Vegeta: a name synonymous with the Dragon Ball series and as recognizable as main character Goku. Possibly even more, in fact, as the Saiyan prince has managed to defeat his eternal rival in several official character popularity polls. It wouldn’t be the first time the “bad boy anti-hero” character would end up more popular than the straight-laced protagonist, as characters such as Naruto’s Sasuke and My Hero Academia’s Bakugo can attest to.
To Vegeta’s credit, he does carry a surprising amount of character depth and undergoes a lengthy development arc across the entirety of Dragon Ball Z, beginning the series as Earth’s deadliest enemy up to that point and ending it as one of its greatest protectors. All without ever abandoning his principals or even admitting his previously villainous actions.
Vegeta was also one of the most active characters in the series, having way more battles than Goku, who would conveniently spend each arc training in a secluded area somewhere until emerging as the only remaining hope against the latest Big Bad. That is why the following list will detail some of Vegeta’s most infamous accomplishments and craziest actions throughout all of his appearances in the Dragon Ball franchise, starting with Dragon Ball Z and moving all the way to Dragon Ball Super. There are a few entries related to Dragon Ball GT as well, even though that series is no longer considered canon (and the franchise is better for it. Seriously, GT is bad, get over it).
25 Eliminated The Ginyu Force
When Frieza called forth the Ginyu Force to take back the Dragon Balls from Vegeta, Gohan, and Krillin, it was the first time that the villainous Saiyan proposed an alliance in order to take down the fearsome foes. With all their efforts, however, the trio could only take down Guldo, the weakest member of the five.
When Goku arrived and took care of Jeice, Burter, and Recoome, Vegeta was quick to swoop in and finish them off, against Goku’s wishes. He also went on to eliminate Jeice, and even finished the set with Ginyu years later in Dragon Ball Super.
24 Destroyed An Insect Planet
While heading toward planet Earth in order to seize the Dragon Balls, Vegeta and Nappa made a quick pitstop at the insect planet Arlia, hoping to stretch their legs and fight a few strong opponents.
Once the two Saiyans made short work of the fighters, Vegeta decided to destroy the entire planet with just a flick of his finger (even taking out the nearby moon with it). While this episode was considered filler, it did offer an early glimpse into the crazy power and cruel nature that Vegeta possessed.
23 Wrote Off Planet Vegeta's Destruction
Even though he was the crown prince of all Saiyans, Vegeta’s arrogant nature kept him from ever showing any admiration towards his fellow subjects. Upon hearing the news that his whole planet was wiped out, including his father, the villainous Saiyan did not seem to care in the slightest.
Even when learning that Frieza was the one responsible for the destruction, he showed further disinterest, angry instead that Frieza had used him as a pawn. Eventually, Vegeta learned to take pride in the Saiyan race, begging his enemy Goku to finish the fight against Frieza that he couldn’t.
22 Got His Revenge Against Frieza In Super
For much of his life, Vegeta had greatly feared Frieza’s terrible power, yet strove to one day surpass him. His greatest humiliation was to fall against the alien tyrant after having believed he had attained the legendary form of Super Saiyan.
It would be many years later when Vegeta finally got to settle the score in Dragon Ball Super; after Goku was wounded by a sneak attack against the resurrected Frieza, Vegeta brought down his old enemy with his newest power-up: Super Saiyan Blue.
21 The Bingo Dance
Vegeta may be a prideful fighter, but even he knew not to dare anger Beerus, the God of Destruction. In an attempt to keep the temperamental deity from destroying the Earth, Vegeta resorted to a ridiculous dance to get him interested in a game of Bingo.
As humiliating as this was, it was also a sign that Vegeta had come to care about the well-being of others, an action that Goku ended up respecting once he finally arrived to settle things with Beerus.
20 Got Heavily Scarred (Which Later Cleared Up)
The battles on Planet Namek took a heavy toll on Vegeta, even resulting in his loss of life when fighting Frieza. With the threat of a new enemy looming courtesy of the Androids, the determined Saiyan wasted no time engaging in a new training regimen.
During this sequence, Vegeta can be seen sporting a bunch of scars across his shirtless body, no doubt the result of his previous intense battles. Curiously, these scars vanished completely over time, perhaps a case of Toriyama forgetting to draw them the next time Vegeta would show off his physique.
19 Grew Way Taller
Toriyama seemed to enjoy the concept of making the toughest enemies the shortest in size, judging by the heights of Vegeta, Frieza, and Kid Buu.
But even though Vegeta was already a full-grown adult, older than Goku, in fact, the pint-sized powerhouse steadily grew to almost match the same height as his rival by the final arc. Being an older series, this could be a simple case of incorrect scale, something that would often happen with both the smallest characters (like Gohan and Krillin) and the tallest (Cell, Piccolo).
18 Performed The Longest Power-Up In Series History
Dragon Ball has had a long history of being lovingly mocked by fans for its characters spending several minutes yelling really loud and powering up for a big blast. Ever eager to outdo the competition, Vegeta beat everyone else by having the longest power-up sequence by far.
In a last-ditch effort against Perfect Cell, Vegeta put everything into the Final Flash, a massive planetary-destroying blast that took almost an entire episode to charge up. It’s a good thing Cell was patient enough to wait for the blast...and bad news for Vegeta when it proved ineffective.
17 Lost More Fights Than Yamcha
Just as Vegeta is revered by fans all over the world, Yamcha is typically ridiculed for being the most useless character in the series, having lost nearly every single fight he’s taken part in.
But statistically-speaking, Vegeta has had his rear end handed to him many more times than Yamcha, by virtue of having many more fights as the hapless human. This is offset by Vegeta also having many more victories, although his Win/Lose ratio is steered heavily toward the latter.
16 Didn’t Show Up In The Movies Until Movie 6
When Dragon Ball Z started hitting the silver screen (in Japan, anyway, the West would have to settle for direct-to-video), one would think Vegeta would be a prominent member of the cast.
However, it actually took six whole movies before the Saiyan prince finally made an appearance, showing up to help Goku take on Metal Cooler, the older brother of Frieza who was defeated by Goku in the previous movie. Despite the alliance, Vegeta insisted that it was only so that he could have the satisfaction of taking out Goku afterward.
15 Got Together With Bulma
When Trunks made his surprise debut in Dragon Ball Z, he brought with him all sorts of dizzying truths, including the fact that he was the future son of Vegeta and that he came back in time to warn Goku about a pair of Androids that would destroy the world.
But the biggest shock of all was revealing that Bulma was his mother, meaning that at some point in time Vegeta and Bulma would end up together.
The hows and whys of this were conveniently skipped over thanks to a timeskip, leaving it to the fans’ imagination.
14 The Pink Shirt
As a warrior obsessed with battle, Vegeta isn’t the type to care about what he wears or even how he smells. After being coaxed by Bulma to take a shower (possibly the first he’s ever had), his battered Saiyan armor is replaced with a pink shirt, much to the Saiyan’s dismay.
Unsurprisingly, the “Bad Man” shirt became an instant favorite among fans, resulting in actual reproductions of the shirt that people would eagerly wear during anime conventions (or even just in public. Hey, it’s contemporary fashion).
13 Got Stronger With Every Defeat
During the Namek saga, Vegeta suffered his first major defeat against Zarbon, Frieza’s right-hand man. After licking his wounds, the Saiyan came back to dominate against his opponent in the rematch, revealing a hidden trait that all Saiyans possessed.
Turns out that when a Saiyan is defeated in battle, he comes back stronger as a result.
This convenient power was something Vegeta attempted to exploit by forcing Krillin to give him a mortal blast to fight Frieza. Strangely, this Saiyan trait is never mentioned again.
12 Fought A Copy Of Himself (Played By A Former Dub Actor)
This is a fun Easter egg that only Western fans would truly appreciate. When Dragon Ball Z first came to the West, the voice of Vegeta was performed by Brian Drummond, who is part of the dub studio Ocean. When DBZ was later released by Funimation, the entire dub cast was replaced with new actors, with Chris Sabat supplying Vegeta’s voice from now on.
During a Super episode in which Vegeta must face off against a slime copy of himself, Funimation decided to have a little fun and have Brian Drummond return as the copy Vegeta.
11 The Pacifier
Even without the voice actor reference, the episode where Vegeta must content with a slime copy of himself still had plenty of wacky moments. Since the copy had stolen Vegeta’s powers, the Saiyan prince was slowly fading out of existence.
While Goku fought against the copy, Vegeta had to delay the effects of his fading out by putting a relic in his mouth to slow the effects. Said relic was conveniently shaped like a pacifier, resulting in another humiliating moment for the prideful Saiyan.
10 Grew A Mustache
Dragon Ball GT was a divisive spin-off that introduced all sorts of new designs for the main cast. Many of these designs were quite bad, along with most of the storylines, neither of which were handled by series author Akira Toriyama.
But it’s hard to deny the stylish ‘stache Vegeta sported for a few episodes.
Sadly, the mustache came and went almost immediately, as the next time Vegeta showed up had him shave off his nose neighbor while sticking with a more traditional look.
9 Defeated Nappa Twice
One of the most ruthless actions caused by Vegeta was his merciless elimination of his partner Nappa, after the Saiyan juggernaut was taken out (and implied to be crippled) by Goku.
It is hilariously ironic, then, that Vegeta should take him out a second time. During the Super Android 17 arc in Dragon Ball GT, several former villains had managed to escape the underworld, Nappa included. Unfortunately, Nappa’s return to the surface world was short-lived, as he was immediately blasted back to the bottom by Vegeta.
8 Kept His Promise To Trunks
Way back in the Buu arc, Vegeta had made a promise to Trunks during a sparring session that if the young Super Saiyan could land a single hit against his father, he would promise to take him to the park. An eager Trunks manages to land that hit, to which Vegeta assured he would keep his end of the bargain.
Over a decade later, we finally get to see Papa Vegeta keep his promise in Dragon Ball Super, where he, Bulma and Trunks end up having fun at the park. Well, everyone but Vegeta, anyway.
7 Was Finally Judged Good By The Buu Saga
Vegeta’s atrocities would make several other villains in other franchises blush. Having eliminated countless planets, it would take even greater monsters like Frieza and Cell in order to cause the Saiyan to fight alongside Goku and friends.
Yet it wasn’t until the very last threat in DBZ against Kid Buu that Vegeta had finally done enough to be judged as “good.”
When making the wish to Shenron to bring back everyone on Earth taken out by Buu except for the bad guys, the previously lifeless Vegeta was surprised to see that he would be included in the criteria for resurrected good guys.
6 Taught Cabba To Go Super Saiyan
While Vegeta spent much of his life viewing himself as superior to all his fellow Saiyans, even dismissing their destruction at the hands of Frieza, his selfishness soon gave way to pride for his race.
This pride led to him deciding to take the inexperienced Saiyan Cabba under his wing in Dragon Ball Super. Despite being his opponent in a multi-universe tournament, Vegeta chose to teach Cabba how to become a Super Saiyan and even agreed to visit his home planet one day.
5 Had The Wrong Colors In His Introduction
Shortly after the defeat of Raditz, Vegeta and Nappa made their first official introduction, deciding to travel to Earth in order to retrieve the Dragon Balls. During this scene in the anime, as well as the filler episode where they visit Planet Arlia, the two Saiyans actually had the wrong colors applied to their armor and hair (well, Vegeta’s hair anyway).
This goof was corrected by the time the villainous duo reached Earth, and would, later on, be retroactively fixed in Dragon Ball Z Kai.
4 Lost His Tail After One Removal
Way back in the first Dragon Ball series, it was revealed that Goku would turn into a Great Ape when looking at a full moon. The source of this transformation lied in his tail, prompting a permanent removal, though this took a couple of attempts since his tail had a habit of growing back.
This happened with his son Gohan as well.
In Vegeta’s case, losing his tail once was apparently enough; after having his tail cut off by Yajirobe, Vegeta was told by Frieza’s doctor that it would never grow back (though Vegeta was hardly bothered by it).
3 Was Way Stronger Than Goku (At First)
When Vegeta and Goku squared off for the first time, the Saiyan prince was the strongest opponent Goku had ever faced. His power was so overwhelming that Goku had no choice but to push his body past its limits with his new Kaioken ability. The gamble paid off, as he was able to repel Vegeta’s greatest technique and deal serious damage.
But if Vegeta had kept on fighting normally, he would have turned the tide on the now exhausted Goku. Due to his anger, he instead chose to transform into a Great Ape, which eventually led to his downfall.
2 Admitted Goku Was The Strongest
Vegeta’s obsession with surpassing Goku is due to his birthright as the prince of all Saiyans. To lose to Goku, who was born a low-class Saiyan, is a great indignity that he would not suffer.
Which is why it is so significant that Vegeta finally admits that Goku is the strongest. During the final battle against Kid Buu in Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta comes across this realization as he watches their fight. Though he would still go on to challenge his rival, it would always be out of respect rather than revenge.
1 Started An Iconic Meme
Another example of Western significance, Vegeta’s original dub phrase of “Over 9000” in regards to Goku’s power level laid the groundwork for what may be the earliest anime-related meme in history, and undoubtedly the most popular of all time.
Even though the correct translation is “Over 8000”, the hamminess of the original line delivery popularized it across the world, even showing up in printed T-shirts and referenced lovingly in other series (even finding its way back to Japan).