Dragon Ball Z: Why Android 16 Wasn’t In Trunks’ Future

Despite being an ally to Android 17 and 18 in Dragon Ball Z, Android 16 was mysteriously absent from the events that played out in Trunks’ future.

Despite being the main character in Dragon Ball Z’s Android Saga, Android 16 had no role in the events that played out in Trunks’ future. In the anime, an adult Trunks visited the Z-Warriors in the present to warn them that they would all die at the hands of the evil creations of Doctor Gero, Android 17, and Android 18. When it came time for them to show up in the present day, they were joined by Android 16, a character Trunks had no knowledge of.

Modeled after the son of Doctor Gero, Android 16 was a robotic fighter created to fulfill a single purpose: killing Goku. He accompanied 17 and 18 on their travels and was present for their battles with the Z-Warriors and the infamous Dragon Ball Z villain Cell. 16, who was stronger than both of them, tried to stop Cell from absorbing them but failed in the end. After returning during the Cell Games as a spectator, 16 were killed by Cell. Though he died, Android 16’s final moments and message to Gohan about doing what needed to be done helped inspire him to finish off Perfect Cell.

It’s interesting to note that as important as Android 16 was in this story, he wasn’t around in the future that Trunks told them about. The reason for his absence can be explained by what was said about the impact of Trunks’ actions. When he made the decision to visit the past and undo Goku’s death by giving him the medicine for his heart virus, there was an unfortunate and unavoidable butterfly effect. There were many inexplicable changes and additions, including the fights with new androids like 19 and 20, and 18 decided to activate 16. Driven by her curiosity, 18 woke him up (despite being urged not to by Doctor Gero).

As for how Trunks’ time-traveling caused 18 to activate 16, it could be that 18 made a decision that differed from what happened in Trunks’ future because of how he unknowingly altered this moment. Originally, the Z-Warriors weren’t supposed to be present in Doctor Gero’s lab. But thanks to Trunks’ warnings, they were able to show up when 17 and 18 were being unleashed. It’s possible that the scene where 17 and 18 discussed activating 16 would never have happened if the Z-Warriors weren’t there. Plus, there’s the matter of their rebellious behavior. In the present day, 17 and 18 showed more independence than their future counterparts, who followed their programming more diligently. This could have been another contributing factor that led to 16’s emergence.

What all this means is that Android 16 likely did exist in Future Trunks’ timeline. Either due to the difference in the androids’ decision-making processes, the interference of the Z-Warriors, or a combination of both, 16 was never tampered with and remained dormant throughout the battle with the androids. It’s worth wondering what would have transpired if 16 was around in Trunks’ future. With Goku dead, he wouldn’t have had a clear purpose, so it’s hard to say what he would have done. Since his peaceful nature in Dragon Ball Z suggests that he wouldn’t have joined 17 and 18 in killing the Z-Warriors, he may have embarked on his own journey.

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