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Dragon Ball: Piccolo's Best Battles, Ranked

When it comes to ranking the best "Dragon Ball" fighters, it's no surprise that Piccolo usually makes the list. He may not always be the strongest, but he's never too far off, and he frequently impresses with his unique move set and thinker's approach to battling his opponents. It's no accident that he plays such a big part of the first nine "Dragon Ball Z" movies, and has returned to fighting in the "Dragon Ball Super" era: fans love seeing what the warrior from Namek can do. 

Better still, "Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero" has caught Piccolo's strength up to that of the show's most powerful heroes, according to "Dragon Ball" mastermind Akira Toriyama (via Todd Blankenship). meaning fans will likely see many more battles featuring the ex-Demon King. Why not, then, revisit the Super Namek's illustrious fighting career and judge which of his legendary bouts are the best? Charge your favorite Piccolo energy move and point your sensitive Namekian ears our way, as we rank Piccolo's top battles.

14. Piccolo and Krillin's tournament fight

It's pretty clear Piccolo doesn't consider Krillin a threat when they start their match at the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament. After all, he's a good deal stronger than he was as Demon King Piccolo, and definitely stronger than the demon king's son Tambourine, who'd killed Krillin three years prior. Yet Piccolo's not the only one who's improved himself since those days, as Krillin quickly surprises him with two large blasts that can follow their opponent. While Piccolo destroys both attacks high in the air with his eye beams, Krillin again surprises his green-hued opponent by leaping upward and giving him a solid punch in the face. Amused, Piccolo admits he underestimated Krillin, yet keeps getting caught off-guard, especially when Krillin reveals he's learned to fly. Piccolo has his own surprises, however, shocking even Goku with his ability to elongate his limbs (his "Mystic Attack") and a certain misdirection technique Krillin and Goku know quite well.

Even though Piccolo isn't fighting at full strength, it's still a great match, thanks to his and Krillin's respective ingenuity. It's a pretty smart pairing, in fact, given how both martial artists are known for battling with their wits — one wonders how Krillin might have fared if he and Piccolo had been at equal strength. Alas, Krillin is the weaker of the two in this bout, and Piccolo's superior strength convinces him to forfeit after the Namekian smashes him into the tournament ring floor.

13. Piccolo vs. Frost

After Goku's shocking defeat at Frost's hands during the Tournament of Destroyers, Piccolo steps in to see if he can finish what Goku started. Despite Goku claiming that beating Frost is beyond Piccolo's ability, the Namekian still performs quite admirably, using his guile and Frost's somewhat weakened state to his advantage. Before he can score a victory, however, Piccolo loses in a mysteriously similar manner to Goku, leading spectator Jaco the Galactic Patrolman to make a shocking accusation: Frost is using a hidden poison needle to cheat his way to victory.

While Piccolo's fight with Frost in the anime occurs a bit differently than in the manga, they're both quality matches that highlight Piccolo's cleverness. The anime version, however, is especially rich with Easter eggs for the longtime Piccolo fan, as the character uses classic techniques like his much-missed Antenna Beam and, of course, his famous Special Beam Cannon. The anime also deserves points for remembering an intrinsic part of the Special Beam Cannon often glossed over in, say, the "Dragon Ball Z" movies and anime filler: that it needs to be charged. Most importantly, though, is the way Piccolo uses the attack, as he cleverly decreases his chances of missing Frost by combining it with another longtime technique, as seen above — proving, as Piccolo says himself in the episode, that strategy is indeed his strong suit.

12. Piccolo and Gohan vs. Goku and Tien

Piccolo's been getting Gohan back into fighting shape ever since Frieza's return in "Dragon Ball Super," and it's time the two showed off the fruits of their labors. They challenge Goku and his newest Tournament of Power recruit, Tien Shinhan, to a match, which they hold on a plateau to emulate the tournament's fighting conditions. What comes next is a stunning showing for Piccolo and Gohan, as the latter distracts both opponents with a fierce offensive, while the former charges a powerful move not seen since the final episodes of "Dragon Ball."

For a so-called "loner," Piccolo has always been excellent at fighting alongside others, especially his pupil Gohan. Their perfected coordination is what makes their two-on-two match with Goku and Tien such a thrill to watch, and demonstrates that they don't always even need words to coordinate tactics. Gohan in particular is in fine form, relentlessly keeping Goku on his toes while effortlessly switching over to Tien whenever the three-eyed warrior's about to interrupt Piccolo's gathering of power. Not that Piccolo is any slouch, either, as the welcome return of his Hyper Explosive Demon Wave is powerful enough to give even Goku pause. While Gohan and Goku ultimately choose to finish the match fighting only each other, one can still clearly see the impact that Piccolo's tutoring has had on his student's fighting style.

11. Piccolo vs. Kami

Though outwardly unassuming in the beginning, the fighter Hero (or, more accurately, Shen) does pretty well for himself in the 23rd tournament. Yet he's still holding back — that is, until he faces Piccolo in the semi-finals. Right away, Hero shocks his pointy-eared opponent by knocking him to the sky with a single gesture of his fingers. After exchanging a few ferocious attacks, Hero speaks to Piccolo in a mysterious language, thus revealing his true identity: Kami, the being from whom Piccolo split long ago. "Hero" then tries using the Evil Containment Wave to imprison Piccolo in a tiny bottle, but his nemesis stunningly reverses the move, forcing Kami to leave Hero's body and become trapped himself.

It's the first on-screen encounter between Kami and Piccolo, and it does not disappoint. Though short, their battle is gripping from beginning to end, with stunning energy attacks and a great twist finish. On top of that, it's the first time the two characters' origins are hinted at, as the language they speak with each other would be confirmed to be from another planet later on — something even they're not aware of at this point.

10. Piccolo and Goku vs. Raditz

Piccolo gets quite a surprise when a mysterious man with a tail and unusual clothing appears, with the strength to easily withstand an attack from Piccolo at point blank range. The Namekian secretly follows the stranger and learns the man is none other than Raditz, Goku's brother, who seeks to exterminate all life on Earth. Seeing as Piccolo has his own plans for Earth, he teams up with Goku to stop Raditz — an act much easier said than done.

Let's be fair: this is not a fair fight for Piccolo. Even with Goku's help, the Namekian is almost completely outmatched. Yet it's an important one for many reasons. It's Piccolo's first canonical team-up with Goku, as well as the first time he reveals he's started using weighted clothing, which he continues to do today. Not only that, but it's also the first time he demonstrates what's become his most popular ability: the Special Beam Cannon. Most notably, though, it's the battle in which he succeeds in killing Goku, a feat very few others have achieved. Raditz's own importance shouldn't be understated either, as he's Piccolo and Goku's first taste at the kind of powerful villains they'd be facing in "Z."

9. Piccolo vs. Gamma 2

Gamma 2's first battle with Piccolo goes pretty swimmingly for him, even leading him to believe he'd finished off the Namekian warrior for good. Yet Piccolo, hardly the one to stay down, makes a stealthy escape and asks Shenron to unlock all the potential within him. Shenron not only complies, but cryptically mentions he's added something "extra." Piccolo doesn't quite figure out what that is before his rematch with Gamma 2, and thus still finds himself struggling against the Android. When Gamma 2 knocks him under several Red Ribbon Army railways, however, Piccolo remembers Shenron's words and power bursts from his body, changing it. With that, Orange Piccolo is born.

It's one of the biggest events to happen to Piccolo in years, sandwiched within a pretty solid second showdown with the more jocular of the Gamma brothers. One can't help but feel reminded of an old Western, for instance, when seeing Piccolo and Gamma facing off aboard two rail cars, and Piccolo displays an overt use yet of telekinesis by combining enough debris into a pretty potent projectile for Gamma 2 to deal with. Yet for all the cool little details in the fight, it's Piccolo's very overt transformation that undeniably steals the show. The battle is also important from a character perspective, as Piccolo helps Gamma 2 realize he's fighting for the wrong side.

8. Piccolo's first fight with Imperfect Cell

After he and his fellow warriors lose pitifully to Androids 17 and 18, a humiliated Piccolo heads to Kami's Lookout with the intention of convincing Kami to merge with him. There, however, he learns of a new challenge: Imperfect Cell, a half-human, half-insect Bio-Android who's absorbed an entire town of people to add to his power. Though Kami is initially hesitant, he agrees to Piccolo's request, and the two become one being again for the first time in centuries. Piccolo then descends to Earth to fight Cell, who already knows a lot about the Namekian but is shocked when Piccolo gives him a taste of how strong the fusion has made him. The Bio-Android soon proves he has a few tricks of his own, however, including knowledge of Piccolo and his friends' attacks. Catching Piccolo off-guard, Cell then drains the Super Namek's arm, but finds himself conned when Piccolo dupes him into revealing his origins.

It's a stellar introduction to Piccolo as a Super Namek, showing how fusing with Kami has not only boosted his powers, but also his already-impressive guile. Cell's just as much of a show-stealer, however, impressing with his eerie presence and usage of such familiar moves as the Kamehameha and, in the anime, the Special Beam Cannon. It's a battle of brawn and a battle of wits, made all the more impressive by the fact that Piccolo isn't even using his full power. 

7. Piccolo vs. Nappa

A year's worth of intense training certainly does Piccolo and Earth's other powerful warriors good, increasing their strength to levels most humans could only dream of. Even still, all their preparation isn't enough to take down Nappa and Vegeta when the Saiyans reach Earth. Nappa alone proves a destructive powerhouse, and Tien and Chiaotzu both give their lives trying to stop him. Worse still, Gohan becomes frozen with terror at Nappa's ferocity. Though Piccolo at first expresses anger at his pupil's "failure," he still can't help but shield Gohan from one of Nappa's powerful blasts, losing his life in the process.

Piccolo's showdown with Nappa is far from his best outing, especially since it ends with him losing. Yet it's also one of his most important fights from a character perspective, as he abandons his evil ways through one of the most selfless acts he's ever done. It's hard not to tear up at his final moments with Gohan, when he tells the young half-Saiyan how much their friendship means to him. On top of all that, Piccolo proves to be a pretty solid team leader, guiding his human allies as long as he can against virtually impossible odds. It's also worth noting the impressive attacks Piccolo uses here, such as his "Double Demon Burst" (as "Dragon Ball Legends" calls it) and his version of Tien's Multi-Form technique, which he and Krillin use against Nappa in the anime (but not the manga).

6. Piccolo vs. the Cooler Force

While little is shown of the Cooler Force's exploits before coming to Earth, it's clear they're good at what they do. How else would they end up working for Cooler for at least two decades? Yet they finally run into someone quite a bit better when they meet Piccolo. The trio encounters the Namekian when he saves Gohan from their clutches, allowing the half-Saiyan to escape. Piccolo takes out Dore and Neiz with incredible ease and then fights the Cooler Force's leader, Salza, in a one-on-one showdown during which, despite Salza's subterfuge and sharp energy blade, Piccolo clearly has the upper hand. While their duel is interrupted by a devastating attack from Cooler, Piccolo eventually recovers in time to stop Salza for good with a single Special Beam Cannon.

That's right: Piccolo takes out Cooler's version of the Ginyu Force single-handedly. It's how he does it's really noteworthy, however, as he fakes them out, turns their moves back on them, and uses sneaky techniques like chaser beams and his Mystic Attack to surprise his foes and win. It's one of the best examples you can find of how Piccolo fights: with intelligence.

5. Piccolo vs. Frieza's second form

While it's a little more nebulous in the manga, Piccolo largely sits out King Kai's training in the anime, finding it "ridiculous." He's still strong enough to impress Nail when he arrives on Namek, however, although not to the point where he'd give Frieza much trouble. Badly wounded from having fought Frieza himself, Nail allows Piccolo to absorb him, causing a power jump large enough to give Frieza's second form a formidable challenge.

The manga version of Piccolo and Frieza's fight alone is immensely satisfying, as in only nine pages, Piccolo almost completely turns the Z Warriors' fight with Frieza around, displaying spectacular skill and power. The anime extends the fight quite a bit — admittedly recycling certain clips a few times to do so, but more than making up for it by adding a ton of new techniques and visuals for both characters, including both debris and energy swirling around Piccolo like electrons of an atom. It even shows Piccolo battling Frieza's second stage without his weighted training clothes on, whereas the manga has Frieza transform the moment Piccolo sheds the heavy cape and turban. While manga purists may debate the canonicity of that part of the fight, that doesn't make it any less amazing.

4. Piccolo and Gohan vs. Saonel and Pilina

The elimination of Universe 6 almost seems assured when its final representatives, Saonel and Pilina, face Piccolo and Gohan in the Tournament of Power. Yet the two Universe 6 Namekians reveal they have the might of their species on their side, having absorbed many Namekian volunteers from their home world to add to their strength. Gohan offers to distract their opponents while his mentor charges his Special Beam Cannon, but Piccolo fires the attack prematurely to save his pupil, and is soon after blasted to the ground by Pilina. There, Piccolo has visions of the two Namekians he's bonded to, Kami and Nail, who encourage him to keep going by reminding him that it's Gohan he's fighting for. At Gohan's behest, Piccolo resolves to try their strategy one more time, culminating in a spectacular Kamehameha/Special Beam Cannon finish.

The fight is a big treat for Namekian fans, featuring many of the species' classic moves and, of course, Piccolo originals like the Scatter Shot and Special Beam Cannon. Yet it's the emotional moments that hit home the most, from Kami and Nail's first appearance in years to Piccolo acknowledging that Gohan's still the warrior he trained him to be. What also makes the fight so intense is that it's interspersed with scenes from Goku and the Androids' escalating fight with Universe 2's remaining warriors, and both fights feed off each other's energy right up to Gohan and Goku's climactic — and simultaneous — Kamehamehas.

3. Piccolo vs. Cell Max

When his most powerful allies see through his lies, Magenta awakens Dr. Hedo's ultimate creation, Cell Max, far before its mental conditioning has been completed. The unreasoning behemoth thus begins a giant rampage, destroying anything it lays eyes on. Luckily, Gamma 1 knows Cell Max's weakness, but even with help from Piccolo, Gohan, and several of their old friends, the new Cell perseveres. When Cell Max pummels Orange Piccolo with ki blasts and proudly holds up his unconscious body, however, Gohan's resulting rage awakens a new power as he transforms into "Gohan Beast." As energy surges around him, Gohan prepares a technique to eliminate Cell Max once and for all — and it's one Piccolo knows quite well.

There are so many noteworthy moments in the fight, like Gamma 2's explosive sacrifice, Piccolo using his Giant Form again and Cell Max firing giant ki lasers from every spot on his body. Yet the crowning move is when Gohan fires the technique he's been preparing, which is the perfect thanks for all the training and guidance Piccolo has given him over the years. Just as resonant is the fact that Piccolo holds Cell in place from behind, much like Goku did with Raditz when it was Piccolo firing the move in "Dragon Ball Z," bringing the Namekian's character journey full circle. It's also a reversal of Gohan and Piccolo's usual "Dragon Ball Super" tactic, as this time it's Piccolo buying Gohan time to charge an attack.

2. Piccolo and Goku's tournament fight

Piccolo's revenge plot against Goku for killing off his past incarnation, Demon King Piccolo, goes pretty swimmingly at first. In addition to ensuring they'd fight each other in the tournament final, Piccolo ups the stakes by gulping down the bottle he's trapped Kami in, adding a complicated rescue mission to Goku's list of challenges. Regardless, the two waste no time in amping things up in a battle with giant beam wars, giant Piccolos, and a giant painful hole in Goku's chest that thankfully isn't fatal. With impressive skill and a little trickery, Goku defeats Piccolo and rescues Kami, succeeding despite Piccolo breaking every limb in his body.

Goku and Piccolo's tournament bout is sometimes overlooked, as it happened just before the ever popular "Dragon Ball Z" era. Yet it's hands down the most epic, brutal pre-Z battle in "Dragon Ball." Goku alone accomplishes a ton of new feats, including the Super Kamehameha, Foot Kamehameha, and of course, flight (the last of which saves his life and secures his tournament win). Meanwhile, Piccolo also displays many attack firsts, including his Antenna Beam, his Hyper Explosive Demon Wave, and of course, his Giant Form, which has only recently reappeared in "Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero." But it's the individual moments of the battle, such as Piccolo attacking the spectators and Kami telling Tien to kill him so Piccolo will die also, that make it so memorable.

1. Piccolo vs. Android 17

Android 17 and 18 don't take Dr. Gero's directive to kill Goku very seriously. But since it's what their companion, Android 16, wants, they go along with it anyway. When they reach Kame House, however, Piccolo's there to greet them instead. Newly fused with Kami, Piccolo first believes he'll have to test his Super Namekian powers against all three Androids simultaneously. Luckily, 17 chooses to battle the Namekian Warrior alone ... but both fighters discover that neither of them intends to make it easy.

Piccolo's battle with Android 17 is the fight by which all other Piccolo battles are judged. It's one of the most highly-regarded fights in "Dragon Ball" history for one reason: the two are perfectly matched. While the battle is, as usual, shorter in the manga, the anime gives it the room it needs, as they match each other blow for blow, blast for blast. Piccolo's Scatter Shot debuts here in all its glory, as does 17's signature defense move, the Android Barrier. While it's very possible Piccolo might have eventually lost the fight, given that 17 never runs out of energy, he certainly shows no sign of letting up. Had Imperfect Cell not cut their battle short, perhaps Piccolo might have won regardless by catching 17 off-guard or outthinking him. It's noteworthy that when the two meet again in "Dragon Ball Super," Piccolo makes the surprising move of shaking the reformed 17's hand — a clear sign of respect for his former rival.