17 Anime Characters with Tragic Backstories

Not every anime character lives a good life filled with happiness and love. Some of them have lived through events that can only be described as tragic and heartbreaking. Some characters find happiness at the end of a series, while some characters don’t. Prepare the tissues before heading in because these 17 anime characters will make you cry with their sad and tragic past.

1. Itachi Uchiha (Naruto Shippuden)

Itachi Uchiha (Naruto Shippuden)

Itachi is known as a rogue ninja of Hidden Leaf and the perpetrator behind the Uchiha Massacre. The event where he killed his own clansman and joined the worst criminal group in the series, Akatsuki. But the truth is a bit different than what is known.

Itachi grew up watching the horror of war as a child. He never wanted anyone else to experience the same thing he did. So when the Uchiha clan, unsatisfied with their treatment, planned a coup, he had to make a choice. Protect the village or his family. 

Fearing that a war may start if the Uchihas are not stopped, Itachi took it upon himself to stop his brethren by executing them. He bore the cross as a clan killer and heinous criminal in the process while accepting Sasuke’s hatred.

Relevant: +10 Most Saddest Naruto Deaths That Broke Fan’s Hearts

2. Hyakkimaru (Dororo)

Hyakkimaru (Dororo)

Hyakkimaru was destined to suffer even before he was born. His father Daigo sacrificed his newly born child’s body parts, including his eyes, limbs, skin, and voice, to the demons for his domain’s prosperity. Then abandoned his own child to die. 

Fortunately, Hyakkimaru is found by a kind doctor named Jukai, who makes prosthetic limbs so he can live. But imagine living without vision, sound, or taste since an infant. All this was forced upon his birth by his own parent. 

How tragic is that? Hyakkimaru’s only choice is to fight and get his body back from the demons. Even then, his family will be the ones to stand in his way.

3. Ray (The Promised Neverland) 

Ray (The Promised Neverland) 

The Promised Neverland is full of characters with tragic backstories, but arguably Ray suffered the most misery.

It would’ve been better if Ray were less smart and oblivious to what was going on like the other kids. But he knew that the dorm mother Isabella was feeding the orphanage children to the demons. And he had to endure knowing they were sacrificed. There was nothing he could do other than plan his own demise and take the Gracefield House with him. 

Worst of all, due to hyperthymesia, Ray knew from the very beginning that Isabella was his biological parent. That’s definitely a hard pill to swallow, especially for a young boy his age.

4. Guts (Berserk)

Guts (Berserk)

Guts’ backstory is tragic as well as emotional. He was found as an infant under his mother’s corpse by a mercenary group. You would believe that he would be raised with love. But the world of Berserk is not easy. Instead, Guts was raised as a soldier, and he is defiled by his guardian many times.

As a wandering swordsman, Guts meets a mercenary group called Band of the Hawk. He ends up joining them after getting defeated in a battle. But Guts soon becomes comfortable with the group until the most tragic event of his life. His friend, Griffith sacrifices his friends to demons and eventually defiles his lover Casca in front of him.

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5. Nico Robin (One Piece)

Nico Robin (One Piece)

As a child, Robin was abused by her aunt. But that was only the tip of the iceberg of tragedies that were coming her way.

She loses her mother, Olivia, her friend Saul, and everyone from her homeland due to a Buster Call. It was because the World Government feared their knowledge, especially their ability to read Polygliphs. So, they destroyed Ohara. Robin was always on the run since she was at the tender age of nine. 

She was betrayed over and over again by people he trusted. By the time she was an adult, Robin no longer trusted others. That changed after the fateful meeting with the straw hats.

6. Lucy (Elfen Lied)

Lucy (Elfen Lied)

The mental trauma Lucy went through is beyond tragic. Lucy grew up in an orphanage, where she constantly got bullied by other children. Her only solace was a puppy she cared for in secret. But after the bullies find the puppy, they beat it to death right in front of her. 

The event caused Lucy to lose all empathy for humans as she slaughtered the assailants in cold blood. Even worse, a research institute captures her and runs all sorts of experiments for years. You can’t blame her for the hatred she has for humans and for turning into a killing machine.

7. Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler)

Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler)

Ciel Phantomhive is a young teenager with an adultlike demeanor. He was once an innocent child but was forced to become a grown-up due to his tragic background.

When Ciel was ten years old, he lost his parents to an unidentified assailant. If that wasn’t enough, a demon-worshipping cult kidnaps him and his brother, where they get tortured and defiled for over a month. Even worse, Ciel watched as his brother is stabbed and sacrificed to summon a demon.

So, it wasn’t surprising when he made a Faustian contract with the devil to exact revenge on those who are responsible for the loss of his family.

8. Yuuji Kazami (The Fruit of Grisaia)

Yuuji Kazami (The Fruit of Grisaia)

You wouldn’t expect Yuuji to have a sad backstory when he first got introduced. Most of the time, we see him as a cool-headed and reserved character. But he had quite the life before becoming a student at Mihama Private Academy. 

As a child, Yuuji was neglected by his parents because of his lack of talent, unlike his older sister Kazuki. After Kazuki’s supposed death, his father becomes a violent alcoholic. To escape from his outburst Yuuji and his mother move to a different. 

But they are soon found by Ryouji, who tries to violate Satoko. To protect his mother, Yuuji smashes a wine bottle on his father’s head, killing him.

It doesn’t stop there. His mother tired of everything, kills herself, leaving Yuuji to fend for himself. Soon after, he gets recruited by an arms dealer, who trains him to become an assassin. Worse of it, Yuuji had to kill the only friend he made as the final test to become a hitman.

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9. Kyo Sohma (Fruits Basket)

Kyo Sohma (Fruits Basket)

It’s usually a good thing when an anime character turns into an animal. But it’s different for Kyo Sohma. He is a high school boy who suffered a lot because his zodiac beast is the cat, the most hated zodiac animal in the series.

Kyo was always isolated and despised within the Sohmas because of his lineage. His mother is the only one who loved him. But she was always on edge and constantly checked if the beads in his wrists were okay.

Unable to take the pressure and love her son’s hideous form, she took her own life. To top it all off, everyone, including his father blamed the five-year-old Kyo for her death.  

10. Kakashi Hatake (Naruto Shippuden)

Kakashi Hatake (Naruto Shippuden)

Kakashi is one of the most beloved anime characters with a tragic backstory that will bring anyone to tears.

Hailed as a child genius, Kakashi had to fend for himself at a tender age. It all starts when his father Sakuma commits suicide because of the ostracization from the villagers. Turns out, he abandoned an important mission to protect his teammates, going against the village’s rules.

The second tragedy struck when he lost his friend and rival Obito, who left Kakashi with his Sharingan. Soon after, he loses his second comrade Rin who was forced to become a Jinchuriki. Kakashi lost everyone he loved growing up, leaving him with unrecoverable scars. But that didn’t stop him from becoming a Hokage. 

11. Lelouch vi Britannia (Code Geass)

Lelouch vi Britannia (Code Geass)

Lelouch is one of the most intelligent anime characters out there. Smart enough to conquer the world fueled by his tragic past. 

Born as the Eleventh Prince of the great Holy Britannian Empire, you would expect Lelouch to lead an easy life. But he is proof that nobility doesn’t always live a happy and luxurious life. His mother was assassinated, which left his sister Nunnally a cripple. 

The all-powerful father he thought he could rely on abandoned the siblings and banished them to Japan. Thus, turning them from royalties to commoners overnight. After his encounter with C.C. and receiving the power of Geass, Lelouch vows to change the world.

12. Seras Victoria (Hellsing)

Seras Victoria (Hellsing)

As a former human turned vampire, Seras is a brave character with positive and carefree nature. For the most part of the series, her past was shrouded in mystery until it was revealed that she had her share of hardships. 

Seras’s police father got in too deep while chasing a criminal group undercover. The wrongdoer finds out his identity and tracks down his home. Then, they proceed to kill Seras’s parents. She watched everything as her mother hid her in the closet. Worst of all, those evil guys violated her mother’s corpse afterward. To this day, Seras still gets nightmares about this event.

13. Edward and Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Edward and Alphonse Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Edward and Alphonse grew up without the love of their father who was always absent. But they didn’t feel lonely thanks to the presence of their mother Trisha. But a tragedy struck soon, leaving the two brothers with unimaginable pain. 

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Trisha passed away soon after being afflicted with an illness. Left alone and distraught, the two siblings tried to bring their deceased mother back to life using alchemy’s forbidden act, human transmutation. The result was a failure with terrible costs. Edward lost an arm and leg, while Alphonse was left with only his soul.

14. Eri (My Hero Academia)

Eri (My Hero Academia)

The amount of time Eri has lived is abysmal, but Eri lived a tragic life even in this short duration. Her quirk Rewind is a powerful quirk that can reverse a person or object’s time. 

She accidentally uses this ability to make her father disappear when she was just a toddler. As a result, her mother disowned Eri. After that, she was taken by her grandfather, who also goes into a coma, courtesy of Overhaul.

The rest is history. Overhaul used Eri for human experimentation and creates a drug with her blood to make quirks disappear. Essentially, killing her and resurrecting her over and over again. The event traumatized her so much that she forgot how to smile and blamed herself for everything. 

15. Killua Zoldyck (Hunter x Hunter)

Killua Zoldyck (Hunter x Hunter)

As a child of the renowned Zoldyck family, Killua was made to be a killing machine from birth. He was put through various life-threatening situations and tortures when he was a mere three years old toddler. At the age of six, his family ordered him to reach the 200th floor of the Heavens Arena. He was not allowed to come back home until achieving that objective.

The Zoldyck family were cold-blooded assassins to their core. They had compassion for each other. Killua never received any form of love from his parents or siblings. Tired of everything, at the age of eleven, Killua left his home while attacking and injuring his family members in the process. 

16. Koro-Sensei (Assassination Classroom)

Koro-Sensei (Assassination Classroom)

We mostly know Koro-sensei as a goofy and funny character. But when his mysterious past came to light, it left most anime fans in tears.

As a human, Koro-sense grew up in the slams, all alone, with nobody to trust. His attitude of “kill or be killed” made him the strongest hitman. He took a disciple only to be betrayed and locked up for human experimentation. 

During his confinement, Koro-sensei meets Aguri, who he falls in love with. But their romance was short-lived as she died in his arms soon.

17. Raphtalia (The Rising of the Shield Hero)

Raphtalia (The Rising of the Shield Hero)

Raphtalia first appears as a slave locked in a cage. It was sometime later when her painful past before meeting Naofumi is revealed.

Her village becomes the first victim of a wave where her parents die protecting her from a Cerberus. Soon after she is orphaned, knights from Melromarc attack the village and kill the adults, while selling the underaged to slavery. 

If that wasn’t enough, her friend gets tortured to death by an abusive nobleman. It took a significant amount of time before Raphtalia could shake off her traumatic experiences. 

Do you have a tragic character we missed? Let us know in the comments below.