When you think of Dragon Ball, images of hair turning yellow, energy auras erupting, and wanton screaming inevitably come to mind. Because, without transformations and power-ups, all we'd be left with is a bunch of oddballs eating a lot and running around with their tails between their legs (literally).
However, thanks to Goku's endless need to improve his abilities and a litany of villains who raise the stakes beyond what's possible every time, there seems to be no end to the changes in hair color that can be achieved.
Running the spectrum from memorable to forgettable and bizarre, Goku's ascensions are ultimately what keeps us coming back for more. So we're ranking them all to see which ones reign supreme.
Note: we're not including video game fusions or hypothetical ones like that time Mr. Satan imagined himself hooking up with Goku to create Gokule.
Without further ado, here is Every Goku Transformation In Dragon Ball Ranked.
What do you get when you combine Goku with Vegeta and some moderately bad dancing? Nobodies favorite overly obese Saiyan: Veku.
This failed fusion attempt was the result of Goku and Vegeta trying to take down the demon Janemba by transforming into an ultimate fighter. However, Vegeta botches the Fusion Dance by failing to properly extend his index finger at a crucial moment, and Veku pops out instead.
Veku's first and only appearance comes during the movie Fusion Reborn. He spends most of his time on screen getting the crap beat out off him by Janemba and hiding.
Unable to do pretty much anything of value, Veku's only two abilities are to run away using what he calls “Rabbite Feet” and fart. Miraculously Veku doesn't get killed by Janemba, providing Vegeta and Goku another shot to get their dancing in check.
14 Pseudo Super Saiyan
Pseudo Super Saiyan is what you get when you remove Akira Toriyama from the equation-- which is to say nothing good.
During the non-canon DBZ movie Lord Slug, Goku transforms into an odd state where his eyes glass over and he starts emitting a golden aura. One could be forgiven for thinking he had just gone Super Saiyan, but noticeably his hair remained black and he didn't seem all that more powerful than before.
Supposedly Toei Animation, the studio behind releasing the film, had heard Dragon Ball's creator Toriyama was planning a Super Saiyan transformation in the manga so tried to beat him to the punch without having a clue what it looked like.
Also known as False Super Saiyan, its hard to really gauge anything about this form other than its a confusing mess that was holds no relevance to anything other than allowing our hero to defeat the movie's villain.
Kaio-ken has the distinction of being the first non-ape power-up achieved by Goku. Given that, and the fact when translated it means “First of the Kind of Worlds,” you would think it would be pretty memorable. Instead it's quite forgettable.
The technique was invented by King Kai and taught to Goku, who is the only person ever to use it successfully. Kaio-ken multiplies the user's abilities exponentially, but has the downside of only lasting for a few moments and taking a heavy toll on the bod.
Goku first used the Kaio-ken technique early on in Dragon Ball Z to stop Vegeta. The most powerful Kaio-ken power-up Goku ever attempted on its own was 20 times his base form while fighting Frieza, and he still lost.
As far as power-ups g,o its pretty lame in the grand scheme of things-- that is unless he combines it with his other transformations.
12 Great Ape
Remember when Saiyans had tails and could turn into giant monkeys by looking at a full moon? It was laughable then just as much as it is today. There's just something inherently wrong about seeing Goku act like a werewolf and go on a murderous rampage.
As the Great Ape Goku's powers are tenfold. This might sound amazing but it actually makes this form the weakest of all Goku's transformations. It's also the only one that Vegeta seems to have perfected better than him, making for one all around very embarrassing power-up.
Luckily everyone eventually realized just how stupid Saiyan tails were and started to pretend like they never existed. For awhile there though, the Great Ape was the most powerful transformation in all of Dragon Ball.
11 Golden Great Ape
What could be better than a gigantic angry ape that conquers planets? How about a gigantic angry ape that shoots fire out of its mouth. and has yellow fur. The Golden Great Ape is the result of Goku transforming into a Super Saiyan while in his Great Ape state.
Appearing solely in Dragon Ball GT, this form impressively surpasses a Super Saiyan 3 in power. With a berserker rage and the ability to shoot energy blasts from its mouth, this is Goku at his most violent and destructive.
It's pretty much a toss up over whether this version or Goku's original Great Ape is more ridiculous. But since there's a convincing theory that the Golden Great Ape may be the “the Legendary Super Saiyan” of lore we'll give him the edge.
10 Super Saiyan 2
Super Saiyan 2 might seem exactly like a regular Super Saiyan but look again. For one, in this form Goku's hair becomes slightly more spiky. Also, he yells a little louder when turning into it.
However, we have to admit, when compared to some of the more dramatic transformations to come, this form doesn't really stack up.
The only meaningful use of SS2 was when it was first achieved by Gohan. And granted, his fight with Perfect Cell was nothing sort of awesome. Providing 100 times normal power with little stamina drain, Super Saiyan 2 is a nice upgrade and at the time enough to make Gohan look like the Man.
However, since similarly reaching this level, Goku has rarely bothered with Super Saiyan 2 and used it primarily as an immediate stepping stone to Super Saiyan 3.
9 Super Saiyan God
In the pantheon of Dragon Ball power-ups, Super Saiyan God came out of nowhere. One moment, everyone's having a good time on a yacht celebrating Bulma's birthday.
In the next Shenron appears and drops the bomb that if four Saiyans and one uterus get together in a prayer circle, they can turn Goku into a god-- no training, no hardship, just hand holding.
Frankly, Super Saiyan God seems like a one-shot afterthought made up on the spot to give Goku an excuse to fight Beerus and not die.
What's more the rules governing a Super Saiyan God are pretty random, since both during the anime's Tournament of Power and throughout the manga Goku can seemingly turn into a SSG at will with no explanation why.
Even more impressively, despite possessing the limitless powers of a deity, allowing regeneration, and turning his hair red, Goku's transformation into a Super Saiyan God doesn't really seem like all that big of deal.
8 Super Saiyan 4
Super Saiyan 4 is basically what would happen if Goku became a punk rocker, started wearing red eyeliner and put on a form-fitting fur jacket-- and grew a tail.
The result of a Golden Great Ape regaining control over its own mind, a Super Saiyan 4 is considerably stronger then its preceding forms but seems to have entirely forgotten how stupid Saiyan tails are.
Fortunately, as the byproduct of Dragon Ball GT, the SS4 form is not canon and so we're likely never to see it again.
This is a good thing because as cool as a superpowered monkey-like man might sound, this transformation removes all the light-hearted, good-natured fun that makes Goku a likable hero and instead turns him into a heavy metal real jerk.
7 Saiyan Beyond God
As strange as Goku's stint as a Super Saiyan God was, one good thing did come out of it. Thanks to his body's natural ability to tap into the god-like energy he momentarily experienced while a Super Saiyan God, Goku's base form was able to achieve a sweet upgrade to an entirely new level.
While not quite as powerful as a Super Saiyan God outright, Goku is still able to put up an admirable fight against Beerus while in this state.
As an added bonus, since it is a base form, there is no limit to how long Goku can sustain this power and it opens the door for a whole new realm of ascensions, like Super Saiyan Blue. Best of all his hair was no longer red.
Whereas Veku was an unnatural blundering mess of Saiyan lard, Gogeta was fusioning done right. Though technically not canon, it is hard to deny the impressiveness of Gogeta.
When Goku and Vegeta finally perfect the Fusion Dance in Fusion Reborn, they are able to take down Janemba - one of the most powerful characters in the Dragon Ball Universe-- without breaking a sweat. They do so as a being that doesn't even bother with base forms and jumps right to Super Saiyan.
Gogeta would later appear in Dragon Ball GT as a Super Saiyan 4, but we won't hold that against him. This was by far the most powerful of Goku's transformations in GT, thanks in no small part to his epic Big Bang Kamehameha, but annoyingly the character was even more of a jerk, taunting his opponents and cracking jokes that fell resoundingly flat.
All we can say is thank goodness for Super Gogeta.
5 Super Saiyan 3
The long hair and caveman brow might seem ridiculous, but that's just because you don't have them. Quite the contrary, Super Saiyan 3 is an awesome force to be reckoned with. This form is so powerful it took Goku over four minutes of constipated yelling just to turn into it, nearly destroying the planet in the process.
Afterwards, SS3 Goku single handedly took on Kid Buu and later admitted he could have killed the Buu but held back because he wanted Goten and Trunks to get in on the fun. Because that's just the kind of Super Saiyan he is.
Whereas as Super Saiyan 2 provided 100 times the power, Super Saiyan 3 results in a whopping 400x increase. Now that's an upgrade. The only downside is it drains power at a blistering rate, but Goku more than makes up for this with his luscious mane and lack of eyebrows.
4 Super Saiyan Blue
Also known as the unnecessarily complicated “Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan,” this form is the pinnacle in Super Saiyan ascension. (For now.)
SSSB is the result of Goku going Super Saiyan in his Beyond God Saiyan state, or has he puts it, "a Saiyan with the power of a Super Saiyan God further transforms himself into a Super Saiyan." Got it? Good.
In Super Saiyan Blue, Goku is stronger, faster, more relaxed, and able to use ki at a stabler rate than all other previous transformations. Also, he has really cool blue hair.
Whether Super Saiyan Blue Goku is more powerful than Super Saiyan God Goku is debatable, but this form just seems better in every way. This is probably because it didn't require holding hands with an unborn baby to achieve it.
3 Ultra Instinct
You have to hand it to the creators of Dragon Ball, just when we thought they'd pushed power-uping beyond the point of reason, they come out with Ultra Instinct.
The latest of Goku's forms debuting during the Tournament of Power in Dragon Ball Super, Ultra Instinct isn't so much a transformation as it is an enhanced state of being.
Using Ultra Instinct, Goku can automatically react to any threat without the need to acknowledge it and have his body automatically adapt to any attack in battle. Thanks to this omni-prescience Goku is able to give Jiren - the prophesied mortal who can beat up gods-- a run for his money.
So impressive is the technique that the gods themselves have trouble mastering it and nearly poop their pants when its unveiled. Goku has yet to tap into its full potential, so we're excited to see just how powerful his Ultra Instinct will be.
Arguably the most powerful non-deity in the Dragon Ball Universe, it's hard to deny the awesomeness of Vegito. While Goku and Vegeta's first successful fusion produced the impressive Gogeta, that transformation in no way compares to the power of their canonized union here.
Whereas the Fusion Dance merely adds the two Saiyan's powers together, the result of a fusion from wearing the Potara earrings multiples it exponentially-- and that's before the character even goes Super Saiyan or better still, Super Saiyan Blue.
Whether battling Buu in his most powerful state or the godly Zamasu, Vegito has no trouble going toe to toe with the best of them, and still manages to retain Goku's playful spirit. Bonus points for being just as lethal when turned into a hard candy.
1 Super Saiyan
There may be more powerful forms out there, but none are as cool or classic as Super Saiyan Goku. Its first appearance during his fight with Frieza in Dragon Ball Z is easily the most iconic transformation of the series. Once Goku's hair turned gold, everything changed.
Up to that point this form was only a legend amongst Saiyans. Multiplying Goku's strength by 50x it was nothing sort of a revelation and kicked off a power-up frenzy that has defined the series ever since.
Though it was only the tip of the iceberg, Super Saiyan still remains to this day the most popular transformation amongst fans and Saiyans alike. When someone thinks Dragon Ball, most likely they're picturing Goku as a Super Saiyan.
And best of all, it doesn't come with a tail.
Did we get the Dragon Ball rankings of Goku's transformations right? Which transformation do you think is the best? Let us know in the comments.