The 15 Saddest Backstories In ‘My Hero Academia,’ Ranked

List Rules
Vote up the characters whose backstories made you want to give them a hug.

My Hero Academia might not be the saddest shonen out there, but there are characters with seriously miserable backstories. Many of these sad tales come from the villains, who found their way to villainy because of the way their lives went wrong. In other cases, it's the heroes who suffered.

While most of these examples have been covered in the anime, there are a few backstories that are manga-only, and even one from the third movie My Hero Academia: World Heroes' Mission. These include the origin stories of Dabi, Lady Nagant, and Rody Soul. If you're not caught up and want to avoid spoilers, go ahead and skip those entries.

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  • 1
    2,906 VOTES
    Tomura Shigaraki
    Photo: Bones

    Tomura Shigaraki's life is hard enough before his quirk manifests. His father becomes verbally and physically abusive whenever the topic of heroes comes up, which is tough for Tomura - then called Tenko - because he admires them so much. But things get a million times worse when his quirk manifests. His quirk, Decay, destroys everything he touches. The first victim is the family dog, whom he was hugging to comfort himself after a conflict with his father. The next victim is his sister. Eventually, he ends up annihilating his entire family. 

    Utterly devastated and with no idea what to do next, he's easy prey for All For One, who takes him under his wing and adopts him as his heir. Had All For One been a nice person, this might have been a happy ending to a tragic story - but All For One is a terrifying villain who means to raise Tomura to replace him. 

    2,906 votes
  • 2
    2,786 VOTES
    Eri
    Photo: Bones

    When Eri was a very little girl, she accidentally used her quirk, Rewind, on his father. She rewound him so far back that he no longer existed, effectively ending his life. Her mother had no idea how to deal with her after that, so she gave her to her grandfather, a high-ranking yakuza boss.

    Things were going okay until Kai Chisaki put her grandfather in a comatose state and started performing painful experiments on her in order to develop a quirk-destroying drug.

    Luckily, she didn't have to spend her whole childhood suffering from Overhaul's control, because she was rescued by a large group of Pro Heroes and taken to live at U.A.

    2,786 votes
  • 3
    2,677 VOTES
    Shoto Todoroki
    Photo: Bones

    Shoto Todoroki has a powerful combination of his mother's ice quirk and his father's fire quirk. This is exactly what his father tried to accomplish by purchasing his mother and getting her to have children until he got one that was powerful enough to succeed his rival.

    Not only did Shoto's dad break the law by engaging in a "quirk marriage," but he also wasn't even a decent father or husband while doing it. He was emotionally and verbally abusive to his entire family, and sometimes got physical, too. This all pushed Shoto's mother Rei to a breaking point where she splashed 5-year-old Shoto in the face with boiling water because she was so afraid of looking at someone who resembled her husband. She would spend the next decade in a psychiatric hospital, while Shoto had to continue living with his father. 

    Despising his father for good reason, he refused to use the fire side of his quirk before eventually deciding to stop artificially limiting himself. 

    2,677 votes
  • 4
    2,531 VOTES
    Dabi
    Photo: Bones

    Dabi's backstory has yet to be explained in the anime, so if you haven't caught up with the manga, keep scrolling.

    Known originally as Toya, Dabi is Enji and Rei Todoroki's eldest son. While he didn't inherit his mother's ice-based abilities, he did inherit her physical frailty and ice resistance. He also inherited a version of his father's fire quirk that did not include immunity to fire. Using his quirk did serious damage to his body, but because his father made it clear that the only way to gain his love and respect was to be strong, he insisted on training even when his parents told him to give up. He continued training for years, becoming increasingly desperate and prone to lashing out. This got worse when Shoto was born, since his father finally had the child he actually wanted.

    His father never gave him the actual emotional support he would have needed to process the fact that he couldn't properly use his quirk, and he created the environment that made him so desperate to become a hero in the first place. Toya's continual training left him covered in horrible burns and suffering from constant physical and emotional pain. Eventually, Toya supposedly perished by overheating his body to 2,000 degrees Celsius. He somehow survived and ended up with the League of Villains. 

    2,531 votes
  • 5
    2,174 VOTES
    Hawks
    Photo: Bones

    Hawks' backstory hasn't been fully revealed in the anime yet, so keep scrolling if you don't want to read manga spoilers.

    When Hawks was born, his parents were trying to hide the fact that his father had taken the lives of several people. In order to keep him quiet, his parents refused to allow him to go outside or interact with anyone other than them. His parents were verbally and physically abusive, and their home was full of trash and broken beer bottles. His sole happiness came from TV shows about heroes, who he thought were fictional until Endeavor captured his father, thus freeing him from his father's cruelty.

    But now he and his mother had a new problem - avoiding the police for harboring a fugitive. They were homeless for a long time before Hawks finally got noticed for acting like a hero. His mother ended up joining a witness protection program while he joined the Hero Public Safety Commission and began training as a hero at a very young age. No wonder all he wants is a world where heroes don't have to do anything!

    2,174 votes
  • 6
    2,139 VOTES

    Shota Aizawa, Present Mic And Oboro Shirakumo

    Shota Aizawa, Present Mic And Oboro Shirakumo
    Photo: Bones

    Shota Aizawa, Present Mic, and Oboro Shirakumo were childhood friends who intended to become heroes together. That all changed when Oboro perished during a fight against a villain in which he was trapped under rubble. 

    Losing their friend and learning about the true dangers of heroism would have been hard enough, but while Mic and Aizawa were building their careers, something else was happening to Oboro - his body was used by the League of Villains to create an advanced Nomu called Kurogiri. Mic and Aizawa wouldn't find out about this until long into their adulthood, but when they did find out, they were as horrified as you'd expect. 

    2,139 votes