Cleanliness is next to Godliness as they say. Of course, that’s not exactly the case with Dragon Ball. Instead, being a master martial artist is close to Godliness. If you can’t punch hard and you can’t punch well, you’re not going to be a very good God. Or so you’d think. As action focused as the series is, a look at the divine characters will quickly show you just how passive some of the most influential characters in the series are. Like with many aspects in Dragon Ball, the nature of Godhood is something that’s far more complex than the fandom would let you believe.
From as early as the Red Ribbon Army arc, Goku has been interacting with divinity in some way, shape, or form. Holy lands, holy water, and deities have always played a key role in the franchise. Goku was even formally offered Godhood as the end of the original Dragon Ball. While not every God is a fighter, every God is powerful in some capacity. The very nature of being a God invokes a level of respect in and out of universe. There aren’t many deities in the series, but the ones that are present certainly leave a lasting impression.
20 Dende, The New Guardian Of Earth
The first thing worth knowing about Gods in Dragon Ball is that they don’t need to be strong, just skilled. Dende is canonically one of the weakest characters in the series through sheer virtue of not being a fighter by any means. He makes up for this, however, by being a member of the Namekian Dragon Clan. Instead of fighting, he heals. It’s his healing that keeps the Z-fighters alive during their fight with Frieza.
Naturally, when he becomes Guardian of the Earth near the end of the Cell saga, it’s only fitting he’d end up one of the weakest Gods in the franchise. He’s still considerably useful, fixing up the Dragon so it can grant more wishes and overhauling the rules of the Room of Spirit and Time, but he’s not going to be throwing fists or teaching anyone martial arts anytime soon.
19 Karin, The Cat Hermit
Goku’s second master is also the first proper deity he meets in the story. Karin, or Korin if Funimation is your cup of tea, is an old, feline hermit who also trained Roshi back in his youth. He lives in a tower located on sacred grounds, giving away his divinity before we even meet him, and he puts Goku through one of his more “do or die” training sessions, pushing him to his limits with the promise of fake water to help him defeat TaoPaiPai.
Like Dende, Karin isn’t particularly strong, but he does have one key trait that helps him stand out from other Gods: his ability to sense ki. When Goku comes out of the Room of Spirit and Time at the end of the Cell saga, he goes to Karin so he can have his ki measured. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s worth taking note of. Cats are canonically more accurate than scouters.
18 Kami, God Of Earth
While Kami ends up being outclassed relatively fast, his introduction is a big moment for Dragon Ball. It’s Goku meeting God. Up to that point, Karin was the only deity we’d ever seen or heard, but then comes Kami who isn’t just presented as another God, he’s presented as the God. Of course, we know that ends up not being quite true. Despite this, it’s through Goku’s training with Kami that he learns to discipline himself, control his anger, and move one step closer towards divinity.
As for power, we only see Kami fight one time in the series proper. During the 23rd Budokai, he takes on Piccolo Jr. in the body of a man named Shen. Kami loses, of course, and besides a comment stating he couldn’t defeat King Piccolo himself, we’re left with a God weaker than his demonic counterpart. A nice twist on the mythological formula, if nothing else.
17 Mr. Popo, God’s Assistant
A good rule of thumb is to make sure your bodyguard is always stronger than you. A bad rule of thumb is to never let your bodyguard actually do anything. Mr. Popo, surprisingly, is stronger than Kami. He mops the floor with a Goku who just defeated King Piccolo, his battle power is revealed to be almost as high as Raditz’s during the Saiyan saga, and he schools Goten and Trunks in anime filler during the Buu saga. In every medium, Mr. Popo is depicted as someone stronger than he has any right being. Goku claims he was trained by Kami during the 23rd Budokai, but maybe he should have stuck around with Mr. Popo for a bit longer.
16 King Enma, Judge Of The Dead
You can debate whether or not King Enma is actually a God, but there’s no denying that the man who judges the dead and decides if they go to Heaven or Hell is a big deal. Even though his role in the story never grows past being window dressing for the afterlife, he’s introduced with quite a bit of fanfare. Not only did he subdue Raditz with ease, he’s also the only person before Goku who’s managed to run the entirety of the Serpentine Road.
It’s not unusual for Toriyama to introduce characters for small purposes, nor is it a bad thing, but King Enma’s introduction is one that stands out considerably among the other deities. As soon as Goku gets to the afterlife, he has someone to surpass. It’s not personal, but it’s a divine wall he can, and will overcome. King Enma adds to Toriyama’s trend of giving Goku sacred obstacles to conquer.
15 Guru, Guardian Of Namek
Power isn’t just being able to punch other people really hard, it’s also managing your energy, creating something unique to you, and being able to unlock someone’s latent potential. Lord Guru, Saichoro if you prefer the subs or Super Kami Guru if you prefer DBZ Abridged, is the patriarch of Namek and one of the most interesting Gods in the series. While every other divine figure has the physique and the ability to fight, Guru is a gargantuan slug who likely wouldn't fight if he tried. Not that he’d want to, because he’s one of the few characters in the series who practice pacifism in some capability. In many respects, it’s that pacifism that makes him come off so Godly.
14 King Kai, Lord Of Worlds
King Kai may not be strong enough to defeat any of DBZ’s main villains, but he is responsible for teaching Goku the techniques he needed to take Vegeta, Frieza, and Kid Buu down. The Kaioken and the Genki Dama have been series staples since their introduction, and it’s important to recognize the fact these are two techniques specifically designed by King Kai himself. No, he isn’t overwhelmingly powerful, but he developed a way of augmenting his strength through the Kaioken and borrowing the energy of all living things through the Genki Dama.
It should be noted that King Kai is not a pushover by any means. He is legitimately powerful in his own right. It’s more than likely he could have handled Raditz and Nappa on his own, which is an impressive feat for that portion of the series. He also gave Goku the most beneficial training he’d receive in DBZ and we see in Super that Goku makes a habit of training on his planet.
13 Old Kai, The Former Kaioshin
Like Lord Guru, Old Kai is not a fighter. Far from it, really, but he’s capable of drawing out someone’s latent abilities to its absolute fullest. Case in point: Gohan. Throughout the Buu saga, Gohan is faced with the dilemma that he hasn’t kept up with his training. As the stakes rise and the situation calls for immediate action, he finds himself outclassed and put in a corner. It’s not until he awakens the Old Kai from the Z-Sword that he finally gets the chance to reclaim his former glory through Old Kai’s ritual.
While unlocking someone’s potential isn’t something exclusive to Old Kai, his method is, by far, the most useful. Gohan goes from being slightly weaker than his Cell saga self to completely outclassing every single character introduced up to that point. By the end of DBZ, Gohan’s only weaker than Vegetto and a Super Buu who’s augmented himself with absorptions. It’s all thanks to Old Kai’s latent abilities.
12 Kaioshin, Lord Of Lords
Shin’s been portrayed as rather weak willed and timid throughout Dragon Ball Super, but he was introduced with more hype than any single God in Dragon Ball Z. Where other characters were stated to be stronger than a simple villain, or strong enough to train Goku, Shin claimed he could have defeated Frieza with ease. At that point during the Buu saga, this may not be super impressive, but it puts him above every single deity in the series up to that point and cements himself as a legitimate threat. He’s definitely the butt of people’s jokes nowadays, especially during the Tournament of Power, but he could wipe the floor with most of the cast if he wanted to.
11 Trunks, Kaioshin Apprentice
Trunks’ divinity is a tricky situation. In the anime, we see him use some form of God Ki, but it’s never addressed by anyone in the cast. In the manga, he’s deliberately stated to have been Kaioshin’s apprentice in his timeline. The question becomes, are these two instances enough to consider him a God? Since Dragon Ball never defines what exactly a God is, why not? If nothing else, Trunks makes for our only Demi-God on this list, and is he a tough one.
He was always a strong character, but the Goku Black arc really upped the game for him. He was as strong as Super Saiyan 3 Goku while Super Saiyan 2, he unlocked a new transformation in the anime that let him go head to head with Merged Zamasu, and his healing abilities allowed him to play a vital support role in the manga. He’s a balanced adversary, more than likely to slice you in half with his sword.
10 Frieza, The Tyrant
From a homicidal space tyrant to a monster on par with the Gods from just training for four months, Frieza’s been on quite the journey in the past few years. Like Trunks, but way more so, it’s debatable whether or not Frieza is a God. He doesn’t have access to God Ki and he hasn’t undergone any divine training, but his overwhelming power at this point should at least give him honorary God status, right?
He was already overwhelmingly powerful in Resurrection F, but the Universe Survival arc beefs him up even further by having him lose his stamina problems through sheer meditation. Given the way he’s been looking at the Gods during the Tournament of Power, it’s very likely Frieza’s planning something sinister. If things fall in his favor, maybe we’ll see a new Omni King. One with just as much a penchant for destruction.
9 Zamasu, Goku Black
Ranking Zamasu as a God is fairly difficult for three main reasons. The first, he’s three characters: Zamasu, Goku Black, and Merged Zamasu. The second, he’s unskilled. The third, he’s literally invincible. On one hand, his three iterations lead him to putting up a very inconsistent performance. There were moments where he was in control of the situation and others where he was completely caught off guard. On the other hand, he was powerful enough to become a universe.
Zamasu isn’t much a fighter and that keeps him from likely realizing his true power, but he still pushed the heroes so far that the only solution Goku could think of was warping in Zeno so he could erase the multiverse. He’s been pretty clearly outclassed by Goku and Vegeta in the Tournament of Power, but there’s a good chance he could put up a fight even now. If nothing else, it’s not like he can die.
8 Vegeta, Prince Of All Saiyans
Even though Vegeta hasn’t been a God for nearly as long as Goku, he’s managed to completely close the gap between them and solidify himself as, once again, Goku’s true rival. Vegeta has never been so genuinely powerful as he has been throughout Dragon Ball Super. He toyed with Golden Frieza, made a mockery of Universe 6’s team, and was the Tournament of Power’s MVP up until very recently.
In the manga, he’s arguably even more impressive when he fights Beerus at the start of the Universal Survival arc. With his new transformation, it’s even entirely possible he’s surpassed Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue for good, which is more than fair. If Goku’s going to hold onto Ultra Instinct, Vegeta needs his own divine intervention to keep up the pace.
7 Toppo, God Of Destruction In Training
Toppo is an interesting figure. While it was revealed fairly early on in production that he was a God of Destruction in training, the anime never lingered on that plot point. It was the manga that ended up using it to its fullest, even showing Toppo use God Ki during his exhibition match against Goku. Not only that, he wins the fight in the manga. The Tournament of Power is reaching its end, but we’ve yet to see Toppo really fight at full of strength. Knowing Dragon Ball Super, he’s going to tap into that Destroyer power very soon. Can a Jiren and Toppo of Destruction tag team even be beat?
6 Goku, The Monkey King
Goku’s been on a path to godhood since Kami offered him the role of God back at the end of the 23rd Budokai. While he ultimately rejected the offer, he would go on to become a God in his own right during Battle of Gods. Since then, Goku has reached a point where he’s critically close to finally overpowering the Gods entirely through Ultra Instinct. It’s important to remember the tagline for the Universal Survival arc was “The work of the Gods ends here.”
What exactly could that mean? For one, it could foreshadow Goku surpassing divinity and breaking free from the mortal role of their pawn. It could also be alluding to Ultra Instinct, a technique not even the Gods have mastered. Now that Goku has access to it, who’s to say he can’t finally defeat a God of Destruction? Time will tell if he’ll defeat Jiren in the Tournament of Power, but one thing is certain: Goku’s on a new level entirely.
5 Every God Of Destruction
To be a God of Destruction is to hold the very balance of the universe in your hands. Who lives and who dies is decided entirely on the whim of the Destroyer. The God of Destruction is the top of the totem pole in each of their respective universes. Their Angel assistants may be stronger, but the Gods are the ones who are active. As seen in the manga exhibition match, each GoD is more than capable of annihilating any antagonist we’ve seen so far in Dragon Ball. The fight between all twelve is nearly incomprehensible. Even Zeno, the Ruler of Everything, struggles to keep up. As powerful as a God of Destruction is, not all GoDs are created equally. Among the twelve, there stands one above the rest...
4 Beerus, The Destroyer
If there’s one God of Destruction who deserves to be regarded as the strongest, it’s Beerus. Narratively, he’s the goal to beat for Goku. Beerus represents everything Goku can attain, but won’t attain at the same time. The gap between them is so wide that even when Beerus gets nervous over Goku’s progress, there’s realistically no way Beerus is in danger. Among the GoDs, he’s regard with disdain and for good reason.
As we see in the manga exhibition match, Beerus is capable of taking on multiple GoDs at once. The way he fights shows a trace of Ultra Instinct, and his overwhelming power and skill allows him to get in and out of danger with incredible ease. Out of all the GoDs, Quitela is the only one who poses a real threat to Beerus but, even then, it’s clear the cat has it in the bag.
3 Every Angel
As those in charge of training each God of Destruction, it’s only natural the Angels would rank so high. Looking back at the most prominent Angel, Whis, it’s clear just how much he outclasses Goku and Vegeta. Every time they train with him, they can’t even land a punch on him. Compare this to Goku’s battle with Beerus. Beerus was holding back, of course, but he was still putting himself in a position where he could be challenged. For Whis, that’s just an impossibility.
We don’t know exactly how strong each individual Angel is, but their status surely means they’re in the upper echelon. If Whis’ time reversal skills aren’t exclusive to him, that’s another aspect to take into consideration; they can bend the flow of time without creating a new timeline. That alone is a power unlike anything else seen in Dragon Ball.
2 The Grand Priest
He’s the father of every angel and the center of just as many conspiracy theories. You know him, you love to hate him, and Goku’s probably going to end up fighting him if the stakes keep getting raised; he’s the Grand Priest! Serving as Zeno’s right hand man, it’s only natural to assume he’s in the top three when it comes to strength. You could argue that Zeno’s bodyguards must be just as strong, if not stronger, by sheer virtue of being bodyguards, but we don’t have any explicit information regarding them as Gods and they certainly aren’t met with the same respect The Grand Priest is within the story.
Perhaps the moment that stands out the most with The Grand Priest is the smug look he gives when universes are destroyed. With Zeno, destruction is innocent. With the Grand Priest, it’s almost perverse. Time will tell if Goku, or anyone, will square off against the Grand Priest, but it’ll surely be a fight to remember.
1 Zeno, The Omni-King
Dragon Ball has always made a habit of introducing the “ultimate God” only to introduce a new God who ends up being stronger, but Zeno stands out as one of the only instances in the series where the bombastic claims about him being the be all end all actually feel true. Beerus and Champa cower in fear when he arrives during their tournament, Goku is constantly warned about his lackadaisical approach in regards to interacting with him, and we see, first hand, just how easy it is for Zeno to erase an entire universe.
Where it’s easy to see how Goku might someday fight the Grand Priest, it’s totally illogical to think he’d go head to head against Zeno. Not because it’d be a poor story decision, but because of just how simple it is for Zeno to erase someone. There’s no fight against Zeno. It’s just a struggle until he decides he wants to win. He isn’t a divine mentor, he’s Godhood in its purest, darkest form.