Dragon Ball Z is the landmark anime series sandwiched between Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT. The anime series was a major player in popularizing the genre in America, and it has reached cult status among some devout DBZ fans. Based on a manga created by Akira Toriyama, the Dragon Ball Z franchise now includes several animated feature films, video games, and other DBZ merchandise. The anime show first captivated audiences in Japan in 1989 before spreading to the U.S. with stints on Cartoon Network (‘98-’03), Nicktoons (‘10-’13), and The CW (‘10-’14). It is now being reintroduced on Adult Swim’s Saturday night Toonami block, the platform where it originally connected with the U.S. audience. It has grown into a cultural staple for an entire generation, and its influence can still be felt now, decades after its initial release.

Dragon Ball Z is built on themes of heroism, redemption, and friendship, following the saiyan Goku and his ever-evolving band of comrades as they protect his adopted world from threats both intergalactic and domestic. His exploits span several sagas comprised of unraveling plot lines. DBZ, though prominently featuring Goku, has an array of characters that function mostly as an ensemble cast such as Yamcha, Goku's one-time nemesis Vegeta, second major villain Cell, one of the youngest Super Saiyans Goten, Broly who is the first Super Saiyan, original Z fighters member Piccolo, and the first Saiyan to go Super Saiyan 2  Gohan, coloring a huge, fictional universe with meticulously constructed personalities. The series’ best characters are the ones developed thoughtfully in relationship to others. They are flawed but also engaging, and their arcs greatly impact the universe as a whole. We have compiled a list ranking the Dragon Ball Z characters, from inconsequential to absolutely essential.