There are many characters that populate the rich Dragon Ball universe, yet the happy-go-lucky Goku gets the honor of being the main character. Audiences get to watch Goku grow up and spawn an entire family through the course of the Dragon Ball series.
He’s a character that the audience even gets to watch die, experiencing the grief that comes along with that. Dragon Ball is full of many satisfying character arcs, but Goku’s journey has a far more powerful impact.
Even when he is out of the picture, Goku often becomes the topic of discussion. Characters are either waiting for him to show up to help in battle or they know that he’s off training. Even if Goku is one of your least liked characters, it’s hard to deny that he’s an integral part of the series.
Goku’s journey is a positive one for the most part-- it often feels like he has incredibly good luck. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of moments where things do not play out in Goku’s favor and he learns what it’s like to lose. Additionally, Goku is far from perfect and his naivety often sees him make mistakes that lead to utter disasters.
With that said, here are the 8 Times Goku Got Destroyed In Dragon Ball (And 7 Times He Went TOO Far).
15 Destroyed: A Cell Junior Takes Him Down
Now this one is pretty rough stuff for Goku. Goku has always been one to blindly rush into a new battle-- the thrill of a new opponent is always too much for him. There are a number of times where this enthusiasm for a “good fight” results in disaster, and the whole Cell Junior debacle is a prime example.
Goku gets absolutely annihilated by the Cell Juniors and fails to make a serious dent in any of them. Goku’s defeat is made even worse here by the fact that it's entirely due to his arrogance.
Goku enters this battle exhausted from his fight with Cell, and rather than take a Senzu bean to heal, he refuses it and gives it to Cell. It’s a move that completely backfires on him.
The Cell Juniors would have killed Goku if not for the help of the other Z Fighters. On that note, it’s Yamcha and Tien who provide cover for Goku and keep him safe in the end.
14 Too Far: He Saves Hercule Satan Instead Of His Own Family
It’s no surprise that Goku isn’t the smartest character in Dragon Ball. Goku has such poor judgment that it practically becomes a running joke throughout the series.
At one point, the audience even expects Goku to make continuous mistakes, but that doesn’t excuse some of his alarming decisions. This one in particular sees the death of his family.
Life and death situations are incredibly stressful and it’s understandable for people to panic and make bad choices. However, Goku really pushes the limits in that department though when it comes to Kid Buu and his destruction of the planet.
Buu’s tactic forces Goku to apply some quick thinking and choose two people to teleport away to safety with him. His options are Vegeta, Trunks, Gohan, Goten, and Hercule. He inexplicably ignores his children and chooses Vegeta and Hercule. Even Vegeta questions Goku’s bizarre choice. Goku doesn’t really have an answer for this, though. He could have at least chosen one of his kids.
13 Destroyed: Gohan And Krillin Tag-Team Ginyu-Goku
Everyone loves good old-fashioned body switching antics, right? Captain Ginyu is a huge threat to the Z fighters when Goku and company find themselves stuck on Namek.
Ginyu’s trademark move ultimately finds him trapped within a frog (that surprisngly comes back in Dragon Ball Super). However, for one shining moment, he finds himself occupying Goku’s body.
Ginyu doesn’t understand how to properly tap into the full reservoir of Goku’s power, but his time inside Goku doesn’t go to waste. The highlights include Krillin and Gohan both attacking Goku, going to town on the friendly face.
The morbid fact that Gohan needs to beat up his father before his father can kill him isn’t lost on the episode either. The dub’s title is even called “Gohan, Defeat Your Dad!!”
Gohan and Krillin beat Ginyu-Goku pretty badly before Vegeta comes in and wrecks some real havoc.
12 too far: He Promises Old Kai That He Can Kiss Bulma In Exchange For Training
At one point in the Dragon Ball series, Goku pawns Bulma off in exchange for some sort of personal gain. It might be hard to blame him, though, since he spent so many of his formative years with Master Roshi, who wasn't the best role model. With that said, it's clear that some of his mentor’s bad habits rubbed off on the Saiyan.
The introduction of Old Kai brings in a brand new breed of old letchers to the series. Goku capitalizes on this and tries to get some leverage on Old Kai by promising him a kiss from Bulma.
In a very telling scene, Vegeta finds out about this and is appropriately upset. He questions why Goku doesn’t offer his own wife up as a bribe, but of course, Goku doesn’t have a response for his Saiyan comrade.
11 Destroyed: Perfect Cell Explodes and Kills Him
Goku is usually able to get the upper hand when it comes to defeating his enemies. Even the times when Goku is defeated typically result in him coming back bigger and stronger then ever before.
When Goku loses the battle, the audience knows that he’ll be back to win the war. This is what make the results of the Cell Saga so interesting. They truly go to some unpredictable places, with a lot of the results having to do with the fact that Gohan was supposed to usurp Goku as the series’ protagonist.
With this story trajectory in mind, Goku nobly dies during battle against Cell, but it makes for a pretty epic conclusion. Bad guys in Dragon Ball have a tendency to be poor sports-- they often want to blow up the planet when things don’t go their way.
Cell tries such a maneuver and Goku pulls off some quick thinking to teleport Cell to King Kai’s planet. Goku is brutally blown to pieces, while Cell ultimately survives.
10 too far: He Gives Golden Frieza A Second Chance... & He Blows Up Earth
It’s nice that Goku always chooses to see the best in others-- even enemies-- but there are a lot of villains out there who don’t deserve a second chance. However, Frieza is one of the most despicable villains of them all. He’ll do absolutely whatever’s necessary to survive and Goku always falls for his schemes.
When Frieza makes his big return in Dragon Ball Super, Goku finds himself in yet another situation where he has the upper hand, but he still allows Golden Frieza to escape.
Goku’s redemptive attitude towards Golden Frieza allows Frieza to pull off a trump card move that leads to the destruction of the planet, which then causes Whis to turn back time in order to fix this huge disaster.
It’s time for Goku to start really examining his actions.
9 Destroyed: King Piccolo Breaks His Limbs And Cripples Him
The King Piccolo Saga in the original Dragon Ball doesn’t get enough credit for how it impacted Dragon Ball’s more comedic sensibilities and its segueway into the action-centric Dragon Ball Z. The saga also marks a number of moments where the series grows up and focuses on the more grueling aspects of martial arts.
King Piccolo shows Goku just how brutal battle can be, and it’s a lot to watch. The demon breaks each of Goku’s limbs one by one and proceeds to cripple the adolescent fighter.
Fortunately, Piccolo leaves one of Goku’s arms unbroken and it ultimately leads to his undoing. However, this is still the worst condition that Goku’s been in up to this point.
Furthermore, Goku is also mentally broken here, as both Krillin and Master Roshi die earlier and he’s still reeling from the aftermath. If that’s not enough, at one point King Piccolo also stops Goku’s heart. He deserves all sorts of villain points.
8 too far: He Gives Cell A Senzu Bean
Sometimes Goku’s excitement leads to brash decisions where he doesn’t fully understand the magnitude of what he’s done. This is not one of those times. Goku is fully aware of what he does here and knows that it’s just the stupidest way of prolonging a battle.
Goku and company do a respectable job of beating Perfect Cell. He’s not defeated yet, but he’s well on his way and they definitely hold the advantage. Goku then decides to spice things up a little by denying himself a restorative Senzu bean, instead handing it over to Cell.
Not only does Cell’s energy boost lead to a lot of bloodshed, but Goku nearly dies in the following battles because he’s not at full-strength.
7 Destroyed: Piccolo Kills Him To Help Defeat Raditz
The Goku and Piccolo vs Raditz fight is a stone cold classic and it’s the first time that Dragon Ball Z shows its audience what it’s really capable of.
It’s an extremely bold move for a show to kill off its main character five episodes in (three in Dragon Ball Kai), but that's what Dragon Ball chooses to do. However, no one would expect that Goku would have such a fulfilling adventure in the afterlife.
Goku’s death gets points for the surprise factor, but it’s also just a brutal way to go out. Goku gets skewered, and the camera focuses on his face and the pain he must be feeling.
There is also a lot of psychological trauma happening in the episode-- Goku has to help kill his brother while Piccolo is forced to kill a friend in the process.
6 too far: He Revives Frieza To Fight For Universe 7’s Survival
There’s something going on here between Goku and Frieza. A lot of villains come and go after Goku’s formative battle on Namek, but after all of these years, Frieza still remains a prominent character.
He always appears to be on Goku’s mind in some capacity. One of the most puzzling cases of this comes up during Dragon Ball Super’s Universe Survival Saga. Each of the twelve universes need to select ten fighters to represent them.
When Buu falls asleep and a last minute substitution is needed, Goku decides that Frieza is the right choice. It’s worth mentioning that there are a number of other fighters in Universe 7 who are super strong and not purely evil. However, still, Goku goes with this controversial choice.
This is a decision that hasn’t completely blown up in Goku’s face yet, but it feels like betrayal is constantly inevitable with Frieza. Besides, this is a situation that leaves Goku and company indebted to Frieza. He is not the sort of individual that you want to owe a favor to.
5 Destroyed: Zamasu Takes Over His Body & Destroys The Evidence
The Goku Black Saga and the return of Future Trunks is one of the strongest stretches of episodes throughout Dragon Ball Super’s run. Goku Black works as a storyline because of the mystery that it adds to the series, but there’s also something to be said for Goku fighting against an evil version of himself.
The way that Zamasu becomes Goku Black is one of the most vindictive evil schemes seen throughout the show. Zamasu uses the Super Dragon Balls to switch bodies with Goku. Then, before Goku is able to do anything about it, Zamasu kills Goku (who is now in his former body) and uses his new form to take out the rest of Goku’s family. Forget about the defeat-- that’s just plain malicious.
When Goku eventually fights against Goku Black it’s also a particularly painful sequence. Black breaks Goku’s arm and the outcome is so bleak that Zeno needs to step in and destroy an entire universe in order to stop the bad guy.
4 too far: He Threatens Supreme Kai So He Can Fight Majin Vegeta
This is definitely one of the most out-of-character moments for Goku. He’s not naïve or excited here, but rather surprisingly violent. For a minute, it almost feels like Goku is the one who has become Majin.
After Majin Vegeta awakens, the warrior becomes determined to face off against Goku. This is actually something that Goku welcomes, even though everyone else seems to realize that it’s a bad idea.
Supreme Kai knows that this high-powered battle is just a trick to help awaken Buu, but Goku ignores his warnings. What’s even worse is that, when Supreme Kai insists that he stop, Goku threatens his life with an energy blast.
Goku is determined to fight against Majin Vegeta even if innocent people might get hurt in the process. When Goku finally does get his fight, Supreme Kai is, of course, right about everything he said. The whole thing is just subterfuge to resurrect an ancient evil. Way to go, Goku.
3 Destroyed: Vegeta Breaks Every Bone In His Body
It’s commendable to see how Dragon Ball continues to up its stakes over time. There was a point where it focused on humans who did martial arts and not aliens with god-like powers. That being said, in spite of how Dragon Ball gets progressively more intense with each new saga, there’s something special about the series’ earliest episodes.
Their powers might be considerably lower than they are now, but Goku and Vegeta’s first fight is an all-time classic. Furthermore, even though Vegeta might consider the encounter as a loss, Goku’s body is completely decimated by the end.
Goku gets a little too Kaio-Ken happy and pushes it beyond its limits which essentially wrecks his body. Then, to add insult to injury, a Giant Ape Vegeta squeezes Goku’s body as if it’s a stress toy, turning him into a mess of broken bones. The only reason why Goku survives is because of Gohan.
2 too far: He Is Responsible For The Universe-Erasing Tournament of Power
This time Goku truly goes too far, as he literally puts trillions of lives on the line all in the name of entertainment. This moment is so drastic that it even led to many fans wondering if Goku might actually be the villain of the series. He certainly becomes public enemy number one once he helps throw the Tournament of Power into motion.
Goku’s intensely cavalier attitude towards the two Zenos is something that puts his own safety and the safety of his universe in jeopardy. Fortunately, the Zenos enjoy Goku’s antics and his actions result in all twelve universes becoming caught up in a tournament.
However, this is a tournament where the losing universes are destroyed. It’s the biggest stakes that the show has ever seen, and because of Goku’s recklessness, countless lives are on the line. All of these fights make for great entertainment, but there’s an intense underlying tragedy to it all.
1 Destroyed: He Is Killed By Heart Disease
The tragic irony of life— or anime— is that, despite how strong someone becomes, they’re still human. Illnesses and death rear their ugly heads during the most unexpected moments.
Dragon Ball lets its danger come from the villains who its heroes must fight. It operates with a certain logic, though: despite how strong the next enemy is, Goku and company will always be able to grow and beat it. That’s why it’s so chilling when Dragon Ball becomes even a tiny bit realistic and Goku falls victim to heart disease of all things.
In Future Trunks’ timeline Goku dies from his weak heart. Fortunately, the main timeline’s Goku doesn’t perish, but he still faces an extremely painful experience. Goku’s battle against Android 19 essentially involves Goku having a heart attack the entire time. Goku doesn’t handle the excruciating experience very well and it makes for a crushing defeat.
Are there any other shocking Goku moments in Dragon Ball that we completely forgot about? Sound off in the comments!