5 Things GT Could Have Done Well (But Didn’t)

A group shot of Goku, Pan, and Trunks from Dragon Ball GT, with the title beside them. In overlay text reads "5 Things GT /Could/ Have Done Well"

Dragon Ball GT is generally considered the trash-fire of Dragon Ball series, especially now that we’ve had Super carry the torch. It ran for 64 episodes, beginning right after Dragon Ball Z finally ran down in 1996, and unlike the previous seasons, was not based of off the manga, and had very little input from the original creator, Akira Toriyama, outside of some initial concept art and general well-wishing. Many fans don’t even consider it canon, and it felt a lot like what happens when a show is run by committee. People miss kid Goku? We’ll make him tiny again! People loved Future Trucks? We’ll give them adult Trunks! Want a female Saiyan? Have Gohan’s daughter!

On paper, a lot of things about GT could have been really good. Trying to reclaim the charm of the original Dragon Ball series, utilizing Future Trunks, and having female characters that aren’t horrible, are all things that Super has also tried to do, with what I think are much better results. But going into the intricacies of how GT failed or not could take us forever. Maybe I’ll dive into that later, but today I feel like a good old top-five list, so lets hit it!

Shot of an earth-like planet with a pink sky. Overlay text reads "1: Space Adventures".

One thing I was really left wanting more of after Z was space shenanigans. I grew up on Star Trek, and during the Namek saga I always wished they could have had more adventures that weren’t incredibly stupid (looking at you, Fake Namek), and after having been given mere snippets of info about Saiyan culture and Frieza’s empire, I’ve always wanted the series to dive more into space. GT sets out to do just that in it’s first arc, with Pan, Trunks, and nerfed Goku heading out to explore the galaxy in search of the Black Star Dragon Balls. However, instead of coming up with fun, interesting new adventures, they either retread episodes from Dragon Ball (sometimes literally reusing an entire plot line), or they move into really awkward directions that don’t give the characters much to do. The concept of a monster that was actually a whole planet was pretty fascinating, but they dropped that line like a hot potato so that they could have Pan cry some more.

Shot of Baby Vegeta. Overlay text reads "2: Baby".

See above, I really wanted to know more about Saiyan history, and dealing with a mutant descendant of the Tuffle race they’d destroyed on Planet Vegeta was a good way to start. Baby was a pretty interesting Big Bad with a lot of motivation, and Baby Vegeta (besides being incredibly fun to say) was an interesting way to raise the stakes and get us some more of that good old Bad Man Vegeta action. However, Vegeta-gets-possessed-by-evil is not really a revolutionary plot twist. And since Baby pretty quickly takes over complete control of Vegeta’s body, with no personality or consciousness left intact, the show effectively cut off any real connection with actual Saiyan culture, and any hope at actual, like, closure, for either character. The emotions of the situation were completely removed from the equation. At least he knew how to fully utilize Bulma’s fantastic brain, though.

Shot of the Dragons from Dragon Ball GT. Overlay text reads "3: The Dragons".

Having the Dragon Balls go all evil from corruption and take on physical form was kind of genius, and one of the few saving graces for the series in my opinion, but they pretty much just did the bare minimum. They had a wonderful opportunity to make each baddy representative of the wish that had created them—a pervert for Oolong’s panty wish, ghostly or unsettling monsters based on the people that were wished back from the dead, maybe even evil Goku? (which, again, thanks Super!) But instead each of the baddies are pretty mundane, silly in a damp, un-funny way, or emotionless rival-archetypes for Goku to bounce power off of. It was still more entertaining than most of the rest of the show, but they really missed out on doing something excellent.

Shot of Pan crying. Overlay text reads "Female Super Saiyans".

Come on, Trunks and Goten could go Super Saiyan by age 6, but the child of crazy-wonder-kid-Gohan can’t manage it by the time she’s 10? After being trained by Goku himself as a toddler? I think not, show. I think not. Also, just because it was cute when she cried a lot at the end of Z when she was five years old does not mean it’s a charming or relatable character trait five years later. It makes her annoying. As a character, Pan had (and has) a lot of potential—but GT definitely did not treat her the way she deserved.

Shot of Goku mugging for the camera. Overlay text reads "5: De-Powered Goku".

By the end of Z (saying nothing of the events in Super, boy howdy), Goku is already pretty ridiculously overpowered. Combine that with the whole “death is meaningless” thing we have because of the Dragon Balls, and it’s pretty hard to think of anything as high stakes. The Black Star Dragon Balls were a good opportunity to down-grade Goku; maybe reset his abilities to pre-Frieza? Make him unable to access any of his fighting ki? GT does this by having him rebooted to Kid Goku, so he can no longer access all of his abilities and power-ups, but this only serves to make him more annoying. He’s not wide-eyed and innocent anymore; he’s just having a midlife crisis, but without the character development.

GT could have been interesting if Pan had been allowed to be the main character, and had been developed in a way that made sense for that. But instead we still focus everything around Goku. And now that he’s a kid again, he’s somehow so much more annoying. Because yeah, a certain level of incompetence and naivety makes sense for a 12 year old. When you’re 50+ running around in a kid’s body and pulling the same shit, that just kind of makes you an asshole.

GT Wasn’t Horrible, But It Could Have Been So Much More!

I’m quick to recommend any fans just skip the series altogether, but really the main failing of GT is that it’s just not that much fun. It feels like a retread of things we’ve seen before; a sad remix that misses out on the fun and emotional connection of the rest of the show. And after all this time, we’ve seen a bit of what GT could have been with Super, and it just pales in comparison. At least it gave us this amazing song, though:

Just don’t get me started on Vegeta’s hair:

Vegeta with his horrible mustache and chopped-down hair.

It’s ok though, sometimes he looks like this:

Vegeta giving a sexy smirk, with his shorter hair spiked to look badass instead of just bad.

About Lucy

Lucy lives in Portland, OR, and likes to write about books, anime, and relatable teens living their lives (magical or otherwise). She's a co-host on the CLAMPCAST IN WONDERLAND and WRITE PLACE/WRITE TIME podcasts.
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