The Dragon Ball franchise is all about who has the most power. Usually Goku and Vegeta are the ones in the running for that honor, but there’s more to power than just new forms or who has trained the most. At the end of the day, it comes down to whose attacks are the best. And in that regard, it’s a lot harder to pinpoint who is the best, because certain characters you might never suspect actually possess some of the best moves we’ve seen.
For a topic like this, we’ve got to sift through the hundreds of moves fighters have used and narrow it down to the best of the best. That means unless an attack is capable of killing someone in one blow, it’s not even fit to be an honorable mention. By the end of this article, we’ll be getting into moves that can easily destroy entire planets, so there’s no room for any attack short of the most lethal. These are the moves you never want to be on the wrong end of-- it's Dragon Ball: 16 Most Powerful Attacks In The Franchise.
16 GALICK GUN
Kicking things off is an attack that isn’t anywhere near as deadly as some later techniques, but nonetheless has the capability to destroy a planet. The Galick Gun is a move that was originated by Vegeta when he is battling against Goku. To further emphasize the similarity between the two Saiyans, the Galick Gun basically resembles a different-colored Kamehameha wave, and proves to be evenly matched against Goku’s signature move. It’s an impressive display that only further solidified Vegeta as a character to remember early on.
We don’t see too much of the Galick Gun as Dragon Ball Z continues, but it had a big resurgence in Dragon Ball Super. In the new anime, Future Trunks has now taken on the move as well, and uses it numerous times when fighting against Zamasu and Goku Black. Unfortunately the move hasn’t really killed anyone of note, so it lacks an impressive resume, but this move is still a big time indicator that business is about to pick up.
The Tri-Beam is not only the signature attack of Tien, but is also one of the most unique attacks to appear in the franchise. This isn’t a move that just relies on training or anger to fuel it; it also pulls from the user’s own life force. So for higher powered versions of this move, the user can have as much chance of dying as the opponent. We’ve seen other self-destructive techniques used by fighters in the franchise, but none that were a regular move in the fighter’s repertoire.
Not only does Tien use this move going all the way back to the original Dragon Ball, but he continues to make use of it even in Dragon Ball Super. And while he hasn’t beaten many people with it, he showed the power of the move in perhaps his best moment in Dragon Ball Z. With Cell recently ascending into his semi-perfect form, Tien threw himself at the villain to buy Android 18 time to escape. Tien blasted Cell with a barrage of Tri-Beams, hitting him over and over again. It didn’t appear to do much damage, but it did leave Cell helpless to resist the move, which was especially impressive considering how weak Tien was by this point. The strategy nearly cost Tien his life, but proved the Tri-Beam is a move worthy of respect.
14 SPECIAL BEAM CANNON
Piccolo might be pretty outmatched nowadays in Dragon Ball Super, but in Dragon Ball Z, he was one of the few non-Saiyans able to consistently keep up in the big battles. Piccolo quickly proves his worth by simultaneously taking out DBZ's first antagonist and the show's hero with a single move. When Goku and Piccolo are forced to join forces against Raditz, the two Z Fighters realize Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon is the only move they have that's powerful enough to take out the evil Saiyan, so Goku restrains his long-lost brother while Piccolo charges up the move. The blast is so powerful that it not only fatally drills through Raditz, but also takes the life of Goku.
Though that first usage of the move is probably its most iconic moment, it has seen plenty of use throughout the franchise. Piccolo uses it to destroy a fake moon when Gohan transforms into a Great Ape, and he tries the move against villains like Frieza and Cell. Piccolo isn't even the only one to use the move-- Cell and Buu both also make use of it. Like many Dragon Ball attacks, this move has a huge charge-up time, but when used effectively it can pierce right through most characters.
13 FINAL FLASH
Most people will immediately think of Vegeta’s usage of this attack against Perfect Cell when they picture read the words "Final Flash." It was undoubtedly a cool moment, where Vegeta was so filled with rage at being hugely overpowered that he channeled all of his anger into a single blast. Trunks and Krillin both saw that the move could destroy the Earth, but Cell was oblivious to the danger he faced until it was too late. The move failed to kill Cell since he could regenerate, but it did obliterate the upper half of his body and nearly finish him.
The Final Flash hasn’t actually killed anyone, but it has seen more usage thanks to Dragon Ball Super. In the new anime, Future Trunks has added this technique to his repertoire and busted it out in a fight against Zamasu. It looked so devastating that Trunks and Goku were both sure Zamasu had to be dead. Though the god survived, this is the move where you know Vegeta or Trunks mean business. This is arguably the best move Vegeta has, and when charged fully, it could blast right through a planet. Only the very toughest of opponents can hope to survive it.
12 DEATH BALL
The Death Ball is the most powerful attack used by Frieza, as well as his brother Cooler, and evidently other members of his race like Chilled. Most people will probably remember this attack because it's the one Frieza used on to destroy the planet Namek, infamously claiming it would get the job done within five minutes. Of course, we know how inaccurate that wound up being, but it doesn't mean the Death Ball is a weak attack. We had previously seen how Frieza, in his first form, could use the attack to destroy a planet instantaneously. The incident on Namek didn't go as smooth as planned, but Frieza was kind of busy concentrating on a Super Saiyan Goku at the time.
When Cooler attempts to utilize the attack in Cooler's Revenge, he creates his Death Ball nearly instantly. He launches it at Goku in an attempt to destroy the Earth, but Goku uses a Kamehameha to blast it back at Cooler and push him into the Sun. The attack seems much like an evil version of the Spirit Bomb; a huge orb of energy that is extremely difficult to stop and is unlikely to leave anyone it hits surviving.
Of course Goku's signature technique can't go without a mention for this list. Sure, seeing as how he's literally used the move over a hundred times, its success rate comes off as pretty low. There are really only a handful of people who have been defeated by a Kamehameha. But Goku and others break it out so often because it's a great balance of speed and power. You wouldn't think it would be so hard to dodge a beam traveling in a straight line, but in the world of Dragon Ball, stepping aside from a Kamehameha is like trying to dodge water drops in a rainstorm.
Even though defeats by Kamehameha don't happen often, when they do, they're pretty memorable. Which was the more iconic defeat of Broly? The one punch KO in Broly's debut movie, or Goku, Gohan, and Goten beating Broly with a family Kamehameha? And when it comes to the defeat of DBZ's three main villains, does anything top Gohan beating Cell in their Kamehameha wave battle? The Kamehameha is the definitive attack of the franchise. It might not be the absolute strongest attack, but it can still stack up against just about any opponent.
10 STARDUST BREAKER
An attack really has to be good for it to be memorable despite only being used once, but Gogeta's ultimate attack, Stardust Breaker, qualifies. Once Goku and Vegeta fuse into Gogeta, they waste little time in finishing off Fusion Reborn's Janemba. They quickly overpower the villain with strikes, then begin charging up a rainbow sphere of energy. The move connects with Janemba and has a delayed effect before Janemba even realizes he's been defeated, making him vanish on the spot.
Based on the move’s use in the Dragon Ball video games, it sounds like the attack reacts to opponents by targeting the evil inside them to defeat them. In Fusion Reborn, Gogeta even says "every force you create has an echo. Your own bad energy will be your undoing." So it sounds like this is almost like the Devilmite Beam attack, where the more evil a character is, the more susceptible they are to the move. But seeing how many evil characters show up in Dragon Ball, the Stardust Breaker would have no shortage of victims.
9 OMEGA BLASTER
Broly quickly made waves in the franchise not just for being a purely evil Saiyan, but for the way in which he totally dominated the Z Fighters. He was able to laugh off a point-blank Kamehameha, and use his hulking figure to toss around everyone from Vegeta to Gohan. Broly barely needed special attacks because he was just so incredibly strong and durable. But when the time came to get into some ranged warfare, he was no slouch there either.
Broly’s energy attacks have a distinctive green glow to them, and he is able to form his blasts in just the palm of his hand. Even the standard version of these blasts were powerful, but in Broly—Second Coming he whipped up an even more destructive version of the attack. Similar to Frieza’s Death Ball, Broly created a huge orb of his energy to chuck at the Earth. What sets the move apart is that Broly was able to create his Omega Blaster so quickly, firing more and more of his green energy to increase the size of the attack. The move didn’t connect with the Earth, but only because Broly got blasted with a family Kamehameha from Goku, Gohan, and Goten to repel the Omega Blaster and use Broly’s own attack to drive him into the Sun.
8 DEATH BEAM
The Death Beam is Frieza's signature attack, and has proven to be such a powerful move that it can kill characters in just one hit. Part of what makes the move impressive is its simplicity; firing from just one of Frieza's fingers as if it's effortless. But the move is lightning fast, and can pierce right through a fighter, as it did when Frieza used it to kill Vegeta on Namek.
Several characters have been able to survive the move, including Goku, who stood his ground and took a shot right in the forehead from it without any visible sign of damage. It's a move that seems to be at its best when performed against an unsuspecting opponent so they have no time to brace for it. Since Cell had DNA from Frieza, he too could perform the Death Beam, and also used it as a surprise attack. In doing so, Cell wound up killing Future Trunks and giving the Saiyan the same death as his father.
7 DESTRUCTO DISK
You can make fun of Krillin all you want, but that doesn't change that he quickly introduced what would become one of the best moves ever seen in the franchise. Destructo Disk is a razor sharp circle of energy that could cut right through an opponent and kill them instantly. It's a shame that we never actually saw that happen, but the fear on the faces of anyone defending against the move was a testament to what a threat this move is.
Nappa and Vegeta both nearly got diced in half by Krillin when the Saiyans first came to Earth. And even though it only wound up lopping off part of his tail, Frieza, the biggest threat in the universe at the time, nearly lost his life to the Destructo Disk. Frieza apparently envied the move so much that he made his own purple version, and inadvertently cut himself in half with it. Sure, Perfect Cell tanked the move without even blinking, but every other character who's faced it has shown a healthy fear of this technique.
6 ABSORPTION BY CELL’S TAIL
The franchise has become so known for its energy attacks that it can be easy to forget that some non-ki moves are also very effective. For a while, the most threatening aspect of Cell was his tail, because we saw how he could use it to drain the life right out of living people and leave them as dried up husks. Cell used his tail to absorb the lives of many of Earth’s resident and grant himself more power, but he also put it to good used temporarily debilitating people like Piccolo.
Cell’s most effective use of his tail wasn’t fully shown until later, when he enlarged it to absorb Android 17 and 18 whole. Not until did it appear nearly impossible to escape this surprise attack, but it also gave Cell even more power each time he used it. He even used this move on Goku in GT and temporarily gained a massive boost in strength. The only two people to ever counter this move were Android 16, because Cell misjudged where 16’s deactivation point was; and Goku, because by GT Goku was so far out of Cell’s league that he could reverse the process of being absorbed.
5 THE DRAGON FIST
When a Kamehameha alone isn't getting the job done, Goku has an even more devastating attack-- the Dragon Fist, which literally punches through his opponents. Goku powers up one mighty punch, and uses his speed and energy to punch right through the body of his adversary and come out the other side, leaving a gaping hole behind him. As if that wasn't enough, Goku's energy manifests as a golden dragon that also plows through the victim. It's a cool-looking move, and one that has been very effective for Goku.
Every time Goku has used his Dragon Fist has been a fatal blow. Starting with the death of Hirudegarn, Goku has proven capable of finishing off otherwise impervious foes with this technique. In GT, he later uses the move to finally do damage to Super Android 17 and it's the beginning of the end for the android. Even Omega Shenron couldn't resist the attack, despite being a dragon. Though Omega was able to regenerate and continue fighting, it did prove he was killable
4 BUU’S CANDY BEAM
Certainly not the most impressive looking move, Buu’s Candy Beam nonetheless proved very effective almost every time he used it. Even Buu himself was not immune to the attack. It seems like no matter how strong a person is, they would not be able to resist the effects of this move. Even Vegito got turned into a ball of chocolate when hit with this attack. Like being absorbed by Cell’s tail, this move is a double whammy since it not only takes out an opponent-- when eaten, Buu takes on the power of the person he devours.
This is also just one of the more brutal moves of the franchise, when you think about it. Vegito’s stint as a ball of candy proves that the characters retain their sentience even in candy form. Most people who get hit with the beam are immobilized, leaving them helpless to just watch and wait to be eaten alive. This might not be as devastating as destroying a planet, but the process of this technique is pretty horrifying to imagine.
3 BIG BANG KAMEHAMEHA
Though it hasn't seen anywhere near as much as use as the Kamehameha, or even the Big Bang Attack, this combination of the two moves is so much more powerful. Just one of these attacks nearly killed Omega Shenron, who was Dragon Ball's most powerful villain for years. And Gogeta basically guaranteed that a second blast of Big Bang Kamehameha would destroy Omega for sure.
The downsides of the move are that it has only been performed by a Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta to date, which are very unlikely circumstances to ever be repeated. The other big negative is the move is so unimpressive aesthetically. A ball of light quickly appears, then engulfs the opponent in a standard-looking beam. It honestly doesn't look cool at all. But what it lacks in flash it makes up for in speed. Gogeta whipped out this move in no time, and was ready to unleash another so fast. It's rare to see a Dragon Ball attack that doesn't give ample time to interrupt the move.
2 HUMAN EXTINCTION ATTACK
Now we're really getting into the heavy hitters. Not only is it a mass attack, like Frieza's Death Ball, but it's also fast-acting, extremely hard to avoid, and a lot more effective. So many villains in the franchise talk about destroying the Earth or wiping out every person on it. Super Buu really wasn't much of a talker, but he made up for it big time with his actions. Buu did something that took the future versions of Android 17 and 18 years, and literally killed almost every single person on the planet. The only difference is that he did it in one move: the Human Extinction Attack.
When you think about it, this is a really impressive attack since Buu used it from one position, and it homed in on people on the other side of the world to kill them. The Z Fighters always talk about being able to sense energy, but Buu could apparently not only sense energy from many miles away, but also coordinate billions of energy blasts to be guided into each of those people. We only ever saw the attack once, but that was plenty to prove how powerful the Human Extinction Attack is.
1 SPIRIT BOMB
Of all the attacks in the Dragon Ball franchise, it's hard to argue for any of them being more powerful than Goku's Spirit Bomb. Any new attack that has been introduced since then can't really compare. That's for one simple reason: no matter the user's power level, this move has limitless power potential. Sure, it'll take an increasingly ridiculous amount of time to charge up, but if the user is patient, they can create a spirit bomb fueled by the energy of every living thing in the entire universe.
The downside of the move is obviously its wait time, which has seriously lasted several episodes in the franchise for just one use of the move. But this isn't about convenience or practicality, it's about power. Because this move borrows power from any living being willing to lend its energy, it goes far beyond any one person's training. Like droplets of water coming together to form an ocean, the Spirit Bomb builds from even the smallest powers. It doesn't matter how strong you are, you can't beat that.
Think there’s any attack better than these? Share which move in Dragon Ball you think deserves more love in the comments!