Zero to hero anime characters start out as underdogs but gradually evolve into mighty heroes through determination.
We all love a good underdog story, don’t we? This is especially true in anime, where many popular shows follow a “zero to hero” storyline.
What are Zero to Hero anime characters?
“These anime centers around a main character who starts out weak, downtrodden, or otherwise insignificant. Through hard work, determination, and a bit of luck, the hero slowly gains power and respect over the course of their journey.”
Without roasting you any further, let’s check out how these wimpy anime protagonists who ends up being the most badass anime characters.
12: Thorfin form Vinland Saga
My boy Thorfinn goes through some crazy character development in Vinland Saga. He starts off as this angry little kid obsessed with revenge after his dad gets killed.
All he cares about is murdering the dude who did it. While burning in vengeance, the little Throfinn embarks on a Pirate Journey alongside the same captain who murdered his father.
Revealing the actual character development of Thorfinn is not recommended, because Vinland Saga’s whole plot is about the Zero to Hero character development of the protagonist.
So if you want action, a gradually detailed storyline, amazing animations by renowned studios, and charismatic characters, Vinland Saga is a must-choice.
11: Rain from Beast Tamer
Frankly speaking, Beast Tamer is nowhere close to being able to de-rank Vinland Saga but it specifically target zero-to-hero anime protagonist.
This is a tale of wholesome Beast Tamer “Rain“, who got expelled from the hero’s party in a pathetic way for being weak.
Determined to fulfill his dream, Rain embarks on a journey to become stronger by himself.
Fortunately, the wholesome boy begins taming the powerful cat spirit and dragon spirit, awakening his true potential.
If you’re a harem lover and want to witness anime characters becoming Zero to Hero within mere two or three episodes, I don’t think there’s a better choice than this anime.
10: Gon Freecss from Hunter X Hunter
Gon goes from a total newbie to an epic hunter hero in Hunter x Hunter! He starts off as a naive kid who knows nothing about fighting or Nen’s powers.
As Gon travels the world taking insane tests and battling strong monsters, he unlocks his secret inner potential. His willpower is insane!
He pushes his limits and achieves some crazy power-ups through sheer force of will. Watching him go from an overeager noob to an unstoppable fighter is so sick.
If you can bear with an almost 150-episode-long anime series, you’re most welcome to witness Gon’s zero-to-hero epic journey.
9: Asta from Black Clover
Asta starts as a zero in Black Clover. He has no magic power but wants to be the Magic King. pretty ridiculous nah!
People laugh at him because he was struggling to achieve even an ordinary grimoire.
But Asta gets a grimoire with a demon inside that gives him powers. Now he can fight with an anti-magic sword.
There are tough battles but Asta never gives up. He trains hard to control his demon and protect his friends.
Even when people say he can’t do it, Asta keeps trying. This kind anime protagonist’s hard work turns him from a no-magic loser to a strong magic knight.
8: Goku from Dragon Ball
Despite being so much more powerful compared to Earth humans, our protagonist, Son Goku was a total zero against intergalactic foes.
Dragon Ball fans remembered how Akira Toriyama tested fans’ patience for showing Goku’s power after being beaten up by most of the antagonists.
Pick up any series of Dragon Ball, we fans have always witnessed the Zero to Hero anime storyline in each of them, even in solo movies.
Whether you pick up Dragon Ball Z, Dragon Ball Z Kai, Dragon Ball Super, or any other, we have always seen Goku’s team struggling from the start.
Well, that’s the beauty of this anime that shows us the value of never looking down on yourself and being like Goku, who despite being dumb always figured out a way.
7: Ken Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul
The mental torture Ken Kaneki has gone through in the first season of Tokyo Ghoul, My half Ghoul bestie really deserves the first place on this list zero to hero anime characters.
Ken Kaneki starts as a weak college student who wants and deserves a normal peaceful life.
After an accident turns him into a ghoul, he struggles with his new powers.
Kaneki faces big hardships. He loses control of his powers and identity. But he keeps trying to do what’s right.
Tokyo Ghoul is a horror zero-to-hero storyline-based anime that displays the dreadful struggles of Ken Kaneki.
6: Simon from Gurren Lagann
Simon starts off in Gurren Lagann as a timid, unconfident kid with no special powers. He lives underground with no knowledge of the surface world.
But when Simon discovers a drill-shaped mecha called Lagann, it unlocks his hidden potential for growth.
He faces constant hardship on the surface, like battling beastmen and volatile mecha. However, with his friend Kamina’s encouragement, Simon gains confidence and willpower.
Through intense fights that push his limits, Simon evolves from a cowardly boy into a hot-blooded hero capable of doing the impossible.
His journey captures the essence of a zero to hero anime characters transformation amidst adversity.
5: Naofumi Iwatani from The Rising of the Shield Hero
Despite being summoned as one of the honorary Heroes to another world, Naofumi Iwatani ends up being mocked and humiliated as a useless hero.
If you believe you can be less annoyed by any kind of disturbing plot, this anime will test your patience.
Naofumi starts as a shield hero, who is merely considered the most useless one.
Already struggling with a haunted personality, Naofumi was forced to start lonely and pennilessly.
Well, according to the title, this is the rise of the shield hero, an anime character who embarks on a hopeless and vengeful journey to become zero to hero in an Isekai world.
4: Ippo from Hajime no Ippo
Ippo starts out as a total wimp who’s bullied all the time. He’s just a shy, awkward guy with no confidence at all.
But after randomly meeting the badass boxer Takamura, Ippo joins his gym and starts training to get stronger.
The workouts are crazy hard and Ippo wants to quit like a million times. He gets his butt kicked in the ring over and over, but keeps on fighting.
His journey shows that with enough hard work and guts, even a useless shy character can turn into a remarkable hero.
3: Bell Cranel from Danmachi
While watching its cozy theme, you’ll surely question the writer, like when you have planned to give limelight to a poor wholesome protagonist.
Bell Cranel is a wholesome boy who initially joins a familia of a bottom-ranked goddess “Hestia.”
There are some attributes of every adventurer in this anime, and Bell’s special attribute is fast progression.
Despite being blessed with such attribute, Bell Cranel go through a painful process of becoming a successful dungeon adventurer.
If you’re really into zero-to-hero storylines, mark my words, this anime won’t go easy on you.
2: Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia
Midoriya starts out Quirkless with zero powers and everyone thinks he can’t become a hero. But he fanboys hardcore over All Might and dreams big anyway.
After inheriting All Might’s Quirk, he finally gets super strength but can’t control it well. He enrolls in U.A. High and faces totally overwhelming odds.
But he keeps fighting powered-up villains and pushing himself to get stronger. From a weak kid with no future to a crazy strong hero-in-training, Midoriya’s journey takes guts.
Despite all the hardships and long odds, he stays determined to achieve his goal and become the greatest hero. Mad respect for never giving up!
1: Naruto from Naruto Shippuden
Now it’s time to give a spotlight to history’s best and gradual zero to hero anime protagonist.
Naruto starts off as an outcast orphan with a long road ahead to become a hero. But he doesn’t back down from the challenge.
Facing ridicule and loneliness, Naruto pushes himself in training to get stronger. Battling the fierce Nine-Tailed Fox spirit within, he learns to master its power.
Hardships only increase Naruto’s determination to protect his village and friends from sinister threats.
As he matures into a formidable ninja, Naruto never loses his kindness or compassion. His inspiring journey showcases the heart of an underdog.
The inspection on zero to hero anime characters’ journeys allows us to relate with such characters who gradually shine through hard work, patience and determination. I want to conclude this piece of content with the historical words of our underdog “Naruto.”
Quote: “People Who Continue To Put Their Lives On The Line To Defend Their Faith Become Heroes And Continue To Exist On In Legend.”