The Dragonball Z series is known for its intense transformations and power-ups. In fact, Goku and his transformations show no slowing down either, with the most recent form being Ultra Instinct.
Goku is known as the main protagonist in the Dragonball Z series, based on Sun Wukong which is a character from the Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. He’s also known for having many similarities with Superman which is quite possibly what makes him one of the strongest characters on Dragon Ball Z to date.
This character possesses superhuman strength and also practices martial arts, which ends up being a lethal and super deadly combination. However, Goku is always transforming and changing into different forms and each form allows him to possess a different strength or different attribute that can help during his fights.
Continue reading to dive into all of Goku’s transformations over the years, listing as many forms as we can think of!
Goku Transformations: List of Forms
This one is the original Saiyan transformation, the Great Ape is limited to whatever race they are, like most entries on this list. The Great Ape is first seen in Dragon Ball, although it’s far more often during the events of Dragon Ball Z because both Gohan and Vegeta are able to turn into a Great Ape. While in this form, the user and his power grow extremely strong, and so does their body size. The downfall is this form also has severe side effects on the fighters’ mental state, because that person can become almost “beast-like” or just plain apeshit.
The Kaio-ken form is introduced pretty early on in Dragon Ball Z, when Goku decided to first use the transformation to go up against Vegeta. The form will multiply his power by a certain amount, and so this is a transformation where multipliers definitely have to be used wisely and taken into account at all times. The most powerful Kaio-ken power-up Goku ever attempted on his own (meaning without Super Saiyan or another transformation or power-up) is 20 times his base form.
This is the most iconic transformation/form in all of Dragon Ball, the Super Saiyan is a transformation exclusive to the Saiyan race. You will be able to spot this form thanks to its bright golden glow, and the spiky yellow hair that the user gets while in this state. Also while Goku powers up, he gains increased speed and power, which is first demonstrated when Goku goes Super Saiyan during episode 95 of Dragon Ball Z, after witnessing the death of his lifelong friend Krillin.
South Kai is the one who names Veku and appears in the movie Fusion Reborn when Vegeta screws up the fusion dance as he and Goku battle Janemba. What should have resulted in the birth of Gogeta ended up creating a short obese man with hardly any skills at all in combat.
Veku is not able to perform techniques that Goku and Vegeta could easily pull off separately, such as flight or even a “ki blast”. He resorts to running away from Janemba, with a move he refers to as the “Rabbit Feet” technique. To be honest, this is probably one of the most useless forms of Goku’s and sometimes I wonder why they even have this form.
False Super Saiyan
Goku transforms into this split-personality Super Saiyan state near the end of the movie Lord Slug, during his battle with the titular villain. Similar to the Super Saiyan transformation, the False Super Saiyan form emits a golden aura, but Goku keeps his black hair and his eyes gloss over entirely.
In this state he can become a force to reckon with because of the split-personality he obtains during this form. He’s almost hard to follow or understand what his next move is because he can soak in different fighting skills during this form as two different people.
Super Saiyan Rage
Super Saiyan became less important as time went on, due to the prevalence of other forms, which caused predictability to arise when the heroes would use the same forms repeatedly, this would make the shows boring and unable to watch. So to fight this, the writers began allowing Goku, Vegeta and other Saiyans to tap into immense strength during high moments of emotional distress. This energy and outburst would later be called Super Saiyan Rage, or sometimes Super Saiyan Anger.
Super Saiyan 2
Super Saiyan 2 is obviously an upgrade of Super Saiyan, which drastically increases the users strength and speed far beyond what Super Saiyan could ever achieve. While the two are very similar in appearance to the base and core form, Super Saiyan 2 can be easily spotted because of the electricity that arcs around the whole entire body.
Spirit Bomb Absorbed
Although this form doesn’t have a real name, it has been pegged as ‘spirit bomb absorbed Goku’, and there’s a back story to this. At the end of the movie Super Android 13! Goku resorts to using the Spirit Bomb. When the technique is fully charged and ready to go, however, Goku attempts to turn into a Super Saiyan, but passes out due to the imbalance of a pure Spirit Bomb and impure Saiyan heart. Luckily, Goku wakes up to find he has absorbed the attack. Spirit Bomb Absorbed Goku is able to easily destroy Android 13 making Spirit Bomb Absorbed an almost magical superhuman power.
Super Saiyan 3
This is the next evolution of Super Saiyan and Super Saiyan 2, and is most clearly distinguished by the extreme hair growth that is featured with it. Like the forms before it, Super Saiyan 3 radically increases strength and speed, at the expense of energy consumption.
For this reason, it’s rarely used, because even the big and bad Goku can’t maintain this form for long. So while this form has tons of power and speed, it is almost too good to be true because you’ll lose just as much (maybe even more) as you will gain.
The Ascended Super Saiyan, or more commonly known as the Ultra Super Saiyan or Super Saiyan Third Grade, this state recurs through the Android and Cell sagas, although Goku is seen using it for only for a very short and brief moment. Future Trunks is best known for using this form during his fight with Perfect Cell. This transformation increases the user’s muscle mass beyond human capability, which is exactly why Goku and Vegeta (both listed users of this form) never even consider it as something they would want to chance.
Mystic or Ultimate Gohan
Ultimate Gohan (sometimes referred to as Mystic Gohan), doesn’t exactly have a drastic appearance change that is noticeable, which is somewhat helpful against his enemies because it allows Gohan to appear in what is essentially his base form. The lack of flair is made up for by the near infinite potential that Ultimate Gohan has.
This form is given to Gohan after going through oddly specific training with Elder Kai. Once completed, the Elder Kai exclaims that Gohan’s full potential is now unlocked, thus granting him the Ultimate status. This new power allows him to tap into boundless energy, only limited by the amount of training that Gohan puts into it.
The Super Kaio-ken transformation is Goku’s first attempt to combine his Super Saiyan state with the Kaio-ken technique hence the name. This form debuts during the tournament on Other World, which is when Pikkon and Goku fight and face off. Statistically, the Kaio-ken bonus is said to double the power of a Super Saiyan, so Goku should technically have exactly the same power as if he were a Super Saiyan 2. However, there is a difference and that difference is that this form has major setbacks.
The Kais actually gift the Potara Earrings and when they are worn, they will merge the bodies of two people together. The resulting fusion forms a new person who is many times stronger than the two entities could ever hope to be as separate entities. It is basically just a way for two Dragon Ball Z characters to multiply and gain double the strength and knowledge they possess alone.
The first time Vegito was ever brought to life was through the use of these earrings when Goku and Vegeta used them during the Buu Saga.
As we said, Vegito was first seen as the result of Goku and Vegeta using the Potara earrings fusion, during the Buu saga, and this form is suggested to multiply their power levels rather than just to combine them. In his base form, Vegito is more than a match for Super Buu, even when he is Gohan-absorbed and turned into a fighter. This puts him way above and beyond Super Saiyan 3 and is somewhat compatible with Super Saiyan 4.
Super Saiyan 4
This form is not actually made after or from Super Saiyan 3, and instead is more than anything related to the Great Ape form. It’s easily spotted because this form makes the user actually use its tail and grow hair all over their bodies, not just on their head.
Unlike the other Super Saiyan transformations, which can be trained to obtain after you first unlock the base, Super Saiyan. Keep in mind, Super Saiyan 4 has an elaborate series of checks the user must meet in order to achieve it. The most important step first is that the user must be a Great Ape, channeling this Great Ape energy within themselves and focus on their mind and body regaining control over themselves, which will then unlock the Super Saiyan 4.
We think it’s a little out there just to obtain a transformation or new form, but all’s fair in love and war, right?
Golden Great Ape
This form is accomplished when Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan while still being in his Great Ape state. The result is in the name becoming a Golden Great Ape, and the potential multipliers for the Golden Great Ape are sky high and continue to skyrocket as you stay in the form. All we can really know for sure is that Goku, who could have turned Super Saiyan 3 at this point, needed this transformation to overpower Baby. The only problem was that even Goku had trouble controlling its destructive power.
Just another case of destructive power that costs too much to use!
Super Saiyan God
Super Saiyan God is a huge jump ahead in the right direction when it comes to strength and capability. Super Saiyan God doesn’t use normal Ki and is instead charged with Godly Ki, a much stronger power source than most mortals would ever be able to accomplish as Goku can.
Super Saiyan God is most easily recognized by its fiery red glow and the fiery red hair they possess. Much stronger than Super Saiyan 3 or 4 ever thought of being.
Super Saiyan Blue
After super intense training, a fighter can enter the Super Saiyan Blue state. As the name suggests, this powerup is blue, making it easy to see and it stands out far more than the traditional yellow and gold forms and balls of energy.
Super Saiyan Blue has only ever been achieved by Goku and Vegeta, and it’s all thanks to their extensive training with Beerus and Whis which are two of the strongest characters in all of Dragon Ball. This form is used super frequently throughout the entire run of Dragon Ball Super, which has caused Super Saiyan Blue to become the most popular transformation for that series.
Ultra Instinct is the most recent and by far the greatest powerup to be unlocked in Dragon Ball. It looks a little different depending on the state that is acquired, but once a fighter taps into the full Ultra Instinct, an aura of white and blue surrounds them and their hair and eyes both turn grey. It’s also said many times that Ultra Instinct radiates noticeable amounts of heat.
Ultra Instinct is a huge boost to the user’s power and speed, like many other forms, but that’s not its’ primary purpose. Instead, Ultra Instinct is meant to intensely change and strengthen how a warrior fights. It allows them to react instinctually, causing their movements and attacks to happen so fast that almost no one can see them happening, sometimes before even they know it’s about to happen. That is what instinct is about, after all.
Legendary Super Saiyan
This is one of the very few forms that for a long time was exclusive to an enemy. Although it can still be called Super Saiyan, the Legendary upfront means that this isn’t the same as the normal form, and therefore it’s considered a more powerful Super Saiyan form, hence the legendary.
This form can be seen because of the people who use it having a greenish aura around them and usually will have their hair shining green as well.
Goku Transformations: From Bad to Best
# 5 Veku
Veku is known as the “failed fusion transformation” between Goku and Vegito, when they tried to take down Janemba. It’s such a terrible transformation, it’s first and only debut was during the movie “Fusion Reborn”. They hated the transformation so much, it was never used again and we don’t see it coming back anytime soon.
# 4 Great Ape
Probably the most misunderstood form, the Great Ape isn’t all its cracked up to be. While the user does possess superhuman strength during this transformation, it still isn’t one of the top 3 or even top 5 forms that Goku can turn into. And then there is just something about those tails that people really started to despise, making the Great Ape not so popular amongst users.
# 3 Super Saiyan 3
Those beautiful golden locks are meant for something more than beauty which makes Super Saiyan 3 fall right in the middle of the pack when it comes to being the best or the worst transformation. It’s somewhat right down the middle, giving Goku 400x more power than that of Super Saiyan 2 but still not as good as the original Super Saiyan form.
# 2 Ultra Instinct
Ultra Instinct, as said before, is one of the newest forms and transformations today. Debuting in 2018, it has now also doubled as the most bad-ass form of Goku today, besides of course the infamous Super Saiyan (which we will talk about next). The powers are actually in the name, allowing the user to become almost psychic, knowing every move his enemy will make – before his enemy even makes it. This is actually what makes Ultra Instinct so deadly, the fact that nobody knows, not even Goku, what could happen next, it all depends on that instinct.
# 1 Super Saiyan
No list of strong transformations would be complete without listing the Super Saiyan as numero uno! So, what makes this well-known form the best transformation for Goku? While it might not be the most powerful form, it is the most classic of them all and gives Goku his iconic glowing blonde look. While it may only charge Goku up 50% more than his original form, we bet when you think of Goku transformations, Super Saiyan is almost always your number one choice!