Bleach, one of the former big three shonen anime, is known for a lot of things. Bleach has compelling teen angst-fueled story that was occasionally and abruptly interrupted by extended filler arcs, a final manga only story arc that is so convoluted that it probably ever be adapted, and some of the most over the top and reality-bending fights in anime. The powers and abilities in Bleach range from being exceptionally straightforward, to so complex that it’s impossible to ever see someone with these abilities losing a fight. Most of these delightfully extra powers come from the Zanpakutō used by the iconic Shinigami.
While other races in Bleach can use Zanpakutō, the Shinigami are the only group that uses them as their main method of combat. The guardians of Soul Society, the Shinigami consist of powerful spirits that can slay Hollows and other threats to the natural order of life and those who pass away. On top of their Zanpakutō, most Shinigami also use a collection of binding and damaging spells in combat, as well as techniques that increase their speed and general physical abilities. Shinigami spend centuries of their extended life mastering these techniques for the purpose of protecting Soul Society.
There are countless Shinigami in Soul Society and more named Shinigami than what the story itself can even keep track of. However, the ranking system and abilities within Bleach can give viewers a general idea of which characters are stronger than others.
These are 25 Shinigami Ranked From Weakest To Strongest.
Tetsuzaemon Iba is introduced as the vice-captain of the 7th Division of the Gotei 13, the main military body of Soul Society. He doesn’t really have any remarkable abilities and he doesn’t participate in any influential fights over the course of the series.
However, he is apparently competent and strong enough to get promoted to the position of Captain of the 7th Division follow a ten-year time-skip at the end of the manga. Iba isn’t all that memorable in the series and his fighting prowess almost completely unexplored, making him the weakest Shinigami on this list.
Rabu Aikawa, mostly referred to by his nickname Love, is another Shinigami that has some rather unexplored abilities. He can transform his Zanpakutō into a giant club that lets him make more powerful attacks and incorporate fire into some of his attacks, but his true strength comes from his Hollowification.
After dawning a Hollow mask, this transformation greatly enhances Love’s physical abilities for a limited time. Sure, Love’s powers don’t bend time and space or contain world shattering strength, but as a Visored he can use Hollow abilities that make him stronger than many others.
Kaname Tosen is the former Captain of the Gotei 13’s 9th Division who betrayed Soul Society along with Aizen. His powers center mainly on manipulating an opponent's senses. He can use sound to overwhelm a person’s hearing and render them unconscious, and his Bankai creates a space that robs an opponent of every sense but touch.
Tosen can also use his Bankai to transform himself into a massive, Cricket-like monster which temporarily restores his sense of sight. Moreover, he can undergo Hollowfication and is a lethal threat to nearly any Shinigami not privy to his abilities.
Tessai Tsukabishi is a Shinigami living as a fugitive outside of Soul Society following Aizen’s Hollowfication experimentation. He was the head of the Society’s Kido Corps and is capable of casting even the highest level spells with ease.
While most spells require an incantation to activate, he is familiar enough with the techniques that he can forgo this process, making his attacks much faster and less predictable. Additionally, Tessai focus on spell casting and unarmed combat make him a much more unpredictable fighter than many of the other Shinigami in Soul Society.
The former Captain of the 2nd Division, Yoruichi Shihoin is one of the strongest unarmed fighters in Bleach. She can move faster than nearly any other character in the series and can defeat most foes before they even realize she’s moved.
Additionally, she can coat her body in a tremendous amount of electricity and to augment her physical attacks. She can also fire off blasts of lighting using this ability to compensate for her mostly short ranged attacks. Yoruichi’s speed and strength are second to none, and she only falls short to Shinigami who have the ability to neutralize those abilities or artificially surpass them with their Zanpakutō.
The anthropomorphic wolf Sajin Komamura has more raw physical strength than nearly any other character in the series. His Bankai allows him to create a giant avatar that can attack with massive slashes or physical blows.
Moreover, Komamura can have the avatar remove its armor and further increase its raw, destructive power. The only downside to this method of attack is that any damage that was done to the avatar also appears on Komamura, although most fighters will not survive long enough to harm either. This is nothing short of one of the biggest and most brutal Bankai in all of Bleach.
Mayuri Kurotsuchi is the Captain of the 12th Division and Soul Society’s own mad scientist. While his raw strength is unimpressive, his intelligence and battle preparation is almost unrivaled. So long as he is able to research his opponent beforehand, he can create an almost foolproof strategy that counters their unique abilities.
He is also able to manipulate his Zanpakutō and change its abilities in the middle of a fight so that it better counters an enemy’s techniques. He’s also able to invent a solution to nearly any problem he faces, like figuring out how to bring people back to life, in what’s more like magic than science.
Toshiro Hitsugaya is the young Captain of the 10th Division and is more accomplished than any other character for his age. On top of his keen intellect, his Zanpakutō and Bankai give him control over ice and water. He can manipulate the substances freely, and uses this control for a number of creative attacks and defensive techniques.
His Bankai in its final state, which only happens after prolonged combat, transforms Hitsugaya into an adult and flash freezes anyone and thing that touches him. With these abilities, he can easily defeat any enemy that doesn’t utilize fire or ice manipulation in their own attacks.
Rukia Kuchiki, one of the main protagonists and later Captain of the 13th Division, also manipulates ice in battle, but her powers work a bit differently than Hitsugaya’s. Rather than manipulate ice itself, Rukia can control temperature and make herself and the area around her so cold that matter isn’t able to move.
This means that Rukia can make anything around her crumble away in a matter of seconds, while also making herself immune to most physical attacks. Even if it takes Rukia a while to fully use her abilities, as lowering her body temperature too quickly could damage her cells, with enough time she can defeat nearly any close and mid-range fighter.
Gin Ichimaru was the previous Captain of the 3rd Division of the Gotei 13 before he pretended to betray the organization in a plot to eliminate Aizen. His ability is one of the simplest and deadliest in the entire series.
He can extend and retract his Zanpakutō almost instantaneously and skewer an opponent before they’ve even aware of the attack. His blade moves so quickly by transforming into dust between extensions, which can remain in an opponent's body and poison then whenever Gin chooses. These techniques make Gin one of the strongest and fastest long-range fighters in Bleach
The sickly Jushiro Ukitake is the former Captain of the 13th Division of the Gotei 13. His Zanpakutō is one of the most powerful defenses in the series and capable rendering nearly any attack useless. By splitting the sword into two blades connected by a cord, he can absorb any attack with the left weapon and direct it back at an opponent with the right.
This makes nearly any attack against Ukitake ineffective and potentially damaging to the sender. With this ability and his unusually large pool of energy, Ukitake can win nearly any battle of endurance.
Captain of the 5th Division, Shinji Hirako is a Shinigami as well as a Visored, which means he can use both Shinigami and Hollow techniques. His Zanpakutō allows him to invert an opponent's senses, making them almost entirely unable to guard against incoming attacks.
Donning his Hollow mask allows him to easily defeat a foe in this weakened state, by launching powerful Cero beams and enhancing his physical abilities. We never see his Bankai abilities in the course of the series, but with base abilities this powerful, he rarely has the need for his enhanced techniques.
13 Sui Feng
As the Captain of the 2nd Division, Sui Feng’s speed and unarmed combat ability are second only to Yoruichi’s. However, she surpasses her idol in raw combat ability thanks to her Zanpakutō. She’s able to transform her weapon into a stinger that instantly eliminates a foe if she manages to hit them twice in the same spot, making her almost undefeatable when it comes to surprise attacks.
Her Bankai ability grants her massive destructive power and transforms the weapon into a giant missile that takes out anything near it after detonation. This array of abilities allows her to take on nearly any kind of foe, no matter how strong their defenses.
Captain of the 6th Division, Byakuya Kuchiki, is capable of destroying countless foes with ease. His incredible speed makes it difficult for most to land a single attack on him, and his Zanpakutō is absurdly powerful. He can break his sword into tiny razor blades that almost look like cherry blossoms and control them remotely.
His Bankai greatly increases the number of these tiny blades, and lets him attack an opponent from any direction at an incredible speed. He can even condense the blades to further augment his speed and the force of his attacks.
Kisuke Urahara is a fugitive Shinigami and the former Captain of the 12th Division. He is arguably the smartest character in the entire series and a master of spellcasting and unarmed combat. His Bankai is what makes him one of the most powerful characters in Bleach, however.
When he unleashes this ability, he summons a giant woman that can tear apart anything and then stitch it back together to Urahara’s liking. This means that he can alter any terrain to his advantage, increase the strength and dexterity of his muscles, or heal himself from any injury. Essentially, he is invulnerable and unbeatable in this state.
10 Oetsu Nimaiya
Oetsu Nimaiya is another member of the Royal Guard, and the creator all Zanpakutō. As such, his sword is one of the strongest in the series and is so sharp and powerful that no sheath can contain it. He has immense spiritual power and is one capable of easily defeating numerous opponents at once.
He’s so strong in fact that he never needs to use any of his advanced techniques over the course of the series. He is also tremendously useful in a support role, as he can repair and create Zanpakutō for other Shinigami, and even help them enhance the weapons through special training.
9 Senjumaru Shutara
Shutara is a member of the Royal Guard and therefore considered strong enough to protect the Spirit King himself. Her abilities are unlike any others in the series, and she fights entirely without a Zanpakutō, spells, or physical techniques.
Instead, she can manipulate cloth and thread with her mind alone. This lets her create incredibly realistic illusions or attack someone through barriers by manipulating their clothes. There also really isn’t any way to guard against her attacks, which means that someone needs to be incredibly fast to even have a chance against her.
8 Tenjiro Kirinji
Another member of the Royal Guard, Tenjiro is able to summon the water from a special hot spring whenever he wants. This water comes in two flavors, the first is offensive and quickly burns away enemies while the second stimulates a teammate’s natural healing and quickly restores their stamina.
His healing ability is also second to none, and he can cure nearly any affliction on his own or another’s body. His unusual and restorative abilities make him nearly impossible for any foe to defeat without a strategy specifically designed to take him down.
Sosuke Aizen achieved near godhood after betraying Soul Society and is one of the strongest creatures in the entire series. His Zanpakutō allows him to create almost flawless illusions that can endure for days at a time, which he uses to masterfully manipulate dozens of people simultaneously.
He also possesses such a vast amount of spiritual energy that most people aren’t even able to comprehend how powerful he is. He is practically immortal and can face any foe that is not a near deity themselves. If not for Ichigo sacrificing his spiritual awareness to defeat Aizen, he would have destroyed the entire world.
6 Ichibe Hyosube
As Captain of the Royal Guard, Ichibe Hyosube holds the highest rank in all of Soul Society and his incredible abilities reflect that rank. His abilities give him control over names and he can manipulate that metaphysical concept to cause physical harm to opponents or heal himself.
He can borrow power from anyone who says his name to heal himself and change the name of others to weaken them. For instance, he can give someone the name ‘Ant’ and they then become as weak as one. These fearsome abilities make Ichibe almost impossible to defeat in any circumstance.
The Captain of the 4th Division and the original Captain of the 11th Division, Retsu Unohana spends most of the series holding a mild temperament and healing the other characters. However, she has a much darker personality underneath this persona and is infatuated with combat.
She possesses incredible combat abilities that can strike fear into nearly any opponent and will defeat a foe using any dirty trick she can think of. Her love for battle is used to awaken Kenpachi Zaraki’s full potential and when she uses her full power, few can hope to stand against her.
Kenpachi Zaraki is the Captain of the 11th Division and his strength is so overwhelming that he subconsciously sealed it away so that he could further indulge in his love of combat. He was so strong that he would defeat most foes so quickly that he couldn't enjoy the rush of battle. His abilities are as simple as they are powerful, possessing extreme physical strength and durability.
Tieing into these features, his Bankai transforms him into a demon with unparalleled physical abilities in exchange for his sense of reason. His love of combat often leads to his defeat, but Kenpachi is doubtlessly one of the strongest Shinigami in Bleach.
The current Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, Shunsui Kyoraku is almost undefeatable thanks to his Zanpakutō abilities. His first set of abilities brings children's games to life and lets him easily control the amount of damage he and his opponent can do to each other.
His Bankai gives his Zanpakutō physical form and is functionally an ending sentence to any foe that isn’t able to revive themselves. All of his attacks pose an extreme risk to himself but carry enough power to instantly defeat nearly any foe. These cataclysmic abilities easily make him one of the strongest Shinigami in Bleach.
Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto is the former Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, and unrivaled by anyone who calls Soul Society their home. He commands incinerating flames and his Bankai pushes these abilities to their absolute limit.
His Bankai creates a smoldering sword that eradicates anything it touches. Moreover, he also engulfs himself in such intense heat that nothing can approach him and he can summon the charred corpses of anyone whose fallen to him in battle. These abilities give him nothing short of the ultimate offense, defense, and an entire army’s worth of stamina.
The protagonist of Bleach, and a Substitute Shinigami, Ichigo Kurosaki is the strongest characters in the series. He uniquely possesses the powers of a human, Hollow, Shinigami, and Quincy; and incorporates each species’ unique abilities into his attacks.
Unfortunately, the full extent of his abilities never appear in Bleach, but he is at least strong enough to defeat borderline divine beings like Aizen and the Quincy Yhwach. Few people in the series can stand against Ichigo and his wide array of abilities leaving him without weakness and grant him an overwhelming strength.
Who is your favorite Shinigami in Bleach? Let us know in the comments!