The original Dragon Ball manga/anime series followed its protagonist Goku growing up from a young boy to become the strongest man on Earth. Its follow-up series, Dragon Ball Z, also featured Goku's first son Gohan's journey, as he similarly grows up to become one of the strongest warriors in the universe.
But while Goku was always relatively confident in his abilities, Gohan had issues with anxiety and self-doubt that have informed his lengthy character arc throughout the series. Here are Gohan's five most defining moments over the course of the Dragon Ball franchise to date.
The Arrival of Raditz
For the first several years of his life, Gohan was a shy, sheltered boy who was prone to crying easily. Gohan's life changed forever when Goku's evil older brother, Raditz, arrived on Earth and kidnapped Gohan. As Raditz outmatched the combined forces of Goku and Piccolo, Gohan lost his temper and dealt a mighty blow against his long-lost uncle.
As if the trauma of Goku dying wasn't enough, this skirmish revealed that Gohan had untold levels of latent combat power and would lead to Piccolo training the boy to become a formidable fighter in his own right, officially kicking off Dragon Ball Z.
The Fight Against Nappa
Despite training for a full year after Raditz's death to prepare for the coming of his Saiyan superiors Nappa and Vegeta, Gohan was still a largely timid boy when the fateful day arrived. During the opening battle against Nappa, Gohan froze in terror and denied the Z Fighters the help they sorely needed, resulting in several casualties -- including Piccolo.
Piccolo's sacrifice and the deaths of Tien and Chiaotzu led Gohan to realize how important it was for him to overcome his anxiety and stand up to make a difference. It was this moment that informed Gohan for much of his life, including his subsequent time spent on Namek to resurrect the fallen Z Fighters.
The Cell Games
While Gohan was aware of the importance of standing up and overcoming his anxiety, he grew fearful of his own destructive potential as he achieved the Super Saiyan transformation after training with Goku. This came to a head during the Cell Games, with Gohan initially refusing to tap into his full potential against Cell for fear of losing self-control.
This hesitation resulted in the destruction of Android 16 and, as Gohan did indeed lose control to the raw fury of the Super Saiyan 2 transformation, Goku was forced to sacrifice his life to save the Earth too. This moment reminded Gohan not only how important it was for him to step up and act, but to keep his powers in check as he became Earth's new protector after Goku's death.
Starting High School
After seven years of growing up in relative isolation with his mother Chi-Chi and little brother Goten, Gohan decided to go to the city to continue his education at Orange Star High School. On his very first day at school, Gohan meets his future wife Videl and decides to put his fighting skills to good use as the superhero Great Saiyaman.
While Gohan may not have kept up with his training in the ensuing years after the Cell Games, he was still able to make a difference in society while also meeting the classmate who would become his ally, wife and eventual mother of his daughter Pan -- all in a single day that would quietly shape the rest of his life.
While Gohan had lost his fighting spirit after the Cell Games, the Elder Kai helped him realize his full potential after the teenager freed the godly figure from imprisonment inside the legendary Z Sword. After a lengthy ritual, Elder Kai awakened Gohan's latent powers just in time for the young warrior to return to Earth for a confrontation against Super Buu.
The resulting Mystic transformation made Gohan unlike any other Saiyan. In the sequel anime series Dragon Ball Super, Gohan even confirms that he intended to explore this transformation's full possibilities as he was reminded of the importance of fighting after his self-imposed retirement in the wake of Pan's birth.