Ordinarily, heroes in anime save the world and fix all the destruction inflicted by the villain. However, like human beings in real life, anime heroes aren’t always perfect — they can make mistakes. Unlike regular people, though, anime heroes are beings with incredible powers and the world riding on their shoulders, meaning that even their most minor mistakes may lead to terrible circumstances.
Some anime protagonists are their own worst enemies: making mistakes that set into motion the horrible events that plague them for the rest of the series. As tragic as their fate may be, the fact that everything went south for some of anime’s greatest heroes is no one’s fault but their own.
This article contains mention of suicide and abuse.
10 Sasuke Started A War
When Sasuke left the Hidden Leaf Village in Naruto, he was not only led by a pursuit of power, something he could have achieved by other means. Instead, he was led by a pursuit of vengeance against his brother and then ninja society itself.
While these motivations may be understandable, Sasuke caused a terrible chain reaction as a result. Sasuke ultimately became a huge factor in the start of the Fourth Great Ninja War. If Sasuke had never left and gone down the path he did, it’s very likely that things wouldn’t have turned out as badly in the war as they did, with as many casualties and as much destruction.
9 Trunks Destroyed The Future To Help The Past
During Trunks’ fight with Zenatsu in Dragon Ball, Trunks received a chilling revelation from his opponent. Zenatsu told Trunks that, by going back in time after the Androids destroyed his world the first time, Trunks actually indirectly caused Zenatsu’s attack to occur.
If Trunks had never gone back, Zenatsu would never have come to his time and wreaked the havoc he did. What this really showed was that there was just nothing Trunks could have done in this situation. Had he not gone back in time, he likely never would have achieved the level of power he did in order to go back and stop them. However, because he did go back, he also indirectly caused an arguably worse catastrophe later in the timeline.
8 Eren Made Things Worse To Make Them Better
Attack On Titan
In Attack On Titan, Eren carried a heavy burden throughout his life, which was only further enhanced by his time spent fighting the Titans. However, no amount of trauma or pain could have justified his decision to start the Rumbling and begin a genocidal mass cleansing of everyone outside Paradis Island.
Eren’s foresight of the future made him believe he was making the most rational choice, and it may just be that he even knew that he would have to be defeated by his own friends. However, had he just shared his burden with Mikasa and Armin, Eren may have found another way that didn’t involve total destruction and an unprecedented number of casualties in the process.
7 Takemichi Learned A Valuable Life Lesson
Even though Tokyo Revengers’ Takemichi could never have known it at the time, by taking a complacent role in his life, Takemichi indirectly allowed the deaths of his girlfriend and best friend. The only way to resolve this horrible ending was to go back in time and try to do things differently in his past.
Sadly, even after going back in time and changing significant parts of the past, Takemichi still created a future where his newfound friends in the Toman Gang would all see their premature end or arrest. While he definitely had all the right intentions, Takemichi, and those around him, would have likely benefited most if he had just lived with courage and resolve the first time around.
6 Ed Elric Paid The Price For His Mistakes
Ed Elric’s story in Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the most tragic in shonen anime. After his father left the family and his mother came down with a sickness and died, he was left alone with only his younger brother, Al, to pick up the pieces. Rather than accept this sad destiny, Ed tried to change fate the only way he knew how: through Alchemy.
By conducting an alchemical ritual, Ed hoped to revive his mother. However, he forgot the golden rule of Alchemy — the law of equivalent exchange. Ed ended up paying for the revival of his mother with two of his own limbs and his younger brother’s entire body, only for his mother’s lifeless body to revive as a brainless zombie.
5 Vegeta Helped His Strongest Enemy Become Stronger
Vegeta caused plenty of destruction as a villain at the beginning of Dragon Ball. However, his ignorance and foolish actions as a hero would arguably lead to an even worse situation during the battle against Cell.
In order to achieve his perfected form, Cell had to absorb Android 18. The only one standing in his way that was strong enough to stop him was Vegeta. Due to his pride as a fighter, Vegeta decided to let Cell absorb 18 in order to test his new super Saiyan strength. Of course, not only was Cell’s perfect form far beyond the level of Vegeta, but Cell would cause even more destruction and death than ever before — all because of Vegeta’s terrible choice.
4 Guts Left His Only Friend Behind
In Berserk, Guts was Griffith’s only true friend and the main reason he was able to get closer to his goal than ever before. While Guts was happy about his friend’s success, he himself still felt empty, and he decided he wanted to leave the Band of the Hawk at a pivotal moment in their journey.
Losing Guts proved to be too great a heartbreak for Griffith to bear, and led to his psychological breakdown and demise. Had Guts stuck around for longer and maybe talked things through with Griffith, he might have avoided the horrible events that would later unfold during the eclipse. Unfortunately, Guts’ own childhood traumas probably contributed to his inability to communicate his true feelings.
3 Endeavor’s Past Caught Up With Him
My Hero Academia
In My Hero Academia, Endeavor’s jealousy and thirst for strength caused him to abuse his wife, treat his family poorly, and push his oldest son away. Dabi’s desire to be recognized by his father led him to train alone in the forest, causing a horrible accident that appeared to result in his death.
While he had no way of knowing whether his son actually died, Endeavor’s abandonment of Dabi ultimately caused the events that would send him down a spiral of depravity and evil. Dabi had enough potential to be one of the strongest heroes of all time, but Endeavor’s neglect as a parent caused his son to instead become one of the most infamous villains instead.
2 Dr. Kenzo Tenma Saved A Monster
A world-renowned surgeon, Dr. Kenzo Tenma, risked his whole career in order to save a young boy’s life in Monster. While he ultimately felt he was doing the right thing, Dr. Kenzo Tenma ultimately ruined the lives of numerous people due to the unforeseen consequences of one selfless action.
Tenma could never have possibly known that the boy he saved had killed his own parents. Not only that, but that boy, Johann Liebert, would go on to become a serial killer who would threaten Tenma’s own life in the not-so-distant future.
1 Subaru Ruined Everything More Than Once
In Re:Zero, there have been way too many times that Subaru seemed to change everything for the better, only to realize that he actually ruined it all in the end. His special power allows him to be reborn for a short period of time in the past every time he dies, but that also means that he can’t ever accept the consequences of his actions and embrace the present for what it is.
Subaru continues on an endless cycle of death and rebirth, which even causes some of his best friends to be entirely forgotten by the people closest to them. If he could only do his best the first time and accept the reality of his actions, Subaru could possibly prevent reliving his own failures over and over again.