As any fan knows, the story of Dragon Ball Z involves a few deaths here and there. Okay, there are a lot of deaths. And yes, it's mostly Krillin. This morbid side of the series proved troublesome for censors, especially in versions targeted at youngsters. In some cases, dialogue was changed so as to erase any concept of death; characters never explicitly stated Goku was dead, but instead "trapped in another dimension."
But it took more than just changing a few dubbed lines here and there. When the "trapped" Goku is running along Snake Way, he falls and lands in Hell. The fact that this directly implies the existence of an afterlife (and therefore death) was a problem to be sure, but an even bigger issue were Goz and Mez, two ogres who had the word "HELL" emblazoned across their jerseys.
Like an underperforming middle schooler smudging a dire report card, censors managed to change "HELL" into "HFIL." In other words, Hell became the Home for Infinite Losers.
It's an especially bizarre move when you consider that the bits with Goz and Mez are more or less filler. Goku escapes Hell and has to go back to the beginning of Snake Way at the end of the episode, but the localization team could have easily snipped this episode and patched it up with a throwaway dubbed line. But no, the syndication gods demanded that the episode be doctored in order to squeeze out one more episode to gullible American children.
Then there's the problem with Goku's halo, which pretty clearly indicates that he's passed on. Someone had a fix for that too.
So instead of a shining halo around his head, Goku wore a... glowing yellow dot. Such strange lengths to go to in order to make sure that the young aren't prematurely introduced to the cold, hard reality of their own mortality. Or that people who constantly punch each other in the face will sometimes bleed.
It's the American Way: You can't show a naked toddler taking a bath in the sink, but grown men beating the shit out of each other is fun for the whole family. And yet, even America has its limits. Despite Dragon Ball Z rarely eclipsing PG-13 levels of violence, the myriad fights in the series were still censored to hell. So instead of Goku bleeding from his face like a real-life boxer might, he's just kind of dirty and sweaty, and maybe drooling a little.
Censors don't always erase every trace of crimson bodily fluid. Some versions kept the blood that dripped from Piccolo's arm during his fight with Raditz -- only they changed the color from brick red to lime green. Instead of a wound sustained by a superhuman, now it just looks like Piccolo's armhole is a margarita machine that just ran dry.
After he got done blowed up by Goku, half of Frieza's head was gone. While it might be understandable to cut away from the pulpy mass of brains and faceblood, not every version of the episode did so; instead, some yahoo thought that a simple palette swap was all that was needed. The resulting censored image is somehow even more unsettling than the original.
Besides the gore factor, violence against Gohan also proved to be an issue with censors. The infamous scene where Goku punches his kid was edited, which would seem reasonable if they weren't localizing an inherently violent Japanese TV show for a young audience.
Maybe the most baffling thing done concerning Gohan in danger: Removing his tears while he cried in the custody of Raditz.
Sure, the audience was about to see his dad impaled by a laser beam, but at least they were sure that the toddler wasn't too upset about it.