For over barely thirty years, the Dragon Ball brand name continues to hold up and create new fans of not just the product, but anime as a whole. In addition to merchandise such as toys and video games, it continues to grow by providing new material such as Super, the latest animated series.
Based on the Chinese fairy tale Journey to the West, it tells the story of Goku’s journeys from childhood to becoming a grandfather while still having to save the world, and eventually the entire universe (and maybe all universes?). When a good number of people hear the names Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and/or Dragon Ball Super, they think of some of anime’s basic archetypes such as big eyes and spiky hair. For others, it is balls to the walls action like you have never seen!
For today’s Honey’s top 10, we will explore the Top 10 fights from the Dragon Ball franchise.
10. Goku and Piccolo vs. Raditz
Kicking off the series and this list is Goku and Piccolo vs Raditz. This is the first time ever that team battles have been emphasized as previous fights have been more man-to-man. Despite being the two most powerful fighters on earth, the combined strength of Goku and Piccolo are no match for the might of Goku’s elder brother, who is far weaker compared to the competition to come. They go as far as removing their weighted clothing and they still move like tortoises compared to Raditz.
It took an intervention from Gohan’s inner rage to make any dent on Raditz, and Goku’s first sacrifice to allow Piccolo to concentrate the necessary energy for his newest finishing move, the Makankousappou. It did the deed and it took out Raditz and Goku. But this fight was simply a preview of things to come with how intense, fast paced, and disastrously explosive the action of DBZ can get.
9. Goku and Vegeta vs. Golden Freeza
Back by popular demand (at least to the Japanese audiences who love Freeza), Freeza has come back to life thanks to the Dragon Balls of the Earth and his medical team, and he is back with a vengeance! So what does he do this time? He’s going to get in the best shape of his life and obtain a new form, Golden Freeza. Thankfully, after the battle with Beerus and learning that Whis, his attendant, is also his master, Goku and Vegeta take advantage of the opportunity to train under him.
Surprisingly, Freeza isn't the only one in town with a new power-up transformation as Goku and Vegeta obtained Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan, or just Super Saiyan Blue for the Super animated series. Goku takes first shot against Freeza and is barely on equal terms with him. Unfortunately, Freeza’s cardio gives out and it gives Goku the advantage. After Goku is shot by one of Freeza’s minions before he can do anything significant, Vegeta steps up to the plate and fights with no mercy for the man that destroyed his planet. Before Vegeta is about to deliver the final blow, Freeza cops out by destroying the Earth.
Thankfully, Whis was able to save a good number of the cast in a small remaining crust, turn back the clock three minutes, and have Goku deliver a no mercy kill but at the cost of robbing Vegeta his vengeance. Though Goku has demonstrated that his compassion has cost him on numerous occasions, he is able to take one mercy back.
8. The Z Warriors vs. Broly
Outside of the official Dragon Ball Z series canon, we have the Z Warriors (consisting of Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Future Trunks, Piccolo, and Krillin) up against one of the most overpowered characters of all time, Brolly. Upon reuniting with Goku ever since they were born, his blind rage takes over and fuels his testosterone to unbelievable proportions and powers only one can imagine. Heck, Broly can make an energy ball the size of his fist and send it to a neighboring planet destroying it like nothing. Every attack the Z Warriors do on Broly is about as useful as Mr. Satan trying to attack Cell.
Eventually, it took Goku absorbing the energy of his comrades to deliver a blow that was of significant damage. The frightening thing about Broly is that despite how powerful he is, he is not motivated by universal domination, immortality or power. Just total indiscriminate destruction (who even refers to himself as the devil) and the annihilation of Goku, and that is what make him one of the most devastating foes in Dragon Ball history.
7. Goku vs. Beerus
In a bout that brings Dragon Ball Z back in the spotlight, we have Goku vs Beerus, the God of Destruction. Looking for a good fight, both men accept each other’s challenges with the fate of the earth in balance. In this fight, with the help of all living Saiyan blood, Goku attains the form of Super Saiyan God and it gives him barely enough power to face Beerus on equal terms. The blows they exchange cause damage beyond the sound barrier and soars the skies all the way to earth’s atmosphere. Goku fights to exhaustion and accepts defeat. Out of respect for Goku being his second strongest opponent (and his love for Earth’s treats), he decides to spare the earth and becomes a passive ally to our heroes.
6. Goku vs. Piccolo
At the end of the first Dragon Ball series, Goku faces one of his first fiercest rivals, Piccolo or Ma, Jr. in the finals of the Tenkaichi Budokai tournament. Though Piccolo is motivated by his previous life incarnation’s (or you can say his father’s whose soul he has) lust for revenge and world domination, he is willing to follow the rules of the tournament and fight Goku honorably.
In this fight, he shows his Super Namekian form by growing big but hasn't used this form since this fight since it takes too much energy and limits his mobilization. But what makes this fight amazing is that even though Piccolo at this point in this story is a villain, he is willing to obey a good portion of the rules and when he loses according to the rules (despite the destruction of the ring and arena), he takes his defeat like a true warrior.
5. The Z Warriors Vs. Majin Buu
In Dragon Ball Z’s final story arc, they face one of their most destructive threats ever, Majin Buu who has destroyed numerous galaxies. After being unsealed by Babidi, the son of his creator, Buu once again seeks to wreak havoc across the universe. However, it took almost the entire core team and numerous methods to stop him. Even Goku at Super Saiyan 3 could barely go blow-for-blow against the fat Buu and would get his ass handed to him at Buu’s true form. Vegeta went as far as blowing himself up causing little to no damage.
Virtually other methods were tried. Goten and Trunks fusing as Gotenks wasn’t enough and when they were sealed in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, Buu escapes by creating a hole just by screaming at an intense enough frequency to do so. Gohan goes under intense training to become Mystic Gohan. He does well but gets absorbed by Buu. Goku and Vegeta also put on the earrings to fuse as Vegetto, but with the need to save their friends sealed within Buu, they go as far to get absorbed by Buu but the effects defuse them and Vegeta destroys the earring not wanting to fuse again.
Then the battle goes as far as Buu destroying the earth and having to fight on Kaioshin’s world. With the help of Fat Buu (who has become separate from Kid Buu), Vegeta, Mr. Satan, and all life in his universe and being re-energized from a wish from the Dragon Balls, Goku destroys every single remaining molecule of Buu with an epic Spirit Bomb.
4. Vegeta vs. Android 18
Despite becoming Super Saiyan and developing his Big Bang Attack by taking out Android 19, he is no match for his next opponent, Android 18. This shouldn't qualify as a fight, but more as a one sided ass beating. The way she fights Vegeta and the way she calculatingly moves and follows him, it appropriately reflects that she is an android following data in her programming. The way Android 18 smiles as she just uses punches and kicks shows that she is just simply toying with Vegeta.
This fight just simply shows how fearsome Android 18 is and why the Future Trunks is afraid of her. Despite her good looks, she is a vicious monster. When fans look back on this fight, some might wonder why Krillin is able to manage a woman like her.
3. Gohan vs. Cell
The unique thing about this fight is that by bringing Gohan into the spotlight, we get to see how he differs from his own father on what drives him to fight. Unlike Goku who grew up uneducated and with little to no social skills for the real world, Gohan has goals and motivations that are more in touch with his human side. While Goku fights to fight, in a sense, Gohan fights so he doesn't have to fight again. His protection of others is always his primary focus.
When he steps up to face Cell after his father forfeits, Gohan shows he has reservations and hesitation and doesn't exactly have that same Saiyan warrior spirit as Goku and/or Vegeta. But after Cell stomps on Android 16 when he pleads him to protect Mother Nature, Gohan’s inner rage takes over and triggers his Super Saiyan 2 transformation.
The ways he fights Cell shows that his emotions dictate how he fights and also shows more of his Saiyan side when instead of instantly finishing Cell, he decides to torture him, which comes across as pleasurable to him. But after the death of his father and his spiritual support, he kills Cell with a one-handed Kamehameha.
2. Goku (Krillin, Gohan, and Yajirobe) vs. Vegeta
In one of Dragon Ball Z’s first epic battles, Goku faces off the prince of his people, Vegeta. Before battling, as opposed to looking at each other with intense hate, they actually smile at each other thinking it more as a game. While some combat sports experts like to say you play baseball but you don't play fighting, these guys like to indicate that Saiyans see combat sports as a sport that you play.
A good portion of the fight has them on equal terms. They knock each other into mountains caving them in and creating craters the size of Texas. Both are pushed to the point of desperation. Goku had to use the spirit bomb. Vegeta had to resort to using his Gallick-hou, forming enough energy to destroy the entire Earth. Goku uses Kaio-ken to a point that it pushes his body beyond his limits. Then Vegeta turns Oozaru through an artificial moon.
Eventually, Gohan, Krillin, and Yajirobe had to intervene to make the fight equal. With both men broken and with no decisive winner, with Krillin milliseconds away from cutting down Vegeta with Yajirobe’s sword, Goku pleads to spare his life. Thankfully, this paid off in the long run.
1. Goku vs. Freeza
Coming off the tails of the previous story arc, Goku vs Vegeta, Goku finally learns of his origins and rejects his Saiyan heritage. But upon Goku’s recovery with his battle with Captain Ginyu, he finds Vegeta in his final moments telling him the truth about what happened to their people, and to avenge him and the Saiyans. Not only does the fight with Freeza encourage Goku to embrace his Saiyan roots, but also become its ultimate savior by becoming the legendary Super Saiyan as the result of Freeza killing Krillin, his best friend.
The intense danger of this battle is measured when Freeza decides to put a special attack on the planet rendering it within moments (or in the viewer's case, episodes) of its destruction. Knowing Goku, not only does he want to avenge his people and save his friends, the Saiyan side of him can’t reject a good fight to test himself. It was a true battle of attrition.
In many instances, viewers and both combatants thought it was going to be the end, but each character always had something up their sleeves. Goku used the Kaio-Ken, the Spirit Bomb, everything you can think of. But after Goku turned Super Saiyan, Freeza was forced to power up to 100% full strength and go toe-to-toe with the new Super Saiyan Goku. Eventually, Freeza’s own attack would become his own undoing and rejecting Goku’s mercy would bring him to his first defeat.
So these are some of our top 10 fights in the history of Dragon Ball. What are some of your top favorite fights in the Dragon Ball saga(s), or in some cases, one-sided beatings? Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments.