In FUNimation Entertainment's naming conventions for the English language release of the anime, the Androids/Cell arc is broken up into five sagas: the Trunks Saga, the Androids Saga, the Imperfect Cell Saga, the Perfect Cell Saga, and the Cell Games Saga. This article refers specifically to the events in the second saga. It features Androids 16-19 and their creator Dr. Gero (also known as Android 20) who wreak havoc on the world. It occurs between the Trunks Saga and the Imperfect Cell Saga.
In Japan, this saga aired in 1992. In the United States, it is part of season four, which aired in 2000. It comprises the third part of the FUNimation Remastered Season Four Box Set, the last part of the FUNimation Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Volume 3 Set and the first part of the Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Z Volume 4 Set.
The plot of the Androids Saga is closely tied to that of Dragon Ball, the anime series that preceded Dragon Ball Z: an organization known as the Red Ribbon Army seeks to obtain the Dragon Balls. The main hero of the series, Goku, is still a child in Dragon Ball and embarks upon a quest to find the Dragon Balls himself. This leads to conflict between the Red Ribbon Army and Goku. As part of their plan to collect the Dragon Balls, the Red Ribbon Army employs Dr. Gero as their head scientist. Dr. Gero proceeds to construct a series of powerful Androids. Although, only in the Dragon Ball anime version, Dr. Flappe is presented as the Androids' creator, he is later revealed to be only the co-creator of Android 8. Goku is eventually forced to destroy the Red Ribbon organization in order to protect the Dragon Balls, inciting Dr. Gero to seek revenge upon him.
Dr. Gero goes unmentioned in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z until the Trunks Saga, in which the titular character Future Trunks warns Goku that Dr. Gero survived the attacks to Red Ribbon when Goku was a child and has created a new set of Androids intent upon destroying the Earth. Future Trunks also reveals that Goku will die from an incurable heart disease before he has the chance to confront the Androids. Future Trunks then presents Goku with medicine from the future that will cure his otherwise fatal disease. He also mentions that Future Vegeta and Future Bulma are his parents, which shocks Goku. Piccolo hears the conversation between Goku and Future Trunks due to his exceptional ears. After delivering his doomsday warnings, Future Trunks returns to his own future in a Time Machine and the Z Fighters begin three years of training for the upcoming battle against the androids.
Battle with Android 19 and Android 20
Three years after Future Trunks had warned Goku about the Androids' arrival, the Z Fighters go to the city where Future Trunks told them the Androids would appear, Sasebo. Goku, Gohan, and Piccolo meet Krillin halfway to Sasebo and they see the differences in their powers. On an island nearby, they meet up with Yamcha, Tien Shinhan, and Bulma who is carrying a baby. Goku tells her to leave for her own safety, but she says she wants to see the androids and then will leave. Krillin asks about the baby and Gohan assumes it is Yamcha's. Yamcha says that he is not the father. Goku says that Vegeta is the father and the baby's name is Trunks, much to Krillin and Gohan's surprise. Bulma asks how he knew because she has not told anyone yet, but he laughs it off. Piccolo asks where Vegeta is. Bulma does not know because they are not living together but says he has been training intensely for this day. They have thirty minutes to spare, so Krillin and Gohan entertain Trunks. When 10:00 comes and goes, the Z Fighters are suspicious. Gohan says that androids do not have a ki so they cannot sense them. Yajirobe arrives with Senzu Beans from Korin and leaves after refusing to fight. Seconds later, Yajirobe's hovercar explodes. The Z Fighters spot two figures lurking in the smoke from the blast. The figures race down into the city so fast that none of the fighters can see what they look like. As the Z Fighters cannot sense the Android's ki, they split up and go down into the city to find them.
Yamcha makes his way to one of the lower cities where he encounters the Androids. The Androids resemble people, so they go undetected by Yamcha. Android 20 reveals himself as an Android by grabbing Yamcha by the mouth and draining the majority of his energy. There are two of them, Android 19 and Android 20. As Yamcha struggles, Android 20 punches him through his chest, severely wounding him.
Goku and the others, who sense Yamcha's life force disappearing, arrive shortly after, finding the Androids and Yamcha, who is laying on the ground, dying. Goku asks Krillin to evacuate Yamcha and get him a Senzu Bean before it is too late. The Androids are eager to fight, but Goku tells them that there are too many innocent people around. Android 20 decides to "fix" the problem by using his eye lasers to destroy every living thing nearby. This infuriates Goku, who then throws a punch at Android 20. Android 20 seems unaffected by the impact. Goku and the others convince the Androids to move away from the city in order to fight without harming anymore innocent bystanders. After Yamcha is completely healed with a Senzu Bean, he follows Krillin and Gohan to find the others.
They come to a deserted, rocky area and Goku offers to fight first. However, Goku is clearly not his usual confident self, as he appears to already be tired and out of breath just from flying to this location. It becomes apparent that Goku is experiencing some mild effects from the heart virus, which take its toll six months later than Future Trunks had predicted. Regardless, he decides to fight Android 19, and transforms into a Super Saiyan. Android 20 is surprised by this transformation because, while he spied on Goku's battle with Vegeta and earlier, he did not observe the battles that took place on Namek, including the colossal battle between Goku and Frieza in which Goku achieved Super Saiyan for the first time. However, Android 20, unaware of the extraordinary powers of Super Saiyans, claims it is just a "minor setback" and believes that Android 19 will still be able to defeat Goku. He then seems to be proven wrong when Goku and Android 19 engage in battle, as Goku's Super Saiyan strength and speed is superior to that of Android 19. Goku seems to have the upper hand during the beginning of the battle. Meanwhile, the Z Fighters watch the fight from below. Krillin, Tien, and Yamcha cheer Goku on, believing that he will easily win against the Android. However, Gohan and Piccolo sense that something is wrong, and they notice that something is taking away from Goku's energy. He increasingly becomes more tired and out of breath, greatly lacking the power and energy of his usual self.
The fight continues and Goku's condition rapidly deteriorates, as his punches and kicks seem to have little effect on Android 19. Goku struggles to create a Kamehameha, which Android 19 absorbs with his hand. Piccolo then warns Goku not to use any energy blasts against the Androids. Goku gets weaker by the minute, and expresses that he feels like he is dying. He clutches his hand to his chest, and at this point, Gohan realizes that the heart virus is attacking him. Krillin then gives Goku a Senzu Bean but it has no effect against the virus, and Goku's condition continues to worsen. Android 19 takes advantage of this apparent weakness, hitting Goku with several kicks and punches before knocking him to the floor. Android 19 then sits on top of Goku, wrapping his hand around Goku's neck in order to drain him of his energy. The Z Fighters try to help him but Android 20 blocks their path. Goku lays dying as his energy is drained by the Android, until Vegeta makes his appearance on the battlefield and interferes, blindsiding Android 19 with a powerful kick to the face. Vegeta scolds Goku for fighting in his condition, and kicks him towards Piccolo and the others. The Z Fighters decide that Yamcha should take Goku home, while Vegeta takes over the fight.
Vegeta surprises everyone when he reveals his newfound ability to turn Super Saiyan: like Goku, Vegeta's eyes turn green and his hair turn a golden yellow. However, confident after defeating Super Saiyan Goku, Android 19 believes that he can easily defeat Vegeta, claiming that he already knows all of his moves. However, Vegeta laughs at these claims, mocking the fact that Dr. Gero did not observe the battles that took place on Namek (Vegeta sarcastically says on the subject: "Your bonehead creator picked a fine chapter to emit from your memory bank"). Vegeta then toys with Android 19, allowing the Android to punch him in the face so that he can laugh at how weak the Android is. Vegeta then proves himself superior to the Android in both strength and speed. He easily overpowers Android 19, until the Android catches him off guard, wrapping his hands around Vegeta's wrists. He begins to drain Vegeta's energy but Vegeta remains smiling and confident, placing his feet against the Android's head and forcing it back while pulling his arms. Android 19 is able to absorb a substantial amount of energy until Vegeta rips his arms off. The Android then runs away in fear, and Vegeta blasts him with a Big Bang Attack, which destroys him easily. After the destruction of Android 19, Vegeta is naturally quite drained, but bluffs Android 20 into thinking he is still capable of taking him out. Android 20, seeing the death of Android 19 as proof, easily takes the bait and is scared off. Vegeta eats a Senzu Bean and chases after him.
Search for Dr. Gero
Android 20 distracts Vegeta, and promptly flees the battle. Hiding out in various canyons and behind rock faces, Android 20 is stalked by the relentlessly pursuing Z Fighters at a range of canyons. However, they struggle to find him, as they are unable to sense the power levels of Androids. Android 20 hides, while Vegeta, becoming more and more frustrated, throws a Ki Blast into the canyon, hoping to clear it away. This works to Android 20's advantage, as he reveals himself to absorb the Ki Blast and then flees once more. Android 20 then plans to absorb the energy of all the weaker fighters in order to power himself up and beat Vegeta. He deduces that Piccolo is the strongest next to Vegeta, and sneaks up on him from behind. He holds him in his grasp with his hand over Piccolo's mouth, draining his energy. Piccolo alerts Gohan telepathically and Gohan hits Android 20 with a Double Axe Handle, removing him from Piccolo's back. Piccolo then eats a Senzu Bean and challenges Android 20 to a fight. He gains the upper hand of the fight, beating Android 20 with several powerful blows and ripping the Android's arm off so that he can not absorb anymore energy. At that point, Android 20 realizes that even with his newly absorbed energy, he still is not strong enough to defeat Piccolo, someone who should be nothing compared to him according to his data. Piccolo informs him that they had all been training for their arrival for the past three years. This comes as a surprise to Android 20, and he knows that he must return to his laboratory to repair himself in order to survive.
Future Trunks then arrives and is shocked to discover that Android 19 and 20 are not the same Androids from the future that he warned the Z Fighters about three years ago. Naturally, this surprises everyone. Piccolo calls Trunks by his name, and it is at this point that Vegeta realizes the boy from the future is in fact his son's future self. Vegeta also understands how Future Trunks was able to become a Super Saiyan even though there were only three Saiyans left in existence (Gohan being half-Saiyan). Bulma, Yajirobe, and baby Trunks then arrive in an aircraft, and Bulma notices Android 20. While everyone's attention is diverted to Bulma, Android 20 takes the opportunity to escape, but not before claiming that he will now proceed to activate two more Androids, 17 and 18. He then blows up the landscape with a powerful Photon Wave, which further distracts everyone.
Bulma's aircraft is blown up but she and baby Trunks are saved by Future Trunks. Future Trunks is angry that Vegeta, the one closest to them, did not seem to notice nor care about the life-threatening danger Bulma and the baby were subjected to. Future Trunks then confronts his father, demanding to know why he did not try to save Bulma and his son. Vegeta spitefully replies, "I have more important things to worry about than that foolish woman and her blasted child!" and continues to look around for the Android, angry that he was able to disappear from sight again. when he is unable to find him, Vegeta goes back to the group. Bulma retaliates at Vegeta for being uncaring when she says that he makes Trunks cry everytime he sticks his "geeky face" up to him, much to Krillin and Gohan's amusement. Bulma then recalls seeing Dr. Gero's picture in one of her father's science magazines, revealing that Android 20 is actually Dr. Gero and that he rebuilt himself into an Android as his human body became older and weak. Bulma also remembers reading about the location of Dr. Gero's laboratory, just north of North City. The Z Fighters then plot to find the lab and destroy it before Dr. Gero can activate the other two Androids. However, Vegeta says that that is a cowardly move, proudly claiming that they should allow the Androids to be activated so that he can defeat them all by himself. Future Trunks warns Vegeta to never underestimate the power of the Androids, but Vegeta refuses to listen and flies off. Future Trunks chases after him to prevent his father from suffering his predicted death. After hearing him call Vegeta "father", Gohan and Krillin are confused, so Piccolo reveals that Future Trunks is the person the baby will grow up to be. While Gohan and Krillin are shocked, Bulma is only relieved that Trunks will not look like Vegeta as an adult.
The Z Fighters then pursue Dr. Gero to his lab, but arrive too late, as he has already activated his most recent yet unstable creations, the lethal siblings Android 17 and Android 18. Future Trunks wants to destroy them before they are activated, having already seen the damage that the two Androids' future counterparts have done in his timeline. However, much to his dismay, Vegeta says wants to fight them, as they might be a good challenge to him. Dr. Gero knows of their inability to follow orders directly and had built an emergency Shut Down Remote to subdue the Androids whenever they become out of control. However, since the Androids are so powerful and wise, they easily snatch the remote from him. They make their way to another one of Dr. Gero's creations, and decide to unleash this incomplete monster going by the name Android 16. Android 20 is furious, and yells at them with increasing intensity to not activate Android 16, as its awakening might kill them all. Android 17 and Android 18 do not listen to him and Android 17 betrays and effortlessly kills Android 20. At this point, in his Super Saiyan form, Future Trunks snaps and launches a full power Buster Cannon at the Androids, destroying the whole lab and the surrounding mountainside. This does not faze them at all, and Android 17 and Android 18 then awaken Android 16, who states that his main purpose is to kill Goku.
Battle with Android 17 and Android 18
Androids 16, 17, and 18 leave the site of Dr. Gero's lab in order to begin their search for Goku. The Z Fighters concede that they will be easily overpowered by the Androids, except for Vegeta, who is eager to test his strength against them. Vegeta is confident that, being a Super Saiyan, the Androids will be no match for him. Future Trunks warns him once again not to underestimate the Androids, demanding that they should all wait until Goku gets better before confronting them. However, Vegeta is angered by this suggestion, punching Future Trunks in the stomach. He then takes off to find the Androids by himself. Meanwhile, the three Androids stop at a mountainside road and wait for a car to pass by so that they can steal it, in order to have some fun during their search for Goku. Android 16 remains quiet at first, responding only when Goku is mentioned. Peculiarly, he stands like a statue at the edge of the road, observing nature and the birds. When Vegeta arrives, Android 17 suggests that Android 16 should test out his strength against him, but 16 refuses, claiming that he will fight no one but Goku, as he was programmed to do. Vegeta stands confidently, boasting his strength and challenging to send the Androids "back to the scrap heap." Android 18 becomes annoyed by Vegeta, claiming that he talks too much, and they begin to fight. At first, it seems that Android 18 is no match for Vegeta, which shocks Future Trunks and the Z Fighters, but it soon becomes apparent that Android 18 is only toying with him. However, not being one to give up, Vegeta continues to fight and get beaten, thinking that he could tire her out. It becomes evident, that these two Androids, in fact, do not tire out or run out of energy, as they were built with almost unlimited internal power sources. Eventually Android 18 ends the battle by breaking Vegeta's arm with a kick. Android 17 comes and tells the Z Fighters that no one should interfere in the match, or he will fight them as well. Regardless, Future Trunks jumps in to help his beaten father, but is taken out with one hit from Android 17. The others, having no choice, rush them as well only to be taken out without effort. Vegeta's determination does not pull through when Android 18 breaks his other arm finally rendering him unconscious. This leaves only Krillin, who did not fight due to fear, unscathed.
Krillin tries to reason with the Androids that Goku had done nothing to them and that going after him would be morally wrong. Android 17 then explains to Krillin that finding Goku is a game. Android 16 also says that he was programmed to kill Goku. Then Android 16 and Android 17 go off to find Goku but not before telling Krillin that if anyone else wants to face them again, they would gladly accept a rematch. Android 18 then kisses Krillin and they fly off. Krillin wonders if the Androids are as evil as Future Trunks warned but puts that aside and quickly heals the others, with the remaining Senzu Beans. Vegeta gets back to his feet and dusts himself off. His pride keeping him from admitting his inferior power, he flies off angrily. Future Trunks realizes that the Androids in the time period are far stronger than their counterparts in his own time, as he was able to fight them evenly for a time there. Piccolo comes to a realization that they do not have enough time to train, and the only way for him to get strong enough is to become one being with Kami. He does not admit any of this to the others though, and tries to fool them into thinking he is still the evil King Piccolo by making idle threats and then flying off. Krillin is not fooled though, and instantly makes the realization that Piccolo is going to Kami's Lookout to fuse with him. He would then become one with Kami as they used to be long ago.
Anime and Manga differences
- In the manga, when the Z Fighters were searching for Dr. Gero, Krillin was the first to spot him and he preceded to call the others to his location. In the anime, Dr. Gero attacks Krillin.
- Yamcha vs. Android 20
- Goku (Super Saiyan) vs. Android 19
- Vegeta (Super Saiyan) vs. Android 19
- Piccolo vs. Android 20
- Goku (Super Saiyan) vs. Android 20 (in Goku's nightmare) (anime only)
- Krillin vs. Android 20 (anime only)
- Vegeta (Super Saiyan) vs. Android 18
- Future Trunks (Super Saiyan) vs. Android 18
- Piccolo and Tien Shinhan vs. Android 17
FUNimation VHS/DVD Volumes
- Androids Saga - Invasion (111-114)
- Androids Saga - Dr.Gero (115-117)
- Androids Saga - Assassins (118-120)
- Androids Saga - Invincible (121-124)
Note: FUNimation released both edited and uncut VHS volumes, while the DVDs are uncut only.
FUNimation Remastered DVD Sets
- Dragon Ball Z Season Four (108-139) (only episodes 126-139 are part of the Androids Saga)
FUNimation Dragon Box Sets
- Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Vol. 3 (85-126) (only episode 126 is part of the Android Saga)
- Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Vol. 4 (127-168) (only episodes 127-139 are part of the Android Saga)
FUNimation Season Blu-ray Sets
- Dragon Ball Z Season Four (108-139) (only episodes 126-139 are part of the Androids Saga)
|337 (143)||"The Gathering of the Warriors"|
|338 (144)||"Slaughter in South City"|
|339 (145)||"Yamcha Falls"|
|340 (146)||"The Red Ribbon Androids"|
|342 (148)||"One Down..."|
|343 (149)||"Vegeta Returns!"|
|344 (150)||"The Androids Unhinged"|
|345 (151)||"A Change of Plans"|
|346 (152)||"Trunks Returns!"|
|347 (153)||"A Sound of Thunder"|
|348 (154)||"Dr. Gero's Laboratory"|
|349 (155)||"The Androids Awake!"|
|350 (156)||"17, 18...16?"|
|351 (157)||"The Androids Walk Among Us"|
|352 (158)||"Vegeta vs. Android 18"|
|353 (159)||"Vegeta vs. Android 18, Round Two"|
|354 (160)||"The Androids at Ease"|
|355 (161)||"Retreat and Regroup"|
|356 (162)||"Kami's Conditions"|
|357 (163)||"A Discovery"|
Dragon Ball Z (14 episodes)
|126||"The Androids Appear"|
|127||"A Handy Trick"|
|128||"Double Trouble for Goku"|
|129||"Upgrade to Super Saiyan"|
|130||"The Secret of Dr. Gero"|
|132||"Follow Dr. Gero"|
|133||"Nightmare Comes True"|
|136||"No Match for the Androids"|
|137||"Last Ditch Effort"|
Dragon Ball Z Kai (9 episodes)
The Android saga has been covered in many Dragon Ball Z video games such as Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi (series), Dragon Ball Z: Burst Limit, Dragon Ball Z: Raging Blast and Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II.
- The concept of the Android saga seems to have taken some influence from the popular Terminator movie series. T2: Judgement Day was a hit movie in Japan in 1991 when this saga came to be.
- The reason why the main villains of this arc changed from Gero and 19 to 17 and 18 is because Toriyama's publisher didn't like the idea of the big threat being "an old guy and a fat robot". It was changed again to Cell because he didn't like the designs of them either.