One of the highest regarded anime, Dragon Ball Z paved the way for a plethora of shows. It introduced the idea of “powering up” and getting stronger through rage, training, and convenient plot devices. Without Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, we wouldn’t have shows like Naruto, Bleach, Yu Yu Hakusho, and a million more. For all the grief DBZ gets these days, with it’s marathon-long staring contests and power-beam struggles lasting for entire episodes, those same traits make it appealing. With Dragon Ball Super the canonical sequel to Dragon Ball Z at full steam, it’s looking like the franchise will never end!
However, one of the things that make the show so great is not just Goku and the rest of the Z Fighters, but the villains they face. With an incredible rogues gallery, made up of bizarre aliens and interdimensional monsters, there’s never a shortage of someone to fight. Over the years, Goku’s fights have gotten more and more extreme. When once his biggest concern was facing someone powerful to destroy a city, now he deals with enemies strong enough to destroy the universe. Today at CBR we’re ranking the Dragon Ball Z and Super villains from weakest to strongest.
A fan-favorite, Piccolo has been a part of Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super since the later years of Dragon Ball. His father, King Piccolo, was one of Goku’s toughest foes, giving the child hero the hardest fight of his young career. After a brutal battle, kid Goku killed King Piccolo. Before he died, the demon lord birthed Piccolo, imbuing him with all his hatred, so he’d one day kill Goku and subjugate humanity.
When Piccolo first met Goku in the World Martial Arts Tournament, he had every intention of doing that. Despite years of training Goku received from Kami, Piccolo proved almost more than a match for the young warrior. Only through a trickery and some luck did Goku prevail. Later, after nurturing Goku’s son Gohan in preparation for the arrival of the Saiyans, Piccolo would become one of Goku’s closest and most stalwart allies.
14 THE SAIYANS
After Goku’s Saiyan brother Raditz arrived, a whole new world opened in Dragon Ball Z. Goku discovered he was from a race of super powerful warriors who not only spent lifetimes conquering worlds, but were among the strongest species in the cosmos. Forced to battle his brother after Raditz kidnapped Gohan, Goku was forced to team-up with Piccolo, who at the time was his enemy. Together, they beat Raditz, but at the cost of Goku’s life. A year later Nappa and Vegeta arrived on Earth.
Again, the arrival of Vegeta would mark a milestone in Dragon Ball Z, and anime in general, as it fostered the notion of beginning as enemies and moving on to amicable life-long rivals. Yet before Goku and Vegeta developed a mutual respect and became allies, Vegeta and Nappa would kill most of Goku’s friends. Vegeta also got closer to killing Goku than anyone had previously.
13 THE GINYU FORCE
After Goku fought Vegeta, there was a question about who or what could possibly come next. After all, Vegeta boasted about being able to destroy a planet. This kicked the series into overdrive; anyone they now faced would have to be planet-busters and above. In questing to the planet Namek to retrieve the magical Dragon Balls to resurrect their friends, Gohan Krillin, and Bulma learn about the evil intergalactic dictator Frieza. They also discover he hired the Ginyu Force to acquire the mystical orbs. Though Frieza is considered the mightiest in the universe, he delegates matters of killing to those beneath him.
The Z Fighters formed a tenuous alliance with Vegeta, who wants the Dragon Balls for himself. Despite being stronger than when he first fought Goku, Vegeta is beaten ruthlessly. The Ginyu Force outclasses Vegeta, Gohan, and Krillin and only a newly empowered Goku can beat them.
Before Dragon Ball Z went off the rails, Frieza was considered the end-all-be-all in terms of villains and sheer power. The series could have ended with Frieza and people likely wouldn’t have complained. "The Frieza Saga" introduced the legendary Super Saiyan, blowing people’s minds. It was the most important transformation in all of DBZ, the basis of every transformation to come. The entire arc built up to the Super Saiyan, and the payoff was phenomenal. Though Frieza and Goku as a Super Saiyan were supposed to be the two strongest beings in the universe, their resonance would be diminished by later stories and Super Saiyans became underwhelming.
Still, Goku had never encountered an opponent as callous and powerful as Frieza. Their adversarial relationship became one of DBZ’s most dynamic aspects. Capable of wiping out worlds without breaking a sweat, it was impossible to think anyone who could top Frieza.
But then Frieza had a brother. It’s up for debate whether Frieza’s brother Cooler is canon or not. In the off chance that Cooler is canon (and yes, we know he didn’t appear in the manga), it’s an opportunity to check out another side of Frieza’s dysfunctional family.
In their younger days, Frieza and Cooler hated each other, but after hearing Frieza died at the hands of a Saiyan from Earth, Cooler needed to avenge his family’s honor. When he arrived, Cooler’s appearance was nearly identical to his brother’s. In this form, Goku does well, but Cooler reveals that unlike his brother, he can transform one more time. Nearly killing Goku, our hero goes Super Saiyan. Overwhelmed, just like his brother before him, Cooler refuses to back down and nearly destroys the Earth with a Death Ball, but gets rebounded back by Goku’s Kamehameha.
10 THE ANDROIDS
The arrival of Trunks set the stage for some of Dragon Ball Z’s most pivotal moments. After travelling through time, Trunks warns Goku and his friends that in three years time, a pair of androids will kill them all. Taking the warning to heart, Goku and the Z Fighters train harder than ever before to prepare for the threat.
The first androids to appear are Android 19 and Android 20. Even though Goku loses, due to preexisting heart problems, Vegeta and Piccolo beat the mechanical duo. Little do our heroes know that Trunks inadvertently messed up the timeline and Android 19 and 20 are not the real threat. In fact, it’s Androids 17 and 18; once they’re activated, they kill Android 20, or Doctor Gero, their creator, and then beat the stuffing out of Super Saiyan Vegeta, Super Saiyan Trunks, Piccolo, and the rest of the Z Fighters.
While recent episodes of Dragon Ball Super dissuaded the notion that Broly was canon, as seen when Goku didn’t recognize Kale’s Legendary Super Saiyan power. Until that time, fans had every reason to believe Broly was an integral part of the DBZ mythos. Often referred to as the Legendary Super Saiyan, or just The Legend, Broly’s power was staggering even when he was only a baby. Vegeta had always heard the myth of the Legendary Super Saiyan and thought it was nothing more than a yarn.
Upon encountering the fearsome villain, Vegeta changes his mind altogether, sinking in fear, realizing that despite he, Goku, Gohan, and Trunks all capable of turning Super Saiyan, they’re nothing before Broly. Seemingly getting stronger with each passing second, Broly’s limits aren’t entirely known. Only through DBZ shenanigans does Goku win. Even so, fans consider Broly virtually unstoppable and he may very well be.
The Androids might have been bad, but they were nothing compared to Cell and his awesome might. Created by Dr. Gero, Cell possessed the DNA of Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Frieza, and other great warriors. While this made him fearsome, Cell’s absorption of Android 17 and 18 allowed him to reach his Perfect form, transforming him into a being capable of wiping out solar systems.
With Cell, it wasn’t just the planet that was at stake, but the universe. If the Z Fighters lost, Cell would destroy the world and move on throughout the cosmos, destroying world after world. At first, it seemed like no one could stop him, but Cell’s machination eventually brought Gohan’s latent power to the fold, turning him into a Super Saiyan 2; he was the first to reach the level. Regardless, Cell nearly achieves victory; his power set the bar for every character to come.
Nearly as powerful a Majin Buu, Janemba was literally the living definition of evil. The central antagonist in the Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn movie, Janemba is a plague not just to Earth, but his existence threatened all of reality, including the afterlife.
Janmeba had two forms and though Goku could defeat the first form by transforming into his Super Saiyan 3 state, Janemba’s second form still proved too much for both him and Vegeta. With the ability to manipulate reality, essentially using time and space as his weapons, Janmeba was incredibly fearsome. His only real weakness was insults thrown at him; they would temporarily catch him off guard. He would have destroyed the universe if not for Goku and Vegeta fusing into Gogeta. The fused Saiyan successfully destroyed the demon by purifying his pure evil energy with a special attack.
6 MAJIIN BUU
Created by the evil wizard Bibidi, Majin Buu was a malevolent djinn and the most powerful villain in the entirety of Dragon Ball Z. Upon getting resurrected by Bibidi’s son Babidi, Buu goes on a rampage, tearing through the Earth’s protectors. Buu’s power is so great he kills Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta, destroys Earth, and Goku is forced to go Super Saiyan 3 for the first time.
While viewers had seen other villains with the ability to transform, Buu’s power to transform was especially unique. He would absorb warriors, which boosted his strength and would alter his appearance and mental state. Each Buu was more deadly than the last. Buu became stronger than Super Saiyan 3 Goku, forcing Goku and Vegeta to fuse into Vegeto. In spite of all that, it took Goku charging the biggest Spirit Bomb he’d ever produced to bring an end to the evil creature.
5 GOLDEN FRIEZA
Dragon Ball Super took everything from Dragon Ball Z and turned it up a notch. With a return, decades in the making, Frieza reappeared in the Dragon Ball franchise. He’d “died” already twice before, but each time the writers figured out sneaky ways to bring him back. This time was no different. When Freiza’s henchmen resurrect him, the interstellar warlord wants to kill Goku. Realizing his foe is stronger than ever before, Frieza decides to train for the first time in his life. In doing so, he becomes far stronger than he, or even Goku, dreamed.
When Frieza attacks Earth a second time, he comes with a new transformation, turning him into Golden Frieza. Goku, now able to turn Super Saiyan Blue, which allows him to battle gods, is taken by surprise. Nearly beaten by Frieza’s might, Goku only prevails by tricking Frieza into expending his energy.
4 GOKU BLACK
Goku Black and Zamasu, though they are technically the same person, have different identities. Appearing in Dragon Ball Super, Goku Black was Zamasu from the unaltered main timeline, who stole the body of the original present Goku. Then teaming up with his future self, Future Zamasu, the pair went about trying to wipe out all mortals on Earth.
Having seized control of Goku’s body, Goku Black’s power was a combination of a Kai’s power and the Saiyan’s strength. This allowed him to get stronger at a much faster rate than any Saiyan. While he couldn’t turn into a traditional Super Saiyan, Goku Black had his own variation of the technique, transforming in a Super Saiyan Rose. This single transformation was easily capable of taking on Goku or Vegeta in Super Saiyan Blue, their strongest form.
3 FUSED ZAMASU
The power of Fused Zamasu was so great, that not only did his strength menace one reality, but it leaked over to other dimensions and timelines, threatening to wipe them out too. After Zamasu and Goku Black had been fighting Goku and Vegeta, the evil duo realized they shouldn’t underestimate their opponents any longer and fused. Revealing their secret weapon to be a set of Potara earrings, they became the being known as Fused Zamasu.
Taking on the combined assault of two Super Saiyan Blues, Fused Zamasu dominated Goku and Vegeta with minimal effort. IT all looked rather hopeless, as nothing, not even Super Saiyan Blue Vegeto or Trunk’s Spirit Bomb Sword could put him down permanently. In fact, destroying his body only released greater power. Only Zen-Oh, who is effectively God, was able to kill him, wiping all traces of the villain from existence.
Goku’s first enemy in Dragon Ball Super was Beerus, the God of Destruction. When Beerus hears of Goku’s achievement in beating Frieza and going Super Saiyan, the god hopes the warrior will be able to satiate his own lust for battle. Wanting to find the Super Saiyan God, based off a dream he had, Beerus confronts Goku. After beating Goku in just two hits, Beerus heads to Earth and decimates the rest of the Z Fighters.
Recovering from their first encounter, Goku takes on Beerus again. This time, thanks to the Eternal Dragon and some borrowed energy from his Saiyan friends and family, he reaches the level of Super Saiyan God and battles Beerus. Even with the newfound power and throwing punches capable of being felt across the universe, Goku loses. After the fight, Beerus exclaimed he was holding back the whole time and merely wanted to have some fun.
Unlike nearly every character here, Jiren is the only antagonist who isn’t a villain. He is currently the strongest being Goku’s ever fought, as seen in recent episodes of Dragon Ball Super. Jiren's existence was considered a rumor in other universes; he’s considered the only mortal that a God of Destruction cannot defeat. Jiren has a staggeringly long list of incredible feats.
Jiren's presence unleashed such intense Ki it shook the entire World of Void, a realm of infinite size. He’s beaten every form in Goku’s arsenal easily, deflected Goku’s Universe 7 Spirit Bomb with just a glare, and broke out of a time prison by flexing, with an observation made that Jiren’s power transcends time itself. He’s even defeated Goku’s Ultra Instinct form, a form Gods of Destruction cannot utilize. At this rate, there’s nothing and no one who can defeat Jiren.
Do you agree or disagree with the ranking? Let us know in the comments!