Top 10 Anime Heroes With Tragic Backstories

In any work of art, the tragic backstories of characters play a vital part. A tragic hero is usually the protagonist of the story who, despite possessing a heroic spirit, suffers from horrific life experiences.

Their tragic backstory gives us a deeper insight into their characters. Their life experiences are what shape them and serve as the basis for their desires and aims.

Anime has given its viewers many tragic heroes – some more devastating than others. Those are the ones who arouse tear-jerking moments within us.

From heroes who are born into hardships to heroes who fall headlong into life’s most miserable experiencesjoin me as I rank the top 10 tragic heroes found in Anime.

Tragic HeroAnime
Itachi UchihaNaruto
RayThe Promised Neverland
Naruto UzumakiNaruto
Ash LynxBanana Fish
Shouto TodorokiMy Hero Academica
Gintoki SakataGintama
Killua ZoldykHunter x Hunter
Data table for tragic heroes

1. Guts Berserk

The hero who most embodies his name is Guts.
The hero who most embodies his name is Guts.

Also known as the Black Swordsman, Guts is my top tragic hero for all the right reasons. Life’s fate has not been easy for Guts ever since his birth. He was born to a corpse who birthed him while being hung on the tree.

After his mother’s death, he was adopted by a Mercenary Leader, Gambino. Later, Gambino sold him to Donovan, who abused him while he was still a child.

While this was not enough, he was friends with people who betrayed him. He risked his life for Griffith. And Griffith sacrificed him due to his selfish greed for power. And Guts sports the consequences of the sacrifice every day after. He was cursed after the sacrifice. This curse mark bleeds due to which demons haunt him.

Guts is the hero who truly lives up to his name. And with a life like his, it truly takes guts to be as resilient.

2. Itachi Uchiha Naruto

The hero disguised as a villain
The hero disguised as a villainItachi Uchiha.

Initially, all of us thought of Itachi as a stone-hearted man with a malicious spirit. However, it was later discovered that he was a selfless man who had everyone’s best interests in mind.

He proved “first impressions are the last” to be wrong.

The Uchiha clan planned to start a war in the village, but Itachi was a hero in true essence. The idea of thousands of people, including children, dying broke his heart.

Hence to prevent a massive casualty from happening, Itachi took a decision that would leave a mark on him forever. The decision to kill his own family.

Other than his brother, Itachi killed every member of his family. He ensured that his brother would never learn the reason for the family’s murder. As a result, Itachi lived and died a villain, leaving the mark of one of the greatest tragic heroes in the world of anime.

3. Hyakkimaru Dororo

A hero born to a tragic destiny.
A hero born to a tragic destiny.

Hyakkimaru is the ideal depiction of someone being born with a tragic fate. His father, Lord Daigo, offered his body parts to demons before his birth in exchange for the welfare of his land.

Due to this, Hyakkimaru was born without the basic body parts/functions like limbs, eyes, skin, sense of taste, and hearing. He was born with demonic powers which posed him as a threat.

Not only that, but Hyakkimaru had to wait for years to become a human. This man’s entire life is a voyage of killing those demons to reclaim his body parts.

4. Ray The Promised Neverland

Ray - The Promised Neverland
Ray – The Promised Neverland

Although Ray did not have to endure any physical torture, this child was weighed down with the burden of realization.

With his spontaneous ability to recall events, Ray realizes that his mother is the warden at the Gracefield farm. The farm trained children for their tragic fates the fate which sold them to demons.

While destiny was not hard enough already, Ray was burdened with the realization of his mother sending them to the farms only to be killed.

5. Naruto Uzumaki – Naruto

Naruto Uzumaki
Naruto teaches us the lesson of resilience and power.

An unborn whose fate was sealed by the tragedy since his birth. Naruto’s parents died protecting him from the Nine-Tailed Fox attack.

While the death of his parents was not tragic enough, he became host to the same demon who killed his parents. Because of this, the villagers started considering him a failure and shunned him.

Even after overcoming the demons, his people still did not consider him. But the man retained his optimism and resilience throughout.

6. Gaara Naruto

Gaara was shown as someone who would not think twice before breaking a leg and face. But his early life experiences are likely what shaped him into what he is.

Gaara tragic past.

Everyone used to avoid Gaara, and it worsened after he became host to One-Tailed Beast.

Because of the demon, he cannot sleep, fearing it would possess him. His mother died giving birth to him. He did not have a normal childhood, and the only person he loved – his uncle – attempted to assassinate him.

7. Ash Lynx – Banana Fish

Ash Lynx of Banana Fish
The life of Ash was always tragic.

The tragic hero, Aslan Jade Callenreese, was the target of numerous forms of abuse. He was also neglected by his parents. When the guy fell in love, his enemies immediately took the chance and had an advantage over him.

Amidst falling in love, protecting his loved ones, and questing for truth and revenge – Ash lost his life in gang warfare.

8. Shouto Todoroki – My Hero Academia

Shouto Todoroki from My Hero Academia
Shouto had a sad past too.

Shouto suffered from domestic abuse at the hands of his father. He was not allowed to talk to his siblings and was made to undergo rigorous training.

While experiencing abuse personally was not enough, he also saw his mother being hit.

His mother was so tormented by his father that she became mentally unstable. She threw boiling water at the side of Shouto’s face, which resembled Endeavor. 

Shouto was a proper depiction of a walking tragedy.

9. Gintoki Sakata – Gintama

Gintoki Sakata from Gintama
Gintoki is a tragic hero.

Possessing one of the most tragic pasts, Gintoki was an orphan born during wars. He did not know his parents, and his survival depended on eating off corpses. 

Due to his eating habits, he was named Corpse Eating Demon. His life took a slight turn after Yoshida took him and trained him in martial arts.

But the turning page did not last long as he had to kill his master for the greater good – to save his many friends. Along with living with this, Gintoki also had to see his master coming back as a beast on a killing spree.

10. Killua Zoldyck – Hunter x Hunter

Killua Zoldyck of Hunter x Hunter
Killua’s life becomes better after meeting Gon.

Killua Zoldyk was born into a family of assassins. His life was scarred by tragedy ever since he was a child. He was denied childhood as his family made him undergo training to be the perfect assassin. 

He was physically tortured for his pain threshold to strengthen. He was made to kill hundreds of people and what is even more tragic is that he had to go through all this as a child.

Killua knew nothing of free will as he was consistently controlled by his family. But he escaped and encountered Gon. After his encounter, he started to live and explore life on his terms.

Wrap Up

  • Tragic heroes provide the basis for Anime to be more resonating.
  • The world of Anime has many tragic heroes, some with more miserable life experiences than others.
  • All the mentioned Anime would be incomplete without these tragic heroes.
  • These heroes are further made better by their life experiences.

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