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 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.”