Goku has had many rivals throughout the course of Dragon Ball, but none stand out with such as presence as the Prince of all Saiyans himself, Vegeta. The lone survivor of the Saiyan royal line, Vegeta marked his territory as Goku’s eternal rival at the end of the Saiyan arc. After an intense battle where the two effectively stalemated each other, Vegeta vowed he would surpass the foul Kakarot and solidify his role as the strongest Saiyan in the universe. Which, of course, never happens. Vegeta just isn’t Vegeta if he isn’t living in someone else’s shadow.
That isn’t a bad thing either, Vegeta’s at his best when he isn’t the best. His best character moments come from the Buu arc when he finally sees Goku as his better. It's a symbiotic relationship (a trope we all know and love in comic books), and anyone who knows Dragon Ball can appreciate the idiosyncrasies of Vegeta's relationship to the world around him. Honestly, Vegeta should be more open to acknowledging everyone superior to him, because there are quite a lot of characters at many different points in the franchise who could have absolutely destroyed Vegeta in a fight. In fact, there are at least 25 of them. It's time to dig into the history of Dragon Ball to see which characters could give Vegeta —the prince of all saiyans— a hard time in battle.
25 Hit Made A Fool Out Of Vegeta
After spending an entire arc systematically wiping out more than half of Universe 6’s team, it’s only fitting that their ringer would show up and give Vegeta the clobbering of the century. Hit’s complete destruction of Vegeta is borderline embarrassing as the Saiyan Prince quickly finds himself thrashed into oblivion. Hit’s ability to stop time, mixed with his unique boxing stance, catches Vegeta entirely off guard, preventing him from securing a clean sweep.
Boxing + time skipping = a very battered Vegeta
Like always, it’s up to Goku to step in and clean up Vegeta’s mess, but this loss isn’t entirely Vegeta’s fault. He definitely wouldn’t have beaten Hit in the long run, but he could have put up a better fight if he knew what he was up against. By studying Hit’s fighting style, Goku was able to come up with a counter-strategy. Vegeta’s a smart guy so he likely could have done the same, but Goku still needed Kaioken to keep up with Hit, something Vegeta definitely doesn’t have.
24 Nail Would Wreck Vegeta On Namek
Remember on Namek when Vegeta shows up at Saichoro’s ready to take his Dragon Ball and Nail comes out ready to stop him? That moment is meant to give off a sense of desperation as, up until now, Vegeta has been in complete control, but Nail actually would have won a potential battle. By that point, Vegeta isn’t even strong enough to take on Reacoom. Nail, on the other hand, has a battle power that trumps the entire Ginyu Force’s sans Ginyu himself.
In a hypothetical situation where the Ginyu Force never shows up, Nail beats Vegeta into submission. There is simply no way Vegeta would stand in a fight against him at that point. He’s Namek’s strongest fighter and, despite paling in comparison, he’s someone who actually manages to stall Freeza. Vegeta’s stronger by the end of the arc thanks to Zenkais, but Nail could keep him in check 90% of the time.
23 Goku Black Humiliated Vegeta
Poor Vegeta spends his entire adult life living in Goku’s shadow only to find himself struggling to survive in a fight against someone who looks exactly like Goku. Vegeta’s fight against Goku Black is far from a highlight in Vegeta’s life. While he does put up a good fight initially, Goku Black absolutely manhandles him one-on-one. Once Goku Black fuses with Zamasu, the fight is pretty much over for Vegeta with absolutely no chance of him winning.
Poor Vegeta can't even beat his rival's doppelganger.
Worth noting, the manga version of the Goku Black fight actually has Vegeta putting up an incredible fight. He backs Goku Black into a corner by creatively using Super Saiyan God to trigger bursts of Super Saiyan Blue, but that’s the manga’s take. The anime goes for the more traditional Vegeta beatdown that we all expect whenever he fights the arc villain.
22 Reacoom Made Vegeta His Plaything
Vegeta was right to be afraid of taking on the Ginyu Force alone, because his fight against Reacoom ended terribly for him. Despite putting up a great assault in one of the best-drawn sequences in the entire series, Reacoom brushes Vegeta off like he’s nothing. Everything Vegeta tosses at Reacoom gets tossed back at him in full. The only reason he ends up surviving is that Goku shows up with a couple of Senzu beans to save the day. Without the help of his mortal nemesis, Vegeta would have perished before ever reaching Freeza. This moment is doubly important as it teaches the audience about Zenkai and how it affects the Saiyans in Dargon Ball (during the Frieza saga at least).
21 Beerus Makes Vegeta Look Like An Ant
It almost feels like cheating adding Beerus to this list, but he really does need to be discussed. With the onset of Battle of Gods, the Dragon Ball mythos radically changed. Vegeta went from being the third strongest character in the series to somewhere in a void of irrelevancy compared to Beerus. That said, in a fit of rage, Vegeta still managed to land some solid punches against the God of Destruction… before getting one-shot.
As strong as Vegeta’s gotten through Dragon Ball Super, there really is no chance he’s close to being a match to Beerus. While the GoD constantly reacts to Goku’s milestones, he pays very little mind to Vegeta’s. Vegeta lives in the shadow of Goku and that just doesn’t interest Beerus. He certainly respects Vegeta enough to train him, but he doesn’t hold him in high regard because he knows Vegeta will never surpass him without Goku doing it first.
20 Gotenks Could Make A Mockery Out Of Vegeta
Gotenks is a goofy character, but he’s not one meant to be taken lightly. Before the events of Resurrection F, Gotenks could make a buffoon out of Vegeta. At the end of the original series, Gotenks was far stronger than Vegeta ever could be. At Super Saiyan 1, he was already stronger than Super Saiyan 3 Goku. Pitting him against Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta would just be unfair. Considering Goku and Vegeta don’t seem all that much stronger in Battle of Gods, it’s likely Gotenks is still stronger than Vegeta there, even with Vegeta’s rage boost. The only advantage Vegeta has is that Gotenks has no clue how to fight properly so he could realistically just wait the fusion out.
19 Vegeta Didn’t Even Want To Fight Broly
Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan is an interesting film not because it pits every character in a life or death gauntlet against Broly, but because Vegeta sits out most of the movie due to fear. For whatever reason, the mere sight of the Legendary Super Saiyan is enough to freeze Vegeta in his tracks. Much of his arc in the movie is spent trying to overcome his cowardice so he can lend a helping hand. When he does get over himself, he ends up getting stomped anyways.
The Prince of all Saiyans is no match for the Legendary Super Saiyan.
Vegeta never gets a second chance at taking on Broly, either. He’s conspicuously absent from The Second Coming along with Bio-Broly. Gohan, Goten, and Goku defeat Broly in the former while Goten and Trunks beat in the latter. As far as non-canon characters go, Broly has Vegeta’s number.
18 Toppo Would Have Crushed Vegeta
While Vegeta does end up knocking Toppo out thanks to a rehash of his final atonement from Dragon Ball Z, the fight would have gone in Toppo’s favor in any other scenario. In a non-tournament fight, Toppo would absolutely destroy Vegeta. His God of Destruction power-up is downright monstrous, and his ability to Hakai is an ever-present danger. Vegeta’s final atonement doesn’t even defeat Toppo, it just knocks him off the stage. In an actual fight, Vegeta would have drained his energy for nothing because the actual blast did very little to hurt Toppo. It’s a great win in context, but it’s a win that cannot occur anywhere else.
17 Freeza Canonically Made Vegeta Cry
Upon realizing the sheer ferocity of what he was facing, upon accepting that Freeza could just transform repeatedly to maintain an advantage, upon realizing he would never get revenge against the monster that belittled him, Vegeta shed tears. Keep in mind, Freeza wasn’t even in his final form yet when he overwhelmed Vegeta. This battle is so important for Vegeta, because Freeza breaks him before even lifting a finger.
For the first time in his life, Vegeta shed tears.
When Frieza's finally fully transformed and Vegeta rushes in like an idiot after a Zenkai, the Prince finds himself in the midst of the worst beatdown he experiences in the original series. Freeza humiliates and tortures him while Gohan, Krillin, and Piccolo are forced to just watch. When Goku arrives, the damage is done and Vegeta puts all his hopes in the last Saiyan in the universe.
16 Baby Treated Vegeta Like A Baby
Getting bodyjacked by Baby for half an arc is easily one of Vegeta’s worst moments in the entire franchise. It’s one thing to get defeated, but it’s another to get subdued. To say Baby manipulates Vegeta is to say Vegeta even plays an active role in the plot. He gets taken over and that's it, he’s out of the picture. Vegeta is relegated to a living servant until Goku finally shows up to save the day. What’s worse, this is only the beginning of the onslaught Vegeta endures in GT. This is a series where his bad moments overwhelm his good. It's a chapter of the Dragon Ball saga that a lot of fans don't remember (or have never seen outright).
15 Omega Shenron Tore Vegeta Apart
You’d think getting Super Saiyan 4 would be a game changer for Vegeta, but he’s back to getting tossed around almost immediately. In one of GT’s goriest moments, Omega Shenron gouges Vegeta’s shoulder during their battle, effectively rendering him useless for the remainder of the fight. This is a brutally depressing moment because it’s also the last real thing Vegeta does in Dragon Ball GT. He becomes a Super Saiyan 4, but then he gets pierced through the shoulder. Talk about an unfitting end. Needless to say, the prince of all Saiyans deserved a better end to his Western Dragon Ball arc — or did he? Maybe the Vegeta we all know and love needed to lose this battle.
14 Cell Tricked Vegeta Into Submission
The Cell saga is not a good arc for Vegeta. From start to finish, he’s constantly making poor decisions and making a fool of himself. His worst moment, by far, has to be in his battle against Cell. Despite overpowering Cell, Vegeta refuses to finish him off. It gets to the point where Cell actually manages to convince Vegeta to let him go so he can absorb Android 18 and attain Perfection. Naturally, Vegeta agrees.
Letting Cell transform is definitely a low point for Vegeta.
What follows is a comeback unlike any other where Cell turns the tables on Vegeta to the point where the latter can’t even put up a decent fight. Vegeta finds himself taking everything he dished out at Cell with no hope of victory. Cell tosses him aside like rubbish, and that’s the last time he takes Vegeta as a serious threat. While certainly an embarrassing moment, Cell disregarding Vegeta does allow him to get a sneak attack in at the end of the arc allowing Gohan to take Cell out.
13 Krillin Nearly Eviscerated Vegeta
The idea of Krillin ever beating Vegeta in a fight is honestly laughable. At no point in the series is Krillin ever actually strong enough to take out Vegeta on his own, but there was one moment where he very nearly was responsible for Vegeta’s defeat. During the final showdown in the Saiyan arc, as Gohan is trying to fend off Vegeta, Goku hands off the Genki Dama to Krillin so that he can fire Earth’s last hope at the Saiyan Prince.
While Krillin ends up missing, a head-on collision from behind would have likely sapped all the fight out of Vegeta. The only reason he comes out of it unscathed in the first place is because he initially dodged it and then Gohan had to push it back. With Krillin tossing the Genki Dama with all his might, and without missing, the hit would without a doubt take a toll on Vegeta’s body.
12 Teen Gohan Is Vegeta’s Better In Every Regard
Even though Vegeta spends most of the Cell arc as the strongest main character, it’s Gohan who ultimately steals the mantle in the end. Despite training in the Room of Spirit and Time twice, Vegeta cannot even be compared to Gohan’s sheer talent even though he only trained for around nine months with Goku. Where Vegeta failed to even dent Perfect Cell, Gohan made him his plaything. In a straight-up fight, Vegeta would find himself struggling to even land a hit. Cell Games Gohan is in another league entirely. If even Goku couldn’t defeat his son in a fight, there’s next to no chance Vegeta will be able to. And, of course, Teen Gohan is even more powerful than that.
11 Vegeta Couldn’t Handle Jiren’s Heat
Nobody expected Vegeta to actually defeat Jiren, but it’s still worth noting just how badly Jiren beats down Vegeta. After ascending to Super Saiyan Bluer, after stating resolve time and time again, after firing every major attack in his roster, Vegeta fails to make a dent in Jiren. It’s so bad that Vegeta even calls out Jiren for holding back pretty much their whole fight. It’s one thing to get beaten by Jiren, it’s another to get beaten by a Jiren who registers you even less than he registers Goku. As Vegeta falls off the stage, he gives all his remaining Ki to Goku, accepting once again that he should have just let his rival handle the big bad.
10 Android 18 Broke Vegeta
Dragon Ball has never been particularly good with its female characters so it’s nice to get the Cell saga and see Android 18 literally break Vegeta’s arm in one of the arc’s keystone fights. Not only does Vegeta lose, he loses progressively. Throughout the entire fight, he’s sweating himself stupid and leaking Ki while Android 18 stay healthy thanks to her infinite stamina. This fight is especially cathartic because, up to this point, Vegeta still hasn’t reformed. He’s dismissed his son, put the main cast at risk, and even claimed to have become a Super Saiyan thanks to being pure evil. It’s evil versus evil, and Vegeta loses. What’s not to love? It would be nice to see how Android 18 stacks up in general during Dragon Ball Super.
9 Android 17 Could Break Vegeta
If Android 18 was strong enough to defeat Vegeta in the Cell saga, logic dictates that her stronger twin brother would be able to do so, as well. The difference between Android 18 and Android 17, though, is that 17 could likely still destroy Vegeta in a fight by the end of Super. While Vegeta is undeniably the stronger of the two, 17 proved to be an incredibly smart and durable fighter throughout the Tournament of Power. Vegeta has raw strength, but 17 might be too crafty to beat.
Vegeta's strong, but that hardly matters to someone like 17.
Just look at how they both fared against Jiren: Vegeta lost even though he had an all-new form of Super Saiyan Blue whereas Android 17 not only managed to damage Jiren, he went on to win the entire tournament. Through the use of stealth, 17 would be able to sneak attack Vegeta into oblivion. Plus, his infinite stamina means he’d be able to outlast Vegeta for as long as he needed to. All Vegeta can do to 17 is punch him really hard.
8 Piccolo Would Have Destroyed Vegeta On Two Separate Occasions
Vegeta’s often considered stronger than Piccolo for the entire series, but there are a few stretches where Piccolo completely eclipses him. The entire time they’re both on Namek, Piccolo is undeniably stronger. You could argue Vegeta was stronger after his Zenkai, but nothing he does gives off that impression especially when considering how final form Freeza destroyed Vegeta while Piccolo actually managed to get a clean hit in later on.
During the Cell saga, Piccolo’s also stronger for a while. Once he merges with Kami, it isn’t until after training in the Room of Spirit and Time that Vegeta pushes ahead. Vegeta maintains a comfortable lead after that, but if Piccolo fought Vegeta during any of those two periods, Vegeta wouldn’t have been able to stand a chance.
7 Goten And Trunks Are Naturally Stronger Than Vegeta
It might be a bit hard to believe, but Goten and Trunks are actually naturally stronger than Vegeta. As tailless hybrids, Goten and Trunks are the next generation paving the way to success. Before they’re even ten years old, both of them know how to transform into Super Saiyans. Even Android 18 struggles against them during the 25th Budokai. With a bit of training, Goten and Trunks would be able to surpass Vegeta in no time.
Vegeta should thank Kami that Goten and Trunks don't like training.
Thankfully for the Prince, these are two lazy kids. By the end of the original series, neither of them show any interesting in working out or perfecting their craft. Considering how wildly powerful Future Trunks becomes in Dragon Ball Super, it’s probably better for Vegeta that Goten and Trunks never grew to love the martial arts. The last thing he needs is a teenage tag-team putting him in his place.
6 Zarbon Nearly Obliterated Vegeta
Zarbon is a character who doesn’t get nearly as much respect as he deserves. While he’s certainly in the lower tier of named enemies during the Namek arc, he’s also one of the few characters to give Vegeta a genuinely hard time. Not just a hard time, honestly. In their first fight, Zarbon almost drowns Vegeta after a decisive victory. It’s only thanks to a Zenkai that Vegeta ends up getting his revenge. If Zarbon bumped into Vegeta under different circumstances, the arc would have come to an end right then and there. Of course, we all love the Frieza Saga, and wouldn't do it differently, but the non-existence of Zenkai in later series definitely makes us question the winners and losers of a lot of the arc.
5 Any Form Of Buu Would Toast Vegeta In DBZ
As emotional as Vegeta’s resolve to defeat Buu at the start and end of the arc is, there really was no chance he’d be able to secure a victory. Every single incarnation of Majin Buu would wipe the floor with Vegeta. Fat Buu wasn’t even phased by Vegeta’s self-destruction; Super Buu was so powerful even Goku avoided fighting him; the Super Buu fusions would absorb Vegeta without a second thought; and Kid Buu basically treated Vegeta like a ragdoll. Him fighting is admirable, but there was never actually a chance he’d be able to defeat the Djinn. Vegeta puts up a valiant effort, but it's just that: an effort. He's clinging on, while Buu plays with the Prince of all Saiyans. It's a powerful moment, but it's clear who wins the fight.
4 Future Trunks Was Stronger Than His Own Father At Least Twice
One of Dragon Ball’s main themes is the importance given to the next generation. Every generation will find a way to surpass the last. This is just the natural course of the universe, and it even has some basis in reality. It’s only natural, then, that Future Trunks would be stronger than his father at some points in the series. Twice, exactly: at the very start of the Android arc and at the very end.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. In this case, the apple could chop the tree down.
When Trunks is first introduced, it goes without saying that he would be able to stomp Vegeta considering he’s already a Super Saiyan and daddy dearest isn’t yet. At the end of the arc, Trunks develops the Grade 3 SSJ form while Vegeta stops at Grade 2. There are disadvantages since it cannibalizes Trunks’ speed, but one hit from Grade 3 would turn Vegeta into dust.
3 End Of Z Gohan Would Have Made A Fool Out Of Vegeta
While Super wasn’t exactly kind to Gohan, the original series at least did him the honor of making him the strongest unfused by character by the end of DBZ. Thanks to his Ultimate power-up, nobody even comes close to Gohan’s raw power by the last chapter. The only characters who could take him on are fusions and, even then, that’s just Buutenks and Vegetto. It goes without saying that an end of Z Vegeta, a character who struggled to fight against Kid Buu and never surpassed Super Saiyan 2, would get absolutely creamed.
One Kamehameha from Ultimate Gohan would be enough to put Vegeta in his place.
In a way, Gohan being stronger than Vegeta at the end of the original manga makes a lot of sense and fits with the series’ progression. In just about every arc, Gohan managed to surpass Vegeta in some regard. Gohan is responsible for defeating Vegeta in the Saiyan arc; Gohan fights Freeza the most while Vegeta cowers in a corner; and Gohan is the one who breaks past the Super Saiyan threshold in the Cell arc. Gohan’s superiority is only natural.
2 Uub Could Grow Up Stronger Than Vegeta
Understanding Uub, and by extension how he would wreck Vegeta, requires an understanding of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball is the story of a young boy just barely stronger than the average martial artist growing into a man with godlike abilities. Goku goes from someone who struggles fighting Yamcha to someone who freaks Beerus out every time he surpasses his limits. Uub is a child with the latent potential of Majin Buu. He has the single biggest head start in the entire series.
In training with Goku, Uub can theoretically push past everyone’s limits. Buu never trained a day in his life and he was still a universal threat. Uub is being trained by the strongest mortal in Universe 7. Vegeta, while naturally talented, has always struggled to keep up with Goku, someone who was born at a disadvantage. A fully trained Uub would, no doubt, crush Vegeta. Like I said, any form of Buu would toast Vegeta.
1 Goku Beats Vegeta Any Day
While Goku has never actually defeated Vegeta in a one-on-one fight, Vegeta’s never actually beaten Goku either. In fact, were they to fight at any point in the series, excluding when Goku has his heart virus, Goku would win without a sweat. On Namek, Goku is undeniably stronger than Vegeta from start to finish. The latter’s Zenkais don’t even get him close to matching the former. During the Cell saga, Goku mastered Super Saiyan whereas Vegeta meandered in the Room of Spirit and Time for two years. Come the Buu arc, and Goku can just turn Super Saiyan 3 to one-shot Vegeta.
Vegeta should know better than to challenge the main character.
Super doesn’t bode well for the Saiyan Prince, either. Goku has Super Saiyan God in Battle of Gods, is clearly the better fighter in Resurrection F, and his Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken that he pulls out in the Universe 6 tournament secures a lead for the rest of the series. Sure, Vegeta has Super Saiyan Bluer, but any moment of desperation will just trigger Goku into Ultra Instinct, ending the fight right then and there. Sorry Vegeta, but this rivalry’s over.