Fans of the Dragon Ball series have gotten to know some insane fighters brought into the fray. Still, you might wonder how they fare in match-ups we didn't get to see. After all, power levels are bogus, and the animation teams tend to make some big liberties with the canon just to juice up the fights. So we're going to try and rank the top 20 combatants in Dragon Ball history — though we'll be avoiding letting characters appear more than once with their temporary fusions and such (for example: no Gogeta or Vegito).
We're exposed to characters that can destroy entire planets early on. It's not a major feat anymore when anyone on this list can likely do so. So, we're going to have to read further into the lore and guesstimate from the match-ups we have seen. One important developer's note that we rely on, is that most of the time (not always) movies will show a stronger main villain than the previous movie.
Currently, Dragon Ball Super is airing the 'Universe Survival' saga, as the strongest fighters from every universe face off against each other in the Tournament of Power. Since it hasn't settled yet, we'll limit our ranking solely to fighters that fought in Universe 7. Due to retcons and unreliable portrayals in the games, there will be placements that are suspect. So, expect a loose ranking and of course, spoilers!
Honestly, Piccolo is one of the toughest characters to place on this list. Some believe that he reached his peak after fusing with Kami, unable to overpower Semi-Perfect Cell. Others are certain that after training for the past few years, he could now easily overpower many of the villains after him on this list. Since it's uncertain, let's just give him an honorary flexible spot.
In Dragon Ball Super, we've seen Piccolo fight on par with some powerful opponents, like Frost and Gohan. However, it seems to be the case that Piccolo no longer relies as heavily on brute force. He utilizes sneak attacks, his elongated arm, regeneration, and the multi-form technique in order to outwit stronger opponents.
Once every thousand years, a Saiyan will be unnaturally powerful from birth. As an infant, his power level was already 'over 9000.' Though, the Legendary Super Saiyan is actually fairly lackluster despite all the fuss. There isn't any reason to believe that he's stronger than Perfect Cell, and a subsequent movie where he returns as Bio-Broly actually de-powers the character.
Still, Broly makes a good marker for all the characters that didn't make it onto this list. It's easy to say he's stronger than many of the honorable mentions that would have been more interesting than another Saiyan; like Pikkon, Dabura, and Bojack. But in his appearances, Broly really gives his opponents a hard time, necessitating many to gang up on him.
18 Perfect Cell
Cell is from the future. He is a creature bio-engineered with the DNA of Goku, Vegeta, Frieza, Piccolo, and a few various others. Cell was already powerful enough to fight on par with a Super Saiyan. He uses his tail to absorb cities full of people to become stronger than the Androids. And when he subsequently absorbs Androids 17 and 18, his power multiplies.
Cell's various forms make good benchmarks for creating the rankings on this list. He's fought a lot of people during his short time terrorizing the planet. He's since become a rather iconic villain despite being among the many that were discarded to the wayside after becoming rather irrelevant compared to the powers in the Majin Buu saga and afterward.
Hatchiyack is a machine created by the Tuffles, a race that was wiped out by the Saiyans. In turn, the Tuffles tend to do what they can to take our the remaining Saiyans. At a certain point, King Kai remarks that Hatchiyack is the strongest foe that he's ever sensed, meaning he is certainly stronger than characters like Broly, Perfect Cell, and Bojack.
Hatchiyack is capable of creating clones of himself and fire his powerful revenge cannon, but most iconically, he absorbs the hatred of anyone who hates Saiyans. He utilizes this to resurrect various other villains as well as reach his own powerful form. One thing to note, his revenge cannon takes fifteen seconds of charging. Goku takes advantage of this by having everyone attack the foe while his defenses are down.
Hirudegarn is a giant monster from Planet Konats. He was once a statue of a Demon God that purified people's hearts, but eventually given back life by sorcery. He was cut in half and separated across the far sides of the galaxy. After half of Hirudegarn comes to Earth, Gohan is tricked into gathering the Dragon Balls to bring the other half to Earth.
Hirudegarn is surprisingly quick for his size. He is capable of absorbing life force, much like Cell. He does well to push back the heroes. It takes the power of Super Saiyan 3 Gotenks to stop his onslaught after he ravages the city, but this just makes him come out of his shell even stronger. Creators have noted that he's the second strongest villain of the original 13 movies, after Janemba.
Janemba is a demon created by purple clouds of evil energy. At first, he is a large, portly yellow creature that can only say its own name. Even in this form, he fights by playing around; creating portals, smaller versions of himself, and blasts of energy. However, after Super Saiyan 3 Goku smashes Janemba's face in, the creature shows his final form.
Janemba has a litany of unfair abilities at his disposal. Depending on what he is appearing in, Janemba can regenerate, create clones, shapeshift, and manipulate reality to some extent. Of course, even without his trickery, he is fairly powerful, needing Gogeta to defeat him. And in his reappearances in the Dragon Ball games, Janemba has only become stronger.
Meet the young man who will become the strongest human alive (out of humans without any cyborg parts, anyway). Uub is the human reincarnation of Kid Buu and according to the epilogue during the last episode of Dragon Ball Z, he is going to get five years of martial arts tutelage under Goku from a young age. As Buu's various forms could have taken multiple places on this list, Uub will represent the best Buu has to offer.
In Dragon Ball GT, Uub finds out about his past life, and eventually fuses with the good Majin Buu, becoming significantly more powerful as Majuub. He doesn't gain Buu's ability to regenerate or manipulate his form, but he is still capable of turning enemies into chocolate. Despite the retcon of the series, Uub is still mentioned now and then in Dragon Ball Super.
13 Android 17
Super Android 17 should be one of the strongest after his performance in Dragon Ball GT as one of the last major villains. However, the original Android 17 is actually now surpassing his retconned fused-form in recent episodes of Dragon Ball Super. While his sister enjoyed staying at roughly the same strength over the past few years, Android 17 has been taking this time to improve.
That's right, he got to this level by training. Before, Android 17 wasn't comparable to Imperfect Cell. Somehow, he overcame his human/robot limitations, and he can now handle himself against Super Saiyan Gods. Perhaps he can't win, but his limitless energy and utilization barriers makes him a contender. He's since been recruited for the Universe 7 Team.
Mira is the main antagonist of Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, after having appeared as a major villain in the online Dragon Ball games previous to this. Early on, he's kind of weak and even afraid at times. However, in his jealousy at other villains that reach their full potential, Mira realizes that he needs willpower like them to surpass his limits and succeed in his goals of becoming the strongest.
Like Perfect Cell, Mira is a bio-mechanical android from the future. He is made up of cells from some of the strongest beings in the series; including Saiyans, demons, and possibly Frieza and Namekian DNA. He sought to gain some of Goku's DNA to integrate into himself. He eventually absorbs his creator, Towa, to reach his final form.
Demon God Demigra is the main antagonist Dragon Ball Xenoverse (though he appears in other games). He is powerful, but confusing. At one point, he seems apprehensive over fighting Gohan. At another point, he revels in the thought of fighting Beerus. Still, he's definitely no pushover and certainly above most of the fighters on this list.
Demigra spends 75 million years honing his magical power in order to reign as a God of Time. He is capable of time travel, teleportation, mind control (anyone without godly energy), and creating wormholes. In one of his earlier forms, he's supposed to be comparable to a Super Saiyan 3, but he advances multiple times to eventually reach Makyouka Form, a transformation only for demons.
10 Omega Shenron
Here's a character that I wanted to ignore solely because he hails from Dragon Ball GT. However, as he appears as a majorly aggravating opponent in some of the Dragon Ball games, I can't deny his strength or his high ranking. It's a bit tough to translate the strength of a GT character to a list mainly composed of canon fighters, but he should be somewhere around this powerful.
Originally Syn Shenron, he absorbs the power of all seven of the Dragon Balls to reach his ultimate form. Omega Shenron is the strongest villain in GT, only weaker than the very best Gogeta had to offer. And yet, Omega Shenron is even stronger in video game appearances, necessitating a Super Saiyan God to defeat him.
9 Future Trunks
When Future Trunks attacked Perfect Cell (and failed to do any damage), I thought he had reached his peak potential, and would fade away into obscurity like many other heroes in the series. We knew Future Trunks wasn't meant to reach Super Saiyan God or anything higher. But Dragon Ball Super brings back our favorite time traveler as he enlists the help of Goku and Vegeta to save his timeline.
Somehow, Trunks has become relevant again. He taps into a form dubbed Super Saiyan Rage, and fights nearly on par with characters of godly strength. Sure, his life sucks, and yeah, his new form was a bit boring in that we didn't get to see him sport some new hair color, but I'm rooting for this powered-up Trunks to return once again.
The oldest son of Goku was intended to be the hero that takes his father's place, but his dad just keeps coming back. Perhaps that's why Gohan gets so complacent with his training. He also seems to have no intention of utilizing the various other Super Saiyan forms, including God energy. Gohan is likely the character that fluctuates the most on this list.
As a kid, he became the strongest hero when he destroyed Perfect Cell. But afterward, he stopped fighting and became much weaker. During the Majin Buu saga, a form dubbed Mystic Gohan arose that was a contender with the top dogs. And afterward, he stopped fighting again. But now that he's training up to unleash his potential once more, Gohan can handle himself toe-to-toe with his father for a short time.
All hail Golden Frieza. Yes, one of the most memorable villains of all-time returned, and got a movie out of it before it was adapted into a Dragon Ball Super arc. We find out that Frieza has always been a prodigy, and never saw reason to train since no one ever came close to him in power. But after being revived by the Dragon Balls, Frieza only needed to train for four months to reach this ultimate form.
Since he went for a rematch with Goku immediately after gaining his new form, he hadn't had enough practice with it yet. And so, he drastically ran through his stamina reserves and was killed again. However, in Hell, Frieza has now had time to perfect his technique (while fantasizing about killing Goku). Goku recruits Frieza into the Universe 7 Team in the Tournament of Power.
Meet the greatest assassin of Universe 6, Hit the Infallible. Admittedly, he might not be eligible for this list, as it's only in a filler episode that the man visits Universe 7 and has his rematch with Goku. However, this list really wouldn't be complete without him. Hit is one of the few people that can fight on par with Goku; even going as far as temporarily killing our hero.
In the fights we've seen him in, Hit tends to hold back on using the full power of his legendary assassination techniques, rather choosing to embrace his martial artist side in order to enjoy his fights for once (Goku has that effect on people). Among his abilities, Hit is capable of creating duplicates and after images, become intangible, and even slightly manipulate time.
5 Fused Zamasu
The original Zamasu was an apprentice Supreme Kai from Universe 10. Through different timelines, one Zamasu makes a wish to steal the body of Goku (dubbed Goku Black), and he becomes extremely powerful with his unique form, Super Saiyan Rosé. Another timeline's Zamasu makes a wish for immortality. Together, the pair desolate Future Trunks's world.
Despite one Zamasu that cannot be killed and another that keeps getting stronger, the two recognize the threat posed by the heroes (in their own ridiculous levels of power) and so the Zamasus fuse using their Potara earrings. In this form, the new Fused Zamasu once again becomes too much for the heroes to handle, and even ascends again afterward to Infinite Zamasu.
Poor Vegeta. No matter how hard he tries, he can't surpass Kakarot. The few times he has become stronger than Goku, it was rarely for much longer than a day or so. While Goku might deign to do some silly dance or ritual to defeat someone threatening the world, Vegeta often takes the high road, and will train for years to reach the same level without sacrificing his pride.
Still, to be neck-in-neck in his rivalry as the last remaining Saiyans, Vegeta has had to ascend to some ridiculous levels. And while his propensity for questionable decisions might have landed him in trouble in the past, now he's apparently the clearer-headed of the two. When it comes to fights, there is no one else that is a clearer match for Goku.
The hero is here! Sure, he didn't make first place, but for a mortal, he gets pretty damn close. If you thought Goku was overpowered in Dragon Ball Z, then you might think the new heights he ascends to in Dragon Ball Super are stupid-strong. And you'd be right, now that Goku picks fights with (and trains with) gods though, perhaps he's nearing his ceiling.
But even after reaching Super Saiyan God form, Goku continues to train and overturn the status quo, constantly getting stronger. Though he was insanely strong during his fights with Golden Frieza and Zamasu, he's still leaving those milestones behind him. We still need to see what's next in store for Goku (assuming the universe survives).
Beerus boasts nearly double the power of Goku as a Super Saiyan God. As a God of Destruction, it's Beerus's job to destroy planets within his universe. His only real weakness is the death of all of his corresponding Supreme Kai. Unlike angels, it seems that all Gods of Destruction were originally mortal, and granted their godhood by Zen-Oh, the King of All Universes.
Out of the other Gods of Destruction, it isn't clear where Beerus stands; though he would probably defeat his brother Champa. It's possible that after the leaps and bounds Goku and Vegeta have made thus far, that there is some fusion of the two that could overpower Beerus (until the fusion timer runs out), but until this is proven, Beerus takes the cake (and eats it).
And of course, at number one, we find Whis easily top the list. Nobody should be surprised at this placement. Whis is an Angel attendant; he taught Beerus martial arts and is capable of easily incapacitating him. His only weakness is that he becomes deactivated if Beerus is killed. Within Universe 7, Whis is peerless. According to Akira Toriyama, Whis’D power is one and a half that of Beerus.
Now, outside of Universe 7 is a different story. We don't know how he compares to most of the other angels, but his older sister (the angelic attendant of Universe 6) states that she is stronger than him; though it has been a millennium since they trained together. We also know that Whis doesn't even compare to his father, the Grand Priest who attends to the King of the 12 Universes.