There have been over 20 years since Dragon Ball Z had it’s ending, giving everyone ample time to decide if it was good or not. For the most part, it hit the right notes, even if two different new incarnations of the Dragon Ball series have come along since then. It still put everyone in pretty good shape heading into what would, unfortunately, be Dragon Ball GT.
The fact GT followed it so soon after, gives the ending a little bit of a stench, especially with how poorly received that first arc was (bad even by GT standards). Thankfully GT isn’t canon and thanks to Super, it washes away a good chunk of that horribleness, letting you focus more on the positives.
10 Disappointing: Gohan Retiring
Anyone who’s a fan of Gohan has never been very happy about how much his character seemed to devolve. He went from being the new main character to being shoved to the sidelines as a noncombatant. While him preferring peace to fighting others made sense, you’d think that after all these years he’d understand that sometimes violence was needed. It’s made even worse with how he’s portrayed in both GT and the first half of Super. It felt like he’d just reverted to the beginning of the storyline he had at Z.
9 Got Right: Birth Of Bulla
This part is hard to gauge as her birth both happens at the end of the Dragon Ball Z as well as during Super. Either way, her birth is always going to be positive due to the effect it has on Vegeta. Super goes into more detail with this than Z did, but in either case, Vegeta settles down into being more of a family man while Goku is still running all over the planet to train, without a care in the world. Her birth has always kind of been the cherry on top of Vegeta’s redemption arc.
8 Disappointing: Pan Stronger Than Goten & Trunks
This is especially disappointing, borderline sinful when you consider all of their roles in GT (as non canon as it is). Goten ended up being a nobody while Trunks is most memorable for wearing those god awful shorts.
Pan on the other hand was the main character (alongside Goku), one that annoyed to levels Bulma and Chi-Chi combined could never reach. She was as aggravating as Maron was, except she didn’t disappear after an arc and was there the whole time. Just seeing her image conjures up memories of some of the worst parts of GT.
7 Got Right: Goku Becoming A Mentor
Goku becoming a master to a young apprentice has always been a logical step for the character. For someone who loves fighting as much as he does, it makes sense for him to carry out the latter part of his career mentoring an up and comer (or his child). The ending gives us that as he takes the reincarnated version of Kid Buu under his wing, seeing great potential in Uub. The fact he bids farewell to everyone before he just flies off in the shows closing moments is totally in character for him as well.
6 Disappointing: Uub
This one shouldn’t be a strike against the ending as they did a good job of setting him up as a future powerful ally. The issue is that GT only seemed to care about him during the Baby arc, and Super has yet to even have him in the anime. Succeeding shows are always going to have an impact on an ending, and this is a clear case of that. Uub was built up to potentially be a very strong fighter but falls to the sidelines to prop Goku up, as far too many characters in this series do.
5 Got Right: Martial Arts Tournament
Ending on a martial arts tournament is always going to be the right decision when it comes to Dragon Ball. It’s been such a staple of the series for so long that it feels wrong to end on anything else. Tournaments are always super fun to watch, no matter how high the stakes are. The universal tournament was arguably the best in Super, and some of the best moments in the original Dragon Ball happened there as well. It’s just synonymous with the series.
4 Disappointing: Led To GT
As noncanon as it is, anime wise, the ending helps set up certain things in GT, like Pan’s strength and Gohan being a scholar, etc. Most fans would agree this isn’t a good thing as the only positives from GT is Super Saiyan 4 and the black dragons. The entire series was misstep after misstep, never really recovering after the poor start to the series when they tried to go back to Dragon Balls roots. Super thankfully does a far better job while keeping most of the story aspects from the ending intact.
3 Got Right: Spirit Bomb Working
This is the biggest net positive to the end up Dragon Ball Z. The Spirit Bomb has routinely taken close to a year and a half to charge, only for it to not even kill its opponent, most notably with Frieza. Thankfully, Kid Buu succumbs to the move in a poetic ending to their fight. You get to see cameos from plenty of characters that were thought to be forgotten, all lending their energy to help Goku do away with one of the more pure evil villains in the series.
2 Disappointing: Goku Just Leaving His Family Behind
This makes sense character-wise, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing that Goku would just up and leave his family due to martial arts. His insistence to put fighting above all else has always been an aggravating trait of Goku’s, which at times makes him an awful main protagonist. His mentoring Uub is perfectly fine, but why does he have to leave to do that? Why can’t he be both a dad and a master at the same time?
1 Got Right: Kid Buu
The Majin Buu arc had its ups and downs, but things picked up once he became his original form, Kid Buu. While he won’t ever be confused with a great villain such as Frieza, he was exactly what the series needed to end on. He was a villain that was destruction incarnate, no witty remarks, nor overbearing smugness. Kid Buu only wanted to destroy, nothing more or less. It let the focus be more on Vegeta and Goku rather than him. His mindlessness was a welcome change from the usual Dragon Ball villains.
There have been over 20 years since Dragon Ball Z had it's ending, giving everyone ample time to decide if it was good or not.