Perhaps the greatest part of the Dragon Ball franchise is the fights, the over-the-top battles that result in characters shooting beams at each other and knocking opponents into mountains. These fights have stuck with the audience, but not all warriors are created equal, and some characters get left behind as Dragon Ball moves forward. Dragon Ball's power scale has shifted up and down quite a bit as the franchise has evolved, but some fighters still stand far above the rest.
In Dragon Ball, there are a lot of ways to determine power. However, the cleanest, easiest way of comparing Dragon Ball characters is to eliminate corner cases and unfair exceptions. Dragon Ball has fused fighters that are more than the sum of their parts, god-like characters that don't really fight, and side characters from non-canonical timelines. The easiest way to truly identify the strongest Dragon Ball characters is to only consider key, canonical characters at the peak of their strength.
Updated September 12, 2022 by Daniel Kurland: Akira Toriyama’s signature shonen series has been an anime mainstay since the 1980s, but it’s truly remarkable to see how enthusiasm for the franchise has only reached greater heights with the events of Dragon Ball Super. Fans don’t have to worry about Dragon Ball going away anytime soon with an ongoing manga, anime feature film spectacles, and a steady stream of video games in development. The core principles of Dragon Ball remain unchanged, but one area that continues to evolve are the new plateaus of power that the phenomenal characters in this universe can now reach.
20 Tien Remains Dragon Ball's Strongest And Most Determined Human
Humans have faced increasing difficulties to prove their worth in Dragon Ball's latest chapters. But Tien continues to emerge as one of Earth's strongest humans and a testament to what they can accomplish. Tien possesses a number of versatile abilities that aid him in combat beyond brute strength and it's easy to forget that he was briefly Goku's superior at the World Martial Arts Tournament.
Tien is strong enough to both survive Buu's Human Extinction Attack and be chosen to fight for the survival of the universe, but he is still small potatoes compared to other characters. He's also an early Tournament of Power elimination. Tien isn't likely to claim the big villain victory any time soon, but he's still able to lend a supporting hand in battle.
19 Cabba Represents The Fighting Spirit Of Universe 6's Saiyans
Dragon Ball Super introduces Cabba, a Saiyan from Universe 6 who's among their strongest fighters. Cabba is gifted with typical Saiyan perks like superior strength, a high power level, and the ability to transform, but he's nowhere near the limits of Universe 7's crop.
Cabba enters Dragon Ball with zero knowledge of the ways of the Super Saiyan, but he proves himself to be a quick study who ascends to Super Saiyan 2 power with minimal difficulty. Cabba still pales in comparison to his fellow Universe 6 Saiyan peers, but it seems like he's destined for great things if Vegeta ever decides to properly train him and take the impressionable fighter under his wing.
18 Goten Is The Descendant Of Saiyan Legends And An Early Super Saiyan Study
Goten is considered to be one of Dragon Ball's weaker Saiyans, but that's not to say that he's a weak character. After all, he's the son of Goku, a Saiyan hybrid, which are thought to have greater potential than pure-blooded Saiyans. He was able to turn Super Saiyan at an incredibly young age. However, in the larger scheme of things, Goten is still just a kid, and hasn't really received that much training, especially not as a Super Saiyan.
While Goten has had basic martial arts training from his mother and some advanced training from his older brother, he hasn't had many opportunities to develop his ki skills. Goten's gotten progressively comfortable leaning on his fused form, Gotenks, for any heavy lifting.
17 Android 17 Is The Apex Of Android Strength And Excels In The Tournament Of Power
Android 17 enters Dragon Ball as a murderous mechanical creation that would successfully wipe out civilization if not stopped by Goku and the rest of Earth's heroes. Android 17 experiences a lengthy absence in the series until he makes a heroic return as one of the strongest fighters in the Tournament of Power.
Android 17 is an "infinite energy" model, which means that he doesn't get tired or face a depletion of energy. Furthermore, despite the fact that his power comes from an internal source, he can still train to grow stronger. Android 17's peak was during the culmination of the Tournament of Power, where he proves himself to the multiverse and secures Universe 7's survival, but it's likely that he's set to experience even greater heights.
16 Caulifla Is A Hard-Working Universe 6 Saiyan With Promising Potential
Both Caulifla and her Saiyan fighting partner Kale are significantly more dangerous in their fused state, Kefla. Kefla holds her own against both Universe 11's Jiren and Ultra Instinct Goku, which is no small feat. But Caulifla is also an impressive case study on her own.
Like the rest of the Universe 6 Saiyans, Caulfila is a natural when it comes to Super Saiyan strength and she nearly stumbles upon a Super Saiyan 3 transformation with minimal effort. The uncontrollable rage that Kale can tap into technically makes her stronger than Caulifla, but Caulifla is the more capable battle strategist and the Saiyan who's more likely to show improvement over time. Caulifla's best has yet to come.
15 Kale's Berserker State Makes Her A Powder Keg Of Power
Dragon Ball Super eventually returns to Broly and his Legendary Super Saiyan status, but for a while, it seemed like his role would be filled by Universe 6's equivalent, Kale. Kale is a fascinating figure since her Berserker form presents such destructive power that even gives Goku pause.
However, Kale is typically a meek fighter who even struggles to find the confidence to defend herself without Caulifla's support. Training and self-confidence are crucial for Kale's growth, but she's still a raw reservoir of power at this point in the series.
14 Future Trunks Has Valiantly Fought To Save Two Timelines
Standard Trunks is more or less at the same power level as Goten even though he benefits from having a taskmaster like Vegeta as his father and training partner. Trunks' skills seem to reach their limit as Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks, but the character's rougher future counterpart, Future Trunks, accomplishes consistent acts of greatness.
Future Trunks initially helps save the heroes during their foray with Cell, but he plays a vital role in the fight against Goku Black and Zamasu. In fact, Future Trunks' Sword of Hope maneuver is essential to Fused Zamasu's defeat before Zeno's intervention.
13 Hit Is A Legendary Assassin With Threatening Time-Skip Abilities
Raw strength is helpful for any fighter in Dragon Ball, but many of the strongest individuals are the ones who have inventive abilities and battle strategies that complement their strength. Hit temporarily confounds both Goku and Vegeta because his Time-Skip maneuver is such an extreme attack.
Hit uses this power to keep up with Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta, plus he's one of the deadliest competitors within the Tournament of Power. Hit's also earned the reputation as one of the universe's best assassins, which isn't a title that's acquired by the weak.
12 Majin Buu's Ancient Strength Rarely Gets A Chance To Prove Itself
Dragon Ball initially doesn't know what to do with Good Buu, the rotund and playful version of Majin Buu that's left to live with the heroes following his evil counterpart's elimination. Buu is a fun foil for Hercule Satan and the series is satisfied to use him as more of a punchline than an asset in battle.
There are several occasions where Buu is poised to impress, only for lengthy bouts of slumber to take him out of commission. Despite these concessions, Buu's foundation is too powerful to overlook and his attempts to grow stronger, like with Fit Buu, highlight his endless potential.
11 Universe 11's Top Has God Of Destruction Power And Pride Trooper Values
Top is one of the admirable Pride Troopers who tirelessly defend Universe 11 against galactic threats. Top's strength is dwarfed by his Pride Trooper compatriot, Jiren, but he taps into an explosive rage in the Tournament of Power that's impossible to overlook.
Top has experience as a God of Destruction candidate, which means that he can shift into a ferocious Destroyer form. Destroyer Top gives a serious beatdown to Frieza and becomes one of the last ones standing in the Tournament of Power. Top has yet to return following the competition's conclusion, but hopefully a return to Universe 11 is imminent.
10 Jiren Becomes A Colossal Concern For All Of Universe 7 In The Tournament Of Power
Dragon Ball Super's Tournament of Power is such an exciting change of pace because it's a free-for-all battle royale against dozens of deadly fighters from across the multiverse, most of which are completely new to Goku and the rest of Universe 7. Universe 7 benefits from hearty Saiyan representation, but they soon learn that Universe 11 is the team to beat thanks to what their leader, Jiren, brings to the table.
Jiren's incredible strength prompts Goku's temperamental ascension to Ultra Instinct for the first time. Jiren's dedication to training and meditation means that it's likely that he's only gotten stronger since his clash against Goku.
9 Piccolo's Orange Ascension Is The Power Boost He's Been Waiting For
Piccolo, Dragon Ball's strongest Namekian, is a vital player during most of Dragon Ball Z, but the series' Saiyans and villains reach such unreasonable heights that he becomes an unlikely guardian for the series' younger generation of heroes. Dragon Ball Super and GT struggle to find new territory for Piccolo, but it's deeply satisfying to see him rise to the top in Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.
This feature film doesn't just put Piccolo in the spotlight, but it rewards him with a Potential Unlocked form and a more massive Orange Piccolo transformation. Orange Picccolo can finally compete with the likes of the series' strongest Saiyans.
8 Gohan Beast Is An Intimidating Transformation That Puts Him On Par With His Father
Gohan fans haven't had it easy throughout Dragon Ball's run. The earliest episodes of Dragon Ball Z tease Gohan's inner potential and how he's destined to surpass his father. This evolution briefly comes to pass against Cell, but Gohan's Ultimate form becomes a useless tease against Super Buu and ultimately inferior to Goku's strength.
Gohan falls into greater complacency throughout Dragon Ball Super and the anime's newest movie, Super Hero, is all about the Saiyan regaining his fighting spirit. Gohan reaches unprecedented power in his Gohan Beast form, which is said to be on par with Goku and Vegeta, who largely sit the cinematic adventure out.
7 Goku's Journey To Perfect Ultra Instinct Has Pushed Him To New Heights
As Dragon Ball's protagonist, Goku is subjected to the greatest number of victories and power-boosting epiphanies throughout the series' run. Goku first gets a taste of Ultra Instinct strength during his fight against Jiren in the Tournament of Power, which turns out to merely be the start of a laborious journey.
Goku slowly ascends multiple tiers of Ultra Instinct power as he faces threats like Planet-Eater Moro, Granolah, and the Heeter Force's Gas. Goku's latest Ultra Instinct development reclaims his identity, establishes an eerie calm, and is set to accomplish unbelievable things.
6 Ultra Ego Vegeta Is The Saiyan Prince At His Finest And Most Fierce
One of the most entertaining dynamics in Dragon Ball is the friendly rivalry that exists between Saiyans, Goku and Vegeta, as they perpetually play catch-up with each other. Vegeta has gotten used to being Goku's inferior, which sets him on a unique soul-searching quest that equips him with powerful new techniques and distinct transformations.
These play to his strengths rather than trying to match Goku's milestones. Ultra Ego Vegeta is a truly exciting turn for the character that's only improved by the fact that Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero concludes with Vegeta finally besting Goku in a sparring session.
5 Granolah, Surviving Cerealian, Achieves Immense Strength Through A Volatile Method
Granolah is one of the newer players to appear in Dragon Ball. He initially strives to wipe out Frieza and the remaining Saiyans as a way to do his fallen Cerealian people justice. Granolah isn’t the only Dragon Ball character who exploits the powers of Toronbo in order to acquire a substantial power boost through a Dragon Ball wish.
However, Gas is eliminated when the dust settles at the end of this story arc. Granolah reveals that he only has a few years left, but this doesn’t diminish the fact that his current power level isn’t far behind that of Ultra Instinct Goku and Ultra Ego Vegeta.
4 Broly’s Legendary Super Saiyan Strength Make Him A Perennial Powerhouse
Dragon Ball Super: Broly properly works the fan-favorite Legendary Super Saiyan into the franchise’s canon, albeit with some crucial revisions to his backstory. Broly thankfully doesn’t conclude with the Saiyan’s demise and he’s allowed to refine his brute strength with Goku and Vegeta.
Broly’s role in Dragon Ball Super: Super Herois extremely limited, but Akira Toriyama has let on that Broly’s unbridled strength is on par with the movie’s new juggernauts, Cell Max, Gohan Beast, and Orange Piccolo. Broly might be afraid to tap into this temperamental power, but it’d likely put him above his Saiyan counterparts.
3 Frieza Has Surpassed Expectations With His Deadly New Form
A lot of intimidating villains come and go throughout Dragon Ball, but Frieza has earned the title of the franchise's official antagonist after his repeated returns to relevance. The first fight against Frieza is responsible for Goku's iconic Super Saiyan debut, but his growth over the years is on par with that of the Saiyans that he's grown to loathe.
Golden Frieza seems to be on par with Super Saiyan Blue strength, but the conclusion of the manga's grueling battle against Gas reveals Black Frieza. Black Frieza is the result of a decade of strenuous training and while the full extent of his power has yet to be seen, he takes out Ultra Instinct Goku and Ultra Ego Vegeta with a single punch.
2 God Of Destruction, Lord Beerus, Is Still An Ultimate Tool Of Chaos
Celestial deities of increasing power are a recurring trend in Dragon Ball, but Super pushes this premise to its peak with Gods of Destruction, Angels, and even an Omni-King who holds dominion over all twelve universes.
Lord Beerus becomes the first major threat in Dragon Ball Super and this godly power pushes Goku to become a Super Saiyan God for the first time. A true rematch with Beerus has yet to occur, but he confidently defends himself against a God of Destruction battle royale during a tense moment leading into the Tournament of Power.
1 Whis' Angel Abilities Can Reshape Reality
At first glance, most would assume that Beerus is Whis' superior, but there are brief moments where the God of Destruction illustrates just how intimidated he is by Whis' Angel powers. The scariest thing about Whis is that he's never had to properly prove himself in battle, so audiences have no clue of his true strength.
That being said, Whis takes on Goku and Vegeta as pupils and he overwhelms them both with zero difficulty. In addition to intense strength, Whis can create pocket dimensions in his staff to perform Temporal Do-Overs which rewind time itself.
NEXT: 10 Strongest Characters In Dragon Ball (Who Aren't Gods)