Goku Dragon Ball
Image via Toei Animation

How many times has Goku died in ‘Dragon Ball Z?’

He's died numerous times, but just how many?

Perhaps one of the most emblematic anime to have ever aired on television, Dragon Ball influenced the lives of millions of children and teens (who then turned into adults) all over the world. To many, as their first introduction to anime, Dragon Ball quickly became a staple in the world of Shonen that we know today — and the propeller of some of the most epic action scenes to ever exist. 

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At times ending in disaster, Dragon Ball isn’t entirely foreign to character deaths upon an intense battle taking place — and not even its protagonist is safe from that fate. In the course of the manga’s 10-year span, Goku has encountered two deadly matches, but in all the anime adaptations, the number increases significantly, and here’s exactly how many times Goku has died. 

When did Goku die in ‘Dragon Ball Z?’

Image via Toei Animation

Canonically, Goku has officially died two times in the saga, both occurring during intense fighting scenes. The first instance where the audience is met with this heartbreaking outcome occurs during the second major saga in the series — the Saiyan Saga. During this story arc, Goku’s brother Raditz arrived on Earth and revealed the Saiyan’s existence and identity to Goku and his friends, who all belong to this race of powerful warriors. Refusing to join his brother in attempts of conquering other planets, the antagonist kidnaps Goku’s son, giving Goku an ultimatum.

Continuously refusing to join in on his brother’s quest, Goku desperately tries to save Gohan at all costs. In a fierce and intense fight, Goku and Piccolo fought against Raditz, who proved to be a much stronger opponent than they had anticipated. To ensure his defeat, Goku grabbed Raditz, even if it made him vulnerable to Piccolo’s powerful attack, the Special Beam Cannon. This attack killed both Raditz and Goku in the process. 

The second death happened during the fifth saga in the manga, called the Cell Saga. When the android Cell created by Dr. Gero appeared on Earth, seeking revenge on Goku for his role in the Red Ribbon Army’s defeat, the duo partook in a fierce battle against the android threatening the planet’s very existence.

In a last-ditch effort to save the planet, Goku used Instant Transmission to transport himself and Cell to King Kai’s planet, where he used his own self-destruct technique to defeat Cell. Unfortunately, he did not leave unscathed. Managing to kill Cell on this planet, Goku passes away in the blast, albeit he ensured he said his goodbyes telepathically prior to his sacrifice.

Goku’s non-canon deaths

Super Saiyan Goku fights Perfect Cell in 'Dragon Ball Z'
Image via Toei Animation

As previously stated, Goku died and was resurrected twice in the canonical timeline depicted in the original manga by Akira Toriyama. The several animated adaptations of the story, however, opted for a much more creative approach to the power dynamics in Dragon Ball, at times killing Goku even if just temporarily, for the sake of battle. While the specific number of deaths is never fully disclosed, working as a hot topic debated among fans to this day, the protagonist has seen his life at stake with a deadly outcome a few more times in the franchise.

Across all anime adaptations, there were plenty of temporary deaths that only lasted for a few seconds (i.e. when his heart stops beating temporarily against Piccolo, the Demon King, and again fighting against Hit in Dragon Ball Super). Aside from these few instances where Goku’s lifeless body is seen for a few moments, Goku sees his life truly at stake with much harsher outcomes several other times — non-canonically, of course.

Namely, during the Future Trunks arc, when Goku dies in at least two different timelines. First, against Goku Black, albeit it occurred offscreen, and again in an alternate timeline after contracting a heart disease where he passes away. While the latter also occurred in the manga, in the canonical timeline of events in the original story, Goku survived the heart disease upon being treated.

It’s worth noting that many of the times when he dies, briefly or otherwise, each and every single one of these moments have had a lasting impact on the Dragon Ball franchise — canonically or not. His two aforementioned canon deaths proved to be especially meaningful, upon showing his true nature and willingness for his own sacrifice, in favor of saving those around him, and essentially showing the true essence of Dragon Ball.


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Author
Francisca Santos
Passionate about gossip, a dedicated music enthusiast, and an unapologetic weeb, Francisca is a freelance writer at WGTG. When she's not writing, she can be found taking her dog on walks, defending BTS' honor, and re-reading 'One Piece'.