10 Most Shocking Moments In Dragon Ball, Ranked
Dragon Ball set the standard for shonen anime with groundbreaking and iconic moments that are now recognized even by casual fans.
For anime fans today, much of Dragon Ball‘s most shocking moments are nothing out of the ordinary. That’s because the very standard of shonen anime today was dictated by what Dragon Ball pulled off during its heyday.
While they may not come as any surprise to modern anime fans, Dragon Ball‘s most jarring scenes were ones that went on to define the genre down the line. Moments that came completely out of left field when they aired have now become part of the canon of shonen anime and are some of the most well-known and iconic scenes in anime history. Many of Dragon Ball‘s most awe-inspiring and unexpected moments are ones that even the most casual of anime fans should be able to see coming.
10 Master Roshi Destroys The Moon (Dragon Ball)
Nowadays, mere planetary destruction is a pretty minor occurrence in the world of anime. Power scalers online often measure Dragon Ball characters based on just how many planets or even galaxies fans think they can destroy, but the first true feat that set that standard was committed by Master Roshi in Dragon Ball.
When Goku turned into his Oozaru form during his bout against Roshi in the World Tournament, Master Roshi had no choice but to use his Kamehameha to destroy the moon itself to turn Goku back into a human. This was an incredible feat of pure power, which just wasn’t common at the time, and helped set the pace for shonen anime power levels going forward.
9 Goku Black Appears (Dragon Ball Super)
Goku Black was a shocking character for a number of reasons in Dragon Ball Super. For one, his mysterious true identity made it surprising for fans to consider what Goku would be like if he had been evil.
Additionally, Goku Black’s arc as Zamasu displayed the true horror of what would happen if Dragon Ball‘s greatest hero’s power was used for all the wrong reasons. It was poetic for Goku’s greatest enemy to be a mirror image of himself, and it also led to one of the darkest moments in the franchise as a consequence.
8 Future Trunks’ Introduction (Dragon Ball Z)
There were multiple facts about Future Trunks’ first appearance in the series that made it so unexpected. First, it was the fact that he could turn Super Saiyan — something that seemed exclusive to Goku at the time.
The second aspect of Trunks’ appearance that was so impressive for fans was the manner in which he manhandled Frieza, who was far and away the series’ most powerful villain and an interplanetary threat to the galaxy. Of course, as his arc would later develop, the fact that not only was Trunks actually from the future but was Vegeta and Bulma’s son only added to his wow factor.
7 Roshi’s First Kamehameha (Dragon Ball)
The Kamehameha may now be the most iconic signature attack in anime history, but it wasn’t always so well-known. That’s part of what made the first time it was used in the series by Master Roshi so surprising.
Another thing that made the first Kamehameha so shocking was that Roshi also took on his Max Power transformation while doing it. The Turtle Hermit went from a decrepit older man to a massively muscular powerhouse in moments, and fans knew from that moment on that Goku would be in good hands with him around.
6 Goku Achieves Ultra Instinct (Dragon Ball Super)
Goku’s Super Saiyan transformations were not anything new by the time Dragon Ball Super came around. Perhaps that’s what made Ultra Instinct so surprising when it was first shown during the Tournament of Power arc.
Goku was already pushing up against the power of the Gods, but Ultra Instinct was the first time that he truly began to surpass the Gods of Destruction themselves and even impress Beerus with his power. What was most impressive for fans, though, was the fact that this wasn’t even a Super Saiyan transformation but an entirely separate ability that showed how Goku and Vegeta might finally be able to ascend the legendary form that had such a hold over the series throughout all of DBZ.
5 Frieza Destroys Planet Namek (Dragon Ball Z)
The Frieza arc is now one of the most iconic in shonen anime and contains many moments that redefined the genre. One such moment was Frieza’s greatest act of desperation: the destruction of Planet Namek during his fight with Goku.
Recognizing that his situation was dire, Frieza fired a ki blast into the core of the planet that basically jump-started the destruction of the planet. This moment displayed not only the lengths Frieza was willing to go to destroy his enemies but also the sheer power that the Z Fighters were dealing with at this point in the series.
4 Goku Is Killed With Raditz (Dragon Ball Z)
By the time Dragon Ball Z started, characters had already been killed and brought back to life before. However, as long as Goku himself was alive to defend the planet, there was always a chance things could be redeemed.
When Goku was killed within the first few episodes of DBZ, it was unexplored territory for the franchise. As fans would later come to know, Goku dying actually means he’ll probably come back stronger as a result, but things were definitely uncertain when it happened for the first time.
Goku’s identity as a Saiyan is a defining characteristic of who he is, which is part of what made the first time he learned about his heritage so important. As it was, Goku was already clearly an outlier in the series, though the reason for that was largely taken for granted by fans.
With DBZ‘s big reveal that Goku was actually an alien, it not only made everything up to that point make sense but also would go on to inform pretty much everything that would happen for the rest of the series going forward. A big part of what made Dragon Ball Z so beloved was its intergalactic threats, and Goku’s meeting with Raditz was only the beginning.
2 Krillin Dies the First Time (Dragon Ball)
The death of main characters in Dragon Ball really all started with a character who would partially become known for dying in the series: Krillin. Aside from Yamcha, Krillin may be the most killed character in Dragon Ball. However, that wasn’t always the case.
Krillin’s first death at the hands of Piccolo’s son, Tambourine, in Dragon Ball remains one of the most surprising moments in the series and is easily one of the most emotional. Even despite how many times Krillin has died throughout the franchise, his deaths still somehow always maintain their emotional impact due to how close he and Goku have been since they were children. Still, none of those moments took fans by surprise as much as the first time it happened.
1 Goku Turns Super Saiyan (Dragon Ball Z)
The most surprising moment in the Dragon Ball franchise should come as no surprise to any fan. When Goku first turned Super Saiyan, it was the coolest thing audiences could have seen, and it was a defining moment in shonen anime history.
Between Goku’s huge change in appearance and the realization that he had become the legendary Super Saiyan that Vegeta was so obsessed with throughout DBZ, Goku’s Super Saiyan transformation was mind-blowing for audiences to witness. Goku reaching Super Saiyan proved not only a transformation for Goku but a transformation for the entire Dragon Ball franchise going forward.