Frieza is introduced in the series as the powerful galactic overlord on a mission for immortality and conquest, ruler of an empire said to control seventy-nine or more planets. Frieza creates armies from the planets that he conquers, his most utilized race were the Saiyans. Frieza had heard about the legend of the Super Saiyan, a being with unrivaled power, but dismissed it as simple mythology; however, after several Saiyans emerged with rapidly evolving potential, Frieza began to fear that the legend would indeed come true, so as a result, destroyed the Saiyan race. His actions and lust for power eventually bring him into conflict with the heroes of the series when he tries to take possession of the wish-granting Dragon Balls on Planet Namek.
Frieza's fears were realized when he was defeated by Goku, who in turn had become a Super Saiyan.
His character would return shortly thereafter, having survived the encounter with Goku but having been left with multiple metal prosthetics. Though accompanied to Earth by his father, Frieza is unable to avenge his loss, being killed with relative ease by a newcomer to the series, the half-Saiyan time traveler Trunks. A blood sample taken before his ultimate fate would later become a catalyst for the next arc's featured villain: Cell, a warrior genetically engineered to be perfect.
Toei Animation would continue to make use of the character in their anime adaptation, with Frieza making brief cameo appearances during the Buu Saga, animated features and Dragon Ball GT. He is last referenced in the manga as a measure of the strength of the Kaioshin, the supreme lords of the Dragon Ball universe, as "each of whom could have felled Frieza in one blow". In Toriyama's out-of-continuity parody of his earlier work Neko Majin Z, Frieza sends his henchman Vegeta on errand to retrieve his missing son on Earth.