During the Cell-games saga, Mr. Satan was supposed to be the World Martial Arts champion and he was held in high regard by most common people.

By contrast the Z-fighters, most of whom just happened to be high profile fighters from the 21st through the 23rd World Martial Arts tournaments, were perceived to be nobodies by the general populace.

But they were all the top contestants of the previous Martial arts tournament, which can't be too much more than 15 years before the Cell games.

They were the highest profile Martial artists of the previous decade.

If we compared this to modern boxing, it would be analogous to praising Wladimir Klitschko, but completely dismissing Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfiled.(although Klitschko is younger).

I can understand why they didn't recognize Goku, but Piccolo, Tien, Yamcha, and Krillin should have been immediately recognizable.

Why were they dismissed so much?

4 Answers 4


Common people in DBZ don't generally outright celebrate people unless they are constantly bombarded in the mainstream media. Like Mr. Satan for example. He was always on television and groomed to be a hero by himself and his cohorts. He used his money from winning the tournament (no Z warriors participated) as machinery for his hype. The Z warriors don't have such interest.

  • Common people sure, but journalists specialized in martial arts should have such knowledge, and the announcer clearly had no idea who the Z Warriors are and what are they capable of. Apr 22, 2015 at 22:42

Keep in mind that the previous martial arts tournament took place in another, or more specifically the previous, series, DragonBall. They are all grown up or older in DBZ. Goku and Gohan appeared there as SSJ. No one recognized Gohan when he was SSJ (when he met Videl for example). As for Tien, Piccolo and the others, it can only be assumed that they were simply 'nobodies' as you said, no one would know them.

They were major characters in DB but not as much in DBZ. Piccolo has appeared several times after that to people and on the occasion where he was trying to persuade the humans to give their energy to Goku, people ran from him and called him a monster. Only a few of the more important characters recognized them, the army general and an elderly couple recognized Goku and years later Videl remembered Gohan. Also remember that the Cell Games were being broadcasted for roughly about 1/5 of the entire length of the full fight as the video camera was destroyed and also keep in mind that the camera was mainly focused on Goku for the short period the event was being aired, it merely skimmed over the others.

So I will conclude by saying that there is no definitive answer to this, but the fact that they weren't perceived generally as major major characters in the plot and as such would not be recognized by anyone in the general human populace.

  • 1
    But they were all High Profile Martial artists 15-25 years before the cell games. Tien himself had won the 22nd tournament, and Piccolo was infamous. Apr 9, 2013 at 20:35
  • @iKIsR and why are you talking about things that occured in the buu saga? All that stuff happened after the Cell games. Apr 9, 2013 at 20:37
  • @iKIsR I think you misunderstood my question. I did NOT ask why they were not recognized from the cell games, I'm asking why they weren't recognized during the cell games. Apr 9, 2013 at 20:43
  • @SamIam are you sure you read my answer, see the first line and the last paragraph of my answer. I only made reference to the Buu saga to show that nobody really knew Piccolo.
    – iKlsR
    Apr 9, 2013 at 20:54
  • 1
    @Tartori that is what I have been trying to say. Let's not start a discussion here however. If need be, this can be moved to a chatroom.
    – iKlsR
    Jun 11, 2013 at 12:53

The Z fighters weren't recognized during the Cell games because they had never had extensive media coverage done on them before.

The Tenkaichi Budokai was never filmed, but I'm sure that some people who attended might have recognized the uniforms and hairstyles (or lack thereof), but that wasn't really a huge group of people.

It was later revealed that the announcer had barely recognized Goku and Piccolo. At that time, Mr. Satan was the majority winner of all the Budokai(s) thereafter. He was basically the Mayweather of the time. Totally undefeated in the ring, the common people of the world assumed he was the strongest.

As you can see, the anime makes a lot more inconsistencies than the manga. In the manga, Goku had never been caught on camera anywhere before the Cell games. That whole bit of Goku being given the key to the world after defeating Demon King Piccolo didn't happen in the manga. The King actually took off and left Goku, a child, to fight Piccolo alone. Bulma and co. showed up later after Goku had already left called the media, and told them that the world was saved by the forces of good.

So the aside from the two second place fights and one first place fight at the Budokai Tenkaichi, Goku had not been seen by the entire world before. He had only a few martial arts fans before the tournament became as mainstream as it eventually became. How can you recognize someone you've never really seen, right? Vegeta had appeared on camera once during the Saiyan Saga, and the same for some of our heroes, but only very briefly. Gohan's appearance changed dramatically. Trunks was from the future so nobody recognized him. Krillin should have been recognized because he didn't grow much from child to adult.

That's probably the best answer anyone can give. I saw some other posts that gave really good answers and you shot them down. I don't see why. It's a cartoon. I don't know what you expect.

Plus, I think it would be better to ask: Why weren't the Z Fighters recognized from the Cell games during the tournament prior to the Buu Saga?

To me, that's a much better question, because they had actually been seen on TV at that point. Plus, there were little mascot people doing shows at the tournament, who strongly resembled all the Z Fighters. You will be made to think that someone would have put two and two together by then. However, it's completely understandable for anyone who holds the manga in higher regard than the anime.


Here are some reasons:

  • All the focus was on Cell, who was going to destroy the world, and Hercule, the world's champion. The king of the world somewhat recognized Goku as the boy who defeated King Piccolo (but did not fully make the connection because he was a SS) and the announcer knew that they defeated Cell. Relatively, only Goku was (barely) recorded fighting Cell.

And, they were all considered crazy (Piccolo being green and Tien having a third eye may not have helped) for showing up to fight Cell, and were not taken as serious fighters.

  • The Z Fighters only appeared in the tournament no more than 3 times. And I can't think of a time that they were recognized by some random person.
  • When Piccolo entered the next tournament, he was worried that his name would be recognized, but was not concerned with his appearance, in fact non of them were (expect Gohan, but his reasons were different). So they didn't expect to be recognized, perhaps because too much time had past.
  • Dragon Ball Z is different from Dragon Ball. All of their tournament appearances happened in the latter. And there are a lot of other inconsistencies (like Piccolo being a demon)

So it may have been because the focus was on Hercule, the Z Fighters were not taken seriously, too much time has past, and, more likely, that Dragon Ball Z is just not Dragon Ball.

  • While the things that you mentioned there might be true, none of them are answers to this question Oct 16, 2013 at 14:09
  • @SamIam I hoped I make it into the form on an answer Oct 16, 2013 at 21:13
  • so that's your answer? that Dragonball is not even canon? Oct 16, 2013 at 21:19
  • @SamIam No, but that there are discrepancies between the two (although most of it is pretty consistent overall) Oct 16, 2013 at 23:53

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