Vegeta (ベジータ Bejīta?, or Prince Vegeta) following a common name trend that Toriyama developed in Dragon Ball, Vegeta's name is derived from the word for vegetable, being that he is the prince of the Saiyans, who are all named after vegetables. When he first appears in the series, Vegeta is arrogant and selfish, having a fierce desire for immortality and galactic rule. He is also vicious and cares for nobody but himself, which is shown when he dispatched of his comrade Nappa when he failed to defeat Goku. Vegeta's plans are thwarted by Goku. Because of Vegeta's overwhelming pride and ego, being defeated by someone who he considered inferior transforms his character into a jealous and vengeful anti-hero. By the end of the series, Vegeta's bitter rivalry with Goku softens when he comes to respect Goku as an ally and even a friend.

One of Vegeta's distinguishable characteristics was the fact that he was the only living Saiyan who still wore the traditional Saiyan battle fatigues on a regular basis. Over the course of the Dragon Ball Z series, he's worn different incarnations of the suit, though later on in the series (and subsequently the Dragon Ball GT series) he abandons the Saiyan armor completely for "Earth-like" clothing. He once memorably wore a pink shirt provided by Bulma, very much to his dismay.

Vegeta's priorities can be seen to gradually change as the series progresses, and his rivalry with Goku is fueled by Goku's ability to stay ahead of Vegeta in power. Because of this, Vegeta is seen to pursue an insane desire to surpass Goku in strength, but whenever he seems to train harder than Goku ever does, he can never close the difference between him and Goku permanently, becaue whenever he does become stronger than Goku, Goku always returns and becomes stronger than him. As the series continues, Vegeta develops into an anti-hero instead of a villain.

When Vegeta finds a home on Earth, he is pursued romantically by Bulma, where they are married later at some time. They have two children together, a son Trunks and a daughter Bra. Vegeta prioritizes his rivalry with Goku over any relationships with his family, at least until the end of the series.

Vegeta has the ability to create and enhance attacks with the use of chi. Like most other primary characters in Dragon Ball, Vegeta has the ability to use buku-jutsu (舞空術 lighter than air?) which enables him to fly. Constant training and his Saiyan heritage have given him superhuman strength and possesses superhuman speed and reflexes.

Like most of the characters in the series, Vegeta is known to give names for his various energy attacks. In his early appearance, Vegeta is seen to use attacks similar to several of the protagonists of the series, such as a "ki disk" (気円斬 kien ki?), a two fingered laser-like blast, and a chi wave similar to Goku's Kamehameha blast. This beam known as the Garlic Gun (ギャリック砲 Gyarikku Hō?, or Galick Gun in the English dub) is used by Vegeta during his battle against Goku in an attempt to destroy the Earth. The Garlic Gun is the main attack used by Vegeta in most Dragon Ball Z video games though it is used only once by him in the series. Vegeta later develops the Big Bang Attack (ビッグ・バン・アタック Biggu Ban Atakku?) and the Final Flash (ファイナルフラッシュ Fainaru Furasshu?) attacks, which are much more powerful than his older energy attacks. Vegeta's most commonly used attack in the series is when he bombards an opponent with an array of small chi blasts. Vegeta is not known to have a name for this attack, but it is officially called Renzoku Energy Dan (連続エネルギー弾?). Also in Dragon Ball GT he displays a powerful new attack entitling it the Final Shine Attack, where as Vegeta uses his right hand to fire off a massive beam of green chi that widens with distance.

Vegeta also possesses several transformations that greatly enhance his abilities to varying degrees. Early in the series, he has the ability to become an Oozaru, which increases his power tenfold, so long as he still has his tail. He eventually gains the ability to transform into a Super Saiyan and, through training, can further transform into advanced states of Super Saiyan as the series continues, including Super Saiyan 2nd Grade and Super Saiyan 2. For an unknown reason the only Saiyan transformation Vegeta has never been able to achieve is Super Saiyan 3. In Dragon Ball GT, he reaches the Super Saiyan 4 level when Bulma powers him up using Blutz Rays.

Vegeta can also fuse with Goku and create a warrior who has the combined power and skills of both. One method is by using the Potara Earrings presented to Goku by the Elder Kai. This results in a 'perfect fusion' creating Vegetto. The other method is by performing the Metamorese Fusion Dance, which creates Gogeta.

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