FEATURE: Endeavor — The Perfect Number One Hero?

It's what he (and a flawed hero society) deserve

Endeavor in My Hero Academia


There he stands, fist in the air, crowd watching with bated breath as the dust settles on a fantastical anime battle that surely racked up property damage. The number one hero has saved the day — exhausted, but proud to have defended his city. The camera zooms in on that iconic, fiery beard, further cementing Enji “Endeavor” Todoroki’s victory, and…






RELATED: My Hero Academia Season 6 English Dub Reveals Cast & Crew, Release Date


After All Might’s inevitable retirement from herodom back in Season 3, Endeavor technically — and saltily — ascended to the number one spot. This was a rather controversial pick since the blazing hero has plenty of baggage that we, the viewer, became privy to while watching Shoto grapple with his father's abuse. And yet by the end of Season 4 of My Hero Academia I made a somewhat startling realization: Endeavor is the problematic hero that society deserves because he is a perfect reflection of society itself — a flawed mess that needs to do better whether forgiveness happens or not.


What Is the “Perfect” Hero?


Endeavor in My Hero Academia


In the beginning of the series we had a perfect hero… for one full episode and a commercial break. When we met All Might he was the literal embodiment of all that is heroic and pure, complete with a booming cinematic theme and radio announcer voice. All Might was the hero that would encourage kids to tie a bedsheet around their shoulders and pretend they could fly — faster than a speeding bullet and all that jazz!


Then? He coughed up blood and showed us the truth.


RELATED: A Beginner’s Guide To My Hero Academia


You see, that lone, perfect savior image isn’t perfect. No one can actually function as the single entity that represents justice and peace. As unrealistic as My Hero Academia may seem on its surface, at its core it’s showing us some very important truths. All Might trying to be All Might has left him weak — not useless, he’s still very necessary, just not in that mythical hero sense… which he learns by pushing himself until he literally can’t anymore. All Might is left permanently wounded from battle, trying too hard when he should’ve stepped back to take a good look at the reality of his situation.


He’s the perfect foil to Endeavor. One man tried so hard that he hurt himself (and others, mentally, like Sir Nighteye) while the other tried so hard that he hurt everyone around him — mentally and physically. Hence why All Might puts so much effort into Deku and Bakugo’s growth, so history doesn’t repeat itself and, instead, improves. All Might wants to inspire a generation of cooperative heroes instead of two amazing heroes at odds with one another.


No more single-minded goals. Now it’s about being well-rounded.


For the Future


Endeavor, Deku, Bakugo, and Shoto in My Hero Academia


Meanwhile, Endeavor has the daunting task of protecting everyone as they come to terms with the fact that the symbol they relied on is gone from the public eye. But I’d argue that society needed to have that happen. They needed that moment on a rooftop where they saw a flaw in perfection with All Might. And now that they’ve seen it, they see flawed heroes in themselves. And, well…


That’s Endeavor. Hoo boy is it Endeavor. 


RELATED: Shoto Todoroki Shows Off His Cool Look in My Hero Academia Season 6 Character Special Visual Project


First off, let me just say that having a character that tried so hard to be the best that he alienated his entire family, only to have his hard work thrown back in his face? Art. This is truly what Endeavor deserves. He didn’t reach the top spot because he bested All Might. He reached it because All Might retired. Now Endeavor’s looking back at everything and realizing the damage he’s done. He HAS to because he’s in the spotlight now.


Season 4 focuses a lot on reflection. Without that shining beacon of hope, people have to take things as they are. Society is imperfect — as it always is and always has been. The villains they’ve faced have made some valid points about the falsehood of their world, the way people are treated, and the way some folks on top have been acting. Season 5 continues this theme with the villains getting their own arc that feels more like a hero's journey for a group of outcasts than it does a nefarious tale of evildoers. 


RELATED: Get To Know the Paranormal Liberation Front From My Hero Academia


The fifth season also has Endeavor facing members of his family and dealing with the fact that everyone has a different perspective of him. Natsuo, Shoto's older brother, can barely be in the same room as his father. Fuyumi, Shoto's older sister, is trying to have some semblance of family. As for Shoto, well, he's somewhere in the middle, able to acknowledge his dad as a good hero while also telling him, to his face, that he sucks as a parent. Endeavor has a long way to go to mend any of the relationships he ruined and that's exactly the point. Forgiveness has to be earned and accountability is crucial. This is something Endeavor himself states as a fact when talking to his children.

When I first saw Endeavor I was appalled that he was in the number two spot. In fact, I thought he was on the same level as the villains. I thought Stain was absolutely right in sneering at a man like him, and now? That very man is in the number one spot, standing as society’s symbol and leading the charge in an all-out war in Season 6. That’s why watching him try is exactly what’s needed, both after All Might’s retirement and just as a general message for viewers. 


Change Is Necessary


Endeavor and Natsu in My Hero Academia Natsuo


Endeavor dealing with his past, trying to figure out what to do, realizing that he won’t be instantly forgiven (if ever), and learning that he has to do things his own way is perfect. His attempts to be nice are laughable because that’s not who he is. At the end of the day, he has to be himself, otherwise, it’s not genuine. If you’ve ever had someone wrong you, you know that the key to redemption is not the apology, but changed behavior — not to be confused with a change in character. Endeavor can still be a muscled sourpuss AND work to be a better person.


RELATED: My Hero Academia's Season 6 Ending Sequence Changes With the War


What’s truly great about Endeavor's story is that instead of flooding us with apologies and empty promises he takes action. He knows he’s flawed so he’s working to fix that. When he takes on that High-End Nomu at the end of Season 4 he realizes that he’s actually fighting his old self, and he’s come to hate who he used to be. 


Endeavor is doing something that is sorely lacking in many people’s idea of redemption — he’s holding himself accountable and making necessary changes. Whether or not Shoto and the rest of the Todoroki family will forgive him is up in the air. Honestly, that's not the point of Endeavor’s story. He went so far as to tell Natsuo that he doesn't need to be forgiven at all. In the grand scheme of things Endeavor’s not just doing this for Shoto or his family, he’s doing this for himself and for society so he can truly be a worthy number-one hero. 


This article written by Briana Lawrence was originally published on the Funimation blog on May 21, 2020. It has been updated to include information from Season 5 and 6 of My Hero Academia.




Briana Lawrence is the Senior EN Features Editor here at Crunchyroll. When she’s not writing she’s taking care of her three butthead cats and playing Hades for the 100th time. You can check out her writings and her book series over at her website and give her a shout-over on Twitter.  

Other Top News

Sort by: