Dragon Ball is a series filled with plot twists, but one stands above the rest as the best of them all, and it is the last one fans would expect.
Fans of Dragon Ball know there are no shortage of plot twists throughout the series–from Trunks ending up being the future version of Vegeta and Bulma’s son to Yamcha earning the respect of Lord Beerus because of a baseball game–but one of them stands above the rest as being the most unexpected, and the most subtle.
Since his introduction, Gohan has always wanted to be a scholar, which was a desire instilled in him by his mother, Chi-Chi, as she didn’t want Gohan to end up like Goku in terms of employment history. In fact, one of the first chapters in which Gohan appears, he gets an entire page at the beginning of the book introducing himself as Gohan and saying that when he grows up, he wants to be a great scholar. Despite that, however, Gohan kept getting involved in world-ending battles since his power as a human/Saiyan had more potential than that of Goku himself, so he was necessary in every one of those fights–all to the displeasure of Chi-Chi. While Chi-Chi would always let Gohan go off with the Z-Fighters to save the world, she was reluctant to do so every time because, again, she wanted Gohan to be a scholar and not a fighter–a seemingly universal truth within Dragon Ball canon.
In Dragon Ball chapter 427 by Akira Toriyama, Gohan is a sixteen-year-old kid attending high school, and it’s been years since he engaged in deadly combat. Sure, Gohan will use his Saiyan powers to stop human criminals who pose virtually no threat to his safety (while using the superhero alter-ego: the Great Saiyaman), he mostly gave up the life of a fighter once his father, Goku, died fighting Cell. However, when Gohan heard that the World Martial Arts Tournament was happening on schedule this year, he decided that he wanted to participate and asked his mom if he could miss school to do so. Without hesitation, Chi-Chi not only allowed Gohan to do this, but actively endorsed him abandoning his studies for a while to enter the tournament.
Chi-Chi Telling Gohan to Miss School to Fight is DBZ’s Biggest Plot Twist
Throughout this entire series so far, the one thing that has always been true is that Chi-Chi values learning over fighting, so the idea that she would happily let Gohan miss school–especially high school–to fight is incredibly surprising. However, once fans learn Chi-Chi’s motives for allowing this to happen, things start making a bit more sense. As Gohan told her, the winner of the World Martial Arts Tournament gets a substantial cash prize. Since Gohan is arguably the strongest person on Earth at this point in time (at least, among the fighters initially interested in fighting in a human tournament), Chi-Chi is confident he can win and make some easy money.
While it may seem like Chi-Chi is a hypocrite by going against her ideals regarding Gohan and his schooling the second money is involved, the situation isn’t that cut and dry. Goku has been dead for years, so not only is Chi-Chi the sole provider for her family, she probably misses him a great deal. In fact, Goku and Chi-Chi decided to get married after they fought each other during a World Martial Arts Tournament, so the idea that Gohan is interested in participating in that very same tournament probably brought back fond memories of her lost love. However, despite the motives behind her decision, the fact that Chi-Chi, of all people, actively endorsed Gohan leaving school for a stretch just to fight is perhaps the most shocking plot twist in Dragon Ball history.