One of the most beloved characters in the entire Dragon Ball franchise is Future Trunks. A teenaged version of Vegeta and Bulma's son from an alternate, post-apocalyptic future, Trunks shocks Goku and the Z Fighters by transforming into a Super Saiyan and effortlessly killing Frieza and the villain'sfather before warning them of his timeline and its murderous androids.
Later, it is revealed that Trunks' mentor was an adult version of Goku's eldest son Gohan, who was tragically killed while training Trunks. Seen mainly in flashbacks, Future Gohan's story was revealed by the television special Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks. While long-dead Gohan's legacy would live on in his star pupil and later be revisited during Future Trunks' reappearance in Dragon Ball Super. Here is an overview of the Super Saiyan from the future from his background to his heroic last stand.
GOHAN IN DRAGON BALL Z'S ALTERNATE FUTURE
The alternate versions of Gohan and Trunks took place in a future where Goku passed away from a rare heart disease some time before the arrival of twin killer androids built by Red Ribbon Army scientist Doctor Gero. Without its greatest hero to defend them, the Z Fighters were systemically murdered by the twins, including Piccolo whose death also results in the death of Kami and the Dragon Balls being rendered inert. The grief of losing his father and friends in such a short period causes Gohan to transform into a Super Saiyan and he begins training to avenge the Z Fighters' deaths by destroying the androids.
Vegeta and Bulma's only child approaches Gohan to train him to avenge his father who died at the hands of Android 17 years ago. Although hesitant due to Trunks' age and reckless emotions, Gohan eventually agrees and instructs the young Saiyan on martial arts and swordplay while getting him on the cusp of becoming a Super Saiyan himself. When the androids attack a theme park, Gohan intervenes, while ordering Trunks to stay out of sight as he feels he is not ready for combat. As he's about to overpower Android 17, the twin's sister joins the battle overwhelming Gohan and causing Trunks to attempt to save his teacher. Android 18 easily incapacitates the younger Saiyan and nearly kills him before Gohan rescues his student. However, the battle still cost Gohan his arm and gave him a nasty facial scar from the fight before he could escape with an unconscious Trunks.
THE DEATH OF FUTURE GOHAN
After recovering from their injuries, Gohan resumes training Trunks as he copes with the loss of his left arm. After learning that Pepper Town was in the midst of being attacked by the androids, Gohan knocks out Trunks rather than risk him interfering and endangering himself again before setting out to face the two alone. Despite putting up a valiant fight, the two androids overpower Gohan and kill the Super Saiyan.
Upon coming to, Trunks finds his mentor's body in the ruins of Pepper Town with the resulting grief-fueled rage causing Trunks to finally transform into a Super Saiyan. Continuing his training alone, Trunks confronts the androids years later only to be defeated and barely escape with his life. As he recovers, Bulma informs her son that she has finished constructing a time machine capable of sending him years into the past to change history.
FUTURE GOHAN'S LEGACY
Gohan's training would live on through Trunks as the young Super Saiyan traveled to the past and helped Goku and the Z Fighters in both defeating the androids and Gero's secret subsequent creation Cell. Several of the moves that Gohan taught Trunks can be see with the fighter from the future, most notably in the Masenko, used by Trunks in the non-canonical animated film Dragon Ball Z: Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan.
In Dragon Ball Super, Future Gohan is seen mainly in flashbacks when Future Trunks returns to the prime timeline to warn the Z Fighters about Zamasu. In a desperate bid to destroy Zamasu once and for all, Future Zeno erases Trunks' alternate future timeline but an image of Gohan appears before his student one last time wishing Future Trunks well. Later a second alternate future timeline is created by Whis, restoring Future Gohan's soul while giving Future Trunks a home to return to following Zamasu's ultimate destruction.
Future Gohan may have only had a brief role in the overall Dragon Ball franchise but his presence loomed large over the fan-favorite character Future Trunks. And through his teachings, history would be changed making him one of the biggest unsung heroes in the entire franchise.
Dragon Ball Super Volume 7 is available on Blu-ray now.