Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball continues to evolve after more than 30 years, and it’s remarkable to see how grandiose the series’ scope has become since the anime’s humble origins. Dragon Ball Super pushes the heights of Dragon Ball Z to even greater levels, which is what many fans were hoping to see happen with these heroes.
However, the more humorous and grounded nature of the original Dragon Ball is greatly missed, and there’s a lot that it indulges in that now gets neglected. The original Dragon Ball ran for 153 episodes and established an excellent foundation for what’s to come, but there are still some major missed opportunities that could have started Dragon Ball Z off in an even better place.
10 Greater Restrictions Aren’t Placed On The Dragon Balls’ Powers
The seven wish-granting Dragon Balls are the ultimate prize when Dragon Ball begins. It’s unclear if anyone will successfully obtain these treasures, but over time, the Dragon Balls’ collection becomes a foregone conclusion and a minor nuisance. The Dragon Balls allow deceased characters to be resurrected on multiple occasions, as well as other extravagant perks that erase the painful past.
The following Dragon Ball seasons continue to get more liberal with the Dragon Ball restrictions, their number of wishes, and just what they can accomplish. Stricter Dragon Ball rules in the original series, especially regarding death, would have prevented things from getting increasingly out of hand in the future.
9 Master Shen Doesn’t Stick Around As A Steady Rival For Roshi
Master Roshi becomes an invaluable mentor to Goku during his younger adventures, and without his mentorship, then he’d have never mastered his signature Kamehameha attack. Roshi trains Goku and Krillin, preparing them for the World Martial Arts Tournament, where he clashes with his former friend, Master Shen.
Master Shen is an early obstacle who pushes Tien and Chiaotzu to unscrupulous places before they eventually defect over to Roshi. There’s so much history between Shen and Roshi as rivals that Dragon Ball could continue to explore. Unfortunately, the character gets dropped from the series, along with any extended looks back into Roshi’s past.
8 Krillin’s Death Could Be More Traumatic For Goku
Death is a tragic event in Dragon Ball, and it hits somewhat harder in the original series where resurrection hasn’t become commonplace. Until a certain point in Dragon Ball, it’s unclear if major characters will pass away and just how dark the anime will get with its storytelling.
One of the saddest moments in the original series is when King Piccolo’s Tambourine executes Krillin. This sends Goku into a rage, which aids him in combat, and Krillin is later revived. Krillin is one of Dragon Ball’s best characters, but his permanent absence would push Goku down a compelling path and force him to make a new best friend.
7 A Longer Courtship Between Goku & Chi-Chi Doesn’t Happen
Goku and Chi-Chi have two children together, but their marriage is one of Dragon Ball’s colder aspects due to Goku’s complete emotional immaturity. What’s interesting about Chi-Chi is that Goku is first drawn to her because she can hold her own as a martial artist. These skills slowly regress once Chi-Chi pivots towards domestic life.
There are some filler episodes at the end of Dragon Ball that allow Goku and Chi-Chi to establish more of a rapport, but this could have been its whole substantial arc. Audiences need to build more of a bond with Chi-Chi by the time Dragon Ball Z is in motion.
6 Launch Should Become More Entrenched In Goku’s Team
Powerful human fighters dominate the original Dragon Ball, yet they quickly become the minority once Dragon Ball Z hits its stride. Humans are increasingly edged out, and some individuals, such as Launch, were admittedly forgotten about by Akira Toriyama. Launch is a fascinating figure because she experiences a Jekyll/Hyde-like transformation whenever she sneezes.
It would be so much fun to have Launch as a permanent member of Goku’s team, and it would allow her character to further develop in Dragon Ball Z and maybe even stumble upon some type of ability that allows her to stay in the picture alongside the Saiyans instead of being forgotten.
5 More Isn’t Done With The Friendly Androids
Androids become a common presence in the larger Dragon Ball franchise, especially in Dragon Ball Z, but they’re introduced as early as the original series. There are certainly evil robotic creations that are beyond the point of redemption, like Major Metallitron, but there are also several exceptions like the kind-hearted Android 8.
Arale, while a Dr. Slump character, fits in so well and is such a natural fit for Goku that it’s unfortunate that he doesn’t gain a few Android companions to fight alongside him through the series. It’d lead to more interesting battles and also start off Dragon Ball Z on a more dynamic note.
4 Master Roshi Doesn’t Permanently Pass On & Become A Relic Of Goku’s Past
Goku has had to watch some of the most important people in his life pass on, and each of these losses is differently haunting. Master Roshi helps Goku build the fundamentals to become the hero that he is today, and this mentor passes on during his valiant attempts to use the Evil Containment Wave on Demon King Piccolo.
Roshi’s death only lasts for a day until it’s reversed. The permanent loss of this character would set Goku on a more determined path, and Master Roshi largely has diminishing returns in Dragon Ball Z as more of a gag character.
3 Goku Can’t Regularly Check In With Grandpa Gohan’s Ghost
Goku’s whole magical adventure gets moving in the first place because he’s left to fend for himself following the death of his adoptive Grandpa, Gohan. Goku never forgets about this kind guardian figure who selflessly took him in, and the original series allows for some catharsis when Goku is able to communicate with his ghost following Fortuneteller Baba’s supernatural competition.
It’s an extremely sweet homecoming, but there’s no reason it needed to be a one-time event. There could be a lot of value in Goku being able to check in with Grandpa Gohan’s spirit, through Baba, during crucial moments.
2 Yamcha & Bulma’s Young Love Reaches The Next Level
The original Dragon Ball dips its toes into many different genres, and there’s a decent romance between Yamcha and Bulma. They enter a young, awkward courtship that carries on into Dragon Ball Z. These two characters are still on each other’s radars when Z begins, but an ambivalence has fallen over their relationship that only continues to weaken their bond.
The romantic tension between Yamcha and Bulma is cute at first, but Dragon Ball misses the opportunity to really turn them into a power couple by the end of the original series. These two could have had a child by the end of the original Dragon Ball, just like Goku.
1 King Piccolo’s Reign Of Terror Should Become Permanent
Plenty of vicious villains rise to power in the original Dragon Ball, but Demon King Piccolo brings forward unprecedented pain. King Piccolo successfully wishes upon the Dragon Balls to regain his youth, but he also rules the world with an iron fist and releases his Dark Vassals to bring ruin. King Piccolo’s defeat, and his subsequent spawning of Piccolo Jr., makes for suspenseful storytelling.
However, one wonders if Dragon Ball might have been better if Demon King Piccolo stayed in power and was the series’ primary antagonist. Demon King Piccolo could still send out more evil lackeys to do his bidding, but he’d still be the biggest threat to conquer.