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Anime / Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku

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You Can't Fight Fate, but you can start a legacy.

"The fate of Planet Vegeta. My own fate. Kakarot's fate. As well as your fate. This is where it ends!"
Bardock attempting to change the fate of his race.

Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku (also known as Doragon Bōru Zetto: Tatta Hitori no Saishū Kessen ~Furīza ni Idonda Zetto Senshi Son Gokū no Chichi~; lit. "Dragon Ball Z: A Lonesome, Final Battle 'The Father of the Z Warrior Son Goku, who Challenged Freeza'") is the first Dragon Ball Z TV Special made by Toei Animation (the second being Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks), airing during the Freeza Saga, as well as a prequel of the series as a whole.

The special is centered around Bardock, a low-class Saiyan who is also the father of Kakarot (Goku) and Raditz as he discovers a plot where Freeza intends to destroy the entire Saiyan race via psychic powers given to him by an alien whose race he destroyed the night before. With his new powers, Bardock realizes the visions he receives are no illusion…

The special was popular enough that Akira Toriyama integrated Bardock into the manga. A special called Dragon Ball – Episode of Bardock created in 2011, was made to serve as a What If? sequel, detailing Bardock's survival. A special feature in the Jaco the Galactic Patrolman manga called Dragon Ball Minus essentially serves as a prequel to this special with several changes in the details, solidifying Jaco's Stealth Prequel status to the Dragon Ball story as a whole. This story is retold in a Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot DLC called Bardock: Alone Against Fate.

This work contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: Thanks to Dub Text, both Bardock and Vegeta come off as more sympathetic figures in the Funimation dub then in the original Japanese.
    • In the Japanese version, Bardock is cold and dismissive of Goku when he sees his weak power level and only gains a brief amount of affection for him at the very end when he realises that he is the one who will kill Frieza. In the English dub, he does seem to care about his son more and comments that he wishes he could have held him once before he died.
    • As explained in Lack of Empathy below, Vegeta isn't shown caring in any way about his race's destruction and is focused more on his own achievements. In the Dub, the way that the scene plays out and the dialogue used, show that while Vegeta is likely in shock over the news he's choosing to stoically keep his emotions in check and quietly sits in silence afterwards.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Goku's first encounter with Grandpa Gohan. While Bardock does see his violent encounter with Gohan, when they actually meet, Goku only kicks him and laughs when Gohan swings him and christens him Son Goku.
  • Bad Boss: As Frieza demonstrates. He kills his own men that he sent out to fight Bardock. This is after his men plea for their lives. He also coldly murdered the Saiyans, who have been nothing but loyal to him because he feared their growing power.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Freeza prevents a potential Saiyan uprising and destroys planet Vegeta, killing all its inhabitants.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bardock fails to stop Freeza, but he dies proudly knowing that Goku will finish the job.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Kanassans have the power to see the future... and are powerless to stop their own extinction. Their last act of revenge against the Saiyan is to share this "gift".
  • Breakout Character: So very much for Bardock that along with the movie villain Broly, they have appeared in practically almost every game from this point since Budokai 3. Akira Toriyama made him appear in the manga, a Spin-Off sequel was made for him in which he becomes a Super Saiyan, and was the central character of Dragon Ball Minus (a prologue manga written by Akira Toriyama). Bardock is given a key role in Dragon Ball Super's Granolah the Survivor arc, having been involved in the past of Granolah himself and the arc's true villains, the Heeters.
  • Buried in a Pile of Corpses: This actually saves Bardock's life when he ends up buried beneath the bodies of his comrades after Dodoria's Ki Manipulation, leaving them to think he'd died.
  • Canon Discontinuity: In Dragon Ball Minus, the bonus chapter of Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, Toriyama rewrites Bardock's story.
    • Some changes include: Bardock having a wife named Gine, Goku being three years old instead of a newborn, Bardock and Gine sending Goku to Earth to protect him from Frieza instead of being luck that Goku is sent out just a few minutes before Frieza came to Planet Vegeta, and Frieza personally recalling all the Saiyans home so he can kill them all at once instead of it being a spur of a moment choice. That being said, the chapter only depicts what happened in the preceding weeks before the destruction of Planet Vegeta, so Broad Strokes may still apply.
    • Akira Toriyama confirmed that Bardock is not strong enough to be considered a middle class warrior, making him weaker than Nappa. Which takes his power level of 10,000 out of the continuity.
    • Dragon Ball Super: Broly has a prologue section adapting and expanding the events of Minus, including Bardock's failed attempt to stop Frieza's Death Ball which destroyed Planet Vegeta. No psychic visions or any such thing involved, though, where he attempts to stop Frieza all by himself.
  • Canon Immigrant: Bardock is the first anime-only character to actually appear in the manga, as Akira Toriyama liked him well enough to have him appear in two panels in the original manga.
  • Cassandra Truth: Bardock attempts to warn a bar full of Saiyans that Freeza is coming to kill them. But they openly mock him, forcing Bardock to face Freeza and his men alone.
  • Characterization Marches On: Bardock in the special displays the traditional Saiyan Blood Knight/Parental Neglect personality, to the point of being disappointed by his newborn son's power level. In Dragon Ball Minus, his personality is reversed, showing that he cares for both his sons, and sends Kakarot to Earth for safety reasons.
  • Curbstomp Battle: In the beginning, Bardock and his crew kills the alien race of Kanassa overnight, Dodoria's men kills Bardock's crew, Bardock kills them in return, Bardock gets one-shotted by Dodoria (but survives).
  • Darker and Edgier: Than the vast majority of the franchise as a whole. Akira Toriyama had this to say about the general tone of the special:
    Toriyama: With my works, I prefer lighthearted fare, so I have a tendency to avoid serious material. Even if I had written about the same past, it would have become lighter in tone by far.
  • Death by Irony: Invoked by Toolo, who gives the ability to see the future not to Frieza, who slaughtered his race to obtain it, but to Bardock, to torture him with the knowledge of the death of his race.
  • Death by Origin Story: Who else? This is Bardock's story and he's long dead by the first episode of Dragon Ball.
  • Defiant to the End: Toolo, the last Kanassan, chooses to give Bardock the ability to see the future while being powerless to do anything about it as his last act, then informs it of what he has done, and dies laughing while on fire, and Bardock, the last Saiyan to fight Freeza, faces death with dignity to the end while burning inside the Supernova after he tried to stop it.
  • Determinator: The Kanassans fought to the bitter end, and Bardock…well, in his attempt to kill Frieza he flies into space and literally fly-punches 30+ Mooks without stopping.
  • Die Laughing: As said above, Toolo dies laughing while on fire. As for Bardock, he sees Goku facing Freeza in the future (which only occurs when the two face each other with the latter in his final form) and smiles, knowing that his son will avenge him.
  • Doomed by Canon: It's a prequel to Dragon Ball. While there are minor plot-holes (Gohan meeting the baby Goku in a bamboo forest rather than in a crevasse, resulting in a violent encounter), it's mainly to show Goku's father before he (unsuccessfully) attempts to kill Freeza.
  • Dub-Induced Plotline Change: Most of the Funimation dub. One example even had a change in characters. In Japanese, the voice heard on Vegeta's scouter (informing him of their planet's destruction) is Nappa. The dub instead makes it a nameless henchman of Frieza's.
  • Dying Curse: Toolo gives Bardock a rather sadistic one: to see the impending genocide of the Saiyan race and be powerless to stop it. He also gave him the gift of prophecy to make sure it happened.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Bardock, as much a Blood Knight as he is, does value his teammates. Also, despite considering Goku to be weak, Bardock did eventually care about him as he is dying.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Zarbon and Dodoria are both merciless killers who have no problem with Frieza slaughtering the Saiyan race but both are noticeably shocked when Frieza orders them to open the ship's hatch so he can nuke the planet while many of their own men are still in the crossfire.
  • "Everybody Dies" Ending: As a Foregone Conclusion, Vegeta, Nappa and Raditz are the only survivors of the Saiyan race (and by extension, Vegeta's younger brother Tarble, a now canonized Broly and his father Paragus). Goku escapes the destruction by pure luck (an oversight Freeza looked upon). Dragon Ball Minus has Goku's escape taking place a month earlier, while the other three's survival is explained by Vegeta outright pulling a "Who cares?" when Freeza ordered all Saiyans back on the planet.
  • Fantastic Racism: Although Frieza tries to act dismissive of the Saiyans' growing power, often calling them monkeys, it's obvious that the reason why he decided to wipe them out is out of fear of them overthrowing him one day. (As well as the fear that the legend of the Super Saiyan will prove to be true.)
  • Faux Affably Evil: Frieza remains unchanged in this aspect. He is generally polite and relatively cordial when directly addressing his minions; listening to their grievances and willing to let minor infractions slide. However he'll still blow up your planet and marvel at its destruction with the exact same mannerisms.
    Frieza (watching Planet Vegeta explode): Oh my!! This is stupendous!! What a great show!!
  • Foregone Conclusion: Bardock could not stop Freeza from destroying the Saiyan race, but his hope relies on his son, Kakarot, who will face Freeza in adulthood.
  • Generation Xerox: Goku and Bardock are actually more alike than you think. They value their friends so much that killing said friends is the best guarantee that they will do their damnedest to end you.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: At the end of the special, Bardock is dead and Planet Vegeta is destroyed by Frieza. Kakarot, however, escapes the genocide by chance and grows up to become Goku, the Saiyan destined to defeat Frieza.
  • Hypocrite: Bardock, a low-class Saiyan soldier himself, dismisses his own newborn son’s low power level, calling it “average”.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Since this is a prequel to Dragon Ball, Frieza gets away with killing almost all the Saiyans and laughs happily as Planet Vegeta explodes. Bardock's final vision, however, is one of Goku fighting Frieza on Namek. So despite everything, Bardock dies knowing that his son will avenge him.
  • Lack of Empathy: In the Japanese version, a young Vegeta is shown at the end of the special being informed by Nappa that Planet Vegeta has been destroyed and most of the Saiyan race has been killed. Vegeta merely gives a disinterested "oh?" when Nappa tells him and asks if there is anything else before commenting that they should move on and find another planet to slaughter.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Although the Saiyans comes off as somewhat sympathetic since they were killed by their own boss because he feared their growing power, the Saiyans were still a race who regularly performed genocide. So them being the victims of a similar genocide is karma. On a personal level for Bardock, he is cursed to see a future that he can't prevent, just like Kanassans he slaughtered.
  • Moral Myopia: Bardock is furious that his crew is betrayed and murdered by Frieza's men and goes on a bloody rampage to avenge them. Although noble and understandable, Bardock and his crew are still hired murderers who regularly perform genocide.
  • Parental Neglect: When Tora asks Bardock if he remembers what day his son was born, he bluntly states that he doesn’t but it was a long time ago. He may have been referring to his eldest son Raditz, as compared to Goku who was only born a day ago. Then Fasha tries to urge him to visit his newborn son since they have enough time before their next assignment, but Bardock scoffs at the idea of “father-son bonding” since Goku will end up sent away towards Earth. Then he finally meets Goku at the nursery and checks his power level, much to his disappointment that’s it’s only an “average level” then runs off to his next mission, proclaiming that he thought his son would have been something special. In the end Bardock does finally come to love Goku, lamenting that he never got the chance to hold him, but he never thinks about Raditz, even in his dying moments.
  • Prequel: To the Dragon Ball series as a whole, detailing Goku's father's backstory and the eventual demise of the Saiyan race.
  • Prophecy Twist: The last thing Bardock sees before he dies is Goku facing Freeza (in his first form) in Namek. Goku does in fact face him again in his first form. In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F'. Double points that he does in fact kill Frieza in that movie instead of on Namek.
  • Psychic Powers: Bardock sees the visions of the future, the first part showing Goku meeting Bulma in Dragon Ball all the way to the final parts of Goku's third tournament against Piccolo. Later on, Goku using Kaio-Ken (which distracts him), and Goku fighting Vegeta in Dragon Ball Z.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Toolo gives Bardock a brief but stinging one during a vision.
    Toolo: But take heart, Bardock. A savior has been born. One who has the power to save the innocent from people like Frieza. And you.
  • Say My Name: Bardock screams out his son's name upon his own death.
  • Second-Hand Storytelling: As we learn later on, we did find out King Vegeta discovered Freeza's treachery and attempted to reclaim his son, but was killed in the process. This is one of the reasons why Freeza plans to kill off the Saiyan race as Bardock attempts to warn the other Saiyans. Unlike King Vegeta, whom Freeza shrugs off as being another assassin, Bardock attempts to rebel against him, which gave him concern to the point that Freeza actually remembers his name when confronted by Goku on Namek.
  • Shout-Out: The special features an insert song titled "Solid State Scouter", a homage to the 1979 album Solid State Survivor by influential Japanese Synth-Pop supergroup Yellow Magic Orchestra.
  • Tranquil Fury: When wave after wave of his soldiers fail to stop an advancing Bardock, Freeza, whose back is turned, politely asks Zarbon to prepare the entrance. Zarbon realizes what this means and asks about their men's safety but hurriedly complies just by seeing Freeza's arms unfold. This act most probably saved his own life as the camera pans to Freeza and shows that he is very angry.
  • True Companions: Bardock and his crew. After Dodoria and Dodoria's men kill off his friends, Bardock goes absolutely berserk and slaughters Dodoria's troops.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The Kanassans knew the Saiyans would kill them on a night of full moon, so they prepared for the fight to try and change their fate, and they were still destroyed. At the same time, Bardock charged at Freeza in a desperate attempt to stop him, only to die against his overwhelming power. This was the entire point of the last Kanassan giving him the ability to see the future in the first place: so like the Kanassans he could see the doom of his people but be powerless to stop it.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Bardock The Father Of Goku


Frieza destroying

Frieza destroying Planet Vegeta with glee.

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