Son Goku is the hero of Dragon Ball, an anime legend and pop culture icon, but if pop culture has taught us anything at all, it's that "with great power comes great responsibility." Goku has the power side of things covered, defeating some of the strongest foes to threaten the Dragon Ball world and debuting a new transformation in just about every arc of the franchise, but even his own children would tell you that he falls short in the responsibility department.
For someone whose instincts determine the fate of the wider universe, there is remarkably little going on inside that head of his-- besides eating, fighting or eating and fighting. Goku has displayed numerous counts of tactical genius in battle, but there’s a reason you rarely hear the words “Goku” and “genius” in the same sentence. For every good decision Goku has made in saving the world across the Dragon Ball canon, there’s an equally inexplicable one just around the corner. Let’s take a look at the 15 Most WTF Things Goku Has Done.
Towards the end of the Cell Games, with Cell beaten and threatening to self-destruct, Goku decides that his only course of action is to teleport the exploding android off planet. This makes sense, but the rest of his plan is both illogical and unnecessary.
Goku transports Cell to King Kai’s planet, but rather than instant transmit right back down to Earth in case things don’t play out as planned, Goku stops for a good old chat with King Kai before Cell finally blows up, wiping out the tiny planet in a second. All things considered: we’ll let this part slide. Goku sacrifices himself not only to protect the Earth from Cell, but from all future threats. What was he going to do – leave King Kai on his own without a planet?
The real mystery is why Goku takes Cell to King Kai’s in the first place. Had he taken Cell into space, for example, nobody would had to have died. Sure, Goku can’t breathe in space, but he was planning on dying anyway. The same cannot be said for King Kai and his planet.
Lord Beerus was introduced back in Battle of Gods as the movie’s antagonist. In search of the legendary Super Saiyan God, Beerus stops by King Kai’s planet to hand Goku a swift beatdown on his way to Earth. There, after a confrontation with Buu over some pudding, Beerus gives the rest of the Z Fighters the same treatment.
Even Ultimate Gohan, Super Gotenks, and Majin Buu are no match for the God of Destruction, and though Rage Vegeta gets in a couple of shots, his dominance is short-lived. Piccolo, Tien, and Android 18 are also powerless to stop Beerus, but just as he is about to lay waste to the Earth, Goku shows up in the nick of time.
Except he’s been there for ages. Goku was watching Beerus annihilate just about everyone he knows, rather than jump in and potentially save their lives. Goku (actually quite sensibly) knew he was outmatched versus Beerus, and chose instead to analyze his techniques, but his supposed Saiyan pride doesn’t quite account for him skulking in the corner the whole time.
It says a lot about Goku that an entry titled “Almost Killing His Son” could refer to more than one instance. Goku has put his sons in danger more times than we can count – a fact that will most likely become a recurring theme as this list develops, but here, we’re looking specifically at his time spent with Gohan in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
In preparation for the Cell Games, Goku launches a full-power Kamehameha at his son in a last-ditch effort to turn Gohan into a Super Saiyan. In fairness to Goku, the whole thing is Gohan’s idea, but Goku takes the assurances of his not-even-teenaged son without question, and might easily have killed him.
Goku here is around the same level at which he fought Cell (having relaxed his own training to focus more on Gohan after he transforms). Cell in his Perfect state is completely dismantled by a close-range Kamehameha, and Goku should really know better than to launch that kind of power at his son in base form. Actually – maybe not.
Goku’s relationship with Chi-Chi dates back to the early days of the original Dragon Ball, but it didn’t exactly get off to the best start. During their first meeting, Goku pats down Chi-Chi’s crotch in an attempt to determine her gender. Chi-Chi’s response is to throw Goku off the Flying Nimbus and send him crashing into a rock, though she somehow gleans from Goku’s gesture that he must be in love with her. Chi-Chi’s obsession is further intensified when Goku admits that he’s always wanted a bride.
Chi-Chi later resurfaces in the Piccolo Jr. Saga, where she reminds Goku of the promise he made her. But as it turns out, Goku had only been excited about the whole thing because he thought “bride” was a type of food. Though he quickly makes up for it, and even shows scattering affection for Chi-Chi through the various Dragon Ball arcs, he admits at the time that he has no idea what love is. We’re still not sure Goku was ever suited to marriage, but it’s only natural that the mere thought of food was enough to force his hand.
When Trunks travels back to the present to warn Goku and the others of the imminent android attack, Bulma has the bright and perfectly reasonable idea of finding Dr. Gero’s lab and keeping the androids from ever being released. But Goku believes in not punishing someone for something they haven’t done yet, and also wants to beat someone up again, and so three years of straight training begin (eventually culminating in his death).
But Goku is not alone in this sentiment. Vegeta is also on board, going so far as to threaten to kill anyone who attempts to sabotage Gero in any way, while Krillin even suggests that having something to fight for is the only reason the Z Fighters don’t all turn on each other. But just the idea that Goku’s first course of action, having been thought dead for over a year, is to drag his son into a battle he wants no part of is still unsettling, and something that could (and probably should) have been prevented.
After Majin Buu has hatched, Goku uses the limited time he has left on Earth to train Trunks and Goten in the art of Fusion, but Goku himself gets a chance to face Fat Buu before his time is up. It is here that he debuts the Super Saiyan 3 form, which he later admits was powerful enough to defeat Buu; he just wanted to give the boys a shot at saving the Earth.
Even if Goku thinks he is doing the right thing by giving the boys motivation to improve themselves for the next time Earth is attacked, he massively underestimates Buu, whose own transformations actually outweigh Super Saiyan 3 by the end of the series.
Trunks and Goten, despite being younger than in the Buu arc than Gohan was in the Cell Saga, do everything that is asked of them (even if they don’t take it entirely seriously). But even after perfecting the Fusion Dance, the boys are left helpless against Super Buu, which is down to Goku’s poor judgement rather than their own mistakes.
Even those yet to watch Dragon Ball Super have probably heard of Goku Black at this point. Those still catching up with the English dub should scroll ahead now, because it’s impossible not to reveal Black’s identity in explaining just how badly Goku screwed up this time.
On a trip to Universe 10 to uncover the mystery of Black’s Time Ring, Goku challenges the apprentice Supreme Kai to a fight that would lead to several million deaths. After seeing a mortal who would dare have the nerve to take on a God (and actually win), it is here that Zamasu kicks the Zero Mortals Plan into action.
Zamasu travels to the future to recruit Future Zamasu, but not before switching bodies with Goku in the original version of the present timeline. Two Zamasus would have been a handful for Trunks, but in gaining a Saiyan’s ability to grow more powerful in short spaces of time, Goku Black completely lays waste to the future timeline, all because of Goku’s desire to test his strength against the Gods.
As if refusing to be brought back to Earth after he survived the Frieza Saga wasn’t already a slap in the face of his family, Goku’s decision to stay dead following the Cell Games is even more so. His reasoning is that the Earth will be a safer place without him around, and you can kind of see what he means; Goku tends to attract trouble – first from Raditz and the Saiyans, then from Dr. Gero and the androids.
On the other hand, no-one coming to Earth to exact revenge specifically on Goku is realistically going to stop when they learn he is dead. As seen in Resurrection ‘F’, they are more likely to take it out on Goku’s friends and family instead.
Rather than take the lead in defending his planet from bad guys, Goku leaves the fate of the world to an 11-year-old boy with limited control over his power. Moreover, Gohan stops training altogether in the seven years Goku is dead. Add this to the fact that Vegeta vows never to fight after his humiliation at the Cell Games, and Goku actually leaves the Earth almost entirely defenseless.
There’s really no way to put this one delicately. Way back in the second episode of the original series, when Goku had only Bulma for company, Goku wakes up early one morning and rests sweetly on Bulma’s lap. But he is startled that he doesn’t feel anything, and ends up taking off Bulma’s underwear while she sleeps to examine her lack of bulge.
Entirely confused, Goku exclaims that she has “no balls!” Bulma jerks awake, taking this to mean that someone has stolen the Dragon Balls. The whole thing plays out as a comedic moment, but that shouldn’t take away from the creepiness of it all, even if Goku doesn’t realize he’s doing anything wrong.
Earlier in the same episode, Goku walks in on Bulma while she takes a bath, and offers to help scrub her back since she doesn’t have a tail to do it for her. It’s a miracle they’re still friends.
Where to even start with this one. When Majin Vegeta destroys a stand at the World Tournament and demands a rematch with Goku, knowing his victory would result in Buu’s awakening (as Babidi’s magic ensures that Buu becomes more powerful with every blow a Majin lands), Goku not only accepts the offer – he actually goes out of his way to guarantee Buu’s rebirth.
Goku makes the choice to fight Vegeta head on, knowing that he could have transformed into a Super Saiyan 3 and knocked out the Saiyan Prince in a matter of seconds. Granted, it would not have been half as exciting had Goku done so, or even refused to fight, but in hindsight, no amount of Saiyan pride can cover the fact that several people died as a result of their battle.
They were eventually wished back, but only because Mr. Satan was still around to implore the people of Earth to lend their energy to the Spirit Bomb. So we ask you – who’s the real hero of Dragon Ball Z?
As Goku, Vegeta, and Trunks prepare for their first trip into the future and a rematch with Goku Black, Bulma is on hand with a bag of senzu beans for if things don’t quite go as planned. But of all people, she gives the beans to Goku, who is not exactly known for his short-term memory. Goku hops in the time machine, having left the senzu beans in the bathroom at Bulma’s place, and chaos ensues.
Vegeta is stabbed through the chest with an Energy Blade almost immediately after landing in the future, while Goku and Trunks don’t have a much better time of it, as both are taken out by a Black Kamehameha.
The trio are only saved by some quick thinking from Future Mai; otherwise, they would have died for no reason other than Goku forgetting the senzu beans. Leaving behind a bag of beans may seem like such a minor error, but it's one that would have destroyed all life in Trunks’ future universe had they not found a way back to the present.
This is one time where Goku might have been better off forgetting to bring the senzu beans. If someone asks you for the most ridiculous thing Goku has ever done, handing Perfect Cell a senzu before his battle with Gohan is probably the first thing that comes to mind. As if it wasn’t enough to throw his gentle and completely unsuspecting son in the ring to face the most powerful villain in the series so far, Goku tosses Cell a senzu to prove that he is no match for Gohan’s full power.
Goku was relying entirely on Cell provoking Gohan into releasing his Super Saiyan 2 potential, but he could have done that anyway. Cell already had the advantage, and doubling it with a magical healing bean could easily have killed Gohan before he ever had the chance to release his energy.
Goku is eventually proven right about Gohan’s power, but there’s something not quite right about the sentiment. In giving Cell a senzu bean, Goku hands him the tools to more efficiently torture his son, and only speeds up a process that would have happened anyway.
The canonicity of the Peaceful World Saga is debatable at this point, but Goku rounds out Dragon Ball Z with a decision too baffling to leave off this list.
It’s the 28th World Tournament, 10 years after the defeat of Kid Buu, and Goku has the draw fixed so that he can face Uub in the first round. What no one else realizes at the time is that Uub is Buu reincarnated, following Goku’s wish to fight a good version of Buu. Uub turns out to be more than a match for Goku (in base form), and so Goku’s solution is to up and leave his entire family to train the boy as his successor.
Essentially, Goku trusts a kid he has just met to succeed him over his sons, Trunks, and Pan. This is almost excusable, given the fact that they have more or less given up fighting by now; less excusable is that Goku can literally teleport, and still decides to abandon his family and four-year-old granddaughter for an indefinite period of time, after having already been dead through most of the series.
We’ve already seen Goku’s addiction to battle have some serious consequences for the Z Fighters, but Dragon Ball Super has significantly raised the stakes. The ongoing Universe Survival Saga, which has been built up since the Universe 6 arc, will finally see the universe-wide competition promised by Zen-Oh at the Multiverse Tournament. Eight of the 12 universes will compete, but not for glory – for survival.
As it happens, the Omni-King is unsatisfied with how many universes there are to maintain, and the losing universes will be destroyed. Zen-Oh was already planning to destroy a few universes, and the Tournament of Power has at least given them a chance of survival. But the fact remains that it is Goku who reminds Zen-Oh of his promise, just to fulfil his own selfish needs. The Omni-King even admits that he forgot about the tournament, so while it may not have been Goku’s idea, he is at fault for guaranteeing the destruction of worlds.
One of Goku’s most familiar and (in some cases) admirable traits is his desire to show mercy to just about everyone. Even after his father took over the world, Piccolo Jr. was spared, while Goku kept Krillin from offing Vegeta at the last second. On both occasions, Goku was proven right. Piccolo and Vegeta remain valuable members of the team to this day, and neither would be alive if not for Goku, but even they recognize the sheer stupidity of Goku showing the same forgiveness to Frieza.
Frieza hadn’t just taken over the world; he was on his way to ruling the entire galaxy. Whatever redeeming qualities Goku sensed in Piccolo and Vegeta were simply not there in Frieza, and so Goku not only failed to avenge his race, but could quite realistically have condemned the universe to Frieza’s rule. Luckily, Frieza’s only intent from there on out was revenge, and Future Trunks was on hand to put a stop to it, but how many planets do you suppose Frieza destroyed on his way to Earth?
What did we miss? Leave your own Goku WTF moments in the comments!