For most anime characters, moral alignments can be somewhat of a tricky issue. On the one hand, there are several anime antagonists who, despite the horrible things they’ve done, find some way to redeem themselves. On the other hand, the contrary is also true for some protagonists who are often enticed into joining the forces of evil for a variety of reasons.
While some protagonists eventually come to their senses and go back to being good, it does little to redeem themselves of the evil acts they've committed. Here is a list featuring 5 anime antagonists who turned good, and 5 protagonists who became evil.
10 Turned Good: Viral – Gurren Lagann
A member of the Beastmen, Viral is a former commander of the Human Eradication Squad serving under Lordgenome. Originally, Viral held some pretty prejudiced views towards humanity, believing them to be a weaker species. Despite his flaws, Viral is still an honorable individual. During his frequent clashes with Team Dai-Gurren, he eventually becomes the rival of both Kamina, as well as Simon.
Years after Lordgenome's defeat, Viral was captured and sent to prison. He remained there until he met an adult Simon, who enlisted his help in fighting the Anti-Spiral. By the end of the series, he is not only a member of Team Dai-Gurren, but he is also their leader.
9 Turned Evil: Lelouch Lamperouge Vi Britannia – Code Geass
Even though he is a prince of Britannia, Lelouch Vi Britannia hates both his father and the Empire with a passion. After meeting C. C. and obtaining the power of Geass, Lelouch adopts the identity of Zero and assists in liberating the people of Japan from Britannia’s rule.
While Lelouch's intentions start out as noble, his desire for revenge corrupts him and his actions quickly descend into extremism. Not only does he kill innocent civilians, but he also risks the lives of his friends and allies. Even though he wanted to create a better world for his sister Nunnally, the poor choices he made led him astray and he ended up paying the ultimate price.
8 Turned Good: Sesshomaru – Inuyasha
In the past, Sesshomaru was a ruthless villain who despised humans and his half-demon brother Inuyasha. After Inuyasha mortally wounds him during one of their fights, he meets a young girl named Rin who takes care of him. After she is killed by wolves, he brings her back to life and allows her to travel with him.
Since meeting Rin, Sesshomaru’s moral compass has shifted. While he is still ruthless and often clashes with his brother, he is no longer a villain and is more of a noble anti-hero. The fact that he will go to just about any lengths to protect Rin shows just how much he has changed since his debut.
7 Turned Evil: Archer/Shirou Emiya – Fate/Stay Night
Unlike most heroic spirits in the Fate series that are summoned from the past, Archer is a Counter Guardian summoned from an alternate timeline. It is eventually revealed that Archer is a future version of Shirou Emiya. Due to a series of unfortunate events, Archer became a Counter Guardian and was forced to ensure the survival of humanity by taking the lives of other people.
Desperate to prevent this future, Archer betrays Rin and his allies with the intent to kill his past self. Ultimately, he sought to create a time paradox that would erase his existence and thus free himself from the burden of being a Counter Guardian.
6 Turned Good: Gaara – Naruto
Even by jinchuriki standards, Gaara’s childhood is by far the most tragic. Under orders from his father, his uncle was ordered to assassinate him. Before his death, he told a traumatized Gaara that no one would ever love him. His uncle’s betrayal, along with the pain of being a jinchuriki, overwhelmed Gaara, causing him to snap. He became an emotionless sociopath who took joy in taking the lives of his opponents.
After losing to Naruto, a fellow jinchuriki, he realized the error of his ways and strived to become a better person. This decision eventually led him to inherit the title of Kazekage and become one of Naruto’s closest friends.
5 Turned Evil: Irene Belserion – Fairy Tail
Formerly an advocate for human-dragon coexistence, Irene Belserion was once a very kind-hearted person. After showing signs of dragonification, she was imprisoned, tortured, and almost executed by her husband. After reaching her limit of his abuse, she transformed into a dragon, crushing him.
After encountering the black wizard Zeref centuries later, Irene's husband successfully restored her human appearance, but she physically remained a dragon. This led to her downward spiral into insanity. Consequently, she was forced to abandon her daughter to protect her from herself. In the present day, Irene is now a cruel and ruthless individual who loyally serves Zeref as one of his elite generals.
4 Turned Good: Scar – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
After witnessing the massacre of his people during the Ishval Civil War, Scar became an agent of vengeance. Thanks to his ability to deconstruct and destroy matter, Scar started a one-man crusade to eliminate all State Alchemists. In his quest for revenge, he also took the lives of innocent civilians like Nina Tucker and Winry Rockbell’s parents.
After meeting Winry and learning the truth behind the Ishval Civil War, Scar abandons his quest for revenge and eventually joins Edward and his allies in the fight against Father and the Homunculi. In the end, Scar proved instrumental in defeating Father and saving all of Amestris and its people.
3 Turned Evil: Sasuke Uchiha – Naruto
When you think of an anime hero going rogue, the first person that likely comes to mind is Sasuke Uchiha. His desire for revenge was so strong that he willingly abandoned his friends and comrades in exchange for power.
Even after he succeeds in killing Itachi for wiping out their entire clan, his hatred does not disappear. Instead, he changes targets and instead seeks to destroy the Hidden Leaf and its people. The fact that he was aware that his decision went against his brother's wishes shows just how far he had fallen. His desire for revenge was so overwhelming that he even tried to kill one of his allies that had been taken hostage.
2 Turned Good: Vegeta – Dragon Ball
Since his debut as a villain in Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta has undergone some intense character development. While he is still ruthless and prideful, he is also more humble and cares deeply about his family. He was even willing to fight against Beerus the Destroyer after he slapped Bulma, despite being afraid of him.
Even though he did relapse back to his old ways, he ultimately finds a way to redeem himself. In the end, Vegeta is willing to put his life on the line to protect the Earth and his family. Furthermore, Vegeta’s decision to abandon his evil ways is one of the main reasons why he became so powerful.
1 Turned Evil: Griffith – Berserk
In the past, Griffith was a kind and charismatic leader who greatly cared for his men. Unfortunately, his ambitions led him down a dark path where he became one of the most despicable villains in anime.
After being falsely imprisoned for treason and tortured for a year, Griffith’s body is reduced to a husk and his dream seemingly destroyed. After reaching his lowest point, he is summoned before the evil God Hand, who invite him to join their ranks. In the end, Griffith accepts their offer and ascends to godhood. In exchange, he offers up the lives of his comrades who are then tortured and eaten alive by demons.