How Goku always saves the day in almost every single arc in Dragon Ball Z actually started long before – in the original Dragon Ball series.
Most Dragon Ball fans understandably associate Dragon Ball Z with the trope that Goku arrives and easily defeats the terribly powerful villain his friends couldn’t over several episodes. However, despite the critisicms aimed at Dragon Ball Z, the massive shonen franchise has had this issue from the very beginning.
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One of the most iconic anime characters of all time, Goku’s insane strength and propensity to always overcome adversity naturally possess the capability of cutting story arcs dramatically short. The arcs only last as long as they do because Goku has always been preoccupied in some way when the villains are wreaking havoc.
Goku Has Been Saving the Day From the Beginning
Leading up to chapter 77 of Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama began utilizing the infamous trope. When both searching for the Dragon Balls and simultaneously running away from the Red Ribbon Army’s General Blue, Goku gets separated from Krillin and Bulma when the Saiyan opts to battle a robot pirate while his companions continue their search for the Dragon Balls. After seeing Goku win, Blue manages to trick the Saiyan into going the wrong way, resulting in him getting entangled with an octopus. Meanwhile, Blue takes advantage of this by fighting and defeating Krillin. It’s only after Goku arrives that he’s able to save the day.
The similarities don’t end there. In addition to Goku’s friends being defeated by a stronger opponent while Goku is dealing with other problems, Goku ends up being more than enough of a match for Blue while Krillin is in a position that fans of Dragon Ball Z got used to seeing. As Goku dramatically confronts General Blue, Krillin lies on the ground barely being able to utter Goku’s name. This is basically what happens in every one of DBZ‘s battles. The only thing missing is that Goku doesn’t have or know about the Senzu Beans yet, so he isn’t able to go through the motions as he did in DBZ where he feeds his wounded friends these beans in front of his future opponents who are infuriated at his impudence.
Krillin Couldn’t Catch a Break In Dragon Ball
Although nowhere near as popular as DBZ, Dragon Ball did offer many things that its much more successful spin-off series couldn’t do, and suffered from as a result. Krillin, along with other side characters like Yamcha, who once helped Goku defeat a silly villain, were usually portrayed as actually very capable warriors. Although Krillin was never near as strong as Goku – even at the very start of Dragon Ball, the bald human did participant in significant major events and battles.
This changed for the worse when he later adopted the role of a ragdoll that would get kicked around in DBZ and even in Dragon Ball Super. The irony, however, is that this scene in Dragon Ball chapter 77 proves Toriyama was doing more than just set the stage for Krillin’s embarrassing decline in Dragon Ball. Krillin was already going through the motions – he just did them more frequently in DBZ than in Dragon Ball.