Goku, known as Son Goku (孫 悟空, Son Gokū?) in the English-language manga and original Japanese-language version, is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the Dragon Ball franchise created by Akira Toriyama. He is loosely based on Sun Wukong, a central character in Journey to the West. Goku is introduced as an eccentric, monkey-tailed boy who practices martial arts and possesses superhuman strength. At first, Goku is believed an Earthling, but he is later revealed to be a member of an extraterrestrial warrior race called the Saiyans.
In Dragon Ball, Goku trains himself in various martial arts and searches the planet for the eponymous Dragon Balls. He meets other characters with similar goals, such as Bulma, with whom Goku travels to find the Dragon Balls. As Goku matures, he becomes one of Earth's strongest warriors and protects it from villains who wish to harm it. Goku is depicted as carefree and aloof when at ease but quickly serious when fighting. Goku is able to concentrate his chi and use it for energy-based attacks, the most prominent being his signature Kamehameha in which Goku launches a blue energy wave from his hands.As the franchise's main protagonist, Goku features in most of the episodes, films, television programs, and OVAs of the anime series Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT, and Dragon Ball Z Kai, and many of the spin-off video games. Due to the series' international popularity, Goku has become one of the most recognizable and iconic anime characters. Outside the Dragon Ball franchise, Goku has featured in cameo appearances in Toriyama's self-parody series Neko Majin Z, has been the subject of other parodies, and has appeared in special events. Goku's critical reception has been largely positive and has been recognized as one of the greatest manga/anime characters of all time.
Goku was based on one of Akira Toriyama's earlier characters named Tanton, a fictional protagonist who appeared in a one-shot series called Dragon Boy. In this story, Tanton has a pair of wings. When Toriyama created Dragon Ball, he was inspired by Chinese author Wu Cheng'en's 16th century classic novel Journey to the West. The name Goku is the Japanese version of 孫悟空 (Sun Wukong), the central character of the novel. Toriyama designed Goku as a human boy with a monkey's tail, rather than a complete simian, because the tail would be visible even when Goku was trying to hide. Similarly, in Journey to the West, Sun Wukong can assume human form, but retains his tail. Toriyama initially planned to make Goku an Earthling; but given the introduction of fighters from other planets, it was later established that Goku is a Saiyan. To increase the pace of the story, Toriyama gave Goku the ability to teleport to any planet in seconds.
Wanting Dragon Ball to have a Chinese appearance, Toriyama modeled Goku's gi martial arts uniform on the robes worn by the Shaolin monks of China. During early developments of the manga, readers commented that Goku looked rather plain, so the author changed his appearance and added several characters like Master Roshi and Krillin, then created martial arts tournaments to base the storyline on fighting. To defy the assumption that Goku would win the tournaments, Toriyama made him lose the first and second but win the third. With the conclusion of the Cell arc, Son Gohan was intended to replace his father as protagonist; but Toriyama decided that Gohan was unsuitable for that role.
Goku is usually recognized by his unique hairstyle, which does not change its length except in his Super Saiyan forms, wherein his hair changes color and length according to the form he takes. This is explained as a common characteristic of full-blooded Saiyans. Except in his Super Saiyan 4 state, Goku's hair color changes from black to golden after ascending to a Super Saiyan, and his irises change from black to green. Goku prefers dressing in a gi uniform to show his devotion to Earth, and refuses offers of Saiyan battle fatigues ; but wore Saiyan battle fatigues designed by Bulma while he trained with Gohan in the Room of Spirit and Time at Kami's Palace, before the Cell Games.
In his early childhood, Goku is introduced wearing a blue gi uniform with red wristbands and a white belt tied in a bow. Throughout Dragon Ball Z, Goku is commonly seen wearing an orange gi uniform with a blue undershirt, blue wristbands, a blue belt tied in a knot, and striped boots. Goku also often wears the encircled kanji of his training masters on the front and back of this uniform; the first kanji being Master Roshi's, "kame" (亀?, meaning "turtle"), the second kanji being King Kai's, "kaio" (界王?, meaning "world king") and the third being his own "Go" (悟?, meaning "wisdom" or "enlightenment"). Eventually, Goku stops wearing a kanji and replaces his knot-tied belt with a blue obi. In Dragon Ball GT, Goku wears a blue fold-over shirt, yellow pants, pink wristbands, and white shinguards, and has a darker skin complexion.Masako Nozawa. Toriyama selected Nozawa upon hearing her audition sample, remarking that only Goku could sound like that. In most non-Japanese versions, different voice actors have been used for the child and adult forms of the character. In the numerous English versions, Goku is played by different actors because different companies produced the dubs; by reason of changes of ADR companies and recording studios; or due to actors quitting.
In Harmony Gold's late 1980s dub of the first few episodes, and the first and third movies of Dragon Ball, Goku (renamed "Zero") was voiced by Barbara Goodson. In Bandai's English release of the video game Final Bout, Brianne Siddall was the voice of child Goku. In Funimation's original English dub of the first 13 episodes and first movie for syndication in 1995, produced in association with BLT Productions, child Goku was voiced by Saffron Henderson In Funimation's in-house dub of the franchise, child Goku was originally voiced by Ceyli Delgadillo in the movies Sleeping Princess in Devil's Castle and Mystical Adventure dubbed before the series, Stephanie Nadolny in the entire Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT series, the movie The Path to Power, as well as various video games, and by Colleen Clinkenbeard in flashbacks in Dragon Ball Z Kai and the movie Curse of the Blood Rubies. In AB Groupe's English dub of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT (produced in association with Blue Water Studios) for Canadian and European broadcast, child Goku was voiced by Zoe Slusar.
In Bandai's English dub of the video game Final Bout, Steven Blum voiced adult Goku. In Creative Products Corporation's dub of the first 35 episodes of Dragon Ball Z (produced in association with Animation International) for the Philippines, adult Goku was voiced by Nesty Calvo Ramirez. In Funimation's dub of the first two story arcs of Dragon Ball Z produced in association with Saban and Ocean Productions, adult Goku was voiced by Ian James Corlett in episodes 1-49 (1-37 in edited episode numbering) and the movie The Tree of Might, and by Peter Kelamis in episodes 50-67 (38-53 edited). In Geneon's dub of the movies Dead Zone, The World's Strongest and The Tree of Might (produced in association with Funimation and Ocean Productions), Peter Kelamis again voiced adult Goku. In AB Groupe and Westwood Media's dub of the last half of Dragon Ball Z (produced in association with Ocean Productions) for European and Canadian broadcast, adult Goku was voiced by Peter Kelamis in episodes 108-158 and by Kirby Morrow in episodes 159-291. In AB Groupe's dub of Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball GT (produced in association with Blue Water Studios) for Canadian and European broadcast, the adult Goku was voiced by Jeffrey Watson in Dragon Ball and Jeremiah Yurk in Dragon Ball GT. In Funimation's in-house dub of the entire Dragon Ball franchise, adult Goku has been voiced consistently by Sean Schemmel.Goku in his regular state, and in several of his Super Saiyan forms.Through constant training, Goku has achieved many extraordinary abilities, like extreme strength and incredible durability. He also possesses super speed  and swift reflexes, and can perform energy blasts formed from chi. As a child, Goku wields the Nyoi-bo (如意棒, lit. "Mind Stick"?, renamed "Power Pole" in Funimation's anime dub), a magic staff that extends and retracts on command (analogue of Ruyi Jingu Bang), given to him by his adoptive grandfather; but as the series progresses Goku no longer needs his staff. Goku's first means of conveyance is a magic cloud called Kinto-un (筋斗雲, lit. "Somersault Cloud"?, renamed "Nimbus" in Funimation's dub), given him by Master Roshi in return for saving Roshi's pet sea turtle. After training with Kami, he learns to fly by virtue of the technique Bukū-jutsu (舞空術, lit. "Air Dance Technique"?) and uses the cloud less frequently.
Goku's signature move is the Kamehameha (かめはめ波, lit. "Kamehame Wave"?), an energy blast learned from Master Roshi. Another technique of Goku's, taught to him by King Kai, is the Kaiō-ken (界王拳, lit. "World King Fist"?), an attack that multiplies his chi and strength for an instant, but can strain his body afterwards. Goku's most powerful attack is the Genki Dama (元気玉, lit. "Good Spirit Ball"?, renamed "Spirit Bomb" in Funimation's dub), an energy sphere created by gathering chi from surrounding life forms, which he also learned from King Kai. Goku learns a teleportation skill called Shunkan Idō (瞬間移動, lit. "Instant Teleport"?, renamed "Instant Transmission" in Funimation's dub), which he learned from the inhabitants of the planet Yardrat.Goku is the only Saiyan in the series to achieve all the Saiyan transformations. In Dragon Ball, he can transform into a gigantic ape-like creature called an Ōzaru (大猿, lit. "Great Monkey"?, renamed "Great Ape" or "Giant Ape" in Funimation's dub) when he stares at a full moon while possessing a Saiyan tail. Goku loses the ability to make this transformation when his friends cut off his tail. Although it grows back, Goku's tail is later permanently removed by Kami. In Dragon Ball GT, Goku can again use this transformation after regrowing his tail with the Elder Kai's help. In Dragon Ball Z, Goku becomes the first Super Saiyan in a millennium in rage when Frieza kills Krillin on the planet Namek. As the series progresses, Goku achieves every advanced form of Super Saiyan. Each transformation changes Goku's appearance and enormously enhances his abilities.
Goku can fuse with Vegeta, creating a warrior with the combined powers and skills of both Saiyans. He can achieve this using two methods. The first method involves using the Potara Earrings presented to Goku by the Elder Kai, which results in a 'perfect fusion', creating Vegito ("Vegerot" in Viz Media's manga translation). The other method is by performing the Metamorese Fusion Dance, which creates Gogeta. If the dance is performed incorrectly, it forms the obese Veku.
Goku first appears in the manga chapter Bulma and Son Goku (ブルマと孫悟空, Buruma to Son Gokū?), first published in Japan's Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine on December 3, 1984. Goku first appeared as a supremely strong, monkey-tailed child adopted by the hermit Son Gohan. Before the series' narrative begins, he accidentally kills Gohan on a full-moon night. Living alone, Goku befriends a teenage girl named Bulma and joins her to find the seven magic Dragon Balls, which, when gathered, summon the wish-granting dragon Shenron. They encounter the desert bandit Yamcha and two shapeshifters named Oolong and Puar, who also join their quest. Goku is later trained by the martial artist Master Roshi, alongside Krillin, who becomes his best friend, on Roshi's island, while Roshi's maid Launch does housework. Participating in martial arts tournaments, Goku battles foes-turned-allies such as Tien Shinhan and Chiaotzu and the Namekian Piccolo. Piccolo is defeated and Goku becomes the World Martial Arts Champion.
Five years later (circa Dragon Ball Z), Goku meets his older brother, Raditz (Originally named Kakarrot (カカロット, Kakarotto?, spelled as "Kakarot" in Funimation's anime dub),, and dies after he learns about his heritage. Goku is a member of a race of extraterrestrials called Saiyans that live on the planet Vegeta; himself sent from Vegeta to prepare Earth for sale on the intergalactic market by destroying all its life. While Gohan is taking care of him, Goku suffers severe amnesia and forgets his mission to conquer Earth. Following the wish for his revival from the Dragon Balls, Goku faces enemies linked to his heritage, such as the Saiyan prince Vegeta, who eventually becomes his ally, and the galactic tyrant Frieza, who causes Goku to become a Super Saiyan. After his battle with Frieza, new enemies are introduced. Goku contracts a heart virus whereof the time-traveler Trunks warns him; but recovers after taking medicine provided by Trunks. Later, Goku trains his first child, Son Gohan (named after his late adoptive grandfather), to be his successor and sacrifices himself again during the battle against the evil life form Cell. Goku is resurrected on Earth seven years later and meets his second child, Son Goten. Shortly after, he participates in another martial arts tournament where he is drawn into a battle for the universe against a monster Majin Buu. Goku battles Vegeta after Vegeta falls under the control of Babidi. Goku destroys Buu with his Spirit Bomb technique. Ten years later, during another martial arts tournament, Goku meets Buu's human reincarnation, Uub and leaves with him, intending to train Uub as his successor.
In the anime sequel, Dragon Ball GT, Goku is transformed into a child by an accidental wish made by his enemy Emperor Pilaf using the Black Star Dragon Balls. Goku, Trunks, and Goku's granddaughter Pan travel the universe to search for the Black Star Dragon Balls and return them to Earth. Here, Goku defeats the evil Tuffle Baby, the Super Android 17, and the evil shadow dragons. His final challenge is against Omega Shenron, who he destroys using the Spirit Bomb. Goku leaves with the original form of Shenron and appears 100 years later at the next martial arts tournament as an adult, where he watches a battle between his descendant, Goku Jr., and Vegeta's descendant. An elderly Pan sees him; but he quickly departs.
Goku has appeared in other media including an unofficial Chinese live-action film and an unofficial Korean live-action film Goku appears in the 2009 20th Century Fox feature Dragonball Evolution, portrayed by actor Justin Chatwin. Goku appears in almost every Dragon Ball licensed electronic game, including crossover games such as Jump Super Stars and Jump Ultimate Stars. In 1992, Goku as featured in the interactive game Dragon Ball Z: Get Together! Goku World, in which Goku and his gang travel back in time to review events in the Dragon Ball timeline and interacts with his younger self. In 2006, Goku featured in the Dragon Ball Z/One Piece/Naruto crossover game Battle Stadium D.O.N. In December 2007, Goku, Naruto Uzumaki and Monkey D. Luffy made guest appearances in avatar form in the MMORPG Second Life for a Jump Festa promotion titled Jumpland@Second Life. Goku also appears in the Dr. Slump and Arale-chan video game for the Nintendo DS.
Goku has been the subject of, and is mentioned in, various songs. "Son Goku Song" and "Gokū no Gokigen Jānī" feature Goku as a child singing about himself. During his adult years, the song "Aitsu wa Son Gokū" by Hironobu Kageyama, where Kageyama praises everything about Goku, and the duet "Ore-tachi no Energy" feature words spoken by the character. For the release of the single of the Dragonball Evolution international theme song "Rule" Toriyama supplied CD artwork of singer Ayumi Hamasaki dressed as Goku.
Goku has been used in Japanese public service announcements aimed at children. In June 1988, Goku and other Dragon Ball characters were featured in two PSA short films. The first, in which Goku is taught the importance of obeying traffic safety by others, is entitled The Goku Traffic Safety (悟空の交通安全, Gokū no Kōtsū Anzen?) The second is called The Goku Fire Fighting Regiment (悟空の消防隊, Gokū no Shōbō-tai?), in which he teaches two children the importance of fire safety. Goku's appearance on Yamada Katsute-nai Wink.Goku has made guest appearances in various Japanese television shows and manga. In 2005, Goku appeared in the Toriyama parody manga Neko Majin Z where he is the sensei of the main character Z. On September 15, 2006, Goku, Vegeta, and Frieza appeared in a chapter of the Kochikame manga Super Kochikame entitled Kochira Namek-Sei Dragon Kōen-mae Hashutsujo (こちらナメック星ドラゴン公園前派出所?), in which Ryotsu Kankichi travels to Namek and tries to issue Frieza a citation and scolds he and Goku for parking their ships illegally. Goku, and other Dragon Ball characters joined the cast of One Piece in a crossover manga entitled Cross Epoch.
Goku has been the subject of various parodies. In the episode Career Day of Takeshi's Castle, known in the United States as MXC, the hosts Beat Takeshi and Sonomanma Higashi dressed as popular anime characters, one as Kid Goku, the other as Doraemon. Shonen Jump's Gag Special 2005 issue, released on November 12, 2004, featured a Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo one-shot Dragon Ball parody manga, a retelling of the battle between Goku and Vegeta in the Saiyan Saga. In chapter #179 of the Yakitate!! Japan manga Kawachi executes a Genki Dama parody called a Shinrai Dama (信頼玉, lit. "Trust Ball"?) on the character Katsuo. Goku's appearance as a commentator at the 2007 Nippon Ijin Taishō.Goku regularly appears on Fuji TV. In 2003, Goku appeared in the interactive feature Kyutai Panic Adventure! (球体パニックアドベンチャー!, Kyūtai Panikku Adobenchā!?, Orb Panic Adventure!), which was featured exclusively at the Fuji TV headquarters in the Kyutai or orb section. In this, Frieza attacks a visiting tourist, blasting the orb section free from the rest of the Fuji TV building. Goku fights Frieza over the real life aqua city of Odaiba. In 2004, a sequel called Kyūtai Panic Adventure Returns! (球体パニックアドベンチャーリターンズ!, Kyūtai Panikku Adobenchā Ritānzu!?, Orb Panic Adventure Returns!) was produced. On March 25, 2006, Goku and Frieza appeared in an original animated short film in the IQ Mirror Mistake 7 (ＩＱミラーまちがい７, Aikyū Mirā Machigai Nana?) segment of the Japanese game show IQ Supplement (IQサプリ, IQ Sapuri, or IQ Supli?). On April 7, 2007, Goku and Fuji TV announcer Masaharu Miyake were commentators on the anime segment in Nippon Ijin Taishō (日本偉人大賞, Japan Great Man Awards?) titled Saikyō no Ijin ha Dare? (最強の偉人は誰？, Who is the Strongest Hero??). The segment featured a special tournament to decide who was the greatest person in Japanese history. During the intermission, Goku promoted the coming release of R2 Dragon Ball DVDs.
Since the U.S. debut of Dragon Ball Z in 1996, Goku has appeared in American pop culture. He was featured in an issue of Wizard magazine in which he and Superman fought a hypothetical battle. In the Codename: Kids Next Door episode "Operation: R.E.P.O.R.T", Numbuh Four's version of the story is a parody of the Goku and Frieza's battle in Dragon Ball Z. Goku appears in Robot Chicken in a sketch entitled A Very Dragon Ball Z Christmas, where Goku and Gohan fight an evil Mrs. Claus with Santa's reindeer, in an attempt to save Christmas. The SNL sketch TV Funhouse titled Kobayashi depicts real-life hot-dog-eating champion Takeru Kobayashi as able to transform into a Super Saiyan as he prepares to eat hot dogs. Goku appears briefly near the end.
Goku has been very well received by publications for manga, anime and other media. Anime News Network noted Goku as a good source of comedy and remarked that after everything he experiences, he remains a naïve character. THEM Anime Reviews noted that Goku is not an omnipotent character in the first series, unlike Dragon Ball Z, and does not disappear for long periods of time between sagas. They also liked the way the series' depict his entire adventures, making him a good main character. Rationalmagic.com praised Goku's innocence as one of the funniest parts of the series. According to Julius Weideman, Goku's journey and ever-growing strength resulted in the character winning "the admiration of young boys everywhere." Goku was ranked Number One in IGN's Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time, and in Mania Entertainment's 10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes written by Thomas Zoth who commented that "Goku and Dragon Ball completely revolutionized the shonen genre." In a Newtype poll from March 2010, Goku was voted the fourth most popular male character from the 1980s.
Several pieces of merchandising based on Goku have been released, including action figures, plushes, and keychains. In a 2005 The Daily Reader article entitled "The Greatest Geek Movie Heroes of All Time", Goku is the only animated character listed, ranked tenth. Goku has been featured in the Animage's Anime Grand Prix 1989 polls, ranked the second most popular male anime character. One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda and Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto said that Goku inspired their series' themes. In 2000, Goku placed third in an Animax poll of favorite anime characters. In a survey of 1,000 people, conducted by Oricon in 2007, Goku ranked first place as the "Strongest Manga character of all time." In the survey "friendship" developed by rankingjapan.com, in which people chose which anime character they would like as a friend, Goku ranked fifth. Masako Nozawa, the Japanese voice actor who played Goku, said that she liked when he lost his tail because it made him look normal and that the character was still the same at the end of the series. Jackie Chan has gone on record stating that Goku is his favorite Dragon Ball character.
The German rock band Son Goku takes their name from Goku. The band's lead singer Thomas D chose the name because Goku embodies the band's philosophy, saying he was "fascinated by Goku's naïveté and cheerfulness, yet, at the same time, a great warrior saving the world."
In 2010, a fiberglass statue of Goku was created by Chinese artist Edison Chen, with Chen's facial features instead of Goku's, as part of Chen's "I Hate You For Looking!" collection that was displayed at the "Treacherous Treis" exhibition.