ByAli Murtaza Gulwani, writer at Creators.co
A geeky media student who loves to play with words
Ali Murtaza Gulwani

In 1984 a man named Akira Toriyama created Dragon Ball and the world was never the same. The Dragon Ball manga continued on until 1995 and was turned into not one but two anime series by Funimation and Fuji TV. The second series, as we all know, was Dragon Ball Z.

One of the biggest phenomenons in the world, Dragon Ball Z changed mainstream media forever with its roster of lovable heroes and badass villains. However, not all villains were equal. Some were (criminally) forgotten rather quickly. Here are seven of the most underrated Dragon Ball Z villains. Note: These characters are only from the main continuity of Dragon Ball Z.

1. Raditz

This guy is the brother of Goku — enough said! You would think that being the main protagonist’s brother, Raditz would have special significance as a character and be the main antagonist for at least a single arc. Nope, Raditz neither got enough screen time nor praise for being Dragon Ball Z’s first villain.

Raditz’s potential was limitless. He could have sought revenge against Goku for betraying the Saiyans and becoming an individual who protected life. He could’ve wanted bragging rights in a sibling rivalry gone lethal. He did have those agendas, but they were executed poorly, and Raditz was quickly forgotten about with the arrival of Nappa (who killed most of the Z warriors) and Vegeta, who had perhaps the best battle with Goku in all of Dragon Ball. Let’s not forget, Raditz (although indirectly) also killed Goku — one of the few characters who can claim this feat. So, when I say he’s underrated, I mean he really is quite underrated.

Raditz arrives on Earth looking for his Brother in the Saiyan Arc.  'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
Raditz arrives on Earth looking for his Brother in the Saiyan Arc. 'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

2. Dr. Gero

When a character appears in the original manga, the sequel anime series and a non-canon anime series, you know they are important. Dr. Gero’s origin stems from back in the original Dragon Ball manga, where he served as the chief scientist for the vile Red Ribbon Army. Ever since Kid Goku defeated them, Dr. Gero sought revenge and executed a plan decades in the making almost to perfection. "Almost" is key here because that is what negates Dr. Gero to become such an underrated villain.

He created the Androids and Cell, one of the main antagonists of . The Androids killed most of humanity in an alternative timeline. Unfortunately, it seems like his creations betrayed him in popularity just like they did in the series. He was relegated to the sidelines for the rest of the Android and Cell saga. Dr. Gero is great because of his unmatched intellect and his pure desire to inflict pain on Goku.

Dr. Gero as Android 20 faces the Z warriors in the Android Saga.  'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
Dr. Gero as Android 20 faces the Z warriors in the Android Saga. 'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

3. Dabura

Dabura is the devil incarnate. The demon king deserved so much more than just being a toy for Majin Buu, under control of Babidi. An entire saga could’ve been built around this exquisitely designed character. Ideas could go wild, from an army of demons led by Dabura, to the demon king arriving as Lucifer himself. One of Dabura’s abilities was to spit on his enemies and turn them to stone, no matter how strong they were. In retrospect, he could’ve even turned Beerus, the God of Destruction himself, into stone.

The Demon King, Dabura, under the spell of Babidi in the Buu Arc.  'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
The Demon King, Dabura, under the spell of Babidi in the Buu Arc. 'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

4. Dodoria

Ruthless. This OG pink, fat, warrior (step aside, Buu) can only be described as ruthless. Although a low-ranking warrior and never having a role bigger than being Frieza’s henchman, this character deserved a bit more spotlight to shine. His attitude could’ve made him a force to be reckoned with. Hell, he almost killed Gohan and Krillin. Plus, the way he annihilated Namakien villages was just too brutal.

Dodoria on Namek facing his enemies in the Frieza Arc.  'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
Dodoria on Namek facing his enemies in the Frieza Arc. 'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

5. King Cold

The King deserved his rightful place as a major villain. King Cold is the father of Dragon Ball’s greatest antagonist: Frieza. The father can only be stronger and wiser than his son, right? Unfortunately no, the father-son duo were destroyed in seconds by Future Trunks. When King Cold first appeared, we all thought he was going to inflict his wrath on Earth for what Goku did to his son (BTW still a little confused on that part). Although arriving at Earth for that very purpose, he failed miserably. Rather than being stronger than his offspring, he is much weaker in comparison. A character with so much potential overshadowed by his own child.

King Cold arrives on Earth to carry out his revenge in the Frieza Arc.  'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
King Cold arrives on Earth to carry out his revenge in the Frieza Arc. 'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

6. Guldo

The Ginyu Force was a joke. That was all too obvious with their signature poses and cheesy jokes. Too many people forget the small blob of a character who was a part of Frieza’s elite as well: Guldo. The victim of roasts by his fellow Ginyu Force teammates, Guldo could’ve been a one-of-a-kind character. The little guy had the ability to freeze time. Imagine the possibilities this unique ability opens. Even the strongest of warriors are limited by time. This technique overshadows the time-skip ability of Hit, one of Dragon Ball Super’s strongest and most popular characters. Guldo was never given the opportunity to shine and fully utilize his powers.

Guldo in the Frieza Arc.  'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
Guldo in the Frieza Arc. 'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

7. Android 17

OK, so before you disagree and shout at me in the comments (would actually appreciate all criticism and responses), hear me out. Android 17 was undermined with the arrival of Cell who literally and figuratively ate him up.

17 was cool while being merciless and a total boss. He went toe to toe with Kami-fused Super Namekien Piccolo, beat down the Z warriors and almost wiped humanity from the face of the Earth in a different timeline. 17 even made an appearance on Dragon Ball GT as Super Android 17 (not that it counts here) and now appears in a positive role in Dragon Ball Super.

However, much like Dr. Gero, who was killed by 17 (oh lord the irony!), he too was overshadowed by a bigger villain in Cell. Android 17, with his calculated personality and amazing power, had the potential to be a much bigger, long-term threat for the Z warriors.

Android 17 stares down his enemies menacingly in the Androids Saga.  'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]
Android 17 stares down his enemies menacingly in the Androids Saga. 'Dragon Ball Z' [Credit: Funimation]

Which DBZ villain do you think is the most underrated?

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