Story Arcs: 1: Saiyan Arc | 2: Namek Arc | 3: Garlic Jr. Arc | 4: Android/Cell Arc | 5: Majin Buu Arc
The battle against Nappa and Vegeta is won but at the cost of Yamcha, Tien Shinhan, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo's lives. Since Piccolo was linked to Kami and he was the creator of the Earth's Dragon Balls, their deaths mean the Dragon Balls are now useless. All seems lost until Popo reveals that Kami had came from a planet called Namek and they could have Dragon Balls of their own to use. Bulma fixes up a ship and Gohan, Krillin and she head off to the planet while Goku waits to heal so he can follow after them later. However when the trio arrive on the planet, they find it's under siege by a tyrannical overlord named Frieza who likewise is after the Dragon Balls. Complicating matters is that Vegeta, having recovered from his defeat on Earth, is also after the Dragon Balls.
It's divided into three sections
- Namek Saga
- Captain Ginyu Saga
- Frieza Saga
Main Summary (Events from filler are in italics)
While they're going through detours with a spaceship full of orphans and briefly getting lost on a fake Namek, Vegeta recovers from his injuries on a planet owned by his boss, Frieza. Of course, remember how Scouters also functioned as transmitters, and Raditz' scouter allowed Vegeta and Nappa to learn about the Dragon Balls? Well, one of Frieza's henchmen and Vegeta's self-proclaimed rival Cui tells him that Frieza in turn listened in on his Scouter, so he's off to Namek himself. Not wanting to lose his opportunity to become immortal, Vegeta heads off to Namek himself.
When the Z-Fighters land on the real Namek, they are surprised to find that four Dragon Balls have already been gathered together. Of course, there's a good reason for that, and it's a very BAD reason: those Dragon Balls have already been collected by Frieza. And to top it off, Vegeta's landed himself, and Frieza's soldiers are even stronger than him!
While the Z-Fighters get situated in a cave, Vegeta encounters Cui. During their... "fight", Vegeta reveals that he learned how to hide his full power, and to increase his speed, making short work of Cui. Meanwhile, Krillin and Gohan find an Namekian village... and Frieza, with his minions Zarbon and Dodoria! Frieza and his minions make short work of a group of warriors, steal the Dragon Ball, kill the village elder and one of his children, and prepare to do the same to the other one. This sends Gohan in a rage, causing him to dropkick Dodoria while Krillin rescues the kid.
Dodoria pursues the three, but a quick Solar Flare stops him. To top it off, Dodoria later finds much less pleasant company: Vegeta. To prove a point, Vegeta crushes his own Scouter, revealing he can sense energy without it. This is followed by yet another thrashing courtesy of Vegeta, only briefly stopped by Dodoria revealing the truth of what happened to Planet Vegeta.
The truth is, rather than being destroyed by a giant meteor, Frieza was the one who blew it up. He was afraid that the Saiyans were becoming too powerful, and thus eradicated them to keep them from turning against him. Vegeta doesn't take it well. How so? He kills Dodoria for the information (though he was likely gonna do that anyway.)
The Namekian child Krillin and Gohan save, named Dende, helps the two formulate a plan: all they need is one Dragon Ball, then they can deny Frieza his wish. Dende vows to take them to the Grand Elder, who owns one of the balls. Unfortunately, Vegeta had the same idea, and stole a Dragon Ball from a village.
Meanwhile, Goku is sent on a ship made by Dr. Briefs to Namek himself. This ship has a gravity machine, so it can simulate up to 100 times Earth's gravity, perfect for training like on King Kai's world. Speaking of King Kai, he talks to Goku, not only telling him that the Z-Fighters killed by Nappa have arrived on his world, but that Goku should stay away from Frieza at all costs.
Vegeta then encounters Zarbon, which leads to yet another Curb-Stomp Battle courtesy of Vegeta... at first. Zarbon reveals that has a the ability to transform into a more powerful form, also revealing Frieza can do the same thing. He promptly demonstrates this new power, effectively reversing the Curb Stomping delivered to him.
Krillin and Dende eventually find the Grand Elder, who not only gives them the Dragon Ball, but unleashes Krillin's hidden potential. Meanwhile, Zarbon takes Vegeta in for questioning as to the location of the Dragon Ball. However, Vegeta not only finds a way out, but steals Frieza's Dragon Balls, and evades the situation completely undetected. Now he has six, one left from his wish... or so it seems, since Gohan managed to steal the one Vegeta had at first for himself.
Vegeta finds Krillin and Bulma's hiding spot, and Zarbon is straight on their tail. But Vegeta decides to reveal another fact about the Saiyans: when they recover from a near-death experience, they become even stronger. And he demonstrates that well, killing Zarbon even in his transformed state. He then steals the Dragon Ball from Krillin and Bulma.
Realizing the situation has gone thoroughly south, Frieza sends in the Ginyu Force. Krillin and Bulma meet up with Gohan, who sends them to a new hiding spot. Krillin also takes Gohan to the Grand Elder to draw out his power. Unfortunately, Vegeta has discovered that his Dragon Ball is gone and he's not very happy about it.
But before he can pass judgement, he quickly senses the Ginyus, and forces an alliance to take them down. But the Ginyus not only arrive quickly, they steal the Dragon Balls. All of them. They then hold up a mock tournament to take down the alliance of the Z-Fighters and Vegeta.
First up is Guldo, whose time-stopping powers make short work of Gohan and Krillin... but he can't predict when Vegeta sneaks up on him and finishes him off. Next is Recoome, who duels Vegeta one on one, taking everything Vegeta throws at him and dishing out heavy hits of his own. Even when Krillin and Gohan join the fight, it just gets them near-fatally wounded as well. Things look lost...
...and that is when Goku arrives on Namek, not only healing the three, but making short work of Recoome in one hit. At that point, Vegeta has to face the possibility that Goku may in fact be the Legendary Super Saiyan himself. Burter and Jeice double-team Goku as well, but it's no use, both are defeated. Jeice runs, but Burter and Recoome are killed by Vegeta.
Meanwhile, Frieza is having a little trouble using the Dragon Balls. As such, he heads off to find the one remaining elder who can tell him how they work... the Grand Elder. And since he created the Dragon Balls, that means if he dies, they turn to stone. The Elder himself has sent Dende to help the heroes use the Dragon Balls.
Goku sends Krillin and Gohan to find the Dragon Balls using the Dragon Radar, and he and Vegeta prepare to face Captain Ginyu himself... but Vegeta runs off out to get the Dragon Balls for himself, leaving Goku on his own. But Goku makes short work of Ginyu nonetheless, even showing off his impressive Power Level of 180,000. Ginyu decides he wants that kind of power for himself... and switches bodies with Goku to get it!
The three find the Dragon Balls, but Ginyu finds them. Thankfully, Goku has also found them, despite having a hard time with the wounded body. To make things better, Ginyu can barely muster up Goku's true power, only coming to 23,000. And to top it off, Vegeta takes down Jeice, leaving only one member of the Ginyus. Ginyu tries to switch bodies with Vegeta, but Goku interferes twice, first restoring Goku and Ginyu to their proper bodies, and next getting Ginyu trapped in the body of a frog!
Frieza, meanwhile, has found the Eldest Namek, but he sends his bodyguard Nail to take him down. But Frieza, with a power of 530,000, critically damages Nail... but it doesn't matter, since the whole point was to get Frieza away from the Elder and buy time for Dende to reach the Earthlings.
Vegeta puts Goku in a Healing Chamber, and gives Gohan and Krillin some armor (having already changed into a new uniform himself earlier). He then decides to take a nap, since it's been many days since they've landed. Gohan and Krillin, however, encounter Dende and decide to use the Dragon Balls for themselves. Turns out, the trick to using the Namekian Dragon Balls is all commands, including the activation and the actual wishes, have to be done in the Namekian language.
However, there's also a snag: Porunga can only bring back one person at a time! Piccolo, however, finds a way around that: he volunteers to go first to bring back Kami, thus bringing back the Earth Dragon Balls. He then asks to be sent to Namek so he can deal a beating to Frieza. But the wish wasn't specific enough, and he's transported to practically the other side of the planet! To make matters worse, Vegeta arrives, wanting his wish of immortality.
But he doesn't get it, since the Grand Elder has died, thus the Dragon Balls turn to stone. And to make matters worse, Frieza is on the scene, too....
While he and Vegeta fight, Piccolo encounters the beaten Nail, who reveals a technique they can use to stand a chance against Frieza: fusion. Piccolo absorbs Nail, and becomes even more powerful. And the battle against Frieza is going well, too.
...until Vegeta goads Frieza into transforming, in which things go very, very badly. To the point where Krillin is nearly killed by Frieza's new form.
But Piccolo shows up at around that time, and fights Frieza to a standstill. A standstill which doesn't last long, as despite Piccolo having taken off his weights, Frieza reveals he can transform two more times, and thus enters his next form, which is more than a match for Piccolo. When Gohan flies into a rage for Piccolo's sake, delivering a very powerful blast to Frieza, he decides that's a good time to show off his last.
At that time, Vegeta formulates a plan. See, Dende had healed Krillin from his injuries sustained by Frieza. Combine that with the already-mentioned fact about Saiyans coming back stronger, and we have Vegeta's plan: for Krillin to nearly kill him so Dende can heal him, allowing him to become a Super Saiyan.
...or so he thinks will happen. In reality, Frieza's final form is more than a match for Vegeta, barely even trying and still dealing a lot of damage. But before the final blow can be struck, Goku returns again, and Vegeta starts talking about how Goku is a Super Saiyan... to which Frieza murders him to shut him up.
With his last breath, Vegeta asks Goku to defeat Frieza, as he must die by a Saiyan's hands. What follows is an epic clash between titans, including mountain tossing, underwater battling, games on the part of Frieza, a brief return by Ginyu having stolen Bulma's body, and the end result that Goku is losing to Frieza when he uses 50% of his power. At that point, Goku gathers energy from the planet and those around it for a Spirit Bomb, which deals a lot of damage to Frieza.
...but despite it looking that way at first, it doesn't kill him. And he's all to quick to severely hurt Piccolo and outright kill Krillin. But when he threatens Gohan, something changes about Goku. He starts taking on a harsher tone, acting with abject fury, and his hair turns gold and stands on end. He also becomes much more powerful, easily overpowering Frieza. At this point, everyone watching realizes the truth, what exactly has happened to Goku.
He has become a Super Saiyan.
But Frieza will have none of that, and tries to destroy Namek. However, he holds back out of fear of destroying himself, causing the planet to instead begin collapsing. In a state of panic, Frieza puts on a facade of confidence and states that Namek will explode in five minutes. Meanwhile, King Kai and Kami formulate a plan to use the Earth Dragon Balls to resurrect everyone killed by Frieza and his men... including the Grand Elder, who merely died of an unnatural heart-attack. Dende then uses the Namekian Dragon Balls to wish back everyone on Namek to Earth except Frieza... and Goku, by his request of wanting to see this battle to the end.
Goku puts up a good fight against Frieza and it looks like Frieza even has the advantage for a while, to the point where Gohan steps in when he thinks Goku is dead, but in the end Frieza is no match for Goku's new powers, even at 100%. When Frieza tries to slice him in half with an energy disk, Goku manages to direct it back at Frieza, cutting him in half.
Frieza begs for mercy, which Goku is happy to give, and Frieza is happy to squander. Goku's much less willing the next time, and finishes the fight with a blast of his own. But he doesn't have a way to get out, and Namek explodes, after what is clearly more than five minutes.
Back on Earth, the earthlings use the Dragon Balls to bring back all those killed by Frieza, including Krillin, since the Namekian Dragon Balls can wish someone back multiple times. But Goku has survived, and he's looking for a way on his own to get back to Earth. The Namekians build themselves a new Namek with the help of the Namekian Dragon Balls, and take their leave. All is well again.
The Namek Arc has the following tropes
- Adaptational Context Change: After Goku defends himself when Freeza tries to stab him in the back with the energy he just gave him, Goku's expression is different between mediums. In the manga Goku has a sad look upon his face reflecting that, despite everything, he never wanted to kill Freeza and is saddened that the tyrant wouldn't accept his mercy. In the anime Goku instead gives one last Death Glare to the spot Freeza was last in before flying off.
- Adaptational Dumbass: Freeza comes across as this in the anime. In the manga, when he realised that Goku is readying the spirit bomb, he quickly decided to kill him off and his plan is only foiled because Piccolo kicked him into a nearby river and this is followed by Krillin and Gohan distracting him by Ki Attacks, which pisses him off and by that time, the spirit bomb is ready. In the anime, Piccolo landing one kick on Freeza is padded out and turned into an episode-long, drawn out battle between the two, even in Dragon Ball Z Kai and Freeza very conveniently ignores Goku who is standing right there, allowing him to continue working on his spirit bomb. Lampshaded in the abridged series where Freeza remarks "somehow I completely forgot about [the spirit bomb]".
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
- After everyone is teleported to the Earth, Gohan tells the others that Goku is still fighting Freeza on Namek. In the manga Piccolo said that there is no way Goku can beat someone as powerful as Freeza while Gohan disagrees because Goku is now a Super Saiyan, much to Vegeta's shock. In the anime however, it is Gohan who is worried for Goku's safety while Piccolo (who has been unconscious the whole time and has not seen Goku's transformation) firmly believes that Goku will beat Freeza. And Vegeta has already seen Goku as a Super Saiyan.
- During his first fight with Vegeta, Zarbon reveals that Frieza can transform like he can. This is removed in the anime, which makes it confusing when Vegeta says to Frieza that Zarbon told him that he could.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg:
- With his pride shattered, Vegeta in his dying breath tearfully begs Goku to avenge the Saiyan race by finally bringing down Frieza.
- After being left to his own fate after being chopped in half by his own attack Freeza begs Goku for mercy. Goku is naturally infuriated that Freeza would beg for help after all the people he has killed but his conscience leads him to give Freeza just enough energy to leave Namek. Freeza repays Goku's kindness by trying to kill him and Goku responds by blasting him to oblivion.
- All There in the Manual: Frieza's reasoning behind his "five minutes" prediction wasn't shown in the manga or the anime, but was revealed in an interview with Akira Toriyama.
- Arc Hero: Vegeta, being A Lighter Shade of Black to Frieza.
- Arc Villain: Frieza.
- Back from the Dead: Piccolo. And then later, the Namekians murdered by Frieza and his men, Vegeta, Krillin, and finally the three other Z-Fighters who died fighting the Saiyans - Tien, Chiaotzu, Yamcha.
- Although there's also a subversion - The resurrected Namekians are only made aware of the situation when the Grand Elder tells them that the Earth's Dragon Shenron brought the victims of Frieza's assault back to life and Porunga brought everyone on Namek save for Frieza and Goku them to Earth. They quickly discover that some of the Namekians from other villages are nowhere to be found, and Vegeta gleefully tells them why:Vegeta: The missing ones must be from the village I slaughtered. The conditions were "killed by Frieza's men", correct? Well, since Frieza "discharged" me from his employment, I no longer qualify as one of "Frieza's men", yes? (chuckles)
- Although there's also a subversion - The resurrected Namekians are only made aware of the situation when the Grand Elder tells them that the Earth's Dragon Shenron brought the victims of Frieza's assault back to life and Porunga brought everyone on Namek save for Frieza and Goku them to Earth. They quickly discover that some of the Namekians from other villages are nowhere to be found, and Vegeta gleefully tells them why:
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Vegeta's entire purpose, story-wise, for being on Namek is to kill every single minor villain so the heroes (or at least Goku) don't have to. Cui, Dodoria, Zarbon, 4/5ths of the Ginyu Force (two while helpless!) and most of Frieza's mooks. Goku doesn't want him doing this, and even calls him out after killing the two helpless Ginyu Force members.
- Batman Gambit: How the Dragon Balls (both Namek and Earth versions) are used here:
- Because the Namekian dragon Porunga can grant three wishes, but can only revive one person per wish...
- Piccolo suggests using the first wish on himself so Kami can come back and, thus, restore Shenron and the Earth Dragon Balls.
- He then requests the second wish take him to Namek, though he has to find Gohan and Krillin because they never considered wishing him to meet them directly.
- When Guru is revived, he has Dende make the final wish to have Porunga teleport everyone, except Frieza (and Goku, at his own request), to Earth.
- When Kami is revived, he and King Kai work together to have Shenron revive everyone on Namek previously killed by Frieza and his cohorts. Guru died due to the strife of his people thanks to Frieza, so he is revived along with Porunga and the Namekian Dragon Balls.
- Because the Namekian dragon Porunga can grant three wishes, but can only revive one person per wish...
- Berserk Button:
- Vegeta doesn't like getting pulled one over on him, especially when he believes he's won. After Gohan 'steals' a Dragon Ball from him, he flies and starts screaming bloody murder as he attempts to hunt them down.
- Frieza may be a Bad Boss, but he doesn't like people killing his men, and likewise does the same thing. He's particularly irate when he realizes that the Namekian Dragon was summoned.
- Beware the Silly Ones: The Ginyu Special Squadron may seem like nutjobs but they are Frieza's elite force for a reason.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- Goku's arrival on Namek starts with him saving Gohan from Recoome.
- Piccolo appearing before Gohan and Krillin to confront Frieza.
- Bishōnen Line: Frieza is the Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Maker - He makes two transformations, each larger and more more monstrous than the form preceding it, until his final transformation is a (relatively) short, sleek, almost chillingly elegant form. Krillin felt that the form looked underwhelming, but Piccolo admits that he is proof on how appearances can be deceiving, and that he'd rather face the previous formsnote . Indeed, it's only in this form that Frieza can access anything more than 3% of of his full power.
- Bittersweet Ending: The group manage to save the Namekians, get the balls and wish their fallen friends back to life. But Namek ends up destroyed (though the Namekians move to a planet that's exactly like Namek) and the Namekian Elder, who had died during the saga but was wished back, dies permanently not shortly after, though he passes on his duties to one of his kinsmen before he does. And Goku, while not dead, is revealed to be somewhere out in space.
- Break the Haughty: Vegeta, even more than he had been on Earth. After he tries to jumpstart his Came Back Strong with Dende's healing, he assumes he can become a Super Saiyan and can beat Frieza. But then, he actually starts to fight Frieza, and finds he's still just a gnat to his ex-boss.Narrator: Terror struck the depths of Vegeta's soul for the first time in his life... For the first time, he felt despair... For the first time in his life... Vegeta shed tears...
- Breath Weapon: Dodoria and Recoome both can use mouth blasts.
- Bullying a Dragon:
- Kaio repeatedly explains the Dragon Team that they must not go near Frieza because he will kill them and then he will probably blow up a few planets out of spite. Nobody listens to him.
- Even though Super Saiyan Son Goku is proving to be more than even his fully-powered final form can handle, Frieza foolishly keeps taunting him with Krillin's death.Frieza: Fine, then. I'll crush you into tiny pieces. The way I did that Earthling.
Son Goku: The way you did that Earthling? You mean Krillin!? YOU MEAN KRILLIN!?
- Came Back Strong:
- Vegeta reveals that Saiyans always do this after they are severely injured. So him, Gohan and Goku take turns doing this. Hell, this trope pretty much consisted Goku's training!
- Piccolo after his resurrection. Fusing with Nail certainly helped as well.
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: After Zarbon reports to Frieza that he took down Vegeta, Frieza orders him to retrieve and heal him for interrogation, since he likely knows where the remaining Dragon Balls are.
- Chekhov's Gun: The space pods the Ginyu force used to arrive on Namek are forgotten about for most of the story. When Goku unsuccessfully tries to use Frieza's damaged spaceship to escape Namek, that is about to explode, he jumps in one of the Ginyu space pods and escapes. Two of them are actually briefly visible in the manga, lying next to Frieza's ship when Goku arrives there.
- Combined Energy Attack: Goku, with no other option left to defeat Frieza, uses the Spirit Bomb. It initially seems like it finished him off, but Frieza later appears alive and (mostly) well.
- Cruel Mercy: Vegeta agrees to leave Ginyu alive after he's trapped in a frog since he's no threat.
- After smacking Frieza around for a bit as a Super Saiyan, Goku abruptly tells Frieza that he's ending the fight, deciding that the humiliation of being beaten by a lowly Saiyan is justice enough for Frieza's crimes. Frieza retaliates by trying kill Goku with an energy disc, only for Goku to turn it against him.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Vegeta deals three in a row to Cui, Dodoria and Zarbon, before being dealt one himself by Zarbon when he transforms.
- Frieza in his final form effectively makes Vegeta and Piccolo his playthings. Even his telekinesis alone was enough to kill Krillin.
- Curb-Stomp Cushion:
- A villainous version - Piccolo versus Frieza. They seem roughly even when the former, having recently merged with Nail, fights the tyrant in his second form. Frieza then promptly transforms further and makes quick work of Piccolo.
- Prior to that, an earlier villainous example in Recoome facing off with Vegeta. The latter makes it appear at many points that he's gaining the upper hand - including the very beginning, where he not only catches Recomme off guard, but is thought to have easily finished him off in one swift combination. But it was a lie: Recoome was always in control of the fight, and simply prefers to play with his food. By the end, beyond a bit of cosmetic damage (armor gone, hair frizzled, some teeth missing - due to his teeth slammed when firing a mouth blast), Recoome is completely fine, while Vegeta is barely clinging to life.
- Played with in Gohan's confrontations with Frieza: normally, he couldn't hope to match Frieza, but when he goes berserk from seeing his friends seriously hurt, his power spikes, and he charges at him, attacking in short bursts, and then his power dips afterwards - leaving him at the mercy of Frieza. He was actually the first to do damage to Frieza and that was in his first One-Winged Angel state, and after recovering, he forced him to take on his final form - which not even Piccolo or Vegeta did. Even in filler, Frieza taunting Gohan over Goku's (supposed) death caused the latter to rush him hard enough for Frieza to consider using his 100% power up.
- Goku before he becomes a Super Saiyan actually gives Final Form Frieza a decent fight compared to Vegeta, but Frieza still dominates him without having to use over 50% of his power.
- Frieza at 100% of his power looks like an even match for Super Saiyan Goku, but he burns out quickly and Goku still manhandles him.
- Despair Event Horizon: The anime nearly gives us this; King Kai repeatedly warned everyone not to approach Frieza for reasons they later experienced to their sorrow. Goku going Super Saiyan finally makes defeating even 100% Frieza a possibility, and with no one else on the planet, he doesn't hold back anymore. Then Goku starts visibly panting and straining when faced with Frieza's onslaught; while his spirit remains resolute, it seems his body can't take much more. Helplessly watching, King Kai can only grimly state to himself how he warned Goku to stay away.
- Deus Exit Machina: Goku, for most of the arc. At first, he's still in the hospital recovering from injuries sustained in the last arc. Then, once he finally recovers, we have to wait for his spaceship to make it to Namek (which seemingly takes forever). When he finally arrives, he gets involved in the fight for a little while, but Captain Ginyu promptly steals his body and then gets his ass kicked while using it. This means that once Goku recovers his body, we again have to wait for him to heal from his injuries. By the time this happens, it's pretty much time for the final stand against Frieza.
- Dramatic Irony:
- When Vegeta and Ginyu alike expresses their awe/fear that Goku may have become a Super Saiyan, but later reconsider when they see Goku express mercy, since the legend says that the Super Saiyan will be a Blood Knight incarnate. When Goku transforms into a Super Saiyan, he forgoes King Kai's advice to leave the planet with his son and friends because is so intent on revenge for Krillin's death that he intentionally waits for Frieza to power up to 100% of his full strength, to make it all the more satisfying when he beats him. Hell, he even requested that he and Frieza alone on a dying Namek settle their battle while everyone else is transported to Earth.
- Goku invokes this to Frieza, saying that despite him believing no one could defeat him, not only did someone did, but it was a lowly Saiyan. Heck, Frieza's mere attempts to blow up Planet Vegeta in fear of one emerging becomes this by the time he's facing - and is killed - by one.
- The Dreaded: Frieza's name brings nothing but terror to those who dare cross him. When two of his goons suspect Bulma of hiding something, they don't even bother to force an answer out and just opt to take her with them.It's alright, when you are in front of Lord Frieza, you will talk even if you don't want to.
- Even King Kai is shaken that Frieza is involved, having heard of him, and orders Goku and the others to avoid him at all costs; not that it matters later.
- Dub-Induced Plot Hole:
- In the Japanese version, Frieza kills Namole who delivers the news of the Ginyu Force arriving because he showed fear. In the Funimation dub, Frieza instead kills Namole because he won't be needed with the Ginyu Force arriving, even though Frieza doesn't kill any of his other soldiers for this reason, including two other henchmen in this very scene who he lets live.
- This is averted in the original Ocean dub, where Frieza accuses Namole of trying to second-guess him and "blasts him into another dimension."
- In the Funimation dub, the scene where Frieza realises that Gohan is a Saiyan was mishandled, having Frieza instead say, "I'd better keep my eye on that one!" This doesn't match with the wide-eyed expression of shock on his face, and his knowledge of Gohan as a Saiyan comes off as being more abrupt later on.
- In the Japanese version, Frieza kills Namole who delivers the news of the Ginyu Force arriving because he showed fear. In the Funimation dub, Frieza instead kills Namole because he won't be needed with the Ginyu Force arriving, even though Frieza doesn't kill any of his other soldiers for this reason, including two other henchmen in this very scene who he lets live.
- Enemy Mine: Vegeta for the second half of the saga when it becomes apparent he's not strong enough to fight Frieza's elite team and needs Krillin and Gohan's help.
- Evil Costume Switch: Inverted for Vegeta; he switches armors to a design that lacks the threatening Shoulders of Doom of his old one by the time he's firmly entrenched in his Enemy Mine. Though, that doesn't explain why Gohan and Krillin use the ones with said shoulders for the battle with Frieza, and Vegeta explains that he's only wearing it because they don't have one in his size with shoulders. (Though, if the armor can expand, it begs the question of why there's even such a thing as a minimum size.)
- Evil Versus Evil: At least a third of the entire Namek Arc was nothing more than Vegeta taking on Frieza's elite soldiers, the Ginyu Force and Frieza himself.
- Exact Words:
- One of the wishes with the Namekian Dragon Balls is to transport Piccolo to Namek so he can help his friends fight Frieza. However, they all neglected to specify that he should be transported next to them, resulting in him appearing further from them than expected.
- Shenron was used to revive everyone killed by "Frieza and his men". Unfortunately, Vegeta had already betrayed Frieza before his own share of Namek's onslaught, so not all villagers were brought back at the time.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Since using the Dragon Balls required speaking Namekian, neither Vegeta or Frieza had a chance of getting their wish.
- Filler: The arc has the most notorious examples in the entire series. Examples of note are the fake Namek storyline, Goku's seemingly endless journey through space and pretty much everything involving Bulma. And of course, there's Goku's infamously long winded battle with Frieza.
- Final Boss Preview: Frieza's battle with Nail serves as this, giving us a hint into what Frieza is capable of before he personally takes on the heroes.
- Foreshadowing: Before Vegeta formally introduces the concept of the Legendary Super Saiyan, both Frieza and the Grand Elder Namekian refer to it, with Frieza in particular worried about the idea of such a warrior existing.
- Fusion Dance: After being transported to Namek, Piccolo finds the heavily-wounded Nail and performs this with him. It makes him strong enough to take on Frieza in his second form.
- Godzilla Threshold:
- Once Frieza believes that his pursuit of the Dragon Balls is not in his favor anymore, he decides to call on the Ginyu Force to come to Namek. The look on Zarbon's face, and later Vegeta's, tells that this elite team is considered Frieza's last resort. As such, Vegeta convinces Gohan and Krillin to team up for even a chance to survive.
- When everyone realizes an extraordinarily ticked Frieza is approaching while Porunga is summoned, Krillin becomes so desperate for a fighting chance against him that he tells Dende to give Vegeta what he wants and grant him immortality, even though the chances are high that Vegeta will kill all of them once he gets what he wants. The only thing that prevents Vegeta from obtaining immortality is the Grand Elder passing in the middle of Dende making the final wish.
- Good Is Dumb: Even after outclassing them, Goku continuously shows his enemies mercy, and it comes back to bite him. First, he spares Jeice - who flees to get his boss, Captain Ginyu. Then it turns out that Goku is even stronger Ginyu, but again decides to spare his life - Ginyu then wastes no opportunity to steal Goku's body (he gets it back). Finally, Frieza is the one that pleads for mercy, and Goku very nearly rejects it, considering his fate just desserts, but his conscience gets the better of him, and he gives Frieza a bit of his energy. Frieza squanders this chance by firing a blast at Goku when his back is literally turned, but Goku wises up, and counterattacks - (seemingly) ending Frieza.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: It's basically for the first part of the arc Gohan & Krillin vs Vegeta vs Frieza and his forces.
- Grand Theft Me: Ginyu pulls this on Goku by using an attack that swaps their bodies. He later does it to Bulma as well but Gohan manages to foil him before he tries to transfer into a stronger body.
- A Handful for an Eye: Vegeta drops dirt into Zarbon's eyes during their second battle, except he does it in midair.
- Hope Spot:
- When down to the final wish, Vegeta finally forces Dende to grant him immortality so he can stand a chance against Frieza. Unfortunately, Guru dies before Dende could finish the wish, negating the Dragon Balls' power, just moments before Frieza arrives.
- Goku's battle with Frieza seemingly ends the first time with hitting him with a giant Spirit Bomb. Then Frieza gets back up, battered, bruised, and utterly pissed.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Captain Ginyu steals the more powerful Goku's body, and initially revels in the body's speed. But when he wants to use the shell's full power against Krillin and Gohan, he finds that he can't. He has no idea how to tap into the body's ki reserves, and certainly has no clue of the ki techniques that made Goku so formidable.
- HeelFace Turn: Sorta, Vegeta doesn't like the heroes one bit but does stop trying to gain immortality and trying to kill them after everything's said and done.
- He's Back!: Goku does this twice, first against the Ginyu Special Squadron, then against Frieza.
- Immortality Immorality: Both Frieza and Vegeta are looking for immortality, and they're both willing to slaughter the Namekians indiscriminately to get it.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Vegeta kills Recoome and Burter in cold blood, arguing they deserved it when Goku protested. They worked for Frieza and had murdered countless innocent people, which nearly included Goku's son and best friend. Goku's idea of showing mercy proves a mistake when does it against Frieza, who rejects his offers, twice.
- Lampshade Hanging: When Dr. Briefs installs a gravity machine as per Goku's request, he mentions that it goes up to 100x, which he promptly advises that Goku reconsider on attempting to train in, noting that his movements will be as if he weighs six tons note , and should probably be killed when that occurs. Goku laughs off his advice.
- Last-Second Chance: Goku initially leaves Frieza to die, but takes pity on him and gives him some energy so he can escape the planet. Frieza tries to uses the energy to attack Goku only to have it countered, and Goku finishes him off.
- Magic Countdown: One of the most infamous examples in fiction, when Frieza says that Namek will explode in 5 minutes... only for it to take 10 episodes for their fight to finish and said explosion to actually occur. General consensus is usually that Frieza really had no idea when Namek was going to blow (he quite explicitly screwed up trying to destroy it- usually the destruction is instant) and made up the '5 minutes' number on the spot to avoid looking like an idiot.
- Meaningless Villain Victory: Frieza gets all seven Dragon Balls thanks to the Ginyu Force...and realizes that he has no idea how to get his wish. Him leaving them at his ship while he goes to grill the Great Elder for instructions gives the heroes enough time to get a few wishes of their own, making everything Frieza did on Namek a "Shaggy Dog" Story.
- Vegeta comes close to collecting all seven Dragon Balls, taking the five Frieza had, and the one Krillin gained from Guru. But Gohan managed to swipe the one Vegeta was hiding. Retroactivily it turned to be even more meaningless since as noted under Failure Is the Only Option and "Shaggy Dog" Story, he wouldn't have been able to use the Dragon Balls even if he got all seven.
- Merger of Souls: This happens when Piccolo merges with Nail. He carries Nail's memories and his behavior make subtle changes based on Nail's influence.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Frieza has Zarbon bring back Vegeta shortly after beating him, but it results in the Saiyan prince escaping with the rest of the Dragon Balls after being healed.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Several, Vegeta's first fight against Zarbon goes like this, the battle against Recoome doesn't go well at all for Vegeta, Gohan and Krillin, and Vegeta suffers a vicious one in his fight against Frieza's final form.
- No Honor Among Thieves: Vegeta saves Gohan and Krillin from being killed by Guldo, and the rest of the Ginyu Force stand and watch as he kills their teammate. Vegeta was planning on betraying his allies and yet he was still a better team player than the Ginyu Force.
- Oh, Crap!:
- Basically Krillin and Bulma's reaction when on arriving on Namek to find the Dragon Balls, they see a Saiyan pod arrive on the planet. Become even worse when Krillin and Gohan sense, then see, that there's an army of aliens who aren't Namekians flying across the planet likely for the Dragon Balls as well, some of whom were stronger than Vegeta, and none of them friendly.
- Zarbon when Vegeta reveals during their rematch that Saiyan biology ensures that they become even stronger after near-death experiences...which Vegeta was left in after the last encounter with him.
- Vegeta when sensing five guys with immense ki. He deduces that Frieza called in the Ginyu Force, and even teams up with his enemies, Gohan and Krillin, in response.
- Jeice when he sees Goku easily defeat Recoome and Burter, flying off to call Captain Ginyu or even Frieza to deal with him.
- Ginyu, when he realizes how strong Goku is and starts to panic (along with Jeice) when he believes Goku might be a Super Saiyan.
- Orcus on His Throne: Frieza for the first 2/3 or so of the arc. It's not an exaggeration to say that his entire army had to die before he could be bothered to get out of his chair, despite being beyond strong enough to very easily curbstomp anybody on the planet.
- Orphaned Reference: The TV broadcast version of the FUNimation dub for episode 71 cuts out Krillin's speculation that Bulma may have been kidnapped by a mountain lion, leaving Gohan to say, apropos of seemingly nothing, "I'd hate to be the mountain lion."
- Out of Focus: Goku spends most of the arc recovering from his injuries sustained in the previous arc, then traveling to Namek. He arrives in the middle of the battle with the Ginyu Special Squadron and is almost immediately put out of commission again (though not before defeating Recoome), forcing him to spend even more time in a healing machine. By the time he's recovered again, Frieza is in his final form.
- Outside-Context Problem: Frieza takes the theme of the Big Bad being much, much stronger than the heroes to levels not seen again until Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods. To compare him in his final form to the Z-Fighters when they first arrive on Namek is like comparing a god to mere mortals.
- Power Creep: The Namek arc was the start of the Power Levels going completely off the scale, with many of the supporting cast getting hit with the Can't Catch Up.
- For example, during his fight with Cui, Zarbon's scouter breaks when it reads Vegeta's Power Level as 23,000, and when Dodoria reads it as 24,000, Zarbon expresses concern that Vegeta may be stronger than both of them. Later on, 23,000 is the power Jeice reads to Ginyu in Goku's body that shows he has crippled himself by switching bodies, and makes him easy prey for Gohan and Krillin, despite Krillin being no match for base form Zarbon even with his power-up from the Namekian Grand Elder.
- Properly Paranoid: The reason behind finding the Dragon Balls, as well as destroying Planet Vegeta, is the possibility that a Saiyan will one day be strong enough to finally beat him. He already believes Vegeta isn't it, but he would soon face his better in the form of Goku.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Ginyu Force are indeed quirky, acting and posing as cheerleaders, or playing games to pass the time. Unfortunately for the heroes, they are considered Frieza's most fearsome squad because they have the power to back it up.
- Race Against the Clock: Frieza attacks the planet's core, giving everyone five minutes to evacuate before the planet goes boom. Goku opts to stay and make sure Frieza is beaten.
- Rage-Breaking Point:
- Vegeta hits this when he discovers that Gohan took one of the Dargon Balls away, one that he hid after destroying the village guarding it.
- Frieza hits this multiple times when his pursuit of the Dragon Balls keeps coming up short.
- Goku hits this when Frieza kills Krillin, causing him to go Super Saiyan for the first time.
- Save the Villain: Frieza tries to kill Goku with a homing energy disc, only for it to slice him in half thanks to some fancy maneuvering from Goku. Goku decides to give Frieza a small bit of energy so that he can escape the burning Planet Namek. Frieza repays Goku by firing an energy blast at him.
- Serious Business: Captain Ginyu takes his Super Sentai-like poses very seriously. In the anime, he's even using Frieza's Mooks to help him come up with new ones and shown dispatching those who perform them incorrectly. (The English dub changes it so that he's looking for new recruits). Goku taking out (well technically, Vegeta) three of his men while Jeice and Ginyu perform the pre-battle pose has the two muse that the pose isn't as special anymore, and gets Ginyu really riled up and charges towards Goku's location.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: For Frieza, he and his forces go on a warpath across Namek trying to collect the Dragon Balls. He finally succeeds only to find that 1) They need a Namekian password to activate them and 2) The Namekians are the only ones who can communicate with the dragon to ask for wishes. Frieza (and by extension, Vegeta) pretty much kills all of them (prior to them being wished back to life) before he realizes it and when he does try to make a wish, the dragon doesn't understand him. So even if Frieza had won, there was no way he could get his wish granted.
- Shoot the Medic First: When Frieza reaches his final form, the first thing he does is killing Dende to stop him from healing the others.
- So Last Season: When Raditz arrived, a power of 1,000 was considered formidable. (Even Goku with his best technique was only around 900), in this saga 1,000 is considered so little that a group of Mooks literally laugh at that level of power.
- Suddenly Shouting: When Frieza smugly reminds him he blasted one of his friends into pieces, Goku whispers "You mean Krillin!?". Then he goes into an even greater rage and roars "YOU MEAN KRILLIN?!"
- Super Mode: Goku manages to unlock Super Saiyan form after Frieza kills Krillin.
- Tears of Fear: Vegeta when faced with Frieza's final form, is outclassed and realizes that he isn't a Super Saiyan after all, meaning that he will be brutally killed by his former master. The narrator/King Kai notes that this is the first time that Vegeta ever shed tears, and that the proud Saiyan warrior had lost the will to fight, resigning himself to his fate.
- Tranquil Fury: Frieza voices his discontent on the loss of the Dragon Balls in an eerily calm tone to the absolutely terrified heroes. The cliffhanger is not helped at all by everything turning a blood red hue and the narrator noting that Frieza is burning with anger.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: While not volatile, Gohan and Krillin hate the idea of working with Vegeta, or even helping him try to become immortal, since he also played a hand at destroying most of the Namekian villages. However, between him and an even worse villain after them, they have no choice until Goku shows up.
- Underwear of Power: Frieza, Zarbon, Captain Ginyu, Jeice, Appule, and several of the minor Frieza soldiers. Considering the average DBZ character can bench-press mountains and take energy blasts to the face, excessive armor would be a little redundant.
- Unstoppable Rage: Frieza manages to push Goku into this when he murders Krillin, triggering his Super Saiyan transformation.
- Villain Protagonist: Vegeta is arguably a main character in this arc, and he's definitely a villain.
- Villain Respect: Despite clearly being afraid of Goku after he became a Super Saiyan, Frieza is impressed not only by his might, but also his new-found ruthlessness: Earlier, he was bemused to see that Goku wasn't as cruel as the other Saiyans, and yet was much stronger than any of them, but after transforming, he became more colder. He even compares the Super Saiyan Goku to himself.
- The Worf Effect:
- Guldo and, to a greater extent, Recoome, give Vegeta, Gohan, and Krillin a hard time, displaying just how dangerous the Ginyu Force as a whole compared to Frieza' lower minions.
- Goku easily defeats Recoome and Burter to show how much stronger he has become during his training while traveling to Namek.
- Earlier, the three heroic Namekians who try to save Moori's village. Their power levels are all around 3,000 - which would've been impressive around the Saiyan Saga, and they do admittedly go a good job of fighting Frieza's men, but Dodoria steps in and quickly shows how utterly outclassed they are.
- Also, Nail. Badly. He was easily the strongest Namekian, stronger than ANY of Frieza's men outside of the Ginyu Force and even outclassed Vegeta prior to his fight with Recoome. He'd have done well in a fight against almost everyone other than Frieza...and that's exactly who he's pitted against.
- Frieza shows off why he is the dreaded tyrant by beating Vegeta within an inch his life and eventually killing him.
- Would Hurt a Child: Not even children are safe from Frieza, and this quality extends to his men. Recoome notably enjoyed delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Gohan and nearly killed him. Dodoria (in the anime) killed Cargo, Dende's twin brother.
- You Fool!: Rare non villainous example. When Goku gives Frieza some of his energy and tries to leave for Frieza's ship, Frieza can't accept that he lost so tries to kill Goku again. Goku shouts this trope in response before finishing Frieza off, having offered the tyrant mercy just for him to throw it away, again.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After Goku launches the Spirit Bomb on Frieza, it reduces the battlefield into an ocean and leaves a massive crater on Namek. Gohan and Krillin are left wondering if Goku and Piccolo got caught in the blast with Frieza until Piccolo emerges from the ocean with Goku. Piccolo gives his brief last respects to the Namekians who perished in Frieza's onslaught, and Krillin just remembers that they left Bulma, which encourages what seems like an "Everybody Laughs" Ending... except Frieza survived and promptly shoots Piccolo and kills Krillin. This starts another stretch of the arc, albeit one where Goku finally becomes a Super Saiyan.