We're breaking down the top 10 Z-Fighters from the original run of Dragon Ball Z. For the record, this isn't a list of the most powerful characters. This list is ranking out the characters that resonated to most with the audience.
Bio: Son Goten is the youngest son of Goku and his wife Chi-Chi, making him a Saiyan and Earthling hybrid. Goten is Gohan's younger brother and Trunks' best friend.
Why we love them: Fans have loved watching Goku's growth from the original Dragon Ball all the way through Super, so there is a bit of excitement when we look at what's to come with Goten. He's still in a bit of the whiney stage, but there is no denying his power at such a young age.
Character: Tien Shinhan
Bio: Tien Shinhan is a disciplined, reclusive and heavily devoted martial artist, and one of the strongest Earthlings within the Dragon Ball universe. He also possesses a few non-human traits due to being descended from the Three-Eyed People. He was originally a student of the Crane School who desired revenge against Goku for defeating his mentor, Mercenary Tao, but realized he was on the wrong side with the help of Master Roshi. He battles alongside the other Z Fighters when major threats to the Earth surface, often courageously engaging enemies far more powerful than himself. However, he spends most of his time training with his lifelong best friend, Chiaotzu.
Why we love them: The DBZ universe is a fast-paced arms race of power. Outside of the Saiyan race it can be tough for the other characters to keep up, especially some of the early introductions (looking at you Yamcha). Tien first showed up in the Dragon Ball series, but has somehow managed to hang around and help out against some of the strongest villains. This was especially evident in the Cell Sage, when the Z-fighters were left without the mighty Goku for a majority of the saga.
Character: Android 16
Bio: Android 16 is Dr. Gero's sixteenth Android creation. He was initially designed to serve Gero's vendetta against Goku, who overthrew the Red Ribbon Army as a child but is later deemed unfit for activation.
Why we love them: The Android Saga quickly became a favorite amongst fans upon its release. Their power was evident, but seeing each of Android's arcs was fascinating in its own regard. Android 16 had the most drastic arc amongst them. Watching his shift from a souless foe, to creature-loving hippie, made 16 skyrocket up the list of most loveable charcters. He also had a great send-off with his final pep talk to Gohan during the Cell Saga.
Bio: Krillin is a supporting protagonist in the Dragon Ball manga and Dragon Ball anime series, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT and Dragon Ball Super.
Krillin had a brief rivalry with Goku when they first met and trained under Master Roshi, but they quickly became lifelong best friends. One of the most powerful and talented martial artists on Earth, Krillin is courageous, a faithful ally and good-natured. He is a prominent Z Fighter, despite usually being overpowered by the major enemies. His short stature and baldness (with the exception of when he grows out his hair in the Majin Buu Saga onwards) aid him in his ability to provide comic relief during tense moments. During the latter half of Dragon Ball Z, he largely retires from fighting, opting to settle down with his family instead, becoming the husband of Android 18 and the father of Marron. However, he returns to his lifestyle as a warrior later on in Dragon Ball Super.
Why we love them: Krillin is the ultimate sidekick. He's never been the most powerful sidekick, but his loyalty to Goku and Gohan is undeniable. That being said, his signature Destructo Disc move is nothing to be taken lightly. Also, it was great to see this character finally get the girl after the Cell Saga.
Character: Android 18
Bio: Android 18, when she was an ordinary human, is the twin sister of Android 17 and Dr. Gero's eighteenth android creation, designed to serve Gero's vendetta against Goku. While her interests do not initially deviate from this expectation, her curiosity to activate Android 16, in spite of Gero's orders not to do so, leads Android 17 to take it upon himself to murder Gero. Eventually, Android 18 becomes a member of the Z Fighters, as well as the wife of Krillin and the mother of their daughter Marron.
Why we love them: On of the weaknesses of the Dragon Ball series is their inability to develop strong female characters. It was a great change of pace to see the powerful Android 18 make the turn from a saga-based foe, to a series regular.
Bio: Trunks is the Earthling and Saiyan hybrid son of Bulma and Vegeta, and the older brother of Bulla.
Why we love them: We're talking about older Trunks here. The fanbase had to take a collective deep breath after the climatic ending of the Frieza Saga and then Trunks immediately brought us back to the edge of our seat. A future threat? Time travel? The badass sword? How did it take out Frieza? Wait, who are your parents? Trunks delivered so many teases of what was to come in the series. It's no wonder why the series has taken a few tangents to jump ahead in the storyline to show more of this character's future.
Bio: Son Gohan is the elder son of the series' primary protagonist Goku and his wife Chi-Chi, the older brother of Goten, the husband of Videl and father to Pan. He is named after Goku's adoptive grandfather, Gohan.
Unlike his father, Gohan lacks a passion for fighting and prefers to do so only when the need to defend his loved ones arises. Nevertheless, Gohan fights alongside the Dragon Team in the defense of Earth for much of his life.
Why we love them: If Goku is the G.O.A.T then Gohan is the heir apparent. We all saw glimpses of his power in the early sagas, but we finally saw the payoff in the epic Cell finale. Even though this character has taken a few underwhelming turns (Saiyan Man, Dad Gohan, etc.), fans are still excited about the future of this strong character.
Bio: Piccolo Jr., usually just called Piccolo also known as Ma Junior, is a Namekian and also the final child and reincarnation of King Piccolo, later becoming the reunification of the Nameless Namekian after fusing with Kami. According to Grand Elder Guru, Piccolo, along with Kami and King Piccolo, are part of the Dragon Clan, who were the original creators of the Dragon Balls.
A wise and cunning warrior who was originally a ruthless enemy of Goku, Piccolo later becomes a permanent member of the Dragon Team, largely due to forming a mutual respect to Goku and even more from forming a close bond with Goku's first-born son Gohan.
Why we love them: After being an early villain in Dragon Ball, Piccolo quickly became of the best members of the Z-Fighter team. It has been fun to watch him find creative ways to keep up his powers to stay up with the Saiyans, but his reluctant connection with the rest of the team is what makes him great. We first say signs of this when he took Gohan under his belt and became almost another father figure for him.
Bio: Vegeta is the prince of the fallen Saiyan race and the deuteragonist of the Dragon Ball series. He is the eldest son of Vegeta III, the older brother of Tarble, the husband of Bulma, the father of Trunks and Bulla, and the ancestor of Vegeta Jr. Alongside Goku, Gohan, Krillin, and Piccolo, he is easily one of the most prominent characters in the series, receiving more character development after being introduced than a number of other characters.
Regal, egotistical, and full of pride, Vegeta was once a ruthless, cold-blooded warrior and outright killer, but later abandons his role in the Frieza Force, instead opting to remain and live on Earth, fighting alongside the universe's most powerful warrior, specifically with the mission to defeat and surpass Goku in power. His character evolves from villain, to anti-hero, to a hero through the course of the series.
Why we love them: You're either #TeamVegeta or #TeamGoku. The line is in the sand. If Goku is 1A in the series than Vegeta is 1B. Whether it's his undeniable power and his relentless thirst for more, the undying jealousy of Goku, or his surprising soft-spot for Bulma, there are so many aspects that makes Prince Vegeta an all-time great character.
Bio: Goku is the main protagonist of the Dragon Ball metaseries. Goku is a Saiyan originally sent to Earth as an infant. However, an accident alters his memory, allowing him to grow up to become Earth's greatest defender and the informal leader of the Dragon Team. He constantly strives and trains to be the greatest warrior possible, which has kept the Earth and the universe safe from destruction many times.
Why we love them: Kakarot. The closer. Goku has the perfect balance between love-able goofball and ferocious fighter. He's one of those rare characters that you always feel like it will work out when he's on the screen. That's why the show has had to find creative ways to keep him away from the action until the epic conclusion. In the never ending arms race of power, Goku is the lead horse.
Image Credits: TOEI ANIMATION