10 anime side characters who are more famous than the main characters
Anime is a visual representation of a story that is beautifully crafted in a way that makes it one of the most well-known genres of pop culture with a global fanbase. Even though there are a lot of factors involved in making an anime successful, the protagonist holds most of the credit.
The protagonist of the series often becomes the icon or mascot for the franchise, but it has been noted several times that the supporting character is more celebrated among fans than the hero. This is sometimes known as the second lead syndrome.
There are many factors that make a side character popular, sometimes even more so than the entire series. This phenomenon is not rare in the anime community, and there is a long list of such characters whose popularity has surpassed that of the story's hero.
Disclaimer: This list is subjective and not ranked in any particular order.
From Shoto of My Hero Academia to Levi of Attack on Titan: Here are some anime side characters who stole the show
1) Shoto Todoroki
Shoto Todoroki is one of the most popular characters in My Hero Academia, despite not being the series' main protagonist or antagonist. His unique dual-colored hair signifies his abilities, and the red scar on one eye clearly makes him stand out.
Shoto's distinguishing features make him a very recognizable figure. He was introduced as a supporting character at the start of the series, but he quickly achieved tremendous popularity among My Hero Academia fans and even outside the fanbase.
His backstory, smart yet dense personality, and his calm silent nature, make him one of the most likable characters in the series. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Shoto Todoroki falls into the top 20 most popular characters list in any popularity poll.
2) Gojo Satoru
Gojo is regarded as the most powerful Jujutsu Sorcerer in the universe of Jujutsu Kaisen, with the ability to defeat even the King of Curses Sukuna himself. Gojo, like most other sorcerers, sought to protect the world from the Cursed Spirits that afflicted it.
Although he was shown to be the mentor who was supposed to support the main character Itadori Yuji and help him evolve, as the series progressed, Gojo was the one that everyone kept talking about.
His enormous popularity may be attributed to a number of factors, starting with his attractive character design, his crystal blue eyes that are mostly kept hidden, and his effortlessly hilarious personality despite possessing some of the most powerful skills in the Jujutsu Kaisen Universe.
3) Itachi Uchiha
Itachi is the older brother of Sasuke Uchiha, who was shown as an antagonist in the Naruto series, responsible for killing all the members of his own clan, sparing only Sasuke. He appeared to be working as a terrorist from the organization Akatsuki. He was misjudged by the fans as well as the characters in the series.
Later, the revelation of the reason behind his actions took the fanbase by storm. After his death, Sasuke found out how Itachi committed his life to save the village and its future generations, including little Sasuke, who was just eight years old at the time.
After witnessing his true heroic act of sacrifice, fans couldn't help but fall in love with Itachi. He played a side character in the series with limited screen time, but that was enough to move an entire fanbase, making him one of the most popular characters, known even by non-anime watchers.
4) Osamu Dazai
Osamu Dazai from Bungo Stray Dogs is a member of the Armed Detective Agency and a former executive of the underworld organization, the Port Mafia. He can be easily recognized as he recently went viral on TikTok and Instagram for his voice and personality.
Dazai is an enigmatic character who is extremely feared in the Mafia world. Yet he has a comical side, which fans are extremely fond of. His weirdest trait is that he enjoys making suicide attempts and is also looking for a woman willing to try double suicide alongside him.
The concept of a character being weirdly funny with a dangerous side really sold, and it is safe to say that Dazai is more famous than the protagonist of the series.
5) Zero Two
Zero Two is a hybrid human and elite FRANXX pilot who aspires to become entirely human. Even though she is not the main character of the series, she certainly is the most popular character of Darling in the Franxx.
Zero Two's personality has been well-received by fans globally, and she is even considered one of the best aspects of the series. There are a number of things that make her stand out, like her long pastel pink hair with a fringe, a pair of red horns on her head, and her dangerous yet alluring personality.
6) Katsuki Bakugo
Bakugo from My Hero Academia is a highly distinctive character with an overconfident and harsh outer surface. He was placed opposite the protagonist and was projected as a bully at the start of the series, but he steadily improved his image.
He is a very skilled aspiring hero with an almost diabolical quirk that he refuses to become a villain with. He is also a very dedicated and competitive individual who despises losing, and that is one of the key factors behind his popularity.
Bakugo has a very loud and unique personality that looks unintentionally funny on the screen and makes him stand out from any other character from the series. He has also gone through a good amount of character development from how he was shown initially.
Even though the series is centered around someone else, he is the one who stole the show. He has been ranked as the most popular character in My Hero Academia, surpassing even the protagonist in multiple popularity polls.
7) Yujiro Hanma
Yujiro Hanma from Baki is the father of the protagonist. He is considered to be an absolute demonic entity. He has a massive body and an extraordinarily developed physique, giving him a demonic appearance. He is well known for using his demon back, a lethal technique that may kill the opponent.
In every possible way, Yujiro is the ultimate overpowered side character that seems even more charismatic than the main character. With continuous development in the plot, he has acquired a god-level position in the anime series.
He has become an icon for physically strong men throughout the world. And although the plot does not revolve around him, he has become the center of attention for the entire fanbase.
Death Note is one of the most well-known anime series of all time, and a sizable proportion of its audience is a fan of L. He is just as popular, if not more, than the main character, Light Yagami. L Lawlite is also arguably the best-written character in the series.
A massive part of the fandom likes the character of L more than Light, partly because of how well he has been portrayed. This is also because Death Note is an anime in which the main protagonist is also the antagonist of the series and L somehow played the role of a protagonist despite being a side character.
9) Killua Zoldyck
Killua from Hunter x Hunter is one such side character who is more popular than the main character of the series. Despite being the central character of the story, Gon Freecss is noticeably overshadowed by Killua Zoldyck, who clearly eclipses him in terms of popularity.
Zoldyck has repeatedly topped official polls, and frequently by a significant margin as well. His character development was massively appreciated by the entire fanbase and he was widely considered to be a better candidate for the role of a protagonist by the fans.
10) Levi Ackerman
Levi Ackerman aka Humanity’s Strongest Soldier from Attack on Titan, is one of the most popular anime characters not only in the fanbase but in the entire anime community. Even after being a side character with limited screen time, he has definitely stolen the show in the first few seasons of Attack on Titan.
No doubt Eren is one of the best main characters in anime history, but until season 3, Levi single-handedly dominated the popularity polls and attracted thousands of viewers. He plays the role of a cold soldier with a small figure who chops off titans like his garden weed.
Starting with his character design, facial features, hairstyle, and way of talking, everything about him became a trend. His popularity skyrocketed so much that people who did not watch Attack on Titan started believing that he was the main character. Thus, he is the ideal example of a side character overshadowing the main character.