Anime Underground

The 14 Best Anime Where The Main Character Is A Villain 

Anna Lindwasser
Updated June 14, 2019 55.9k votes 18.1k voters 584.4k views 14 items

List Rules Vote 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.

Death Note is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 14 Best Anime Where The Main Character Is A Villain
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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Code Geass is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 14 Best Anime Where The Main Character Is A Villain
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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Hellsing Ultimate is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 14 Best Anime Where The Main Character Is A Villain
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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Saga Of Tanya The Evil
Saga Of Tanya The Evil ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The 14 Best Anime Where The Main Character Is A Villain
Photo:  NUT

With a title like Saga Of Tanya The Evil, this series promises to deliver an evil protagonist, and it does exactly that. Tanya Degurechaff, an empathy-deficient Japanese salaryman in the body of a ten-year-old European girl... and he/she is also a military mastermind. Yeah, it's weird.

Tanya has a simple goal – to live a comfortable, trouble-free life, and die a natural, painless death – and they'll do anything to achieve that. Their intelligence and cruelty are so great that they end up leading their country to near world domination, and earning the nickname "Devil of the Rhine." 

Is this a compelling character?