Being the best and defeating the strongest one in their series is absolutely something that most anime characters, especially shonen ones, strive for. Sometimes it means vanquishing the very concept of evil; sometimes it means getting someone to throw down their sword.
Anime characters across the multiverse have defeated their strongest opponents, from ethereal concepts like Chaos in Sailor Moon to Eren Yeager in Attack on Titan. This article will list 10 anime characters who have defeated the strongest people in their universes.
Disclaimer: This article will contain spoilers for all the anime included. The opinions on this list are exclusive to the author.
One rule: No ongoing series, manga, or anime needs to have been definitively completed.
10 anime characters, like Ryuko Matoi, who have defeated the strongest being in their universe
1) Ryuko Matoi (Kill la Kill)
Saving the world from damnation via aliens is a notch Ryuko Matoi can add to her belt. The foul-mouthed, rough-and-tumble protagonist of the Studio Trigger anime Kill la Kill has been through her fair share of problems, but thanks to Mako and Senketsu, she barreled her way through the best the academy had to offer.
Things derailed when Nui and Ragyo ambushed everyone, and Ryuko had to be saved from brainwashing. Once free, she sliced off the formally invincible Nui's arms. Then, with help from everyone's life fibers added to Senketsu, she fought Ragyo and defeated her. Even without Senketsu, she'd go on to defeat the massive Honnouji Academy mech too.
2) Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)
Defeating practically every villain that's come her way with the aid of friends and allies, Usagi Tsukino started out as a klutzy teenage girl who could barely make it to school on time in the Sailor Moon anime. After she saved a cat named Luna, she became Sailor Moon. Using these newfound powers, she started fighting monsters on her own before meeting the rest of the Senshi.
Together, they've faced down evil queens, killer planets, evil beings from the future, and then the very concept of Chaos itself. At the end of all things, Sailor Moon alone freed Galaxia from Chaos' influence and shrunk Chaos down to a mere speck of its former massive self. It was no easy feat, given that Galaxia and her master killed all the other Senshi before Sailor Moon revived them all.
3) Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach)
Starting off much like Ryuko, a foul-tempered teen with a lot on his plate, Ichigo's life changed when he aided Ryukia. Being blessed with her powers as a temporary Shinigami, he at first began to clean his town up from Hollows. Then Ryukia got kidnapped, and Ichigo and his friends went to save her.
Flash forward a bit in Ichigo's life in the anime, and he becomes officially recognized by Soul Society. He would defeat Aizen, Ulquiorra Cifer, Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, and go all the way up to the son of the Soul King, Yhwach. It took everything Ichigo had and some help, but he managed to defeat Yhwach and restore Soul Society.
4) Yusuke Urameshi (Yu Yu Hakusho)
It seems almost quaint that Yusuke Urameshi struggled against Kurama and Hiei early on in the Yu Yu Hakusho anime, given the absolute powerhouses he fought later on. But that's what happens when one dies, becomes a spirit detective, and then has to learn on the fly how to function with spirit energy.
Of particular note is Toguro during the Dark Tournament, who was a completely large juggernaut of an obstacle Yusuke had to defeat following Toguro's killing of Genkai and Kuwabara. But that didn't compare to Yusuke having to defeat Yomi and then stop a terrorist plot to fire a laser that threatened to destroy both the Human and Spirit worlds.
5) Simon the Digger (Gurren Lagann)
It's almost funny how Simon started out as a scared kid with his brother Kamina discovering a mech in the ground when compared to how he ended up. At first, the two had no idea how to work the titular Gurren Lagann. Then they learned about spiral power and started the rebellion against the Beastmen in earnest.
Then Kamina died in battle. Simon drifted aimlessly before meeting Nia and getting help in the fight against Lordgenome. Flash forward a few years to the fight against the Anti-Spiral, and Simon, along with Team Dai-Gurren, managed to defeat that alien god. It took a lot out of him to do it, but they did it.
6) Shinji Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion/Rebuild)
Defeating giant alien monsters while dealing with anxieties and all manner of social problems would kill anyone else. It very nearly killed Shinji Ikari in many ways throughout Neon Genesis Evangelion and Rebuild. The first time Shinji piloted Eva Unit 01, he tripped and nearly died.
It didn't get any easier in either continuity. From having to beat Angels that hacked everything to one that tried to orbital drop on the planet to fighting his own father, Shinji had been through a lot. In the end, he stood victorious after either destroying Lilith or making his father apologize. On one end, it was just him and Asuka. In another, everyone was happy in another world.
7) Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Who'd have thought the shrimpy Edward Elric would be instrumental in defeating an all-powerful Homunculus god? Certainly not Edward himself, who started out as a kid wounded and near death from a botched attempt at saving his mother. Since Ed and Alphonse started on their journey, the two have done some really impressive things.
Ed and Al's efforts would ultimately lead to the arrest, defeat, or reform of plenty of people like Shou Tucker, Scar, and even several Homunculi like Greed and Envy. Of course, Father required a massive group effort to defeat him, but he was still brought down thanks to Ed and Greed.
8) Tanjiro Kamado (Demon Slayer)
The reason why many of these entries have the anime starting points emphasized is because it's a journey from where they started to where they ended up. In Tanjiro's case, it's especially true. Starting off dazed, confused, and trying to aid his sister Nejiro when they were attacked by Muzan, by all rights, Tanjiro should've died.
This didn't end up happening; instead, the two ended up as part of the Demon Slayer Corps. It was a long way through multiple demons, Muzan, and even Tanjiro himself when he was infected by Muzan, but eventually, the Demon King was brought down by Tanjiro.
9) Lelouch Vi Britannia (Code Geass)
Now, this is a weird anime entry given that Lelouch made his own death an event that requires explanation. Lelouch started out as a regular kid, albeit with an innate talent for chess. Then he accidentally got pulled into a car supposedly containing a bioweapon, gained mind control powers, and the rest is history.
He's on this list purely for defeating his father and mother when they insanely wanted to fuse everyone on the planet together. It wasn't through a massive mech battle but a Geass and logic battle that Lelouch won. Now, his following death via Suzaku likewise counts as an asterisk since he was the most powerful at that point.
10) Mikasa Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
Sometimes defeating the strongest person in the world is a mercy killing for a person you once loved. Sometimes it's fighting your way through his massive army and his elite guard just to finally end his suffering. While Mikasa Ackerman and Eren Yeager may have grown up together, fate had them on opposite sides.
As the final threat in the horror anime Attack on Titan and the strongest Titan, Eren was threatening to destroy the entire world for the sake of Paradis. Nothing was going to stop him, and their final conversation made that clear. She killed him instantly, and it was all over. She visited his grave every day and was later buried with his scarf.
This concludes the list of 10 anime characters who defeated the strongest in their universes. Sometimes it took a hard-fought battle, sometimes a conversation in the mind, but regardless, these people stood victorious at the end of the day.
Not every battle is an uphill struggle, though against strong people, a lot of them are. If anyone else has any other anime characters they think belong on this list, they're more than welcome to add them in the comments.