The Dragon Ball series is probably one of the most well-known anime franchises in history. The long-standing action series has long been credited with providing one of the first mainstream bridges for Japanese animation to reach international audiences. Weebs all over the world can thank Dragon Ball for paving the way for other anime to transcend borders.
Of the many popular characters in the franchise, even the most uninitiated can probably name Goku and Vegeta off the top of their heads. As the main protagonist of the series, Goku has carved out a place in many fans' hearts as an all-time favorite thanks to his boundless optimism and endless journey to better himself. Meanwhile, Vegeta's status as an anti-hero is so iconic that actor Michael B. Jordan even gave him a nod in Black Panther.
Longtime fans will know that in the series Vegeta always calls Goku "Kakarot," but why?
Why does Vegeta call Goku "Kakarot" in the 'Dragon Ball' series?
Throughout the series, Z-Fighters Goku and Vegeta remain the best of frenemies. For Goku, the relationship is one of mutual respect and genuine friendship, but Vegeta sees Goku as a bitter rival whose strength he constantly has to overcome.
Regardless of how each of them perceives the relationship, they're undoubtedly one of the most well-known duos in anime history. Their bond is punctuated by the fact that Vegeta has a special name for the show's main protagonist — he calls him "Kakarot" instead of Goku.
Where did this name come from, though? Interestingly enough, it's not a nickname that Vegeta uses. Quite the opposite, actually! Kakarot was the name given to Goku at birth.
See, both Vegeta and Goku are part of an alien species known as Saiyans who hail from the planet Vegeta (yes, the planet is also called Vegeta). As a child, Vegeta (the person) was made aware of Goku's existence and knew him by the name that Goku's birth father Bardock bestowed onto him.
After the destruction of their home planet, Vegeta escaped and Bardock sent his son to Earth to survive in his place. It's there that Goku is picked up by a martial arts hermit named Son Gohan and is given the name Goku.
Years later, Vegeta arrives on Earth in search of the magical Dragon Balls for his own selfish gains. It's Vegeta who reveals to Goku his true origins, as well as his birth name of Kakarot.
Anyone who knows Vegeta knows that his pride as a Saiyan is one of the most important aspects of his personality. Even after becoming an anti-hero, each move he makes is a calculated effort to show everyone how mighty his race is. That pride comes through when he refers to Goku by his birth name. Despite nearly the entire cast referring to him as Goku, Vegeta is immovable in addressing him as Kakarot.