There is a constant theme of characters suffering in anime. These characters tend to be incredibly tragic and go through immense physical and psychological struggles throughout their lives.
However, they can push through it and make out the other end. Because of this, they are viewed as sources of inspiration, and many of these characters who suffer in anime are loved by their shows' respective fanbases.
10 characters in anime that have endured horrible ordeals (unranked)
1) Kakashi Hatake (Naruto)
Throughout the Naruto series, many characters have suffered immensely. That is the nature of a world full of shinobi. However, Kakashi has been through much more than any other character in the series.
First, when he was a young child, his father committed suicide. The shame he faced from the village due to saving his teammate was too much for him to handle. He then believes Obito died after being crushed by a boulder.
Not long after this, Rin commits suicide by impaling herself on Kakashi's chidori. This caused him to be plagued by nightmares and hallucinations of Rin's blood on his hand. A couple of years later, Kakashi lost Minato and Kushina during Kurama's rampage.
2) Hyakkimaru (Dororo)
Hyakkimaru's biological father, Kagemitsu Daigo, made a deal with some demons before he was born. In exchange for making Kaga Province wealthy and prosperous, Kagemitsu offered up pieces of his unborn son to the demons. This resulted in Hyakkimaru being born with only a skeleton, making Kagemitsu abandon him.
Hyakkimaru journeys to kill each demon that took a piece of his body from him throughout the series. Each time he regains a body part, the pain is immense, but it is always worth it.
3) Guts (Berserk)
Guts, also known as the Black Swordsman, is arguably the most tragic character in all of the anime and the one who has suffered the most. Even as a child, Guts was not safe from the horrors of the Physical World.
Before he was even born, his mother was murdered and he became an orphan. He was also betrayed and manipulated by his closest friend Griffith. He also goes through immense physical suffering during his fights and trials to save those he cares about. This barely scratches the tip of the iceberg of how much Guts' has suffered in his life.
4) Kaneki Ken (Tokyo Ghoul)
Kaneki's suffering began when he went on a date with Rize Kamishiro.
After being attacked by Rize and almost dying in an attempt to escape, Kaneki was turned into a ghoul after Rize's kakuhou was transplanted into his body. Ever since this point, he has been targeted by other ghouls and humans because of his status as a one-eyed ghoul.
5) Zeref Dragneel (Fairy Tail)
Zeref Dragneel suffers from the Contradictory Curse. This curse will activate and burst out whenever he comes to love something, killing everything within a certain range. Zeref was afflicted with this curse as punishment for resurrecting his younger brother, Natsu. He has to wander throughout the world by himself for centuries because of this curse.
6) Natsuki Subaru (Re: Zero)
With his unique ability, Return by Death, Subaru can restart the world each time he dies. However, he can remember each time before he restarts the world.
Throughout the series, Subaru has died in excruciating ways. Some of his deaths include being disemboweled hours after arriving in the new world, jumping off a cliff and impaling himself on sharp rocks to save Rem, being frozen and decapitated by Puck after Emilia's death, and feeling every bit of pain. At the same time, his body is torn apart by carnivorous bunnies.
7) Levi Ackerman (Attack on Titan)
Levi never had an easy life. When he was a kid, he was found by Kenny Ackerman as a starving little kid and was raised to always be on the lookout. During his time in the Survey Corps, Levi has lost countless close friends and comrades. He is the character who has suffered the most out of everyone in Attack on Titan.
8) Diavolo (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind)
Diavolo's suffering is similar to Subaru's but infinitely times worse.
As punishment for his actions, Diavolo is subjected to infinite torment. Giorno's Gold Experience Requiem put Diavolo in a never-ending death-loop, meaning he will have to experience dying over and over for eternity. He died by drowning in a river, being hit by a car, stabbed, and various other ways.
Some fans believe Diavolo deserves to suffer for eternity because of his actions, while others disagree completely.
9) Rintarou Okabe (Steins;Gate)
Okabe had to suffer through the deaths of Mayuri Shiina and Makise Kurisu countless times to save them both in the Steins;Gate anime. He would witness their deaths repeatedly, which took a massive toll on him and messed up his mental state. In the end, however, he achieved his goal and successfully saved both of them.
10) Future Trunks (Dragon Ball Z)
Prior to his timeline being erased, Trunks suffered immensely at the hands of various enemies. The Androids have left their Earth decimated and destroyed in the Dragon Ball Z anime. They killed Gohan, who acted as his mentor and Bulma. His time was also ravaged by Zamasu and Goku Black when they journeyed to conquer everything.