Of the many Z-Fighters who protect Earth in the various Dragon Ball series, Krillin is probably the least respected. In fact, that might be putting it mildly. Lots of characters on DBZ get their butts kicked with regularity, but somehow only Krillin has picked up a reputation as a total punching bag. The jokes about Krillin getting beat up are so popular that the renowned fan parody Dragon Ball Z: Abridged keeps an on-screen count of the amount of times that Krillin gets “owned” throughout the series, and it reaches the dozens.
To say that Krillin is the worst Dragon Ball character, however, would definitely be a mistake. Despite his many beatings, Krillin has still managed to remain a fan favorite from his debut in the manga as Kuririn in 1985 to his role in Dragon Ball Super. Convincing fans that Krillin is a great character is not a difficult task, as he’s given folks plenty of reason to love him over the years. Making the argument that Krillin is the best character in the Dragon Ball series might seem tougher, but there are actually a litany of compelling reasons Krillin is the most admirable and well-developed character in the entire saga.
He Rescues Gohan From Frieza
Krillin is undoubtedly Goku’s best friend, and he’s also one of his most trustworthy allies. There is probably no one Goku trusts more with the life of his children, which is why Gohan has been left in Krillin’s care on more than one occasion.
Krillin proved himself as the world’s best babysitter a few times, like when he attacked the intergalactic warlord Frieza to save Gohan’s life. Krillin had already been impaled by Frieza’s horn, but he got back on his feet and launched a Destructo Disc just in time to save Gohan and cut off the villain’s tail.
He Killed Hella Saibamen
During the period between the opening arc of Dragon Ball Z – in which Goku was killed – and the Saiyan Saga, many of the Earth’s best fighters prepared for the alien invasion they knew was coming. No one trained harder than Krillin, and he finally got to show off the results when Nappa and Vegeta attacked the Z-Fighters with a horde of Saibamen.
Each Saibaman was reportedly as strong as Goku’s brother, Raditz, and a single Saibaman managed to kill Yamcha, one of the strongest human fighters. An incensed Krillin flew into a rage and managed to kill the remaining Saibamen with relative ease, proving how far he had come.
He Often Fights Way Above His Weight Class
As a (mostly) ordinary human, Krillin eventually found himself outclassed by most of the characters around him as the Dragon Ball franchise progressed. As a species, human beings have much a lower power potential than aliens like the Saiyans or Namekians. Therefore, Krillin’s power levels hit a ceiling long before most of the other Z-Fighters.
Despite this disadvantage, Krillin continued to throw himself at opponents far above his league whenever the situation called for it. Krillin attempted to take on foes as powerful as Frieza, the androids, and Perfect Cell, all because his friends needed help. That makes Krillin a true warrior, and an all around commendable character.
He’s Around For The Entire Franchise
Krillin has been present for more of the Dragon Ball saga than anyone other than Goku. Krillin first showed up in the 25th issue of the manga in 1985, and he’s been by Goku’s side pretty much ever since.
Krillin was featured in the rest of Dragon Ball, all of Dragon Ball Z, the non-canon Dragon Ball GT, and the revival series Dragon Ball Super. Unlike other long-term characters like Bulma and Yamcha, Krillin did not really shrink into the background, but remained ready to fight whenever Earth needed protecting.