Dragon Ball Frieza Saga: The Players, Powers & Plot of DBZ’s Most Legendary Battle

Dragon Ball Z's opening story arc, the Saiyan Saga, made it abundantly clear that the anime series was far more violent and serious than its immediate predecessor Dragon Ball. However, it was the series second major storyline, the Frieza Saga, that defined the adventures of Goku and the Z Fighters for years to follow.

With its cosmic stakes and epic leaps in power and scope, the Dragon Ball franchise would never be the same after the arrival of Frieza and his brutal minions. Here is a complete overview of the Frieza Saga and how it changed Goku and the Dragon Ball mythos forever.

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Dragon Ball Z Spoilers: The Frieza Saga's Plot

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While the Z Fighters had triumphed over Nappa and Vegeta in their attempted conquest of the Dragon Balls on Earth, the victory came at a steep price: Yamcha, Chiaotzu, Tien and Piccolo were all killed in the crossfire, and Goku was gravely injured. With Piccolo's death, this also meant his Namekian counterpart Kami was gone and the Dragon Balls with him, seemingly taking the possibility of resurrection off the table. As Goku recovered from his wounds, Krillin, Gohan and Bulma repaired Kami's old spaceship and traveled to the Namekian homeworld to see if the alien race had Dragon Balls of their own to resurrect their fallen friends.

As the Z Fighters arrived on Namek, they were shocked to learn that Vegeta's cruel employer, the dictator Frieza, had learned of the Dragon Balls' existence and scoured the planet with his army for them. As the Z Fighters tried to stay one step ahead of Frieza to prevent him from using the Dragon Balls to gain immortality, Vegeta himself had since recovered from his showdown with Goku to search Namek for the Dragon Balls for his own selfish ends.

DBZ: The New Powers and Final Forms in the Frieza Saga

While Vegeta and the Z Fighters were exponentially outmatched by Frieza and his elite warriors upon first arriving on Namek, they would each receive power boosts to help compensate for the disparity. Krillin and Gohan would each have their latent potential awakened by the Namekian elder Guru. At the same time, a resurrected Piccolo discovered he could fuse with other Namekians to significantly augment his power after combining with Guru's bodyguard Nail. Most crucially, Vegeta revealed that Saiyans grow stronger after recovering from grievous wounds, a genetic trait that led to him, a recovered Goku and Gohan all taking advantage of to increase their power.

Vegeta would showcase his signature Final Flash attack for the first time while battling the Ginyu Force. Meanwhile, Goku was able to multiply his Kaioken technique by a factor of 20 and accumulate enough energy to form a Super Spirit Bomb. On the other side, Zarbon and Frieza unveiled progressively stronger physical combat transformations of their own, and Captain Ginyu shocked the Z Fighters with his ability to swap bodies with his opponent. Still, Goku emerged triumphant by unlocking the Super Saiyan transformation for the first time.

Every Death in DBZ's Frieza Saga

While Frieza arrived on Namek with a full military complement of his best troops, his army was systematically wiped out by Vegeta and the Z Fighters, including his two righthand men Dodoria and Zarbon, each personally murdered by Vegeta. The Namekian people would similarly endure heavy losses, virtually wiped out by the Frieza Force and Vegeta in their hunt for the Dragon Balls. Guru would die of a broken heart from watching his people die, and the young healer Dende was killed by Frieza.

As Frieza called in the Ginyu Force to deal with the Z Fighters, Vegeta would slaughter all but Captain Ginyu himself, striking down many of them while they were distracted or helpless. Frieza killed Vegeta after the despot reached his final form, angering Vegeta by revealing he had destroyed the Saiyan homeworld to prevent the rise of a legendary Super Saiyan. And after Frieza killed Krillin, fueling Goku's Super Saiyan transformation, the dictator accidentally mortally wounded himself with two poorly aimed Destructo Disks before Goku personally blasted the villain for attempting to backstab one last time.

The Frieza Saga: Pros Vs. Cons

While the Frieza Saga is responsible for some of the Dragon Ball franchise's most iconic moments, it also showcases some of its most notorious bad habits. The amount of decompressed storytelling, with characters taking multiple episodes to charge up transformations and powerful attacks, took place during the latter half of the story arc. The fight between Goku and Frieza alone -- not counting the villain's previous skirmishes in his weaker forms against the other Z Fighters -- took 19 episodes to complete, making it the longest, single battle in the franchise to date.

However, as padded out as the storyline overall is, the opening half, with Vegeta and the Z Fighters constantly outsmarting and outmaneuvering the Frieza Force, is a highlight and reasonably well-paced. Similarly, Goku's arrival on Namek and initial showdown with the Ginyu Force is especially memorable. Vegeta's final speech to Goku about taking pride in his Saiyan heritage is another defining moment. While the fight against Frieza is overlong, it does feature some iconic moments for the franchise, including Goku's Super Saiyan transformation and the climactic battle as Namek falls into destruction around the combatants.

The Frieza Saga Was Pivotal to DBZ's Popularity

Suppose the Saiyan Saga was responsible for Dragon Ball Z differentiating itself from the original Dragon Ball anime series. In that case, the Frieza Saga is the storyline that proved just how much into science fiction the franchise could lean into as its heroes left Earth for the first time to battle for the entire universe's fate. Worlds away and facing off against deadly extraterrestrials, Dragon Ball had come a long way from its more fantasy-oriented, martial arts roots into something decidedly more cosmic while making Vegeta a begrudging ally rather than a mortal enemy.

Dragon Ball introduced the idea of fighters holding back their full potential to gauge their opponents' capabilities better, and the Saiyan Saga introduced transformations through techniques like Kaioken. However, the Frieza Saga took things to an entirely higher level with Frieza's numerous combat transformations and Goku finally realizing his Super Saiyan destiny. The Saiyan Saga walked so that the Frieza Saga could run, and, by the end, Dragon Ball Z was powering full speed ahead without looking back.

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