Dragon Ball is one of the most recognizable anime series of all time. Its characters are well-known by many, and their most iconic moments have essentially become clichés for the shonen manga genre due to the widespread inspiration they’ve had on other series.
Many of Dragon Ball‘s most iconic moments have become staples of anime culture, and thus even anime fans that may have only seen Dragon Ball in passing will still recognize them. From Goku’s first Super Saiyan Transformation in DBZ to his Ultra Instinct form in Super, Dragon Ball is full of epic, exciting and memorable scenes, but a few in particular are so iconic it’s likely that every fan remembers them.
10 Goku And Raditz Are Killed By The Special Beam Cannon (Dragon Ball Z)
Goku and Raditz’s combined death is one of the single most recognizable scenes in Dragon Ball Z. The image of Goku and Raditz both being cut through by Piccolo’s special beam cannon is undeniably iconic, serving as an early symbol of how far Goku is willing to go as the protector of the earth.
Of course, Goku’s death is never permanent, and if he gets knocked down he always comes back even stronger. If nothing else, Goku’s death along with Raditz set the standard for the extremely powerful foes the Z Fighters were yet to face throughout DBZ.
9 Goku Achieves Ultra Instinct For the First Time (Dragon Ball Super)
Dragon Ball Super was a pretty hit or miss series in terms of fan reception during the first half of its run. By the time the tournament of power began though, the series began to tap into some of the greatness that hadn’t been seen since DBZ.
The main result of that was Goku’s Ultra Instinct, which Akira Toriyama introduced with the sole purpose of bringing some much-needed hyp to the series. New power ups tend to be the most memorable parts of Dragon Ball, and that was no different for Goku’s latest new transformation. If anything, it really renewed fan interest after the comparably lackluster SSJ Blue form had taken hold of most of the series up to that point.
8 Goku’s Instant Transmission Kamehameha (Dragon Ball Z)
Goku’s fight with Cell is often regarded as the most well-animated part of Dragon Ball Z. Those visuals lend themselves well to the great fight choreography which sees Goku pulling off some of his coolest moves ever. Among those is Goku’s now iconic Instant Transmission Kamehameha.
Goku began charging his full strength into a Kamehameha wave that was aimed directly at Cell, but the latter was well-prepared to dodge it. However, Goku unexpectedly utilizes his new Instant Transmission ability to teleport directly in front of Cell just before releasing his blast, catching both Cell and audiences off guard in the process.
7 Goku’s Ultra Instinct Kamehameha Against Kefla (Dragon Ball Super)
In Dragon Ball Super, Goku pulled off his most stylish move ever during the Tournament of Power. After tapping into Ultra Instinct, Goku proved far and beyond the superior fighter over Kale and Kaulifla’s potera fusion, Kefla. Even so, the unified pair had one final hope.
As Goku charged up a Kamehameha, Kefla bombarded him with ki blasts, but Goku easily dodge them all. In one final desperate attempt, Kefla fired a full power blast which Goku deflected with his Kamehameha still in hand, before releasing in one final point-blank range attack. This was a big moment for the Super anime because it showed that Dragon Ballstill had iconic scenes to offer so long into its run.
6 Goku’s Final Attack Against King Piccolo (Dragon Ball)
Goku’s most triumphant moment in Dragon Ball as a child was defeating King Piccolo. Both his legs and one of his arms had been broken, making things even more dire than ever. With the image of the Oozaru transposed behind him, Goku dove forward toward the demonic villain, tearing straight through his body and emerging out the other side.
Goku’s final attack against Piccolo is often thought to be the origin of his “Dragon Fist” attack, but it isn’t canonically called that. Once Dragon Ball Z came around, Goku wouldn’t utilize the Dragon Fist other than in film appearances and in Dragon Ball GT, which makes the fan-dubbed “Oozaru Fist” even more iconic as the peak climactic move of the original Dragon Ball series.
5 Goku And Vegeta’s Beam Struggle (Dragon Ball Z)
Beam struggles and energy clashes have become a staple of the Dragon Ball franchise, but one of the earliest in the series is likely the most iconic. During Goku’s first fight with Vegeta, things came down to the wire when Goku in Kaioken x4 fired a Kamehameha at Vegeta, to which the latter responded with his own signature move, Galick Gun.
Perhaps equally iconic as the beam battle itself was Goku’s decision to let Vegeta go after overcoming him in it, much to Krillin’s dismay. This moment showed a lot about Goku, and ultimately led to the greatest ongoing rivalry in shonen anime.
4 Vegeta Sacrifices Himself To Stop Buu (Dragon Ball Z)
After Vegeta allowed himself to be mind-controlled by Babidi to gain a Majin power up, all hope of his redemption seemed lost. However, even Vegeta has limits to the lengths he’ll go for his pride, and that limit was finally realized when he witnessed the overwhelming power of Majin Buu.
In a desperate attempt to save those he cares about, Vegeta sacrificed his life to put all his power into his Final Explosion ability in hopes of taking down the demon along with him. This was the culmination of a long character arc for the Saiyan Prince, and he has proven himself to be an unflinching force for good ever since.
3 Trunks Cuts Frieza Into Pieces (Dragon Ball Z)
Future Trunks is easily a fan favorite character, and his introduction into the series proved to be a fitting first impression. It would be difficult to find a Dragon Ball fan who doesn’t recognize the exact moment when Trunks cut Mecha Frieza in half during the Future Trunks saga.
Not only was this an awesome move, but it displayed Trunks’ power in comparison to what had previously been the strongest villain in the series. For a fighter as strong as Future Trunks to travel back in time just to warn the Z Fighters told fans everything they needed to know about the existential threat posed by the Androids.
2 The Father-Son Kamehameha (Dragon Ball Z)
Gohan’s fight with Cell was an emotional rollercoaster in many ways. Gohan was by far the more powerful fighter, but his inexperience, naivety, and overconfidence ended up landing him in a rough spot that looked to be in Cell’s favor.
The fight culminates in a beam battle between the two warriors in which Gohan has resolved to put every last bit of strength he has left. In one of the most memorable scenes from the series, Gohan pours his soul into the blast, with an apparition of his father showing up behind him, displaying how even in death, Goku will always stand by his son.
1 Goku Becomes the Legendary Super Saiyan (Dragon Ball Z)
Goku turning Super Saiyan is easily one of the most well-known moments in anime history, let alone the Dragon Ball franchise. After Frieza had terrorized all Goku’s allies and killed his best friend Krillin, the saiyan warrior couldn’t contain his rage any longer.
In one epic roar of anger, Goku unleashed all the hidden potential he possessed, and underwent an unprecedented physical transformation. There’s likely not a single anime fan who doesn’t recognize Goku’s spiky blonde hair as his Super Saiyan form, and it’s all thanks to Frieza’s foolishness in pushing one of the strongest characters in anime too far.