The villains of Dragon Ball Z are known for their many transformations and forms, a trope that has become a staple of both the franchise and of Shonen anime in general. Though he has the lowest transformation count, Cell is arguably the coolest of all the multi-form villains in Dragon Ball Z. All of Cells' forms are a result of his strange origins, and constitute a large part of what makes him such an interesting character. Created by Dr. Gero, Cell was made to be his greatest creation, a monstrous creature with power greater than all of Earth's mightiest warriors.
Due to his artificial origins, Cell is not like other warriors, nor is he like any other Dragon Ball villain. His creation and the origins of his DNA mean his body is hiding some interesting secrets beneath the surface of its exoskeleton. Based on the simple fact that Dr. Gero created Cell to be superior and perfect in all ways, his body is chock full of unique abilities and properties, which is why we gathered up all the interesting trivia we could find on this bio-android. Now, behold the perfection that is Cell, because here are 15 facts about Cell's body that you probably never knew.
Let's start off with the basics: Cell's physiology. Dr. Gero created a variety of androids for the Red Ribbon Army, some of which were actually cyborgs like 17 and 18. However, there was one type of Android that was one-of-a-kind, and that was Cell, who is described as a bio-android. "Bio-Android" is basically a cool-sounding way to describe an artificial life-form that was created using biological components rather than mechanical ones.
This is to say that Cell's body was created in a lab and grown in a tube until he was ready to hatch. In creating Cell, Dr. Gero gave him an artificial biology similar to insects, as he sheds his skin when transforming from his first stage and he has an exoskeleton. Having an exoskeleton also implies that Cell has no bones, as all of his body's armor and support is on the outside.
14 WHAT HE'S MADE OF
We left out one major detail of Cell's biology and creation, the "source material" that went into him. Cell's name comes from the fact that he was made using the cells of the great warriors that came before him. Dr. Gero gathered the cells of these warriors and put them into a single organism, thus giving him all the traits of these warriors, making him stronger and more powerful than all their strengths combined.
Cell's primary genetic makeup comes from Goku, Piccolo, Vegeta and Frieza, giving him immense power. However, these are not the only cells that went into his creation and biology, as Cell's body also contains the genetic material of King Cold, Krillin and Gohan. Interestingly enough, the personalities of these characters are shown to affect Cell while he is in certain forms.
13 SUPER SAIYAN GENES
All the warrior DNA that went into making Cell gave him both great power and the ability to use the moves of various Z-fighters. However, a high power level and ingrained move-set were not all that Cell got out of his "source material." The cells from Goku, Gohan and Vegeta gave him one additional ability that almost meant doom for the world. Because of the Saiyan DNA in his body, Cell was able to go Super Saiyan, which multiplied his power even further.
We're not exactly sure if our science checks out here, but our theory is that, because Cell's body is at least 50% Saiyan, he has a genetic makeup similar to that of Gohan or Trunks. Thus, the Saiyan DNA within him is present enough that his body is able to go Super Saiyan much like other half-Saiyans.
12 POTENTIAL FOR PERFECTION
Though Cell was designed to be the perfect warrior life-form meant to destroy the Z-fighters, he didn't start out that way. After hatching and shedding his first form, Cell was first seen in his Imperfect form. This was because Cell was incomplete, and in order to achieve his perfect form, he had to obtain the power of other androids created by Dr. Gero.
By absorbing Androids 17 and 18, Cell could transform to his fullest potential. The behind-the-scenes reason for this has to do with Akria Toriyama, his editor, and fan reactions to the manga, but the contextual reasons for this are just as interesting. Essentially, Androids 17 and 18 were built to be "sacrificial material" of sorts so that Cell could achieve his perfect form, thus part of his body was reliant on the bodies of other androids.
One of the abilities that Cell had in each of his three forms was the power to regenerate. This ability partially came from the Namekian DNA within his body, though it far surpassed Piccolo's regeneration powers by the time Cell achieved his perfect form. In his imperfect form, Cell could regenerate limbs, seen when he re-grew his tail after Android 16 cut it off. However, in his perfect form, Cell's regenerative abilities were much more powerful.
Not only was Perfect Cell able to regrow entire chunks of his body, including his head, he was also able to reform his entire body from a single cell. This was seen after Cell blew himself up and he reformed essentially from scratch. This ability is what made the villain so difficult to defeat since, even if half his body was vaporized, he could still come back.
10 CELL MEMORY
Speaking of Cell's regeneration, the key to this power lies in the memory of his body's cells. The explanation behind his regenerative abilities comes from the fact that each of his cells has a life of its own. Every single one of his body's cells has memory, they remember his body's makeup and can therefore regenerate it even if his head is lost or if there is only one cell left of him.
This trait of Cell's body was revealed after he blew himself up and reformed after the explosion. This regeneration also revealed another ability relating to the memory of his cells. Turns out, Cell's cells were able to remember the genetic makeup of his perfect form, so even though he reverted to his semi-perfect form after Android 18 was purged from his body, when he reformed, he got his perfect body back.
9 WHATS WITH THE WINGS?
Cell has three main forms: his imperfect form, his semi-perfect form and his perfect form. Each consecutive form appears as though it is an improvement and evolution of the previous, some elements stay the same, while others are changed and upgraded. However, there is one inconsistency amongst his forms in the wings. In Cell's imperfect and perfect forms, he had wings, but in his semi-perfect form, they are missing.
We'll get into the reasons for this in a bit, but it's still strange to think that Cell absorbs his wings into his body while in his middle form, only to re-grow them in his perfect form. And while we're on the subject of Cell's wings, what purpose do the serve? His wings don't flap at all and he seems to fly using his energy like everyone else, so what good are they? They do look cool, though, so maybe he's just a fashion bug?
8 WATCH OUT FOR HIS TAIL
Cell's tail is the key to both of his transformations, and is an interesting and unique part of his biology. Similar to Androids 19 ad 20, who had the power to absorb and use the energy of others, Cell's tail also allows him to absorb the energy and life-force of others. We first saw this ability when Cell killed the citizens of Ginger town by literally sucking the life from them.
Cell also used this ability on Piccolo, sucking the life from his arm to the point where it had to be ripped off and regrown. Cell's tail and its ability to absorb energy are most likely there to help him get stronger, or perhaps to ready his body for later transformations. Regardless, his tail also serves the purpose of absorbing the supplemental Androids 17 and 18 into his body to achieve his perfect form.
During the Cell games, Gohan revealed to Cell that a Super Saiyan's power increases when they are angry, and Cell wanted to test this idea. In order to create more of a challenge and show off his power, Cell created the Cell Jr.'s, miniature clones of himself that he sent to attack the Z-fighters in an attempt to anger Gohan.
These Cell Jr.'s revealed an interesting fact about Cell's body: it is capable of asexual reproduction. In his perfect form, Cell was able to create these clones of himself without a second thought, revealing that he has some form of reproductive organ within him. In fact, some fans theorize that he uses the reproductive organs of Androids 17 and 18 within him to create the Cell Jr.'s, which is super gross to think about.
6 LARVAL STATE
Contrary to what you might think, Imperfect Cell is not actually the villain's first form. There are actually two forms that Cell's body goes through before his imperfect form: his egg form and his larva form. When Cell came back in time, he had to fit into the time machine, but he was just a tad bit too big. So, he reverted to his larval state and then formed an egg around himself.
Cell's larva form is much more bug-like in appearance and does not have his signature green exoskeleton. In his larval state, Cell walked on four legs and was much smaller. In order for his body to grow into its imperfect form, Larva Cell burrowed into the ground for four years so he could evolve and morph.
5 A FUNCTIONALLY IMMORTAL BODY
Cell's ability to revert to his younger larva form reveals an interesting property of his body, it is functionally immortal. How so, you ask? Well, the ability to revert to a younger stage of his life-cycle makes Cell similar to the Turritopsis dohrnii, otherwise known as the immortal jellyfish. The immortal jellyfish is able to extend its life indefinitely by reverting to its youngest stage, thus starting its life cycle over.
Cell's reverting ability makes him similarly immortal, though we're not sure if he would age to begin with. Regardless, this power is not the only thing that makes Cell immortal, as his regenerative abilities also serve to ensure he does not die by most causes. Though, none of these saved him from being completely vaporized by Gohan.
4 THE REASON FOR HIS FORMS
When Cell first premiered in the Dragon Ball Z manga, there was no intention of him going through so many forms. In fact, he wasn't meant to appear at all, since he was created after Akira Toriyama's editor stated he didn't like the other Androids as antagonists. So, Toriyama created Cell, but his editor still wasn't happy, as he disliked the design of his imperfect form. So Toriyama came up with a second form, which is part of the reason his wings disappear. However, this form was still not enough.
Finally, after coming up with Perfect Cell, Toriyama's editor was satisfied, thus giving the character three different forms. All this behind-the-scenes back-and-forth is the reason that Cell transformed, and thus the reason behind some of the body facts we've presented thus-far.
3 SELF DESTRUCTION
Cell has A LOT of powers, to the point that he could reasonably be considered OP. Heck, even when he was losing, he revealed yet another power that would ensure his death wouldn't be in vain. After being injured so badly that he basically spat up Android 18, Cell reverted back to his semi-perfect form. When realizing that he was about to lose, Cell revealed that he had the power to self-destruct.
We've seen this power a few times in Dragon Ball Z, but Cell's was a bit different from the rest. The major difference was that when he was about to blow up, Cell's body inflated like a balloon, perhaps implying that his self-destruct technique was much larger and more powerful than others. Regardless, Cell self-destruction power was yet another trick that his body held within it.
2 HOW MANY FINGERS?
There are quite a few differences between the Dragon Ball Z manga and the anime. Sometimes it's story elements, other times it's a change in a character's design. With Cell, it was the latter, though the change was minimal and hard to notice. In the original manga, Imperfect Cell only has three fingers, which was sort of in-line with the insect-like features of his design.
However, when it came time for the anime adaptation of the Cell saga, he was given five-fingers in his imperfect form, a design change that is never really explained. This change is sort of hard to notice and the manga was not as popular as the anime, so most fans might have never known that Cell gained a few fingers in the adaptation.
1 INSECT ORIGINS
Last, but not least, we thought it would be cool to look at the design reasons for many of the strange features of Cell's body. When designing the character, Akira Toriyama was inspired by insects, which is the reason that Cell has so many insect-like traits and abilities. In some of the early designs for the character, shown above, you can see that the exo-skeleton and other insect-like features are present throughout nearly each version.
The bug inspiration is also what led to the creation of Cell's stinger-like tail, as well as his wings. It's really cool to look at these designs as well as the final versions of the character, since you can see that Toriyama took the insect idea and put it into both the character's appearance and his story, origin and powers.