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Ranking Shonen Anime Villains By How Legit Their Reasons Are For Being Evil

Updated January 27, 2021 5.9k votes 787 voters 19.9k views30 items

No matter what's driving a shonen villain, it can still be fun to watch them put up a fight that challenges the heroes. But when their motivation is one that you think is valid or at least interesting, they become that much more fascinating to watch. 

Some shonen anime motivations for villains are pretty broad - they want to take over the world, achieve ultimate power, or just straight-up ruin things. Characters like Zagred from Black Clover and Frieza from DBZ are just straight up self-serving and evil. But sometimes villains have legitimate reasons for desiring mass destruction - yes, Pain from Naruto wants to destroy Konoha, but he genuinely thinks that that's the only way to achieve lasting peace. He's not the only villain who commits atrocities in the name of the the greater good: Stain from My Hero Academia has real grievances with Hero Society, which he tackles through a warped version of vigilante justice.

Which villain did you think had the best motive? You don't have to agree with them to vote them up - just think that their story makes their anime better.  

  • After his village was used as a war ground by larger nations, Pain decided that the only way to achieve lasting peace was to invade one of those larger nations and force them to experience the agony that he had. Ultimately, he realizes that that plan wasn't a great one - but his organization, the Akatsuki, is wrenched from his control. 

    Solid motivation?
  • 2

    Stain - My Hero Academia

    Believing that Hero Society was corrupt and that no one who pursued heroism for fame and fortune deserved any of it, Stain dedicated himself to eliminating as many heroes as he possibly could before he was ultimately arrested. Though his actions were clearly criminal, his beliefs founded in a reality that is slowly beginning to unfold. 

    Solid motivation?
  • Photo: Sunrise

    Shinobu Sensui was originally a Spirit Detective just like Yusuke. But once he realized that the demon lives he was taking were actually lives, he was so emotionally devastated that his mind splintered into multiple personalities. He opened up a portal to the Demon Realm not to destroy humanity, but to give himself the opportunity to go to the Demon Realm and be annihilated there, as a form of penance. 

    Solid motivation?
  • 4

    Zeref - Fairy Tail

    Natsu's brother Zeref is a complex character with multiple goals. These included destroying Acnologia, ending his own curse of immortality, and undoing all of the damage he inadvertently caused with his curse of contradictions. 

    Solid motivation?