To the surprise of absolutely no one Earth, Goku is the central protagonist of the Dragon Ball franchise. Since he was a kid, Goku’s spent most of his life fighting evildoers and saving the planet. Of course in between punching people and shooting them with energy blasts, he likes to take in a good meal. Goku’s heroism is such that it’s felt even in the real world. Fans of the franchise and Goku in particular have found inspiration in the Saiyan warrior; they appreciate Goku’s good-naturedness and encouraging manner.
Yet for everything about Goku that makes him a hero, there’s a plethora of issues that surrounds the character. We’ll go into Goku’s many problems in a bit, but it serves to remember that this is a man who’d rather spend all his time training and fighting, rather than being a dutiful father and husband. Completely irresponsible, Goku is the kind of man who’s going to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and if someone doesn’t like it, then that’s too bad. There isn’t much anyone can do. Today at CBR we’re looking at some of the worst things Goku has done, along with a few of his most heroic acts.
15 WORST: GAVE CELL A SENZU BEAN
You’ve heard the adage that all is fair and love and war. Goku apparently in a big believer in the saying, otherwise why would he risk endangering the entirely galaxy by giving Cell a senzu bean? To those not in the know a senzu bean heals any wounds and also returns your spirit and energy level to prime condition.
Senzu beans have been magical get-out-of-jail cards whenever any of the Z-Fighters are on the verge of death.
After Goku surrendered to Cell, the Saiyan instructed Gohan to fight in his stead. Gohan saw he had a chance since Cell was fatigued. Goku, also tired from his battle with Cell, asked for Krillin to throw him a senzu bean; his friend did. Then, because he wanted a fair fight against the android who wanted to destroy the planet, Goku’s gave the bean to Cell, bringing the monster back to full power.
14 WORST: DIDN'T DESTROY MAJIN BUU WHEN HE HAD THE CHANCE
Goku’s made many questionable decisions, but the "Buu Saga" is when he threw reason out the window. Starting with facing Majin Vegeta, Goku allows his severely maladjusted friend to believe he (Vegeta) has a fighting chance. We find out later Goku was holding back during this fight, dragging it out unnecessarily. This forced Vegeta to sacrifice his life in an unsuccessful attempt to kill Majin Buu.
Later, Goku fights Buu and goes Super Saiyan 3. He doesn’t fight to win, but to stall Majin Buu. Claiming there’s a stronger warrior coming, i.e. Gotenks, the fusion of the half-Saiyan kids, Trunks and Goten. This leads to more problems and audiences are left shaking their heads when Goku later mentioned he wasn’t using his full power originally and could’ve defeated Buu if he’d really tried. As a result, the Earth was destroyed and the universe was put at unnecessary risk.
13 HEROIC: SACRIFICING HIMSELF FOR THE FIRST TIME
When it’s crunch time and the planet needs saving, there’s likely no one else better suited for the job than Goku. Before Dragon Ball Super turned Goku into a fight-hungry madman who’s thirst for combat threatened all of reality, he actively went out of his way to protect the planet, even if it cost him his life.
Goku’s died a couple times, with the first instance being against his brother, Raditz.
When Goku’s evil big brother kidnapped Gohan, Goku teamed up with Piccolo to take on the evil Saiyan. Despite their combined strength, the heroes are nearly beaten. In one last gamble, Goku grabs his evil brother in a full nelson and gives Piccolo time to shoot his Special Beam Cannon. Knowing full well he’ll die, Goku sacrifices himself to ensure the survival of the planet and his son. Piccolo fires his beam, killing Raditz and Goku.
12 WORST: ABANDONED HIS FAMILY FOR UUB
Goku might save the world now and again, but he still has a compulsion to train and get stronger…even if it involves leaving his family and friends. The worst example of this occurs at the end of Dragon Ball Z. When Goku meets Uub 10 years after the "Buu Saga", the Saiyan discovers the boy is the good-natured reincarnation of the pink-skinned villain. Upon this realization, Goku immediately offers to train the boy. The two then fly off together to an unknown location. Just like that, Goku up and leaves everyone he knows to train a complete stranger.
Dragon Ball GT showed what happened next, but at that point, audiences could only speculate that Goku essentially moved in with Uub; all in the name of having someone strong to fight. It just didn’t make sense.
11 WORST: HE'S BEEN A HORRIBLE FATHER AND HUSBAND
Goku is the worst when it comes to parenting and being a husband. Completely irresponsible, Goku will find any excuse to fight someone just to get out of doing menial work. Sometimes, even after acquiring a job, Goku can’t focus and things go awry.
When it comes to parenting, Goku’s is absolutely awful. He’s been absent through both of his sons’ lives, only appearing sporadically to his eldest, Gohan.
He was completely oblivious to the fact that he had a second son, Goten, and didn’t even bother checking in on his family when he was dead. Dying isn’t an excuse, since Goku, dead or alive, is capable of travelling between dimensions. Additionally, if he wanted to talk to his family, he could use King Kai’s telepathy to at least say hi. Oh, did we mention he’s a neglectful husband who’s never kissed his wife?
10 HEROIC: SACRIFICING HIMSELF FOR THE SECOND TIME
Goku sacrificing himself to fight Raditz wasn’t the last time he’d die. Years later he’d forgo his own life again in the fight against Cell. During their battle, Goku eventually surrenders to Cell, more than aware he can’t win. His son, Gohan, is dragged into the fight. Things are bleak until Gohan turns Super Saiyan 2 and gets ridiculously close to killing Cell. In his arrogance, rather than finish Cell, Gohan purposefully extends the fight to make the android suffer.
Completely overwhelmed, Cell panics and opts to blow himself up, taking the Earth with him. Before he can detonate, Goku steps in, choosing to sacrifice himself. With steely resolve, Goku teleports himself and Cell to King Kai’s planet. There, Cell explodes, killing Goku and King Kai.
9 WORST: MADE HIS SON FIGHT CELL
First and foremost, Goku is a warrior. The ecstasy of battle informs a lot of Goku’s character. Even though it’s gotten him, and universes, in trouble, he doesn’t seem to care. To Goku, he doesn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to fight, especially if they have a high power level. This backfired when Goku fought Perfect Cell. Goku knew he couldn’t beat the bio-android, but did so anyway so his son, Gohan, could see how Cell fought.
At the fight’s peak, Goku surrenders and offers up Gohan, his 11 year old boy, to fight Cell.
Gohan was exponentially stronger than Goku had been at his age, especially with his latent potential, but that potential only surfaced during moments of intense anger and pain. Goku was totally okay with Cell beating his son and causing emotional trauma if it was in the name of unlocking his power.
8 WORST: ATE PORK IN FRONT OF OOLONG
Perhaps the only thing Goku loves more than fighting is eating; that’s saying something. Though Goku neglects his family all in the name of going to train, the one thing he can never have enough of is food. Goku will eat nearly anything put in front of him, consuming levels of food that would kill anyone else. It partly has to do with his Saiyan biology, plus he can eat as much as he wants without worrying about gaining weight; going Super Saiyan and fighting aliens is pretty good at also fighting body fat.
That said, one of the more upsetting things Goku has done where food is concerned, was eating massive helping of pork right in front of his friend, the pig, Oolong. As a whole, it seems pretty insensitive to eat one of Oolong’s people while the sentient pervert pig watches in horror.
7 HEROIC: SAVED ALL THE PEOPLE ON NAMEK
When Goku turned Super Saiyan against Frieza, it was a landmark moment in Dragon Ball Z. Their fight would become the stuff of legend, especially on account of how long it lasted. That’s besides the point. What matters is that during their battle, Dende resummoned Porunga and wishes to revive all people killed by Frieza or his army. With a second wish, King Kai asks Goku what to do and the Saiyan exclaims they need to wish for everyone to be sent to Earth except for him and Frieza.
It might sound selfish, but this was a truly heroic move.
Goku knows if he doesn’t finish Frieza then and there, the tyrant will return. King Kai initially refuses, but Goku convinces him. And so, in an epic moment of heroism, Goku effectively sacrifices himself to save everyone on Namek, knowing he probably won’t escape the planet alive.
6 WORST: DIDN'T TELL ANYONE HE SURVIVED NAMEK'S DESTRUCTION
If you haven’t figured it out by now, Goku isn’t especially sensitive to the emotional needs of others. Typically, after surviving a planet destroying fight, most people’s first instinct would be to let friends and family know everything is okay -- Goku is not most people. After his battle with Frieza on Namek, the planet exploded. Goku survived, but let his family believe he was dead…for months.
When Gohan and the Z-Fighters use the Dragon Balls to ask the Eternal Dragon to wish Goku back to life. They are told, by a magical dragon no less, that not only is Goku alive and well, but he doesn’t want to come back home. He’d rather train on the other side of the galaxy. Pretty cold, considering the dude has a wife and kid at home who’ve been needlessly mourning him.
5 WORST: GETS THE OMNI-KING TO HOST THE TOURNAMENT OF POWER
The Omni-King Zeno is the most powerful entity in the multiverse; he can create or destroy entire universes easily. He’s also very childlike, which might be why he and Goku get along so well. In typical Dragon Ball Super form, Goku only cares about fighting and doesn’t care about how his actions impact others. Having recently learned of the multiverse and the possibility of strong warriors, Goku couldn’t be more excited.
To cure the nagging itch for combat, Goku asks Omni-King to throw a tournament between all the universes to see which one has the strongest fighters.
The Omni-King agreed, but with a catch: the tournament would happen, but all losing universes would be erased from existence. Goku hardly batted an eye. This made the Saiyan a target for denizens of the other universes, as they considered him a villain.
4 HEROIC: GOKU'S ICONIC FRIEZA SAGA SPEECH
The Dragon Ball franchise is notorious for a couple things: drawn-out fights and people staring at one another. Oftentimes, the original Japanese version would feature characters staring for minutes at a time without a word being spoken. In the English dubs, Funimation hoped to fill those empty gaps by making up dialogue in places where it seemed most needed. One of those moments was when Goku first went Super Saiyan in fighting Frieza. As their battle heats up, Goku delivers his, “I am the protector of the innocent…ally to good! Nightmare to you!” speech.
Despite sending shivers down audiences’ spines, the dialogue was completely invented and different from the original version. Even though it was a completely manufactured moment to accentuate Goku’s heroism, Funimation believing he needed to seem like a superman, it’s still a shining moment in Goku’s legacy.
3 WORST: DIDN'T CONVINCE THE OMNI-KING TO SPARE ANY UNIVERSE(S)
While Goku might not be the brightest, he reached a new low in Dragon Ball Super. Thanks to Goku being an overall doofus, Zeno sets up the Tournament of Power. To the loser(s) go death and annihilation, while the winners get the Super Dragon Balls and the right to live. Though Goku is known for saving lives, he becomes almost villainous when the Tournament is proposed.
His lust for battle overwhelms any decency he’s known for in Dragon Ball Z and he doesn’t seem to care that other universes will get destroyed.
To make matters worse, he’s the only person Zeno might listen to and Goku doesn’t even try to convince the Omni-King to spare anyone. Essentially Goku prioritizes having enjoyable fights over the safety of the multiverse.
2 WORST: LET DR. GERO BUILD THE ANDROIDS
The Z Fighters have faced many disasters, but the "Android Saga" and the "Cell Saga" were actually preventable. Thanks to Future Trunks going back in time and warning Goku and company about Dr. Gero and the androids he was constructing, anyone with half a brain would think the best option is to track down the crazed scientist and stop him from making his killer machines. Goku hated that idea.
Even when Bulma suggests they use the Dragon Balls to find Gero’s location, Goku refuses. Rather, the thrill of a strong opponent is too much and he wants to train and fight the androids. To be clear, the entire Android and Cell Saga could’ve been avoided if Goku wasn’t such a fight junky. And so the world is put in jeopardy, tons of people die, and Goku gets the fight he wanted, even if it does kill him.
1 HEROIC: THE FIRST TIME HE SAVED THE WORLD
Before Demon King Piccolo, Goku’s Dragon Ball fights were played for laughs. As the show originally intended to be something of a comedy, Goku’s opponents, though tough, were typically idiots. Rarely did he come across a dangerous threat.
The first time Goku fought to save the planet was when he met Piccolo’s daddy.
After breaking free from a 300-year imprisonment, the Demon King’s has his youth restored by the Eternal Dragon and then kills Shenron. Piccolo was also responsible for killing Krillin and almost killing Tien. At one point Goku tries to stop him and fails. While Goku recovers and trains, King Piccolo claimed the world’s throne for himself. Eventually, Goku faces him again and the two fight in Dragon Ball’s most brutal fight up to that point. Despite having arms and legs broken, Goku perseveres, punching through the Demon King’s chest, killing the monster and saving the world.