Despite their names, the Guardians' role is closer to that of an overseer, and they are not necessarily stronger than all those whom they oversee; while Kami demonstrated that he was likely the strongest being on Earth at the time of his introduction in the Piccolo Jr. Saga, he was quickly surpassed by Goku and many others soon after, but still remained the Guardian of Earth until the Imperfect Cell Saga, over a decade later. Guardians have an indirect reporting relationship to one of the Kais (in the case of the Guardian of Earth, this is King Kai). Another way of looking at this is that Guardians are more supervisors than they are managers. They have many of the powers associated with gods, including the ability to see and sense events around the world, to travel to and guide souls to Other World, and to be a general protector of the people. They also are long-lived, though not immortal. Unlike more traditional gods, the role of Guardians is an office, which can be vacated and subsequently refilled by a mortal, thus making their position similar to a God of Destruction, another divine position that can be held by a mortal, though they differ from Guardians in that Gods of Destruction don't have to be pure of heart and are far more powerful due to the nature of their position. However, the average citizens of Earth are unaware of the existence of these Guardians, as demonstrated by Mr. Satan when he is puzzled by the role Dende plays. However in Dragon Ball Online, during Age 975 Dende makes his existence known to the current King of Earth to enact and promote a new child raising policy called Troublemaker Education to find a savior, due to the many villains threatening Earth's peace. To become a Guardian, one must not have any evil in the heart, as the previous Guardian refused the Nameless Namekian for having his heart tainted by the corruptions of Earth. In Dragon Ball Super during the God of Destruction Beerus Saga, it is revealed that Guardians like Dende possess godly ki allowing them to sense the godly ki of other deities. From this it can be assumed that upon becoming a Guardian, one attains godly ki.
List of Guardians
Although Buddhism and Christianity exist on Earth in the Dragon Ball universe, most people are completely unaware of the existence of the true god, being the Guardian. Planet Earth has been overseen by Guardians for as long as the history given on the Dragon World dates back, and Mr. Popo has been the servant of several of them. The guardians preceding Kami are referred to as the Kamis of the Past in Daizenshuu 7, and Kami's former master is referred to as Kami of the Previous Generation. Additionally Daizenshuu 7 also reveals that Mr. Popo and Korin where sent from Other World to assist the planet's Guardian. Mr. Popo is also responsible for finding a new Guardian if the previous Guardian is unable to find a successor. The Nameless Namekian, as well as Garlic in movie/filler only, assumed the role of apprentice(s) to Earth's current Guardian in Age 431. Thirty years later in Age 461, the Nameless Namekian assumes the role and name of Kami, after splitting with his evil half in order to do so. This evil half would rename itself the Great Demon King Piccolo, and would go on to spark worldwide conflict. Since Kami and King Piccolo are one and the same, Kami was powerless to stop him due to the underlying fact that he would perish as well if he killed Piccolo. However, no other being on Earth was anywhere near powerful enough to halt Piccolo's rampage. Luckily, after years of conflict, a martial artist called Master Mutaito seals King Piccolo within an Electric Rice Cooker, trapping him inside for centuries. This allows Kami to survive and continue to serve as Guardian, creating Shenron and the Earth Dragon Balls to give the people of Earth hope for the future after the devastation caused by the conflict with King Piccolo's Demon Clan. However due to their power to grant a single wish, many people sought the Dragon Balls for selfish reasons and unintentionally resulted in several conflicts, causing Kami to regret he created them.
Earth sees a time of peace, until King Piccolo is unleashed on the world again over three-hundred years later, only this time is stopped and killed by a new, far more powerful warrior on Earth, Goku. As he was dying, King Piccolo transferred his soul into an egg which ironically prevents Kami's death. Goku soon after meets and trains under Kami in order to stop his evil half’s reincarnation, Piccolo. Kami also revives Shenron who had been killed by King Piccolo despite having previously decided to not restore the Dragon Balls due to the conflicts they caused and having allowed King Piccolo to regain his youth, though Goku and his friends' noble actions as well as Goku agreeing to train under him convinced Kami to change his mind. Kami also permanently removes Goku's Tail in order to safely restore the Earth's Moon which was destroyed previously by Jackie Chun to end the threat posed by Goku's uncontrolled Great Ape form. After Piccolo is defeated in the World Martial Arts Tournament, Goku spares his life to have a rival and prevent Kami's death due to their Life Link, despite Kami's protests having decided to sacrifice his life due to feeling he wasn't worthy of the role due to his failures, but Master Roshi and Goku convince Kami that it is thanks to his creation of the Dragon Balls that lead Goku and his friends coming together in the first place, convincing Kami that he was indeed worthy of his position. Kami recognizing Goku's pure heart and strength proposes Goku to become the new Guardian of Earth, but Goku refuses before leaving to marry his fiancee, Chi-Chi. For the next five years, the Earth is relatively peaceful, though the arrival of the Saiyans sparks an entirely new conflict, in which Kami convinces King Yemma to allow the deceased Goku to train under King Kai after he sacrifices himself to kill his evil elder brother, Raditz and also trains Tien Shinhan, Yamcha, Krillin, Chiaotzu, and Yajirobe in order to combat the impending threat. Piccolo is later killed by Nappa in the battle, and thus Kami dies, leaving the Earth without a Guardian for around a month until revived by the Dragon Balls on Namek.
During the conflict with the Androids, Kami does little but offer support for the Dragon Team, however he does evidently learn of Cell's arrival, thus opts to merge with Piccolo into their original power under the Nameless Namekian. After doing so, Kami unites with Piccolo, leaving the Earth without a Guardian for some time. Shortly after, Goku enlists Dende, a young Namekian boy, to be Kami's successor, to which he accepts. Thus, after the defeat of Cell with Mr. Popo's approval, a new Guardian claims the throne and recreates the Earth Dragon Balls, making them more powerful than before. Due to the influence of Kami, Piccolo chooses to remain at The Lookout to assist Mr. Popo in mentoring the inexperienced Dende helping him grow into a proper Guardian.
Seven years later, during the conflict with Majin Buu, Dende is nearly killed by Super Buu, but is saved by Mr. Popo. Dende survives the remaining conflict, and even travels to the Sacred World of the Kai to watch Goku and Vegeta battle and defeat Kid Buu. After returning to the newly restored Earth, a time of peace ensues.
Despite his godly position, Dende joins his friends in various celebrations such as Bulma's birthday party, where he and his friends encounter God of Destruction Beerus and his attendant Whis during their search for the Super Saiyan God. Using his ability to sense Godly Ki, Dende is able to confirm when Goku obtains the Super Saiyan God form following the ritual with Vegeta, Trunks, Goten, Gohan, and Videl (pregnant with Pan). Dende also monitors Uub, the Earthling reincarnation of Kid Buu whom he requests Goku train in the future and is revealed to have been keeping an eye on the reformed Android 17 following the Cell Games. He assists Goku in finding Android 17 so he can recruit him into Team Universe 7 for the Tournament of Power which resulted in Android 17 winning preventing Universe 7 from being erased and lead to the revival of the other erased Universes due to his wish to Super Shenron which also increased the Mortal Level of Universe 7 due to the selfless nature of the wish.
In Dragon Ball Online, Gamelan serves as Kami's equivalent at Chocolay Tower, and seeks to become Narak's god. Additionally Dende is revealed to have previously powered down the Earth Dragon Balls due to Old Kai's warning and the Earth being at peace at the time. However following the rise of Mira and the Time Breakers joining forces with various villainous factions such as the remnants of the Frieza Force, Dark Namekians, and Red Pants Army, Dende decides to restore the Dragon Balls, however he splits their power among several sets of Dragon Balls in the hopes that a savior might appear among the Earth's current generation of martial artists (which in addition to Earthlings of Saiyan descent includes Namekians and Majin) who had gone through the Troublemaker Education policy that Dende had convinced the King of Earth to implement. Troublemaker Education resembles Piccolo's initial wilderness training of Gohan, as it involves children being taken from their families to live independently in nature. Dende also asks Piccolo (who is still alive due to his eternal youth inherited from King Piccolo) to investigate the various villainous factions on Earth, with him learning about Mira and the Time Breakers involvement. Fortunately, for Dende and Piccolo there old ally Future Trunks who now acts as a member of the Time Patrol is sent by the Lord of Time to help oppose the Time Breakers and their allies.
"Oh, didn't I tell you? Those Dragon Balls were made by Dende, the Kami of Earth. Although there are multiple sets, their power is weaker than the others. They were made as some sort of training reward, but it's ended up just creating a way for endless wishes..."
— Chronoa revealing how Dende created the Dragon Balls used by the Time Patrol in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
In the Xenoverse series, one of the sets of Dragon Balls created by Dende as a training reward ends up in the possession of the Time Patrol of Toki Toki City with any Time Patroller that collects them having a chance to make a wish to Shenron whom can be summoned via the Dragon Ball Pedestal. In Age 850, Future Trunks uses them to summon a fighter capable of defending history, leading to the Future Warrior to be summoned to Toki Toki City, where they join the Time Patrol and play key role during the Demigra Incident, leading them to become known as the Toki Toki City Hero. Chronoa also utilizes them to inform Goku of Age 778 (post Battle of Gods) of the threat posed by Demigra. However during Age 851, members of the Time Patrol begin to doubt the divine powers of the Supreme Kais, such as Chronoa and Elder Kai. While showing off her power, Chronoa animates the Dragon Ball Pedestal's dragon statue, but unfortunately it grows larger than she expected and resulting giant Dragon ends up leveling most of Toki Toki City, forcing Chronoa and the Time Patrol to rebuild, leading to the construction of Conton City over the ruins of Toki Toki City with the giant Dragon taking residence in the sky north of the new city and a new statue is installed in the new Dragon Ball Pedestal. After the defeat of Mira and Towa by Conton City Hero, at Tokitoki's suggestion, Chronoa uses these Dragon Balls to wish up a feast to celebrate. Chronoa also reveals to the Conton City Hero of the history regarding their set of Dragon Balls and explains how they were created by Dende as a training reward, before noting how they are basically a source of unlimited wishes due to the fact that they don't have a period of inactivity. The Conton City Hero also learns of a special method (which works regardless of their race or can be performed by Warrior-type Namekians) to increase the power of Conton City's Dragon Ball set from Grand Elder Guru of the Guru's House Time Miniature rift allowing them to grant different types of wishes.
In the Dark Empire Saga, Xeno Dende is the Guardian of Earth of the Xeno world main timeline who is captured by the Dark Empire and brainwashed to serve them by creating the Dark Dragon Balls. However he is freed after Demon Realm is sealed within the Time Labyrinth and transported to the Time Nest by Chronoa.
In Dragon Ball GT, Dende is now full-grown and allows Goku and his new trainee Uub to train at the Lookout. Dende provides support for the Z Fighters throughout the remainder of the series, as he is unable to do anything against the enormous powers of the villains that attack Earth. He is taken under the control of Baby, but is turned back to normal with the use of Sacred Water. After Goku defeats Omega Shenron and departs with Shenron, Dende returns to the Lookout and continues his role. Nothing beyond this is ever explored.
Main articles: Grand Elder Guru, Moori, and Esca There is no Kami on Namek, for that is a term from Earth. It can be arguably assumed that the Guardian of Namekians is their Grand Elder Guru, who watches over his people much like Earth's Kami and who created a set of Dragon Balls for them. After Guru's death in the Frieza Saga, the Namek elder Moori is given the position and control of the Dragon Balls which recharge after 130 days (one Namekian year). In between the Frieza and Kid Buu Sagas, Moori increased the power of the Namekian Dragon Balls so that more than one person could be restored to life at once. In Dragon Ball Super during the Galactic Patrol Prisoner Saga, it is revealed that Moori chose Esca to be his successor which resulted in the Namekian Dragon Balls remaining active even after Moori was killed by Cranberry as they became linked to Esca who survived the Moro Corps invasion of New Namek.
In the anime only, King Kai tells Goku that Planet Vegeta was destroyed by its own version of Kami via a meteor storm he summoned after realizing how evil the Saiyans were. Shortly afterward it is revealed, however, that Frieza was to blame for Planet Vegeta's destruction. It is clear that Frieza is not actually the Guardian of Planet Vegeta in the sense that Kami is of Earth and as such is likely that King Kai's story was fabricated to keep Goku from learning of Frieza and seeking him out (considering that King Kai later reveals that he is aware of the existence of Frieza, and begs Goku and others not to fight him because of his immense power). Despite this, however, Goku does indirectly allude to this story when confronting Frieza as a Super Saiyan when, after Frieza self-righteously tries to justify his actions by citing the Saiyans being no better regarding mass murder, Goku told him "[the Saiyans] paid for their mistakes!" Additionally the story may have been inspired the fact Beerus ordered Frieza to destroy Planet Vegeta due to King Vegeta's stinginess and the evil of the Saiyans (though Frieza had his own reasons and Beerus' order was just one factor in his ultimate decision to destroy the planet and most of its population), which King Kai may have been aware of and used as inspiration for his Guardian of Planet Vegeta cover story.
Additionally the story has similarities to the legend of the original Super Saiyan God, the righteous Ancient Saiyan who fought against the Evil Ancient Saiyans and the first known Saiyan to achieve the Super Saiyan God form through the Super Saiyan God ritual. While the original Super Saiyan God failed to defeat the Evil Saiyans due to the form running out, their achievement would inspire their descendants which included the twin brothers Shallot and Giblet (introduced in Dragon Ball Legends) to continue to oppose the evil Saiyans who had fallen from the true Saiyan way and hoped to achieve the divine power of the Super Saiyan God form to succeed where their ancestor had failed. When explaining the ritual to Shallot during the Tournament of Time, Whis refers to the one who achieves the Super Saiyan God form as a God of Saiyans. While it is unconfirmed if the Kami of Planet Vegeta in King Kai's story is meant to be a pure hearted Saiyan, the idea of a god who opposed the evil ways of the Saiyans does resemble the story of the original Super Saiyan God (as like a Guardian who are pure-hearted/righteous mortals that attain a divine position and abilities, the Super Saiyan God is a righteous mortal Saiyan who attains divine power). However it should be noted that King Kai showed no indication in Battle of Gods or the God of Destruction Beerus Saga to be aware of the legend or the Super Saiyan God form (however given how he was trying to prevent Goku from fighting Beerus, its possible he did know but kept the knowledge to himself to keep Goku from fighting Beerus who's full power still surpassed Goku's Super Saiyan God form).
Main article: Konatsian Wizard The Konatsian Wizard is referred to as the Guardian of Planet Konats in Daizenshuu 6. This would fit with his essential role in ending the Hirudegarn war restoring peace to Planet Konats and may explain how he came into possession of the mystical artifacts such as Brave Sword, two Hero's Flutes, and the Music boxes used to seal Hirudegarn.
Ironically, Hirudegarn itself was originally a statue possessed by the phantom essence of a Demon God who could absorb the evil within the hearts of the the Konatsians, effectively cleansing them of evil. Though the exact relationship between the Demon God and Konats Guardian are unclear, the Demon God's ability to cleanse Konatsian hearts of evil, likely made the task of finding a pure hearted successor much easier for either Konatsian Guardians (and/or any attendants that serve Konats Guardian). Unfortunately, the Kashvar used their magic to turn the Demon God statue into the Phantom Majin Hirudegarn.
Additionally Guardians like the Konatsian Wizard are known to oppose demonic forces that threaten the worlds they oversee such as Kami and his precessor's opposition to the Makyan Garlic and his son, as well as Kami's opposition to his evil counterpart's reincarnation Piccolo Jr. due to his own feelings responsibility for the evil actions of his demonic counterpart.
In Dr. Slump, there is a Kami of the Galaxy that exists in prehistoric times and is responsible for placing Gatchan's Egg on prehistoric Earth in an attempt to prevent further development of human civilization to keep them primitive and pure. Unfortunately the Egg was found by a time traveling Senbei Norimaki who brought it to Penguin Village, thwarting the Kami of the Galaxy's plan as Gatchan became an adopted member of the Norimaki Family. It should be noted that the Kami of the Galaxy is depicted in Dr. Slump as overseeing the entire Milky Way galaxy rather than a single planet Earth (in the Dr. Slump anime he is depicted as inhabiting outer space somewhere within the galaxy). Additionally unlike the Guardians of Earth who are pure hearted mortals who have been granted godhood to help foster the growth of Earth's civilization and its population as well as defending the planet from outside forces and/or by aiding heroic figures such as the Dragon Team, the Kami of the Galaxy does the opposite as he tries to keep the Earth's mortal civilization primitive.
In Dragon Ball Online, the Dark Namekians' Demon General Gamelan seeks to become the first Kami (God) of the Narak-type Demon Clan Namekians. However he is defeated by the Time Patrol at the top of Chocolay Tower that serves as his equivalent of The Lookout and is killed by the Dark Namekian Time Breaker Week for allowing Chocolay Tower to fall.
Candidates & substitutes
In Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone and the Garlic Jr. Saga, Garlic competed with Kami to become Earth's Guardian but lost due to the Guardian of the Previous Generation having sensed the Makyan's evil intentions. This lead Garlic to attempt to take the position by force with an army of demons, but was defeated leading to his son Garlic Jr. vendetta against Kami.
Due to his pure hearted nature and role in the defeat of threats such as the Pilaf Gang, Red Ribbon Army, and King Piccolo's Demon Clan, Kami saw Goku as an ideal candidate to succeed him. Kami even offered Goku the position after he defeated Piccolo during the 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament, to the point of permitting Goku's soon to be wife Chi-Chi live on The Lookout should he accept. However Goku rejects the offer and flies off with Chi-Chi on the Flying Nimbus. As a result, Kami is forced to remain Earth's Guardian until his fusion with Piccolo, with the Dragon Team aiding Mr. Popo in selecting Kami's ultimate replacement Dende so they could restore the Earth Dragon Balls.