Dragon Ball: 5 'Filler Forms' That Were Basically Useless

If there's one thing even somebody completely uninitiated into the expansive franchise might still know about "Dragon Ball," it's that characters frequently transform. Goku attaining the ability to become a Super Saiyan for the first time during his lengthy battle against galactic conqueror Frieza, for instance, is arguably one of the most iconic moments in anime history.

Not every "Dragon Ball" transformation is useful, however. While the franchise is continuing to introduce compelling new forms to this day — for example, Piccolo becomes Orange Piccolo in the "Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero" film, which premiered in late 2022 — characters occasionally find ways to seemingly supplement their strength only to fail and never use that ability in a productive manner again. Either because their user still ends up defeated in battle or due to marking a stop on the way to a more practical upgrade, here are five transformations from throughout "Dragon Ball" history that effectively serve as filler.

Super Saiyan 1.5

Easily the most useless transformation in a "Dragon Ball" series is the so-called Super Saiyan 1.5, first introduced during the Cell Saga in "Dragon Ball Z." Vegeta is the first one to showcase this ability, against Cell in his penultimate form. At first, the additional strength it grants Vegeta is almost enough to overcome his opponent, proving that the form does, at least, increase its user's overall power. But overconfidence leads him to allow Cell to become Perfect Cell and he loses decisively as a result.

After Trunks subsequently uses an upgraded version of the ability to no avail, it becomes apparent that, while Super Saiyan 1.5 provides Super Saiyans the ability to enhance their strength, it comes at the cost of speed and stamina. Much later, in "Dragon Ball Super," alternate universe Saiyan Caulifla uses the ability only for Goku to explain to her that it will just hinder her in battle, reinforcing its lack of utility. Once Gohan demonstrates the existence of a legitimate Super Saiyan 2 form later on in the Cell Saga, the Super Saiyan 1.5 ability becomes outdated and is seldom ever even attempted again.

Super Saiyan 3

By plenty of metrics, Super Saiyan 3 is the pinnacle of Super Saiyan evolution — it gives its user the longest hair, the least eyebrow coverage, and the most little bolts of electricity possible. Its usefulness in combat, however, is essentially always diminished by some better transformation or strategy, even if it makes its user the coolest-looking being in the known universe while active.

Canonically, the only two Saiyans to achieve this form are Gotenks and Goku. Whereas the former simply isn't responsible for any major victories, the latter debuts Super Saiyan 3 against Majin Buu only to abandon the ability pretty early on in their extensive battle. More useful to Goku against this opponent are his fusion with Vegeta into Vegito, and a Spirit Bomb assembled from the energy of Earthlings and Namekians that he ultimately wields to defeat Buu. Super Saiyan 3 shows up briefly in "Dragon Ball Super," but is instantly superseded by more practical abilities then too.

Mystic Gohan

The Buu Saga is the final story arc in the "Dragon Ball" manga and "Dragon Ball Z" anime. So, it's perhaps unsurprising that, by that point in its run, author Akira Toriyama was eager to introduce greater numbers of powerful new forms even if they ultimately don't offer their users much utility when deployed.

In addition to Super Saiyan 3, the Buu Saga introduces Mystic Gohan, which is a power-up unique to Gohan after he frees and trains with Elder Kai. Instead of his hair color changing like a traditional Super Saiyan transformation, Mystic Gohan simply sports a sort of sterner, sharper look. Ability-wise, he receives a blanket power upgrade, and is arguably even the strongest hero at the time he debuts this ability. Nevertheless, it's not enough to overcome Buu, and is never used in a serious context again. In fact, Gohan's loss is so drastic, he effectively becomes dormant moving forward until the events of "Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero" finally granting him the altogether more useful and unique Beast Gohan form.

Super Saiyan Rage

After "Dragon Ball" returned from a lengthy hiatus for the new "Dragon Ball Super" series, a sizable number of new transformations were introduced to the franchise's canon. Perhaps the most underwhelming of all of these is Super Saiyan Rage, which is an ability unique to Future Trunks that he deploys in the fight against the team of Zamasu's Goku Black transformation and an alternate timeline version of Zamasu.

In practice, this seems to allow Trunks to channel anger into a genuine power upgrade that resembles Super Saiyan 1.5 but appears to be far more practical in application. That said, the ability feels less like a unique form and more like a plot device through which Future Trunks can quickly become on par with Goku and Vegeta. Even then, Super Saiyan Rage Trunks serves merely as a stop gap while Goku briefly departs their battle only to come back with a strategy to take care of the two Zamasus himself.

Ultra Instinct Sign

Thus far in the "Dragon Ball Super" anime, the pinnacle of Goku's power is an ability called Ultra Instinct. This allows him to read his opponent's attacks on an intuitive level and react as if he's predicting the future.

Goku begins the path toward attaining Ultra Instinct during the Universe Survival Saga after learning of this capability from God of Destruction Beerus' handler Whis. Before he's able to wield the ability competently, however, he uses a sort of partial version that has come to be known as Ultra Instinct Sign. While it's active, Goku's eyes change color and he gains a silvery aura, though his hair, notably remains the same. Ability-wise, Goku gains some of the benefits of Ultra Instinct, but these advantages quickly become obsolete once he achieves True Ultra Instinct, which offers him the complete range of these same powers.

Ultra Instinct Sign, then, is unique in that it's a temporary stop on a path to something greater, rather than a distinct upgrade like most "Dragon Ball" abilities.