Some anime are able to transcend the medium and almost become emblematic of their genre, which is certainly the case with Akira Toriyama’s shonen classic, Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball has grown into one of the most foundational anime programs of all time. Dragon Ball knows how to embrace the staples of the genre, but it’s the series’ ability to slowly evolve with the times and incorporate modern sensibilities that have allowed the property to remain evergreen.

The majority of the adventures in Dragon Ball involve the heroic Goku and his unprecedented power, but the series’ protagonist doesn’t always have the world’s best interests on his mind. Goku will always do his best to defend Earth and those he loves, but there are more than a few occasions where he almost causes everything to fall to pieces.

His Actions Trigger The Tournament Of Power

Some anime protagonists are all about aggression and anger, but Goku never fully loses his child-like innocence. This balance is crucial to Goku’s character, but his naïvety can often be at odds with the rest of Dragon Ball’s characters. Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the unlikely friendship that’s fostered between Goku and the Omni-King, Zeno. Zeno can destroy an entire universe with minimal effort, which leads to many walking on eggshells around the deity. Goku couldn’t care less, and his cavalier behavior triggers the Tournament of Power and nearly an erasure of multiversal proportions.

He Heals Cell With A Senzu Bean

There are some incredibly valuable tools and aids that are introduced in Dragon Ball. Senzu Beans are a convenient way for a character to completely regain their strength and gain a second win in battle. The longer that Dragon Ball goes on, the more that these special healing aids turn into a way to tempt the enemy. In one of Goku’s more regrettable actions, he offers Cell a Senzu Bean to improve his strength and allow for a “fair fight.” Cell is eventually defeated, but Goku’s decision here results in the death of several heroes, including himself.

He Gives Frieza Extra Time On Namek

Suspenseful and prolonged battles have become one of Dragon Ball’s trademarks, but the exaggerated trope becomes first established during Goku’s excessive fight against Frieza on Planet Namek. Goku becomes a Super Saiyan for the first time and ultimately survives the altercation, but he could have been much more efficient in how he handles this situation.

Goku’s curiosity over Frieza’s full potential and the chances that he gives him to redeem himself only further doom Namek. There’s a version of this fight that could have ended with Namek’s survival, but Goku’s priorities are elsewhere.

He Ignores His Heart Condition

Goku’s mortality is often threatened by the abilities of bloodthirsty villains, so it’s quite the shock when Future Trunks reveals that Goku’s untimely death during the invasion of the Androids is the result of a heart condition. Future Trunks’ trip to the past is to help eliminate Cell and the Androids, but he also provides Goku with an antidote for his ailment. Despite all of this help and being told about his future, Goku still neglects this advice until the last minute. He’s lucky that he’s able to prevent his death in this timeline, but he still needlessly tempts fate.

He Refuses To Be Revived & Stays In The Afterlife

Death is a tragedy that hurts a little less in Dragon Ball thanks to the advent of being able to revive certain individuals. Goku meets his end on more than one occasion, and the Dragon Balls are there to bring him back. During one attempt to revive Goku, the Saiyan actively refuses the wish and asks to remain dead. Goku’s rationale is that he’s a beacon for danger, and he’s only made Earth a more dangerous place. This makes sense on some level, but evil continues to come to Earth, and it doesn’t help any for Goku to put himself on the sidelines.

He Messes Up His Fusion Dance With Vegeta

The heroes in Dragon Ball continue to face progressively powerful enemies, and the introduction of fusion allows two individuals to collectively pool their strength into a combined powerhouse of a fighter. There is more than one route for fusion, and the less permanent of the methods involves a dance that must be identically performed by the participants.

In both Fusion Reborn and Dragon Ball Super: Broly, Goku and Vegeta’s initial attempts to perform the fusion dance are unsuccessful. The two are able to endure the punishment, but under different circumstances, Veku could have been killed before they properly became Gogeta.

His Actions Lead To King Cold & Mecha-Frieza’s Invasion

Goku and Frieza engage in a brutal battle on Planet Namek that Goku narrowly manages to survive. He assumes that he defeated Frieza, but the heroes on Earth receive a very rude awakening when Frieza returns, reassembled, alongside his powerful father, King Cold. Without Goku around to help, it seems like Frieza will be able to properly get his revenge on the Saiyan and take out everyone Goku cares about. Fortunately, Future Trunks makes his grand debut and handles the problem, but it’s Goku’s mess to clean up.

He Trusts Moro & Gives Him A Second Chance

Manga Dragon Ball Super Goku Moro Senzu

Dragon Ball Super’s anime confidently goes out on the Tournament of Power, but Super’s manga extends the story forward and introduces Moro, a deadly magic user. Moro is stronger than anyone Goku and company have ever faced before, and the heroes struggle to find an advantage against the monster. Much to everyone’s chagrin, Goku uses a moment of weakness on Moro’s part to offer him a chance at redemption, complete with a Senzu Bean recovery. Goku should know that Moro is beyond redemption, but he still gives the villain this power boost and nearly dooms the universe as a result.

He Becomes The Host For Zamasu

Anime Dragon Ball Super Zamasu Goku Black Attack Chi-Chi Goten

Admittedly, this transgression isn’t directly Goku’s fault, but he still plays a factor in the unfortunate butterfly effect that nearly destroys their entire timeline. Dragon Ball Super’s Goku Black saga introduces an evil version of the Saiyan, who turns out to actually be Zamasu. Zamasu steals the Saiyan’s body in an alternate timeline in order to pull off a maneuver that will result in the extinction of all mortals. Part of the reason that Zamasu is able to get so far in his plan is that Goku’s body is such a superlative host for him to inhabit.

He Leaves The World Behind & Transcends With Shenron

goku sleeps on shenron's back

Dragon Ball GT is still viewed as a controversial addition to the Dragon Ball series, but it makes some creative decisions that are only more compelling now that Dragon Ball Super exists as a counterpoint. Dragon Ball GT concludes with Shenron decreeing that the Dragon Balls are now a liability and shouldn’t exist anymore. Goku doesn’t only agree, but he decides that he should also bid the world farewell and disappear with Shenron and the Dragon Balls. It’s an emotional finish, but one that feels impulsive, misguided, and will likely just leave the world vulnerable.

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