So we all know the jokes about how fights in the Dragon Ball franchise drag on forever. Even fans of the franchise can’t help but laugh a bit at how the characters spend several episodes just staring at each other and screaming as they power up. And to an extent, that’s true. Dragon Ball Z in particular was heavily stretched out to avoid running out of material from the manga, so extra content was packed in whenever possible. The worst was definitely in Goku’s fight with Frieza, which is the longest fight in any anime, clocking in at over four hours long.
But despite all those jokes, the franchise does have plenty of fast-paced fights to change things up. We won’t be counting the movies, since they have run times to stick to, and we’re also only looking at fights where both characters knew they were having a fight. And our final rule is they have to involve named characters who are seriously trying to kill each other, meaning no tournament fights where it’s often more of a competitive sparring session.
That still leaves plenty of lightning quick battles though. So don’t blink or you’ll miss the 15 Fastest Fights In Dragon Ball.
15. FUTURE TRUNKS VS IMPERFECT CELL
Future Trunks burst into the franchise in a big way when he went up against Frieza in his first fight, but unfortunately for him, his momentum dwindled pretty heavily afterward. He totally failed to stop the androids from being released, and wasn’t even successful in destroying them or the main timeline’s Cell. Clearly he bit off more than he could chew by traveling to the past, but one thing you can say about Trunks is when he finally gets the opportunity to go for the kill, he takes it.
When Future Trunks traveled back to his own timeline, he knew that in another reality Cell had killed him and stolen his time machine. He was prepared for the attack and wasted little time on talking when Cell appeared. And to top it off, when Imperfect Cell was going for the Kamehameha to try and gain some control in the fight, Trunks did something so few Dragon Ball characters seem to know how to do—he interrupted his opponent’s attack instead of just standing there and allowing it to happen! What a rebel.
14. VEGETA VS JEICE
Some fans might wonder why the entire Ginyu Force isn’t on here, since Vegeta did eventually kill them all. But Jeice is really the only one Vegeta actually squared off against and defeated in battle. He killed Guldo by surprise, had to be rescued from Recoome and Burter by Goku, and Captain Ginyu didn’t even get a chance to attack before Vegeta finally killed him in Dragon Ball Super. Jeice is pretty much the Ginyu Force member who got enough offense in for it to constitute a fight.
While Jeice was an awesome character thanks to his over-the-top Australian accent, his carrot-colored skin, and his long rock star hair, he just wasn’t much of a fighter. In fact, he’s the only Ginyu Force member who is never specified as having some special ability. Nonetheless, he put up a valiant fight against Vegeta, brawling through a spaceship and crashing through its walls. But once Vegeta started landing some blows, Jeice realized he was outmatched and wound up begging for his life. It wasn’t a request Vegeta granted.
13. VEGETA VS ANDROID 19
It’s fights like this one that really epitomize how effective quicker battles can be when fans are so used to long conflicts. When this fight starts fans may be expecting Vegeta to be the underdog, since they believe that Androids 19 and 20 are the killing machines Future Trunks warned of. And so far, the androids have been living up to that reputation by nearly killing Yamcha, creating havoc in the city, and even defeating a Super Saiyan Goku. So this looked like it’ll be a tough fight.
Then Vegeta surprises everyone by not just unveiling that he’s become a Super Saiyan, but even flaunting his power by allowing Android 19 to absorb his energy. But once 19 demonstrates the limits of his capabilities, Vegeta wastes no time in providing the biggest show of all. Vegeta easily rips off 19’s hands, and delivers a swift coup de grâce with his Big Bang Attack.
12. DABURA VS FAT BUU
It’s pretty rare we get to see two villains face off against each other, so that alone made the encounter between Dabura and Buu something intriguing. Plus we ‘d seen earlier that Dabura could hold his own against Gohan, and Buu had just nearly killed Gohan, so on paper the two villains looked evenly matched. But you knew this could be a quick fight since Dabura’s spit could turn people to stone. And yet, Buu was the one who brought this to a close in a matter of minutes.
As we quickly saw, no matter how much damage Buu sustained, he could just regenerate from his injuries. And while Fat Buu had the innocence of a child, he was also extremely quick and strong. Dabura quickly became injured during the fight and resorted to trying to use his stone-spitting technique, but couldn’t land a single loogie. And then Buu swiftly ended the fight by using his antenna to transform Dabura into a giant cookie and literally eating him whole.
11. VEGETA VS CUI
In case you couldn’t tell, this is a Vegeta heavy list. The guy just loves making quick work of weak opponents. (If only he’d stuck with that attitude when facing Semi-Perfect Cell!) With Cui, he set an immediate example of how he was going to run things on Namek. Vegeta did the majority of the killing of the evil characters during this saga, and with Cui, he proved why. Saiyans get stronger when they recover from near-death, and Vegeta almost dies a lot during this period, so he gets incredibly strong.
During this fight, Cui repeatedly bragged about how he was going to get the better of Vegeta because the two of them have always been even in their power levels. But Vegeta broke out some new tricks from his time on Earth, demonstrating not only his boost in power, but his ability to hide his true power level, as well as being able to sense the power of others without a scouter. So after an ineffective barrage, Cui realized he was outmatched and proposed an alliance instead. The answer to that request was a resounding “No!”
10. GOKU VS YAKON
It had to happen sooner or later. With the Dragon Ball franchise so notorious for its lengthy scenes of characters powering up, eventually a character had to come along who is so weak that they die just from another character raising their power level. Yakon looked pretty menacing, so you wouldn’t think he’d be such a push over but, as Goku said before the fight, it’s not like Yakon is the smartest opponent.
It looked like an advantage when Yakon revealed that he could devour an opponent’s power, but then Goku had such huge reserves of power that it didn’t really make a difference. Goku deliberately turned Super Saiyan and just let Yakon keep eating without ever laying a hand on him. You’d think Yakon would have realized the plan and just closed his mouth, but this really wasn’t Babidi’s most intelligent minion. Yakon essentially killed himself by gorging himself on power until he exploded, demonstrating why the middle of a fight is no time for a snack break.
9. VEGETA VS DODORIA
Frieza doesn’t share power with many people, so Zarbon and Dodoria must have been special to earn his trust. The two warriors had been with Frieza all the way back to when he attempted to eradicate the last of the Saiyans. And while Zarbon later proved capable of handling himself, Dodoria didn’t fare so well. He scared off Krillin and Gohan easily enough, but had a tougher time when he came across someone who would stand his ground.
It was clear that Dodoria, like Cui, underestimated Vegeta’s power and assumed he was still dealing with the same Saiyan who had gone to Earth. But once again, Vegeta cleared up that misconception when the fighting began and he was preparing to rip off Dodoria’s arms. Realizing he was outmatched, Dodoria tried to bargain his way free by revealing Frieza’s role in killing off the Saiyans. But that just reminded Vegeta of why he was a fool to trust Frieza, so he decided not to make that same mistake with Dodoria, and blew him away.
8. YAJIROBE VS CYMBAL
Yajirobe’s name doesn’t really come up a lot for anything in the Dragon Ball franchise. If you think Yamcha and Tien got forgotten quickly, Yajirobe all but disappears after helping defeat Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z. It’s actually kind of surprising since he does seem like a pretty capable warrior. He was brave enough to attack Vegeta in his Great Ape form, he faced off against Goku as a kid, and he even has one of the quickest kills in the franchise.
Any time a villain has minions, at least one of them is inevitably a dud, so you knew one of King Piccolo’s children wouldn’t have long for the world. Cymbal wound up being the lucky recipient of that honor when he attacked Yajirobe for his Dragon Ball. Despite exhibiting some impressive powers over lightning that seemed to give Cymbal the edge, that was nothing compared to the edge of Yajirobe’s sword. Once Yajirobe got close with his blade, he sliced Cymbal in half quite quickly, and decided to roast his defeated foe up for some breakfast.
7. VEGETA VS PUI PUI
By this point in the franchise, the Saiyans were the strongest warriors around and they knew it. Just look at how many years passed with the Z Fighters going unopposed, between the Cell Saga and the Buu Saga. It’s understandable that they had grown confident, as they clearly exceeded the expectations the Supreme Kai and Babidi had for them. That was a lesson the villains who had to fight the Z Fighters this time around still had to learn.
Pui Pui was the first to step up to defend Babidi, getting Vegeta as his opponent. Pui Pui thought he had the edge when Babidi transformed the fighting area into Pui Pui’s homeworld, where the gravity was several times more intense than on Earth. Of course, he didn’t know that the Saiyans were already used to training in gravity hundreds of times that of Earth’s, so Vegeta couldn’t even tell the difference. Pui Pui thought this was a bluff, but realized too late that Vegeta was serious when the Saiyan Prince quickly ended the fight without even turning Super Saiyan and blew Pui Pui away with an energy blast.
6. YAMCHA VS THE SAIBAMEN
As much as people joke about Yamcha being a weak fighter, that didn’t really become the case until Dragon Ball Z came along with its skyrocketing power levels. But even in his last real fight, Yamcha still did perfectly well for himself. He went up against one of the Saibamen that Nappa and Vegeta brought with them, and he beat the creature quite easily. His only mistake was not making sure the Saibamen was actually finished off.
This is the only fight on this list where both fighters wound up dead, but it was only because of a kamikaze attack from the Saibamen that easily could have taken out any of the Z Fighters. It was just bad luck for Yamcha and his reputation that he was the recipient of the attack. It was a quick defeat for both combatants, but Yamcha was the one hurt the most in the long term, since this fight lost him the respect of a lot of fans.
5. TRUNKS VS DABURA AND BABIDI
If you’ve been feeling like Dragon Ball Super has just become “The Goku and Vegeta Show”, this fight must have done something to alleviate that feeling that the other characters are being disregarded. With this battle, Trunks pulled the trifecta of overcoming all three of Dragon Ball Z’s main villains on his own. And just like his prior encounters in DBZ, he did it in one episode, hence why its inclusion here. Even more impressively, Trunks won this fight in less than five minutes.
We all know Babidi isn’t a fighter and prefers to use his magic to enslave others to do his bidding, so Dabura was the real opponent of this encounter. And it’s not like Dabura was some pushover either. Dabura gave Gohan a hard time during the Buu saga, and still had his spit that turned opponents to stone. And if Trunks got spit on, it’s not like he had anyone to help him out. So this fight was doubly impressive for Trunks for not only overcoming a dangerous opponent and preventing the release of Majin Buu, but also for doing it in record time.
4. GOKU VS DRUM
It’s almost hard to believe that the same franchise that has the four-hour-plus battle between Goku and Frieza also has scuffles that resolve as quickly as this one. The power of King Piccolo’s son Drum was quickly made apparent in the battle he had with Tien, just prior to this one. Despite possibly being the strongest human in the world at this point, Tien was slower than Drum and far greatly out-powered. In fact, Drum was on the verge of killing Tien before Goku arrived.
Goku had already lost Krillin to Piccolo’s other son Tambourine, so he had none of his playful humor at the idea of another one of his friend’ being in danger. Goku was stronger than Drum and wasted no time in proving it. The two squared off and Drum attempted to use his speed to land an attack from behind, but Goku didn’t even give him the chance to land a single hit. With one kick, Goku literally knocked the eyes out of Drum’s head and ended his life.
3. CHIAOTZU VS NAPPA
Having seen how well a self-destruction attack worked for the Saibamen, you can’t blame Chiaotzu for attempting the same thing. Nappa had elected to take on Piccolo, Tien, Gohan, Krillin, and Chiaotzu all by himself, and he was actually winning the fight. When the Z Fighters were losing that badly, it was obvious they needed something big to turn the tide. So Chiaotzu decided to make the ultimate sacrifice for his attack.
Unfortunately for Chiaotzu, this is the one case where one of the heroes on this list was unsuccessful in beating his opponent. It was a quick ending to the encounter, but not in the way planned. Nappa was barely even singed after Chiaotzu’s desperation attack, and would even go on to kill several more of the Z Fighters before being overpowered by Goku. Even then it took someone as powerful as Vegeta to deliver the finishing blow to Nappa, so Chiaotzu never really had a chance.
2. GOKU VS RECOOME
This wasn’t the fairest fight for Recoome since he’d just been triple-teamed by Vegeta, Krillin, and Gohan, but he showed no hesitation in taking on a fresh Goku. In fact, Goku’s friends were more worried about how he would fare than Recoome. And it’s hard to blame them since Recoome showed the Ginyu Force was no joke. The big man finally put a stop to Vegeta’s triumphant ways on Namek and, after swatting around Krillin, Recoome was on the verge of killing Goku’s son as well.
Fortunately, Goku finally arrived on planet Namek, and had unmatched speed from all of his training. Nobody except Vegeta could even keep track of Goku’s movements, and Recoome couldn’t lay a finger on him. Recoome finally got frustrated enough to dish out his best move, the Eraser Gun, but while he was charging it up, Goku struck his first and only blow—an elbow to the gut that left Recoome in a heap. And unlike the other entries here, Goku didn’t deliver the death blow. But seeing as Vegeta soon remedied that, Recoome certainly qualifies to be here.
1. FUTURE TRUNKS VS FRIEZA
This fight probably sprang to the mind of many a Dragon Ball fan as soon as they read this list’s title. And with good reason, too. Unlike many of the characters on this list, Frieza had already proven how incredibly resilient he was before this encounter. So when he showed up again, no doubt everyone was expecting him to be a major threat. Of course, that quickly changed once it became clear Goku was no longer the only Super Saiyan.
Future Trunks did in one episode what Goku couldn’t accomplish in over four hours of screen time, and actually killed Frieza. An exploding planet might not have done the job, but getting diced apart by a sword and vaporized by an energy beam certainly did. With this fight, Trunks reminded everyone that it’s definitely possible to make quick work of an opponent, even in Dragon Ball, and he earned a big following among the fanbase because of it.
Which fight do you think packed the most action into a short time? Share your favorite battle of the bunch in the comments!