Dragon Ball is a series known for its big power-ups, and the power creep present in the series has been around since the beginning. As a series that started with regular martial artists and evolved into a show about fighting planet-destroying aliens, Dragon Ball’s power scale has rapidly transformed through the years.
While it sometimes feels like characters are getting more powerful by the episode, there are a few key moments fans can point to as amping up the power creep in Dragon Ball to a new level. Sometimes the changes are for the better, and sometimes the power-ups just make the show feel like a parody of itself.
10 Roshi Blows Up The Moon
While Roshi’s perverted antics ruined many Dragon Ball scenes, the master martial artist also had many high points. The original Dragon Ball mentor stopped Goku’s great ape rampage by destroying the moon itself, a feat that would later be replicated by Piccolo.
Before Roshi’s mighty Kamehameha, Dragon Ball had never entered a planetary power scale. The attack single-handedly set the stage for what Dragon Ball Z would become and the absurd heights of destructive power the characters would achieve.
9 The Saiyan Invasion
Raditz was the first villain of Dragon Ball Z, bringing the alien aspect to the forefront of the series after a very earth-focused original series. However, it was the introduction of Nappa and Vegeta in the second part of the Saiyan invasion that changed the show forever.
The introduction of Vegeta was arguably the most important change that Z made for the franchise, as the Saiyan prince eventually became the secondary protagonist of the series. Before that face-turn, he was a warrior more powerful than anyone the Dragon Ball anime had seen.
8 Frieza’s Form Changes
Dragon Ball Z‘s power scaling became iconic (in a bad way) for many anime fans, and Frieza and his endless form changes were the start of all the Dragon Ball power-up memes. If Frieza blowing up an entire planet wasn’t enough, he became far stronger than that four times before being defeated.
Memes like “This isn’t even my final form,” “only using 1% of my power,” 5-minute fights lasting for 20 episodes, and characters sitting while their opponent powers up were all created thanks to the ridiculousness of Frieza. The series hasn’t seen the last of him, either, as viewed by Golden Frieza and Black Frieza in Dragon Ball Super.
7 Super Saiyan
The legendary Super Saiyan was a major part of Dragon Ball Z‘s main plot and was arguably the entire focus of the Namek saga. Goku and Krillin were incredibly close friends, and watching him perish was an incredibly sad moment in the series.
Goku’s ensuing Super Saiyan transformation proved to be the start of a trend for the series, as upgrades from the Super Saiyan model would become the next go-to transformation in every following arc. Not long after Goku’s transformation, Vegeta and Trunks’s transformation followed.
6 Android 17 & 18
Trunks had one of the Dragon Ball‘s coolest introductions, but it came with a harrowing warning about evil androids that would conquer the world. Vegeta easily handled Android 19, only to find out that 17 and 18 were the true threats.
The Androids ended up becoming two of the best side characters in Dragon Ball, but before that, they were one of the biggest examples of power creep in the franchise. Nobody could come close to the Androids when they were first introduced until Piccolo’s evolution and the eventual arrival of Cell.
5 Perfect Cell
The Cell Saga might be the most memorable season in all of Dragon Ball, and it set the bar for a new level of storytelling and power in the series. The season featured three stages of the evil Cell, but none were nearly as impressive as his perfect form.
Perfect Cell was far superior to every fighter in the show and was one of the few major antagonists who even Goku couldn’t defeat. It took Super Saiyan 2 Gohan to fight on even ground with Cell at his best, and only a powerful ki blast from Vegeta broke the tie and allow Gohan to finally finish the villain off.
While the Cell Saga was the peak of Dragon Ball Z for many fans, many of the greatest moments came during the fight against Buu. Most importantly, the battle introduced the iconic fusion between Vegeta and Goku—Vegito.
Vegeta and Goku are arguably the most iconic rivals in anime, and seeing their personalities and powers fused was a treat for Dragon Ball fans everywhere. Fusions introduced a power level the series had never seen before, as Vegito could handle super Buu easily. If it weren’t for Goku and Vegeta’s pride, Vegito would be an easy answer to any enemy.
3 Super Saiyan God
Dragon Ball Super cranked the Dragon Ball universe up a notch, introducing gods as major players in the story. Goku and Vegeta were nowhere near the level of Beerus, the god of destruction for their universe, and had to turn to Super Saiyan God to have a chance.
The Super Saiyan God arc is interesting because it introduced two separate types of power creep: a new standard of power for mortals and a standard of power far above mortals. Whis and Beerus still feel untouchable many seasons later—especially Whis, who can handle Beerus without an issue.
2 Super Saiyan Blue
Many anime rivals never surpass the protagonist, but Vegeta and Goku are the rare rivals who constantly surpass one another’s expectations. Super Saiyan Blue is a prime example of a peak rivalry, as Goku and Vegeta often were around equal power with the upgrade.
The next level of Super Saiyan God put the two Saiyans in a class of their own for mortals when it first appeared. Golden Frieza and Goku Black may have been eventual examples of mortals who rivaled Vegeta and Goku’s new forms, but all Dragon Ball forms get power crept eventually.
1 Ultra Instinct & Ultra Ego
The final major power-ups fans have seen so far are Goku’s Ultra Instinct and Vegeta’s Ultra Ego. The two powers put the Saiyans near the level of gods and offer them superhuman reaction time and durability far beyond what they had before.
While Vegeta’s biggest power-up hasn’t gotten the chance to be animated yet, it’s hopefully only a matter of time before Dragon Ball animates the Granolah Saga. The Dragon Ball manga has a lot of exciting content to offer, so fans are eagerly awaiting more Dragon Ball Super anime.
Next: 10 Best Villain Redemption Arcs In Dragon Ball
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