You can name just about any character from Dragon Ball’s roster and they’re guaranteed to be somebody’s favorite. Yajriobe? People love him. Cymbal? What’s not to love? Appule? Absolute rock star. Character writing has always been one of Dragon Ball’s core strengths so it isn’t unusual for fans of all kinds to resonate with just about any character. Doubly so as Dragon Ball is a martial arts serial where just about everyone fights with their own unique style. Of course, this does naturally bring with it problems within the fanbase. Spend just a few minutes on a Dragon Ball forum and you’ll find fans arguing about overpowered and underpowered characters.
Now, in the context of Dragon Ball, what it exactly does it mean to be under or overpowered? While there are many answers to said question, the most genuine explanation would likely be that underpowered characters are too weak despite showing prowess or generally fitting into the scope of the narrative while overpowered characters are too strong without benefitting the story in a meaningful way or featuring a justifiable explanation for said power. Who should be stronger? Who should be weaker? Is your favorite character overpowered? Or underpowered? Do they even register on Toriyama’s radar? Well, there’s only one way to find out.
30 Overpowered: Master Roshi
Master Roshi has one of the clearest and most satisfying character arcs in the original series. After witnessing both Goku and Tien Shinhan in action, Roshi decides that it’s time for him to pass the torch onto the next generation. This ideology is acted on in full during the very next arc where he gives his life in the fight against Demon King Piccolo. Come the 23rd Budokai, Roshi is happily retired and comments on how much his pupils have grown.
Let sleeping arcs lie.
That’s why it’s all the more frustrating when Resurrection F comes around and reveals that Roshi had been training in secret all along and now doesn’t want his students to surpass him. It’s a completely illogical shift in character that flies in the face of his character arc while raising him up to a level he realistically shouldn’t be on given the context of the series.
29 Underpowered: Dyspo
For someone who’s basically Universe 11’s Gohan in terms of importance, Dyspo is actually fairly weak when it comes down to it. He has a light speed technique that supposedly allows him to surpass Ultimate Gohan (which is its own can of worms we’ll get into,) but there’s nothing in the Tournament of Power to imply he’s actually powerful in a meaningful way.
Dyspo’s status in the series is especially disappointing given how much Dragon Ball Super builds him up. Besides Jiren and Toppo, Dyspo is the highest ranked member in the Pride Troopers. He plays an active role in their backstory and even gets the most focus in the Tournament of Power. Despite that, he still goes out like a chump, not even leaving a dent in Universe 7’s team.
28 Overpowered: Kale
Kale made sense to some extent before the new Broly movie was revealed. She was simply referencing the Legendary Super Saiyan and any absurdities in strength were meant to be Super’s take on the character. Audiences obviously weren’t meant to take her on a surface level since she was just a reference. Except she’s not just a reference anymore which means her power is totally illogical.
Technically, Kale was canon before Broly so Broly is just Male Kale.
Are fans really supposed to accept at face value that Kale, a relatively weak Saiyan from Universe 6, can trigger a transformation powerful enough to allow her to tank a Kamehameha from Super Saiyan Blue Goku? Originally, this was just a reference to the first Broly film. Now it’s a legitimate feat. She’s basically a female Broly at this point, meaning she can theoretically reach his heights.
27 Underpowered: Kaioshin
What’s most interesting about Kaioshin is that he’s deliberately underpowered in the sense that his lack of power is actually part of the overall plot. When Kaioshin arrives on Earth to recruit fighters to help him prevent Majin Buu’s revival, he mentions how he could one shot Frieza only for Goku and company to scoff at his power.
By the Majin Buu arc, the three main Saiyans are already far stronger than Frieza ever was. Kaioshin’s reference of power means nothing to them, underpowering him immediately. In a grand scheme sense, Kaioshin is indeed quite strong and he likely could have handled every threat up to that point single-handedly, but the Buu arc established him as little more than fodder to make a point.
26 Overpowered: Android 17
The Universe Survival arc was incredibly kind to Android 17. Perhaps too kind. When we last saw him in the original series, Android 17 was just as strong as Piccolo during the Cell arc. Come Dragon Ball Super, however, and 17 is roughly Super Saiyan Blue tier. It’s totally plausible he trained off screen, but his leap in power is just absurd.
17 hurt Jiren when Vegeta couldn't. Let that sink in.
To make matters worse, Android 17’s power boost is explained by him fending off poachers on his little island. Android 17 went from weaker than Imperfect Cell to stronger than Super Saiyan God Goku by fighting regular humans. In no way does this make sense. Android 17 is simply too strong for his character to currently make any sense.
25 Underpowered: Tien Shinhan
It’s easy to forget, but there was a time in the franchise where Tien Shinhan was legitimately the strongest character in Dragon Ball. As it was implied he could defeat Jackie Chun in the 22nd Budokai, his win against Goku elevated him over everyone else in the cast. Both Goku and Demon King Piccolo surpassed him in the very next arc, but Tien remained in the top five all the way to the end of the Saiyan arc.
Come Dragon Ball Super, though, and it’s as if Tien was weak all along. Starting with the Buu saga, it’s established that Krillin has pulled ahead of Tien and that ends up becoming Tien’s fate for DBS. He does virtually nothing in the Tournament of Power, coming off as Universe 7’s weakest member by a mile.
24 Overpowered: Merged Zamasu
Merged Zamasu’s overpowered nature speaks for itself. He has: God ki; Kaioshin ki; Saiyan ki; a Potara boost; and immortality. Honestly, just the sheer fact Jiren is implied to be stronger than him is absurd. Merged Zamasu literally cannot be defeated. That is actually the crux of the entire final battle.
Immortality goes a long way in the Dragon Ball universe.
It takes Vegetto Blue wearing him down, Future Trunks using a Genki Dama sword, and Goku summoning Zamasu to erase the entire multiverse to actually stop Merged Zamasu. Goku was able to fight off Jiren with Ultra Instinct. Zeno had to erase all life just to put an end to Merged Zamasu. If that’s not overpowered, nothing is.
23 Underpowered: Yamcha
There once was a time where Yamcha was the third strongest character in the franchise. Not only that, he technically stalemated with Goku in their first fight. Yamcha may be a bit of a joke nowadays, but he was a genuinely big deal for most of Dragon Ball’s run. Granted, it didn’t take long for him to be outclassed, but he kept up all the way through the Saiyan saga. Even when he quits in the Cell arc, it makes sense for his character.
Like with Tien Shinhan, Dragon Ball Super breaks Yamcha down to pathetic levels. He does nothing of value in Battle of Gods, he doesn’t participate in the Frieza fight during Resurrection F, and he’s excluded from the Tournament of Power despite theoretically being stronger than Roshi. The most respect Yamcha’s gotten in years has been That Time I Got Reincarnated As Yamcha, a spin-off manga that doesn't’ even star him.
22 Overpowered: Anilaza
For as underutilized Anilaza is in both the anime and manga- the latter moreso- he’s quite powerful on a conceptual level. Anilaza is one of the few characters in the franchise who can punch through the very fabric of space and time itself. His attacks ignore conventional physics, making him an incredibly dangerous opponent.
It's criminal how quickly Anilaza is dealt with in the manga.
If Anilaza had to be compared to any character, it would be Janemba. Like Janemba, Anilaza is a metaphysical fighter. Outside of a tournament setting, it’s entirely possible our heroes would have lost their fight. Anilaza only defused after a ring out which was also the only way Universe 7 could think of defeating him.
21 Underpowered: Chaozu
The single greatest tragedy about Chaozu’s life is that he was never particularly strong. Even in his introduction all the way back during the 22nd Budokai, Chaozu got by entirely on his psychic abilities. When it came to a full on fight, Krillin was able to knock him out with ease. From there, Chaozu quickly found himself outclassed, failing to even pass the preliminaries during the 23rd Budokai.
It’s a shame Chaozu has always been so weak given his background. Not only did he train under the Crane School with Tien, he’s one of the few psychics in the series. While he’s physically weak, he could very easily be utilized as a skilled character, someone who uses his unique abilities to pull by in fights. Unfortunately, the series has no interest in the character at this point and likely never will.
20 Overpowered: Frieza
Even in light of the Androids, Cell, Kaioshin, and Majin Buu, Frieza never stopped being ridiculously powerful. While many villains ended up stronger than him, Frieza always held the honor of being the naturally strongest character in the franchise. He wasn’t magic, he wasn’t artificial, and his “transformations” actually suppressed his raw power, not enhanced them.
Golden Frieza is lame and we all know it.
In a way, it makes sense Frieza could reach God levels from training. The issue is how long he needed to train to reach such heights. Four months is downright ridiculous and almost flies in the face of the original series. Had Frieza just trained, the series would have ended on Namek. Frieza would quite literally be unstoppable.
19 Underpowered: Piccolo
Given how little action Piccolo gets nowadays, it’s hard to believe he was actually the second strongest main character for quite a long time. He was the only real hope against Nappa during the Saiyan saga; he was stronger than Vegeta during the Frieza fight; and merging with Kami elevated him above every other hero for a few chapters in the Cell saga.
Piccolo in Dragon Ball Super rarely, if ever, gets to put up a good fight befitting his character’s legacy. The Buu saga made him a non-combatant, to begin with, but it was done with respect to his arc. Super wants to have it both ways and it fails. Piccolo goes out like a chump in both the Universe 6 Tournament and Tournament of Power. For Gohan’s master, the Namekian deserves better.
18 Overpowered: Bardock
Dragon Ball spin-offs have this bad habit of making Bardock out to be stronger than he actually was. While his TV special already gave him an absurdly high Battle Power for a lower class Saiyan, the events of the special at least reflected his status by having him consistently fail to stop Frieza’s forces. Then you get stuff like Episode of Bardock, though, that insist on making him more than he actually was.
Bardock isn't special. That's what makes him special.
In giving Bardock access to Super Saiyan, Episode of Bardock rips apart Bardock’s character and turns him into something he isn’t: a hero. Bardock was a nobody. A relatively weak nobody at that. He doesn’t deserve a power-up nor does he deserve to be strong. His fate is to fall at Frieza’s hands. Asking for more than that show a complete misunderstanding of Bardock’s role in the Dragon Ball mythos.
17 Underpowered: Gotenks
Gotenks was easily one of the strongest characters in the series at the end of the original Dragon Ball, even far surpassing Super Saiyan 3 Goku. It’s only natural then, coming into Dragon Ball Super, that Gotenks would play a major role as one of the strongest characters. Unfortunately, Resurrection F quickly writes him out of the action by elevating both Goku and Vegeta above him.
To be fair, Battle of Gods did make Super Saiyan God Goku the strongest main character, but that didn’t mean all that since there weren’t any major villains on the horizon. Resurrection F just straight up uses every opportunity to undermine Gotenks. The fusion doesn’t even show up outside of some filler episodes after the anime version of Resurrection F. It’s a disappointing waste of a character full of potential.
16 Overpowered: Raditz (No, Really)
Raditz, like Yamcha, has become a meme character of sorts within the fandom. Roughly as strong as a Saibaiman, many fans find it easy to mock Raditz’s comparatively low Battle Power despite being a Saiyan. It’s important to remember, however, that Raditz was introduced as the strongest character the series had ever seen. So strong, in fact, it took Goku sacrificing his life just to stop him.
Raditz is more than his Power Level.
Make fun all you want, but Raditz was overpowered by when he was first introduced. Around three times stronger than both Goku and Piccolo, Raditz was basically untouchable. Our heroes had to wear him down as much as possible before even putting a dent in him. Were it not for Gohan, Raditz would have easily won his signature fight. Even Vegeta, the arc’s main villain, wasn’t so overpowered where Goku didn’t stand a chance. Raditz, on the other hand, dominated our main character like he was nothing.
15 Underpowered: Gohan (Before The Tournament Of Power)
There couldn’t be a better fate for Gohan than ending up the strongest unfused character. Say what you will about Toriyama making Goku the main character again, but he still respected Gohan enough to ensure he ended the series on top. Ultimate Gohan was Gohan at his absolute peak, allowing him to actually retire and pursue his scholarly passions. Then came Resurrection F.
Gohan is a shell of the man he once was prior to the Tournament of Power. Once again, he finds himself slipping. He went from the strongest man alive at the end of the Buu arc to absolute fodder who could barely fend off Frieza. Gohan even struggles to turn Super Saiyan. It’s hard to accept that the Gohan we saw in Dragon Ball is even the same character Super.
14 Overpowered: Gohan (During The Tournament Of Power)
Considering how weak Gohan was throughout almost all of Dragon Ball Super, it’s completely ridiculous how powerful he becomes for the Tournament of Power. After training with Piccolo for what could only have been a single day, Gohan gained back his Ultimate power up while also reaching Super Saiyan Blue levels of strength. Keep in mind that Gohan struggled to turn regular Super Saiyan just a few months prior.
Power means nothing if it's not earned.
Conceptually, it’s not unusual for Gohan of all people to get such a huge power boost, but Super played so heavily into his decision to be a scholar that his newfound strength for the Tournament of Power feels unearned. When characters lose and gain power by the whim of the plot, they stop being characters. It’s okay for Gohan to be a scholar and a martial artist, but not when those ideologies counteract
13 Underpowered: Toppo
The de facto leader of the Pride Troopers, Toppo has one of the most impressive introductions in Dragon Ball Super. In the anime, he stalemates with Goku whereas he actually manages to ring Goku out in the manga. Everything points to Toppo ending up quite the formidable opponent in the Tournament of Power… only for him to get the shaft.
Despite becoming a literal God of Destruction near the end of the Tournament, Toppo gets rung out without eliminating a single character. We can assume that he actually is quite powerful as it takes Vegeta nearly giving his life just to knock Toppo out of bounds, but Toppo just doesn’t show any of the skill he showed against Goku during the actual ToP. It’s quite disappointing as it gives us the impression of a much weaker Toppo.
12 Overpowered: Gohan (Cell Games)
Even though Dragon Ball ends with Gohan as the strongest unfused character, he’s not so much overpowered at the end of the Buu arc as he is just stronger than anyone else around. Both Vegetto and Buutenks/Buuhan outclass him showing that it’s possible to surpass him, it just doesn’t happen with anyone else. Gohan during the Cell Games, though? Now that’s an overpowered character.
No one likes a humblebrag, Gohan.
Gohan is so above everyone else during the arc’s last act that he doesn’t even register Goku giving it his all in his warm-up match against Cell. Gohan genuinely believes Goku is holding back the entire time simply because he’s using his own strength as a basis for his father. Once Gohan turns SSJ2, all bets are off and he’s able to body Cell like nothing else. It takes a seven-year time gap with Gohan not training to allow Goku and Vegeta to catch up.
11 Underpowered: Dabra
Dabra, like Kaioshin, is underpowered to prove a point. Exactly as strong as Perfect Cell was during the Cell Games, Dabra is as a totem pole to measure just how much Gohan has allowed himself to stagnate in the seven-year time gap. While Goku and Vegeta have both gotten stronger, Gohan slacked off and finds himself struggling against an opponent who he should by all intents and purposes easily defeat.
If things weren’t bad enough in Dabra’s case, it’s strongly implied through Vegeta that the Majin power-up makes characters far stronger. This means that Dabra was even weaker before Bobidi possessed him. It’s totally possible a slacked off Gohan could have taken on a non-Majin Dabra.
10 Overpowered: Future Trunks (Anime)
Super Saiyan Rage has been a topic of hot debate within the franchise since its reveal in the Goku Black arc. Seemingly out of nowhere, Future Trunks tapped into a mix of Super Saiyan Ki and God Ki to trigger a new form that was neither SSJ or SSB. This form allowed him to fight evenly with Merged Zamasu, even getting him far enough to deliver what should have been the final blow.
Judging from forum posts, the fans triggered Super Saiyan Rage too.
Logically, Future Trunks shouldn’t be this strong. At the start of this arc, he was only as strong as Super Saiyan 3 Goku which, granted, was still quite the feat. He does train with Vegeta, but not long enough to justify such a boost in power. Super Saiyan Rage does work from a narrative standpoint which is arguably more important, but it doesn’t exactly fit where Future Trunks should be strength wise.
9 Underpowered: Future Trunks (Manga)
Where the Dragon Ball Super anime decided to be fairly generous in regards to Future Trunks’ power, the manga took a more subdued approach. Rather than granting him God Ki and a new transformation, Future Trunks became a Kaioshin apprentice, granting him the ability to heal others. As a result, he ends up taking a supporting role in the final battle of the Goku Black arc.
Even though this is a change that honestly makes more sense for the character, it is disappointing to see Future Trunks fight so little in his own arc. His battles against Goku Black and Zamasu are well drawn with enough stakes if nothing else, but having him deliver the “final” blow in the anime was something truly special.
8 Overpowered: Goku (During The Frieza Arc)
Goku gets so strong during the Frieza arc that it’s honestly crazy. Granted, it does work in the grand scheme of the story as the narrative at that point was really zoning in on Saiyan potential while also building up to the eventual Super Saiyan transformation, but Goku’s gains in this arc remain far higher than any other point in the series.
No one Saiyan should have all those Zenkais.
In just the span of a few days, Goku goes from: weaker than Vegeta, to stronger than Oozaru Vegeta, to as strong as Ginyu, to stronger than third form Frieza, to as strong as half power Frieza, to stronger than full power Frieza. His Zenkais are absolutely out of control. Again, it makes sense given Goku is such a hard worker and knows how to train, but he’s nonetheless overpowered all things considered.
7 Underpowered: Fat Buu
Although Fat Buu was never the strongest of the Djinns, he was still up and above far more powerful than most characters in the series. By the end of the original series, Fat Buu was the third strongest surviving character not counting fusions. Counting both Gotenks and Vegetto, Fat Buu would still be in the top five. Naturally, this gives him quite the leg up at the start of Super.
As is the case with Dragon Ball Super, though, Fat Buu’s name isn’t Goku or Vegeta and thus he was delegated to the supporting cast bin with both Yamcha and Chaozu. What’s particularly upsetting about Fat Buu’s role in DBS is that he has opportunities to shine, but the series never capitalizes on it, leaving him pitifully underpowered and underrepresented.
6 Overpowered: Vegetto
Vegetto’s overpoweredness isn’t all that egregious when it comes down to it as there’s deliberately quite a bit of thematic and narrative weight behind his strength. The fated fusion between Goku and Vegeta, Vegetto is quite literally supposed to be an unstoppable force. Not a single character comes close to reaching his heights at the end of the original series and that’s the point of his character.
Ultra Instinct Vegetto could solo the series.
Dragon Ball Super does play around with Vegetto’s overpoweredness by having Merged Zamasu survive their fight but it’s quite obvious that he wouldn’t have made it out in one piece if not for immortality. Vegetto Blue is basically Super Vegetto times ten, and any fusion between Goku and Vegeta currently would give Vegetto Ultra Instinct, likely allowing him to give the Grand Priest a run for his money.
5 Underpowered: King Cold
As Frieza's father, it goes without saying that King Cold is naturally quite the powerful character. Unfortunately, we never get a chance to see him in action. Future Trunks slays him almost immediately after slicing up Frieza, putting an end to the Frieza Force right then and there. Given King Cold’s appearance, though, we can infer that he was only in the second of four forms.
Since it seems King Cold was on relatively equal footing with Frieza, it’s likely his next two forms would push him even further. Right? Well, not quite. Frieza actually had to develop weaker forms to keep his power intact. This means his final form is actually his genuine form. What appears to be Cold’s second form is also likely his true form, meaning he’s really not that much stronger than he seems.
4 Overpowered: Jiren
Jiren is so strong, it’s almost stupid. Not a single character has dominated the main cast so intensely, and for good reason. One-sided fights aren’t fun. There’s a reason the best Jiren related moments in the Tournament of Power come from Goku actually challenging him with Ultra Instinct. Good action sees the tide twist and turn in everybody’s favor, but Jiren holds onto the ball for far too long.
Strength is not a substitute for a personality.
The fights against Demon King Piccolo, Piccolo Junior, Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, and Buu are all compelling because our heroes can pull ahead and often develop because of this. With Jiren, Universe 7’s only shot is Goku triggering Ultra Instinct. Only then does the fight become compelling. Jiren was just too strong for the narrative to remain engaging on a meaningful level.
3 Underpowered: Android 18
The longer you think about Android 17’s newfound power in Dragon Ball Super, the more ridiculous Android 18’s apparent lack of power becomes. Although 17 was always a little bit stronger, it was ever only a little bit. The gap between them wasn’t wide enough for 17 to realistically pull ahead this much.
To make the situation all the more awkward, it’s implied that 18 actively trains with Krillin, meaning she has a better means of getting stronger. 17 just fights off random men. Logically, Android 18 should be the stronger of the twins, not 17. She actually keeps up with her martial arts by sparring with a martial artist.
2 Overpowered: Vegeta (Dragon Ball Super)
Sorry Vegeta fans, but Dragon Ball Super is way too generous when it comes to Vegeta. His entire character arc in the original series revolved around being second fiddle to Goku. His best moments came from an understanding of his failings and trying to move past his own ego. For Super to scale his character back to someone obsessed with their rivalry is reductive in every way.
Vegeta's simply a more compelling character when he has to try to keep up.
In no world post the Buu arc should Vegeta and Goku be equals. Super established why this is so with enough logic, but it just flies in the face of prior characterization. Vegeta is simply not a complete or meaningful character when he’s 1:1 with Goku. Thankfully, Ultra Instinct pushes Goku above Vegeta yet again, but it’s too little, too late.
1 Underpowered: Vegeta (Dragon Ball GT)
If Dragon Ball Super is too kind to Vegeta, Dragon Ball GT isn’t kind enough. In terms of power, at least. As far as characterization goes, GT Vegeta is a far more natural interpretation of the character than Super Vegeta. At the end of the Buu arc, Vegeta was content with never catching up to Goku and DBGT reflects that personality wise. Unfortunately, it goes too far when it comes to his power.
Even if Vegeta doesn’t want to catch up to Goku anymore, he would never stop training his hardest. He logically wouldn’t reach Goku’s heights, and Vegeta only achieving SSJ4 in GT through external means reflects that well, but he’s just too weak for most of the series. Even making Vegeta just a little bit stronger would have done wonders for the characters.