There’s a certain symbolic magic to the way Goku Vs Frieza happened on planet Namek. Dragonball Z perhaps may have been the defining entry of a shonen-story line into the western minds. Having grown up watching the tales of Son Goku fighting his way through his enemy together with his friends Z Fighters, we have wondered the same question multiple times. Why did Goku show Frieza mercy is the question to be tackled today.

The most defining moments of the Goku vs Frieza battle are the times when Goku straight up cuts Frieza down or shares his energy with the villain emperor. Accentuated by the death of his best friend Krillin, Goku also turns Super Saiyan in this very battle.

The value of Super Saiyan in Dragonball Z

Goku vs Frieza Dragonball Z Why did Goku let Frieza Live
Goku turns Super Saiyan, courtesy of Dragon Studio Youtube Channel

Super Saiyan at this point was very special to the audience, given that it was hinted at by the show for quite some time. Ever since the introduction of the Saiyan arc, Vegeta has mentioned the possibility of the legendary Super Saiyan.

  • Heck, Frieza’s entire motive for killing Planet Vegeta was to prevent his potential death when a legendary Super Saiyan arrives.
    • Although one should differentiate legendary Super Saiyan here from the true Legendary Super Saiyan Broly. Broly was a non-canon entry into the DBZ movieverses.
    • Initially, the entire concept of Super Saiyan was considered legendary. To understand this distinction better, imagine Broly even a legendary amongst a class (Super Saiyan) already legendary.

Dragonball Z Frieza was immobilized by the fear of the legendary Super Saiyan

Frieza’s fear came from the possibility of the Super Saiyan.

    • But in Dragonball Super, the story incorporated the fear of Super Saiyan God into it as well. Of course, Super Saiyan God was never hinted in Dragonball Z due to obvious reasons – it wasn’t even conceptualized back then.

Dragonball Z Why did Goku let Frieza live in Planet Namek?

Planet Namek in Dragonball Z
Planet Namek, courtesy of Dragon Studio Youtube Channel

Coming to the primary question, Why did Goku let Frieza live? To answer the same we must first analyze Goku’s motive.

  1. The reason why Goku’s friends Krillin, Bulma, and his son Gohan visited Planet Namek was to retrieve the Dragonballs there. This was because Vegeta had killed Piccolo who was connected to Earth’s guardian Kami. When Piccolo died so did Kami and hence vanished the Dragonballs with him.

  1. Goku’s purpose to go to Namek was to obviously accompany his friends for who knows what threat they may face there. Their initial worry was meeting the Prince of all Saiyan Vegeta again. Hence why Goku’s strength was much required.
  2. But as Bulma, Krillin, and Gohan witnessed, Vegeta was still a mere fly in front of the emperor of the universe. Power levels of unprecedented levels terrified his friends.

Dragonball Z Goku initially wanted a strong force to meet his levels 

Goku vs Frieza
Super Saiyan Goku vs Frieza in a dying Planet Namek, courtesy of Dragon Studio Youtube Channel
  • Goku’s reasoning til this point was still to find someone strong who he can match with.
    • After having taken his fair share of contentment in his fight against the Ginyuu force, Goku arrived after recovering to face Frieza.
  • When Goku vs Frieza first began, he was doing his best to have a good match while also redeeming all those who had fallen.
    • In this list was included Vegeta, who Frieza had recently killed.

Dragonball Z Goku vs Frieza soon became personal

Dragonball Z Why did Goku show Frieza Mercy
A dying planet Namek after Frieza’s deadly attack reaches its core, courtesy of Dragon Studio Youtube Channel
  • As the battle went on, Goku relied on his Spirit Bomb. Much to their surprise the Spirit Bomb – perhaps the universe’s most potent attack, failed to kill Frieza.
    • In the event, Frieza attacked Goku to which Piccolo defended his friend. Piccolo was injured in the process. Frieza then proceeds to kill Krillin. 

This was the point where everything changed. Our protagonist’s motive changed from finding someone strong to defending his friends to unearthing hell upon Frieza. The birth of the Legendary Super Saiyan in this moment of Goku vs Frieza is epic. Epic enough to remain one of the most memorable anime moments ever.

After this moment the entire Goku vs Frieza dynamic was Goku thrashing Frieza and humiliating him. Goku even went on to give energy to the galactic emperor shortly after our hero of hope had cut him in half. A mutilated Frieza with his lower half missing even begged Goku at one point.

Why did Goku show Frieza mercy?

Dragonball Z
Frieza’s final attempt at charging at Goku, courtesy of Dragon Studio Youtube Channel
  • Goku’s reasoning at this point was that he had done everything he needed to do.
    • And even if Frieza’s threat reappeared Goku believed himself to be strong enough to take care of it. By this time one of Freiza’s death beam attacks had caused the core of the planet to erupt from within.
  • Time was ticking and Goku just wanted to pack and leave. Goku’s reasoning was simple, he did everything he had to. His vendetta was personal and did not involve picking up after the mess.
    • His conviction was the defeat of Frieza and his ego. Yet in what transpired as a final measure of desperation, Frieza attacked Goku.

The warrior of hope finally totally submerged Frieza underwater with an attack of his own, indicating that Frieza probably was killed. Although it was later revealed that Frieza’s remnants survived, picked up by King Cold and the Frieza force.


The answer to the question of why did Goku show Frieza mercy was to signify that his vendetta was more personal. And the trope of becoming the warrior of the universe was only a medium. To him, it was more along the lines of mercy and his belief in individuals to change. This belief led Vegeta to become his and Earth’s greatest ally. Even Frieza ends up joining them in the Tournament of Power in Dragonball Super.

Also Read: Why Naruto Was Hated By His Village During Childhood: Explained

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Rhytham is a Philosophy graduate who founded a state-level organization that promotes anime and Japanese culture in his home state of Assam India. The org is named Assam Senpai Society. He is also an ardent writer, poet, musician, vocalist, graphic designer, and photoshop artist. He has worked on multiple state and national level conventions. Other than anime, catch him watching western series that really have in themselves the solidity to catch his attention.