Dragon Ball Z: 10 best fights ranked

Tristan Stringer

Keep that magical wish-granting dragon at the ready to clean up the mess these fighters leave after we rank the 10 best fights in Dragon Ball Z.

Dragon Ball Z is the anime for fighting; you’d be hard-pressed to find another series that revolves around fighting as much as ol’ DBZ does. As the series goes on, Goku and his friends need to step up as the threats keep growing more powerful, and the story gets more complex, with both space and time travel becoming common themes.

The only question remaining is: what are the best fights in Dragon Ball Z? Have no fear because we’re answering that question today with the 10 best battles in the series ranked. We’re not necessarily looking at the most potent displays of power but the fights that left a strong impression on both the series and the audience.

Best fights in Dragon Ball Z ranked

Expect spoilers ahead as we rank the greatest battles in all Dragon Ball Z; we’ve considered almost every fight you could think of that leave a strong impact on the series. Fair warning: you can expect spoilers for Dragon Ball Z in this list.

10. Kid Buu Vs. Goku and Vegeta

Dragon Ball Z Goku vs Kid Buu bite

The final fight of Dragon Ball Z does not disappoint with the perfect mixture of action, drama, and, in true Dragon Ball Z fashion, comedy. Goku pulls out Super Saiyan 3, trying to put down Kid Buu as best he can; the previous villains of the series watching from Hell, or HFIL, depending on what dub you watched, rooting for Buu and Vegeta tries his best to convince the people of Earth to lend their energy for one final Spirit Bomb only to be showed up by the champion Mr Satan.

Goku and Vegeta may have a best frenemies-style rivalry going on, but this is the first time they’ve genuinely fought together in tandem against a threat, and that threat is the final “boss” of Dragon Ball Z is extremely fitting. These two very different fighters have the same goal in mind: to get stronger. Finally, work together honestly to win.

9. Vegeta Vs. Android 19

Dragon Ball Z Vegeta vs Android 19

When the androids arrive, even if we know they aren’t the droids we’re looking for, they leave a heavy impression on our heroes. Android 19 nearly kills Yamcha and matches Goku’s strength until his illness subdues him, leaving the Z warriors shocked as their trump card comes up short, and Vegeta charges in from who knows where.

Leaving the proud prince of all Saiyans, Vegeta, storming in to take care of the situation with the full intent of showing off the fact that he can turn Super Saiyan now. Vegeta got to clean up on Namek when he got the chance. Now he’s on Earth and knows he’s the most powerful fighter around again, bringing back that prideful nature we haven’t seen since the Saiyan Saga.

8. Goku Vs. Vegeta

Dragon Ball Z Goku Vs Vegeta

Until Goku appeared on the scene, Vegeta wasn’t interested in fighting the meager warriors Earth had to offer against him and Nappa. It was only until the remaining fighters boasted Goku’s strength did he half the fighting so he could have a challenge. You can tell this is one of the first fights in Vegeta’s life where he genuinely had to try to hold his own against another warrior.

Both fighters pull out all the stops to the point where Vegeta turns into a Great Ape and pummels Goku into the dust, only to be saved by Yajirobe, of all people. It takes a village to take Vegeta down, but when they do, this fight proves to be the first in a cycle of humbling Vegeta’s prideful nature.

7. Vegeta Vs. The Ginyu Force

Dragon Ball Z Vegeta fighting ginyu force

Vegeta knew he didn’t stand a chance against most of the Ginyu force when they came crashing down on Namek, ready to hunt down the Saiyan. Yet, he stood his ground and fought them anyway because he was too proud to do anything else. The humbling continues as Vegeta almost loses, only to be bailed out when Goku arrives on Namek.

While Gohan and Krillin came in for the assist, they didn’t do much when fighting the Ginyu Force compared to Vegeta who stood up to Guldo, Recoome, and eventually Ginyu himself. Vegeta wasn’t ready to take on Frieza’s elite forces posing like Power Rangers, treating the fight like a game and paying dearly for it; even if he still came out on top, the damage was done.

6. Piccolo Vs. Android 17

Dragon Ball Z piccolo vs android 17

Riding off the high of fusing with Kami and gaining a massive power boost, Piccolo rushes to take out the Androids before Cell has the chance to absorb them, creating a bigger threat. Piccolo pulls out everything he has to take down Android 17, whose cockiness gets the better of him as the Super Namekian has a job to do: stop the threat.

If a single word could be used to describe this fight, it would be “impactful,” with the exaggerated hits in style almost comparable to Looney Tune’s fighting. Though he fails, this fight is Piccolo’s last big moment in the spotlight, putting on a masterclass of Dragon Ball Z fighting with every fist thrown and energy beam blast.

5. Vegito Vs. Super Buu

Dragon Ball Z Vegito vs Super Buu

Imagine the most threatening creature on the planet who kills without mercy, being thwarted by the sudden appearance of a new fighter, a magical combination of the two most powerful warriors on Earth. You’d think that sounds like a Deus Ex Machina that’s working off of cool points alone, and you’d be right because Vegito whupping Buu in such a comical fashion is outstanding.

Fusion is a famed technique that sounds like it comes straight out of a young fan’s mind who’s drawing fan art after watching Dragon Ball Z all afternoon. The fight reflects this with Vegito fighting circles around Buu, not using his hands, and even when he turns him into a piece of candy. Super Buu had killed most life on Earth, including Goku’s children, so seeing the villain getting a smackdown by a fighter as cocky as Vegeta is very satisfying.

4. Trunks Vs. The Androids & Cell

Dragon Ball Z trunks and android 17

Specifically, looking at Trunks after the Cell saga when he returns to the future, he is finally strong enough to take out the Androids in his timeline. While we enjoy a fight that puts us on the edge of our seats and characters’ lives at stake, sometimes a full-blown, one-sided smackdown is the satisfaction you need to wrap up a character’s personal story.

On top of Trunks’ heroic return to the future, he also must take down an imperfect Cell trying to repeat what the Cell we know did: steal Trunks’ time machine. The theme of this short venture is tying up loose ends. After Trunks kept failing in the past, inadvertently making the Androids stronger by defeating Frieza, mixing up which Androids would appear, and allowing Cell to achieve his perfect form, it’s good to see our favorite anime time traveler win one.

3. Goku Vs. Majin Vegeta

Dragon Ball Z goku vs majin vegeta

The rematch of the century, almost seven years in the making in their time, comes out with a literal bang. Vegeta puts nothing between the fight he’s been after for years, not this nonsense with Majin Buu, not the Supreme Kai telling him his fight doesn’t matter. It’s a pause in the Buu saga that rightfully addresses what Vegeta needs: a fight.

Goku simply leaving Vegeta at the end of the Cell Saga left a hole in the warrior. Leaving Vegeta alone with no one to rival him, no one to aim to match his strength with, and you can bet Gohan didn’t give the proud Saiyan the time of day if he ever came knocking for a fight is worse than defeating him. So Vegeta letting everything go to get a massive power-up so that he could fight Goku again was worth it.

2. Goku Vs. Frieza

Dragon Ball Z Goku vs Frieza

Frieza had everything going for him during Namek. An imposing villain with enough powerful henchmen to the degree where he didn’t have to step in until Frieza was the only one left, the heroes avoided Frieza and his forces at all costs, only fighting if they absolutely had to. That is an excellent portrayal of a terrifying overlord.

Frieza and his many forms crushed the Z warriors, killing Vegeta and Krillin, until only Goku, achieving Super Saiyan, could stand a chance against the ruthless tyrant. The fight is iconic but infamous for lasting a lot longer than the proposed five minutes Frieza boasts Namek has left before it explodes. A minute may last longer on Namek than it does on Earth.

1. Gohan Vs. Perfect Cell

The Cell saga was a pivotal point in Gohan's story, and a memorable arch for every fan.

Gohan rarely gets a chance to shine outside of these bursts of rage he gets when things are at their worst. So when Gohan is literally put on the spot to fight the most powerful enemy the Z Warriors have ever encountered, he needs a lot of support, be it from the head of an android or his father giving a posthumous pep talk as he fires a planet-sized energy blast through a bugman.

A lot rides on Gohan as Goku firmly believes in his son’s strength, but he is terrified of what he’ll do once he crosses that line. All Z Warriors must, at some point, kill a villain. Only the speech Android 16 gives before being crushed by Cell, telling Gohan how he’ll be okay because he is a good person, pushes Gohan over the edge, defeating Cell and finally bringing peace to Earth, for now.

Those are our rankings of the best fights in Dragon Ball Z. Did we include your favorite? If not, check out our picks for the strongest Dragon Ball Z characters and see when we’ll find out more news on the upcoming Dragon Ball Daima anime.

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