Saiyans make up a huge portion of the world of Dragon Ball. Some may even argue that they play too large of a role. Especially when many other characters have been ignored just so the Saiyans can save the day. In every single arc of Dragon Ball Z, the Saiyans have always been at the forefront. It always has to be a Saiyan to save the day or become the strongest. Even in Dragon Ball Super, we saw more of this trend, although to a lesser degree than usual.
Which is why we’ve decided to exclude Saiyans from this list. By doing so, we can explore some of the more unique Dragon Ball characters who would normally miss out due to the Saiyans being overpowered all the time. It also allows us to revisit the older arcs and movies from Dragon Ball Z instead of just focusing on the newer content. Which is why you can expect to see some unusual picks in this ranking. That is a good thing as it highlights some of the lesser-known characters.
On top of that, we are also excluding the immortal characters introduced in Dragon Ball Super. The Gods of Destruction, Angels, and Zeno have an unfair advantage when it comes to strength. So, all of the characters on this list are mortal and have become strong on their own merits and hard work. The following 30 characters are the strongest in Dragon Ball without the use of any underhanded Saiyan hacks and tricks.
The strongest character who hasn’t mastered the use of Ki (aside from flight). Gohan remarked that she could beat her father, Hercule, but just didn’t know it. Videl is a great martial artist who makes the most of her given abilities.
She may not be able to use energy attacks, but that’s not a problem. The only shame is that the writers of the show didn’t do anything interesting with her character. She could’ve played a bigger role in the story other than just being Gohan’s wife.
There was a time in Dragon Ball Z when even the lowest ranking soldiers were a huge obstacle for the Z-Fighters. Without Goku, the others struggled a fair bit against these green creatures. One of them even managed to defeat Yamcha which has become a running gag among the fans.
However, that is the only feat accomplished by the Saibamen.
They are then disposed of by the rest of the fighters who were enraged at the demise of Yamcha. And that was the last we saw of the Saibamen.
28 Master Roshi
He may be old but Master Roshi has potential. There’s his buffed form which increases his physical strength and capabilities. He is also the creator of the Kamehameha Wave which has become one of the most reliable attacks in the series.
However, his old age has left its toll. He is no longer at the prime he was once at. Master Roshi still has a few moments of glory. In the Tournament of Power, he performed with a lot of courage, impressing Beerus with his determination.
Tien’s longtime friend and overall nice guy. Chiaotzu's first notable act was cheating during a tournament battle between Goku and Tien. He used his psychic powers to disrupt Goku and leave him open to attack.
In Dragon Ball Z, Chiaotzu sacrifices himself in an attempt to defeat Nappa. This attack does nothing but wastes his life and anger the Saiyan. After that battle, Chiaotzu doesn’t get anymore notable appearances in the show.
He may always be at the center of a joke but there is no denying his talent. There was a time when he could rival Goku, although the Saiyan was only a child at the time. Still, Yamcha has powerful (and unique) attacks at his disposal like the Wolf Fang Fist and Spirit Ball.
Yamcha is also a skilled baseball player and could’ve easily had a career in it. Of course, that doesn’t really affect his power level. After the Android Saga, Yamcha pretty much gives up martial arts for good. Even though he’s out of practice, he could still take on the guys above him on the list.
25 Garlic Junior
He’s a fairly strong warrior when he transforms. At the time, Goku and Piccolo couldn’t beat him. However, that wasn't due to his strength. Garlic Junior is the only villain who actually wished for immortality. So, they had to send him to the Dead Zone.
Immortality aside, Garlic Junior isn’t very strong.
The Z-Fighters were able to trap him in the Dead Zone twice. The second time they did it without Goku. So, the only wish of immortality in the show was wasted on one of the weakest characters.
24 Dr. Wheelo
One of the strangest Dragon Ball villains. Dr. Wheelo is from one of the movies and has a completely robotic body with a giant brain inside. He is searching for the world’s strongest warrior so he can take his body. Naturally, this leads him to Goku.
It’s a tough battle, but Goku is able to surpass him eventually. At this point, the movie villains are still very underwhelming. At least Dr. Wheelo has a unique design that helps to make him somewhat memorable. It’s hard to forget someone who looks so ridiculous.
Finally, we’re moving on the Frieza Saga. Dodoria is portrayed to be quite fearsome, but hardly stands a chance against Vegeta. The Saiyan dispatches of Dodoria relatively easily. It’s a short fight which serves to feed Vegeta’s ego.
Dodoria is still one of Frieza’s elite soldiers and was stronger than Gohan and Krillin. Even that was short lived as the pair unlock their hidden potential a bit later in the arc. Dodoria and Zarbon have a great dynamic as partners and elite soldiers of the Frieza Force.
Zarbon was also defeated by Vegeta at first but unlike Dodoria, he had a victory card. Zarbon’s monster form gave him the boost he needed to overpower Vegeta and thus makes him the strongest elite soldier.
However, he messes up by letting Vegeta live. The Saiyan uses his Zenkai Boost to make up the gap between him and Zarbon. The result is a one-sided victory for Vegeta who blasts Zarbon through his stomach. Not a good end for the elite soldier.
21 Ginyu Force
It felt right putting the members of the Ginyu Force as a group instead of individuals. They are all about the same level (other than Guldo and Ginyu). Their arrival was a huge moment during the Namek arc. While Guldo was dealt with immediately by Vegeta, the others were formidable opponents.
Once again, a new enemy was overpowered relatively quickly. As soon as Goku arrived, the battle completely changed its course. Goku’s training had made him several times stronger than the Ginyu Force and they were buried away into irrelevance.
20 Captain Ginyu
This guy deserves a separate mention since he is much stronger than the other members of the Ginyu Force. He also has a special technique called Body Change. It does exactly what the name implies. Ginyu swaps bodies with the target.
He uses this against Goku but is unable to make the most of his new body (since he can’t use the Kaio-Ken). When he attempts to change bodies again with Vegeta, Goku throws a frog. Thus the tale of Captain Ginyu ends as he becomes a helpless Namekian Frog.
One of Goku’s past rivals who was first overshadowed by Piccolo and then even more so by Vegeta. He was a tough opponent at first but as steadily lost importance in the plot. He did make a decent comeback in Dragon Ball Super for the Tournament of Power.
Tien’s defining moment in Dragon Ball Z was his battle against Cell.
He used the Kikouhou to buy Android 18 enough time so she could escape. It was an epic moment for an underused character. If only the show could keep giving the supporting characters more awesome stuff to do and make us care about them.
During his first attempt, Cooler was stomped by Super Saiyan Goku and sent hurtling towards the Sun. He survived and became Meta-Cooler. Then he almost defeated Super Goku and Vegeta but it was not to be.
Cooler has an awesome design and is a brutal fighter. His fighting style involves a lot more physical attacking compared to his brother, Frieza, who liked fighting from afar. It would be great if Cooler could make a comeback but perhaps now isn’t the best time. The last two movies have been about older villains (Frieza and Broly).
Krillin was hard to place on the list. Dragon Ball Super makes it very hard to gauge where fighters are at compared to others. The only comparison we have for Krillin is Android 18. Some random enemies from another universe were able to harm Android 18.
Since Android 18 destroyed pre-Hyperbolic Time Chamber Vegeta, it’s safe to say those enemies were also at that level. Krillin was able to fight on even terms here, so he should at least be stronger than early Android Saga Goku/Vegeta. Which makes him stronger than Cooler.
16 Android 18
Despite Krillin’s increase in power, Android 18 will still be the stronger one. Even if we assume they are totally equal in strength, Android 18 has the advantage of having unlimited stamina. So, she would eventually break the stalemate.
Still, the difference between Krillin and Android 18 (if there is any) would be very minor. It’s clear that all the years Krillin spent training with his wife has paid off. Their combination attacks during the Tournament of Power were also wonderful to see.
Piccolo’s fusion with Kami sent him way above the levels of Android 18 and 17 during the Cell Saga. He was also able to match First Form Cell and one of the Cell Juniors. It was clear that he was weaker though.
For a short while, Piccolo was the strongest Z-Fighter as his fusion made him stronger than the Super Saiyans. But Dragon Ball Z loves to move fast and Piccolo was quickly overtaken by the Saiyans after a few sessions inside the Hyperbolic Time Chamber. After that, Piccolo had very few notable battles until the Tournament of Power, where he did okay.
14 Cell Junior
These little beasts were about as strong as a Super Saiyan during the Cell Games. Each one was able to torment the Z-Fighters in an attempt to anger Gohan. It showed off Cell’s malicious personality and his ability to clone himself instantly.
As you might expect, the Cell Juniors didn’t last long. After Gohan activated his Super Saiyan 2 transformation, he defeated them all in a single hit. In fact, there was a mistake where Gohan destroyed eight Cell Juniors despite there only being seven. This is precisely why the Saiyans weren’t included on this list.
13 Super Android 13
Much to the dismay of Future Trunks, his “two Androids” had turned into several. The Super Android 13 movie introduced three more: 13, 14 and 15. When they combine their parts, the create this blue-skinned beast.
Android 13 toys with the entire cast including three Super Saiyans and a Super Namekian. Goku resorts to the Spirit Bomb but something different happens. Goku absorbs the Spirit Bomb into himself and blasts Android 13 into pieces. It was refreshing to see him use his signature attack differently.
Another movie villain who you may have forgotten about. Bojack easily defeats all of the Z-Fighters, except Goku who is in Otherworld. Everything was going smoothly until Gohan turned into a Super Saiyan 2. After that, there was no contest.
Gohan managed to pierce Bojack’s stomach with a single punch.
He then proceeds to blast Bojack away with a trademark Kamehameha Wave. To top it all off, Goku flies down from Otherworld to save Gohan and encourage him to transform. He probably broke a million laws but it was all worth it.
11 Perfect Cell
The ultimate villain from Dragon Ball Z. He brought flair, charm and most of all, a desire for total destruction. Cell had a rough start in his first two forms. He was beaten both physically and verbally, by Vegeta. However, it was worth all the torment when he achieved his perfect form.
On top of that, Cell received a Zenkai Boost due to the Saiyan DNA he has. This brought him much closer to the power of Super Saiyan 2 Gohan. While he still fell short of the mark, that’s more of a testament to Gohan’s power than Cell’s lack of it. Regardless, Cell became one of the fan-favorite villains after his solo fight against all of the protagonists.
The start of a new arc brought new characters. Dabura is the King of the Demon World and is a powerful foe. He fought evenly with Super Saiyan Gohan, but there was no question he wasn’t at his most powerful.
We don’t get to see much of Dabura outside of his battle with Gohan. Majin Buu defeats him very quickly and that’s about it. Dabura joins the long list of Dragon Ball characters who had potential but were thrown away to the side in favor of stronger villains. They should’ve spent more time fleshing out his role in the story.
He is supposed to be the reincarnation of Majin Buu, but with a pure heart. It was Goku’s final request before he defeated the villain and was granted by King Yemma. It was never confirmed how powerful Uub can be. Is he at the level of Kid Buu? Or is that power only obtained by training?
During the end of Dragon Ball Z, we see Uub fighting evenly with base Goku, however, the latter had a clear advantage. And this is without considering Goku’s Super Saiyan forms. At the very least, Uub can match Fat Buu in terms of power which makes him stronger than Dabura.
The villain from Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon. Hirudegarn is a giant moth-like beast that gave the Z-Fighters a lot of trouble. It took a brand new technique from Goku to finally send the beast packing to Otherworld.
The fact that he was able to fight Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo, Gotenks, and Goku easily makes him stronger than the others on the list so far. However, he is eventually defeated by Super Saiyan 3 Goku so there are still many characters from Dragon Ball Z who are stronger.
By this time, movie villains have stepped up their game and pose a much larger threat to the heroes. Janemba easily defeated Super Saiyan 3 Goku and Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta. The pair had to resort to the Fusion Dance to finally win.
Janemba has one of the most unique movesets in the franchise.
He can freely warp around at high speeds. The demon can also summon a sword and shoot lasers out of his mouth. On top of that, he’s a great martial artist and uses his long tail effectively in battle. Janemba manages to survive for about 30 seconds against Gogeta, so that was an underwhelming end for him.
6 Majin Buu
Majin Buu has many forms, but at his best, he is extremely powerful. This occurs after he absorbs Mystic Gohan. His power becomes much higher than anything on Dragon Ball Z prior to this moment. It’s a tense moment for the viewers as Goku and Vegeta are unable to do anything against Buu.
Except, as usual, Buu is made irrelevant within minutes. Goku and Vegeta fuse into Vegito and totally overwhelm Majin Buu. In Dragon Ball Super, Majin Buu is in his fat form again. He was supposed to participate in the Tournament of Power, but he fell asleep after training for too long.
5 Android 17
Android 17 was able to hold his own against some of the powerful fighters in Dragon Ball Super. Through some unexplained method, Android 17 was able to become one of the strongest warriors in the show.
His tactical thinking and unlimited energy play a major role in ensuring his victory at the Tournament of Power. It was one of the few times in modern Dragon Ball that we saw such a major emphasis on strategy. While raw power was the deciding factor at the end of the day, Android 17’s fighting style was very refreshing to see.
Hit also brings a unique fighting style to the fray. His time-skip powers allow him to literally skip time. He skips about 0.1-0.2 seconds which gives him the slight edge he needs to surprise his foes. At first, his technique is thought to be unstoppable as Goku and the others are easily defeated.
His technique is eventually broken by Goku during a filler episode. When using the time-skip, Hit is unable to keep track of his opponents. Using this knowledge to his advantage, Goku manages to get the upper-hand on Hit. It was a decent fight that actually had some strategic elements to it.
The big bad from the days of Dragon Ball Z. Frieza has become one of the strongest characters in the show. His new Golden Form has allowed him to surpass even the Super Saiyan Blue transformations.
And to think he got this strong through mental training while he was trapped in a cocoon during his time in Otherworld. Frieza manages to survive till the final battle of the Tournament of Power where he and Goku deliver the final blow together. It was a fantastic moment that somewhat redeemed Frieza.
One of the Pride Troopers from universe 10, Toppo displayed great strength and raw power during his battles in the Tournament of Power. He did have a God of Destruction transformation, but he wasn’t officially declared one since his universe had one already. So, he still qualifies for the list.
Even without that power, Toppo fought evenly with Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta. He has a traditional fighting style that uses his physical strength as the focus. He’s surprisingly fast for a big guy as he can keep up with fast characters like Frieza.
The strongest non-Saiyan and mortal character in all of Dragon Ball. Jiren’s power was gained through intense training and his desire for revenge. After losing his master at a young age, Jiren was fuelled by the determination of finding the killer.
Goku was the only fighter in the entire Tournament of Power who could fight evenly with Jiren.
Even Kale was dispatched with easily by Jiren despite unlocking the power of a Legendary Super Saiyan. There may not be much to his personality, but Jiren is far beyond anything the writers have thrown at the protagonists.