As one of the most popular and successful franchises of all time, it's no wonder that Dragon Ball has set the bar for Shonen action anime. With an anime run that spans decades, multiple spinoffs, countless successful movies, and a variety of video games, any other contender would have difficulty competing with the love that Dragon Ball has achieved.
This is never more evident than with the protagonist Goku, as fans watch him grow from a confused child to one of the strongest beings in the universe, able to go toe to toe against divinity. Goku has had his fair share of arcs and adventures, all of which have left him more adored by his fellow characters and watchers alike. He plays the Shonen protagonist so well that almost every other show's protagonist is compared to him.
10 His Ability To Recover
It may seem like an unfair disadvantage to have a race of all-powerful beings who have the ability to get stronger every time they recover from a defeat, but this is one of the reasons Goku becomes the protector of the Universe fans adore.
During his run in Dragon Ball Z, audiences see him take his fair share of beatings, including a heart condition that requires time-travel to fix, but even if he's a little late he always shows up in time to save the day. Not to mention the fact that Senzu Beans exist, which heal people instantly.
9 Dying Means The Writers Can Keep Things Fresh
It sounds rather oxymoronic to say Goku can recover better than other Shonen protagonists but also say that he dies better than any others, but by sheer numbers, this is genuinely the case.
In a world that can bring people back from the dead with a simple wish, the story writers have the ability to kill off the main characters and then bring them back. Goku has died so many times it's actually a point of contention among fans what the actual number is.
8 Abandoning His Family
It's an understandable challenge to try and balance protecting the universe with being a present husband and father, especially with all the dying. Goku is by no means an uncaring father, but there have been many instances of him leaving behind his family in the pursuit of the greater good.
He ditches his family and takes his granddaughter on dangerous space missions in Dragon Ball GT, and throughout all the arcs he barely ever sees his wife and will drop everything at the chance to face an opponent.
7 Causing Collateral Damage
Not many Shonen protagonists can say they've contributed to the destruction of entire planets, and fewer still can say they've managed to blow up the home of a God, killing them in the process. With bigger stakes comes bigger fallout, so it's to be expected that the collateral damage between beings that can literally destroy solar systems will be great.
People say that The Avengers had an issue with dealing with the fallout of their conflicts, but it pales in comparison to the theorized clean-up job needed after a battle with Goku.
With great responsibility comes a great appetite, and Goku sure knows how to put it away. It's become somewhat of a running gag throughout the anime that every time Goku sits down for a meal he manages to eat enough for an army, while the side characters look on in awe at his speed and ferocity. It's lucky that they live in a universe with dinosaurs and giant sea creatures so there's enough meat to sate his perpetual hunger.
One of the things Dragon Ball does extremely well that it gives the heroes a realistic amount of time to train for their upcoming enemies. The Z Fighters had a year between Raditz and Vegeta, and were given a two-year warning by Future Trunks about the Androids.
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Fans get to watch as Goku and the others are going through the pain and practice of improvement, rather than just have it all happen off-screen. Goku gets to train with Gods and a time-dimension where he can train for a year in just24 hours.
4 Powering Up
The most iconic part of the franchise is the transformations; fans have waited agonizingly to get a chance to glimpse the legendary next steps in Goku's journey. Even the villains are given their transformation sequences within the story, which in turn means that the protagonists need to go through another one.
The Super Saiyan forms are the most remarkable of the anime, leading to a multitude of colors, auras, and hairstyles. There are nearly a dozen Super Saiyan levels, and the majority have been reached by Goku.
3 Yelling, A Lot
If the power-ups are that iconic, then it's only reasonable that the screaming that goes along with it is the most recognizable audio of the entire anime. It's so noticeable that it's become somewhat of a meme among fans and critics alike.
It makes sense though. It would be impossible to imagine such a climactic moment of power and strength being shown in silence, and the screaming adds a level of depth that's necessary.
2 Forgiving His Foes
The juxtaposition of a character who exudes strength and power being full of love and care is one of the reasons Goku is the perfect Shonen protagonist. He never believes anybody is beyond redemption and is always willing to give them a chance to do better.
He befriends Piccolo and Vegeta, he gives Frieza a chance to survive, and he even forgives Kid Buu and hopes that he can come back as a good guy to spar one day. Goku never holds a grudge and it's one of the greatest things about his character.
When somebody has died as many times as Goku has, they no longer fear death or leaving anyone behind. Being a martyr is the ultimate selfless act, and no protagonist even comes close to devotion to this craft as Goku. In almost every major arc, he has taken it upon himself to sacrifice his life so that the Universe and his loved ones can continue. He grabbed Raditz, he stayed on Namek with Frieza, and he Instant Transmissioned Cell away from Earth.