Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball has endured for nearly four decades because of its satisfying storytelling and heightened battle sequences, but none of these theatrics mean anything without compelling characters to back them up. Dragon Ball has a celebrated cast of characters that includes Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, and Beerus.
However, what was once a reasonable number of warriors has become increasingly cumbersome and it’s a challenge to give everyone their due. There are certain Dragon Ball figures that have taken on reduced supporting roles, such as Krillin and Android 18, but there are others who have completely slipped through the cracks and been forgotten by the series and the general public.
Launch is a standout character during the original Dragon Ball who represents the more fantastical quality that’s present before action gradually takes over the franchise. Launch is a human who’s prone to an unusual physical and emotional transformation whenever she sneezes. This natural act turns Launch from a sweet and docile ally into an aggressive, gung-ho rebel.
Launch’s transformations are typically played for laughs in Dragon Ball and it’s unfortunately a unique element that doesn’t get the opportunity to be further developed due to the character’s abrupt absence. Launch is one of the few characters who Toriyama has candidly admitted that he forgot about, but that doesn’t mean that she still couldn’t return in Dragon Ball Super.
9 Master Shen
The original Dragon Ball features some welcome symmetry between Master Roshi’s Turtle School and Master Shen’s Crane School. These two martial arts masters have a complicated history that’s further reflected through their disciples, Goku and Krillin and Tien and Chiaotzu. Tien and Chiaotzu’s defection to the Turtle School effectively takes Master Shen out of the picture, which is unfortunate due to his connection with Roshi.
There’s no reason why Shen couldn’t return, either as an ally to Roshi or someone who’s still bitter and eager for revenge. The closest Master Shen has gotten to a return is when Yurin from Dragon Ball Super explains that she’s one of Shen’s former students, but Shen himself is absent.
8 Android 8
Evil Androids have been a running trend in Dragon Ball and this tradition first started with Android 8, a Frankenstein’s Monster-esque creation who Goku eventually befriends. Android 8’s story and temperament later get referenced through Android 16’s pacifistic nature, but both of these characters have vanished. Android 16’s absence is slightly more justified since he gets destroyed by Cell.
However, Android 8 is still alive and well according to his brief appearance during Goku’s Super Spirit Bomb against Kid Buu. Android 17’s return as a dedicated hero would make Android 8’s homecoming feel even more substantial. The emergence of Dr. Hedo, a reformed Red Ribbon scientist, would be the perfect occasion to bring back and upgrade Android 8.
7 Grand Kai
Dragon Ball has had a lot of fun with its various celestial Kai figures who all hold dominion over different tiers of existence. Dragon Ball Super has gone on to feature God of Destruction, Angels, Grand Priests, and even Zeno the Omni-King. However, there was a minute when the Grand Kai represented peak celestial power. Grand Kai’s presence is connected to the Other World Tournament, where each of the galaxy’s four Kai pits their deceased fighters against each other.
Admittedly, Grand Kai is an anime-exclusive filler character who’s ostensibly replaced by Supreme Kai, who fulfills the same purpose. Grand Kai embodies such an unconventional attitude that he’d be worth bringing back into the picture.
Goku learns some crucial lessons upon his ascension of Korin Tower and Kami’s Lookout. Characters like Yajirobe and Dende haven’t completely vanished from Dragon Ball, but other figures like Korin and Mr. Popo have become considerably more obscure.
Korin is such a unique character in the sense that he’s a talking cat with impressive martial arts skills and a seemingly endless supply of Senzu Bean. Fewer visits to Korin Tower make it harder to fit its namesake into Dragon Ball. That being said, Korin would fit in just fine at Kami’s Lookout or Roshi’s Kame House. He’d even become a fun foil for Beeus and Whis.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that Dragon Ball exists in a weird world where dinosaurs and anthropomorphic animals are plentiful. An early Dragon Ball Z fixture, especially during the first handful of feature films, is Gohan’s pet dragon, Icarus. Icarus doesn’t serve much of a purpose beyond being a cute companion for a younger Gohan, but there’s no scene where Gohan says goodbye to his beloved pet.
It could be extremely satisfying to bring back Icarus, now as a grown dragon, who’s powerful enough to fight alongside an adult Gohan. Alternatively, Icarus would also be a fun friend for Gohan’s daughter, Pan, whose friends are limited. If Goku’s Flying Nimbus can return then Gohan’s Icarus deserves the same opportunity.
Pikkon is one of Dragon Ball’s most popular anime-only characters, first making waves during the Other World Tournament and continuing to police the afterlife in both Fusion Reborn and Dragon Ball GT. Pikkon’s strength and supportive fandom makes his lengthy absence all the more discouraging and audiences are beginning to give up hope that the West Galaxy fighter will ever return.
Dragon Ball Super’s Tournament of Power was the perfect opportunity to canonically bring Pikkon into the mix, either as one of Goku’s Universe 7 recruits or an alternate fighter from another universe. Unfortunately, the series instead opted for the return of Frieza.
Upa, as well as his father Bora, are members of a tribe of people who act as guardians at the base of Korin Tower. Their time with Goku is brief, but significant, and it becomes a valuable exercise in sacrifice and the restorative powers of the Dragon Balls.
Curiously, Goku does take a minute to check in with Upa, who is now an adult, during his Super Saiyan 4 exploits in Dragon Ball GT. It’d be appreciated if Dragon Ball Super gave the character a similar showcase considering that he represents such an important part of Goku’s youth and the loss of his innocence.
2 Erasa & Sharpner
Dragon Ball Z enters an enlightening transition period following Cell’s defeat. Gohan, now a teenager, begins high school and makes some unique friends and foes. Videl is really the only fellow classmate from Orange Star High that sticks around, but she’s introduced alongside Erasa and Sharpner. These two individuals don’t amount to much, but Dragon Ball has come up with creative ways to give ordinary humans more things to do.
They could even be Videl’s friends that she visits whenever she’s not caught up in superpowered scenarios. Erasa and Sharpner may be long gone, but their spirit remains alive in Kompas, Rulah, Skale, Chok, and Fayra, who are Goten and Trunks’ new classmates at Blue Hal Highschool.
Chiaotzu first enters Dragon Ball as a rival for Krillin, but he gradually develops into his own character. Chiaotzu struggles to remain relevant following his defeat against Nappa and he has no shame in admitting that Earth’s increasing threats are just too much for him. Chiaotzu is briefly seen during Tien’s recruitment for the Tournament of Power, but it’s unfortunate that he isn’t paid the same respect.
So much time has passed that a major power boost on Chiaotzu’s part that at least puts him at Tien’s level wouldn’t be questioned. Chiaotzu could also act as moral support for characters like Roshi, Goten and Trunks, or Pilaf and his gang. He’s too unique of a character to just abandon.