Dragon Ball remains among the most iconic anime of all time. It is most well known for how a character will inevitably unveil some new power-up transformation strong enough to pummel the bad guys to a pulp in every fight when the situation looks most dire. There’s always a new transformation in Dragon Ball.
Dragon Ball’s lead character, Goku, has had many forms over the years, from Great Ape to Super Saiyan. While all of Goku’s forms have utility, not all of Goku’s forms are created equal. Some Goku transformations are truly more awe-inspiring and more unforgettable than others, leaving audiences with their jaws on the floor and leaving the biggest impact throughout the Dragon Ball series.
Updated on August 25th, 2022, by Michael Colwander:While the Dragon Ball Super anime has ended or is at least on hiatus, Dragon Ball content continues through the Dragon Ball Super manga and Dragon Ball Super movies. This means the list of all of Goku’s forms continues to increase.
13 Base Goku Is Goku Without Transformations
Goku spends the majority of his time throughout each Dragon Ball series in this form, his natural-born state. However, in base form, he is at his lowest level of power. In an important fight, Goku often discounts this form in order to transform into something far more powerful. That doesn’t mean he still isn’t a force to be reckoned with.
Goku in his base form is still among the most iconic among all of his forms. The black color and unique shape of Goku’s hair are easily recognizable, even by people who have never watched a second of Dragon Ball content.
12 Super Saiyan 2 Quickly Became Obsolete
Gohan’s transformation into a Super Saiyan 2 is one of the most iconic moments in Dragon Ball Z history. But by the time Goku reached this form, it had already become old-hat. Goku only spends one real fight employing the form… against Majin Vegeta.
Unbeknownst to Vegeta, by the time Goku could transform into Super Saiyan 2, he had already unlocked the power of Super Saiyan 3, making this form obsolete. While Goku still uses Super Saiyan 2 from time to time, he only really uses it as a measuring stick to gauge another character’s power.
11 Golden Great Ape’s Appearance Was Brief But Was An Important Moment In GT
The Golden Great Ape is a transformation that appears only in Dragon Ball GT. While Baby Vegeta’s Golden Great Ape transformation is more iconic, Goku’s was equally important. Goku transforms into the Golden Great Ape when staring at a full Earth or full moon.
In this form, Goku initially has little control, causing mayhem and destruction everywhere. It’s only when Pan helps Goku regain his senses that he is able to take command of this powerful form, entering into the legendary Super Saiyan 4 form. It’s a nice throwback to the pre-Super Saiyan era of transformations, which is one of the reasons why so many love the Super Saiyan 4 transformation.
10 Great Ape Was Goku’s First Transformation
The Great Ape form is Goku’s first transformation in Dragon Ball, taking place only a dozen episodes in. When Goku’s tail is exposed to the light of a Full Moon, he transforms into a gigantic, uncontrollable Ape. With ten times as much strength, as usual, Great Ape Goku is a destructive, chaotic force.
The Great Ape form is a force to be reckoned with, but Goku is completely unable to control himself during this form. There’s a reason Goku doesn’t willingly transform into a Great Ape like his rival Vegeta. That and without a tail, a Saiyan cannot transform. So long as Goku refuses to regrow his tail, this form will remain retired.
9 Super Saiyan 4 Is The Non-Canon Super Saiyan Form
Dragon Ball GT gets a lot of hate from fans for numerous reasons. However, Goku’s Super Saiyan 4 form is one of the coolest things to ever come out of the series. Unlike every other Goku transformation up to this point, Goku’s hair remains jet black, but a red coat of fur sprouts all over his body. Goku goes from his child form to his adult form, sporting an incredibly cool, coarser voice.
The only underwhelming part about Super Saiyan 4 Goku, however, is that it is no longer canon, despite the begging from the Dragon Ball community for it to make a return. On the bright side, Super Saiyan 4 Goku does get a lot of love through the Super Dragon Ball Heroes anime web series.
8 Super Saiyan God Was Quickly Overshadowed By Super Saiyan Blue
Perhaps the hardest form for a Saiyan to achieve, Goku’s Super Saiyan God form allowed him to match the strength of the legendary God of Destruction himself, Beerus. Only achievable thanks to the unification of pure-hearted Saiyans, Goku’s sheer strength in this form is enough to bend the fabric of reality to the breaking point. One transformation permanently empowers a Saiyan beyond all prior limitations.
Super Saiyan God form is rarely seen after the initial fight with Beerus. It’s quickly overshadowed by the Super Saiyan Blue transformation, thanks to the first two Dragon Ball Super arcs originally being movies. Goku did bring it back late in Dragon Ball Super and the Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie, where Vegeta also debuts this form.
7 Ultra Instinct -Sign- Made For An Epic Debut
Ultra Instinct -Sign- is one of Goku’s most powerful forms. While many fans have grown exhausted with the constant flow of new transformations, others were overwhelmed with excitement when Goku debuted this form during the midway point of the Tournament of Power.
Goku utilized this form of Ultra Instinct throughout the rest of the Tournament of Power, including using it to eliminate the powerful Saiyan fusion, Kefla. While he’s since reached perfected Ultra Instinct, Goku still utilizes this form, which later led to the establishment of the True Ultra Instinct form.
6 True Ultra Instinct Is Goku’s Newest Form
After the Tournament of Power, Goku wasn’t able to utilize Ultra Instinct at will. Being able to do so would’ve made his fight against Broly go much more smoothly. While training with Merus during the Galactic Patrol Prisoner arc, Goku was able to attain his Ultra Instinct -Sign- form at will, and later his Perfected Ultra Instinct form.
Even then, Goku still struggled to find the best way to incorporate Ultra Instinct into his normal fighting style going into the Granolah The Survivor arc. It wasn’t until hearing his father’s voice for the first time and the speech Bardock gave during his fight against Gas that Goku realized the importance of emotions and the desire to win. By using his Ultra Instinct -Sign- form, Goku achieved True Ultra Instinct, which affords him the benefits of Ultra Instinct along with the willpower gained through his Saiyan emotions.
5 Kaio-Ken Can Be Combined With Other Goku Forms
The Kaio-Ken technique multiplies the user’s power by a given factor, but, in turn, it puts an incredible strain on the fighter’s body. Most notably, Goku used this technique in his iconic beam struggle with Vegeta during the Saiyan Saga. Unlike most transformations, its cost is what makes every fight that employs it all the more incredible.
However, following reaching Kaio-Ken x20 against Frieza, the form was mostly retired in favor of Goku’s Super Saiyan form. However, there were periods later on where Goku would employ the Kaio-Ken in conjunction with his Super Saiyan forms, most notably his Super Saiyan Blue Kai-Ken form.
4 Super Saiyan 3 Was An Earth-Shattering Transformation
Super Saiyan 3 is the Goku transformation that literally rocked an entire planet. It is also the point where Goku’s forms became increasingly ridiculous. Golden hair, lightning bolts around his body, and even losing eyebrows and growing waist-long hair.
Super Saiyan 3 remains Goku’s most ridiculous transformation thus far, and that’s why it’s beloved by fans. It’s a form that looks incredibly powerful. Super Saiyan 3 started the trend of Goku pursuing a new transformation every arc or two. Goku transforming into Super Saiyan 3 for the first time remains arguably the most iconic moment of the entire Buu Saga.
3 Super Saiyan Blue Is Still A Prominent Fixture In Dragon Ball Super
Super Saiyan Blue, or Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan, takes things back to a simpler time. Less complicated than other high-level transformations, Super Saiyan Blue looks much like the Super Saiyan transformation, only with new blue hair.
First used by Goku against Golden Frieza, it immediately became the flagship transformation of Dragon Ball Super. While some fans wish the designs of Goku’s transformations would’ve continued the path set forth by Super Saiyan 3 and Super Saiyan 4, other modern fans see it as the pinnacle. Simple, powerful, and Incredibly cool, no other form Goku has ever taken remains as prominent as this one in modern Dragon Ball.
2 Perfected Ultra Instinct Is The Apex Of Goku’s Abilities
When Goku first tapped into Ultra Instinct during the Tournament of Power, it was clear to many in attendance that Goku’s Ultra Instinct was incomplete. Goku’s Ultra Instinct -Sign- had numerous flaws, which led to it falling short of Jiren’s immense powers. Toward the end of the Tournament of Power, Goku was able to channel into Ultra Instinct to fully complete it.
While Perfected Ultra Instinct is known by other names such as Mastered and Completed Ultra Instinct, the fact remains that Perfected Ultra Instinct is still the apex of Goku’s power. Not only did Goku beat Jiren in this form, but he also defeated Moro as well. And even though he’s begun to favor True Ultra Instinct, Goku won’t hesitate to shift over to the Perfected Ultra Instinct at a moment’s notice.
1 Super Saiyan Was The Biggest Game-Changer In Dragon Ball
Goku’s initial transformation into a Super Saiyan remains a high point of Dragon Ball as a whole. Frieza pushed Goku a little too far by killing Krillin, which triggered this legendary transformation. At a time when transformations weren’t a regular occurrence, the weight of this moment laid the foundation for everything to come in Dragon Ball. To make matters more interesting, the Super Saiyan form was also utilized throughout the entire Android Saga.
Goku’s decision to make Super Saiyan his base form helped shift Goku’s powers to a whole new level, leading to one of the greatest fights in the series – his battle with Cell. Even after his initial transformation, there are several classic moments when Goku transformed into a Super Saiyan fans simply cannot forget. For example, when Goku transformed into a Super Saiyan in his fight against Cooler, using his aura to resurrect a dying bird.
NEXT: Dragon Ball: Every Time Vegeta Was Stronger Than Goku (In Chronological Order)