In Dragon Ball, Goku has faced off against an extreme number of opponents. Some were incredibly strong.
One would be remiss to talk about the greatest anime series of all time and not mention the absolute phenomenon that was Dragon Ball. The original series might’ve been successful enough as is, but it’s the massive popularity that Dragon Ball Z garnered over time that has truly cemented this franchise as one of the all-time greats. No other anime had probably attained the mainstream level of success that Dragon Ball Z enjoyed back in the day, and it’s this immense popularity that paved the way for Dragon Ball Super to become iconic as well.
The fights that Goku has had over the course of the series are truly the best parts of Dragon Ball, showcasing some of the aspects of the series and allowing the protagonist to reach dizzying heights of power to fight against seemingly insurmountable odds. Here’s a selection of ten of the most powerful fighters that Goku has faced over the series.
Updated on November 5th, 2020 by Patrick Mocella: As the face of anime itself, the most powerful Saiyan in the universe Goku has faced off against an endless amount of powerful adversaries who could easily wipe out a regular person without a single thought (unless they were Hercule Satan of course). Some of them are among the most iconic villains in the entire franchise so its high time we include them here. We will not be including any villains from the original movies or other non-canon pieces of entertainment however so don’t be expecting the likes of Janemba or Cooler on here.
Beerus was the first opponent that Goku fought in Dragon Ball Super — well unless you count the three muggers — and is still a fighter whom Goku has yet to surpass to this day.
However, while Beerus might be one of the toughest fighters on this list, he still doesn’t even hold a candle to his mentor.
It might be a stretch to call Whis Goku’s opponent, but the two have definitely engaged in sparring matches during training… although the use of the word ‘sparring’ is rather liberal here.
Whis is the Angel of Universe 7 and, as a result, the strongest being in this realm. Goku will truly have to pull out all the stops if he even stands a chance of besting this angelic warrior.
Dragon Ball Super: Broly is easily one of the greatest anime movies of all time, and the titular character is one of the major reasons why this is the case. Turning Broly from movie fodder whose sole reason for his rage towards Goku is the fact that the latter cried while Broly was sleeping.
Dragon Ball Super did a good move by discarding this stupid backstory and giving this mild-mannered fighter an actual purpose and a backstory that actually did him justice.
Of course, it certainly helped that his Legendary Super Saiyan form was so powerful that his power escalation could’ve gotten the better of both Goku and Vegeta… had they both not fused instead.
The strongest fighter in the Pride Troopers was no joke, and absolutely decimated everyone standing in his way during the Tournament of Power. Even Goku, a warrior who loved to fight and never got taken down easily, was nothing more than an annoying fly for Jiren in the early goings, who promptly swatted him out of his way.
It took the mastered Ultra Instinct transformation for Goku to finally deal a beating on Jiren that was very much overdue and was quite an epic spectacle for viewers to witness as well.
While the leader of the Pride Troopers might’ve been more of Vegeta’s opponent than Goku’s, the latter did engage in a few skirmishes with Toppo throughout the Tournament of Power.
If Toppo had engaged in a battle with Goku while he’d been in his Destroyer form, then the battle would’ve been incredible in every sense of the word.
However, Goku already had his hands full with some other fighters.
Most people might have a problem with Caulifla and Kale — mainly due to their inconsistent power levels — but there’s no denying the fact that these two Saiyans certainly gave Goku a tough time… but their individual powers simply weren’t enough to take down the mighty warrior.
So, these fighters decided to take a page out of Goku and Vegeta’s playbook and used the Potara Earrings to fuse and become Kefla, one of the strongest opponents Goku has ever faced. Without his imperfect Ultra Instinct form, Goku would’ve definitely been eliminated from the tournament by the combined might of these two Saiyans.
The assassin from Universe 6 is undoubtedly one tough opponent, and Goku had to pull out all the stops when it came to fighting on even ground. He endured a major toll on his body by transforming into the Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-Ken form, which — while still a treat to witness regardless — still wasn’t enough to take out Hit once and for all.
Of course, with all the training and fighting experience that Goku has garnered over the course of the series post this battle, a rematch might have a completely different result.
8. Fused Zamasu
The threat that the duo of Zamasu and Goku Black posed in the world of Future Trunks was immense enough as is, and one can make a case that both fighters deserve to be on this list.
However, with their fused variant unleashing a ton of pain upon the Z-Fighters, it’s no surprise as to why their combined form has made this list. Without the help of Xeno, it was a given that Fused Zamasu would’ve destroyed the entire Universe… and all the fighters inhabiting it too.
9. Kid Buu
While the Buu Saga might split fans down the middle, there’s no denying the fact that the fights in this arc were quite entertaining regardless, with Goku VS Majin Vegeta being an obvious highlight.
However, in terms of raw power, there’s no denying the fact that Kid Buu was the most powerful opponent Goku had faced in Dragon Ball Z. Had his energy not been restored, Goku would’ve definitely lost the fight… and his life.
10. Golden Frieza
The first time Frieza revealed his Golden form was quite an epic moment indeed… although it was somewhat undercut by the Super Saiyan Blue transformations of both Goku and Vegeta.
That being said, there’s no denying the fact that Golden Frieza’s power ceiling has yet to be explored properly, and with sufficient training, there’s no telling how powerful Golden Frieza can actually become.
In a fight with a mastered Golden form, Frieza can definitely give Goku a tough time.
11. Majin Vegeta
Despite their storied rivalry, Goku and Vegeta have only actually faced off in no holds barred combat twice in their lives. Their second battle which took place in the Buu Saga showcased a different form of Vegeta who accepted a Faustian deal to gain more power via the wizard Babidi.
Even if Goku was holding back in this fight by not going into his Super Saiyan 3 form, it doesn’t change the fact that Majin Vegeta was an incredibly powerful opponent. Being able to stand toe to toe with Goku’s Super Saiyan 2 form is no cakewalk but Vegeta did an admirable job.
12. Fat Buu
While Goku had faced foes with odd powers before, none of them could prepare him for the terror that was Majin Buu. While his combat knowledge and overall intelligence are the lowest of all his foes, he made up for it with insanely powerful healing abilities and the ability to copy the moves of his foes.
Goku faced off against this demented tub of goo in the Buu Saga and while he isn’t defeated by him, he also can’t do anything to permanently injure him. Now that Buu is on the side of the heroes in Dragon Ball Super we are unlikely to ever see a rematch between these two.
13. Cell Jr.
An often set of characters during the Cell Saga, these terrifying “children” of the main antagonist Cell may not have looked super powerful, but they made their impact as soon as they were born.
Battling the rest of the Z-Fighters not named Gohan, the Cell Jrs toyed with all of them. Even Goku, who was spent after his battle with Perfect Cell couldn’t keep up with them as they brutalized and laughed their way to an apparent victory. It’s worth noting that according to the official Dragon Ball guidebook series Daizenshuu, Cell Jrs are stated to be as strong as their father. However, they lack his intellect and wealth of techniques.
14. Perfect Cell
With the combined genetics of Goku, Piccolo, Vegeta, Frieza, and King Cold, the villain Cell was an all-mighty foe that none of the Z-Fighters could hope to face alone when he first transformed into his Perfect Form. Thankfully though, Goku and his allies had access to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
With the ability to train an entire year in one day, Goku came out of that chamber ready to face his foe. Good thing that he did as Cell was the toughest opponent he faced up until that point. Incredibly, Cell remains one of the only villains to survive an encounter with Goku as he bowed out of the contest to pass the reigns onto Gohan. But with his regenerative ability, battle intelligence, and wealth of copied techniques, Goku was lucky to leave with his life… which he shortly thereafter sacrificed to obliterate Cell.
While Golden Frieza easily outclasses the power of Namek Saga Final Form Frieza, we cannot forget just how much of a thumping the Galactic Emperor gave our alien hero in their first match-up. From drowning him in water to easily tanking his strongest attacks, Goku was out of luck when it came to Frieza.
That was of course until Goku saw his best friend Krillin die in front of his eyes which prompted the first Super Saiyan transformation in the series. Once Super Saiyan Goku had arrived it was game over for Frieza but he was still an absolute powerhouse that no other character outside of Goku could keep up with.