5 Anime Characters Who Went Zero to Hero (& 5 Whose Journey Was the Opposite) - AMK Station (2024)

Fans of anime are frequently astounded by the dramatic transformations of their beloved characters. Whether they go from being unknown to achieving greatness, or from being at the height of their success to falling into despair, these storylines are captivating and serve as a powerful commentary on the impact of ambition, patience, and the consequences of one’s choices.

This compilation features anime characters who begin with humble beginnings but rise to become courageous heroes through their unwavering determination and tireless efforts, exemplifying the idea that ordinary people can accomplish incredible feats. Some characters are categorized by their decline in significance throughout the series, yet their heroic qualities remain unshaken. This highlights how even the most powerful and influential individuals can lose sight of their value due to their aspirations and errors.

We will take a look at five anime characters who began with no defined identity but evolved into heroes, as well as five characters who initially were heroes but ultimately lost their status.

Simon and four other anime characters went from zero to hero

Izuku Midoriya: The Protagonist of My Hero Academia

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Despite being born in a world where everyone possesses a unique power called Quirks, Izuku Midoriya, known by the nickname Deku, was one of the rare individuals who did not inherit one. Nevertheless, he holds onto the aspiration of becoming the top hero, inspired by his role model, All Might.

Midoriya’s life undergoes a significant transformation upon encountering All Might, the esteemed hero of the world. Impressed by Deku’s unwavering determination and fervor, All Might designates him as his successor and transfers his Quirk, One For All. This allows Midoriya to acquire All Might’s extraordinary strength, but mastering it requires rigorous training.

Midoriya’s journey is a timeless narrative of starting from humble beginnings and rising to become a hero, showcasing that with perseverance and the necessary backing, anyone can reach remarkable accomplishments.

Asta (Black Clover)

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Asta, a boy who grew up as an orphan in the Clover Kingdom, where magic is highly valued, stands out from others due to his lack of innate magical abilities. Despite this, his ambition is to become the Wizard King, the most powerful sorcerer in the entire Kingdom.

Asta’s life drastically changes when he is gifted a grimoire adorned with a five-leaf clover and swords that possess anti-magic abilities. With these powerful swords at his disposal, he becomes a formidable opponent against all types of magic users, transforming him into a true underdog hero in the world of anime.

Asta’s determination towards his dream is unwavering. Despite lacking inherent magical abilities, he tirelessly trains to improve his physical strength and combat skills. Eventually, he joins the Black Bulls, a unique and oftentimes ridiculed squad within the Magic Knights ranks. Through countless battles and challenges, Asta’s perseverance, optimism, and hard work earn him admiration from both his peers and superiors.

3) Character Profile: Simon (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann)

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Simon, a timid and reserved young boy, resides in an underground community where the inhabitants believe that there is no world beyond their own. Simon’s daily job entails digging and expanding the village tunnels with his trusty drill. His lack of self-assurance often causes him to go unnoticed, overshadowed by his bold adoptive brother Kamina, who is the protagonist of the popular series Gurren Lagann. Despite his seemingly unremarkable presence, Simon plays a crucial role in the story.

Simon’s life is transformed when he discovers a small glowing drill bit and a colossal robot face buried underground. With Kamina’s encouragement, Simon takes control of the tiny mecha known as Lagann and they work together to reach the surface world.

Despite facing various threats, such as the beastmen who command larger mechas called Gunmen, Kamina and Simon are determined to overcome them. They join forces with Yoko, a skilled fighter, and form Team Gurren. With Kamina’s mentorship, Simon gradually begins to tap into his own strength and courage, ultimately transforming into one of the most iconic anime characters to rise from nothing to greatness.

4) Main Character of One Punch Man – Saitama

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At first, Saitama was an ordinary man residing in a city overrun with monsters and supervillains. He struggled with unemployment and frequently experienced feelings of sadness. He also had an average appearance and physique. Saitama often felt aimless and dissatisfied with the opportunities life presented to him.

After narrowly escaping an attack from a crab monster, Saitama decides to become a hero solely for enjoyment. As part of his daily routine, he completes 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, and 100 squats, in addition to running 10 kilometers. He also maintains a simple lifestyle by eating three meals a day and refraining from using air conditioning or heating for the past three years.

Saitama’s defeat of the Deep Sea King, a formidable adversary who had previously defeated numerous heroes, garnered him admiration from figures such as Genos. His battle against Boros, an extraterrestrial conqueror known for his immense strength, further showcases his unmatched abilities. And when he encounters Garou, the infamous Hero Hunter who had triumphed over several S-Class heroes, it solidifies Saitama’s position as an unrivaled force.

5) Main Character in Vinland Saga or Thorfinn Thorsson

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Despite being the son of the renowned Viking warrior Thors, Thorfinn Thorsson lived a peaceful life in an isolated Icelandic village at the request of his father. Thorfinn idolized his father and aspired to become a skilled warrior like him. However, his world came crashing down when his father was killed by Askeladd.

Thorfinn joins Askeladd’s crew in order to effectively face him in battle. Under Askeladd’s leadership, Thorfinn becomes a skilled warrior and participates in numerous battles throughout Europe. However, despite his formidable abilities, he is still plagued by the loss of his father and begins to question his motivation to continue fighting.

Thorfinn’s failed attempt at revenge has deeply affected him, causing him to reflect and undergo a transformation. Encouraged by his father’s values, he reconsiders his desire for vengeance and instead begins to dream of creating a peaceful settlement in Vinland. This newfound purpose gives him a sense of purpose and he becomes a hero, much like the anime characters who rise from humble beginnings.

Rock Lee and Four Other Anime Characters Who Went from Hero to Zero

Yamcha from Dragon Ball Z

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Despite Yamcha’s significant character development in Dragon Ball, his courage is ultimately not enough to face the extraterrestrial dangers that arise in Dragon Ball Z. While he conquers his fear of women and develops feelings for Bulma, he is overshadowed by the arrival of the Saiyans (Goku, Vegeta, Nappa) and their immense power. This shift in the story reduces Yamcha’s importance on Goku’s team.

The passing of Yamcha at the hands of a Saibaman during the Saiyan invasion marks a turning point in the story. Although he is later revived, this event serves as a reminder of his vulnerability in the face of new threats. As the story progresses, Yamcha’s role shifts from being a prominent character to a more supporting one.

Rock Lee (Naruto)

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In the Chunin Exam arc, Rock Lee made his first appearance. His battle against Gaara in this arc is widely remembered for showcasing his incredible strength, speed, and determination to utilize the forbidden Inner Gates technique, which greatly enhances his abilities but comes with great risk.

Following his intense battle with Gaara, Lee undergoes surgery to heal his wounds. As a result, he is unable to participate in the main events and has a decreased presence on screen. However, Lee makes a comeback when the group embarks on a mission to retrieve Sasuke, showcasing his regained strength. Despite this, his role is overshadowed by that of the other prominent anime characters during this arc.

Character Profile: Kuririn (Dragon Ball Z)

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Despite starting out as a rival, Kuririn eventually became Goku’s closest friend. He dedicated himself to training in martial arts under Master Roshi, ultimately becoming incredibly strong. In various battles against formidable opponents like the Red Ribbon Army and King Piccolo, Kuririn proved his courage and strategic prowess as a fighter.

Despite facing daunting opponents in the androids and Cell, Kuririn displays great courage in battle and performs crucial support tasks, such as deactivating Android 18. Furthermore, his growth as a character is evident as he develops feelings for her and eventually marries her, adding depth to his personality beyond his fighting skills.

As more powerful anime characters emerge, Kuririn’s role in combat diminishes. While he remains present, he is not a pivotal player in fights against formidable foes like Majin Buu. Instead, he shifts his focus to his personal life, marrying and starting a family, which results in less involvement in the central conflicts.

Chad (Yasutora Sado) (Bleach)

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Yasutora Sado, also known as Chad, is one of Ichigo Kurosaki’s closest friends and classmates. Despite his large and formidable appearance, Chad’s abilities from another realm only manifest when Ichigo transforms into a Soul Reaper. This is when his right arm transforms into an armored appendage, granting him the power to deliver devastatingly strong blows.

Despite receiving a power-up during the Arrancar and Hueco Mundo Arcs, Chad’s role in battles diminishes. He struggles against the powerful Espada, who are ranked higher than him. He often gets overpowered by characters like Ichigo, Uryu, and Soul Reapers, who possess greater strength, leading him to become one of the characters in the anime who goes from hero to zero.

Kakashi Hatake (Boruto)

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Kakashi is the leader of Team 7, consisting of Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchiha, and Sakura Haruno. Known as the “Copy Ninja,”Kakashi possesses a Sharingan that allows him to duplicate any jutsu he witnesses. Highly proficient in ninjutsu, taijutsu, and genjutsu, his mastery of techniques such as the Chidori solidifies his position as one of the most formidable ninjas in the series.

Despite the increasing significance of Naruto and Sasuke’s abilities and backstories, the focus of the series shifts towards their development and the key battles surrounding them. In Boruto, Kakashi assumes the role of a mentor for the next generation, appearing less frequently and serving more as a guide to other characters rather than actively engaging in fights.


Anime characters often experience sudden transformations, either rising from obscurity to fame or falling from popularity to obscurity. These stories are captivating, showcasing the influence of ambition, determination, and the consequences of their choices.

From those who have achieved notable successes through their own efforts to those who have experienced a tragic downfall due to their poor decisions, these narratives serve as a testament to the intricacies of character development.

    5 Anime Characters Who Went Zero to Hero (& 5 Whose Journey Was the Opposite) - AMK Station (2024)


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