If you’ve ever watched or heard of Dragon Ball, you would know that the characters from this series, especially its poster boy/main protagonist, Son Goku, are hella strong. In fact, this naive, innocent, muscle-bound Saiyan who’s more obsessed with changing hair color than your girlfriend isn’t just considered one of the most powerful characters in his own series, but is also widely considered as one of the most powerful beings in mainstream fiction and is oftentimes compared to the likes of Superman.
He and a lot of characters in the Dragon Ball series serve as a benchmark of power for almost every fictional character created, thanks to the intense power scaling due to the varied power ups and transformations the characters unlock through screaming louder. While a lot of people say that the show’s linear plot progression has gotten pretty repetitive throughout the years, seeing the same characters get stronger by defeating stronger adversaries only to face a stronger enemy later on and repeat that process, us hardcore fans still get kilig whenever our favorite characters get more powerful. Blame the overflowing testosterone coursing through us, but if you can’t get hyped over universe shaking power-ups, can you really call yourself a man? Here’s a timeline of how the most awesome powers ups Son Goku has had.
As a baby, our hero Goku, actually started with a measly power level of two, which is pretty low for a Saiyan (and is relative to a normal human todler), enough for him to be dismissed as having the potential of a low-level warrior. Note: Power levels won’t be used that much from here on out because the technology on Earth wasn’t at par with that of planet Vegeta (The Saiyan’s home planet).
2) Red Ribbon Arc
As a Saiyan, Goku excelled and was obsessed with fighting and training at a very young age. As a toddler, Goku was tanking bullets and direct bazooka-fire.
3) Turtle Hermit
After training with Master Roshi, a renowned martial artist and master of the Turtle Hermit style, Goku was jumping several meters straight up from the ground due to him wearing wearing a 100 pound turtle shell on his back while training and pushing boulders the size of small hills.
4) Tournament - Tien Shin Han
According to Master Roshi, Goku “mastered” his signature technique, Kamehameha (which took Roshi 50 years to Master). At this point, a full power Kamehameha was able to disintegrate the moon.
5) Tournament Grown Up - Picollo Jr.
After beating King Picollo, Goku trained with a cat called Korin and drank super water from a fountain, which made him even stronger. He then trained with a black “person” called Popo, where he learned how to sense energy without using his other five senses. He also tempered his strength with Kami, the Earth’s caretaker who made him wear training clothes that were 250 pounds while fighting world-class martial artists.
6) Saiyan Arc - Raditz
Oh hey, Power Levels are back thanks to Bulma’s scouter technology. By this time, Goku’s Power Level was at 416, which paled in comparison to the arc’s main villain Raditz, Goku’s brother, which was at 1500 at full power.
7) Saiyan Arc - Vegeta Kaoiken
In preparation for his battle with Vegeta, who then had a power level of 18,000, he boosted his power levels to, wait for it… OVER 9000 by training with King Kai. He could then multiply his strength by four in short bursts through a technique called Kaioken.
8) Ginyu Force
While heading to planet Namek (Picollo’s home planet), Goku trained in a spacehip equipped with a Gravity Machine that imbued the ship's interior with up to a hundred times Earth’s gravity, which he then trained in until his body became so accustomed to it. By the time he arrived, the gravity on the ship felt like nothing. He was also able to learn Kaioken 20X, which as the name suggests, multiplies his power level by 20.
9) Super Saiyan Frieza
Before we go into how crazy the increase Goku received even before facing Frieza, we have to talk about Zenkai boosts. This is a latent skill among Saiyans in which they are given considerable boosts in power whenever they are beaten to the brink of death in their fights, which in this case, happened to Goku while facing the Ginyu Force, which skyrocketed his power level to three million. During their fight, Goku unlocked the legendary transformation. This transformation multiplies his base power by 50 times and is probably the most hyped moment of your childhood. It’s here when power levels get a bit too tedious to calculate so Dragon Ball’s creator, Akira Toriyama, stop using them after the Namek arc.
10) Mastered Super Saiyan - Cell
Together with his Son Gohan, Goku mastered the Super Saiyan form and is able to keep it up even while doing household chores by having complete control of his key. In this state, Goku was able to keep up with with Cell, an android made up from the cells of the most powerful characters in Dragon Ball Z (at that time) and is strong enough to destroy entire solar systems with his ki (energy). He also learns a very useful technique called Instant Transmission that he can use to teleport to locations of his choosing.
11) Super Saiyan 3
According to official guides, Super Saiyan 3 multiplies the base level of the Saiyan by 400. While using this form, Goku completely trashed a being called Buu, who is said by the Supreme Kai is capable of destroying multiple galaxies if not dealt with. Note, this doesn’t mean Buu could destroy a galaxy with just one attack, it just connotes that he’d have enough power and stamina to do so if given the chance.
Using the Potara earrings Goku and Vegeta fused into Vegeto, which stated in the Daizenshuu 7, is the power of one being multiplied by another, which is very, very overpowered but only lasts up to 30 minutes. Fused beings also get pretty cocky when it comes to fighting, which lead Goku and Vegeta to diffuse after thirty minutes of fighting evil Buu.
13) God Goku
Apparently, there was something more legendary than the Super Saiyan transformation, which was the Super Saiyan God transformation, which is a bit redundant (we’ll explain later). According to the Dragon Ball wikia: "The ritual requires five righteous Saiyans to perform and a sixth Saiyan to channel the ritual and ki into.” In this form, God Goku was able to match blows with the god of destruction of Universe 7, Beerus. The shockwaves from three of their punches reverberated through the entire universe and threatened to destroy it.
14) God Goku Absorbed
If you thought the jump from being able to destroy galaxies to universes was big wait until you hear this. The Super Saiyan God transformation was extremely powerful but had drawbacks of quickly depleting the energy of the user, which was conveniently circumvented by Goku absorbing its essence into his base form during his fight with Beerus. So at this point, Goku’s normal punches have the attack potency to be a threat to universal beings. Eat your heart out, Saitama.
15) Super Saiyan Blue
If you thought they couldn’t think of any more colors to dye their hair with, the Saiyans (Goku and Vegeta) came up with a new transformation by using God Ki and Super Saiyan Ki to become Super Saiyan Blue. It isn’t clear how much of a multiplier SS Blue is compared to SS God, and is confusing because why don’t you just call Super Saiyan God, Saiyan God if you’re just going to eventually use Super Saiyan ki on it to unlock a new form? OMSSG, things get really confusing.
16) Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken 10X
After more than 20 years of not using this technique, fans were thrilled to see Goku use Kaioken again in his fight with Hit, the deadliest assassin in Universe 6, who can literally control time within a limited area and duration (0.5 seconds at that time), which is a lot considering that these characters are moving trillions of times faster than light.
17) Super Saiyan Blue Vegito
In their fight with Merged Zamasu, a being who eventually became a universe and not just a normal universe, we might add. This universe stretched out to different timelines as it is seen in Future Trunk’s timeline and Goku’s original timeline. This guy literally became a multiverse.
18) Mastered Super Saiyan Blue Absorbed Kaioken 20X
So yeah, after powering up his base form even more with the help of Whis, an angel and Beerus’ master, Goku eventually perfected the Super Saiyan Blue form and was even able to go toe to toe with foes he had trouble with before as a Super Saiyan Blue in his current base form. He then used Kaioken 20X on this form in order to battle Jiren, currently the most powerful fighter in the 12 universes participating in the Tournament of Power. This Goku was humiliated by Jiren’s power. Jiren literally stared at Mastered Super Saiyan Blue Absorbed Kaioken 20X’s Universal Spirit Bomb (the most powerful attack in Dragon Ball History to date), which contained the collected ki from the most powerful beings from each universe and bounced it back to Goku.
19) Ultra Instinct
After catching the Ultimate Spirit Bomb with his face, Goku’s hidden potential was unlocked and he gained a temporary ability called Ultra Instinct. Now, we call this an ability, but we should be calling it the most broken shit ever. With this ability, Goku was able to perceive attacks that weren’t even happening yet and was able to dodge them through instinct. Goku’s mere existence in this form was able to shake the entirety of existence and nothingness because why start using logic now? It also looks absolutely cool as Goku’s eyes turn silver and a misty bluish white aura surrounds him.
To do some power scaling, if Goku’s power in this form is relative to Jiren’s, we can say that both of them are 4th dimensional. Now, what does this mean? There are four dimensions that command our laws of physics, length, width, depth, and a lot of people say that the fourth is time. Jiren was able to transcend Hit’s time manipulation through sheer force as his body was moving through frozen time. Fourth dimensional beings are infinitely more powerful than three dimensional beings as laws of physics do not apply to them. Imagine that you drew a stick figure, as a two dimensional being, that stick figure is powerless against you, as you are powerless against a fourth dimensional being.
Now, is Goku the most powerful being in fiction? Hell no! But he’s still really ridiculously strong and still has potential to grow stronger since Dragon Ball Super doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon and you can bet we’ll still be raising our hands when Goku’s in need of energy for his spirit bomb—as long as we’re not in public, because that’ll just look weird.
SOURCES: Daizenshuu 7, the seventh and final Dragon Ball encyclopedia and the online Dragon Ball Wikia