10 Strongest Anime Protagonists Who Refuse to Kill

10 Strongest Anime Protagonists Who Refuse to Kill

Morality is never as simple as being right and wrong. Often it is a perceived gray area that shows how thin the line between good and evil really is. Being an anime hero means seeing that gray area much more often than the average person. As they battle villains who are clearly on the wrong side of that line, heroes are tested on how far they should go to keep evil at bay.

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Facing the ultimate embodiment of evil in a villain can test the will of even the most steadfast hero. The hero will have no choice but to display his superior strength as the only language the villain can understand. But strength is not always about brute force. Sometimes it’s about having the conviction to follow your beliefs even when they are tested to their logical extreme.

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10/10 Dr. Kenzo Tenma wouldn’t even kill a monster


Screencap of Kenzo Tenma from the anime Monster.

IN Pattern, Dr. Kenzo Tenma has a strong moral compass and strictly defined ethical guidelines in his doctoral practice. Ethical decisions are difficult for some, but facing the decision of who lives and who dies makes Tenma even stronger than most Anime protagonists. Unfortunately, even when someone has the right intentions, they may not always make the best decision.

When Tenma decides to save the life of a young boy named Johan, he could never have predicted that that boy would go on to become a serial killer. Despite having his own life threatened and knowing the monster that Johan is, Tenma refuses to kill him, when in reality it’s probably the only thing Johan wants him to do.

9/10 The organization’s rules forbid Claire from killing


Clare catches the fury in the Claymore Finale

Claire is a Claymore (a mix between Yoma and human) and part of an organization whose sole existence is meant to destroy the Yoma and protect humans. Due to the Claymore’s immense strength, they are forced to follow a strict set of rules that, if broken, result in execution.

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One such rule is that a Claymore is not allowed to kill a human, no matter how distasteful or evil they may be. Even Claire’s mentor, Teresa, who killed a group of bandits to protect a village from being looted, was ordered to death by the organization. Because of this strict ruling, Claire refuses to kill a human, although she has no qualms about ending the life of a Yoma.

8/10 No one can hit Chisato anyway

Lycoris recoil

Chisato holds Fuki at arm's length in Lycoris Recoil.

Chisato is a genius at shooting, so much so that she can literally dodge bullets at point blank range. Although she is a highly trained Lycoris well experienced in using a deadly weapon, Chisato makes it a point to never kill her targets.

Instead of using real bullets, Chisato prefers to use rubber bullets or tranquilizers to immobilize criminals. While her partner, Takina Inoue, has no problem taking down her enemies, Chisato makes it a point to lead by example by showing Takina that killing is not the only way to complete their missions.

7/10 Mob won’t let his emotions get the best of him

Mob Psycho 100

Screenshot of Shigeo Kageyama, the protagonist of Mob Psycho 100.

Having suffered a traumatic event in the past, Mob does not believe in using his powers against other people, even when they try to threaten or harm him. Not only does he not believe that it is right, but he also wants to improve other aspects of himself and not rely so heavily on his psychic powers for everything in his life.

Despite Mob’s admirable self-control, he always comes across humans, espers, and spirits who try to test his limits. Once these limits are reached, he is able to humble even the most powerful enemies and remind them that they are not so special after all.

6/10 Ed understands how the law of equivalent exchange extends beyond alchemy

Full metal alchemist

Edward Elric does research in Fullmetal Alchemist.

IN Full metal alchemist, for all given, it is something taken. That’s why, whether human or homunculus, Edward Elric simply refuses to kill even the worst villains. It’s not that murderous monsters like Dad don’t deserve to die, but rather that he understands how the deepest laws of alchemy extend to each person’s actions.

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If Ed were to kill even the most evil villain, a new, equal evil would likely emerge to restore the balance, and no one has lived as closely to that truth as Ed. He has already had everything taken from him because of his insistence on tipping the scales of fate in his own favor.

5/10 Yusuke has already seen enough death

Yu Yu Hakusho

Anime yu yu hakusho yusuke death

Yusuke Urameshi has seen death firsthand: the beginning of YuYu-Hakusho is all about saving his life while trying to communicate with his friends as a spirit. Given his personal experience of dying, Yusuke understands that human life is sacred, and he has a strict policy of never taking the life of another person.

Of course, as a Spirit Detective, Yusuke encounters a whole host of terrifyingly powerful demons who don’t just let him thwart their plans without a fight. In such situations, Yusuke has no problem using the Spirit Gun, but he would never point a real gun at a human.

4/10 Kenshin Himura renounced his murderous past

Rurouni Kenshin

A close-up of Kenshin

Kenshin Himuras backstory is one of the most tragic in shonen anime. Once known by the title Battosai The Manslayer, Kenshin was a cold-blooded killer and fearsome samurai during the Bakumatsu period in Japan.

After the wars ended, Kenshin renounced his murderous ways in favor of the life of a wandering ascetic, even turning the blade of his sword so that he could never kill again. As enemies from his past continue to appear throughout his journey, Kenshin never gives in to their attempts to get him killed. He will always spare their lives, no matter how difficult it may be.

3/10 Luffy would rather let the villain live with his shame

One Piece

Luffy stops Nami from stabbing herself

It’s not so much that Luffy is against killing as it is that he wants bad people to take the full punishment. If they were to die, the villains would not have a chance to live with their crimes, and thus would have an easy escape from the embarrassment of their failure.

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Eiichiro Oda once told an interviewer that the reason Luffy doesn’t kill is because he knows that failure might be worse than death. Additionally, the fact that Luffy is a pirate with his own dreams has given him an understanding of what it’s like to fail, thus giving others who have lost their dreams a second chance to do better.

2/10 All Might sets an example for all heroes

My Hero Academia

My Hero Academia's All Might.

As the ultimate symbol of peace and justice, All Might makes it a point to be a shining example of what a hero should represent. According to the laws of My Hero Academiaonly licensed heroes are allowed to use their quirks to harm other people, and only with due cause.

While harming villains to subdue them is allowed, killing is strictly against the rules. As the embodiment of law and order, All Might follows the rules to the letter. If he really wanted to, All Might could probably kill any villain he encounters with one punch. Lucky for them, he is the ultimate representation of what being a hero is all about.

1/10 Instead of killing his enemies, Goku befriends them

Dragon Ball

Son Goku in Dragon Ball Z

Given his incredible strength, Goku often finds himself in situations where he can easily end his enemies’ lives once and for all. The destructive nature of his enemies would even make some fans react empathetically if Goku chose to kill the villain.

But Goku’s competitive spirit simply won’t allow him to end the life of someone he could have another fight with in the future. Although it may seem misguided at the time, Goku’s decisions to let his opponents live have tended to pay off: Vegeta has become Goku’s greatest ally and friend, and Frieza was integral to winning the Powernament of Power.

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