Anime villains are some of the most despicable villains in fiction. Their cunning plans and immense power cement their status as nearly unbeatable foes. Some anime villains, however, did not set out to become antagonists. Instead, they had their hands forced, causing them to perpetrate heinous acts when they felt they had no other options.
These anime characters became villains due to circumstances beyond their control. Some were born into it, while others saw no other way to escape their current predicaments. Though these villains do inexcusably despicable deeds that will not be forgiven any time soon, many fans can see that these characters did not have any other choice.
10 Reiko Tamura Was Just Trying To Survive (Parasyte: The Maxim)
Reiko Tamura is a Parasite living as a human in the show Parasyte: The Maxim. When the alien Parasites come to Earth, their instinct is only to survive. However, Reiko can process and reason scientifically beyond just wanting to feed. She performs several morally dubious experiments to see how far she could take a human/Parasite partnership.
Despite her rational brain, Reiko still kills dozens of humans and serves as the primary antagonist to Shuichi Izumi for a time. However, as her demise draws near, fans of the show come to have a deeper understanding of her and all the Parasites in general. After all, all of her actions were to help perpetuate her species, the main goal of every living creature.
9 The Witches Weren’t Always Witches (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a magical girl anime on the surface, but the more audiences watch, the more horrors they discover. When Madoka Kaname and her friends are approached by a strange creature named Kyubey offering to grant wishes, they are initially hesitant. Yet, Kyubey’s offer is too enticing, and the girls agree to become magical girls who fight off evil witches.
However, as fans discover, the witches are just magical girls whose Soul Gems have become corrupted by despair. Although the Witches feed off of humanity’s despair and cause people harm, they were initially just magical girls doing what was asked of them by a manipulative creature.
8 The Remnants Of Despair Watched The Video (Danganronpa: The Animation)
The seventy-seventh class of Hope’s Peak Academy was one of the closest in the academy in Danganronpa: The Animation. However, when they watch a certain video created by the despicable Junko Enoshima, their minds cannot handle the despair they are subjected to, and they are brainwashed into becoming Junko’s disciples.
At her behest, the Remnants of Despair wreak havoc. Their crimes are numerous and widespread. Though they are fortunately rehabilitated, fans agree that their wrongdoings are more Junko’s fault than their own.
7 Sho Kusakabe Was Taken In By The White Clad (Fire Force)
Sho Kusakabe was only a baby when he was taken in by the White Clad in Fire Force. Sho was raised to be a warrior for their cause. He is already so indoctrinated by the time his brother, Shinra Kusakabe, shows up that Shinra cannot convince him that he could have lived a completely different life.
Although Sho is a formidable opponent and an interesting antagonist, he is not his brother’s enemy by his own choice. Since he was raised in a hyper-violent society with radical views, Sho’s worldview is skewed. Sho did not have a choice in whether to become a White Clad or not.
6 Itachi Uchiha Had To Destroy His Clan (Naruto)
Itachi Uchiha is a gifted ninja in Naruto who joined the elite Anbu Black Ops team when he was only eleven. However, this group would prove to be his downfall once his clan started to plan a coup against the other Shinobi clans. When the Leaf Village leadership heard of the Uchiha clan’s plan, they enlisted Itachi as a double agent to find out more.
The whole situation culminated in the leaders presenting Itachi with an ultimatum – wipe out his entire clan and spare his younger brother, or join his clan and meet his demise along with everyone else. Knowing that allowing the Uchiha’s plan would lead to another Shinobi war and wanting to protect his brother, Itachi made the impossible choice to massacre his people.
5 Tenko Shimura Had No One Else (My Hero Academia)
All Tenko Shimura wanted to do was to grow up to be Pro Hero in My Hero Academia. Unfortunately, his father was against the idea and treated Tenko deplorably. As such, when Tenko’s Disintegrating Quirk finally appeared, his emotions got the better of him, and he destroyed his entire family.
Alone and terrified, Tenko took to the streets, but even though he was a child, no one took pity on him. That is until a strange and powerful man finally took him in. Unfortunately for Tenko, that man would be known as All For One. All For One saw potential in Tenko and groomed him into the villainous Tomura Shiguraki. With All For One as his father figure, Tenko Shimura had no choice but to become a villain.
4 Lucy Was Experimented On (Elfen Lied)
Elfen Lied is the story of an evolved human, a Diclonius, named Lucy. Because she is a new humanoid, Lucy is experimented on and tortured throughout her childhood. When she eventually gets out of the lab, Lucy employs the same violent methods on those she deems as threats.
While many see her as a monster, other fans know that Lucy is a product of her past trauma. The violence she suffers at the hands of others is more than enough to skew Lucy’s knowledge and impression of the world, making her believe that all humans are cruel and that she will never be accepted for who she is.
3 Gyutaro Had To Save Daki (Demon Slayer)
Gyutaro lived a pitiful life in Demon Slayer. He was unattractive and lived in poverty. However, when his sister, who was later known as Daki, was born, her beauty was so unparalleled that Gyutaro knew his luck would eventually change.
Unfortunately, a horrible night with a client ended with Daki being tortured, burned, and left for dead. When Gyutaro found her, one of the twelve Kizuki came upon the siblings and offered to turn them into demons. Seeing no other option to save his sister and enact revenge, Gyutaro accepted, and the siblings became demons. After all, Gyutaro would do anything to protect his sister.
2 Reiner Braun Grew Up Trying To Right Past Wrongs (Attack On Titan)
As fans later discover in Attack On Titan, Reiner Braun is one of the Titan Warriors from the mainland country of Marley. As an Eldian living in Marley, Reiner was taught that all Eldians had to pay for the sins of their ancestors who nearly destroyed humanity. With this mindset, Reiner worked hard to become one of the revered Titan Warriors – to restore a shred of honor to his family.
Yet, Marley’s plan to subjugate all Eldians is a devious one. Because of this, Reiner eventually finds himself betraying his friends and sacrificing so much more for the sake of a belief that might not be true. Reiner became a villain in the eyes of the Eldians all in the line of duty.
1 Junpei Yoshino Saw No Way Out (Jujutsu Kaisen)
Junpei Yoshino is a reserved high schooler who is mercilessly picked on by his peers in Jujutsu Kaisen. The bullying is so bad that Junpei is left with visible scars. Despite the severity of the attacks, his teachers turned a blind eye, leaving Junpei to fend for himself.
One day, while at a movie theater, Junpei sees his attackers acting out until a mysterious person distorts their heads, leaving them for dead. Curious about his power, Junpei follows him and becomes a student of the evil Mahito. Blinded by a want for revenge and power, Junpei gains his own Cursed Technique and seeks to use it on his attackers. Junpei saw no way out of his torture and felt that being Mahito’s student was his only option.
NEXT: 10 Most Sympathetic Villains Of All Time, Ranked