Cell (Dragon Ball)

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Dragon Ball character
Cell lithograph.png
Cell's three forms as seen in the anime; Imperfect (left), Semi-Perfect (right) and Perfect (middle).
First appearance Dragon Ball chapter 361: "The Mysterious Monster, Finally Appears!!" (1993)
Created by Akira Toriyama
Voiced by Japanese
Norio Wakamoto[1][2]
Dameon Clarke (Funimation)[3]
Dale Wilson (Ocean)[4]
Travis Willingham (Dragon Ball: Raging Blast and Dragon Ball: Raging Blast 2)
Species Bio-organic android
Relatives Doctor Gero (creator)
Goku (partial template)
Vegeta (partial template)
Piccolo (partial template)
Freeza (partial template)
King Cold (partial template)
Android #17 (assimilate)
Android #18 (assimilate)
Cell Juniors (offspring)

Cell (セル Seru?) is a fictional character in the Dragon Ball manga series created by Akira Toriyama. He makes his debut in chapter #361 The Mysterious Monster, Finally Appears!! (謎の怪物、ついに出現!! Nazo no Kaibutsu, Tsui ni Shutsugen!!?) first published in Weekly Shōnen Jump on February 24, 1993.[5] Cell is an artificial life form created using cells from several of the main characters in the series. During the course of his appearance, he undergoes several transformations that require him to absorb Androids #17 and #18.

Creation and conception[edit]

After Kazuhiko Torishima, Toriyama's former editor during Dr. Slump and early Dragon Ball, expressed dissatisfaction with first Androids #19 and #20 and (later) Androids #17 and #18 as villains, Toriyama finally came up with Cell.[6][7] Toriyama has stated some kind of regret regarding the design of Cell, as it was tedious to draw all the little spots on his body.[7] In addition, he did not initially plan for the character to be able to transform, but give him this ability after his then-current editor Yū Kondō described Cell as "looking ugly".[6] Cell originally evolves from a cicada-like form into his Imperfect Cell (不完全体セル Fukanzentai Seru?) form, which is still insect-like in appearance. Both his first form and his second Semi-Perfect Cell (半完全体セル Hankanzentai Seru?) form have a long tail that ends in a stinger-like appendage and allows it to absorb other organisms. The tail recedes under his wings in his final Perfect Cell (完全体セル Kanzentai Seru?) form, although he uses it to spawn Cell Juniors (セルジュニア Seru Junia?), minuscule childlike versions of himself.


Cell displays a number of traits shared by those whose cells he possesses; Piccolo's cunning, Vegeta's pride, Goku's laid-back disposition, Frieza's smugness, and the Saiyan lust for battle. He is unique among most villains of the series in that he is quite sophisticated. As his evolution proceeds, he can be observed as having a more patient and calculating approach towards his goals. Because of his genetic composition from other warriors, he is able to psychologically manipulate those warriors and exploit their weaknesses to his advantage. Cell's personality changes drastically throughout the Androids Arc with each transformation.

At first, Cell is completely single-minded in pursuit of his goals and at first, Cell's desire was to complete his evolution by absorbing both Android 17 and Android 18 is what fuels him as he was extremely eager to discover what attaining perfection would feel like. As Imperfect Cell, Cell was very cautious, sneaky, cunning and calculating, not going after the Androids, since he knew he couldn't beat them. Most of his characteristic as Imperfect Cell were traits he inherited as result of having Piccolo's cells.

Upon reaching his first transformation, he becomes far more brash and impulsive in his actions. After he achieves this Semi-Perfect form, Cell no longer cares about absorbing other creatures, and becomes obsessed with finding Android 18. Aside from his obsession, he also becomes slightly more arrogant because of his power increase, as well as being rash and impatient. His arrogance is short-lived though; he is easily outclassed by Vegeta's Ascended Super Saiyan form. After finding that his Semi-Perfect form is no match for his opponent, Cell convinces Vegeta to allow him to absorb Android 18 to attain the Perfect Form (which he is able to do as he appeals to Vegeta's ego and the natural Saiyan drive to fight stronger opponents, both of which Cell is aware of, as he possesses Vegeta's cells). In his new form, he seems to feel that he is the most powerful living specimen on the planet, and it is suggested that this arrogant attitude may have been influenced by Vegeta's genes, meaning Vegeta's cells may become more prominent while in this form, which seems to be supported by the fact he uses at least two of Vegeta's signature moves in this form, albeit only in the anime; Galick Gun and Big Bang Attack. It may also be due to his absorption of Android 17 and the genes of Frieza, both of whom are very egotistical and intolerant of the idea of anyone being better than themselves. To further support the notion of his superiority, Android 16, who barely survives his brief encounter with this form of Cell, thinks to himself that there should be no one in the universe ready to challenge him at this point, and that it is odd how he is still so obsessed with achieving completion, until this preconception is shattered by Cell's embarrassment against the self-proclaimed "Super Vegeta".

Upon reaching his final form, which he thought was 'perfection', his eagerness to test the limits of his new-found power is what defines his character. Perhaps Cell's most distinguishable trait in this form is his uninhibited vanity, which he shamelessly puts on display by launching the Cell Games, a tournament organized for the sole purpose of showing off his new-found power. Cell also displays a number of traits shared by those whose cells he possesses; Piccolo's coolness, knowledge, and cunning, Vegeta's pride and confidence, Goku's laid-back disposition, Frieza's smugness and conceitedness, and the Saiyan lust for battle. He is also shown calm and genuinely polite in this Perfect form. It can also be seen during Cell's confrontation with Gohan when he affirms his true purpose: the annihilation of anything he considers imperfect, a category in which he places everyone and everything but himself. He is unique in that he has no desire for conquest, immortality, or power and instead seeks only entertainment and to test the limits of his perfection. Later, he wanted only to unleash annihilation upon the universe and on anything he considered imperfect or, to put it bluntly, anything besides himself. In all forms, he retains Frieza's sadism. While created evil, he is still fully conscious of the morality (or lack thereof) of his actions and commits them because he wants to. His stated reason for wanting to destroy humanity is simply to see the looks of terror on their faces before they die.

After he receives a Zenkai from his recovery after a botched self-destruction that takes the lives of Goku, King Kai, Bubbles and Gregory, Super Perfect Cell is born and with the huge influx of power causes his already inflated ego to increase dramatically. He becomes notably more deranged, hot-headed and bloodthirsty, traits he most likely inherited from Super Saiyan 2 Gohan. He also frequently shouts and exhibits bizarre facial ticks at random intervals, although this may be largely due to his rage over being humiliated by Gohan. In addition, the intro narration for the episode in which Cell returns has the narrator referring to Cell as a "demented demon", implying that Cell had become insane when he returned.

In the English manga, Cell is referred to as "it", while in the anime (and the Japanese versions of both), he is referred to as "he." He is likely described that way in the English manga to emphasize the fact that he is an artificial being.


Dragon Ball[edit]

Cell is an artificial life form created by Doctor Gero's computer from cells of different warriors, possessing the genetic information of the Saiyans (Goku and Vegeta), Piccolo, Freeza and King Cold in an underground complex below Gero's secret research laboratory. Cell's design is to evolve into the perfect being which can be achieved only by absorbing Androids #17 and #18. But in the alternate future he is from, the two Androids were deactivated. After he kills the Trunks from his timeline, Cell regresses into an egg while using Trunks's time machine to travel back four years before the Androids appeared.[8]

After hatching and metamorphosis into an insect-like humanoid referred to as Imperfect Cell, Cell kills off various people and absorbs them to increase his power in preparation to absorb the Androids.[9] Though originally a match for the regular untrained Super Saiyan, Cell is unable to defeat Piccolo. After he manages to absorb the energy of entire cities of people, Cell defeats Piccolo before he finds and absorbs Android #17 to evolve into a large and more human-like form referred to as Semi-Perfect Cell. However, Cell quickly gets beaten by Vegeta. But after absorbing Android #18 regardless of interference, Cell assumes his more human-like Perfect Cell. After quickly defeating Vegeta, Cell fights Trunks but defeats him as well.

Wanting to test his abilities and enjoying the fear he causes in others, Cell decides to hold his own fighting tournament known as the Cell Games (セルゲーム Seru Gēmu?) to find a worthy opponent to face him intending to destroy Earth when he wins. In the first round, he fights Goku. Although Goku puts up a decent struggle, he quits upon realizing Cell is stronger than him. Cell is then pitted against Gohan to his surprise. Though Gohan puts up a good fight, Cell takes the upper hand quickly due to Gohan's general dislike of hurting others, no matter how evil they are. Gohan warns Cell that if he is pushed too far, he will lose control of his power and likely kill him with no remorse, but Cell decides to make Gohan angry by shattering Android 16 to pieces and setting a group of Cell Juniors on the rest of the fighters. Gohan's rage begins to swell, and when Cell mercilessly steps on Android #16's head, Gohan transforms into a Super Saiyan 2 and overwhelms the Cell Juniors and Cell himself who ultimately takes so much damage that he regurgitates #18 and reverts to his previous form. In desperation, Cell tries to self-destruct against the Earth, but Goku sacrifices himself to ensure that Cell self-destructs elsewhere. Cell, however, returns to his Perfect Form after realizing that the genetics of Saiyans and Namekians have made him nearly immortal with the ability to reach further perfection as he tries to destroy the world and find stronger opponents elsewhere in the universe. Luckily, Gohan, with Goku aiding in spirit, manages to destroy Cell once and for all after a climactic Kamehameha struggle.

Once Trunks returns to his future timeline and destroys Androids #17 and #18, he is confronted by the Cell of his timeline, planning to kill Trunks and steal his time machine to travel to a time when the androids still exist. After asking questions about how Trunks knows about him, the two fight. Trunks quickly becomes a Super Saiyan and effortlessly defeats Cell, ending his reign of terror for good and finally bringing peace to his future.

In later filler episodes of the anime, Cell makes numerous cameo appearances, usually as comic relief. In these appearances, he is shown causing trouble in Hell along with Freeza, King Cold and the Ginyu Force, having somehow been permitted to keep his physical body despite his wrongdoings. He is defeated by Goku and Pikkon and sent to prison, and he is later seen watching Goku's battle with Majin Boo on a crystal ball, openly wondering why Goku quit against him and then went on to fight Boo, whom he acknowledges to be a stronger opponent than he was.

In other media[edit]

In Dragon Ball GT, after Goku is sent to Hell by accident, he confronts both Cell and Freeza, whose bodies have been rendered temporarily immortal due to the upset in the balance between the two worlds. Though Cell and Freeza trap Goku with their new joint attack and render him frozen by a witch living below, they too are frozen after foolishly venturing down to gloat at him, and due to being dead, they are unable to thaw out like Goku did. Goku accidentally breaks the ice Cell and Freeza are trapped within to pieces, implying that Cell and Freeza have been erased from existence. However, in a future scene, Freeza and Cell are seen being taken away in a jail cell with tape over their mouths.

Cell appears in a number of video games as a boss and playable character, most notably the Budokai, Budokai Tenkaichi and Raging Blast series. He is also a playable character in the Dragon Ball Z: Collectible Card Game. He also appears in a TV ad for Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, questioning why he isn't in the film while Freeza brags that he is, Cell then remarks that Freeza only has a non-speaking appearance.[10]


D. F. Smith of IGN criticized Cell's decision to hold a fighting tournament instead of destroying Earth as a sign of the author having run out of ideas.[11] Dennis Amith of J!-ENT described Cell as "the toughest enemy that the team has fought yet" and liked how the efforts of the other characters trying to stop Cell is the main focus of that part of the series.[12] J. Steiff and T. D. Tamplin used Cell as an example of the concept of "leveling up" in anime and believed Cell follows this concept well.[13]


  1. ^ Norio Wakamoto Behind The Voice Actors
  2. ^ Chance, N. (2011). Who Was Who on TV, Band 1. Xlibris Corporation. p. 395. ISBN 978-1-4568-2128-9. 
  3. ^ Dameon Clarke Behind The Voice Actors
  4. ^ Dale Wilson Behind The Voice Actors
  5. ^ Weekly Shōnen Jump #10 February 24, 1993
  6. ^ a b "Shenlong Times 2". DRAGON BALL 大全集 2: STORY GUIDE (in Japanese) (Shueisha): 6. 1995. 
  7. ^ a b DRAGON BALL 大全集 1 COMPLETE ILLUSTRATION. Shueisha. 1995. pp. 206–207. ISBN 4-08-782754-2. 
  8. ^ "The Monster's Riddle is Solved". Weekly Shōnen Jump (Shueisha) (13). March 16, 1992. 
  9. ^ "The Union of God and the Demon King". Weekly Shōnen Jump (Shueisha) (10). February 24, 1992. 
  10. ^ "2013 Dragon Ball Film's TV Ad Has Voice Cameo by Cell". Anime News Network. 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  11. ^ Smith, D. F. Dragon Ball Z - Season Six DVD Review Archived at WebCite
  12. ^ Amith, D. Dragon Ball Z - Season Five DVD Review Archived at WebCite
  13. ^ Steiff, J.; Tristan D. Tamplin (2010). "Cell's Game and the Darwinian Model". Anime and philosophy. Popular Culture and Philosophy. Open Court Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8126-9713-1.