Master Roshi is a big part of the Dragon Ball franchise. He’s been around since the Emperor Pilaf saga, he was Goku’s first martial arts teacher and he invented the franchise’s most well-known attack, the Kamehameha. Without Master Roshi, Dragon Ball might not have shifted its focus from adventures to martial arts. Indeed, the Turtle Hermit is one of the most important characters of Dragon Ball, a pillar of the franchise. Even if he’s not featured as much as the other supporting characters, Master Roshi is, without a doubt, part of the foundation of Dragon Ball.
And yet, there’s a reason that Master Roshi isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite character. Despite his wisdom, skill and power, Master Roshi isn’t exactly a stand-up fellow. In fact, Master Roshi is a lot darker than one might think. Though he’s always ready to help when things get dangerous, the Turtle Hermit is, at most times, a pretty deplorable guy. There’s a reason that Master Roshi is used for comic relief these days, of course, since his power level pales in comparison to the other Z-fighters and he’s not quite as heroic as some of his former students. So, what are some of the darkest facts about this turtle-shell-wearing old man? We’ve got 15 of them for you right here.
- Master Roshi cosplay in feature image by Taichi Shimizu.
15. HE’S A DIRTY OLD MAN
It’s no secret that Master Roshi is something of a creep. One of the biggest sources of comedic relief in Dragon Ball is his tendency to leer, ogle and attempt to grope the opposite sex. Roshi is a typical dirty old man with little to no filter on his words or actions.
He might be wise and powerful, but he’s still just a lecherous creep.
Master Roshi is often seen watching women’s workout programs, reading dirty magazines or attempting to inappropriately touch most of the women he’s met. As creepy as this behavior is, Roshi often gets punished for his actions. The women he “flirts” with are more likely than not to punch his lights out for his filthy thoughts, words and actions, and he always deserves it.
14. QUESTIONABLE ACTIONS
While we’re on the subject of Master Roshi’s dirty ways, we should bring up perhaps one of his worst acts as a creepy old man. Master Roshi is known for ogling and creeping on women, but for the most part they were adults. It doesn’t make things better, but it’s the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately, Roshi has also leered at and creeped on an young woman, none other than Bulma during Dragon Ball.
Bulma was only a teenager when she started adventuring with Goku, and when Master Roshi met her, he asked for a look at her underwear. Not cool, Roshi. His creeping on Bulma wouldn’t stop there, as he would continue his disgusting attempts throughout all of Dragon Ball. Good thing he gets what he deserves every time a woman punches his face in.
13. HE’S OLDER THAN YOU THINK
Here’s a fact that even the most hardcore Dragon Ball fans might not remember, Master Roshi is immortal. In fact, he’s over 300 years old at the time of his introduction into the franchise, not aging after a certain point in his life. The dark part about this is that various villains in the series fought and worked hard to to achieve immortality, usually with the dragon balls, and failed on most accounts.
And yet, Master Roshi is immortal!
In fact, he had two different methods of eternal life that seemed to have escaped the knowledge of all these villains. Master Roshi was supposedly bestowed immortality by his pet phoenix, but it was later stated in Dragon Ball Super that he eats the Paradise Grass from the forest of terror to add 1,000 years to his lifespan. Seriously, why doesn’t he save some for the Z-fighters and their families?
12. PIZZA LOVER
This is a bit of a silly one, but there’s still some darkness to this throwaway joke. When we first meet Master Roshi, he says she enjoys getting pizza delivered to his home. This is meant to be rather tongue-in-cheek since Roshi’s house is located on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean..
However, while this may be a joke to the readers, we are not told if this is an actual lie or not. If it’s true, that means that Master Roshi forces some poor delivery kid to fly all the way out to his isolated home just so he can enjoy some pizza. We can’t blame him for loving pizza, but maybe he should learn to make it at home. Try frozen pizza, Roshi, it’s not bad!
11. GAME CHANGER
Before Master Roshi came along, the martial arts elements of Dragon Ball were not quite as prevalent. After he first used the Kamehameha, things would never be the same in Akira Toriyama’s crazy world. Roshi not only introduced the concept of ki attacks and power levels, he’s also indirectly responsible for shifting the focus of the series to battles, specifically supernatural martial arts.
Without him, Dragon Ball‘s popularity might not have skyrocketed.
See, Roshi’s first big story arc was when he was training Goku and Krillin, which was the first time the series focused heavily on martial arts. It also led to the first world martial arts tournament arc in the franchise, and when this arc was well-received by the manga readers, Toriyama’s editor said he should lean more heavily into battles and martial arts. It’s kind of dark to think that this one character changed the entire franchise, and that without him, Dragon Ball‘s popularity might not have skyrocketed.
10. HE KNEW ABOUT GOKU’S ORIGINS
Before Goku knew of his origins as a Saiyan, all he knew of his early life was that his grandpa found him in the woods. Grandpa Gohan once trained under Master Roshi and at some point he told Roshi of the boy he found in the woods, and how he was raising him as his own.
So Roshi new about how Grandpa Gohan found Goku, what’s so dark about that? Well, in certain versions of this flashback, Grandpa Gohan stumbled across Goku in the crater that his spaceship made when it landed on Earth. This is to say that Roshi may have heard this version of the story, and thus knew/suspected Goku was of an alien origin. And Yet, he saw fit to keep such a secret to himself, only revealing it when it was too late during the Saiyan saga.
9. HE FOUGHT HIS STUDENTS
No one can ever claim that Master Roshi wasn’t a thorough teacher, since he went to great lengths to make sure his students truly walked the path of the martial artist. See, if Goku and Krillin won the very first martial arts tournament they competed in, Master Roshi figured they’d lose interest in fighting, since they did so well on their first go. Thus, he came up with a plan.
Roshi disguised himself as “Jackie Chun” (an obvious tribute to Jackie Chain by Toriyama) and entered the tournament himself.
He prevented Krillin from getting to the finals and he defeated Goku in the final round. Though this plan is rather caring when you think about it, it’s also kind of screwed up that he sought to teach his students the lesson of perseverance by beating them up.
8. HE DESTROYED THE MOON
We left one important thing out of the match between Goku and him: the fact that he turned into a great ape in the middle of it. After regrowing his tail during a previous match, the full moon once again transformed Goku into the ape monster. In order to stop Goku’s rampage, and to continue the match, Master Roshi, as Jackie Chun, had to resort some drastic measures.
Like Piccolo would later do for Gohan, Roshi destroyed the moon so that the Great Ape transformation would be reversed. The implications of the moon being destroyed are pretty horrific, since it would cause utter chaos in the form of irregular and destructive weather patterns and tidal shifts. Luckily, Kami would later restore the moon after Goku’s tail was removed permanently.
7. A DARK PAST
Before Roshi gained immorality, before he created the Kamehameha, before he became known as the Turtle Hermit, he was once a young student. However, things took a dark turn for him, his fellow student Shen and their master, Mutaito during King Piccolo’s first reign on Earth. Roshi and Shen were initially rivals but soon became friends and helped their master combat King Piccolo.
Roshi watched his master die.
Unfortunately, they were no match for the demon king, thus their master used the evil containment wave to seal up King Piccolo in a rice cooker, but it was at the expense of his own life. Shen and Roshi threw the rice cooker into the ocean so Piccolo could never return. Not only did Roshi watch his master die, but he and Shen began to hate each other as time went on.
6. DEUS EX-MACHINA
Speaking of the evil containment wave, we’ve got one BURNING question. Why the heck didn’t Master Roshi teach this technique to every one of the Z-fighters? Seriously, how many times could the ability to literally seal away someone in a container have come in handy? Where was this attack when fighting Frieza or Cell or especially Majin Buu?! Did Master Roshi just like watching his former students and their friends struggle against powerful enemies that he could have, with relative ease, sealed away forever?
It’s not like there are any drawbacks to this attack either, other than a massive ki drain, but all of the Z-fighters are more than strong enough to handle it. Of course, things wouldn’t be as exciting, but there has to be some logical reason why Roshi didn’t teach this technique to anyone until Dragon Ball Super.
5. HE’S PRETTY IRRESPONSIBLE
The fact that Master Roshi never taught any of the Z-fighters how to use the Evil Containment Wave points out an even bigger, much darker character flaw of Roshi’s: he’s pretty irresponsible. Maybe it’s because Roshi was rather old when he gained his immortality, so he’s not all there in the head.
Whatever the reason, Roshi’s lack of responsibility has had disastrous effects on a couple of occasions.
Perhaps one of his most noteworthy moments of absent-minded irresponsibility was when he lost the Bansho fan. The Bansho fan is an ancient artifact of great power, a magical fan that could control the flames of the magical furnace, a portal between Earth and otherworld. Roshi was put in charge of the fan, and what did he do with it? He used it as a placemat, and once it got dirty, he threw it out. Come on man, seriously?
4. DESTROYED THE OX KING’S CASTLE
Because of Master Roshi’s irresponsibility, one loss led to another. Goku needed the Bansho fan from Roshi to put out the fire that had overtaken The Ox King’s castle. After revealing to Goku that he had lost the Bansho fan, Master Roshi still offered to help and said he could put out the fire with the Kamehameha.
Roshi charged up and shot a Kamehameha at the fire on the mountain. He was successful in putting the fire out, but he also destroyed the castle in the process, which is ironic since he was trying to prevent the fire from doing the same. Only someone as irresponsible as Roshi would think that a move called the “turtle destruction wave,” which he created, could be useful in putting out a fire. Seriously, what was his logic?
3. HE KILLED A PHOENIX
Wether or not Master Roshi got his immortality from a phoenix is sort of up in the air. Regardless, we know that Roshi owned an immortal phoenix as a pet, or he at least took care of one. So, when Goku returned Master Roshi’s turtle to him, he wanted to give him immortality as a reward with the help of his phoenix.
Master Roshi killed an immortal being!
Roshi summoned the immortal phoenix, but there was no answer. Apparently, Master Roshi had accidentally fed the phoenix tainted bird seed — yet another example of his irresponsibility — and it died. Yes, you read that right, Master Roshi killed an IMMORTAL BEING. We don’t know if there’s a PETA for immortal phoenix’s, or one in the Dragon Ball universe at all, but they need to crack down on ol’ Master Roshi.
2. HE’S NOT PURE-HEARTED
Since Roshi could not gift immortality to Goku with his phoenix, he offered him a different gift instead: the flying nimbus. This little yellow cloud could fly anywhere as long as its user was pure of heart. Master Roshi could never use it apparently, and thus had no use for it after it was gifted to him by Korin.
So, Master Roshi gave the nimbus to Goku, who was, to Roshi’s surprise, able to stand on the cloud, meaning he was pure of heart. This also meant that Master Roshi himself is not pure of heart, which is why he could never use the flying cloud. Of course, we probably could have guessed that he wasn’t exactly pure without the help of the Nimbus, seeing as he is a creepy, dirty old man.
1. HE ALMOST DIED
At this point in Dragon Ball, death is sort of meaningless, since pretty much anyone can be wished back with the dragon balls. That said, Dragon Ball Super still managed to hit us right in the feels when Master Roshi almost died during the Tournament of Power saga. After using up a bit too much of his power, Roshi collapsed on the battlefield, but not before giving a final goodbye to his students, Krillin and Goku.
Walking the line between living and dying can still be a dark experience.
Goku was luckily able to revive him, and after a teary-eyed reunion between Goku and his first master, Roshi was back in the game. Though it was only a near-death experience, walking the line between living and dying can still be a dark experience, especially since an important part of the franchise was almost gone forever.
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