Throughout Dragon Ball, there are many villains and enemies who aren’t always as evil as they seem. One of Goku’s main strengths is seemingly winning over those he triumphs against, bringing them to his side not soon after his victory.
As a result, many of the anime's antagonists end up being much better people than they are initially portrayed. This is especially true in the original Dragon Ball series, where characters like Yamcha were initially introduced as antagonists.
4 antagonists from Dragon Ball who’re pure evil, and four who are inherently good
4 Dragon Ball villains who are pure evil
No matter how many times he learnt his lesson, Frieza could never quite shake that malicious nature of his. If nothing else, he’s at least consistent in his hatred for Saiyans along with the desire to control the universe.
Furthermore, Frieza never gives Goku a break. The former is always stirring up trouble for the franchise's protagonist, even in Dragon Ball Super’s Tournament of Power arc. While the two are allies in that specific fight, Frieza’s heart is still evil and malicious all the way through.
Cell is another Dragon Ball villain whose heart is pure evil. He was created for and given only one purpose in his life, and that is to kill Goku. While Cell tries accomplishing this in a more entertaining and roundabout way than other Androids, he still shoots for the ultimate goal.
Cell is also shown to have a very sadistic side, toying with Gohan and making the teenager watch his friends get battered by Cell Juniors. Clearly the android is pure evil, and may even be the most deplorable villain on this list.
3) Kid Buu
Unlike Majin Buu or Super Buu, who either had positive aspects or seemed to be more sadistic than evil, Kid Buu is pure unadulterated malice. His maniacal laugh and insatiable thirst for destruction make him more than worthy of being on this list.
Upon considering his archaic strength and mysterious origins, Kid Buu is certainly pure evil with no logic. His abilities combined with this thirst for death and destruction make him a truly evil and formidable adversary.
Zamasu is the most evil antagonist in all of Dragon Ball Super. He showed fans his truly evil tendencies in two separate timelines. In one timeline, he plots to kill his master Gowasu and become the only God in an otherwise Godless universe.
In another, Zamasu takes over Goku’s body and kills his family in the process before annihilating the other Z Fighters. No matter which version of Zamasu you take, he’s truly evil incarnate.
4 Dragon Ball villains who have a good heart
Vegeta is arguably the quintessential Dragon Ball villain who turned out to have a good heart. In his initial tenure as a fiend, his goal was to defeat Goku and destroy Earth. Vegeta is also somewhat sadistic at this time, killing his partner Nappa when he falls at Goku’s hands.
Yet just one arc later, he already seems to behave more like an anti-hero than a true villain. His cooperation with Krillin and Gohan certainly proves this, as does his eventual request to Goku to avenge their race. By the time the Android saga begins, Vegeta is a full-fledged Z Fighter and protector of Earth.
When first introduced in Super’s Tournament of Power arc, Jiren quite literally steals the show. His aloof personality, coupled with his mysterious and evident power, presents him as one of the most intriguing antagonists yet.
Even in the Tournament of Power’s closing moments, Jiren continues painting himself as a villain. His attempted attack on Goku’s teammates and friends certainly was a villainous move. Yet once the Tournament is over and everyone is revived, Goku and Jiren shake hands to prove the latter as a kind soul.
When first introduced as an antagonist, Yamcha’s goal is to kidnap Bulma for the Dragon Radar and find the Dragon Balls. While Yamcha was conniving at first, he quickly became a friend of Goku and Bulma’s after his defeat.
As a friend, Yamcha proved to be a valuable ally throughout the original series. While his relevance wanes from the opening arc of DBZ, Yamcha still qualifies as a former villain who turned out to have a good heart.
4) Android 16
Although he may have lacked a literal heart, Android 16 certainly proved to be a truly benevolent soul. 16 was introduced as yet another Red Ribbon Army android obsessed with killing Goku.
As the android experiences life and nature, he begins to see the value of all living things. 16 even eventually abandoned his desire to kill Goku and joined the Z Fighters against Cell to protect all which he had come to love.