Only a few Z-Warriors in the Dragon Ball franchise can claim the distinction of having defeated Goku. Here’s who they are and how they did it.
Only a few Z-Warriors in the Dragon Ball franchise can claim the distinction of defeating Goku. Beating the series protagonist is considered a huge accomplishment for any character, regardless of when it happened in Goku’s lifetime. Though Goku has had his share of losses in Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball Super, it’s not often that a character gets to take him down. After all, Goku is known for his resolve, ability to overcome the odds, and dedication to his training. Also, his Saiyan heritage enables him to come back stronger after suffering a defeat.
Over the years, Goku has gone through numerous transformations and upgrades, all the while saving the world from threats like Frieza, Cell, and Buu. During this time, he has also fought with characters who now have heroic reputations in the Dragon Ball universe. Many of these battles were in martial arts tournaments or friendly competitions. It was for the latter reason that Goku battled Future Trunks, Gohan, and Android 17 in Dragon Ball Super. Goku, who has always had a love for fighting, enjoys pitting his skills against his friends.
However, some of Goku’s fights with the Z-Warriors happened before these characters became his allies. Characters like Vegeta and Piccolo, for instance, were villains when they were introduced and it took some time before they could be counted as heroes. In any case, Goku won most of his battles with his fellow Z-Warriors, but not all of them went his way since, at those times, Goku still had a long to way go in terms of his power.
Yamcha has been a subject of ridicule with both the characters and the fans, with a lot of that stemming from his death at the hands of a mere Saibamen in the Saiyan Saga. Years before that ever happened, Yamcha had one of his most memorable moments ever when he went up against Goku. Yamcha was among the young Saiyan child’s first opponents in the original Dragon Ball. Before his fight with the Desert Bandit, Goku demonstrated himself to be highly capable in combat despite his age, but Yamcha outmatched him with ease. Even armed with his Power Pole, Goku couldn’t hold up to Yamcha’s blows, who hit him with his signature move, Wolf Fang Fist. Goku was sent flying. Luckily for Goku, the beatdown was interrupted by Bulma. Only a few characters in Dragon Ball history have been able to beat Goku with such little effort.
Later, Yamcha joined Goku’s adventure and has been a loyal friend ever since. As Goku’s training progressed, he eventually surpassed Yamcha in Dragon Ball, and the gap between them has widened even further since those days. Yamcha is still incredibly powerful for a human and one of the four strongest humans on Earth, but it’s been a long time since he could compete with Goku.
As a child, Goku began training under Master Roshi, who taught him techniques like the Kamehameha. The Turtle Hermit had a big influence on Goku and is someone who Goku still regards as his teacher. In Dragon Ball, the elderly martial arts master seemed content with simply training others, but unbeknownst to everyone, he was secretly moonlighting as “Jackie Chun”. With this disguise, he was able to fight in martial arts tournaments without anyone knowing his true identity.
He was the defending champion when he had to battle Yamcha, Krillin, and Goku. After taking down Yamcha and Krillin, he fought Goku in the final round. Even though Goku lost control and temporarily turned into a Great Ape, he ultimately couldn’t beat his mentor. As the years went by, it appeared that Roshi could no longer keep up with the Z-Warriors, but Dragon Ball Super revealed that Roshi had secretly made huge strides. In one episode, Roshi was shown to be strong enough to give Goku a good fight (but only in his base form).
Tien hasn’t always been the hero he’s known to be in Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super. When he and Chiaotzu first came onto the scene, they were loyal disciples of Master Roshi’s rival, Master Shen. While in the company of Master Shen, Tien was a vicious warrior who showed no remorse when using excessive force on opponents like Yamcha. He engaged in a heated battle with Goku in the final round of a martial arts tournament, and despite attempts by Master Shen to rig the fight in Tien’s favor, Goku and Tien battled it out fairly. After an evenly-matched fight, it ended with both characters falling out of the ring. Since Goku hit the ground first, Tien was declared the winner.
Similar to the situations with Yamcha and Roshi, Tien hasn’t been on Goku’s level since the original Dragon Ball. However, Tien still trains regularly and was able to make at least a few contributions to Universe 7’s victory in the Tournament of Power.
Vegeta has beaten Goku not once, but twice. That being said, both victories were far from fair. The first time Goku fought Vegeta was in the Saiyan Saga. Fresh off his training with King Kai, Goku returned to Earth to help his friends beat Nappa and Vegeta, only to find that Yamcha, Piccolo, Chiaotzu, and Tien had all been killed. Goku easily dispatched Nappa and repeatedly shocked Vegeta with his power. With his Kaio-ken technique, Goku overpowered Vegeta. Having realized how powerful Goku truly was, Vegeta decided to transform into a Great Ape to regain the advantage. As a Great Ape, Vegeta successfully incapacitated Goku, forcing him to rely on Krillin and Gohan to finish the fight for him. Vegeta would have ended up killing them all if his tail hadn’t been severed by Yajirobe.
Vegeta seemingly switches sides after the Frieza Saga, but even after joining the Z-Warriors on Earth, he longed for a proper rematch with Goku. He finally got his chance when Babidi tried to awaken Buu. Vegeta, who still lagged behind Goku in strength, gave in to his pride and desire to beat Goku by accepting an evil upgrade from Babidi. He believing that in becoming “Majin Vegeta”, he could defeat Goku once and for all. Vegeta hit Goku with everything he had, and thanks to the power granted to him by Babidi, he managed to render Goku unconscious. Vegeta felt he had redeemed his Saiyan honor, but the legitimacy of his victory was shaken by the reveal that throughout their fight, Goku was holding back his Super Saiyan 3 transformation. The fight would have had a different result if Goku had used his full power.