As the inevitable updates begin to come out for Street Fighter V in the form of DLC and transform the game into the “turbo” edition, “hyper” edition, and who knows what else, it seems like a good time to see how all the fighters in the series stack up. We’ve ranked the ninjas and cyborgs of Mortal Kombat, so now it’s time to take it to the streets. In a franchise full of martial artists from all around the world, there’s tough competition for spots, though fans of the games will likely be able to predict a few names that’ll be making an appearance.
For the sake of representing more characters, alternate iterations of characters will be counted together, so don’t expect to see separate entries for a character’s “evil” variant. Also, this will only be counting characters who have been in the official games, so don’t expect comic, crossover, or non-canon characters to be appearing. That still leaves plenty of powerful characters, though. Just bear in mind that “powerful” can mean according to the story, as well as a character being a strong choice to play as, so expect a few names that don’t get mentioned as much. Whether they’re able to destroy islands or are just super cheap, here are the 12 Most Powerful Street Fighter Characters.
12 RAINBOW MIKA
In terms of Street Fighter’s story, R. Mika’s power is nothing significant, especially compared to later entrants on this list. But in terms of how she plays, R. Mika is the fighter that people just can’t seem to stop talking about. In the lead up to her return to the franchise in Street Fighter V, she became a focal point of conversation due to outrage that her butt slap taunt had been removed. But now that the game has been released, she’s gone from slapping butts to just plain kicking her opponent’s, and fans are getting tired of it.
Every fighting game has that one character that annoys your buddies when you play as them, due to their being cheap or unpredictable, and it looks like R. Mika’s agile grappler style might make her that character for Street Fighter V. The wrestler’s unorthodox usage of her tag team partner Yamato, body slams, and booty slams to the face have been throwing players for a loop lately, and has led to the phrases “overpowered” and “broken” getting thrown around. Your character can have the coolest backstory of all time and power to destroy the world, but it doesn’t mean a thing in tournament matches when Rainbow Mika tosses them in the air and delivers a double Flying Peach with Yamato, crushing their head between two butts for a humiliating K.O.
Dhalsim ranks low on the list due to being the antithesis of a successful Street Fighter character, in that he isn’t after power or prestige, but merely wants to live in peace. That’s not going to make him the most powerful person in the world any time soon, but it does give him something worth fighting for. Dhalsim cares deeply about his people and his family, and will set aside his pacifist ways to an extent if it means he can save a life in jeopardy.
Sure, Dhalsim will never be the hero to stop someone like M. Bison, because only killing will accomplish that, which is a rule Dhalsim refuses to set aside. But Dhalsim’s spirituality and yoga techniques have leant him strength nonetheless, and he has proven capable of handling himself when challenged. However, the greatest strength of Dhalsim is his pursuit of inner peace. We’ll see how self-destructive it is for later characters to pursue power at all costs, so it is an admirable kind of strength to see someone like Dhalsim, who could achieve more, but learns to be satisfied with simplicity. That detachment from selfish pursuits is something he’s even taught to other fighters in the series, allowing them to tap into a deeper strength as well.
Though Ryu and Ken have proven too popular to ever sit out of a Street Fighter game at this point, in Street Fighter III Capcom attempted to shift that spotlight over to a new hero in Alex. As would be expected of any credible protagonist, Alex proved his worth by ultimately defeating the game’s antagonist Gill, which is no easy feat. Though it’s hard to say how Alex would stack up to other big names in the series because he simply hasn’t had a chance to encounter them until his recent return in Street Fighter V.
We do know Alex got to spar against Ryu and came out on the short end of the stick in that encounter. But the loss only served to motivate Alex, and ignite in him a desire to get better and one day try his hand again in taking Ryu down. Alex already proved capable of taking out the franchise’s closest thing to Jesus in the messiah Gill, so surely with training his technique could be honed to the point of defeating Ryu. Now that Alex has returned in SFV, we finally have the chance to find out what he's learned.
As the original final boss the series had, Sagat still has some major clout to his name even after more powerful fighters have emerged over the years. He’s a lot like Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung in that regard, where he started off a formidable threat only to later be revealed as the right hand man to someone even more menacing. Although, unlike Shang Tsung, Sagat actually shows a more honorable side as the series progresses and we learn he isn’t as bad a guy as you might assume for someone who worked alongside M. Bison.
For players, Ryu defeating Sagat in the original Street Fighter might be old news, but Sagat took it hard. His driving purpose in much of the series is his obsession with having a rematch with Ryu to prove the latter could not have beaten him without tapping into the dark powers of the Satsui no Hado. His battle prowess to warrant being a final boss again has likely long been surpassed, but he’s still a worthy rival even for somebody of the caliber of Ryu.
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t expect an elderly man dying of leukemia to be much of a threat. But then, this old man spent his earlier years as a very successful assassin, so even in his retirement years, Gen still has some lethal skills at his disposal. As is the common theme in so many Street Fighter characters, Gen is a fighter looking to prove his might by pitting himself against the toughest opponents he can find. But even with his background as a killer (or perhaps because of it), Gen isn’t a fighter who takes delight in torturing and killing his adversaries. He’s just after a good match.
Gen wastes no time in testing himself, challenging Akuma early on the series, and even holding his own to a degree. Gen might just have a death wish, though, because even after nearly dying in their first encounter, Gen is still undeterred from fighting Akuma once again. Though, to his credit, he’s one of the few to survive Akuma’s Raging Demon technique, which is a clear indicator of the power Gen has despite his age and failing health. If he lives long enough, who knows what levels his power could reach?
As the master of Ryu and Ken, and the older brother of Akuma, it’s no surprise that Gouken would be a powerful figure in the Street Fighter universe. His place in the story has been relegated to that of a wise instructor as opposed to a competitive fighter by the time we first encounter him in the games. But we know for a fact that he’s bested Akuma in combat before and even had the opportunity to kill his little brother, so there’s no doubt Gouken can hold his own just fine if given reason to fight.
Gouken’s role in the franchise positions him more as a balance to the dark path Akuma has gone down, and the animosity that exists between the siblings for Akuma killing their master Goutetsu. While Gouken has reached the point of leaving the big battles to others, he still plays a significant factor in shaping the events of the series. If not for Gouken, Ryu’s powers might have taken him down the same bloodthirsty path that Akuma travels. For the time being, Gouken was able to save Ryu from that fate by putting a seal on that malevolent energy inside Ryu, proving Gouken still has value even if his pupils may have exceeded his strength.
Street Fighter is a series that is big on character counterparts, showing both an evil usage of a form of training as well as an honorable usage. Like Ryu and Akuma are opposites, so too is Rose alongside M. Bison. Whereas Bison is known for utilizing the evil energy of the Psycho Power, Rose taps into the good side of the technique with her Soul Power. Though a common theme throughout the franchise seems to depict the forces of evil as having more outright power than the forces of good, so Rose has a struggle ahead for the path she chooses. Still, she’s had some pretty significant victories.
Rose has defeated M. Bison multiple times, though obviously hasn’t managed to wipe him out for good despite her best efforts. Despite her failure to do so, Rose is still a strong threat to those she opposes, so it’s fortunate that she chooses to side with the likes of Ryu. In a series full of power hungry characters, Rose is one of the more selfless fighters who focuses more on avoiding catastrophe than her own individual accomplishments, and trust and reliability are strong characteristics in anyone.
5 RYU/ EVIL RYU
Naturally, the poster boy of the series ranks high on a list like this. An odd distinction about Ryu and other fighting game mascots is that Ryu undeniably is not the strongest character in his franchise. As his hypothetical Evil Ryu incarnation shows, he definitely has the capacity to unleash some scary power upon the world. But we’ve witnessed Ryu suffer defeat multiple times during the series. Of course, that’s no slight against Ryu, but merely a testament to how powerful the opponents he’s faced are.
Losses aside, Ryu is still far from being a pushover. Sagat learned that firsthand when Ryu gave the “Emperor of Muay Thai” his famous chest scar. While Evil Ryu draws power from his unrestrained blood lust, the Ryu we’re most familiar with draws his own kind of power by abstaining from that dark path. Discipline and honor are their own kind of strength by allowing Ryu to grow stronger without losing himself. He might falter at times, but he always gets back up, trains harder, and returns to test his strength once again.
Apparently the team behind Street Fighter eventually got to putting some serious thought behind the age old question: what would happen if Jesus joined the Illuminati? What? No one ever asked that question? Well, too bad, because Capcom already answered it in the form of the cult leader known as Gill. As the series started exploring a host of new characters in Street Fighter III, the franchise needed a new final boss to replace M. Bison. While Gill evidently didn’t have the staying power of Bison, he certainly can put up a challenge.
Gill hits hard, has a variety of supernatural powers at his availability, and can even resurrect himself. He’s a cheap opponent, and would probably rank higher if he had the love of battle some of the later entrants do. As it is, Gill suffers defeat to multiple characters and even avoids pointless conflict when he can, so he’s not been shown as some indestructible war machine. His focus is more on leading the Illuminati to prosper and greater control. But who knows how he might have changed if he were to show up again in the series? With DLC coming for Street Fighter V, it’s definitely a possibility to consider. Will Gill be making a comeback in Street Fighter V? Well, his brother Urien certainly will. So it sounds like that makes it… Illuminati confirmed. Oh, come on! We had to say it.
3 M. BISON
As the main antagonist of the series, it’s only natural M. Bison would also be one of the most powerful characters of the franchise—he’s even proven capable of getting the better of Ryu. And when his opponents are able to defeat him, not even death can stop the master of the Psycho Power, as his soul simply transfers into a new body and allows him to live on. The fight against Bison isn’t just a fight against a man, but a leader. Defeating him means taking down the entire Shadaloo crime organization he has at his disposal. As long as he has devoted subordinates willing to help him survive, it’s likely Bison will never be truly defeated.
Bison also isn’t someone who’s just powerful according to the game’s story, either. As any current Street Fighter V player will attest to, he’s a pain to play against. There might be stronger characters than Master Bison in the series, but he’ll be the most recurring source of frustration for players since he appears in the majority of the franchise’s entries. He might be the one with Psycho Powers, but he’ll just as easily drive you crazy trying to defeat him time after time.
There’re strong arguments for why Oro should be number one on this list, and it’s certainly debatable, but a lack of exposure slightly edges out the ancient warrior. But even though he’s only been a fighter in one entry in the Street Fighter franchise, he definitely made an impact. He was able to defeat Ryu in battle, and even fight to a draw against Akuma, proving he can hang with the toughest names in the series.
Oro’s personality is actually disarmingly friendly and light-hearted, a stark contrast to the power he wields. Unlike most other characters on this list, we still haven’t seen the full extent of Oro’s strength. He holds back in every fight, leaving his dominant arm bound to his body as he fights one-handed. He actually seeks out tough competition, and will only utilize his full power once he finds a worthy successor to teach his fighting techniques to.
1 AKUMA/ ONI
Yes, Akuma and Oni are technically separate selectable characters, but Oni is the untapped potential of Akuma, so it seems pretty fair to count them together. And knowing Akuma has the capability to unleash such a powerful form undoubtedly makes him one of the most powerful characters in the entire series. Even without his Oni transformation, we’ve seen Akuma take down M. Bison with ease during his debut in Street Fighter II, and take every other character he’s encountered to their absolute limit.
In his Oni form, Akuma ascends to a whole other level and is just freakishly powerful. The only characters who could possibly stand a chance against this form are either Oro, or Ryu in his evil incarnation. Oni’s existence in the series thus far is more of a hypothetical scenario if Akuma were to let his powers rage unchecked, but there have been indicators that this side of him will inevitably be unleashed. Akuma alone has destroyed an entire island, so whoever has to stand against the unbridled destructive force of Oni, all we can say is God help them.
We know we missed out on someone’s top pick, and we know you’re going to tell us about it. So settle it like a true Street Fighter and brawl it out in the comments!