15 Tropes You Can Find In Any Shonen Anime

Over 900 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of 15 Tropes You Can Find In Any Shonen Anime
Voting Rules
Vote up the tropes that appear in basically every shonen series.

There's a lot to love about shonen anime. From the relatable characters, to the mesmerizing action sequences, to the slew of hilarious anime gags, watching a great shonen series can bring out the warm fuzzies in fans both new and old. However, the shonen formula can at times be tiring, and it's hard to get excited about yet another loudmouth hero who's oblivious to the feelings of his childhood girlfriend, as he's too busy trying to outdo his stuck-up rival best friend. When the viewer finds out that the hero has a golden final form, their true power is never as surprising as the creators might have hoped. Even the most trope-ridden shows can still be fantastic (after all, who doesn't enjoy the occasional episode of Dragon Ball Z?), but once you see the patterns emerge in the genre, they're amazingly hard to ignore. 

  • 1
    378 VOTES

    Shouting Out The Name Of An Attack

    Why do all shonen characters shout out the names of their signature moves right before they unleash upon their enemies? It ruins the element of surprise, and who on Earth would fight like that in real life? Anyone who's ever gotten a little too buck at the bar will tell you that no one has time to yell out an attack when they're trying to land a punch to the jaw. 

    378 votes
  • 2
    384 VOTES

    The Simple-Minded Hero

    There's nothing more endearing than an anime hero with the caring heart of a child, but must they have the intelligence of one as well? Sure, a character's childlike naivety can be refreshing when you compare it to the cynical viewpoints that flood our real lives, but at a certain point, you have to wonder why these heroes haven't gained any wisdom from their years of worldly travel. When the simple-minded viewpoint gets pushed to its extremes — as shonen anime tends to do — it can be frustrating to watch the hero of the story act like a shockingly buff version of SpongeBob Squarepants. 

    384 votes
  • 3
    348 VOTES

    Tragic Flashbacks

    Tragic flashbacks are abundant in shonen series. They're a great way to cherry pick through the most awful moments in a character's life in order to show them in a new, often more sympathetic light. Unfortunately, tragic flashbacks can come off as melodramatic, or worse, they can fail to convey to the audience why they should feel sorry for a villain who's been tormenting the heroes since day one. 

    348 votes
  • 4
    322 VOTES

    One-Sided Crushes

    Nobody watches a shonen anime show for romance. With the target audience being young boys who crave violence, shonen anime characters often forget to develop meaningful romantic relationships. The best you'll get is minimal teasing, or frustrating one-sided crushes between a childhood friend and a clueless hero. 

    322 votes
  • 5
    319 VOTES

    Absentee Parents

    Where are the parents? How can heroes so young travel across the globe to vanquish an unspeakable evil and not have their parents throw a fit? Rarely do shonen anime series include parents in meaningful ways. They're either shown for a few brief scenes, or are absent throughout the entire series. 

    319 votes
  • 6
    342 VOTES


    It wouldn't be a shonen series if there wasn't at least one tournament arc. Regardless of the show's overarching plot, a tournament to decide who's the strongest whatever is bound to show up. Tournaments are the perfect venues for heroes to test out their might, but there's such a heavy reliance on the setting that they no longer feel special. Even a historically-based anime series like Rurouni Kenshin can find a way to shoehorn a tournament in at some point. 

    342 votes