There are a couple different types of inconsistencies when it comes to the Dragon Ball franchise. Sometimes there are new stories created for the TV version that are contradicted by later stories written by Akira Toriyama in the manga. Sometimes there is simply a change between the manga and the TV version which has nothing to do with prior stories. Finally, the various movies introduce new characters, ideas, and story lines that traditionally fall “out of universe” with the regular series, but occasionally intersect and create problems.
We will attempt to detail some of these changes with this page. Some of these inconsistencies may be minor and present no true problems with the storyline; they are not intended to be “nit-picky” but rather to have fun and explore the (perhaps inadvertent) changes. We will also occasionally produce video explanations of these changes, showcasing the actual manga and TV versions alongside with narration and key-points to pay attention to.
Drop us a line if you have any suggestions for additions.
Plotholes / Contradictions Created by the TV Series
The creation of the “Dragon Balls”
There is a flashback scene in episode 33 of Dragon Ball in which Kame-Sen’nin attempts to explain the origin of the Dragon Balls. As his story goes, there was originally one large Dragon Ball; it was a gift from the gods. However, the people became greedy and started wars over the Dragon Ball, and so the gods divided the Dragon Ball into seven separate balls.
That explanation is never again mentioned outside of episode 33, and it is anime-only. As presented in chapter 162 of the manga, Karin is the first to tell us that the Dragon Balls were created by God. This idea is also represented in the anime, in episode 123 of Dragon Ball, ignoring the previous explanation entirely. While the idea that the Dragon Balls were created by a deity as a blessing to the people is somewhat similar, this is later refuted by the fact that God is simply a very gifted Namekian who happened to attain the role of Earth’s god, and not all Namekians with this ability are considered “gods”.
The majority of the plot of Dragon Ball episode 42 revolves around an old man named Dr. Frappe. It is stated that he created Artificial Human No. 8 for the Red Ribbon Army.
Dr. Frappe only appears in the anime, and only in Dragon Ball episode 42. In chapter 335 of the manga, Trunks says that Doctor Gero, formerly of the Red Ribbon Army, created Artificial Humans No. 19 and No. 20. The anime adaptation of Trunks’ story appears in episode 122 of Dragon Ball Z. We later learn that Gero had also created No. 16, No. 17, No. 18, and Cell. As for the earlier models, the title page for chapter 367 explains about all of Gero’s creations, with No. 8 specifically pictured, so there is no doubt as to who his true creator was.
The Destruction of Planet Vegeta
In episode 20 of Dragon Ball Z, Kaiō tells Goku a story about Planet Vegeta, stating that its destruction was caused by the planet’s god bringing down a meteor shower upon it.
This story only appears in the anime. Raditz does tell us in chapter 197 of the manga that Planet Vegeta was destroyed by meteors, which he later restates in episode 2 of Dragon Ball Z. Apparently, this is what the surviving Saiyans were led to believe. It is later revealed by Dodoria that Freeza was the actual cause of the planet’s destruction in chapter 257 of the manga, and in episode 49 of Dragon Ball Z. There has been no evidence to indicate that Freeza was considered to be any sort of “god” for Planet Vegeta. Additionally, Kaiō is shown to be well aware of Freeza and his incredible destructive power, and likely would not confuse him for an angry god.
In episode 18 of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan goes Ōzaru for a second time and causes rampant destruction, even though Piccolo had already destroyed the Moon. Piccolo then discovers the source of Gohan’s transformation: Goku’s old spaceship, which is emitting a strange beam of light. It is destroyed with a Makankōsappō, and Gohan returns to normal.
The second “moonlit night” incident involving Gohan is pure filler. In episode 46, Goku tells us that his spaceship was found intact and used as the basis for the one he will be taking to Namek, so obviously it could not have been previously destroyed. Furthermore, it seems strange that Goku’s spaceship would be out in the middle of nowhere, so far from where the elder Son Gohan lived. Although it is not completely impossible that Grandpa Gohan might have found the young Saiyan during his travels, it makes more sense for it to have been near Mount Paozu. In fact, since Dr. Brief seemed to find it without much trouble (at least, none worth mentioning), this is more than likely the case. Here, again, Toei Animation used an as-yet unexplored element of the series for filler, only to have Toriyama use it in a different way for the story proper, later on.
The Death of Cargo
In Muri’s village on Planet Namek, the last three surviving Namekians are Muri, Dende, and Dende’s brother, Cargo. Why would one character kill another in the manga, but this entire situation be changed in the anime? This was likely changed in the anime to make Dodoria look more evil, since he was the most active villain at the time. Freeza did not become the main focus until a bit later. Honestly, though, it is a strange change to make, since the event was already clearly laid out in the manga.
Super Saiyan Trunks
In the manga, Trunks is shown to be a Super Saiyan the entire time while training in the future. In the animated TV special, this story is changed, showing Trunks to become a Super Saiyan only after coming across Gohan’s dead body.
The manga’s extra chapter shows Trunks as a Super Saiyan for its entire duration. However, in the anime version which became a TV special, Trunks is shown to be a vulnerable young boy, who has not yet trained to the point of being able to become a Super Saiyan. It is not until Gohan is killed by Artificial Humans No. 17 and No. 18, and Trunks comes across Gohan’s dead body lying face first in a puddle, that he is pushed over the edge to become a Super Saiyan. This was most likely changed for dramatic effect, as a TV special about an already-Super Saiyan Trunks would not have been as interesting.
Great Saiyaman’s Identity
In chapter 424 of the manga, and episode 201 of Dragon Ball Z, Gohan cuts class to help Videl fight crime. In the manga version, Videl is up against two thugs who were on the run after having robbed a bank, and once things are taken care of, she discovers that Great Saiyaman is Gohan. In the anime version, Videl instead has to rescue a bus, and does not find out that Gohan is Great Saiyaman for another few episodes.
This was undoubtedly done for the same reason all filler is created: to keep the manga ahead of the anime. The “dramatic effect” is more or less the same, and does not really add anything new to the story; it is simply padding.
Plotholes / Contradictions Created by the Movies
Episodes 108 through 116 of Dragon Ball Z feature Garlic Jr. as the central villain.
Garlic Jr. originated as the main villain of Dragon Ball Z movie 1. This movie could not possibly fit into the anime’s timeline for many reasons. Gohan’s hair and outfit would indicate that the movie takes place shortly before the appearance of Raditz; it obviously could not be after Raditz because Goku was dead, and Gohan was training with Piccolo. If this had really happened, Kuririn would have known about Gohan before meeting him at Kame House, and everyone would have been aware of Gohan’s hidden powers. Goku also has his Nyoi-Bō in this movie, which is impossible, because he left that atop Karin Tower. In conclusion, the existence of the Garlic Jr. arc is simply one giant plot hole, since it is supposed to take place in the main anime timeline, but it is based on a movie that could not have possibly taken place in the same timeline.
Hire Dragon appears in various episodes of the Dragon Ball Z anime as Gohan’s friend.
Gohan first met Hire Dragon in Dragon Ball Z movie 3, a movie which could not fit into the anime’s timeline. Goku knows Kaiō-ken and the Genki-dama in this movie, meaning it takes place after his training with Kaiō. At that point, Yamcha, Tenshinhan, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo are all dead. By the time they return to life, Goku is off training in outer space as a Super Saiyan. Therefore, this movie definitely does not fit into the anime’s timeline. However, Hire Dragon only appears in filler scenes within the anime, and some of the other movies. The problem is that he simply should not exist outside of Dragon Ball Z movie 3, since that movie takes place in a separate timeline.
In Dragon Ball Z movie 13, Tapion passes his sword down to Trunks, explaining the origin of Trunks’s sword.
Regardless of how the movie can fit into the timeline, this is impossible for other reasons. The Trunks who had the sword was the one from the tragic future, commonly referred to as “Future Trunks”. Tapion gave his sword to the Trunks from the main timeline, commonly referred to as “Chibi Trunks”. They are two completely different people; Tapion giving his sword to Chibi Trunks could not possibly explain how Future Trunks obtained his sword.
Since the events of the movie could never take place, regardless of the fact that the two “Trunks” characters are two completely different people, the sword Chibi Trunks receives cannot possibly be the same sword that Future Trunks receives. Since Goku has died in the alternate timeline (as well as many of the other fighters), if Hildegarn were to come to Earth trapped within Tapion, the world would probably be destroyed; Trunks, alone, would not be able to stand up to such a task (especially since he would only be Chibi Trunks’ age during the events.
The movie is a great way to show how Chibi Trunks gets a sword… but it is not how Future Trunks gets his sword. Presumably, this is the same sword Trunks has in Dragon Ball GT.