Goku’s Transformations in Dragon Ball: From Super Saiyan to Ultra Instinct

Image by Edgar Romero from Pixabay

Goku, the main protagonist of the legendary Dragon Ball franchise, has been a long road from being just an exceptionally strong child to a savior of Earth and even of the Universe. Goku always fights for justice and to protect the innocent, although he also has an unquenchable desire to become stronger and challenge powerful opponents.

Throughout the Dragon Ball franchise, Goku has obtained several transformations, and each and every one of them has its own charm. It’s interesting to keep in mind that during the very first Dragon Ball series that followed the adventures of Goku as a child and until he became a teenager, our hero didn’t have any transformations. But that drastically changed in Dragon Ball Z, the series that presented Goku’s adventures as an adult.


Goku learned the Kaioken technique when he was training under King Kai’s command during the Saiyan Saga of Dragon Ball Z. This transformation allowed the beloved Saiyan to multiply his basic power level and gave him a red aura. However, despite the efficiency of Kaioken, Goku hasn’t been using this transformation in all of Dragon Ball Z once he became a Super Saiyan. Goku only went Kaioken during the Saiyan Saga and Frieza Saga, although he has used it again in Dragon Ball Super while combining it with the power of Super Saiyan Blue.

Super Saiyan

Goku became a Super Saiyan during the Frieza Saga of Dragon Ball Z when our hero fought against the evil intergalactic overlord who annihilated over 99% of the Saiyan race. There were hints in the anime that the Super Saiyan transformation was coming, but nobody knew exactly what it looked like until it happened. The Super Saiyan form gives the user blonde hair, blue eyes, and a shiny yellow aura of massive energy surrounding him.

Pushed into a corner with no way out and seeing his best friend Krillin getting killed by Frieza, while not even the Spirit Bomb had what it was needed to defeat the evil alien, Goku activated his Super Saiyan transformation for the first time. Frieza was clearly outmatched in the fight by an opponent who he never stopped mocking.

Super Saiyan 2

It’s interesting that the first character who achieved the Super Saiyan 2 transformation in Dragon Ball was not Goku, but his son, Gohan. It happened during the Cell Saga when Gohan unleashed his hidden powers after a long struggle. Goku’s son became Super Saiyan 2, a level that made his Super Saiyan hair stay even higher and added some blue thunder to his yellow aura. Otherwise, Super Saiyan 2 looks just like Super Saiyan, but it’s a lot stronger. Although Cell had the upper hand against the regular Super Saiyan Gohan, the biological android created by Dr. Gero looked like a toddler in the face of Gohan’s new Super Saiyan 2 transformation.

Later on in the show, Goku also proved to be able to go Super Saiyan 2 during the Majin Buu Saga, when he fought a Vegeta controlled by the evil wizard Babidi.

Super Saiyan 3

Goku’s Super Saiyan 3 transformation took us all by surprise when it happened during the Majin Buu Saga of Dragon Ball Z, when Goku received a one-day parole from Baba to come back from the dead. The beloved Saiyan has continued his training in the afterlife, and now he has shown that he is once again far stronger than any other of the Z warriors. The Super Saiyan 3 transformation assures Goku a rockstar appearance, as his hair grows three times more. Goku has no eyebrows in this state, while his power level is, of course, way higher than a Super Saiyan 2 could ever handle.

Super Saiyan God

The Super Saiyan God transformation was introduced in the 2013 movie “Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods,” where the Z warriors had to face a more powerful opponent than ever before: Lord Beerus, the God of Destruction. While nobody was able to go toe-to-toe with Beerus, it rapidly became clear that Goku needed to do something completely new. The Z warriors heard about the Super Saiyan God transformation, and they asked the Eternal Dragon Shenron how to perform it. The Dragon told them that five pure-blooded and kind-hearted Saiyans needed to join forces in order to create the transformation. They put Shenron’s tip into action, and yes, Vegeta qualified for the role, as he hasn’t done bad things in the recent past. Thus, Super Saiyan God Goku was born, and he became able to be a threat to Lord Beerus.

Super Saiyan Blue (initially known as Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan)

Both Goku and Vegeta achieved the Super Saiyan Blue transformation (which was initially called Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan) back in the 2015 movie “Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F,” when they had to battle Frieza once again, who came to Earth looking for his revenge. Frieza has been revived by his soldiers using the dragon balls, and he is stronger than ever. On the other hand, Goku and Vegeta achieved their new form after training under the command of Whis, the angel of Lord Beerus. This new form also granted godly powers to the two beloved pure-blooded Saiyans. Their hair turned blue, while they were also surrounded by a blue aura. Their power level couldn’t be sensed by their opponents, which is a feature of what is known as “godly ki” in Dragon Ball.

The new Super Saiyan Blue transformation was heavily popularized in the Dragon Ball Super anime, as Goku used it against many opponents, such as Hit, Jiren, Zamasu, Kefla, Android 17, and so on.

Super Saiyan 4

In Dragon Ball GT, we had the Super Saiyan 4 transformations of both Goku and Vegeta, although it needs to be said that only Goku was able to achieve it on his own. This is arguably the most unique transformation in Dragon Ball history, as it represented much more than just a repainting of the hair and aura. Goku and Vegeta had the physical appearance of giant apes in this form, while they harnessed their powers and remained conscious. Super Saiyan 4 is probably hundreds or maybe even thousands of times stronger than Ultra Instinct, while there is a burning debate among fans about whether Super Saiyan 4 is stronger than Super Saiyan Blue or vice versa.

Ultra Instinct

Ultra Instinct is probably Goku’s strongest transformation ever. This form was achieved by the beloved Saiyan during the Tournament of Power from Dragon Ball Super when he fought against Jiren, the strongest opponent in that insane battle royale for the survival of the Universe. This form was hinted at a few times in previous episodes by Whis, as the angel kept talking about being able to fight without thinking too much; instead, the body will react on its own. That’s basically the whole idea behind the Ultra Instinct transformation, as Goku simply acts in the battles without thinking.

Goku remains the only Dragon Ball character who has ever been shown to use Ultra Instinct if we don’t count the fact that Moro managed to steal the technique from him in a future manga chapter that became available much later after the end of the Tournament of Power arc from the Dragon Ball Super anime.

What’s your take on Goku’s transformations throughout the Dragon Ball franchise? Which one is your favorite and why? Feel free to tell us in the comments!


Cristian Antonescu
Cristian is in love with technology, as are many of us. He has a vast experience as a content writer in the field. He's involved especially in the hardware area, where he covers the latest news regarding smartphones, laptops, PC components, and so on.