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!!" (1992)
Created by Akira Toriyama
Voiced by Japanese
Norio Wakamoto[1]
Dale Wilson (Ocean)
Dameon Clarke (Funimation)
Species Artificial life form
Relatives Cell Juniors (offspring)
Goku (Genetic Makeup)
Vegeta (Genetic Makeup)
Piccolo (Genetic Makeup)
Frieza (Genetic Makeup)
King Cold (Genetic Makeup)

Cell (Japanese: セル, Hepburn: 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 16, 1992.[2] Cell is an evil artificial life form, created using cells from several of the main characters, in the series, that travels back in time so he can become the perfect being. In order to reach this goal, he must 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 created Cell.[3][4] Toriyama has expressed some kind of regret regarding the design of Cell, calling it tedious to draw all the little spots on his body.[4] In addition, he did not initially plan for the character to be able to transform, but gave him this ability after his then-current editor Yū Kondō described Cell as "ugly."[3] Toriyama intended for Cell's second form to last longer than it did; Kondō found the form to be silly and urged him to hasten the first appearance of the next transformation.[5] In a way he was android 21.

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 then uses it to spawn Cell Juniors (セルジュニア, Seru Junia), minuscule childlike versions of himself.


Dragon Ball Z[edit]

Cell is an artificial life form created by Doctor Gero's computer from cells of different warriors, possessing the genetic information of Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, Freeza and King Cold, in an underground complex below Gero's secret research laboratory. Cell is designed to evolve into the perfect being by absorbing two of Gero's previous creations, Androids #17 and #18. But in the timeline he is from, the two Androids were deactivated. After he kills the Trunks from his time, Cell regresses into an egg while using Trunks' time machine to travel back four years before the Androids appeared, taking him to the present timeline.[6] After hatching and metamorphosing into an insect-like humanoid, Cell kills off various people and absorbs them to increase his power in preparation to absorb the Androids.[7] After he manages to absorb the energy of entire cities of people, Cell finds Android #17, locating him thanks to his fight with Piccolo since the Androids have no ki. He defeats Piccolo easily before fighting evenly with Android #16, but he manages to absorb #17 and evolve into a larger and more human-like form, which is far stronger than Android #16.[8] Android #18 manages to evade him thanks to the intervention of Tenshinhan, who is able to briefly overpower Cell at the cost of most of his life energy. Cell attempts to kill the exhausted Tenshinhan in revenge, but is prevented by the arrival of Goku, who teleports Tenshinhan and Piccolo away with them before Cell can strike. Cell tracks Android #18 to an island and starts demolishing islands to get her to appear before him. Cell quickly gets beaten by Vegeta,[9] who arrives before he can destroy the island that Android #18 is actually on.[10] But after convincing Vegeta to let him absorb Android #18, Cell assumes a more human-like and intelligent form. After quickly defeating Kuririn and Vegeta,[11] Cell fights Trunks who ascends to an advanced Super Saiyan state (Ultra Super Saiyan) and defeats him as well thanks to the form's slowness in movement.[12]

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. Goku then nominates his son Gohan as Cell's next opponent to everyone's 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 sending a group of Cell Juniors after the rest of the fighters. Gohan's rage begins to swell, and when Cell mercilessly crushes Android #16's head after the Android gave Gohan a heartfelt speech, Gohan transforms into Super Saiyan 2 and overwhelms the Cell Juniors and Cell himself who ultimately takes so much damage that he regurgitates Android #18 and reverts to his previous form.[13] In desperation, Cell tries to self-destruct and destroy the Earth, but Goku sacrifices himself to ensure that Cell detonates elsewhere.[14] Cell, however, returns in his final 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, killing Trunks and badly injuring both Vegeta and Gohan, Vegeta attacking Cell in retaliation for Trunks' death and Gohan unintentionally taking the blast while trying to save Vegeta from it. Luckily, Gohan, with Goku aiding in spirit, manages to destroy Cell once and for all after a climactic Kamehameha struggle.[15][16]

Once Trunks returns to his future timeline and destroys Androids #17 and #18, he is confronted by the Cell of his timeline, who plans to kill Trunks and steal his time machine to travel to a time when the androids still exist, as the main version of himself did. However, that version succeeded because the Trunks he killed had used a remote to destroy the androids instead of training in the Room of Spirit and Time. This version of Trunks quickly becomes a Super Saiyan and effortlessly defeats Cell, ending his reign of terror for good and finally bringing peace to his future.

Years following his death, Gohan admits to Goku that he has decreased in power since his fight with Cell[17] while Piccolo later states that following his becoming a Majin, Vegeta's power has superseded that of Cell. Mr. Satan is celebrated by the people of Earth as the champion that bested Cell during the Cell Games, a lie he told right after Cell's death. However, his daughter Videl is skeptical of this from the time it supposedly happens and gets Gohan to confirm that he was the one who stopped Cell.[18] Cell is remembered by Gohan when he is getting ready to confront the hatching Majin Boo, as he does not want to repeat the same mistake of toying with his enemy.[19]

In filler episodes of the anime, Cell makes numerous cameo appearances, usually as comic relief. Cell tries absorbing a sister and brother, but is prevented from doing so by Kuririn, giving chase to the three and moving in to kill Kuririn when noticing an arriving Piccolo and Tenshinhan before escaping.[20] In his posthumous appearances, he is shown causing trouble in Hell along with Freeza, King Cold and the Ginyu Force. He is defeated by Goku and Pikkon and sent to prison, and 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 himself.[21]

Dragon Ball Super[edit]

A few years later, Goku imagines Cell in a training sequence, defeating him with a blow to the head.[22] When he travels back to the past again, Trunks reacts in confusion to seeing Goku alive as he remembers his death from Cell's self-destructing and not long after, Bulma is revealed to have retained the Time Capsule that Cell had stolen from Trunks to return to the present timeline. Cell is remembered by Trunks when he notes the differences between Gohan as a child, in particular when he fought Cell, and him as an adult upon meeting him for the first time in years.[23] A manipulation of Cell appears in the Forest of Fear to Kuririn and Goku,[24] attacking the pair and becoming larger until Kuririn realizes his fear is causing the increase in size and concentrates, evaporating the illusion.[25]

Cell also makes a cameo in the dragon ball super manga where Mr. Satan was watching a movie of him beating Cell during the tournament of power arc.

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,[26] 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.[27] However, in a future scene, Freeza and Cell are seen being taken away in a jail cell with tape over their mouths.Cell and Frieza also appear in the Gt live action show with new forms searching for Goku.

Cell appears in a TV ad for Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, questioning why he is not in the film while Freeza brags that he is, Cell then remarks that Freeza only has a non-speaking appearance.[28]

Video games[edit]

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. In several games, Cell has forms that have been created specifically for the installment.

In the 1995 game Dragon Ball Z: Super Battle, after Goku defeats Cell, he gives him a Senzu Bean and allows him to live, Cell promising to return and win.

In Dragon Ball Z: Budokai, Cell has a nightmare where he accidentally absorbs Kuririn and becomes Cellin (セルリン, Serurin), the form making him weaker.[29]

In the 2003 game Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2, Cell is revived by Bobbidi and becomes a Majin, his appearance being altered with the letter "M" on his forehead alongside black lining appearing under his eyes. This form is short-lived, as Majin Boo terminates Bobbidi, Cell being absorbed afterward by Boo.[30]

In the 2005 video game Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi, Cell defeats Gohan and confronts Super 17, defeating him when the two conflict over a shared interest in killing Goku.

In the 2015 game Dragon Ball: Xenoverse, Cell appears as a mentor for the player, teaching the Perfect Kamehameha, Perfect Shot, All Clear and Gravity Impact to the player. Within the context of the game's story mode, Cell defeats Gohan until the player intervenes in their fight,[31] and the alternate timeline version of the character from Trunks' timeline is able to reach his Perfect Form thanks to Towa strengthening him, though he is destroyed by the player and Trunks.[32]

In the 2016 game Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, Cell shows up in his Perfect Form and fights Trunks, also meeting Android 16 for the first time and fighting alongside him.[33] Cell is able to reach his perfect form after defeating both Piccolo and #16 and absorbing #17 and #18 at the same time.[34] When an empowered Android #17 fights Piccolo, Trunks warns the player Cell absorbing him would mean an even larger power boost than in the main timeline.[35] Cell himself shows up empowered, easily dominating Android #16. Cell later fights alongside the corrupted Cell Juniors, and welcomes Metal Cooler to the Cell Games.[36]

In the 2018 game Dragon Ball FighterZ, Cell defeats Android 18[37] and is confronted by Goku and Krillin while aiming a beam at her and Android 21.[38] After being defeated,[39] Cell uses the Solar Flare to escape.[40] Cell laments his lack of power before being confronted by Frieza,[41] who offers him a deal where the two divulge information to each other.[42] The player becomes connected to Cell after Goku is shot by Android 21,[43] and fights Android 21 while controlling Cell's body.[44] Cell escapes from Android 21 with another Solar Flare, and the player returns to Goku[45] from the strain on Cell's body.[46]

Cell is also a playable character in the crossover fighting game Battle Stadium D.O.N., as well as a support character in the Shonen Jump crossover Jump Ultimate Stars.

Voice actors[edit]

Norio Wakamoto has been Cell's Japanese voice actor in every single piece of Dragon Ball media.
Travis Willingham was Cell's English voice actor from 2009 to 2014 because of Clarke`s unavailability

Norio Wakamoto is the Japanese voice of Cell and revealed that when he voiced the forms of Cell, the first form is monster-like, he used a raspy voice which he said was a pain. He toned it down for the second, and by the final form he was able to perform comfortably.[47]

In the English Funimation dub, Cell is voiced by Dameon Clarke.[48] Clarke considers Cell one of his more "fun and entertaining" characters.[49] Sometime around the release of Resurrection 'F', in which Frieza returned, Clarke said he began receiving questions about a film featuring Cell's return, which he himself supported.[50]


Cell has superhuman strength, endurance and speed. He can create energy beams using ki, a form of energy from one's life force that he can sense. These energy beams range from being generic to having distinctive names and differing in color.

Cell has access to the abilities of those whose cells he was created from, including the Kamehameha wave, a technique of Goku's, Tenshinhan's Solar Flare, Vegeta's Galick Gun and Freeza's Death Beam. Thanks to his cells from Piccolo, Cell has regenerative properties that allow him to regenerate portions of his body shortly after they have been destroyed, as he did during his battles with Vegeta and Goku. In the anime, Cell states that he can regenerate so long as his head remains intact, though this is contradicted by Goku blowing off the upper portion of his body, including his head and Cell still regenerating. It is retconned in a subsequent dub, with Cell stating that he can regenerate from just a single cell. After his near death, he gains the ability to use the Instant Transmission, another technique of Goku's which allows him to teleport by placing his fingers to the center of his head and thinking of his intended destination.

Cell's strength progresses over the course of his self-titled story arc. As Cell later explains, his strength is helped by his speed which contributes to the difficulty fighters have in battling him, as he appears to be without disadvantage. His consistent absorptions of human beings, who by in large are overwhelmingly weaker than him, allows for his strength to increase to the point where he easily bests Piccolo with a single punch when previously having had difficulty in facing him. After his absorption of Android #17, Cell's power increases to him being able to best Android #16, a fighter that had bested him in his previous form. The same is repeated with his Perfect form, as he easily conquers Vegeta who similarly to Android #16 won a fight against his past form, though in Vegeta's case severely outclassed him. After nearly being killed by his own self-destruction, Cell's strength is amplified to the point of rivaling Super Saiyan 2 Gohan and easily disposing of both Trunks and Vegeta.

Cell consistently uses absorption as a practice of growing stronger. In his first appearances, Cell uses his tail to pierce the skin of a victim to gain entry into their body, the tail then sucking out the organic matter of the subject and leaving behind clothing. This method was used on humans and attempted on Piccolo. Another method, and the one he uses to absorb the androids, revolves around Cell extending his tail to the point where it can engulf a subject and using it to do so when in their presence. If an individual becomes engulfed in the tail, they will be sent downward until entering Cell's body and being integrated into his core. This method differs from the other in that the absorbed individual will remain both completely intact within Cell's body, as was the case with Android #18. Removing the androids from Cell's body previously could cause him to revert to a prior form, though his body has been shown to remember the biological makeup of a transformation in the event that it no longer can be achieved with the subject inside of him and he has had it previously.In the 1997 Gt live action show both he and Frieza gained new transformations strong enough to beat trunks.

Through his tail, Cell is able to create minuscule, childlike versions of himself known as Cell Juniors (セルジュニア, Seru Junia), which are also colored differently from him.[51] They have a margin of Cell's power as they were able to overwhelm most of the heroes, as Cell would,[52] but had trouble with Vegeta and Trunks who Cell beginning in his Perfect Form had been able to dominate wth ease. On top of this, whereas Cell was able to take punches from a Super Saiyan 2 Gohan who was purposely toying with him, the Cell Juniors were destroyed upon contact with Gohan's fist, further demonstrating how much weaker they were to Cell.[53]


In 2004, fans of the series voted Cell the fourteenth most popular character for a poll in the book Dragon Ball Forever.[54] In 2015, Jacob Yothment ranked Cell No. 3 on his list Top 10 Villains of the Dragon Ball Franchise,[55] Shawn Saris of IGN ranked Cell No. 7 on the list Top 13 Dragon Ball Z Characters,[56] and Otakukart.com ranked Cell No. 2 on the list Top 10 Dragon Ball Villains.[57] In 2016, Cell was ranked No. 6 on the saikoplus.com list 10 Most Popular Characters in Dragon Ball Z.[58]

Michael Zupan assessed Cell as the Dragon Ball villain with the most buildup, writing, "The Z Fighters throw everything they have at this character, and just when you think he's beat... he transforms into something more powerful."[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]

The concept of the Cell Games and its execution were criticized. 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.[62] Reviewer Josh Begley had disapproval toward the tournament as he believed it would feature "endless fighting and no real plot progression."[63] Luke Ryan Baldock took issue with the tournament based season for its lack of plot and high amount of action.[64]


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  32. ^ Dimps (February 24, 2015). Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Cell: Did you bring your friend along for the ride? Is he from the past, too? I'm warning you, interfere and I'll exterminate you. 
  33. ^ Dimps (October 25, 2016). Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Cell: So it would seem this stranger is my ally. You know, to be honest, I didn't think there were any more left alive... 
  34. ^ Dimps (October 25, 2016). Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Android 17: You gotta be kidding me! 
  35. ^ Dimps (October 25, 2016). Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Trunks: If Cell absorbs 17 in this state, he'll grown terrifyingly strong! 
  36. ^ Dimps (October 25, 2016). Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Cell: Heh.. Ha ha ha... Very well. Allow me to welcome you to the Cell Games 
  37. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Krillin: What have you done to my wife?! 
  38. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Cell: Well, if it isn't Goku and his annoying, nose-less sidekick...! 
  39. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Krillin: Cell! You're through! 
  40. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Cell: Solar Flare! 
  41. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. ???: Ha ha ha! A sorry sight you were, Cell. 
  42. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Frieza: What say you to a deal? Tell me what you know... and I'll be happy to tell you what I know. 
  43. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Android 21: Don't tell me... You're the one who was linked with Goku earlier. 
  44. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Android 21: Very well... More fun for me, I suppose. And it saves me the trouble of hunting you down! 
  45. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Goku: Wha? Hey, you're back! 
  46. ^ Arc System Works (January 26, 2018). Dragon Ball FighterZ. Bandai Namco Entertainment. Android 21: But... judging from the amount of his fatique, the link won't hold much longer. 
  47. ^ DRAGON BALL 天下一伝説 (in Japanese). Shueisha. 2004. pp. 172–177. ISBN 4-08-873705-9. 
  48. ^ "Dragon Ball Z Kai's Buu Saga to Air on Toonami". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2017-07-14. 
  49. ^ Madman (2013-12-17), Dameon Clarke (voice of Cell) talks DragonBall Z + Borderlands, retrieved 2017-07-14 
  50. ^ Florida Supercon (2015-08-24), Borderlands Handsome Jack, Dameon Clarke Q&A at Florida Supercon 2015, retrieved 2017-07-14 
  51. ^ "Android Explosion". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 183. April 28, 1993. 
  52. ^ "Cell Juniors Attack!". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 184. May 5, 1993. 
  53. ^ "Gohan's Awakening". Dragon Ball Z. Episode 185. May 12, 1993. 
  54. ^ Dragon Ball Forever (in Japanese). Shueisha. 2004. ISBN 4-08-873702-4. 
  55. ^ "Top 10 Villains of the Dragon Ball Franchise". thelatestpull.com. April 9, 2015. 
  56. ^ "Top 13 Dragon Ball Z Characters". IGN. August 3, 2015. 
  57. ^ "Top 10 Dragon Ball Villains". Otakukart.com. December 25, 2015. 
  58. ^ "10 Most Popular Characters in Dragon Ball Z". saikoplus.com. February 25, 2016. 
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  60. ^ Amith, D. Dragon Ball Z - Season Five DVD Review Archived November 17, 2011, at WebCite
  61. ^ 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. 
  62. ^ Smith, D. F. Dragon Ball Z - Season Six DVD Review Archived November 17, 2011, at WebCite
  63. ^ "Dragon Ball Z Season 5 Blu-ray Anime Review". The Fandom Post. March 3, 2015. 
  64. ^ Baldock, Luke Ryan (February 27, 2013). "Dragon Ball Z Season 6 DVD Review".