The cast of Dragon Ball Z is comprised of martial artists, blue-haired women, aliens, androids, and monkey-tailed children, but one man has always stood out the most, and that is Piccolo.
Making his debut in the original Dragon Ball as an antagonist, he was carried over to Dragon Ball Z with his evilness still intact. However, as the seasons progressed, Piccolo was given one of the most humanizing and subtle arcs in the series, gradually transitioning from a reluctant do-gooder to a genuine hero.
Better yet, he’s still hard to read, remaining mysterious and conjuring up a dense aura of intrigue that reinforces his stoic power.
Always reliable, intelligent, strong, and there when you need him most, Piccolo has proven multiple times why he is the best character in Dragon Ball Z, and we’re discussing it right here and now by revealing the 15 Reasons Piccolo Is The Real Hero.
15 He Still Thinks That Everyone's Too Weak
In 2008's Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!!, the first DBZ special in nearly a decade, Piccolo laid out some cold, hard facts.
Essentially a love letter to fans, the film follows up with the cast of Z two years after Kid Buu was defeated. Hercule throws a party for everyone at his new hotel, but the revelries are interrupted by Tarble, Vegeta’s miniature brother.
He warns that two of Frieza’s soldiers, Abo and Kado, ravaged his home and they are on their way to Earth. Thus, our heroes must prepare to take on these woefully underpowered foes.
This short is loaded with Easter eggs and excellent humor, with countless callbacks to the many iconic moments in the franchise, but Piccolo, in particular, sticks out.
While it is great to see him use his patented Special Beam Cannon, his best moment comes when Gohan gives some pointers to Trunks and Goten before their fight against the invaders. Krillin mentions to Piccolo how dependable Gohan has become, to which Piccolo gruffly replies that he's “still too weak!”
Needless to say, it's a treat to see that Piccolo's ever-present sternness still lives on past the conclusion of the series.
14 He Can Non-Chalantly Split In Two
During Piccolo and Goku’s battle against the evil Raditz, Gohan exhibited an unforeseen power level, which explosively exposed itself as the youngster headbutts his twisted uncle in a fit of rage, knocking the air right out of the Saiyan warrior, and shattering portions of his armor in the process.
Following the death of Goku, Piccolo took Gohan under his wing, determined to teach the boy how to harness this destructive power.
While out in the wilderness, Gohan learned to survive the harsh environment under constant threat of exposure and being hunted by dinosaurs, not to mention the ever-looming threat of an ambush by Piccolo.
Quite a few spectacular adventures transpired during this extended period of training, and Piccolo took the cake. While training against himself, Piccolo demonstrated his unusual ability to split his form into two.
This was no ninjutsu magic trick, either. He can split into fully formed doubles of himself, blood spurting and everything.
13 The Special Beam Cannon
With the arrival of Raditz, Earth’s two most powerful martial artists found themselves at the wrong end of the power spectrum. Blazingly fast and overwhelmingly strong, Raditz posed a challenge to Goku and Piccolo in ways that neither were prepared for. Well, Piccolo might have.
Enter the Special Beam Cannon. Originally developed by Piccolo for use against Goku in a future bout, the Namekian used the deadly secret technique against Raditz when it was clear that the heroic duo were running out of conventional options.
This particular energy attack requires an immense amount of concentration and power-up time, which forced Goku to act as a distraction.
When the attack was finally ready, Goku grabbed Raditz from behind and ordered Piccolo to fire. The forceful beam tore through Raditz and Goku, killing both Saiyans. It was a bitter-sweet moment: he realized that it was far from the one-on-one encounter he had hoped for.
Regardless, the Special Beam Cannon would later be mastered and re-used by Piccolo, remaining one of his most powerful and iconic attacks, but it would never again have the gravity it did during its debut.
12 He Has Weird Stretching Powers
Piccolo has always been one of the more mysterious members of the Earth’s Special Forces, with his heritage as the son of a demon king, a member of an alien race, as well as his connection to the god-like Kami. Because of this, it’s no surprise that he has a myriad of techniques that are far out of the realm of his peers.
We know he can regenerate his body and split into multiple copies of himself, along with the ability to fuse with other Namekians, but he also has elastic limbs.
Some of his memorable appearances are during the battle with Turles’ Crusher Corps on the branches of the Tree of Might in the third film-- or against the Armored Squadron in Cooler’s Revenge-- where his elasticity managed to shock his enemies.
While stretching limbs are seemingly lame against the likes of Hellzone Grenade, there is no denying their utility for both shock value and surprise attacks-- not to mention being able to grab something Piccolo left behind, such as his driver’s license.
11 He Sacrifices Himself For Gohan
As we mentioned previously, Piccolo goes through a mesmerizing character arc, and, while it might not be as noticeable as Android 16 becoming a turncoat due to his love of nature, it’s even more powerful because of its subtlety.
Starting off as a villain bent on getting revenge against Goku for his defeat in Dragon Ball, Piccolo is far from a hero, and everyone is generally terrified of him, especially Krillin.
However, once Piccolo takes Gohan into his protection for training, this harsh, evil man slowly grows to care for the child. He’s hard on him in training, but always watches out for him, even taking enough pity to give him some clothes and apples (although they were sour).
This arc comes to a head when Piccolo sacrifices himself to shield Gohan from a deadly blast by the Saiyan invaders.
It is in this moment that the true colors of Piccolo’s soul are revealed, and its impact ripples throughout the rest of DBZ.
10 He Beat Frieza To A Pulp (For A While)
When the gang travels to Planet Namek in order to resurrect their friends with the Namekian set of Dragon Balls, they meet the cold-blooded Frieza, an ultra-powerful despot who is in the process of trying find the orbs to grant him immortality.
When it becomes apparent that Frieza’s dreams must be shattered, Gohan and Krillin revive Piccolo and bring him to Namek, where he hopes to get revenge for the destruction of his home.
While here, Piccolo fuses with the Namekian warrior, Nail, becoming faster, stronger, and much more of a match for Frieza.
Now fully-powered, Piccolo confronts the ruler, boldly declaring that Frieza is no match for him.
Thus starts the battle between the cruel warlord and the stoic Namekian. While Piccolo gains the upper hand for the majority of the fight, the wells of Frieza’s powers are still untapped, and he beats Piccolo back.
Despite this defeat at the hands of the malicious Frieza, Piccolo’s bravery was a ray of hope in the darkest of times, and his suffering was one of the triggers needed for Goku to tap into his Super Saiyan form and teach Frieza the lesson he gravely deserved.
9 He Makes A Fool Of Cell
Cell, the ultimate creation of Dr. Gero, was a menace unlike anything our heroes had faced before. A bio-mechanical lifeform, Cell was created with the cellular materials of the Z fighters, and had their knowledge and techniques imprinted into him. Ever-evolving, the immensely powerful being was designed to absorb both 17 and 18 in order to achieve his “perfect form.”
The only reason our heroes know this was because Piccolo convinced Cell to talk.
After tangling with the bug-like creature, Piccolo found himself in a hold while his arm was pierced by Cell’s tail, a technique that allowed the creature to absorb the energy from its victim. During this process, Piccolo egged Cell on to reveal not only his origins, but his plans as well.
When he’s heard enough, a smug Piccolo reveals that he feigned his helplessness in order to gain this knowledge, tearing his husk of an arm off and growing a mint-condition one in its place.
At this point, it is clear that Cell’s current form is no match for the turban-loving warrior, and he makes a break for it, using a bootlegged “Solar Flare” technique to shamefully escape in failure.
8 He Dependably Saves The Day
One of Piccolo’s finest points is that he has a penchant for sensing when his friends are in danger, namely Gohan, and appears at the last second to thwart whatever schemes endangered them, typically through a heaping helping of a brute-force beatdown.
This knack for impeccable timing has saved Gohan from certain demise countless times, but he’s not the only one to benefit from the omniscience of Piccolo’s gaze.
In fact, it’s such a critical component of his character that, at some point during the production of the various DBZ films and specials, the writers must have sat down and had a long, hard conversation regarding Piccolo and his role.
The conclusion must have been that if the main villains in these movies had a group of grunts, then Piccolo should be the one to crush them, and he does, with one exquisite example being his fire-breathing assault on Dr. Wheelo’s knock-off Saibamen in The World’s Strongest.
7 He Outsmarts Android 17
Powered by a passionate hatred, Dr. Gero dedicated his life to killing Goku with his creations. Unfortunately, the Doctor’s work became a little too perfect, and the cruel Androids 17 and 18 ended the old man’s life, posing an enormous threat to not only Goku, but also the planet.
With Goku crippled by a heart illness, it was up to the Z Fighters to stave off the android threat until the Super Saiyan recovered enough to help defeat them.
Piccolo, now a “Super Namek” after fusing with Kami, challenges Android 17 to a one-on-one match, where it’s made clear why his skills should never be underestimated.
At first, it’s a drawn out slugfest with 17 and Piccolo trading crushing blows with one another, but it culminates with our green friend taking advantage of the android’s extreme cockiness.
Firing hundreds of ki blasts that woefully miss, Android 17 mocks Piccolo, only to slowly realize he is surrounded by each “missed” shot.
Piccolo smirks and has each blast simultaneously collide with the stunned android. Although he doesn’t necessarily defeat his adversary, this encounter proves that no matter the circumstance, Piccolo can outclass and outsmart even the most dangerous of opponents.
6 He Utterly Destroys The Armored Squadron
During Cooler’s Revenge, the titular brother of Frieza travelled to Earth to find the Saiyan monkey who killed the galactic tyrant, and brought his personal posse of warriors with him: the Cooler Armored Squadron.
Acting as a more serious Ginyu Force, the Armored Squadron, consisting of Salza, Dore and Neiz, went right to work destroying the landscape and torturing Krillin and Gohan. However, as we all know, torturing Gohan is Piccolo’s trigger, and he soon comes to punish these impudent fools.
While Dore and Salza are violently dispatched in their own right, it’s Neiz whom Piccolo reserves an especially cruel and smug demise.
With our Namekian hero gripped by an electrifying technique emanating from the turtle-like alien, Neiz giddily wonders aloud how long Piccolo will last. When all hope seems lost, Piccolo smirks, his eyes burst open, and he wryly replies “good question.”
Grabbing Neiz and transferring the same energy he was subjected to, Piccolo literally fries the villain, with the biggest (and last) shock of his life.
Needless to say, Neiz didn’t last very long.
5 He Is A Better Father Than Goku
Goku may be a beloved fixture of the series, but he’s also a terrible husband to his devoted wife, Chi-Chi, and a horrible father to his two children, Gohan and Goten.
He wasn’t always this way, especially considering his heroic sacrifice for the kidnapped Gohan against Raditz.
However, as the series went on, Goku continued to demonstrate a lack of interest in his family, eventually abandoning them to train a total stranger, and it became glaringly apparent that Piccolo was the better father figure.
Piccolo starting training Gohan and spending him with him in his father’s stead. He then went on to offer Gohan the care and protection that the child needed, and had a genuine interest for the duration of the series, with he himself learning how to love in the process.
4 He Can Make Clothes Appear
Piccolo is a man of many talents, and he is no stranger to bizarre and outlandish powers. One particular power that’s never seemed to capture the attention of the show’s heroes is that, inexplicably, Piccolo has a talent for generating clothing.
Back when Gohan morphed into Great Ape form, Piccolo successfully reversed the transformation, but took pity on the now-naked Gohan. Using his strange clothing ray, Piccolo gave the boy not only a new set of custom clothes, but a also sword.
This isn’t limited to just one time, either. Piccolo has also made clothing for himself, and has even created an hourglass with another form of the ray.
The real question is: why didn’t Piccolo use his clothes beam to make villains wear absolutely banal clothing?
We know Frieza hates singing fairies and woodland creatures, so what better way to psyche him out than to don him with an elaborately embroidered get-up featuring exactly this?
3 He Always Gets "Paid Back In Full"
At the start of the Dead Zone movie, Piccolo was ambushed and presumed dead by a trio of cohorts working for Garlic Jr. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
Soon after, the same trio kidnaps Gohan, and Goku sets out to save the boy (this is when he was still a good father, of course).
Upon sieging the diminutive immortal’s castle, Goku is assaulted by the three minions, only to be saved in the last moment by Krillin. However, he’s not the only surprise guest. Piccolo also shows up, glaring at the assailants, and he is not happy.
One of them tries to attacks Krillin, but the floor to shatters beneath him. The grunt plummets into a lower room, only to fearfully gaze upon a stone-faced Piccolo staring at him, muttering “I’m going to be paid back in full.”
Following an utterly brutal bashing at the hands of the green-skinned warrior, complete with verbal insults, Piccolo collects the debt owed to him with a fatal ki blast.
2 He Blows Up The Moon
While countless villains in DBZ have successfully destroyed civilizations, worlds, and even entire galaxies, there’s only one hero (or, in this case, former villain) who can claim that he has destroyed something of a similar scale. That man/alien is, naturally, Piccolo.
While training Gohan in the wilderness, Piccolo had the misfortune of discovering that Gohan’s Saiyan tail was fully-functioning as the boy, gazing up at the moon, found himself transformed into the wild and destructive Great Ape form.
With Piccolo and the planet in danger, he makes the drastic decision of stopping the beast at the source: the glowing full moon.
In an instant, Piccolo destroys the lunar orb and, instead of causing dramatic tidal disasters, he manages to get off scot-free, and even nails a secondary win in the form of Gohan transforming back into his adolescent state. With a swift tug of the tail, Piccolo stops the threat from ever emerging again (or so he thinks).
Oddly, despite the assured destruction of the stellar object, it shows up again in the Trunks saga. This reappearance is never explained, but we can safely surmise that Piccolo, being a gentleman and scholar, eventually restored it... maybe.
1 He Remains Humble
Cooler’s Revenge includes several great Piccolo moments and also provides the most genuine example of who Piccolo is as a character and why he is the greatest in the show.
After an explosive battle against Super Saiyan Goku, Cooler decides to simply destroy the Earth and everyone on it, generating an enormous, planet-crushing ki sphere.
With his last ounce of strength, the completely drained Goku launches the sphere and Cooler into the sun, ending the threat.
Having barely survived the ordeal, a weakened Goku is relieved. Alas, the celebratory mood shatters as a beaten and battered Salza, driven mad, erupts from the rubble, laughing gleefully.
With our heroes too weak to combat the menace, all hope seems lost. That is, until a Special Beam Cannon from out of nowhere tears through Salza, killing him instantly and unceremoniously. The camera then cuts to Piccolo by a stream, calmly sipping some water.
This exact moment is what makes Piccolo stand out as the best character. It embodies every aspect of his humble, mysterious, dependable, and stalwart persona. He is ever watchful of those he cares about, dutifully performing his job without asking for an ounce of gratitude. That’s a hero.
Can you think of any other reasons why Piccolo is the best character in Dragon Ball Z? Do you disagree? Let us know in the comments!