Dragon Ball Z: Bardock - The Father of Goku (ドラゴンボールZ たったひとりの最終決戦～フリーザに挑んだZ戦士 孫悟空の父～, Doragon Bōru Zetto: Tatta Hitori no Saishū Kessen ～Furīza ni Idonda Zetto Senshi Son Gokū no Chichi～; lit. "Dragon Ball Z: A Lonesome, Final Battle 'The Father of the Z Warrior Son Goku, who Challenged Freeza'") is the first Dragon Ball Z TV Special, which is an addition to the popular manga and anime series. It first aired on October 17, 1990, between Dragon Ball Z episodes 63 and 64 (during the fight against the Ginyu Force). Bridge Entertainment's title is The Father of Goku. FUNimation Entertainment dubbed it into English in 2000. It was the first Dragon Ball Z feature to be dubbed with FUNimation's in house voice cast. The special was re-released in a remastered box set bundled with Dragon Ball Z: The History of Trunks in May 2008. FUNimation released a remastered single version on September 15, 2009.
The special is the story of Bardock, a low-class Saiyan warrior. At the outset of the story, his son Kakarot is born on Planet Vegeta, and prepared to be sent to Earth in order to destroy all life on the planet. Meanwhile, Bardock and his crew are on an assignment to exterminate all the life forms of Planet Kanassa. After the planet is seemingly devoid of all other life, Bardock and crew rest up and celebrate their victory... Until one remaining warrior catches him off guard and decides to give him the "gift" of seeing the future. This gives him the ability to see the destruction of Planet Vegeta, and almost the entire Saiyan race along with it, at the hands of their master, Frieza. Also, he sees the salvation of the planet Earth through his son Kakarot.
Meanwhile, this prediction becomes reality when Frieza decides to destroy the entire Saiyan race. Within Frieza's spaceship, Frieza is being briefed by his top two henchmen, Zarbon and Dodoria, in regards to the occurrences in their routine interplanetary galactic trade and conquering. Recent news reveals that the Saiyans' strength constantly grows after each battle. Zarbon informs Frieza that a band of low-class Saiyans had taken over Kanassa in just a few days. Dodoria states that the job to take Kanassa had been in the pool for months, and that not even Frieza's elite squadrons could take Kanassa so easily. Frieza, Zarbon, and Dodoria contemplate the fate of the Saiyans due to the growing power of the species and decide to take action in order to avoid further repercussions, as the Saiyans might pose a great threat to them in the future. Zarbon advises Frieza to eliminate the growing threat before it poses a greater problem. Dodoria and his elite fighters are ordered to eradicate Bardock and his teammates.
Bardock dismisses the visions he had, and goes to join his team on Planet Meat, but soon discovers his friends are all dead. Bardock's team was massacred by Frieza's henchman Dodoria and his elites. He battles the ones responsible, and defeats them all, but is easily overwhelmed by a single mouth blast from Dodoria. He is left severely injured, but manages to make it back to Planet Vegeta. Though Bardock attempts to convey the danger that they are all in to the other Saiyans, since he has now realized that Frieza is going to destroy them all, everyone laughs at his claim and Bardock alone begins one final assault against Frieza.
Killing many of his minor soldiers and sending the Final Spirit Cannon to Frieza himself in a bid to avenge all killed in the tyrant's name, Bardock seems about to change the future. However, Frieza counters this with his Supernova, which kills Bardock, many of his own soldiers, and destroys Planet Vegeta itself, all while uttering a maniacal laugh. As he is dying, Bardock sees one more vision of the future: his son Kakarot facing Frieza. Being assured that Kakarot would be the one to kill Frieza; Bardock gives a small smile as he disintegrates along with the planet. As the planet is on the verge of blowing up, Frieza continues laughing at its destruction, as well as telling Dodoria and Zarbon to watch the "beautiful fireworks" (in the English version, he reacts as though he were watching a spectacular performance from a play, though this is corrected in future dubs of this scene). After his demise, Bardock wishes his son, Kakarot, to take care. At the same moment, Kakarot, who is still in the space pod, wakes up.
Elsewhere, having just completed an assignment on a far-off world, Vegeta is informed by Nappa (in the English version it is one of Frieza's minor soldiers who tells him) of his homeworld's destruction. His pride keeps him from expressing his shock, and he remains outwardly emotionless. Soon afterward, Kakarot's space pod touches down on Earth, where he is found by an elderly man named Gohan, and giggles happily in the old man's arms. Gohan then decides to care for the boy as his own grandson, and renames him Goku. The film ends with a montage of Goku's many heroic deeds on Earth, leading to his battle with Frieza.
Bardock - The Father of Goku was released on March 19, 2003 as part of Dragon Box Z, Vol. 1 in Japan. It was re-released on August 5, 2011 as part of the Dragon Ball Z Special Selection along with The History of Trunks. This DVD had a higher video bitrate but a lower audio bitrate.
FUNimation released Bardock - The Father of Goku for VHS and DVD on January 31, 2001 in both edited and uncut forms. As was the case with all previous releases, the special was released in an unmatted 4:3 aspect ratio. The DVD featured a new English dub with a soundtrack of American rock bands and a score done by Dale Kelly, Andy Baylor and Mark Akin. It premiered on Toonami on September 5, 2003, kicking off a month-long event called "DBZ Movies," during which a Dragon Ball Z feature aired every Friday. Bardock aired in an edited format and also included pieces from the Faulconer Productions score from Dragon Ball Z in some scenes when normally licensed music would have been heard on the DVD and VHS. This was likely done because FUNimation no longer had the licenses for some of the songs they had included in the soundtrack. This version of the special has never been released to home video.
FUNimation re-released Bardock - The Father of Goku and The History of Trunks on DVD and Blu-ray on February 19, 2008 as part of their "Double Feature" line. This new set featured a brand-new widescreen transfer from Video Post & Transfer and a new audio mix for the English dub featuring the original Japanese score done by Shunsuke Kikuchi in addition to the old mix featuring the American rock bands and the Kelly/Baylor/Akin score. FUNimation also released each Double Feature DVD individually on September 15, 2009, but both went out of print soon after.
- OP (Opening Theme): "Cha-La Head-Cha-La"
- IN (Insertion Song): "Solid State Scouter"
- ED (Ending Theme): "Light's Journey"
- Caviar - The Good Times Are Over
- Sum 41 - Makes No Difference (Ending)
- American Hi-Fi - A Bigger Mood (Ending)
- Saliva - Superstar
- Bardock's Elite (Great Ape) vs. Kanassan warriors
- Bardock and Tora vs. Toolo
- Vegeta vs. 6 Saibamen
- Goku vs. King Piccolo (Bardock's visions)
- Goku vs. Piccolo Jr. (Bardock's visions)
- Bardock's Elite vs. Dodoria's Elite
- Bardock vs. Dodoria's Elite and Dodoria
- Goku vs. Vegeta (Bardock's visions)
- Bardock vs. Frieza's Solders
- Bardock vs. Frieza (First Form)
- Goku vs. Frieza (Fourth Form) (Bardock's visions)
- Energy Wave - Used by Kanassan warriors, three of Dodoria's Elite, and Frieza's Soldiers.
- Mouth Energy Wave - Used by Tora and Borgos (as Great Apes).
- Knee Strike - Used by Shugesh.
- Flame Ballet - Used by Tora.
- Full Power Energy Wave - Used by Bardock.
- Explosive Wave - Used by Kid Vegeta and Bardock.
- Finger Beam - Used by Kid Vegeta.
- Divination - Used by Bardock.
- Flight - Used by Bardock, Dodoria's Elite, Dodoria, and Frieza's Soldiers.
- Continuous Energy Bullet - Used by one of Dodoria's Elite.
- Final Revenger - Used by Bardock.
- Wild Sense - Used by Bardock.
- Kaio-ken Finish - Used by Goku (Bardock's visions only)
- Full-Nelson - Used by one of Dodoria's Elite.
- Energy Cannon - Used by Dodoria.
- Zenkai - Used by Bardock.
- Flash Spirit - Used by Bardock.
- I'll Never Forgive You! - Used by Bardock.
- Supernova - Used by First Form Frieza.
- Final Spirit Cannon - Used by Bardock.
- Although it bears the Dragon Ball Z logo and opening, Bardock - Father of Goku is a prequel to Dragon Ball; the special takes place 12 years before the events of the Emperor Pilaf Saga.
- In the FUNimation dub's plot, Frieza apparently wishes to capture Kanassa because those who dwell there develop psychic powers. However, in the original story, Bardock's crew had no idea why Frieza wants to capture Kanassa.
- In this special it is shown that Bardock fights his way through Frieza's men to get to Frieza himself. However, in the anime, when Frieza speaks of the event in a flashback, it is shown that the men Bardock fought in the special were actually with him on an attack against Frieza, which is actually a dubbing error on FUNimation's part.
- Vegeta is shown to have been on a far-off world at the time of Planet Vegeta's destruction, whereas an episode of Dragon Ball Z reveals Vegeta is said and shown to have been on Frieza's spaceship at the time of Planet Vegeta's destruction.
- King Vegeta does not appear in this movie despite that he was killed in the same time period.
- At the end of the special, baby Goku is shown to already be the happy loving boy he is in Dragon Ball when Gohan finds him, despite the fact it had already been established in an episode of Dragon Ball Z that Goku displayed tendencies typical of infant Saiyans and did not lose them until he hit his head. In addition Grandpa Gohan finds Goku a small distance from his pod during the day, while in Reunions it was implied he found him near his pod during the night. Strangely, this special actually earlier features the same scene from Reunions.
- In one of Bardock's final premonitions before his death, he sees Goku standing face-to-face with first-form Frieza. Goku never met Frieza in his first form. Though it can be argued that Bardock only knows of Frieza in his first form, as Frieza stated no one has seen his final form or any of his other forms beyond his first form. So Bardock would have no idea what it would look like. Which is why he sees Goku staring down his first form. Bardock's visions are also somewhat symbolic than objective, meaning they usually don't have to look exactly like how they would transpire. However as this special was aired before Goku took on Frieza in the manga, that can be explained that Toei didn't know about it (Goku faces first form Frieza on the cover of the 23 volume of the manga).
- It is also noted that Goku actually met Frieza in his first form after he was resurrected in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’. It lasted for a short time before transforming to his final form.
- The scene where Goku's space pod approaches Earth shows an Earth nearly identical to the real world Earth, with North and South America clearly visible.
- In Dragon Ball Kai (the recut and rebroadcast version of the Dragon Ball Z), the first episode used the footage of this special in the very beginning of the episode. Even in Dragon Ball Z: Cooler's Revenge, the same footage was shown, even though it was seen on Cooler's spaceship.
- In the original American DVD release with subtitles, Bardock's name was spelled as "Burdock". It has been changed to the more familiar "Bardock" in all recent DVD releases of this special, however other movies released as Double Features still use the "Burdock" spelling.
- Akira Toriyama has stated that this is his favorite movie.
- One of the eyecatch sequence features a bunch of Saiyans in the background. Some of these Saiyans are actually rough sketches of Bardock's team that were done prior to the special's release, and many of them were changed drastically for the final special.
- While traveling to Planet Vegeta to destroy it, Frieza says that it is "as red as a Blood Ruby." Blood Rubies were a major part of the plot for the movie Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies; at the end of this movie, Shenron removes all of the blood rubies from the Earth, and it is unknown what happened to them after this.
- This was where the music from The Tree of Might was first heard, outside of the films.