Korin continues to give Bulma directions to the battlefield. Desperate for news as to whether or not Gohan is still alive, Chi-Chi begins to threaten Korin as Master Roshi tells them both to stop. Vegeta begins to gather energy to remove Gohan's tail, but before he can do it, Yajirobe cuts into Vegeta's armor across the back with his sword. Vegeta is injured further, and falls to the ground. Yajirobe stands gloating over his fallen opponent, but Vegeta rises again and starts walking toward him. Unable to connect with his sword a second time, Yajirobe tries to apologize to Vegeta, saying his words were meant as a joke. Angry at Yajirobe for having injured him, Vegeta starts beating him up repeatedly.
Goku sees this distraction as an opportunity. In a last-ditch strategy, he instructs a dazed Gohan to look up at the Power Ball currently radiating Blutz Waves. Gohan does, and begins his transformation into a Great Ape. A panicked Vegeta tries to prevent the transformation but to no avail, and Gohan begins to wreak havoc. Being half-human, Gohan is slightly more easily reasoned with as a Great Ape than Goku, and with Krillin and Yajirobe cheering him on, he directs his attacks toward Vegeta. Vegeta focuses all his power into staying clear of Gohan long enough to figure out a way to cut off his tail. None of his efforts even slow Gohan down, however, he finds a chance to remove Gohan's tail with one of his own Destructo Disk. Vegeta fails to get clear of the falling Gohan as he slowly returns to normal, and is crushed under Gohan's massive body. This last blow being more than he could deal with, Vegeta activates his space pod to retrieve him using a small remote control device.
In the ruins of East City, a number of radiation-suited investigators are gathered around Vegeta and Nappa's space pods, the only things left in the city, when Vegeta's pod becomes active and flies away. Krillin sees it approaching and realizes Vegeta is trying to get away. Crawling towards the pod, Vegeta is angered for letting himself be defeated so badly. Visibly limping, Krillin moves in to eliminate Vegeta with Yajirobe's katana. From his planet, King Kai praises Goku and the others for fighting so valiantly against the evil Saiyans, but makes a remark about them not defeating the worst evil of all. Barely able to move, Vegeta is unable to defend himself against Krillin's attack. However, a telepathic plea from Goku stops Krillin just short of Vegeta's face.
As Vegeta pulls himself inside the pod, Krillin and Goku argue over the wisdom of letting him go. Krillin hopes Goku isn't thinking Vegeta's heart will soften if he is shown mercy, the way it worked with Piccolo. Goku agrees that there is no guarantee that will be the case with Vegeta, but adds that seeing him so close to death makes him think what a waste taking his life away would be and that killing him would only show him the same anger and violence he embraces as his way of life and instead wishes to expose him to the warmth of kindness and plant seeds of graciousness, mercy, and love in his heart, optimistic that they will one day grow. Besides, Vegeta is the strongest opponent Goku has ever faced, and after some recovery and more training, his own Saiyan blood will yearn for a rematch. Krillin feels he owes it to Yamcha, Chiaotzu and Tien Shinhan to avenge their deaths, but reluctantly allows Vegeta to go, saying that he hopes Goku is right about this decision. Watching over the conversation, King Kai also hopes that Goku is right. Swearing revenge, Vegeta closes the pod and blasts off into space.
- Goku claims that one day, Vegeta may learn to show mercy and even sacrifice himself to save one of them, like Piccolo did for Gohan. Both eventually come true: in "Unknown Enemies", Vegeta runs into Gohan while on Planet Namek and has the perfect opportunity to kill him, but merely knees him in the stomach and spitefully tells him to go back to Earth; throughout the rest of the Frieza arc and the Cell arc, Vegeta risks his own life to save or help the others, particularly Gohan, more than once, and even in peacetime, Vegeta advises Gohan to carry on training to keep his strength up; in "Final Atonement", Vegeta performs a Kamikaze attack to destroy Majin Buu and avenge Gohan, whom he believes was killed by Buu, even though it fails.