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Top Ten Dragon Ball Villians

When it comes to anime villains, there are few that stand out more than the rouge's gallery from Akira Toriyama's long-running Dragon Ball series. Sometimes big and goofy, sometimes bone-chillingly creepy and sometimes everything in between, these adversaries have endured in the hearts and minds of Dragon Ball fans the world over.

As fellow fans, and as part of our celebration of the Halloween season, we here at AFA are going to count down our personal top ten list of these iconic anime antagonists.

Let's start on the lower end of the spectrum with...

#10 Broly

To be perfectly honest, I never understood why out of all of the movie villains, Broly was the only one popular enough to get not one, not two, but three movies made about him. Or for that matter why so many fans seem to consider him one of the best villains in the franchise. He is powerful true, and his status as the Legendary Super Saiyan did provide a substantial challenge to the Z fighters at the time. However, even out of the movie villains. who were overall underwhelming in terms of character, Broly is arguably one of the worst villains in the franchise. His motivation for wanting to kill Goku is extremely childish and other than being a complete psychotic brute, there really is nothing else to him. It is a shame since the idea of finding another Saiyan survivor, a powerful one at that, only for him to become an enemy could have been an interesting dilemma. But sadly, much like Broly himself, he had all the potential to be great but never lived up to the hype. 

Still, there is one cool aspect about Broly. His English voice actor is Vic Mignogna, best known for his outstanding performance as Edward Elric in the Fullmetal Alchemist series. So, while the big guy might not be the best villain in DBZ history, Broly certainly provides us with a memorable performance from an awesome voice actor.

#9 Dr. Gero

Even though Dr. Gero was more of a supporting villain than a main antagonist, the consequences of his heinous scientific experiments go as far back as Goku's childhood. It was his inventions that gave the infamous Red Ribbon Army their teeth as they took out whoever stood between them and their wish from the Dragon Balls. With their defeat at the hands of Goku, Gero became driven by revenge to create the world's greatest fighting machines. Resulting in not one, but three creations that would force the Z warriors into a corner (arguably more if you count the Android 13 movie as well). 

While Gero doesn't fall far from the typical mad scientist stereotype, I do find it interesting that he is one of the only villains in the series that is smart enough to set all of the above events in motion. Even with the knowledge that he may not live to see his plans come to fruition.

There is also the idea that even after all his inhuman actions: kidnapping teenagers, turning them into cyborgs, going so far to turn himself into a cyborg, there is still a sliver of humanity to his character. Proved by his creation and protectiveness of Android 16 (who is supposedly a recreation of Gero's deceased son). It is a shame that this information about Gero's past wasn't elaborated on since it could have made him a much more compelling villain. Still, Gero's cold detachment from his humanity, and his eternal patience to achieve his vengeance left plenty of scars on not just the heroes but on the Dragon Ball world as a whole.

#8: Garlic Jr.

When it comes to DB villains, Garlic Jr. is one that a lot of fans are split on if he was really good or not. His ridiculous name notwithstanding, Garlic Jr. gave the series heroes a run for their money on more than one occasion, (in his introduction in the first Dragon Ball Z film: The Dead Zone and his own filler arc in the series proper).

Though he gets a lot of bashing for technically being one of the weakest villains in the series, he is the ONLY one who managed to gain immortality from the Dragon Balls. Making his hubris his only weakness, which has lead to his defeat not once but twice.

Despite his short comings, I find Garlic Jr. one of the more compelling villains due to his motivations (vengeance against Kami for sealing his father away) and that he knowingly and gleefully exploits the weaknesses of his enemies. Making him one of those, love to hate, kind of bad guys. Whether it's capturing someone they hold dear and holding them hostage, or turning allies against each other, Garlic Jr. doesn't hesitate to turn a bad situation to his advantage. Forcing the Z fighters to think outside the box in order to take him down.

#7: Mercenary Tao

For fans of the original Dragon Ball, this ruthless mercenary for hire became a stand out character for the Red Ribbon arc. Not only by killing a man using nothing but his tongue but even traveling great distances on a wooden log which he threw himself. 

While those feats alone are just as ridiculous as they are incredible, Tao is still able to maintain an imitating presence due to how he uses his super human strength. Not only does he kill an innocent father in cold blood, but he also has no qualms about trying to killing children if they get in his way. He is also the first villain to truly test Goku's training, forcing the young hero to fight for his life. When Goku finally surpasses him however, Tao's confidence is stripped away to reveal the coward he truly is. Despite this, Tao is always prepared to use underhanded methods in order to win, even if they do not always work out. 

He has been defeated multiple times by Goku, yet he has managed to survive every time (even after taking a grenade to the face). Worse yet, his losses have taught him absolutely nothing except to be more careful of those stronger than him. He is still an expert assassin, who gets both his money and kicks out of killing innocent people. Just as long as he does it FAR away from people like Goku.

#6: Captain Ginyu

What can you really say about the enigma that is Captain Ginyu? An elite fighter and leader of Frieza's #1 kill squad with a penchant for posing, this villain is strange one. But don't let his silly antics fool you. Underneath all that bravado and cocky attitude is a heartless warrior that fought, cheated and schemed all the way to the top spot in Frieza's army. And arguably not for any other reason other than his ability to swap bodies with other fighters.

In fact, when you really think about it, Ginyu's MO is pretty insidious. When he is outmatched, he allows himself to get beaten to within an inch of his life. Then waits till his opponent's guard is down, then swaps bodies. Using his adversary's strong, healthy body to kill his enemy who is now left in a weakened state. Hell, even the body he is using when he is introduced is arguably one that he stole from another fighter.

His reliance on body swapping does eventually get the better of him, but not before putting Goku and the rest of the Z fighters through the wringer. So his poses may be silly, but behind that shit-eating grin is a monster with an enormous body count behind him.

#5: Cell

A biomechanical android born from the combined genes of the strongest warriors alive ( some of which include, Goku, Vegeta, Frieza, and King Cold), Cell was a villain that left one hell of a first impression of viewers. Wiping out an entire city of civilians by drinking them alive and absorbing their essence for power, this villain seemed to come straight out of a sci-fi horror movie. In fact, his backstory and his appearance bear a striking similarity to those of Sil, the seductive female humanoid from the cult classic horror film Species. And Cell's Perfect form fits the seductive bill....in a very bizarre way. His voice actor, Dameon Clarke, shifts between a sensual purr to a monstrous growl within seconds, but still ensures that Cell remains suave and savvy.

Though fans will argue that he got less scary as he continued to grow in power, I would argue that even at his strongest, Cell was plenty scary but in a different way. His almost single minded determination to reach his perfect form and even his arrogance to put his full power to the test is eerily similar to Goku himself. Making all the more sense why Gero created him in the first place. What better opponent to pit up against your greatest adversary than a dark reflection of themselves. Which makes it all the more poetic when it is Gohan, Goku's son, who is able to surpass Cell's (and his father's) limitations and wipe away the last remaining sin that Goku's actions set in motion.

And much like Goku and Frieza, the rivalry between Gohan and Cell is legendary.

#4 King Piccolo

When it comes to the more iconic villains of the franchise, few stand out more than the musclebound, green-skinned destructor known as King Piccolo (or Piccolo Daimao if you are feeling a bit formal). One of the most popular baddies from the classic Dragon Ball saga, King Piccolo was originally introduced as a sadistic demon overlord who had once plunged the Earth into pandemonium, and His Royal Nastiness certainly lived up to the task. Destroying civilizations and tormenting the innocent, Piccolo was the poster child for Galactic Conqueror. Even in his first state as an elderly, sickly man, this guy can send a doozy of a chill down your spine; listen to him talk for a few seconds and you will see what I mean.

Like Frieza, King Piccolo is also one of the most important plot elements in Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, as his actions served as a major catalyst for important events in the series. His gory death sparked the passionate warrior blossoming inside the child Goku (who quite literally plows through him with a devastating kamehameha wave), and he serves as a physical counterpart to Kami, the wise old man who guards over the Earth’s Dragon Balls. 

And...he fathered one of the most powerful warriors in the universe. Who Dragon Ball fans would come to know as Piccolo Jr., who served as both a rival and eventual best friend to Goku and a second father to Gohan. So I guess the warlord did something right while he was alive...for a few seconds… Let’s just feel appreciative that Piccolo Jr. only inherited his father’s looks.

Also...if you are wondering...Yes. King Piccolo was, in fact, the first member of the Namekian species (aside from Kami) to be shown in the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z storylines. Although he calls himself a demon, Piccolo and his children were later revealed to be extraterrestrials from the planet Namek, who wield the power to create the Dragon Balls. Which lead to some interesting revelations and alterations for the series as the fantasy elements in Dragon Ball moved to Dragon Ball Z’s more science fiction focus.

While he isn’t necessarily the most incredible villain in the series, King Piccolo is, without a doubt, one of the most influential in the Dragon Ball world.

#3 Majin Buu

If Cell was the monster straight out of an old horror film, Buu is the DBZ equivalent of an eldritch abomination. Though you wouldn't initially think so by looking at him (his initial design is almost like a pink version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man). However, his childlike appearance only serves to hide the ruthless killing machine that he really is. Out of all the villains on this list (next to Broly), Buu is the most simpleminded. All he cares about is eating sweets, and killing anything in his path.

He can even do both things at the same time by turning his victims into food and eating them alive. On the off chance he finds himself outmatched by a stronger opponent, he is able to crank the creepy up to eleven and absorb said opponents and takes on their, strength, powers, even their memories. 
Add to the fact that compared to almost all the other villains on this list, he is the hardest to kill. Impaling, decapitation, and nuclear level explosions will do little but slow this pink menace down. Nothing less than complete atomization was enough to finally end Buu’s terror of the Dragon Ball universe but not before he was able to wipe out the entire human race (save Hercule and the group at the Lookout) with a single attack and being the only DBZ baddie to successfully blow up the Earth.

While this is certainly an impressive track record of villainy, what brings him down on the list is also due to his simple nature. What you see in this villain is what you get, and doesn’t make him much of a character, making him more of an obstacle for the heroes to overcome. Though even he manages to get some much needed development alongside Hercule, it isn’t focused on long enough to really take the arc’s center stage, though it does give the heroes the edge they need to eventually win.

Though Buu may not have the same intimidating air of Frieza or Cell's initial horrifying appearance, what makes Buu one of the better villains in the series is that he is a complete anomaly. His temperament is unpredictable, switching from good humored to extreme anger at the drop of a hat. And unlike previous villains, he has no real motivation or ambition. He doesn't kill to instill fear, he doesn't kill to prove he's the best. He just kills because he wants to. No rationalization necessary, and that makes for a truly scary villain.

#2 Frieza

Face it, folks. When you think of the original Dragon Ball Z villains, this guy is probably one of the first ones to pop into your head. We all remember the moment this diminutive, terrifying alien conqueror first appeared in the iconic anime, and we have loved him ever since.

Wielding nearly-limitless power, Prince Frieza is the heir to the Planetary Trade Organization and the youngest son of King Cold, the brutal and elegant ruler of the Seventh Universe, and this little guy pretty much invented the term “spoiled brat.” He revels in violence and destruction and takes great delight in tormenting his enemies. Need I also mention that he blows up planets with a single flick of his finger?

Another more formidable aspect of Frieza is his incredible shape-shifting abilities. Throughout the second season of DBZ, the warlord takes multiple forms to keep his power from “running amok,” a pretty horrifying truth when you recall that he likes to evaporate people in his spare time. Beneath a halo of red and black energy, Frieza contorts and stretches his body to increase his power, and these scenes alone are absolutely terrifying to behold.

Frieza is also a cold and calculating villain with a diabolical personality. He is fully aware of his power and his intelligence, and he loves to boast about it at every opportunity he gets. Nothing phases this guy...except the Super Saiyan warrior of legend.

In fact, it was his fear of this mythical hero that drove Frieza to destroy Planet Vegeta, the homeworld of the Saiyan people, whom the Planetary Trade Organization had enslaved as a warrior caste. Terrified of the emergence of the Super Saiyan, Frieza murdered King Vegeta, Bardock and all but a handful of Saiyans, leaving Prince Vegeta and Goku (Kakarot) fatherless and utterly alone. Thus, Frieza is not only one of the most memorable villains of the series. He is also the one who kickstarted the events that would eventually lead to both the original Dragonball, and beyond.

#1 Beerus

Leading the pack at the number one spot on our DBZ villains countdown is the eccentric God of Destruction himself. Introduced in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (2014) and used as a recurring character in related materials, this catlike creature is a fairly laid back (actually lazy) guy who prefers to take peaceful cat-naps and participate in fine dining rather than carry out his true purpose: to destroy planets and galaxies to bring peace to the universe. Just don’t get him angry...or you could lose your entire universe. Just ask King Kai

Magnificently voiced by Jason Douglas (who you may recognize as the voice of King Cold from DBZ: Kai), Beerus is a very unique character who is intimidating and hilarious at the same time. Douglas’s raspy drone combined with his monotone frustration lends to exceptional dialogue, some of the best in the entire film. Also, Beerus has one heck of an awesome design that emulates ancient Egyptian statues of cats.

What makes him different from the other DBZ villains, though, is the fact that he is not evil...he’s just a bit short-tempered. In this sense, you could actually consider Beerus as more of an antihero than a legitimate evil-doer. Accompanied by his aide (and martial arts instructor) Whis, the cat-god prefers to take a peaceful route rather than resort to blowing up solar systems. 

At one point in Battle of Gods, Beerus says, “I hate long flights! But what choice do I have? I’ll suck it up and go…”

Yet he still manages to prove himself, easily swatting aside Vegeta, Piccolo, and the Z-Fighters like flies and going head-to-head with Majin Buu. In Resurrection F, Beerus even terrifies Frieza, who mentions that the God of Destruction and Buu were the only two beings he was never got to fight.

If this guy can intimidate Frieza and Buu, you know you have one awesome customer. But Beerus is not without his darker side. When pushed to his limit, this guy unleashes a fury unlike any other force in the entire universe. So great is his power, in fact, that he and his twin nearly wiped out half of a galaxy as a result of a quarrel over food...yes...you heard that right. So imagine what would happen if something REALLY serious angered him.

With his awesome design, intimidating personality, and outrageously hilarious dialogue, it is no wonder that Beerus takes the cake as our #1 villain in the Dragon Ball Z franchise.