Vegeta is perhaps the most dynamic character in all of Dragon Ball. He started out as a ruthless Saiyan, the perfect representation of his race's warrior ideology. He was an elite member of Frieza's army, conquering planets and killing entire alien races. But, after being defeated by Goku, things started to change. Vegeta slowly went from a villain to an anti-hero and by the time of the Buu saga, he was a full-fledged good guy. Vegeta is the prime example of a Dragon Ball villain becoming an ally, and his character development is what makes him one of the most beloved parts of Dragon Ball Z.
But, let's not forget that it took some time for Vegeta to get where he is today. Before he became a protector of the world, Vegeta did some pretty terrible things, so his life plays out as a mixed series of events, half good half bad. Vegeta spent most of his life killing and taking over planets for Frieza, learning to be ruthless from a very early age, but he's done quite a bit of good as well, and we think he's redeemed his past sins. With that, here are 10 of Vegeta's worst acts, and 10 that made him a hero.
20 WORST: KILLED ENTIRE SPECIES
As a member of Frieza's galactic army, Vegeta and Nappa were enlisted to clear the life off of planets so that Frieza could add them to his empire. Prior to coming to Earth, most of Vegeta's life was spent killing alien species to the point of extinction, serving as some of the worst acts he's committed. It's one thing to kill a few people, but to wipe out an entire alien race?
Most of these mass killings were done with the assistance of Nappa, but that doesn't make things any better, Vegeta was an absolute monster in his early days. Even worse is the fact that he and Nappa actually ate some of the bug-creatures that they killed before coming to Earth, and it doesn't seem like the first time they chowed down on their victims either.
19 BEST: HELPED GOKU, GOHAN AND KRILLIN
After Vegeta had learned that Frieza was responsible for the death of the Saiyans, he began to rebel against his former leader. In order to defeat Frieza, Vegeta teamed up with Gohan and Krillin, an act that lead to some good deeds on Vegeta's part. Vegeta set Goku up in a healing chamber so that he could come back stronger and help defeat Frieza. This act would pay off as Goku was much stronger after he broke out of the healing tank.
But this wasn't all Vegeta did to help the good guys, as he also offered Gohan and Krillin suits of armor from Frieza's military, giving them clothes similar to what he wore in the Saiyan saga. Though wary of Vegeta's help, Krillin and Gohan accepted the Armor and it actually helped them out in a few instances as the Frieza Saga unfolded.
18 WORST: CRASH LANDING
Vegeta came to Earth after hearing from Raditz that there were magical orbs that could grant any wish. Hoping that immortality could turn them into Super Saiyans, Vegeta and Nappa headed to Earth with every intention of getting the dragon balls. When the two arrived on Earth, they killed a large number of humans, though not the way you might think.
When Vegeta and Nappa's ships crash landed to Earth, they knocked through various buildings, most likely killing the civilians inside. It's not clear if Vegeta could control the ship, but it wouldn't make things better if he could. Vegeta might not have killed anyone directly on Earth, but he still caused the deaths of an entire building full of people, an unforgivable act. Nappa furthered this carnage when he later destroyed a city to demonstrate his power.
17 BEST: FOUGHT ANDROID 19
Vegeta wasn't exactly a hero during the Cell saga, but he definitely wasn't a bad guy. Sure, he wasn't on the side of the angels, but he helped fight all of the powerful enemies that threatened the world, which had started to become his adopted home. One of the more notable instances of Vegeta inadvertently protecting the Earth when he was just looking for a good fight was when he faced Android 19.
This was the first time we saw Vegeta go Super Saiyan, an awesome moment that lead to an awesome fight. Vegeta showed just how powerful his new Super Saiyan form was, completely annihilating Android 19 in the process. Though the fight was mostly to showcase his new power, Vegeta still protected the world by ridding it of Android 19, which is why we count it as one of his most heroic acts.
16 WORST: MAJIN VEGETA
Lets skip ahead a few story arcs to the Majin Buu saga, where Vegeta's moral alignment had pretty much shifted all the way over to hero. Sure, he was still stubborn, angry and always looking for a fight, but he had also come to love his family, reforming from his villainous ways to live a new life on his adoptive home. However, deep down he still felt that loving his family and settling down made him weak, a fear that Babidi was quick to prey upon.
By taking control of his mind, Babidi turned Vegeta into a Majin, which caused him to tap into his deepest, oldest instincts and become evil once more. Vegeta was his old self as a Majin, and though it came with a power upgrade, it led him to commit some of his worst acts, including killing people at the World Martial Arts Tournament.
15 BEST: SACRIFICED HIMSELF
As terrible as Vegeta was as a Majin, he almost immediately made up for his acts in one of the saddest moments of the series. After snapping out of Babidi's control, Vegeta plans to stop Majin Buu once and for all by giving his life. Vegeta shared a moment with Trunks, where he tells his son that he is proud of him and that he should take care of Bulma, before he knocked both him and Goten out so that Piccolo could get them out of the way.
Out of the way for what? Oh, just his self-destructive Final Explosion. After saying goodbye to his loved ones, Vegeta ignited the energy within his body to create a destructive blast that exploded outward like an atomic bomb. The attack nearly vaporized Buu, but it still wasn't enough to defeat him, and Vegeta's greatest sacrifice, and perhaps his greatest heroic act, was for nothing.
14 WORST: GREAT APE SQUEEZE
All the way back in the Saiyan saga, Vegeta taught Goku a bit about Saiyans and their true power. He revealed to him that their tails were the key to their strength and with an influx of blutz waves from a moon (or an artificial source), a Saiyan could turn into a Great Ape. Vegeta quickly followed up this "lesson" by showing Goku his Great Ape form, which made Goku realize that he was the monster that had killed his grandfather.
After turning into a Great Ape, Vegeta and Goku continued to fight, but it was not an even match. With ten times his normal strength, Vegeta was nearly unstoppable, which is why it was so easy for him to apprehend Goku. With Goku in his hands, Vegeta began crushing his opponent in a cruel and tortuous manner, marking this moment of their fight as one of Vegeta's worst acts.
13 BEST: HELD OFF KID BUU
Kid Buu was twice as dangerous and twice as powerful as all the other forms that came before him, and it was going to take a lot to defeat such an evil force. Vegeta and Goku came up with the plan to use a spirit bomb to destroy Buu once and for all, one that would use the collective energy of the entire Earth. However, the spirit bomb would take some time to charge up, time that Kid Buu wouldn't give up.
At first, Majin Buu held off his counterpart, but he was soon defeated, so it was up to Vegeta. Though their battle was clearly one-sided, Vegeta held his own so he could distract the villain long enough for Goku to charge up the spirit bomb. Without Vegeta, Goku would not have been able to take out Buu once and for all.
12 WORST: KILLED NAMEKIANS
Boy, interchanging the good and bad acts really puts things in perspective, doesn't it? While Vegeta might have been saving the world by the time the Buu saga rolled around, let's not forget that he attacked Namekians without restraint in the Frieza saga. After learning of Frieza's plans for the Namekian dragon balls, Vegeta sought to steal one of the dragon balls to prevent his former leader from obtaining immortality.
In retrieving one of the Namekian dragon balls, Vegeta wreaked Havok on a Namekian village, acting horrifically cruel to the rather peaceful race. As if it wasn't bad enough that Frieza was threatening the Namekians, Vegeta came in to Tsuno's village and completely destroyed it, killing every Namekian there. No matter how far he's come, it's hard to forget just how cruel Vegeta was in this moment.
11 BEST: "TRAINED" CABBA
After the loss of his entire race and his planet, Vegeta pretended not to care, but it was later revealed that he took the loss hard, especially after learning Frieza was behind it all. As the franchise progressed, we see moments where Vegeta truly mourns the loss of his people. One such incident was when he met a Saiyan from Universe 6, Cabba. After some probing questions about the Universe 6 Saiyans, Vegeta and Cabba soon faced each other in the ring.
During their fight, Cabba requested that Vegeta teach him how to go Super Saiyan and Vegeta did exactly that, just not in the way Cabba expected. Vegeta mercilessly berated and attacked Cabba to get him angry enough to go Super Saiyan. This act was a kind one in retrospect, one that came from Vegeta's upbringing as a prince.
10 WORST: OBLITERATED THE GINYU FORCE
The Ginyu Force was Frieza's elite fighting force that served as minor antagonists in the Frieza Saga. Though this might make their demise at the hands of Vegeta seem like a good thing, we could argue otherwise. Sure, Gohan, Krillin and Goku were glad to be rid of the Ginyu Force, but Vegeta's reason for fighting them was selfish at best and he was unreasonably cruel in his attacks.
Vegeta decapitated Guldo, and after Goku knocked out the rest of the Ginyu Force, Vegeta finished them off once and for all, killing them when they were down, save for Captain Ginyu himself. The way Vegeta attacked and killed the Ginyu Force without mercy showed he just liked killing for the fun of it, marking these deaths as some of his worst acts.
9 BEST: PROMISED TO REVIVE UNIVERSE 6 SAIYANS
During his fight with Vegeta, Cabba made a promise to introduce him to the king of the Universe 6 Saiyans. Vegeta took the promise to heart, and when the two met again in the Tournament of Power, Vegeta reminded him of the promise, but Cabba stated it would be impossible since only one universe would be left after the tournament was over.
Vegeta rebutted with a promise of his own, to use the winning super dragon balls wish to revive Universe 6's Saiyans so that Vegeta could meet their king. Cabba in turn promises to revive Vegeta if Universe 6 won the tournament, which Vegeta is glad to hear. Vegeta seems genuinely excited to meet the Universe 6 Saiyan king, which makes this promise one of his nicest acts.
8 WORST: NEGLECTED HIS SON
When Trunks was first born, Vegeta pretty much wanted nothing to do with him. Bulma didn't seem to care all that much either, so Vegeta basically ignored Trunks for the first year or so of his life. Sure, he recognized that Trunks was his son, but that was about it, and it wasn't until after the Cell saga that Vegeta would make attempts to be a father.
This kind of negligence would otherwise be seen as child abuse, but we're willing to give Vegeta a bit of a pass on this one since Saiyan culture was pretty different from Earth's when it came to raising children. Planet Vegeta wasn't the most loving place to raise a child, and Vegeta's poor parenting stems from being too stubborn to reject his people's old ways, as he thought it would make him weak to raise his son.
7 BEST: BECAME A GOOD FATHER AND HUSBAND
As tough as it was for Vegeta to adapt to the ways of Earth, he eventually started to settle down into a family life. After vowing never to fight again at the end of the Cell saga, Vegeta seemed to put a lot of effort into his family life, marrying Bulma and bonding with his son.
Fast forward to Dragon Ball Super and Vegeta appears to be a better father and husband than Goku. Vegeta not only goes on vacation with Bulma, fulfilling his promise to Trunks to take him to the amusement park in the process, and also shows great care for his family in multiple instances. Vegeta even refused to fight when Bulma was close to giving birth, and once his daughter was born, Vegeta was shown to be an attentive and protective father.
6 WORST: HE ALMOST LET BULMA DIE
Before Vegeta was the loving family man he is now, he not only disregarded his son, he also seemed to care very little for Bulma. Though they shared a night of passion together, Vegeta was happy to dismiss it as a one time thing, not thinking twice about the experience or the son that resulted from it.
In fact, Vegeta seemed to care so little about Bulma that he almost let her and Trunks die at the hands of Android 20. The two only made it out alive thanks to Future Trunks, who was quick to scold Vegeta for failing to save them. Vegeta simply scoffed this off, saying they were none of his concern. Kind of hard to imagine that only a few years later he'd be the one scolding Trunks for holding his infant sister wrong.
5 BEST: "MY BULMA!"
There is a moment in both Battle of Gods and Dragon Ball Super that showed just how far Vegeta has come as a character. When Lord Beerus showed up to Bulma's birthday party, the other partygoers werre unaware of who he is, and as a result, Bulma accidentally scolded the god of destruction for being rude. Beerus responded by slapping Bulma across the face, angering Vegeta.
Vegeta uncontrollably goes Super Saiyan 2, enraged that Beerus hurt "his Bulma." Not only did this show just how much Bulma means to Vegeta, it also showed how much power the anger from seeing his wife hurt resulted in. This moment was as heartwarming as it was awesome, since Vegeta got an angry power up capable of going toe to toe with a god, all because he loves his wife so much.
4 WORST: LET CELL ABSORB 18
A trait that all Saiyans seem to share is their love of a good battle, which usually means they like to fight an opponent at their strongest. Saiyans don't like when an enemy holds back, though Goku and Vegeta tend to do it themselves at times. Regardless, this lust for a good fight is what drove Vegeta to do one of the dumbest things in the history of Dragon Ball.
Hoping to fight Cell at his strongest, Vegeta allowed him to absorb Android 18 and ascend to his Perfect form. Vegeta and the others could have easily stopped Cell if Android 18 was kept far away from him and the whole ordeal would have been done with. But no, Vegeta just had to see how strong Perfect Cell was, and his thirst for battle almost got everyone killed.
3 BEST: SECOND SELF DESTRUCTION
As the fight for survival in the Tournament of Power grew more and more intense, Vegeta was pushed to a new level of power, ascending to Super Saiyan Blue 2. With this power, Vegeta was not only able to assist Goku in taking on Jiren, but he was also able to eliminate Toppo from the tournament.
Toppo surprised everyone by revealing himself to be a candidate for Universe 11's next god of destruction, unleashing his destroyer power near the end of the tournament. While fighting this great power, Vegeta found he might not be strong enough to win, so he used his last resort, the final explosion. This was the same self destruction technique he used against Majin Buu and it managed to knock Toppo out of bounds, and with his newfound Super Saiyan Blue 2 power, Vegeta survived to continue fighting in the tournament.
2 WORST: KILLED NAPPA
This is another act that was sort of a win for the good guys, but murdering Nappa was still a pretty horrific things for Vegeta to do. At the time of the Saiyan saga, there were only so man Saiyan left alive in the universe, and the fact that Vegeta willingly killed one of his own kind says volumes about just how evil he used to be.
Vegeta stated his reason for killing one of his oldest colleagues was because he lost to Goku, and the Saiyan race didn't need a weakling like him. That only made the act worse, especially when you consider the fact that Vegeta claimed the rest of the Saiyans died for the same reason. Man, how psychopathic can one alien get?
1 BEST: SAIYAN HISTORY LESSONS
Last, but not least we have something that Vegeta has been doing since he first met Goku, telling him of his Saiyan heritage. Though it was Raditz who told Goku of his alien origins, most of Goku's knowledge of Saiyans comes from the prince himself. Throughout Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super, Vegeta has told Goku facts about Saiyan biology, culture and history.
This is a small gesture, and it is often done in frustration or annoyance, but we think it has a lot of meaning. Vegeta is the last Saiyan alive who grew up on Planet Vegeta, and as the prince of Saiyans it's his duty to keep their history alive. By telling Goku about the Saiyans, Vegeta is not only sharing a heritage that Goku grew up without, he's also keeping the memory of his people alive, a heartwarming act no matter how terrible the Saiyans were.