Redheads have several stereotypes that go around, and if you spot a redhead character in fiction, there's a good chance they're going to lean into at least one of those stereotypes—even in anime.
A fiery temper and intense attitude make red-haired anime characters some of the most memorable in the medium. From lovable tomboys to budding heroes, you can't go wrong with redheads in anime.
Here are my picks for the best anime characters with red hair that have really made a mark on viewers over the decades.
10. Sora (No Game No Life)
If you got thrown into a world where everything was decided by the rules of a game, you might find yourself at a disadvantage. Sora, however, took that predicament and made himself a king.
Along with his little sister Shiro, Sora leads humanity from the brink of collapse in No Game No Life and becomes one the rulers of not one but two kingdoms—and all of that is thanks to his ability to think three steps ahead of his opponents.
This red-haired anime character isn't always very heroic, but he does always manage to be highly entertaining.
9. Karma Akabane (Assassination Classroom)
What do you get when you take a budding sociopath (who has a genius-level intellect) and spend a year teaching him to be an assassin? A future government employee, of course!
In Assassination Classroom, Karma Akabane isn't just one of the students in Koro-sensei's classroom—he's the one who shows the most academic promise.
Karma is also frighteningly good at figuring out ways to kill his teacher, much to the delight of the government agency that's training these students to accomplish that very task.
When he finally learns how to apply himself to the tasks at hand, it's almost scary how good Karma Akabane can be.
8. Tomo Aizawa (Tomo-Chan Is a Girl!)
What happens when a dedicated tomboy falls in love with her best friend, but that best friend only sees her as "one of the guys"? It's not an ideal situation to be in, but it results in all kinds of hijinks!
Tomo Aizawa of Tomo-Chan Is a Girl! embodies so many of the best aspects found in heroines of slice-of-life comedies: she's full of energy, she's endlessly positive, and she's also prone to bursts of outrage and violent when she's flustered and frustrated.
Her messy red hair and her one fang tooth give her an almost feral look, which only makes it cuter when she fawns over her beloved Junichiro.
7. Gaara (Naruto)
When Gaara first shows up in Naruto, he has a lot in common with Naruto himself: he's host to one of the Tailed Beasts, which results in him being isolated from everyone around him.
For a while, he uses that as an excuse to harden his heart and unleash his worst impulses, to the point where he kills people without hesitation. In fact, when he witnesses love, his jealousy turns into bloodlust.
Through Naruto's actions and words, Gaara eventually learns to let go of that, to find redemption, and to live peacefully in a world that fears him. It's one of the best character arcs in the series.
But even without all of that, Gaara would still earn a spot on this list of best anime characters with red hair just for his iconic fight against Rock Lee early in the show's run.
6. Yoko Kurama (Yu Yu Hakusho)
There are two sides to Yoko Kurama of Yu Yu Hakusho: there's the sweet boy who's looking to save his mother's life, and there's the ruthless demon thief who's feared across the Demon Realm.
The juxtaposition between these two is what makes Kurama so interesting as a character. He's so often the most relaxed member of the show's cast that it's easy to forget the incredible power hiding just beneath the surface.
Plus, his Rose Whip Slash is one of the coolest moves in the entire show.
5. Renji Abarai (Bleach)
In Bleach, when Ichigo first gets his Soul Reaper powers, he doesn't have much competition from other members of Soul Society. He thinks he's pretty tough... until Renji Abarai shows up and takes him to school.
While he starts off as a rival, Renji quickly becomes one of the most interesting characters in the series. Not only is his dedication to Rukia second only to Ichigo, his Bankai ability is one of the most visually interesting of all the characters.
His red hair is wild, but this anime hero is always firmly in control.
4. Shoto Todoroki (My Hero Academia)
Only half of Shoto Todoroki belongs on this list, but we're giving him the full spot because of the hugely important role he plays in one of the hugest anime properties of recent years: My Hero Academia.
Shoto Todoroki is a conflicted hero-in-training. With the power to produce both ice and fire, he's incredibly powerful—but all of that power comes with the weight of a tragic backstory.
Along with Izuku Midoriya and Katsuki Bakugo, Shoto Todoroki is one of the central characters of My Hero Academia and has some of the most compelling developments from start to finish.
3. Eijiro Kirishima (My Hero Academia)
It takes thick skin to be friends with someone like Katsuki Bakugo, but that's something Eijiro Kirishima has in spades.
With a hero name like Red Riot, you'd expect Kirishima to be a bundle of chaos, but he's usually the sensible one between him and his bestie.
While he lacks the explosive power of Bakugo, Kirishima's ability to harden his skin to the point of steel makes him an unbreakable wall that stands between villains and the world at large.
On top of his great red hair, that makes Kirishima one of the best supporting characters in the entire My Hero Academia cast.
2. Shanks (One Piece)
Shanks has red hair so iconic that he named his entire crew after it. How's that for a redheaded anime character who really leans into it?
The Red Haired Pirates and their illustrious captain were part of the reason why Luffy became a pirate in the first place, which makes Shanks one of the most important characters in One Piece.
There are few characters in One Piece with the kind of legendary presence that Shanks has. But the best part is that Shanks isn't just bravado or hot air—he's easily one of the most accomplished pirates in the series, and that makes him awesome.
1. Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail)
In a series that bounces so frequently between silliness and seriousness at the slightest provocation, Erza Scarlet is one of the few characters who always plays it straight to everyone else's chaos.
She's tough, she's focused on the mission at hand, and she's always one of the most powerful wizards in the room at any given moment.
With her Equip magic, Erza can change into all manner of different armors and outfits, making her one of the most flexible combatants in Fairy Tail. Of all the redhead anime characters, she's my top pick.