One of the most classic and heated debates in all of anime is the general power scaling of characters against Goku from Dragon Ball. In fact, this is so well known the phrase “can they beat Goku though” has become somewhat of a meme in the animanga community.
One of the most heated versions of this debate is Goku vs. Saitama from One Punch Man. Since One Punch Man’s debut fans have been constantly asking- can Saitama from One Punch Man beat Goku. This has gotten to the point where it’s become one of the most recognized power scaling debates in the community.
Assuming each character has access to any and all support tools and forms from their respective universes, the answer to this debate is clear. Can Saitama from One Punch Man beat Goku? Let’s find out.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal opinion.
One Punch Man's Saitama is often hailed as Goku's kryptonite, but does the Caped Baldy really have a chance against everyone's favorite Saiyan?
Base form strength
Since Saitama hasn’t really shown any transformations during the series, it’s only fair to compare the two in their base forms. In this regard, Saitama is clearly the winner here.
Goku can do some amazing things in his base form. In his own universe, base form Goku is still probably one of the strongest characters out there. Yet Saitama oozes strength in his base form, creating thunderclap-like sounds just by clapping his hands to catch a fly.
It’s also worth noting that Goku’s Super Saiyan forms would surely put him on par with the One Punch Man. Unfortunately, since Saitama cannot also elevate his strength into another form, it would be unfair to compare Super Saiyan Goku to base Saitama. In terms of base form strength, Saitama from One Punch man takes home the win against Goku.
Battle IQ is an entirely different story though. Saitama clearly has enough battle IQ to win as often as he does throughout One Punch Man, even in the battles that take more than one punch. However, only having to throw one punch most of the time doesn’t exactly keep one's battle senses and intelligence sharp.
Goku, on the other hand, is always in situations where his battle IQ is being heightened. Nearly every fight we see Goku in, he has to push beyond his limits to overcome his opponent. Always having to be the overcomer ensures one's battle prowess is maintained.
Unfortunately for the One Punch Man, Saitama’s quick work of Dragon Level Threats leaves something to be desired in terms of his battle skill and knowledge. As a result, Goku takes home the gold in the win against Saitama from One Punch Man for best battle IQ.
Unfortunately for Saitama, the One Punch Man also starts this category with a severe disadvantage. Saitama doesn’t really use any support items, but we can call Genos a support item, since the robotic pupil is usually by Saitama’s side. Even so, the items at Goku’s disposal seem almost insurmountable for Saitama.
For one, the Dragon Balls (especially the Super Dragon Balls) can grant their user almost any wish, including immortality. Saitama is strong, but there’s no way he can circumvent immortality with his strength. Goku can also just ask the Dragon Balls for strength relative to Saitama’s. We’ve seen this concept of a wish succeed twice in the current Dragon Ball Super manga arc.
Even beyond that, Goku has a support item which allows him to fly in the Flying Nimbus. Saitama can surely jump to Goku’s height, but he won’t be able to maintain that altitude at all. With Kamehameha’s raining down from above and Saitama unable to consistently engage Goku in battle, it’s clear the One Punch Man will eventually fall.
In the end, we have a clear "serious" answer to the question of can Saitama from One Punch Man beat Goku: no he cannot. While Saitama’s base form strength is much greater than Goku’s, Saitama’s lack of battle IQ and experience would come back to bite him during this fight.
In addition, Goku having the Dragon Balls and an alternate means of flight just tip the scales too far in Goku’s favor. We’ve seen the Dragon Balls used to grant relative strength twice in the Granolah the Survivor arc; surely Goku could do the same and ask to simply be stronger than Saitama.
On the other hand, while seriously comparing Goku and Saitama is all fun and games, there is one major reason why Goku might never really win against Saitama. Goku may have the better battle intelligence and the superior supporting tools, yet Saitama has something Goku never will-- the power of parody.
Being a parody, Saitama is always going to be the one to defeat Goku. Saitama's strength is meant to be so ridiculous it defies all logic; in other words, there's no opponent that he could probably lose against. Therefore, Goku perhaps couldn't ever truly defeat Saitama.