When it comes down to ranking anything, there will always be some slight controversy. Each one of us has our own logic and reasoning for why we list things a certain way. Not everyone is going to agree with a ranking, unless there is a definitive one as stated within the canon of the source material.
I have been mulling over this ranking of the Saiyans from Dragon Ball (from weakest to strongest) for a while. I feel like no matter what I choose, there won’t be any way for me to satisfy everyone. While almost everyone will probably agree with the top ranking Saiyans, when it comes down to everyone else, the situation becomes more complicated. Do I include fusion characters, like Vegito and Gogeta? Should I also include non-canon characters into this official ranking? Do I also incorporate Saiyans introduce in the spin-offs, or are they not allowed?
After thinking about it for a while, I concluded that I will leave out all the fusion characters. I never like seeing fusion characters officially counted as their own characters, since they aren’t real characters in the first place. They’re an amalgamation of two existing characters, and I think I should just include those two characters separately. I will also include non-canon characters, but I will strictly focus on the non-canon characters that have been animated, and had significant roles. I know these rules are arbitrary, and no doubt will upset some fans. Just know we are all fans of the same thing, and these are just opinions.
Your first thought reading this is probably this is, “How’s Raditz not at the bottom of this list?” When looking at all the major Saiyan characters within the canon and non-canon, there were actually some Saiyans that never actually fight. Bulla, the second child of Vegeta and Bulma, is never shown fighting in any of the animated Dragon Ball series. The timeline in Dragon Ball Online claims that Bulla would end up being very powerful. However, since that was a video game spin-off and we’ve never seen it happen, Bulla is the bottom of the barrel of Saiyans.
“What, still no Raditz?” Patience, my dear readers. Despite how weak Raditz is, he at least went around conquering planets and stuff. His mother Gine, on the other hand, hasn’t even done that. Gine, Goku’s and Raditz’s mother, was made part of the official canon with the Dragon Ball Minus manga and the upcoming Broly movie. Saiyan society may have been barbaric, but Gine was one of the few non-violent Saiyans. She was kind and compassionate, a rarity among Saiyans. While Goku’s lack of violent tendency is often attributed to his amnesia, he may have actually inherited it from his mother.
23 Bardock's Planet Elite Force
Bardock, the father of Goku and Raditz, was part of an elite force of Saiyans. Their job was eliminating an entire planet’s population and giving it to Frieza. Though Bardock is at least somewhat formidable (how much, you’ll see later), his mates... not so much. They were able to conquer planets together and bring fear throughout the universe. With that said, all but Bardock were slain by Dodoria, and Dodoria is not very strong. Does that make them weaker than Raditz? Well, Bardock’s Elite Force did lose pretty pitifully against Dodoria, so I’m going to assume… yes?
Congratulations Raditz, you are not the worst Saiyan to appear in anything animation-related! He is stronger than Bulla (who's been mostly portrayed as a kid/teen), his mom, and Bardock’s Elite Force. The last part is actually a big maybe on my part, and I am only conjecturing on that.
Joking aside, fans often forget how big of a threat Raditz was when he first appeared. He was so strong that he forced Goku and Piccolo to team up, and those two were considered to be the strongest on Earth at that point. Raditz isn’t so bad after all.
More speculating on my part. Paragus, who is the father of Broly, is never really seen fighting. He is more of a big picture sort of guy. He uses his son’s tremendous strength to enslave a planet, and then lures Vegeta to the planet in order to eliminate him. Broly does all the heavy lifting, while Paragus plans everything together.
We are never shown how physically powerful Paragus is. I’m going to assume he is at least stronger than Raditz, and that is because almost everyone is better than Raditz.
20 Scarface And Shorty
Scarface and Shorty are actually non-canon Saiyans that appear in one of the more memorable filler episodes in the original Dragon Ball Z. They are Saiyan warriors that existed in the past. The Z-Warriors were transported to their timeline by Kami and Mr. Popo; it was part of the Z-Warriors training. Scarface and Shorty were able to easily overpower the warriors. Mr. Popo then reveals to the Z-fighters that Scarface and Shorty are only half as strong as Vegeta and Nappa. It was one of the few fillers that actually added more stakes to the main storyline.
Tarble is Vegeta’s younger brother, and a low-level Saiyan. I actually originally had Tarble lower than Raditz. My logic at the time was that Tarble is not really a fighter, something Vegeta points out. Even though he isn’t much of a fighter, Tarble was able to hold off against the villainous aliens, Abo and Cado. According to the Dragon Ball Wiki, Abo’s and Cado’s strength are equal that of Frieza. Who am I to argue against the all mighty fan wiki? If Abo and Cado are that strong, then Tarble can’t be that weak.
It’s crazy to think that when Nappa first appeared, he came across as being nearly indestructible. The combined might of Piccolo, Gohan, Krillin, Tien, and Chiaotzu couldn’t even budge him. Of course, that is until Goku comes in and makes short work of him. Adding insult to injury, he was then quickly vaporized by Vegeta. Nappa is now seen as one of the weaker Dragon Ball villains, which is sad considering how much of a powerhouse he was in the Saiyan Saga. Well, at least he will always be stronger than Raditz.
Turles is a Saiyan pirate, and the main villain of the third Dragon Ball Z movie, Tree of Might. When he eats the fruits from the Tree of Might, he becomes exponentially more powerful. A fan-favorite movie villain, Turles has shockingly remained relevant thanks to the video games. But the question here is how strong is Turles compared to the other Saiyans? He is an early film bad guy, so he can’t be that strong. Since he eats from the Tree of Might, I’m going to assume he as at least stronger than most of the other non-Super Saiyan Saiyans.
16 Vegeta Jr.
I face a conundrum when it comes to the final episode Dragon Ball GT. Should I include Vegeta Jr. on this list, even though we hardly got to see the character at all? And if I do include him, should I include his mother as well? She’s part Saiyan too, yet all she did was cheer for her son on the sidelines. I decided to just include Vegeta Jr. in this list, since his appearance was very memorable. I’m going to presume Vegeta Jr. is more powerful than the previously mentioned Saiyans on the list because he can turn into a Super Saiyan.
15 Goku Jr.
Unlike Vegeta Jr., Goku Jr. was actually given his own movie to further explore his personality. While he is ultimately more of a clone of Kid Goku, we got more information on his strength. He didn’t really come off as being very tough in Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy, and there’s nothing suggesting that he is stronger than Vegeta Jr. You can really switch between Goku Jr. and Vegeta Jr. on this list. Since we got to know Goku Jr. better, I’ll give him the higher ranking.
Pan’s placement on this list was the most difficult to decide. In Dragon Ball GT, Pan was often overcome by most adversaries, yet she was still able to keep up against foes that were apparently stronger than Majin Buu. We never got to see her be particularly powerful, and she never even turned into a Super Saiyan. With that said, I chose to rank her this high because she was able to face off against enemies like General Rilldo and Baby, and survive. Not only that, but she can also already fly in Super, even though she’s a baby.
Goten is probably one of the least interesting half-Saiyans in the franchise. Goku’s second son really didn’t amount to anything. Sure, he can transform into a Super Saiyan, and he is without a doubt one of the most powerful kids out there. However, he rarely does anything of vital importance. He and Trunks are supposed to have equal strength, yet I almost always rank Kid Trunks higher in any list I make. Not only is Kid Trunks more interesting, but he has also clearly beaten Goten in the World Martial Arts Tournament during the Majin Buu Saga.
12 Kid Trunks
Kid Trunks has always been a more interesting character than Goten, even though both of them just have the “naïve little kid” personality. Maybe it's because Future Trunks exists, so there is just something about Kid Trunks that makes you prefer him over Goten. When it comes to strength, there is actual proof within the anime that Trunks is more powerful than Goten. During the World Martial Arts Tournament in the Majin Buu Saga, Trunks was able to beat Goten in the finals. It was a technicality, though, since Goten simply went out of bounds.
This is another complicated one. Bardock, the father of Goku, is one of the franchise’s most popular characters. From his cool persona and tragic story, Bardock probably best exemplified the Saiyans’ barbaric nature. He conquered planets for Lord Frieza and had little remorse for it. When it comes to strength, Bardock wasn’t that strong. Nonetheless, in the Episode Bardock original animation, Bardock was shown capable of turning into a Super Saiyan. Episode Bardock is a pretty mediocre OVA, though at least it made Bardock an “official” Super Saiyan. Whether or not it's canon doesn’t matter; it was animated so I’m counting it.
10 Future Gohan
Honestly, I wasn’t going to include Future Gohan in this ranking. He had a significant role in Future Trunks’ backstory, though oftentimes I just think of Adult Gohan when I think of Future Gohan. I realize that since I was including Kid Trunks and Future Trunks as two separate Saiyans on this list, I feel like it is fair to have Gohan and Future Gohan be two separate entries on this list as well. Future Gohan would fight against villainous versions of Androids 17 and 18 for years alone, ultimately succumbing to their attacks.
Now we are getting into the Universe 6 Saiyans. The Saiyans from Universe 6 are quite different from the Saiyans in the main Dragon Ball universe. They are a more peaceful race and fight for the side of justice. Cabba was the first Universe 6 Saiyan introduced. A more frail-looking Saiyan, Cabba is a gentle one who grew to admire Vegeta. He would quickly learn how to transform into a Super Saiyan, and pass on that knowledge to Caulifla and Kale. He then transforms into a Super Saiyan 2 during the Tournament of Power.
The leader of some sort of Saiyan outlaws, Caulifla has caught fans’ attention the moment she was introduced. Not only was she a full-blooded Saiyan woman, a rarity among the franchise, but she was also the first female Super Saiyan within the show’s canon. While many have issues with how she kept getting more powerful, she was undeniably one of the more powerful Saiyans introduce during the Tournament of Power.
Side note, Caulifla has a brother who was briefly shown in the anime. I’m not going to include him because he didn’t really do anything of real significance.
I rank Kale as the strongest non-fusion Saiyan from Universe 6 for the simple fact that she is capable of turning into a Super Saiyan Berserk. Kale is essentially a female Broly, except considerably less villainous. When she loses control of her powers, she becomes a hulking being that cannot be stopped. Her Berserk form is identical to Broly’s Legendary Super Saiyan form from the movies. When she is in Berserk form, she isn’t able to control herself. Her rampage was so mighty even Jiren, the strongest warrior in the Tournament of Power, needed to step in to quell her anger.
6 Future Trunks
Where Future Trunks stands within this ranking is kind of dubious. He is certainly one of the strongest Saiyans on the shows, yet how high should he be? His Super Saiyan Rage mode he unlocks during the Goku Black arc is never properly defined, and we never really understand how powerful he really is. Despite that, he was able to keep up with some of the series’ most powerful characters. He was able to keep up with Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta and was able to hold off against Zamasu and Goku Black.
Admittedly, Gohan hasn’t had many stand out moments within the franchise ever since he defeated Cell at the end of the Cell Games. He becomes almost completely domesticated by the time Dragon Ball Super starts rolling. He quickly starts training again after losing to Frieza and became an important asset for Team Universe 7 in the Tournament of Power arc. Not only was he able to eliminate some strong enemies, but he was also able to keep up with his father and Vegeta in terms of power. It’s suggested that Gohan has the biggest potential out of all the characters.
It’s hard to imagine Dragon Ball without Vegeta. The one-time antagonist has essentially become the co-protagonist of the entire franchise. Many fans see Vegeta as being the second mightiest character in the series, only behind Goku in terms of strength. However, going over research for this ranking, I’ve actually come up with a few other Saiyans that can surpass Vegeta. It made be blasphemy to suggest that there are other Saiyans stronger than Vegeta, but ranking these other Saiyans higher simply made more sense to me.
3 Cumber (Dragon Ball Heroes Anime)
I generally try to avoid adding a lot of spin-off characters, and I even excluded fusion characters. Despite that, I still chose to include Cumber on this list. He is a Saiyan from the ancient past who was introduced in the Dragon Ball Heroes arcade games and later appears in the anime. Both Goku and Vegeta needed to team up to stop him. It may be a weird choice to have a character like this so high, but he has appeared in animation, and he is shown to be capable of facing against Goku and Vegeta at the same time.
The Dragon Ball franchise succeeds thanks to the strength of its lead, literally. Goku’s quest to constantly get stronger and push through his limits is what the entire franchise revolves around. Without him, there wouldn’t be a Dragon Ball mega-franchise. He is always improving and is always prevailing against beings that are considered to be the strongest in all of existence. He is without a doubt the strongest Saiyan hero on this list, and on some days I would even consider him to be number 1. However, on this day, I decided to pick someone a little bit different…
Yes, I know. Having Broly as the strongest Saiyan on this list may prove controversial to a lot of fans. Nonetheless, with all the information I have, it makes more sense for Broly to be higher than Goku and Vegeta. With the trailers of the upcoming Broly film, Goku and Vegeta are being overpowered by an unstoppable Broly. Broly has always been a character that no single character can defeat. Even Goku needed the strength of his friends to beat Broly in the latter’s first appearance. It just makes sense for him to be number one.