When Bardock: The Father of Goku was released to Dragon Ball fans across the globe, it offered an unprecedented look into the lives of Saiyans during their heyday. We saw how they operated under Frieza, begrudgingly or otherwise, and we saw much of their battle-obsessed culture, not to mention the very first female Saiyan portrayed on screen.
Critically, however, we got a taste of the ruthless Vegeta as a toddler and, as the title suggests, Bardock, Goku’s father. Unlike his son, Bardock was a ruthless villain who, like all Saiyans, had a craving for battle no matter the moral consequences.
However, this all changed when he was injured by an alien. The attack left him with the ability to foresee the future, and with it, the eventual destruction of Planet Vegeta and the Saiyans at Frieza’s hands.
The rebellion that Bardock starts is common knowledge at this point, but there is much more to this character than what was portrayed in the special that carried his name.
In our list of 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Dragon Ball's Bardock, we’re going deep into the extended universe of the Dragon Ball franchise, and checking out the most obscure and surprising elements of this beloved character.
Frieza is an all-around evil super-villain. He’s a cocky, selfish supremacist who treats his minions as expendable and enjoys torturing lesser lifeforms. To top it all off, he’s incredibly powerful; likely the most powerful being in the universe until Goku transformed into a Super Saiyan.
In fact, Super Saiyans seemed to be the only thing that truly scared Frieza, even before Goku achieved the form. Believe it or not, this is all because of Bardock.
In the 2011 special “Episode of Bardock”, it turns out that the father of Goku wasn’t killed by Frieza afterall, and was instead hurled through time to Planet Plant, the original state of the Saiyan’s homeworld, one thousand years in the past.
After Bardock eliminated some marauding goons terrorizing the Plantians, their boss arrived. Going by the name Chilled, he is Frieza’s ancestor and the one who started the planet conquering business.
The two warriors tussled, and Bardock found himself becoming the first Super Saiyan, beating Chilled within an inch of his life. The tyrant retreats and, on his death bed, begs his comrades to warn his descendants of the golden haired warrior who did him in.
Dragon Ball Online is the incredibly obscure and often-forgotten MMORPG that was exclusive to a handful of Asian territories. With heavy input from series creator Akira Toriyama, it served as an interesting, if not incredibly strange, sequel to the series.
It was set 216 years after Z’s finale, when much of Earth’s population has become martial artists, and the Majin have become a full blown race.
The game’s plot involved a villain named Mira, a member of the Time Breakers, who uses time travel, mind control, and the remnants of Frieza’s army, among others, to accomplish his goals.
Using his aforementioned mind control and time travel abilities, he was able to enslave Bardock. With slightly different armor and a mask covering his face, he went by the titles the Masked Saiyan, or Time Breaker Bardock, and dutifully served Mira, at least for a time.
Bardock’s design is iconic at this point, mainly because he looks like the spitting image of Goku, only with a harder look. His hair is nearly identical, and he has some scarring on his face, but other than the armor and the headband, he’s basically just a scowling mirror-image of his adult son. It wasn’t always this way, however.
Katsuyoshi Nakatsuru initially designed the low-class warrior, and although he aimed to simply take Goku’s image and give him a “brutal edge,” he still added a slight bit more variety than Toriyama’s final design, specifically in his iconic hair.
While the original art still features the classic armor, Bardock’s hair is far closer to Vegeta’s than his son, and his scar is more pronounced. He’s also wearing a Nappa-styled speedo, but that's none of our business.
Akira Toriyama is seemingly an endless fountain of truly original creativity. He singlehandedly created characters and concepts, such as ki blasts, that have forever influenced anime, manga and video games with his work in Dragon Ball Z, but he’s also responsible for an enormous collection of other beloved characters and designs.
His monsters and characters have long defined the popular Dragon Quest line of video games, and his work on Chrono Trigger has created one of the definitive aesthetics of SNES RPGs.
Despite all this creativity, though, Toriyama didn’t have his hand in every character associated with him, even in regards to his brainchild, Dragon Ball. Bardock himself was the product of Toei, the company that animated the Dragon Ball anime.
The fact that he was created by a third-party is ironic, considering that, despite the swath of memorable characters by Toriyama, Toei’s Bardock was able to stand side-by-side with the artist's best work.
One of the first (and biggest) shocks in Dragon Ball Z was that the villainous Raditz was not only Goku’s blood relative, but his brother. This tidbit is nary referenced, and often falls by the wayside. Even Bardock fails to acknowledge the fact that he already had a son when discussing the birth of Goku in Father of Goku.
It turns out that, just as careless as he was about acknowledging the fact that he had more than one son, Bardock may have actually had some siblings as well, although they are never seen or mentioned.
All evidence to this possible extended family comes from the series’ mastermind, Akira Toriyama. In an interview, he has stated that it was not too far-fetched for Bardock to have possibly had siblings, but even if he did, he didn’t know for sure, and likely didn’t care, exuding the same indifference he did about his own children.
In the Japanese-exclusive arcade game, the ludicrous Dragon Ball Heroes, Bardock takes his gimmick from Dragon Ball Online as the Masked Saiyan, and crashes the party in the game’s wacky world and exclusive sagas.
While the comparison between Super Saiyan 4 and Super Saiyan God, in terms of raw strength, is difficult to discuss due to GT’s dubious canonicity, we still know that the SSJ4 form is still ridiculously powerful. Despite all of this, Bardock as The Masked Saiyan was able to not only repel a single SSJ4, but two, along with other high-tier warriors.
After going head-to-head with Super Saiyan 4 Goku, he was hit with a flurry of punches from SSJ4 Vegeta, Heroes-exclusive Beat, the Xenoverse Trunks and the ever-awesome Piccolo without taking any damage.
The icing on the cake was to follow, as Bardock proceeded to block a direct hit from Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta, and then an enormous attack by the combined efforts of everyone else involved in the battle, which is absolutely insane, but it makes sense, because…
In Dragon Ball Heroes, the same game in which Bardock, as The Masked Saiyan, was able to repel the combined efforts of multiple Super Saiyan 4s and other god-like warriors, he was also able to transform into one himself and, crazily enough, he wasn’t the only new addition to the Super Saiyan 4 club.
Aside from the father of Goku, the crybaby-hating, already-legendary Broly managed to achieve this higher tier of power, as did Dragon Ball GT’s Gohan.
This may seem incredibly crazy (because it is) but it’s an easier pill to swallow if you understand the concept of the popular Heroes arcade machine. The plot borrows some concepts of Dragon Ball Online, such as Mira being the villain
However, it’s all an excuse to have every character from across the Dragon Ball mythos getting together, or toying with canon by having incredible transformations, all for the sake of playing a turn-based card battle system, with actual collectable cards that can be manipulated in real-time to affect the actions on the screen.
Those who watched the initial dub of Dragon Ball Z were likely confused when they finally got the chance to see The Father of Goku for a multitude of reasons. First, and chiefly, was the flashback during the Frieza saga, where viewers were exposed to Bardock’s brand of courageous savagery.
We see Bardock, with an army behind him, making a stand against Frieza. On the other hand, in the Bardock special, it’s the other way around, with the army tailing Bardock belonging to Frieza, having failed to eliminate him before reaching their emperor.
However, there’s one other element of that flashback’s original dub that’s exceedingly bizarre: Bardock says “I would rather be a free man in my grave than living as a puppet or a slave,” which are the exact lyrics from the 1972 “The Harder They Come” by Jimmy Cliff.
While the lyrics are absolutely fitting for the moment, one has to wonder how in the world Bardock knew the lyrics or, more distressingly, if Bardock himself ended up as Jimmy Cliff after all the time-travelling shenanigans he found himself in.
If there’s one thing that’s clear about Bardock in Father of Goku, it’s that he’s a generally callous and uncaring individual. Even when it came to the birth of his son, he couldn’t be bothered to visit the infant. Heck, when he finally does see him, all by chance, he’s unimpressed by his wimpy power-level.
The only shred of emotion he shows throughout the film is when he sees the remains of his comrades, and is able to console the dying Tora, one of his best friends. That moment triggers Bardock’s frenzied attempt to rally the Saiyans before choosing to face off against Frieza himself.
Shockingly, Bardock is portrayed much differently in the manga Dragon Ball Minus. He’s sociable, even friendly, and legitimately cares about his child, which is the polar opposite of his original personality.
Jaco is one of Dragon Ball Super’s additions to the already enormous character roster of the Dragon Ball franchise. As a member of the Galactic Patrol, Jaco is knowledgeable regarding the wider cosmos in the franchise, though aloof, and it just so happens that he had a run in with Bardock, even if only indirectly.
During the events of Dragon Ball Minus, which is a highly-modified retelling of Father of Goku, the herb-named hero sends the young Goku off of Planet Vegeta before Frieza destroys their world.
Jaco is summoned by the Galactic King to follow the pod containing Goku, which is headed for Earth, and ordered to kill the infant before he can cause any trouble.
When Jaco arrives, he considers wiping out the entire planet, but is told to hold off on that rash action until he can do further research. Thus, the stage was set for Dragon Ball, and no Extermination Bomb was triggered. Not yet, at least.
The Dragon Ball Xenoverse series of games have been some of the most fun and well-received entries in the entirety of Dragon Ball Z’s video game catalogue, likely due to the fact that the game centers around a character of your own creation, letting players live out their fantasies of actually living in the DBZ world.
Of course, with such a high-tier game, it’s no surprise that the ultimate DBZ father figure would make an appearance.
In the first Xenoverse game, Bardock appears in a post-game scenario but for Xenoverse 2, elements of Dragon Ball Online are once again used, and he is a villain under the guise of the Masked Saiyan.
Aside from this rehashed villain role, however, Bardock gets a nice chunk of narrative content, even getting to transform into a Super Saiyan 3.
Have you ever wondered about Goku and Raditz’s mom? Despite fan theories from the mid-'90s, Bardock’s female troop member, Fasha wasn’t the one to give birth to the little Saiyans.
The actual mother of Goku and Raditz was Gine, Burdock’s wife. In an odd move for Saiyans, who typically only have relations with each other for breeding and nothing else, Gine and Bardock had a genuine connection.
Appearing in Dragon Ball Minus, Fusions, Extreme Butoden, and Heroes, Gine is kind and caring, a stark contrast with the rest of her Saiyan peers. Heck, she even says that she loves Goku and Raditz, something that Bardock, in his original incarnation, wouldn’t be caught dead doing.
Of course, her personality wasn’t cut out for the fighting that Saiyans are known for, so despite being a member of Bardock’s team, she would relinquish her position to work at a meat distribution center on Planet Vegeta.
Her kindness wasn’t a weakness, though. In fact, it may have been the key to the entirety of the DB saga: Bardock claims that Gine’s gentleness rubbed off on him, which was part of what convinced him to send Goku away, at least in Minus’ telling of the tale.
When manga is acquired by an animation company in order to translate the comic into anime form, they typically try to be as accurate as possible, in order to please both the fans and the original artist.
That said, it’s occasionally necessary to expand beyond the scope of the manga’s content in order to flesh narrative elements out or draw out the length of the plot, such as with Dragon Ball Z's infamous filler. Rarely, though, does the content of a series’ anime make its way into the original manga, but that’s exactly what happened with Toei’s Bardock.
Despite Toriyama not being the creator, of Goku’s father, the character proved so vital and popular, that he found his way into the manga, which further solidified his role in the canon and even the pop culture.
This may seem like a stretch at first glance, but let’s take a step back and really analyze the situation. Firstly, Jor-El and Bardock are almost nothing alike in terms of personality, that's for sure. Where Jor-El is a man of science, Bardock is a warrior. This is where their differences end, however.
Both Jor-El and Bardock were the fathers of the Earth’s greatest defenders in their respective dimensions (sorry, Batman and Gohan fans), and Dragon Ball Minus solidifies the comparison even further. Both Bardock and Jor-El predicted an imminent and immense threat against their worlds and people and they attempted to rally them in order to oppose it, but both failed.
Realizing this, the two solemnly launched their offspring into the cosmos, with the hopes for a better future locked within their capsules. At this point, it doesn’t even seem too outlandish to claim that DBZ might just be one of the many realms of DC’s confounding multiverse.
Akira Toriyama has a love for puns and wordplay, particularly when it comes to the naming of his characters. For example, every member of Bulma’s family is named after undergarments, with the likes of Dr. Briefs, Trunks, and even Bulma (bloomers).
Then there’s Frieza and his clan, all named after refrigerating tools or the cold in general. The most famous of all, though, would be the plant-themed Saiyans. Kakarrot is a carrot, Vegeta and his brother, Tarble, are “vegetable” when put together, Raditz is a radish ,and so on. Bardock doesn’t escape this planty-fate, either.
His namesake, the burdock herb, can be harvested and eaten as a vegetable, or can be used in traditional medicine, such as scalp treatments. It’s also believed to be capable of magical protections and helped inspire the creation of the decidedly non-edible Velcro.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about Dragon Ball's Bardock? Sound off in the comments!