Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball is able to reach such consistent heights because the series is unafraid to take risks and mix up its formula. There are dozens of Dragon Ball characters who are strong enough to destroy entire planets, but it’s routinely Goku who’s pushed into the spotlight as Earth’s greatest hero.
Goku’s strength and courage are unparalleled, but the Saiyan also possesses an innocent level of naivete that occasionally leads to unwise decisions, especially in battle. There’s nothing wrong with admitting defeat and retreating to form a better strategy. However, Goku struggles to let go and is prepared to push himself to dangerous limits.
10 Goku Continues To Fight On An Exploding Planet Namek
The battle between Goku and Frieza on Namek is frequently cited as one of Dragon Ball‘s greatest fights. The altercation lasts for dozens of episodes and marks Goku’s initial ascension to Super Saiyan strength. Frieza, desperate over his ability to best a Super Saiyan, triggers the implosion of Planet Namek in five minutes’ time.
Frieza explains that he can breathe in space, which is not true for Goku. The smartest plan of attack here would be for Goku to escape, but he instead uses this time to make sure that Frieza is truly finished. Goku’s due diligence here works out in his favor, but he benefits from a lot of luck.
9 Goku Ignores His Body’s Limits & Enters Blue Kaio-Ken X10
King Kai teaches Goku the invaluable Kaio-Ken Attack, which allows him to multiply his body’s strength and speed, albeit at the cost of a tremendous physical strain. Goku is repeatedly warned to not push the limits of Kaio-Ken too far or he may not survive. Goku welcomes this boost back into his arsenal in Dragon Ball Super when he combines it with Super Saiyan Blue strength.
Even just as Blue Kaio-Ken x10, Goku wrecks his body and he’s temporarily burdened with delayed onset ki disorder. Goku can’t trust his techniques or his body while in this state, but it’s a relief that he doesn’t destroy himself in the process.
8 Goku Nearly Kills Gohan To Help Him Grow Stronger
Dragon Ball‘s heroes are given a lengthy period of preparation leading up to Cell’s arrogant exercise in humility, the Cell Games. Every character extensively trains during this period and Goku takes it upon himself to bring out Gohan’s true strength. Goku and Gohan extensively train in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and he perhaps goes a little too hard on his son.
Goku, determined to push Gohan to the next level, releases a deadly Kamehameha at him from point-blank range. This triggers Gohan’s first Super Saiyan transformation, but if things went a little differently here, then Goku would be responsible for taking out his own son.
7 Goku Fails To Take His Heart Medicine & Loses To Android 19
The arrival of Future Trunks effectively brings time travel into Dragon Ball‘s canon. Future Trunks becomes a vital ally in the fight against the Androids and Cell, but the real reason that he arrives is to provide Goku with crucial medicine to cure the latent heart virus that takes him out in Trunks’ future timeline.
Future Trunks emphasizes the importance of this medicine, but Goku errantly charges into battle and decides he’ll get to it later. This foolishness nearly costs Goku his life, as he can’t keep up with Android 19 and this virus finally takes hold of him.
6 Goku Listens To Raditz’s Lies
The arrival of Raditz on Earth forever changes the shape of Dragon Ball. The existence of aliens becomes apparent, but also that Goku himself is part of this extraterrestrial warrior race. Raditz is so strong that he forces Goku and Piccolo to work together for the first time.
This culminates in Piccolo’s destructive Special Beam Cannon taking out both Goku and Raditz for the greater good. It’s a noble sacrifice on Goku’s part, but one that could have been completely avoided with some better judgment. Goku has Raditz subdued until he believes his estranged brother’s lies that he’ll turn over a new leaf.
5 Goku Helps Cell Heal To Have A Greater Challenge Against Gohan
Goku’s endless optimism frequently gets the hero in trouble, and he has a major blind spot when it comes to his son, Gohan, and the potential he possesses. Before Cell reaches perfection, the heroes are able to hold their own against the artificial antagonist.
Perfect Cell is a different story, and it’s incredibly disappointing when Goku opts to heal Cell’s damage with a Senzu Bean. Goku turns to this tactic so that Cell will underestimate Gohan’s power, but it’s a controversial strategy that causes more harm than good in the end.
4 Goku Doesn’t Take Captain Ginyu’s Special Power Seriously
The Ginyu Force is a legendary group of mercenaries who Frieza trusts to handle most of the dirty work that he doesn’t want to bother with himself. Goku’s arrival on Namek coincides with his swift defeat of the Ginyu Force’s Recoome, Burter, and Jeice, but he’s considerably humbled when it comes to their leader.
Captain Ginyu possesses a dangerous body swap technique that he’s able to successfully use on Goku and gain control of his body. Goku’s arrogance gets the better of him here. Goku rushes into battle rather than study Ginyu and learn his tactics, which is why Ginyu is able to succeed in his possession of the Saiyan.
3 Goku Instant Transmissions To Help Gohan Against Bojack
There are some very strict guidelines that govern Dragon Ball‘s afterlife, many of which Goku chooses to casually ignore. The ninth Dragon Ball Z movie, Bojack Unbound, is a rare occasion where Gohan gets to lead the heroes since it takes place during Goku’s lengthy residence in Other World. Goku watches Gohan’s battle against Bojack from afar on King Kai’s Planet.
However, Gohan begins to struggle and Goku can’t help but assist his son. Goku briefly Instant Transmissions into battle to deliver a pivotal punch to Bojack. It’s a strategy that saves Gohan, but Goku’s complete disregard for the rules of the afterlife is problematic.
2 Goku Contemplates Self-Destruction Against Omega Shenron
Final Explosion is a devastating self-destruct maneuver that Vegeta introduces during his hopeless battle against Majin Buu. Dragon Ball GT‘s Omega Shenron is the most powerful of the seven Shadow Dragons and it takes the collective efforts of Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta to knock the villain down a few pegs.
There’s a chilling moment where Goku doubts his abilities and contemplates a Final Explosion-like sacrifice to take Omega Shenron out with him. Vegeta telepathically convinces Goku not to stoop to this level, but it still highlights the Saiyan’s inability to know when to quit.
1 Goku Offers Moro A Chance At Rehabilitation
One of Goku’s most frustrating habits is his unlimited capacity to see the good in others, even when they’re hopelessly beyond the point of redemption. Planet-Eater Moro is an ancient magic user who has accumulated millions of years of destruction. It takes everything in the heroes’ limits to merely keep up with Moro, so it’s a serious breakthrough when the heroes gain the advantage.
It’s extremely foolish for Goku to offer Moro a Senzu Bean and a chance to change his ways when it should be clear, even to Goku, that this is a lost cause. He should know that elimination is the only course of attack here.
NEXT: 10 Lessons Goku Learned From Defeat
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