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.
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.
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.
The Dragon Ball series, especially Dragon Ball Z, centers mainly around fighting, and thus there isn’t always a ton of time for romance. Goku shares barely any scenes with his wife, Chi Chi, despite having a pair of kids with her, and Bulma and Vegeta’s courtship occurs mainly off-screen.
It could be argued, in fact, that the most successful relationship in the entire saga is between Krillin and Android 18, a deadly beauty who seems entirely out of his league. Krillin proves himself a hero on several occasions during the Cell Saga, risking his life to rescue 18 and using the Dragon Balls to remove the self-destruct feature hidden within her body. This leaves Android 18 smitten with the diminutive dynamo, and the two eventually marry and have a daughter.
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.