Goku is the classic hero - exhibiting honor, compassion, and bravery no matter what the odds against him. Vegeta, on the other hand, has the allure of the anti-hero, showing a willingness to get the job done by any means, even if it means losing some friends or ending some lives. At this point they pretty much share the spotlight, so fans of both Saiyans can be happy. But there is still the debate about which of them is the better hero.
It's hard to choose between the two, but we figured we'd provide some of the best arguments from the perspective of the Vegeta fans. As time has passed both Vegeta and Goku have become more alike, but there is certainly a case to be made for why Vegeta has come out ahead as a nicer guy and a better hero now.
Here's some more fuel for the debates as we get into our 15 Reasons Vegeta Is Better Than Goku.
15 HE CARES ABOUT THE SUFFERING HIS RACE ENDURED
We get that Goku didn’t even realize he was a Saiyan until he was an adult, and his primary exposure to Saiyans over the years has been to nasty ones like Nappa and Raditz.
That being said, when Raditz finally showed up and revealed they were brothers, you’d think Goku would have been extremely curious to learn more about his heritage. Yeah, his brother was a jerk, but Goku never really wonders what his parents were like, and shows little commiseration with Vegeta’s frustration over what happened to their race.
So much of Vegeta’s early personality is all about his rage that the Saiyans were enslaved and ultimately eradicated. But as much as Goku hears about all this, he never shows much interest in it. Goku’s whole fight with Frieza is more coincidence than anything, with Goku really just going to Namek to use their Dragon Balls.
Vegeta was the one who cared about avenging his race, and it would have been a lot more fitting for him to finish Frieza since he lived his whole life under Frieza’s tyranny. Goku had so little baggage with Frieza that he even offered to spare him, despite hearing everything he had done.
14 VEGETA BECAME A GOOD PERSON BY CHOICE, NOT LUCK
No one can call Goku's morals into question, but that's actually not an aspect of his life that he had a lot of control over at first. When he was sent to Earth, he was set to grow into a conqueror who would take over the planet.
One of the biggest reasons Goku turned out decent was he developed amnesia upon arriving on Earth, so he forgot the killer instinct he naturally would have had. It's nice that Goku never elects to take advantage of his power to take over the world as he grew older, but he was really just staying the same kind, naive guy his amnesia turned him into.
Vegeta, on the other hand, had every reason to turn out bad. Growing up living in fear of a tyrant like Frieza would squash the good out of anyone. Admittedly this led to Vegeta doing a lot of nasty things, but it speaks very highly of his capacity for compassion that he grew out of this outlook and became a pretty nice guy. Vegeta didn't just luck out into being born nice, he made a conscious choice to be that way.
13 VEGETA KNOWS NOT TO SHOW MERCY, UNLIKE GOKU
This might sound like a mark against Vegeta, but he actually is more pragmatic than Goku.
With Goku, his mercy has absolutely paid off by gaining allies like Piccolo, Buu, and even Vegeta, but it has also backfired majorly. Who can forget how Goku even tried to spare Frieza, of all people? Goku had just watched Frieza kill Vegeta and Krillin, and knew what an evil tyrant he was, but was still naive enough to believe someone that bad could change.
Vegeta definitely went overboard at times with killing people too liberally, but he knows mercy is something that can be dangerous to offer in battle. It was smart of Vegeta to offer no mercy to people like Zarbon and Dodoria since they were Frieza's right hand men.
We have even seen how Vegeta's more ruthless approach can allow him to succeed where Goku fails, like when they each battled Frost.
12 HE'S LEARNED NOT TO PICK FIGHTS WITH ENEMIES
One of Vegeta's biggest flaws in his earlier days was his cockiness. People often bring up how he could have killed Semi-Perfect Cell, but arrogantly allowed him to absorb Android 18 and attain his Perfect form. That was definitely a big mistake on Vegeta's part, and one he made too often early on.
We also saw it with Vegeta's first fight with the Z Fighters, where if he and Nappa had just put in their full effort immediately, they would have killed everyone before Goku got there. Instead, Vegeta's arrogance in wanting to fight Goku left Gohan and Krillin around to help Goku beat Vegeta.
By the events of Dragon Ball Super, Vegeta learned his lesson. He even humiliates himself to try to avoid fighting Beerus at all costs, only attacking when there's no other choice. But Goku? He's still so arrogant that he actually sought out a fight with Beerus just for fun, and almost got the world destroyed in the process.
Then Goku does this again when Frieza returns, toying with the tyrant so long that he loses and the Earth temporarily gets destroyed.
11 VEGETA HAS LEARNED USEFUL SKILLS BESIDES FIGHTING
Saiyans have a pretty strong reputation as being nothing more than gym rats who only care about training, growing stronger, and testing their power. And to be fair, that perception of their race isn't undeserved if Goku and Vegeta are anything to go by. Even when Goku is in the afterlife he focuses on training, so even his idea of paradise just involves finding ways to get stronger. Vegeta might sound the same at first, but he actually has showed a bit more willingness to learn new things.
One of the most infamous episodes of Dragon Ball Z is when Chi-Chi demands Goku start contributing to the household more and orders him to get his driver's license. Goku wrangles Piccolo in with him, but Goku is just a terrible driver and would be a danger to everyone on the road.
In GT, we see Vegeta driving a car to take Bulla shopping. It's a small thing, but that shows Vegeta is a lot more capable than Goku of actually acquiring skills besides fighting.
10 VEGETA IS ALWAYS THE FIRST TO STEP UP TO A CHALLENGE
Though we have mentioned that Vegeta doesn't go seeking fights for fun anymore, that doesn't mean he refuses to defend himself or the people he cares about. In fact, throughout the franchise Vegeta is frequently the first character to step up and take on whatever threat reveals itself. We saw this with Recoome, Frieza, Android 17 and 18, Perfect Cell, and Pui Pui. Vegeta was even the first hero to sacrifice his life when Buu returned.
Conversely, Goku is known for always being late to the battle. He's the one who is so busy focusing on helping himself heal up or get stronger that his friends often have to die to buy him time. In the case of Android 17 and 18, Goku never even fought them at all when they were endangering the world despite being the one they were after.
Goku's strategy gets results, but Vegeta definitely exhibits a lot of bravery in being one of the first on the scene of any fight.
9 HE'S GROWN MORE HUMBLE AS THE YEARS HAVE PASSED
When Vegeta first showed up in the franchise, his pride and his arrogance were his defining characteristics. He viewed himself as better than everyone because of his lineage as a prince, and was always happy for a chance to flaunt his power. But one of the most intriguing things about Dragon Ball Z was watching Vegeta evolve and shake loose from his arrogance.
It started when the Ginyu Force arrived and Vegeta was suddenly willing to cooperate with the Z Fighters to fight them. Vegeta was even so selfish that he initially just wanted the Dragon Balls so he could become immortal, like other villains.
The odd thing now is that Goku is the one more likely to flaunt his new abilities, while Vegeta has had his serious side transform him into a more humble person. Vegeta no longer fights to make others feel small, but because it's his passion.
8 LOSING HIS SON FOR THE FIRST TIME IS DEVASTATING TO VEGETA
A major factor in Vegeta’s more compassionate side coming out was meeting Future Trunks and realizing this mysterious Saiyan was his son. At first, Vegeta was entirely dismissive of Trunks, but he slowly began to feel pride in his son.
By the time Perfect Cell kills Future Trunks, Vegeta realizes how foolish he has been to keep his son at arm’s length. Vegeta snaps and puts his everything into trying to destroy Cell right then and there. It’s a failed attempt, but it’s one of the greatest displays that Vegeta does care about his family.
Compare that to the first time Goku lost one of his kids and you get quite the different picture. In fact, Goku lost both of his sons for the first time simultaneously, and it was totally his fault. Kid Buu had just launched an attack that would destroy the Earth and Goku had to think quick who to grab as he used Instant Transmission to escape. He elected to grab Hercule, leaving Gohan and Goten to die.
Vegeta’s son also died in the attack, and the Saiyan Prince was furious with Goku for it. Goku was sheepish about it, but nowhere near enraged.
7 HE WANTED TO BE THERE WHEN BULMA WAS GIVING BIRTH
One of the more touching scenes from Dragon Ball Super so far has been one that showed the concern Vegeta has for his wife.
With Bulma set to give birth to their daughter Bulla, Vegeta expressed frustration about what she was going through. Goku was perplexed by this, saying it’s not like Vegeta was the one who had to go through it, so why should it bother him. Vegeta snapped back at Goku, saying that he should be there when she’s giving birth.
It’s a scene a lot of fans have taken to point out how compassionate Vegeta has grown, but it simultaneously makes Goku look pretty clueless about family life. We’ve seen how at the end of DBZ and GT that Goku is okay with leaving his family to go have a solo adventure.
You’d think Vegeta would be the loner, but oddly enough, he has become the one who is there for his family, while Goku is the one who seems to prefer focusing on his own life.
6 HE KNOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF ROMANCE IN MARRIAGE
When we thought Dragon Ball Z was going to be the last we ever saw of the characters of Dragon Ball, who would have ever said that Vegeta was a romantic guy?
Sure, he married Bulma, but that was just for practicality purposes, right? Bulma offered a place to live, the latest technology to train with, and was one of the rare people who actually enjoyed his company. So maybe you thought their marriage was one of convenience and that it was Goku who had the ideal marriage with Chi-Chi.
It turns out Vegeta might actually be the more loving husband. Not only has Vegeta showed a tender side in moments like wanting to be with Bulma as she gave birth, and gaining his greatest strength after Bulma was attacked, but he even knows not to neglect romance.
In Dragon Ball Super, Goku admits that he has never actually kissed Chi-Chi before, which shocks even Vegeta. How could someone as gruff and aloof as Vegeta seriously care more about romance than Goku?
But what else can we expect from Goku, who accidentally proposed to Chi-Chi because he thought “getting married” was something to eat.
5 VEGETA IS HONEST ABOUT HOW SELFISH HE IS
This might not sound like a complimentary thing, but as they say, it’s better to deal with the devil you know than the one you don’t. And one thing you can say about Vegeta is that he doesn’t deceive anyone.
With Vegeta, you get exactly what you expect—an egotistical, power hungry Saiyan who lives to train and test his power. The problem is, Goku can be described the exact same way, but he just hides it a lot better.
Despite Goku getting along better with most people, he’s really just as addicted to getting stronger as Vegeta. In fact, he may actually be worse. Vegeta has never disappeared on the people he cares about for years at a time, but Goku has done it continuously since the end of the Cell saga.
At the end of Dragon Ball Z, Goku straight-up ditches his family to go train with a total stranger. Yeah, Vegeta is selfish, but you don’t expect anything more from him. Goku’s nice personality misleads a lot of people into thinking he’s always there for people, but that’s really just kind of a façade.
4 VEGETA EARNS HIS POWER BOOSTS
There is no doubting Goku's work ethic in his training, but he has definitely just gotten lucky sometimes when it comes to getting stronger. This was most apparent with how Goku became a Super Saiyan God; he just needed energy from other pure-hearted Saiyans to help him transform.
It's pretty openly acknowledged that Vegeta easily could have done this when he talks about how next time he wants to be the one to transform. There was no skill involved in it— Goku just got the new form because he is the main character.
We saw this again in GT, when Goku became a Super Saiyan 4 due to sheer chance. Arguably we also saw it when Goku became a Super Saiyan for the first time since Goku gained the form just by getting angry.
Say what you will about Vegeta, but he literally nearly killed himself to become a Super Saiyan. Even to become a Super Saiyan 2, he had trained for years and only chose to take Babidi's influence to tip him over the edge. Vegeta has never gained his power by luck— his pride probably wouldn't even allow it.
3 VEGETA OVERCOMES HIS BAD QUALITIES WHILE GOKU STAYS THE SAME
We've touched on how Vegeta becomes more humble as the years have gone by, but it goes deeper than him being less of a braggadocios loudmouth. Even a good person has their pride, but Vegeta's pride was so rigid that it became a detriment to him.
A big part of his journey was overcoming that pride and how it was inhibiting him in life. Meanwhile Goku doesn't evolve much once he becomes an adult, still staying overconfident and somewhat selfish. You could actually argue Vegeta has shown the bigger willingness to mature.
Vegeta's pride kept him from wanting to rely on anyone, but he slowly started bonding with the Z Fighters, getting into a relationship with Bulma, and becoming less standoffish. The Cell saga offered another big breakthrough when he even apologized to Gohan for not being able to stop Cell.
We saw him develop even further when he sacrificed his life for his family as well as Goku. By the end of the Buu saga, Vegeta had let go of his animosity towards Goku and even was willing to say that Goku was better than him.
2 HE SKIPS THE SUPER SAIYAN 3 FORM
Missing out on a transformation probably does not sound like a good thing at first. To be fair, Vegeta certainly didn't feel good about it when he first learned Goku could become a Super Saiyan 3. However, thinking about it, the Super Saiyan 3 form has never really accomplished anything. None of the Saiyans have won a major battle with it, it's difficult for them to maintain, and it's pretty much been left at the wayside at this point. Honestly it's not a form that has really achieved anything to make it very desirable.
Even more impressive is that Vegeta surpassed the Super Saiyan 3 form without ever even using it. It's possible he's accessed it off screen and just never has reason to use it nowadays, but maybe Vegeta is just so good that he jumped right over that power boost.
Not to mention that in the anime he has skipped over the Super Saiyan God form as well. Vegeta just whipped out Super Saiyan Blue to the surprise of everyone, showing that he was right on pace with Goku.
1 HE CARES ABOUT HIS DAUGHTER EVEN THOUGH SHE'S NOT A FIGHTER
Though we have not seen too much of how Vegeta interacts with Bulla in Dragon Ball Super, if the show even remotely follows the characterization we saw in GT, Vegeta will be a pretty good parent to her. That might not sound like much of an accomplishment, but seeing as how Vegeta has a reputation for only caring about fighting, it's pretty nice to see he cares for Bulla despite her having no interest in training. Vegeta even takes times away from trying to push Trunks to be a fighter to take Bulla out shopping.
We're not saying Goku doesn't care about the members of his family who aren't fighters, but he definitely takes a much smaller interest in them. Goku's treatment of Chi-Chi is well-known, but even with Gohan and Goten we see Goku pushing them to be fighters despite them not seeming to have a natural inclination for it. Goku is always disappointed when Chi-Chi forces Gohan to study as a child, and when Goku visits Gohan as an adult, his first interest is in whether or not Gohan got stronger.
Can you think of any other reasons Vegeta outclasses Goku in Dragon Ball? Or are we being too hard on Goku? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!