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Who was the first to reach a 1,000,000,000 power level in Dragon Ball Z? · 11:48pm Dec 4th, 2016

The following jumble of attempted mathematical and reasoning skills is the result of a recent nostalgia binge. This idea came into my head and blocked any and all attempts to circumnavigate it until it was written down in spite of the fact that it will benefit nothing and no one. Please enjoy a silly pony picture for your trouble.

Let me say this to start:

While their scaling often makes little sense, power levels are the bread and butter of the Dragon Ball universe. Even after specific numbers ceased to be given for characters it was always understood that the numbers were there. How else could Goku block sword strikes with nothing but a finger? His power level just had to be that much higher than his attacker.

There’s never been a shortage of controversy either. Debates about which characters were stronger than others, when they were stronger, or how much stronger they were have raged across the internet since the internet was a thing. In the absence of hard numbers, the only evidence fans could find to support their arguments came from analyzing the show or manga itself, deciphering characters’ actions or words--even translating the original Japanese text as closely as possible--in an attempt to reason how events made sense.

While I wish I could tell you I’m not going to get that far into the weeds here... this is Dragon Ball. Expect weeds ahead while I tackle another fan-favorite activity: power level lists. Taking all that information gleamed from analyzing Dragon Ball and compressing it into (unofficial) cold, hard numbers.

From what I remember poking around fansites years ago, and from what I saw googling some lists before writing this down, the first character to hit a power level of one billion is generally believed to be Goku when he transformed into Super Saiyan 3 for the first time.

That scene comes from the last saga of the original manga. But after giving it some thought, it occurred to me that several Dragon Ball fighters must have cracked that one billion threshold long, long before then. If you haven’t tapped out yet, you’ll find three of them below, along with some math and logic supporting that argument.

By the way, I’ll be using the Daizenshuu as a reference. There’s also some debate about the numbers from those books, but since they’re endorsed by the creator of Dragon Ball himself, I am assuming they are accurate.

Since we’re trying to climb a mountain to 1,000,000,000 we might as well start with the man closest to the top:


Highest listed power level: 150,000,000

Yes, the same guy that fans agree did it first. I’m not arguing that he did hit one billion, but when he did it. I suspect it happened in the three year gap between Freeza’s arrival on Earth and the appearance of the androids.

Considering his highest listed power level is a mere fifteen percent of what he needs to hit a billion, that line I used about him being closest to the top may not seem like much. However, the Dragon Ball faithful know at least three instances in which Goku boosted his power many times over:

The Saiyan Saga: killed with a listed power level roughly 400, Goku returned to life a year later at over 8000.
The Namek Saga: after healing from the fight with Vegeta and getting a zenkai boost, and then training for about a week under enhanced gravity, his power is estimated to be 90,000.
The Android Saga: training for a year in the Room of Spirit and Time.

Those three instances do have a common denominator: high gravity. King Kai’s planet, the Capsule Corp. gravity chamber, and the RoST all increased the strain on his body so much that the simple act of walking--even breathing--becomes quite the workout. In the absence of higher gravity, could he achieve the roughly ten times multiplier needed to push his 150,000,000 to over a billion?

I have two arguments to support the affirmative. The first may be a bit of a technicality, but no less relevant: he was stronger than 150,000,000 before his three years of training began. While we don’t have an exact number, he was able to effortlessly defend himself against an opponent that obliterated Freeza, the same foe that gave Goku so much trouble. A higher power level would obviously lower the needed multiplier.

The second is that Goku spent those three years with two training partners, Gohan and Piccolo. It may seem counterproductive for him to train with two fighters so far below his own level at the time, but there is the theory that the Saiyan zenkai applies to sparring battles as well. If so, three years of fighting against one of his oldest rivals would easily spark his growth.

And if you don’t buy that theory, I’ve got one more. Consider Piccolo himself for a moment. Back in the Saiyan Saga, he managed the same 10x multiplier that Goku is pushing for--his power jumping from a listed 322 against Raditz to 3,500 when the Saiyans arrived a year later--while dealing with the same burden of training Gohan.

Why couldn’t Goku achieve the same result as Piccolo in triple the amount of time, three years instead of one?


Highest listed power level: 250,000

Vegeta’s number here did not come from the Daizenshuu, but from an issue of V-Jump magazine. I was a bit surprised to see it so low, actually. I remember seeing numbers of him approaching one million during the fight with Freeza, but those don’t appear to be official. It’s worth noting that the 250,000 number comes from before Freeza arrived, so his zenkai boost must still be taken into account. So... shall we split the difference and call him over 500,000? Strong enough to match Freeza’s first form (530,000) which would boost his ego and lead him into catching the ass-kicking of a lifetime.

Long way to go to a billion though, huh? He does have the Super Saiyan multiplier to look forward to (50x), but for that to do him any good, his base power level would need to be twenty million. Forty times higher than he was when Freeza killed him.

No sweat. Unlike Goku, Vegeta most certainly used enhanced gravity training in the three year lull before the androids.

Consider Goku: he boosted his power over ten times between the Saiyan and Namek sagas by a zenkai combined with training at 100gs for a few days. Vegeta regularly trained several times over that limit for so much longer. 156 times longer, to be exact.

So if a week of gravity training boosts power by ten times, did Vegeta boost his power by 1,560 times? If not more since he trained under stronger gravity? Unlikely. Torturing your body may not be that effective in Dragon World (I know, I know it’s filler, but it’s a valid point).

The point is that Vegeta needed a minimum 40x increase for his Super Saiyan form to cross the one billion mark. While his training methods may not extract every last multiplier possible during his three year window, I have to believe it yielded more than 2.5% (40/1560) of his possible gains.

Vegeta must have obliterated 1,000,000,000.


Highest approximate power level: ≈1,000,000

The Daizenshuu does not list Piccolo at this level, but he managed to fight off Freeza’s second form (with a confirmed power level of at least one million), so I’m counting it. I see two ways for him to boost himself up the 100x he needs to cross one billion.

The first is the quickest, but least likely. I mentioned earlier how he managed to get a 10x boost in one year. Well, he could theoretically do that three times. Ten times ten times ten equals a thousand. Multiply that by his starting point of one million, and you get to a billion. Easy peasy. But unlikely. He is just a secondary character after all.

It’s more likely his training boost was cumulative rather than compound, equaling 30x instead of 1000x. Which sounds impressive, but assuming a power level of 30,000,000 raises some issues. First, Krillin remarks how he’s as strong as a Super Saiyan. Considering Krillin was there to sense Goku and Trunks swordfight, there’s no way a power of 30,000,000 would compare to that. Second, and more importantly, that remark came while Piccolo was dominating Android 20. An android that not only has its own power, but also added energy by absorbing power from Piccolo himself and a blast from a Super Saiyan I earlier noted must have shattered the one billion mark.

So I estimate Piccolo’s power level at the start of the Android Saga to be more than 30,000,000 and less than 1,000,000,000.

Glad I could narrow that down.

So why do I believe Piccolo cracked one billion himself? His fusion with Kami.

We have no real basis to know exactly what benefits fusion gives Dragon Ball characters, but Piccolo fused twice in the series (once with Nail to get to Freeza’s level, and again with Kami to get to the androids’ level). And remember, Piccolo was only 3,500 against the Saiyans. How in the world did he jump to one million against Freeza?

I theorize that fusion (Namekian fusion, at least) multiplies the power level of the two that are fusing. Dividing Piccolo’s 1,000,000 ending point with a theoretical 3,500 power level (assuming he did not get stronger while dead) means that he needed a multiplier of roughly 285. Considering that Nail’s power level started at 42,000, it’s possible he could hit that minimum even after getting trashed by Freeza. And of course, Nail’s number could be lower if Piccolo’s was higher.

Frankly, I’d love to hear another theory about how 3,500 could jump to 1,000,000. Goku needed a year while dead to jump about 20x. Piccolo had a lot less time than that. Hell, even if he had the Kaioken that’s a stretch.

Back to the Android Saga. Piccolo fuses with Kami to receive my theorized multiplier (perhaps even more when you consider the fact the two of them were once the same person already). So what was Kami’s power level? The Daizenshuu does not give one, but I did find him listed at 220 at the Saiyan Saga by a magazine. Even if you assume Kami’s power decreased because of his age, I think it’s reasonable to consider him 100 at least. That would put him roughly around Master Roshi’s stated level.

So let’s assume I’m correct and divide one billion by Kami’s 100x fusion multiplier. We get 10,000,000, far lower than my lowest estimate of Picollo’s power level to kick off this saga, not to mention that it’s also Kami’s lowest estimate. Even Piccolo’s low ball guess of 30,000,000 would give him at least three billion after fusing.

I think tripling the threshold I’m trying to calculate with my lowest estimates is a good place to stop.

Who was the first to reach a power level of 1,000,000,000? I would still guess Goku. But he also got the heart virus, which kept his power down. Vegeta was probably the first character we got to see fight at that level, but even he got outclassed in short order by Androids 17 and 18, not to mention Piccolo.

But I think I’ve proven my point. Buu Saga be damned, power levels advanced a hell of a lot faster than I ever thought. Hell, I used to laugh at the idea that the Japanese title of the second Cooler movie referenced Ten Billion Power Warriors or something. Now... sweet Christmas, I think that’s actually possible.

In conclusion, I’m glad DBZ dropped the power level thing. My younger self was satisfied seeing the characters blow up in grander explosions of rage without contemplating all of the zeroes attached to it, and looking back on it, dropping numbers in the middle of those fight scenes would have killed the drama. Not to mention how absurdly high those numbers would be now.

When “sextillion” isn’t a come-on.

Cheers if you made it through all that. Have some sexy pony this time.

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Comments ( 1 )

This is why the big Dragonball youtubers kinda stoped with the power Lvs and whent to power scaling. Using feats off power to determine how is strong characters are.

When we have charatcers being estimated with Power levels of over sextillions and estimated speeds of quadrillion's of times faster then light.
I kinda just gave up on numbers and shit and just watch to see how gets the shit beat out of them. Plus spotting the awesome animated fights.

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