From the fertile mind of Akira Toriyama, the Dragon Ball franchise is filled to the brim with a pantheon of unbelievably creative characters. From basic martial artists to monsters straight out of Toriyama's literal nightmares, there's an entire army of well-developed and well-loved characters.
However, with such a glut of humans, animals, dinosaurs, and aliens, some inevitably fall to the lower-end of the quality spectrum.
To qualify for positions on this article, the characters needed to be annoying, under-developed, or generally pointless to the series.
While the breadth of available content is staggering, we're going to be focusing specifically on the exploits of the characters in Dragon Ball Z. Despite this, events from Dragon Ball, Super, and the various films may be mentioned in order to paint a better picture.
With that said, let's get started with the 18 Worst Characters in Dragon Ball Z, Ranked.
Yamcha is a long-standing character who was first introduced as a thief in the original Dragon Ball. He eventually gives this up to become a martial artist with the young Goku and Krillin, and ends up being Bulma’s long-time boyfriend.
Shortly into the run of Dragon Ball Z, Yamcha’s relevance quickly dwindles. His fighting abilities don’t match up to the other characters, and he finds himself getting beaten a lot. Eventually, the writing team gives up on him, realizing that the rest of the cast deserved more focus and development, leaving poor Yamcha in the dust.
To add insult to injury, Bulma breaks up with him and ends up with the man generally responsible for his first death: Vegeta. Ouch.
However, if there’s one positive thing to be said about Yamcha, it’s that he himself realizes he is a garbage fighter, but continues to fight anyway, even going toe-to-toe with Cell. This takes guts and deserves respect, knowing full well that yet another death is around the corner.
17 Garlic Jr.
Garlic Jr. is in a tough position. He stars in the first Dragon Ball Z film, the excellent Dead Zone, and then goes on to have his own saga in the series proper. Alas, the Garlic Jr. Saga is of the most banal strain of filler in the franchise, and generally the most disliked.
The distaste for the character mostly stems from this boring saga, which drags out the time between Goku’s defeat of Frieza all the way to his eventual return (and the introduction of the extremely cool Trunks.)
Interestingly, Garlic Jr. is the only villain able to obtain immortality from the Dragon Balls, a feat that not even the most monstrous were capable of.
This, along with his significant strength and affinity for attracting henchmen named after various spices, should be enough to cement him as a well-liked villain, but instead he finds himself in one of those wrong-place/wrong-time situations, forever doomed to be locked in the “dead zone” of the most boring saga in the greatest action cartoon of all time.
Like Yamcha, Yajirobe started his tenure as a fixture in DBZ way back in Dragon Ball. He was a ronin who, despite being overweight, was a surprisingly powerful fighter, even saving Goku’s life in the King Piccolo Saga.
When we get to DBZ, Yajirobe retains his trademark laziness, but still tries to remain relevant by going as far as training for the arrival of the Saiyans (although this “training” mostly consisted of eating) and even saving the day by cutting off Vegeta’s tail, ending his destructive Oozaru transformation.
From this point on, however, he is essentially relegated to getting peed on by baby Trunks, with the character becoming yet another purposeless individual in an ever-increasing roster of better and stronger characters.
Poor guy. Although the dub’s intent on making a stoned surfer dude was a valiant one, nothing could prop up Yajirobe from the pit of mediocrity.
Videl is another sorry case. She has so much going for her-- being a skilled martial artist, daughter of Hercule Satan, eventual wife of Gohan, and a part-time superhero. In her most interesting moment, she is taught how and why the Z Fighters are able to soar through the air and fire bursts of energy from their palms.
Where does she go wrong? Her being on this list isn’t the fault of her character, but rather that of the writers. She’s given a great start and the promise of interesting arcs.
Unfortunately, whatever momentum was being built up is tossed to the wind in order to shift focus away from her onto other characters, essentially causing her to narratively wither up and die.
Maybe they were just mad at her for making it seem like it was not only possible to shoot ki and fly, but easy. This is a treachery not taken lightly.
14 Android 19
It’s not a matter of Android 19 being a bad character per se, nor is his design weak. Instead, Android 19’s crime, if it can be called that, is being the least interesting of his kin.
Android 20, also known as Dr. Gero, is a creepy and cold mad scientist who sets the Cell Saga in motion. Androids 17 and 18, despite their weird teenager appearances, are integral keys to the success of the doctor’s plot.
Android 16 ends up with one of the best character arcs in the series, and his atypical personality, coupled with his immense strength, make a memorable and great character. Then there’s Cell, a genetically-engineered bio-mechanical terror, designed solely to know the Z fighters, take advantage of their weaknesses, and kill them by using their own reverse-engineered techniques.
Android 19, on the other hand, does nothing of value other than having a scary voice and serving as the dirt beneath Super Saiyan Vegeta’s boot heel.
13 Burter & Jeice
The Ginyu Force is one of the more iconic groups of villains in DBZ. They’re a deadly fighting group, considered Frieza’s elites, but are also hysterically embarrassing with their incessant Super Sentai-styled posing.
Ginyu, their leader, has the ability to switch bodies with an adversary at will, Guldo has the ability to stop time, and Recoome is the big, dumb brute of the group.
What about Burter and Jeice? Despite slick designs, these members lack any real unique skills and powers, and end up being dealt with swiftly and violently.
Sure, Burter supposedly has super-speed, but it’s nothing compared to Goku. Even when the two use their team-up Purple Comet Attack, they’re no match for the Saiyan.
Vegeta then proceeds to mercilessly execute them, likely putting them out of their misery, considering that the weakest member of the Ginyu Force; the squat Guldo, manages to nearly kill Gohan and Krillin, while they couldn't harm a fly.
12 King Cold
You’d think that being the father of the most feared tyrant in countless galaxies and the ruler of the largest planet-trading empire in existence would make you a force to be reckoned with, but you would be wrong.
Introduced at the start of the Trunks Saga, King Cold has his son, Frieza, rebuilt as a cyborg, promising vengeance against not only Goku, but the Earth as well.
At the time, this was bone-chilling for viewers, considering that Frieza was the most frighteningly powerful adversary that had yet been seen. The thought of him being rebuilt and accompanied by his likely-more-powerful father was nightmare material.
These fears would be put aside, however, as a lone swordsman, Future Trunks would obliterate Frieza and a begging King Cold in moments.
In the end, King Cold was nothing more than an undeveloped, overblown threat that didn’t come close to matching up with what was expected. He was forgotten almost as soon as he was introduced.
11 Kid Trunks
Trunks is one of the most developed characters in the saga. Hailing from the future and wielding a sword, he made an indelible mark on the fans for how swiftly (and violently) he dealt with the the above foes. Better yet, his more grown-up form, after intensely training with Vegeta, was able to reach a new level of power, pushing the Super Saiyan state to its limits.
That leaves us with Kid Trunks. Far removed from his future stint as blade-master and jacked Ascended Saiyan, Kid Trunks is a somewhat obnoxious youngster who has a troublemaker’s streak and too much power for his age.
It’s not so much that Kid Trunks does anything wrong, but rather, after being given healthy doses of how cool he will be as a teenager and adult, it is immensely annoying to watch him bounce around as a juvenile.
If there is any consolation to this extended stint as a youth, his plotline in the Wrath of the Dragon film sheds light on him as a character, giving him a degree of humanity that isn’t matched in the series.
After the defeat of Majin Buu by Goku’s immense Spirit Bomb, the creature is reborn as a kind-hearted young man.
Hailing from a poor village, he enters the World Martial Arts Tournament in order to secure his town’s financial future. Having to face off with Goku in the final round, the two end up abandoning the tournament, with Goku offering to train the would-be warrior. Uub gladly accepts and the two head off into the sunset.
Uub is an interesting concept, but we don’t know enough about him to care. His last-minute addition and minimal backstory are a frustrating way to finish off the series and do nothing to offer a sense of closure. If anything, he just enrages viewers by enticing Goku to abandon his wife and kids.
Of all the evil characters who control or create the main villains of the seasons, Babidi is by far the most boring and unoriginal.
As an ugly little creature, Babidi is an inferior knock-off of Garlic Jr. Babidi is an evil wizard who wants to avenge the death of his father (or, in this case, his progenitor) by causing large-scale disasters, specifically by releasing Majin Buu.
When all is said and done, Babidi is a symptom of the overarching illness that pervades the Buu Saga as a whole: at this point in the series, the creative wells had dried up.
With his rehashed backstory, weak objectives, and unmemorable allies-- save Dabora and Yakon-- Babidi is a roadblock to the main action that isn’t driven over fast enough.
8 The Kais (Minus The North)
Being one of the most lovable characters - with his penchant for bad jokes, immense knowledge, caring attitude - it's a shame that North Kai's counterparts are so painfully uninteresting.
King Kai is part of a race of galactic protectors who oversee the four regions of the universe, and in the few appearances the other Kais make, they fail to make an impression. Even their leader, the Grand Kai, is portrayed as a kooky old man who doesn’t exactly offer any value to the efforts of our heroes.
Then we have the Supreme Kai, who fails tremendously to live up to his name. Instead of being the all-powerful character he’s teased as, he’s one of the more helpless deity-like entities, constantly getting the tar kicked out of him until others come to save the day.
With so many unique and enjoyable qualities for the North Kai, it’s a shame that his equals are so boring and meaningless in the long run.
7 Majin Buu (All Forms Except Innocent)
The final major villain of DBZ, Buu is a terrifying force to be reckoned with, but he’s also a terrible character, with the lame characterization of being evil for evil’s sake.
He’s also a been-there-done-that villain, with nearly all of his powers and abilities being done previously with Cell. To ostracize him further, he lacks a personality, so, despite the powers, he just doesn’t measure up to what the love-to-hate-him jerk that Cell was throughout his full lifecycle.
This is a shame, as when Buu was first introduced to the audience as a jolly, candy-loving fat man, we were given a unique backstory. It’s revealed that he only performs evil because his master, Babidi, commands him to.
Mr. Satan, of all people, teaches him that killing is wrong, and with the help of a pup named Bee, the rotund pink man settles down. Sadly, Bee and Mr. Satan are wounded by gunfire, and this causes Buu to go full-on evil, sacrificing the one unique element of his character in the process.
Chiaotzu suffers the same fate of Yamcha, in which he was carried over from DB only to quickly become obsolete.
Trained in the Crane School, he was Tien’s partner in a scam where the two would save villages from a disaster that they themselves caused and collect reward money for it. He later changed his ways and, along with Tien, became an ally of Goku.
When we get to DBZ, Chiaotzu does have some stand-out moments, such as his suicide attack against Nappa, before being relegated to a side-line player during the Cell Saga, with his last moment of genuine importance being offering energy to Goku’s final Spirit Bomb against Buu.
His cute design and strange powers certainly made him iconic, but his weaknesses and generally feeble characterization relegated him to the low-end of characters, travelling ever downward until being written off almost entirely, save for a few throwaway mentions by Tien.
5 Most Of Babidi's Gang
Who exactly are Yamu, Spopovich, and Pui Pui? Not only are they some of the most generic henchmen in the series, but they’re such an inconsequential footnote in this particular saga (not unlike their boss) that you’d be hard-pressed to even remember their names.
To refresh your memory, these were warriors who had fallen under the spell of Babidi, tasked with obtaining energy to release Majin Buu, and that’s pretty much it.
While it’s true that some of Babidi’s trusted generals, such as Dabura and Yakon, were able to make an impression, the bulk of his associates feel more like filler. In contrast, Dr. Gero and his mechanized clan were characters in their own right, despite being the lead-up to Cell.
Most egregious, however, is that this series is known for memorable henchmen, be they Zarbon, Dodoria or Nappa. Considering this, the fact that the final stretch of the series is stuck with these losers is a crime unto itself.
4 Adult Gohan
As one of the best characters in the opening acts of DBZ, young Gohan had an immense power level that was only conjured in times of extreme duress. In fact, he was so powerful that he even turned the tide against enemies exponentially stronger than him.
When he was a teenager, he learned to harness this power, using it to transform into a Super Saiyan 2 and disintegrate Cell in a massive Kamehameha.
He was then seemingly set up to be the main character as he reached adulthood, adopting the role of a superhero in order to continue fighting.
However, this plotline was almost immediately abandoned, as all of Gohan’s momentum, along with everything interesting about him, was gutted. Thankfully, he reached a high-point one last time as Ultimate Gohan in the fight against Buu before returning to being as boring as humanly possible in Super.
Making it hurt more than it should, we were given a taste of just how amazing Gohan could be as a (one-armed) adult in History of Trunks.
Being the second son of the Goku’s family, you’d think that Goten would have some redeeming values and memorable traits. Instead, he exists only as a tool for Trunks to introduce the concept of fusion into the show.
Worse yet, what little personality and characterization Goten is gifted with is paper-thin, and his happy-go-lucky nature and ability to turn into a Super Saiyan lack the charm needed to make an audience care about this second-born runt.
Of course, he does his fair share of heroics during the Buu Saga but, again, it’s all thanks to his ability to fuse with Trunks and take on the cocky persona of Gotenks, as they go to head-to-head with the Majin master of evil.
Does anyone remember Maron? You know, Krillin’s ex-girlfriend from before he started dating reformed killing machines?
Maron is, without a doubt, the literal embodiment of filler. She genuinely serves no purpose in the series, has zero characterization, and is around for a short while only to be gone and never heard from again.
Even her design is pitifully derivative: buxom young lady with blue hair, reminiscent of Bulma. The comparisons end there, though, as Bulma is actually a well-developed character who is a critical component of multiple plotlines and seasons.
While Maron is certainly the most worthless character on the list, at least she has a modicum of human emotion and doesn't pose an existential threat to the planet, unlike our top pick.
Yes, you read that right. Goku, Earth's mightiest hero, happens to be a horrible person and character.
Early on, this wasn't so. He was the dad you’ve always wanted: selfless, reliable, and fiercely protective. He even sacrificed himself in order to protect his son and the world.
However, later down the line, this once honorable man slowly starts to warp into something akin to a selfish and aloof drug addict, always seeking new ways to fight or obsessively train, regardless of the cost, and neglecting those around him.
Not only does he allow Majin Buu to awaken and routinely helps villains, he also seems to care very little for his devoted wife and children (unless we're talking about weaponizing his pacifist son to fight Cell).
It comes to a head in Super, when Goku puts aside common sense and risks the galaxy in order to challenge a literal god for no real reason.
Worst of all, this treasured icon hides his hideous personal traits under a dopey grin and giggle. Then again, it’s hard to say no to his upside-down U-shaped eyes, so maybe he’s not all bad.
Can you think of any other Dragon Ball Z characters who are the absolute worst? Let us know in the comments!