Upon arrival, he manages to kill Freeza's henchmen, Cui and Dodoria, in a series of confrontations. Vegeta is brutally beaten by Freeza's right-hand man Zarbon in a fierce battle, although Vegeta recovers and defeats Zarbon afterwards due to his Saiyan genes that increase his strength dramatically after recovering from a near-death experience. However, when he senses the approaching arrival of the Ginyu Special Corps, he is forced to ally himself with Gohan and Krillin, who are also on the planet. His efforts to stop them are in vain, and he is subsequently beaten by Reacoom, but is saved from death when Goku, with his power greatly increased from training at 100x gravity, arrives on Planet Namek and takes out the remaining members of the Ginyu Special Corps. Later, after Goku is severely injured during the battle with Captain Ginyu, Vegeta takes him to a regeneration chamber inside Freeza's spaceship to restore him to full power. Soon afterwards, Vegeta, Gohan and Krillin are confronted by Freeza, angered that they had made off with the Dragon Balls to get their wish. Despite getting another massive power increase from the brink of death, claiming that he has become a Super Saiyan, Vegeta is killed by Freeza. During Goku's battle as a Super Saiyan with Freeza, Vegeta is revived and transported to Earth using the Dragon Balls from both Earth and Namek, and after hearing that Goku will be coming back to Earth later, he flies into space with his spaceship in the hopes of finding Goku, and becoming a Super Saiyan. However, he is unable to find Goku and returns back to Earth to wait for the Super Saiyan's arrival. When Goku eventually does return, he endures a grueling training schedule under intense gravity for three years to prepare for a battle against two powerful androids.
Three years later, Vegeta finally becomes a Super Saiyan and easily destroys Android #19, with Piccolo stating that he might have even surpassed Goku in strength. However, even as a Super Saiyan, he is defeated by Android #18. Contemplating his defeat, Vegeta soon learns that Super Saiyans aren't invincible, and seeks to ascend the Super Saiyan level. While training with his son Trunks from the future in the Room of Spirit and Time for a year (while in the real world time passes in one day), Vegeta ascends to a power even greater than a Super Saiyan's, and pummels Cell, who has absorbed Android 17. But his cockiness leads him to allow Cell to absorb Android 18 and achieve his perfect form, which greatly surpasses even Vegeta's power. Vegeta's efforts to destroy the monster are in vain when he is nearly killed by Cell, and he is forced to participate in a martial arts tournament created by Cell called the Cell Games, in which he fights one of the seven Cell Juniors created by Cell, who are later destroyed by Gohan. During this time, Gohan surpasses his father and defeats Cell, saving the Earth from total destruction.
Seven years later, Vegeta marries Bulma and, when Trunks is old enough, begins to train him in an attempt to make him more powerful than Gohan. He later fights one of Babidi's minions, Pui Pui, and kills him, but allows himself to be consumed by Babidi's evil for his own desire to become evil again and fight Goku without any boundaries. However, when Majin Buu is revived by their fight, he later realizes his foolishness and goes to face Majin Buu alone and redeems himself when he sacrifices himself to defeat Majin Buu, despite knowing that he would go to Hell rather than Heaven. After King Yemma gives Vegeta back his body and sends him down to Earth to help against the threat of Buu, who has grown much stronger (by absorbing his own good half/Fat Buu, Gotenks, Piccolo and Gohan) since their last fight, he reluctantly combines with Goku using the Potara Earrings, creating Vegetto, who completely overwhelms Buu with his strength. Eventually, he is absorbed into Buu's body and subsequently, the fusion splits, most probably due to the strange innards of Buu's body. Because they weren't absorbed successfully due to Vegetto's forcefield, Goku and Vegeta are not trapped and soon find Piccolo, Gohan, Goten and Trunks inside Buu's body, along with Fat Buu. The two rip out those who were absorbed and escape. On the Supreme Kai's planet, Vegeta and Fat Buu battle Evil Buu again to buy time for Goku to gather energy for the Spirit Bomb, which he uses to defeat Evil Buu once and for all. Ten years later, Vegeta is seen to accept Goku as a friend rather than an enemy, not wanting to fight Goku, ultimately.
In Dragon Ball GT, Vegeta is possessed by Baby and battles Goku, but is eventually split from Baby's body before Baby is destroyed. Later he fights Super Android 17, but again he is knocked out and nearly killed. When Omega Shenron wreaks havoc, he fuses with Goku as a Super Saiyan 4 to become Gogeta, who defeats the evil Shenron but his cockiness doesn't allow him to finish the job, and the fusion time runs out, reverting the two back to normal. Finally, Omega Shenron is obliterated by Goku's gigantic Spirit Bomb. At the end of GT, Vegeta says a farewell to Goku, who leaves the duty of protecting Earth in Vegeta's hands before he flies off into the sky on Shenron.
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.
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 , a two fingered laser-like blast, and a chi wave similar to Goku's Kamehameha blast. This beam known as the 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 and the 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 . Also in Dragon Ball GT he displays a powerful new attack entitling it the , 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.
Vegeta has made several appearances in other manga's. In Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball self parody Neko Majin where he battles the main character "Z". In Cross Epoch Vegeta is reimagined as a captain of a crew of air pirates which include Trunks, Usopp, and Nico Robin. On September 15, 2006, Vegeta, would make a guest appearance in a chapter of the Kochikame manga "Super Kochikame" entitled
Vegeta has also been the victim of parody, in the Shonen Jump "Gag Special 2005" issue released on December 1, 2004, featured a Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo one-shot Dragon Ball parody manga. The manga was a humorous retelling of the battle between Goku and Vegeta in the Saiyan Saga. Jelly Jiggler was Goku and Don Patch was Vegeta.
Vegeta has made one contribution to music, in the eighth installment of Hit Song Collection series entitled "Character Special 2" Vegeta sings the song "Vegeta-sama no Oryori Jigoku!!". The song focuses of Vegeta cooking a special Okonomiyaki. Other Dragon Ball-related songs that center around Vegeta are "Koi no NAZONAZO" a song that focus' on his and Bulma's relationship and "Ai wa Barādo no Yō ni~Bejīta no Tēma~" a song about Vegeta reflecting on his life and then current family told from his point of view. Unlike "Vegeta-sama no Oryori Jigoku!!" neither of these songs feature seiyu Ryo Horikawa on vocals.