The 10 Most Undeserved Redemption Arcs In Anime


Huge ongoing anime franchises like Naruto/Boruto and Dragon Ball to this day make use of characters like Sasuke and Vegeta who have gone from villains to heroes. When done well, these characters can be some of the best in the entire franchise.


However, redemption stories for characters like Vegeta and Sasuke aren’t always done well. Some are rushed, while some are characters that have done things that can never be forgiven. Vegeta’s worst acts were mostly done when he was part of Frieza’s army, and it was all that he’d ever known. It took being exposed to humans and peaceful life for him to learn that there was an alternative. Even then, he had to do the work and go through plenty of stumbles. Not all characters got the same treatment.

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Reiko

Parasyte: The Maxim is one of the most philosophical anime ever created, and Reiko Tamura was the main antagonist throughout the first half. A parasyte masquerading as a teacher, Reiko found redemption by sacrificing herself for her child.

Despite her heroism in the end, Reiko never did anything to make up for her true monstrous act: the creation of Gotou. She never even helped Shinichi find an answer to defeat the five parasyte hybrid. Reiko may have learned more about what it is to be human, but without a little dumb luck on Shinichi’s end, she could have led to the destruction of humanity via her twisted science experiment.

Yubel

There’s little doubt that Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is one of the best entries in the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. The main antagonist of one of GX’s top arcs, Yubel is up there with Maximillian Pegasus and Ai as the best villains in the franchise. However, Yubel’s redemption all happened far too quickly.

Jaden’s regret for sending Yubel to space was certainly justified, and Yubel was arguably a sympathetic villain. Still, her hurting Jaden’s friends was unacceptable, and she was arguably evil even before she was abandoned. Jaden fusing with Yubel via Super Polymerization was a bold decision, and the two have somehow been an inseparable pair ever since the end of their duel despite Yubel’s many wrongdoings.

Nozel

Nozel Silva is one of the strongest captains in Black Clover. The noble is from the same family as deuteragonist Noelle, and constantly shunned her due to her inability to control her magic.

Nozel was never actually a villain, but instead follows the same type of redemption as Endeavor from My Hero: a beloved hero doing his best to make up for past misdeeds. However, unlike Endeavor, Nozel actually never did the work to apologize to Noelle. All he ever really did was say “I apologize” and start treating her better because she had grown strong enough that he no longer had to worry about her.

Magma

Magma was the biggest brute in the small village of surviving humans and was arguably the second-strongest living human in the first season of Dr. Stone. After being horrible to everyone in his village for years and trying to kill Senku, Magma got off pretty free.

Dr. Stone loves redeeming villains, but the main antagonist, Tsubasa, actually had to pay for the crimes he committed. Magma’s “redemption” came from a short conversation with Senku and a lesson about the wonders of science. After that, no character really addressed just how awful Magma had been. In many ways, Magma has the most realistic bad redemption story out there. He’s just a terrible person who never actually got better, and instead just joined the right group of people.

Byakuya

Byakuya Kuchiki was the main antagonist of Bleach’s Soul Society arc. He was Rukia’s older brother and a captain of the Gotei 13. Byakuya throughout the majority of the arc was willing to follow Soul Society’s execution of Rukia no matter what the cost.

Byakuya and Ichigo’s battle was one of the highlights of Bleach, and it ended in a beautiful change of heart for Byakuya. The captain even ended up saving his sister. However, his redemption has the same problem as many other anime redemption stories. While Byakuya saved Rukia, he was forgiven by her almost instantly. A great redemption requires characters to do the work off the battlefield as well, and Byakuya never really made up for his lack of loyalty to Rukia.

Marik

While Marik wasn’t able to finally defeat Atem like Raphael did, he was still one of the most iconic villains in the history of the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. While his Yami form took the brunt of the blame and the original Marik was quickly redeemed, non-Yami Marik also did plenty wrong.

Even before his dark form took over, Marik was already plotting revenge on the pharaoh. He also used many underhanded methods to get to the pharaoh. While he may not have trapped people in the shadow realm like Yami Marik, he frequently used his brainwashing on innocent civilians. His rare hunters also were more than willing to commit violent acts, and none of those deeds by the original Marik seemed to matter after he helped destroy Yami Marik.

Aizen

Sosuke Aizen was the main antagonist for the vast majority of Bleach. Some fans may be surprised to learn that the powerful soul reaper will be returning in the upcoming “Thousand Year Blood War” arc. However, this time he’ll be on Ichigo’s side.

There’s an argument that Aizen was never actually redeemed, and is instead just a villain working with the hero. However, Aizen is given a surprising amount of leeway considering how much suffering he caused. Many of Aizen’s actions in the final arc genuinely seem like an attempt to redeem him as the show begins to reach its conclusion, but he was simply far too evil for far too long.

Android 17

Android 17 is arguably one of the best characters in all of Dragon Ball. The android was responsible for humanity’s downfall in Trunks’ future and was on the same path in the current earth until he was temporarily absorbed by Cell.

That same Android 17 ended up as a lovable forest ranger who even offers a bit of comedic relief. While 18’s transformation made sense due to her many interactions with Krillin, all 17 had to change him was the presence of 16 (who despite his love for nature also wanted to kill Goku). While the person 17 ended up becoming in Super was fantastic, it felt like a stark jump from the monstrous planet-ruining android that he was on the path to becoming before Cell swooped in.

Heathcliff

Heathcliff, also known by his real name, Akihiko Kayaba, is the main antagonist of Sword Art Online. However, he grows to somehow become a trusted advisor for Kirito despite being responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.

Kayaba certainly helps save Kirito from tough spots throughout the series, which can be seen as a type of redemption. Kayaba in many ways admittedly is never meant to be forgiven. However, the fact that his consciousness lives forever in the virtual world is a pretty positive result for someone who created a death game and trapped his innocent player base inside. Not to mention, most of the good Heathcliff does after the original series is specifically to help Kirito and Asuna.

Orochimaru

Orochimaru was the main antagonist of the entire original Naruto anime and one of the major villains throughout Shippuden. Somehow, he ended up becoming a regular member of the village hidden in the leaves in Boruto.

Orochimaru’s redemption is unfathomable considering all the crimes he committed and just how little he actually did to redeem himself. Not only did Orochimaru kill the third Hokage and abduct Sasuke, he also corrupted a large number of young ninjas and performed experiments on them. He did virtually nothing after his resurrection to warrant any sort of peace with the people of Konoha.

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