Throughout Dragon Ball, a substantial amount of Goku’s friends were his enemies at one point.
The list of allies in the Dragon Ball series grows stronger with each passing narrative. For every villain Goku and the gang encounter, it seems as though they gain more fighters to help battle alongside them. However, a substantial amount of Goku’s friends were his enemies at one point.
Many characters throughout Dragon Ball have fought the good guys for their own purposes and benefit. It wasn’t until afterward that they began to have a change of heart, and redeemed themselves to be the good guys they are now. All of the characters’ redemptions were organic, and show how far they’ve truly come.
Piccolo was born with the sole intent of avenging his evil father’s death, who Goku had killed earlier. Once he fought Goku and lost, he vowed revenge on him and the whole world. When Raditz came along, he had to put aside his hatred for Goku and work with him to stop the new threat.
Then Piccolo met Gohan, and they began to form an unbreakable bond. So much so that Piccolo sacrificed his life for Gohan at the hands of Nappa. Afterward, when Piccolo was brought back to life, he would do everything he could to defend the Earth. Piccolo won over many fans with how seamless his redemption was.
When Vegeta first appeared, he quickly became a fan-favorite villain of the series. He killed his own partner for his incompetence and tried to destroy the world, all while being upset that Goku was stronger than him. However, after Goku first defeated him and spared his life, Vegeta’s redemption started to take place.
On Namek, he was forced to fight alongside Gohan and Krillin, and afterward, he started a relationship with Bulma on Earth. In this relationship, they had Trunks, and it was then that Vegeta learned to love someone other than himself. This love led him to sacrifice his life to stop the rampaging Majin Buu, in an effort to protect his family. Vegeta organically transitioned from a ruthless killer to a strong yet caring warrior who formed a strong friendship with Goku.
3. Android 16
Even though Android 16’s primary objective was to kill Goku, he was still a peaceful android who only fought when necessary. Even when Androids 17 and 18 fought Vegeta, Trunks, and the others, Android 16 stayed back to appreciate nature and the birds. Though he still wanted to kill Goku, he began to form a connection with everyone else, especially before their fight with Cell.
To stop Cell from destroying Earth, Android 16 tackled him and tried to detonate the bomb inside of him, destroying both himself and Cell. However, the bomb didn’t work, which gave Cell a chance to destroy Android 16’s body. With his head still intact, Android 16 pleaded with Gohan to get angry and save the world, before Cell smashed his head into the ground. This was one of the saddest moments in the series, and perfectly concluded Android 16’s story.
4. Android 17
Android 17 had a similar start to Android 18 in that they were both androids created to destroy Goku. However, what made him different is that he was much more arrogant and eager to fight. He challenged everyone who stood in his way, even having one of the best fights in the series against Piccolo. It wasn’t until after Cell was defeated that he began to adopt a more calm attitude.
After Cell, Android 17 became a park ranger and dedicated his life to protecting nature. He was still a decent fighter, as shown when Goku called him to fight in the Tournament of Power. In fact, he was the sole winner of the tournament, and with the wish he earned, he asked for all the universes killed in the tournament to be brought back. It’s interesting how someone who was once a villain would be the key to bringing back so many lives.
Before Yamcha met Goku, he was a common thief. One day, he came across Goku and his friends and decided to rob them. Yamcha and Goku then started to fight, and it looked like Yamcha would win. Then, he noticed Bulma there, and because of his fear of women, he ran away.
Later, as Yamcha was eavesdropping on them, he heard them mention they were looking for Dragon Balls, and he decided to secretly follow them to steal their wish. As he followed them, he often revealed himself to help Goku out of trouble. This culminated in Yamcha saving Bulma’s life, developing a relationship with her, and becoming the gang’s friend.
6. Android 18
Android 18 was able to defeat Vegeta in his Super Saiyan form, proving just how formidable a villain she was. She might have stuck to her villainous ways if Krillin hadn’t shown her compassion while they were enemies. Everyone didn’t want Cell to absorb 18 so he wouldn’t gain more power, but Krillin didn’t want her absorbed for her own sake.
Krillin protected her and even wished for the bomb inside her to be removed so she could live a happy life. 18 later married Krillin and they developed one of the best relationships in the series. 18 is still a powerful fighter, all while Krillin and her friends motivate her to fight for good.
When the second version of Broly was introduced in the Dragon Ball Super movie, he was much more compassionate and kind-hearted than his counterpart. However, he was still vulnerable to his angry personality, and he would attack everyone at the orders of his father and Frieza.
Through his time on Earth, he learned that he didn’t have to fight just because everyone else told him to. He met friends who helped and cared for him, and Goku connected with him because they were both Saiyans. Now, Broly can contain his temper a little better while appreciating the true friends he has around him.
Tien has been friends with Goku for longer than many others, but there was a time when he was his enemy. Goku first meets Tien as a con artist, and later when he enters the World Tournament. During the tournament, Tien mercilessly beats Yamcha and then proceeds to fight Goku. During this match, Tien’s martial arts master orders Chiaotzu to rig the match and freeze Goku in place.
Tien wants a clean match, so he and Chiaotzu go against his master’s orders, ultimately betraying him. Afterward, Tien has a clean fight with Goku, even letting him beat him up a little to make up for Chiaotzu’s cheating. Although Tien won the match, he still gave Goku half of the prize money and agreed to help him in the future wherever he could.
9. The Pilaf Gang
The Pilaf Gang is one of Goku’s earliest rivals, even if they became relatively harmless in the long run. Introduced in one of the best arcs of the original Dragon Ball series, they were determined to capture the Dragon Balls so that Pilaf could wish to take over the world. However, their plans were always foiled, either by Goku, someone else, or themselves.
Nowadays, they aren’t up to anything too nefarious. Even though they still want to claim the Dragon Balls for themselves, they hang around Bulma and help out with things like taking care of her baby. Since they’re living with and helping Bulma, they’re much more friends now than they are enemies.
10. Majin Buu
Majin Buu was unlike any previous villain when he first appeared in the Dragon Ball series. He killed innocent people, but not because he wanted to. He only did it because that’s all he ever knew, as that was what his creators told him to do. Once he was free of his creators, he befriended Mr. Satan, who asked him to stop attacking innocent people.
Without too much thought, Buu agreed to Mr. Satan’s request. He turned over a new leaf, becoming the fun, playful guy he is today. Although there are plenty of nonsensical things about him, he still tries to defend the Earth occasionally, redeeming him from the destructive villain he once was.