What's in a power level, anyway? If it's over 9000, does that even still really mean anything? Maybe not, but each time a Dragon Ball character reaches a new level of power, it tends to come with a snazzy new look. That's part of the reason fans keep returning to the franchise after so many years.
No race in Dragon Ball has earned as many power ups as the Saiyans. The warrior race was bred for fighting and conquering, and it shows. Though Goku was the first one to reach the level of Super Saiyan, many other Saiyans (and Saiyan-like beings) have reached higher and more powerful levels throughout the series' storied history.
Beings like Cell and Zamasu have been able to cheat their way into Super Saiyan like transformations. On the other hand, Goku has been able to push his body to Godlike limits that Saiyans were never meant to reach. Vegeta's managed it too, but Goku tends to do it first.
Through Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball GT and most recently Dragon Ball Super, the Saiyans who remain alive have displayed an enormous number of these transformations. They usually happen during some kind of state of emotional stress, but as the Saiyans from Universe 6 have shown us, sometimes they just do it because they want to.
Let's take a look at Dragon Ball: Every Level Of Super Saiyan Ranked.
17 False Super Saiyan
Whether this first one is true canon or not is debatable. It first happened during the film Lord Slug. The eponymous villain shows up on Earth looking for trouble. He's quickly confronted by the Z fighters, who are easily dispatched. Even Goku has a hard time with Slug until he manages this power boost.
In this form Goku's hair didn't turn yellow, but his pupils disappeared and his aura gained a gold tinge. He also received a huge power boost, although he wasn't able to maintain it for very long.
Technically, Goku was the only one who reached this bench mark, though Vegeta has shown off a technique that is similar. Against both Goku and Frieza, Vegeta used a technique called Saiyan Soul, which greatly resembles Goku's transformation against Lord Slug.
16 Super Saiyan
Every Dragon Ball fan remembers watching Goku transform into a Super Saiyan for the first time. A Saiyan is able to achieve this this state through a combination of intense training and an extreme emotional reaction. For Goku, it was watching his best friend be destroyed. For Vegeta, it was the anger that both Goku and Trunks had beaten him to it.
In this form, the major difference is the Saiyan's hair.
It stands up straight and turns completely yellow. The Saiyan also displays a golden aura, which Akira Toriyama designed to make Goku easier to animate.
Toriyama recently revealed that not all Saiyans are capable of achieving the transformation. They may train all their lives, but if they don't posses the right amount of S cells in their body they will never succeed. Almost every living Saiyan in universe 7 is capable of doing this.
15 Super Saiyan Second Grade
These next two cause a bit of confusion among casual fans. Super Saiyan Second grade, also known as Ascended Super Saiyan, is extremely similar to the base Super Saiyan form. The primary differences are that the muscles grow a little bigger and the hair gets a little bit longer and wilder.
Once the the Super Saiyan transformation is achieved, a Saiyan can reach this upgrade through strong training. Vegeta, Trunks, and Goku were all able to reach this form through extended periods in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
The form increases both the strength and the speed of the user beyond the Super Saiyan level.
Vegeta was easily able to over power Semi-Perfect Cell while using this technique.
14 Super Saiyan Third Grade
This form is a bit of a wild card. Also known as the Ultra Super Saiyan or the Super Saiyan 1.5, the Super Saiyan Third Grade Transformation is the last one between the original form and Super Saiyan 2. It is similar to the Super Saiyan Second Grade - with a few key differences.
In this form, a Saiyan's power level increases immensely. Their muscles grow huge and their already spiky hair grows even bigger and shoots out in all kinds of different directions.
Unlike the previous transformation, speed is greatly reduced due to the increased muscle mass.
Goku, Vegeta, Trunks, and more recently Caulifla were all able to achieve this form. Due to the Saiyan cells in his DNA, Cell was also able to achieve it. Cell, Goku, and Vegeta all immediately recognized the downside of this technique. It took Trunks a little longer.
13 Super Saiyan Full Power
After Goku reached Super Saiyan Third Grade, he came to an important conclusion: the original Super Saiyan form is the most practical. It consumes less energy than either of the two superior forms and there is less rage involved, keeping the user more level-headed.
Goku decided that he and Gohan would remain in Super Saiyan form permanently right up until the battle with Cell. This way, their bodies would become accustomed to the power and it wouldn't drain them. They would also be able to control their rage.
This gave birth to the Super Saiyan Full Power.
It's the same as the regular Super Saiyan form, but with none of the emotional turmoil.
When Goku powers up in this form, he displays a power level that none of the other Z fighters had even imagined yet.
12 Super Saiyan 2
The Cell saga was full of all kinds of new Super Saiyan transformations. None of them made the kind of impact that this one made, though.
Poor Gohan never wanted to fight. He was pushed to his limits by his father and then forced to watch his friends tortured, all so that Cell could witness his ultimate power.
Gohan did not disappoint. In this form, Gohan's initially short hair spiked and grew extremely tall. It was also much sharper and more defined. His aura maintained a small amount of lightning around it, and his strength and speed significantly increased.
Because of the sheer power, his personality also changed slightly.
He became confident to a fault, which allowed Cell to briefly gain the upper hand. Goku, Vegeta and Trunks have all reached this level, as well as Kale and Caulifla more recently.
11 Legendary Super Saiyan
The legends started here. Stories told of a Saiyan who was able to reach this transformation and attain unimaginable power. These stories were what led Frieza to fear the Saiyan race to the point of mass extinction. It has a few key differences from the regular Super Saiyan transformation.
Like Super Saiyan Second and Third Grade, the saiyan's muscles grow much larger. However, in this form their speed is not at all affected. Their hair also gains a green tinge as opposed to the original yellow, and their eyes become white without pupils.
At first, the only Saiyan to reach this level was Broly in Broly - The Legendary Super Saiyan. The transformation was recently made canon when the timid Universe 6 saiyan Kale achieved the Legendary Super Saiyan form. It is difficult to control, but possesses a raw power that is stronger than Super Saiyan 2.
10 Super Saiyan 3
So far only two Saiyans have been displayed the Super Saiyan 3 form. The first was obviously Goku. He used it against Buu, in a what came off as a lecture on Super Saiyan transformations. The second was Gotenks, who just kind of figured it out on the fly.
This form is drastically different from the first few. For one, the Saiyan's blond hair grows huge and falls behind their back. They also lose their eyebrows entirely, which makes for a more menacing look.
Both Goku and Gotenks were able to easily overpower Buu in this form.
The downside is that it requires a huge amount of energy and therefore can't be maintained for very long. The first time Goku used it he was lifeless and so he was able to fight without the adverse effects.
9 Golden Great Ape
Let's jump into Dragon Ball GT for a second. All Saiyans are born with monkey-like tails. When they look at the moon (or other spherical planets) while their tails are still attached, they transform into a giant ape known as Oozaru.
When a Saiyan who has achieved the Super Saiyan transformation turns into Oozaru, they reach the Golden Great Ape form. The form resembles Oozaru in every way except that the fur is gold instead of brown. It is also obviously much stronger, surpassing even the power of a Super Saiyan 3.
The level of control over this form varies depending on the situation.
Goku was not able to control himself while in this form, but Vegeta - while under the influence of Baby - was able to maintain some semblance of control. Some Saiyans also partially maintain their clothing.
8 Super Saiyan 4
Super Saiyan 4 was the final Super Saiyan transformation for a very long time.
It is achieved when a Saiyan manages to gain full mental control while in the Golden Great Ape form. It wasn't designed by Akira Toriyama, although he did have some say toward the final look.
In this form, the Saiyan's hair returns to its original black color, and grows down around the shoulders.
In keeping with the monkey theme, the Saiyan also grows red fur all around their body with the exception of the chest. The Saiyan also gains red outline around their eyes.
Only two (and a half) Saiyans have achieved this transformation. Goku and Vegeta both reached it in GT, and their fused form Gogeta was also able to achieve the transformation. It is widely considered to be ten times stronger than Super Saiyan 3.
7 Super Saiyan Rage
Just when you thought Dragon Ball couldn't get any more confusing, Dragon Ball Super went and introduced Super Saiyan Rage. Also known as Super Saiyan Anger, this transformation seemingly came out of nowhere. It was only used by Trunks during the struggle against Zamasu.
Think of this form as Super Saiyan 2 Ascended.
It takes Super Saiyan 2's power and multiplies it. The Saiyan's hair grows slightly longer and they gain a blue tinge within their golden aura. This means that it may include a slight elevation to God Ki.
In this form, Trunks was able to go toe to toe with Goku Black in his Super Saiyan Rose form. Much like Goku's spirit bomb technique, Trunks was able to gather energy from the remaining humans in his time in order to defeat Future Zamasu. He cut him in half with his sword, because Trunks still has the coolest moves in the entire franchise.
6 Super Saiyan God
The Super Saiyan God form came to Beerus in a dream, much in the same way it probably came to the Dragon Ball Super writers. He awoke and went on a quest to find this legendary transformation, eventually landing on Earth and finding Goku.
Goku was able to reach this level through a ritual involving five other Saiyans who were pure of heart. In this form, his hair returns to its normal form. Instead of being pure black, his hair and eyes gain a red tinge.
In this form, a Saiyan has access to God Ki and their anatomy is irrevocably altered.
While it was never shown on screen, Vegeta was presumably also able to reach this level through intense training with Beerus and Whis. While he wasn't able to defeat Beerus, Goku was able to go toe to toe with the God of Destruction while in his Super Saiyan God form.
5 Super Saiyan Blue
What happens when a Super Saiyan God turns into a Super Saiyan? Obviously, you get a Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan. That was a bit of a mouthful, though, so the creators simplified the name to Super Saiyan Blue.
When a Saiyan achieves the Super Saiyan God form, their body is irreversibly altered.
The form resembles Super Saiyan entirely except for the fact that all of the gold is replaced with blue. Could you guess that from the name?
Goku and Vegeta are both able to achieve this form, and while its power is extremely draining on a Saiyan's body, they've both trained enough that they were able to outclass Frieza in his newly attained Golden Frieza form. Their fusion transformation Vegito can also use the technique, as shown against Zamasu.
4 Super Saiyan Rose
When a God achieves the Super Saiyan God form and then turns into a Super Saiyan Blur, they actually turn into a Super Saiyan Rose. Still keeping up? Good. Zamasu is a Kai who believes that mortals can't be trusted with their own existence.
Upon meeting Zamasu, the first thing Goku obviously does is challenge the unstable being. Upon defeat, Zamasu sets his sights on Goku's body and strength. To that end, he steals Goku's body from another timeline and teams up with his future self for all kinds of destructive mischief.
This form is exactly the same as Super Saiyan Blue, except for the fact that Zamasu is an actual God, not just a Saiyan who managed to gain access to God Ki. Because of this, instead of Goku Black's hair and aura turning blue, it turns pink.
3 Super Saiyan White
When an evil God who's achieved Super Saiyan Rose fuses with his future evil God self who hasn't, he gets the purest version of Super Saiyan God to ever be bent on universal destruction. Zamasu is, in theory, the only person able to achieve this transformation.
In his Super Saiyan White form, Zamasu maintained his own skin tone and facial features with Goku's build and, more importantly, his hair. However, because he reached a new level of power, and also because Zamasu's hair color is white, the hair in this form is also white.
The idea for this was based on a fan drawing from the late '90s depicting what many believed to be Goku in a Super Saiyan 5 transformation. If you're a fan of white then don't worry, we're going deeper.
2 Ultra Instinct
This form isn't limited to Saiyans, but it's worth mentioning because Goku's version of it is unique. Ultra Instinct is kind of like the Great White Buffalo of techniques: once you achieve it, hold on, because getting it back is no easy feat.
In this form, Goku doesn't even have to think.
He is calm and at perfect harmony with his mind and his muscles. This is an ability Goku has been trying to master since all the way back when he trained with Mr. Popo and Kami in order to defeat Piccolo.
He first used the technique in the Tournament of Power against Jiren, though he was only able to maintain it momentarily. It also manifested against Kefla. In this form Goku looks like himself, though his hair is slightly elevated and his aura appears as a grey bubbly tinge around him.
1 Mastered Ultra Instinct
This is the newest and most powerful form a Saiyan has ever been shown to achieve, and is a fitting way to close out the Dragon Ball Super series. The Tournament of Power is almost over and Goku has just recently been able to master his Ultra Instinct power up.
In this form Goku's hair and eyes are completely grey. His power is level gains a huge boost, though it is extremely damaging to his body. Whis has said that if he maintains the form for too long, his body could literally explode.
The Mastered Ultra Instinct possesses a power level even higher than the Gods of Destruction. Whis and his sister are able to reach this form, as is Jiren, though Beerus is still working towards it. Despite his immense strength increase, this form still doesn't put Goku's power level above Jiren's.
Are there any Super Saiyan forms from Dragon Ball you think we might have missed? Let us know in the comments!