While Dragon Ball Z may be known worldwide for its epic fight sequences and methodical lore, the less spoken highlights of the series are the characters. While people love to get into debates about power levels, strong moves, and wasted wishes, the reason people care so much is because the characters are likable. Like the casts in Star Wars and Harry Potter, the characters in the Dragon Ball universe are so well-defined, have such depth to them, that they feel more like old friends than they do fictional characters being portrayed on a screen.

One of the more complex characters on the show is Vegeta. Despite not appearing until later in Dragon Ball Z (more than 200 episodes after the first series – Dragon Ball – premiered), he became such an integral part of the franchise that some would argue he is practically the second primary protagonist aside from Goku himself. How did this happen though? How did an antagonist turn into a protagonist? How much HAS Vegeta changed since his introduction?

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Who is Vegeta?

Vegeta Super Saiyan Android Saga

Vegeta is a member of the Saiyan race, a warrior race from the planet Vegeta, and was initially introduced as the primary antagonist (along with Napa and Raditz) in the Saiyan Saga of Dragon Ball Z. Vegeta is known for his pride, arrogance, and desire for power. He is a skilled fighter with incredible strength, speed, and agility, and is often seen engaging in intense battles with other powerful characters in the series. Originally he comes to Earth in search of the Dragon Balls so that he can obtain eternal life for himself and Napa (Raditz had already died at the hands of Piccolo).

Style-wise, Vegeta is known for his iconic design, which includes his trademark armor, spiky black hair, and prominent widow's peak. He is a fan-favorite character in the Dragon Ball series and has become one of the most recognizable and popular characters in anime and manga culture.

How Has Vegeta Changed?

Dragon Ball - Bulla Making Fun Of Vegeta's Mustache With PNGs Of Both Characters On Top

While many characters in the franchise change over the years, Vegeta undergoes more significant changes than almost anyone else since he was first introduced in the Saiyan Saga. As mentioned before, Vegeta first appears as a villain who seeks to use the Dragon Balls to wish for immortality. Ruthless, arrogant, and self-centered, he cared only about his own power and did not hesitate to kill anyone who got in his way (including his own partner Napa, who wasn’t powerful enough to take on Goku). However, as the series progressed, Vegeta began to show a more complex and nuanced character.

During the Frieza Saga, he became a reluctant ally of the Z Fighters. Frieza was the intergalactic monster who destroyed his planet and enslaved him and his friends, so when the opportunity came to take him down with everyone, he took that chance. While he intended to eventually conquer the Earth, stronger foes such as Cell and Majin Buu would come along, forcing Vegeta to continue working with the Z Fighters despite their uncomfortableness with each other. Throughout the series, Vegeta's pride and arrogance continued to be a defining aspect of his character, but he also developed a sense of respect and admiration for Goku, resulting in an unlikely friendship.

He also ends up becoming a love interest for Bulma, who sees beyond the ‘bad guy’ persona and develops a relationship with him. This results in her giving birth to his son Trunks, whom Vegeta is initially indifferent to. This too, eventually changes, as Vegeta comes to love his son in a way that a father should love his son (and even sacrifices his life to protect him from Maijin Buu at one point). When Dragon Ball GT comes around (which has been de-canonized) Vegeta has more or less put his fighting days behind him. Now he is a dedicated family man who dotes on his daughter Bra. He even sports a dad mustache which he only shaves because his daughter tells him he looks ugly in it.

While he ultimately joins the fight against Baby and Android 17, in this series Vegeta’s quest for more power has come to an end. In Dragon Ball Super Vegeta is still striving to become a stronger fighter, but no longer pursues the path of an all-powerful tyrant. He now enjoys a friendly rivalry with Goku and is more likely to work together with him to take down a reincarnated Frieza and newly discovered super Saiyan named Brolly. In some ways Vegeta’s character growth was much more complex in Dragon Ball GT (despite being unquestionably a much weaker series than Dragon Ball Super), however regardless of which series you’re watching, Vegeta is clearly not the same person he is by the end of the franchise than he was when he was first introduced.

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