There are many times when one underestimates another’s strength and real power. These is a saying that, “someone is always stronger than you” and this is that one moment in which we can see the tension build up and give a turn to the whole Dragon Ball universe.
Though much debated and romanticized it is by the greater fan base, Goku and Vegeta’s rivalry is a rather one-sided affair– even in Dragon Ball Z. It is true to the fact that there are somethings that we can never change in the story as that is something which would turn the total flow of plot and give a new ending and storyline to the story that is already underway thus, changing the whole concept of what it means to have a character as strong as Goku and a loyal friend as powerful as Vegeta. Though we can never change the facts, there are always times when we can take a run through the story and find moments in time when one character would exceed the other and gain an up-hand advantage in the fights and battles that they were fighting in.
It is true that Vegeta starts out stronger than Goku and trains in a manner where he seems to be the idealistic person that Goku would look up to. Which also takes place in a few episodes and is a given fact that Goku at times gets inspiration and sudden push by seeing the strength and the level where Vegeta stand in. It is probably because of this, that Goku aims to strive higher than ever and be in the spot of Legendary Super Saiyan whose strength is un-matchable and off the charts.
It is because of this high-end introduction to Vegeta that Goku gets the will to get stronger even more and be in a place where others cannot dare to stand.
We all know for a fact that Vegeta is stronger and more powerful than Goku till the Namek are but aren’t sure at the exact moment when Goku surpasses Vegeta and gets a higher recognition in terms of power, strength and durability. While Goku is out for commission for much longer in context to Vegeta, Vegeta too gets up and ready to go to Namek and with this journey of his, Vegeta easily becomes the strongest main character when Gohan, Krillin and Bulma stealth around most of Namek while Vegeta picks off Frieza’s personal guard. It clearly shows us the proof that there are times when Vegeta becomes stronger than the main protagonist and also clearly underlines the fact that Vegeta is someone who could’ve been far superior if he had at the beginning of his timeline chosen a path that was worth taking and risking his life for.
As said earlier we obviously cannot count him as the strongest Saiyan as Vegeta is someone who is subpar to Goku. This is something that makes total sense and is a very expected outcome as it is only natural for Goku to be stronger than his rivals, as he is the main protagonist in the Dragon Ball universe.
We cannot speak of much about Vegeta’s strength and power without mentioning the time when Beerus had the audacity to lay his hand on Bulma. In Dragon Ball’s God of Destruction storyline, we get to encounter a scene where just as Beerus is about to destroy the Earth, he gets slapped by Bulma and to save his pride as the God of Destruction he goes on to slap her back, though much harder. It is in this very moment that we get to see the true power of Vegeta being unleased from inside of him.
Vegeta at the moment loses control of himself and goes on to transform himself to Super Saiyan 2 in a more enraged form and have a brief fight with Beerus when he is relatively keel and at the moment surpasses Goku in terms of strength, power and mayhem causing ability. It is again a given that he loses this fight too as he stands against an opponent that even Goku in his Super Saiyan God form had trouble fighting but, this again just goes on to show us just how far Vegeta is willing to go when it comes to saving those that he loves and wants to protect.
Though this may not seem as much, this is again that one moment where Vegeta for a few instances is stronger than Goku. With the start of the Cell saga in Dragon Ball, we get familiar with the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and understand the working mechanisms of it where, once the person goes inside, he can train for years and emerge as a new form of himself and find that only a few days has passed in the outside world. This is that one path which helped Vegeta to finally level himself up and get stronger than Goku for a brief amount of time, i.e., till Goku has his own go at the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
Vegeta to surpass Goku and fight the formidable treat of Cell like never before goes ahead and jumps the queue to enter the chamber with his son Trunks. By the time that he comes out of the chamber, we get to see a new form of him where he has long advanced himself to Super Saiyan form and is a tad bit stronger than Goku till the moment Goku too takes his go at the chamber. This new form of Vegeta and his son Trunks help us to understand just how far Vegeta is willing to take himself when it comes to becoming strong and get a power that will go on to make him more powerful than his rival. Though we cannot comment much on this small incident, we also cannot overlook the fact that, at the moment when Vegeta emerged from his journey inside the Hyperbolic Time Chamber, he was someone who was stronger than Goku even though it may have been for a very brief period.
While we are talking about the Cell arc, we cannot undermine the time when Future Trunks warns Goku of the Android attack. It is at this time that everyone goes their separate ways to train and get stronger. While Goku goes on to train himself alongside training Piccolo and Gohan, Vegeta takes a new approach and flies off to outer-space for solo training. It is in this time that Vegeta really advances to a whole new level and gets power that is so very unlike him and his personality.
It is even acknowledged by Tien Shinhan that when Vegeta returns back to Earth after his training he is much stronger than Goku. This is that one scene in the Cell Arc of Dragon Ball where we see just how strong Vegeta is compared to Goku. Even in the moment when the Androids finally showed up and attacked Earth, we see that Goku attained the fabled Super Saiyan form first, but Vegeta apparently did it better. After training alone and vigorously in outer-space, Vegeta gets a total uplift from his pervious power and attains the strength that is very much appreciated by the crowd that watch the series. This side of Vegeta tells us so much more about the Saiyan Prince than we realize and even during the Super Saiyan transformation, Vegeta again gets acknowledged by Piccolo who states that, with this later power upgrade, Vegeta has managed to overtake Kakarott.
While we see the truth that lies right in front, we still make the obvious choice of selecting the main protagonist because of his fame and time period in the anime. There is just no way that we can change the plot of the anime by simply redirecting it to a whole new path. What we can do however is provide justice to the character that has so much potential and ambition to be at the place where our main protagonist now stands in. This is the least form of justice that we can provide to the one who is so close to our hearts and give him an upliftment through the gaps in the anime that we normally tend to overlook.