The story behind the creation and writing of Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball is kind of nuts. Toriyama tended to not plan too far ahead with his writing, which incidentally resulted in some of the series' most beloved stories and characters. For most of the series, Toriyama's choices helped turn the strange story into a worldwide phenomenon. However, even this haphazard and eccentric writing style had to be reined in at times and there were points where Toriyama's manga editors made choices that saved the series.
This back and forth between Toriyama and his editors only occurred when the original manga was being published, and now that Dragon Ball Super is airing, things are a little different. Super is not based on any manga chapters and is produced solely as an anime, meaning the writing process is different. We don't exactly know how, but perhaps things are planned out a bit more in advanced. Regardless, there are definitely some choices that should be made for the Dragon Ball franchise in order to keep it going strong, much in the same way that bad choices were avoided for the original manga. With that, CBR decided to put together a list of 7 choices that almost ruined Dragon Ball, and 8 that could save it.
Fan art of Beerus in feature image by Timothy Fleur.
15 SAVE: THE UNIVERSES WILL BE SAVED
The current saga of Dragon Ball Super is the universal survival saga, in which ten warriors from eight different universes face off against each other in a battle royal. The reason for this is because Zen-Oh was planning on erasing them all for having low numbers of intelligent life-populated planets, but he plans to spare one, whoever wins the tournament. So far, five universes have been erased. But, is this erasure forever?
There are signs that point to the entire tournament of power being a ruse of sorts, some plan of the Angels, but we'll get to that later. Most speculations have theorized that the universes will come back in some way. Either Zen-Oh's erasure of them wasn't actually permanent and/or was to keep up a ruse, or the universes are going to be wished back into existence with the super dragon balls.
14 RUIN: GOHAN WAS GOING TO BE THE MAIN CHARACTER
There was a time where Akira Toriyama almost phased Goku out of the series completely. Well, maybe not completely, but his spot as the main protagonist of the series was almost taken by Gohan. However, due to fan backlash, this quickly changed. As much as fans might like Gohan, this would have ruined the series, since we've been following Goku from the very beginning.
You can actually see the effects of this decision in parts of Dragon Ball Z. In the Cell Saga, it's Gohan that defeats Cell and after Goku dies, he decides to stay dead, believing his presence and strength attracts danger to Earth. Later in the Buu saga, Gohan starts out as the main focus, we see him go to school and train for the martial arts tournament before Goku finally returns as the main protagonist of the series.
13 SAVE: THE UNIVERSES WILL BE COMBINED
If we're rolling with the idea that the universes are not truly erased, and that they will be wished back with the super dragon balls, then there's another way it can possibly go. Usually with ultra powerful wishes like this, there tends to be some sort of catch. Though the super dragon balls are powerful enough to wish the universes back, Zen-Oh might not allow something like this, but Goku has been shown to be creative with his wishes.
Some fans are speculating that Goku will alter his super dragon ball wish to bring back all the erased universes and combine them into a single universe so that everyone can still survive. This would be an excellent choice for the series since it just feels so Dragon Ball, doesn't it?
12 RUIN: VEGETA WAS A ONE-SAGA VILLAIN
Vegeta is easily one the most beloved characters in Dragon Ball Z, and perhaps even in all of anime. He's gone from a ruthless villain to an anti-hero to a full-blown hero with a loving family. But, he almost didn't get the chance to grow and change, or become one of the series' greatest characters. Why is that? Well, he was originally intended to be a one-off villain, meant to only last through the Saiyan saga.
But, possible due to fan popularity, Toriyama changed his mind, keeping the character around for the later sagas to come. Could you imagine what the Frieza, Cell and Majin Buu sagas would be like without the prince of Saiyans around? There would be no Trunks and the series would've been a lot less interesting as a whole without a constant rival for Goku.
11 SAVE: THE ANGELS ARE PLOTTING SOMETHING
In the tournament of power, five universes have been eliminated thus far. Whenever a universe is erased, their god of destruction and supreme kai go with them, but not the Angels. This is because the Angels are assigned to universes and don't belong to any specific one. This means that the tournament of power has no meaning to them... or does it?
With nearly every one of the universe that has been erased, the Angel that was assigned to it seemed happy when it was cut from existence. Many fans speculate that there is some bigger scheme going on with the Angels, and this would be an awesome direction to take the the saga in. If the Angels are hiding something, it could mean that the universes might not actually be erased, or that there's a bigger battle to come after the tournament.
10 RUIN: TORIYAMA CONSTANTLY WANTED TO END IT
Though they might vary in overall popularity, it could easily be said that every saga of Dragon Ball Z is loved by fans. The entire series is far more popular than the predecessor, Dragon Ball, but maybe not by the creator himself. In fact, throughout several points in both Dragon Ball mangas, Akira Toriyama wanted to call it quits. But, his editor reminded him of the popularity every time, pushing him to continue. He eventually drew the line with the Buu saga, making sure it ended there.
There is speculation that Toriyama wanted to end the entire franchise at several different points in the series. At first he wanted to end it after the original hunt for the dragon balls, he also wanted to end after the Saiyan, Frieza and Cell Sagas. Good thing he listened to his editor, since we would have missed out on the best sagas.
9 SAVE: ULTRA INSTINCT WILL DEFEAT JIREN
In the universal survival saga of Dragon Ball Super, we are introduced to Jiren the Gray, a powerful warrior from Universe 11. Jiren is believed to be a prophetic warrior, the lone being in all the universes capable of surpassing the power of a god of destruction without being a god himself. Part of Jiren's power seems to come from his psychic abilities of telepathy and telekinesis.
Jiren's telepathy is what allows him to react to and dodge every attack that comes at him, perfectly countering every threat. However, this power only works because he reads the minds of others as they attack, meaning someone who isn't thinking cannot have their moves predicted. This is why many fans think that Goku's newest form, ultra instinct, is the key to defeating Jiren, since the form allows Goku to attack without thinking, relying on pure instinct.
8 RUIN: EDITORS WANTED GOKU TO STAY YOUNG
Though Toriyama's manga editors helped mold the franchise into what it is today, not every suggestion they made was a good one. When Toriyama created the series, it was meant to be the fun, silly adventures of a young kid with a monkey tail. However, as the series progressed, it began focusing more on martial arts than adventures. Because of this, Toriyama wanted to age up Goku since his child body made it hard to draw movement and action in fights.
This was, however, a hard idea to sell the editors on. The main reason for this is that in manga, drastically changing the appearance of the main protagonists is a big no-no. Toriyama had to push for this change and even started writing chapters with adult Goku without fully receiving approval. Guess the joke is on the editors, since more fans know Goku as an adult then as a kid.
7 SAVE: DBZ EPILOGUE IS NON-CANON
At the end of Dragon Ball Z, in both the anime and the manga, there is an epilogue. Some time has passed and the Z-crew is reuniting for the first time in years. Together they plan to attend/enter the world martial arts tournament. However, at the end of the tournament, Goku flies off with Uub, the good reincarnation of Kid Buu, to train him. Though this future could still potentially happen, we think it might be best if it was axed from the canon.
The reason for this choice being a good one is that it would lead to Dragon Ball Super making a lot more sense. There are aspects of Super that do not appear in the ending of DBZ, and most of the epilogue's aspects are brought into the fan-hated Dragon Ball GT. Overall things would work best if Super is accepted as the new future canon.
6 RUIN: GOTEN WAS CREATED TO REPLACE GOKU
When Toriyama was planning to have Gohan replace Goku as the main protagonist of the series, he wasn't going to leave fans completely without a bit of Goku. As Gohan was being set up as the new main character, Toriyama also thought up his brother Goten, Goku and Chi-Chi's second son. Goten looks exactly like his father and was actually intended to be a replacement for him.
Goten is much like Goku as a child, he has a love of wildlife, likes having fun and has a natural gift for martial arts. Goten is definitely a great character, but he's not exactly Goku material... Well he technically is, but you get what we mean. He wouldn't stand as a replacement for Goku, so it's a good thing he was pushed into the background a bit.
5 SAVE: GT IS BOOTED FROM THE CANON
If the epilogue of Dragon Ball Z is going to be booted from the canon of Dragon Ball, then Dragon Ball GT also needs to go. There are a couple of reasons that fans hate this series. For one thing, it has a lot of lame elements, like Goku returning to being a child, and Pan serving as the new main character. Another disliked aspect is that the series had no creative involvement from Toriyama himself.
This is what disappointed fans most, as Toriyama's vision is what gave everything heart and excitement. It is also what makes fans love Dragon Ball Super, as Toriyama is directly involved in the writing of the series. Because of this, we hope that something in Super makes it clear that GT has been wiped from the canon. In fact, there might already be a few clues of this.
4 RUIN: CELL'S FIRST FORM
This is one that most fans might know, but it's still a rather interesting piece of Dragon Ball trivia. When Toriyama was creating Cell, he came up with the imperfect form. But, his editor didn't like this design, so he came up with semi-perfect Cell and a reason for him to transform, by absorbing Android 17. This is actually Toriyama's favorite version of Cell, but his editor still wasn't happy, thus Perfect Cell came into the picture.
Though we can't argue that each of these designs aren't amazing, fans might be inclined to agree with Toriyama's editor. Perfect Cell is kind of the coolest design of them all and the story behind how he gets this form helped turn him from a simple threat into a complex and interesting villain. We would have missed out on some of Dragon Ball's best storytelling if Cell had stayed in his first form.
3 SAVE: VEGETA'S WISH
Vegeta might have originally been a ruthless warrior, but he's still a Prince who cared for his people and mourned their death, as much as he tried to hide it. Because of this, Vegeta shows an interesting side of himself towards the Saiyans of universe 6, specifically Cabba. In the tournament against universe 6, Vegeta helped Cabba turn into a Super Saiyan for the first time, forming a mentor/mentored relationship with him.
Later, in the tournament of power, Cabba and Vegeta face off, and Vegeta makes a promise to meet the universe 6 Saiyan king. But Cabba questions how he could do this if universe 6 is erased. Vegeta promises to use the super dragon balls to wish back their planet after the tournament. This is another way the end of the universal survival saga could go, and it would be a great choice for the story.
2 RUIN: LESS MARTIAL ARTS
The original Dragon Ball manga was based on a short comic called Dragon Boy, which was based on Journey to the West. Dragon Ball continued with the themes and elements of Journey to the West, but it eventually developed into a martial arts story, focusing more on tournaments and battles. But, Toriyama really didn't want to go this direction, in fact he was pretty stubborn about it.
Despite his editor telling him over and over that the manga's popularity spiked when it focused on fighting, Toriyama was pretty adamant about continuing with his adaptation of Journey to the West. However, he eventually "gave in" and started focusing on the world martial arts tournaments and the battles that would come out of it. Could you imagine if Dragon Ball Z wasn't about martial arts?!
1 SAVE: UNIVERSAL COUNTERPARTS
In the tournament between universes 6 and 7, we are introduced to Frost, an alien from universe 6 that looks remarkably similar to Frieza. The reason for this is because Frost is from the same species as Frieza, and it is later revealed that he is the universe 6 counterpart of the intergalactic villain we all know and love.
This implies that there are counterparts to other characters, and we hope that Dragon Ball Super addresses this eventually. How awesome would it be to find out that the king of the universe 6 Saiyans is actually Vegeta's alternate counterpart, or that an alternate, evil version of Goku exists (besides Black)? Maybe if Goku wishes to combine all the universes, these inter-universal doppelgangers will all meet each other in an upcoming saga, maybe they'll even face off in some epic battles.