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This is the character who can, with little argument, mop the floor with just about anyone or anything.
There are a couple of ways to pull this trope off.
- Some characters are the best in a specific field of combat expertise, such as a Master Swordsman, an Ace Pilot, a Gunslinger, or even a star athlete/gamer. When taken outside of their element though, they might be no better than a Muggle and perform poorly against a Combat Pragmatist, a dirty fighter, confusing gimmicks, brute force, or other things outside their field of expertise. However, that field is such Serious Business that when the expert gets to shine, they can turn the tide of battle.
- On the other hand, some characters aren't defined by their skill so much as their success rate. These are characters who will always win a battle, notable expertise or not. Any defeat or setback is either temporary or all part of the plan. They are so capable that, even when undertaking a Suicide Mission, they'll pull out some sort of win, even if it takes a Heroic Sacrifice. They are usually a Combat Pragmatist or Strategist, but are sometimes just flat out better than everyone else. Anyone stupid enough to fight them in a duel is dead meat, and good luck even attacking in packs if they're a One-Man Army.
Sometimes overlaps with World's Strongest Man
, especially when brute force or sheer firepower
are what decides combat strength. The first variation of this trope typically appears in competitions, such as a martial arts, boxing, or wrestling, where combatants would be subject to a great many rules, as well as gender and weight restrictions. The second variation is extremely common in Shōnen
, where Power Levels
indicate combat capabilities and fighting spirit
For this trope to apply, there has to be some sort of mention, whether subtle or outright, that this character is ranked as the best.
If this character actually does
lose to someone, they are usually a Superior Successor
and are instantly promoted to the new #1 spot.
This character is either the winner (or a main antagonist) in a Tournament Arc
, a Combat by Champion
or when There Can Be Only One
. In works where the hero is going To Be a Master
, the person who fits this trope would be the biggest challenge in achieving their goal.
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Anime & Manga
- Yujiro Hanma from Baki the Grappler is by far the strongest fighter on the planet. He is so strong the United States signed a peace agreement with him. He is so strong that his abilities are such that he can stop earthquakes with a single punch. He is so strong the whole premise of the series is Yujiro birthing a son (the protagonist Baki) that could potentially pose a challenge and raising Baki in such a profoundly messed up way it boarders on Black Comedy.
- Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star is the successor of Hokuto Shinken, quite possibly the most badass martial art in the world. Only a small handful of warriors have managed to match him in pure martial arts skill and power, or win their first major battle against him. Everyone else he fights either becomes an ally, escapes and lives to fight another day, or is already dead.
- In Hajime No Ippo:
- Ricardo Martinez is certainly this in the world of Featherweight boxing. He's been the champion of his weight class for years by the time of the story proper, and has never been defeated.
- Takamura, however, is unquestionably this. Takamura was a nearly-invincible Badass even before he learned to box, but after learning, he's utterly dominated his competition (although he's had some very close fights). It's even his goal to conquer every single weight division, and he's already completed two (Junior Middleweight and Middleweight). Word of God says he's the single best boxer in the series, even over Martinez, above.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Each main character is this. Yugi, Jaden, Yusei and Yuma may have their records besmirched with a loss or two, but overall? They can and will defeat anyone.
- Taken to the extreme by Yugi, who is still considered the greatest duelist ever by the time of 5Ds.
- In Yuma's case, this is especially the case when they fuse into ZeXal; they are considered the strongest duelist easily. Further, in the Grand Finale, Yuma beats Astral by himself, making him this trope as Astral was the strongest duelist after regaining all of his memories.
- Himura Kenshin of Rurouni Kenshin is a hard-hitting speedster and considered the best swordsman in Japan. But even he defers to his master Hiko Seijuro XIII, who by Word of God is so inhumanly strong and skilled he'd break the story if Watsuki used him any more than he did.
- In Dragon Ball, this is a title that's hard to call, because part of the story is about characters rising to meet challenges. However, in the very last battle with Majin Buu, Vegeta acknowledges that Goku is, indeed, the best.
- In Afro Samurai, the Number One Headband is reserved for the best fighter on Earth, who can only be challenged for the title by someone who has the Number Two Headband - The Hero himself - and anyone can challenge him for that headband. Afro himself isn't so interested for the Number One Headband, though - he just wanted revenge because the wearer killed his father.
- One Piece: There are many candidates for the strongest in the verse, but so far, we have these:
- Edward "Whitebeard" Newgate: Explicitly called World's Strongest Man, and for good reason: His Devil Fruit power, the Quake Quake Fruit, can create giant earthquakes and tsunamis, and in the world mostly filled with water, it means giant disaster. Sengoku even notes that this power can potentially destroy the world itself. Aside from that, his natural strength is immense, being capable to stop a giant vessels on its track with one hand. It's also said that the Whitebeard we see nowadays is far from his prime. That we saw.
- Kaido "of the Beasts", one of the Four Emperors as Whitebeard above, is called "strongest creature in the world". It either implies that he's inhuman, or that he really is the strongest person since the revelation comes long after Whitebeard's death.
- "Hawkeye" Mihawk is the world's greatest Master Swordsman. Zoro aims to surpass him.
- Within the high-ranking marines, there are a few characters who are considered this. Anyone who holds or held of the position of Admiral is considered the strongest force that the World Government has to offer. There's also Luffy's grandfather Garp, who cornered the Pirate King Gold Roger on numerous occasions and actually refused the promotion to Admiral numerous times. In fact, it's heavily implied that Garp was the strongest marine next to Fleet Admiral Sengoku himself prior to both their retirements.
- Captain Sentomaru of the Marines claims to have "the strongest defense in the world", and it shows: None of Luffy's attack could harm him. Particularly because he's a skilled Haki user.
- "Yachiru" is a Meaningful Name given to the master of all known forms of sword-based combat. She was the best warrior of her generation and one of the worst criminals Soul Society had ever seen. She was also a founding captain of the Gotei 13, creating both the 11th Division and the "Kenpachi", the title given to the strongest captain in any given generation of captains. Yachiru is eventually revealed to be Captain Unohana, the Yamato Nadeshiko Combat Medic.
- Commander Genryuusai Shigekuni Yamamoto, the leader of the Gotei 13. He is viewed in-universe as the most powerful combatant in Soul Society and he himself states no-one in a thousand years has been born that's stronger than him. However, as he recruited Yachiru to the original, founding members of the Gotei 13, it's not clear which of them was supposed to be regarded as the world's best warrior. The manga goes some way to suggesting they both were but in different ways, with his focus being on power and hers on skill.
- Levi from Attack on Titan. Don't let his short stature, lack of social skills, or the fact that he's such a Neat Freak delude you—he's acknowledged in-universe as "Humanity's Strongest Soldier" for a reason. He makes Mikasa of all people look like a Red Shirt, and was able to take on the Female Titan on his own. On top of that, his official data states his battle skills are 11 from a 1 to 10 scale.
- Teresa is referred to as the strongest warrior of all generations.
- Priscilla defeated Teresa and may have surpassed her, but she did it by using her Superpowered Evil Side and an underhanded trick to lower Teresa's guard, the former of which Teresa never came close to tapping into herself.
- As of the finale, Teresa's spirit is called back and brought bodily forth via Clare; using only 10% of her total strength, Teresa utterly dominates Priscilla's rampaging and constantly-regenerating Awakened form. Once Teresa Awakens herself to bring things decisively to a close, she cements her status forevermore as the strongest Claymore to ever live.
- According to trainee twins, Raki is the strongest known Badass Normal, capable of fighting regular yoma with ease.
- Any warrior ranked Number One of their particular era is this by default; the status of being ranked at the top is even noted to being considered 'the absolute figure of that age', which is a pretty hefty title on its own.
- Prince of Tennis: Several characters are considered some of the best tennis players in the series(Tezuka, Yukimura, Ryoma), but ultimately the title falls to Ryoma's father Nanjiroh.
- Hayato Furinji in History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi, known in the martial arts world as "The Invincible Superman". He can punch so fast that even when high speed cameras slow down his punches by 3000 times, his punches are still barely visible. And it just gets more insane from there.
- The eponymous Rain from the fantasy manga series Rain has this reputation. It's well earned too; he excels in strategy, swordsmanship, magic, and raw physical might. He jokingly admits that the only thing he can't do is dance.
- Thors, "The Troll of Jom", in Vinland Saga. In the Jomsvikings, a Badass Army working on Asskicking Equals Authority, he worked his way up from nobody to captain on skill alone and became second-in-command. He was able to One Hit KO Thorkell, and in his one fight scene he defeats a boatload of armed veteran raiders bare-handed and without killing a single one of them, before handily beating Askeladd (who can split a man's skull through his helmet and claims to have been able to beat 50 men single-handedly) for an encore.
- Blade of the Immortal's Makie Otono-Tachibana is recognized by the Big Bad, an acknowledged progidy blessed with The Gift, as his eternal superior with the blade. In all cases where Makie fights someone and said person makes it out of the battle alive, the only reason for why they aren't dead is because she has spared them. To put her prowess into perspective: The only time she has struggled in a fight was when she was barely conscious due to suffering severe tubercolosis and was outnumbered by mooks and a handful of elite warriors, each of them at least equal to The Hero. Even so, one of her opponents, the second or third best warrior in the entire series, states outright that if they attacked her all at once, she'd almost certainly kill them all. At the end of the series some assassins snipe her with matchlocks and she still manages to kill all of them before she perishes.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid:
- Sankt Kaiser Olive Sägebrecht was the strongest mage of the Ancient Belkan Era.
- Sieglinde Jeremiah is the strongest teenage girl of all dimensions, who never lost a single match.
- Toriko: In a world where eating is Serious Business, the three Disciples of Acacia — Ichiryu, Jirou, and Midora — are widely considered to be the apex predators. After defeating Ichiryu, Midora is currently at the top. Even Jirou believes that he is no longer a match for Midora. Toriko believes that Midora could easily destroy the world if he felt like it.
- Lady Shiva is the first form of this trope. In terms of pure skill, she is practically unmatched in the DC Universe. In a fair duel, Shiva can defeat anyone, with only her Rival Richard Dragon and her own daughter demonstrating any actual potential to defeat her. However, seeing as she lives in the DC Universe, she doesn't stand a chance against a Superpower Lottery, and whenever a hero is forced to fight her, they typically use an Outside-the-Box Tactic to soften her up first or defeat her outright.
- Batman, Memetic Badass that he is, can supposedly defeat anyone with "enough prep time". As such, he's the second form of this trope, at least within his own franchise. It's a bit questionable in the DC Universe as a whole.
- Wonder Woman zig-zags between both forms of the trope. She's certainly the Amazon's greatest warrior, but other characters have been shown to defeat her in pure skill. However, she's also demonstrated that if she gets serious and trains enough, she can match anything anyone can throw at her.
- Captain America is the trope picture for One-Man Army for a reason. He's known in comics as a brilliant fighter, strategist, and soldier to the point that even if he isn't the one to deliver the final blow, his people will win.
- Captain Marvel (aka "Shazam") was considered this in his original publication in Fawcett Comics. After being acquired by DC Comics, however, he is generally considered one of the best, but has competition from his peers.
- Big Bad Sinestro of the Green Lantern franchise is largely considered the greatest Lantern, and best warrior, of all time. The only one close to his level of power and skill is his protege, Hal Jordan.
- Groo The Wanderer faced many of these until he distinguished himself by being so quick with the blade, and quick to anger, that he could slay whole armies before he realized what he was doing. He's also distinguished for having this might at the cost of intelligence, looks, hygiene and table manners.
- The Mighty Thor is repeatedly stated to be "Asgard's Greatest Warrior," and this may extend to the rest of the Marvel Universe, as well. He's been in more battles than most mortals have ever even heard of.
- Played with regarding Superman himself. Clark may be considered Earth's "champion" and "protector", but he's not a warrior by nature. He has no desire to fight or use violence, and his focus is on work ethic and production, rather than battle or destruction. After all, he the son of both scientists and farmers. Many people In-Universe, however, mistake him for this trope. And he definitely has the sheer power, speed, and list of secondary abilities to be this, as well as tutors ranging from Wonder Woman to Batman. Superman may not be a born fighter, but give him no choice and he'll show how easy it is for him to slide into the role.
- General Zod is typically considered this, amongst Kryptonians.
- Maxima is the queen, and best warrior, on her home planet of Almerac, and that's why she wants Superman as a mate.
- Many Superman villains are top warriors in whatever respective cultures (alien worlds, mythology and legend, parallel dimensions) they come from and challenge Superman to prove their superiority.
- Scott Pilgrim is reveaked for being the best fighter in the province. Despite this, he's still a pretty ordinary if not somewhat clueless guy. Furthermore, he also knows his limitations or knows when the odds aren't even, such as refusing to fight 4th evil-ex Roxie because she was armed with a sword and he was bare-handed.
- The protagonist of the Undisputed series starts as a boxing champion, but graduates to mixed martial artist by the end of the second film after defeating "The Most Complete Fighter In The World", Yuri Boyka.
- Achilles in the Troy film. This retelling Does In The Wizard and just portrays Achilles as so exceptionally skilled that he seems untouchable.
- The pilots of the eponymous Top Gun Academy are stated to be the best of the best. This culminates in a rivalry between the protagonist, "Maverick" and "Iceman". Although Iceman is awarded the trophy for being the Academy's top graduate, both Commander "Viper" and Maverick's lover (an instructor) state that Maverick is probably better than Iceman due to his use of Outside The Box Tactics and unorthodox maneuvers.
- Enemy at the Gates is Based on a True Story of Visily, an ace sniper that became a propaganda hero, and his duel against his German counterpart.
- The NeverEnding Story: Atreyu is called the greatest warrior of his tribe. This causes a murmur when he first appears because the guests of the Ivory Tower were Expecting Someone Taller.
- At the beginning of The Warrior's Way, the protagonist delivers a Curb-Stomp Battle to a fighter who is listed in a caption as the best warrior in the world, thereby taking his spot.
- In X-Wing: Wraith Squadron the New Meat pilots ask Wes Janson and Wedge Antilles who the best pilot in the galaxy is. After some deliberation Wes concludes that the only objective way to determine this is total kill count, which makes Wedge, the only pilot to survive both Death Star runs and whose flight crew has to paint his kill silhouettes in squadrons' worth so they'll all fit, the best pilot in history. As confirmed in the Jedi Academy Trilogy Wedge is explicitly not Force-sensitive, and yet through endless hours of experience he has a near-precognitive ability to predict what his target will do next. He's also proven himself a fine tactician on multiple occasions.
- Warrior Cats has Lionblaze, whose prophecy power makes him invincible in battle.
- Commissar Ciaphas Cain of the Warhammer 40,000 novelverse is considered (by his editor Amberley Vail at least) to be one of the best swordsmen in the sector, "regardless of which sector he's in." The man is a Badass Normal who once fought a Chaos Space Marine to a standstill long enough for his aide to take it out with an anti-tank weapon. He's also a crack shot with his laspistol.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom stories. John Carter of Mars is called the "greatest (or "master") swordsman in two worlds" (Mars and Earth) in The Chessmen of Mars, Llana of Gathol and Swords of Mars. His exploits in the series back up this statement.
- In Book of Amber, Benedict is regarded by his family as the greatest warrior who has ever existed. No matter what the weapon, battle or terrain he will beat you.
- Conan the Barbarian is wildly considered the most powerful man and the most dangerous warrior in the entire world.
- In The Neverending Story, in addition to Atreyu above, Bastion is considered to be a great warrior on account of being The Chosen One (a human child with limitless imagination, in a world where imagination is power).
- Fate Of The Forty Sixth has its Guild soldier admit that Alexander Brukov is the most dangerous and powerful soldier in the world. He never fights, but his presence and ability to talk down foes lead credence to his status.
- Notably averted in A Song of Ice and Fire, where the various characteristics of each character, (speed, strength, endurance, defense, quick thinking, the weapons used, etc.) make some characters fare better against one opponent and worse against another, and no one is considered the single best fighter. The story also often takes into account outside factors, such as terrain, weather, psychological factors, (such as a fighter with a fear of fire taking on an opponent with a flaming sword) and all sorts of other factors, such as whether a combatant is weakened by a prolonged stretch as a prisoner, if they're being affected by something they ate or drank, if old wounds are bothering them, etc. Summed up thusly by Barristan Selmy, who in his youth was one of the top fighters in the world and isn't far from the top even in his old age:
A warrior without peer... those are fine words, Your Grace, but words win no battles. ... I have seen a hundred tournaments and more wars than I would wish, and however strong or fast or skilled a knight may be, there are others who can match him. A man will win one tourney, and fall quickly in the next. A slick spot in the grass may mean defeat, or what you ate for supper the night before. A change in the wind may bring the gift of victory.
- That said, virtually everyone agrees that Jaime, Barristan, and the Cleganes are the four best in the world (The fifth is heavily debated between Garlan, Victarion, and Oberyn); it's just the order that's up for debate. Considering that Jaime is explicitly better than the Cleganes and Arthur Dayne (Who Barristan was equal to 20 years ago), he would probably be the top choice if one absolutely had to pick a best fighter in the world. Looking to the past, Daemon Blackfyre was almost certainly the greatest warrior of his time; with his uncle Aemon the Dragonknight being the best of the generation before him.
Mythology & Religion
- Achilles, who was reputed to be Nigh Invulnerable (except for his heel).
- Goliath was the best warrior of the Philistines, until he was killed by David with a rock and a sling.
- Thor from Norse Mythology is this once armed with his hammer Mjölnir. Yeah, Odin has a spear that never misses and Freyr has a magical sword of his own. But Thor is considered so powerful with Mjölnir that the gods are positive that the giants can never conquer Asgard, causing Thor, god of order and stability, to stand out among a group of war gods. This tends to be proven as Thor slays every giant who tries to fight him, but with the flip side being the gods tend to panicky whenever Mjölnir goes missing or the giants trick Thor into leaving it at home. Of course, even without it Thor is still one of the top three strongest beings in the universe.
- Warhammer has Sigmar, a man whose prowess as a warrior not only allowed him to create an Empire of his own by uniting several warring tribes, but also become a Physical God of his own right. The Dwarves also deeply respect him after he saved their kind from a Goblin horde.
- Exalted has the Unconquered Sun, King of the Gods and the greatest warrior in all of existence. In a setting filled with nigh-unstoppable Warriors of all stripes and Ungodly Abominations that make Cthulhu look calamari, that's saying something. Although the Solar Exalted (his Chosen) can hypothetically surpass him.
- Gilgamesh of Fate/stay night has this title, without any question whatsoever. Word of God says he could take on every character in the series combined and easily win... if he really tried. He usually doesn't. He still curb-stomps most opponents.
- The Saber class were generally considered to be the first type, the Servant most formidable in battle. Any participant who didn't believe they could summon one instead focused on other tactics and assets that would circumvent direct clashes.
- Lastly, the Berserker of the 4th War aka Lancelot of the Lake has a skill, only given to the best warrior of their era, which means that his fighting skills are so perfectly internalised that even being completely insane doesn't diminish them one jot - if Gilgamesh epitomises the second type of this character trope, Berserker epitomises the first. His physical stats are on par with Heracles', albeit with a focus on speed instead of strength and using his true Noble Phantasm Arondight increases his stats and skill still further. He also has another skill which allows him to get incredibly lucky in battles - essentially, fights just tend to fall his way. When he's finally defeated at Saber's hands, it's because he wanted to be, to atone for what he saw as his betrayal of her. So that fight went his way as well.
- Momoyo of Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai is called a "God of Martial Arts" and said to be the most powerful person in the world.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) has the eponymous hero, He-Man, "The Most Powerful Man In The Universe".
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, Chad Dickson, f.k.a. Soopreme Leader of the KND, Numbuh 274, was considered to be the best operative on the planet. After he defected, the title eventually went to Nigel Uno, a.k.a. Numbuh 1, leader of Sector V. One of the main reasons why Chad hates Nigel so much is because even while being a Fake Defector, Nigel is still considered to have surpassed him, while Chad still sees himself as "the best there is." It's in "Operation: T.R.E.A.T.Y." that Nigel proves him wrong.
- In Gargoyles , The Hero Goliath is referred to as "The greatest warrior alive" by his Arch-Enemy David Xanatos. Given that the only things that tend to consistently defeat Goliath in one-on-one combat are robotic juggernauts and semi-omnipotent magical beings, this doesn't seem to be hyperbole.