Bardock is first introduced in the television special, Bardock - The Father of Goku. It was only after the film's airing in Japan that he was later shown in two panels of the manga by Akira Toriyama, who helped design the character for Toei Doga's television production. His name is a pun on "burdock" (バードック, bādokku?), a herb. While the Viz manga and FUNimation's Japanese-language English-subtitled anime both use "Burdock", FUNimation's English anime dubs uses "Bardock", and some Japanese merchandise even use "Barduck".
The biological father of Raditz and Son Goku, Burdock is a Saiyan who is given the gift of precognition. In several of his recurring visions, he witnesses the destruction of his home planet Vegeta by the hand of Freeza. After escaping certain death from Dodoria, he tries desperately to change his planet's grim future by attempting to combat Freeza and his legion of men head on. He ultimately fails on ceasing Freeza's attack on the planet and is killed in the process. Moments before his death, he received a vision of his son facing the warlord. According to the anime special, Burdock was estimated a battle power of 10,000 by observant doctors while recovering from his last mission.
In the Dragon Ball: Episode of Bardock manga, Bardock became a Super Saiyan for the first time, to help promote his character in the arcade game Dragon Ball Heroes, where he also goes Super Saiyan.