Anime series are filled with characters who are fun, noble, powerful, cute, lovable, and all the other descriptors that make anime characters so likable. But then there are those who are terrifying.
Sometimes an anime character is scary in a badass way. Others have horrifying backstories, facial expressions, or abilities that we just want to stay clear of. And every so often, there's an anime character who's creepy or unsettling or scary for seemingly no reason.
Here are some iconic scary anime characters and why they're so frightening. You'll be surprised to find both heroes and villains on this list!
18. Empty Head Girl (Parasyte: The Maxim)
Who wouldn't be afraid if they saw a girl run by who didn't have any eyes and was missing half of her head?
This character in Parasyte: The Maxim is actually Reiko Tamura after splitting her parasyte body. She lost some sense of thinking and even cracked a joke about being an empty head.
Luckily, it seems that the body loses its desire to eat humans when the head gets mangled in this way.
17. Baby Hyakkimaru (Dororo)
This poor little baby is the product of his father's last resort to keep his power and wealth, and save his land from famine. He became a sacrifice for the devils that each took a body part—but was still born and had to live as if cursed from the moment of birth.
Baby Hyakkimaru can be seen without eyes, skin, or nose. The rest of his parts are covered with cloth. If he was never adopted, he'd be like a walking corpse—if he managed to survive at all.
16. Seido Takizawa (Tokyo Ghoul)
Yes, this innocent-looking agent from the first season of Tokyo Ghoul is a terrifying monster after he became a Ghoul. In fact, he became part of the Aogiri Tree's experiment: hybrid one-eyed Ghouls.
The Ghouls from this anime series are all badass, but this agent-turned-ghoul is a mad one—so crazy and terrifying that he managed to defeat Tatara, one of the leader-like characters in their ranks.
15. Kaoru Hanayama (Baki)
Kaoru Hanayama is one of the monster-like characters in the Baki anime series. At first glance, he's a gentle giant. But when it comes to fighting? He's as brutal as any other character in the series.
His fight with Spec is one that truly demonstrates how monstrous he is. Despite being shot in the knee and pumped full of exploding bullets, he stands up and shows Spec how large their difference is.
Yet while he gave his opponent the gift of defeat, Kaoru Hanayama was left with half his face blown off.
14. Reaper Death Seal (Naruto)
One of the most effective sealing techniques in the Naruto series is the Reaper Death Seal. It calls upon the power of a shinigami ("death god") to absorb the soul of a target into one's own body, then sacrifice one's own life to seal both souls forever.
The shinigami that's summoned is terrifying—once it's summoned, there's no going back. It won't leave without the sealer's soul.
13. Majito (Jujutsu Kaisen)
We can call Majito the embodiment of evil. Despite his innocent-looking face, it only masks the evil desires that brew beneath that facade—desires that show in how he talks with others.
His gentle way of speaking and flowery words even made Junpei believe everything he said and turned him into his pawn.
12. Chairman Isaac Netero (Hunter X Hunter)
He's not a bad guy in Hunter X Hunter. He's not scary in the usual sense, despite holding the highest rank in the Hunter Association.
Why did we include him on this list? His fight against the Chimera Ant King. Even after losing an arm, a leg, and most of his strength, Isaac Netero activates a weapon with a ghostly smile before he dies: a bomb that triggers when his heart stops.
That kind of ingenuity in the world of Hunter X Hunter makes him one of the most badass characters, but also one of the scariest. After all, that bomb's explosion wiped out a huge radius.
11. Afuro (Afro Samurai)
Afuro (or Afro) is the protagonist of Afro Samurai, and the extent of his strength, hatred, and thirst for revenge make him one of the most terrifying anime characters.
Though there are other characters in the same series who have their own scary images, we can see and feel in Afro the terror of one who lives for revenge and seethes with rage.
10. Nanika (Hunter X Hunter)
In Hunter X Hunter, Nanika has the ability to grant a wish when someone successfully fulfills three of his demands. Those demands can be as simple as giving a piggyback ride, or as intense as giving up one of your internal organs.
As if that weren't scary enough, Nanika's pale-white face and pitch-black eyes make him look like a creepy doll. If you came across Nanika, would you dare to ask for any wishes? Oh yeah: if his demands aren't met, a terrible fate awaits you.
9. Enmu (Demon Slayer)
Enmu is truly one of the worst demons in Demon Slayer, as he has the power to manipulate and control people's dreams. Aside from this ability, he has a terrifying talking hand that can force you to fall asleep, allowing him to kill you from the inside.
8. Smiling Titan (Attack on Titan)
The Smiling Titan is the first Titan with an identity that we encounter in Attack on Titan, and Eren has a special bond with it—considering that the Smiling Titan is the one who ate his mom.
While every Titan in this anime series is creepy, horrific, and nightmarish in their own way, the Smiling Titan is one of the worst. The massive size, the dead eyes, and the huge vicious grin are enough to haunt your dreams for the rest of your life.
7. Bunny Beast (Blood C)
Would you ever be afraid of a bunny? While real-life bunnies are cute and adorable creatures, the Bunny Beasts in Blood C are not.
Whenever the Bunny Beasts attack, you can expect the scene to be macabre. Like when they gather people up in sack-like arms and grind them into a pulp. Or like when they skewer people with their fingers into a human barbecue.
6. Juuzou Suzuya (Tokyo Ghoul)
Juuzou is one of the best agents of CCG even though he fights without a Quinque. The scene where he fights his former classmates—who are now hybrid one-eyed Ghouls—shows his lack of sympathy and the joy he gets out of seeing Ghouls run for their lives.
He's truly a terrifying killer with his sinister smile and deadly movements and tactics. Even though he loses much of his bloodlust and settles into a calmer personality in the later arcs, he's still a badass agent up to the end of the series.
5. Tenko Shimura (My Hero Academia)
Tenko Shimura (alias Tomura Shigaraki) is the archvillain of the My Hero Academia series. With his Quirk "Decay," he can make anyone and anything rot and vanish into ashes.
What earns his spot on this list is his desire to destroy everything that was built up by All for One. He's a villain who's the product of his tragic past, and his terrifying nature is complete with his frightening appearance—with and without the hands.
4. No Face (Spirited Away)
A lot of people think No-Face of Spirited Away is cute. And even though he's a somewhat benign spirit, he's pretty creepy if you actually think about his temperament.
No-Face is timid on the outside, but he's so obsessed with Chihiro that he'll go to any length just to get her attention. His intentions are good—he just wants to be friends—but he takes it in a wrong direction that's actually kind of horrifying. We all know someone like this.
3. Illumi Zoldyck (Hunter X Hunter)
An assassin by occupation and born to a family of killers, Illumi is one of the most terrifying characters in Hunter X Hunter. Behind his pretty face is an evil with no hesitation to killing others.
His true evil side was shown in the scene where he's teased by Hisoka for killing Killua. Upon hearing it, Illumi's face turns dark and his aura oozes out with bloodlust. Terrifying, indeed.
2. Hisoka Morow (Hunter X Hunter)
Speaking of bloodlust, Hisoka Morow of Hunter X Hunter is seen with a powerful bloodlust during the Hunter Exam, to the point that Gon was stopped and terrified. Luckily, Hisoka managed to calm himself down.
He's one of the most terrifying characters in that series along with the aforementioned Illumi from the same series.
1. Peter Ratri (The Promised Neverland)
Most horrifying anime characters aren't out-and-out monsters or demons but rather humans with inhuman intent—like Peter Ratri of The Promised Neverland. As the head of the family and its illicit business, he grooms and sells children for demon consumption.
He never even thinks about the morality of it or about stopping his family's evil business because he's drunk with greed and power. And when you think about it, that makes him the scariest anime character.