I think every modern generation has their own popular anime. If you were born in the 2000s, then it's probably My Hero Academia or Demon Slayer (which I also ranked the top ten episodes of). It might even be Attack on Titan, which I think is the best under-the-radar show on TV, but that show is more for adults than children. If you were born in the '90s, then it's probably Bleach, Naruto, or Pokemon. But, if you were born in the '80s, then that show was undoubtedly Dragon Ball Z. And, if you were like me, then you were probably obsessed with the Z-Fighters back in the day.
Now, if you're an '80s baby and a '90s kid, then you were at the epicenter when anime first exploded in the U.S. You were there when Sailor Moon (which I actually prefer to Dragon Ball Z, believe it or not) aired on TV before school. You were there to see other classic '80s and '90s anime like Fist of the North Star, or Cowboy Bebop on Toonami.
So, yeah. You were there, man. You were there. I only mention that, though, since you really had to be there to actually care about the Z-Fighters, because that's when they were at their coolest. True, the Z-Fighters are still present on Dragon Ball Super, and there are some new ones, like Uub as a good guy, but I wanted to talk about the ones on Dragon Ball Z. So, which ones are the coolest? Well, you're about to find out.
Best friend to Tien, and a psychic martial artist, Chiaotzu looks like he might be an alien with his white face and his red cheeks, but he’s actually an Earthling. As a fellow little guy myself, you might think that I have a soft spot for Chiaotzu, and I do. But, when your claim to fame is pretty much just getting on Nappa’s nerves, then you know your cool factor is on the super low side.
And that’s a shame, too, since I really like the idea of a tiny, white-faced, psychic martial artist being a cool ass kicker. Unfortunately, Chiaotzu is pretty much the Robin to Tien’s Batman. And quite frankly, Tien is no Batman himself (He’s pretty cool, though, as he appears much later on this list).
Okay, now if this were a list that included events from Dragon Ball, Yajirobe might be higher, since he came through in some pretty clutch moments on that show. But, when it comes to Dragon Ball Z, well, there is pretty much only one key Yajirobe moment, and that’s when my man cut off Vegeta’s tail, which, to be fair, is one of the most iconic moments in the entire series, but still. One key moment does not a badass make.
That said, like Chiaotzu, this is also a shame, since I really like the idea of Yajirobe. As a ronin who I could definitely see appearing in some of the best samurai movies (If, that is, there were samurai movies about cowardly samurais), Yajirobe stands out in the list of Z-Fighters. True, some of his best moments were behind him, but when it comes to Dragon Ball Z, there are way cooler characters, which is why he lands so low on this list.
Poor Yamcha. Like Yajirobe, Yamcha’s best years were behind him in the Dragon Ball days when he could actually measure up against minor threats. But, when he started having to fight overpowered aliens, well, Yamcha quickly found himself in the afterlife training under King Kai. Hey, it’s a living.
But seriously, in wrestling parlance, Yamcha is what many would consider a “jobber” (Or, “enhancement talent,” such as the Brooklyn Brawler, who is one of the strangest wrestlers of all time). Not only that, but Yamcha even loses the love of his life (Bulma) to Vegeta. Harsh, yes, and not cool. Not cool at all.
Ooookay, so here’s some controversy, since Gohan is by far one of the most powerful characters in all of the Dragon Ball saga. That said, what the hell were they thinking with The Great Saiyaman? It wasn’t the longest arc in the entire series for Gohan – not by a long shot – but it was so corny that it knocked Gohan down several notches on this list.
And that’s a real shame, since Gohan was so badass as a child. Training under Piccolo? Dope. Turning into a Super Saiyan? Dope. Fighting Cell? SUPER DOPE. The Great Saiyaman?... Why? Just why?
Wife to Gohan, daughter to Mr. Satan, and a fighter in her own right, Videl is about a million times cooler than her husband, even though her time was much briefer than his on the series. Mostly known for her battle with Spopovitch, Videl is badass because she never says quit.
In fact, she kind of reminds me of the Karate Kid in that she trains to be a fighter, and even continues to battle, even when gravely injured. So, even though she never turns Super Saiyan or goes head-to-head with the likes of Cell, I still think she’s way cooler than Gohan.
9. Master Roshi
Am I cheating by putting Master Roshi on this list? Well, maybe a little, since Master Roshi didn’t really do much in Dragon Ball Z besides being a hornball. But, knowing that he trained Goku to be the fighter he is in Dragon Ball Z puts him at a pretty comfortable place on this list.
Plus, as exhibited by how tough he is in Dragon Ball Super, it’s even cooler to know that he really could have probably whooped some ass on Z if he felt the need to. But, why bother when you can just chill out and be a super creep in retirement? It’s the potential that makes him cool, you see.
The second (and definitely cooler) son of Goku and Chi-Chi, Goten is just a kid, but he’s super powerful and can turn Super Saiyan like it ain’t no thang. He’s also pretty unphazed by intergalactic threats, and is willing to scrap pretty much whenever.
Not only that, but through the power of a silly dance, he can even fuse with his best buddy, Trunks. Points off, though, for thinking the Great Saiyaman is cool. I guess that makes him a good little brother, though.
Best bud to Chiaotzu, and willing to sacrifice life and limb for vengeance, Tien is one of those characters who also saw his best days in Dragon Ball, but he’s still pretty badass in Dragon Ball Z.
I mean, Tien took on Cell knowing that he was no match for him, because Tien is freaking metal as hell. Plus, he has a third eye in the center of his head, which kind of reminds me of Everything, Everywhere, All at Once (Which you should see right now). So, yeah. Tien is freaking cool.
Son of Bulma and Vegeta (From an alternate timeline), Trunks is from the future, but he’s also in the present. As a child. Confused yet? Well, here’s all you need to know. He has a cool sword, and he is often very calm in the face of danger.
But, that’s the thing. While I love Future Trunks, which is like something out of The Terminator or Terminator 2: Judgment Day with his quest to end the Apocalypse before it happens, we also get kid (Present) Trunks, who is considerably less cool, so he ends up at 6 on this list.
Hoo boy. Not putting Goku at number 1? Well, let me explain. I know he’s the main protagonist, and some of the coolest moments of the show come from Goku turning Super Saiyan and what not. But… well, there are a few other characters who I think are much cooler.
And here's why: People love Goku because he’s your typical hero type, but is that cool? I mean, he’s kind of like Superman, but is Superman cool? Well, I would say that Superman is definitely sometimes cool when he has to fight ubervillains like Doomsday or Darkseid, but for the most part, he's kind of like a really strong boy scout. And that's how I feel about Goku. When he's pushed to the limit, he's the coolest character on the show, but when he's not, well, he's a bit of a goofball. So, powerful yes, but super cool? Sometimes.
Best friend to Goku, bald (until he’s not), short, and later married to an android, Krillin is pretty much the definition of cool. He usually gets his butt whooped, but he’s always willing to put his life on the line for his friends.
Plus, his special move, the destructo disc, is even the name of a rock band. I mean, how much cooler could you possibly get?
3. Android 18
Twin sister to Android 17, and later married to Krillin, Android 18 was once a human, but was modified to take on Goku after some beef from the first Dragon Ball. That said, she’s so powerful that her being absorbed ultimately creates Cell’s perfect form, which produced possibly the best cycle of the Dragon Ball Z saga.
I just love how Android 18 is one of the most powerful characters in all of Dragon Ball Z, but she sometimes chooses not to fight. She kind of reminds me of the monks in some of my favorite kung-fu movies, who could tear people apart, but instead, decide not to. Restraint, in a way, is badass, too, you know.
Is Prince Vegeta as strong as Goku? No. Not by a long shot. Is Prince Vegeta cooler than Goku? Yes. By like, over 9000. Vegeta is a lovable jerk who thinks he’s better than everybody else, and often is.
But, he’s also probably the most intense and dedicated Z-Fighter who will pick a fight with opponents way stronger than him not because he’s trying to sacrifice himself, but because he genuinely believes that he can beat them. Vegeta was an anti-hero through most of Dragon Ball Z, and anti-heroes are always cooler than heroes. I’m just talking facts.
Okay, so maybe I’m a bit biased here, since Piccolo is often considered black (there are even articles written about it), and I’m black, but I’ve always found Piccolo to be the coolest character on Dragon Ball Z.
He trains Gohan, focuses on strategy since he knows his power level isn’t up to par with other threats, and is loyal to the very end. He also has some of the most interesting and unique attacks in the entire series. Plus, like Vegeta, he’s always ready to throw down, and if that isn’t badass, then I don’t know what is.
And that’s the list. But, who do you think is the coolest Dragon Ball Z fighter? For more news on other anime (Such as Ranking of Kings), make sure to swing by here often.
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.