Who are the best Dragon Ball Z characters? One of the best anime series of all time, Dragon Ball Z has its fair share of incredible heroes and dastardly villains. You’ve got martial-arts experts, space fascists, Superman analogues, a few robots, and a deity, all dedicated to knocking chunks out of each other.
Through the multiple seasons, or sagas in the animated series‘s parlance, many put forward a solid case for being among your favourites. It might be their hand-to-hand skills or their speed, or maybe just their propensity for a good joke. But only some can achieve that S-rank and be declared the best Dragon Ball Z characters.
We can’t host a World Tournament, but we do have some comprehensive metrics for checking people’s power levels. Through our methods of deliberation, we’ve crafted what we believe to be the definitive ranking of the Z Fighters and their otherworldly foes. No, Goku isn’t here because there’s no room for bad fathers on this list. From DBA to DBZ, these are the greatest fighters in the show.
Who are the best Dragon Ball Z characters?
- Android 18
- Android 16
- Lord Beerus
The Namekian warrior is the backbone of Dragon Ball Z. He’s instrumental in killing Raditz at the start of the show, then continues to assist Goku and the Z Fighters through cunning insight and high-level fighting prowess, gruff attitude notwithstanding.
Standoffish though he may be, beneath that harsh exterior is a dedicated ally and guardian who will protect those around him with his life. Rarely the most powerful in any given situation, he is usually among the smartest, and he’s never met an opponent that could really unnerve him. Earning his respect is low-key the greatest victory.
Remember when Frieza comes to Earth, full of cyber-implants and ready to wage war, then Future Trunks shows up out of the blue and just slices him up? That’s because he’s from a future where Frieza doesn’t matter because a worse threat is looming? Top-tier entrance, for a top-tier character.
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Future Trunks sets a high standard, being cool, a Super Saiyan, and having a sword. Kid Trunks lives up to it by being just as radical, achieving Super Saiyan form at a young age and partaking in fusions with Goten. The lovechild of Vegeta and Bulma was always going to be excellent – it’s almost unfair he got to prove it with that awesome blade.
Less a robot and more a profoundly enhanced superhuman, Android 18 is rebellious from the off in her and Android 17’s bloody coup against Dr Gero after they’re activated. Never short of a one-liner or quip, she maintains a constantly cool exterior, lest anybody thinks she actually cares about something.
Her eventual marriage to Krillin, reaction to Cell, and preference for heroism would suggest otherwise. As a fighter, her style is quick and unpredictable, making her tournament appearances some of the most exciting to watch. She claims it’s all for the money, but strangely, there’s always an excuse to stick around.
Nobody’s worn a pink shirt better. Vegeta’s great arc from destroyer to protector is something that continually warms the heart through the many sagas of Dragon Ball Z. A henchman of Frieza’s, the Prince of all Saiyans was just biding his time in order to kill the genocidal murderer of his people, making him out to be a shrewd, long-term thinker.
Much of the rest of the time, he’s far less of a bluff, meeting challenges head-on out of arrogance and aggression. But beneath that ego-driven veneer is someone who watched his whole race be wiped out, with a deathly fear of it happening again. Bulma saw it, and in his unyielding fights against Cell and Kid Buu, we see it too.
A villain so foreboding, we got a metatextual countdown to them being at full power. Cell is inevitability incarnate, a perfect machine designed to defeat Earth’s finest warriors. He comes disastrously close as well, only outdone by the emotional weight of his own callousness.
He’s just so creepy. The multiple stages, absorbing people and robots through his tail, the fact he’s what comes out when you mix the genetics of all our favourite heroes. Body horror and impending doom fused in a lab to make something deeply unnerving indeed.
Oh, Krillin. You’re just there to die, and that’s why we love you. Goku’s best friend has little business trying to stand up to the cosmic forces of Dragon Ball Z, however, if there’s a bully to be challenged, you’d better believe he’ll be the one to do it.
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Of course, his optimism, upbeat nature, unassuming personality, and wit all contribute as well. Not to mention the Destructo Disc. When there’s a problem, Krillin’s there to pitch in and do his part, however small that may be; an admirable trait in anyone.
No child should ever face the turbulence of Gohan’s upbringing, and yet he grows up to be a literal superhero. From the moment he headbutts Raditz, it’s clear Goku’s son is a force to be reckoned with, and as Cell finds out all too well, being the catalyst for just how strong a force that is is bad for your health.
Fastidious and motivated toward active good, Gohan inherits many of his father’s better qualities, serving his community as the Great Saiyaman. Donning a cape even gets him in some hot water, a sequence of events Goku is all too proud of. In the rare instance that he falters, it means the stakes are truly over 9000.
Y’know what they say: behind every former Saiyan prince is a woman worried sick about him. A wily adventurer, Bulma occasionally opts for some quiet time when not hunting the Dragon Balls. Besides inventing the Dragon Radar, her technological skills are a constant resource to our headstrong, occasionally quite silly heroes.
More than just a great inventor, she’s steadfast, cunning, and forever willing to assist the Dragon Team by whatever means available to her. The longest-running character in the Dragon Ball franchise besides her bestie Goku, her growth adds a sense of poignancy, ageing like we do through the series. Who says you can’t help save the world at 40?
“Protect the life I love” – the beautiful, stirring phrase that caps off Android 16’s final speech to Gohan. Cast aside as a failed experiment, this hunk of metal has Dragon Ball Z flirt with ideas of manufactured emotion, destiny, and what it means to be alive. Over the course of a single saga, he influences the course of history in ways Dr Gero could only dream of.
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His stoic yet soft manner evokes Frankenstein’s monster from James Whale’s 1931 horror movie, something that’s further highlighted by his more emotive siblings. Right when it seems like he’ll be inconsequential, his words on the occasional necessity for violence to protect what’s good ring true to save the day. Powerful, in every sense.
The literal God of Destruction, introduced in anime movie Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, was always going to find his way to our list. All-powerful and imbued with intensely chaotic energy, the only thing that stops him from being a megalomaniac is that he’s a cat who likes his plaything.
A Super Saiyan God becomes the desired toy, and he sets out to find one, interrupting Goku, Vegeta, and the others. Ambivalent to the point of cruelty, his overall strength makes him a potential terror to anyone around him. But that unpredictability makes him the perfect shot in the arm for the latest series.
Those are our picks for the best Dragon Ball Z characters. We’re sure your scouter will indicate all is normal here. If you’d like more from the wonderful world of anime, check out our guide to the best My Hero Academia characters and best One Piece characters.