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VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Alexander
These are the forms that went above and beyond the hype. Join Ashley as we count down the most iconic transformation scenes across the Dragon Ball franchise, including the likes of "Super Saiyan Blue", "Beast Gohan", "Super Saiyan 2", and more!
Script written by Jonathan Alexander

#30: Vegeta - Super Saiyan God

“Dragon Ball Super: Broly” (2018)

By the time “Super” began, the Saiyan Prince had already skipped the transformation preamble and went straight to the shiny, new blue hair. But, with one fight, Vegeta showed that Super Saiyan God is still worth a look. Especially when it comes to spectacle. Watching the red aura glow and ignite around him is downright breathtaking. And that’s without even getting into the epic thrashing he gives Broly immediately after. As the first time we’d seen Vegeta go red in animation, he made everyone remember why Super Saiyan God used to be the talk of the town.

#29: Cooler - Final Form

“Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge” (1991)

If you thought Frieza’s last form looked slick, Cooler upstaged his brother with a last-minute power-up that’s bigger, badder, and, well, cooler. Turns out, he wasn’t kidding around when he said he’s stronger. If anything, Cooler’s trump card is menacing on appearance alone. Rather than the sleek design of his prior form, Cooler’s upgrade goes all in on bulging muscles and spiky armor. He even gets a sick Shredder mask, too, just for good measure. Cooler may be an irredeemable villain and all, but it sure is cool to see him strut his stuff. Although, Goku may disagree.

#28: Top - God of Destruction

“Dragon Ball Super” (2015-18)

Given their name, it’s no surprise that a Pride Trooper has enough ego to go around. What is shocking, however, is that Top abandoned all his ideals in favor of a major God complex. That’s no turn of phrase. With the fate of his universe on the line, Top accepted the mantle of God of Destruction, earning a new title, an indestructible aura, and the strength to pummel Frieza silly. Seeing a mortal ascend to godhood is certainly something to behold, and Top doesn’t waste the opportunity to show off. It’s just a shame these crazy brawls also spell doom for the seventh universe.

#27: Vegeta & Baby - Super Baby Vegeta

“Dragon Ball GT” (1996-97)

When Baby arrived on Earth, the first thing on the parasite’s agenda was to find a powerful host. Originally he tried Goten, and then Gohan, before finally settling on the Prince of all Saiyans - and thus, Super Baby Vegeta was born. Trust us, the “Super” part of his name isn’t just for show. With all of Vegeta’s strength mixed with Baby’s vengeful agenda, the villain became a threat to not just Goku, but the entirety of Earth. Antagonist power-ups are always a treat, but this one goes the extra mile by also serving as a nostalgic reminder that, once upon a time, Vegeta used to be a bad guy, too.

#26: Goku - Super Saiyan Blue Kaio-Ken

“Dragon Ball Super” (2015-18)

Just when it seemed Super Saiyan Blue couldn’t get any cooler, Goku brought out the big guns. Also known as the Kaio-Ken. Bringing back one of “Z’s” most legendary techniques is a surefire way to make longtime fans giddy with excitement. Throw in Super Saiyan Blue, and it’s no wonder this fight is something else. It’s twice the auras, twice the power levels, and twice the insanity all wrapped into one, nostalgia-fueled power-up. It even comes with a classic, lung-bursting roar from Goku, just for old-time’s sake. We aren’t joking when we say Hit didn’t know what hit him.

#25: Gogeta - Super Saiyan 4

“Dragon Ball GT” (1996-97)

What could possibly be stronger than a fusion? A fusion that can go even further beyond, that’s what. Goku and Vegeta put it all on the line to unlock the beastly Super Saiyan 4. But, when that wasn’t quite enough to beat Omega Shenron, they locked fingers and went from two to one. Just saying the words “Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta” aloud sounds like a fever dream. But, it happened, and boy was it one for the history books. Although, in Omega Shenron’s case, he was nearly wiped from history altogether. Somehow, Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta managed to be every bit as ludicrously cool as he sounds.

#24: Frieza - Final Form

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

Frieza has always been a monster, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. His third form definitely looked the part. But, in a cruel twist of the knife, Frieza revealed he’d just been toying with everyone till then. After one, last, power-up scream, the Frieza everyone knows, loves, and fears finally made his grand entrance. Rather than monstrous, his final stage is all slim, lean, and menacing. Perfectly befitting Frieza’s sinister disposition. The ensuing fight on Namek is one all of anime history remembers. So, it’s obvious why, hundreds of episodes, forms, and specials later, this transformation remains Frieza’s most iconic look.

#23: Trunks - Super Saiyan

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

This Saiyan knows how to cut to the chase. Emphasis on the word “cut.” In his very first appearance in the entire show, Trunks turns into the second Super Saiyan we’ve ever seen, slices Frieza into finger food, and even blasts King Cold away, too. By the time our eyes adjust to the sight of another Super Saiyan, Trunks has already powered down and read the Frieza family their last rites. It’s a staggering display of strength that few things in all of “Dragon Ball” live up to. After a debut like that, it’s safe to say Trunks’ golden-haired entrance is worth the hype, and then some.

#22: Goku - Super Saiyan God

“Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods” (2013)

Following a dry spell of new animation for the series, Goku hopped back on the proverbial nimbus with more than just his classic yellow ‘do.’ Unable to compete with the God of Destruction, Beerus, Goku abandoned the golden locks and unveiled the first new form the franchise had seen in years. It took the Dragon Balls, an ancient legend, and a six-way Saiyan ceremony, but it paid off with not just a new stage of Super Saiyan, but the series’ first Super Saiyan God. Goku’s displayed near-divine feats of strength before, but his epic first bout with God Ki was literally out of this world.

#21: Goku & Vegeta - Gogeta

“Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn” (1995)

No potara? No problem. When the incarnation of all evil decides to make the afterlife Hell in more ways than one, this saiyan duo join fingers to debut a new kind of fusion. The appropriately named Gogeta doesn’t just look cool, he’s also strong enough to make Janemba wish he still had an afterlife to go to. But what’s almost more impressive is that this new form managed to become iconic with barely a few minutes of screentime. This isn’t the series’ first fusion, and it’s far from the last, but the outstanding direction and effortlessly cool techniques make Gogeta’s debut hard to forget.

#20: Broly - Super Saiyan

“Dragon Ball Super: Broly” (2018)

Frieza’s two-for-two when it comes to instigating golden-haired transformations. After murdering Broly’s father, the space tyrant shows off his acting chops and sends the rampaging Saiyan into an utter frenzy. As disheartening as it is to see Broly completely lose control of himself, it does provide some of the most bombastic and unreal action the series has ever seen. He’s able to keep up with Goku and Vegeta’s combined assault as a mere Super Saiyan, and that’s without any proper training. Who knew Frieza was such a believable thespian? Thankfully, he got his comeuppance in the form of a glorious thrashing from the same Saiyan he provoked. Now that’s some karmic justice.

#19: Goku Black & Zamasu - Fused Zamasu

“Dragon Ball Super” (2015-18)

As if this misguided deity didn’t have enough of a superiority complex, he decided to fuse with the only worthy individual in the entire cosmos: himself. They were technically from different timelines, but that didn’t make the result any less imposing. Zamasu’s near-immortal body paired with Goku Black’s Saiyan strength was enough to pass judgment upon the entirety of Trunks’ timeline, Goku and Vegeta included. There’s an undeniable novelty about a villain fusing, especially when the stylish upgrades lead to some creative imagery and exceptional fight choreography. The most damning downgrade is that Fused Zamasu’s merging didn’t quite quell his penchant for dramatic monologuing.

#18: Piccolo - Orange Piccolo

“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” (2022)

The Z-Fighters’ resident Namekian spent years and years watching the Saiyans get a never-ending cycle of multi-colored transformations. But, when “Super Hero” finally came along, Piccolo got his turn at a new form, and it was worth the wait. The so-called Orange Piccolo isn’t just a palette swap; it turns the nimble Namekian into a walking suckerpunch of a fighter. Piccolo asked Shenron to unlock his potential, and clearly, the dragon understood the assignment. At least, Gamma 2 definitely thinks so. If anything, Orange Piccolo makes you remember just how cool it is to have a Namekian on the front lines.

#17: Goku - Ultra Instinct Sign

“Dragon Ball Super” (2015-18)

If there’s one thing we know about this energetic anime icon, it’s that he doesn’t go down easily. After Jiren seemingly ends Goku’s tournament prospects, the Saiyan climbs to a new form that’s more than your average palette swap. Instead of yet another boost in raw power, this transformation’s focus on instinctual movement paved the way to one of the most high-speed and jaw-dropping fights in “Super.” It isn’t enough that he finally landed a blow on Jiren, he proceeds to flex his insane reactions by casually walking through a ki-blast barrage unscathed. It’s a downright epic sequence, but what’s even better is that it isn’t even Ultra Instinct’s full potential.

#16: Goku Black - Super Saiyan Rosé

“Dragon Ball Super” (2015-18)

From gold to red to blue, there’d been a lot of Saiyan hairstyles by the time “Super” rolled around. And yet, Goku’s evil doppelganger proved he was more than a cheap knockoff by presenting his own shiny transformation. Enter: Super Saiyan Rosé, not just one of the most visually distinct forms in the series, but also one of the coolest. While functionally it’s not too different from your average golden-haired power-up, the pink tinge adds a lot of personality and flair to Goku Black’s techniques. He was already plenty threatening before, but the unique aesthetic ensured that, while he had Goku’s face, this villain wasn’t forsaking any of his menacing identity. Just ask Vegeta.

#15: Goku & Vegeta - Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan

“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'” (2015)

Blue is an apt color for this brawl, since that’s exactly how Frieza feels when he learns his gold form is already irrelevant. Goku’s unveiling of the cyan hair is as breathtaking as it comes, but, naturally, no form is complete without a flashy display of strength. Luckily, against Frieza’s new golden coat, this scuffle is so bright it practically needs sunglasses. The blues don’t stop there, and Vegeta reveals that, for once, he’s on par with Goku thanks to his own teal ‘do.’ It’s immeasurably satisfying to see this duo handily woop their age-old nemesis, even if the form’s redundant name isn’t quite as cool as the new color. “Super Saiyan Blue” rolls off the tongue much easier.

#14: Goku & Vegeta - Vegito

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

Step aside, Gotenks, there’s a new fusion in town, and this one doesn’t have to do that silly dance. Admittedly, Goku and Vegeta have always had a pretty glaring weakness in the teamwork department, but a pair of potara earrings helped smooth that over real quick. It’s a neat bit of character development to see them literally come together for the greater good, even if the ensuing fusion is a bit overconfident. Vegito’s easygoing swagger is a perfect foil against the self-serious Super Buu - and don’t even get us started on the smack-talk. To be fair, as the two strongest heroes in the series combined, their confidence is totally earned.

#13: Majin Buu & Evil Buu - Super Buu

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

Training, eating candy - pretty much the same thing. The bubblegum-looking Majin Buu had turned countless innocent people into snacks, so it’s deeply poetic when he is chocolatified himself and eaten by a manifestation of his own evil. Apparently, Majin Buu plus Evil Buu equals Super Buu, who has all the power of his prior forms with a much more sinister mentality. It’s a little sad to see the round one go after he developed such a heartwarming bond with Mr Satan, but the evolution raised the stakes and led to some amazing fights. Though, for what it’s worth, Earth was probably better off with the candy-eating Buu.

#12: Goten & Trunks - Gotenks

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

Leaving two superpowered kids in charge of defending the planet probably breaks a few parenting rules, but these Saiyan offspring are the exception. Before their fathers did it, Goten and Trunks linked fingers and debuted the first ever fusion in the entire franchise. As immature as he is all-powerful, Gotenks would sooner come up with cool names for his attacks than actually use them in combat. Hey, at least he got serious when put up against Super Buu - not. He holds back his Super Saiyan 3 transformation for “dramatic effect,” a gaffe which nearly costs them the fight. Gotenks may not be much more composed than Goten or Trunks, but at least it’s one less kid to babysit.

#11: Semi-Perfect Cell - Perfect Cell

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

Like a radar to a Dragon Ball, Cell tracked down Android 17 and 18, but he didn’t achieve his flawless form alone. It takes a village to royally screw the Earth, and that honor belongs in part to Krillin and Vegeta. The former for not destroying 18 when he had the chance, and the latter for putting his pride above the planet. While it spells doom for the Z-warriors, at least the transformation itself features all the scale and spectacle befitting this kind of turning point. It’s hard to label anything as “perfect,” but Cell’s satisfied smirk as he completes his mission comes pretty damn close.

#10: Vegeta - Super Saiyan

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

At a time when donning the bottle-blonde look was still a novelty, Goku’s perennial rival launched back onto the scene with a “Big Bang.” Don’t get it wrong, Vegeta was far from a hero, but the androids were a worthy stomping ground to prove he’d surpassed Goku. He wasn’t just spiky hair and power levels, though, the new form also prodded him to pose important moral questions like “do androids feel fear?” Back before he was fully rehabilitated, but after he was a straight villain, this was the first time it was easy to really root for Vegeta. He’d finally caught up his rival, and even tore off an android’s hands just to prove it.

#9: Frieza - Golden Frieza

“Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'” (2015)

It took him a few extra years, but this infamous villain finally achieved what Saiyans had been doing since Namek. To be fair, Frieza had already transformed a handful of times, so his new coat of paint is a bit shinier than Goku’s initial golden ‘do.’ It’s nice to see an old villain return to relevance, especially since the palette-swap also contrasts nicely against the ever-growing list of Saiyan hair colors. It’s just a real shame that by going for the gold, Frieza epically face-planted in front of Goku and Vegeta’s Super Saiyan Blue. Despite the less-than-gilded debut performance, the visually-arresting revival of this classic villain is at least worth a silver medal.

#8: Gohan - Beast Gohan

“Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” (2022)

Beyond the childish tantrums, Super Saiyan 2 transformation, or even his Ultimate form, this is the real moment that Gohan went Beast Mode. If the white hair and red eyes don’t give it away, the name definitely will. The whole scene plays out like an homage to Gohan’s legendary Super Saiyan 2 reveal, even down to the fact he’s fighting Cell. But, thanks to some flashy animation and a heart-stopping Special Beam Cannon, Beast Gohan feels like a worthwhile evolution instead of a boring retread. There’s no question about it; you can go ahead and add Beast Mode to the list of iconic Gohan moments.

#7: Goku - Super Saiyan 3

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

In a franchise no stranger to dramatic power-ups, few literally shake the Earth as much as this. Goku stretches his lung-capacity to the max with a primal roar that tells even Buu to stay clear of his home, or risk some serious thrashing. All that bravado lives up to expectations with a massive power-spike, a no-nonsense demeanor, and a lot more golden hair. For the low cost of his eyebrows, Goku told the planet, Buu, the universe, and beyond that he wasn’t done evolving just yet. Much like the hair, this form is all the coolness of Super Saiyan, but just more of it. What’s not to love?

#6: Gogeta - Super Saiyan Blue

“Dragon Ball Super: Broly” (2018)

As Janemba will attest, this fusion has a habit of making quick work of his foes, and Broly is no exception. Gogeta was easily flying circles around the belligerent Saiyan before, let alone when he decided to skip the rainbow and go straight from gold to blue. Rocking a new hair color, Gogeta demonstrates his signature style with aplomb, and delivers a gloriously animated Kamehameha that’s in serious contention for one of the best in the whole series. With power-levels high enough to crack open reality itself, it’s a testament to the phenomenal production values that this clash somehow does its overpowered combatants justice.

#5: Goku - Super Saiyan 4

“Dragon Ball GT” (1996-97)

When a parasitic alien infests most of Earth, this grand tour proved Saiyans could go even further beyond, but not in the way most expected. Instead of adding more hair extensions to the Super Saiyan 3 mullet, Goku’s newest leap in evolution harkened back to one of his race’s classic forms: the Great Ape. The beastial qualities are a welcome breath of fresh air after years of golden locks, especially since it modernizes one of the franchise’s earliest transformations in an inventive way. The badass design and epic fights to come are appreciated, but this form’s biggest contribution is proving that “GT” could still meaningfully add to the series’ lore.

#4: Vegeta - Super Saiyan Blue Evolved

“Dragon Ball Super” (2015-18)

Goku wasn’t the only one shattering his limits in the “Tournament of Power.” Vegeta’s never been one to linger behind for long, so when his rival debuted a new silver form, the egotistical Saiyan decided to challenge Jiren with his own upgraded transformation. Bolstered by his will, his pride, and his promise to Cabba, Vegeta goes from blue to - well, a different shade of blue. Repetitive colors aside, it’s notable as Vegeta’s only form to date that Goku hasn’t reached himself. For once, Vegeta wasn’t just riding in his rival’s wake; he was forging his own path. Plus, if his showing against Jiren is anything to go by, this matured state skipped pretty far ahead in evolution.

#3: Gohan - Super Saiyan 2

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

Goku’s son never wanted to fight, so it’s poignant that the only thing capable of spurring him on is the dying words of an android who learned to love humanity. When Cell crushes 16, he also unleashes the power that had been boiling inside of Gohan since his very first appearance. The beautiful imagery and outstanding score lead towards an epic scream that culminates literally hundreds of episodes of build-up. It’s all but impossible to resist getting chills from this iconic moment that’s fittingly just as emotionally affecting as it is exhilarating. With one transformation, “Dragon Ball” powered-up Gohan from a great character into a masterful one.

#2: Goku - Super Saiyan

“Dragon Ball Z” (1989-96)

With Namek five minutes away from becoming space dust, Gohan’s stubborn Dad faced off against his toughest adversary yet with nothing more than some ki, an old saiyan folklore, and plenty of willpower. But when Frieza makes the mistake of hurting Goku’s friends, he counters with a transformation that’s iconic to not just “Dragon Ball,” but all of anime. The haunting yell as the world crumbles around him is downright cathartic, particularly since this was the first time Goku ever tried on the bleach-blonde look. This moment’s impact on the franchise can’t be understated, but it's how well it caps off this fight in particular that makes it the gold standard in more ways than one.

#1: Goku - Mastered Ultra Instinct

“Dragon Ball Super” (2015-18)

Somehow, some way, this spiky-haired Saiyan manages to keep climbing higher. He’d unlocked new forms before, including in this very tournament, but none had commanded this kind of attention As each God of Destruction stands to offer their respect, it becomes clear that the silver hair isn’t just another leap for Goku - it’s an exclamation point on a journey over twenty years in the making. Ultra Instinct was cool before, but with hype music and stellar animation backing it up, the mastered form delivers one of the most iconic brawls in the entire franchise. Goku went beyond his limit break for the sake of everyone he loved, and really, there’s nothing more classic “Dragon Ball” than that.

What’s your favorite “Dragon Ball” transformation? Let us know in the comments below!