The dopest Dragon Ball villains ever.
Recently, Adidas announced their Dragon Ball Z inspired kicks, and the internet went wild. For many, Dragon Ball Z was the anime that introduced Japanese manga (which is anime in its original comic format) to them at the base level. There were no captions, instead, FUNimation dubbed the series in English, which fueled the American obsession with the cartoon show. Originally, Dragon Ball began in 1986. Created by Akira Toriyama, the series followed Goku as a child, before he was branded a Saiyan. As the popularity of the series grew, the show shot into the future and reintroduced Goku as a young man with a son. That was the beginning of Dragon Ball Z.
Dragon Ball Z succeeded where Dragon Ball failed. It created much more interesting villains, and allowed for much better-conceptualized character development. The majority of DBZ fans draw their favorite memories not from Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball GT, or Dragon Ball Super, but from the Z series. The best thing about the series, by far, were the villains. Perhaps that is the reason why Adidas chose to release Cell, Frieza, and Majin Buu edition sneakers first. The villains of the series were epic, especially for children. While Dragon Ball Z was not just a children's show in Japan, it was packaged and sold as a children’s show here in America. Although Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and X-Men cartoons had exciting conflicts with their enemies in the 90s, Dragon Ball Z villains made even the Joker look soft. I remember watching the Joker kill a few Gotham City civilians with laughing gas...meanwhile Frieza is destroying entire planets. Women, children, animals, whatever. The villains in Dragon Ball Z were always ruthlessly killing millions of people on a whim. Such large-scale murder and destruction are like coffee for kids-- I was addicted to the adrenaline rush of watching Cell rip limbs off, or Majin Buu eradicate planets. Although the villains in the latter GT and Super series didn't leave as powerful of an impact on some, they still made the show enjoyable to watch.
There were a plethora of villains introduced during the Dragon Ball Z series’ lengthy run, but some bad guys stand out more than others. This list of villains is not in order of strongest to weakest. Nor is it arranged by most violent, or coolest looking. These badasses are arranged by their overall importance to the Dragon Ball story arc. These are the most important villains, the ones the propelled the story or had amazing narratives that stuck with fans for decades. True antagonists. Whether they appeared in the Z series, GT, Super, or the movies, here is our list of the best Dragon Ball villains of all time.
16. Android 17
The twin brother of Android 18 is Dr. Gero’s seventieth creation. Android 17 was once a man named Lapis, but he was experimented on and programmed to kill Goku. Dr. Gero originally created the androids to challenge and destroy Goku, who had disbanded the Red Ribbon Army as a kid. 17 kills Dr. Gero and takes matters into his own hands by challenging the Z fighters along with Android’s 16 and 18. In desperation, Piccolo is forced to fuse with Kami in an attempt to defeat 17, but Cell interrupts and absorbs the android.
The biological brother of Goku was one of the earliest Dragon Ball Z villains. Raditz flys to Earth in search of Goku, and when he locates him he attempts to recruit him to Frieza’s army. After Goku refuses, Raditz kidnaps Gohan and holds him for ransom. Frustrated, Goku turns to his enemy Piccolo for help. The two put aside their differences and team up to defeat Raditz. During the battle, Goku sacrifices himself by holding his brother in place while Piccolo shoots him with the Special Beam Cannon.
14. Android 18
The twin sister of Android 17 was once a human named Lazuli. After being kidnapped and experimented on by Dr. Gero, 18 activated Android 16 against her creator's wishes. After fleeing the scene, 18 battles Super Saiyan Vegeta and breaks his arm. After her brother is absorbed by Cell, 18 appeals to Krillin, begging him to deactivate her. Krillin refuses, and Cell absorbs 18 after Vegeta allows him to capture her. Fortunately for her, 18 is regurgitated by Cell after Gohan defeats him in battle.
Janemba is formed when an ogre neglects his duties and allows the Soul Cleansing Machine to explode, causing him to have an evil mutation. Janemba engages Super Saiyan 3 Goku and is defeated, forcing him to transform into a more powerful form. Goku is then aided by Vegeta, who is in Super Saiyan 2 form, but the two are defeated by the powerful demon. Vegeta and Goku decide to fuse, and the combined power of Gogeta finally destroys the villain.
Baby is a parasitic organism that possesses other creatures to survive. He possesses Goten at first, then Gohan, and finally Vegeta. Baby Vegeta challenges Goku, who transforms into the Golden Great Ape to combat his mind-controlled friend. The battle escalates, with Baby Vegeta also transforming into a Golden Great Ape but Goku defeats the parasite when he is forced to flee from Vegeta’s body.
11. Omega Shenron
Syn Shenron was the last of the Shadow Dragons, a group of evil creatures that were created by the over-use and negative energies built up by the Dragon Balls over time. After battling the Z fighters, Syn senses the only way to beat them is to use his special power. He summons the Dragon Balls to him and swallows them, which causes him to transform into Omega Shenron. Super Saiyan 4 Goku and Vegeta are defeated by Omega Shenron, and fuse in desperation. Gogeta is able to defeat Omega the first time, but the Shadow Dragon regroups after the fusion wears off and once again defeats the Z fighters. Goku’s signature Universal Spirit Bomb eventually defeats Omega.
Frieza’s older brother wasn’t pleased when he heard that a Saiyan killed his lil' bro. Cooler tracked down and battled Goku in what, at first, seemed like revenge. Before transforming into a higher form than his deceased brother, Cooler admits that he would have liked to kill Frieza himself. In fact, Cooler is angered with Goku for robbing him of that experience. Nonetheless, Cooler is defeated by Goku’s Kamehameha blast and left for dead in space. A giant malevolent machine named the Big Gete Star fuses with the defeated Cooler and creates several Meta-Coolers that attack the Z fighters. Once again, Goku and Vegeta save the day, and kill the Star/Cooler fusion.
9. Future Zamasu
Goku Black and Future Zamasu fused to become a major villain during the Future Trunks Saga. Fused Zamasu believes himself to be a god, and challenges the Z fighters. Goku and Vegeta fuse to become Vegito, and then power up to Vegito Super Saiyan Blue. Their combined effort slows down Fused Zamasu, but once the fusion ends both Goku and Vegeta are easily defeated. Trunk ultimately cuts the villain in half, which kills him.
After King Vegeta’s failed attempt to assassinate him as a baby, this Legendary Super Saiyan survived the destruction of Planet Vegeta. His father witnessed his son mature into a murdering psychopath, and created a headband to control the insane Saiyan. The headband worked for awhile, until the sight of Goku enraged Broly so much that he broke through the band’s control. Broly is only beaten after the other Z fighters give Goku all of their energy, which empowers him to defeat the Legendary Super Saiyan. Nobody stays dead for long in Dragon Ball though, and Broly returns to confront Gohan and Goten in revenge. The two descendants of Goku defeat the villain for good after using the Family Kamehameha.
7. Super Buu
When Evil Buu eats Good Buu, Super Buu is formed. At first, Super Buu kills nearly everyone on the planet except the Z fighters. After, he engages in battle with Gotenks in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, and defeats the Trunks/Goten fusion. Super Buu then battles Gohan, Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo. Buu absorbs most of the heroes and becomes even more powerful until a weird plot twist occurs where Buu somehow appears inside of himself and fights the ingested Z fighters.
6. Goku Black
The original Zamasu becomes evil and uses the Super Dragon Balls to switch his body with Goku's. He then proceeded to kill the Goku who was trapped in his body, and remained himself inside of Goku’s body. This evil Goku, called Goku Black, destroys half of the universe before Future Trunks is forced to go back into the past and recruit the Z fighters. Vegeta, in his Super Saiyan Blue form, battles Goku Black and with the assistance of Beerus, splits the timeline and defeats the evil Goku.
Beerus is the most feared god in the universe. He has terrorized many supporting Dragon Ball Z characters, like King Kai, whose planet he destroyed. Once, Beerus sneezed and destroyed two suns, forcing his sensei Whis to manipulate time and fix the situation. One night, the powerful god dreamt of Goku, and decided to hunt him down in an attempt to challenge him. Upon discovering the Saiyan, Beerus is disappointed at how easily he bests the Z fighters. With the help of Shenron, Goku is able to achieve Super Saiyan God form, and gives Beerus the challenge he had searched for. Still, the powerful god defeats Goku, although he gains respect for the Saiyan which later matures into a partnership.
Vegeta is the song of King Vegeta, who was the ruler of Planet Vegeta. When Frieza destroyed the Saiyan homeworld, Vegeta and Raditz were off planet. After Raditz is killed by Piccolo, Vegeta arrives on Earth to search for the Dragon Balls and encounters the Z fighters. In a show of power, Vegeta transformed and fought the Z fighters as a Great Ape, but he is ultimately defeated after his tail is cut off and is forced to retreat. Vegeta would return during the Frieza saga to assist the Z fighters in battling his true enemy, and an uneasy alliance is formed. He is killed by Frieza, but is resurrected and reforms soon after. Although Vegeta does remain a Z fighter for the rest of his existence, he has his villainous moments (remember Majin Vegeta?), and his ego continues to cause endless harm (like when he allowed Cell to achieve his final form in order to be “truly challenged).
3. Kid Buu
Kid Buu is the strongest, and most evil, of the Buu crew. During that confusing scene where Super Buu appears inside of himself to defeat the Z fighters he absorbed, Super Buu tricks Vegeta into removing Good Buu from inside of him. This causes Kid Buu to form, a completely nihilistic version of every other form of Buu. He destroys Earth almost immediately and dismantled the Z Fighters easily. In the end, Goku destroys Kid Buu with a Spirit Bomb, but a benevolent reincarnation of him is created by King Yemma named Uub.
Originally, Cell is from the future. In his timeline, Future Trunks destroyed the androids, which were Cell’s main fuel for his evolution. Cell decided to kill Future Trunks, and go back in time to capture the androids while they were still alive. Ultimately his plan works, and Cell transforms into his final form. While in his perfect form, Cell defeats the cocky Vegeta and Future Trunks, and then creates The Cell Games as an exhibition match for Earth. During his match with Gohan, Cell creates baby clones of himself that incapacitate the Z Fighters. This action forces Gohan into a rage that helps him reach Super Saiyan 2 status. SS2 Gohan easily defeats Cell, who self-destructs in a spiteful move to destroy the Earth in his defeat. After Goku uses Instant Transmission to teleport Cell off planet, the villain dies (taking Goku with him) in a destructive blast that also decimates King Kai’s planet. Somehow, heregenerates from one surviving cell, and returns to Earth to terrorize the remaining Z Fighters. Ultimately, Gohan would defeat Cell for good with a Father-Son Kamehameha.
This guy never truly dies. Frieza is the true reason behind all of the strife in Dragon Ball. It was his actions that led to the destruction of Planet Vegeta, which sent Goku to Earth. During the Frieza saga, the violent space emperor pushed Goku to the limits of his life, which was the catalyst for the first ever Super Saiyan transformation. Frieza himself has several forms, and evolves while slowly battling the Z Fighters. After being “killed” by Super Saiyan Goku, Frieza would be resurrected by his father with cybernetic enhancements. On his second coming, the space emperor sought to destroy the Z Fighters in vengeance. Unluckily for him, he was sliced to pieces by Future Trunks before he could finish his task. After being sent to Hell, Frieza appeared as a cameo character in the series for years. Before long, Frieza’s henchmen collected the Dragon Balls and wished him back to life. This time, the space emperor would train for months before heading back to Earth. Once healthy, Frieza sought out the Z Fighters, and battled them all for double revenge. He displayed his new Golden form to a Super Saiyan Blue Goku, who once again “kills” the villain.