Dragon Ball Z is an iconic anime with many beloved characters. These are the main characters, and their character arcs.

Dragon Ball Z is still a popular anime series, even decades later. It’s hard not to love the spectacle of colorful, muscular heroes fighting it out with the fates of the whole world on the line.

One of the most memorable and enduring aspects of Dragon Ball Z is its cast of unforgettable characters. Each of them has become a legend in their way. 

This is particularly true for the main cast, who has grown with the series to achieve new heights in their physical strength and mental prowess, while also growing emotionally.

These character arcs can be truly amazing to see. This list will rank each main character’s arcs while also providing details about their stories.

17. Hirudegarn

Originally a Demon God Statue that purified the hearts of Konats citizens, Hirudegarn was later corrupted by Kashvar the Mage and became the antagonist of Dragon Ball Z Wrath of the Dragon. 

Hirudegarn, a terrifying monster, has one goal: to destroy everything in its path. It is, to a certain extent, a mindless destroyer who has no conscience or feeling.

In Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon, Hirudegarn, a powerful colossus, has changed its form many times. 

It could easily defeat Super Saiyan Level 2, Gotenks in its final form. The colossus’s attack on Hirudegarn was delayed by Super Saiyan Level 3 Gotenks’ Continuous Die Die Missile. 

It took Super Saiyan Level 3 Goku, to defeat Hirudegarn using his final move, Dragon Fist.

16. Janemba

Janemba was Dragon Ball Z Fusion Reborn’s main antagonist. Janemba was a large, yellow-colored monster that looked like he was a fat yellow monster. 

In truth, Janemba was an evil incarnation, a powerful being so powerful that it could outclass Vegeta and Super Saiyan Level 3 Goku.

At Super Saiyan Level 3, he was able to take down his first form as a fat monster. However, things turned very ugly when he switched to his second form. 

His second form changed his body to a humanoid with purple armor and red skin. His power was so great that Super Saiyan Level3 Goku and Vegeta were unable to defeat him. 

To defeat him, Goku had to fuse with Vegeta to become Gogeta because of his incredible power.

15. Bulma

Although Bulma may not be as important to the Dragon Ball Z story as the original Dragon Ball, she is still worth highlighting. 

Bulma, a rare scientist dork among a sea of musclebound fighters is always happy with a handy tool or two to save the day. 

Without her collection of Capsule Corp. accessories, where would our heroes be? 

Bulma’s unexpected romance with Vegeta is also one of the series’ most compelling subplots. Bulma has come to a long-distance since her first collaboration with Goku.

14. Android 18

Android 18

Although the DBZ-verse is generally pretty clear about the distinction between good and bad, there are some exceptions. 

Android 18 is one of these exceptions. Future Trunks sends 18 to warn our heroes about the dangers of Android 18.

However, 18 quickly proves to be more than a mere killing machine. Her independence and sarcastic senses of humor show deep-seated humanity that Dr. Gero could not quite uncover. 

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At the end of the series, 18 had given up her original programming to start a family with Krillin. 

Although it’s disappointing that the series doesn’t show us more about how this relationship evolved, 18 still ranks among the series’ most interesting and nuanced characters.

13. Super Buu

Super Buu

Super Buu is a dangerous Buu form where Evil Buu eats Good Buu. This Super Buu was very powerful and very ill-tempered. 

This Buu version was very easy to get into a rage with and, if he felt the need, would tear down the dimensional walls.

Super Buu’s ability to absorb warriors was not only his strength and maniacal characteristics. 

Even able to absorb Gotenks, Piccolo and Ultimate Gohan. Super Buu may not pose a threat to Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Super Saiyan Blue Vegeta. 

Super Buu, a fusion of Vegeta and Goku, was a formidable being back in the day.

12. Cell

Cell

Cell, the ultimate creation of Dr. Gero, is a creature with near-infinite growth potential. He is willing to wait until the characters reach their full potential.

This is what is the most fascinating thing about him. 

Although he could kill anyone with his enormous power, he often waits to fight the heroes of Earth at their full potential.

Cell, while not the greatest villain in DBZ’s history, is responsible for some of the series’ best moments. 

The tragic death of Android 16 spurred Gohan to unleash his true power. Don’t miss the thrilling showdown when Goku returns to assist his son in destroying this all-powerful threat.

11. Krillin

Krillin is Goku’s friend and longtime training partner. Krillin, even though his power is outpaced by Goku in Dragon Ball Z’s events, is always available and willing to fight, even though it sometimes means he gets beat up. 

Krillin’s poor record in fighting has been a joke. Krillin has never forgotten the most memorable of his many losses at the hands of Frieza. 

It was not all in vain though, as Frieza’s death triggered the first Super Saiyan transformation of Goku. 

Krillin may not be the strongest or most… alive, but he is always there to support his friends and that’s why he ranks seventh on our list.

10. Goten

Goten

If one is looking at the most underutilized characters of anime history, it’s obvious that Goten would be at the top of the list. 

Although his introduction as Goku’s second son may have had major implications for the character, there isn’t much else to be said about this character other than his fusion with Gotenks.

Trunks were at least present due to the presence of his alternate future self, which was established long before in the Android and Cell Saga. 

Goten is nothing more than the rest of the pack, except for an airheaded personality that makes him a comic relief character.

It suffices to say that there were major villains who had more character development than Goten.

9. Trunks

Trunks

Trunks is a unique DBZ fighter in that he can appear in two different forms throughout the series. 

Trunks is a battle-hardened, future-looking teen warrior who appears in the Cell Saga. He has a very dire message. 

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Trunks impress immediately, dispatching King Cold and MechaFrieza with a few quick sword slashes. He continues to grow over the storyline and tie-in movie, The History of Trunks.

Later, fans will meet the younger Trunks. He is no longer burdened by growing up in an evil world full of androids. 

Trunks, along with Goten, is the source of endless comedy during the Buu Saga. No matter which version you prefer, he is a worthy addition.

8. Piccolo

Piccolo

Piccolo’s made quite a 180-degree turn throughout DBZ. It is easy to forget that Piccolo was the main antagonist in the last story arc of the original Dragon Ball. 

Piccolo gradually transforms from Goku’s mortal enemy to a reluctant ally to an outright friend throughout the series. 

Piccolo redeems himself, despite any differences between the warriors. He takes a strong interest and helps to nurture young Gohan’s hidden power. 

Piccolo is notable for his ability to keep up with Goku and Vegeta. This is due to his tendency of merging with other Namekians, such as Nail and his doppelganger Kami.

7. Bardock

Bardock

Although Son Goku’s father may not have been in the anime, the films do an amazing job of humanizing a character that was once a Saiyan warrior with no heart and no soul.

Although the episode of Bardock ended up cheapening Bardock’s character to make him appear more like a Super Saiyan, it is clear that Bardock still has tons of potential.

6. Gohan

Gohan

Goku’s older brother, Gohan, could be the strongest fighter in this series. 

Unfortunately, this potential is not fully realized as Goku prefers to live a peaceful life and only fights when he is truly needed. 

Despite this mentality, Gohan was involved in some memorable moments throughout the franchise. 

We are told throughout the series that Gohan’s inner potential is greater than any other. This is evident when he becomes Super Saiyan 2 to defeat Cell. 

When he can transform into an Ultimate form completely separate from his Saiyan forms, the Buu Saga further unlocks his potential. 

Although he may never surpass his father in power, Gohan is in many ways the heart and soul of DBZ.

5. Frieza

Frieza

Although he may not be the greatest villain in the series, Frieza is an unrivaled evil genius. 

Frieza and his family control a vast space empire and prefer to rule it with an iron fist. 

Before meeting Goku, it is clear that Frieza has already destroyed many worlds and killed millions of people.

He was also responsible for the destruction of Planet Vegeta, the homeworld of Saiyans. 

His evil ways are even more evident when he tortures and kills the Namek people to get their Dragon Balls. 

In his final act, he kills Krillin and destroys Namek to try to kill Goku. He is still the third most evil villain, despite being a long time since his debut.

4. Beerus

Beerus

Beerus, an Egyptian-cat humanoid creature, often wears Egyptian garb. Although he may appear small, do not underestimate him based on his appearance. 

He is the God of Destruction of Universe 7 whose purpose is to destroy any planet that poses a threat to the balance of the Universe.

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Beerus is a God of Destruction and has immense strength and power. He can destroy any planet and seems to be able to take down all Dragon Ball Z characters, except Whis, his trainer. 

Beerus, a God of Destruction, woke up from his sleep to seek out a new warrior who could defeat Frieza in Dragon Ball Z Battle of Gods. Beerus eventually found Goku and challenged him to a fight. 

Goku attempted to fight Beerus in Super Saiyan Level 3 at the time but failed spectacularly.

Goku later obtained the Super Saiyan God power and fought Beerus again. Although Goku managed to survive the fight, Beerus was not defeated by Goku. 

Beerus was still satisfied with his fight with Goku and decided to save the Earth from certain destruction.

3. Whis

Whis

We don’t know much about Whis‘ life except that he’s Beerus’s mentor in martial arts. 

Although the true power of Whis has not been revealed, we know that he is likely to be Dragon Ball Z’s strongest character.

Beerus stated that Goku was the second-most stifling battler he had faced in the Dragon Ball Z Battle of Gods. Whis is the strongest foe Beerus has faced, considering this.

Whis appears to have an incredibly fast speed and even the ability to reverse time. 

For example, in Dragon Ball Z Resurrection F for example, Whis brought Goku and his comrades back 3 minutes before Frieza decimated the Earth. 

That allowed Goku to deliver a fatal God Kamehameha strike to Frieza. This stopped Frieza’s attempt to destroy Earth.

We haven’t seen Whis’s full potential in Dragon Ball Super. However, one thing is certain: Whis is stronger than Lord Beerus.

2. Goku

Goku is the main character in the Dragon Ball saga. It makes perfect sense that he would rank high on this list. 

Goku is the hero that his adopted planet needs. Goku always digs deep to find a new source of strength or a new level of Super Saiyan-hood to defeat the most formidable opponents. 

None of the Saiyan warriors, including Broly, Frieza, or Buu can defeat him.

Goku is a very good person. Goku wants nothing more than to work hard, show his skills, and return home to good food

Perhaps that makes him less complicated than Vegeta, but it is hard not to admire Goku’s perseverance over the years.

1. Vegeta

Vegeta is the only character to experience a more defined arc in Dragon Ball Z. The prince of the lost Saiyan empire, Vegeta, is a bully who has come to rule the Earth. 

Over the course of the series, Vegeta transforms from a foe into a reluctant friend to the Z Fighters. Vegeta even starts a family with Bulma. 

Even when Vegeta is ready to turn a new page, he still puts his rivalry against Goku before the planet’s best interest.

Vegeta is the greatest character in the series because he’s the most interesting. He is cursed to be second-best. 

Vegeta will never be able to keep up with Goku no matter how much he does death-defying techniques or high-gravity training. He’ll try, but it doesn’t stop him. That’s why we love Vegeta.