In Dragon Ball Z, Frieza watches on as Goku fights Buu, but he swiftly forgets all about this when the Dragon Ball Super era rolls around.
Frieza’s forgetfulness in Dragon Ball Super creates a glaring plot hole concerning Majin Buu. Inconsistencies are a regular occurrence in Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball franchise, especially since the start of the Dragon Ball Super era. The sequel series has retconned a ton of long-established lore, from full-blooded Saiyans being able to grow hair to kid Trunks’ stunted growth. In the Resurrection F movie, the Dragon Ball franchise revived its most famous villain – Goku and Vegeta’s fated enemy, Frieza. After being sliced up on Earth, Frieza spent years in Hell, trapped in a cocoon, surrounded by cute fairies and forced to listen to their mind-numbingly cheerful music – his own personal torture.
However, Frieza hadn’t spent all of his after-life sentences in this twisted kids’ TV show scenario. Towards the end of Dragon Ball Z, Goku is locked in battle against Buu for the fate of all life. Virtually unstoppable in his Kid Buu form, Goku has met his match, and the entire universe watches with bated breath – and the dead get to follow the action. In between the Goku vs. Buu fight scenes, Frieza is seen hanging out with other deceased foes of the Z-Fighters, including the Ginyu Force and Cell, and eagerly watches Hell’s livestream of the final fight between Goku and Kid Buu. In typically evil fashion, Frieza even begins cheering for Buu to win, glad to see Goku getting the Super Saiyan snot beat out of him.
Dragon Ball Super completely contradicts this scene. When Frieza is finally brought back to life by his minions in Resurrection F, he’s completely unaware that Goku has defeated Majin Buu, and shocked to hear his eternal rival managed to take down the formidable pink blob. Frieza remarks that Buu was one of only two beings his father told him never to challenge (the other being the God of Destruction, Lord Beerus), so the villain is apoplectic with rage when he discovers Goku’s latest achievement. Obviously, this makes no sense. Anime viewers have already seen Frieza witnessing the Goku vs. Buu fight in the afterlife, so why is he so shocked to hear about the incident in Dragon Ball Super?
The explanation is all to do with Dragon Ball’s filler. The scene where Frieza watches Goku and Buu fight, along with almost all of the Other World scenes in the anime, is not derived from Toriyama’s original manga story, and therefore considered non-canon anime-only material. Truthfully, Frieza was never aware of the encounter between Goku and Buu. He was safely locked away in his cocoon, surrounded by singing stuffed animals, and it would absolutely come as a surprise to learn how Goku defeated someone even King Cold explicitly warned against. While most of Dragon Ball’s filler is obvious, this particular scene is a little sneaky. Most filler occurs in isolation from the rest of the story, such as Goku and Piccolo’s driving test, or the Garlic Jr. saga. But these afterlife scenes are inter-cut into the very-much-canon battle between Goku and Buu, muddling authentic bits with non-Toriyama additions. Even Dragon Ball Z Kai, which removes most of the original anime’s filler, retains these scenes, so it’s easy to see how confusion could arise.
Filler or not, Frieza’s forgetfulness makes no sense when considering the Dragon Ball anime as a whole story. A possible in-universe explanation could be that Frieza’s memories were erased during his afterlife cleansing. Dragon Ball Z Kai explores in greater detail what happens to a person’s soul when they die, and this process includes their memories being wiped, potentially explaining why Frieza doesn’t remember watching the Goku vs. Buu fight on Hell’s pay-per-view. Alternatively, it’s possible that when Shenron erased the people of Earth’s memories about Majin Buu, the wish’s power somehow extended to those in the Other World too. Once again, this would mean Frieza forgetting he ever watched the fight. Neither explanation is particularly strong, however, and this plot hole remains another glaring example of anime filler contradicting canon in Dragon Ball.