If there's one thing that Dragon Ball Z is known for, it's the action. Sure, we all care about Goku and his friends, but the one thing that glued kids to the T.V screen every day was seeing the Z-Fighters beating the living hell out of all the bad guys and even themselves. So, with the franchise turning 30 years old, we decided to take a trip down memory lane and look at the ten best fights in Dragon Ball Z history. Note that this won't be covering the movies, as we're only looking at fights from the series.
10 Z-Fighters vs. Nappa
When Goku was killed during his fight with Raditz, Earth's remaining warriors had to train to take on two more powerful Saiyans, Nappa and Vegeta. Whilst the ladder watched on the sidelines, Nappa was a force to be reckoned with. While Tien, Chiaotzu, Piccolo, Krillin, and Gohan did all they could, the gang merely left scratches on the mighty Saiyan. It wasn't until Goku who, after training with King Kai, was revived back to life and stepped in to defeat Nappa.
It's now standard in Shonen anime that there's an all-powerful foe that only the main character can defeat, but DBZ was one of the first to implement this long-running trope. Seeing the Z-Fighters struggle against one opponent created a lot of tension, back then. It was especially striking to see Tien, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo die in battle. However, it was all worth it to see Goku beat the hell out of Nappa and cripple him.
9 Vegeta vs. Android 19
Starting as a villain, Vegeta slowly began to turn from a heartless bastard to a heartless bastard who fought on the side of Good. After seeing both Goku and Trunks turn Super Saiyan, Vegeta does all he can to transform. Thankfully, he was able to do so and arrived on the battlefield just as Goku was beat' en by Android 19, due to suffering the effects of a heart virus.
It was shocking to see Goku, who fought against Frieza on a dying planet, getting beaten up by a new villain, and as a Super Saiyan no less. More surprising was to see Vegeta of all people stepping in and save Goku. The fight between Android 19 and Vegeta lead to some of the biggest scenes in DBZ history, including Vegeta ripping the android's arms off and Vegeta using his Big Bang Attack. It was the perfect showcase to what Vegeta was made of now.
8 Vegeta vs. Cell
When Cell absorbs Android 17, he transforms into his semi-perfect form and nearly killed Piccolo, Android 16, and Tien. While Searching for Android 18, he runs into Vegeta, who challenges the Bug-Like Android. Vegeta may have gotten an ass-kicking by 18, but he was able to train to become twice as strong as he was against her.
Seeing the fruits of his Labor in action against the vastly superior Cell made for one Entertaining smackdown. Too bad Vegeta had to let Cell absorb 18 and reach his Perfect form. At least we got to see Vegeta use Final Flash on the monster.
7 Goku vs. Cell
Since Vegeta and Trunks failed to defeat the now "perfect" Cell, It was all up to Goku to defeat the monster. While Cell had some tricks up his sleeves, Goku was able to counter all of them and fight back. It all leads to one of the most insane scenes in DBZ history, where Goku uses his Instant Transmission Kamehameha against Cell; blasting the upper half of Cell do oblivion. It was a moment so cool, that Goku's Voice Actor, Sean Schemmel, has stated that it was his favorite moment in the entire series.
6 Vegito vs. Super Buu
When Goku and Vegeta aren't enough to fight against a Super Buu who has absorbed Gohan, the two rivals combine to become Vegito. While we've seen Goten and Trunks fuse, this was the first time the two strongest warriors in the universe became one. Vegito was able to be an equal for Super Buu, but the second he turned Super Vegito, it was all over for Buu. The fight is great to watch, but it was made even better by seeing Vegito toy with Buu. From Vegito trapping Buu inside his body to Vegito fighting Buu as a ball of Candy, It made for one of the more comedic and entertaining fights.
5 Gohan vs. Cell
When the main character of the show can't take on one of the main villains, what chance does his son have? That's the question the Z-Fighters asked when Goku had Gohan fight against Cell. While Goku mentions that he saw Gohan tap into a power that no one ever saw, the Z-Fighters were skeptical, especially after seeing Gohan getting abused by Cell. However, when Cell destroys Android 16, who pleaded Gohan to "let it go," The young Super Saiyan went into a burst of rage and became a Super Saiyan 2. Gohan's quickly destroys the Cell Jr.'s, who Cell made to attack the Z-Fighters before he sought his sights on Cell.
It all culminated in Gohan, who had access to only one of his arms, unleashing a Kamehameha wave against an even more powerful Cell. With some help from Vegeta, Gohan obliterates Cell. It made for a great fight and an excellent passing of the Torch moment.
4 Goku vs. Kid Buu
After Earth is Destroyed, Kid Buu sets his sights on killing everything in his path. Luckily, Goku and Vegeta lure him to them, and the two set to fight him. Goku is the first up and puts up one hell of a fight. With Super Saiyan 2 not enough to beat Buu, Goku turns Super Saiyan 3 to match the Demonic being evenly.
It's here where the real battle begins. While we've only got a taste of SSJ3 Goku could do against Majin Buu, seeing Goku cut loose and go all out against Kid Buu let to one of the biggest battles in the series, mainly thanks to the fantastic animation on display.
3 Goku vs. Majin Vegeta
If there's one thing that drives Vegeta, it's beating Goku. Frustrated to see how powerful Goku has become, Vegeta lets himself fall under Babidi's spell so that he can have his Rematch with Goku. It leads to Goku and Vegeta beating the hell out of one another in the ultimate Super Saiyan throwdown. The action is intense, the animation is top-notch, and the dialog is the same grandiose smack-talk that fans expect. Chris Sabat, the voice of Vegeta and Piccolo, has often said that this was his favorite moment in the entire franchise.
2 Goku vs. Vegeta
It was the battle that made DBZ a household name. Once Goku did quick work on Nappa, he set his sights on Vegeta. The Prince of Saiyans was more than a match for Earth's greatest hero, but Goku managed to overpower Vegeta thanks to his Kaio-Ken technique. That didn't go over so well with Vegeta as he attempted to destroy the earth with his Galick Gun, which Goku countered with his Kamehameha. The beam struggle is still one of the most epic DBZ moments of all time.
1 Goku vs. Frieza
Frieza is the most recognized villain in the Dragon Ball franchise. He's to Goku what Lex Luthor is to Superman, an arch-enemy for the hero to fight till the end of time. When Goku was fully healed, he rejoined the battle stronger than ever. Despite his increased strength, Goku is no match for the tyrant. Even a Spirit Bomb doesn't slow Frieza down. That all changes when Frieza kills Krillin, Goku's best friend, that awakens the Super Saiyan. Goku's transformation is one of DBZ's seminal moments, as we see Goku become something more than just a fighter; he became a symbol of good.