude amounts to a lot of fun, but they totally throw power levels and character development out the window in order to cater to Dr. Slump characters. Vegeta also totally gets shafted, which surely rubs some people the wrong way.
9 Videl Becomes Great Saiyaman 2
Any character development for Videl is a good thing, but her foray into crime fighting is just a mere copy of what Gohan does. What doesn’t help about Videl’s transformation into Great Saiyaman 2 is that many people were already on the fence with Gohan’s superhero alter ego. It’s admittedly a very silly aspect of the series, but Dragon Ball Z probably doesn’t need a second copy of this kind of thing.
Perhaps if Great Saiyaman 2 served a greater purpose later on, but she doesn’t, and is just forgotten. Maybe Videl could have just replaced him as Great Saiyaman, since they really don’t need two.
8 Yamcha, Tien, Chiaotzu Train With King Kai
Bear in mind, this is (mostly) once again filler material, so it shouldn’t be scrutinized too harshly, but it just introduces some great ideas that never get followed up on later on. It’s nice to see the show do something with these more extraneous characters after their demise in the previous saga, but this turns into an exciting training session that goes nowhere.
Goku gains so much from his training with King Kai, so for these characters to not also know Kaio-Ken or Spirit Bomb is upsetting. They can also beat the Ginyu Force over there, yet this strength never comes into play again. It’d be easier if it just didn’t happen.
7 Babidi’s Hunt For Power And The Fight Through His Spaceship
Typically when Dragon Ball brings a new villain into the fray he also has a few less powerful lackeys that need to be handled before the big fight can finally commence. Babidi’s whole quest to steal enough power to awaken Majin Buu is a pretty obvious way to stall time until the real centerpiece villain can get involved.
All of this drags and doesn’t feel necessary, nor do the battles that Goku and company have to work through at Babidi’s spaceship. They’re not bad fights, but they’re easy to forget about once Buu is in the picture, especially since Babidi doesn’t stick around.
6 Launch’s Training With Tien
As Dragon Ball comes to a close, it looks like Lunch’s feistier form, Launch, will be a big part of the team. She’s with Tien at his training grounds and has demonstrated in several situations that she’s a valuable ally in battle, but when Dragon Ball Z begins, she’s nowhere to be found.
Toriyama has been vocal about simply forgetting about Lunch/Launch as a character, but Super provided the perfect opportunity to bring her back in the fold, especially with Tien’s return, yet the series does nothing with her. It seems like they want to just move on from her at this point.
5 The Otherworld Tournament
The Otherworld Tournament occurs in the afterlife after Goku’s defeat of Cell also takes himself out of the picture. The tournament itself isn’t that poorly received, but it’s more a frustration due to the inconsistencies that it brings up and the potential that’s not followed up on later.
Many new Kai get introduced here, including Grand Kai, who later seems fairly irrelevant when entities like Supreme Kai and Old Kai get involved. Furthermore, the tournament ends in a tie, which isn’t satisfying, and Pikkon—a very fascinating character—then gets swept under the carpet. It’s understandable as this is filler material, but it’s almost a detriment that it’s so entertaining because it’s later abandoned.
4 Buu On Universe 7’s Team In The Tournament Of Power
When Universe 7 assembles their team of fighters for the Tournament of Power, it’s exciting when it looks like Buu will be a member, especially when he botched enrollment in the previous tournament. Buu gets highly prepared for the Tournament of Power and even gets super in shape for the competition, but when it comes time to begin, he passes out.
This leads to the team needing to enlist Frieza’s help, which is arguably more exciting. Buu has let down Goku and company before in this regard, but this is just a waste of everyone’s time, even if it does build some minor suspense.
3 The Destruction Of The Universes During The Tournament Of Power
The big draw that convinced many fighters to compete in the Tournament of Power is that the losing universes would see erasure. The stakes behind the tournament’s elimination obviously added some very real stakes to the characters within the show and provided a serious motivation to compete, but to most of the viewers it was fairly obvious that all of the universes would be restored by the end of the tournament, either through a Super Dragon Ball wish or the work of the Zenos.
The Tournament of Power is definitely an entertaining arc, but it also spends a lot of time on something that for most people was a foregone conclusion.
2 The Black Star Dragon Balls And The Pursuit For Them
The original Dragon Balls were supposed to be incredibly rare relics, but this slowly means less and less as the various series introduce more sets of Dragon Balls into the lore. The Super Dragon Balls in the latest series are the most recent offenders, but Dragon Ball GT’s Black Star Dragon Balls are especially useless.
Making a wish on these Dragon Balls means that the planet will be destroyed within a year unless they’re found in that time. Why would anyone want to use these when many safe Dragon Balls exist? They’re just a gimmicky addition that never come up again.
1 Evil Buu Gets Reincarnated As Uub
Goku makes a wish on the Dragon Balls for Buu’s evil to be reincarnated in someone, which turns out to be Uub. This is a noble gesture, but then why not do this with every villain that passes on? The presence of reincarnation is a much bigger can of worms to introduce.
Additionally, some people take exception to how Goku opts to essentially abandon his family and friends in favor of training Uub and taking him under his wing. Considering he never turns into a major presence in GT or Super, it’s another decision that it seems like they changed their mind on.
These are all of the major storylines from the Dragon Ball universe that seemed like they’d rather be forgotten, but are there any others that you wish never happened? Now’s your chance to sound off in the comments below!