Anime always wants you to root for the hero, but sometimes the other characters steal the show and become fan favorites.
Most supporting characters—like Dragon Ball's Vegeta—are only interesting for their relationship with the protagonist, but occasionally you'll find characters in anime who are complex, fleshed-out, and interesting enough to warrant their own series.
Here are a few of my top picks for supporting characters who have what it takes to lead their own spin-off anime series.
5. L (Death Note)
When Light Yagami committed himself to his work as Kira—using the mysterious Death Note to kill criminals until the entire world was wiped clean of them—obviously it was going to draw police attention.
But Light was arrogant and didn't account for the possibility that the world's greatest detective, L, was equally intelligent as him and able to rope him into a thrilling cat-and-mouse chase.
L stands out for his quirks: he's socially awkward, he behaves in unusual ways, and he starkly contrasts with everyone else in the show in a way that makes your eyes focus on him every time he's on screen.
We only get strange glimpses of L's backstory in Death Note, and that makes sense in a series that's more about Light than it is about L.
But I'd love to see a Knives Out-style spin-off anime series about L's endeavors as a detective, solving the cases that made him world famous. Watching more of this cake-obsessed detective—with the strangest sitting posture—would be a delight.
4. Krillin (Dragon Ball)
Dragon Ball isn't known for its romantic elements, mainly because Akira Toriyama famously hated writing romance. However, Krillin and Android 18's relationship stands as one of the most functional in the show.
By the time Dragon Ball Super rolls around, Krillin has largely quit being a fighter and instead works as a cop. That makes him the only societally productive member of the main crew (outside of maybe Gohan).
Seeing Krillin in a normal setting would be a great opportunity to explore one of Dragon Ball's most overlooked aspects: how these superpowered human beings function in the normal world.
After all, despite being overshadowed by Goku, Krillin is still essentially Superman when you compare him to the average person.
Wouldn't it be interesting to watch him take his daughter to school and see how he adjusts to a real job? Certainly more interesting than seeing Goku punch an alien into dust for the 100th time.
3. Jiraiya (Naruto)
Although he's constantly referred to as "Pervy Sage" by his own student, there's a lot of heart and depth in Jiraiya of Naruto.
Over the series, we saw how his connection to Naruto started long before the young ninja's birth, but we didn't get to see much about what led him to become one of the most powerful ninjas of his time.
And that's a shame because there's so much lore and rich material to work with. Giving Jiraiya his own series set in the past—before the events of Naruto—would help expand the world with action and comedy.
How did he come to learn about Sage Mode? When did he first become aware of Akatsuki? Who else shaped him to become who he is? While too much backstory could ruin the mystery, there's tons of potential in the story of how the three Legendary Sannin earned their titles.
2. Riza Hawkeye (Fullmetal Alchemist)
The world of Fullmetal Alchemist is filled with extraordinary people doing the impossible. Alchemy is everywhere and it has become the foundation on which society and military are built.
Standing up to the power of alchemists isn't easy when you don't have any powers of your own, which is why Riza Hawkeye is so fun to watch.
Throughout the series, she's confronted by people who can tear her apart at an atomic level, and yet she never even blinks.
Riza Hawkeye would work so well as the lead of a series that explores her journey in a world that doesn't need her particular set of skills, her life as a woman in a male-dominated world, her history with Roy Mustang. All of these would be captivating narratives to watch!
1. Kisuke Urahara (Bleach)
Bleach gives us plenty of backstory about Kisuke Urahara, but it doesn't expand on the part of his character that's really interesting.
Urahara was eternally banned from Soul Society and now runs a shop in the real world alongside a colorful cast of assistants. He specializes in products that help with the fighting of Hollows, and he appears to have a customer base that exclusively consists of Shinigami.
The idea of selling items of spiritual power in a world unaccustomed to them is brilliant and worthy to be explored further.
Show us what happens when a normal person walks in the door! Give us a glimpse into what happens when the mundane world clashes with the spiritual world, with Urahara at its center.