The popularity and influence of the Dragon Ball series is difficult to overstate. A bonafide pop culture phenomenon for decades, it continues to endear itself to new generations of fans with the newest series, Dragon Ball Super. We even see many fan made videos of fantasy matchups between the series protagonist, Goku, and other super heroes like Superman.
However, the series that was behind its meteoric rise to international fame was Dragon Ball Z. Starting five years after the conclusion of Dragon Ball, Z shifted focus to the threat Goku’s race of Saiyans and other super-powerful aliens coming to Earth, and took the characters’ power to near god-like levels.
This series has it all -- a diverse array of complex heroes, iconic artwork, fantastic villains, and great story arcs. All fighting characters in Dragon Ball Z evolve and increase their power levels, sometimes mid-fight, which makes assessing the pecking order a rather slippery task.
By the last arcs of the series, only a few of the original cast could hope to stand against the greatest threats the heroes faced, but many were able to reach respectable power levels through intense training. The heroes and villains both grew to wield staggering power, and the jury is in on the top fighters in the entire series.
Here are Every Dragon Ball Z Fighter Ranked Weakest To Strongest.
11 Android 17
Android 17, alongside his twin sister Android 18, wasted no time in establishing himself as serious fighters upon their debut. Much stronger than the average Super Saiyan, the siblings are quite close in power levels but have different personalities.
Android 17 is impulsive and was focused on "the game," which was finding and killing Goku. In his first encounter with the Z fighters, he dominated Trunks, Tien, and Piccolo. Android 17’s power level, like his sister, maxed out at around 360 million, but we know that 18 is a bit stronger because there was a flaw in 17’s design that Dr. Gero fixed with 18.
Additionally, we can look at his second fight with Piccolo as evidence of where his power level stands. Though he defeated Piccolo in their first encounter, the Namekian returned after fusing with Kami and had an excellent fight with 17 that ended in a draw.
Android 18 offered to step in and finish what her brother could not, but he refused. Android 17 is still a very powerful fighter even though he is the first entry on the list, and now fights alongside the Z team.
15. Android 18
The older of the twin Androids, 18 tops her brother in the power department and is generally the more focused and disciplined of the two. Her debut fight is a one-on-one against Super Saiyan Vegeta, and although Vegeta is strong and persistent, he is no match for the Android.
Android 18 soundly defeats him and breaks his arm in the process, much to the shock of the entire Z team. Later on, her power is shown again when she is able to beat two Super Saiyans simultaneously, Trunks and Goten, in the World Martial Arts Tournament. Android 18 being able to crush Vegeta in Super Saiyan form is arguably a more impressive feat than 17 fighting Piccolo to a draw, and since these fights happened at the same time is pretty clear evidence that 18 edges out her brother’s power.
There’s also the fact that series creator Akira Toriyama himself has stated that 18 is stronger because of the flaw in 17’s design, so there’s no arguing there. Android 18 is now a full fledged member of the Z team and seems to be stronger than she was before, and is a welcome member of the team in the Tournament of Power.
10 Android 16
The strongest of the Red Ribbon Androids, 16 was a cut above his robotic brethren. He was a towering figure, dwarfing both 17 and 18 in height, and also had a considerable power advantage over them. 16’s power level is around 400 million, which is at least several million ahead of both 17 and 18.
While 17 fought Piccolo to a draw and 18 was able to break Vegeta’s arm, 16 had the more impressive outing when he fought Imperfect Cell to a draw, even after Cell had absorbed many people. Neither of the other Androids nor the members of the Z team could have hoped to beat Imperfect Cell, whose power level was just below 400 million at that point.
Though he reflects that Imperfect Cell was almost as strong as he, had Piccolo not been exhausted from his previous fight, they probably could have beaten Imperfect Cell together. 16 was a much calmer and kinder personality than the other Androids, and his death at the hands of Cell was a sad moment. Still, he will keep his place as the strongest of the Androids in Dragon Ball Z forever.
Everyone’s favorite Namekian makes the list at number 13, ahead of the Red Ribbon Androids. Piccolo does not get a Zenkai boost like the Saiyans do, but his fusions are permanent not temporary like theirs. This is Piccolo’s greatest advantage and what earns him the spot when his power is exponentially increased after his fusion with Kami.
The Super Namekian has one of the most memorable fights with Android 17, which is a draw and proves that he can hold his own with very powerful fighters. His power level was just below 400 million at the time of these battles, making him almost on par with Imperfect Cell and just behind Android 16 at the time.
However, we can surmise that because Piccolo is a rigorous fighter who puts great value is training and improvement, that in the years after the Cell Saga, he was improving as he always has. By the the start of the Buu Saga, it is reasonable to think that Piccolo had surpassed his power level during the Cell Saga, which would put him above the top Android 16.
12. Supreme Kai
Shin, mostly called by his title of Supreme Kai, is a character whose power is somewhat difficult to gauge because we’ve never seen him in a true, proper fight. However there are several ways that we can place his power level.
First, he is able to tank a powerful blast from Majin Buu that should have killed him, also saving Gohan’s life. Second, he is strong enough to physically restrain Super Saiyan level 2’s, which takes enormous power. Also, Piccolo respected his power and was even in awe over it, which means at the time he was likely as strong as the higher forms of Cell except Super Perfect.
This places Kai firmly above the Piccolo and the Androids but below other fighters. We know that he was afraid of Dabura’s power level, so between that and his clear superiority to the others so far, we can place Supreme Kai as a very formidable fighter that can hold his own until the power levels approach a billion.
His power level is almost 700 million, which makes him one of the most powerful characters.
Here is where the power levels start to jump dramatically and the characters from this point on are far beyond those mentioned thus far. When Trunks trained in the hyperbolic time chamber with his father Vegeta, their power levels both increased substantially, with Trunks’ ascended form going up to nearly 800 million.
This allowed Trunks to land hits on Cell but he was not able to defeat him. He makes the mistake of investing too much power into his Super Trunks form, which is very powerful but the added muscle mass renders the form useless against the faster and more skilled Cell.
He returns to fight in the Cell games after this encounter without using the Super form, and while that is more efficient, it is not nearly enough to defeat Super Perfect Cell.
Although the Super form is not very useful, it is nonetheless the strongest Trunks was in terms of power in Dragon Ball Z, with a power level of 900 million. He falls in battle to Cell but is later revived and returns to his timeline, and does come back in Dragon Ball Super to take on the powerful Goku Black.
The first true villain on the list, Dabura was a frightening figure who wielded enough power to match his evil nature. Goku mentions that Dabura’s power level is on par with that of Perfect Cell, putting him over the 900 million mark.
At first, Goku believed that he and Vegeta in their Super Saiyan 2 forms could each beat Dabura. However, he later corrects himself after seeing the demon king fight. Dabura can match Gohan SS2 for a time, but if Gohan releases his full power he would overtake Dabura.
Upon his first appearance, Dabura quickly kills Krillin and Piccolo by turning them to stone, but a conflict within the villain ranks is his undoing. Remarking that Majin Buu is a useless idiot, he draws the ire of Buu and is quickly thrown into a mountain. He recovers and impales Buu with a spear, but Buu’s elastic body prevents this from killing him and Dabura is killed in return.
Dabura holds a noticeable place on the list as he is the strongest character under a billion power level, making him the benchmark against the elite powerful fighters in the series.
One of the most popular villains in the series, Cell has had many forms and power levels throughout his Saga. He is the ultimate android, able to absorb other living beings and gain the power and knowledge through osmosis.
At first, Cell is hardly powerful, but as the Saga continues and he absorbs more and more fighters, his form becomes more and more perfect until he reaches his peak of Super Perfect Cell. This form in the first villain to breach the billion power level.
Through his absorption, he has Saiyan DNA and could thus benefit from zenkai boosts, meaning that the boost he received from his single-cell regeneration must have been the biggest in the series. He attains a Super form as the golden aura is seen around him, but it is likely that he was not as strong as Gohan even before his defeat.
Gohan was weakened due to taking a blast for Vegeta and lost an arm, plus Cell was visibly nervous when Gohan powered up to fight him again. Super Perfect Cell’s power level was almost one and a half billion, making him a very powerful fighter even by today’s standards.
The Saiyan Prince has always felt that he lived in his friend and rival Goku’s shadow. Throughout most of their time in Z, Vegeta played second fiddle in terms of power and he always resented it. This was the catalyst for Vegeta attaining his highest form in the series.
While Gohan was fighting Dabura, Vegeta and Goku argue about how they should deal with the Majin threat. His rising anger is capitalized on by the wizard Babidi, and he falls victim to his mind control magic, transforming him into the super powerful Majin Vegeta. He embraces his former violent nature and fights on par with Goku, which greatly satisfies him, but he knows he has to take down Majin Buu.
Super Saiyan 2 Majin Vegeta’s power level was 2.1 billion, which is highly powerful, but falls short of Majin Buu. Despite hitting Buu with everything he had, Vegeta is unable to defeat him and instead chooses to sacrifice his life by self destructing. Vegeta never achieved the Super Saiyan 3 form, and perhaps that is why he isn’t higher on the list.
7. Fat Buu
The arrival of Majin Buu marks the beginning of the end of Dragon Ball Z, and a jump to power levels that no one thought were possible. Though this form, often called Fat Buu, displays a childlike and innocent personality as a result of absorbing the good-hearted Grand Supreme Kai, he is an insanely powerful character that wipes the floor with any who came before him.
With a power level at a staggering 2.5 billion, Fat Buu is not even phased by the attacks from Dabura and easily kills him, and he defeats Gohan and Supreme Kai without breaking a sweat.
It takes Goku’s debut of the Super Saiyan 3 form to compete with Buu, and they fight to a stalemate despite both fighters landing significant hits on each other. Fat Buu is later quelled through his friendship with Mr Satan and his dog, Bee, and splits off from the evil part of his personality, but Fat Buu’s time as an enemy of the Z fighters remains a frightening one.
It is likely that Grand Supreme Kai saved the universe by being absorbed by Buu because Fat Buu’s playful personality was controllable.
Series protagonist Goku has gone through more changes than anyone throughout the series, and at his peak, takes the number 6 slot on the list. Ever the consummate trainer and lover of fighting, Goku specializes in digging deep and bringing out new powers and techniques, and using them against stunned opponents who aren’t prepared for his ability.
Goku’s mastery of the Super Saiyan forms catapulted him to great power levels several times in Z, but it was his achievement of the Super Saiyan 3 form that brought him to his peak. With a power level of 8.4 billion, Goku in SS3 possesses enough power that his body has a hard time handling it.
The form drains energy from the user at an accelerated rate, meaning Goku has limited time to fight while in it, but the power it brings allows him to go blow-for-blow with the most powerful fighter in the series. Goku eventually vanquishes Buu, but the SS3 was not enough and he needed the Spirit Bomb to do it.
This is the last canonical Saiyan transformation until Dragon Ball Super, but it remains iconic and a fan favorite to this day.
5 Kid Buu
It might surprise some fans that the last villain standing in the series only claims the number five spot in power level. This is due to the higher ups attaining higher levels through various power modifiers but Kid Buu alone reaches a level of power that no single fighter can match without those. He is the purest form of Buu-- he is all evil and has almost no sanity to speak of.
Mindless destruction on a planetary scale is always on his agenda, and it takes an incredible amount of combined power to take him out. He also has the benefit of the elastic, regenerative body, making him nearly impossible to kill. Kid Buu has a power level of 8.5 billion, far outclassing every single fighter except for Super Saiyan 3 Goku.
Though they are nearly even in power, Buu’s biology allows much quicker stamina recovery. Because Goku SS3 drains more energy than normal, Buu ends up winning the fight through attrition. Excluding absorption, fusions, and magic, Kid Buu is has the strongest power level of any fighter in the series.
Gotenks made his debut during the Buu Saga and is one of its standout stars. As an immensely powerful fusion of Trunks and Goten, Gotenks has all the benefits of a Saiyan including the ability to learn all the Super Saiyan forms.
Throughout the Saga, Gotenks masters his base form, and quickly learns to transform into Super Saiyan, then Super Saiyan 2, and finally, he becomes the only character besides Goku to achieve Super Saiyan level 3 in the series. Extremely powerful even in base form, Gotenks maxes out at a power level of around 28 billion at the peak of SS3.
Though this form is not sustainable for a substantial amount of time, it is a milestone that only three characters have managed to surpass at a given point in time. Gotenks has one of the best fights in the series against Super Buu and actually manages to damage him, but his time is limited because of the SS3 nature, and he doesn’t have enough stamina to finish.
He is eventually absorbed by Super Buu and is essentially finished as a fighter in the series after that, but his star shone bright in his time and he achieved one of the highest power levels in the series.
The eldest son of Goku and the strongest fighter on the Z team in the series, Gohan has the potential to be more powerful than any fighter. His power levels have had a bit of a roller coaster, as he was at his strongest when he defeated Cell, but his SS2 form later was not as strong. What gives him the number 3 spot is the the magic ritual that Old Kai performed to draw out Gohan’s unlocked power.
This essentially is the maximum level he can possibly achieve but can’t do so through normal training means. Mystic Gohan showed up to fight Super Buu, and in one of the most satisfying moments in the series, hands the super villain an absolute thrashing. Buu had to self destruct to prevent Gohan from killing him, but fails to kill Gohan.
At this point, Gohan’s power level is 32 billion, surpassing even Gotenks at SS3. Unfortunately, the next time the two fight each other, Super Buu had absorbed Gotenks and that pushed him past Gohan, who in turn is absorbed. Gohan never took over the protagonist role from his father, but he achieved far higher power levels than Goku did in this series.
2 Super Buu
The second of the 3 Buu forms the Z fighters had to contend with, Super Buu was the result of the evil aspect of Buu consuming the playful Fat Buu. In his purest form without absorption, Super Buu has an incredible power level of 24 billion.
While that’s not as high as Gotenks and Mystic Gohan, Super Buu successfully absorbed the strongest fighters on the Z team. After absorbing Piccolo and Gotenks, he was able to fight and later absorb Mystic Gohan, which took his power level to 48 billion, leaving everyone else in the dust.
By the time Super Buu was at his peak, all seemed lost because there wasn’t even a close second to his power. This was one of several moments of despair in the Saga for fans as Mystic Gohan was thought to be the one to finally take down Buu, but Akira Toriyama enjoys building up fan hopes just to smash them as much as George R.R. Martin seems to.
Despite mostly being a violent, no-nonsense character, he retains some of Fat Buu’s personality, such as his obsession with cake. Super Buu became the second most powerful fighter in the series before his end.
The fusion of Goku and Vegeta is hands down the strongest fighter to appear in Dragon Ball Z. Coming into the fray after Super Buu had absorbed Gohan in Mystic form, Vegito’s base power is 50 billion, outclassing Super Buu at his strongest, and when he decides to turn things up in Super Saiyan form, it reaches the astronomical level of 2.5 trillion.
His fight with Super Buu was nothing more than child’s play. Buu couldn’t hope to hit Vegito let alone kill him, and when he was absorbed by Buu, it was all part of his plan. Shielding themselves from being truly absorbed, Goku and Vegeta allowed themselves to be taken in order to free their friends within.
Their mission was a success, and Super Buu lost the vast majority of his power, opening the way for all the heroes to escape, and causing Super Buu to morph into the final form, Kid Buu. Afterward, both Goku and Vegeta crush the Potara Earrings that made the fusion possible, citing their pride as Saiyans. Vegito returned in Dragon Ball Super to take on the rogue Kai, Zamasu.
Whenever a villain of god-like power threatens the world, Vegito will be there to stop them.
Do you agree? Who do you think is the strongest fighter in Dragon Ball Z? Sound off in the comments!
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