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Being one of the most succesful manga and anime of all time, Dragon Ball is full of memorable moments that have made history, not only in its medium, or even its home country, but in global popular culture as a whole.

General

  • Any time an Eternal Dragon - Shenron, Porunga, Super Shenron, etc - is summoned.
  • The final group shots in every opening themes, though the ones from Z are the most popular (particularly the second).

Dragon Ball

Emperor Pilaf Saga

  • Goku catching a giant fish. This is the introduction with the main character, and the rest, as they say, is history.
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  • Bulma and Goku meeting for the first time.
  • Goku removing Bulma's underwear and screaming that her balls are gone.
  • The infamous scene where Bulma (unknowingly) flashes Master Roshi in exchange for a Dragon Ball.
  • Master Roshi using a Kamehameha wave to blow away the fire on Frying Pan Mountain.
  • Goku's first Kamehameha, which destroys the group's car.
  • Goku's transformation into a giant ape for the first time on-screen.

21st World Martial Arts Tournament Saga

  • The milk delivery training, and Roshi motivating Goku to continue by telling a story about his beloved Grandpa doing it himself.
  • Krillin standing up to the Orin Temple bullies and kicking one through a wall with his first attack completely by accident.
  • Krillin defeating Bacterian when Goku reminds him that he has no nose.
  • Goku vs. Jackie Chun (aka Master Roshi in disguise), especially the last part that ended with a double KO.
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  • Another standout moment is Goku using his tail like a helicopter to stay off the ground when Jackie Chun throws him out of the ring. Some of the fighting games have referenced it, mostly so Kid Goku can fly in battle like some of the other playable characters (most of whom are from Z).

Red Ribbon Army Saga

  • Goku departing Jingle Village after reuniting with Kinto'un. Either in Japanese for playing The Son Goku Song, or the dub for summing up what makes the Red Ribbon Army arc so special.
  • General Blue vs. Arale, as well as visiting Penguin Village in general.
  • Tao Pai-Pai killing Bora, Upa's father.
  • Goku climbing up Korin Tower, and getting the divine water at the top.
  • Goku's rematch with Mercenary Tao.
  • Goku being reunited with his grandfather, Son Gohan.
  • The Blue Wanderers scene where Goku and Upa have fun on the way back to resurrect Bora.
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22nd World Martial Arts Tournament Saga

  • Tien breaking Yamcha's leg.
  • Goku's fight with Krillin. One of the most emotionally charged fights up to this point.
  • Tien growing two extra arms with his Four Witches Technique, and Goku moving his own arms fast enough to create the illusion of pulling off the technique.
  • Tien refusing to kill Goku in the finals, and later how the winner of the match is decided.

King Piccolo Saga

  • Krillin's death, particularly the "breaking glass" moment and Goku sprinting back to the tournament grounds in the anime. In Japan, this moment was a HUGE deal in popular culture when it debuted in the manga. Not only that, many people consider this moment to be a turning point in the entire franchise, since the tone of the series gets progressively more serious, and even darker.
  • King Piccolo kills Shenron after getting his youth restored.
  • King Piccolo blowing up Central City to eliminate Goku, complete with Hiroshima overtones.
  • Goku launching himself in the air with a single-arm Kamehameha, flying straight through King Piccolo's chest.

Piccolo Jr. Saga

  • The first time Goku is shown as an adult, removing the turban around his head to reveal his signature hairdo. This is yet another turning point, not only for the series, but for the Shōnen (Demographic) as a whole. Having the kid hero growing up and officially becoming an adult was just not commonplace back then, and this move by Toriyama was a complete game changer.
  • Tien utterly humiliating Cyborg Tao whilst feeling sorry for him the whole time.
  • Goku agreeing to marry Chi-Chi during their tournament match, humourously not entirely understanding the situation.
  • Goku's battle with Piccolo Jr, and Goku winning despite having all of his limbs disabled. Just like the last time.

Dragon Ball Z

Saiyan Saga

  • Goku arriving in Kame House and presenting his son, Gohan, to his friends. If Goku becoming an adult was already a big event, him having his own offspring was one arguably just as big.
  • Raditz explaining Goku's Saiyan heritage. While for English-speaking audiences, this was more learning the main character's back story, for Japanese and other audiences that where with the franchise from the beginning, this was a MASSIVE plot twist, in which the franchise would never be the same ever again.
  • Gohan bursting out of the Saiyan space pod he was being held prisoner in and attacking Raditz to defend his father.
  • Piccolo shooting his Makangosappo/Special Beam Cannon at Raditz while Goku holds him from behind.
  • Goku running on Snake Way, in both going to King Kai's planet and coming back from it.
  • Goku's training with King Kai, specifically making him laugh with corny jokes in order to be accepted as his student, then having to catch his pet monkey Bubbles and bonk Gregory the cricket on the head with a mallet.
  • Piccolo destroying the moon to undo Gohan's ape transformation (just like Master Roshi had to do with Goku).
  • Unfortunately for Yamcha, his death at the hands of the Saibaman is what fans best remember about him.
  • Nappa mutilating Tien's left arm with a ki-charged punch.
  • Chaotzu's attempt at defeating Nappa by blowing himself up, which ends up being a Senseless Sacrifice.
  • Tien using the Kikoho/Tri-Beam with his remaining hand in a valiant but futile Taking You with Me attempt against Nappa.
  • Piccolo sacrificing himself to save Gohan from Nappa's death-dealing blow (the Bomber DX in the dub).
  • In the dub, when Vegeta realizes that Goku's power level is over 9000.
  • Nappa getting utterly curb-stomped by Goku upon his return from King Kai's training. Specially the moment Goku uses the Kaio-Ken for the first time.
  • Vegeta tossing Nappa into the air and blowing him to smithereens.
  • Goku and Vegeta's entire fight as a whole. Starting with their initial poses, which doubles as the Signature Shot of the entire arc, up to the end, with both combatants completely beaten. Not only that, but this battle would become the beginning of one of the most iconic rivalries in Japanese media history.
  • Goku's Kamehameha vs Vegeta's Gallick Gun, arguably the most iconic Beam-O-War in the entire franchise. Specially worth noting is that losing this duel is when Vegeta begrudgingly realizes that Kakarot is actually his equal, which is the biggest hit his pride had taking up to that point.
  • Vegeta transformation into a Great Ape and Goku realizing the identity of the monster that killed his grandfather...
  • Yajirobe cutting Vegeta's tail.
  • Goku stopping Krillin from killing Vegeta so the Saiyan prince could fight him again.

Namek Saga

  • Bulma and the Crabs, but not for good reasons.
  • Frieza's first appearance, where he cruelly interrogates the last members of a Namekian village to get a Dragon Ball. The entire sequence is arguably the best Establishing Character Moment of a villain in all of Dragon Ball, which contributed to Frieza's iconic status as a whole.
  • Krillin blinding Dodoria with the Taiyoken/Solar Flare, giving him and Gohan an opening to hide and escape with Dende.
  • Zarbon's transformation and later beatdown to Vegeta, which becomes a preview to what's to come later on with Frieza.
  • Krillin meeting the Namekian Great Elder, and having his latent power awaken.
  • Vegeta bumping into Gohan after he's returning with Vegeta's stolen Dragon Ball.
  • Vegeta furiously flying to the place he found Krillin and Bulma, after realizing that Gohan had managed to find the four-star Dragon Ball he had hidden at the bottom of a lake.
  • The arrival of the Ginyu Force and their introduction scene.
  • Goku's arrival to Namek, saving his friends in the nick of time.
  • All of Frieza's transformations, specially the one where he shows his true final form.
  • Krilin being impaled by Frieza's horn, which is later evened out by Krilin cutting Frieza's tail off with his Kienzan/Destructo Disk.
  • Piccolo fusing with Nail after being wished back to life in Namek.
  • Vegeta's futile battle with Frieza, culminating in Frieza's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Frieza shooting Vegeta in the heart, culminating in his tearful story and his entire death scene in general, with Goku holding a Meaningful Funeral for his old foe and giving him a decent burial.
  • Krillin's (second) death, this time at the hands of Frieza.
  • Goku's first transformation into a Super Saiyan after Frieza pushes him too far in his cruelty by murdering Krillin in cold blood, with no (known at the time) way to bring him back to life. The Irony that befalls Frieza (because of Frieza, mind you) is but one of the reasons why people remember it so fondly. This is, not only THE Signature Scene of the entire saga, not only probably THE Signature Scene of the entire Dragon Ball franchise, but arguably THE Signature Scene of the entire Battle Shonen genre. The influence this transformation has had in popular culture (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse) is literally impossible to overstate.
  • Goku's "World of Cardboard" Speech to Frieza in which he identifies himself as the legendary Super Saiyan (or "the hope of the universe", if you watched the original Funimation English dub... for better of worse).
  • Goku facing off against Frieza while Namek is on the verge of destruction. The fight was so resonant and so iconic that not even the infamously dragged anime adaptation made a dent on its popularity, and it's still the measuring stick that all later fights in the franchise are compared to, even to this day.

Androids Saga

  • Future Trunks totally owning Mecha Frieza and the latter's father, King Cold, in a Curb-Stomp Battle. Arguably, not only the best character introduction, but the best arc beginning in the franchise.
  • Trunks discussing with Goku why he's traveled back in time, as well as revealing his parentage.
  • Goku and Piccolo taking the driving exams in the Filler.
  • Vegeta turning into a Super Saiyan for the first time and completely dominating Android 19.
  • Vegeta's beatdown at the hands of Android 18.
  • Android 18 kissing Krillin in the cheek.
  • Piccolo and Kami fusing together.
  • Piccolo's fight with Android 17, which is frequently acclaimed as one of the most evenly matched fights in the whole franchise.
  • Tien spamming Cell with Kikoho/Tri-Beam so Androids 16 and 18 could escape.
  • Krillin destroying the button that would have destroyed Android 18, having realized his love for her.
  • Cell absorbing Android 18 and reaching his perfect form.
  • Android 16's death.
  • Gohan becoming a Super Saiyan 2, and his beatdown of Cell.
  • Goku's Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the Cell Games.
  • The Father-Son Kamehameha and Gohan and Cell's epic Beam-O-War at the climax of the Cell Games. While the Goku and Vegeta's beam struggle is more iconic (and not by much), this is sure the most epic and emotionally charged in all of Dragon Ball. Bonus points for the image of Goku appearing behind Gohan, joining in the Kamehameha pose, which doubles as a Signature Shot.
  • Goku saying good-bye to his friends after choosing to remain dead to not bring more danger to Earth. Particularly the image of Goku appearing in the sky, waving with a huge, dorky, but sincere smile on his face.

Majin Buu Saga

  • Any time Gohan does a funny pose as the Great Saiyaman.
  • Gohan accidentally revealing his physical peak in a baseball game during P.E. class.
  • Gohan and Goten's training in the mountains, particularly Gohan's shocked reaction of seeing Goten easily transforming into a Super Saiyan.
  • Trunks also easily transforming into a Super Saiyan in front of a shocked Vegeta, who comments on it with the (in)famous line about "a Super Saiyan bargain sale".
  • Goku meeting his son Goten for the first time.
  • Trunks and Goten's fight in the Kids division finals.
  • Videl's beatdown at the hands of Spopovich; remembered for just how brutal it is.
  • Dabura spitting at Piccolo and Krillin and turning them into stones. This is actually for the wrong reasons, as this moment is cited by many as the one where Piccolo oficially loses his relevancy as a character.
  • Vegeta blowing up the grandstands at the Tournament arena.
  • The extended anime fight between Goku and Vegeta.
  • Vegeta hugging Trunks for the first time since he was a baby, after deciding to give up his life to stop Majin Buu. Many consider this to be THE biggest Tear Jerker moment in the entire franchise.
  • Vegeta sacrificing his life to kill Majin Buu.
  • Goku transforming into a Super Saiyan 3.
  • Goku hugging Goten before going back to the Afterlife, with the little boy barely able to hold back his tears. Many consider this to be Goku's sweetest moment, specially as an adult.
  • Super Buu's Genocide Blast
  • The Fusion Dance between Trunks and Goten.
  • Gohan unlocking his hidden potential after Elder Kai finishes the ritual.
  • Goku and Vegeta fusing using the Potara earrings. Vegito's first appearance doubles as a Signature Shot.
  • Vegito vs. Super Buu, especially after Vegito gets turned into coffee candy.
  • Kid Buu destroying earth with one of the most terrifying grins in the series
  • Goku collecting energies for the Spirit Bomb and the appearances of characters from the original series.
  • Goku throwing a giant Spirit Bomb to finish off Kid Buu. Particularly the moment the Namekian Dragon Balls give him his strength back, allowing him to transform into a Super Saiyan 1 to seal the deal.

Dragon Ball GT

Black Star Dragon Ball Saga

  • Vegeta shaving off his mustache, and the flashback that reveals his motivations as to why.

Baby Saga

  • Goku turning into a Golden Great Ape and then becoming a Super Saiyan 4.
  • Baby turning into a Golden Great Ape to fight Super Saiyan 4 Goku.
  • Piccolo staying on Earth and dying to seal the Black Star Dragon Balls.

Super 17 Saga

  • Goku using his Dragon Fist to kill Super 17.

Shadow Dragon Saga

  • Vegeta becoming a Super Saiyan 4.
  • Gogeta vs. Omega Shenron, for the sheer utter mud stomp it was.
  • Goku killing Omega Shenron with an Universal Spirit Bomb and then flying off with Shenron before saying goodbye to all his friends and family.

Dragon Ball Super

Battle of Gods Saga

  • The Super Saiyan God ritual, which many preferred over the version in Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods.
  • Beerus and Super Saiyan God Goku nearly destroying the universe during their battle.

Resurrection of Frieza Saga

Champa Saga

  • Goku and Piccolo losing to Frost, where it is revealed that Frost cheated during the match, and Vegeta One-Hit KO-ing him later.
  • Vegeta's fight against Cabba.
  • The entirety of the Goku's fight against Hit, especially when Goku uses the Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan/Kaio-Ken combination..
  • The summoning of Super Shenron, putting him up there with his counterparts Shenron and Porunga.

Future Trunks Saga

  • Goku Black being seen for the first time outside of his shadow form.
  • Future Zamasu. standing next to Super Saiyan Rosé Goku Black for the first time.
  • Goku Black and Future Zamasu using Potara Fusion to form Fused Zamasu.
  • Vegeta and Future Trunks's Father-Son Galick Gun vs. Fused Zamasu's Holy Wrath followed by the latter vs. Goku's Kamehameha.
  • The return of Vegito as a Super Saiyan Blue and Future Trunks slicing Fused Zamasu in half with his spirit sword.
  • Zeno destroying the Multiverse to render Zamasu Deader Than Dead.
  • For the manga, Goku using the Hakai on Zamasu.

Breather arcs

  • Hit killing Goku. Thank goodness it was temporary.
  • Krillin training with Master Roshi and Goku.

Universe Survival Saga

  • The declaration of the Universal Tournament., and the news that losing universes are promptly erased.
  • The exhibition match between Universe 9 and Universe 7, with Majin Buu vs Basil, Gohan vs Lavender, and Goku vs Toppo.
  • The return of Android 17, and his clash with Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Goku.
  • Gohan re-unlocking his Ultimate Form again while training with Piccolo, and his fight with Goku.
  • Majin Buu sleeps out of the tournament, and Goku recruits FRIEZA as their 10th member.
  • Cauiflia becoming Super Saiyan, thus becoming the first female Super Saiyan in canon. Likewise, Kale going Super Saiyan as well, and later Legendary Super Saiyan.
  • The beginning of the Universal Tournament.
  • The elimination of Universe 9.
  • Krillin's elimination.
  • One thing people remember about the Roshi-centric episode of the Universe Survival Saga?, The Greatest, Most Powerful Kamehameha, and everything that built up to it. It's so awesome that it gained Roshi Beerus' respect.
  • Frieza teams up with Frost and betrays Universe 7... except it was all an act, and Frieza backstabs Frost instead. Then Zeno eliminates Frost for attempting to cheat.
  • Goku facing off against Jiren, complete with a Spirit Bomb, ending with Jiren using it to nearly kill him.
  • JIREN. VS. ULTRA. INSTINCT. GOKU.
  • Hit vs Jiren. The entirety of it.
  • Kefla is born.
  • Kefla vs. Ultra Instinct Goku, especially the latter using a point blank Kamehameha to eliminate the former.
  • The U6 Namekians' Last Stand against Universe 7.
  • Universe 6 and Universe 2 getting dropped at the same time.
  • Kochiarator vs Goku and Vegeta.
  • Aniraza vs the entire Universe 7, with special mention to trying to destroy the entire ring, and the Beam-O-War between all six combatants.
  • Jiren tanking Vegeta's ultimate Final Flash.
  • Vegeta breaking his innermost limits against Jiren.
  • God of Destruction Toppo.
  • Vegeta going "Final Explosion" to eliminate Toppo, and lives.
  • Android 17's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The Mastery of Ultra Instinct by Goku, emanating an otherworldly aura. Clad in a bright silver-white light, Goku easily bats the previously nigh-unbeatable Jiren around like a ragdoll and crushes his power impact with ease. All surviving Gods of Destruction (even Belmod) stand up show awe and respect while Beerus and Whis muse proudly on Goku's achievement, with the camera panning over his angelic form and silver hair.
  • Goku curb-stomping Jiren, with Jiren's epic Freak Out resulting in his attempt to kill all the U7 participants.
  • Goku's Ultra Instinct running out, with Jiren nearly eliminating Goku before he's saved by Frieza, and Android 17 surviving his own Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The elimination of Jiren in episode 131. Out of options, Goku, Frieza and 17 launch one final combined assault, with the former two fighting the Pride Trooper up close whilst 17 provides ranged assistance - ultimately Goku and Frieza drag him down together, leaving 17 the winner.

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