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18 Sympathetic Anime Villains You Can't Help But Feel For

Updated May 13, 2020 48.3k votes 10.3k voters 191.9k views18 items

List RulesVote up the anime villains your heart goes out to.

Warning: this list contains spoilers. 

Among the best anime villains are a few characters who pull at your heartstrings. Sometimes, despite how evil some anime villains may be, you can't help but sympathize with them. Maybe they had a bad childhood, where they lost their parents or suffered from abuse. Maybe they lost a loved one, so their vengeance is understandable. Or maybe, they're simply really hot. Whatever the case, there is no shortage of sympathetic anime villains.

Compiled here are villains who were driven by their cruel fate to fulfill their vile roles in their story. You'll see the common traits that leads to the path of villainy, such as spirits broken by war, suffering inflicted by someone they trusted, a sudden loss of a loved one, and losing all hope for the future. Their actions may not be easily forgiven at the end of the series, but because you got a glimpse of their heartbreaking backstories, you'll understand why they took that grim turn in their lives.

Without further delay, here are the most sympathetic anime villains you can't help but feel sorry for. Which anime villain is the most deserving of sympathy? Which ones would you not shed a tear for? Vote up the antagonist characters you just can't hate, no matter how many awful things they've done. 

  • Naruto's early childhood was no walk in the park, thanks to the demonic fox resting inside him. However, he was able to fight back against the jeers of adults by befriending the children who only knew him for who he was. Gaara was not as fortunate.

    He's everything Naruto could have become if he never experienced an ounce of love. Gaara grew up isolated and feared because of the sand demon he possessed. And the only person who ever loved him tried to finish him twice. In his youth, Gaara became the monster he was often characterized as, but after suffering defeat by Naruto's hand and hearing his kind words, Gaara reforms and becomes Hokage of the Village Hidden by Sand. 

    Are they sympathetic?

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  • No matter which version of Fullmetal Alchemist you watch, Scar remains a frightening yet sympathetic anime villain. His introduction as a cold-hearted killer annihilating State Alchemists with his powerful right arm paints him as a madman. However, as the show progresses, you learn about the tragedy involving his Ishvalan people, his older brother, and the military's role in their extermination. You realize that Scar is driven by revenge, and while he is not without his own sins, his hatred of State Alchemists is understandable considering everything he's been through. 

    Are they sympathetic?

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  • Anime villains come and go, but Zabuza, the first real threat in Naruto, remains in the hearts and minds of many anime fans. Zabuza isn't just memorable for his wicked appearance, intimidating strength, and big *ss sword. No, Zabuza and his somewhat paternal relationship with Haku is what fascinates fans.

    While Zabuza showed no remorse when Haku sacrificed himself to save his life, he couldn't hide his guilt after seeing the cruel businessman who hired them disrespect Haku's corpse. Zabuza turns to avenging Haku, ultimately dying beside him. It is not only a powerful and emotional ending to the first Naruto arc, but emphasizes the strength of the series. 

    Are they sympathetic?

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  • 4

    Crona - 'Soul Eater'

    On the surface, Crona from Soul Eater doesn't look like your typical maniacal villain. Crona's pitiful face and weak stance is far from intimidating. However, the years of abuse that Medusa Gorgon inflicted upon Crona takes its toll on the androgynous character. No child should ever be forced to kill and torture young animals in preparation of taking human lives. 

    Are they sympathetic?


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