When you start to think of the best anime shows you’ve ever seen, DragonBall Z is probably one of the highest on that list (next to Attack on Titan). If that’s the case for you, then who can blame you? The series has survived for many years, slowly expanding its universe and creating more obstacles for our heroes to fight. Whoever had the idea of adapting the manga to the television was one of the smartest persons in existence.
Due to the nature of DragonBall Z, there are a lot of powerful characters who take center stage, which lead to a lot of intense and epic battles that could potentially destroy worlds. I would stay here and name them all, but perhaps that’s a list for another day. Regardless, this is a focus on the characters themselves.
As the show has progressed, the characters only seem to get stronger, and the stakes only get higher. Specifically this is true with the main character Goku, who essentially can break any limit and conquer any challenge he comes up against. However, there are even some characters who are stronger than this behemoth of a fighter (and no, I’m not talking about Superman. I’m not getting into that debate).
There have been plenty of powerful characters throughout the history of DragonBall Z, but today we’re looking at the best of the best. These are the guys that can destroy entire worlds and engage in battles that we only dream of. Here are the top 15 most powerful characters in DragonBall Z, and yes, this is a ranked list.
A special thanks to my friend Alex Jones, the biggest DragonBall Z fan I know, for discussing the rankings with me and being a valuable source of information.
15. Future Trunks
For those of you DragonBall fans that may be unfamiliar with the full scope of Future Trunks, I would like to clarify that this list is including the DragonBall Super series, which has yet to be fully released in the US.
The first entry on our list comes from an essence of time travel and alternate realities. Trunks has been known in the past to be an exceptionally strong character, but his future form packs a much more powerful punch. Already working in his favor is him being the son of Vegeta (we’ll get to him later), but what really sets Future Trunks apart is the kind of training that he endured. He was trained by the future version of Gohan in the arts of fistfighting, swordfighting, and Super Saiyan powers. Having mastered these forms of combat, Future Trunks is as skilled as he is serious. Make no mistake, Future Trunks is vastly different from the present version that we are familiar with. Due to having lost all of his friends, he is much colder and disciplined (but perhaps that’s the side-effects of time travel).
As the DragonBall anime became more and more popular as the years went by, it was only a matter of time before movies started to be made. Much akin to the Pokemon movies, there ended up being a wide number of these titles that introduced many new characters, and some ended up very popular. Perhaps the best example of this is the legendary Super Saiyan, Broly. This powerhouse was conceived at a troubling time between a conflict between the Saiyans and the villainous Frieza. What made Broly stand out from birth was that he had a power level of 10,000 (although the idea of quantifying power seems a little arbitrary to me). Let’s just say that Broly was really really strong. During the film that introduced him, Dragon Ball Z: Broly- The Legendary Super Saiyan, Broly is depicted much later in life as a calmer Saiyan. However, it is eventually discovered that Broly is much more unhinged than he originally came across. Due to his tendency to give into his rage and unbalanced emotions, Broly has the potential to eventually destroy himself while in his Super Saiyan form. Now that’s power!
In the long history of DragonBall Z, there was once a war that took place between Earth and the Nameless Namek. The Namekians were led by the Demon King Piccolo. Despite their immense power, the King was eventually slain by Goku himself. However, in his final moments, the Demon King spat out an egg containing his offspring and reincarnation. This new Piccolo would grow with all of the memories and skills of its previous life and vowed to grow strong enough to one day bring Goku to his knees. Over the years, Piccolo took to many training regimes and methods to further enhance his abilities to make sure that he was prepared. Naturally, all of the time spent honing his skills on top of the techniques he remembered from his father are what makes Piccolo such a powerful fighter. During the World Tournament, he finally had his rematch with Goku, and while he did lose the fight, he still managed to cripple all of Goku’s limbs and nearly take the win. Despite their early rivalry though, Piccolo and Goku eventually became frenemies of sorts, and the former’s power has been used for the good of Earth on a few occasions.
When Goku finally had children, everyone in the audience knew that the results would be something special. Gohan, the firstborn, is no exception. Named after his adopted grandfather, Gohan has all of the strength and determination of his father. Despite his great power and fighting capabilities though, Gohan prefers the quiet life. He only fights when he absolutely has to, and when he gets to that point, it can be quite dangerous. As the boy grew older, his power only became stronger. At a certain point in time though, his father met an untimely death (though not permanent). However, there were still plenty of threats to face and Gohan rose to the challenge. Training under the tutelage of Piccolo, Gohan was able to maximize his strength in order to face the obstacles before him. This led to the two fighting the Super Saiyans, Vegeta and Nappa. During the fight however, Piccolo also met his end, which sent Gohan over the edge. This would only hint at the power Gohan would end up possessing. Eventually his powers would be unlocked and he would be trained by the revived Piccolo and Goku together. As a result, Gohan became one of the most capable fighters in DragonBall.
Many times in stories, when the world is inhabited by some of the greatest fighters ever known, there will always be those that seek to one up that power, and in turn attempt to create something even stronger. This is the story of Cell. Created by Dr. Gero, Cell was given all of the power and abilities of some of the most excellent fighters in the world of DragonBall Z. He gets his unique name by containing cells from Goku, Vegeta, Frieza, Piccolo, and more. As such, he has everything you could possibly want in a combat expert, except for one fatal flaw. Sometimes he can devolve into an Imperfect form of himself. While this form is arguably cooler-looking than his perfect form, Cell becomes much more cautious and must absorb energy in order to maintain his perfect form. However, once he reaches perfection, Cell becomes incredibly strong. Having not only the powers of various characters, Cell also possesses their personality traits making him an all-around efficient fighter, if not full of personality clashes.
Where there is a universe, there is order. Where there is a kingdom, there is a king. Where there are strong fighters, there is one even stronger. The ruthless and familiar Frieza is one of the most ruthless and tyrannical characters in the DragonBall series. He serves as the emperor of the universe and rules it with an iron fist. This character is so powerful that he has multiple different forms he can use in battle, and each have their own strengths. However, it has been said that three of his forms are only there to suppress some of his great power, and that his simplistic fourth form is the form that everyone should be afraid of. Feeding to his great power is a selfish personality. Frieza, being an incredibly strong character, naturally has a lot of pride. As such, if anyone dares to insult or threaten his pride, Frieza is likely to lose his cool. However, he isn’t without fear. Hearing about the race of Super Saiyans that could pose a threat to him, Frieza decided to take action. He went to the Planet Vegeta, where the Super Saiyans resided, and blew the planet to smithereens. All the Saiyans that were left Frieza kept only for his convenience.
9. Majin Buu
I’ve never seen DragonBall fans more upset than when Screwattack did a Death Battle between Kirby and Majin Buu. Spoilers ahead, but Buu didn’t win that fight. Almost every fan I’ve spoken to disagrees with that result to this day. After really doing my own digging on the true potential of Majin Buu, I begin to see their point more and more. Buu is a creation designed solely for killing and destruction. Buu eventually began to attack the Earth, resulting in the destruction of most of the population. On top of that, Buu has destroyed many planets in the matter of just a few years. His power potential is unpredictable and nearly limitless. He fights in a few different forms, each stronger and more terrifying than the last. Starting out in a chubby, childlike state, Majin Buu is deadly but much more carefree. He is easily agitated and very unrestrained. When in his more muscular, deadlier form, Majin Buu is almost unbeatable, and it took the power of Goku and Vegeta fusing together in order to subdue him.
DragonBall, among many other things, is very well-known for its use of fusions. Throughout the anime, many familiar faces fuse together in order to accomplish a previously impossible goal, or to defeat a stronger foe. The first fusion on this list is the combination of Trunks and previous entry Gohan. After Goku taught them the Fusion Dance, these two characters learned to combine their powers into one. The resulting Gotenks is a cocky, arrogant individual. Because of his newfound strength, Gotenks sees himself as much greater than he actually is. Gotenks is a very young person though, which feeds into his lack of overall discipline. Make no mistake though, as Gotenks is no pushover in the heat of battle, or in the muscle department. One of the first times this fusion is utilized is during a battle with Majin Buu, where their individual strength wasn’t enough. However, Gotenks is not the most powerful fusion in the anime, losing out to more powerful characters, but his strength easily puts him on the line with some of the stronger fighters in the show like Goku and Vegeta. If you ask me, this is one child I wouldn’t fight with on the playground.
Imagine what you would get if you fused two of the most powerful Super Saiyans in the world. In DragonBall, you get Gogeta. The powerful fusion of Goku and Vegeta, Gogeta knows almost no limits to what he can do and is strong enough to make any Cell or Majin Buu running for cover. Goku and Vegeta have fused together many times, but the only problem is that sometimes, Vegeta doesn’t perform the Fusion Dance correctly, resulting in a much weaker fusion. Once he gets his act together though, Gogeta comes out, and he is one of the most powerful characters in the DragonBall universe. Along with the combination comes a host of new abilities that sets Gogeta apart from the rest of the world. The most notable of these abilities is the Big Bang Kamehameha, a combination of Goku’s Super Kamehameha and Vegeta’s Big Bang Attack. The resulting blast of energy dishes out heavy amounts of damage and is more than enough to make baddies think twice before ticking Goku and Vegeta off. Perhaps by this point you’re wondering why Gogeta is ranked below his constituents. This is because in the light of DragonBall Super, Goku and Vegeta have reached power levels that put them in an entire league of their own, above their fusion.
The frontrunner for DragonBall Z to this day, Son Goku is a face that many recognize. Throughout the years, his struggles against powerful villains have only led him to become stronger and deadlier. He breaks whatever limits he finds himself under, and always manages to rise to the top of a tough battle.
Originally, Goku was sent to Earth by the Saiyans in order to purge it. However, something happened that gave Goku a bit of amnesia. As a result, he grew up on Earth fun-loving and full of goodness, which led to him becoming one of the greatest warriors on the planet. He has many different forms that have given him the edge in combat, including the Super Saiyan God and Super Saiyan Blue forms. It is because of these newer forms like Blue that have given Goku a much greater edge over many stronger foes, and he has even surpassed his fusion. Goku is only down a path that will lead to him becoming stronger, and it seems like he could eventually become the greatest fighter that the world has ever known. Until then, we get to see him utilize his intense Super Saiyan forms.
I suppose it’s a bit silly to put Vegeta above Goku. As of the DragonBall Super anime, Goku and Vegeta are at about the same power level- they’re equal. While one wins a fight, they are sure to lose during the next battle. Their power struggle may never truly end.
A character that began his role as a villain, Vegeta is the royal prince of the Super Saiyan planet, and was naturally, one of its greatest adversaries. After spending some time in the Frieza Force, however, Vegeta slowly went from a guy who fights for evil, to a guy who fights for himself. Eventually down the road, Vegeta worked with the Z Force and became a great ally to the Earth. However, that hasn’t stopped his ultimate goal of surpassing Goku in power. Naturally, Vegeta has mastered many of the same forms that Goku has, including the coveted Super Saiyan Blue. After his fight with Frieza, it was estimated that Vegeta’s power level is around 530,000, but again power levels seem really arbitrary to me. Regardless, Vegeta is one of the greatest fighters in the world along with Goku. Together, there’s almost no battle they cannot win.
Once upon a relatively recent time, a powerful warrior Zamasu swapped with the body of Son Goku and used it as his own. The result was a villainous soldier that looked exactly like Goku, but was even more powerful. This character is known as Black or Goku Black. This character knows very little boundaries and has even killed the future version of Bulma, the lover of Vegeta. Having the body of Goku, Zamasu injected his own power into the Super Saiyan and became a force to be reckoned with. Eventually, it came time for Goku and Vegeta to fight him, but even they weren’t strong enough to defeat Black. He even has a Super Saiyan form at his disposal called Super Saiyan Rose to go toe to toe with Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue. Black is so strong that even when Goku was engulfed in rage over the deaths of some of his friends, his resulting power was still outdone by his dark counterpart. Goku and his friends had to leave the fight to figure out another way to defeat Black and his partner.
3. Future Zamasu
The present Zamasu was ruthless and twisted enough to steal the body of Goku to inevitably become Black, but Future Zamasu is completely over the edge. This version of Zamasu sees all mortals as less than himself, and has an ultimate goal of robbing the Earth of all humans. He believes that the humans are the true evil and that to create a perfect world they must be eradicated. Much like his present counterpart though, Future Zamasu has a deep hatred for Goku and seeks to ultimately kill him, and feels that only he is the one to do it. This version of Zamasu instead chose to gain immortality than get Goku’s body though, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t without his power. Future Zamasu is still a fighting expert and was able to compete with Goku’s Super Saiyan Blue and Trunks’ Super Saiyan 2 at the same time, and he isn’t even a Saiyan himself. Working together with his alternate counterpart of Goku Black, their combination is one of the deadliest, bringing all kinds of doom to the planet Earth. However, it’s his immortality that gives him the edge in battle- if he were mortal, then he wouldn’t stand a chance.
Beerus is the cat-like God of Destruction for the Seventh Universe. As if that weren’t already bad enough, Beerus has also had training from his mentor in order to become a killing machine. Much like an actual cat, Beerus has a very laidback personality. He prefers long naps and is quite playful when the occasion calls for it. He simply does what he wants when he wants to do it. Because of his cat-like behavior, Beerus is easily agitated and will lash out when he is disrupted. Beerus is largely known for destroying planets as he sees fit. His more recent target is obviously Planet Earth. Naturally, this would see him go toe to toe with Goku. However, it wasn’t much of a fight as Beerus simply thrusts a fist through the Saiyan’s stomach. Beerus and Goku continued their epic fight and Beerus won, but fell asleep, preventing him from destroying the Earth. However, it was later revealed that Beerus wasn’t using all of his power because he simply wanted to gauge how strong Goku was. Beerus eventually goes back in time with his mentor to do the Earth a favor and kills Zamasu without even breaking a sweat.
Whis is the fabled mentor and teacher of Beerus. However, he’s not just an excellent fighter, he’s one of the greatest beings in the DragonBall universe to date. While we haven’t seen a lot of Whis’s true strength, that’s simply because Whis chooses not to use it. He is a calm and collected individual, serving as Beerus’s adviser more than anything else. However, Beerus has even stated to Goku that Whis is much stronger than him multiple times. In the movie DragonBall Z: Battle of Gods, we did get a glimpse of Whis’s true power. He decided to train both Goku and Vegeta at the same time, and fought them without breaking a sweat. His speed is so immense that he can fight and react faster than his enemies could register in their brains that a blow was coming. Even the creator of the series has gone on record saying that Whis is one of the strongest beings in DragonBall. Super Saiyan God Goku would be about a power level of 6, while Beerus sits at 10, and Whis takes the throne at 15. If Whis wanted to take over or destroy the Earth, he could easily do so. Luckily for Goku, Whis isn’t entirely a villain.