Demon characters in anime are not like the typical demons you might find in movies and TV shows in the West.
Depending on the anime itself, demons can range from cute to awesome, rude to flirtatious, lovable to unlovable. And yet, they do share some commonalities with Western demons—and in certain anime series, those terrifying characteristics do show up.
The demonic nature of a character often paves the way for that character's development, whether it's a demon lord who becomes the hero who saves the day, or an ally who might betray the main character at any moment. These plot twists are everywhere in demon anime series.
Here are our picks for the best demon characters in anime—heroes, villains, and in between—and what makes each one stand out.
17. Kurama (Naruto)
Kurama should have been higher on this list, but he isn't a true demon. It was only in the early parts of Naruto that he was referred to as a demon: the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox.
Being one of the feared Tailed Beasts, Kurama was defeated by Minato and sealed into the newborn body of Naruto. For a while, Kurama leaked some of his chakra to Naruto, granting him tremendous power, stamina, and regenerative abilities. But over time, he became uncontrollable.
At the climax of Naruto Shippuden, Kurama became an ally of the Allied Shinobi Forces and worked hand-in-hand with Naruto to take down Uchiha Madara and save the world.
16. Baby Beel (Beelzebub)
Beel is the cute green-haired baby who accompanies Oga everywhere he goes, whether it's to class or to a gang fight. As it turns out, Beel isn't a normal baby that's amazed by teddy bears and mobiles—he prefers to witness action-packed fights.
Baby Beel (Beelzebub IV) is the son of a demon and is the one who will destroy the world. Even in his infant state, he was able to flood the city with his pee and electrocute others while crying.
15. Lord Sullivan (Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun)
Lord Sullivan is the demon who purchases Iruma from his parents and takes him to Hell as his own grandson. At first glance, Sullivan looks like a fragile old man who only acts silly and ridiculous.
But he isn't just some demon who wants a family. Luckily for Iruma, Lord Sullivan turns out to be one of the three top demons, who has great magic capacity and a high-level power rating. He's both respected and feared by his subjects at the Demon School.
Despite being a high-caliber demon who emits an ominous aura, he serves as the series' comic relief, especially with his egg-like appearance.
14. Anos Voldigoad (The Misfit of Demon King Academy)
Anos Voldigoad was the Demon King of Atrocity, who purposely let himself be reincarnated after 2,000 years later because he grew tired of all the wars and troubles of his time.
Unfortunately, even in his new world everything is messed up: there's discrimination between purebloods and half-breeds, diputes where the strong overpower the weak, etc.
With his overwhelming strength, he proves that he's the real boss while maintaining a cool charade that hides the kind of power that would be feared by anyone who knew him as the Demon King of old.
13. Gowther (Seven Deadly Sins)
The original Gowther played a crucial role in the Holy War that took place thousands of years ago. With his magic, Gowther was able to settle the world into equilibrium following the events of the war.
But there's another detail that makes him more than just an ordinary demon: he managed to stay in touch with the outside world even when he was imprisoned in the Demon World.
12. Vermeil (Vermeil in Gold)
Anime is loaded with demonic-type characters who need to feed on human flesh to survive and sustain their powers, but succubus-type demon characters are different.
And given that Vermeil is a prominent succubus-type demon in Vermeil in Gold, you should expect elements of ecchi (sexual themes) and harem (many females who pine after the same male) in this anime.
Vermeil drains the mana of her contractor, Alto, via kissing—and because of her unusual character type, she can be quite flirtatious towards her master. Despite that, she's a powerful demon who can even strike a dragon with a simple finger flick.
11. Liebe (Black Clover)
Formerly bullied for being magicless in the demon realm, Liebe managed to turn that weakness into strength via Anti Magic. With this ability, he can negate, nullify, and cancel the effects of others' magic.
Liebe first appeared as Asta's ominous source of power while he was sealed in his grimoire, through which he channeled his Anti Magic abilities into the swords wielded by Asta. Eventually, Asta and Liebe form a contract with the Devil Binding Ritual and become further entwined.
10. Inuyasha (Inuyasha)
Inuyasha is a half-dog demon who Kagome met upon arriving in the unknown realm. He's cunning and tricky at first like other demons, but eventually grows to be a caring companion to her.
Together with their team, the two of them venture out on a journey to obtain the Sacred Jewel Shard. But the path isn't as easy as it may seem, with other demons—like Sesshomaru and Naraku—wanting the Sacred Jewel Shard for their own plans.
9. Sebastian Michaelis (Black Butler)
Sebastian Michaelis is the demon who's in contract with Ciel Phantomhive, but he's also Ciel's butler. In fact, he's head butler for the entire Phantomhive House.
Yet despite being a butler, he's powerful—so much so that he possesses a confidence that oftentimes drags Ciel into life-or-death situations, with him thinking that he can easily deal with them.
And while he's outwardly obedient and nice as a servant, there's still a darker, ruder, and more sadistic side to him at times.
8. Black (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime)
In That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Demon Lords are those who have managed to reach a certain level by acquiring tremendous powers and attributes, regardless of their race (as seen when a slime, a vampire, and a spirit all become Demon Lords).
But Black is different. He's an ancient Primordial Daemon who was summoned by Rimuru for aid in battle, using the corpses of the humans he killed as the sacrifice. Though he's one of the highest and oldest beings ever, Black ends up staying by Rimuru's side as a loyal servant.
7. Rin and Yukio Okumura (Blue Exorcist)
Rin Okumura and Yukio Okumura are the twin sons of Satan, born of a human mother. Despite being the sons of the devil, they were raised as good children by the priest Shiro Fujimoto.
Rin possesses the Blue Flame—like his devil father—and is able to release and use it by unsheathing his sword. Yukio, on the other hand, was initially believed to have no devil powers and no taint of darkness within him, but was later seen as the perfect host for his father.
6. Nezuko Kamado (Demon Slayer)
Nezuko of the Demon Slayer anime series is one of the cuter demon characters in anime. She was just a normal girl who turned into a demon after her family was slaughtered, and she was spared by a demon slayer who almost killed her (who instead locked up her mouth).
Together with her brother Tanjiro—who's now a demon slayer himself—the two of them hunt down demons to save and protect people in need.
5. Meliodas (Seven Deadly Sins)
Meliodas is a top-ranking demon who switched sides and allied with the enemies of the Demon Clan. He's already quite powerful when he doesn't release his dark powers, and he becomes uber-strong when he does.
He was supposed to be the next Demon King (or, more precisely, the Vessel for the Demon King) but disobeyed his father for the sake of love, causing him to be cursed with immortality while the woman of his affection was cursed with an endless cycle of death and reincarnation.
4. Mephisto Pheles (Blue Exorcist)
Half-brother to the aforementioned Rin and Yukio twins, Mephisto Pheles is another one of Satan's children who took interest in the human realm and its populace. He was the Principal of True Cross Academy, a school that nurtures and teaches future Exorcists.
He doesn't have destructive powers or abilities, but the fact that he aided the Vatican to fight off his devil father is enough proof that he has the resolve to do what he believes is right.
3. Natsu Dragneel (Fairy Tail)
Natsu Dragneel is more than just a Dragon Slayer Mage who possesses destructive abilities. He's an Etherious—a race of demons who born from the Book of Zeref—but not just any Etherious; in fact, he's the E.N.D., the most powerful of the Etherious.
He wasn't born that way, but actually died hundreds of years ago before the current timeline, which prompted Zeref (his older brother) to revive him and turn him into a demon.
2. Maou Sadou (The Devil Is a Part-Timer!)
Maou Sadao is the Devil King who lost most of his powers when he was forced to retreat to Earth after escaping from Ente Isla. He now works (peacefully) as a part-timer in a shop.
On top of his lost powers, he also physically turned into a human. But when he uses his demonic powers, he turns into his original form: a muscular demon, complete with horns and bloodthirsty eyes.
1. Muzan Kibutsuji (Demon Slayer)
While the aforementioned Nezuko might be the best demon ally, Muzan Kibutsuji is the best demon villain. He's heartless toward both humans and his demon subjects, so much so that he ruthlessly gets rid of the weaker ones without a second thought.
He's so terrifying that his presence alone makes other demons bow down before him—which makes sense given that he's the progenitor of the demons, who's able to create new demons using his own blood.