Why did Launch mysteriously disappear in Dragon Ball Z? It can be strange and confusing when a character suddenly disappears from a series, especially in an anime or manga where the writer needn't worry about actors quitting for a bigger role or demanding a pay rise. And yet, that's precisely what happened with Launch in Dragon Ball. Making her debut in the original Dragon Ball anime series, Launch has two distinct personalities - a sweet and innocent blue-haired young woman and a blonde gun-totting criminal with anger management issues. Launch switches between these two personas whenever she sneezes, offering a unique and interesting dynamic for a side-character in an anime series.
Launch is introduced when young Goku and Krillin are sent on a mission to find a girlfriend for Master Roshi - a storyline that hasn't aged particularly well. The budding warriors take Launch to Roshi's island and, from that point onward, she becomes one of the Dragon Ball gang. Although never integral to the plot, Launch was an ever-present supporting character for most of Dragon Ball, with her erratic personality often a reliable source of comic relief.
Even into Dragon Ball Z, Launch continues to appear, albeit in a less prominent capacity. Developing a crush on Tien (a more age-appropriate partner, admittedly), Launch begins to dote on the triple-eyed Z-warrior and is seen drinking in a bar after Tien is killed in the battle against the Saiyans. Strangely, however, Launch is never seen again other than in flashbacks. The audience might assume that she simply moved on from the Z gang after Tien's death, but it's still unusual for a long-running character to be written out of Dragon Ball without a clear explanation.
In a 2013 interview with Mandō Kobayashi, Dragon Ball creator, Akira Toriyama, was questioned about Launch's absence after the Saiyan saga, and admitted that he actually forgot about the character. Toriyama goes on to say that by the time Launch factored back into his thinking, the Super Saiyan transformation had been introduced, and the blond-haired power-up was too similar to Launch's gimmick to reintroduce her.
Fortunately, Toriyama didn't completely abandon Launch. In an anime-only scene, Launch offers her energy to Goku's Spirit Bomb, helping to defeat Buu in Dragon Ball Z's final saga. Set two years after Buu's defeat, Launch also appears in the Yo! Son Goku and his Friends Return special as if she'd never been away. While this short film is considered part of Dragon Ball canon, however, Launch's return is short-lived, as she is absent once again in Dragon Ball Super and the modern series of movie releases.
While not significant enough to be considered a plot hole, Launch is a curious and amusing inconsistency within the world of Dragon Ball, and her appearances are as unpredictable as her personality.