It is generally accepted that every superhero story needs a lovable comic relief character: an underdog who doesn’t possess the superior strength of the main hero but still offers a more grounded angle seasoned with fear and cynicism over the extraordinary crisis surrounding them. Of course, most fans will put themselves in the role of the hero, embracing the concept of Power Fantasy, but failing to fully appreciate the importance of the weaker underdog character is almost ironic in itself.
Krillin fills this role perfectly in the Dragon Ball franchise. Though he was once considered Goku’s equal, having trained together since childhood, Goku’s strength and stronger desire for battle left Krillin far in the dust as far as strength goes. But the loveable short-statured fighter still charges headlong into every major threat, doing what he can to keep the enemies at bay until Goku comes to save the day. More often than naught, this even costs Krillin his life.
But no matter how much his legs may be shaking, Krillin still possesses a ton of courage in facing off against enemies he knows he doesn’t stand a chance against. It’s his quick-thinking and resourcefulness that often plays a pivotal role in Goku’s eventual victory. If nothing else, he always remembers to carry a bag of Senzu Beans with him, knowing that he and his other companions will need their healing properties when the going gets tough. This latest list is a tribute to all things Krillin, from his goofy appearance to his surprising aptitude in learning new tricks in battle.
25 He Has No Nose
The most obvious oddball feature about Krillin is his apparent lack of a nose. While this would normally be attributed to a shortcut on the artist’s part, it was even referenced within the series itself.
While fighting against the foul-smelling fighter Bacterian, Krillin had struggled against the repugnant opponent until Goku pointed out that Krillin’s lack of a nose would give him an advantage. Toriyama also commented that Krillin actually breathes through his skin, though whether or not that was a joke is up to interpretation.
24 He Is Short
Another obvious distinction about Krillin’s appearance is his short stature. Once upon a time, he and Goku were the same height when they were children, but as Krillin’s growth was slower and gradual, Goku quickly eclipsed him in both height and power.
Krillin is usually not bothered by his height, though he does show a bit of annoyance when seeing how Gohan almost reached his size at just four years old. Needless to say, Gohan also surpassed Krillin’s height in just a few years.
23 The Dots On His Forehead
Cultural-minded fans (or fans of martial arts movies) will probably already know this, but the six dots on Krillin’s forehead aren’t just some weird birthmark, but a clue as to his upbringing.
The six dots are actually moxibustion burns, an ancient Chinese technique that is commonly associated with Shaolin monks.
The marks indicate Krillin’s previous tutelage before choosing to study under Master Roshi, though they also serve as a loving nod to Toriyama’s love of martial arts films, of which Dragon Ball contains several.
22 He Is Inspired By Charlie Brown
Krillin might just have one of the most drastically changed character designs from the start of Dragon Ball to the later years of Dragon Ball Z. Originally, Krillin was a pudgier, more comical looking child that looked remarkably similar to a more famous downtrodden bald kid in the West.
Sure enough, Krillin’s original design was inspired by Charlie Brown, down to the yellow pattern on his clothes. Charlie Brown’s typically cynical nature is also represented in Krillin’s personality, as someone who tends to lament in his own powerlessness and envy towards his more powerful companions.
21 Created The Destructo Disc
The Destructo Disk (known in Japanese as “Kienzan”) is unmistakably Krillin’s most iconic move, even though he is also a master of the Kamehameha, which is typically associated with Goku.
Despite Krillin’s lack of power, the Destructo Disk has proven to be one of the most powerful techniques out there. Just about any foe, including true terrors like Frieza, will be sliced instantly by the razor sharp edges of the Disk. The problem is that many enemies can dodge its slow speed, which is why it works best as a surprise attack.
20 Keeps His Old Uniform
As a fighter who is always striving to improve in strength, Goku has studied under many different masters, including Master Roshi, King Kai and the enigmatic Whis. Each time, Goku will modify his iconic outfit, usually to wear the symbol of his latest master on his back.
But Krillin has continued to remain the pupil of Master Roshi, even after surpassing the Turtle Hermit. As a show of respect, he still wears Roshi’s symbol on his traditional uniform, which he still wears into battle.
19 Perished The Most Times
As one of the most morbidly amusing memes, Krillin is often the first character that comes to mind regarding Dragon Ball’s penchant for offing its characters in repeated fashion. Even Goku himself has perished no less than two times.
But Krillin holds the record for perishing the most out of any character in the series.
Not counting old age during the Dragon Ball Online game, Krillin has perished (and been revived) a whopping seven times. It’s no wonder the poor guy is traumatized at one point in Dragon Ball Super.
18 He Got Really Old In GT
It has been established in the last episode of Dragon Ball Z that Saiyans age slower than humans, a fact that annoys the middle-aged Bulma while her husband Vegeta retains his youthful appearance.
But it’s especially sad to see Krillin as bordering on Master Roshi levels at the time of Dragon Ball GT. It is especially confusing when all the other non-Saiyans around him, including his wife, appear older but not nearly as decrepit. Perhaps all those resurrections finally caught up with him…and he still had to suffer one more takedown from Android 17.
17 Sensitive To Power Readings
The ability to sense a person’s power (or Ki) is a big advantage, in that it serves as a warning for Krillin that he’s facing off against an impossible enemy (which is usually all of them).
But it turns out that Krillin’s ability to sense power is also more finely tuned. By being hit once by Cell, he was able to sense just how vast the villain’s power was, something that Vegeta failed to notice. He was also able to sense the power that Trunks was purposely keeping hidden away while his father faced off against Cell.
16 Had A Hidden Potential
When visiting the Grand Elder on Planet Namek, the wise old Namekian had sensed that Krillin possessed a hidden power that was locked away deep within him. By using his abilities to unlock Krillin’s potential, the fighter received a massive power boost that he had only previously dreamed of.
Too bad the boost proved ineffective against the inimitable strength of the Ginyu Force, though, in fairness, even Vegeta was unable to best them in a fight (at least initially).
15 He Copied Tien's Solar Flare
Not only can Krillin create an assortment of new techniques on the fly, he is also able to learn the techniques of other characters, further adding new tricks to his arsenal.
One of the most useful abilities is the Solar Flare, a technique originally created by Tien.
This move will temporarily blind opponents with an incredibly bright flash and has proved effective against even the most powerful of foes. More often than not, this move is meant for escaping an impossible battle, rather than follow through with an offensive assault.
14 He Can Make Copies
Boy, Tien should consider copyrighting his abilities. Not only has Krillin copied the Solar Flare from the three-eyed fighter, he can also utilize the ability to create temporary copies of himself.
This is the same copy technique that Piccolo uses, though it comes with the same limitations: the existing fighter’s power and speed are divided into their copies, meaning that a significantly stronger enemy will have no problem taking out the additional number of backup opponents.
13 He Loves Karaoke
While Krillin may not be as battle-obsessed as many of his companions, this does allow him to enjoy some of the finer things in life. It turns out that Krillin is particularly a big fan of karaoke, and can be seen giving a heartfelt performance in the eighth movie.
Unfortunately, his bad singing also proved a source of irritation for characters like Vegeta, who looked ready to add another notch to Krillin’s demise count. At least Roshi seemed entertained by Krillin’s performance.
12 He Is The Strongest Human
In what has been a constant source of contention among the hardcore fans, Yamcha had once stated to Krillin’s daughter that her father was the strongest human in the world.
Toriyama later confirmed this as well, leaving Tien fans in the dust. If the world wasn’t populated with Super Saiyans, Namekians and Androids, Krillin could have perhaps enjoyed the life of a worldwide champion, a privilege that Mister Satan owes to a lifetime of dedicated lying and bribing. Shame that Krillin is too honest a guy to cook up a similar racket.
11 His Demise Led To Super Saiyan Goku
During the Namek saga, Krillin’s destruction by the hands of Frieza was seen as a major shock instead of a running joke. At the time, the Dragon Balls had a strict rule that no one could be brought back more than once, and Krillin had already wasted his one resurrection way back in the King Piccolo saga.
Enraged that he may never see his best friend again, this cruel tragedy was the moment Goku needed to awaken the Super Saiyan transformation within him.
10 Had A Daughter With An Android
Krillin’s eventual marriage to Android 18 wasn’t the strangest coupling the series had to offer.
That honor goes to Vegeta and Bulma, by far.
But when asked by Goku on how Android 18 was able to bear a child, Krillin explained that despite her name, Android 18 is actually a modified human and not a being with fully mechanical parts. This meant that she had all the biological stuff necessary to birth Marron, a child beloved by both of her parents.
9 Shares Luffy's Voice Actress (Japanese)
This is a fun little nod that only fans of the original Japanese version would get, but it’s still worth pointing out. It turns out that Krillin shares the same Japanese voice actress as Luffy, the main character of One Piece (Mayumi Tanaka). Like Goku’s Japanese voice actress, Tanaka has been playing Krillin even during his childhood role in the original Dragon Ball.
As a fun reference to this, the ringtone to Krillin’s cellphone is actually the first opening theme to One Piece (“We Are!”).
8 He Chooses To Be Bald
One would assume that Krillin’s chrome dome was another unfortunate result of the fighter’s constant raw deals in life.
But it turns out that Krillin chooses to be bald, at first as an attempt to emulate Master Roshi (who is in fact naturally bald). He has also occasionally allowed himself to grow a full head of hair during his off-days. Whenever he decides to get back into training, he’ll request a full shave from his wife, who seems to prefer the shiny bald look for her hubby.
7 His Eyes Lost Color
As mentioned before, Krillin’s original design was vastly different from when he was a child, having a more rotund and overall cartoonish look compared to the…still somewhat cartoonish look of his grown-up design.
One of the more striking design changes was how his eyes were drawn. Krillin originally started out with traditional white irises, but once he reached adulthood the white was drawn away completely. Ironically this made him look closer to Charlie Brown, whose eyes are drawn in a similar style.
6 He Fancies Women
A smooth bald head wasn’t the only trait that Krillin shared with Master Roshi. Even as a child, the boy seemed eager to get up close and personal with the opposite gender, though in a decidedly more reserved (and far less creepy) fashion than his “overeager” master.
This is also why Krillin was quickly smitten by Android 18’s charms, leading him to ultimately spare her life when tasked with detonating the bomb inside of her so that Cell wouldn’t absorb her power.
5 He Trained Since He Was Four
Goku (and later, his son Gohan) started training in martial arts almost immediately after learning how to walk. Despite being human, Krillin was no exception to taking up the fighting life at a very young age.
It turns out that Krillin had been training since the age of four.
Unfortunately, his short stature (even as a child) and cowardly demeanor made him the constant target for the older fighters at the temple he originally trained in. This prompted him to train with Master Roshi instead, and the results allowed him to even defeat his former bullies with ease.
4 He Defeated The Most Saibamen
Before facing off against Nappa and Vegeta, the two Saiyans decided to make sport of the Z Fighters by having them face off against their plant-grown Saibamen. Tien managed to defeat one of the six creatures, while a distracted Yamcha was taken out by the kamikaze move of another.
Enraged, Krillin unleashed an attack that managed to wipe out three of the four remaining Saibamen (Piccolo took out the straggler who managed to evade Krillin’s deadly attack). An impressive accomplishment, but his attack failed to do any damage to Nappa or Vegeta.
3 He Deals With Something
What would normally be considered heartbreaking tragedies in other anime become somewhat of a running joke in the Dragon Ball series, as the titular items can be used to resurrect any fallen friend (and sometimes foe) without any real restrictions.
But perishing as many times as Krillin is bound to take an emotional toll, which he demonstrates during a training session in Dragon Ball Super that has him facing off against illusions of former enemies, many of which personally did him in.
2 He Beat Goku (Once)
Even though he once dreamed of surpassing his former rival, Krillin eventually accepted that Goku was the superior fighter, and worked instead to assist him in battles as best he could.
In one of the rare good moments in Dragon Ball GT, the final episode caps things off with a final sparring match between Goku and Krillin, where the latter actually ends up victorious, to the surprise of both. A bittersweet exchange, as it was also when Goku bid a final farewell to his best friend.
1 He Wielded The Spirit Bomb (Once)
As previously mentioned, Krillin has a knack for picking up and adapting the techniques of other fighters, sometimes using them more efficiently in battle.
In this case, he was actually borrowing the Spirit Bomb from a wounded Goku to use against Vegeta.
Nevertheless, the entire fate of the Earth rested on Krillin’s shoulders, proving that no matter how weak he was in terms, he would always bravely come through to defend the planet and his friends.