Like any good fighter, Capcom's Street Fighter franchise just won't stay down. While Street Fighter was an arcade hit in the late 1980s, Street Fighter II made the franchise a worldwide smash and perfected the fighting game genre with a beloved cast of characters. After that 1991 game's countless turbo remakes, updates and sequels dominated the 1990s, the franchise went through some lean years in the 2000s. In 2008, the franchise got back on its feet when Street Fighter IV introduced a whole new generation of players to the world warriors. Despite a pair of poorly-received movies, the world of Street Fighter has flourished outside of games through TV shows, web series, comic books and a mountain of other merchandise. From the gnarly arcades of the 1990s to today's eSports tournaments, Street Fighter players have taken on a never-ending slew of new challengers, performed countless combos and unleashed thousands of super-moves in their quest for ultimate victory.
Now, CBR is counting down the strongest, most powerful Street Fighter characters ever. For this list, we'll be sticking to characters who appeared as playable fighters in at least one Street Fighter game, even if they weren't originally Street Fighter characters. While the franchise's timeline can get more than a little confusing, we'll be ranking characters according to their overall power levels, fighting skills and their achievements in the game's lore. Also, we'll only be including one version of each character on the list, but we'll be considering the strengths of all of their forms in this ranking.
Since Guile debuted in Street Fighter II, the patriotic fighter has been one of the franchise's most recognizable heroes. Even though he just wants to "go home and be a family man," Guile has dedicated himself to taking down M. Bison and Shadaloo and avenging and/or rescuing his friend Charlie Nash. While his hair might defy gravity, this all-American hero always fights with military-like precision.
In combat, Guile relies on tactical, agility-based moves like his famous Sonic Boom and the high-flying spinning Flash Kick. Even though he's a more defensive fighter, Guile is capable of holding his own against powerhouse fighters like M. Bison. Of course, if this list was ranked by who has the best theme song, Guile would win without a question.
Everything about Chun-Li is iconic. Since Street Fighter II made her one of gaming's first major female heroes, the self-described "Strongest Woman in the World" has been one of the franchise's fiercest competitors. Driven by her quest to avenge her father, Chun-Li's never-ending efforts to take down M. Bison are one of Street Fighter's most compelling stories. With her trademark hair buns and blue qipao dress, Chun-Li also has a striking, memorable costume that helped make her one of Street Fighter's breakout stars.
Chun-Li's fighting style is built around lightning-fast flurries of hard-hitting kicks. Between her immense strength and blinding speed, Chun-Li is one of the series' most balanced physical fighters. With her fireball-shooting Kikoken attack, Chun-Li has even defeated superhuman fighters like Urien.
Like several Street Fighter veterans, Guy originally debuted in 1989's Final Fight, Capcom's classic beat-em-up game. After defeating waves and waves of criminals in Metro City, this stoic ninjutsu master joined the Street Fighter franchise with 1995's Street Fighter Alpha.
While his Final Fight allies relied on brawling and grappling techniques, Guy is a fast, technically precise fighter who's right at home in the Street Fighter Universe. Even though he doesn't have any fancy powers, Guy has defeated the Bushinryu grandmaster Zeku and held his own against the weirdly strong Cody. He could even be strong enough to defeat M. Bison with nothing but his fists and fighting expertise.
Charlie Nash is the Winter Soldier of the Street Fighter universe. Before he perished fighting M. Bison, Charlie was Guile's mentor and closest friend in the military. While the details of his demise have changed over the years, M. Bison or his forces were responsible for Charlie's doom at some point in the past. After debuting as a playable character in the 1995 prequel Street Fighter Alpha, Nash returned as a resurrected Frankenstein-esque fighter in 2016's Street Fighter V.
Like Guile, Charlie can use the Sonic Boom and relies on agile moves like the Sonic Scythe kick. Even though he's half-zombie, Charlie can defeat Guile and Chun-Li without too much trouble. In SFV, Charlie even siphoned off some of M. Bison's Psycho Power in battle.
Dhalsim is definitely Street Fighter's most flexible warrior. Since the yoga master debuted in Street Fighter II, Dhalsim's super-stretchy fighting style has made him a fan-favorite fighter. In the Street Fighter universe, Dhalsim Is usually portrayed as a pacifist who only fights for the benefit of others.
In battle, Dhalsim has a diverse array of moves that other Street Fighters just can't keep up with. In addition to his super-stretchy limbs, Dhalsim has project fire-spewing attacks like the Yoga Flame and the Yoga Inferno through the power of the fire deity Agni. As if that wasn't enough, he can teleport over vast distances almost instantly. In Street Fighter V, he was even able to defeat the ancient Aztec fighting entity Necalli.
While he might not be as famous as some of the other names on this list, Urien has some serious fighting power. When he was introduced in 1997's Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, he was the younger, loincloth-wearing brother of the game's big bad, Gill \. As the second-in-command of Street Fighter's Illuminati organization, Urien has tried to take over the world by, among other things, reviving Charlie Nash.
With his control over electricity and metal, Urien can mix his daunting physical attacks with fantastic superhuman moves. While his Metallic Sphere fireball attack isn't anything to mess with, Urien's devastating Aegis Reflector can trap his opponents and reflect their attacks. While he's lost close battles to Chun-Li, Urien took down Charlie without much difficulty.
When Ken Masters debuted in 1987's Street Fighter, he was essentially a palate-swap of the game's protagonist, Ryu, in a red gi instead of a white one. While Ken and his training partner still share similar moves, the brash American fighting champion can stand on his own as one of Street Fighter's most famous characters. Over numerous games, Ken has matured into a caring family man who has started training the next generation of fighters.
Ken can use iconic Street Fighter attacks like the Hadouken energy blast and the fiery Shoryuken uppercut. As Ryu's training partner, Ken can keep up with and occasionally defeat one of the franchise's best fighters. In his power-obsessed Violent Ken form, he can even take on M. Bison himself.
As the main antagonist in Street Fighter IV, the monstrous Seth is the best mimic in the Street Fighter universe. Although he was originally created to be a backup clone body for M. Bison, the genetically-engineered villain came into his own when he merged with the Tanden Engine. As the head of Shadaloo's weapon division S.I.N., Seth put on a World Warrior tournament to use his Tanden to duplicate the abilities of the world's greatest fighters.
In combat, Seth relies on a mix of the Tanden Engine's unique attacks and other characters' signature moves. Between Guile's Sonic Boom, Zangief's Piledriver and Ryu's Shoryuken, that gives Seth an array of powerhouse attacks. While M. Bison easily defeated him, Seth came tantalizingly close to defeating Ryu.
While he might not be the flashiest fighter, Sagat was the main villain in the original Street Fighter. This tall Muay Thai kickboxer fought Ryu in the first World Warrior tournament, where the young fighter left a scar on Sagat's chest. Driven by his animosity towards Ryu, Sagat joined Shadaloo where he worked as M. Bison's bodyguard until he realized the error of his ways. Now, Sagat simply fights to restore his honor.
Attacks like the Tiger Knee and the Tiger Uppercut make the best use of Sagat's height, and Sagat's Tiger Shot makes him Street Fighter's fastest fireball thrower. In his fateful battle with Ryu, Sagat would've defeated Ryu if the young fighter hadn’t had a burst of superhuman energy after he technically lost.
If the villain Necalli lived up to his reputation, he'd be near the top of this list. However, the Street Fighter V villain has been dramatically underwhelming so far. This ancient, Aztec-themed entity returns to Earth to claim the spirits of its greatest warriors once a century. In SFV, he tried to capture Ryu, Dhalsim and M. Bison but failed on all counts.
Despite that, Necalli is still a formidable opponent. While his massive floating dreadlocks reveal his power levels, the inhuman villain has a unrefined attacks that almost seem feral. He can also shapeshift and move through metaphysical planes of existence, although he hasn’t used those tactics in combat yet. Still, he came close to defeating Ryu, which is more than most characters can say.
As one of Street Fighter's more mystical characters, Rose stands in sharp contrast to the physically imposing fighters who surround her. Since she was introduced in Street Fighter Alpha, Rose has been revealed to be the good half of M. Bison's spirit. Where he uses Psycho Power to crush his opponents, Rose uses Soul Power to help the other Street Fighter heroes.
In battle, Rose uses her Soul power to send massive amounts of energy through her even more massive scarf. Although she managed to defeat M. Bison once, he won their subsequent rematch and took over her body for a time. While Rose didn't win her battle with Akuma, she managed to survive their confrontation, which is still an impressive accomplishment.
Depending on who you ask, Cody Travers is either a perfectly average fighter or one of the most powerful characters in the Street Fighter universe. Cody was originally one of the heroes in Capcom's Final Fight. After being arrested for fighting too much, Cody made his Street Fighter debut in 1998's Street Fighter Alpha 3. Once he was cleared of his crimes, Cody became a respected Metro City politician in Street Fighter V.
Even with prison chains weighing him down and restricting his movement, Cody still beat up some of the world's best fighters. Cody's punches are fast enough to create tornadoes, and he can disperse energy attacks by throwing a single rock. Even though he's just a brawler, Cody's raw talent genuinely impresses Akuma.
While most warriors will barely master a single martial art in a lifetime, Gen is a master of two forms of Chinese kung-fu. Since he debuted in the original Street Fighter, Gen has made irregular appearances in the series. After retiring from his life as a mercenary and training Chun-Li, Gen competed in several World Warrior tournaments as age began to take its toll.
In combat, Gen mixes techniques from Crane style and Mantis style martial arts for maximum efficiency. Even after his health began declining, Gen fought Akuma to an absolute stalemate. Although Gen perished during his next bout with Akuma, he's one of the few human fighters who's really anywhere near his level.
Even though Gill made his debut in Street Fighter III: New Generation, he could still be the next big bad in the Street Fighter universe. While he's not shy about showing off his red-and-blue skin, this genetically-engineered villain is the leader of Street Fighter's secretive Illuminati. As one of the franchise's main villains, Gill commissioned a new World Warrior tournament as part of his plot to destroy the world so he can usher in a utopian age.
While Gill hasn't quite lived up to his potential yet, he has comprehensive power over fire and ice. While his Seraphic Wing attack unleashes a wave of psychedelic energy, he can also heal and resurrect himself in battle. The hyper-powerful Akuma couldn't even put Gill down for good.
Ryu might be the most famous fighting game character in gaming history. Since he starred in the original Street Fighter, this deeply honorable hero has been the face of the series. While his simple white gi might not make him look as flashy as Street Fighter's other characters, the wandering warrior uses a mix of physical blows and fireballs in combat.
While Ryu's Hadouken blast might be the most famous move in Street Fighter, he's a versatile fighter with a large skillset including the slightly less famous Shoryuken uppercut. He's defeated M. Bison numerous times and always gives Akuma a worthy challenge. When the corrupting power of the Satsui no Hado possesses him, Ryu transforms into Evil Ryu, who's more formidable and much more dangerous.
5 M. BISON
Since M. Bison flew onto the scene in Street Fighter II, the evil overlord has cemented himself as the signature villain of the Street Fighter universe. In his never-ending conquest to take over the world, Bison formed the criminal Shadaloo organization and learned to wield Psycho Power, an immensely powerful negative energy. While's transferred his consciousness between various clone bodies, he almost always has his signature red military outfit.
While his fighting style is always evolving, M. Bison's Psycho Power makes him one of Street Fighter's strongest characters. While his regular moves do damage, his Psycho Crusher is one of the most notorious attacks in fighting game history. Even though he's been defeated by Ryu and Akuma, Bison usually finds a way back to life.
Gouken is the ultimate teacher in the world of Street Fighter. Before he was seemingly taken out by his brother Akuma, Gouken trained Ryu and Ken how to fight in the Ansatsuken martial arts. After being regarded as Ryu's fallen father figure for years, Gouken made his playable debut in Street Fighter IV. While he helped Ryu defeat the darkness within himself, he regards both Ken and Ryu as competent warriors who are more like rivals than pupils.
Despite his advanced age, Gouken is still a physically imposing fighter who's strong enough to take on Akuma and survive his brutal finishing move. Gouken can make a Hadouken with one hand and his Forbidden Shoryuken is stronger than anything he taught his old students.
Despite her immense power, Ingrid is barely a part of the Street Fighter universe. After debuting in the 2004 crossover game Capcom Fighting Evolution, Ingrid was a playable character in Street Fighter Alpha 3 Max, which was only released on the Game Boy Advance. While it's unclear if or how she fits into Street Fighter's continuity, she seems to be far more powerful than M. Bison and has a close connection to the Psycho Power that he wields.
Ingrid defeated an Evil Ryu and M. Bison without breaking a sweat, and she apparently has the ability to time travel too. Even though this mysterious fighter's presence has generally been minimized, Ingrid was the inspiration for one of Karin's alternate costumes in Street Fighter V.
Even though he's only got a few hairs left on his head, Oro looks great for a fighter who's over 140 years old. Since he debuted in Street Fighter III, this Yoda-esque figure has fought with one hand tied behind his back in order to give his opponents a fighting chance. Despite his reclusive lifestyle, Oro is still a fairly personable figure who isn't totally disconnected from the rest of the world.
Through mastering Senjutsu, Oro has unlocked the secrets of immortality, super-strength and telekinesis. While Ryu's skills impressed Oro, he was still able to defeat the champion in combat. When he and Akuma battled, both fighters called off the fight when they realized that they would be evenly matched if Oro used both hands.
In the final moments of 1994's Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Akuma ran onto the screen, defeated Bison and took his place as Street Fighter's greatest villain. Driven by his quest for power, Akuma has embraced the all-consuming darkness of the Satsui no Hado. While he still abides by an honor code, Akuma has used attacks like the Raging Demon to defeat foes like his brother Gouken, Gill and Ryu in combat.
In 1996's Street Fighter Alpha 2, Akuma evolved into a more powerful form, Shin Akuma, and he evolved into the even more powerful Oni in 2010's Super Street Fighter IV. Since he's able to split mountains in that form, that version of Akuma stands as the most powerful being the Street Fighter universe.