For many Dragon Ball fans, the dramatic and explosive Frieza saga is the best story line to come out of the franchise. Not only did it introduce the Super Saiyan status into the mythos, it also gave audiences one of the deadliest villains the universe has ever known. Frieza, the purple menace himself, is considered one of the most powerful beings in the universe and his lust for power knows no bounds.
Frieza destroyed most of the Saiyans in the galaxy and destroyed their home planet just for kicks as he expanded his evil empire. Suffice it to say, he's a big threat, and whenever he fought with characters like Goku or Vegeta fans were in for a fun time.
His saga had three major phases and saw numerous characters become a part of the Dragon Ball mythos. Getting caught up in the middle of all the punches and ki blasts makes it hard to pick up on all the details or understand the context behind the creative process, but there's a lot more going on here than just explosive fight scenes.
Get angry, turn into a Super Saiyan, and come read about these 16 Crazy Things Fans Missed About The Frieza Saga!
16 First Villain With Multiple Forms
While it eventually became a common trait for villains in the franchise, Frieza is the first villain with multiple forms. Similar to future villains like Buu and Cell, Frieza has multiple physical forms that correspond with increased power rates.
Every time Frieza transforms and appears sleeker, he comes back quicker and stronger than ever before.
In the current Dragon Ball Super series, Frieza unveiled a new form with an even higher power level. After stewing in a cocoon for 14 years in hell, Frieza was wished back to life by his old gang and debuted with more power than ever before. Instead of his traditional white complexion, he came back with a chrome, golden coloring that made him look just as shiny as his Super Saiyan opponents.
15 American Dub Canceled in the Middle
Despite the franchise's current esteemed position in pop culture, Dragon Ball didn't always connect with American audiences. Teenage boys may have liked the action-packed series, but advertisers and parents were worried about the show's influence in the states. Originally, the dubbed version of the series was recorded by Ocean and released by Saban.
Only 53 episodes in, right in the middle of the Captain Ginyu storyline, Saban trimmed the dubbed version of the show from their repertoire and left fans hanging.
Luckily, a year later Funimation, the same company who licensed the original dub of the series, decided to try things again. Instead of going through an outside production company like Ocean, Funimation brought in their own voice actors and picked things up right where the old dub left off.
14 Refrigerator Squad
Frieza isn't the only villain in his saga with a food-related name. Not only does he have a brother named Cooler and a father named Cool, but his entire villain squad is composed of individuals with punny names. Specifically, everyone in the Ginyu Force is named after a dairy product of some kind.
The squad is made up of fierce fighters named Ginyu, Guldo, Recoome, and Burter.
Ginyu himself, the leader of the squad, has a name derived from the Japanese term for milk. His villanious goons are named after yogurt, cream, and butter. Dairy products are reliant on cold temperatures to stay preserved longer, so it's a clever move for franchise creator Akira Toriyama to make Frieza's army metaphorically dependent on him.
13 Debuted in US Seven Years Later
Dragon Ball Z, a series derived from the last 325 issues of the Dragon Ball manga, first hit Japanese screens in April of 1989. The show quickly became a hit as it perfectly filled in the time-slot left by its predecessor series.
It wasn't until 1996 that Funimation's licensed, English-dubbed, version of the series finally hit American airwaves. As was already stated on this list though, the American version of the series ran into some trouble and was pulled from production in 1998, leaving fans waiting a whole year until it finally returned in September of 1999 and wrapped up in 2003, seven years after the Japanese version's 1996 conclusion.
Even though the US version cut some filler material because they were already further behind Toriyama's place in the manga, it still took them the exact same amount of time to tell the story.
12 Goku's Mercy
Despite the serious threat Frieza posed to the universe, Goku still had no problem showing the alien tyrant some mercy at the end of their battle. Even after Goku went Super Saiyan for the first time and tapped into his more primal, warrior instincts, Goku still tried to save Frieza's life in multiple ways.
After realizing the alien was no match for him, Goku offered Frieza more time to train and return to the fight, but the evil emperor attacked Goku behind his back and turned down the offer. Similarly, after Goku offered Frieza some of his own power so he can heal and escape, Frieza lashes out and makes it all the easier for Goku to finally stop showing mercy and deliver a finishing blow on the alien menace.
11 Vegeta's Not So Powerful
Going into the Frieza saga, the Saiyans were the most properly established alien species in the Dragon Ball world. The first few sagas in particular focused on expanding the species' mythos and introducing new characters to challenge Goku, whose Saiyan name is Kakarot, and his way of doing things.
One of the primary challengers who remained a thorn in Goku's side for the rest of the series is Vegeta. A Saiyan prince, Vegeta thinks incredibly highly of himself and believes that his muscles and blood right puts him above others.
Before the Frieza saga, viewers were led to believe that Vegeta is one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Moving forward, Frieza ultimately destroy the warrior, his first passing in the franchise, dispelling the belief that he was an all-powerful fighter whose power knew no bounds.
10 Different Ending For the Manga
While the fight scene between Frieza and Goku is enjoyable in the anime, it doesn't necessarily stick to the source material. One major discrepancy includes the adding of a scene where Frieza badly wounds Goku after he turns Super Saiyan and Gohan rushes in to defend his father. This filler material was added for drama's sake and to give the animators more time to prepare for the final battle, but Toriyama didn't expand his focus beyond the core fight in the manga once things really got cooking.
In general, the anime makes Frieza out to be stronger than he is in the manga.
Once Goku turns Super Saiyan, there's nothing the purple warrior can do to get on top of the fight in its original depiction.
9 19 Episode Fight Scene
One of the things that distinguished the anime version of the final battle between Goku and Frieza and its manga counterpart is the length of the fight. Even in the manga, it lasted for quite a while, but the show threw in a bunch of filler material to drag the confrontation out as long as possible.
What could or should have been a five or six-episode fight scene, the battle lasted 19 episodes because the show's animators included numerous random setting changes and long pauses.
Not only is it the longest fight in the franchise, clocking in at about three and a half hours, but it is one of the most drawn out fights in all of anime.
While future seasons included long fights and plenty of filler episodes, no individual fight made viewers wait this long again.
8 Frieza Was The Most Powerful
Frieza was considered by many as the most powerful being in the universe when he was first introduced. Like Voldemort, some supporting characters were afraid to utter Frieza's name due to the fear and power associated with it. E
ven though he knows how strong he is, King Kai pleaded with Goku not to engage in combat with the tyrant because he feared for the life of his Saiyan friend. Vegeta's whole plan to defeat the man who destroyed the Saiyans was to retrieve the Dragon Balls and wish himself immortal so he could stand a fighting chance against Frieza.
As the series progressed, new characters were created and introduced who were technically more powerful than Cell. The Androids and Cell, synthetic creatures, hadn't been developed yet but all reached Cell's power levels and Majin Buu was trapped under the Earth for centiruies, so his power level hadn't been under consideration for some time.
7 Krillin's First DBZ End
While death is a big part of the entire Dragon Ball franchise, certain characters were more or less safe still at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z. Krillin may not be the strongest fighter, but he is a fan-favorite characters who long-term readers had seen grow up in the original Dragon Ball manga and anime.
When he passed for the first time in Z, during the group's fight with Frieza, it kicked things into high gear.
Despite the fact Goku had seen vast destruction and random death throughout the fight, it was the shock involved in losing his best friend that sent his anger and emotion through the roof. For the first time ever, Goku achieved the power of the Super Saiyan status and was ultimately able to overpower the alien menace.
6 Censorship in American Dub
As if being canceled in the middle of an action-packed season isn't a big enough smack in the face for Dragon Ball Z fans, the American dub is full of censored moments both before and during the Frieza saga. Despite the violent nature of the series, there was something Funimation deemed unsuitable for children and American audiences to see. The losses of lives and fight scenes were much more brutal and graphic in the Japanese anime series than the American, so the changes are pretty recognizable when watching certain fight scenes including Vegeta or the death of the Namekians.
Fortunately, American viewers can watch the more intense fight scenes online because the original, bloody version is still fully accessible and included in Japanese box sets of the series.
5 What-If Scenarios in Japanese Games
What-ifs are a great story device used to allow audiences to experience a different ending to a plotline. These are used in everything from comics to video games and allow creators to reexamine material from a new perspective.
In some Japanese Dragon Ball Z games, audiences have been given a new take on the Frieza saga where characters like Tien, Yamcha, and Chiaotzu survive their fight with Nappa and travel to Namek to help the rest of their friends take on Frieza and his goons. These story ideas aren't just coming out on new games like Dragon Ball Fighters Z - this plot change has been present ever since the NES.
This may sound cruel, but Tien's passing is one of Dragon Ball's most dramatic moments, so anything that somehow takes that out of the series feels like a cheapening blow, despite how cool it would be to see them fight alongside Goku on Namek.
4 Ginyu Force Is All Mutants
In addition to all being named after dairy products, Frieza's army shares another common trait: they are all mutants.
Not only are they all members of different alien species, some of which even vaguely resemble humans, but they are all genetically mutated members of those species. In fact, no other members of Ginyu or Guldo's species were ever included in the show because none of the other individuals ever achieved similar power levels. It seems like the only way to impress Frieza is to be a mutant, so there's not much room for upward mobility in his armies otherwise.
At one point in the original manga, Ginyu even gazes at Goku and wonders aloud that "he could be like us, a super gifted warrior, born as a mutant."
3 Empire Is A Metaphor for Economic Speculation
Frieza may look like a creature straight out of a purple-infused nightmare, the villain has a lot of inspirational sources that went into his development. Not only is he an amalgamation of creator Akira Toriyama's own childish fears, the character is slightly based on the selfish real estate speculators Toriyama read about in Japan.
During the 1980s, groups of speculators increased the economic volatility in the country by buying and investing so much it created a bubble. Toriyama described them as the "worst kind of people" and recognized that they had no problem benefiting at other people's expense. Similarly, Frieza first became wealthy and a feared tyrant by taking over, pillaging and selling planets without any fear for the consequences.
Investors may not be able to shoot ki blasts from their fingers, but they can still take an innocent person's home away from them.
2 KochiKame Crossover
Dragon Ball may be popular in the United States, but it doesn't scratch the notoriety of KochiKame in other parts of the world. The longest running manga series in the weekly Shonen Jump, debuting way back in 1976, KochiKame and Dragon Ball Z had a minor crossover that took place during the Namek saga.
The cross over took place in 2006 as part of a 30th anniversary celebration of the series' serialization where the core character Ryo-san cameos in all of the stories being serialized at the time. In the story, Ryo-san crosses paths with Frieza after the alien tyrant illegally parks his spaceship. Ryo-san is able to survive every blast Frieza throws his way and ultimately annoys the alien enough to make him move his ship.
1 Rumored End To The Story
Rumors have circulated the internet for years saying that the Frieza saga was supposed to be bring the Dragon Ball story to a close. Not only did it bring the Saiyan story to a close, where Goku achieved his species' revenge on their killer, but it also distinguished the central protagonist as the strongest hero to ever live, so in some ways it does feel like a fitting conclusion.
Toriyama was constantly toying with the fact that he wanted to bring the series to a close, but he pushed himself and kept the manga going for years longer. Truthfully, going into the arc he had no idea how the series would end and had even planted various seedlings to bring the series to multiple end points if he wanted to cut things short.
What's your favorite part of Dragon Ball's Frieza saga? Let us know in the comments.