Vegeta Nearly Crushes Goku
Perhaps one of the most iconic fights in all of Dragon Ball history took place between Goku and Vegeta who had taken on his Great Ape form. Vegeta almost always turns out to be a bit much for him to handle whenever they decide to duke it out, but this particular battle gave Vegeta a major opportunity to put an end to his nemesis for good. While in his Great Ape form, he managed to snatch his nemesis up and toy with his life. Vegeta playfully squeezed Goku’s body and it seemed to only be a matter of time before he gave the final squeeze that would have resulted in a rather gruesome death.
But, of course, that’s not how things played out. The Dragon Ball franchise has a whole lot of “friendship magic” sprinkled in and that’s what saves Goku here. Gohan, Krillin, and Yajirobe make the right moves at just the right time by removing Vegeta’s tail and forcing him out of his Great Ape form. Goku might not be the strongest Saiyan in all the land but when you have a crew that always shows up just in time, you don’t really need to be.
Legendary Super Saiyan Broly Fight
Goku’s allies usually show up just in time to save his life whenever he is in trouble but when Legendary Super Saiyan Broly stepped up to fight, even his usual backup seemed helpless. He was struggling to hold his own against Broly and Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo and Trunks were already far too weak to offer any assistance. At one point, Broly had the series’ hero buried into the side of a massive boulder where it seemed he was just one more blow away from completely demolishing Dragon Ball’s main protagonist. But even when his allies are too weak to fight, they are never too weak to utilize the power of friendship yet again. Okay, it’s not really the power of friendship but his friends offer up the last of their remaining ki in order to give Goku enough strength to overcome his massive opponent at the last moment.
Hit Stops His Heart
Goku has had his heart stopped multiple times throughout the entire Dragon Ball series but somehow it’s never enough to truly take his life. When he finally went up against the legendary assassin Hit outside of a tournament with rules and regulations, it certainly seemed like he had met his match. Hit used a technique that allows him to take down foes with just a single punch. After using this move on Goku, the powerful Saiyan fell to the ground just as he launched a ki blast into the air.
While it initially seems like he was killed before he had a chance to fire the blast at Hit, it turns out that it was all a part of his plan. Despite being proclaimed dead by friends, the ki blast eventually found its way back to earth and hit Goku thus giving his heart a jumpstart.
King Piccolo Stops His Heart
Hit wasn’t the only adversary to stop Goku’s heart only to see the Saiyan survive. When a young Goku goes up against the Namekian villain the first time, things clearly don’t go his way. King Piccolo easily dominates the young fighter and leaves him barely holding on to life by the end of the brawl. In fact, the beating was so brutal that even King Piccolo himself was convinced the young Saiyan was dead as he took the dragon ball from his seemingly lifeless body. After retrieving the Dragon Ball, King Piccolo takes off, which allows Yajirobe to scurry to Goku’s side. That’s when it’s discovered that he isn’t dead but his heart temporarily stopped.
It’s hard to truly judge the pace of time in the Dragon Ball universe but it certainly seems like a few minutes go by before Yajirobe is able to tend to Goku, which means his heart was stopped for several minutes. Maybe it’s because he’s a Saiyan or maybe it’s just because the writers couldn’t kill Goku off in the moment, but somehow he comes back to life despite the fact that his heart had clearly tapped out for a while.
Vegeta Saves Him from Android 19
To say that Goku simply lost his fight against Android 19 would be a huge understatement. Android 19 pretty much dominated him and quite literally had his life in the palm of his hands. This beatdown itself would have been enough to make the list but it’s how the battle ended that really proved Goku narrowly escaped death once again. With Android 20 keeping Goku’s allies at bay, there was nobody to come to the Saiyan’s rescue when Android 19 grabbed him by the throat and began sapping his energy. Piccolo, Tien, Yamcha, Gohan, and Krillin couldn’t do much other than watch helplessly from the sidelines as it seemed like Goku was nearing his death. Just as Goku became so weak that he could no longer keep his grip on Android 19’s arm, Vegeta suddenly appeared and delivered a powerful kick to Android 19’s head.
Fortunately for Goku, Vegeta refuses to let anyone else kill his rival. While Vegeta did manage to get Android 19 off of him in time, Goku was already too weak to even make his own exit. Instead, Yamcha had to take his nearly lifeless body home.
Vegeta Saves Goku Again
Vegeta comes to the rescue yet again when Goku goes toe-to-toe with Golden Frieza. All throughout the Dragon Ball series, viewers constantly see Goku catch the short end of the bargain after he insists on having a “fair fight.” During his fight against Golden Frieza in Dragon Ball Super, that attitude nearly cost him his life. After a lengthy battle with the infamous intergalactic dictator, Goku finds himself at Frieza’s mercy and underneath his foot. Just as Frieza prepared to launch a powerful beam through Goku’s face, Vegeta appeared and served as enough of a distraction to save Goku’s life.
Unfortunately, Vegeta saving him didn’t mark the end of Golden Frieza’s rampage. He still managed to kill Vegeta and destroy earth. Things worked out in the end thanks to Whis, but if it weren’t for Vegeta’s timely interference, Goku certainly would have been killed here.
Baby Vegeta Blasts Goku
Goku’s fight with Baby Vegeta in Dragon Ball GT was a long and somewhat exhausting back and forth between the two powerful fighters. At one point, however, it seemed like Baby truly had the upper hand. After gathering more energy, Baby took on the form of Super Baby Vegeta 2 and clearly overpowered his young opponent. As most Dragon Ball viewers know, a Spirit Bomb is a powerful attack and in some ways Baby’s Evil Spirit Bomb was even more powerful than its counterpart. Baby’s ultimate move, the Revenge Death Ball, is basically a Spirit Bomb that has been created with negative energy and can be amplified by its user. The move can even become so powerful that it can “shake the very fabric of dimensions,” according to the Dragon Ball wiki page. For this reason, it seems unlikely that anyone would survive taking a direct hit from a blast so strong.
Goku, however, isn’t just anyone. Baby Vegeta hurls the Revenge Death Ball at him and it seems as if the Saiyan has been left buried in the ground. Baby, along with Goku’s allies, is convinced that Goku is dead. It isn’t until after Baby Vegeta battles Uub and Majin Buu’s fused form that he suddenly re-emerges thanks to some help from Kibito Kai.
Metal Cooler Nearly Snaps Goku’s Neck
To be clear, Goku was extremely lucky to have survived his first encounter with Cooler. Once Cooler reached his fourth form, he was too powerful for Goku and had the Saiyan looking like a complete rag doll. Even after he used the very last ounce of his ki, it turned out Cooler was still alive and ready to unleash one more attack at Goku as he remained exhausted and unable to move in Krillin’s arms. Out of nowhere, of course, Piccolo sends a blast flying through Cooler and prevents him from firing off another attack.
His run in with one of the mass produced cyborg clones of Cooler proved to be very much like his encounter with the original villain in many ways. He struggled to do any damage to the powerful clone and ultimately found himself on the losing end of a rather short battle. It took Metal Cooler no time at all to have the Super Saiyan by the throat. But alas, nobody is allowed to kill Goku except for Vegeta. Once again, his rival appears right on time and delivers a strong kick to Metal Cooler’s head. The blow does enough to force their metal foe to release Goku so they can team up and finally defeat the Cooler clone.
Yamcha Kicks Kid Goku Into Boulder
This may seem like an odd one but bear with me on this. There is one part of a Saiyan’s durability and power that causes quite a bit of debate and controversy among Dragon Ball fans—Saiyans are weaker and less durable if their guard is down. This is no suggestion that a Saiyan turns into a delicate flower at any point, but it’s important to remember that they certainly can’t withstand the same type of powerful blows if they have their guard down and therefore are not using their ki to provide an extra layer of protection around them. Remember the time Krillin threw a rock at an unsuspecting Super Saiyan Goku’s head and it caused him to yell out in great pain? Well, if the Dragon Ball universe is assumed to remain constant, he should have been killed by Yamcha. Yes, Yamcha.
As a child, Goku squares up with Yamcha but becomes distracted by his hunger. That’s when Yamcha kicks him in the side of the head with so much force that it sends him flying into a cliff. If a simple rock is enough to have him yelling in pain even when he’s in his Super Saiyan form just because he wasn’t paying attention, it certainly seems like a roundhouse kick to the head of a young, unsuspecting Goku should have rendered the Saiyan child lifeless or at least pretty close to it.
Piccolo Takes Death Beam for His Friend
It’s hard to think of a fight packed with more drama than the incredibly long brawl between Frieza and Goku. This fight is currently the record holder for the longest fight in anime history and it also marks another moment where the hero narrowly escaped death.
After Goku and his allies believed Frieza had finally been defeated, he returned with a deadly vengeance. As soon as he laid eyes on a weary Goku, Frieza launched a powerful death beam straight for him. Given his condition at the time it’s likely that the Saiyan protagonist wouldn’t have been able to survive such an attack. He was weak and depleted of ki. Fortunately for him, Piccolo jumped in front of the blast at the last second and took the fatal attack that was meant for his former arch nemesis.