When it comes to anime villains, the expectation is that they either face karmic comeuppance or die horribly as punishment for being evil. However, not all villains fit these criteria, since not all of them were monsters who relieved in others’ suffering. In fact, some had no choice but to act as their story’s designated villains.
For one reason or another, these anime villains either had to obey an evil higher power or commit the kinds of sins they normally never would. Thanks to fate’s demands, these villains’ tragic lives could only end in death. While their deaths don’t justify their actions, it’s not uncommon for both the anime’s heroes and viewers to pity these dead enemies.
10 Sara Had No Choice In The Matter (Samurai Champloo)
In Samurai Champloo, Jin, Mugen, and Fuu met many deadly enemies during their quest to find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers.” Sara was one of (if not) the most dangerous enemy they met, but she was also the most tragic. Sara was forced to become an assassin for the shogunate, and refusal to comply would mean the death of her son.
Sara was ordered to kill the trio, but she grew close to them — especially Mugen. Besides fighting Mugen with a heavy heart, Sara also lost her will to live when she realized that her son was dead this whole time. It’s clear that Sara let Mugen land the finishing blow, but this didn’t make her death any easier to accept and see.
Despite being chimeras who clashed with the Elric brothers in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and fought alongside one of Father’s homunculi, Roa, Martel, Dolcetto, and Bido were really more of anti-heroes than villains — just like their beloved leader, Greed. Unfortunately, Roa, Martel, and Dolcetto died protecting Greed, while Bido was killed by Greed himself later.
When Greed returned from the dead through Ling Yao’s body, he lost his previous memories. Because of this, he callously killed Bido when they crossed paths in Father’s base. It was only after Ling Yao confronted the amnesiac Greed that the latter realized what he’d just done, which makes Bido’s death all the more painful.
8 Sister Krone Was Another Victim Of A Cruel World (The Promised Neverland)
One of the darkest aspects of The Promised Neverlands world is the position of “Mama.” Every “Mama” was a girl who grew up in the Demons’ farms, but was given the chance to live a full life under the Demons’ service. Sister Krone was one of these girls, and she was killed just as she climbed the ladder to “motherhood.”
Krone was a devious opportunist, but it’s hard to blame her for playing the ruthless system she grew up in. Initially, Krone helped Emma and the others prepare for their escape to dethrone Isabella. But when she knew she already lost, Krone covertly gave them William Minerva’s pen with the intention of burning down the Demons’ rule.
7 Hansel & Gretel Didn’t Know Better (Black Lagoon)
It’s no exaggeration to say that almost everybody in Black Lagoon has blood on their hands. Most of Roanapur’s denizens indulged in murder for money or pleasure. Hansel and Gretel were the disturbing exceptions to the rule since they were so twisted by a terrible past that they sincerely thought that murder and torture were fun.
As warped as Hansel and Gretel were, they were still children. Right or wrong meant nothing to them since they never experienced them. Though their deaths at a vengeful Hotel Moscow’s hands are understandable, Hansel and Gretel were some of the few Black Lagoon villains who were so pitiable that they deserved a bit of mercy.
6 Kagura Died As Free As The Wind (Inuyasha)
In Inuyasha, Kagura is one of Naraku’s most well-known disciples, but she only serves him under duress. Naraku literally had Kagura’s heart in the palm of his hands, and he could kill her whenever he wanted to. As much as she despised Naraku, Kagura had no choice but to do his bidding. At best, she secretly undermined his efforts.
Near the end, Naraku seemingly gave Kagura’s heart back, only to infect her with an incurable venom. In her last moments, Kagura enjoyed her freedom and appreciated the fact that Sesshomaru was there to see her off. Inuyasha featured many tragic villains who were cursed with unfair fates, and Kagura was one of the most memorable.
5 Meruem Gradually Rejected His Initial Villainy (Hunter X Hunter)
When he first appeared in Hunter x Hunter, Meruem seemed to be just like every other shonen anime villain. Besides being a literal monster, a Chimera Ant, Meruem was also convinced of his superiority over those he considered inferior. But the more he learned about humans, the more Meruem loved them.
By the end, Meruem abandoned his villainy and became an anti-hero with genuine, if extreme, motives. Despite his newfound heroism and humanity, Meruem was killed in an arc that famously deconstructed the heroes’ ideals. Meruem’s demise was tragically needless, and it gave once unshakeable heroes like Gon an identity crisis.
4 Caster & Souichirou Kuzuki Died For The Other’s Sake (Fate)
To be fair, most of the Master/Servant pairings that Shirou and Saber fought were more of anti-heroes and rivals than villains. Souichirou and Caster were good examples of this since their opposition was balanced by their romance. Because of this, their deaths elicited sympathy from both the characters and viewers.
Whether it’s in Fate stay/night or Unlimited Blade Works, Caster and Souichirou usually died protecting each other. While every Holy Grail War ends in so much needless bloodshed, Caster and Souichirou’s deaths were some of Fate’s most memorably tragic and painful endings that some fans feel could’ve been avoided.
3 Stella Loussier Was A Traumatized Child Solider (Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny)
every gundam anime shows how, regardless of motive, war always has a human cost. SEED Destiny showed this through the Earth Alliance’s Extended program, which was a super-soldier program that forcibly conditioned human pilots to be on equal footing with the Coordinators. Stella was one such pilot, but she was anything but evil.
Though Stella was a beast on the battlefield, she was really an innocent and naive girl who wanted to live normally. Stella fell in love with Shinn Asuka, but she was killed in action shortly after they confessed their feelings to one another. Stella’s death was so undeserved that it drove Shinn off the deep end and into full-blown villainy.
2 Rolo Haliburton Really Saw Lelouch As His Brother (Code Geass R2)
After Lelouch had his memories erased at the end of Code Geass’ first season, he was allowed to live normally in Ashford Academy. The Britannian spy Rolo kept tabs on Lelouch, and his cover story was that he was Lelouch’s “younger brother.” But as time went on, Rolo came to see Lelouch as the brother he always wanted.
Even after Lelouch rebuked him when he found out the truth, Rolo gave his life to save Lelouch. While he betrayed Lelouch’s trust and even killed Shirley, Rolo genuinely loved Lelouch. Rolo was a traitor, but his past and desperation for love make his sins painfully understandable and (to some) worthy of a second chance.
1 Oktavia Von Seckendorff Didn’t Deserve Everything She Suffered (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
The horrifying reality of Puella Magi Madoka Magica is that all magical girls will become the monstrous Witches they fought. This befell all magical girls regardless of how heroic they were, and Sayaka Miki was the most tragic example. After feeling like she lost everything like her chance at love and her humanity, Sayaka transformed into Oktavia.
As much as Madoka and Kyoko hoped against all hope, there was no going back for Sayaka. Once Sayaka became Oktavia, the only thing her friends could do for her was put her out of her misery. Sayaka went through some of the harshest sufferings in all of madokaand her demise as Oktavia was a fate she didn’t deserve.
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