Despite the importance it holds in the current Dragon Ball Super landscape, Ultra Instinct is still being proven beatable by the right opponents. Dragon Ball Super’s most recent arc showcasing Granolah versus Goku proves this, where the latter loses despite using Mastered Ultra Instinct.
Despite taking a loss, the importance of Ultra Instinct in contemporary and future Dragon Ball remains. Without a doubt, Ultra Instinct and its successive forms will become the pinnacle of Goku’s strength for quite some time.
Yet, an important question remains: What comes after Ultra Instinct for Dragon Ball’s Goku?
GODLY POWERS POTENTIALLY NEXT UP FOR DRAGON BALL’S GOKU
BECOMING A GOD?
One of the most logical advancements for Goku following Ultra Instinct is being promoted into the role of one of Dragon Ball’s Angels. The introduction of Ultra Ego Vegeta further suggests this, seemingly pitting the two as Whis and Beerus’ successors.
While thematically a great choice for the two’s future, this would likely come at the end of Dragon Ball’s story. As a result, Goku would still be using Ultra Instinct until essentially the franchise’s final moments.
Even in a scenario where Goku and Vegeta find themselves beginning these Godly roles early, Dragon Ball will still likely end shortly thereafter. Goku’s journey of strength and fighting the best opponents becomes nearly irrelevant from the point he has true, God-like power onward.
While certainly a possibility and, depending on who’s asked, a likelihood, Godhood promotions for Goku and Vegeta are likely not the pre-end-of-story power ups the two will receive.
A SUPER SAIYAN BLUE TO ULTRA INSTINCT’S SUPER SAIYAN GOD?
Another possibility is a way to further heighten the Ultra Instinct transformation. This would be similar to how Dragon Ball portrays the relationship between the Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue transformations.
Perhaps by the method of Ki combination or transformation combination, a new variant of Ultra Instinct could be created. Although Autonomous Ultra Instinct is already a possibility at the end of Goku’s journey, this new variant could exist as a midpoint between Mastered and Autonomous Ultra Instinct.
A significant criticism of this could be the independence Ultra Instinct has had as a transformation line thus far. For example, Ultra Instinct only seems to require reaching a certain power and mental level under specific circumstances.
In other words, the form requires no prior Super Saiyan, Super Namekian, or any other transformation or power up.
Muddying the waters with Ultra Instinct being synergistic with other transformation lines could upset some fans of the franchise. Furthermore, it makes it unclear just where Ultra Instinct sits in the hierarchy if it begins depending on Super Saiyan or other transformation lines.
A final and most likely scenario is that there’s simply nothing after Ultra Instinct. Goku will eventually learn Autonomous Ultra Instinct, and this will be his most powerful form through the rest of Dragon Ball.
While somewhat underwhelming, it would be nice to finally end Goku’s journey to becoming the strongest while series creator Akira Toriyama is alive to see it. This course of action would also cement Ultra Instinct (and potentially, Ultra Ego) as the most powerful transformation(s) in the entire franchise.
The major flaw with this would obviously be the portrayal of villains and the true threats they pose. With Ultra Instinct being used to answer every problem, some fans may criticize the lack of creativity or progression in the franchise’s combat department.
On the writer’s side, establishing an intimidating, worrying villain is difficult to do when they must first show themselves as stronger than Ultra Instinct. The creation of that initial superiority is a key style of the series’ preferred build-up technique for its villains.
While nobody knows for sure now, Dragon Ball’s Goku will likely ascend beyond, combine with something else, or perfect Ultra Instinct as his next power up. While the latter essentially suggests Ultra Instinct is the final form Goku will use in the entire series, this is certainly a possibility.
Despite the series constantly pushing its heroes and villains to further and further limits, Ultra Instinct (and Ultra Ego) may represent the series’ peaks of power. While understandably disappointing to some fans, it would be the most appropriate way to represent the two forms.
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