The Saiyan Arc is eighth arc in the Dragon Ball manga and the second arc in the Dragon Ball Z TV adaptation.
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 Freeza 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
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: During his first fight with Vegeta, Zarbon reveals that Freeza can transform like he can. This is removed in the anime, which makes it confusing when Vegeta says to Freeza that Zarbon told him that he could.
- All There in the Manual: Freeza'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.
- Arc Villain: Freeza.
- Back from the Dead: Piccolo. And then later, the Namekians murdered by Freeza and his men, Vegeta, Krillin, and finally the three other Z-Fighters who died fighting the Saiyans - Tien, Chiaotzu, Yamcha.
Vegeta: The missing ones must be from the village I slaughtered. The conditions were "killed by Freeza's men", correct? Well, since Freeza "discharged" me from his employment, I no longer qualify as one of "Freeza'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 Freeza's assault back to life and Porunga brought everyone on Namek save for Freeza 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 Freeza's mooks. Goku doesn't want him doing this, and even calls him out after killing the two helpless Ginyu Force members.
- 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.
- Freeza 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 realises that the Namekian Dragon was summoned.
- Big Damn Heroes: Goku's arrival on Namek starts with him saving Gohan from Recoome.
- Piccolo appearing before Gohan and Krillin to confront Freeza.
- 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.
- Beware the Silly Ones: The Ginyu Special Squadron may seem like nutjobs but they're Freeza's elite force for a reason.
- Bishōnen Line: Freeza 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 Freeza can access anything more than 3% of of his full power.
- Breath Weapon: Dodoria and Recoome both can use mouth blasts.
- 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.
- Combined Energy Attack: Goku, with no other option left to defeat Freeza, uses the Spirit Bomb. It initially seems like it finished him off, but Freeza later appears alive and (mostly) well.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Vegeta deals three in a row to Cui, Dodoria and Zarbon, before being dealt one himself by Zarbon when he transforms.
- Curb-Stomp Cushion: A villainous version - Piccolo versus Freeza. They seem roughly even when the the former, having recently merged with Nail, fights the tyrant in his second form. Freeza 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 Freeza: normally he couldn't hope to match Freeza, 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 Freeza. He was actually the first to do damage to Freeza 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, Freeza taunting Gohan over Goku's (supposed) death caused the latter to rush him hard enough for Freeza to consider using his 100% power up.
- Despair Event Horizon: The anime nearly gives us this; King Kai repeatedly warned everyone not to approach Freeza for reasons they later experienced to their sorrow. Goku going Super Saiyan finally makes defeating even 100% Freeza 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 Freeza's onslaught; while his spirit remains resolute it seems his body can't take much more. Helplessly watching, 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 Freeza.
- 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 Freeza to power up to 100% of his full strength, to make it all the more satisfying when be beats him. Hell, he even requested that he and Freeza alone on a dying Namek settle their battle while everyone else is transported to Earth.
- Goku invokes this to Freeza saying that despite him believing no one could defeat him, not only did someone did, but it was a lowly Saiyan. Heck, Freeza'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: Freeza'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 Freeza-sama you will talk even if you don't want to
- Dub-Induced Plot Hole: In the Funimation dub, the scene where Freeza realises that Gohan is a Saiyan was mishandled, having Freeza 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.
- Enemy Mine: Vegeta for the second half of the saga when it becomes apparent he's not strong enough to fight Frieza's forces 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 Kurilin use the ones with said shoulders for the battle with Freeza, 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 vs. Evil: At least a third of the entire Namek Arc was nothing more than Vegeta taking on Freeza's elite soldiers, the Ginyu Force and Freeza himself.
- 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 Freeza.
- Final Boss Preview: Freeza's battle with Nail serves as this, giving us a hint into what Freeza is capable of before he personally takes on the heroes.
- Foreshadowing: Before Vegeta formally introduces the concept of the Legendary Super Saiyan, both Freeza and the Grand Elder Namekian refer to it, with Freeza 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 Freeza in his second form.
- Godzilla Threshold: When everyone realizes an extraordinarily ticked Freeza 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.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: It's basically for the first part of the arc Gohan & Krillin vs Vegeta vs Freeza 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.
- 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.
- Hes Back: Goku does this twice, first against the Ginyu Special Squadron, then against Freeza.
- Immortality Immorality: Both Freeza and Vegeta are looking for immortality, and neither of them are particularly nice people.
- 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 Freeza to die, but takes pity on him and gives him some energy so he can escape the planet. Freeza tries to uses the energy to attack Goku only to have it countered, and Goku finishes him off.
- Meaningless Villain Victory: Freeza gets all seven Dragon Balls thanks to the Ginyu Force...and realizes that he has no idea how to get his wish. His 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 Freeza did on Namek a "Shaggy Dog" Story.
- 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.
- 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 Freiza's final form.
- 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 last encounter with him.
- Vegeta when sensing five guys with immense ki. He deduces that Freeza called in the Ginyu Force, and even teams up with his enemies, Gohan and Krillin, in response.
- Jeice/Jheese when he sees Goku easily defeat Recoome and Burter/Butta, flying off to call Captain Ginyu or even Freeza to deal with him.
- Ginyu, when he realize how strong Goku is and starts to panic (along with Jeice) when he believes Goku might be a Super Saiyan.
- Orcus on His Throne: Freeza 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 Bullma may be 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, forcing him to spend even more time in a healing machine. By the time he's recovered again, Freeza is in his final form.
- 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.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Ginyu Force.
- Race Against the Clock: Freeza attacks the planet's core, giving everyone five minutes to evacuate before the planet goes boom. Goku opts to stay and make sure Freeza is beaten.
- Serious Business: Captain Ginyu takes his Super Sentai-like poses very seriously. In the anime, he's even using Freeza'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 Freeza, he and his forces go on a warpath across Namek trying to collect the Dragon Balls. Only to find that 1) It 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. Freeza 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 Freeza had won, there was no way he could get his wish granted.
- Shoot the Medic First: When Freeza reaches his final form, the first thing he does is kill Dende to stop him from healing the others.
- Super Mode: Goku manages to unlock Super Saiyan form after Freeza kills Krillin.
- Tears of Fear: Vegeta when faced with Freeza's final form, is outclassed and realises 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: Freeza 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 Freeza is burning with anger.
- Underwear of Power: Freeza, Zarbon, Captain Ginyu, Jeice, Appule, and several of the minor Freeza 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: Freeza 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, Freeza 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: Vegeta to Recoome. Recoome to Goku.
- 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 Freeza'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.
- Would Hurt a Child: Not even children are safe from Freeza, 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.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After Goku launches the Spirit Bomb on Freeza, 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 Freeza until Piccolo emerges from the ocean with Goku. Piccolo gives his brief last respects to the Namekians who perished in Freeza's onslaught, and Krillin just remembers that they left Bulma, which encourages what seems like an Everybody Laughs Ending... except Freeza survived and promptly shoots Piccolo and kills Krillin. This starts another stretch of the arc, albeit one where Goku finally becomes a Super Saiyan.