As Dragon Ball Super continues onward, the Dragon Ball franchise continues to become more and more focused on the Saiyans. It was a trend that started in Dragon Ball Z when the Saiyan warriors had skyrocketing power levels that left even Earth’s best warriors in the dust. And sure, Goku and Vegeta are two of the best characters in the franchise, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that that makes the humans of the franchise useless.
The humans of the original Dragon Ball series might not have any fancy five minute long transformation sequences, but they still do some incredible things. Goku’s best friend Krillin is a great example of what a brave human can accomplish even without the power to destroy worlds. This is the guy who helped take down Vegeta, after all. If you haven’t paid much attention to Krillin, you’ve been overlooking one of the most interesting characters of the franchise. He has a long history in Dragon Ball, so here’s 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Krillin.
15 HE FACES EVERY MAJOR DBZ VILLAIN
When describing Krillin's personality, a lot of people might use the word 'cowardly' at some point, since his suggestion is so often to run or hide from the villains. And it's hard to blame him for that. He knows his limitations, and he knows he'll never ever be as strong as most of his friends. And yet, when push comes to shove and there's no avoiding a fight, Krillin steps up the plate every single time.
He goes right up to Raditz to tell him to leave the planet (and gets a tail slap for his trouble), he shows up to fight Nappa and Vegeta, and comes back to help with Vegeta's Great Ape form even after losing to Nappa. Look back at the encounters with all the main villains, and Krillin is there every time, while the likes of Yamcha, Tien, and Chiaotzu eventually gave up altogether. Make all the jokes you want about Krillin being weak, but he always gives it his all, and he makes a difference on numerous occasions.
14 HIS DESTRUCTO DISK IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST MOVES IN THE SERIES
Even first time viewers must have found it pretty bizarre that a character like Krillin has access to an attack like the Destructo Disk. His proficiency with the attack pretty much comes out of nowhere, and so few other characters attempt anything similar to it despite how enormously effective it seems to be. Even Cell, who steals some of the best moves in the show like the Solar Flare or the Kamehameha, elects not to use this move that can seemingly cut just about anyone in half.
Cell is actually just about the only character who seems able to resist the attack, with it having no effect when Krillin hits Perfect Cell with the move. But everyone else? Nappa and Vegeta are terrified when Krillin unveils the move and dive out of the way to save their lives. Frieza loses his tail to the technique, and eventually gets cut in half by using what was basically his own version of the Destructo Disk. Even Majin Buu gets diced in two when Krillin uses it. Considering how many people steal the Kamehameha, it's really a wonder why everyone isn't using what is seemingly one of the most dangerous techniques in the franchise.
13 KRILLIN WAS INTRODUCED BECAUSE GOKU WAS CONSIDERED BLAND
It’s definitely not the best news when the main character of a story is considered to be not that interesting. And yet, when Akira Toriyama was getting along with creating the original Dragon Ball manga, that’s supposedly what his editor told him about Goku. Now admittedly, many fans have griped over the years about how focused on Goku the franchise is and have longed for the chance to see more of the side characters to shine. As beloved as he is, Goku’s quest to become the strongest fighter can be a bit one note.
This is said to be the reason why Krillin was first introduced into the franchise. He’s obviously a very different kind of warrior than Goku, having no problem showing fear in the face of his adversaries. Krillin was still a kid like Goku, but was more well-versed in the world, and provided more opportunity for comedic relief. It seems pretty safe to say the franchise would have been a lot less interesting if Krillin and Goku had never met.
12 HE THINKS BEING BALD MAKES HIM STRONGER
Any fan of the franchise was likely shocked when Krillin grew his hair out after the Cell Saga in Dragon Ball Z. Sure, lots of other characters changed their hairstyles over the years, but Krillin had been bald for so long that you could assume he was just naturally bald. Some fans with good memories probably remembered that Krillin claimed he shaved his head, but that wouldn't be the first time he fibbed about something. But no, he really could grow hair. Even more bizarre though was his explanation for keeping it shaved for so long.
According to Krillin, serious martial artists all shave their heads because it brings out their ki and enhances their power. He used Master Roshi as an example of this, but Roshi quickly refuted this idea by explaining that he was just naturally bald. That didn't deter Krillin though, because he even shaved his head for old times sake to prepare for battle in Resurrection ‘F’. But as ridiculous as it sounds, maybe Krillin was right about being bald enhancing a fighter's ability. At least if you're going by this next fact...
11 KRILLIN IS ONE OF THE STRONGEST HUMANS ON THE PLANET
We all know it's a running joke in the Dragon Ball franchise that Krillin is the character that gets beaten up all the time. If you're a fan of Team Four Star's Dragon Ball Z Abridged, you know that they even have a counter for all the times Krillin gets owned. But that's honestly not a mark against him, but rather an indicator of how many insanely powerful non-human characters show up in the franchise. Let's face it, by the time DBZ kicks into gear, if you're not a Saiyan, you're basically useless. But for being a natural resident of Earth, Krillin's power is nothing to be ashamed of at all.
Even with the limitations of being a human, Krillin stood against so many powerful villains in the series, and even managed to hurt several of them. If anyone else on Earth were capable of that, we'd have seen them by now. But the only other strong humans we see are Yamcha and Tien, both of whom get outclassed by Krillin as the years go by (as their fight against the Saibamen and Nappa proves, with Krillin faring the best against them). Plus, Krillin even leaves Goku, the strongest fighter living on Earth, in severe pain. Super Saiyan Goku can shrug off a punch from Cell no problem, but Krillin throws one rock at the Saiyan while he's sleeping, and Goku winds up screaming in pain. Sure, it was a filler scene, but it was still funny.
10 THE DOTS ON HIS HEAD ARE FROM INCENSE BURNS
The most distinctive thing that fans remember about Krillin other than his short height and typically bald head are the six dots that are on his forehead. It’s not something that’s ever really delved into in the franchise, likely because the anime is set in Eastern culture, and that audience likely implicitly understood the meaning behind it. But to many Western fans who grew up watching the English dub of the franchise, the meaning was probably lost.
While we can’t pretend to have the most intricate understanding of Eastern religions, the gist of the meaning behind the dots comes from a ritual performed by monks in the culture. To show their commitment to their beliefs, the monks undergo a ceremony where cones of incense are burned on their forehead to leave behind the distinctive scars. We’re no experts on the symbolism and history behind the ritual, but seeing as how Krillin had the markings when he was a child, he clearly took his training very seriously early on in life.
9 HE’S THE ONLY CHARACTER OTHER THAN GOKU TO USE THE SPIRIT BOMB
We already talked about how odd it is that more characters aren’t using Krillin’s Destructo Disk, but clearly Krillin has no qualms about borrowing other people’s moves. Throughout the franchise, he utilizes Goku’s signature Kamehameha wave, he pulls out Tien’s Solar Flare technique to solid results, and he’s even the only character besides Goku who gets to use the Spirit Bomb.
Admittedly, the Spirit Bomb doesn’t have the best track record, since the only major villain it kills in the series is Kid Buu. But when the Z Fighters deal with Vegeta for the first time, they’re throwing everything they have at the Saiyan Prince, so it’d be foolish not to try every technique. And to be fair, when Krillin uses the attack, it actually does wind up hitting Vegeta with some help from Gohan. Sure, it’s not a fatal blow, but it deals major damage and is an excellent reminder of how useful Krillin can be when he has to fight.
8 HE BREATHES THROUGH HIS SKIN SINCE HE DOESN’T HAVE A NOSE
Even though the Dragon Ball franchise can get pretty dark with all the fighting, killing, and attempts to destroy the planet, it also has lots of funny moments. The original Dragon Ball in particular had a lot more comedic relief to break up the tension. One such instance is one of Krillin’s fights at the World Martial Arts Tournament, where he faces off against a giant smelly man named Bacterian. Bacterian beats his opponents more through his odor than anything else, and looks poised to do the same to Krillin…until Goku reminds him he doesn’t have a nose.
It’s a funny moment that acknowledges the way Krillin is drawn. Of course we all see he doesn’t have a nose, but we assume he must from the perspective of the characters. But no, apparently his lack of a nose is canon. In fact, when asked to elaborate on how Krillin breathes without his nose, Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama even stated, “Hmm… (long silence). Kuririn [Krillin] has a physical idiosyncrasy that allows him to breathe through his skin.” You might think he’s joking, but since they brought up Krillin’s lack of a nose on the show, maybe this odd ability Akira mentions will be integrated as well eventually.
7 HE’S THE MOST POPULAR HUMAN IN THE SERIES
It probably goes without saying that Goku and Vegeta are two of the most popular characters in the entire franchise. They receive so much screen time and have all the cool transformation sequences. Plus, they’re more often than not the ones who defeat the big villains, so they also have big lists of accomplishments. But something you might not have realized is that Krillin is the most popular human in the franchise, as voted by the fans.
The book Dragon Ball Forever was a retrospective on the franchise, and it featured an interview with Akira Toriyama as well as the results of the fans voting for their favorite characters in all of Dragon Ball. Obviously the top spots were very Saiyan-heavy, but Krillin actually cracked the top ten and was the highest rated human among the results. His closest human competitor was Hercule, but Krillin also beat out major villains like Buu, Cell, and even Frieza. That’s pretty impressive.
6 HE WAS NEARLY AN ANDROID
We all know the story of Krillin and Android 18 as told by the anime. Krillin becomes enamored by her even though she's a villain and part robot, and refuses to fight her even as she beats down his friends. And even though it would have stopped Cell from achieving his perfect form and nearly destroying the world, Krillin refused to detonate 18 when he had the chance, as he was determined to protect her. He finally used one of the wishes from the Dragon Balls to ask for her and 17 to have the bombs removed from their bodies, and he and 18 eventually married.
However, in an alternate story presented by the game Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai, Android 18 gets a chance to use the Dragon Balls. Initially, she wishes for the same thing Krillin first wished for, that she could be made completely human. But after that wish couldn't be granted by the dragon, 18 wished for Krillin to become like her, an android. Ultimately that wish wasn't able to be granted either, but it's pretty interesting to think we almost saw Krillin no longer be a human.
5 HE BASICALLY NAMES HIS DAUGHTER AFTER HIS EX
While few people really have a fondness for the Garlic Jr. Saga of Dragon Ball Z, one thing that stands out is that Krillin begins dating a new character during this time, a ditzy blue-head named Maron. She looks like Bulma's long lost sister, and infamously angers Chi-Chi by calling her a grandma. She also only sticks around to the end of the brief saga before moving on to look for other guys.
But she must have left a big impression on Krillin, because years later when he has his first child with Android 18, the girl is named Marron. That's one extra 'r' but it's still the same name. That's a pretty odd decision to give your child the distinct name of the last person you dated before your spouse. It's never really brought up, but it definitely sounds like Krillin had some unresolved feelings going on there. You have to wonder if Android 18 knew about the other Maron in her husband's life.
4 KRILLIN HAS DIED MORE THAN ANY OTHER CHARACTER
As we've mentioned, Krillin comes into contact with all the toughest villains Dragon Ball Z has to offer. Even before then, in the original Dragon Ball, he went up against some very powerful opponents. So even though Krillin getting beaten up is the subject of a lot of jokes, it's often his refusal to sit on the sidelines that gets him hurt. And while his bravery is admirable, it also gets him killed. Like a lot. In fact, he dies more than any other character in the franchise.
His first death is courtesy of Tambourine in the original Dragon Ball. Then he's killed again by Frieza, becoming the catalyst for Goku becoming a Super Saiyan. He's also one of the many killed by the future versions of Androids 17 and 18 in an alternate timeline. Then, after Majin Buu loses his patience waiting for a challenger to face him at Kami's Lookout, Krillin is one of the last people on Earth to be killed and eaten by Buu. And finally, in Dragon Ball GT, Super Android 17 kills off Krillin to spite his sister 18. Now all that remains to be seen is how Krillin will inevitably die in Dragon Ball Super. He's basically the Sean Bean of the Dragon Ball world.
3 WE ALMOST SAW KRILLIN AND PICCOLO FUSED TOGETHER
While not as drastic as Krillin almost becoming an android, we also almost saw another transformation involving him. Everyone knows the fusion dance introduced in Dragon Ball Z temporarily merges two characters together into a new person. In the video games in particular, you can see the technique performed using a lot of different odd character combinations to create some funny what-if scenarios. But one that almost made it into the show was a fusion between Krillin and Piccolo.
While attempting to teach Goten and Trunks how to perform the dance so they can face Buu, Krillin and Piccolo actually perform all the necessary motions in the dance. And it sounds like Akira Toriyama toyed with the idea of having them inadvertently merge together while practicing, to create a new character called Prillin. He even drew some sketches of the new form, resulting in something looking like the long lost cousin of a Saibaman. Apparently the drawings were just for fun though, because we never got to see Prillin actually appear in the story.
2 KRILLIN’S ENGLISH VOICE ACTOR ALSO VOICED GOKU’S FATHER BARDOCK
Lots of people voice multiple characters within the same anime, and it can be amusing when realizing a voice actor winds up actually talking to themselves on-screen because of this. For the Dragon Ball franchise, Christopher Sabat in particular winds up doing a lot of voice work, having taken on the roles of Vegeta and Piccolo. Krillin's English voice actor, Sonny Strait, isn't as prominently used throughout the franchise, but he does have one other role that is kind of surprising.
Sonny Strait technically voices the first chronological Super Saiyan, Goku's father, Bardock. Admittedly, it's a short role, since Bardock doesn't get much screen time compared to many other characters, but it's still got to be a pretty nice feather in the cap of Sonny Strait. For all those people who make fun of Krillin for being weak, Sonny can at least say he also voices one of the most important characters in the entire franchise.
1 HE’S A FAN OF ONE PIECE
People who follow voice actors they like are probably aware that the Dragon Ball franchise shares a number of prominent actors with other big name anime. An interesting coincidence is that the English voice actor behind Krillin, Sonny Straight, and the Japanese voice actress, Mayumi Tanaka, both also voice characters on the show One Piece. And that shared connection is something that's been acknowledged in the Dragon Ball franchise itself.
During the movie Resurrection 'F', fans might remember Krillin's job stopping criminals on the street. He gets a call after he stops the lawbreakers, and One Piece fans recognized the Easter egg slipped into the scene. When Krillin's phone rings, the One Piece intro song "We Are" is his ringtone. So apparently, Krillin is as much a fan of the long-running anime as the voice actors behind him are.
So has Krillin replaced Goku and Vegeta as your favorite character? Tell us your favorite thing about Earth’s strongest human in the comments!