Upon defeating Piccolo at the end of the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai, Kami offers Goku the job of God of Earth. Not wanting to deal with the upkeep of looking after the Earth, instead choosing to live life as relaxed as ever, Goku flies off on Kintoun with Chichi so they can start their life together. In one of the series earliest, and most important, moments, Goku rejects godhood outright. This makes it all the funnier when, decades later, Goku becomes a literal god to try and stop Beerus in Battle of Gods. Fittingly, Goku hates it. From as early as the original Dragon Ball, gods have played a major role in the franchise. Every single one of Goku’s martial arts master, save for Muten Roshi, has been a god. Perhaps it’s due to the series’ Journey to the West roots, the franchise has never tried shaking its reliance on the gods. If anything, Dragon Ball Super made the divine all more prominent with the introduction of Gods of Destruction, angels, and even Zeno. At its core, though, Dragon Ball remains a martial arts series which means that any god worth their salt needs to be reasonably powerful. With dozens upon dozens of gods to look at, what does the Dragon Ball pantheon look like?
Dende is the weakest god in the series by sheer virtue of not being a martial artist. Just about every other deity is either explicitly a warrior or at the very least capable of tremendous feats. All Dende can do is heal. That said, while his lack of combat proficiency results in him being the weakest god, Dende is by no means a bad god. Sorry, Dende. Someone had to be at the bottom. It’s through Dende where Shenlong finally gets upgraded enough to grant three wishes. Previously, Kami, a stronger fighter than Dende, could only create a Shenlong capable of granting a single wish. Although Dende can’t pack a punch, he can support the main cast from the sidelines, giving him worth despite his relative weakness.
Considering how the progression of power works in Dragon Ball, it’s only natural the first deity who appears in the series would also end up one of the weakest. First introduced in the Red Ribbon Army arc, Karin ends up Goku’s second martial arts master after Muten Roshi. In training with Karin, Goku is able to increase both his speed and power in just a matter of days, giving him enough strength to defeat TaoPaiPai. As for the character of Karin himself, it’s implied that he’d be strong enough to handle just about every threat up until Demon King Piccolo appears. From there, he’s totally outclassed and leaves things up to Goku. It’s a shame we never actually got to see Karin fight seriously since he likely would have resulted in some interesting choreography.
Goku’s third martial arts master and a character who was introduced as the literal, one and only, God of the Dragon Ball world, it didn’t take long for Kami to fall off the power scale. By the halfway point of the first arc he played an active role in, Kami was already outclassed by both Goku and Piccolo Junior. God's kind of a slouch. Granted, it’s implied he’s still a good enough master to train Krillin, Tien, Yamcha, Chaozu, and Yajirobe for the fight against Nappa and Vegeta in the Saiyan arc, but Kami never goes on to fight again. Not because he’s not a talented fighter, but because he simply isn’t strong enough. By the Cell arc, Kami is perfectly fine letting himself merge with Piccolo since at least his counterpart has the strength to keep up with the main cast.
Saichoro, otherwise known as Elder Guru in the Funimation dub, is one of the more interesting deities within the franchise. The God of Namek, Saichoro finds himself in a Dende situation where he isn’t actually a martial artist. Unlike Dende, however, Saichoro is capable of unlocking the potential of any living being, implying he has some personal strength lying inwards. This is to say nothing of the fact that his Porunga appears to be far stronger than Dende’s Shenlong, further implying he’s strong enough to create a being capable of granting truly tremendous wishes.
21 Mr. Popo
Mr. Popo serves as Kami’s assistant when Goku trains under him between the Demon King Piccolo arc and 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai, but it’s actually strongly implied that Mr. Popo is stronger than his benefactor. In looking at filler, Mr. Popo is roughly as strong as Goten and Kid Trunks during the Buu saga, pegging him higher than just about every Frieza related threat. As far as extended canon material goes, Mr. Popo is stated to have a Battle Power of roughly 1,000, placing him firmly in the Saiyan arc range. While he wouldn’t be able to so much as defeat Raditz or a Saibaiman, that does put him above every single major character up to the midpoint of the Saiyan saga which is an impressive feat in and of itself.
Goku’s final master in the original series, Kaio was the strongest god in the franchise for perhaps the longest period of time, starting with his introduced in the Saiyan arc and ending with Kaioshin’s introduction in the Buu saga. Kaio, also known as King Kai, goes on to teach Goku two of his most valuable techniques- the Kaioken and Genki Dama- and is even stated to be quite the martial artist. They don't call him "King" Kai for nothing. Although he never fights in the series proper, his backstory claims he personally trained Enma Daio. Extended material puts Kaio at a Battle Power of 3,500, the exact same as Piccolo’s during the Nappa fight, meaning he’d be no help against the Saiyans, but was nonetheless the most powerful god for three whole arcs.
Kaioshin is an interesting character in that he’s become one of the franchise’s funniest characters in spite of having one of the more dramatic introductions in the entire series. When he first appears in the 25th Budokai during the Buu arc, Piccolo is so terrified of fighting him that he forfeits their match, implying Kaioshin is in a league of his own. It’s then quickly established that Kaioshin could have one shot Frieza had their paths ever crossed. Unfortunately for Shin, Goku and Co. had already dealt with Cell at this point, taking Kaioshin completely off guard. From there, he slowly develops a more comedic role as the Saiyans being to dominate and ruin everything Kaioshin either was preoccupied with or planning.
Interestingly enough, Dabra is considered a deity as far as Dragon Ball’s lore is concerned. Since he’s the actual Lord of Hell, this makes him less royalty like Demon King Piccolo and more divine lord like Kaio, who’s also called the “Lord of Worlds.” Dabra doesn’t actually get to fight all too much in the Buu arc, but what we do see is impressive. Even demon kings can be gods in Dragon Ball. Goku and Vegeta both peg Dabra at around Perfect Cell’s level, and he’s even able to stalemate Gohan while he’s Super Saiyan 1 in the manga and Super Saiyan 2 in the anime. Either way, Dabra is a natural god who could have handled much of the series up to at least Super Perfect Cell. Considering the previous highest benchmarks were Kaio and Kaioshin, that’s fairly impressive.
Believe it or not, Piccolo actually is a god. Albeit not until he merges with Kami halfway through the Cell saga. In fusing back with Kami, Piccolo’s power skyrockets all the way on par with Android 17. Not just that, he also inherits all of Kami’s divine knowledge. While Piccolo doesn’t get all that much stronger over the course of the series, Dragon Ball Super does see him strong enough to at the very least put up a fight against Frost- one of Universe 6’s five strongest warriors- and train Gohan. If nothing else, he’s likely around the level Fat Buu was during the Majin Buu arc.
Goku and Vegeta are not the first characters we see fuse with the Potara earrings. It may seem that way given how much fanfare Vegetto gets, but the real first Potara fusion belongs to none other than Kaioshin and Kibito. In showing off what the Potara can do, the two Kais end up accidentally permanently fusing themselves into Kibitoshin. While this is far from an ideal situation for them, they do comment on how much more powerful they feel thanks to the fusion. Kibitoshin even claims he can go help defeat Super Buu. Of course, the Elder Kaioshin tells him he’s not strong enough, but we can at least infer that Kibitoshin must be around Fat Buu’s level if a bit weaker.
It’s hard to pinpoint just where exactly Zamasu falls on the power scale. He seems to be Super Saiyan 2 Goku tier at the very least, but is he much stronger? During the final fight of the Goku Black arc, he does put up a decent fight against Goku, but it’s important to remember that he has immortality at this point. Would he be fighting nearly as well if Goku could actually eliminate him fully? Either way, Zamasu does have immortality so he has an advantage most gods simply don’t have.
14 Future Trunks
It almost seems odd to include Future Trunks on a list of the series’ gods, but it’s important to remember that Trunks does gain some semblance of God ki during Dragon Ball Super. Near the tail end of the Goku Black arc, Vegeta trains Future Trunks specifically by beating on him in his Super Saiyan Blue state. While this seems to be enough to give Trunks a sizable boost, it’s taken one further in the final fight of the arc. In being pushed back enough by both Zamasu and Goku Black, Future Trunks triggers Super Saiyan Rage, a form that seems to be an equal mix of God ki and Super Saiyan ki. Unlike SSB, which is Super Saiyan ki infused with God ki, Super Saiyan Rage doesn’t seem to indicate which ki flow is dominant. Future Trunks is a demigod.
13 Goku Black
With the body of Goku and the mind of Zamasu, Goku Black ends up quite the interesting warrior. Due to the psychological effects of being Zamasu in Goku’s body, Goku Black can technically tap into Kai ki which is an offshoot of God ki. Along with that, he can use God ki in the way Goku can, meaning his Super Saiyan Rose ends up being a natural mix of Super Saiyan ki, Kai ki, and God ki. A Super Saiyan Rose by any other name is still Goku. For whatever reason, Zamasu taking over Goku’s body also resets all his Zenkais, allowing Goku Black to continue to get stronger through fighting. He even uses this strategy deliberately early on in the arc to bump himself from Super Saiyan 2 tier to Super Saiyan Blue levels of power. It doesn’t exactly make sense, but it does result in an incredibly dangerous god.
No matter where Goku is, Vegeta won’t be far behind. At least as far as Dragon Ball Super is concerned. When Goku gains access to both God ki and Super Saiyan God in Battle of Gods, Vegeta immediately catches up to him with Super Saiyan Blue in Resurrection F. They’re complete equals up until the end of the Universe 6 Tournament where Goku busts out Kaioken, but Vegeta doesn’t truly fall off until his rival triggers Ultra Instinct. Even then, however, Vegeta is able to keep up with Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue Kaioken x 20 thanks to Super Saiyan Blue Evolution, a form that boosts Vegeta’s latent SSB abilities. It even allows him to pull off a Final Explosion without needing to give his life. It’s this form that ultimately allows him to defeat Toppo, a literal God of Destruction. Speaking of…
Although Vegeta ultimately defeats Toppo in the Tournament of Power, it’s important to remember that Toppo was still quite a bit stronger. The only reason Vegeta got out of their battle alive was because he managed to ring out Toppo. Had the two fought for real, outside of a tournament setting, there’s no doubt Toppo would have won. God Toppo is arguably more dangerous than Jiren given how unhinged he is. Simply put, Toppo was tossing out Hakais like nobody’s business. Had a single one landed, Vegeta would have been vaporized in an instant. Toppo might be the lowest notch on the God of Destruction totem pole, but that’s still far higher than 90% of the characters in the series. God of Destruction Toppo is a legitimate danger and Vegeta’s lucky he had Super Saiyan Blue Evolution to bail him out.
10 Merged Zamasu
Merged Zamasu is ridiculously overpowered and the fact he isn’t at the very top of this list just goes to show just how insane Dragon Ball’s power scaling can be. An immortal deity who was only defeated because the literal Lord of Everything erased him out of existence, Merged Zamasu is a Potara Fusion between himself and himself in Goku’s body, creating an incredibly powerful being thanks to the synergy between the two fusees. Not just that, Merged Zamasu has: Super Saiyan ki, God ki, Kai ki, and access to every single one of Goku’s techniques while also being adept enough to invent new attacks on the fly.
Although Goku has rarely ever actually been the strongest character in the series, he’s always been one of the strongest if nothing else. This is a trend Super continues, pushing the idea been further by giving Goku God ki. The moment he embedded Super Saiyan Blue with Kaioken was the moment he pushed himself as close to the gods as humanly possible. Until Ultra Instinct that is. Goku just can't seem to get away from godhood. With the advent of Ultra Instinct, Goku reaches a level the likes of which the series had never seen before. All his latent power cam flowing out, allowing Goku to move and strike without so much as thinking. In a state of pure zen, Ultra Instinct helped Goku truly reach the level of the gods. Honestly, if Goku could trigger UI manually, he’d likely finally be able to put up a solid fight against Beerus.
It goes without saying that Vegetto is easily one of the strongest characters in the entire franchise. Even without Ultra Instinct, Super Saiyan Blue Vegetto proves his superiority by going head to head against Merged Zamasu, inflicting more than enough damage on the immortal god to subdue him. Since Vegetto has access to Goku and Vegeta’s entire roster of techniques and transformations, any subsequent fusing of the character will result in Ultra Instinct Vegetto taking charge. Interestingly, the new Broly film strongly implies Goku and Vegeta will fuse again, albeit as Gogeta, not Vegetto. Perhaps Toriyama sees Vegetto as just too overpowered at this point.
7 The Gods Of Destruction
It’s honestly hard to believe the Gods of Destruction aren’t the strongest characters in the series considering just how much fanfare they get simply for existing. Since Battle of Gods, despite it immediately being established that angels are stronger than GoDs, Beerus and his brethren have been the benchmark Goku strives to reach. Each one is stronger than the last. From a certain point of view, it does make a considerable amount of sense. Unlike the angels or Zeno, the Gods of Destruction do actually fight to fight weaker opponents to win. Although Beerus was always infinitely stronger than Goku in BoG, he nonetheless fought back. Still, even if the GoDs aren’t as strong as they could be, any GoD could have handled every threat in Super including Jiren.
Although the anime implies that Belmod is quite weak in comparison to the other Gods of Destruction, the manga has painted an interesting portrait of Universe 11’s Destroyer. In the God of Destruction exhibition match before the manga’s version of the Tournament of Power, the only fighters left standing are Beerus, Champa, and Belmod. In fact, although Beerus thinks he’s taken out Belmod, it’s revealed that Belmod was simply lying in wait the entire time implying that he’s far stronger than he seems. Had the fight continued, it’s likely Belmod would have snuck attack Beerus, potentially winning the exhibition match for himself.
Time and time again, Beerus has proven himself to be one of the strongest characters in the series, if not the entire medium. He has yet to seriously break a sweat in a fight, even against his fellow Gods of Destruction. Dragon Ball Super even retcons Battle of Gods so Beerus was only using just 10% of his power against Super Saiyan God Goku instead of 70%. Numerically, Beerus’ Battle Power is utterly insane. If you consider SSB, SSBKK, and UI all 10% of Beerus, Goku is only still 50% Beerus. The fact Goku is only half as strong as Beerus at best says quite a lot. The manga actually goes one step further by straight up giving Beerus a simplified version of Ultra Instinct. He is the only God of Destruction we see using a variation of UI implying that he’s the only one who can actually use it. On top of that, Beerus basically wins the GoD exhibition match with only Belmod and Champa left in the right, the former apparently plotting something against Beerus. Either way, Universe 7’s GoD would have come out on top anyways. Beerus is just that good.
4 Whis And The Angels
In the same way Beerus is the strongest God of Destruction, Whis is considered the strongest angel. The only difference for Whis, though, is that we don’t know how strong the other angels truly are. For all we know, the gap might not be all the wide. It’s even implied by offhand comments during the Universe 6 Tournament arc that Vados is actually stronger than Whis even if the rest of the series treats him as the most knowledgeable and “worthy” angel. As it stands, Whis is the only angel we’ve seen in action so logic dictates he should be at the top of the power spectrum. For now, at easy.
3 Zeno’s Guards
Although Zeno’s Guards don’t fight, or even have set personalities for that matter, logic dictates that they must be fairly powerful. Even though they’re most likely weaker than Zeno, they must still be incredibly strong to actually guard Zeno on a daily business. Not that Zeno needs guards for that matter, but it’s really no different than someone like Frieza having weaker guards in Zarbon or Dodoria. Zeno’s Guards are there for show, to demonstrate just how overwhelmingly powerful Zeno actually is.
2 The Grand Priest
The Grand Priest is easily one of the most elusive characters in the entire Dragon Ball mythos. The father of all the angels, the Grand Priest is the second strongest character in the series. He personally trained all the angels who personally trained the Gods of Destruction who personally trained their own successors. The Grand Priest is the highest notch on the totem pole when it comes to straight up martial artists. The weird thing about ranking him so high, though, is the fact that we never once see him fight. We simply need to accept word of mouth that he is indeed the second strongest being in the multiverse. As it stands, it does seem unlikely we’ll ever see him in action. After all, the gap between the Grand Priest and Goku is still so large. If nothing else, he could serve as a nice “final boss” for the series.
Dragon Ball has always followed a very specific progression where the “strongest character” was only ever the strongest for a brief period of time. This was a trend consistent all the way from the start of the series up through Battle of Gods. When Zeno was introduced in the Universe 6 Tournament, nobody could be surprised. What is surprising, however, is that Zeno has remained the strongest. Zeno can blink you out of existence with a smile. Given that Zeno can blink out an entire multiverse without breaking a sweat, logic dictates that he’s going to remain the strongest character in the franchise for the foreseeable future. Zeno is simply too high of a benchmark for Goku to reach. Given the core theme of the series that there will always be someone stronger, the literal Lord of Everything is a fine enough stopping point for the progression of power.