It really isn't as simple as labeling someone the strongest flat out, other than Rikudou who was clearly on a level of his own. People need to understand that this is a series were different characters each have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on who they fight. Hashirama defeated Madara but that doesn't necessarily make him more powerful than Minato, it just means that he had a skill set that was better suited to deal with Madara. Sasori was a total monster when you think about it, he defeated the most powerful Kazekage and he used him as a puppet. With his poison, the Third Kazekage, and over a hundred other puppets at his disposal he could have beaten almost anyone. So why did he lose to Chiyo and Sakura, because it was a bad match up. They had an antidote to his poison, Chiyo knew most of his abilities, they were both medical ninja, etc. Just because someone loses it does not necessarily make them weaker than their opponent. It is largely a matter of circumstance.
I am sure Minato is probably around the same level as Hashirama, he might be a bit weaker but really it is more about their particular abilities. Another thing to consider is that Hashirama had the power to bend Bijuu to his will, that is a huge factor in his strength, if he happens to have access to all or several of the bijuu during a fight, naturally he is going to be nearly unstoppable. If he is alone, however, it would be a very different story.
Another thing to consider is location, look at someone like Gaara who uses sand to fight, in the dessert it was said that he is truly a monster because he has a nearly limitless amount of sand and he does not need to use his chakra to make it (as was the case when he fought Kimimarro. The same is true of someone who specializes in water, if that person is near a lake or ocean they are far more dangerous because they can manipulate the water around them and do not need to use as much chakra to create it from their own body. This has been mentioned multiple times, for example we saw the Second Hokage use powerful water techniques when he was nowhere near water, that was considered impressive but needless to say he would have been better equipped if he was near a large amount of water.
Then there are the cases of handicaps or particular weaknesses. Pain/Nagato is a good example. If his opponent doesn't know how his abilities work then he is essentially unbeatable. If all of his abilities are known, however, his opponent can divide his bodies and destroy them according to each of their particular weaknesses (as we saw with Naruto). If Naruto didn't know Pain's abilities he would have been in a far more dangerous predicament because he wouldn't have known how to go about attacking each of Pain's bodies. Jiraiya, on the other had, was at a major disadvantage against Pain because he wasted a great deal of his chakra just trying to figure out what each of Pain's bodies could do and because he didn't know about Pain's abilities he let his guard down, lost an arm and got killed. If he had known all of Pains abilities from the start, like Naruto did, he could have gone into combat with a much more clear idea of what to do and what not to do.
Obviously there are varying degrees of power but basically there are levels of skill where it really just depends on the match ups. Obviously people like Minato, Itachi, Hashirama, Nagato, Sarutobi (in his prime) etc. are going to be in the top tier but who among them is the strongest is very hard to say flat out. For one because we have a very limited understanding of what all those characters were truly capable of and we don't know how their powers would work against each other.
Pein easily. The way he bet jiraiya was incredible.
chapter 144 page 10 itachi and kisame wouldn't attack jiraiya because they said how strong hewas or something like that.. so why hasnt anyone said Jiraiya?
Also I think the fourth is stronger than the first and the second because when Sarutobi was fighting orochimaru he said he had to stop the third coffin no matter what..
i would say not in this order but.. these are the top five.. I'd put minato or sarutobi on top tho
madara:no matter what he says about how weak he is, he can beat practically anyone.
pain:he was arrogant to think he'd take naruto like that, but he can kick ass.
itachi:if he goes straight to susanoo, theres no stopping him.
first:he did the stupid thing of giving away jinchuuriki, other wise he'd have kicked ass.
third/fourth:at their prime they would have ben more or less equally powerful.
kisame\E: both are stronger than killer bee..
I'm curious how strong Kimimaro would be if he would have been physically healthy and survived the time skip.
Not a bad list. Hate to be petty but this information is a little false. He can use rasenshiruken in normal mode, he is just unable to throw it. And I am curious you would not include 3 tail Naruto in this argument. I mean I think it only fair being that you give KB full props. With Naruto in three tails he has strength, speed and more than normal reach. True enough he is limited with techniques but let us have this discussion in six more months to see what lies ahead.
Originally Posted by The Witcher
Personally I think Naruto's improvisation skills make him much more dangerous than mostly all these ninjas listed. He tends to adapt better to each opponent that he fights even with the limited amount of jutsu, but if you ask me Sage mode put him further up Witchers list even if it is five minute limit. Oh yea also his summoning should be taken into account as well
I'd tend to agree with Witcher on the Naruto thing though.
Any number of tails, and we're talking about a loss of control here - to some degree or another. I think that counts against him. He does have the summoning, but so do most other high level ninja.
As for Naruto's ability to adapt, this seems to be more deus ex machina, than Naruto actually thinking up useful strategies. He wins battles because he's the main character, not because he deserves to.
Now you just making up excuses. His tails are a hinderence but it's been clearly pointed out that he looses all control from 4 and up. All other high level ninjas have summoning so his don't count. He's the title character so he's suppose to win, but yet he's still considered one of the weaker characters. And this one right here, "Naruto's ability to adapt, this seems to be more deus ex machina, than Naruto actually thinking up useful strategies" that is true bull. He beat Neji a while back by thinking ahead, he beat Kakazu by learning from his mistake during battle and adapting. He beat Pain by adapting during battle. Sage mode does not make him smarter just stronger so his fighting instincts are at a much higher level.
Naruto is the type of character that tends to get better the longer he battles. I think that is an unheralded and overlooked gift. Dude got three major moves and has 1000 ways to beat you with it (1000 multi-shadow clone excluded). It like giving me some rope and a rock and I come up with 50 different ways to bust your ass with the same rope and rock. They are weak items by themselves in everyones eyes, but it's funny how those two items seem to kick ass everytime. Title character aside, Naruto should be placed higher.
Motion seconded- The Third Hokage Hiruzen Sarutobi was probably the (second stongest after the sage of 6 paths) ninja ever.
Originally Posted by thirdfang
I'm sure Hanzo and the Iron Sand Kazekage belong on that list somewhere too.