Dragon Ball: Goku and his fear of needles, explained

As shocking as it is, the legendary Saiyan warrior seemingly has a major weakness of his own (Image via Toei Animation)
As shocking as it is, the legendary Saiyan warrior seemingly has a major weakness of his own (Image via Toei Animation)

Without a doubt, Dragon Ball’s Goku is regarded as one of the strongest, bravest, and fiercest combatants not just in all of anime and manga, but in general fiction as well. His countless conquests over the evils of the universe and their attempts to destroy Earth have solidified him as a legendary hero, even for self-proclaimed non-anime fans.

Having faced such mighty and fearsome enemies throughout the various Dragon Ball series and incarnations, one might assume that Goku has almost no fear of anything. At least in battle, he never backs down from a fight, and is seemingly encouraged by the prospect of losing rather than being discouraged by it.

However, Goku is indeed afraid of something, as was shown in one key scene in Dragon Ball Z. Follow along as this article breaks down all evidence for Goku’s fear of needles throughout the franchise, and more.


Goku’s fear of needles throughout Dragon Ball has become a cheap-gag-turned-fan-theory

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The discussion of Goku’s fear of needles stems from and was first discussed during the Namek arc, during the beginning of which a hospitalized Goku is seen being treated by doctors. Upon trying to inject him with medicine, Goku begins yelling and screaming, with even Master Roshi making a joke about needing to train Goku against needles.

Chi-Chi also joins in on the fun here, saying even Gohan didn’t scream this much when he was 4. She also points out the irony in Goku being able to fight life-or-death battles with the earth’s safety on the line, but being unable to take a simple shot which will help him get better.

The Namek arc further propagates this trait later on in the arc, when Vegeta tries to put Goku in a recovery pod. The Earthbound Saiyan sees a hypodermic needle on the floor, and gets alarmed, begging not to be stuck with needles. However, upon being told that the procedure will require no needles whatsoever, he instantly calms down.

This is referenced and further propagated several times in Dragon Ball GT as well, which despite being considered non-canon was still inspired by the various original, canon series. This particularly comes to a head when Goku’s inner psyche is revealed to be plagued by an image of an angry Chi-Chi trying to give him a shot, almost solidifying his fear as canon.

With such readily available references to his fear of needles in the franchise’s various anime and manga series, it's widely considered a canon fact of his character. As a result, it’s somewhat unsurprising that many fan theories on where his fear of needles stems from have since been born.

One of the most popular, and most logical, theories revolves around his upbringing in mountainous, wild areas. Having never gone to the doctor’s office as a child or been in school to learn about medicine and its benefits, he likely never experienced or knew enough getting shots.

This would explain why his first ever visit to a hospital following his fight with Vegeta resulted in such a hilarious, over-the-top presentation of this fear. It would also explain why despite his many encounters with needles and medicine as an adult, this irrational fear maintains itself as a major part of his character.

A more real-life applicable reason is that the Dragon Ball anime showrunners wanted to humanize Goku and make him more relatable to the show’s young audience. With needles being a major fear amongst small children, this would help young viewers relate wholly and truly to Goku.

One final theory, also related to age, is that Goku is simply a child himself, mentally speaking. The Earthbound Saiyan has no regular job, spends his days fighting, and is seemingly carefree even in the most dire of situations. With such a childish mindset in all other areas of his life, it makes sense for a similar attitude to reign supreme when it comes to his fears as well, thereby explaining why he is terrified of needles.

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In any scenario, his general fear of needles is near-inarguable, even if its exact origins, purposes, and influence on his character is up for debate. With Dragon Ball Super having seemingly laid the gag to rest, fans may never get the answers they were looking for on the origin of what seems to be Goku’s only fear.


Follow along for more Dragon Ball anime and manga news, as well as general anime, manga, film, and live-action news as 2022 progresses.