Spiraling out of Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine, Dragon Ball became a pop culture phenomenon, first over in Japan and then moving on to the West in the United States. Dragon Ball quickly became a household name. Thanks to appearing on the Cartoon Network afterschool block Toonami in the mid-‘90s, kids and teens were exposed full-on to Dragon Ball Z. The show opened the floodgates for nearly every other anime that followed, allowing the medium to gain a foothold in the United States and the world.
The quintessential villain in the Dragon Ball franchise, the evil Frieza changed the landscape of not only the series, but anime as a whole. Dragon Ball was already ridiculously popular even before Super Saiyans and Frieza, but the appearance of the malevolent space tyrant kicked things up a notch. Thanks to Frieza, Dragon Ball Z would get thrust into the ranks of historic anime. He became responsible for what would become the overarching identity of Dragon Ball Z, i.e. a show consisting of anime characters screaming, rather loudly, at each other for several episodes. It became a stereotype that would live on for decades. Today at CBR we’re looking at 15 things you probably didn’t know about the tyrannical Frieza.
15 HIS AGE
A characters’ age is not something that’s overtly discussed on Dragon Ball. It was somewhat important when Goku was a kid, and was made mildly relevant again when Gohan was running around fighting bad guys, but when it comes to everyone else, it’s something of a mystery as to how old everyone is. So then the question is, how old is Frieza? He’s been around for quite a few events and has a huge reputation throughout the universe, but there is no exact answer.
There are those who say he’s roughly 70 years old, while King Cold is almost one hundred years old. It’s one of those things that’s up for debate, but whatever the case, Frieza has accomplished a heck of a lot in such a relatively short time.
14 HE HAS A SON
Dragon Ball started off as manga series before it was an anime. It ran in Weekly Shonen Jump Magazine from 1984 to 1995. Yet after Akira Toriyama finished his run on Dragon Ball, he effectively retired. From there, he’d occasionally create character designs for the Dragon Quest series, along with the infrequent one-shot comic.
From 1999 to 2005, Akira Toriyama made a few issues of a Dragon Ball parody, called Nekomajin. One of the villains was Kuriza and he was the son of Frieza. The name Kuriza is a pun on the Japanese word for “chestnut”, which explained why Kuriza had a chestnut shaped head. Though the character isn’t considered canon, he has shown up as a playable character in a few Dragon Ball Z video games.
13 HIS FIGHT WITH GOKU LASTED 19 EPISODES
If there’s one thing the Dragon Ball franchise is notorious for, it’s long, drawn-out fights. Perhaps the shining example of a fight that just won’t end is when Goku finally battled it out with Frieza. There’s the fight pre-Super Saiyan and then there’s the moment Frieza attacks the planet Namek, saying they have five minutes before the world explodes. It actually takes ten more staggering episodes until the planet goes off in a massive bang, which equals to two and a half hours in the real world.
In its entirety, the fight between Goku and Frieza takes up 19 episodes of the original version of the anime. This takes around eight hours to watch. The battle happens to be one of the most iconic in all of anime history, and is considered by some to be the high point of Dragon Ball Z.
12 HE WAS WEIRDLY CENSORED
It’s no secret that Dragon Ball Z had to be heavily censored for Western audiences. You couldn’t show blood flowing and/or dripping, nudity, and stuff like swear words and obscene gestures were a no-no. Yet one of the oddest edits in the entirety of Dragon Ball Z featured Frieza eating a crab. After Frieza reached his final form, Vegeta attacked him, but the tyrant casually brushed aside everything the Saiyan Prince threw at him. At one point Frieza tossed Vegeta into a lake, used his power to make the water rise and then picked Vegeta up by the neck.
It is at this point where a scene was taken out from the original dub. It is here Frieza noticed a crab crawling on Vegeta’s back. He eats the crab in one big bite. The reason for this scene’s exclusion is uncertain, but is likely due to an animal rights issue.
11 HE WAS INSPIRED BY A HOUSING CRISIS
Frieza is relentless in his quest for power. He owns entire galaxies worth of planets, most of which he plundered for profit. His modus operandi in dealing with selling planets is wiping out any civilization on said planet and then selling the world to the highest bidder. When you look at Frieza through the lens of a real estate shark, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn he was inspired by a housing crisis. Akira Toriyama actually confirmed this in an interview for one of the Dragon Ball guidebooks.
During the late '80s, Japan went through a speculator’s bubble. The bubble dealt with real estate sales; people were buying and selling land for a big profit. There was a recession when the bubble burst. Akira Toriyama used this as the inspiration for Frieza. The whole point of Frieza’s empire is that he finds planets worthy of settlement to sell.
10 HIS SPECIES
There are many aliens and races in Dragon Ball, but one of the most questionable ones is Frieza’s and what his species are called. Upon some investigation, it turns out Frieza and his people are called the Frost Demons. They’re a mutant alien race that hails from the Planet Geyser, which is in the South Galaxy. Their planet just so happens to be is one of the coldest in the galaxy, hence why everyone in Frieza’s family seem to have names referring to chilly temperatures.
Even more interesting, is that the Frost Demon race is genderless, but they all maintain male characteristics. Incredibly powerful, Frieza is amongst the strongest of his race, which is in part due to how his icy home planet is low in food supply, which creates a survival-of-the-fittest scenario. Finally, Frost Demons can breathe in the vacuum of space, which provides a number of advantages.
9 HE'S A MUTANT
Though Frieza and his father King Cold are Frost Demons, they are actually perceived as outliers as far as their origin race goes. This is because they are mutants. Some time ago, the Frost Demons mingled with a mutant species and then a subspecies was born. King Cold was amongst the first of this new half-breed Frost Demon race and he came with an unusually high power level. Frieza was born with these mutant traits as well and became even stronger than anyone dared imagine.
He never trained a day in his life to achieve his insane power. It wasn’t until after he died and came back, that Frieza trained and, in just six months time, became as strong as Goku in his Super Saiyan Blue form.
8 HE'S CAUSED THE MOST SUPER SAIYAN TRANSFORMATIONS
Frieza is known for his hatred for the Saiyans. He’ done everything possible to exterminate them. Despite his best efforts, Frieza ironically only made the species stronger. Granted, nearly committing genocide did a number on their ranks, but the survivors would become the stuff of literal legend.
Frieza causes Goku to become a Super Saiyan when he kills Krillin. When Gohan first turns Super Saiyan in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, it was because the young warrior envisioned Frieza killing his friends and family. Finally, when Frieza blasts Bardock years into the past, Goku’s father fights Frieza’s ancestor, Chilled, and becomes a Super Saiyan. This later causes Frieza to later destroy Planet Vegeta, after hearing the story of the fight with Bardock and Chilled. And so, in a self-fulfilling paradox of a prophecy, Frieza causes his own hatred for Saiyans by inadvertently sending Bardock into the past to fight Chilled.
7 HE HAS QUESTIONABLE MOTIVATIONS
Frieza is responsible for a lot of dastardly acts in the Dragon Ball franchise, but his most notorious exploit was destroying Planet Vegeta, the homeworld of the Saiyans. Originally, Freiza’s reasoning for doing so seemed pretty cut and dry: he was afraid of the Saiyans and the Super Saiyan Legend. In recent years however, there’s a large amount of of fans that have questioned Frieza’s motivation behind destroying Planet Vegeta.
Many fans are starting to think Frieza only destroyed Planet Vegeta because Beerus, the God of Destruction, ordered him to. Alas, this isn’t true. The confusion was brought on by Battle of Gods in which Beerus claims that he wanted to destroy Planet Vegeta because he hated King Vegeta. Additionally, if Frieza did destroy the Saiyans because Beerus’s demanded it, the entire Frieza Saga would be contradicted, since he’s obsessed with killing all the Saiyans in the universe.
6 HE DANCED IN A COMMERCIAL
There’s something to be said about the power of advertising. It doesn’t matter who you are, the idea of a little more money is enticing. It applies to celebrities as well as fictional animated characters. And so, despite owning over four hundred planets, and ruling an entire galaxy, Frieza wasn’t above trying to make a little extra cash on the side. The evil space tyrant thought it would behoove him to dance in a commercial for Kirin Mets Grape drink.
It’s not just Frieza in the commercial, but he managed to coerce some of his soldiers to get in on the action; together they pulled off some gnarly Thriller style dance moves. Frieza was not the only one to suffer the indignity of dancing for a soft drink. Most of the good guys from Dragon Ball Z also served Kirin Mets Orange’s drink.
5 HE'S THE MOST DEFEATED VILLAIN IN DBZ
Back in the early days of Dragon Ball Z, Frieza boasted the title of being the “Most Powerful” being in the universe. His title was short-lived in the actual series, because once Super Saiyan Goku emerged, along with every follow-up villain, Frieza was no longer the gold-standard of sheer power. Despite this, or maybe in spite of it, Frieza is the most defeated villain in the entirety of Dragon Ball.
He’s come back several times, and each time he’s never been able to successfully defeat Goku on his own. There have actually been at least six occasions in which he was beaten, with the most obvious defeat being the first legendary battle between Frieza and Goku. In addition, there were also other fights including when Frieza fought Future Trunks, God Goku, Gohan in the twelfth Dragon Ball Z movie, and even more recently losing to opponents like Toppo.
4 HE POSSESSES MANY UNIQUE ABILITIES
Practically everyone in the Dragon Ball franchise have abilities that are unique and unique to them alone. That said, characters like Goku have a way of stealing an opponent’s techniques and using them later as his own. Many of these abilities have to do with energy beams, but Frieza was in a different category altogether; he was chock full of unique and interesting abilities.
Originally considered the mightiest creature in the entire universe, you’d expect his arsenal of attacks to be impressive; it is. Frieza has telekinesis, laser eyes, his infamous Death Beam and Death Ball, and plenty others as well. When he arrived in Dragon Ball Super, he even achieved a form similar to the Super Saiyan transformation, becoming Golden Frieza. His greatest ability, transformation, which he demonstrated when he first fought the Z-Fighters, marked a momentous occasion in DBZ; he seemed to have form after form without end.
3 HE HAS AN AWESOME VOICE ACTOR
The job of a voice actor is a particularly important one: to bring a character and anime to life. Dragon Ball Z has been especially lucky to have a magnificent cast, both Japanese and English, of voice actors. In the case of Frieza, the character’s voice actor is none other than Ryusei Nakao. A tremendous talent, Nakao’s body of work is darn impressive.
He’s done work in Aaahh!!!! Real Monsters as the voice of Ickis and he’s provided his voice for Tambourine in Dragon Ball. Yet it’s his role of Frieza that has earned him prominence; he’s played the role in Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Kai, Dragon Ball Super, Dragon Ball GT, and so on. If you’re hearing the Japanese voice of Frieza than you’re hearing the amazing Ryusei Nakao.
2 HE INSPIRED A POPULAR MEME
Thanks to the Internet, memes have become a popular and comedic form of art that let people express themselves. When it comes to Dragon Ball Z, the “It’s Over 9000” meme is perhaps the most famous meme from the franchise, remaining relevant on the Internet for several years. However that wasn’t the end for Dragon Ball Z and memes; when Frieza arrived, a whole new meme was born.
People all over the Internet banded together and took the quote “This Isn’t Even My Final Form”, in reference to Frieza, and most other characters from DBZ, constantly transforming into stronger, more powerful versions of themselves. Despite Frieza never actually saying the line in the anime, though he did say “This is my final form,” it turned into a meme and pop culture reference among anime fans that just wouldn’t die; continuing on to this day.
1 HE HAS A SONG NAMED AFTER HIM
It’s a testament to the longevity and significance of Dragon Ball when heavy metal songs are being made of certain characters. Heavy metal music has already experienced a bizarre relationship in the West; it’s not always accepted, but sometimes it is. In Japan, heavy metal has always been popular. In Japan there’s a Nu metal group called Maximum the Hormone. They released a song in 2008 called "F", which was about Frieza and his soldiers.
When Akira Toriyama returned to work on Dragon Ball, he wrote the scripts for several new movies and one of these films was Dragon Ball: Resurrection ‘F’. In it, Frieza came back from the dead to wreck havoc once again. Akira Toriyama said the song helped inspire the movie; he even included it on the soundtrack. The ‘F’ in the movie’s title references the name of the song.