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At the end of Dragon Ball, when the Ox King was trapped, Goku flew into the fire on the Nimbus and had an extended conversation with the Ox King. Goku's previous demonstrations of strength also implied that he would have no problem lifting and holding on to the Ox King.

I did not read the manga, I only watched the anime. Is any specific reason given or implied why Goku could not have grabbed the Ox King at that time and carried him (either on the cloud or hanging onto him if Ox King could not fit or ride) out of the flames to buy himself and Chi Chi extra time to find a way to extinguish the flames?

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    I'm not 100% sure (hence the comment) but I think it's because Ox King did not have a pure heart and wouldn't be able to ride the nimbus (remember that Ox King killed some people who tried to steal treasures when his mountain was surrounded by flames out of greed for keeping his riches). Moreover, I don't recall this scene being in the manga, so it's probably a filler. – SystematicDisintegration Mar 10 '15 at 10:37
  • @user13068 Thanks; I was thinking Goku could just grab him and carry him, even if he could not ride (even if he did have a pure heart it would be a bit crowded given his size!). I clarified. I also suspect filler. – Jason C Mar 10 '15 at 15:27
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It was most probably because Ox King did not have a pure heart, and so would not have been able to ride the Nimbus. Evidence for this is seen during the first meeting of Goku and Ox King, when rumors that Ox King murdered those who approached his castle for treasures (out of greed, of course) was confirmed by him when he admits his wrongdoings in front of Master Roshi.

Anyways, it is filler content and not part of the original manga, so no "official" explanation exists.

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    I didn't think the Ox King could ride the Nimbus, I had imagined Goku just grabbing him and carrying him the distance. But I didn't realize this was anime-only filler, which answers the question well enough for me (and also might explain why I found those episodes barely watchable; I've been searching for reasons to justify their premise). Thanks! – Jason C Mar 10 '15 at 16:05

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