This paper reviews state-of-the-art dielectric elastomer actuators (DEAs) and their future perspectives as soft actuators which have recently been considered as a key power generation component for soft robots. This paper begins with the introduction of the working principle of the dielectric elastomer actuators. Because the operation of DEA includes the physics of both mechanical viscoelastic properties and dielectric characteristics, we describe theoretical modeling methods for the DEA before introducing applications. In addition, the design of artificial muscles based on DEA is also introduced. This paper reviews four popular subjects for the application of DEA: soft robot hand, locomotion robots, wearable devices, and tunable optical components. Other potential applications and challenging issues are described in the conclusion.