I haven't watched Dragon Ball in detail, but I think something like this has never been explained and it doesn't make sense to me at all.

It took all Dragon Balls for Goku to go from power level of 10 to a maximum of 950 in his fight against Raditz. However, in much less time than what took Dragon Ball to happen, he managed to get to 8000 in base form to fight Vegeta in relatively little time, and then to 300000 in base form in even less time to fight against Freezer, and so on...

It's obvious that if you get better training methods, you can improve faster. However, I think something like that doesn't make sense in this case even for an anime. I'd like to know if there's an in-universe explanation for this exponential growth in power level.

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    Nope.​​​​​​​​​​ – Madara's Ghost May 14 '15 at 14:56
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    The reason for their exponential growth is because new enemies keep appearing exponentially more powerful than the last. Logically, the Z fighters should've died fighting Vegeta which would've meant the end of the story. Obviously, the author didn't want that so he made the Z fighters grow exponentially. The author is always God of his own work. So no, there is no reason other than "the author just ran out of ideas". – Nolonar May 14 '15 at 15:30
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    Can anyone explain their close vote on this question? I think it is a reasonable question, from the point of view of someone who doesn't watch Dragon Ball. – nhahtdh May 14 '15 at 19:06
  • @user54325: I have edited the question a bit to make it a bit clearer. Please edit it yourself if I accidentally change the meaning of the question. Thanks. – nhahtdh May 14 '15 at 19:28
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    @Nolonar One reason I respect Toriyama as an author is that he's always totally up front about that in interviews; he fully admits that all the transformations and fusions and power ups were just plot devices to explain how the heroes triumphed against seemingly impossible odds. – Torisuda May 14 '15 at 23:12

One possible answer is that Saiyans get way more powerful than before if they agonize (and survive). It's called Zenkai. This ability is found in pure Saiyan, half-blood and even Cell.

One example is when Gohan fights Cell, kicks him around, but refuses to kill him. This allows Cell to recover and get way stronger than before, making it very difficult to Gohan to kill him, even with help of other warriors, Vegeta and even dead Goku. In retrospect, Gohan could have single-handedly kill Cell, but he didn't do so at the beginning of their fight.

Not by coincidence, this "ability" make every fight involving Saiyan longer and with plot-twists.

Source: Zenkai - Dragon Ball Wiki

  • Welcome to the Manga & Anime SE. Could you summarize what you think is most relevant from your source to backup your answer? This way people understand what you mean, without having to read through the wiki page themselves. – Peter Raeves May 14 '15 at 18:10

Saiyans become more powerful from battle, especially if they're injured. They also become more powerful every time they are presented with a challenge that is above them. So when Goku was killed by Picollo (when fighting Raditz) he became more powerful, even though he had died. Saiyans also become more powerful through anger and the training from King Kai also helped. As for the rest of the Z fighters, they always became more powerful from some sort of training (Kame's lookout, King Kai) or power given to them by a character that has the ability to unlock their potential (like the elder guru did for Gohan and Krillin on Namek).

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