Frieza is perhaps one of the cruelest villains in not only shonen, but anime as a whole. Here are 10 times he was the best villain in Dragon Ball Z.

Dragon Ball Z is one of the most celebrated and iconic anime series of its generation, and it’s incredible to see how it’s arguably never been more popular. Dragon Ball Z presents a very conventional narrative as far as shonen series are concerned. Still, exciting battle sequences and lovable characters have helped Dragon Ball Z rise above the crowd and influence a new generation of titles.

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The Dragon Ball universe’s heroes are fantastic, but the villains that they take on are often just as important. Dragon Ball Z features an impressive rogues’ gallery of foes, but Frieza has worked hard to establish himself as the very best.

10 When He Destroyed Planet Vegeta And Made The Saiyan Race Extinct

Perhaps the most destructive and defining act of Frieza’s career as a villain in Dragon Ball Z involves his contentious history with the volatile Saiyan race. Over time it’s revealed that Frieza didn’t just abuse the Saiyans and manipulate the people. Still, he also recklessly destroys Planet Vegeta, which ostensibly extinguishes the Saiyan population, baring a select few. Frieza is frequently shown as the type to destroy entire planets on a whim. His villainy is intrinsically tied into Goku and Vegeta’s origin stories.

9 After He Returned In Cyborg Form With His Father

Dragon Ball has since reached a point where the return of a dead villain has almost come to be expected, but in the earlier days of Dragon Ball Z this was unheard of and Frieza really kicks off the trend. Goku’s fight against Frieza is exhaustive, and so the idea that Frieza would still be alive after it all seemed impossible at the time. The fact that Frieza returns with a mechanical upgrade and alongside his father sets the tone for Frieza’s relentless nature as the ultimate villain. It also makes for a fantastic introduction for Future Trunks.

8 His Reckless Killing Of Namekians

There are plenty of Dragon Ball Z villains that act tough but aren’t able to actually follow through with their villainous plans. Frieza’s deadly reputation certainly precedes himself, but he also takes every opportunity to take out his aggression on the innocent and relishes his power. Frieza is on Planet Namek for Dragon Ball purposes, and he’s just ruthless when it comes to his treatment of the planet and its people. Frieza tortures the population, but he’s also responsible for the planet’s destruction, leading to the extinction of Namekians for a while.

7 When He Destroyed The Earth

Many might consider Frieza’s big return and the reveal of his Golden transformation to be a part of Dragon Ball Super, but it initially occurs as a Dragon Ball Z movie, so it technically still qualifies as an event from the latter. Frieza causes plenty of damage, but he’s actually able to better Goku and Vegeta by taking advantage of a window of opportunity.

RELATED: Dragon Ball Z: 10 Ways Frieza Could Have Defeated Goku On Namek

Frieza succeeds in triggering the destruction of Earth and the only reason that complete annihilation is avoided is because Whis steps in and rewinds time. He forces divine intervention to take place.

6 When He Killed Krillin

The battle against Frieza on Planet Namek is one of the most extensive encounters in Dragon Ball Z. Even before Goku faces the villain for dozens of episodes there is still tons of content with Frieza’s earlier forms. It’s exciting to watch Vegeta, Piccolo, Gohan, and Krillin do their best against Frieza, but it doesn’t end well for some of them. Frieza kills Krillin, but beforehand he viciously tortures him when he’s caught on his horn. Frieza’s joy at this moment is terrifying, and it’s just as difficult to watch him mercilessly beat up Gohan, who is just a child.

5 When He Escaped From Hell

Anime Dragon Ball Z Fusion Reborn Frieza Dead Army

The characters breathe a collective sigh of relief after Frieza seems to finally be killed, once and for all, by Future Trunks’ thorough extermination of the character. It will later turn out that Frieza doesn’t just return, but becomes a major ally in the universe’s protection. However, before all of this, Frieza is still a prisoner in hell, a sentence he manages to avoid. The events of Fusion Reborn, the 12th Dragon Ball Z movie, detail Frieza’s reign of terror both in hell and after he briefly finds his way back on Earth and leads an uprising.

4 When He Eliminated His Entire Army And Showed No Empathy

A villain should never be trusted, but with Frieza, that’s a lesson that goes double. It’s frankly surprising that Frieza is as reliable as he is during his participation alongside Goku in Dragon Ball Super’s Tournament of Power.

RELATED: Dragon Ball: The 10 Best Battles In The Frieza Saga, Ranked

Frieza has an impressive army in the form of his Frieza Force, but despite their allegiance to him, he’s totally comfortable turning them into cannon fodder. The most extreme example of this is in Dragon Ball Z’s Resurrection ‘F’ movie, where Frieza’s powering up kills his entire team, which is something that he’s proud of rather than distressed over.

3 When He Killed Vegeta And Shattered His Pride

Frieza has some fun playing with his opponents and showing some restraint during his earlier appearances, but it’s frightening to see how many lives he takes once he loses his patience in battle. Beloved fighters like Krillin and nearly Piccolo meet their ends because of Frieza, and it’s also a sad fate that falls upon Vegeta. Up until this point, Vegeta is under the delusion that he’s become the legendary Super Saiyan. Frieza hammers how this is not true and destroys Vegeta’s pride in himself and the Saiyan race before he executes him. It’s a truly evil act.

2 The First Time He Transformed

It’s practically become a foregone conclusion in Dragon Ball that any villain’s initial appearance is going to change at least a few times by the time they’re out of the picture. Powerful and unique transformations are now the norm, but Frieza really sets a precedent in this department. It’s genuinely tense each time Frieza reveals one of his new forms, even if it’s not dwelt on for very long. It feels seriously big in a way that Dragon Ball Z hasn’t before once Frieza reveals that this is possible with a villain.

1 When His Brother Attacked The Earth In His Honor

The Dragon Ball Z movies are still hotly debated over in terms of whether they qualify as canon, but one of the more successful movie villains is Cooler, Frieza’s brother. Cooler gets two movies, and he’s a popular character that’s appeared in plenty of Dragon Ball Z video games and the more recent Super Dragon Ball Heroes promotional anime. Cooler leads an entire mechanical army against Goku and Vegeta in retribution for Frieza’s death. Frieza gets plenty accomplished on his own, but it’s a truly significant villain that’s able to get others to carry out their vengeance after they’re gone.

NEXT: Dragon Ball: 5 Anime Villains Who Could Beat Frieza In A Fight (& 5 Who Can’t)

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