Dragon Ball Z has given us obscenely powerful characters over the years. It’s easy to assume Goku is not only one of the strongest characters in fiction, but the outright strongest in Dragon Ball. However, that’s not entirely true. Goku has failed many times and he’s not even the strongest character in his own series, let alone fiction.
Here are the 10 times when Goku was not the strongest.
10) A Student Of The Turtle School
Goku has spent a healthy chunk of the series weaker than his master, Master Roshi. The DBZ series have used Roshi as his mentor and as a competitor. Roshi taught Goku the values of self-betterment and the universal recognition that there will always be someone better.
During the 21st Tenkaichi Budokai, we saw that Master Roshi enters the tournament to stop Goku from winning it. Roshi did not want Goku to gain ego so he defeated him.
9) The Sacred Land Of Karin
For most of the Red Ribbon Army arc, Goku is the strongest character. However, there is one phase where he is very much outclassed. The Red Ribbon Army hired Tao Pai Pai to assassinate Goku and reclaim his Dragon Balls.
Tao Pai Pai almost killed Goku in their first match with a Dodonpa. Goku then trained under Karin and defeated Tao Pai Pai in their rematch.
8) 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai (Debatably)
Tenshinhan was stronger than Goku during the 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai. We can easily conclude this Tenshinhan won the tournament itself. Tenshinhan says that Goku is a better martial artist. However, Goku denies this as he lost the match.
7) The Demon King Arrives
King Piccolo was the game-changer in the DBZ world. The older Piccolo outclassed Goku with a doubt. What Goku had was not enough at that time. So he went to Karin to train and used divine poison to get stronger.
The only reason Piccolo lost from Goku is that he failed to cripple all of Goku’s limbs. This gave Goku a chance to Kamehameha his way through Daimao’s body.
6) Heavenly Training
When Goku was training to defeat Piccolo Daimao, Mr. Popo reminds him of Master Roshi’s critical lesson. The lesson was that: there will always be someone better.
5) Raditz’s Arrival
Goku defeated Piccolo Junior at the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai and was tagged ‘Strongest Under the Heavens’. He then disappeared for five years to start his family with Chichi.
Later, Raditz arrived and defeated Goku and reminded him of who he really is. He was not able to defeat Raditz even with Piccolo. Ultimately, Goku sacrificed himself and dies alongside the brother he never wanted to know.
4) The Fight against The Saiyans
When Goku gets back to Earth, he is a much stronger fighter than before. Taking on Nappa and Vegeta does not seem to be a problem at first. He was easily able to knock down Nappa, however, Vegeta became a problem.
Goku had to push Kaioken to 4x just to win his beam struggle with Vegeta. This left Goku fully drained and without any energy. However, Vegeta had enough Ki to go a few more rounds.
Goku was undoubtedly the strongest character in most of the Namek arc. This was true, at least until Frieza showed up. Goku needs to use Kaioken 20x just to keep up with Frieza throughout their fight. Frieza only used 50% of his power throughout their entire fight. This left Goku with no choice but to throw his everything into a last-ditch Genki Dama.
2) Cell Games
In the Cell arc, Goku recognizes that Gohan has potential that he will never possess. Also, Goku realizes that he cannot defeat Cell. So he decides to train Gohan who likely could have defeated Cell in Super Saiyan 1 alone. When Gohan achieves Super Saiyan 2, he just gets overqualified and there ends the story.
1) The Rest Of The Series
From this point, Goku loses the ‘strongest’ character. Majin Buu’s every variations and fusion, and Ultimate Gohan is stronger than Goku. Also, Angels and Gods of Destruction give an idea that Goku will never be the strongest character again.
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