Son Goku is one of the most recognizable characters in anime, which is all the more remarkable considering that he has at least 21 different forms to recognize. We’re looking at all of his transformations (so his base form is off the table) that we could find, and ranking them on their estimated power levels. Though we are trying to base this on what we see and hear in the various Dragon Ball sagas, the supposed power multipliers may come into play on occasion.
It should be said that this will be guesswork for the most part, so be sure to take this list with a pinch of salt. Goku’s power level beyond the Frieza saga of Dragon Ball Z is pretty much off the charts, and we are including non-canon entries just to make things a little bit harder. That means that Dragon Ball GT and the DBZ movies will be considered, along with Akira Toriyama’s official Dragon Ball canon.
Here are Goku’s 20 Most Powerful Transformations.
20 Great Ape
Back in the days of Saiyan tails, Goku had the unfortunate ability to turn into a Great Ape at the sight of a full moon. The resulting power-up was so vast that the Saiyans were able to easily overpower the entire Tuffle race on planet Vegeta, while Goku was no match for Great Ape Vegeta, even with the Kaio-ken boost. Gohan has also transformed into a Great Ape in Dragon Ball Z, before Toriyama straight-up forgot Great Apes existed.
The transformation is outright stated to multiply a Saiyan’s power tenfold. The form is utilized to devastating effect in Dragon Ball, and remains the strongest transformation in the entire original series, but a multiplier of 10 is by far the weakest of Goku’s later power-ups. What’s more, Vegeta actually commanded a much greater control over the form than Goku ever did, maintaining his speed and actually being able to speak while transformed.
The Kaio-ken technique is introduced early on in Dragon Ball Z, with Goku first using the transformation to go up against Vegeta. The form multiplies the user’s power by a very specific amount, and so this is a transformation where multipliers definitely have to be taken into account. The most powerful Kaio-ken power-up Goku ever attempted on its own (so without Super Saiyan or another such transformation) is 20 times his base form.
Any higher and Goku would essentially have shut down, as the form puts more and more stress on the user’s body with each power-up. Goku only stretches to Kaio-ken x20 out of desperation during his battle with Frieza on Namek, at which point he is still heavily overpowered. If Kaio-ken x20 is the highest form base-Goku can reach, the transformation is ultimately useless when compared to the various Super Saiyan forms-- not to mention that it actually has more drawbacks. However, Goku is still finding effective ways to utilize the Kaio-ken, but more on that later.
We’re not including video game fusions, or the hypothetical fusion between Goku and Mr. Satan (as imagined by Goku in the Buu saga) on this list. But since we are including movie transformations, we’ll just go ahead and include the result of Goku and Vegeta’s failed first attempt at the fusion technique. Veku, as named by South Kai, appears in the movie Fusion Reborn, when Vegeta botches the fusion dance as he and Goku battle Janemba. What should have resulted in the birth of Gogeta instead forms a short obese man with next-to-no skills in combat.
Veku is unable to perform techniques Goku and Vegeta could easily pull off separately, such as flight or even a simple ki blast. He resorts to running away from Janemba, with a move he refers to as the “Rabbit Feet” technique.
Veku is essentially useless. The only reason he isn’t the lowest-ranked of Goku’s transformations is that he somehow manages to not be killed by Janemba, whose power is such that it eventually takes Super Gogeta to bring him down.
17 False Super Saiyan
Goku transforms into this pseudo Super Saiyan state near the end of the movie Lord Slug, during his battle with the titular villain. Similar to the Super Saiyan transformation, the False Super Saiyan form emits a golden aura, but Goku keeps his black hair and his eyes gloss over entirely. Supposedly, this is because Toei Animation heard rumors of a Super Saiyan transformation, and tried to beat Toriyama to the punch without knowing what it would look like.
The result is a confusing transformation that never reappears in any Dragon Ball continuity, and so it’s impossible to gauge its true power. We can safely assume that it’s somewhere close to Super Saiyan, given that it was originally referred to as the Super Saiyan form. This puts it above Kaio-ken, since Goku had access to the technique in Lord Slug, but still needed the False Super Saiyan transformation to defeat the evil Namekian. But we’re ranking it one below the real thing (spoilers), just based on the fact that we don’t really know its limits.
16 Super Saiyan
The first appearance of the true Super Saiyan form is the most iconic of Goku’s transformations, and was the most powerful we had ever seen from a single character at the time. The transformation comes when a Saiyan who has reached the peak of his current state experiences a moment of equal anger and purity. Incidentally, this is why the half-breeds generally have more potential than their pure Saiyans fathers; they have a greater capacity for emotion from their human side.
Unfortunately, Goku has reached levels far beyond this initial Super Saiyan form by now, but the transformation still features regularly in Dragon Ball Super. Goku mastered the form during his training with Gohan in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, and so he can maintain the Super Saiyan state without losing any energy at all. This essentially makes it just as beneficial as his base form, but with an estimated 50 times the power.
15 Spirit Bomb Absorbed
We move on now to another entry specific to the movies. We are of course referring to, uh… Spirit Bomb Goku? Spirit Saiyan? Super Saiyan Ultimate Spirit Bomb Infused Mega Goku? The truth is the form doesn’t have a name, nor does it make any sense at all. We’re going with Spirit Bomb Absorbed Goku, although that last one is infinitely cooler.
The movie in question is Super Android 13!, at the end of which Goku resorts to using the Spirit Bomb. When the technique is fully charged, however, Goku attempts to turn into a Super Saiyan, but passes out due to the imbalance of a pure Spirit Bomb and impure Saiyan heart. Luckily, Goku wakes up to find he has absorbed the attack. Spirit Bomb Absorbed Goku is able to easily destroy Android 13, estimated to be on par with Semi-Perfect Cell, so we’re placing this one somewhere between Super Saiyans 1 and 2.
14 Ascended Saiyan
More commonly known as the Ultra Super Saiyan or Super Saiyan Third Grade, the Ascended Super Saiyan state recurs through the Android and Cell sagas, although Goku is seen using it for only a brief moment. Future Trunks is best known for using the form during his fight with Perfect Cell. The transformation increases Trunks’ muscle mass beyond practicality, which is exactly why Goku and Vegeta (both listed users of the form) never even consider it an option.
As explained by both Goku and Cell, the Ultra Super Saiyan is twice as powerful as the generic Super Saiyan, but its unnecessarily large physique severely limits movement. It can therefore be estimated at roughly equivalent in power to a Super Saiyan 2, but it renders Trunks unable to land a blow on Cell. Gohan is the first to master the Ascended Saiyan transformation, which these days is referred to as Super Saiyan 2.
13 Super Kaio-ken
The Super Kaio-ken transformation is Goku’s first attempt to combine his Super Saiyan state with the Kaio-ken technique. The form debuts during the tournament on Other World, which sees Goku face off against Pikkon. Statistically, the Kaio-ken bonus would double the power of a Super Saiyan, so Goku should theoretically have exactly the same power as if he were a Super Saiyan 2. Where the transformation differs from Super Saiyan 2 is, again, in its drawbacks.
The trouble is that Goku is dead when he uses the technique, having been allowed to keep his body following his sacrifice at the Cell Games. Goku states that his living body would not have been able to handle the transformation, due to the immense ki control required to maintain the power-up. Even his dead body struggles to master the form, which expires relatively quickly, leaving Goku and Pikkon on an even playing field once more.
12 Super Saiyan 2
Super Saiyan 2 doubles a Super Saiyan’s power and speed, therefore multiplying his base state by 100. Gohan is the first to reach Super Saiyan 2, though it isn't named as such until well into the Buu saga, as Goku travels up to Super Saiyan 3. The issue with the second Super Saiyan stage is that Super Saiyan 3 comes so soon after that it does little damage beyond the Cell saga.
Goku and Vegeta debut their Super Saiyan 2 forms during their long-awaited rematch, where they supply between them enough energy for Majin Buu to hatch, but Goku had Super Saiyan 3 up his sleeve the whole time. The only meaningful uses of Super Saiyan 2 are Gohan’s victories over Cell and Bojack. Rarely do we see Goku use it at all, given that he pretty much transformed from Super Saiyan straight to Super Saiyan 3, which somewhat lessens the impact of this form.
11 Super Saiyan 3
Given that Goku first transforms into a Super Saiyan 2 and a Super Saiyan 3 within literal seconds of each other, there is nothing to really separate them on this list. Of course, Super Saiyan 3 is the far more powerful transformation, at roughly four times that of a Super Saiyan 2 (base form x400), but it also drains energy at a much faster rate and should only be used in extreme circumstances.
Super Saiyan 3 Goku is second only to Ultimate Gohan as the most powerful non-fused Z Fighter in all of Dragon Ball Z. The transformation itself is the first to have a truly planet-wide impact, while the form is just about able to match Kid Buu blow for blow (where Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta is heavily outmatched). Unfortunately, the energy drain is so extensive that the transformation eventually runs out, and Vegeta has to step in as Goku recharges. A powerful transformation for sure, but none too reliable.
It’s around this point that the power levels in the series start to get absurdly inconsistent, so we’re pretty much resorting to educated guesses from here on out. We start with Vegito, first seen in the Buu saga as the result of Goku and Vegeta’s Potara fusion, which is suggested to multiply their power levels rather than simply combine them. The character is the only one of their fused forms to appear in canon, which makes it tricky to compare Vegito to Gogeta, but we'll get to that.
In his base form, Vegito is more than a match for Gohan-absorbed Super Buu, even after he is turned into an actual candy. This puts him way beyond a Super Saiyan 3, and somewhere near level with Super Saiyan 4 (although this one could go either way). We’re giving Super Saiyan 4 the advantage on the grounds that Buu was able to give base Vegito enough trouble to force him into turning Super Saiyan, while Super Saiyan 4 deals with foes far superior to Buu.
9 Golden Great Ape
Dragon Ball GT finally gets a look in now, with the Golden Great Ape transformation. The form is achieved when Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan while in his Great Ape state. The result is in the name, and the potential multipliers for the Golden Great Ape are off the charts. All we can really know for sure is that Goku, who could have turned Super Saiyan 3 at this point, needed this transformation to overpower Baby. The only problem was that even Goku had trouble controlling its destructive power.
This actually supports a pretty convincing theory that the Golden Great Ape was the form Vegeta referred to as "the legendary Super Saiyan" in Dragon Ball Z. Vegeta mentions that the original Super Saiyan (seen only in outline but resembling an ape) had an overwhelming lust for destruction, but we know that a regular Super Saiyan retains his mind. The Dragon Ball GT Perfect Files suggests: “There was a form where even Goku became extremely violent! Surely this brutality, destructive power are a sign of the legend that tells they will love destruction and slaughter! One can think of the Golden Oozaru form as the true Super Saiyan!”
8 Super Saiyan 4
Super Saiyan 4 is the result of a Golden Great Ape regaining control over his own mind. As in the case with Goku, he is calmed by Pan’s efforts to get through to him, and descends (only in size) to the next level of Super Saiyan. The Super Saiyan 4 differs in appearance from its predecessors. The hair reverts to black, while the tail and part of the body is covered in various shades of red fur.
The transformation retains pretty much exactly the same power as a Golden Great Ape, but focuses the mind, allowing Goku to fully utilize the power. The exact multiplier for the transformation is unknown, but Goku and Vegeta are able to use advanced versions of the Super Kamehameha and Final Flash techniques, which are far beyond Super Saiyan 3.
Incidentally, during the initial Super Saiyan 3 transformation in DBZ, Goku sees a vision of himself transforming from a Great Ape into a monkey-like man with black hair. GT is not considered part of the Dragon Ball continuity, but it does at least take direct inspiration from Dragon Ball Z canon.
7 Super Gogeta
When Goku and Vegeta finally perfect the fusion dance in Fusion Reborn, Gogeta makes his debut already as a Super Saiyan. He also appears in Dragon Ball GT, but only as a Super Saiyan 4. The point is that we never see Gogeta in any kind of base form, so Gogeta alone does not make the cut, and we move right along to Super Gogeta.
The only time we see Super Gogeta in action is during his battle with Janemba. Super Saiyan 3 Goku declares the villain to be the strongest he’s ever faced, with the timeline placement being somewhere in the midst of the Fat Buu saga. Therefore, we can tentatively confirm that Janemba is beyond original Buu.
Gogeta doesn’t even flinch at a full-power punch to the face from Janemba, eventually defeating him effortlessly. As this is all we have to go on, we’re assuming that Janemba is in the lower region of Super Gogeta’s potential, and that he would surely be a match for the villains of GT.
6 Super Vegito
Ranking Vegito below Super Saiyan 4 Goku was always going to cause problems, but multiply the fusion by 50, and you have the strongest character to ever appear in Dragon Ball Z. Super Vegito faces off against the strongest version of Buu, taking zero damage and only allowing himself to be absorbed so as to free his friends and family from inside Buu.
If Super Buu is that much stronger than Fat Buu, chances are he’s right there with Janemba, which doesn’t help us out in the slightest. Chances are we will never know whether Gogeta or Vegito would win in a fight, although fans all over the Internet continue the debate to this day.
The reason we’re inclined to favor the Potara fusion is twofold: the fusion dance necessitates that both subjects be at exactly the same power level, usually rendering one participant below their fullest potential and therefore limiting the fusion. Second, the Potara is not supposed to have a time limit, while the fusion dance gives the subjects just a half-hour to get the job done.
5 Super Saiyan God
The Super Saiyan God transformation is exclusive to Battle of Gods in the anime, although Goku is able to tap into its power at will in the manga. Goku battles Hit in his original red-haired God form, before “powering up” to Super Saiyan Blue, so we can put an end to the debate as to which transformation is more powerful. In the same volume, Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta at just 10% power is stated to be equal to Super Saiyan God Goku at full power.
The God form also has a time limit, which is hardly ideal when battling a God of Destruction for the fate of your world, but it does have its benefits. God Goku can actually regenerate, and only other deities can sense his power. Goku also suggests that even if he and Vegeta had fused, they would have been no match for Beerus, and so the Super Saiyan God just makes the top five ahead of the Super fusions.
4 Super Saiyan Blue
Super Saiyan Blue can be a difficult transformation to get your head around, but taking into account the form’s original name – Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan – it becomes a little easier to work out. Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue transformation combines his leftover God ki (from the Super Saiyan God form) with a Super Saiyan power-up, effectively increasing the original God form's strength by the Super Saiyan multiplier of 50.
As the title suggests, the transformation leaves Goku with blue hair and eyes, while Goku Black’s version of the form – Super Saiyan Rosé – turns his hair a shade of pink. Besides fusions and a further combination of power-ups, this is the strongest single transformation Goku has at his disposal through Dragon Ball Super.
Its power is actually harder to determine without a stronger form to compare it against. Super Saiyan Blue Goku is still not considered a match for Beerus, but the God of Destruction is visibly taken aback by the transformation.
3 Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta
In the final arc of Dragon Ball GT, Goku and Vegeta, outmatched as regular Super Saiyan 4s, are forced into fusion as they attempt to defeat the evil Omega Shenron. As evidenced by the fact that the fusion massively overpowers Omega, it is far more likely that it once again multiplies the duo’s power levels.
But with the massive upgrade in power, as with all Super Saiyan transformations, comes even greater arrogance. With Gogeta being the strongest character in GT, and Super Saiyan 4 being the pinnacle Super Saiyan form (at the time), Gogeta is literally the definition of overconfident, choosing to taunt his opponent rather than finish him off.
Gogeta displays an incredible set of powers, including an unprecedented Big Bang Kamehameha, but the form runs out before he can finish showboating. Gogeta remains by far the most powerful of Goku’s GT transformations (and all non-canon transformations) – at least when he’s done cracking jokes.
2 Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-ken
We had a hard time believing that Goku on his own could ever match Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta, but the combination of Super Saiyan Blue and x10 Kaio-ken might just do the trick. Considering how much stronger Super Saiyan Blue is than Super Saiyan 4, we have enough evidence that a Kaio-ken multiplier of 10 is more than a match for Gogeta’s maximum.
Goku debuts the transformation at Beerus and Champa’s Multiverse Tournament, during his final round match up with Hit. The assassin’s time-stop ability had swiftly overpowered Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta, but Goku is eventually able to withstand the technique with the assistance of Kaio-ken.
Ultimately, nothing that Gogeta achieves comes close to mastering time, and we’re confident that Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-ken would also be more than a match for Omega Shenron. Omega’s power is statistically only 10x that of a regular Super Saiyan 4, where Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-ken is 10x more powerful than a Super Saiyan Blue. Still with us?
1 Vegito Blue
Vegito briefly reappears in the recent Future Trunks arc of Dragon Ball Super, as Goku and Vegeta travel to Trunks’ timeline to take on Zamasu and Goku Black. When the two Zamasus fuse together, Goku and Vegeta follow suit,after the Supreme Kai of Universe 10 conveniently tells them that non-Kais will only remain fused for an hour.
Vegito Blue, as named by Vegito himself, runs out of time long before the hour mark. He actually uses up too much power to sustain the form after one of the most savage assaults on any Dragon Ball villain to date, which includes a one-off Final Kamehameha attack. It might not be convenient in a fight to the death, but its pure power is unrivaled.
The latest version of Vegito multiplies the power of two Super Saiyan Blues. Not only that, but Goku and Vegeta each eat a senzu bean beforehand, and the benefits of Potara fusion means that the pair comes together at peak strength. We’re not even going to try and work out Vegito Blue’s power level, but rest assured that it’s Goku’s most powerful transformation by far.
Did we miss any of Goku's transformations in Dragon Ball? Let us know in the comments!