Even though all the series and movies of the Dragon Ball franchise are top-rated among the fans, Dragon Ball Z still holds a special place in the audience’s heart. The series ran for seven years, between 1989 to 1996, during which the show had numerous moments that kept the audience’s heart racing. Created by Akra Toriyama, the series is a sequel to the original “Dragon Ball” series. The show tells the story of five years after the events of Dragan Ball. Even after 25 years, the series ended, Dragon Ball Z is still a global sensation. The reason why this show is still one of the most popular anime on the planet is simply because of these unforgettable Dragon Ball Z moments that set up high bars for action anime.
Toei Animation produces the series, and it was originally aired on Fuji TV. After that, the show’s English version aired on Cartoon Network and a few other TV channels. Continuing the protagonist Son Goku’s adventures, the series tells his story along with his companions as they fight to protect the Earth from outer space villains. Unlike the Dragon Ball series that followed Goku’s childhood, Dragon Ball Z focuses on his adult life and origins as a Saiyan who was sent to Earth when he was a baby. Here, we will discuss the top 15 unforgettable moments in Dragon Ball Z that made the show one of the most popular anime worldwide.
During the series’ final Saga, Buu manages to kill everyone on Earth, turning them into chocolates and eating them while absorbing the stronger ones into himself. While Goku and Vegeta fight Buu, their only choice is to use fusion using Supreme Kai’s earrings. Goku and Vegeta are the strongest fighters on Earth, and Goku manages to convince Vegeta to fuse with him. After knowing that everyone, including Bulma and Trunks, is gone, Vegeta agrees with Goku and wears the earring on his one ear.
This fusion results in the most powerful warrior on Earth, and they put up a good fight against Buu. Vegito’s powers surpass Goku’s Super Saiyan 3 form by a long shot. They had the most amazing fight of the Buu Saga, and it continued for a few episodes. However, Buu absorbs Vegito, and they separate inside his body. After that, Vegeta crushes the earring, saying that they can beat Buu even without fusing. He convinces Goku, and the latter destroys his earring as well.
14. Gohan Attacks Frieza:
Frieza was using the Z fighters for his own amusement. He takes on his second form and defeats Vegeta. After that, he attacks Piccolo and gets the better of him effortlessly. The seemingly invincible villain was out of reach for everyone. Till then, no one was able to land a serious attack on the villain. However, after Frieza seriously injures Krillin, Gohan loses control and charges him. He lands multiple hits on Frieza, showing his powers as a Saiyan, even though he is a child.
Followed by a kick, Gohan lands a punch on him. After several kicks, he uses an energy attack, making Frieza fall to the ground. After that, Gohan continues to attack him using several energy attacks. This shocks Vegeta, and he wonders whether Gohan was purposely holding back his powers the whole time. Even though Gohan’s powers weren’t able to defeat or seriously injure Frieza, seeing Goku’s son putting the Emperor of the Universe to the ground was definitely one of the most unforgettable Dragon Ball Z moments.
13. Super Saiyan 3:
After seven years of his death, Goku returns to Earth for a day to take part in the World Martial Arts Tournament. However, instead of enjoying his time at the tournament with his friends and family, he is once again responsible for protecting the Earth from villains. But that’s not the only problem. The more powers Goku uses, the less time he has left on Earth. Goku knows that with so many restrictions on him, he can’t defeat Majin Buu. He decides to train Trunks and Goten and teach them a fusion technique that will give them a chance at winning.
While Majin Buu wreaks havoc on the cities, Goku sends Trunks to retrieve the dragon radar. In the meantime, Goku confronts Buu and Babidi to buy Trunks enough time to find the dragon radar. Goku realizes that Buu’s personality is similar to a child who wants to play and have fun. So for his amusement, Goku shows him all the forms of Super Saiyan. After transforming to Super Saiyan 2, he transforms to Super Saiyan 3. He fights Buu for a short while and barely manages to buy enough time for Trunks. As a result, Goku lost his time on Earth significantly and had to go back to the other world much earlier than expected.
12. Piccolo’s Sacrifice:
Piccolo was one of the antagonists in the original Dragon Ball series. However, in the Dragon Ball Z series, he changed. Instead of wanting to destroy the Earth, he decides to protect it. It all started with Raditz’s arrival in the series, where Piccolo says that he will be the one to destroy Earth and not anyone else. After teaming up with Goku, he defeats Raditz, killing Goku in the process. Moreover, before that, Piccolo witnessed Gohan charging up to Raditz and seriously injuring him.
Piccolo saw potential in the kid and decides to train him for a year until more villains arrive on Earth. Part of the reason Piccolo changed for the better was because of Gohan. After taking the little boy under his wing, the cold-hearted Piccolo starts to warm up. Even though he was extremely strict with his training, Piccolo still cared for Gohan. And in return, Gohan admired him no less than he admired Goku. The two shared a bond like father and son.
After a year of training together, Nappa and Vegeta arrive at Earth to take the dragon balls. However, that wasn’t their only goal; the duo wants to destroy the Earth as well. So, when the Z fighters were trying to hold the villains off until Goku arrives there, they had a brutal fight, losing their comrades in the process. While Nappa tries to kill Gohan, Piccolo remembers his time with the child and charges to save him. He puts himself in front of Gohan, taking Nappa’s attack for himself and dying in the process.
11. Future Trunks Defeats Frieza:
After the Frieza Saga, Goku gets stranded on another planet, and the Z fighters have no clue of his return. As everyone was getting used to their regular lives, they sensed Frieza approaching Earth. The heroes get ready and assembled at the same place to confront the villain. However, just as they were figuring out their next course of action, a mysterious man arrives at the place and confronts Frieza and King Cold. He sliced Frieza’s subordinates using his sword.
Frieza underestimated the stranger and asked his subordinates to deal with the man. However, after the man easily defeated the subordinates and transformed into a Super Saiyan, reminding Frieza of Goku. Still traumatized by his fight with Goku, Frieza gets terrified after seeing the same green eyes and blonde hair. Frieza tries to destroy the Earth, using the same attack he used on Planet Namek. But the man easily deflects the attack and slices Frieza into pieces without putting any effort. This time, completely defeating him.
After that, he made quick work of King Cold, defeating him with a single blow. He then tells the Z fighters that he is heading to a place where Goku will be arriving after a couple of hours and asks them to follow him. He refused to tell anyone about him and even his name. However, after Goku arrives, the man tells him that his name is Trunks and that he came from the future. He also tells him everything about the villains who will threaten them after three years and that his parents are Vegeta and Bulma.
10. Vegeta’s Sacrifice:
Vegeta is also an antagonist turned protagonist in the Dragon Ball Z series. It was annoying to see him purposefully letting Babidi gain control of his mind and wreaking havoc in the World Martial Arts Tournament to fight Goku. However, Vegeta makes up for all that after sacrificing himself to protect the Earth. After Majin Buu hatches, the Z fighters realize that this villain is stronger than they have faced before.
Vegeta gets injured after his fight with Buu and realizes that no one on Earth is strong enough to defeat him, not even Goku. He says goodbye to Trunks and knocks him out with Goten. Piccolo takes the kids with him and tells Krillin that Vegeta is fighting for others for the first time in his life. While Piccolo and Krillin leave the place with the kids, Vegeta makes the ultimate sacrifice by self-destructing, believing it to be the only way to destroy the monster. Unfortunately, even though Buu gets destroyed from the attack, he quickly regenerates. However, this was unarguably one of the most memorable moments in Dragon Ball Z.
9. Gohan Deflects Cell’s Kamehameha:
The biologically engineered time-traveling villain gave the Z fighters lots of trouble. Dr. Gero created Cell as a “perfect warrior” by using genetic traits and special abilities of Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Frieza, and King Cold. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise that Cell can use Goku’s Kamehameha attack. The cell was using Gohan as a means to his amusement. He wanted the kid to unleash his true powers as a Saiyan, making him a worthy opponent.
However, what happened next was something beyond his imagination. After angering Gohan to his limits, Cell unleashed intense anger in the child, resulting in his transformation as a Super Saiyan 2. Being able to sense Gohan’s amplified strength, Cell was overwhelmed. Their fight continued for a while, and Cell realized that Gohan is more powerful than he imagined. In his desperation, he used his most powerful Kamehameha.
Just as the Z fighters thought this would be the end of them, Gohan surprises everyone by using an even stronger Kamehameha. As a result, Gohan sent Cell to outer space with his attack after deflecting his attack. Even though the attack didn’t kill Cell, it seriously injured him, destroying his one arm and a leg. This decreased his powers significantly, and Cell spits out Android 18 after regenerating himself. This was one of the most epic Dragon Ball Z moments, showing Goku’s son’s true strength as a half Saiyan.
8. Frieza Getting Sliced:
Frieza was the best villain of the series. Not only was his ruthlessness and strength unparalleled, but he was also called the “Emperor of the Universe.” However, even the strong have someone they feared. For Frieza, it was the Saiyans. Although a single Saiyan can never match up to his strength, Frieza believed that if such a race of warriors collaborates to defeat him, he will easily lose to them. Another reason was Super Saiyan’s legend, something which he believed may happen again if he left the Saiyans alive.
So, Frieza destroyed Planet Vegeta, which caused Goku’s parents to send their baby to planet Earth. Other survivors were Vegeta, Nappa, and Raditz, who were on a mission on another planet. After Goku’s transformation for the first time, Frieza was beyond terrified. However, he was still arrogant enough to believe that a single “Monkey” can never defeat him.
While fighting, he used his slicing attack to defeat Goku. However, as Frieza’s two energy discs were following Goku, the latter tricked Frieza into getting sliced by his own attack. Even though Frieza was cut in half, he was still alive. Goku spared his life and decided to leave him there to survive. But just as Goku turned his back to him, Frieza attacks him, and Goku strikes back, finally defeating the villain.
7. Vegeta’s Pride:
Turning from a villain to a hero, if there’s one thing Vegeta kept with him all that time, it was his pride. As a Saiyan prince, Vegeta was proud of his origins. Over the span of the series, until the Babidi and Majin Buu Saga, Vegeta couldn’t digest the fact that a lowly commoner Saiyan Goku was stronger than him. He was obsessed with surpassing his only rival. However, just as Vegeta catches up to Goku’s strength, he realizes that Goku achieves another level, always leaving him one step behind.
While Vegeta, Goku, and Gohan went to Babidi’s base to stop Buu from hatching. Babidi sees the darkness in Vegeta and decides to control him. Even though Vegeta had a lot of mental strength and could’ve easily avoided Babidi’s possession, he chose to surrender. That was only because any being controlled by Babidi has his powers multiplied, making him stronger than ever. Vegeta hoped to defeat Goku after using this power finally.
Babidi believed that he could control Vegeta and ordered him to kill Supreme Kai. However, he couldn’t be more wrong. Vegeta refused to kill the Supreme Kai and ignored his orders, even when Babidi’s strong magic controlled him. Vegeta says that even though Babidi invaded his mind and body, there’s one thing that a Saiyan always keeps, and that’s his pride. After Vegeta ignored Babidi’s command, his fight with Goku started.
6. Goku’s “I am” Speech:
Just like any other hero, Goku is kind-hearted and strong. He tries to see good in everyone, even the most ruthless villains. However, at the same time, he’d do anything to fight for the right cause, even if it means destroying his enemies to ensure Earth’s safety. During his fight with Frieza, Goku first transformed into a Super Saiyan, scaring the hell out of the most feared living being in the galaxy. Seeing his power being overwhelmed by a single Saiyan, Frieza asked Goku what he really his.
Frieza was actually referring to his appearance, trying to confirm whether he really is a Super Saiyan or not. However, Goku gave a really different answer, saying he is the hope of the universe. His speech as the universe’s protector was unarguably the best dialogue in the series. This was also one of the most loved Dragon Ball Z moments.
5. Gohan Super Saiyan 2 Form:
Gohan was shown potential ever since he defeated Raditz with just one blow. We saw glimpses of his powers during his fights with Vegeta and Frieza as well. However, it wasn’t until the Cell Saga when we saw just how powerful the child really is. The fighters realized that they were not strong enough to defeat Cell. But Goku believed that Gohan could do it, claiming his son to be stronger than him. Pinning the hope of Earth’s survival to an eleven-year-old boy may seem too overwhelming, but Gohan was no ordinary kid. He rose through the challenge, fought bravely, and defeated Cell.
However, the victory didn’t come easily. Sacrifices were made, and people died. One of them was Android 16. Android 16 saved Gohan when Cell was torturing him. While 16 was planning to self-destruct, Krillin revealed that Bulma and her father removed the bomb from him years ago, so he can’t self-destruct. Cell destroyed Android 16’s body with one blow, enraging Gohan. Gohan admired 16’s love for life and all living things. So seeing him getting killed so brutally while he was fighting bravely for the better of the planet crushed Gohan.
Cell didn’t stop with just that. His goal was to anger Gohan so that the boy can unleash his true strength. Cell created his miniature versions and tormented the Z fighters. That pushed Gohan to his limits. His anger, sadness, and frustration resulted in him taking an even more advanced transformation than Super Saiyan in the heat of the moment. Super Saiyan 2 is a huge level up as compared to Super Saiyan. The form increases someone’s powers significantly, and Gohan was the first to achieve it. After that, it was Gohan’s turn to toy with him. He easily overpowered Cell after transforming.
4. Goku’s Spirit Bomb Against Kid Buu:
Majin Buu was the final antagonist of the series. One of the best moments in DBZ was the final blow to the most powerful villain in the series. Goku, using his biggest spirit bomb ever, wasn’t a single person’s effort. Rather, he accumulated all living beings’ energy on Earth, as they shared it with Goku after Satan persuaded them. As a result, the giant spirit bomb claimed victory against the final form of Majin Buu.
Goku saw good in him when he fought against Buu in his Super Saiyan 3 form. He wished for him to return as a better person after his death. King Yama fulfilled his wish by reincarnating him as a boy named Ubb. This was shown in the series’ epilogue, ten years after the defeat of Majin Buu. The final attack on the final villain during the series’s final saga was unarguably one of the best moments in Dragon Ball Z.
3. Goku vs. the Ginyu Force:
Goku’s fight with the entire Ginyu Force was definitely one of the most memorable Dragon Ball Z moments. Frieza’s elite force unleashed terror around the galaxy over the years. The members of the Ginyu Force may have funny looks, but their powers were nothing to underestimate. Their team’s combined powers dominated Vegeta, Gohan, and Krillin until Goku arrived at planet Namek. While Goku was single-handedly crushing the Ginyu Force, Vegeta seemed to realize that there’s more to his powers than it seems.
Being obsessed with Super Saiyan’s legend, Vegeta wondered whether Goku achieved that legendary power after seeing his immense strength. However, the Super Saiyan in the legend was in the form of a Giant Ape, but Goku had his tail cut off in childhood. So, Vegeta has his doubts. Meanwhile, Goku easily overwhelmed the three of them without any effort. Their Captain also arrived there, and Goku seemed powerful than him too. As for Guldo, Vegeta already defeated him to save Gohan and Krillin.
2. Gohan and Goku Kamehameha:
There’s a reason why the audience much loves this father and son duo. Goku is Gohan’s idol and teacher, someone whom he respects very much. So, seeing his father getting killed because of his arrogance was a devastating blow to Gohan. While everyone wanted Gohan to finish Cell as soon as possible, Gohan wanted to mock him by showing off his superior powers. So the pre-teen boy didn’t see it coming when Cell chose to self-destruct in hopes of destroying the entire earth with him.
While Gohan was blaming himself for not defeating Cell, Goku chooses to sacrifice himself by transmitting Cell to King Kai’s planet. King Kai, Bubbles, and Gregory die with Goku when their planet gets destroyed with Cell. However, just as everyone was mourning Goku, Cell returns to Earth, stronger than ever. He kills Trunks, injures Vegeta, and breaks Gohan’s arm. Just as Gohan was giving up after realizing that he couldn’t defeat Cell, Goku talks to him using King Kai’s telepathy.
Goku motivates him and makes him realize his strength. And then we get to witness the best Kamehameha of the entire series. Goku actually didn’t make the attack; what we saw was only his illusion when Gohan attacked Cell using only his one hand. This scene symbolizes that Gohan has his father’s strength and technique, proving that he will win against the most powerful villain they have ever faced. This was the final blow to the biologically engineered creature that terrorized the Earth’s future.
1. Goku’s First Transformation:
When we talk about epic moments in Dragon Ball Z, this one takes the cake. This scene has a separate fan base. This was the moment when the legend of a super Saiyan became a reality. It was something that the Saiyans believed to be a story for the children. Throughout the series, we saw Vegeta obsessed with becoming a super Saiyan while others laughed at him for believing such a myth. In the heat of his battle with Frieza, Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan for the first time.
Angered by seeing his best friend exploding in front of him, Goku promises Frieza that he will pay for it. Seeing those green eyes and blonde hair, it may be the first time that Frieza was that frightened in his entire life. Well, Frieza was pushing his luck to the limit, by killing Vegeta, Piccolo, and then Krillin, only for his own amusement, all the while breaking Goku’s patience. After that, we see Goku literally battering Frieza in his final form.