Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball has become one of the biggest manga and anime of this generation through its engaging stories about good versus evil. There’s a lot of variety in Goku’s adventures and accomplishments over the years, but it’s his battles against vicious villains that frequently leave the greatest impression on audiences.
Goku’s unwavering sense of right and wrong makes him an evergreen character. That being said, there are some unusual similarities between Goku and his greatest enemies that crop up over time. These parallels don’t mean that Goku is more villainous than he lets on or that Dragon Ball’s villains are actually heroes. However, it’s still fascinating to look at the ways in which these polar extremes overlap.
10 Losing Makes Them Stronger
Practice making perfect is an appropriate adage in most shonen series, but Goku is a rare case of a character who actively gets more powerful the more he gets beaten up and pushed to the brink of death. This is a convention of the Saiyans, which means that the villainous Saiyans that Goku faces benefit from this, too.
That being said, other villains like Cell and Buu seem to only get stronger after they’ve supposedly been beaten. The idea of Goku or his enemies running out of stamina and lacking the endurance to go on is very rare in Dragon Ball.
9 A Good Challenge Trumps Common Sense
One of Goku’s worst habits is that he can’t help himself when it comes to a worthy challenge. Goku gets genuinely excited when he learns that there’s a stronger opponent out there and his compulsion to battle sometimes gets the better of him or results in tragedy.
This enthusiasm is frequently echoed in the villains that Goku fights. Frieza is driven by dreams of grander galactic conquest while Raditz, Nappa, and Vegeta arrive on Earth confident that nobody will match their strength. Even Beerus puts the Earth in jeopardy because he yearns for a worthy competitor.
8 They Want The Dragon Balls
The Dragon Ball franchise has greatly broadened its scope and moved far past the titular Dragon Balls being the character’s ultimate goal. However, Goku and villains alike still require these relics and the wishes that come along with them in order to change the world for the better or the worse.
Many early villains are specifically after the Dragon Balls so that they can wish for immortality or other selfish endeavors. Goku is just as focused on the collection of these orbs, but usually so that he can revive loved ones and restore balance to the universe.
7 They’ve Conquered Death
The Dragon Balls’ restorative powers have conveniently allowed Goku and most of Dragon Ball’s characters – friend and foe alike – to come back from the dead and get another lease on life. Goku has fought to the bitter end, only to find himself back on Earth and more committed than ever to face evil and protect his planet.
There’s equal conviction in Frieza, Cell, and Buu, all of whom have returned from the dead in different contexts and been more focused on vengeance than ever before. Some humans like Krillin and Yamcha get revived and use the opportunity to reflect on what’s important to them in life, but in Goku’s case, that’s combat.
6 Other Worldly In Nature
Dragon Ball has introduced some diverse villains over the years. These enemies can occasionally be human, like in the case of the Red Ribbon Army, but by and large they’re from another realm, whether it’s outer space, another universe, or a demonic plane of existence.
This other worldly status technically applies to Goku since he’s also a Saiyan from Planet Vegeta. Some of Dragon Ball’s most common villains, especially during the series’ earlier movies, are rogue Saiyans that force Goku to confront his roots. Dragon Ball feels a lot more grounded when it first begins and Goku’s extraterrestrial status coincides with an avalanche of villainous aliens.
5 Powerful Transformations
A recurring twist that’s featured in Dragon Ball Z with its biggest villains is that their initial form is their weakest state and a prelude to greater power. Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu all undergo multiple transformations, but the same is true for Goku and most Saiyans.
Goku’s base level has reached unprecedented power, but it’s rare for him to face the newest villain without transforming into at least the first level of Super Saiyan. Goku and any villain could have a satisfying showdown in their introductory forms, but Dragon Ball has conditioned its audience to expect both hero and villain to cycle through different states before the fight is finished.
4 Fighting On A Team
Goku is no stranger to coming in at the last minute and taking on the villain, one-on-one, after his allies have done a lot of the heavy lifting in his absence. That being said, Goku has also been a part of many teams, a lot of the time during tournament battles, and his ego never gets in the way.
A lot of Dragon Ball villains adopt the same approach, whether it’s the Ginyu Force, Babidi’s minions, or the Cell Juniors. Frieza even agrees to fight with Goku on the same team during the events of the Tournament of Power.
3 Mimicking Each Other’s Attacks
Dragon Ball has become so consumed with deadly energy attacks and powerful transformations that it’s sometimes easy to forget that Goku is a martial arts master. Goku benefits from decades of dedicated training and his skills have grown so proficient that he’s able to replicate most techniques after he witnesses them one time.
Alternatively, there are many villains in the series like Cell and Majin Buu who turn the heroes’ own attacks against them. Goku has had his own techniques replicated by villains, albeit in those cases they’re genetically created to do so rather than the product of martial arts training.
2 They’re All Inferior To Omni-King Zeno
Dragon Ball has done an excellent job with how it’s introduced increasingly powerful deities who hold dominion over different tiers of the universe. Dragon Ball Super establishes that Omni-King Zeno rules above all 12 universes and represents peak power even if he may not look like much.
Dragon Ball Super’s final arc, the Tournament of Power, revolves around a multiversal battle royale where Zeno’s power to erase anyone and everyone properly unites and motivates Goku and his opponents. Perhaps under different circumstances there could be a way for Goku and his enemies to band together to defeat Zeno, but his strength is too immense for anyone to counter.
1 Confidence In Winning
Humility can go a long way in Dragon Ball and there are plenty of characters that survive for as long as they do precisely because they know their limits and when the enemy at hand is too much for them to take on. Goku is unique in the sense that he truly believes he can defeat any villain that he takes on and he’s driven forward by overwhelming purity and optimism.
Curiously, many Dragon Ball villains make bold attacks on the universe because they’re convinced that no one is stronger than they are. Both sides believe that they’ll win, but the villains are arrogant while Goku is hopeful.
NEXT: 10 Dragon Ball Villains With Powers That Make No Sense
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