Dragon Ball: The 20 Worst Things To Happen To Gohan
Gohan is one of the most popular characters in Dragon Ball, but even the most loved characters go through some pretty tough stuff sometimes.
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The original Dragon Ball series gave birth to several characters who would go on to become fan favorites in the franchise. From its main character Goku all the way to Piccolo, its sequel series Dragon Ball Z could have probably done just fine with the existing cast, but Akira Toriyama smartly realized that fresh blood was in order. Enter the first new character that DBZ introduces to us: the son of Chi-Chi and Son Goku, Son Gohan.
Even if he was only three years old when we first see him, we knew from early on that Gohan was going to be something special. Not only was he born from a fighting god, but he exhibited that power at a young age when he surprised his uncle Raditz with a headbutt to save his father. As he grew up, he studied not only to be an accomplished scholar (it’s always been unclear what exactly he’s studying, to be honest) but one of the most powerful fighters in the universe. Along his journey, though, Gohan has been through so much that no child should ever have to endure in his life.
Think of the most intense thing you’ve ever seen. Gohan has seen 100 times worse than that. Think about the hardest thing you’ve worked on; guaranteed Gohan has done more. While most of these entries have to do with purely what’s happened inside the confines of the show, there are some that discuss the meta-decisions made by Akira Toriyama and his bosses. So let’s jump into the 20 worst things to happen to Dragon Ball’s Gohan.
20 Those You Trust The Most
Everybody can remember when they were a child and your parents telling you that you have to go visit your relative that you’ve never heard of. You may not be too happy about it because your second cousin has the worst video game collection ever and his mom smells like cigarettes, but you can at least be sure that you won’t get captured by them. Gohan did not have this luxury.
If this was Dragon Ball Super, Raditz would have probably taken Goku’s food hostage.
In the very first episode of Dragon Ball Z, Goku’s long lost brother from Planet Vegeta known as Raditz comes to Earth looking to see if his bro accomplished his mission. Of course, Goku doesn’t even remember it because of when he was dropped as a baby. So, in an attempt to persuade his brother, Raditz takes the one thing that would get Goku’s attention; his son. Obviously terrified and not exactly sure of what’s going on, Gohan is whisked away. Considering what is going on, Gohan handles it remarkably well even landing a headbutt that stuns him. This would set the tone for the rest of Gohan’s childhood; being thrust into scenarios that no kid should have to endure.
19 Twice His Size
It’s easy to forget that the Frieza saga didn’t necessarily end with Frieza’s defeat at the hands of Goku on Namek. There were still some unresolved issues and even some battles to fight. This one involves Gohan and Vegeta, and although later in the series Gohan could probably take on Vegeta in an equal fight, at this point Vegeta is far above the half-breed Saiyan.
This all could have been avoided if Vegeta dropped his act about being happy about Goku’s passing.
When it seems that Goku perished in the blaze of the Planet Namek’s destruction, Gohan is holding onto hope that his daddy survived. Trying to keep up his facade of being a heartless warrior, Vegeta taunts Gohan by telling him his dad is never coming back and he might as well just get used to washing the prince’s boots and blah blah blah. Gohan isn’t going to take his crap and tries to fight him, but is clearly outmatched. After Vegeta decides to start taking things seriously, he beats Gohan and only stops when Piccolo stops him from doing it anymore. The weird part is that Piccolo waited a little bit before stepping in. Why are you screwing your adoptive son like that, man?
18 Beaten In A Snap By Recoome
When you say the word villain, characters like Vegeta, Frieza, and Cell come to mind right away. With that said, there are plenty of minor antagonists that caused plenty of mayhem and destruction for our heroes. One of the most terrifying and powerful of these minor villains would have to be the muscle of the Ginyu Force, Recoome.
Scenes like this make you wonder how it got onto American television as a children’s show.
With his ridiculous hair, voice, and poses, you might think that he would be a joke, but that is far from the case. Recoome alone is able to take out Vegeta and Krillin, but Gohan’s signature burst of rage will even the odds, won’t it? Nope, Recoome easily deals with the five-year-old warrior by a swift fight. If it wasn’t for Goku’s arrival seconds later, Gohan, Vegeta, and Krillin would have all been vaporized by the brute. Thankfully though, Goku gives Gohan a Senzu Bean to heal and his son is able to kick Frieza’s bottom later on in the saga even if it was only for a little bit. This is the most damage that Gohan ever suffered in his life without actually losing it all.
17 Whatever Happened To The Tail
It would be one thing for us to slap on tails when we were already fully adults and then lose them. But for the Saiyan race, a tail is just something that sprouts out from behind them, it’s another limb and a symbol of pride. Losing it would be like if one of us lost our arm, except that our arm doesn’t allow us to transform into giant rampaging monkeys. I think.
In the battle versus Vegeta back in the Saiyan saga, Vegeta makes a tactical error by launching an artificial moon into the sky. Although it grants him the power to transform into a Great Ape, that power is also given to Gohan who has a Saiyan tail as well. As a result, he rampages against the fatigued Saiyan Prince and has him on the run. Vegeta, however, is still too quick and nimble to get damaged and launches a destructo disk (suck it, Krillin) to take off the tail. Unfortunately for the prince, it only makes things worse as he is crushed by the giant baby. At least Gohan wasn’t exactly conscious for this (Saiyan Apes at his age don’t totally remember what they do in that form), but still, having your tail taken off by an alien invader is a big event for a child of his age.
16 Nothing But Bait
The Dragon Balls have been a lot of things in the world of, err, Dragon Ball. They’ve been plot devices, merchandise material, plot devices, and so on. One thing that they probably shouldn’t be however is ornaments that you stick on top of a hat. Even worse, you probably shouldn’t give said that to a 3-year-old boy. But as we all know, Goku isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.
Villains could have always just taken the ball, but I guess they just like messing with children.
Right from his first appearance in the series, you can see that Goku is holding his child in his arms who is wearing the same Four-Star Dragon Ball that Goku’s adoptive father gave him upon losing his life. Apparently, it never occurred to Goku that putting one of the series’ MacGuffins on his son’s head might make him the target of the various villains who plague his planet. He painted a target on his son’s back. It’s not often that taking a hat off a character would save a lot of grief and hardship, that’s exactly what kind of situation we have here.
15 At Frieza’s Hands
The return of Frieza to Earth in Dragon Ball Super was an exciting moment for fans. However, the characters in the franchise have evolved past the point where Frieza should pose any kind of threat to the heroes of Earth. Heck, by the time of Super Gotenks alone could easily beat him. But Frieza trained for months and was able to easily steamroll all of Earth’s defenders including Gohan. In fact, Gohan might have gotten it worst of all.
At least this convinced Gohan to start training once again.
With his father and Vegeta training on Beerus’ planet, Gohan is the planet’s best hope to defending itself from Frieza in his army. But since he’s been slacking off on his training, Gohan cannot hope to compete with the galactic emperor. Unleashes all his pent-up rage that he hasn’t had a chance to unleash since Future Trunks obliterated him, Frieza fires Gohan with energy beams over and over again to torture the fallen Super Saiyan. Just when it seems that Gohan is going to meet his end, Piccolo jumps in and saves him from the fatal shot. It was embarrassing for fans of Gohan to see their boy fall from grace and hard to watch the son of Goku bow down in pain to Frieza.
14 Had His Power Nerfed
Dragon Ball fans can handle a lot of things. They’ve seen characters explode in front of their eyes, some truly awful animation near the start of Dragon Ball Super and even twisting their minds in pretzels to understand what’s going on in the Goku Black arc. But one thing that they will not accept is when a character’s power decreases. And you better believe that there were massive swaths of the fanbase who were angry beyond belief when Dragon Ball Super showed that Gohan’s power level dropped massively.
At the end of the Buu saga, Gohan was the second strongest fighter on Earth with only his father being more powerful than him. But as was said many times on the show, Gohan just isn’t the fighter that Goku is. He lacks the lust for training and battle that his full-blooded Saiyan father has. His academic studies, commitment to his wife Videl (something which his father can take some notes from), and his child Pan takes his time away from training. Thankfully, by the end of Dragon Ball Super, Gohan’s power climbed back up quite after he got back to training with Goku and his father Piccolo. I know what I said, darn it.
13 Was Denied A Normal Life
Most of us would love to become a half breed alien warrior capable of firing energy blasts from the age of 3. But the difference with this scenario is that we chose that particular life; we weren’t born into it. Goku even took that choice when he was young and decided to follow Bulma on her quest for the Dragon Balls. Gohan, however, likely would have been fine with choosing a normal life but that was taken away from him.
Now, to be fair to Goku and the rest of the Z Fighters, it’s understandable that they thought Gohan needed to be a fighter and train because of his massive power potential. To save the world the heroes needed to push Gohan and tap into his potential. But if they didn’t need him as a fighter, Gohan would not train. I think Piccolo put this best when Gohan was getting dominated by Cell; “You’re wrong about your son, Goku. Gohan may have that power, but it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t thirst for battle and mayhem. He’s not a fighter like you! He might be the most powerful fighter in the world, but he’s also a scared 11-year-old boy!” Thank you, green man, that will be all.
12 Had The Torch Ripped Away From Him
There is always a fan debate as to when the Dragon Ball Z series should have wrapped up and call it a day. Some people think the Frieza saga should have been the end, while others think the Cell saga was the most logical conclusion. Gohan takes the torch as protector of Earth and Goku sacrifices himself to save the planet from Cell’s self-destruction but can train all he wants in the afterlife. But this is where the whims of Akira Toriyama stripped Gohan of his destined main character status.
If it was up to Gohan, he probably wouldn’t want to be the main character anyway.
By all accounts, Gohan was going to be the main character. In the second Daizenshuu guidebook (translated by the fan site Kanezenshuu), Akira Toriyama states that “I intended to put Gohan into the leading role. It didn’t work out. I felt that compared to Goku, he was ultimately not suited for the part.” Toriyama has never elaborated on why he felt that way, but most think that since Gohan wasn’t naturally a fighter and was so different from other Shonen Jump protagonists like Naruto and Luffy, that Toriyama didn’t want to stray from the path.
11 Witnessed The Aftermath Of The Saiyan Saga
When Gohan, Piccolo, and Goku defeated Raditz, they discovered that two other Saiyan warriors were going to come to Earth in one year’s time. With that knowledge, the Z fighters were able to train and prepare themselves for the coming battle. But nothing could have prepared them for what they witnessed, especially Gohan. Gohan experienced horrible atrocities the same age that we usually just worry about trading cards.
The moment of Yamcha being defeated by a Saibaman may have become a punchline within the DBZ fandom, but put yourself in the shoes of Gohan for a moment. The other fighters are likely used to seeing people lose their lives and they understand that the Dragon Balls can be used to wish people back. Gohan though probably doesn’t fully understand these concepts. If that wasn’t bad enough, Gohan has to see Chiaotzu sacrifice himself in a self-destruct attack, Tien lose his arm and life, and finally, Piccolo take Nappa’s fatal strike. This is all ridiculously difficult and complicating emotions for a child to go through, but all things considered, Gohan makes it through pretty well. Heck, he’s even instrumental in defeating Vegeta! A round of applause for the monkey bookworm. Bravo.
10 This Blows
By the time the Frieza saga came around, Gohan had lived through the terrors of the Saiyan saga already so he lost his innocence to violence. With that in mind though, it didn’t make what Gohan had to go through during Frieza’s terror on Planet Namek any easier.
Right from the moment that Gohan lands on the planet, he, Krillin, and Bulma have to see Frieza’s forces hurt the Namekian villagers while he stands on the sidelines with Krillin tells him not to come in. He’s also hit to the point where he almost loses his life from the bruiser Recoome before his father arrives with Senzu Beans to heal him. He also has to fight his father (well his body, anyway) which would be a weird experience for anyone. The worst comes later when Frieza survives the Spirit Bomb from Goku. Not only does Gohan see Piccolo get put down by an energy beam through his chest, but he is also powerless as Krillin is lifted into the air and blown by the Galactic Emperor. He also has to ponder his father losing his life for the second time when it’s presumed that he perished in Planet Namek’s explosion.
9 Grew Up Without His Father
Alright, so maybe the image is a bit over the top for this slide, but work with me here. I understand that Goku has a giant responsibility on his shoulders to be Earth’s first line of defense against threats. To accomplish that, he has to leave his family often to go and train with various gods, aliens and all that. But it still means that Gohan has to deal with the fact that Goku isn’t around to do much parenting.
Piccolo can only pick up the slack so much.
I can hear Goku loyalists coming to his defense right now by saying that Goku was around plenty for Gohan’s life as he spent years training with him. But that’s just it; all he really did for his son is train him. Do you think Goku was really passing on fatherly advice on how the world works and all that? Well, no, mainly because he doesn’t have much to give! If you don’t accept my arguments, take the word of Goku’s creator himself; “Goku isn’t interested in child-rearing, probably. He’s completely unqualified to be a father. (laughs) He doesn’t even have a job. Goku wants nothing other than to get stronger, and it feels like he doesn’t have any other instincts.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
8 His Dreams Of Cell
The tone of the Dragon Ball franchise oftentimes falls into the realm of comedy or is just light-hearted in general. In fact, one of the main criticisms of Dragon Ball Super is that it too often it doesn’t take itself seriously. Dragon Ball Z didn’t have this problem as much and often had moments that made young viewers wince in fear or pain. One of those darker moments came when Gohan and Goku train in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber in preparation for the Cell Games.
In the episode “The Doomsday Broadcast” from season six, Gohan has a nightmare which is his worst fears come to pass. His mother Chi-Chi comes into the time chamber to scold him about spending too much time training and ignoring his studies. Piccolo comes into the chamber as well to apologize for not being able to stop her but it all goes really bad when Cell appears. He slaps Chi-Chi into the afterlife and also destroys Piccolo in short order. It’s only when Goku shakes Gohan out of his bad dream that Gohan escapes his nightmare. I highly doubt that Goku ever had dreams like this at any point in his life.
7 His Life Was Forced By His Mother
It’s natural for parents to want their children to follow the right path. Most of them want their kids to do well in school, become a contributing member of society and tries to keep them away from risky paths of life. Chi-Chi from Dragon Ball Z is the over the top caricature of this ideal. There’s a reason why Chi-Chi is considered by most of the fanbase to be the most annoying character of the franchise, and her treatment of Gohan is a big part of that.
When you want to name your kid Einstein, you’re kind of setting him on a particular path.
From the moment he was born, Chi-Chi was determined that her son wasn’t going to follow the same path that her husband did. He was going to use his brain instead of his fists and feet, darn it! He was going to study and become an academic savant just like how his father became a martial arts savant. But Gohan didn’t really have a choice in the matter just like any other child. Instead of allowing Gohan to find his own path, Chi-Chi imposed on him a life. While I can understand her viewpoint, you do have to feel for her son.
6 Future Gohan’s Whole Life
We’ve discussed and will continue to discuss the various horrors that Gohan of the “regular” timeline. But the good part about these fictional universes like Marvel, DC, and Dragon Ball is that there are multiple timelines to play with. So maybe Future Gohan would have a better life than regular Gohan. How wrong you would be for thinking that.
In this timeline, Goku loses his life because of a heart virus and as a result is not around to protect the Earth when the Androids come to Earth one year after Mecha Frieza’s arrival on our planet. Not only that, but the rest of the Z fighters didn’t train with the same ferocity as they would as in our “normal” timeline. Gohan’s transformation into a Super Saiyan allowed him to survive but he still had to grow in a world where the only people he loved that were left were Trunks, Bulma, Chi-Chi, and his grandfather, the Ox King. In the History of Trunks movie, we see him also lose his left arm and finally his life when Androids 17 and 18 finish him off with thunderous energy blasts. If Gohan ever thinks that his life is crappy, he can just reassure himself that it could be much worse.
5 Mind Controlled By Baby
Mind control is not something that any of us can relate to unless you’ve been to hypnotist show, I guess. But nonetheless, it’s a terrifying thought. You may be able to know what you’re doing, but you can’t speak or stop yourself as your body has been hijacked by someone else. Well, Gohan and nearly everyone on Earth experienced that in Dragon Ball GT.
For those unfamiliar with Baby, he is essentially the final remnant of a race called the Tuffles, the ancient foes of the Saiyan race. He has the ability to merge his consciousness with others through wounds in their flesh placing them under his control. Gohan is the second Z fighter to fall under the villain’s control after he is defeated by his brother Goten. While under mind control, Gohan beats down Vegeta to the point where Baby is able to control Vegeta as well. That wasn’t the worst of it, though, as Gohan is forced to fight Piccolo as well. This is something that would wound him much more than squaring off against Vegeta. He and Goten also square off against their father later in this arc, ensuring that Gohan has to fight both of his father figures in this arc.
4 Fought His Own Mother
There are plenty of filler episodes in Dragon Ball Z which are considered classics by fans despite their status as “non-canon.” The Garlic Jr. arc, however, is not a part of the classics like Goku and Piccolo learning how to drive. It’s a slow, plodding mess that would not be missed if it never existed. Having said that, it did provide for another traumatizing moment for young Gohan.
Even in this fight, Gohan doesn’t strike on his mom. What a good boy, even if he did throw her off the roof.
Just like the Baby saga in Dragon Ball GT, the Garlic Jr. arc in DBZ has to do with mind control. In this arc, people have to breathe in the Black Water Mist in order to basically start acting evil and after 24 hours it becomes permanent. Of course, the heroes save the day, but before that happens Gohan is ambushed by his mother at Kame house who fights her son and even surprises him with a strike to the face. Obviously, Gohan is much stronger than her and is never in any danger, but that image of having your mother trying to take off with her fists is something that you never forget.
3 Abducted In The Second Cooler Movie
Alright, so, Return of Cooler isn’t going to top many people’s list for greatest DBZ movie, but that isn’t to say that it doesn’t have some memorable moments. Vegeta and Goku teaming up for the time is a hoot, and Metal Cooler is a sleek and terrifying villain with his ability to heal from injury and to clone himself. Also, how can we forget the time where Yajirobe almost got dissected by robots while the rest of the Z fighters had to watch?
Oh yeah, that totally happens. While we’re used to seeing some weird imagery from this series, nothing was quite as cold as threatening to saw a character exposed. The characters got in this situation when they tried to fight Cooler’s robot henchmen only to be captured. Yajirobe made the stupid move of trying to punch one of his captors and the robot took that as him volunteering. Thankfully for Gohan and the others, Vegeta and Goku defeated Cooler just in time to stop the machines. While there has been plasma in DBZ, this moment would have been something to rival even Mortal Kombat. This is something a lot of people even forget happened.
2 Never Got Credit For His Biggest Win
Mr. Hercule Satan may not actually be the greatest fighter who ever lived, but the majority of people on Earth sure do think that. Thanks to clever planning, cheap tricks, and a whole lot of charisma, Hercule has been able to pull the wool over people’s eyes for years into thinking he’s the GOAT (greatest of all time, for you non-sports fans). The most egregious example of this was when he took the credit for something an 11-year-old actually did and claimed he was the one to defeat Cell.
Now, I know that the reason why the Z-Fighters allow Hercule to take credit for their victories is so that they don’t get hounded by media, but come on. For what Gohan and his family did, they should have been on easy street for the rest of their lives and be honored like royalty. Even if they let Hercule take the credit, Hercule should have given them enough money to have them never worry about their financial situation ever again. As far as we know, Hercule only gave the family money at the start of Dragon Ball Super and at that point, Gohan was married to his beloved daughter! Hercule probably thought that he could get away with ignoring the 11-year-old, and he did. Darn him.
1 Honey, It Was An Accident
As Gohan grew up, he developed a flair for dramatics and superhero antics. Throughout the Buu saga, we see Gohan adopt the identity of a superhero known as the Great Saiyaman. While he seems to have dropped this identity when he focused more on his career, he still keeps the costume for fun. But that fun turned bad when Gohan got too careless with his showmanship.
During Bulma’s 38th birthday party in the DBZ movie Battle of Gods, the Pilaf Gang pull out a gun and threaten the party guests into giving up the Dragon Balls. Thinking this is part of a show set up by Trunks and the infantized Pilaf Gang, Gohan encourages Mai to shoot him since he thought the gun was a pellet gun. As expected, he deflects the bullets away with his ki but due to his carelessness, his wife Videl is shot in the leg. Thankfully, Dende there is on hand to heal her, but Chi Chi rightfully scolds Gohan since that bullet could easily hit her someplace more fatal. If this was Buu saga Videl, she likely would given Gohan a rightful smackdown, but by this point, she mellowed out. While the main fault here lies with Gohan, potentially ending his wife’s life is a cruel joke for Akira Toriyama to play on Goku’s first son.
Hello y’all! I’m Patrick. I intend to entertain, generate discussion and save the world with my articles (in that order). Born and raised on comic books, professional wrestling and video games, . If you don’t like my articles, I’ll have you know that I’m a brown belt in Judo. Criticize at your own peril. Happy readings!