18 Times Dragon Ball Z Was Too Risqué for America

Dragon Ball Z is a series that features body-disintegrating ki blasts, genocidal space tyrants, and limb-severing Destructo Disks. So, one could be forgiven for assuming it wasn't heavily censored. However, the version of DBZ that we see in North America is not, in fact, the same as the original Japanese content. Countless alterations were made to the beloved series in order to make it “friendlier” for American audiences, especially given that it was marketed as children's programming.

Much of the content cut from the American broadcasts of DBZ had to do with its excessive levels of violence. After all, the series does center around various characters battling to the bloody death. Despite this premise, enough edits were made to make a convincing case that all of this brutal fistfighting was just a bunch of horsing around.

Beyond that, some of the censored bits (like those involving nudity and sexuality) make sense, while other choices are truly bizarre. Of course, in the modern age of the internet, there’s nothing stopping North Americans from checking out all the forbidden footage. It's up to you to decide whether you can handle it. 


  • Master Roshi's Massive Adult Entertainment Collection

    Unlike North American audiences, Japanese audiences were reminded of Master Roshi's sexual proclivities through the constant presence of an adult magazine somewhere nearby.

    If you watched Dragon Ball Z in the United States, though, these magazines were just generic magazines or newspapers.


  • The Apparent Racism Of Mr. Popo

    The original version of Mr. Popo was a highly racialized caricature, with his deep-black skin and oversized lips. This seemingly racist depiction was a bit much for North American audiences. 

    Popo was recolored to blue for most American releases of the series. 

  • The Red, Red Blood

    As you can imagine, a series centered around martial arts is going to include a fair amount of blood. The characters of DBZ duke it out to the bitter end, and generally have a solid amount of plasma leaking from them at any given time.

    Characters get impaled, lose limbs, and just generally suffer inordinate amounts of bodily harm. However, many American censors wanted to cut this element, and so they recolored much of the blood. Usually, this resulted in the characters looking like they were sweating ridiculous amounts or drooling uncontrollably.

  • The Visits To Hell

    The characters in Dragon Ball Z perish a lot. Even the series’ protagonist, Goku, perishes in the first story arc. This sends Goku on a journey through fiction’s weirdest afterlife. This mostly consists of running along a giant road floating in the clouds. Goku is warned not to fall off the road, and so of course he ends up doing exactly that.

    This leaves our hero in hell, where bodybuilding devils try to torture him before he makes a bold escape. The demons wear shirts that outright say “HELL,” but the American censors changed that to “HFIL,” which supposedly stood for “Home For Infinite Losers.” 

  • All Of The Drinking

    After the immense stress and turmoil of constantly having the save the world, it's hardly surprising that the characters would imbibe some much-deserved alcohol to ease their worries. In Japan, the Z Fighters do enjoy the occasional beer.

    American censors obviously didn’t want such content in a children’s program, so they made the odd choice to recolor all of the beer as blue. Now it looks like Roshi is pounding back Gatorade or a bottle of water.

  • The Halos Of The Dead

    The various releases of DBZ in North America had differing views on how to handle mortality. The Japanese version had no qualms about it, and they had Goku wander around with a halo over his head while he was stuck in the afterlife.

    Some American versions replaced the halo with a glowing orb