For all his powers, (at least in the Z series) Gohan has a certain aura of reluctance when it comes to embracing the warrior life. Everyone else in the Dragon Ball universe is positively gung-ho over training and fighting – their zeal has even inspired MMA fighters. Gohan, on the other hand, tends to see fighting as a tool of the trade, rather than as an all-encompassing way of life (the way his father Goku does).
As the son of one of the world’s greatest warriors, there is no doubt Gohan has the save-the-world hero template in his genes, but at the end of the day, Gohan is someone who can live without all the training, the battles, and the fighting. Fighting is something that he was thrust into at an early age, due to the Saiyan invasion of Earth led by Raditz. We see him dream of playing hooky from studying, and of having his family complete. He wants to be a scholar. Yet he sets all these aside to step up as one of Earth’s heroes.
This may be the reason why Gohan is actually more of a badass, in my opinion, than the other Z fighters. We find Gohan compelling and relatable because underneath all that power, he’s just a human (ok, half-human) who wants peace.
But when the universe doesn’t want peace, he brings ruckus more than any other character in the Z series.
Here’s 11 of Gohan’s most badass moments in Dragon Ball Z.
Badass Moment #11: When He Rocks An All-White Suit Like No One’s Business
In Dragon Ball Z: Summer Vacation Special, one of the many Dragon Ball specials that never saw release outside of Japan, features both Goku and Gohan looking particularly dashing in formal fancy tuxedos.
Normally, we see Gohan in outfits that are practical for training and fighting. A tuxedo is not exactly easy fashion, certainly not for a scholar or a fighter. But Gohan, being the badass that he is, just takes this in stride and delivers all his lines in the two-minute TV special confidently.
Badass Moment #10: When He Chooses His Name
Good decision-making is one of the hallmarks of a badass. Gohan had this even as a baby, when he chose his own name. He emphatically turns down Chichi’s choice of Einstein and the host of awful – yet strangely catchy – names listed by Ox-King, his grandfather. He perks up considerably when Goku mentions food, and he ends up getting named for rice.
It seems a trifle bit silly to be named after rice but we think Gohan chose his name well and wisely. The humble rice is highly regarded in Japanese culture, and it is believed to have great powers. And this describes Gohan perfectly.
Badass Moment #9: When He Fights Crime as “The Great Saiyaman”
The Great Saiyaman gives us a peek into what Gohan is when in his natural element and left to his own devices. During this arc, Gohan is 18 years old, and attending school. He continues to protect and defend the world, as he is compelled to do, but here, he is less intense, and gets comfortable with what Kyle Herbert, Gohan’s voice actor dubs as his ‘dorktitude’. I feel that being the Great Saiyaman is one of those rare moments where Gohan gets to do things for himself, as opposed to being forced into it by his parents or his mentors.
Anyone who can maintain a super-secret identity and survive the rollercoaster that is adolescence and high school at the same time is a badass.
Badass Moment #8: When He Takes Great Ape Form Versus Vegeta
Encouraged by Goku to stare at the artificial moon created by Vegeta, Gohan goes full ape and starts rampaging. A particularly badass scene here is when Vegeta starts pummeling Gohan in a desperate bid to stave off his transformation. Try as he might though, the older and more experienced Vegeta is unable to keep the fledgling Gohan down.
And even while he is on berserker mode, Gohan retains enough of his humanity to understand Krillin, and focuses his destructive attention on Vegeta, instead of engaging in randomly throwing rocks at everything he sees.
This is one of the many moments that hint at Gohan’s immense yet still latent powers. This makes him a wildcard in battle, but then volatility in itself is pretty spectacular. A half-saiyan, half-earthling with barely controlled powers is a dangerous thing, a powerful deterrent that can put even otherworldly powerful invaders in check.
And speaking of berserker, some of Gohan’s most memorable moments stem from him losing control and getting carried away by powerful emotions such as when his power levels surge to 3000 in his fight with Nappa after Piccolo dies for him to his rage when Videl is crushed.
To paraphrase Harry Potter, great things happen when Gohan loses control. Terrible things, but great.
Badass Moment #7: When He Stands Up To ChiChi…And Wins
Having Goku as a father must have been tough. Add a woman like Chichi into the mix, and you have got to hand it to Gohan for turning out, well, normal. Chichi is tres formidable, so much so that even Goku runs away when she gets angry.
Gohan takes quite a verbal lashing from his mother when Chichi protests his decision to go with Bulma to Planet Namek. But he is not dissuaded from his mission, even when Chichi tells him to stop trying to act like an adult. Gohan simply unwraps his bandages, and tells his mother that he is going. It is easy to stand up to enemies but it’s a different matter to stand up to people you love.
Badass Moment #6: When He Survives Piccolo’s Savage Training Regimen
I always have had a soft spot for the relationship between Piccolo and Gohan. It is endearing to see the gruff, “big green Uncle” Piccolo become a mentor, and to a certain extent, father –figure, to the son of his one-time enemy. Theirs is a relationship that is born out of necessity to prepare for the arrival of the Saiyan invasion of Earth that began with Raditz, but it is nurtured out of mutual respect – and I would like to believe, fondness – for each other.
But back to the whole badass thread. Piccolo’s training regimen was purposely brutal in order to unlock the young Gohan’s tremendous power. Piccolo hurls him at a mountain on the very first day. Does Gohan cower and cry in fear? Yes. But he also destroys an entire mountain in the process, so Piccolo may actually be on to something.
That Gohan was just a child during the training, and he comes out of it on whole new level (and less of a crybaby), is a testament to how tough and strong he really is.
That, and Piccolo is straight-up savage.
Badass Moment #5: When He Tells Majin Buu What’s Up
No buts, no coconuts. Just pure hubris, and arguably the most badass line in the series.
Of course, arrogance has always been one of Gohan’s character faults. But in this context, you can’t help but be awestruck at the person – the hero figure – he has become. Here, we see a culmination of sorts of his journey. Gohan is no longer that whiny child with anger issues and uncontrolled bursts of power. He is supremely confident, and at ease with his power as he dons the mantle of hero and leader with haughty poise.
He pays for his arrogance later, but does it matter? This line struck a chord in many a fan’s heart as it captures the swagger and bravado of the entire Dragon Ball universe. What is the use of having awesome powers if you aren’t able to show it off, right?
This line is also something that fans keep on requesting Gohan’s English voice actor, Kyle Hebert, to do. And apparently, it is Hebert’s favorite line, too!
Badass Moment #4: When He Treats The Cell Juniors Like Mosquitoes.
This is Gohan at his most brutal.
Gohan obliterates the Cell Juniors in so many magnificent kinds of attack – let us count the ways. He boxes and kicks a couple of Cell Juniors, and breaks them in half. He beheads another with a powerful right hook. He pummels another through two mountains before crushing it to oblivion.
And all these happen with the most kick-ass background music since Charles Bronson played the harmonica in the opening sequence of Once Upon A Time in the West.
Badass Moment #3: When He Reaches Super Saiyan Level 2
An angry Gohan is a dangerous Gohan. Early on, the Dragon Ball series hints at Gohan’s immense power, one that is always just lurking below a simmering surface waiting to let loose. Cell witnessed this first hand when Gohan’s anger at the brutal execution of Android 16 sets off his transformation to Super Saiyan Level 2.
This moment, however, reflects more on the depth of Gohan’s compassion and humanity than on the tremendous power granted to him by his lineage. His compassion in this scene runs deep, and here we see one of the defining characteristics of Gohan – and possibly, the most powerful weapon in his arsenal: he cares too much.
It also gives us great insight into Gohan’s personality. Android 16 tells him “it is not a sin to fight for the right cause”, Gohan, by nature, is a gentle person who dislikes fighting and hurting others. It is also precisely due to his nature to care deeply and ‘cherish life’ that he is compelled to fight.
This moment is a turning point for Gohan because this is where he accepts the melding of who he is as a person and his desire to uphold his duty as a protector of earth. Gohan shoulders a responsibility that he does not want, but must, nevertheless, take on. This makes his transformation here more powerful.
So when he does what Android 16 tells him – and drops his restraints and transforms to Super Saiyan 2 – it is all the more glorious. He is able to withstand Cell’s beat downs and gives him a run for his money.
Badass Moment #2: When He Makes Cell Vomit Android 18
There are a lot of awesome moments in the Gohan versus Cell saga, but this one is particularly memorable because it straddles the line between genius and crazy ass weird. Gohan does not get any more badass than when he drops a kick on Cell, a kick that is so powerful that it forces Cell to actually cough Android 18 back out! This causes Cell to regress into one of his earlier forms.
This moment is truly impressive because it forces you to focus on Gohan’s physicality, and the lethal efficiency by which he disposes of enemies. Trained by the very best, Gohan is in tip-top shape. Add to this the gifts and powers of his Saiyan nature, it’s no wonder he would become one of Earth’s greatest warriors.
Gohan’s move disgruntles Cell so much that he later says that Gohan is not a boy, but a monster. When the guy who drinks people calls you the monster, you know you’re a badass for all seasons.
Badass Moment #1: When He Kills Cell
This is the moment where, for me, Gohan truly emerges as a hero in his own right. Gohan knows he is all that is left to protect Earth, and he is plagued with self-doubts. ‘I’m just a kid’, Gohan tells his father. Everyone else is exhausted, and it’s a do or die moment.
And under that immense amount of pressure, Gohan sucks it up and pushes through. Nursing a broken arm, he does a one-handed Kamehameha with the spirit of Goku urging him on. He draws in on his emotions, on his powerful drive to defend and protect. Backed by top-notched visuals and animations, this has become one of the most iconic moments of the Dragon Ball franchise.
This was not just about Gohan defeating Cell with an awesome energy blast. It is about him facing his doubts and demons, and emerging victorious.
Gohan is badass in many ways. He has powers that defy comprehension. He brings depth and emotional traction to his development as a warrior, a hero, and a leader. We see him, time and again, demonstrate a willingness to sacrifice his own desire and preferences for the greater good. No, Gohan is not a perfect person, but he genuinely tries to be good and to do good. And that is what truly makes him a badass.
Did we miss any moments? Share more in the comments!