Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (2024)

Highlights

  • Goku's base form is how fans remember him, and he defeated all the villains in Dragon Ball in this state.
  • Great Ape Goku was a powerful and destructive force that showed off his durability.
  • Goku's Super Saiyan transformations, especially Super Saiyan and Super Saiyan 3, are iconic moments in the anime industry.

Dragon Ball's protagonist, Son Goku, is perhaps the most recognizable and iconic character in the entire anime industry. Going strong since the 1980s, the impact that he and the series have had on pop culture is one for the history books, as the franchise is celebrated in pretty much every single corner of the globe. Much of this has to do with Goku's presence itself, as he has become a legend in fiction that is revered by fans of all ages.

Since the series pretty much defined the Shonen genre to what it is now, obviously, action and fighting are pretty central themes of Dragon Ball. Due to this, stronger enemies keep on appearing in the world, causing Goku to get stronger by unlocking new forms. These transformations are as integral to the series as Goku himself and have defined some of the biggest moments of the anime, so let's break down all of Goku's main forms.

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Goku's Base Form is a Classic

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (2)

First Appearance

Dragon Ball, episode 1, "Bulma and Son Goku"

Debut Date

February 26, 1986

Story Arc

Emperor Pilaf Saga

Though Goku has grown drastically since his first appearance in the franchise, this is the form that fans of the series remember as his default. Though not exactly a form in the traditional sense, this base state is how Goku truly is and was how he was introduced to viewers in the very first episode of the series.

Notable Feats

It wasn't until the end of the Emperor Pilaf Saga that Goku would see his first transformation, but even after that, Goku never transformed until Namek. So, in his base form, Goku defeats all the villains of Dragon Ball, as well as defeating the Saiyan invaders in the Saiyan Saga and beyond.

Great Ape Goku Was Terrifying

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (3)

First Appearance

Dragon Ball, episode 12, "A Wish to the Eternal Dragon"

Debut Date

May 14, 1986

Story Arc

Emperor Pilaf Saga

Great Ape Goku's appearance was quite brief, but his power was devastating. After gazing at the moon in the Emperor Pilaf Saga, nothing seems to happen initially. Later, however, Goku begins to change, eventually transforming into a towering and destructive ape that destroys everything in its path.

Notable Feats

Great Ape Goku showed himself to be an absolute powerhouse that no one could stop. After an aircraft fired a heat-seeking missile at him, he seemed to be knocked out but still got back up, showing how great his durability is.

The First Appearance of Super Saiyan Was Iconic

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (4)

First Appearance

Dragon Ball Z, episode 95, "Transformed At Last"

Debut Date

June 19, 1991

Story Arc

Namek Saga

There is no other moment in the entire anime industry that is as everlasting in the memories of the viewers as Goku's first transformation into his Super Saiyan form in his battle against Frieza. After failing to kill him with the Spirit Bomb, Frieza mercilessly kills Krillin, triggering a great amount of rage within Goku and causing his transformation, fulfilling an age-old prophecy of the Saiyans. This scene and the form have been replicated across all kinds of media over the decades that pay homage to this legendary moment.

Notable Feats

In his Super Saiyan state, Goku embarrassed Frieza, who was using 100% of his power. Even after sparing him, Frieza betrays his trust, leading to Goku completely obliterating the villain with his Angry Kamehameha. Later on, this form became the standard transformation for Goku and all other Saiyans and was even used by him in a very equal fight against Perfect Cell.

I am the hope of the universe. I am the answer to all living things that cry out for peace. I am protector of the innocent. I am the light in the darkness. I am truth. Ally to good! Nightmare to you!

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Super Saiyan 2 Was The New Standard For Goku

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (6)

First Appearance

Dragon Ball Z, episode 229, "Vegeta's Pride"

Debut Date

June 15, 1994

Story Arc

Buu Saga

Super Saiyan 2 Goku has a little bit of mystery surrounding him because it was never actually shown when and how he first got the form. It is just stated that the form was achieved at some unspecified time during the 7-year time skip between the Cell Saga and the start of the Buu Saga, and its awesome power was showcased for the first time against Majin Vegeta.

Notable Feats

Super Saiyan 2 was a vast improvement upon Super Saiyan and the various grades that came before it. In this form, Goku was much stronger and faster too, as was seen in his incredible fight against Majin Vegeta, where both of them were equal in terms of strength and skill. Though this form is one that the series has largely forgotten about, its strength is still formidable.

Super Saiyan 3 Shook The Universe

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (7)

First Appearance

Dragon Bal Z, episode 245, "Super Saiyan 3?!"

Debut Date

November 9, 1994

Story Arc

Buu Saga

When Goku finally confronted Majin Buu in a one-on-one fight, he revealed that he had a secret card up his sleeve. When running Buu down all the different forms of Super Saiyan and the strength that they possess, Goku eventually reaches Super Saiyan 2 and reveals to the world that there lies something further beyond that power. In a legendary transformation scene that shakes the foundations of the universe, Goku finally reveals his Super Saiyan 3 form.

Notable Feats

Super Saiyan 3 is the strongest of all the natural Saiyan transformations that those of the race can achieve. It uses up an incredible amount of energy but makes up for it with unparalleled strength, which Goku used to beat Majin Buu senseless. Towards the end of the arc, Super Saiyan 3 did very well against even Kid Buu, a version of the monster that was far stronger than the fatter one.

I'm sorry that took so much longer than the others, but I haven't had much occasion to practice this one. This is what I call a Super Saiyan 3.

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Super Saiyan God Was the Stuff Of Legend

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (9)

First Appearance

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

Debut Date

March 30, 2013

Story Arc

God of Destruction Beerus Arc

After the canon timeline of Dragon Ball had essentially ended for quite some time, the series made a massive comeback in 2013 with the Battle of Gods movie. This movie introduced fans to the God of Destruction, Beerus, who was a character far more powerful than any that had come before him. He awoke to fight the 'Super Saiyan God', a form that Goku took by absorbing the energy of 5 pure-hearted Saiyans, giving him God Ki.

Notable Feats

Super Saiyan God's time in the series was quite brief but memorable. In this form, Goku made Beerus use a higher percentage of his strength than he did for millions of years, something that earned him the Destroyer's respect. Aside from this, Goku used Super Saiyan God to great effect in the Tournament of Power as well as against Broly.

Super Saiyan Blue Became the Staple Going Forward

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (10)

First Appearance

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F

Debut Date

April 15, 2015

Story Arc

Golden Frieza Arc

Dragon Ball Super's second arc saw the return of the most iconic villain of the series: Frieza. However, it was also revealed that Frieza was a character with the greatest potential, something which led to him unlocking a new, golden form that surpassed even Super Saiyan God in 4 months. To combat this, Goku unlocks an ascended form of SSG, which proves to be more than a match for Frieza.

Notable Feats

Super Saiyan Blue (or Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan) has become the default transformation for Goku and Vegeta in Super and has beaten the likes of Golden Frieza and many contestants in the Tournament of Power. Goku strengthened this form by adding a Kaioken x20 multiplier on top of it against Jiren.

This is a power even greater than a Super Saiyan God!

Ultra Instinct Omen Was the First Sign Of Greatness

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First Appearance

Dragon Ball Super, episode 110, "Goku Enkindled! The Awakened One's New Ultra Instinct!"

Debut Date

October 8, 2017

Story Arc

Universal Survival Arc

The first instance of Goku's Ultra Instinct came in his first fight against Jiren, where the Universe 11 warrior proved to be far too strong, even for Goku's spirit bomb, pushing it back onto him. After recovering from this, Goku awakened Ultra Instinct Omen and gave Jiren a good fight, making him bleed for the first time in the tournament.

Notable Feats

In this form, Goku was able to fight way more on par with Jiren, even though the form itself hadn't been perfected. It was so fast that most other characters in the series couldn't even keep up with its movements as Goku dodged all attacks with little effort. This form was the one that also knocked Kefla out of the tournament with one of the coolest Kamehameha's ever.

Perfected Ultra Instinct Brought Goku Closer to the Angels' Level

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (12)

First Appearance

Dragon Ball Super, episode 129, "A Transcendent Limit Breaker! Autonomous Ultra Instinct!"

Debut Date

March 4, 2018

Story Arc

Universal Survival Arc

Though episode 129 of Super was the first appearance of this form, Ultra Instinct itself had been hinted at in the very first episode of this series when Goku instinctively avoided charging Beerus at their first meeting. It was mentioned many times afterwards, but it wasn't until Goku activated Omen for the third time against Jiren that the divine form would reach its apex and finally overpower Jiren.

Notable Feats

Mastered Ultra Instinct defeated Jiren and went on to prove its strength in the subsequent arcs of Dragon Ball Super, where it was used masterfully to defeat the galactic threat, Moro. At the beginning of the Granolah arc, this form was quite formidable and was only taken out by a surprise hit.

Goku's done it, hasn't he? He's finally achieved it... Autonomous Ultra Instinct!

True Ultra Instinct Is Perfect For Goku

Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (13)

First Appearance

Dragon Ball Super, Chapter 85, "To Each His Own Answer"

Debut Date

June 20, 2022

Story Arc

Granolah the Survivor Arc

After remembering that Whis told him to find the best version of Ultra Instinct that suits him, Goku unlocks this version of the form that fits him perfectly and uses it to fight against Gas. Goku's power in this form makes use of all of his Saiyan emotions, something that Perfected Ultra Instinct discards.

Notable Feats

When it was initially introduced in the arc, TUI was said to be a little more powerful than Gas, who was the strongest mortal in the universe at that stage. Although Gas regained this title, Goku worked with Vegeta and Granolah to bring the villain down.

Dragon Ball is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

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Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (15)
Dragon Ball Super

Action

Adventure

Release Date
July 5, 2015

Number of Episodes
131
Dragon Ball: All of Goku's Transformations, Explained (2024)
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