Throughout his life, Goku has had so many enemies that even he didn’t know there were people who lived for the sole purpose of destroying him. Dr. Gero had been plotting the Saiyan’s death for years before he even laid eyes on the man. Out of everyone whose very existence put Goku’s survival at risk, two that stand out the most are Frieza and Jiren, though it should be noted that Jiren technically isn’t his enemy. It was the odd circumstance of the Tournament of Power that forced them into competition, though it served to establish the other as an obstacle to be overcome in each warriors’ eyes.
Although Frieza’s been around for decades now, and Jiren is relatively new to the series, some fans feel as though Jiren has already proven that he’s worthy of being deemed as Goku’s greatest enemy. Others feel as though that title goes to Frieza. Below are just a few reasons as to why each character deserves such an honor.
10 Frieza: Destroyed Goku’s Planet And His People
With just one finger, Frieza destroyed the Saiyans, making Goku one of a handful of survivors. While Goku has never been one to tout his Saiyan heritage like Vegeta, every battle between Goku and Frieza has been years in the making, with Goku personifying the revenge of the Saiyans.
Frieza only sees killing Goku as finishing a job he thought he’d completed a long time ago, and his mere existence will always be a threat to Goku’s life.
9 Jiren: Nearly Killed Many Of Goku’s Close Friends With One Blast
During the Tournament of Power, Jiren’s values were put to the test far more than Goku’s, and in a desperate attempt to show Goku that the bonds he’d built could easily be broken, the Universe 11 warrior launched a blast at the stands that would’ve annihilated many of Goku’s friends. While we’re certain that one of the Angels would’ve deflected or nullified the blast, there’s also no guarantee that they would’ve just dodged it themselves, leaving the weaker members in the stands to take the hit.
Though Goku managed to deflect the blast at the last second, he was furious. Not even Frieza has been given an opportunity to kill so many of Goku’s closest allies in one fell swoop.
8 Frieza: Pushed Goku To Transform For The First Time
Goku’s first Super Saiyan transformation is one of the most iconic moments in all of Dragon Ball Z (and maybe in all of anime). It was Frieza who pushed Goku to this state after killing Krillin, thus changing the series in a major way.
It makes sense that Goku’s greatest enemy would be the one who awakened the legendary power that had always been asleep within him.
7 Jiren: Pushed Goku To Ultra Instinct
While it was Frieza who forced Goku to transform into a Super Saiyan for the first time, it was Jiren who forced him into Ultra Instinct. While Ultra Instinct is still a relatively new form, it’s changed the series forever, with fans always theorizing when Goku will enter this divine state next.
Jiren has definitely ushered in a new era of Dragon Ball Super that marks Goku further closing the gap between him and the gods, which makes Jiren just as much of a big deal as Frieza.
6 Frieza: Hates Goku
Frieza had always despised Saiyans, but after Goku humiliated him on Namek, the Saiyan earned a special place in Frieza’s cold, dark heart. While the two have exchanged blows several times, none have detested Saiyans more than Frieza.
The fact that Frieza hates Goku just because of his race means that Goku and his family won’t ever be completely safe until Frieza is once again trapped in the pits of Earth’s Hell.
5 Jiren: He Forced Goku To Think Outside The Box
When characters in Dragon Ball are pitted against extremely powerful foes, they’re forced to use their techniques in different ways to gain the upper hand on their opponent. During his fight with Cell, for example, Goku combined his Instant Transmission technique with the Kamehameha to land what he thought was a decisive blow, and when battling Frieza, he came up with the idea to use a stronger version of the Spirit Bomb.
Against Jiren, every single one of his tried and true techniques failed, so Goku was forced to think outside the box to defeat his opponent by using energy mines and a Destructo-Disc fakeout that he picked up from Krillin. Though these new strategies weren’t enough for him to secure the victory, Jiren did what any great enemy normally does by forcing the hero to grow and develop their own skills.
4 Frieza: They’ve Never Really Fought A Battle To The Death
Canonically, Goku and Jiren have only met in battle three times; the first on Namek, the second after Frieza’s resurrection, and the final time after Goku retrieved Frieza from Hell. Though they each managed to get some good hits on one another over the years, they’ve never fought to the death without something or someone breaking it up. Sure, Goku won their fight on Namek, but he was pressured by the planet that would soon explode, and while Frieza nearly killed Goku during their fight on Earth, it was Sorbet who had actually brought Goku down, and it was Vegeta who saved him.
The two warriors have yet to have a fight where the only thing they have to worry about is defeating the other person without intervention from anything or anyone else. When they finally get such an opportunity, it’ll most likely be the most epic battle in all of Dragon Ball.
3 Jiren: They’re Extremely Alike
At first glance, Goku and Jiren are completely different characters, but upon closer inspection, they share a lot in common. For one, both warriors were trained in martial arts from a young age after the deaths of their parents, but lost their teachers during their formative years. Goku unintentionally killed Grandpa Gohan, while Jiren lost his teacher to a powerful villain. Despite being stronger when they work together with their allies, they prefer to fight opponents on their own unless they’re backed into a desperate corner.
More importantly, both have gained the attention of the gods despite not having an interest in one day becoming Gods of Destruction themselves. The reason why Vegeta was one of Goku’s greatest enemies was due to the fact that they were both the last known pureblooded survivors of their race. While Jiren and Goku definitely didn’t come from the same planet, their similarities indicate that they most likely could’ve been friends if they’d been born in the same universe.
2 Frieza: He Keeps Coming Back For More
Most Dragon Ball enemies don’t have the luxury of getting multiple chances to kill Goku. Frieza had several. Not only did he manage to survive his fight with Goku on Namek, but after he was killed by Future Trunks, he was revived years later to kill Goku once and for all. And even after losing that fight, he was revived after the Tournament of Power.
He’s like a cockroach that just won’t stay down no matter how many times you step on him, meaning that Goku can’t have his guard down as long as Frieza exists somewhere in the living world, or even in the Other World.
1 Jiren: Both Are The Strongest Mortals Of Their Respective Universes
The Tournament of Power made it easy to see just who the strongest mortals of each universe were, but of course, the two powerhouses were Goku and Jiren. Both warriors shattered their own limits and performed physical feats the likes of which fans had never seen in the franchise before.
They’re undoubtedly the strongest warriors in their respective universes, with both warriors training hard with the sole focus of one day surpassing the other given the lack of competition in their own respective universes (especially when Goku masters Ultra Instinct). Whenever they get their rematch, it’ll definitely be one for the Dragon Ball books.
Frieza seemed like Goku's most iconic foe for for years until Jiren showed up. Which one has proven to be his greatest enemy?