The Frieza Saga is the second major plot arc of the Dragon Ball Z anime. The manga volumes that it is made up of are “The Wrath of Freeza“, “Goku vs. Freeza“, and “The Super Saiyan“. In FUNimation Entertainment‘s naming conventions for the English language release of the anime, the Frieza Saga is broken up into three sub-sagas: the Namek Saga, the Captain Ginyu Saga, and the Frieza Saga. This article refers specifically to the events in the third sub-saga.
In Japan, this saga aired in 1990 and 1991. In the U.S., it aired in 1999. This is the first part of US season 3. This saga comprises the FUNimation Remastered Box Set, the second half of the FUNimation Dragon Ball Z Dragon Box Volume 2 Set and the first part of the Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box Volume 3 Set.
Spoiler Warning: Spoiler details may follow.
Fight against Frieza
Meanwhile, Frieza arrives at Guru’s where he is met by some Namekian warriors, all of whom he kills except Nail, and fails at getting Guru to tell him the password. Just as Frieza is about to kill him as well, Nail warns Frieza that if Guru dies, the Namekian Dragon Balls will become useless. As a distraction to buy Dende more time, Nail takes Frieza to a field to do battle. Frieza is impressed that Nail’s maximum battle power is 42,000, but he surprises Nail by claiming that his battle power is 530,000, but he tells him he does not plan to use his full power against him. He then easily overtakes and brutally injures Nail with no problem but rushes off to his ship when he realizes that the fight is a ruse to stall him so he will not summon the Dragon Balls before Gohan and Krillin, leaving Nail for dead.
As Dende finally reaches Krillin with the important message, they take the Dragon Balls from a sleeping Vegeta and head away from Frieza’s spaceship. Dende uses the password to summon the Dragon, Porunga. Meanwhile, back on Frieza’s ship, Vegeta awakens, suddenly sensing Frieza’s approaching power level and to see that the Dragon has already been summoned.
Gohan, Krillin, and Dende set out to make their wish, which is to reviveYamcha, Tien Shinhan, Chiaotzu and Piccolo. The Dragon informs them that he can only wish back one person at a time. With King Kai‘s help, Piccolo communicates telepathically to Gohan and asks him to restore his life. His reasoning is that if he is resurrected,Kami will return to Earth and that will also bring back Earth’s Dragon Balls, in effect allowing for the others to also be revived with a wish. Piccolo asks for the second wish to teleport him to Namek, wanting to exact revenge on Frieza for killing his people. Gohan, Krillin, and Dende agree to this, and make the wishes.
Vegeta arrives at the scene after the second wish is made. Since the first two wishes had already been used to bring Piccolo back to life and then to Namek, Vegeta wants to save the last wish for eternal life for himself. Just as Dende asks the Dragon, Guru dies and the Dragon Balls turn to stone. Vegeta’s wish is not granted, but worse yet, Frieza has arrived and is extremely angry that the Dragon Balls have already been used. Vegeta fights his former boss, gloating that he has become a Super Saiyan, but as Frieza shockingly realizes they are somewhat evenly matched, Vegeta abruptly tells him to transform and reveal his true strength. Frieza amusingly wonders how Vegeta knows this, and Vegeta tells him Zarbon spilled it out before. Frieza transforms into his second form, one that is even stronger than before, claiming that his power level has risen over a million. Frieza tells them that while most transform to increase their battle power, he does it to decrease his power, because it is so enormous it’s hard to control himself. Vegeta, realizing that he underestimated Frieza’s strength, is shocked.
Meanwhile Piccolo, who was just teleported to Namek by a wish, senses the fighting and heads to the battlefield. Along the way he sees the dying Nail, who informs him on what has been happening. He also requests that Piccolo fuse with him to be more of a challenge to Frieza. At first, Piccolo is reluctant, but after Nail assures him that his personality will not change byfusing, Piccolo decides to accept, increasing his strength and speed tremendously. Back on the battlefield, Frieza’s new power level is said by him to be over one million. He also tells Vegeta about the destruction of the planet Vegeta and his father. Vegeta simply scoffs at this, saying that he surpassed his father when he was a child. After fully transforming, he impales Krillin with his horns, who was trying to protect Dende, and tosses him to the sea. Gohan tries to save him, but when Frieza stops him, an incredibly angry Gohan easily beats down Frieza and pummels him with many ki blasts. Despite Vegeta’s shocked reaction, the attack is not enough and Frieza recovers with little damage done. Luckily, Dende rescued Krillin out of the sea, telling Gohan that he is still alive. Angry that he was actually was hurt by the attack, Frieza then easily pounds Gohan, hurting him severely. Vegeta tries to attack when Frieza’s back is turned, but it is completely ineffective and Gohan is left almost dead. Gohan is saved when Krillin launches aDestructo Disc at Frieza and cuts off his tail. Dende then uses this time to heal Gohan as Vegeta watches. It was revealed that Dende was the one who plucked Krillin out of the sea and healed him. Krillin continues to distract Frieza using many evasive maneuvers, such as Solar Flare. Soon, Gohan is healed and now strongerthan ever due to his Saiyan genes.
Just then, Piccolo arrives, claiming that he can beat Frieza. Vegeta scoffs at Piccolo, claiming that reviving him was a waste of a wish. However, this turns to shock for Vegeta that the Namekian who was easily killed by Nappa had now become powerful enough to challenge Frieza. The fight begins as Piccolo remains confident that he can take Frieza down. Thanks to his fusion with Nail, his power is slightly higher than that of Frieza’s. Through much of the battle, Piccolo has the upper hand, but Frieza transforms again into his third stage, earning yet another power increase. Piccolo, still confident that his speed is greater than Frieza’s, is proved wrong when Frieza grossly outstrips him in both power and speed, and subsequently launches finger blasts at him that are too fast for him to dodge at all. Soon, Piccolo is severely wounded. Gohan is furious at Piccolo’s defeat and explodes in a bout of rage, revealing his hidden powers as he once again takes on Frieza. Gohan then launches a Full Power Masenko that proves to be challenging for Frieza, until he deflects it back. Luckily, Piccolo saves Gohan in the nick of time with a blast. Frieza realizes that Gohan is a Saiyan and that he and Vegeta are constantly getting stronger. He then decides to transform into his final and strongest form, his original being. Vegeta comes up with the idea for Krillin to blast him to near death and for Dende to heal him afterwards, increasing his power enough to become a Super Saiyan. Although Krillin is highly reluctant at first, he blasts Vegeta in the stomach, piercing him through. Because of Saiyan heritage, recovery from a near-death experience causes Vegeta to increase in strength significantly. While Frieza transforms, Dende heals Piccolo and reluctantly heals Vegeta. Vegeta becomes confident that he has become a Super Saiyan.
Frieza sees how everyone was defying death using Dende’s healing, so he takes to the root of the problem. After transforming, he quickly kills Dende with a Death Beam, meaning the fighters will have no more chances to be healed. He tries to blast Gohan as well, but Vegeta quickly saves him. A confident Vegeta decides to commence battle with Frieza and his newfound power. To his horror, no matter what Vegeta does, he is no match and Frieza still has the upper hand throughout the whole battle. Vegeta actually sheds a tear in frustration when he realizes that the situation is hopeless. Because he drops all his defenses in desperation, Frieza batters him mercilessly to the brink of death. Goku, still in the Medical Machine, awakens and realizes what is taking place and quickly rushes off to save his fellow comrades. As Goku arrives, Vegeta swallows his pride and tells Frieza that Goku is the legendary Super Saiyan that will kill him. Frieza gets angry and blasts a hole using his Death Beam through Vegeta’s heart. Before his death, with tears in his eyes, he tells Goku the truth of Planet Vegeta’s destruction, how every Saiyan was forced to serve Frieza before most of them were killed, how Frieza took Vegeta from his father when he was a child and treathen to kill him unless he followed orders, how Frieza killed the king anyway along with Goku’s parents and the Saiyan Race. In his last breath, Vegeta asks Goku to take vengeance for all Saiyans, and Goku then buries Vegeta. Fueled with rage at Vegeta’s death, Goku honors Vegeta’s request to take vengence for Planet Vegeta and the entire Saiyan race, and begins to fight Frieza.
The battle between Frieza and Goku begins. They seem perfectly equivalent for some time in terms of strength and speed. During the match, Goku seems to have more clever ideas on how to fight and tricks Frieza several times. Goku used to his advantage the fact that Frieza needs to see his opponent and is unable to feel their energy. While Goku was under water during one attack, he used the Kamehameha wave as torpedoes to trick Frieza. Frieza then revealed that he was only using about a fraction of his power, and that he’ll power up to 50%, which turns the tables in Frieza’s favor. At Kaio-ken x10, Goku was being brutally beaten. Frieza claimed he allowed Goku to think he had a chance, and even offered for Goku to replace Ginyu as his bodyguard. Goku refused, but after one rigorous attack after another, Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin, and even King Kai began to see the situation as hopeless. Goku tries to raise his power using the Kaio-ken x20 and shoot a Kamehameha wave at Frieza, but it only leaves Frieza’s hands burnt, while the attack left Goku completely drained. Having no choice, Goku prepares the Spirit Bomb in desperation. Piccolo, Gohan, and Krillin step in to try and hold off Frieza while Goku gathers energy for the attack. Once the Spirit Bomb is finally finished and unleashed upon Frieza, it does significant damage to him, causing the Z Warriors to believe Frieza was finished off. Krillin and Gohan take Goku and Piccolo away from the damage. A few minutes of celebration was soon turned into a horrid sight once Krillin saw Frieza furiously standing on the top of a rock.
Enraged and surprised that Goku had such ability for a Saiyan, Frieza lashes out against the other warriors. He first decides to kill Goku. As he fires a Death Beam at the exhausted Saiyan, Piccolo jumps in the way of the blast and saves his life (however, in the manga, Frieza simply blasts at Piccolo with a Death Beam). Though it does not kill him, Piccolo is hurt very badly and falls to the ground unconscious, enraging Goku. Next, Frieza kills Krillin by making his whole body explode in the air. Seeing his best friend killed causes Goku to erupt with even more rage. In a display of gathering energy, the angry Goku pulls out his strongest emotions ever before reached. His hair turns more spikier and golden, and his eyes turn green. He is now a Super Saiyan, with his power tremendously increased. He yells at Gohan to take Piccolo and retrieve Bulma and take them to the ship that he traveled in and use it to head back to Earth.
Super Saiyan Goku and Frieza begin to fight, and Goku toys with him and starts treating him as if he was a rag doll. With no other options, Frieza decides that if he cannot beat Goku, then he’ll blow up Namek instead. He throws a ball of energy towards the planet’s core, hoping to destroy the planet. However, Frieza realizes he held back too much power, and the planet only begins to crumble. Frieza then claims it will explode in five minutes and reveals that he can breathe in space. As the battle rages on, Frieza decides to use 100% of his full power. Though this significantly increases his power level and allows Frieza to gain the upper-hand on Goku for a time, the damaged incurred in this previous levels causes him to lose that power radically after a short bout. Goku realizes this, and uses it to his advantage to take down the mighty tyrant.
Back on Earth, Kami and Mr. Popo have gathered all of the Dragon Balls and with King Kai’s help they devise a plan to bring back all who were killed by Frieza.
Since the wish brings back Guru, who was killed by the grief of Frieza’s killings, King Kai telepathically asks him to wish all of those on Namek, except for Frieza, back to Earth with the Namek Dragon, which still has one wish remaining. However, Goku intercepts their telepathic communication and requests that he be left behind on Namek as well and King Kai reluctantly gives in. King Kai notices that Super Saiyan Goku is no longer the Goku they used to know, he is now only acting on blind Saiyan instincts. Vegeta, who was also resurrected as well by the wish, is surprised to see that Goku had become a Super Saiyan just before he is teleported off of Namek.
With the entire planet empty except Goku and Frieza, they take the battle around the crumbling planet. Soon, Goku notices that Frieza is losing stamina too much to be a match for him. He then stops that fight and begins to leave, telling Frieza to train and come back for a rematch. Enraged, Frieza decides to release a Death Saucer that he can direct to attack Goku with. Goku easily outmaneuvers this attack. Frieza realizes that one is not enough and releases another Death Disc, attempting to outsmart Goku. Goku maneuvers at the last minute, blasting into the ground creating a blinding blanket of dust. Frieza is unable to detect energy without physically seeing it, so one makes its way to cut Frieza in half. Goku tries to warn him, but he is chopped into four pieces by the disc. As he is dying, Frieza begs Goku not to leave him like this. Goku cannot stand seeing a life, even one as evil as Frieza’s, suffer in such a painful and humiliating manner. Eventually Goku takes pity on the pathetic tyrant, and gave him some of his energy. Frieza then explains that there is no way Goku is going to live, as the planet is about to explode and his ship is in no working condition. As Goku leaves, Frieza makes one final attempt to kill him, using the energy given to him to throw a wave of energy at him. Goku pushes the blast back at Frieza with his own energy blast and flies away.
Knowing he will not reach his own ship in time, Goku searches for Frieza’s and finds it in a crater. Goku, frustrated and desperate, realizes that he will not make it off of Namek as he watches its wreckage plummet into a lava filled chasm. Seconds later, Goku screams in agony and rage as planet Namek disappears from the Universe in a colossal, blinding explosion.
On Earth, Dende heals Piccolo and realizes that he has merged with Nail. The Namekian Dragon Balls follows Guru to Earth, evading the explosion. As Guru is dying once more, he transfers his role as Senior Elder to Moori, a trusted Namekian village leader, so the Dragon Balls will not die with him. Dende also informs Gohan that the Namekian Dragon Balls can also resurrect a deceased person more than once. This is good news since it would mean that they could resurrect Krillin, Chiaotzu, and Goku, who had been killed before. Everyone is thrilled until King Kai reminds them that Krillin and Goku can not be resurrected because the planet they died on (Namek) was destroyed, and if wished back, they would only appear in empty space and immediately die again from lack of air. However, Vegeta suggests that they use a wish to transport their remains to Earth first.
130 days later, the Namekian Dragon Balls are able to be used again. They are first used to transport Goku and Krillin’s remains to Earth. However, Porunga reveals that he is unable to transport Goku’s remains because he is not actually dead. After the second wish is used to bring back Krillin, the final wish is made to bring Goku to Earth, Porunga then informs them that Goku refuses to come back and will return later by himself. This leaves our heroes greatly perplexed, but arrive at the conclusion that Goku is coming home either way, and they accept his absence. All, that is, except Vegeta, who leaves in a space ship to search the universe for Goku and the key to becoming a Super Saiyan. With one wish remaining, it is used to resurrect Yamcha.
Another 130 days (one Namek year) later, the Namekian Dragon Balls are ready again. The first two wishes are to resurrect Tien and Chiaotzu, and the final wish is to transport the Nameks to a New Namek that would have similar living conditions to their old planet Namek. Gohan and Dende share a tearful goodbye as the Nameks disappear to their new home, and life on Earth returns to normal… for now.