Dragon Ball: Vegeta's Redemption Arc Is One of Anime's Best
When he made his first appearance in Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta was a Saiyan underling in the Frieza Force, conquering planets and selling them to the highest bidder under orders from the group's titular tyrant. As an elite Saiyan Prince, there was nothing more humiliating to Vegeta than working for Frieza, the man who murdered his father and ruled over his race with an iron fist. When Vegeta finally arrived on Earth with his partner Nappa, they did major damage to the planet, resulting in the deaths of Yamcha, Chiaotzu, Tien and Piccolo. The villain even proved just how ruthless he was when he vaporized Nappa after his teammate lost to Goku.
However, since those early days, Vegeta has grown a ton as a character, giving him one of the best redemption arcs in all of anime.
The next time Vegeta appeared was on Planet Namek, where he killed innocent Namekians and Frieza's soldiers in pursuit of the world's Dragon Balls, with which he wanted to attain immortality. Vegeta was still inherently evil at this point, driven by an overwhelmingly strong desire to revenge the destruction of his homeworld and gain liberation from Frieza. However, this saga showed a more complex side of the proud Saiyan warrior -- a sign that Vegeta had the capacity for change -- when Frieza mortally wounded him.
In a teary-eyed emotional confession to Goku, Vegeta revealed it was Frieza who molded him into the ruthless and heartless warrior that he had become. Vegeta expressed sadness he'd been harboring heavily for his entire life, even going so far as to plead with Goku to not only avenge their eradicated race but also stop Frieza from creating more hateful and vengeful subordinates. This scene symbolized a change in Vegeta's character moving forward, pushing him more into the anti-hero role, as he cared more about his own strength but no longer wished to destroy the Earth or pursue the Dragon Balls for immortality. It was also the beginning of his maddening obsession with surpassing Goku.
After being wished back to life and to Earth by the Namekian Dragon Balls, Vegeta began his new life on Earth, moving in with Bulma at the Capsule Corporation and eventually conceiving Trunks. At first, Vegeta didn't recognize or entertain the idea of a relationship with Bulma, as his only goal was attaining absolute strength. He left Earth and went on a treacherous journey through the cosmos to find Goku and do battle with his eternal rival. While the Saiyan Prince did not locate Goku, he found something much more valuable than an exchange of fists: Vegeta became a Super Saiyan himself.