Dragon Ball Z Characters – The Strongest 30
In the world of Dragon Ball Z the strong rise to the top, only to find out there’s somebody stronger waiting for them there. The series has structured itself around a number of battles against ever increasingly strong opponents, with the heroes having to rise up to and move beyond the power of those who threaten the world. So who are the strongest of the strong? Let’s take a look at the top 30.
Before diving into a list of the strongest characters in Dragon Ball Z, there’s a couple of ground rules that we need to set:
This is only discussing the original Dragon Ball Z anime series; the Dragon Ball GT follow up, Dragon Ball Super, and the various Dragon Ball Z movies are not being considered. Abilities and powers are only being considered during this time period as well, so any further power that, say, Vegita gains during GT is inconsequential for this list.
Fusions that result in a new character are also not being considered. So Vegito and Gotenks aren’t here but Piccolo is (since he’s still basically Piccolo after fusing with Nail and Kami).
Power levels are a very fickle thing as even in series it’s mentioned how unreliable those numbers are. Still for the purpose of trying to quantify them, different online sources have been referenced to try and obtain a somewhat accurate picture. Power levels are listed on a range from where a character started in terms of power, to where they ended up from their training and battle experience.
Included power levels do not include Super Saiyan forms. Assume a multiplier effect depending on whatever level of Super Saiyan was attained at the time.
Strength is more complex than it might seem. It’s not just physical strength, it’s power, endurance, determination, intelligence, etc. So ranking isn’t just based off of who could beat who in an arm-wrestling contest, but of overall abilities, power, and strength.
- Some characters stick around the series for quite some time and their age plays a large role in their character developments; such as Gohan and Trunks. For those purposes, age will be displayed ranging from their age at their first appearance, to their last.
Strongest Dragon Ball Z Characters: What Does The Scouter Say?
Age: Over 24 (Goku’s age at the time)
Power Level: 1,200 – Deaditz
Despite being more powerful than his brother Goku and Piccolo combined, Raditz still manages to die at their combined hands in pitiful fashion – though Goku did have to surrender his life to help Piccolo deal the final blow via the Special Beam Cannon. Ultimately, it wasn’t Piccolo and Goku that defeated this sorry excuse for a Saiyan, it was his own arrogance, carelessness, and hubris. For all that, he spends the rest of his “Double Sundays” in Hell and is never mentioned again. His only other claim to fame is a running joke in DBZ Abridged where his name is used synonymously with weakness.
Age: 28 – 51
Power Level: 177 – 10,000,000 (allegedly)
Between Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, most every character featured in the former became stronger, more accomplished people…except Yamcha. What Yamcha accomplished between the two series was losing a relationship with Bulma and starting up a baseball career. One of the Z Fighters playing baseball among human athletes is the very definition of underachieving. The only logical conclusion therefore is that the Yamcha from Dragon Ball was abducted or killed and replaced with an inferior clone. That or his death at the hands of a Saibaman scarred him for the rest of his afterlife…and then life…and then afterlife again…and then life…again
Age: 23 – 46
Power Level: 610 – 5,000,000
What Chiaotzu lacks in physical stature, he makes up for in heart. Despite having died before and there being unable to be revived by the Earth’s Dragon Balls, Chiaotzu gave his life to try and defeat Nappa. Summoning all his available energy, Chiaotzu created a massive ki explosion within himself, hoping to take Nappa with him. Unfortunately, the attack didn’t work, but Chiaotzu would eventually come back to life to train with his closest friend, Tien and continue to do whatever he could to protect him, Earth, and all its people.
Age: 10 – 27
Power Level: 23 – 23 + Ability To Fly
The daughter of Hercule, Earth’s greatest completely normal, human, martial artist; Videl is actually more powerful than her father though she lacks his charisma and ability to work a crowd. Thanks to training from Gohan, Videl learned to channel her ki energy to a level which enabled her to fly and create very limited projectile blasts. Outside of this, as is evidenced in her performance during her battle with a Babidi empowered Spopovich, she displays an impressive degree of martial arts skill and enough power to actually deliver a killing blow with relative ease. Her drive, training, and determination successfully led her to becoming the most powerful non-ki enhanced human on the planet.
Age: 31 – 48
Power Level: 22 – Still about 22…
Poor Hercule. If it weren’t for all those darned Z Fighters he would actually hold the title of the world’s greatest martial artist. But in the world of Dragon Ball Z, this title is just not meant to be for him. He can’t channel his own energy like his daughter can, but he does make up for this by being a surprisingly deep character with an incredibly sincere heart and genuine love for his family, his fans, and the people of Earth in general. He risks his life to try and defeat Majin Buu and instead ends up not only befriending him, but leading to the Good Buu personality fully emerging. Hercule is one of the few people who knows how seriously outmatched he is by the power of others, but still does everything he can to give people hope and a relatable role model. He may be incredibly egotistical and takes credit for the accomplishments of others, but he’s undeniably a kind and great human being.
Power Level: 4,000 – Vegeta BBQ
Nappa was the first real taste of the dangers that the Z Fighters were up against. In his short time on Earth, Nappa vaporized an entire city, treated massive naval units as toys, and led to the deaths of Tien, Chiaotzu, Piccolo, and very nearly Gohan. Even though he was very quickly defeated by Goku and subsequently eradicated by a disgusted Vegeta, Nappa posed a very real threat to the Earth. Given the Saiyan ability to grow stronger after defeat, one can only wonder what Nappa could’ve been capable of if he had gone through the cycle of near death and recovery that Goku and Vegeta were allowed to go through.
Age: Over 70 (and lookin’ fine)
Power Level: 23,000 – 0 shaped hole in the stomach.
Frieza’s right hand man that wasn’t a member of the Ginyu Force, Zarbon did successfully take down Vegeta and could have killed him if it wasn’t for the need to question him regarding the Dragon Balls. This decision ultimately ended up costing him his life as Vegeta’s boost in strength proved too much for Zarbon to handle in a rematch, even in his monstrously transformed state. The fact remains that Zarbon was in position to create a much different future of the Dragon Ball Z universe based entirely off of his strength alone.
Power Level: 6,500 – Heads up from Vegeta
Guldo had potential to be a devastatingly powerful fighter. Though he lacked the power of the rest of the Ginyu Force, he made up for it with a range of psychic abilities and more importantly, the power to temporarily stop time itself. As long as he held his breath, he could keep time at a standstill. If used effectively and creatively, this could’ve allowed Guldo to defeat any number of warriors without putting himself at risk. Vegeta managed to put a swift end to this threat though by staying a step…”a head” of Guldo and decapitating him. If only he had spent more time on cardio exercise, he may have been able to hold his breath a good deal longer.
Power Level: 45,000 – Vegeta BBQ Part 2
Despite the fact that both Burter and Jeice are faster and more powerful than Recoome, we really don’t get to see the potential of their power like we do Recoome’s. What we do get to see of his red haired brawler is pretty devastating though as he brings Gohan within an inch of his life. With a devastatingly powerful kick he’s able to break Gohan’s neck. Perhaps because of how realistic the injury is compared to others in the series, it’s one of the most savage moments witnessed, and Recoome has absolutely no remorse for it.
21. Captain Ginyu
Age: NA in Ginyu years – NA in Frog years
Power Level:120,000 – Frog
Captain Ginyu is quite obviously, the Captain of the Ginyu force and also its most powerful member. This would be the case even if he didn’t have his unique special attack. Ginyu’s “Change Beam” or “Body Change” attack allows him to project a beam that will project his being into the body of another, while the other gets transferred into him. The amount of usage he can get out of this is potentially limited, but under the right circumstances, this one attack could almost instantly be the end of any fighter, regardless of their strength.
Age: 5 – 27
Power Level: 10 + Healing Powers
Sometimes an ability that someone possesses is so useful and powerful in its own way, that it elevates the importance and power of the person themselves. Dende has no fighting skill, no aptitude for combat, and could quite easily be dispatched by any number of characters on this list. Dende is however, an incredibly skilled healer. As long as he’s alive and well, he can bring people back from the brink of death with relative ease. That is a skill of incredible importance and can not be underestimated when properly applied to a situation.
Age: Over 70
Power Level: 120,000,000 – Half the man he used to be
For as troubling and terrifying as Vegeta was to the Z-Fighters, Frieza was many, many times more terrifying. His transformations through multiple forms consistently beguiled the team before Goku’s arrival on Namek, and his Final Form pushed Goku to the edge of his limits. Frieza’s wanton destruction of entire planets, the entire Saiyan race, and countless others makes his body count one of the greatest in the series. While it is kind of comical to see Frieza cut in twain so easily by Future Trunks upon returning to Earth, it shouldn’t be forgotten that this monster’s power was immense enough to extinguish the Saiyan race.
Age: 25 – 47
Power Level: 206 – 15,000,000
Poor Krillin. If it weren’t for all those damned aliens and androids running all over the place, he’d be the most powerful non-three-eyed being on the planet. Despite how long he hangs around in DBZ, his usefulness in battle deteriorated pretty quickly as Goku, Piccolo, Gohan and their various opponents, all scaled in power far beyond what Krillin was capable of. Much to his credit though, Krillin does have at least one ace up his sleeve; his patented “Destructo Disc” technique. This powerhouse of a ki attack proved just how dangerous it was when it makes an appearance for the first time in Krillin’s fight against Nappa. Its ability to slice through virtually anything that isn’t braced for it makes it a potential game changer…if it actually manages to hit something. Beyond that however, Krillin’s determination, heart, and loyalty makes him more powerful than his physical strength may suggest.
17. Android 19
Power Level: 50,000,000 – Dismembered
An energy absorbing Android built to combat a group of fighters who largely rely on projectile energy attacks: what took someone so long to come up with this idea? Incredibly faithful to Dr. Gero, 19 is ruthlessly unemotional and because of his energy absorption abilities, a large threat if not fought carefully. Not only does the energy drain weaken the target, but it also bestows more power to 19. Of course you could just do what Vegeta did and rip his hands off, but we all can’t be Vegeta now, can we?
Power Level: 75,000,000 – Blowed Up
Former scientist for the Red Ribbon Army, Dr. Gero’s intelligence would’ve made him a powerful threat alone, but the cybernetic body he equipped himself with makes him far more physically powerful than he was before. Utilizing the same technology he gives to 19, Gero wields an energy absorbing android body which makes him just as much a threat to the Z-Fighters as Android 19. Though Gero did more running and hiding than fighting, this just points to his intelligence, knowing that he had more Androids in storage to fight for him. Unfortunately, it was by those hands that Gero would later be destroyed.
Age: Newborn – 18
Power Level: 11,000,000 – 120,000,000
The son of Vegeta and Bulma, this Trunks is far more arrogant and sure of himself than his future counterpart, likely due to the influence of Vegeta still being alive in this timeline. Trunks has all the potential to live up to his father’s name, and the reputation of his future self, but during Dragon Ball Z, he’s just too young to reach those heights. He can however, almost effortlessly reach Super Saiyan level; something that shocks his family and friends.
Age: 7 – 17
Power Level: 10,000,000 – 120,000,00
Like Trunks, Goten is just too young during the events of Dragon Ball Z to be considered more powerful than what he is here. Personality wise, he’s far more likable and affable than his friend Trunks, but he’s taken Goku’s nonchalant nature to a new extreme. Goten has the potential to be as powerful as his father, but that’s something that will only come from years of training and maturity. His “Gotenks” fusion with Trunks certainly ups his power tremendously, but the negative personality characteristics stop him from being a fully capable fighter.
Age: 28 – 51
Power Level: 250 – 100,000,000
As long as you count members from the three eyed tribe that Tien comes from as human, then Tien is the strongest human on Earth. He’ll never reach the heights of the Saiyans or Piccolo and his fusions; he’s not even as strong as the Androids for that matter. Despite this, Tien is powerful, resourceful, determined, and self-sacrificing. He’s put himself in harm’s way multiple times against stronger opponents and giving everything he has to stop them, even at the cost of his own life.
Tien’s defining moment comes during the Cell saga where in order to keep Cell temporarily trapped, Tien fires multiple Tri-Beam attacks at the monster. Though they don’t do any damage, they are able to keep Cell pinned down at the cost of Tien’s life force. That kind of dedication makes him an amazingly powerful fighter.
12. Android 18
Age: Early 20s – Late 30s
Power Level: 650,000,000 – Married with child
Between Android 17 & 18, there’s not a lot of difference in power separating the two. Both of them have been heavily augmented by Dr. Gero, and as seen in Trunk’s future timeline, are fully capable of laying waste to every living thing on the planet. In the regular timeline she has but one fault in terms of her programming; she still feels emotion. 18 falls for Krillin, sparing his life at one point. While this doesn’t exactly make her less powerful in that sense, it does make her less willing to go as far as her brother would, and in a battle, that can make all the difference.
11. Android 17
Age: Early 20s
Power Level: 700,000,000 – See you in GT
As noted in the entry for Android 18, 17 is more ruthless and heartless, making him willing to go to any extreme to destroy his enemies. It’s 17 who destroys Dr. Gero in incredibly brutal fashion and it’s also he who manages and directs the rampage that he and 18 go through following their activation. Even without 18, her brother could’ve ruled the world in the Future Trunks timeline, and if not for Cell, could’ve done the same in the original timeline.
10. Android 16
Power Level: 1,450,000,000 – Heads will roll
Despite not getting to see him use his full power during the course of the anime, Android 16 is said to be the strongest of Dr. Gero’s creations. Considering he was designed with the sole purpose of destroying Goku, 16 would have to be incredibly powerful to even stand a chance against him. Unfortunately for Gero, 16’s love of nature and peace rather conflicts with the more violent nature of his programming. At the very least, 16 seems to be able to hold his own against Cell in his imperfect form, something Android 17 and 18 weren’t able to accomplish.
Power Level: 500,000,000 – 30,000,000,000 – Kamehameha’d
Cell is an absolute beast of a creation. Even in his imperfect forms he’s a ferociously deadly menace. His perfect form though is so absurdly strong that no one on Earth truly could go one-on-one against him and win. Because Cell was an amalgamation of DNA obtained from Goku, Piccolo, and other beings on Earth, his capabilities went far beyond those of the individual Z-Fighters. Between the mastery of Goku’s techniques and Piccolo’s regenerative properties, Cell very nearly brought the world to its knees.
8. Supreme Kai
Age: Over 5 million
Power Level: 7,000,000,000 – 7,000,000,000 plus whatever Kibito added
If King Kai gave off the impression that the Kais weren’t capable of fighting, Supreme Kai demolishes that theory. While actually just the Eastern Supreme Kai, the death of the others makes him the de facto leader of the Kais, all of which were said to be easily capable of destroying Frieza. Unfortunately, the lack of fights that the Supreme Kai participates in make it difficult to observe his full power on display. That being said, he was able to inflict a small degree of damage upon Majin Buu, which is a feat easier said than done. He also has a strong conviction to uphold the order of the universe and his drive to do just that pushes him toward meeting challenges head-on.
Power Level: 10,000,000,000 – Cookie
It really shouldn’t be shocking that the lord of the underworld be enormously powerful. Dabura is staggeringly strong; Goku even notes that he’s as strong as Cell, but this could be understated due to Dabura’s magical abilities. Not only is Dabura influenced and powered by Babidi’s magic, Dabura himself possesses the ability to turn things to stone with this spit. This is again, one of those kinds of attacks that exist as a potential game changer, regardless of power level. Apparently Dabura hasn’t used this as a crutch though as his ability and skill as a fighter is at least on par with Gohan; something that very few beings can claim.
Age: 8 – 31
Power Level: 408 – 5,500,000,000
Thanks to his ability to fuse and combine with other Namekians, Piccolo is able to keep up pretty well with the Saiyans for a lot longer than many of his allies. Piccolo’s abilities as a fighter only become irrelevant when the threat of Majin Buu comes along. Knowing that he can’t possibly compete with that, Piccolo takes on more of a mentor role, attempting to instruct Goten and Trunks on fusion techniques in addition to trying to get Gotenks to be less arrogant. Regardless of where his actual level of power ends up, Piccolo has amazing skill as a fighter. By utilizing a number of unique techniques, combined with his knowledge of battle strategies and regeneration abilities, Piccolo can hold his own against all but the very strongest of opponents in the DBZ saga.
Age: 17 – 20
Power Level: 4,000,000 – 110,000,000
Few things say “bad ass” like a sword, and that’s exactly what Future Trunks has. Coming from a timeline in which the Androids destroyed virtually all of civilization, this Trunks was raised in the midst of a continuous battle of life and death. Trained by Gohan in this future, Trunks comes to the main timeline with a level of power that’s able to destroy Frieza and his father King Cold with almost no effort at all. His power only grows thanks to training with his father in the hyperbolic time chamber in an attempt to defeat Cell. Though Trunks falls short of the other Saiyans in terms of his power, the amount of growth he accomplishes sees him return to the future with the ability to destroy the Androids that plagued his childhood.
Age: 4 – 26
Power Level: 1 – 400,000,000
The son of Goku and Chi-Chi showed his powerful potential almost from the start of the series when he administered an intensely powerful flying headbutt to Raditz, cracking his armor. Under the tutelage of Piccolo, Gohan is able to grow considerably stronger but is too timid in nature to accomplish much for quite some time. It’s not until the Cell Saga when Android 16 essentially sacrifices himself to ignite Gohan’s anger that the son of Goku truly awakens. Gohan becomes the first character to reach Super Saiyan 2 level and ultimately defeats Cell thanks to it and the power of his father. Gohan’s Great Saiyaman phase doesn’t do much to demonstrate just how powerful he is. Unfortunately his absorption by Super Buu cuts short a demonstration of Gohan’s full power, but given how much strength it gives to Buu, it only provides further evidence of how much the young Saiyan grew.
Age: 29 – 52
Power Level: 18,000 – 5,800,000,000
The self-proclaimed “Prince of All Saiyans” always seems to come in as a runner-up to Goku. In some ways this proves maddeningly frustrating to Vegeta, but on the other hand his desire to surpass Goku consistently pushes him to greater and greater heights. Vegeta has one of the most defined character arcs, showing him go from a ruthless killer, to a self-sacrificing hero. All along the way he consistently shows a ruthlessness in battle spurred along by a desire to prove just how strong he is. Like some of his Saiyan brethren, his arrogance gets the better of him at points, leading to him getting nearly killed on a few occasions. However, his Saiyan trait of recovering stronger than he was before makes Vegeta’s power almost unparalleled.
2. Majin Buu
Age: Around 5 million
Power Level: 50,000,000,000 – 200,000,000,000 – Uub
In Buu’s purest form, he might very well be the strongest being in the Dragon Ball Z series. He can regenerate from nothing, absorb his foes, fire a Chocolate Beam that transforms things into candy, and is completely, uncompromisingly ruthless. This is a being whose stomach is capable of existing as its own dimension. The only thing that ultimately could put a stop to Buu was Goku’s use of the Spirit Bomb technique. Even then it had to be a spirit bomb made up of energy from the entirety of Earth’s population. In short, it took an entire planet to eradicate Buu. Now yes, Buu was reincarnated as Uub at the end of the DBZ story but Uub doesn’t really come into his own as a character until Dragon Ball GT, which is another story for another time.
Age: 24 – 47
Power Level: 416 – 6,000,000,000
Was there any doubt? It might be cliché, it might be predictable, but when it comes right down to it, Goku really is the most powerful character in Dragon Ball Z. Never mind his joyful thirst for battle, his quick mastery of ascended forms, his almost light speed teleportation, and his fiercly loyal heart; he has all of those things in addition to the Spirit Bomb. Despite multiple attempts at using it during the series, it only successfully defeats one opponent, but that one opponent was Majin Buu in his most destructive, evil, Kid form. Not even death keeps Goku down for long, and even then the universe lets him circumvent the rules to come back to Earth in a tangible form. So again, as anti-climactic as it is, as underwhelming as it may be, Goku is ultimately the most powerful character in Dragon Ball Z.
Thirty characters from weakest to strongest. Though some may disagree with the ranking and those opinions are welcome, at least Dragon Ball Z has provided us with a dynamic range of personalities and strengths that fans can debate and discuss endlessly.