Vegeta, Prince of the Saiyans, made his debut early in the Dragon Ball Z anime adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball manga. Short in stature and pure evil, Vegeta made a big impact during the Saiyan story arc when he faced off against Goku, another Saiyan, and the series’ protagonist. Vegeta was forced to retreat from the battle after an embarrassing loss at the hands of Goku’s son, Gohan, and his friend, Krillin. After that, all Vegeta could do was stand by and watch Goku growing more powerful in every way.
Although Vegeta’s character has arguably gone through more personal development than any other main Dragon Ball character, his never-ending rivalry with Goku has yet to provide a clear answer as to which Saiyan is truly the most powerful. Even in Dragon Ball Super, the battle between Vegeta and Goku remains a central theme and has spread to a bitter ongoing debate among the fandom about which hero should be the most powerful Saiyan warrior. Should it be the ambitious and uncompromising Vegeta or the noble and benevolent Goku?
There have been some speculations as to why Toriyama seems to mostly favor his lead character, Goku, never allowing Vegeta to get ahead of his counterpart. Toriyama has even stated he isn’t really fond of Vegeta. Could that be why Vegeta never surpasses Goku? Or could it be that Vegeta understands his own limitations, whereas Goku is too true to his warrior trait and refuses to quit? Keep reading for more theories about why Vegeta never passes Goku.
- Goku’s Selflessness Gives Him An Advantage
Originally, Goku was a very angry and violent child under the care of his adoptive grandfather, Gohan. But after waking up from a coma caused by a head injury that nearly took his life, his personality changed radically and he lost most of the intensified Saiyan aggression that he possessed before the accident. This is what likely incubated his morally pure and strong-willed personality. His jovial demeanor and empathy towards others, including his own enemies, has resulted in a good deal of trouble for our hero. However, it is also his selflessness and the willingness to put others before him. His greatest strength comes from his need to protect others.
Vegeta, however, is a different story. While Vegeta too isn’t oblivious to sacrifice and selflessness, this has never come easily to the Saiyan prince. As a result, going all-out for others with no thoughts about his own well-being is a rarity. Vegeta cares too much about his own life to be truly self-sacrificing. He is hesitant to cross that line which Goku crosses without batting an eyelid.
2. Goku Simply Has More Raw Talent Than Vegeta
In Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’, Vegeta and Goku apparently possess nearly equal powers and skills. However, Whis tells Vegeta that the reason why he continues to lag behind Goku in power is that he “thinks too much” he walks around with a chip on his shoulder, and his nerves are wound too tight. But one can surmise that this disadvantage is only a minor one. So, does Goku simply possess a natural talent that Vegeta does not?
The only other Saiyans who have ever reached Vegeta and Goku’s level of power were the original legendary Super Saiyan (whose identity remains unknown) and the Super Saiyan Broly. However, Vegeta, for all his talent, has never managed to demonstrate the same degree of raw talent that Goku has, despite having a rigorous amount of training than Goku. It just may be that Goku is the Michael Jordan of Saiyan warriors and Vegeta just doesn’t level up. Vegeta would rather perish than accept this fact.
3. Goku Is A Duelist, While Vegeta Is A Soldier
So this (insanely in-depth) theory actually comes from Redditor /u/thelamogio1 who states,
“The reason why Vegeta will never beat Goku is that they are different types of fighters. Goku has been training all his life to be a duelist. He initially received training from master Roshi (a duelist and tournament champion) with the goal to win tournaments. Even the training that he received later (Kami, King Kai, etc) is focused on dealing with a very powerful opponent, not a sizable group of enemies.
The only time he ever faced a real army was when he fought the Red Ribbon, who were just a bunch of wretches with ak47s (and a lot of cheap vehicles) mostly ineffective (they were many but come on Goku IS bulletproof, they might as well be unarmed!). Vegeta on the other hand has been training to be a soldier. He received training from King Vegeta, Nappa (both soldiers), and Freeza (a conqueror).
The early battles that he fought are against the armies of entire planets and he was a part of a group like a soldier (or a special ops member to be more precise). He often uses ki attacks like “Continuous Energy Bullet” which would obviously be salvaging against a large group of weaker enemies and knows how to be a leader on the battlefield (he often rallies the rest of the Z fighters, or knows how to “motivate” saibamen for example)
Also, Vegeta has shown that he knows a thing or two about guerrilla warfare as he has exhibited during the first days he was on Namek (ambush Frieza troopers only when he has the advantage, use war strategies that would force them to split their forces, etc). Plus, if you think about it Vegeta’s current training regime focuses on him fighting multiple enemies/being surrounded and attacked by all sides.
My theory is that Goku vs Vegeta is like pitting an MMA champion against a navy SEAL. The MMA champion will obviously be better into one-on-one combat, but the special forces guy has the skills and training necessary to fight and win a war.
4. Goku’s Relation To The Monkey King Mythos Prove He Can’t Fail
Son Goku is based on the Monkey King or Sun Wukong, a mythological figure from Buddhist folklore. According to legend, the Monkey King is the most powerful warrior to ever exist and destroyed nearly all of Heaven’s celestial army before finally being redeemed. So it may be that in keeping with the Monkey King mythos upon which his character is built, Goku is simply fated to be an unconqouerable hero. Not that he’s never been defeated in the series. He’s been defeated on numerous occasions, in fact, but he always manages to make a comeback and emerge victoriously. It is entirely possible that his pedigree is just too big to fail. And Vegeta may simply be cursed to live in the shadow of this unconquerable legend no matter what he does.
5. Saiyans Get Stronger After Taking A Good Beating
Vegeta has taken quite a few beatings during his battles, but no one takes a beating better than Goku, which is why healing is an ongoing theme in the DBZ series. Every time a Saiyan warrior heals, their power increases dramatically. The Saiyans’ power also increases after being killed and then resurrected from the dead via the use of the Dragon Balls. Both Goku and Vegeta have been resurrected twice. But how many times has each been healed after a battle?
Unfortunately, it is not clear just how many times Goku and Vegeta have been healed after sustaining injuries in battle and it is also unknown how many times Vegeta had to be healed of his injuries during his service to Frieza. However, throughout the series, Goku has definitely been pushed to the edge more times than Vegeta. So if being healed of physical injury increases the power level of Saiyans, it is likely that Goku has suffered far more battle scars than Vegeta and benefited from it. After all, Vegeta was originally more powerful than Goku and less likely to be injured to the degree that Goku has consecutively been. In fact, before the battle with the Z-Fighters on Earth, it doesn’t seem as though Vegeta was very familiar with the concept of defeat, let alone serious injury.
It just may be that Goku’s willingness to take a beating has made him more powerful than Vegeta.
6. Does Goku Produces More Ki Energy Than Vegeta?
It is kind of a low blow to suggest that the reason why Vegeta fails to measure up to Goku is that he’s smaller than Goku, especially since he is super powerful than the much larger Nappa and various other large enemies. But then, none of them were Goku. And if Vegeta and Goku’s natural Ki levels were to compare, it is not inconceivable that a larger body size could make a great deal of difference in creating a significant gap between the two.
During the series, Goku has continuously bulked up while Vegeta has been relatively the same(perhaps he’s slightly more muscular, but not much). This is most obvious after Goku’s first resurrection and his appearance on Namek – it seemed as if Goku’s size had increased dramatically. And, as we know, the source of the Saiyans’ power is their ability to use and manipulate Ki energy. We also know that power increases significantly during their much larger “Great Ape” transformation. It stands to reason that a larger body produces more Ki. But is the degree to which Goku is larger than Vegeta really enough to tip the scales of Ki in Goku’s favor, leaving Vegeta to come up short?
7. Is Goku An Energy Vampire?
Goku has, on more than one occasion, used his Spirit Bomb technique in which he absorbs the energy and strength of other living beings and converts that into power that he can use for himself. It is often considered to be the most powerful technique ever used in the Dragon Ball series, and only Goku is capable of using it (unless you count Cell, Krillin, and later Trunks, who each use the ability under special circumstances). Fans have theories that when Goku collects life-energy, it’s just a temporary effect that dissipates after he has used the technique. But does it?
At one point, Goku is able to channel the power of the Spirit Bomb directly into his own body, increasing his own power. He basically absorbs other people’s Ki-energies to make himself stronger. So what effect does this absorption of Ki have on Goku’s body that Vegeta could be lacking? Could it be that Goku is continuously absorbing Ki energy from his surroundings, slowly and subtly building up his power over time and increasing his overall ability to use and manipulate Ki? He certainly has the power to do so. And would anyone notice if he did?