All of the most popular shonen battle anime can trace their lineage back to Dragon Ball. Akira Toriyama’s franchise changed the game when it came to fights and has consistently put out spectacular bouts for its nearly 40-year life.
Eat a Senzu bean and start screaming because we used the Dragon Radar to find the most awesome Dragon Ball fights in history.
1. Goku vs. Vegeta (Saiyan Saga)
The Dragon Ball franchise’s most legendary rivalry started here. Goku grew a lot in his time training with King Kai, but he still had to claw inch by inch in his battle to defeat Vegeta. Even with the Kaioken and Spirit Bomb, he still couldn’t finish the fight on his own. Thanks to help from Gohan, Krillin, and Yajirobe (of all people!), the heroes of Earth managed to eke out a win in the end.
2. Goku vs. Krillin I
The Turtle School’s two greatest disciples faced off in the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament. Although the gap between the two fighters proved too large for Krillin to overcome, he put up a respectable fight that showed his worth as a combatant.
3. Goku vs. Tien I
It seems unbelievable at this point, but Tien once reigned as the most threatening antagonist and potentially the most powerful fighter on Earth. Tien broke out all of his tricks, including the Solar Flare, Dodon Ray, and the Four Witches Technique. The fight ended in a photo finish with an unlucky truck giving Tien the win over Goku.
4. Yamcha vs. Tien
Yamcha’s most important fight in the series unfortunately ended in disaster. The former desert bandit entered the tournament with confidence after training under Master Roshi. He traded a respectable number of blows with Tien. Still, the fight ended decidedly when the three-eyed warrior shattered Yamcha’s leg with a devastating knee strike delivered from the sky.
5. Tien vs. Jackie Chun
Jackie Chun once again entered the World Martial Arts Tournament to defend his title as Strongest Under the Heavens. But this time, the series showed that the new generation of fighters had risen above him. The experienced master put up a good fight but ultimately fell to Tien's brutal blows.
6. Piccolo, Krillin, and Gohan vs. Nappa
Fights with teamwork routinely make for the best Dragon Ball fights. Piccolo and Krillin’s strategy helped them punch above their weight, but the still inexperienced Gohan failed to deliver the final blow of the combo. The fight ended with Piccolo’s sacrifice to save Gohan, cementing his evolution from villain to hero.
7. Piccolo vs. 17
After reuniting with Kami to once again become whole, Piccolo put his new strength to the test against Android 17. For a brief moment, he stood as the strongest Z-Fighter and went blow-for-blow with Android 17. The color work on his new technique, Hellzone Grenade, made this one of the most visually spectacular fights in the series.
8. Goku, 17 and Frieza vs. Jiren
The final battle of the Tournament of Power ended spectacularly. Goku and Frieza put aside their hatred of each other to take Jiren down with a two-on-one kamikaze rush that wrung every last drop of energy out of both of them.
9. Master Roshi vs. Bio-Warriors
Master Roshi may have retired at this point in Dragon Ball, but he still had plenty of fight in him. Kidnapped by Dr. Wheelo and Dr. Kochin, he took on their bio-warriors in a three-on-one battle. Although he succumbed in the end, he gave a good enough performance to show why he used to hold the title of the world’s strongest man.
10. Vegeta vs. 18
Pride cometh before the fall. Vegeta thought himself unstoppable now that he’d achieved Super Saiyan. 18 taught him a lesson in humility by trouncing him before ending the fight with an arm-breaking roundhouse kick.
11. Gotenks vs. Majin Buu
By the Buu Saga, powers in Dragon Ball had become somewhat homogenized. Everyone seemed to share the same traits of being super strong and blasting beams. But this fight brought back the original Dragon Ball-era creativity with Gotenks’ Super Ghost Kamikaze Attack and Galactic Donuts.
12. Piccolo and Goku vs. Raditz
This fight set the tone for a new era and the radical new direction in which the series would depart. Goku’s greatest foe, Piccolo, ironically joins forces with and kills Goku at the same time. The revelation that Goku’s power comes from his Saiyan heritage changed Dragon Ball forever.
13. Vegeta vs. Beerus
Vegeta has spent much of the series shedding his past as a vicious villain to becoming a loving protector of his family and the Earth. This development reaches its apex when Beerus’ slap against Bulma enrages the prince of all Saiyans to new heights. He becomes stronger than Goku and gives the God of Destruction the fight of his immortal life. A brawl this epic belongs on any list of Dragon Ball fights.
14. Vegeta vs. Broly (Super)
Vegeta entered the fight with all the confidence he’d earned over the length of the series. He makes his Super Saiyan God debut in an art style and direction that’s the best Dragon Ball has ever looked. He spends most of the fight schooling Broly, only for Broly to become exponentially more powerful as the fight progresses.
15. Bardock vs. Frieza Force
In Bardock—The Father of Goku, Bardock had no allies to stand by his side as he faced off against Frieza. This one man took on a whole army all by himself in a desperate bid to save the Saiyan race from destruction. Although he failed to stop Frieza, his sending Goku to Earth led to his son becoming the savior of countless lives.
16. Goku vs. Jackie Chun
As Goku and Krillin’s final test, Master Roshi entered the tournament under the guise of Jackie Chun in order to teach them that they still had room to grow. Delivering this lesson took everything Roshi had. This fight featured everything that defines Dragon Ball, from a goofy comedy routine to blowing up the moon with a Kamehameha.
17. Z-Fighters vs. New Frieza Force
The non-Saiyan characters of Dragon Ball took a backseat during Dragon Ball Z, but Resurrection F gave them some time to shine. Tien, Krillin, Piccolo, and Master Roshi all got invited to the destruction of Frieza’s newly-assembled army.
18. Goku vs. Frieza
Who could leave out the most infamously long of all Dragon Ball fights?
Just like his fight against Vegeta, Goku needed a series of creative techniques and strategies to compensate for the massive power gap between him and Frieza. Just when Goku and his friends think the fight has been won, Frieza turns up alive and kills Krillin. This triggers Goku into transforming into Super Saiyan for the very first time in the series, changing not only Dragon Ball but the world forever.
19. Gohan vs. Cell
The explosive end to the Cell Saga has Gohan reach the apotheosis of the path set for him from his very first appearance. The once crybaby toddler grew up to be Earth’s most powerful defender. With only one good arm and the spiritual support of his father, Gohan annihilated the so-called perfect lifeform Cell with the most legendary Kamehameha in the series.
20. Vegeta vs. Arale
Never underestimate the power of a gag manga character. In Dragon Ball Super, Vegeta faced off against Arale, the main character of Akira Toriyama’s previous work, Dr. Slump. Vegeta soon learned that brute strength and martial arts prowess have no chance against cartoon logic.
21. Future Trunks vs. Frieza
This fight made for the most incredible character debut in the series. It ended as quickly as it began, with Trunks effortlessly bisecting Frieza with a single sword slice before chopping him up and disintegrating the chunks with Burning Attack. Then, for dessert, he blasted away Frieza’s father, King Cold.
22. Goku vs. the Ginyu Force
Gohan, Krillin, and Vegeta spent their time on Namek sneaking around and scraping by in battle, but the arrival of the Ginyu Force threatened to end them. Luckily, Goku arrived fresh off of a Zenkai Boost and an emergency spaceship training regimen. He proved an unstoppable and untouchable force against Recoome, Jeice and Burter.