If there's one character in Dragon Ball who's had a complicated arc, it's Vegeta. Born the Prince of Saiyans, Vegeta was introduced as a merciless conqueror at the start of Dragon Ball Z, serving as Goku and the Z Fighters' first major antagonist in the series. Over time, Vegeta would grow to work with and even appreciate his former foes while maintaining his obsessive rivalry with Goku.
Here are all the defining moments from Vegeta's life from across Dragon Ball Z, showcasing his personal growth from an unrepentant villain to a loving family man and valuable ally.
When Vegeta Arrived on Earth
Vegeta's first time on Earth was one of the worst days of his entire life. Long presuming himself to be the mightiest Saiyan warrior, Vegeta was humiliated when Goku bested him by using the Kaio-Ken technique. The Saiyan Prince's rude awakening would continue, with Krillin and Gohan beating him to within an inch of his life and Yajirobe cutting off his tail.
While Goku chose to let Vegeta live, the event haunted Vegeta for the rest of his life. He constantly worked to surpass Goku and overcome his own buried insecurities over his abilities, and a classic rivalry between the two men was born on the battlefield.
When Vegeta Died For the First Time
Nothing quite informs someone's life like dying -- and Vegeta has been violently killed on more than one occasion. While Vegeta internalized much of his grief and rage after learning Frieza destroyed his home planet and wiped out most of the Saiyan race, all his frustrations and sorrow finally came out when the villain mortally wounded Vegeta in front of the Z Fighters.
As he lay dying, Vegeta showed the most vulnerability he has ever revealed, pleading with Goku to claim pride in his Saiyan heritage and avenge their people. While he would resume his rivalry with Goku upon his resurrection, Vegeta's temporary death showed valuable insight into his psyche and helped fuel his obsession with never being weak enough to be bested again.
When Vegeta First Achieved Super Saiyan
All of his life, Vegeta heard stories of mythical Super Saiyans, virtually unstoppable warriors at the pinnacle of their conquering race. After his death and resurrection, Vegeta trained diligently to become a Super Saiyan like Goku. By finally achieving the transformation ahead of the Androids' arrival, he regained that sense of pride he'd lost ever since being defeated by the Z Fighters.
The transformation restored Vegeta's cocky nature and confirmed he was still one of the strongest figures in the franchise. It also demonstrated one key feature that would continue on for the remainder of the franchise: even after achieving Super Saiyan, Vegeta would never be satisfied with any new level of power he attained.
When Vegeta Became Majin Vegeta
While Vegeta begrudgingly started paying more attention to Bulma and Trunks in the seven years since Goku's death during the Cell Games, his unresolved feud finally culminated when Goku returned to Earth for a single day. Rather than help stop the wizard Babidi, Vegeta allowed the sorcerer to empower him with dark magic for the chance to fight with Goku one last time.
Over the course of the battle, Vegeta reasserted control of his own body from Babidi, and angrily revealed how much he had genuinely grown to love and appreciate his family and care for Earth. Vegeta attempted to make good on this realization by sacrificing himself against Majin Buu, though his heroic move would ultimately prove fruitless.
When Vegeta Battled Against Kid Buu
Given his body back by King Yemma to stop Buu's final form, Vegeta seemingly accepted that Goku was not only his better but also his friend of sorts. This realization came upon seeing Goku in action at Super Saiyan 3 and how severely outclassed he was by Kid Buu.
Letting go of this obsession helped Vegeta warm up more to his family upon returning to Earth. Though the Saiyan Prince would continue competing with Goku during the sequel anime series Dragon Ball Super, things would never be as antagonistic between them as Vegeta finally achieved a serenity that long eluded him.