Dragon Ball: Losing Is Why We Love Vegeta

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Dragon Ball Super Chapter #75 by Akira Toriyama, Toyotarou, Caleb Cook and Brandon Bovia, available now in English through Viz Media.

Chapter #75 of Dragon Ball Super sees Vegeta endure what might be another humiliating defeat, despite recently attaining a new combat transformation to unleash on the villainous Granolah. Online, fans were vocally annoyed by the plot development, feeling Vegeta never gets his just dues on the field of combat -- particularly in comparison to his longtime rival.

These complaints surfaced shortly after an online fan poll listed Vegeta as the more popular Dragon Ball character than Goku, proving that the Saiyan Prince has won the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide. However, Vegeta's frustrating losses are actually a strong factor in Vegeta's enduring popularity.

When Vegeta was introduced at the start of Dragon Ball Z, he was the most powerful opponent Goku and the Z Fighters had ever faced, capable of destroying entire planets with a concentrated energy blast from his fingertips. Goku quickly outpaced him though, and Vegeta has spent most of the successive stories constantly trying to close that power gap. Their ongoing rivalry forms the emotional backbone of the franchise. However, whereas Goku kept reaching new levels of power, the gap between him and Vegeta seemingly widened on different occasions, evidenced by Vegeta being bested by enemies who were ultimately defeated by Goku or Gohan.

Despite arriving on the scene as an antagonist, Vegeta has quickly grown to become the franchise's secondary protagonist, supplanting Gohan and providing an alternative to the ubiquitous Goku. Just as fans have come to expect Goku pulling out some last-minute transformation or gathering enough energy to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, Vegeta can almost always be expected to underestimate his opponent or find that his usual overconfidence in his own strength is disastrously misplaced.

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As frustrating as it can be that Vegeta rarely pulls out the win -- often losing before a villain's climactic bout against Goku -- that relatable possibility of overwhelming defeat in the face of such preparation is what makes him so endearing. The fact that Vegeta's numerous defeats still pack such an emotional sting despite his swagger is a direct testament to this. We want to see Vegeta win on some level, no matter how overconfident or arrogant he gets. But the fact that he makes us care about each beating he endures, even if they are a foregone conclusion, underscores his status as an underdog who continues to stand up no matter how long the odds are against him.

Those rare instances when Vegeta pulls out a win are well-deserved, like finally getting the chance to lay into Frieza at the start of Dragon Ball Super or blowing apart Metal Cooler in Dragon Ball Z: Return of Cooler. However, Vegeta stays distinctly more interesting than Goku because of his less predictable track record, with his win-loss ratio skewing more negatively and even unassuming figures like Arale besting him. Frankly, that's how Vegeta operates best: seething in the shadow of Goku to fuel his never-ending drive to become the strongest fighter in the multiverse.

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