10 Dead Characters Who Were Never Wished Back to Life
Comic book fans know all too well that no character is ever really dead. Fan favorites will always rise from the grave even if they’ve suffered the most egregious wounds and injuries. This trend is also true for shonen manga and anime like Dragon Ball, where the titular wish-granting orbs offer a built-in storytelling mechanic to revive popular characters. Although the Dragon Balls have loose in-universe rules, practically every character has been resurrected throughout the series’ 40-year run. That’s no exaggeration either – the end of Dragon Ball Z sees the entire population of Earth get brought back to life thanks to the Dragon Balls.
Even with that miraculous feat in mind, a handful of characters have never been brought back, either for storytelling reasons or because they’ve simply been forgotten over time. Let’s take a look at 10 characters from Dragon Ball that were never wished back to life.
10 General Blue
General Blue, the fearsome telekinetic Red Ribbon Army leader, was Goku’s first long-running antagonist after Emperor Pilaf, with a saga spanning 19 episodes. Despite his resilience and persistence, General Blue was incapable of defeating Goku and obtaining his Dragon Balls, a failure that would be punished by Commander Red and his assassin-for-hire Tao Pai Pai. In the series’ first real instance of The Worf Effect, General Blue is effortlessly disposed of by Tao Pai Pai when the latter kills him using only his tongue.
Blue’s death occurs behind closed doors, and after Goku dispatches the rest of the Red Ribbon army, it’s like he’s forgotten about entirely. Blue’s demise marked the first on-screen death in Dragon Ball, and its permanence certainly helped to up the ante of the series going forward. As far as the Dragon Ball canon goes, since Blue’s death was only witnessed by Commander Red and Staff Officer Black, Goku and company never confirmed that Blue died at Tao Pai Pai’s hands. Had they known, they could have lumped him in with the wish to revive Bora, if they were feeling merciful.
9 Grandpa Gohan
Though Grandpa Gohan dies before the start of Dragon Ball, his legacy as a kind man and warrior live on through his adopted son, Goku. Gohan instilled Goku with a sense of goodwill and compassion, saving the Saiyan from his destiny as a planet conqueror. Throughout the events of Dragon Ball, Goku believes that his grandpa was killed by a monster and that his soul lived on through the 4-Star Dragon Ball.
Goku and Gohan share a heartfelt reunion during the Fortuneteller Baba saga when Baba allows Gohan to return to Earth for a day. Goku offers to bring his grandpa back to life using the Dragon Balls, but Gohan declines as he’s content with his time in the afterlife, now comforted by the knowledge that Goku is doing fine without him.
In Dragon Ball Z, Goku learns that his involuntary transformation into an Oozaru (Great Ape) caused Gohan’s death, opening up old wounds. Despite this, Goku honors his Grandfather’s wishes from the Baba saga and leaves the martial arts master in peace in the afterlife.
Raditz is Goku’s biological brother and a representation of the life Goku was destined to lead had he not bumped his head as a child. The two come to blows after Raditz fails to convince his brother to join him on an interplanetary conquest on behalf of the Frieza force. Goku and his former enemy Piccolo fought Raditz to the death, resulting in both brothers being killed. Whereas Goku had plenty of friends eager to revive him, Raditz’s allies weren’t keen on reviving the low-level brute. Nappa makes a passing suggestion to revive Raditz, but Vegeta dismisses it immediately, because he viewed Raditz as weak.
Considering Vegeta’s pride and ego, it’s no surprise that he wouldn’t entertain the thought of reviving a low-class Saiyan like Raditz. For Goku however, the decision seems like it’d be a bit more complicated: he’s Goku’s biological brother, one of the few remaining Saiyans in the universe, and had as much potential to change as someone like Piccolo. However, the year following Radditz’s death was defined by rigorous training to defeat his allies Nappa and Vegeta, so there was little time to consider if he deserved a second chance. After that, Raditz is never brought up again, forever forgotten about in favor of a good sparring session or a new world-ending crisis.
Nappa’s predicament is similar to Raditz’s: one of the few remaining Saiyans with the potential to change if he were to spend enough time surrounded by Earth’s heroes. He even received a ruthless death at the hands of his ally Vegeta – a punishment that Goku deemed cruel and senseless. On the other hand, he’s directly responsible for some of the biggest deaths in the series at that point, killing Yamacha (via Saibamen), Tenshinhan, Chaozu, and Piccolo.
Considering the absolute devastation he wrought on Earth’s heroes, it’s easy to understand that they’d be less than keen to revive Nappa. However, the Z-Warriors eventually forgave Vegeta for his actions, despite being complicit in these same events – perhaps Nappa was deserving of a second chance too.
6 Tsuno’s Namekian Village
If any characters truly got the short end of the stick in DBZ, it’s Tsuno’s village. The Namekian elder and his people were slaughtered by Vegeta in his quest for the Namekian Dragon Balls, and due to a technicality, stayed dead throughout the remainder of the series.
Nearly every Namekian was murdered by Frieza and his men during his tireless hunt for the Dragon Balls, but Goku and his allies were eventually able to revive them all using the Earth’s Dragon Balls. However, their specific language to revive everyone killed by Frieza and his men had one glaring flaw – Vegeta was no longer associated with the tyrant. By the time he’d slaughtered Tsuno’s village, the Saiyan had already defected from the Frieza force and was acting for his gain, therefore the wish wouldn’t apply to Tsuno’s village. It’s unclear if Tsuno and his people were ever revived later in the series, but as it stands, the villagers were victims of poor word choice.
5 Android 16
Android 16 was the unexpected heart of the Cell Saga, with his death serving as the motivation for Gohan to transcend his limits and finally defeat Cell for good. As a fully-mechanical being, chances of the Android ever seeing a second chance at life were slim to none. However, if the Dragon couldn’t necessarily bring 16 back to life, who’s to say that it couldn’t rebuild him?
Although fans of Dragon Ball would consider the possibility of 16’s revival an open and shut case, the anime makes it a bit more inconclusive. Following Buu’s destruction of Earth, the Dragon Balls are used to revive all the world’s good people – including fully mechanical people like Android 8 and Arale Norimaki. In the world of the Dragon Ball anime, a fully rebuilt Android 16 could be alive and well, enjoying nature like he always wanted.
Cell was a biological superweapon, possessing the skills and powers of all the series’ heroes and villains, a perfect regenerative ability, and an insatiable desire to fight. He finally met his doom spectacularly at the hands of Gohan’s Kamehameha, destroying Cell on an atomic level.
Cell’s reputation lives on through the remainder of Dragon Ball Z, with the world well aware of the wanton destruction he was prepared to cause should Earth’s heroes lose the Cell Games. He’s viewed as an irredeemable evil force by the masses, so it’s no surprise that no one was clamoring to revive him. However, a case can be made for Cell’s revival and reformation in Dragon Ball Super.
In Super, it’s revealed that Cell’s offspring, the Cell Juniors, survived and reformed their behavior thanks to Android 17’s influence. It wouldn’t be a stretch to consider that Cell could have a change of heart if he spent enough time with Goku and company. When compared to the other villains of the series, Cell was never motivated by evil, but rather, by his programming and his Goku-inspired willingness to battle other strong fighters. His fighting prowess, regenerative abilities, and adaptability would have made him a formidable ally in the Tournament of Power.
3 The Supreme Kais
Millions of years before the events of Dragon Ball takes place, the Supreme Kais fought Majin Buu, resulting in the deaths of the North and West Kais. Even though the Kais are divine beings responsible for protecting their universes, no apparent effort was made to revive them in the millennia that followed. With little in-universe explanation, fans can only speculate why these important entities were never resurrected.
Likely, the Kais perished long before the Dragon Balls existed, with their deaths being a forgone conclusion before anyone had granted a single wish. Even then, it’s possible that they cannot be revived with the Dragon Balls anyway. The power behind the Earth and Namekian Dragon Balls is far inferior to that of the Kais, so it may not have been sufficient to revive those higher beings. With the introduction of the Super Dragon Balls, it’s possible, though unlikely that the Kais will ever see a new life.
2 King Kai
King Kai is one of the most important mentors to Son Goku, elevating his power and skillset with moves like the Kaio-ken and Spirit Bomb. However, Goku has made no effort to revive his master, despite being directly responsible for his death. In the climactic moment of the Cell Games, Cell desperately attempted to self-destruct to destroy Earth. He was thwarted by Goku’s quick thinking to teleport him to King Kai’s planet, resulting in the deaths of Goku and King Kai. Goku would eventually be resurrected by the end of DBZ and has managed to stay alive through the events of Dragon Ball Super. The same can’t be said for King Kai, who’s remained dead this entire time.
Although King Kai continues to remind Goku that he’d like to be revived, the battle-hungry Goku routinely forgets. Considering how the series has returned to its gag-comic roots in Dragon Ball Super, it’s likely that King Kai’s still-dead status will be a long-running joke for years to come.
Bardock made his first appearance in the Dragon Ball manga, where his final confrontation and subsequent death against the tyrant Frieza were shown in a few brief panels. In that pivotal flashback, it shows that Bardock’s story has been lost to time, with only Frieza remembering the Saiyan that stood against him. Not even Goku is aware that his father stood up to the tyrant, starting a rebellion that would continue until his son defeated Frieza nearly 3 decades later.
For that reason, it’s unlikely that anyone would know about Bardock and care to resurrect him. That is, until the most recent Dragon Ball Super arc, where Goku learns of his father. During the Granolah arc, Goku is gifted his late father’s scouter, causing Goku to relive memories with his father. With Bardock re-entering the conversation in the series, and his increasing popularity over the years, the Dragon Balls may be used to revive him in the near future.