10 Dragon Ball characters who have grown weaker over time

Artwork featuring characters from the original Dragon Ball series. (Image via ListFist.com)
Artwork featuring characters from the original Dragon Ball series. (Image via ListFist.com)

Dragon Ball is a very interesting series in terms of the longevity of character’s relevance. Being a fighting series foundationally, one could argue a character’s relevance depends entirely on their ability to fight opponents.

Yet, as the series evolved and the opponents and protagonists became stronger and stronger, some characters just became less relevant to the series’ core plot points. While some of these characters do have highlights after their initial irrelevance, most are pushed to the wayside and kept there.

Here are 10 Dragon Ball characters who have grown weaker over time.

Note: This article reflects the writer's opinion and contains some spoilers.

These 10 Dragon Ball characters have grown weaker and as a result, more irrelevant as the series’ continues its seemingly infinite addition of powerups

1) Chiaotzu


Chiaotzu is a quintessential example of Dragon Ball characters who became weaker and more irrelevant over time. In the original Dragon Ball series, Chiaotzu was a fairly strong individual and a formidable opponent when paired with Tien Shinhan.

Yet by the time Dragon Ball Z and the Saiyan arc roll around, Chiaotzu’s main attack isn't that impressive. Furthermore, this attempt proved to be absolutely pointless, as it barely damaged Nappa, the target of the attack.

2) Yamcha


Yamcha is another key example of how Dragon Ball characters can so easily become irrelevant as the series marches forward. One could even argue Yamcha is a better example of this than Chiaotzu.

Yamcha was a formidable antagonist for Goku upon his initial introduction, yet suffers from a similar fate as Chiaotzu does in later series entries. In the Saiyan arc, Yamcha goes down before Chiaotzu does, not even getting a chance to attack either Nappa or Vegeta before his defeat and death.

3) Tien Shinhan


Tien is a particularly interesting case. While certainly not as relevant as his debut in the original Dragon Ball series, Tien does have some great moments through Dragon Ball Z and beyond. Delaying Cell is a fan-favorite moment of the character for most viewers, and his contributions to Super’s Tournament of Power are arguably greater than Krillin’s.

Unfortunately, when following the Dragon Ball franchise’s typical arc structure, Tien just doesn’t fit in anymore. With Ultra Instinct and Ultra Ego being the new kids on the block, there’s really not a level Tien can attain which can make him truly relevant and powerful.

4) Piccolo


Piccolo is stronger than most others on this list, yet unfortunately his power is also somewhat weak and irrelevant in the later Dragon Ball incarnations. By the time Perfect Cell rolls around, Piccolo really isn’t good for much more than a distraction or someone who can buy time.

While he does find a home during the Tournament of Power, this is a large-scale battle in which opponents of varying skill and strength can be found. Like Tien Shinhan, Piccolo just doesn’t have a home in the prototypical Dragon Ball story arc anymore.

5) Krillin


While still a great tournament fighter as demonstrated in Dragon Ball Super, Krillin’s inability to be relevant in a standard Dragon Ball story arc is his Achilles heel. Krillin is still exceptionally strong for a normal human, and likely one of the strongest humans currently in Dragon Ball. Yet unfortunately, with no Super Saiyan level transformations, he’s still one of the characters who grows weak and irrelevant over time.

6) Gohan


Gohan is, like Piccolo, a very particular and interesting case. As a teenager, Gohan was the first Saiyan to unlock the true Super Saiyan 2 form. With it, he was able to beat Perfect Cell, who even Goku felt was too strong for him to handle.

Yet as a young adult, Gohan’s priorities shifted from fighting to schoolwork and as a result he’s no longer the powerhouse he once was. While his Potential Unleashed powerup allows him to fight Super Buu during the Buu saga, he still loses at the pink menace’s hands. The powerup is even less relevant in Dragon Ball Super, with even Future Trunks commenting how much weaker Gohan is now than as a teenager.

7) Master Roshi


While the Turtle Hermit still has some tricks up his sleeve, Master Roshi simply can’t keep up in a one-on-one Dragon Ball fight anymore. In a tournament style setting like the Tournament of Power, he can find opportunities to get work done and contribute relevantly. Yet in a standard Dragon Ball arc and fight, Master Roshi is good for little more than comic relief and moral support.

8) Frieza


Debuting during Dragon Ball Z’s Namek saga, Frieza was the most terrifying villain in Dragon Ball yet, upon his initial appearance. Providing a level combination of power, sadism, and ambition not yet seen, the character was truly unnerving for both characters and viewers to encounter.

With Goku’s turning Super Saiyan and subsequent mastery of its successive forms, Frieza’s power slowly became less relevant. Even after receiving the Golden Frieza powerup in Dragon Ball Super, it’s shown Super Saiyan Blue is an easy and powerful counter to the galactic tyrant’s new form. While still arguably the strongest person on this list, Frieza’s power has certainly grown weaker from a relative standpoint.

9) Majin Buu


Majin Buu, like Frieza, is a villain who truly raised the bar during his debut in terms of power and creepiness. Happily turning humans to chocolate and eating them, Buu also boasted enough power to keep Super Saiyan 3 Goku occupied and at times on the defensive due to Buu’s incredible survivability and stamina.

Yet this Majin Buu eventually loses to an alternate, evil form of himself and is eaten by this alter ego. This leads to the creation of Super Buu and eventually Kid Buu, both of which put the current Dragon Ball Super character Majin Buu to shame in terms of strength. As a result, Majin Buu is yet another character who has grown weaker and more irrelevant over time.

10) Androids 17 and 18


Although technically two characters, Androids 17 and 18 both have the same power source for their energy. As a result, their progression and relevance can be analyzed as one and the same. While both androids make several great plays during the Tournament of Power, neither of them can really go one-on-one with any current or future Dragon Ball characters.

Android 17 was able to hang in until the end with Goku and Frieza to beat Jiren, but he certainly wasn’t going to beat Jiren one-on-one. During their debut, the two and their limitless power and energy sources made for some of the most challenging enemies yet. However, with the introduction of God Ki and all the powerups that followed, their relevance and power has slowly diminished into a weak nothingness.