Goku is the central protagonist in the Dragon Ball franchise. Ever since he was a kid, Goku’s spent most of his life fighting evildoers and saving the planet, all the while making sure to have gigantic meals. While Goku might be a fictional character, his presence has been felt in the real world. Fans of all kinds have found inspiration in the Saiyan warrior. Fitness nuts have found someone to look up to, adopting Goku’s relentless and passionate training regimen. Everyone else feels inspired by Goku’s good-naturedness and endeavor to try and be good as kind encouraging.
Despite all this, Goku is a flawed individual. He’ll never win the father of the year award, thanks to being an absentee dad during most of his kids’ lives and he isn’t a model husband either, what with constantly leaving home to go train elsewhere. His eldest son, Gohan, is another matter entirely. Goku’s first son, Gohan quickly became a fan-favorite character. Ever since he demonstrated hints of unbelievable power, audiences were hungry to watch his arc progress. Though Goku boasts great power and a bubbly personality, there are some things Gohan is better at. Today at CBR we’re looking at 15 things Gohan can do, that his father, Goku, cannot.
15 DEFEAT CELL
Gohan’s biggest achievement is inarguably destroying Cell. Though he has killer moments at other times in the Dragon Ball franchise, nothing else would ever stand out so brightly. It was during his battle with Cell, after the evil being killed Android 16, that Gohan’s potential was finally realized. Dragon Ball Z had spent literal years building up to Gohan and unlocking his power. Turning Super Saiyan 2, it was an epic payoff and demonstrated to many fans that Gohan deserved to be the franchise’s hero.
Not only did Gohan’s win against Cell bring Gohan’s character arc full circle, but also it let Goku pass the torch of Earth’s champion to his son. Gohan beating Cell, something Goku couldn’t hope to accomplish, was the character at his absolute finest. Nothing in the rest of Dragon Ball Z would ever put Gohan up again on such an epic pedestal.
14 BE A GOOD DAD
Say what you will about Goku and his frightening lack of intelligence, but the Saiyan warrior represents what can happen if you work hard. People across the world have been inspired by Goku’s determination to be stronger, using the fictional character as fuel and motivation to train themselves. Still, Goku is an awful husband and father. While his intentions are benign, he’s an absentee, jobless dad/husband who’d rather spend time on alien worlds than making memories with his family Heck, he’s never kissed his wife, despite having two kids.
Gohan is a responsible adult. When he’s not working, he’s thinking about his wife and child. His love for his family is so great that he’d rather not train and grow weaker, just so he can spend time with them. When he does train, it’s not to be the best, but to protect his wife and daughter.
13 DEFEAT FRIEZA WITHOUT TURNING SUPER SAIYAN
In the 11th Dragon Ball Z movie, titled Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn, the barriers between life and death are destroyed. Evil souls from Hell return to Earth and wreck havoc. This included virtually everyone Goku and the gang had fought at one time or another, including the warlord Frieza.
Frieza was the big bad in Dragon Ball Z for an incredible amount of episodes. He alone is responsible for Goku turning Super Saiyan and jumpstarting the rest of the franchise. Goku beat Frieza, but only thanks to the Super Saiyan power. In Dragon Ball Super, Goku again has to rely on his Super Saiyan Blue power to take him on. When Frieza appears in Fusion Reborn, Gohan, decked out in his Great Saiyaman outfit, kills the intergalactic tyrant with one punch without going Super Saiyan.
12 BEFRIEND PICCOLO
It might sound surprising, but a substantial amount of the Dragon Ball franchise focuses on redemption. Many villains that begin their tenure as evil change their way of thinking and join the good guys. You could say Goku was responsible for their change of heart, but that’s not always the case. Vegeta was humanized by his relationship with Trunks and Bulma, Android 18 found redemption through her love for Krillin, and the list goes on.
Gohan’s relationship with Piccolo is one of the more important dynamics in the show. Their bond changed Piccolo, allowing him to move beyond the evil figure the other Z Fighters saw him as. Giving Gohan the father figure he sorely lacked, Gohan would honor Piccolo through most of his battles by wearing the same purple gi that the Namekian wore. Gohan successfully turned one of Goku’s greatest enemies into one of Earth’s greatest defenders.
11 GO MYSTIC
For years, Dragon Ball Z teased audiences with the suggestion of Gohan’s hidden potential. People thought Gohan had reached his maximum when he fought Cell, but his power-based arc was far from over. After training with the Z-Sword on the Planet of the Kais, Gohan accidentally broke the legendary weapons. Turns out it was a blessing in disguise as out of the sword’s remnants came Elder Kai. An ancestor of the Supreme Kai, Elder Kai unlocked Gohan’s full potential.
While it took around a full day of Gohan just sitting down, the results were awe-inspiring. With his potential unlocked by Elder Kai, Gohan was able to surpass Buu, and Goku, and transform into Earth’s mightiest warrior. After receiving his power-up, Gohan no longer needed to go Super Saiyan. The power he possessed far surpassed the form and his new form became known as Mystic.
10 THE MASENKO
Nearly everyone in Dragon Ball Z has a signature move. Goku has his famous Kamehameha, Piccolo has the Special Beam Cannon, and Gohan’s signature move when he was a child was the Masenko.
Neither the manga nor the anime shows how Gohan learned the move, but many presume Piccolo taught it to him while training for Nappa’s and Vegeta’s arrival. Aside from the color of the attack, the Masenko doesn’t appear significantly different from other energy beams. That said, it was Gohan’s signature move and it was one attack Goku never learned. When Gohan and Goku trained together in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber for a year to battle Cell, Gohan stopped using the Masenko as his main move. From that point on, the Kamehameha became his go-to attack.
9 USE THE Z SWORD
The Z Sword is a mythical sword from the Planet of the Kais. With striking resemblance to the sword in the stone myth from Arthurian legends, the Z Sword was stuck on top of a cliff for thousands of years. When the Supreme Kai brought Gohan to the Planet of the Kais, he hoped the young hero could pull out the Z Sword and use the weapon to combat Majin Buu.
To the surprise of the Supreme Kai and his assistant Kibito, Gohan successfully removed the Z Sword by turning Super Saiyan. Gohan wielding the sword became especially impressive, since he was actually able to wield it perfectly, despite it weighing an incredible amount. Goku, though he could pick it up, couldn’t master it the same way Gohan could.
8 BE A POPULAR SUPERHERO
Most of Dragon Ball is spent trying to defend the Earth from intergalactic and otherworldly threats. Goku and the majority of the Z-Fighters are big picture guys and don’t really focus on stuff like petty crimes. One day, several years after the "Cell Saga", Gohan was on his way to school when he stopped some gunmen. He realized people still needed help; Gohan knew he couldn’t ignore the plight of the innocent. And so he donned a disguise so he could have a normal life outside of being a superhero, and became known the Great Saiyaman.
Sure, Goku helped out folks when he was a kid, but Gohan continued the trend into young adulthood. His Great Saiyaman persona allowed the teen hero to live out a fantasy, letting him give goofy heroic speeches and truly represent what he thought a hero ought to look and behave like.
7 BEAT GARLIC JR. TWICE
Garlic Jr. is in the first Dragon Ball Z movie The Dead Zone. In the movie, Garlic Jr. gathered the Dragon Balls and wished for immortality, which made him indestructible. Goku and Piccolo tried their hardest to defeat him, but Garlic Jr. wouldn’t die. At the movie’s climax, Garlic Jr. opens the Dead Zone to suck everyone in. Gohan, who was kidnapped earlier, releases his rage and knocks Garlic Jr. into the nightmarish dimension.
Garlic Jr. didn’t appear again until years later, after the Frieza Saga, during a filler arc. This time, Garlic Jr. escaped from the Dead Zone to causes pandemonium. With Goku off planet, it was up to Gohan, Piccolo and Krillin to save the day. History repeated itself as Gohan again summoned his dormant power and locked Garlic Jr. away again in the Dead Zone. It deserves mentioning Goku never defeated the villain, but Gohan did…twice.
6 NOT RELY ON FUSION
Once the "Buu Saga" rolled around, many of the Z-Fighters were unable to take on the threat by themselves and had to rely on the art of fusion. Fusion is an incredibly powerful ability in which two people of roughly equal strength fuse into one person, multiplying their power by staggering degrees. Gohan didn’t need fusion to battle Buu. After having his potential unlocked by Elder Kai, Gohan returned to Earth and faced Super Buu by himself.
Up until Gohan arrived, Super Buu proved stronger than practically every other hero, including a fused Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks. When Gohan shows up in his Ultimate (Mystic) Form, he dominates the evil djinn. It isn’t as captivating as Gohan’s fight with Cell or Bojack, but it’s cool nonetheless. The fact that Gohan nearly defeated an enemy stronger than Goku or Vegeta highlighted Gohan’s strength and his potential as a character.
5 HAVE A JOB
When Goku isn’t saving the Earth from one threat or another, he’s training to become stronger. In Goku’s head, this means he has little time for anything else; that includes family and adult responsibilities. Despite having saved the planet countless times and acquiring a place for his family to live, Goku is essentially a super-powered bum. It’s pretty disquieting that Goku has a family to feed, but makes very little effort to provide for them. Though he’s something of farmer in Dragon Ball Super, he constantly neglects his responsibilities so he can train.
Gohan is the complete opposite. Understanding the importance of family and responsibility, he immediately got a job after he was married. It’s also been implied that he hopes to continue his studies to acquire even better positions. He wants to do well so he can do well for his family.
4 KILL BOJACK
Defeating Cell was perhaps the highlight of Gohan’s (figurative) career. It would be difficult to follow up such an epic story, but that’s what the ninth Dragon Ball Z movie tried to do. Realizing fans wanted more Teen Gohan, Bojack was created. Bojack was a space pirate who wanted to rule the universe. Accidentally set free by Goku, Bojack went to Earth to kill the planet’s strongest fighters. At this point in the franchise, Goku is dead, which means the responsibility of protecting the planet fell on Gohan’s shoulders.
At the film’s zenith, when it looks like Bojack will kill Gohan, Goku’s spirit teleports to Gohan and reminds him that he is Earth’s savior. Inspired by ghost Goku’s help, Gohan turns into Super Saiyan 2 and absolutely destroys Bojack and his crew. It was an awesome moment for Gohan and gave fans one last cool Super Saiyan 2 moment.
3 DEFEAT EVERY CELL JR.
One of the more sinister and Machiavellian villains the Z-Fighters would ever fight, Cell was as ruthless as he was powerful and cunning. After Goku surrenders to Cell, he convinces Gohan to fight the malevolent android. Having been explained the dangers of Gohan’s latent power, Cell is not frightened, but thanks to his Saiyan DNA, is actually incensed to witness Gohan’s awesome might. In trying to unlock Gohan’s power, Cell creates the Cell Juniors. Though they’re small, Cell Juniors were nearly as strong as their progenitor. The mini Cells completely wrecked the Z-Fighters with only Vegeta and Trunks barely holding on.
Goku hadn’t recovered from his battle with Cell, which left him powerless too. Finally, Gohan’s anger manifests and the young warrior became a Super Saiyan 2. From there, he proceeded to destroy every single Cell Jr.
2 BEFRIEND ANDROID 16
Over the course of his life, Goku’s made plenty of enemies. One such antagonist was Dr. Gero. When Goku was a kid, he destroyed Gero’s Red Ribbon androids. Gero swore all manner of unholy vengeance on the young Saiyan. It was why he turned himself into a killer android and created other androids. One of those androids was the gentle Android 16. Modeled after Gero’s son, 16 was programmed to kill Goku. 16 hated killing however and after a brush with death from Cell and Bulma saving him,16 permanently joined the good guys. He still didn’t like Goku, but Gohan was another matter entirely.
16 felt a kinship of sorts with the young Saiyan. Like himself, Gohan didn’t enjoy fighting; he valued life above almost everything else. Their friendship was short-lived, ending after Cell crushed 16’s skull, but the benevolent android’s final act was helping Gohan unleash his latent power.
1 GRADUATE FROM SCHOOL
In a life revolving around fighting monsters and saving the world, there isn’t much time for a proper education. At least that was Chi-Chi’s fear when raising her son. After all, Goku was raised by his adopted grandfather in the middle of the woods and became a country bumpkin. Though he grew strong enough to destroy planets, Goku’s also proven that, outside of fighting and eating, he’s a colossal idiot. He didn’t even know what marriage was until he was a young adult and was about to get married to Chi-Chi. Stay in school, kids.
On the other end of the spectrum, Gohan was forced to study nonstop. He grew up with a great education and even wanted to be a scholar. Chi-Chi homeschooled him until high school and then he attended public school. He eventually graduated, something that Goku, and few of the Z-Fighters, can attest to having done.