The Top 10 Biggest Plot Holes In Dragonball Z

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Prepare for nerd rage!

I’m on my big Dragonball Z kick and it got me thinking a bit about the series as a whole and what it did right. Then again, it got me thinking about what it did wrong. I started to think of some things that didn’t quite make sense, even after I watched the series a few times in the English translation, then checked the Japanese original subtitles to make sure. You can do mostly the same thing by buying a DVD set. I suggest Season One. Here are my findings for the Top 10 Biggest Plot Holes in Dragonball Z.

10. Vegeta Hated By Proxy:

Can you really hate a guy that can rock a pink shirt like that?

I might be stretching a bit here, but this was always something that kind of bugged me. Vegeta was the “Big Bad” of the first major plot arc of the series, though afterward he was generally a good guy, with a few minor exceptions. Still, a bunch of the Z Fighters can’t tolerate his presence due to their first encounter. The total number of good guys he killed was actually, uh, zero. Yamcha was killed by a self-destructing Saibaman (planted by Nappa), Chiaoztu killed himself attacking Nappa, Tien died fighting Nappa, Piccolo died protecting Gohan from Nappa, and uh, well Vegeta didn’t blow up any cities or army folk or anything. He did, however, kill Nappa (though it wasn’t very nice of him). But still he’s looked down upon until he proves again and again that he’s a good guy, even saving Gohan and Krillin’s lives a few times.

9. The Afterlife Is More a Suggestion:

This is one of the glorious watchers of the universe. Yup, we're doomed.

When characters die, they go to the Spirit Realm, a place on another plane of existence where there is a check-in station, a Heaven, a Hell, and planets above those where the Kais live to govern everything. Problem is, these Kais don’t really do much. They are supposed to be the “gods” of the world, yet they are frequently completely shocked when they discover what Goku and his friends are capable of. Beyond this, there’s the problem of villains getting killed and going to the afterlife, yet somehow being controlled by stupid ogres. When Goku dies (the first time), he asks King Yemma, the guy in charge of the check-in station, if his brother Raditz came by. King Yemma mentions that Raditz came by and was sent down below. Goku is amazed by this since Raditz was the strongest fighter they’ve dealt with at that point and wants King Yemma to train him instead of King Kai, to which Kami says that King Kai is stronger. Later, after Goku reaches King Kai for training we discover that Vegeta and Nappa are stronger than King Kai and that Goku must become stronger than him in order to stand a chance. From that point on the villains get stronger and stronger, but they all get sent down below without much problem. One question though: How? If King Yemma isn’t stronger than King Kai, and Vegeta is stronger than King Kai, and Frieza kills Vegeta, how can Frieza be controlled by King Yemma when he is eventually killed? Just think about that a bit.

8. Frieza ‘s Family:

Ah, a touching moment between father and son in the underworld.

A touching moment between father and son...in the underworld.

Speaking of Frieza, we learn that he is the ruler of the universe and commands a massive empire. King Kai is terrified when he learns that the Z Fighters have encountered Frieza since Frieza is so dang strong. It is agreed that Frieza is absolutely the strongest fighter in the universe. When Goku defeats Frieza in battle everything seems all well and good, but then Frieza comes back as a cyborg…with his father. Somehow Frieza also has a father named King Cold, a guy that would have to be above Frieza in leadership, though perhaps not strength. So where’d this father all of a sudden come from? Oh, and Frieza also has a brother named Cooler, though technically he’s only seen in the non-cannon movies. Still, strongest guy in the universe, but oops, forgot to mention he has a father that’s the same race. There’s a whole race of these beings, so where are they and why aren’t they all as well known and all powerful as Frieza? So many things to consider.

7. The Dragonballs’ Rules or Lack Thereof:

"Pff, whateva, I do what I want!"

For a show that’s called “Dragonball Z” they don’t seem to care about the actual Dragonballs all too much. It’s very rare when the Dragon actually needs to be summoned and then it’s usually only to restore everyone that was just killed in a decisive battle. The rules go that the Earth Dragon can only grant one wish and he won’t grant the same wish more than once. The Namekian Dragon will grant the same wish all you want, has three wishes, but won’t wish back more than one person at a time. Characters ask from time to time why they don’t just have the Dragon wish the villain away, with the explanation being that the Dragon is only as powerful as the person that created it, namely Kami, Guru, Dende, and Mori (all Namekians with unimpressive powers). Yet the Dragon can wish back entire populations, restore planets, grant immortality, and all sorts of other cool powers. So why can’t the makers of the Dragons do those things? Not sure, but even worse is when those rules I mentioned stop coming in to play any time they really need those rules not to apply.

For instance, when Goku is wished back to life the first time he loses his halo while still on King Kai’s planet, followed by having to race back to the check-in station and then to Earth. Later in the series, all you have to do is wish someone back to life and they instantly appear wherever the plot sees fit, such as in front of the Dragonballs or wherever the character actually died. It just seemed a bit too much that the item of the show’s title doesn’t even have strict rules or anything as long as the plot needs those rules to be forgotten for a moment or two.

6. Goku’s Two Escapes From Namek:

Wait a minute, I swear I saw you explode...

Now we’re really getting serious with our plot holes. After Goku defeats Frieza he is left on the planet Namek as it is exploding. We get an episode where he struggles to get back to his ship, fails, tries to get Frieza’s ship to work, fails to do that, watches it fall into lava, then floats around in the sky as the planet explodes. We learn he didn’t die somehow, but it isn’t until Trunks shows up that Goku explains what happened. He says he saw one of the Saiyan-style pod ships falling near Frieza’s spaceship, jumped into it, and took off right as Frieza’s ship hits the lava and the planet explodes. That’s all good and well except WE SAW THAT SEQUENCE NOT HAPPEN. The episode with Goku on the exploding planet clearly shows Goku watching Frieza’s ship fall into lava from way up in the air and then deal with the planet exploding. You can’t show us two separate versions of the same event and tell us, “Oh yeah, he totally got off somehow. We were just lying about the first one to trick you.” That doesn’t cut it, but things get worse.

5. Buu Doesn’t Play By His Own Rules:

"Whateva! I do what I want!"

Majin Buu is established early on as having the power to turn people into various candies and sweets and then eat them. This kills them. It just does. They become food and are then eaten, being chewed to bits. When Majin Buu inadvertently creates Evil Buu and is then defeated in combat since he is turned to chocolate, Evil Buu eats him and then transforms into Super Buu. Okay, a little odd, but whatever. Later, Super Buu turns most of the non-essential Z Fighters into chocolate and eats them, which definitely kills them since we see them in the Other World after that. Jump ahead a bit and Super Buu is absorbing fighters and gaining their powers. Jump ahead some more and Goku and Vegeta are wandering around Buu’s innards, rescuing Gohan, Goten, Trunks and Piccolo. They find them in what they call “People Pods.” They also find Majin Buu, the original fat Majin Buu, in one of these pods. Huh? So what, people are absorbed only when it makes sense? Why wasn’t Krillin absorbed then when he was eaten? Why weren’t millions of the world’s population not found absorbed in the same fashion? Even worse, when Majin Buu is removed from Super Buu he reverts to Kid Buu instead of the gray Evil Buu. That’s quite enough of that, so let’s move on.

4. Planet Vegeta Destroyed 4 Years Ago…23 Years Ago:

"You ever see Superman? It was like that, bro."

This is the first plot hole to appear in the series but it’s kind of a big one for me. Raditz shows up and informs Goku that they’re brothers and Saiyan warriors, of which there are four left in the universe. Why? Well, their planet blew up, that’s why. Raditz says it was a meteor that hit the planet (something that other characters “confirm” with a little flashback scene of it happening), though we learn in the very next plot arc that Frieza blew up the planet. So where’s the plot hole (other than the inconsistencies of the explosion)? Raditz says the planet blew up four years ago. I checked this a few times between the English and the Japanese subtitles and yes, he says four years (according to our English editions). Problem here is that Planet Vegeta, the Saiyan’s homeworld, was destroyed right as Goku was leaving it. Goku is at this point in the series roughly 23, so, do the math. Not huge since it’s just a small error, but still, kind of huge when you consider the fact that it hasn’t been fixed even after the “definitive remastered and redubbed super versions” I bought.

3. Restore The Earth; Forget The Rest:

"Hey Vegeta, you shouldn't eat other races." "WHATEVA! I DO WHAT I WANT!"

At the end of the series the Earth has been blown up. Kid Buu succeeds in wasting it pretty handily, making him the most effective villain (which makes sense as he’s the final villain of the series). Goku and Vegeta make it off the planet and craft plans to destroy Kid Buu with an elaborate scheme involving a Spirit Bomb made from all the energy from people on Earth. That means they need the planet back, so they wish the Namekian Dragon to restore the planet, then all the people killed since the beginning of Buu’s appearance as Majin Buu. The plot goes off perfectly (although delayed), and Kid Buu is eliminated for good. But wait a second, what was Kid Buu doing while Goku and Vegeta fled the planet? He reformed in space and transported himself to a new planet in search of the two. Not finding them there he blew up that planet and skipped around from planet to planet blowing up each one until Goku and Vegeta summoned him to the super secret mystical world of the Kais. Dozens of planets are destroyed, but they only bother to wish the Earth and its inhabitants back to life. Sure, I get why, what with the plot to make a really powerful Spirit Bomb, but are those other planets so insignificant? And what about planets that Vegeta blew up on his way to Earth? And for that matter, what about planets Frieza blew up? Why not wish Planet Vegeta back? Apparently no one else but us Earthlings matter. Good news for us I suppose.

2. Power Levels Over 9000:

Ironic that he goes on and on about Saiyans keeping their pride, yet this image has been mocked more times than well...9000.

I can’t help myself but bring in the classic joke that the series is still famous for. In the very first saga when Vegeta and the Saiyans in general are introduced we find out that Vegeta is strong enough to blow up planets when firing directly at them. Cool. He fights with Goku and when he clocks his power level he finds out it’s over 9000, which is apparently a big deal. The real fight begins and when the two are powering up Bulma is half way around the world checking their powers with her own scouter which explodes when one of them reaches something like 26,000. The planet shakes from this and all sorts of natural disasters occur (but not enough to destroy the world, for some reaon). The next time a power level is read it’s Goku’s on Namek, topping out over 180,000. Now we’re getting big time. The last known power reading that we can measure by the same standard is Frieza’s as he claims he has a power level of one million, a fact that pretty much everyone confirms. Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan and outclasses Frieza, so his power level is well over that million mark. And powers just keep getting bigger and bigger from there with Super Saiyan 2’s and 3’s and “Powers like I’ve never felt before.” So if a power level of 26,000 can nearly shake the world apart, why doesn’t a power level past one million instantly crumble the planet just from existing? These guys have power levels in the millions, probably tens of millions, and they’re slamming into each other with energy ricocheting all over the place. How did the Earth not explode just from this? Because it wouldn’t be convenient to the plot of course. So if this is bad, what’s the worst offense?

1. Namek’s “Five” Minutes:

"Learn to tell time? WHATEVA! I DO WHAT-" *cut off by explosion*

It just couldn’t be anything else. During the Frieza Saga, the villain in question decides he can’t beat Goku as a Super Saiyan and decides to blow up the planet by shooting an energy blast straight to the core. The planet doesn’t blow up right away though. Frieza gives it “five minutes” before it goes. They make a big deal about the “five minutes” thing. The rest of the fight between Goku and Frieza must happen in “five minutes.” This is what happens in “five minutes”: Goku and Frieza fight, Goku allows Frieza to achieve 100% maximum power, Gohan takes Piccolo back to Goku’s ship, Gohan finds Bulma and takes her back to the ship as well, Frieza throws Goku into lava, Gohan returns and fights Frieza, Goku returns and fights Frieza again, King Kai has Kami wish all the Namekians back to life, Dende awakens and flies over to the Namekian Dragon and wishes everyone but Goku and Frieza off the planet, Goku and Frieza finish fighting, Frieza decides to keep fighting Goku anyway, Frieza cuts himself in half on accident (big ol’ oops), Goku saves Frieza’s life, Frieza has an episode-long flashback about their battle, Frieza attempts to kill Goku AGAIN, Goku shoots one heck of an energy beam back and defeats Frieza, Goku runs around and looks for a way off the planet, Goku causes Number Six on this list, then the planet blows up. THEN the planet blows up. All in “five minutes.” That’s something like ten episodes where the planet is “five minutes” from destruction. You can count up a single episode worth of talking between Goku and Frieza and it equals over five minutes, so how does everything happen in “five minutes?

Still a heck of a fight, though.

You want my explanation? The one that will prove I’m WAY too much of a geek? Okay, here goes: Nobody said the five minutes was in Earth time. For that matter, no one said it was in Namekian time either. Frieza comes from some planet that we never get to see, so for all we know “five minutes” translates into “two hours Earth Time.” See what I just did? I thought way too deep about that. Still, despite my stretching for an answer, there really isn’t one that the series explains. None of the characters seem to question this “five minute” logic at all, not even to mock Frieza. And that’s why it takes the number one spot on my list.

Alright, that was a heck of a list, wasn’t it? But I can’t be the only DBZ fan out there that has way too much time on their hands, right? This is your chance to either explain some of these plot holes, or point out some that I missed. There is bound to be something. Let me hear it with a comment. That’s what the comment buttons are for down there.

You might also enjoy these DBZ articles:

Ten More Plotholes From DBZ

Ten Worst Instances of Filler

Ten Most Awesome Moments of DBZ

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

271 Comments

  1. As someone said before in Dragon Ball when Goku trains with Po Po and Kami, Kamimakes a deal to bring the moon back if Goku gets his tail removed permanently. So the moon is back and then Piccolo destroys the new moon.

  2. 1. In dragonball master roshi during the world tournament destroys the moon with a kamehama blast, the power level of the blast could’nt have been over 1000 so during the sayian battle goku’s power level is 5000 so why can’t one punch from goku into the earth make a 200 ft crater?
    2. What about when piccolo is training gohan, gohan transforms into a great ape but master roshi already destroyed the moon, then piccolo destroys the moon again.

  3. Seems like everyone is forgetting the biggest plot hole in all of Dragon Ball…When Goku killed King Piccolo, Kami should have died too. (I just realized that King Piccolo sent out Piccolo before he died so my bad) Also when Goku was fighting Piccolo Jr, Kami told Tien to kill him so Piccolo would die to and then said that they could just bring him back with the dragonballs, but aren’t the Dragonballs connected to Kami? So the dragonballs should have ceased to exist if that happened.

  4. True, but we still see a series of events play out that happen completely differently between the Frieza Saga and the Trunks Saga. Didn’t matter when the planet blows up or even if the planet blows up, we’ve still seen one instance where Goku flies away from Frieza’s ship and watches it fall and another where he runs around on it while it’s falling and leaps to safety, blasting off right before hitting lava. Both of those events cannot co-exist without a plothole occurring. It’d be like seeing Goku and Raditz hit by the Special Beam Cannon but then Goku doesn’t die because he says, “Oh yeah, I jumped out of the way at the last second. Close call!” The events just don’t work in conjunction.

  5. Well, we cannot say that the planet Nameck exploded in the right second they change the points of view, from the planet to the space.

  6. I don’t think it really matters who the pod belongs to. The key plothole is the sequence shown for Goku’s escape/not escape. In the Frieza Saga we see Goku on Frieza’s ship, failing to get it to start, and eventually flying up to look down on the ship melting into lava. However, in the Trunks Saga, Goku explains the details as him leaping from Frieza’s ship into a space pod that was falling next to Frieza’s ship. Doesn’t matter who the pod belongs to, the escape was impossible since we saw it originally not happen. It would have made more sense to just say that Goku learned Instant Transmission randomly out of nowhere and escaped to planet Yardred on accident than to explain things away with a series of events that we know couldn’t have happened.

  7. I was fuzzy about that myself when I first watched, but supposedly there’s a very quick throw-away mention in Dragonball when Goku is training with Kami. Kami makes a deal with Goku that if he’s allowed to permanently remove Goku’s tail, he’s restore the moon. If you miss this explanation like I did it looks like one big plothole.

  8. For me, the biggest hole was: how did the moon come back?

    Jackie Chun/ Master Roshi exploded the moon in order to make Ohzaru become Goku again.

    Later, during Gohan’s training, he bocomes Ohzaru two, and Piccolo explodes the moon again.

    What the f***? Kami-sama or someone brought the moon back?

  9. Well the show was supposed to end after the Cell saga, which would explain why Trunks never told them about Buu.

  10. They do mention at least in passing that Trunks can’t change all timelines by traveling in his time machine since technically he doesn’t travel to the past but rather to an alternate past. They even ask him why he can’t just travel back in time again and blow up Dr. Gero’s lab one they discover where it actually is, but he claims it would only help that new timeline (which would be Timeline D I believe). They press him further at some point why he’s even bothering to help this random alternate past anyway and he states that he’s hoping to figure out a way to defeat the androids of this time in order to beat the ones in his own time. Turns out the solution was just Get More Powerful, but whatever.

  11. PuppetDoctor on

    Chris this can probably be explained by the simple fact that time changed when Trunks went to the Present (in the series we watch). You notice how the two androids on the Island were Dr. Gero and that fat guy (I forget what number he was) and that it wasn’t #17 and #18.

    Probably, Buu never showed up in Trunks’ time because the androids were causing havoc all those years.

    What I don’t understand though is that Future Trunks could have kept going back to different pasts to warn Goku & Company about the androids coming when he stored enough energy in his time machine. Why only help one era.

    This plot hole could also be debunked though because according to theories there is three different futures (Androids destroying the earth, Cell becoming Perfect form, Trunks being killed by Cell and then Cell takes the time machine to the past).

  12. Oh but there is one more big hole. How can future trunks go back in time. the time line that has occured would put the world even more at risk because majin buu is still on earth in his ball as the androids are around. so why doesn’t it mention anything about majin buu when trucks goes back in time because I’m pretty sure daboura could easily kill the androids and then they could resurect majin buu and destroy the planet thus causing trucks to die.

  13. It’s tough to develop theories around the series in any way since, no, it isn’t the same world. The year is something like 737 when Goku is born, and the landmass looks entirely different from anything the Earth has ever been, so those factors alone are going to change things. I’m not trying to break down the science of everything (I mean, hell, the characters shoot energy beams with their minds and fly around), I’m just raising questions that I found. Animals talking isn’t a huge deal, but it’s just one of those silly things that carried over from the comedy-based Dragonball to the action-based Dragonball Z, where it fits the tone of one but not the other. That seems to be the case with a lot of my plotholes.

  14. 1st off some ppl need to research b4 they make a poor theory and please remember dbz dosent exactly reflect the so called real world.. 2nd you need to be aware of the spirtual aspects in the series to understand the talking animals, different universes and such…

    Hercule is loved and adored by the population so much that they will believe and follow what he says. (it happens in the real world sad but true).
    the z fighters mention on several occasions that gohan is half human half sayain meaning that he has supposedly more potental than a full sayian….however like someone b4 said gohans power is held back because his inconsistent training…goten and trunks should be treated in the same manner and even piccolo and goku mention that they are much stronger than any of them was at that age huge potential but no discipline.
    Cell and Trunks explain the timelines towards the end of both android and cell saga..trunks is with krillin when they discover present cell , and future cell meets future trunk in their correct time and even then its explained..(lack of listening or memory but half the topics here are bust-able and am not even a DIE HARD fan) i aint going into the buu saga because that’s round the time i was losing interest got stale a few times and i wasn’t feeling buu till he fought gotenks.
    The spirit bomb is an energy attack formed by life energy including ppl,planets and plants it aint no normal blast and am pretty sure when goku gave krillin the spirit bomb he said aslong as your soul is pure then it wont harm you, basically its like holy water if evil touches it its gonna hurt gohan even reflects back to vegeta in the sayian saga.

    I do agree the dragon is a prick he made goku run his way back to earth which is cruel however the only defence 4 that situation is the words master roshi used to bring goku back…

  15. You missed the biggest plothole of all.

    If Popo wished back EVERYONE Frieza killed, where are the Saiyans? Where’s Bardock?

  16. That’d be interesting to see Gogetenks fight with Perfect Celluu or something. 🙂

    Yeah, time just got fudged all over the place for the sake of story. Goku’s in the Rejuvenation Chamber for an hour but it only takes a few episodes, Goten and Trunks are in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for a few minutes but it counts as a few months of training somehow, things like that just get goofy. They did sort of explain Goku’s 1-minute for restoring his Super Saiyan 3 energy as him just underestimating how difficult it is to stay at Super Saiyan 3 when he’s not dead, but still, that’s a long few minutes to determine that.

  17. As I think about it I think Dragonball Z just had time mixed up, not just Freiza. When Vegeta place Goku in that Chamber after he and Ginyu fused, you remember he said Goku should be healed in an hour, it took like five or six episodes. Also when they were facing Buu Goku said it would only take him one minute to reath the maximum power of his super saiyan 3.

    Would it have been cool if fused being could fuse with other fused beings? Like Gotenks and Gogeta fused together?

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