Top 10 Dragon Ball characters

Makin' a list. Cause I want to god dammit.

1 being least favorite on the list and 10 being my favorite, because suspense.

List items

  • I know it's a little pretentious to put the main character at the bottom of the list but whatever. At least Goku MADE it on.

    Goku is a great character, don't get me wrong, and I honestly don't think the show would work with anyone else getting the screentime that Goku does. After all, almost every other character arc is centered around him, and that's the way it should be.

    When taken at his core, Goku is meant to be an icon of independence and self-improvement and not the boy-scout Superman clone that he's usually made out to be. His flaws are mainly with naivete and are very clear in the early arcs, but he is still the one pillar on which the audience can unconditionally root for.

    That said, Goku is very one-dimensional compared to some of the cast. His story arc was essentially closed at the end of Dragon Ball when he was finally established as having reached his goal and becoming the strongest on Earth. Since then, well, the story has just been trying to find more ways to stretch that out as it continues.

  • It's hard not to love Tien; he's such an underdog. Originally he was almost a prototype Vegeta- arrogant and convinced of his superiority, but conflicted.

    That resolved pretty quickly, though, since Tien did not keep up in strength and fell into the background with the other Human characters.

    The great thing is that Tien seemed to be cognizant of this gap in a way nobody else did. He's the one Human character who never gave up on his training, and he still keeps cropping up from time to time to prove that he still has what it takes.

    You just have to respect the guy.

  • The introduction of Trunks was a huge change of pace for the Dragon Ball series, suddenly dropping a heavy dose of sci-fi, family drama and sombre overtones into the relatively simplistic story arcs so far.

    Trunks was instantly sympathetic due to his backstory and remained so as he watched his plans fall apart. Although something of a exposition dump of a character at first, he actually had some good development himself as he worked to gain approval from his father- and this was equally useful in making Vegeta a more complex and sympathetic character.

    Trunks was the driving force behind the increased narrative complexity in that part of the show, and his character got just enough emphasis and importance without drawing away from the main cast.

    A punctuated success of a character.

  • Vegeta is probably the most well-developed character in the series, thanks in part to his immense popularity giving him more screentime.

    He is very, very, cool and any time he gets to fight it's exciting. But the more interesting thing about him is the dichotomy he has with Goku. Goku is destined to be the strongest, and knows it. Vegeta struggles with this for the entire series, creating some memorable moments and impressive character development.

    Ultimately, though, I find he's gotten stale in the series's recent continuation. His character arc closes very definitively at the end of the Buu arc, when he finally acknowledges Goku's superiority.

    But his popularity has not died down, and now he just sort of floats around, pretty much having that retconned and being banished to dead horse purgatory. Too bad. At least he's still fun to watch.

  • Piccolo is pushed a bit into the sidelines for the majority of the series, getting the spotlight once in a while but only to have it almost immediately stolen back.

    Piccolo is easily one of the coolest characters in the show, giving even Vegeta a run for his money. Compared with Vegeta, though, Piccolo had a much smoother transition from heel to face.

    He really shined in the Saiyan through the Cell sagas in his relationship with Gohan. Gohan's innocence changed Piccolo, while Piccolo's returned compassion is a major factor that helped lead to Gohan realizing his power.

    At the end of the day, Piccolo is more competent and respectable than the humans, less arrogant than Vegeta, and less naive than Goku.

    Intelligently written and well used in the series. All-around an excellent character.

    Plus that time he fused with Kami. That was freakin' cool.

  • Battle of Gods is phenomenally better than any of the half-assed Dragon Ball movies that aired accompanying the anime. Beerus is unique, hilarious and exceptionally well-written.

    The best thing about him is that he took Dragon Ball out of its comfort zone somewhat- a movie later and he STILL has yet to be surpassed in power. He's more of an absolute, with limits yet to be seen or pushed. Despite his potential to turn into a more boring Frieza-like Space Hitler character, he is not clearly good or evil- sort of in that appropriately godlike "above good-or-evil" way.

    I know that by the time Goku surpasses him it will feel narratively appropriate, and I am greatly pleased that he is going to remain a big part of the series.

    Whis is pretty great too for the same reasons.

  • I would put 16 and 18 together with 17 in this spot.

    The Androids arc is my favorite in the whole series. It's the best written in my opinion; Toriyama clearly really wanted to make a science fiction series.

    The Androids are great villains because they aren't so one-dimensional. They're sympathetic in a way, they're morally ambiguous and they still manage to reproduce that helpless feeling that the main villains always do, perhaps moreso than Cell or Buu later on.

    The Androids were evil in a unique way that has never been reproduced by any other Villains- oppressed people lashing out.

    Also I love that 18 married Krillin if only for the sheer hilariousness of it.

  • The Dragon Ball series as a whole is seriously lacking in cool female characters. Videl is pretty much the only character late in the show that is still willing to prove that Humans are tough, too (though she unfortunately gets the Yamcha treatment pretty early).

    Still, she's a great example of how fresh blood in the series really WORKS, even if it's not just to pose as another big bad new threat or ally for a fight.

    Toriyama was trying something new with the Great Saiyaman arc and I think it worked out. Videl and Gohan's spotlight following the Cell saga was a good way to rework the series back into its more lighthearted and innocent roots.

  • Especially in the original DB series but throughout Z I have loved Krillin for his sense of humor.

    Krillin brings that healthy dose of skepticism and realism to the table. He is a great contrast to Goku's character in the original series, and later on he still seems to get the respect he deserves.

    Krillin is another one of those characters you just want to root for. Toriyama seemed to have a desire to keep him relevant above the other characters, possibly because of his early roots in Dragon Ball (poor Yamcha :'( ), and so he continued to play a very effective supportive role in every appearance.

    That's my biggest reason for enjoying him: Krillin, more than any other character, was adapted consistently well in EVERY arc, from his introduction to Resurrection 'F'. I think this is owed to the fact that his role has never changed much. Krillin is Goku's perpetual bridesmaid, but he plays the part very well.

  • It is my personal opinion that Dragon Ball Z, at least through the Cell saga, is as much the story of Gohan as it is the story of Goku.

    The opening scenes of Dragon Ball show Goku as a boy living in the woods- catching giant fish and chopping wood with his bare hands.

    The opening scene of Dragon Ball Z shows Gohan as a feeble five-year-old too shy to talk to some adults.

    The two characters play off of each other, but in many ways they mirror each other. Goku strives to break his limits and grow stronger and stronger, while Gohan has a virtually limitless hidden power that he deliberately holds back. It's a very effective contrast and makes Gohan all the more interesting.

    What I find most fascinating about him, though, his is sudden rise to fame at the end of the Cell saga. Gohan's power prior to this is shown only in small bursts, and it seems like a plot point that will never come to fruition right up until Gohan suddenly becomes of utter importance. But Toriyama doesn't play it in the predictable way, by having Gohan realize his destiny to be a great warrior. Instead, it's with reluctance that Gohan's importance comes about.

    My favorite scene in the series is this moment where Goku and Piccolo are watching Gohan struggle to beat Cell, and Piccolo tells Goku that he is being naive about his son. Everything culminating between Gohan, Goku and Piccolo has boiled down to this final confrontation, and Goku for the first time in the series realizes his own selfishness. It's a cathartic moment for all these characters, where it is revealed that Goku truly hasn't ever thought of what his son wanted, and that Piccolo is almost more of a father to him than Goku is.

    ...Gohan is later wasted, a bit, in the Buu saga. And I admit that the Buu Saga seems to be spontaneously written even moreso than the rest of the series. That said, though, Toriyama has still done Gohan's main purpose justice: a kindhearted and gentle person who wants only to protect the Earth, not live to fight. That's the reason for Uub's appearance at the end of Dragon Ball Z. Goku has realized that Gohan is not his successor.

    No, Gohan's not the strongest anymore- but that's not Toriyama going back on his writing or forgetting things. It's not wasting potential or making the character "lazy". It's fulfilling what Gohan represents. His power isn't at its old level not because he's somehow failed, but because he doesn't want to fill the role as the strongest warrior.

    And that's the whole point.