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The 16 Best Anime Where The Main Character Is A Villain

Updated May 14, 2021 73.5k votes 22.7k voters 741.2k views16 items

List RulesVote up the most compelling, villainous anime protagonists.

Most anime protagonists are decent folks. Maybe they make some mistakes or bad decisions, but they mean well. While these kinds of main characters are common, they're not universal. Some main characters are cold-hearted, cruel villains. 

Anime with villain protagonists allow viewers to adopt a perspective outside the norm. These anime ask viewers to empathize with characters who torment and seek to ruin others. This can be a disconcerting experience, but it can also be a great mental exercise. Maybe the character is hellbent on world domination, maybe they're seeking revenge, or maybe they just don't know how to handle a failed relationship. No matter what, they're doing something wrong, and it's the antagonist's job to try and stop them. Sometimes, these evil protagonists can even make for the best villains of all time.

Vote up the villainous main character who's compelling enough to get you rooting for them... or at least invested in their story.

  • Photo: Sunrise

    Lelouch Lamperouge of Code Geass is the exiled prince of Britannia, a fictional empire that is attempting to dominate many other nations, including Japan. Lelouch leads the charge to take down the empire and free Japan from its grasp. In some series, this would have been played as heroic behavior... but not in Code Geass.

    Lelouch is willing to lie to his followers, ignore promises, and throw people under the bus in service of his goals. With his dark cape and his cruel, piercing gaze, he even looks the part. 

    Is this a compelling character?

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  • Photo: Madhouse

    No list of villainous protagonists would be complete without Death NoteThe series features Light Yagami, a young, diabolical genius who uses a magical notebook to bring justice to scores of criminals. However, he eventually gets so swallowed up by ambition that he forgets his own morals and starts killing innocent people just to avoid getting caught. 

    Death Note poses an important question: Does any one person have the right to decide who lives and who dies? Then, it answers that question with an emphatic no. Light's actions are clearly wrong, and what's fascinating is that we get to see what leads him down such a dark and terrible path.

    Is this a compelling character?

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  • Photo: Madhouse

    When Momonga finds himself trapped in the virtual reality game Yggdrasil, he loses more than just his ordinary human life. Stuck in his avatar form, he accepts his new identity as Ainz Ooal Gown. But due to the in-game tendencies of his character, he starts to stray from humanity by killing countless lives. And while he still has moments of kindness, he certainly commits questionable acts. It doesn't help that his avatar looks incredibly villainous as well.

    Is this a compelling character?

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  • Photo: Madhouse

    Alucard of Hellsing Ultimate is a vampire whose job involves hunting his own kind. In another series, a character like this could easily be an anti-hero or even just a hero, but that's not the case for Alucard. Alucard didn't become a vampire hunter for anything resembling moral reasons – he does it because he thoroughly enjoys ending lives.

    Not only does he viciously slaughter vampires, he also kills humans. He shows no mercy and delights in ending lives. He softens up a little as the show progresses, but he's still very much a villainous protagonist.

    Is this a compelling character?

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