50 Best Anime Characters That Have Tragic Backstories

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When we watch anime, it is incredibly essential for us to understand every character and equally give importance to their backstory. The backstories of anime characters are pivotal points for their character development and understanding of where they come from, which gives us the watchers an understanding of their story as a character. 

This list is going to give you an insight into the 50 Best Anime Characters That Have Tragic Backstories. These characters have built their way up into their respective lives from where they come from. These characters not only inspire us but also teach us that what you make out of life, no matter where you come from, makes you a remarkable human being. 

Note: This list may contain spoilers regarding the anime or the character

1. Killua Zoldyck (HunterxHunter)

Killua Zoldyck is one of the main protagonists of the show Hunter x Hunter. He was born into the Zolyck family, which is known to be a family of known assassins. Knowing this information alone gives us a clear picture of how his backstory might have been. 

Killua Zoldyck

From a very young age, he had already mastered so many murder techniques and is known to be one of the best assassins in the Zoldyck family. Killua was tortured since he was born, but he still manages to keep up a smile and always be cheerful. 

2. Levi Ackerman (Attack On Titan)

Levi Ackerman is known to be the “strongest soldier of humanity.” He is the captain of the Survey Corps and is a crucial character in the Attack On Titan series. We understand in Season 3 of the anime about his tragic backstory as he has always lacked ties with his family. Levi’s mother, Kuchel, worked as a prostitute in the underground slum areas and didn’t get time to raise Levi as a child. 


Levi Ackerman

After her death, he was all alone until his uncle Kenny taught him how to deal with thieves and various fighting techniques until he could survive on his own and abandoned him soon after. Levi’s personality reflects his tragic backstory and his upbringing. 

3. Ray (The Promised Neverland)

Ray is one of the main protagonists in the show The Promised Neverland. He has always been a very distant character. He always cared for his siblings and did everything that he could for their sake. As a child, he was already well aware that his mother was feeding the kids to the demons.


Ray (The Promised Neverland)

The sad part about his backstory is that he had always been collecting inflammable items to make sure he would be able to kill himself and also be able to destroy the house. 

4. Itachi Uchiha (Naruto)

Itachi always dreamed of having a world without wars and crimes, but to achieve that, he knew he had to get his hands bloody. From a very young age, Itachi was very observant and a brilliant child who viewed Konoha in the eyes of a Hokage. 


Itachi Uchiha

When Itachi found out that the Uchiha clan was going against the village and they were planning to overthrow the village, he took it into his hands to execute his whole clan all by himself, which even included killing his own parents, only leaving his brother Sasuke alive.

5. Edward Elric And Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)

The Elric Brothers both had a pretty sad backstory as Alphonse had to face the truth of trying to bring his mother back to life which was a failure because of which his whole body was disoriented, and his brother Edward attached his soul to an armor suit.


Edward and Alphonse Elric

As far as Edward is concerned, his father left him when he needed him the most, and he became the sole caretaker of his family, and he had to look after his younger brother and mother. 

6. Nico Robin (One Piece)

Nico has had one of the most tragic backstories in One Piece because, at a very young age, she was abandoned by her mother and was bullied by most of the people around her for possessing the Devil Fruit powers. She was tortured and mistreated all her life until the Straw Hats came into her life. 


Nico Robin

7. Seras Victoria (Hellsing)

Seras’s father was a police officer who had gotten into an undercover mission where the people that he was investigating tracked him back to his house and managed to ruthlessly execute him. While this was happening, her mother was in the closet trying to protect herself from the group but soon came out of the closet to be killed by them brutally. She witnessed all of this go down in front of her eyes and was deeply traumatized by all this.


Seras Victoria

8. Guts (Berserk)

Guts from Berserk has one of the saddest backstories in all of the anime because the name gives out the reason for his birth: his mother was hanging from a tree just before his birth, and he lay there in a mass of human guts until some troops discovered him and saved him. Guts are cursed for his whole life to be tormented by demons every single night until he passes away. 


Guts (Berserk)

9. Lelouch vi Britannia (Code Geass)

Lelouch is the main protagonist of the series Code Geass. As a child, Lelouch saw his own mother be assassinated, which not only traumatized him but left his sister paralyzed. In the midst of all this, he was abandoned by his father. As a child, he developed hatred towards his father for abandoning him and the whole of the Britannia Empire. 


Lelouch (Code Geass)

10. Akame (Akame Ga Kill!)

Akame was from a poor family where her parents decided to sell her and her sister to the empire. Where they were forced to take part in a horrific test where it involved being in a dangerous forest with deadly beasts, and the only objective was to make it out alive. Her parents abandoned both of their children and did not care if their survival even meant killing other people.


Akame (Akame Ga Kill!)

11. Sakata Gintoki (Gintama)

It is a surprise how Sakata Gintoki made it into the list because of his funny and relatable nature, but the actual truth is he spent his childhood searching for food to keep himself alive and also looked for weapons to protect himself. As he would search for food and wouldn’t find it, sometimes he was known to be the Corpse Eating Demon. 


Sakata Gintoki

12. Hyakkimaru (Dororo)

As a child, Hyakkimaru was ditched by his father, but Jukai later raised him. His father was so brutal that he offered his own kid’s limbs to win the demon’s favor. In return, Hyakkimaru got demonic abilities. Hyakkimaru has to live his life with a deadly curse that haunts him till his death. This curse is way worse than death itself. 



13. Kakashi Hatake (Naruto)

Kakashi is the sensei of Team 7 in Naruto. He is one of the most loved anime characters, but his backstory is really tragic. Kakashi’s mother died when he was still a child, and his father, on the other hand, committed suicide. Even though his backstory was tragic, he made sure to stay optimistic most of the time and always be a great mentor to his students.


Kakashi Hatake

14. Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler)

Ciel is shown to be a very happy and cheerful kid, but later his whole family is brutally murdered, and he is kidnapped soon after. He went through a lot of abuse when he was held captive, which left a lot of trauma for him. 


Ciel Phantomhive

15. Koro Sensei (Assassination Classroom)

Koro Sensei being on this list almost breaks everyone’s heart as he is one of the most lovable characters in all of the anime, but when we understand about his past, we learn that he grew up as a child all alone not knowing who his parents were or even his own name. Koro sensei’s backstory is really sad, and it is extremely difficult for one to watch it without tearing up.


Koro Sensei

16. Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto)

We are all well aware that Naruto has one of the most tragic backstories as he grew up to be an orphan, and the people in his village discriminated against him and looked down on him, knowing that he was sealed with the nine-tail fox which had destroyed the whole village and started seeing Naruto as the monster.


Naruto Uzumaki

He lived alone, and his only life purpose was to become the Hokage of the village which he strived for and finally achieved after going through a lot of hardships and gaining a lot of respect and love from his fellow villagers who once used to hate him.

Todoroki went through a lot of severe domestic violence since his childhood. He was made to train day and night even when his body physically couldn’t train anymore. His father never showed any kind of love towards him as a child, and because of this, he deeply resents his father as he grows up. 


Shouto Todoroki

18. Gaara (Naruto)

Gaara’s childhood was spent in isolation as he was the Jinchuuriki of the one-tailed beast, and the village was terrified of him as they called him a monster. His father thought that Gaara was unable to control his powers as a Jinchuuriki and ordered his uncle to execute him. His uncle showed a lot of love towards Gaara, and this was when Gaara thought he was also capable of feeling loved and appreciated. 


Gaara (Naruto)

19. Kurapika (HunterxHunter)

Kurapika belonged to the Kurta Clan. Kurapika lived for one reason only, and that was to avenge his clan, who were murdered by the Phantom Troupe. He was the only sole survivor of the clan. The Kurta Clan was known for their scarlet eyes, and the Phantom Troupe had pierced out their eyes from them, and Kurapika sought revenge for his clan. 


Kurapika (HunterxHunter)

20. Eri (My Hero Academia)

Having a quirk was considered to be very lucky in the MHA world, but for Eri, it was the complete opposite. She had a pretty abusive childhood, and her quirk awakened when she was really young, which led to the accidental death of her father. That was the reason why her mother left her with her grandfather, and many tried to misuse her quirk as it had a very powerful ability. 


Eri (My Hero Academia)

Meliodas‘s curse was immortality. He was in love with Elizabeth, and they were bound to fall in love each time and die once she remembered the memories from her past life. The only way was for Meliodas to watch the love of his life die over and over again, which was almost like an abuse that lasted for years and years. 


Meliodas (Seven Deadly Sins)

22. Crona (Soul Eater)

Crona is the main antagonist of the series Soul Eater. Crona was always nervous about making any mistake as he was always punished by his mother no matter what and had to go through a lot of abuse. In the manga, Crona has been shown to suffer way more than what has been shown in the anime, as they had to censor it. 


Crona (Soul Eater)

23. Hatori Chise (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)

Chise’s parents were blessed with The Sight, which was responsible for captivating a lot of good and bad spirits. Her father tried to keep this away from her until one fine day. He ran away with her brother leaving her mother and Chise alone.


Hatori Chise

Chise’s mother, devastated and not knowing what to do, tried strangling Chise to death, but when the realization hit her, she felt immensely guilty and instead jumped off the balcony, leaving Chise all by herself. 

24. Trafalgar Law (One Piece)

Law’s backstory is pretty tragic in One Piece. He lived in “White City,” which got infected with Amber Lead poisoning. This led to the wipeout of the whole city, and Law witnessed his own parents die in front of him. His little sister couldn’t survive as well, and he was devastated as he left the place and went to Spider Miles. 


Trafalgar Law

25. Tomura Shigaraki (My Hero Academia)

All For One tells us that Tomura means to grieve, which comes with sadness and separation. This gives us an understanding of his quirk of Decay. He accidentally awakened his quirk at a very wrong time, which made his whole family decay in seconds.


Tomura Shigaraki

He couldn’t comprehend his quirk and thought that his quirk was “broken,” but All For One took this as an amazing opportunity to take Tomura under him as his heir.  

26. Rei Kiriyama (March Comes In Like A Lion)

Rei is the main protagonist of the series. Rei’s character is shown in a very realistic manner as a human being who suffers from depression. The relatability traces it back to his traumatic childhood, where he was constantly bullied and made fun of by the people around him, which made it very difficult for him to talk to people, and he remained alone most of the time.


Rei Kiriyama

His whole family died in an extremely tragic accident, which added to his tragic backstory.

Zouken was responsible for abusing Sakura not only physically but also mentally throughout her life but not only that Shinji was also a part of the whole trauma that she faced. She was mistreated even in her adopted home, where she thought her life would be better than before but was proved wrong. All these events led to her personality change and her turning into what she becomes later in the series. 


Sakura Matou

28. Momiji Sohma (Fruits Basket)

Momiji Sohma from Fruits Basket shows that despite his fun-loving and cheerful attitude, he has a pretty tragic family life. This is because when Sohma was born, his own mother disowned him immediately and regretted having him as her child. It came to a point where his mother begged Hatori to release all his memories from her mind because she believed him to be the biggest regret of her life. 


Momiji Sohma

Iguro Obanai, a Hashira from Demon Slayer, had a really rough childhood. He was captured and kept inside a wooden cage for most of his childhood, because of which he would fall sick very often.


Iguro Obanai

The serpent demon had taken an interest in Obani, and he lived in fear every day, thinking about how his family would respond to his plans of escape and what he would have to go through if they understood the truth. 

Zero Two always lived alone from when she was a child and was seen as a “monster.” She would behave like an animal most of the time as she would eat messily with her hands and growl at people and didn’t act human.


Zero Two

The way she was mistreated by people around her as a child made her lose all trust in them and her personality molded into what she was because of her tragic backstory. 

31. Ken Kaneki (Tokyo Ghoul)

Ken Kaneki is one of the most broken characters since his early years of childhood. Ken had to go through a lot of emotional and physical trauma from his mother. He had lost his father, which is the reason why his mother would work long hours and would have immense tension/stress, which she would take out on Ken through various forms of abuse.


Ken Kaneki

Soon later, she passed away as well, leaving Ken alone. Despite the fact that all of this, Ken was a very sweet guy to everyone until things took a major turn later on in his life, which turned his life upside down. 

32. Haruka Kotoura (Kotoura-san)

Kotoura-san is a comedy series, but when we understand Haruka, we learn that her ability to be able to read minds and not being able to control it gets her in trouble. She unknowingly reveals to her parents cheating on each other. Her mother abandons her leaving her all alone. 


Haruka Kotoura

33. Ash Lynx (Banana Fish)

Ash from Banana Fish has a pretty traumatic backstory. He was adopted by a mafia boss Dino Golzine and was forced into child prostitution for several years. While Ash was just a teenager, he went to prison and was assaulted by the inmates, and was physically exploited. He grew up in such a toxic environment that, at one point, he got used to living like this and thought this was normal growing up. 


Ash Lynx (Banana Fish)

34. Shouko Nishimiya (A Silent Voice)

Nishimiya is a deuteragonist in the anime movie “A Silent Voice,” where she is a deaf girl who is unable to properly communicate with her classmates around her because none of them try to understand things from her perspective and bully her because of her disability. She was not only bullied but also physically abused by one of her classmates, Ishida, who later grows up and apologizes to her and feels extremely guilty for what he did. 


Shouko Nishimiya

35. Reiner Braun (Attack On Titan)

Reiner was initially an antagonist of the series Attack On Titan, but later we find out about his tragic past life where we get to know that he was not allowed to even see his father because he was a Marleyan while Reiner had Eldian blood from his mother. 


Reiner Braun

He went through brutal training to become a warrior to fight for Marley and went through a lot of trauma and PTSD while he realized how peaceful life actually was back in Eldia.

36. Asahi Kobe (Happy Sugar Life)

Asahi was born as a result of his mother getting raped, and his father abandoned him for most of his life. He was absent most of the time but only returned when he heard his grandparents had passed away in a tragic accident and decided to run away again, taking all their property in his hands.

Happy Suagar Life - Asahi Kobe

Asahi Kobe

His father again, after a few years, returned back and started abusing Asahi and his mother because he was unable to find a job and didn’t have any money. 

37. Homura Akemi (Puella Magi Madoka Magica)

Homura comes off as a very cold and antisocial character, but that all traces back to her being bedridden for most of the time as she had a heart disease. We aren’t informed much about her parents in the series. She is a really weak girl due to her heart disease. Her personality developed because she repeated the timeline over and over again.

Homura Akemi

Homura Akemi

38. Sasuke Uchiha (Naruto)

Sasuke is the deuteragonist of the Naruto series, where he had to witness a lot of trauma since his childhood. His whole clan was executed when he returned home on one fine day, and the one who executed them was his beloved brother Itachi Uchiha.

Uchiha Sasuke

Sasuke Uchiha

He lived for only one reason only, and that was to kill his brother Itachi. When he later finds out the truth behind Itachi executing the clan and finally awakens his Mangekyou Sharingan. 

Asuka was an artificially created child. Her childhood was extremely traumatic that left her scarred for life. Her mother went through such a psychological state that she started thinking that a mere doll was her daughter and forgot that she had a real daughter.

Asuka Langley Soryu

Asuka Langley Sohryu

This went on for about a while when her mother decided to hang her and the doll, which was seen by Asuka and left her pretty shaken for the entirety. 

40. Vash The Stampede (Trigun)

This positive and cheerful character made it into the list of anime characters with tragic backstories is pretty shocking. Vash was always a very positive, driven character, unlike his twin brother Knives. Vash, on the one hand, always was for good and wanted to use his powers to save everyone, but on the other hand, Knives wanted to destroy humanity.

Vash The Stampede

Vash The Stampede

Knives manage to kill their foster mother and kill thousands and thousands of people, but the blame is to be taken by Vash. 

41. Tanjiro Kamado (Demon Slayer)

Tanjiro has one of the purest souls when it comes to anime characters. Knowing that he has had a tragic backstory breaks everyone’s heart. One fine day when he returns to his town, he finds out that his whole family has been killed by a demon, and he is shocked at the gruesome sight, not knowing what to do as he searches his whole house to see if anyone is alive.

Tanjiro Kamado

Tanjiro Kamado

The only member he finds to be alive from his family is his little sister Nezuko who has turned into a demon. 

42. Vinsmoke Sanji (One Piece)

Sanji from One Piece had a pretty sad backstory. His mother was sick, and he developed this habit of cooking for her, which she would eat. Other people would make fun of him for not possessing any superhuman abilities, and his father saw this as a sign of utter weakness and no strength. After the death of his mother, his father didn’t regard Sanji as his son anymore by locking him in an iron mask. 



43. Kousei Arima (Your Lie In April)

Your Lie In April Is one of the saddest anime in the history of anime. Kousei has lost the ability to be able to hear the sound of piano playing anymore ever since he stopped playing piano which was a result of his traumatic backstory.

Kousei Arima

Kousei Arima

His mother was a former pianist who couldn’t play the piano after a certain amount of time because of her sickness. She forced her ambitions on him and forced him to play the piano for long tiring hours, even without his will to play. 

Shinra loses his family and also his house in a fire which is pretty tragic in itself, but the reality hits when people start accusing Shinra of being the reason for the fire because of his ignition powers. 

Shinra Kusakabe

Shinra Kusakabe

It was understandable why people suspected him of being the reason for the fire, but he knew that deep down, he would never do such a thing that would cause his family any harm.

45. Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach)

Ichigo had an ability that made him able to see things that other people couldn’t. This was something even he was shocked he could possess, and he questioned himself daily on the ability he had, but only his mother was the only one who would understand him no matter what. But later, she passed away while she was trying to protect him, but this was a loss that scarred him for his life. 

Ichigo Kurosaki

Ichigo Kurosaki

46. Asta (Black Clover)

Asta didn’t grow up with parents and was an orphan, which was sad enough already, but he had a dying obsession with becoming the Wizard King without having any magical capabilities. Asta belongs to the Forsaken Realm, which made him face a lot of inequality and injustice in the world. 


Asta (Black Clover)

47. Yuji Itadori (Jujutsu Kaisen)

Yuji had only one relative with him, and that was his grandfather. He passes away at the start of the series, leaving Yuji all alone and with no family. His grandfather left him with just one message before his death, and that was to do good for the world using his strengths. 

Yuji Itadori

Yuji Itadori

Yuji decides to take this quite seriously as he then, later on in the series, swallows one of Sukuna’s fingers, making him fuse with the strongest cursed spirit.

48. Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail)

Erza did have a pretty rough and scarred childhood to begin with. She was forced to remain inside her mother until she could use magic on her daughter. She was left immediately when this didn’t work out. She then worked as a slave until she could build the Tower Of Heaven. 

Erza Scarlet

Erza Scarlet

She and her friends tried to escape several times, but their plan always failed, and Erza was the only one who would go through all the abuse.

49. Kotomi Ichinose (Clannad)

Kotomi comes off as a very introverted and shy character when first introduced. She and Tomoya were childhood friends but then later reconnected after growing up but witnessed a bus accident that scars Kotomi extremely.

Kotomi Ichinose

Kotomi Ichinose

 This is because she remembers the plane crash that killed both her parents and gets severe PTSD, and gets scared to talk to anyone again. Tomoya doesn’t leave her side, but the trauma that had affected Kotomi took him very long to bring her out of it. 

50. Eren Yeager (Attack On Titan)

When Eren was just a kid, he witnessed his own mother being eaten alive by a titan that completely demolished his hometown. His only ambition as a kid was to exterminate all the titans so no one would ever have to suffer ever again, but he became what he hated the most, himself, a titan. 

Eren Yeager

Eren Yeager

From thereon, the plot becomes really complex, putting Eren into circumstances that make us understand how tragic of a life a character can have.

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