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There are a lot of threads on the internet that have confusing/contradicting answers.

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Vasto lorde are weak ... Nnoitra(when he was 8 in espada ) was sent to recruit vasto lorde but he killed him –  user4640 Apr 24 '14 at 13:57

1 Answer 1

Vasto Lorde are the top of the Hollow species. However, they are Hollow, not Arrancar.

Arrancars are Hollow which, using the power of the Hogyoku, removed the boundry between Hollow and Shinigami, and achieved a greater power, usually by removing their masks and sealing most of their power into a sword.

Espada, are by definition the top ten Arrancar. They may or many not be Vasto Lorde.

It was heavily implied that of all the Espada, only the top four (Ulquiorra, Halibel, Barragan and Stark) were Vasto Lorde before they became Arrancars (and subsequently Espada).

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i remember seeing grimmjow as a vasto lorde too, maybe gonna comment in the next few days again, as i'm currently rewatching. –  Vogel612 Feb 16 '14 at 14:46
@Vogel612: Grimmjow never made it to the Vasto Lorde class, he was recruited as an Adjuchas. –  Madara Uchiha Feb 16 '14 at 14:47
The Arrancar page at Bleach wikia indicates that Arrancar existed before Aizen and his Hogyoku, so the Espada are the top ten Arrancar within Aizen's army. –  CTMacUser Feb 3 at 22:26

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