A good character is always a multi-dimensional one – especially when they are already 2D. In the anime scene today, tropes and ideas are forever changing to stay with recent times. Some people are bored of the repetitive over-enthusiastic protagonists and the cool accomplice who usually always has a dark history. Great characters that stay with us for a long time are those who are most close to being human – claiming their wins, sometimes losing to get back stronger, and having both highs and lows. A common phenomenon you would notice is how anti-heroes or anime characters who were forced to be evil leave a huge impact on the mind.

Whether it was Light Yagami in the early 2000s or Eren Jaeger, who had recently started the famous Rumbling – a hint of evil is always interesting and keeps viewers at the edge of their seats at all times. Hence, here we bring you some anime characters who were forced to be evil – both for the plot and for the sake of their own motives.

1. Lelouch vi Britannia

Lelouch vi Britannia is one of the most renowned and beloved MCs of all time. This did not come so easy to the man. Separated at an early age from his family, going through traumatic events concerning the well-being of a whole nation, losing the person he loved the most in his world – all turned him into the final villain we saw him as.

Lelouch vi Brittania from Code Geass

Finally understanding the structure of the world and how hate had consumed most of humanity, Lelouch had decided to end all of its suffering single-handedly. By painting himself as the villain to his people, going on a rampage of blood and murder, he gathered all the hate of the world towards him and left with its burden so that the people did not have to suffer anymore.

2. Reiner Braun

While perceiving Eren Jaeger’s actions as good or bad is a subjective choice, there is no way one can deny that Reiner was forced to take the path of being evil. Living as an outsider in the land he was born in, discriminated against and hated for something he had no connection with, and then manipulated into an almost-suicidal mission, Reiner Braun went through traumatic events throughout his entire life.

Reiner Braun form Attack On Titan

All he wanted was to be recognized by negligent parents and live a happy life, but his childhood (like most Marleyan Warrior Candidates) was snatched away from him, and he had to carry out actions he did not even want to do once he got to know what Eldians really were like. His severe mental illnesses and inconsistent personality stand for the themes of PTSD that often comes from war, and there is no way you can say that Reiner is not a victim who was forced into his evil actions.

3. Itachi Uchiha

From a young age, it was well known that Itachi had far surpassed his Uchiha clan in his skills as a ninja – both physically and mentally. It was his immense knowledge and curiosity that led him to the discovery of the true nature of his clan. To keep his homeland safe and to keep his younger sibling Sasuke away from all danger, he continued to be the villain in his brother’s eyes.

Itachi Uchiha from Naruto

Although Itachi loved Sasuke with all of his heart and he was the only family that he truly loved and wanted to protect, he was compelled to stay away from him and keep his secret for the sake of the village. The man truly gave away all of his life for his brother, which is what makes him one of the most beloved anime characters forced to be evil.

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4. Keisuke Baji

Baji was deemed “evil” for an arc of the series, in which he joins another gang and opposes his previous gang, to whom he was once dedicatedly loyal. Baji disguised his departure from Toman as a desire to transfer to Valhalla. In actuality, he was infiltrating Valhalla to learn more about Kisaki, who Baji had once overheard talking about taking over Toman and became suspicious of him. He even goes so far as to beat up Chifuyu, one of his closest friends, to show his “loyalty” to Valhalla. Baji was ready to paint himself as the villain just to keep his comrades safe.

Keisuke Baji from Tokyo Revengers

5. Stain

My Hero Academia shows us a state of comfort in the beginning, but as things slowly progress in the series, the activities of Hero Killer Stain shock us and force us to confront the truth of justice and heroism in society. Stain is the first villain to have a tragic backstory, compelling ideas, and, most importantly, determination that paralyzes even the most formidable of heroes. He’s a ticking time bomb that explodes into one of the series’ most dramatic clashes. The villain has a lot of influence. Stain’s deeds, combined with his terrible past, permeate the brains of individuals who have felt wronged by society in any way, just as All Might’s tremendous smile and triumphant gestures thrill the crowd and motivate the young and bold.

Stain from My Hero Academia

Stain was previously Stendhal, who was a hero vigilante and had no problem killing criminals if he deemed them unfit to have their powers with no conviction. He already had problems with his self-identity, he thought of his civilian and vigilante personas as two different entities, which at least helped him become the ruthless vigilante, and after his confrontation with Knuckleduster, Stendhal’s opinions shifted, and he began to feel that “fake heroes” were at the source of society’s problems, leading him to become the infamous hero killer he is now renowned for.

6. Isabella

Isabella was one of The Promised Neverland’s most divisive characters. She was the Grace Field House’s keeper and the only mother, the children, had ever known. She was aware of the concept of love and even capable of it, but she chose to become a Mama in order to save her own life. The majority of the time, she was pleasant and compassionate to the kids. When someone went against her ideas or plans, however, she was harsh and brutally violent. Isabella didn’t have to use excessive force on many of these occasions, but she chose to do so nonetheless. The system forced her to become “evil” in that society, life was difficult, and to be able to survive, one had to put themselves first.

anime characters forced to be evil
Mama Isabella From The Promised Neverland

7. Killua Zoldyck

Killua Zoldyck may be one of the most beloved Hunter X Hunter characters, but one must not forget the dark and heavy background he comes from. From a young age, Killua was put through immense training, which included long hours of torture – to the point that his body became immune to poison and electricity was bearable.

anime characters forced to be evil
Killua Zoldyck from Hunter X Hunter

Throughout the series, Killua has shown a huge amount of patience and tolerance for physical and mental pain – and it comes from this very ‘training’ of his to become an assassin. Looking back, you might also remember how cold and ruthless Killua could be towards people before he met Gon. The boy was forced onto the path of evil and could have turned into a powerful and heartless assassin if it was not for meeting Gon and learning friendship.

Also Read: Top 10 Shonen Anime Characters Similar to Miles Morales

8. Kyouka Izumi

Like most anime characters forced to be evil, Kyouka’s childhood trauma is what mainly caused her to turn to the side of the villains. Her dangerous ability, Vicious Snow, which killed her parents, was known as a malicious entity that could only kill. Due to this, Kyouka was led into thinking that all she was good for was killing – to the point that she felt guilty enough to try to take her own life.

anime characters forced to be evil
Kyouka Izumi from Bungou Stray Dogs

Had she not been saved by Atsushi, we would have never known that deep inside, Kyouka is just a little girl who was manipulated by Port Mafia into thinking that she is a killing machine. While she may have committed crimes that cannot be fixed, we can never question that she was just a little girl who was forced into being evil.

9. Kaneki Ken

At the beginning of the anime, we see Kaneki as this hopeful, kind-hearted, and generous boy who always lived by his mother’s words, that was to “live for others”. However, after the steel beam incident, things took a turn for the worse in Kaneki’s life. Due to Kaneki’s weak state of mind, he wasn’t able to control his powers which resulted in many problems around him. Kaneki was the personification of bad coping mechanisms, and he was easy to manipulate as well. He wanted to be better to protect the one she cared about.

anime characters forced to be evil
Kaneki Ken from Tokyo Ghoul

However, with every major life event, his perspective of the world changed and fit better towards his ghoul side. He became sort of an anti-hero because he did kill people, but it was justified in a way to fit the narrative of “a small sacrifice for the greater good of all”. He could be considered evil in the moral sense. However, it was for survival purposes.

10. Jellal Fernandes

Having come from a rough childhood where he was imprisoned and tortured in the Tower of Heaven, it was no wonder Jellal let evil forces take over his weak mind as a child. He thought he was possessed by the legendary dark mage Zeref. However, it was later revealed that he was just being mind-controlled by Ultear. She took advantage of his uncertainties and negative feelings at the time, which made it easier for her to control him and instill hatred in Jellal because he “agreed” with what the “voice” was telling him, which was just actually just some manipulation by Ultear.

Jellal Fernandes from Fairy Tail

In the climactic scene where a child Erza finally manages to influence the slaves of the Tower Of Heaven to protest and break free from their imprisoning shackles, there is an altercation between the two friends, where the evil side of Jellal was first revealed as he refused to leave the island and to “complete the will of Zeref”.

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