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The main character of Dragonball, and a substantial role in DBZ, Goku is sent to Earth as an infant so he can prepare it to be sold. He could easily eliminate all life on the planet, but he falls into a ravine and hits his head a a baby. Now with his orders lost, Goku becomes a friendly boy who fights on the side of good. He is not too intelligent, but a natural when it comes to the martial arts and manipulating his Ki. By far, Goku has the most abilities of any of the Z warriors (Cell is the only character with more). He marries Chi-Chi, daughter of Ox King; and together they have two sons, Gohan and Goten.
Son of Goku, he is initially trained by Piccolo after the battle with Radditz. He looks up to Piccolo for being such a great fighter, and trys to immitate him by wearing similar clothes. He has the potential to become the most powerful being in the universe, yet since he cannot always fully utilize his strength, he can be defeated. Gohan is the first Saiya-jin to go SSJ2, but after the Cell saga he spends little time training and focuses on his studies.
Kuririn is the most powerful human on Earth, although his abilities are still dwarfed by Goku and Gohan. He was once Goku's rival when they were young, but they later became best friends. A Buddhist monk, he shaves his head by choice (#18 convinces him to grow some hair later in the series). Kuririn is willing to sacrifice his life for Earth (and he has many times), and whenever possible he is at Goku's side.
The Piccolo in the DBZ series is the sole offspring of Piccolo-Daimao from the original. Like his father, his intentions are evil. However, when Raditz threatens the Earth, he turns to the side of good and helps Goku. He later trains Gohan, and the kid helps Piccolo become a good, well-meaning person. Capable of regenerating body parts and manipulating his size and shape, Piccolo is a formidable fighter.
Tien is Chao-tsu's chief bodyguard. His powers revolve around deception and multiplying various body parts. Tein is the developer of numerous techniques such as the Taiyoken and Kikoho. The "three-eyed man", even though he makes few appearances later on, still plays a decent roll in Dragonball.
Trunks is the first child of Vegita and Bulma. There are two Trunks in the DB universe; "Future Trunks" comes from a parallel universe 14 years in the future where evil androids rule the Earth. He goes back in time after the death of Furiza to prepare the Z warriors for the androids' arrival. So as not to prevent his own birth, he tells no one of his heritage, except Goku. "Chibi Trunks" is born a little before Future Trunks returns to his own time. He likes to hang out with Goten and they are very good friends. When he and Goten are together, he has a tendency to get them in trouble. Trunks is also sad that he does not have a brother like Goten does (Gohan). Trunks has purple hair and displays extreme levels of power, he reaches Super Saiya-jin when he is eight.
Born on the planet bearing his own name, Vegeta has the bloodline to become a super-elite Saiya-jin. A henchman of Frieza, he is regarded as one of the greatest fighters in the universe. Along with Goku, Radditz, and Nappa, Vegeta is one of the only Saiya-jins to survive the destruction of his homeworld. He is extremely jealous of Goku's superior fighting ability, and actually helps him from time to time so that he still has someone to compete with. Vegeta craves nothing more than ultimate power until the very end of DBZ.
A favorite character among fans, Gogeta is the fusion of Goku and Vegeta without the Potarra earrings. He makes a short appearance in DBZ movie #12, and on several more occasions in DBGT. Gogeta doesn't waste a moment in battle, quite different from Gotenks and Vegeto who enjoy taking their sweet time. GOGETA
With the use of the Potara earrings, Vegita and Goku become Vegeto. Although he is not as arrogant as Gotenks, he does waste a lot of time, and his opponents often take advantage of this. The fusion is supposed to be permanent, but the laws of physics change once they enter Kid Buu. Vegeto differs from Gogeta, as Vegeta is the dominant form in the fusion.