Dragon Ball’s Darkest Moments, Ranked

Dragon Ball has never been particularly known as a dark series by any means. Its action has always been larger than life and its threats were always precarious, but even then, Dragon Ball always managed to maintain its lighthearted spirit. However, there have been some points throughout the Dragon Ball franchise where all the positivity and optimism that Goku’s personality would usually bring seemed entirely absent from the equation.

Goku and his friends have encountered several heartless, demonic villains who have ultimately led to some horrible low points for Dragon Ball‘s beloved heroes. Those moments stand in stark contrast to the more upbeat parts of the series and make them feel more emotionally impactful because of it.

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10 Krillin’s First Death in Dragon Ball

Anime Original Dragon Ball Krillin Dead Goku Sad

Krillin’s initial death in the original Dragon Ball series is easily one of its most emotional moments. Goku’s normally easy-going nature is utterly shattered as he realizes his best friend has been killed by King Piccolo, and there’s nothing more he can do about it.

Goku’s helplessness in this scene is impactful because he is normally strong enough to save everyone, but this time he gets there too late. This was really the first major death in the franchise and thus felt even more final than any of Krillin’s numerous subsequent deaths afterward.

9 Videl Beaten By Spopovich in the World Tournament

Spopovich crushes Videl in Dragon Ball Z's World Tournament Saga

Videl’s beatdown at the hands of Spopovich was definitely one of the hardest to watch in the series. Videl had been built up to be an extremely likable character and love interest for Gohan up to this point, making this particular scene even more heartbreaking.

Spopovich ended up completely toying with Videl, and taking a sadistic pleasure in beating her to a pulp. This fight also served to show just how powerful the Majin power boost was because even a regular man like Spopovich could become strong enough to take down a fighter who could only be described as superhuman when compared to other Earthlings.

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8 Buu Kills Everyone in the World

Super Buu releases his Human Extinction Attack in Dragon Ball Z

Buu was an ancient evil whose power was far beyond anything the Z Fighters had ever witnessed up to that point. That’s saying a lot, considering Frieza was strong enough to destroy a planet with one energy blast, and Cell was even stronger than him.

For Majin Buu, destroying the earth would have been child’s play, and that’s what made his decision to kill every human on Earth with one attack all the more devastating. This was no longer an act of mindless destruction, it was a calculated display of ruthlessness meant purely to break the hearts of his enemies—and it worked.

7 Imperfect Cell Absorbs an Entire City

Dragon Ball Z Imperfect Cell 1

The Androids were already ruthless engines of destruction long before Cell even came onto the scene. However, nothing could compare to the horrific scene Imperfect Cell left behind after absorbing everyone in a city.

Witnessing the effect of Cell’s absorption power on the bodies of his victims has to be one of the most terrifying images in the entire series. It really set a precedent for the kind of creepy, parasitic threat that Cell was as a non-human, amoral life form.

6 Goku is Killed With Raditz

Goku and Raditz die from Piccolo's Special Beam Cannon in Dragon Ball Z.

Fans have grown used to Goku dying at this point, but his first death during the fight against his brother was easily the most surprising and tragic moment in the series at that point. Adding to the sad truth of Goku’s death was the fear that fans felt in the realization that it was Piccolo who had carried it out.

Up to this point, Piccolo’s true intentions were still largely uncertain. To see him kill Goku and remain the single most powerful being on earth in his absence was perhaps even darker than Goku’s death itself.

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5 Android 16’s Last Words

Cell crushes Android 16's head in Dragon Ball Z

Gohan’s fight with Cell contains several intensely emotional moments for the young half-Saiyan warrior. Among these is his father’s death and the massacre of his friends at the hands of the Cell Jrs. Perhaps surprisingly though, the thing that finally pushed Gohan over the edge was the final words of Android 16.

Android 16 showed that the Androids did have free will like any human, and didn’t have to be evil like Dr. Gero intended for them. Being a gentle soul just like Gohan, Android 16 is able to relate to the boy in his final moments and impart words of wisdom to him that he will never forget.

4 Super Android 17 Kills Krillin in Front of 18

Krillin dies and Android 18 mourns in Dragon Ball GT.

Krillin died multiple times by the time Dragon Ball GT began, but somehow his death at the hands of Super Android 17 hurt just as much as the others. It wasn’t just the fact of his dying that left such an impact on this scene, but rather the context surrounding it.

Not only did 17 kill Krillin in front of his wife, Android 18, but 18 pleaded with her brother not to do it. It was a moment that showed just how far 17 had fallen from grace, and how much 18 had changed from the heartless killer that she once was.

3 Vegeta Becomes a Majin

Majin Vegeta kills spectators in Dragon Ball Z

Vegeta’s fight with Goku as Majin Vegeta was a high point for fans of DBZ, but it was also one of the lowest points for Vegeta as a character. Fully embracing his newfound power and lack of moral compass, Vegeta heartlessly murdered the entire crowd in the World Tournament arena to prove how definitive his transformation was.

What was so dark about this moment was the fact that Vegeta had made so many positive strides forward, only to then start over from square one. His subsequent redemption by giving his own life made things even darker and secured Vegeta as the most complex and tragic character in the series thus far.

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2 Adult Gohan’s Death in the Future Timeline

Trunks hugging Gohan in Dragon Ball Z: History of Trunks

Future Trunks endures unimaginable hardship in the future timeline. However, the most difficult loss he faces by far is that of his mentor, Gohan, the last surviving Z Warrior in his timeline—and therefore, the last person alive who was strong enough to protect Earth.

The film The History of Trunks shows one of the most tragic scenes in the entire series, as Trunks mourns his fallen mentor’s death at the hands of the Androids. It’s a moment that informs everything that Future Trunks does and defines his character as a merciless warrior who has a deep hatred of the Androids—and a respect for their overwhelming power.

1 Zamasu Kills Goku’s Family

Zamasu switches bodies with Goku before he kills Chi-Chi and Goten in Dragon Ball Super

Goku is used to putting his life on the line for the fate of the universe. That’s likely why, when the threat bypassed him and went straight to his loved ones directly, it proved to be the darkest moment in the series.

During his fight with Goku Black, Goku learns the truth of what happened to his family in the Future Timeline and can no longer contain his rage. It’s not a moment that is dwelled on for very long in the episode itself, but between Goku’s reaction to the news and Zamasu’s lack of empathy, it proves to be the darkest moment Goku has ever had to go through in his life.

NEXT: 10 Reasons The Dragon Ball Z Anime Still Holds Up Today

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