A well-written and properly executed character development can turn a regular somebody into a hero who saves the day. But some of the greatest heroes also walk a fine line, only a few bad decisions away from becoming a villain who'd pose a threat to peace and justice.
Some anime series have hinted at darker backstories for certain heroic characters, and some anime characters have personalities or dispositions that are better suited for the bad guys. Then there are those who could be tempted to the dark side if left unchecked.
Here are some well-known anime hero characters who would make great villains, ranging from those who could wreak great havoc to those who'd be dangerous as enemies of justice.
9. Hitoshi Shinso (My Hero Academia)
Hitoshi Shinso is a student at U.A. High School, along with Izuku Midoriya and the rest of the gang. He's outwardly cold yet calm and is someone who barely starts a conversation—probably because of his Quirk.
His Quirk (called Brainwash) gives him the ability to control anyone who answers his questions or engages in conversation with him. Midoriya fell victim to this Quirk and was only saved by One For All.
Shinso's ability could easily be a villainous one, given that he can basically control anyone—like commanding someone to start a riot on the streets, spy or steal for him, or even kill on his behalf.
8. Nezuko Kamado (Demon Slayer)
Like all other demons who feast on human flesh, this girl-turned-demon is indeed a threat to humanity. Her Blood Demon Art: Exploding Blood is a destructive ability that can set anything on fire.
If she were left alone in her previous state—in which she'd go on berserk rampages—she could have been one of the demons terrorizing people, and her brother wouldn't have the will to kill her. Luckily, she's on the good side and helps the Demon Slayers.
During the Entertainment District Arc, she almost turned into a flesh-eating demon due to the blood and deaths caused by Daki, but Tanjiro fortunately managed to calm her down.
7. Katsuki Bakugo (My Hero Academia)
The League of Villains wanted to recruit Katsuki Bakugo, so much so that they orchestrated a full-scale attack just to kidnap him and bring him back to their hideout. If Katsuki didn't have any sense of justice in him, he'd be a perfect fit for the lawless group.
He's short-tempered. He always charges forward without thinking things through. He always wants to win. Aren't those characteristics of a typical street villain? He has the power and attitude to give heroes a hard time, so it's a good thing he's on the good side!
6. Kaneki Ken (Tokyo Ghoul)
Ken was a simple young man, up until he went on a date with Rize and got involved in a tragic accident. He then woke up much different from the way he was before—as a One-Eyed Ghoul.
Things didn't go as usual for him starting with that night, and it got worse with his encounter with Yakumo Oomori (aka Jason), who tortured him to the point of insanity and made him embrace his ghoul side.
Ken has the power to wipe out a community, and he could eat as many civilians and Doves as he can if he wanted to. But he took to his human side and used his power to save what were supposed to be his meals.
5. Zaraki Kenpachi (Bleach)
The Captain of the 11th Division, Zaraki Kenpachi, is pretty much the perfect villain figure. He has the strength and brutality, along with his never-bending will to fight and win.
We never saw him use his Zanpakuto's ultimate form because his raw power and rage are enough to make his fight scenes quick and satisfying. He truly is a terrifying monster, especially given that he can accept his enemies' slashes and take them with a smile.
4. Asta (Black Clover)
Sometimes, a villain is born because they're innately different from everyone else. Asta of Black Clover perfectly fits that circumstance, as he's a magicless individual in a world where magic is essential.
The Anti-Magic that runs through Asta from his sword allows him to block, negate, and nullify any magic and its effects. If he was a villain? That'd make him the worst enemy of every mage in the world.
3. Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto)
Many villains have a backstory that rises from rejection, abandonment, and loneliness. That begets bitterness, which turns to anger, which manifests as hatred that grows stronger with every year.
Naruto was hated by everyone since birth because the Nine-Tailed Fox that killed his parents and destroyed the Hidden Leaf Village was sealed inside of him. Everyone viewed him as the demonic beast.
If he didn't have friends like Shikamaru and Choji, or teammates like Sasuke and Sakura, or mentor figures like Ebisu and Kakashi, he certainly would've succumbed to villainy. This was shown through Gaara's initial arc, who was basically Naruto without friends or comrades.
2. Merlin (Seven Deadly Sins)
In Seven Deadly Sins, Merlin is a fair lady and a member of Meliodas' Seven Deadly Sins. She has performed multiple accounts of heroic deeds along with the squad.
But she's extremely private and she has a secret history—one that makes her feared by even high-class demons and the Ten Commandments. They say Merlin was favored and gifted by both the Supreme Deity of the Goddess Clan and the Demon King of the Demon Clan.
When she revealed her true identity and noted that her name was "not a word humans can hear," it was a disturbing moment. Her gifts from the Gods allow her to stand against Meliodas (demon) and Elizabeth (goddess), which would make her a fearsome villain.
1. Osamu Dazai (Bungo Stray Dogs)
This suicidal maniac is the worst character any law enforcement officer would want to face, and he's the best villain any story could have. Indeed, if Osamu Dazai was a villain, he wouldn't hesitate to bring down an entire police force or opposing agency with his death.
Aside from being smart, clever, and resourceful, he also has the ability No Longer Human which can negate and nullify any ability thrown at him, which renders other abilities useless.
Not only that, he was once a top executive of an underground criminal syndicate before he became an ally of justice!