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16 Times Pacifist Anime Characters Were Forced To Take A Life

Updated October 28, 2020 4.5k votes 1.2k voters 43.5k views16 items

Just because an anime character doesn't want to kill doesn't mean that they never will. Even the kindest, most gentle characters are sometimes put in situations where they have very little choice but to go against thier principles and take a life. 

There are plenty of anime pacifists who were forced to kill. One particualrly harrowing example is Euphemia Li Britannia, who was hypnotized into opening fire on a group of people who she'd pledged to protect. There's also Itachi Uchiha, whose fervent desire for peace left him vulnerable to being manipulated by Danzo into eliminating his own family. But not every example is a tragedy - Gohan stepping up to take down Cell is an example of his character growth.

Which of these examples had a big impact on you?

  • Despite desperately desiring peace, Itachi Uchiha has probably taken more lives than most serial killers. As a talented child from a powerful ninja family, he was more or less forced into the trade. Even then, it was tough for him to cope with all the fighting, because his early wartorn childhood had traumatized him. Things got worse when Danzo Shimura, the leader of Root, gave him an ultimatum that he knew he'd accept: take out his entire family and be spared along with his brother, or wait for Root to do the job and spare no one.

    Rather than warn his family of the coming attack, Itachi took up Danzo on his offer. He knew that if the Uchiha family was expecting it, it would spark a war that would cause countless casualties outside of his family. To keep the peace, he felt that he had to eliminate his own family. 

    Is this devastating?
  • Vash The Stampede Is Manipulated Into Breaking His Vow In 'Trigun'
    Photo: Madhouse

    Trigun is pretty much all about this trope. Vash absolutely doesn't want to take lives under any circumstances, and has carefully arranged his existence so that he doesn't have to. Legato Bluesummers -  Knives' right hand man - really, really wants Vash to go back on his principles. He repeatedly forces him into situations where if he doesn't take someone else's life, he'll lose his own. When Vash finally gets him into a compromised position, Legato tries to persuade Vash to end him. Vash refuses until Legato threatens to eliminate Milly and Meryl. Feeling cornered, Vash shoots Legato in the head. Legato passes away happily, knowing that the event will traumatize Vash for life. 

    Is this devastating?
  • Unlike many of the characters in Dragon Ball Z, Gohan has always taken the sanctity of life seriously. Reluctant to do permanent damage to his enemies unless absolutely necessary, he prefers gentler resolutions to problems. But during the fight against Cell, he realizes that in some cases, a peaceful resolution is impossible, and what matters is protecting innocent people from harm. After achieving his Super Saiyan 2 transformation and getting a little bit of encouragement from his dad, he targets Cell with a fatal blast. 

    Is this devastating?
  • 4

    Euphemia Li Britannia Is Hypnotized By The Geass In 'Code Geass'

    Euphemia Li Britannia Is Hypnotized By The Geass In 'Code Geass'
    Photo: Sunrise

    All Euphemia Li Britannia ever wanted was to help the Japanese people achieve as much freedom as possible despite her family's ironclad rule over their country. She even makes some headway by opening up a zone that is exclusively governed by the Japanese people, thus creating a peaceful compromise between her colonizing family and the Japanese people. On the day that she's set to give a speech announcing the plan, Lelouch accidentally uses his Geass to order her to eliminate every Japanese person she encounters, she whips out a machine gun and turns from savior to shooter. The whole mess ends with Euphemia passing away as Suzaku reassures her that she'd done the helpful thing she tried to do. 

    Is this devastating?