Since its inception in 1984, Dragon Ball has become one of the most recognizable media franchises in the entire world. Its protagonist, Goku, defined an entire generation of shonen anime, but he may have never become the iconic character that he is without the presence of his greatest adversary — Frieza.
Frieza appears multiple times throughout Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super, resulting in many iconic moments involving the series’ greatest antagonist. These Frieza scenes range from inspiring to infuriating, but regardless of their circumstances, they all speak to Frieza’s status as a legendary anime villain.
10 Frieza’s Life In The Other World
The afterlife in the Dragon Ball franchise varies wildly from individual to individual, depending on how they lived their lives. Because of his evil nature, Frieza is punished in the Other World; however, his punishment is significantly different than one might expect.
As seen during Dragon Ball Super, Frieza’s punishment consists of him being surrounded by an assortment of adorable, singing animals. The villain is rarely involved in comedic scenes, so this scene stands out as one of the most unique that he is involved in during the entire series.
9 The Evil Tyrant Appears
After the Z Fighters successfully repel Vegeta and Nappa from Earth, they are forced to travel to Planet Namek in a bid to utilize the planet’s Dragon Balls. This puts them into direct conflict with several of the universe’s strongest warriors, including Dragon Ball Z‘s most iconic villain — Frieza.
Frieza’s introduction is legitimately terrifying, and it perfectly captures the larger-than-life nature of the galactic tyrant. Were it not for Krillin’s quick thinking, the Z Fighters would have almost certainly perished before their adventure on Planet Namek even began.
8 Planet Vegeta Destroyed
Raditz’s appearance at the beginning of Dragon Ball Z reveals that Goku is a Saiyan, initiating a long-term narrative surrounding the fate of the mercenary race. The other surviving full-blooded Saiyan, Vegeta, believes that their race perished because of a collision with an asteroid, only to find out the devastating truth during his fight with Frieza on Planet Namek.
In an attempt to break Vegeta’s spirit, Frieza reveals that it was him, rather than an asteroid, that destroyed Planet Vegeta. This reveal isn’t necessarily surprising, but it adds major depth to the Saiyans’ struggle to free themselves from Frieza’s rule.
7 Frieza And Goku Join Forces Against Jiren
The Universal Tournament of Power puts the fate of the entire Dragon Ball universe at stake. This forces the Z Fighters to forge an alliance with arguably their greatest opponent — Frieza. Together, they fight various characters from across the multiverse in an attempt to protect Universe 7.
Toward the end of the Tournament of Power, Goku and Frieza encounter Jiren, the strongest opponent that either of them has ever faced. Overwhelmed by his deity-level strength, they band together, forming what is perhaps the most unlikely duo in shonen history.
6 Frieza Kills Vegeta
Given the Dragon Balls’ ability to revive the deceased, deaths in Dragon Ball Z often lack emotional weight. That said, this couldn’t be further from the case during the Frieza Saga, which contains several of the most well-known death scenes in anime history.
Vegeta spends most of his time on Planet Namek pursuing the Dragon Balls, but ultimately, Frieza foils his plans. Without their help, Vegeta is left to face the villain on his own, resulting in an unexpectedly emotional departure for the antihero.
5 The Debut Of Golden Frieza
Dragon Ball Super pits Goku and the Z Fighters against a variety of new, powerful opponents; however, it wouldn’t be a Dragon Ball series if Frieza didn’t make an appearance. After Goku and Vegeta learn how to achieve the Super Saiyan Blue form, a group of Frieza’s former followers use the Dragon Balls to revive him, allowing the antagonist to return to the limelight once again.
Prior to Dragon Ball Super, Frieza had never trained to make himself stronger. Driven by the memory of his loss to Goku, he refines his skills, eventually unlocking a brand-new form. This transformation, dubbed Golden Frieza, is capable of going toe-to-toe with Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta, ushering him into the new generation of shonen anime.
4 The Betrayal Of Goku
Goku and Frieza’s fight on Planet Namek technically spans a matter of minutes in-universe, but its lasting impact on the anime medium has spanned several decades and multiple generations of shonen anime. While many of the sequences during this stretch are iconic, none are as representative of Frieza’s selfish perspective as his betrayal of Goku.
Goku ultimately emerges victorious from his battle with Frieza, and in an act of mercy, he gives the villain a bit of energy in an attempt to save his life. Rather than accepting this gesture, Frieza immediately uses the power to attack Goku when he turns his back, reminding audiences why he is such a reprehensible figure.
3 Future Trunks Appears
Exciting character introductions are a major part of shonen anime due in large part to iconic scenes like Future Trunks’ first appearance in Dragon Ball Z. When Frieza and his father, King Cold, arrive on Earth, they are greeted by Future Trunks, who makes short work of them both.
In a shocking display, Future Trunks demonstrates the ability to transform into a Super Saiyan — a form that only Goku had achieved by that point in Dragon Ball Z. Although Frieza takes a backseat during Trunks’ introduction, it’s still one of the most memorable moments that he’s involved in during the entire franchise.
2 Frieza Kills Krillin
Frieza’s reign of terror on Planet Namek results in the deaths of countless innocent bystanders, but no single death during the saga is sadder than that of the Z Fighters’ baldheaded hero, Krillin. Krillin is one of the first friends that Goku makes during Dragon Ball, so watching him perish at the hands of the galactic tyrant feels like losing an old friend.
As sad as Frieza’s slaughter of Krillin is, it ultimately sets up a seminal moment in anime history — Goku’s first Super Saiyan transformation. Considering the long-term impact that it has on the series, it’s easy to argue this Frieza scene is one of the best in Dragon Ball Z.
1 Frieza’s Ultimate Form
Even in his base form, Frieza is immensely powerful. However, as his various transformations are revealed, it becomes increasingly clear that the villain is one of the strongest characters in anime history, culminating in the debut of his iconic ultimate form.
Despite its diminutive size, Frieza’s ultimate form oozes lethality, and within a single episode, he demonstrates how fearsome this form truly is. It’s easily the most memorable villain transformation in Dragon Ball Z, especially considering his legendary battle with Goku that transpires shortly after.
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