After a successful anime run, an all-time great movie, and even an exciting new manga arc, it's clear that Dragon Ball Super has a penchant for revisiting the past events and characters of Dragon Ball Z. Super brought back Freeza (multiple times); expanded the mythos of Majin Buu in a big way; retconned the entire history of Saiyans; and even re-invented Broly. However, there's been one major character from DBZ's run that has yet to show up in DBS: Cell.
Fans have been asking for for a Dragon Ball Super Cell arc for years now, and we've done multiple breakdowns on why it makes sense for the series. But at this point the discussion has moved into a new phase, as it's becoming almost aggressively awkward for Dragon Ball Super to keep side-stepping the Cell Saga.
First things first: Cell's popularity hasn't died down with time, and he remains one of most iconic figures in Dragon Ball lore. In fact, Cell has gotten starring roles in two recent Dragon Ball video games: the bestselling Dragon Ball FighterZ game, and the new Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot game coming in January. FighterZ resurrects Cell for a new sequel storyline to the Dragon Ball Z Android Saga, while Kakarot will allow players to relive the events of Dragon Ball Z (including the Cell Saga) from new perspective, and with some new subplots to play. Both games have been none too shy about putting Perfect Cell front and center in their marketing - yet another sign that the powers that be recognize Cell is still a majorly popular character in the series.
In addition to Cell's popularity, and fans still wanting to see a new arc about him, the actual narrative of Dragon Ball Super has already set the foundation for a new Cell arc to take shape. DBS brought back the character of Future Trunks for a major arc; it was a Trunks who hailed from the timeline where Dr. Gero's Androids were defeated, but as any Dragon Ball fan knows, the alternate timelines of Future Trunks and Cell offer all the opportunity in the world for both characters to return at any time. A bonus chapter of the manga has even revealed that Android 17 is keeping Cell Jr.'s as pets on his island preserve, so the villain's DNA is literally still active in the world of Dragon Ball.
So why bring back Cell now? Well, Dragon Ball Super's final story arcs ("Future Trunks Saga", "Universal Survival Saga" and "Broly") have introduced the key components for a good Cell story:
- More time travel and alternate timelines.
- A whole new multiverse of powerful fighters for Cell to absorb.
Therein lies the key appeal for fans: the idea of Cell absorbing characters like Jiren and Kefla, and seeing what kind of "Super Cell" transformation results. The other appeal would be how a new Cell story would affect the other Dragon Ball androids, as No. 17 and No. 18 have both come a long way since their Dragon Ball Z introductions. Cell's return would be a direct threat to both characters (and panic their fans), immediately creating big stakes for the story.
Finally, there's Gohan. The Cell Saga remains Gohan's shining moment in Dragon Ball, before taking a massive slide into irrelevance. Dragon Ball Super fans have wanted Gohan to bet a big arc in the new series, and having him face Cell again would definitely be a major event that would bring fans in.
Are you ready for a Dragon Ball Super Cell Saga?
Dragon Ball Super currently airs its English dub on Adult Swim during the Toonami programming block on Saturday evenings, and is also available to stream on Funimation and Amazon Video. The Japanese-language release of the series is complete, and available to stream on FunimationNOW and Crunchyroll. The manga has chapters that can currently be read for free thanks to Viz Media, and Dragon Ball Super's big movie, Dragon Ball Super: Broly, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.