Saiyan (Dragon Ball)

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Publication information
First appearanceDragon Ball chapter #195 The Mysterious Alien Warrior: 4 October 1988 (1988)
Created byAkira Toriyama
Place of originSadala
Notable membersGoku
King Vegeta III
Cabba (Universe 6)
Caulifa (Universe 6)
Kale (Universe 6)
Gohan(half Saiyan DNA)
Trunks (half Saiyan DNA)
Goten (half Saiyan DNA)
Bra (half Saiyan DNA)
Pan (quarter Saiyan DNA)
Goku Jr. (distant descendant)
Goku Black (Saiyan biology)
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Saiyans (サイヤ人, Saiyajin), literally "People of the Saiya", are a fictional extraterrestrial species in the Dragon Ball franchise created by Akira Toriyama. Saiyans are a naturally aggressive race of warriors who are, purportedly, the strongest in the fictional Dragon Ball universe. Saiyans display a wide array of special abilities, possessing incredible natural strength, ki energy manipulation, superhuman agility and reflexes, heightened sensitivity to smell, hearing, and vision. With the exception of their monkey-like tails, all Saiyans have an outward appearance identical to humans but with a larger, muscular build.

The history and origins of the Saiyans are not covered in the original manga; however, it is a central theme in the Baby Saga of the Dragon Ball GT television series, the 2018 film Dragon Ball Super: Broly, the video game Dragon Ball Z Side Story: Plan to Eradicate the Saiyans and its OVA remake Dragon Ball: Plan to Eradicate the Super Saiyans.

Saiyans play a central role in the series after its main protagonist, Son Goku is revealed to be a Saiyan; his birth name is Kakarot (カカロット Kakarotto, lit. "Cacarrot"), and that he was sent to Earth as a young child. Almost all Saiyans were killed when the galactic tyrant Frieza blew up Planet Vegeta. With only a few known survivors, they are functionally extinct.

In Dragon Ball Super it is revealed that Saiyans also exist in a parallel universe, Universe 6, which is linked to Universe 7 where the majority of the Dragon Ball series takes place. Universe 6's Saiyans, unlike Universe 7's, are plentiful in population.

Physiology and powers[edit]

Creator Akira Toriyama, in helping to design characters for the first television special, noted he originally conceived the Saiyans to have only dark hair.[1] A Saiyan's hair never changes length or style once it has fully grown,[2] not unlike fur, although this is not the case with Saiyan-human hybrids such as Gohan, Trunks, Goten and Pan.

Saiyans are incredibly strong, even at young age, easily lifting objects in the hundreds and thousands of kilos. Their strength is explained by their physiology and the gravity on their homeworld, which is multiple times the Earth's normal gravity, thus granting them correspondingly greater strength in Earth gravity and similar environments. Saiyans and even hybrid Saiyans have large appetites eating much more than the average person, sometimes eating more than their body weight. Saiyans have a natural affinity to control ki (気, lit. "spirit"), the life force energy used by Dragon Ball characters, allowing them to generate powerful energy blasts even at young ages.

Like humans, following intensive training, a Saiyan's strength and internal energy increases, albeit at an accelerated rate. In addition, a Saiyan increases in power at an exponential rate after recovering from injuries, especially life-threatening ones. This form of regeneration appears to be a dominant Saiyan genetic trait, as even Saiyan-hybrids inherit this ability. It is this trait that makes Saiyans so dangerous, as their power never stops increasing, more so with a Saiyan-hybrid; the more they fight, the stronger they become. An ability named 'Zenkai' in Saiyans increases their fighting skills everytime they are driven close to death during battles. This is seen multiple times in the Frieza Saga.

When questioned by Bulma as to why their appearance does not change due to aging, Vegeta states all Saiyans maintain their physical prime for a far longer period compared to humans.[3] The reason for their decelerated aging is due to their continuous evolution, the warrior blood in their bodies keeps them younger and fit so they can fight longer.

Due to their similar physiology, Saiyans and humans are capable of interbreeding with each other. The resulting offspring generally inherit more strengths and fewer weaknesses that a full-blooded Saiyan or human may encounter and possess the same enhanced strengths of the Saiyans, developing their abilities far more easily than humans but Saiyan-human hybrids lack the same drive, love and instinct for combat as full blood Saiyans. Due to genetic reasons, some hybrid Saiyans can be born with or without a tail. Half Saiyans inherit the more emotional nature of their human parents which drives them to great heights.

Great Ape[edit]

The Saiyans' most visually impressive trait is the ability to transform into a Great Ape (大猿, Ōzaru), a giant were-ape with tremendous power, somewhere around ten times that of a normal Saiyan. This form however has a number of drawbacks, namely the loss of rational thought, although with enough practice, a Saiyan can keep his or her mind intact. This form is only accessible in the presence of a full moon, or through artificial means, such as the "Blutz" wave emitter. The presence of the naturally occurring tail of a Saiyan is also needed. When the tail of a Saiyan is cut, he/she isn't able to transform into an ape in the presence of the full moon.

This transformation can be negated by the complete removal of the Saiyan's tail, which is a particularly sensitive area for Saiyans when grabbed, temporarily immobilizing their body. The tail is very prehensile, and can be used to grasp things like many other primates. The tail also provides a unique gift in that it allows a Saiyan to transform into a Great Ape. If the tail is removed, this power is lost. Some Saiyans have the ability to grow back their tails at various times, but at some point in life this regenerative ability is lost.

A far stronger variant of the Great Ape transformation, Golden Great Ape (黄金大猿 Ōgon Ōzaru, lit. "Great Golden Monkey"), is introduced in Dragon Ball GT.

Super Saiyan[edit]

The pinnacle of Saiyan power is the Super Saiyan evolution and its subsequent levels, all granting increasingly enormous power to the Saiyan who achieves this extraordinary feat. Hybrid Saiyans also possess the potential to transform into Super Saiyans, but it is unclear how many generations removed from their Saiyan ancestor a hybrid individual can be before the transformation becomes unavailable to them.

When a Super Saiyan level is reached, the character's hair turns gold, their eyes turn emerald green, and their power increases dramatically. They also become more aggressive, and are surrounded by a bright flaming aura. Super Saiyan is achieved when a Saiyan has reached his natural limit of strength, and is triggered by a fit of rage, and a strong desire. Half and part Saiyans can achieve Super Saiyan more easily than full-blooded Saiyans as the trigger of high emotion needed for the transformation is found easily in a half Saiyan who has inherited their Human ability to greatly feel emotions. Bardock was the first to become Super Saiyan according to the Dragon Ball Z special and manga, Episode of Bardock, as a result of not being able to defend his friends. Finding himself unable to defeat Frieza, he is enraged enough to transform. After a transformation is achieved, Saiyans can change to their normal state and back again at will. The second level looks similar to the first, the differences being more defined hair and eyes, hoarser voice, and electric sparks sporadically moving across the body. There is a middle-ground between level one and two, where the muscles become much larger. In the third level, their hair grows extremely long, and the eyebrows are taken over by the brow, giving their face a more primitive ape-like look. The youngest known Super Saiyan is Goten, the son of Goku, who achieved it at age 5.

The Legendary Super Saiyan (伝説の超サイヤ人, Densetsu no Sūpā Saiya-jin) form is an immensely powerful and rare Super Saiyan transformation. It is a Super Saiyan form which has evolved differently from the regular Super Saiyan forms, and is considered to be the final form of the standard Super Saiyan form, hence it is also referred to as the Full Power Super Saiyan form; Vegeta is of the opinion that this state may be the "true form" of the Saiyans which is much spoken of in Saiyan folklore and legends. When transformed, the Saiyan enters an instinct driven, trance-like state of fury, bolstered with a seemingly endless supply of energy. In this form, the user's hair color turns yellowish-green and their pupils and irises vanish, giving off a maniacal visage. The most noticeable difference between the form of the Legendary Super Saiyan and the regular Super Saiyan is body mass. When a Saiyan transforms into this form, their muscle mass and height drastically increases. In Broly's case, he is said to grow up to 3 meters tall. As noted by the Saiyans of Universe 6, whoever enter this state is known as a "demon Saiyan" who rampages in a berserk state and whose power grows constantly, eventually to the point that it is detrimental to their health, meaning the transformation cannot be used for long without facing the risk of death. The form is also an extreme example of a transformation that relies on sheer brutality and power, and experienced opponents may find the Legendary Saiyan's attacks predictable to evade despite the great increase in speed. It is possible for the user to further transform into a more advanced version of the Legendary Saiyan form and retain full control of their power and senses, as demonstrated by Kale from Universe 6.

Super Saiyan 4 (スーパーサイヤ人4, Sūpā Saiya-jin Fō) is a Saiyan transformation which is exclusive to the Dragon Ball GT continuity. This form is a different branch of transformation from the earlier Super Saiyan forms; in this form, the Saiyan's body is covered in red fur although hair color changes back to black, and regains the use of a tail if it is missing in base form.

Super Saiyan God[edit]

Dragon Ball Super introduces the Super Saiyan God (超サイヤ人ゴッド, Sūpā Saiya-jin Goddo) form, a transformation that grants the user divine energy with a power boost beyond Super Saiyan 3 and its predecessors. Despite its name, the Super Saiyan God form is separate from the Super Saiyan transformation line.

The ability is initially unlocked when five righteous Saiyans infuse their energy into the Super Saiyan God to be or that person undergoes divine training. Trained users can further combine this form with the first Super Saiyan transformation, attaining more powerful forms such as Super Saiyan Blue (超サイヤ人ブルー, Sūpā Saiya-jin Burū), which is also known as Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (超サイヤ人ゴッド超サイヤ人, Sūpā Saiya-jin Goddo Sūpā Saiya-jin).

Culture and Technology[edit]

The name Saiyan is a pun on yajin (野人) which means "wildman", and an anagram of yasai (野菜) which means "vegetable". The suffix -jin means "person". "Saiyan" is the English transliteration of the roman letter term Saiya-jin. In the Japanese language, Saiya-jin (サイヤ人じん) is pronounced "Sigh-ya-jeen" while in the English dubs, "Saiyan" is pronounced "Sey-uhn". Traditionally, Saiyans have names that are a pun on various vegetables.

The original homeworld of the Saiyans is Planet Sadala, which has a natural gravity that is ten times that of Earth, which helps give Saiyans a greater natural strength than most races. After it was destroyed by internal discord, the remaining Saiyans migrated to the Tuffle planet, Plant, and started a war for the control of the planet. Although they were very few in number compared to the Tuffle race, the battles were more or less even. But the tide of the war turned in the favour of the Saiyans when one night, the moon rose in the sky, something that only occurs once every 8 years on Planet Plant. The Saiyans then transformed into their giant, monstrous Great Ape forms, the Oozaru, sealing the Tuffles' fate and leading the Saiyans to victory. The then-leader of the Saiyans, Vegeta III, led the Saiyans to victory, was crowned king, and renamed the world Planet Vegeta.

Fighting is an important part of traditional Saiyan culture. Most Saiyans spend most of their entire life training to become stronger, so they can prove themselves in battle. Saiyans like Goku and Vegeta are constantly seen training and improving their fighting skills to keep up with each other's skills and the appearance of new, more powerful foes. Saiyans are typically aggressive and prideful, with an explosive short temper. Saiyans often let their emotions get the better of them when aroused in stimulating situations, leading to rash decisions on their part. They also display a general lack of sympathetic emotions or interest towards each other or their offspring, though they appear to be close to their fighting comrades. Vegeta and Nappa display a care-free attitude following Raditz's death, finding it amusing, referring to him as a "weakling". Likewise, Raditz did not hesitate in his attempt to kill his own brother and nephew, nor Vegeta when he killed Nappa.

Over time the Saiyans began to learn and adapt the Tuffles' advanced equipment and technology to advance their civilization. Vegeta III later led his people to become a vassal state for Frieza, an extremely powerful galactic dictator whose dominion stretched over seventy-nine or more planets. Frieza saw the potential of the Saiyan race, and hired them to seek out and conquer other planets, and sell them. Frieza provided the Saiyans weapons, combat armour, portable wearable computers known as Scouters, and space ships to further their goals.

Raditz informed Goku and his associates that the Saiyan homeworld was destroyed by a meteorite, and King Kai speculated that the guardian of Planet Vegeta, unable to bear the burden of the Saiyans, used his power to attract a system of meteors to destroy the planet.[4] Dodoria, when trying to bargain with Vegeta for his life, revealed the truth that it was Frieza who turned on the Saiyans by destroying Planet Vegeta out of fear that the Saiyans might plot an uprising against his rule.

The Saiyans of Universe 6 differ from their Universe 7 counterparts in that they never left their original homeworld Planet Sadala, and most of their kind seem to have a calmer and kinder nature. They have evolved to have no use for a tail, though they have also displayed the potential to transform into Super Saiyans.


Four Saiyan individuals were known to have escaped the destruction of Planet Vegeta in the original manga: the former Saiyan Prince Vegeta, his aide Nappa, and Bardock's sons Raditz and Goku. Raditz eventually dies at the hands of Goku and Piccolo,[5] while Nappa is betrayed and executed by Vegeta.[6] The Saiyans are eventually avenged when Goku defeats Frieza on Planet Namek. Although Frieza survives the battle as well as the destruction of Planet Namek, he is later slain by Trunks from an alternate future timeline.

In Toei Animation's Dragon Ball Z films and television specials, three more survivors are revealed: Broly, his father Paragus, and Vegeta's younger brother Tarble. Paragus is killed by his own son[7] and Broly is defeated after several encounters with the Z Fighters.[8] In the OVA Dragon Ball: Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!!, Tarble was revealed to have been sent to a distant planet by his father before the destruction of Planet Vegeta as he was deemed too weak to fight as a warrior. He arrives on Earth with his wife Gure in search of his brother to help him deal with a problem on his planet. The 2018 film Dragon Ball Super: Broly introduced reworked versions of Broly and Paragus into the series canon proper, affirms Tarble's status in the official continuity as a survivor of the destruction of Planet Vegeta, and indicates that two other male Saiyans also survive due to being on assignment with Vegeta.

Another survivor, a Saiyan pirate named Turles was introduced as the primary antagonist in the 1990 film Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might, though his existence and/or status as a survivor is exclusive to other continuities.

In Universe 6, the fate of the Saiyans diverged from that of their Universe 7 counterparts. They are a thriving civilization with their original homeworld intact, and they were never enslaved or subjugated by any external power.

In other media[edit]

Saiyan lore in the Dragon Ball franchise, in particular the Super Saiyan form, have influenced various real life topics and media, and inspired parodies and references in numerous notable works of fiction.


In the live-action film Dragonball Evolution, the Ōzaru is a monster that serves Piccolo, not a giant yet larger than a human and powerful. After Piccolo's sealing, the Ōzaru disappeared until eighteen years prior, coming to Earth as Goku, who is unaware of his true identity until the solar eclipse awakens him. However, Goku manages to revert to himself and accepts his monstrous aspect while defeating Piccolo.


Rapper Soulja Boy has two songs that reference the Super Saiyan form, as well as individual Saiyan characters Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, and Trunks.

In Thrice's debut album Identity Crisis, on the song T & C, the lyrics references Dragon Ball Z, stating "For like a Saiyan I won't grow, unless I'm battered in the fray." The demo version of the song from First Impressions has a sample of Vegeta in the intro from the original Ocean dub, "No way! How? It can't be! Kakkorot a Super Saiyan? But he's a low-class soldier, it doesn't make any sense!"

RZA of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan is an avid fan of the Dragon Ball anime series, calling it "one the deepest cartoons in history". In his book The Tao of Wu, he even states that he believes the Saiyans can represent the "journey of the black man in America".

The song The Greatest by rapper Futuristic mentions the Super Saiyan form in the lyrics "I'm frustrated and about to go Super Saiyan".

In the song Paradise by rapper Big Sean, he mentions the Super Saiyan form in the lyrics "I just hit the booth and went Super Saiyan".

Film and Television[edit]

In the 93rd TV Funhouse short on the November 11th, 2006 episode of Saturday Night Live, competitive eating champion Takeru Kobayashi is featured as the titular character of Kobayashi, which parodies Dragon Ball Z. In the skit, he transforms into a Super Saiyan and eats hot dogs to save people. The skit is completely in Japanese, but different variations of both original and English music from the series is used during the skit, as well as footage of the show itself in the background. The intro also has Kobayashi land and transform into a Super Saiyan, much like the actual intro to Dragon Ball Z.

In the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs the World, the titular character battles a bass-playing antagonist named Todd Ingram, played by Brandon Routh. Todd appears to have gained psychic powers by adopting a vegan lifestyle and not eating meat. When Todd powers up, his blond hair stands straight up in a process similar to that of the Super Saiyan transformation. He also uses energy-based attacks, somewhat similar to those used by characters throughout the Dragon Ball series. The fact that Todd is vegan is most likely a play on the way that all Saiyan characters are traditionally named after vegetables.

In the movie Birth, Sean has a backpack featuring Goku in his Super Saiyan form.

In the crime drama series Criminal Minds, the character Penelope Garcia keeps figurines of various Saiyan characters from the Dragon Ball series on her desk.

See also[edit]


  1. Dragon Ball Daizenshuu Book 6: Movies and TV Specials
  2. Dragon Ball Z Manga, Volume 16, Chapter 181
  3. Dragon Ball Z Manga, Volume 26, Chapter 324
  4. Dragon Ball Z Manga, Volume 1, Chapter 2
  5. Dragon Ball Z Manga, Volume 1, Chapter ?
  6. Dragon Ball Z Manga, Volume 3, Chapter ?
  7. Dragon Ball Z Movie: Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan
  8. Dragon Ball Z Movies: Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan, Broly: Second Coming and Bio Broly

Others articles of the Topic Anime and manga : Jutsu (Naruto), Ironmouse, Minato Namikaze, Toddlercon, VTuber FeFe, Near (Death Note), Kyo Sohma

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