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15 Dragon Ball Universe Heroes Who Were Introduced As Villains

Updated August 26, 2019 13.6k votes 1.6k voters 56.7k views15 items

Vegeta is one of the most well-known of the anime villains who redeem themselves and become heroes, but he actually isn't the only character from the Dragon Ball universe to make such a transition. In fact, the majority of Goku's friends were once people who directly opposed him in some way. 

Some Dragon Ball heroes who started as villains, like Vegeta and Piccolo, have well-known arcs with memorable transitions from villainy to heroism. Their motives for bad deeds are understandable, and their reasons for changing make sense too. Others, like Oolong or the Pilaf Gang, have motivations that aren't as well explored but are still entertaining. 

Which bad guy turned good is your favorite?

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  • Out of all of the characters on this list, Vegeta is probably the most famous for his about-face. He came to Earth with the intention of not only defeating Goku but also annihilating anyone who got in his way as a display of power. 

    The full story of his shift from evil to good is too complex to discuss in full here, but the short version is that going from a situation where his choices were either take lives or grapple with his own substantial losses to one where he could develop genuine emotional bonds led him to give up on villainy.  By the end of the series, he's still gruff and competitive, but he's also a caring father and husband 

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  • When Piccolo first appeared, his primary goal was to destroy Goku - and he had a darn good reason for it. Goku not only defeated Piccolo's father in a tournament, he also ended his life. But when the two of them fight and Picollo loses, Goku decides to spare Piccolo's life, leading him to change up his loyalties and become not just an ally, but Gohan's mentor.

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  • 3

    Android 17 & 18

    Both Android 17 & 18 were kidnapped by Dr. Gero and scientifically modified against their will. For a while, they do Dr. Gero's bidding, even going so far as to destroy entire cities in the name of taking out Goku. Neither show any real remorse for a while, but they slowly rediscover their own free will and give up on villainy.

    The two eventually renounce their evil ways and move onto more satisfying lives. Android 18 marries Krillin and has a daughter named Marron, while Android 17 adopts two kids and becomes a park ranger. 

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  • Tien Shinhan
    Photo: Toei Animation

    When Tien Shinhan first appears, he's a member of the Crane School, a martial arts school that deploys underhanded tactics to win. As one of the best students, Tien is asked to go after Goku, who his teacher believes to be responsible for his brother's demise.

    With the help of Master Roshi, Tien eventually realizes that the people he's been siding with aren't actually what they seem to be, and he joins Goku instead of opposing him. He was also Gokus opponent in the 22nd World Martial Arts Tournament, which doesn't make him a bad guy exactly, but still means that he isn't on the same side as the protagonist. 

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