Let’s be honest, any rules involving an alien race are going to be weird. The Saiyan race is filled with testosterone-juiced warriors with names meant to resemble vegetables. The whole idea is a little strange when one considers the details. Still, regardless of the unique qualities the Saiyans possess on the surface, fans of Dragon Ball fell in love with them all the same. Goku and Vegeta are household names around the world, and their connection to their lost planet keeps the legends alive.
With being a Saiyan comes specific guidelines or rules. Some of these rules are cultural and were only held by the original Saiyans on Planet Vegeta. Other rules are natural law. The genetic code of their bodies entails them to certain privileges and disadvantages they must follow. These kind of regulations are plot rules that affect the story, but they are rules nonetheless. With this in mind, some of the rules stand out more than others, so it’s worth taking a look at the strangest ones.
Strange is relative. After all, this is an alien species being discussed, so everything about their culture is, well, alien. This list aims to take the rules that seem strange or arbitrary and collect them into one spot. From bizarre rules of natural law to straight up bizarre cultural standards, the Saiyans filled an entire spectrum of guidelines. Dragon Ball fans will have heard of the majority of this list, but it is always worth a dive back into the Saiyan’s rules.
Now that all of those guidelines are out of the way, it’s time to dive into Dragon Ball: 20 Strange Rules Every Saiyan has to follow.
20 Pride Is A Necessary Trait
There is a reason Vegeta is always asking Goku where his Saiyan Pride is. Fans of the series know this is more than a simple jest. Vegeta is not talking trash; he is criticizing Goku for not understanding his own culture.
Saiyans are a proud race. Seriously, pride is a trait all warriors must possess. If a Saiyan warrior loses their pride, it is close to losing their life. It’s a considerable dishonor and can lead to a drop in power. In fact, Frieza’s conquest of the Saiyan’s results in a significant decline of pride for the survivors, and this factor is a big reason for them joining his army. Saiyans will do a lot to restore their pride if they lose it.
19 Instant Learning From Injuries
The origin of this trait is unknown. Some fans argue that the ability to instantly learn how to counter a move that causes injury is a learned trait many Saiyans develop over training, but the evidence is never shown to the viewers. Later in the list we'll dive into the quick recovery and Zenkai, but some readers may not be able to fathom that there are even more fighting rules that help Saiyans.
What is shown is Saiyan’s continually adapting to big power moves. Only the strongest enemies can hit these ultra-fighters with the same move twice. Whether it’s a rule to be learned or its born in them, it's safe to say this is the top of a bevy of the genetic code.
18 Saiyan Hair Does Not Change
Okay, yes, it is easier for an artist to draw the same hairstyle every time. That reasoning is one aspect of this rule existing, but an explainable rule is still a strange rule. After all, nearly everyone goes to get a haircut at some point in their life.
Full-Saiyan characters like Goku and Vegeta never change hairstyles. Goku’s hair does not change at any point in the show. Vegeta explains this as a natural law built into their DNA: a Saiyan’s hair does not turn from birth. The only exception to this is the possibility of going bald (poor Nappa).
17 Tails Are A Recessive Trait
Gohan is born with a tail, yet Goten and Trunks are never shown with tails. Many fans speculated that the tails were merely cut off screen, but the case is actually just more hard line genetic coding. Tails are a recessive trait.
Since both Goku and Vegeta are some of the last Saiyans alive, their offspring are hybrids. If tails were a dominant trait, all their children would have tails, but this is not the case. It is likely this gene is recessive to protect Saiyans from being exploited to create Oozaru hybrids with other species super easily. Considering how strong Goten and Trunks are as children, it's not out of the question.
16 Lower-Class Saiyans Are Sent To Foreign Planets
For those not familiar with the lore of Dragon Ball, this entry might seem a tad bit strange. The Saiyans are a proud race that measures their children’s power levels at birth. Seriously, think about how parents weigh and measure their newborn’s height. It is like that, but only with Battle Power and the child’s potential.
The crux of the cultural rule is low-power level children were not allowed to be apart of the prestigious army. Instead, these children either became engineers or infiltration babies. These infiltration babies were sent to distant planets and told to conquer them. If the child returned after defeating the planet, then they were welcomed back as an elite warrior. The survival rate for these children was immensely low. It’s an upsetting rule, but it exists.
15 Class Of Saiyan Dictated By Power
The class system that existed on Planet Vegeta is a tad overwhelming. It takes a good bit of backstory to bolster the information. Fans wondered for a long time what made Goku a low-class warrior and Vegeta the prince of all Saiyans.
It turns out the class of the Saiyan is based on their power level, which is assigned at birth (mentioned earlier). Depending on the type of the Saiyan certain expectations are held for them. For instance, elite-class Saiyans are considered the strongest warriors and involved in the infiltration army. Slightly lower than that in rank is the defenders, and this class system goes all the way down to infiltration babies, a.k.a Goku.
14 Super Saiyan Is Easier Over Time
Going Super Saiyan is not easy. Seriously, it takes the destruction of Goku’s best friend to help him go Super Saiyan. The ability to flip that switch is so difficult to start, but the genetic rules of being a Saiyan include a special cheat code. Just put: the more often one goes Super Saiyan, the easier it becomes to turn.
This rule makes sense and is entirely logical. After all, practice makes perfect. So, the more often Goku goes Super Saiyan the more use to the feeling him becomes. Flipping that switch should be second nature. The series would not be as fun if Krillin had to lose his life every time for Goku to go Super Saiyan.
13 20.Quick Recovery
The Saiyans are capable fighters. Every fan knows this. Vegeta and Goku scrap with the best warriors in the galaxy and take a considerable amount of damage. It is incredible they are able to survive any of it when the average Earthling would find themselves in danger after a single punch.
Turns out it’s genetic. The Saiyans were gifted the ability to heal and recover from damage quickly. On top of this, they are more resistant to damage than humans. The genetic rules of Saiyans make them built to stand tall in battle. They are naturally meant to be resilient and recover quickly because the Saiyans are supposed to be fighters.
12 19.Fighting Is Natural
Speaking of fighters, the entire race is built to battle. No kidding here, the Saiyans are born violent. This law of Saiyan nature is why Goku can lose his memory and still find himself inclined to fight. He may not remember what he is, but he remembers who he is. It is in Goku’s DNA.
Seriously, even the half-human, half-Saiyan children of Vegeta and Goku usually show an inclination towards fighting. Granted, part of their love of fighting is nurturing, but the fact the Saiyans were planet conquers before their extinction only further proves the natural occurrence. These people love to fight, and it’s just the culture.
11 Zenkai Power Boost
Ah yes, the great Zenkai plot device. The natural order of the Dragon Ball galaxy somehow deems that all Saiyan Warriors gain a boost in power level when defeated. The genetic rule is now referred to as Zenkai and holds a key aspect of training as a Saiyan.
Now, the next entry goes more into the exact dimensions the rule creates within the universe, but the Zenkai itself is a fascinating rule even without the consequences. The organic cheat code almost encourages the Saiyans to lose in battle. If the fighter is defeat, but does not lose their life, then they can come back even stronger. The rule adds a whole different layer of strategy to a Saiyan’s attack plans.
10 Only Saiyans Can Use Zenkai
This rule is a plot rule, and it is so overpowered. Zenkai is the ability to gain a power-up when you’re defeated. Goku taps into this power a multitude of times throughout the series. Even Vegeta uses it to grow more powerful.
Here is the rub: only the Saiyans can use this ability. No other race can access this kind of power. It’s a rule of the manga. Cell can also use Zenkai, but he is part-Saiyan. This power-up helps the Z fighters overcome many enemies. The entire series hinges on this rule, and one can only imagine how much the series would change if the rule were not in place. Worth noting, however, Zenkais cannot be used after turning Super Saiyan.
9 The Tail Is Their Power Source
This list could not go super far without mentioning their tails. In case some fans forgot or only watched select episodes, full-blooded Saiyans are born with tails. Their tails resemble monkey tails and are even able to grip and hold things.
The tail allows the person to become an Oozaru, a great ape with incredible strength. However, the rules of nature prevent this power from being too much for an enemy. After all, a Saiyan can only transform during a full moon. The tail is the source of a Saiyan’s power (when they have one still), so this means grabbing it or pulling it weakens the person.
8 Power Level Is Measured At Birth
This rule is so crazy it needs its own entry, despite its precise involvement in other aspects of this list. Seriously, consider for a moment the cultural idea surrounding this proposition. The measuring of power levels is strange regardless of its consequences.
The children are immediately judged when born, and that is such an odd rule for a culture to have. The practice resembles the Spartan stories were they will throw weak children to the wolves. Determining someone’s strength and potential to be strong at birth immediately classifies them without choice. One has to wonder how many Goku’s were hurt by this strange rule.
7 Stamina In Battle
This list already touched on the quick recovery. Saiyans last a long time in battle because they can take a lot of hits. However, this is only one of the natural laws gifted to the Saiyans. On top of this, they have incredible stamina.
These are natural warriors. The Saiyans can access a wealth of energy within themselves. The average human exhaust way quicker in battle than a Saiyan. Goku is able to fight for an incredible amount of time due to the nature of his race. This power-up is just another fundamental rule that gives Saiyan’s advantages when fighting.
6 Must Learn To Fly
Man, expectations for a Saiyan child had to be wild. Children that were deemed worthy of a higher-class were immediately expected to continue to grow in power. They were trained as fighters and given hard lessons on conquering enemies.
One of the most bizarre demands of these trainees was that they must learn to fly. The strongest of Saiyan children could fly at birth. For non-elite class Saiyans, they were pushed to their limits in training until they discovered the skill. It is a necessary trait that every fighter in the Saiyan army must possess, and is indeed one of the stranger rules this alien race has to be honest.
5 Rage Can Trigger Super Saiyan
So, remember that entry about how Goku needed Krillin to lose his life to go Super Saiyan? Well, it turns out that the whole scenario is a hard and fast rule towards becoming a Super Saiyan. Rage, or emotions close to it, are necessary to trigger the first Super Saiyan power-up in a warrior.
Now, this code in the genes has exceptions, but most first-time Super Saiyan stories follow this rule closely. The “rage” in the law can be interpreted loosely, and many fans find it does not encapsulate the full-fledge requirements to turn Super Saiyan for the first time. However, whatever word is chosen to describe this rule, it is odd that a moment of extreme emotional anguish is necessary to create this colossal power increase.
4 Elite Class Receives Privileges
It’s been touched on here and there already in this list. From flying lesson to surviving on foreign planets, the upper classes of Saiyan warriors receive certain benefits. Now, the definitive guide to which class receives which benefits is not explicitly laid out in the Serie’s lore, but viewers know it exists.
For instance, only warriors with higher power levels are given ranks within the army (this is touched on earlier, but there is no class distinction specified). The lower-class warriors are sent on more dangerous missions, and their survival rate is much lower. The strongest of Saiyans are behind the front lines coordinating strategy, think Nappa. This is a privilege that few Saiyans receive, but the ones who did were the ones who survived the genocide caused by Frieza.
3 No Holiday Celebrations
Imagine a world with no Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day. Now, in that same world, picture a family that decides quality bonding time is fighting with one another. For some, this may be a perfect dream world. If that is the case, they might be part-Saiyan.
In Saiyan culture, people do not traditionally celebrate holidays. Resting in their culture is seen as weak; instead, holidays are for family in-fighting. None of these battles are all too dangerous. The Saiyan warriors see this as a way of celebrating their family’s strength and the power that comes along with being a warrior.
2 Ki Enhances All Saiyan Powers
There are a done of powers gifted to Saiyans by their genetics. From birth, this warrior race is coded to fight and to win. All these powers covered throughout this list makes this culture seem intimidating, but it’s nothing compared to the Ki variable.
That phrase sounded incredibly nerdy, but that’s because Ki is a big-time factor in the early storyline of Dragon Ball. Goku learns that accessing his fighting power, ki, allows him to pump up all his Saiyan traits. That quick recovery and stamina get a power-up that most warriors never see. The ability Ki had to exaggerate Saiyan’s skills was a huge factor at one point.
1 Pure Heart For Super Saiyan
So, the final rule on this list is a contentious one. After all, Vegeta can go Super Saiyan. The legend goes that only a Saiyan with a pure heart can achieve the Super Saiyan form. However, that rule is vague and strange.
If someone asked a judge to define pure heart for this law, the judge would never find an answer. The truth is “pure heart” is an arbitrary definition. All the Super Saiyans in the series range in their emotional complexity, so no one explanation of a pure heart seems to fit. Still, the rule held some weight when fans first saw Goku pull off the yellow hair, but, since then, this rule has been one of the strangest and most confusing.