Most of us know or at least have heard of Dragon Ball. It has been very popular world wide for many years. Originally serialized in the manga anthology Weekly Shonen Jump from December 3, 1984 to June 5, 1995. Manga, Anime, film, video games and even soundtracks continue to be very popular in Japan and America. It's almost difficult to not have heard or at least seen anything Dragon Ball related. Over the years we have seen some stuff and those of us who enjoy Akira Toriyamas universe have quite the opinion about the characters.
So, without further adieu, I bring you my personal top 10 list of Dragon Ball antagonists!
We all know about Raditz. Everyone respects what Raditz brought to the series, and no one can deny that Raditz was pretty much the catalyst for the entire Z series. Regardless, no one actually likes him. Seriously, have you ever met a Raditz fan? You’re lying if you say yes.
Just because Raditz has no fans, doesn’t mean that we can’t all agree that he’s a strangely underused and forgotten villain. The guy is the main character’s only brother for crying out loud. He’s Goku’s brother! Think about that for a second. Then, the guy dies in 4 chapters / 6 episodes and we just kind of forget about him. This guy gave us scouters. This guy revealed Goku’s heritage. This guy revealed the secret of Goku’s simian tail. This guy gave us Saiyan armor. This guy gave us someone stronger than everyone on Earth. This guy introduced us to everything alien and off planet outside of the world of Dragon Ball. And yet, he is totally forgotten. How is that even possible? A character like this in any other story would be an absolute gold mine to the narrative. The only way someone like this gets forgotten is if the antagonists past him are on another level. Oh right, this is Dragon Ball, the antagonists in this series are always on another level.
I’m not even going lie, Jiren is easily the strongest and most powerful person on this list. If you know anything about Jiren, you know there’s no way to argue that. Jiren is a monster powerhouse and easily the strongest mortal (Not including the angels and above) character in the series. Jiren isn’t even a villain. In fact, in his universe, he’s the ultimate hero. He’s like Superman, but for Universe 11.
Jiren doesn’t make this list because of how much he brings to the story. He makes this list because he’s the highest wall in the series thus far. That holds value. His actual history was something of a letdown. It’s pretty much the most generic origin story ever created in Anime. He was a little boy, he had friends and a teacher, a nameless villain killed them all, and he wanted to get stronger to defeat him, then he did so, ta-dah! Wow, gripping stuff. Now Jiren is the leader of a troupe of matching spandex wearing justice dealers across the entire universe. Man, that is boring! Fortunately, Jiren’s purpose isn’t to give us a deep, contemplative theory. He’s there to hit Goku in the face harder than Goku can hit him in the face. Jiren does this in stride and does it with a firm look of apathy on his face. He’s like a void of any emotion or words. He’s just there to be stronger for no other reason. Good thing too, because that’s exactly what he gives us. When the Tournament of Power is nearing its end, Jiren shows a small burst of conflicting opinions with Goku, his rationale? Shoot everyone in the stands.
If he wasn’t considered an antagonist yet, that moment solidified him as opposition. Jiren seems like he would be a great character to further develop in anything beyond Dragon Ball Super, but something tells me that this guy is going to be forgotten and we’re never going to be told exactly how his glaring eye powers work. That’s the other strange thing about Jiren. Whenever something seems like it’s about to overpower him through unconventional means, Jiren’s eyes shine for a split moment and counteract it, saving him. What was that anyway? Are we just supposed to debate it for all of eternity or something?
8. King Piccolo (Piccolo Daimaoh)
For fans that never took the time to go back and watch classic Dragon Ball, they might not be too familiar with Piccolo Sr. This doesn’t mean that he wasn’t instrumental to the series. King Piccolo was the first major threat. Before Raditz tried kidnapping Gohan, before Vegeta threatened to pop Earth like a balloon, before Frieza was floating around looking creepy as hell, there was King Piccolo. King Piccolo was originally introduced as the Dragon Ball equivalent of the devil. He was god’s (Kami’s) polar opposite.
His legions of green henchmen threatened to rule Earth and King Piccolo was happy to subjugate all opposition with his terrifying powers. Piccolo was truly evil, unlike the other previous antagonists like Pilaf, Tenshinhan (Tien) and the Red Ribbon Army. King Piccolo was actually a threat to the lives of everyone in the series, an honest to Kami threat. It took the combined efforts of all the heroes in the series at that point to deal with the menace. Ultimately, it would be Goku who would defeat King Piccolo. Luckily for us, Akira Toriyama (the series creator) had the foresight to not truly finish King Piccolo’s story with his death and gave us Piccolo Jr.’s egg. We thank you for that King Piccolo. We all really like Piccolo, Gohan’s real father.
7. Goku Black
Personally, I’d like Goku Black to be much, much higher on this list. For many, Goku Black was the gem of the second Trunks story in Dragon Ball Super. Zamasu was kind of a derpy, whiny douchebag. Even though Goku Black was actually Zamasu, we never really felt like that was actually Zamasu in there. I mean, he was Zamasu. The story told us he was. The story showed us it was Zamasu in there. Somehow that didn’t matter. Goku Black was just Goku Black, the polar opposite of our Goku.
Some fans don’t even realize how much of a Nega-Goku he was. Zamasu’s personality was that of a sadistic god that knew no equal. He was born to rule over the entire universe as a KaioShin. That’s got to mess with you on a psychological level. Boy did it ever with Zamasu. Talk about looking down on people, literally. He looked down from heaven on people and wanted them all dead. It’s literally the opposite of Goku who was raised in the middle of nowhere with nothing but an old man and the food he had to catch to survive. Meanwhile Zamasu is up there making tea for the god he will eventually replace. Skipping past all of Zamasu’s motivations, it’s interesting when the divide happens between the Zamasu in Goku’s body and in Future Zamasu. One makes a wish to inhabit Goku’s body for continuous power growth, the other makes a wish for true immortality. These two wishes would separate these characters from a narrative perspective for a surprisingly large difference. It almost got to the point where you’d almost expect the two versions of Zamasu to bicker amongst each other. When they fused to make Merged Zamasu, It kind of felt crappy because in a way, it was the death of Goku Black. Maybe if at some point we saw Goku Black in Zamasu’s clothes, it would have been a little more convincing, but him just wearing his own sweet outfit kind of separated the belief.
Also, no matter what anyone says about the color pink, somehow Super Saiyan Rosé looks sick. I don’t know why but the aura kills it too. He really was a well-designed character from an artistic perspective. It’s a good thing Goku Black exists in Dragon Ball Super. People will never be able to forget the character. He’s going to be in games and merchandise for a long time.
Oh Janemba, Janemba, Janemba. You’re here I see. Not only here, but surprisingly high on this list. Fans of Janemba are not surprised to see him here at number six. There needs to be a clear distinction made with Janemba. He’s more like two characters in one. The first form of Janemba is an enormous, giggling ball of yellow. He has a childlike mind and he kind of reminds people of Majin Buu. That was by design. However, the Janemba that makes the list does not really need his larger, more yellow first form to be here.
Takao Koyama, a Dragon Ball Z director and character designer for the series takes full credit for the design of Janemba. In an interview, Akira Toriyama recollects his dealings with the Dragon Ball Z movies when he’s asked at point blank how involved he was. Toriyama basically said that he was pretty hands off and he really didn’t do anything outside of a few corrections, a few original character designs, and admitted that for the most part, he was part of the audience. He was then asked who of the movie characters he liked the most and his answer was the second form of Janemba. Toriyama made very little corrections to the design of the character only turning the rings around his arms and legs to “veins” like we see in the final result, but for the most part, he left the character intact.
He thought that he thought the character was very cool looking, and admitted he couldn’t have done a better job. Dang, that’s some high praise. Janemba is sweet looking villain, that’s obvious. Fans really like everything about this guy. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t lecture, he’s arguably the strongest villain in all the thirteen Z movies, and he’s just so darn evil looking. I mean damn, I wouldn’t want to bump into that thing anywhere.
The brother of Frieza created just for movies was the first villain to get a sequel. I know that there’s a Metal Cooler out there somewhere in the lore of Dragon Ball, and that technically, he’s an eyeball attached to a world eating computer. That’s nice and all, but let’s forget about that for a minute and focus on the Cooler that everyone actually loves.
Akira Toriyama made numerous nods to science fiction movies and pop culture throughout the years. It’s fairly obvious that Frieza has a lot of ideas borrowed from Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger’s Alien character. When TOEI was creating a movie with Frieza’s theoretical sibling, it only made sense to have the character make a nod The Predator. It was a pretty good idea too because we got what was essentially the coolest looking villain in the history of the series. This dude is The Predator, Super Shredder and Frieza all wrapped into a single space ninja with Dragon Ball Z level powers. Holy crap, I’m a nerd!
Yes, Cooler gets to this spot in the hearts of his fans because he’s really that cool looking. It doesn’t hurt that his damn name is actually Cooler. I mean, could it be any more obvious this guy was destined to remain in the minds of fans for decades? I wonder why they went with an inferior Metal Cooler that looked like the form before Cooler transforms. As popular as Cooler was, based on how he looked, they probably should have just made all the Metal Coolers look like the transformed Cooler in his first movie, but all shiny, but what do I know?
Cell is in this really weird place in the popularity of Dragon Ball villains. He’s obviously one of the big three, but he seems to have this really strange disconnect with Japanese fans. Whenever polls are released, he’s always shockingly low on the list. Luckily, this particular list takes in popularity and impact on the story of Dragon Ball. When considering if Cell had any impact on the story, there’s no way to deny that he was gravely important to the series.
Created as a substitute villain for substitute villains, Cell is a result of Toriyama’s editors nagging him. At first, Android 19 and Dr. Gero were meant to be the original final villains of the Android saga. After being pestered by one of his former editors calling them a “geezer and a fatty”, Toriyama changed the final villains midway through writing to the story to Androids 17 and 18. Once again his former editor nagged him and called the final villains “just a pair of brats”. When Toriyama made Cell, he went with a classical grotesque alien looking villain. You’d think that his editor would finally be happy right? Wrong. His current editor is noted for saying “Hurry up and make him transform to his final form!” To Toriyama’s chagrin he didn’t actually have a final form planned. When Toriyama made Cell’s second form, he personally loved it and wanted the second form to be his last form. Toriyama has noted that the second form was his favorite because of the large mouth being able to display emotion. His current editor hated the design and wanted another form as soon as possible, calling Cell’s second form a “giant idiot”. The end result was the regal Perfect Cell. It’s a good thing too because to me, Perfect Cell is the best looking villain in the manga. While this is all fun information about Cell’s history, Cell’s greatest opponent wasn’t editors or fickle minds. Cell’s true greatest opponent wasn’t even Gohan. Sadly, Cell’s greatest opponent was his own awesome character design. Both Toriyama and the heads of TOEI animation are on recorded for stating that Cell was always a giant pain in the ass because of “Those darn spots”, a time consuming effort for any artist or animator. It’s my personal opinion that this is the reason we’ll never get Resurrection C.
I sometimes wonder where the story could have went if Dr. Gero was the final villain of the Android saga. Somewhere deep in my weird little brain, I see a Dr. Gero that looks kind of like Cell and can regenerate like Cell, but instead of having a distinguished face, he looks like an old man with an absurd white mustache. Oh well. Also, a special shout out to Norio Wakamoto who voices Cell in the original Japanese version. That man is absolutely amazing at making booming, instantly respected voices. Cell’s Japanese KameHameHa is probably one of the best memories I have of the series. It’s so freaking powerful sounding. If you’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Wakamoto’s KameHameHa, I implore you to look it up on a video site.
3. Majin Buu Pure (Kid Buu)
There are lots of Majin Buu versions that could be put on this list. However, the fact that the last form of Majin Buu is actually the first form of Majin Buu is what makes this one the representative of the character. Also, I think of Mister Buu as a separate character. Mister Buu falls into the protagonist category. This is probably another one of those characters on the list that is a representative of the entire character more than he is the winner of the number three spot. Super Buu, the Gotenks absorbed Buu, the Gohan absorbed Buu, even the Evil Buu and the first large Majin Buu we saw are all represented by Majin Buu Pure, or “Kid Buu” as many in the west have come to call him.
As the final villain in Dragon Ball Z, Majin Buu has a solidified spot in any top ten lists of villains in the series. There’s just no way to argue that he cannot be one of the top three villains. Purely evil, capable of regenerating from almost anything instantly, a character that takes on all of the heroes by himself, there’s nothing to disrespect here. This guy was the real deal. Majin Buu dragged the heroes of this series through a lot of mud. His creation, his evolutions, all of his wacky forms of fighting, and that ever persistent regeneration power really made everyone scratch their heads thinking about how he could be defeated.
A villain that can be one hundred percent seconds after being destroyed on a molecular level is truly terrifying. You also have to wonder about his defeat as well. Goku himself said it best when he paid his respects to Majin Buu before his death, and even respected him so much that he wished for his soul to be reincarnated as a good person. We may never really know what Goku is out there doing with Uub (ignoring GT), but we do know that Majin Buu has to be on the list of greatest villains in the series.
There are two kinds of Dragon Ball fans. People that love Broly and people that absolutely hate Broly. Which one do you fall into? Broly fans are pretty passionate. There’s a common misconception that Broly’s fans all hail from the west. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Broly’s fans absolutely do exist in Japan. They exist everywhere, really. So why do so many people love or hate this guy? Really what it boils down to is looks versus depth. The people that love Broly are mesmerized by the fact that this guy is gigantic. He’s a wall of exaggerated muscle and he is probably the most intimidating looking character in the series. He lacks pupils, he puts roided freaks to shame, and his shoulders are so out of whack it doesn’t even make sense that this guy can move his arms.
A lot of people genuinely love the way Broly looks. You add the fact that he’s basically the only antagonist Super Saiyan for the duration of DBZ; he scores lots of instant points. Even Broly’s creator Takao Koyama admitted for almost three movies straight, he couldn’t think of something better than Broly. That’s the reason he kept making Broly movies! It probably didn’t help that Broly was insanely popular and sold toys like gangbusters. Broly printed money for Bandai and still does. The fans that hate Broly, almost hate him for those exact same reasons. He’s like a fad that just won’t go away. Couple that with the fact that Broly’s first movie was pretty shallow explaining his origin, and then you add a second move where he only repeats one word, Broly haters have some legitimate points to argue. Still, Broly is one of those characters in Dragon Ball you simply cannot ignore. His popularity will continue as long as there is a Dragon Ball anything. He’s always the most desired character in any video game, he’s always making new material and transformations in non-canon projects and fans simply cannot stop doing fan artwork of this guy.
Broly falls into the second place on this list because he’s quite frankly just that popular. He’s also the only villain to get three movies. That’s pretty crazy when you really sit and think on it. Bio-Broly was a disaster of a movie. There’s no denying that. You had to give TOEI some credit though. They tried to make a movie without Goku in it. It just didn’t work. Even Broly’s popularity couldn’t carry that movie. Perhaps if there was actually more Broly in it, his fans would like the movie better. Broly fans feel kind of ripped off when watching that film.
Recently in Japan, Broly and his father Paragus have been making a landslide of hilarious meme viral videos. At some point in time, some fans discovered that both Broly and Paragus use every syllable in the Japanese alphabet within movie 8. That allowed them to make sound boards and create dialog with twisted voices in order to make videos of them say anything and doing anything they want. If you’re familiar with Hatsune Miku, this makes sense without having to really explain it. A recent popularity poll of characters for Japan placed both Broly and Paragus in the top 10 due to his meme popularity. That’s right, Paragus, Broly’s father who does nothing but appear in one movie, laugh manically and eventually gets crushed to death placed in the top 10 most popular characters in the entire series. That’s some pulling power.
One complaint that Broly haters have is that when discussing the character against others in theoretical battles, Broly fans have this really, really odd habit of exaggerating the extent of Broly’s powers. It’s one thing to love a character; it’s another to have delusions of grandeur of that character simply because you really like them. Don’t do that, it’s yucky. Respect the character for what he is and if you love them, buy their toys and buy the games they appear in, don’t shove incorrect, bloated opinions about them in people’s faces. That’s just poor manners. Sometimes, I wonder if people who hate Broly don’t actually hate Broly, but instead Broly’s fans? I know I feel that way about some sports team’s fans. Crappy fans make me hate a team, even though the team is probably decent or even good. Are you team Broly? I’ll let you in on a little secret... I friggin love Broly!
Yep, this probably surprised no one. The most iconic villain in Dragon Ball sits atop his throne just as he did the first time he arrived. You can keep making all the Cells, Buus, Nega-Gokus, destruction gods and impossibly difficult to defeat villains you want. Nothing and nobody will dethrone the mighty Frieza. He just can’t be beaten. This guy has everything. His evil offensive voice, his ho ho ho laugh, his remarkably condescending speech, his lack of respect for anyone and anything, and his absolute incapability to recognize when he is inferior. It’s like the guy is in constant denial. You can’t write a better villain than Frieza. It’s impossible. People have tried. Frieza’s just that evil. He’s so evil; you have to respect his dedication to being evil. This guy gets teddy bears and pixies playing music in hell. That’s his eternal suffering. I can’t say I can’t relate. I’d probably want to kill myself listening to that for eternity as well. Too bad I’d already be dead.
Described by Akira Toriyama as the ultimate evil villain, Frieza does something that no other villain does. His first form was designed as an evil queen from an unnamed movie. His second and third designs come straight from his personal nightmares growing up. His motivations of evil come from real life evil businessmen and realtors that killed the Japanese housing market in the 1980’s. Frieza’s final form is a sleek and simplified personification of his thoughts of evil monsters from Toriyama’s dreams. This guy does so much with so little, yet somehow he’s so damn evil. You just got to love the guy for it.
There’s no mistake, Frieza is the iconic villain. I don’t just mean in Dragon Ball either. Frieza is the iconic villain in all of Anime and that’s saying something. Many artists and manga artists over the years have tried to mimic the success of Frieza. Some come close by drawing a similar character. Some come close by trying to act as evil as Frieza. They even try to one up Frieza’s evilness. At the end of the day, there’s just no substitute for the real deal. Frieza exudes evil. Frieza is the epitome of evil. Many will try to match his greatness, many will fall short.
For Dragon Ball fans, Frieza is just part of the story and we know that Frieza is the iconic evil. The only part fans are concerned about is his overexposure. Frieza has been defeated three times, killed twice, and seems to always make it back into the series’ in canon. That’s not including the two times non-canon material has made him appear and get killed for laughs. It’s a saturated theme at this point that even though Frieza can die, we just expect to see him back again at a later point. This irks some fans. To others, we are just happy we get more Frieza and more importantly more “oh ho ho”. After the events of Dragon Ball Super, Frieza sits on his throne just like he did in the beginning, right where he belongs. How do you feel about Frieza’s permanent spot ruling the known universe? Is this a good place for him and future stories, or is this milking an overworked cow at this point?
And that concludes the antagonists list! How do you feel about this list? Who are your favorite villains in the series? Let me know in the comments and thanks for viewing!
Also, the Top 10 Dragon Ball Protagonists will available shortly!