Sword Art Online started as a series of light novels, and from there, became a massive phenomenon; the series now includes multiple seasons of the anime, as well as a feature film. The original story of Kirito and Asuna, players trapped in a full-dive video game where death has become real, has evolved - the days of being stuck in Aincrad are gone, but the world of VRMMOs in this universe has simply expanded. From the Nine Realms of New ALfheim Online to the Augma and real-life augmented reality, this universe is packed with complex and powerful characters - and these are the strongest of all!
From the latest season of Sword Art Online, the Administrator seems at first to be an all-powerful being within the world of Project Alicization. However, Quinella has more weaknesses than you might expect. At the start of her season, Quinella rules the virtual world with an iron fist - and so effectively that she is actually able to sleep most of the time, waking only to check on things. She understands the code of the virtual world perfectly, and is functionally immortal as a result. However, her attempts to expand her powers by transferring memory into the Cardinal becomes her downfall (plus, of course, annoying Kirito, which is a guaranteed way to end up killed).
One of many villains who have found a way to kill within the virtual world, Death Gun is the main villain of Gun Gale Online. As an incredibly powerful player and accomplished killer (who manages to take out several players over the course of this arc), Death Gun is another character who you might think would be deserving of a higher spot on this list. However, Death Gun was not a single player - but was revealed to be a group of killers operating under a single name. While still incredibly capable, this takes Death Gun from a seemingly impossible killer to simply a trio of murderers with a particularly well-laid-out plan.
Kirigaya Suguha didn’t have a huge part to play in the original Sword Art Online, but since then, she has become an incredibly capable player. In ALfheim Online, she was the one who was able to teach Kirito the ropes, and was evidently extremely good at the game (let’s be honest, being able to teach Kirito anything is something of a feat in itself!). She is also one of the five fastest Sylphs in the game, as well as one of their best fighters, having won fighting tournaments in-game. In addition, when in the real world, she is also trained in Kendo, meaning that her strengths aren’t just online.
Another character who has been able to teach Kirito a thing or two, Sinon is one of the main characters introduced in the Gun Gale Online series. She starts out as an incredibly capable player in this game, and has managed to get herself a rare weapon: a PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II. With it, she is an incredibly accurate sniper, something that carries over to when she starts to play ALfheim Online, where she is an archer - and able to shoot arrows further than should be possible.
However, she ranks so high on this list because of her inner strength - especially in the real world. After a childhood of trauma, she started to play GGO to deal with her trauma around guns, and facing her fears makes her stronger than any online ability could.
Another one from the newest season of Sword Art Online, Alice easily becomes one of the most powerful characters in this series. The original Alice is just a young girl with a talent for the sacred arts, but after she is turned into an Integrity Knight, she becomes epically powerful - and is able to take on Eugeo and Kirito together, after they have defeated the other Integrity Knights in their path. Alice also gets extra points for strength because of her ability to overcome the loyalty of the Integrity Knights, blow out her own eye, and take on Quinella - and for the strength taken to make her final sacrifice.
Oberon, aka Sugou Nobuyuki, is the King of the Fairies, and one of the more diabolical villains of the Sword Art Online world (and there’s some stiff competition for that title!). Not only is he incredibly powerful within the original ALfheim Online (and is potentially one of the strongest players in-game), but he is one of the most powerful people outside the game, too. He is rich, greedy, and extremely smart, able to ‘kidnap’ the minds of three hundred people to use for his own experimentation. Oberon is the perfect example of someone who is powerful both in the virtual world, and in the real one.
Yui may be an AI, rather than a human, but any fan of this world will tell you that that doesn’t mean she isn’t a hugely important character in the world of Sword Art Online. Originally created as a mental health AI for Aincrad, Yui became the adoptive child of Kirito and Asuna, and has proved to be incredibly powerful - and useful - over the years.
Her status as an AI means that she has the ability to go into any of the virtual worlds and manipulate things no others could. She is also able to go into the guts of the game to find out the real-world locations of people that others couldn’t. Her lack of a body may slow her down, but that doesn’t mean that Yui isn’t one of the most powerful characters in this universe.
Now we’re into the big three - and of course, Asuna has to be up here. One of the two main characters of this universe, Asuna is a particularly powerful player in her own right. In Aincrad, she rose through the ranks to become one of the highest ranking members of the Knights of the Blood Oath. Known as the Flash due to her incredible speed, she is one of the best fighters in the entire game. Later seasons don’t always do her justice, unfortunately, as she is kidnapped and held prisoner for most of ALfheim Online, and a lesser part of both GGO and Project Alicization. However, her abilities in the augmented real world in Ordinal Scale are incredible, and her sheer grit when it comes to finding Kirito in Project Alicization are phenomenal.
The last villain on the list is also the original big bad of Sword Art Online: Heathcliff. Real name Kayaba Akihiko, he played as Heathcliff, the leader of the Knights of the Blood Oath, and was unbeatable in-game. Of course, this wasn’t because he was such a skilled player, but because he was secretly the creator of the entire thing. He designed NerveGear, the Cardinal System, and the Seed, and was the orchestrator of the entire death-game that was Aincrad. Not only is he incredibly intelligent in the real world, he is ruthless, capable, and one of the most unbeatable in-game players.
Who else could get the number one slot? From the start, Kirito has always had the advantage over everyone else in the virtual world. Originally one of the beta testers for Sword Art Online, he has moved through this universe gaining almost unlimited power, and the kind of weaponry that would make any player jealous. No matter what game he plays, he becomes ridiculously capable almost immediately… with the exception of his appearance in Ordinal Scale, where he learned that real world fighting takes a little more than virtual battles do! However, overall, there can be no denying it - Kirito has the anime-protagonist power of being essentially unbeatable… but we love him for it anyway.