While Goku might be Earth’s greatest warrior in the Dragon Ball universe, he is not without his faults. To many people, he is too goodie-goodie and nice. His “good heart” can be eye-roll-inducing at times because he just seems so perfect (except he’s a pretty terrible dad, when you think about it).
Being the main character of the series, he probably has the widest array of techniques and abilities at his disposal. But not all of those techniques are particularly useful. Yes, he has iconic moves like Kamehameha and Ultra Instinct and Kaioken, which are awesome. But he has other moves that we see very rarely, because they aren’t that worthwhile or damaging, and other moves that are used more for comic relief than anything else.
Let’s take a look at Goku’s 20 worst abilities, ranked from absolute worst (completely worthless), to the best of his worst moves (moves that have a purpose, but fail more often than succeed).
20 Power Stance
A lot of the time, Dragon Ball is all about preparation . . . often too much preparation (see: Spirit Bomb). “Power Stance” is a supportive technique that is used in preparation of a fight, which practically has zero effect on the fight’s outcome. Characters like Mr. Satan use Power Stance to try to intimidate their enemies, but it never works. Goku uses it a few times, to look cool, but that’s about all it does.
19 Ginyu Fighting Pose
A similar take as Power Stance, the Ginyu Fighting Pose is a dance of sorts that each particular Ginyu Force member uses, with their own intricacies and poses. The Ginyu Fighting Pose is really a joke that gives the users some individuality/character, but has little effect besides that. Goku’s stance, called “Ginyu Fighting Pose: Technique (2),” is used when he imitates Captain Ginyu prior to their battle on Namek.
18 Superhuman Smell
All of Goku’s senses are heightened, but perhaps his least powerful sens is his heightened sense of smell. His super sight gives him great reflexes, his super hearing allows him to fight with seeing at times, but his smell . . . it’s typically used to find food. Used as comic relief through the series, Goku once used his superhuman smell to find a stone thrown by Master Roshi deep into a jungle. When Krillin asked how he found the stone, he replied, “It smells like Master Roshi.”
17 Bottomless Stomach
Another form of comic relief that doesn’t do any good in a fight is Goku’s bottomless stomach. While Goku’s caloric intake is unknown, he’s frequently seen shoveling down obscene amounts of food, without ever seemingly getting full. Goku can stuff his face for hours on end without putting on a single pound, and then be ready for a battle pretty much immediately after. Don’t we all wish we could do that?
16 Tail-Helicopter Technique
Goku is able to fly without using any ki, which is one of his most notable superpowers, as all Saiyans have an innate ability to fly. That being said, in Kid Goku form, during the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku spins his tail around so quickly that he’s able to fly just as if he was using his ki. He uses is once during his fight with Jackie Chun. That being said, he has the lung capacity to float in mid-air simply by exhaling on the ground, so this Tail-Helicopter Technique is a bit useless.
15 Tail Attack
In Dragon Ball, the prequel series, Kid Goku has many creative (and funny) techniques that we never see in his grown-up form. One of those is his Tail Attack, which he uses a few times to get himself out of a jam. He can use his tail to whip or constrict an opponent, but it does little damage. He most notably used his Tail Attack to break free from Tien Shinhan’s Four Witches Technique. Raditz and Cell and other characters have used similar attacks much more effectively, with more damaging outcomes.
A grappling/wrestling move that has real world usage just as it does in Dragon Ball Z, the Full-Nelson isn’t really much of an ability. It’s used numerous times throughout Dragon Ball Z, with one particular case having a huge impact: when a weakened Goku uses the Full-Nelson against Raditz, so Piccolo can use his Special Beam Cannon attack, which kills both Goku and Raditz.
Goku has mastered several forms of telepathy, but they aren’t very useful. Goku, Gohan, and Krillin are able to communicate telepathically during the battle with Vegeta. Goku is even able to command Gohan to stop his rampage when the boy was in Great Ape form. At one point, Goku placed a hand on Krillin’s head and was brought up on events he missed. But shouldn’t he be able to use this to read other people’s minds, say, in a battle?
It seems like most of the bad guys have mastered telekinesis (moving objects with your mind) much better than Goku has. His version of telekinesis is pretty much useless—the only experience coming when he was hospitalized after his first battle with Vegeta. He is seen lifting a glass of water with his mind, but Chi-Chi distracts him and he spills it all over his face. Meanwhile, we have people like Cell who can move entire mountainsides to crash into people.
11 Crazy Fist
Another creative, silly technique that Kid Goku uses during Dragon Ball is his “Crazy Fist” technique. This is a distraction technique used to confuse and taunt an opponent, where Goku rants and raves like an uncontrollable dog or monkey, catching his opponent off-guard. He uses with technique in reaction to Jackie Chun’s Drunken Fist, and he eventually knocks him out with a swift hit from behind.
Goku uses this technique by first calling it out, “Tornado!” and then spinning while rushing his opponent. He used the technique against Nam in the 21st World Martial Arts Tournament, almost knocking Nam out of the ring, but he ended up getting dizzy and lying on the ground. That along makes the technique pretty worthless. He later uses it more effectively against Tien in the 23rd tournament, and against Jamemba’s clones that were attacking him in a group.
9 Eight-Arm Fist
First seen in Dragon Ball, the Eight-Arm Fist technique allows Goku to spin his arms so fast that he gives an after-image illusion of having eight arms. It was developed by King Chappa, who uses it against Goku to easily defend against him. Goku faces off against Tien and uses it with is instant mimicry ability, and he uses it to counter Tien’s Four Witches Technique.
8 Jan Ken (Rock, Scissors ‘N’ Paper)
In the original version of this technique, the user shouts “Jan Ken!” and then names a corresponding attack: “Gu” for rock, which will be a strong punch, “Chyoki” for scissors, which will be a poke in the eyes, and “Pa” for paper, which will be an open palm strike. Sometimes Goku uses this playful technique to announce the wrong version of the attack, with his opponent expecting a punch, only to get a finger in the eye.
This is an elaborately named technique for a rather mundane move: any time a user grabs his opponent by the arm, leg, tail, or antenna, and then spins and throws them, that’s a “Dragonthrow.” The alternate name is “Dinosaur Throw,” when Gohan uses it. Goku throws Frieza with this and, as you can tell, it has little effect other than for show. He also throws Majin Buu by his tentacle, and Super Mega Cannon Sigma’s leg.
6 Suspended Blast
We’re getting to the part of the list with actual, potentially devastating attacks, but this one never ends up seeing the light of day. The “Suspended Blast” is a technique that refers to a ki blast used by Goku to threaten the Kaioshin during the Majin Vegeta portion of the Buu arc. The technique is literally only a threat—it’s never fired off—which makes it completely useless, though a bit intimidating.
5 Double Axe Handle
The Double Axe Handle is another convolutedly named technique for a move that isn’t elaborate at all. Whenever a fighter charges their opponent and slams them with an overhand, two-handed sledgehammer punch, that’s the Double Axe Handle. This rush attack is used by Goku against Jackie Chun, Frieza, Android 19, Yakon, Majin Vegeta, Uub, as Super Saying 4 against Omega Shenron (Dragon Ball GT), and to deflect Innocent Buu’s Kamehameha. It’s used with varying degrees of success, but usually at least does some damage.
4 Taiyoken (Solar Flare)
The Solar Flare technique is an instantly recognizable technique that is used by many characters, but it also fails as many times as it succeeds. It’s a bright, white light that’s used to temporarily blind opponents. The problem with Solar Flare is that it can easily be countered—it’s useless against anyone wearing sunglasses, and Krillin famously uses it against a blind person and promptly gets pummeled. Goku uses it against Great Ape Vegeta to buy some time to prepare his Spirit Bomb, which is pretty smart.
3 Continuous Energy Bullet
This technique has various names: Continuous Energy Bullet, Continuous Energy Wave, Continuous Ki Blast, Scatter Shot, but the outcome of the attack is always the same: complete failure. Vegeta uses this most commonly, when he gets frustrated and desperate and sends out dozens of tiny blasts in the hopes his opponent will be destroyed. When the smoke clears, though, the enemy is always perfectly unscathed and smirking. Goku uses his Continuous Kamehameha against Cell, who easily blocks it.
2 Energy Landmine
This technique uses concentrated ki blasts to create Energy Landmines, which sounds ingenious but ends up being worthless. Goku drops these small energy spheres (that explode on contact) against Jiren, as a distraction, but the otherworldly warrior easily seeks them out, steps on them to get them to explode, and they do zero damage against him, much to Goku’s shock and chagrin.
1 Spirit Bomb/Give Me Energy!
Okay, this might be controversial, but hear me out. Yes, Spirit Bomb is one of the most powerful techniques, but it also takes an ungodly amount of time to prepare, during which Goku is completely vulnerable and wide open to attack. It’s failed more times than it’s succeeded, specifically against Frieza and Jiren, and even Gohan and Krillin are easily able to deflect it because the natural energy is considered pure and ineffective against those with a good heart.
Reference: dragonball.fandom.com, gamefaqs.com, polygon.com