- Death is a common occurrence in Dragon Ball Z, with many characters dying multiple times and being revived using the Dragon Balls or other means.
- Gohan has died twice in the series, once when the Earth was destroyed by Kid Buu and again in Future Trunks’ timeline during a battle with Androids 17 and 18.
- Vegeta has died three times, first at the hands of Frieza, then sacrificing himself to try to defeat Majin Buu, and finally in Future Trunks’ timeline at the hands of Android 17.
Even compared to the world of Western comics, death comes pretty cheap in Dragon Ball Z. One of the most common uses for the eponymous Dragon Balls is to bring dead friends back to life, and many of the characters in the series don’t stop at just one death. In fact, most major characters have died several times, to the point where it’s possible to rank characters by how many deaths they’ve suffered.
The following list goes over which characters have died the most, as well as how and when they died on each occasion. The list includes both heroes and villains, as both are frequently revived with the Dragon Balls, or through other means. This also counts all deaths of a character in the series, even if it was an alternate version of them that died.
15 Gohan – 2 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Ghosts of Tomorrow” and “End of Earth”
The oldest son of Goku, Gohan has gotten through the Dragon Ball series relatively unscathed. Gohan first died alongside a lot of other Dragon Ball Z characters when Kid Buu blew up the Earth. Eventually, the Earth was restored thanks to the Namekian Dragon Balls, and he was resurrected as a result. Gohan’s second death was much more permanent, however. In Future Trunks’ timeline, Gohan fell in battle against Androids 17 and 18. They overwhelmed him with energy blasts while he was in his Super Saiyan form, and left his body to be found by Trunks. That version of Gohan never got revived, and that timeline no longer exists.
14 Buu – 2 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Buu Against Buu” and “Spirit Bomb Triumphant”
Buu is a complicated one, as he splits himself in two beings at one point: a Good Buu and an Evil Buu. In a head-scratching turn of events, one of Buu’s deaths is thanks to this other form. Evil Buu is able to turn the Good Buu into chocolate and eat him, transforming him into Super Buu. Vegeta is eventually able to separate them back out, bringing Good Buu back and causing Super Buu to transform again. In his Kid Buu form, however, the evil part of Buu is killed by Goku’s Super Spirit Bomb and later is reincarnated as a young boy named Uub thanks to King Yemma.
13 Trunks – 2 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “End of Earth” and “A Hero’s Farewell”
Trunks is also a complicated case, as there are both Future Trunks and the present-day young Trunks, both of whom have their own deaths. Young Trunks, like Gohan, was killed alongside almost everyone else when Kid Buu destroyed the Earth. As a result, he was also brought back with the same wish on the Namekian Dragon Balls.
As Future Trunks, he falls in battle when Super Perfect Cell fires a full-power Death Beam through Trunks’ chest. His death inspired Vegeta to go all-out against Cell, although it didn’t accomplish much. When Cell is finally defeated, Trunks is taken to Kami’s Lookout and resurrected by Shenron and the Dragon Balls. Trunks was touched to find out how much his death affected his father, so at least this death led to a bit of character development.
12 Master Roshi – 2 Deaths
Dragon Ball, episode “Roshi’s Gambit” and Dragon Ball Z, episode “Feeding Frenzy”
Master Roshi is Goku’s old mentor from the original Dragon Ball, and a frequently controversial character. Despite his age, Master Roshi is plenty strong enough to fight, even participating in the Tournament of Power. In fact, Master Roshi can never die of old age thanks to an Immortal Phoenix he once kept. That doesn’t mean he can’t die in battle, however. Roshi’s first death occurs while trying to take down King Piccolo with the Evil Containment Wave, a technique that traps demons. The technique is difficult to pull off, and Roshi failed in the process, which led to his death. He is later resurrected via the Dragon Balls.
Roshi was also transformed into chocolate and consumed by Super Buu during the Buu Saga. Like Trunks and Gohan, he was brought back from this death when the Namekian Dragon Balls were used to revive everyone killed after the World Martial Arts Tournament.
11 Chiaotzu – 3 Deaths
Dragon Ball, episode “King Piccolo’s Wish,” Dragon Ball Z, episodes “The Power of Nappa,” “End of Earth,” and “Ghosts from Tomorrow”
Chiaotzu is Tien’s friend and an oft-forgotten weaker member of the Z Fighters. Despite that, the little guy has gone down in noble sacrifices on two occasions. His first death occurred when Chiaotzu attempted to kill King Piccolo by wishing on the Dragon Balls for Piccolo to die, but he was unable to finish his wish before King Piccolo killed him with a powerful blast. He was later revived with the Dragon Balls, only to end up sacrificing himself again to attempt a self-destruct on Nappa, but the evil Saiyan was left alive while Chiaotzu perished alone. Chiaotzu was revived from that death using the Namekian Dragon Balls.
The final time Chiaotzu died was when Kid Buu blew up the Earth and killed everyone on it. Once again, the Namekian Dragon Balls brought him back along with everyone else. Chiaotzu was also killed in Future Trunks’ timeline by the androids, alongside basically every other Z Fighter.
10 Vegeta – 3 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “The End of Vegeta,” “Ghosts from Tomorrow,” and “Final Atonement”
The arrogant Prince of all Saiyans has died more times than he’d care to admit. Vegeta first died at the hands of Frieza, who beat him up and then gave him a Death Beam through the chest as Vegeta lay there taunting him. He was revived using the Dragon Balls, of course, alongside Frieza’s other victims. Vegeta’s second death was a surprisingly noble one, however. When Majin Buu was unleashed, Vegeta attempted to self-destruct and take the creature with him; unfortunately, Buu survived while Vegeta did not. Vegeta was eventually revived using the same wish that restored Earth with the Namekian Dragon Balls.
Additionally, in Future Trunks’ timeline, Vegeta was killed by Android 17, along with many other Z fighters. He was never revived in this universe, and as a result, Future Trunks grew up without a father.
9 Yamcha – 3 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Saibamen Attack!”, “Ghosts from Tomorrow,” and “Feeding Frenzy”
Yamcha began as a valued ally in early Dragon Ball, but as he fell behind in power, he often found himself dying in such a way as to prove the new enemy’s power. Yamcha first dies because of Nappa, when one of the Saibaimen, creatures created by a Saiyan scientist and released by Nappa, jumps on him and then self-destructs. He is eventually brought back with the Namekian Dragon Balls. Yamcha’s second death occurs at Kami’s Lookout when Majin Buu arrives and turns everyone there into candy and eats them. He’s brought back from that death with the same wish on the Namekian Dragon Balls that revived Buu’s other victims.
Future Yamcha apparently died two different ways, thanks to inconsistencies between the anime and the History of Trunks special. In the anime, Yamcha gets killed by an energy wave to his stomach from the Androids. However, the History of Trunks special instead shows him dying from a kick to the neck.
8 Tien – 3 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Sacrifice,” “Ghosts from Tomorrow,” and “End of Earth”
Tien first dies when he tries to avenge his best friend Chiaotzu’s death to Nappa. Tien, using his three eyes, puts all his energy into a Tri-Beam attack aimed at Nappa, but it fails to kill him, and even worse, it results in Tien’s death since he had no energy left. He is later revived at the same time as Chiaotzu thanks to the Namekian Dragon Balls. Tien is later killed a second time, along with everyone else on Earth, when Kid Buu blows the planet up. He is again revived because of the Namekian Dragon Balls.
Tien’s death in the future was presented in two different ways, although both times he dies at the hands of Android 18. The anime shows him getting killed with an energy wave hitting him in the chest while the History of Trunks special shows him dying from a punch to his stomach.
7 Goku – 3 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, “Gohan’s Rage,” “Double Trouble for Goku,” and “Unforgivable!”
Despite being the protagonist and the most powerful character in the series, Goku has also died on a few occasions. Goku first sacrifices his life by holding Raditz in place, so that he can be killed by Piccolo’s Special Beam Cannon. Goku is inevitably caught in Piccolo’s attack as well and dies. While it takes a while, his friends eventually bring him back with the Dragon Balls. Goku’s second death was similarly heroic. When he noticed Semi-Perfect Cell preparing to self-destruct, Goku acted quickly and used Instant Transmission to teleport both himself and Cell to King Kai’s world. In this instance, Goku remains dead for several years and is only resurrected thanks to Old Kai.
In Future Trunks’ timeline, Goku dies of heart disease caused by a virus well before the Androids appear, meaning he’s not around to help out. Since his death was of a natural cause, he wasn’t eligible for revival with the Dragon Balls there, either.
6 Cell – 3 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Laboratory Basement,” “Save the World,” and “Free the Future”
The ultimate creation of Dr. Gero, Cell has died three times in Dragon Ball, across timelines and at various stages of his life. The primary timeline’s Cell is killed while still in his test tube when Krillin and Future Trunks fire energy waves at him. A future version of Cell, from a timeline without Androids 17 and 18, attempts to travel back in time but is destroyed by Future Trunks using a Heat Dome Attack. The main Cell, seen in the majority of the Cell Saga, is killed by Gohan’s Father-Son Kamehameha, which incinerates the villain completely and makes sure he can’t regenerate. Additionally, Cell is defeated down to a single cell on a few occasions, which might arguably count as deaths, but he was able to regenerate from these each time.
5 Android 17 – 4 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Unforgivable,” “Free the Future,” “The Horror Won’t End,” and “End of Earth,”
Android 17 experienced his first brush with death when he was devoured by Cell, who subsequently blew himself up on King Kai’s planet, taking 17 and 18 with him. Fortunately for him, Krillin ensures that he gets revived, along with everyone on Earth killed who was killed by Cell, due to a wish made on the Dragon Balls. Like most characters, Android 17 also presumably died when Kid Buu destroyed the Earth, and as such was revived again by the Namekian Dragon Balls, along with the rest of the population.
Android 17 also died twice in alternate timelines. In Cell’s timeline, Android 17 was destroyed by Future Trunks, rendering it impossible for him to reach his perfect form and prompting him to travel back in time. After Cell’s defeat, Future Trunks returns to his own timeline, where the Androids are still around, and defeats them single-handedly. As that universe no longer exists, these evil versions of Android 17 are never resurrected.
4 Frieza – 4 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Frieza Defeated!”, “Another Super Saiyan!?”, Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn, and Dragon Ball: Resurrection ‘F’
The villainous Frieza never seems to truly die, coming back, again and again, to try and defeat Goku, leaving destruction and mayhem in his wake. The first time he dies is when Future Trunks chops him to pieces with his sword and then reduces him to ash with an energy blast. In the movie Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn, Frieza returns to Earth only to get killed by Gohan, who punches him in the stomach and makes him explode.
Frieza is then brought back by a follower of his, Sorbet, using the Earth’s Dragon Balls at the beginning of the Dragon Ball: Resurrection ‘F’ movie and its corresponding anime arc. Goku ultimately used a Dash Kamehameha to send him back to Hell. Frieza was then resurrected a fourth time as part of a deal: Frieza would help save Universe 7, fighting alongside Goku, on the condition that he be brought back afterward. Perhaps foolishly, Goku honored his word and revived the interstellar tyrant.
3 The Entire Population Of The Earth Of Universe 7 – 4 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episode “End of Earth,” Dragon Ball GT, episode “Piccolo’s Decision”, Dragon Ball Super episodes “The Earth Explodes! A Decisive Kamehameha!”, “With New Hope in His Heart – Farewell, Trunks”
The Earth itself has been the victim of Dragon Ball villains several times. The first occurrence was, of course, the mass death event that was Buu’s destruction of the Earth. Earth, in that case, was brought back by the Namekian Dragon Balls. The Earth was also destroyed briefly during the Golden Frieza arc, as Frieza used a suicide attack to obliterate the planet and render Goku’s win meaningless. Whis, Beerus’ angel attendant, rewound time to stop that from happening, allowing Goku to prevent Frieza from ever pulling that trick.
In Dragon Ball Super, the Earth of Future Trunks’ timeline is destroyed along with the rest of the universe when Zeno obliterates it to destroy Zamasu. Finally, in GT, Earth was destroyed due to a side effect of the Black Star Dragon Balls. Just like the first time, this was reversed with a wish to Porunga.
2 Piccolo – 5 Deaths
Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Goku’s Arrival,” “End of Earth,” “Ghosts from Tomorrow,” Dragon Ball GT episode “Piccolo’s Decision,” Dragon Ball Super, episode “Change! An Unexpected Return! His Name Is Ginyu!!”
Piccolo has died five times over the various Dragon Ball series, putting him high on the list. Piccolo was first killed by an Impact Bomb from Nappa, sacrificing himself in order to save Gohan. He then came back to life thanks to the Namekian Dragon Balls. Later, he was killed when Majin Buu blew up the Earth, but Piccolo and the rest of the planet were restored by the Namekian Dragon Balls. The third time Piccolo died was similar to the first, as he was protecting Gohan from Frieza’s Death Beam blasts.
There are two deaths Piccolo did not come back from (thanks to alternate timelines). First, he was killed in Future Trunks’ timeline by androids. Second, in GT, he sacrificed himself as the Earth blew up. He could have been brought back, but Piccolo refused in order to keep the Earth safe without the side effects of the Black Star Dragon Balls destroying it again. In that timeline, he was sent to heaven.
1 Krillin – 5 Deaths
Dragon Ball, episode “The Death of Krillin,” Dragon Ball Z, episodes “Transformed At Last,” “Ghosts from Tomorrow,” “Feeding Frenzy,” Dragon Ball GT episode “17 Times 2,”
Krillin dying is a running joke among Dragon Ball fans, but it’s only because it’s true: Krillin really does die a lot. He is first killed by Tambourine, King Piccolo’s son, who kicks him in the head and crushes his frontal lobe. Krillin was brought back from this death by the Dragon Balls. He was then blown up by Frieza, only to later be resurrected by the Namekian Dragon Balls. Later, Krillin would be turned into chocolate and eaten by Majin Buu. Once again, he was saved by the Namekian Dragon Balls.
In Dragon Ball GT, Krillin is killed by a brainwashed Android 17. He shoots a Photon Flash through Krillin’s chest. Krillin suffered a similar death in Future Trunks’ timeline, where Android 17 kills him again. Though it might surprise fans that Krillin is tied with Piccolo for most Dragon Ball deaths, it goes to show how noble and heroic both characters are.
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