These villains have a nasty habit of never staying down
Editor's Note: This is a republication of a feature by Nicole Mejias that originally appeared on Crunchyroll News on 5/21/18.
It’s often said that a good hero needs an equally good villain, and certainly there are many infamous villains to choose from. Rivalries are made, evil plans are thwarted, and the heroes celebrate their hard earned victories with the vanquishing of their foes. However, not every villain is so easy to get rid of, and some linger on long after they’re dead to cause even more problems!
In this list, let's take a look at the top 10 villains who just refused to stay dead, gone, and buried! And as a warning, this article contains a LOT of spoilers, so read with caution!
10. Neferpitou (Hunter x Hunter)
Anime fans can at least celebrate that the vanquishing of Neferpitou didn’t take the quite literal decade that it did in the manga, but the Chimera Ant villain certainly haunted Gon for a long time! Neferpitou had easily killed Gon’s mentor and hero Kite, and reanimated his corpse to use a training toy. Gon, unaware that he was dead, refused to give up on the chance to save his mentor and defeat this extremely powerful enemy. Unfortunately for Gon, Neferpitou vastly outclassed him, as to be expected of one of the Chimera Ant King’s Royal Guards! Neferpitou’s loyalty to the king leads to their undoing, but not before a protracted battle of wits with Gon over the life of Komugi.
Once Neferpitou reveals to Gon that Kite is long dead and unable to be restored, Gon flies into a rage, leading to the iconic scenes where Gon’s Nen ages him, growing his power (and his hair!) to legendary proportions. Outclassed, Neferpitou dies happy, knowing that Gon is unable to get to the king, but even in death Neferpitou haunts Gon further, as their Nen ability Terpsichora activates, seemingly reviving the fallen foe! Distracted and enraged, Gon mercilessly beats his enemy’s corpse until Killua stops him… and falls into a coma, his body nearly destroyed and his life almost snuffed out from the battle! It takes a literal miracle to revive Gon much later, and it’s safe to safe Neferpitou won’t be forgotten by Gon or us any time soon!
9. Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti (Re:ZERO)
Petelgeuse is surely a memorable villain from an aesthetic point of view with his distinct looks and voice, but the way in which he easily defeats Subaru, causing the protagonist to despair that there may be no good outcome against this foe, is one of the defining storylines of Re:ZERO. Petelgeuse seems to have Subaru figured out, and no matter how many times Subaru resets the timeline, he always seems to come up short against the foe, watching his friends suffer and die in various awful ways each time he tries to find a new route to victory.
Not only that, but Petelgeuse almost seems able to guess Subaru’s special ‘reset’ ability, and nearly succeeds in possessing him and ending the story for good! It isn’t until numerous deaths and resets that Subaru develops a working plan, and even then Petelgeuse nearly destroys Subaru. As Subaru writes “The End” in Petelgeuse’s gospel in his own blood, the deranged priest is finally killed after his body is crushed and torn to pieces! We’ll have to wait and see what type of impact Petelgeuse really left on Subaru, but to be sure he was the most difficult foe so far, and on that certainly left Subaru a changed man!
8. Junko Enoshima (Dangan Ronpa)
We warned you about spoilers above, so if you’re still reading and are interested in checking out Dangan Ronpa unspoiled, we suggest you turn back now! In the Dangan Ronpa series (both anime and games) there’s no one quite as twisted and evil as Junko Enoshima, the mastermind behind the initial murder game, as well as the leader of a cult dedicated to bringing her twisted sense of despair to the world! Junko seemingly dies right away in Dangan Ronpa, only for it to be later revealed that it was her own sister who she happily murdered! Junko reveals herself as the mastermind behind Monokuma, having lead the students to murdering each other and laughing all the way!
Despite being killed at the end of the first Dangan Ronpa, the second game (which didn’t have an anime, sadly!) reveals that Junko lives on as Junko Alter, a computer virus seeking to continue her twisted legacy! In the second anime series, Danganon Ronpa 3, Junko appears in both the Despair and Hope routes, showing us how she gained her position of power and set up the initial game. And in the Hope route, Junko’s ghost seems bewildered to watch the antics of the cast’s struggle, before fading away, hopefully forever. Junko may not be the most ‘hands on’ villain, but she’s certainly a troublesome one who caused a literal world of despair, and whose legacy seems poised to last long after she’s dead.
7. Tao Pai Pai (Dragon Ball / Dragon Ball Z)
Usually, a returning villain is a major hindrance to the protagonist, presenting them with constant roadblocks to success. That’s not quite the case for Tao Pai Pai, who goes from being one of the deadliest foes Goku ever met to a comically inept weakling. First appearing during Goku’s attempts to gather the Dragon Balls at the employ of Commander Red, Tao Pai Pai is one of Goku’s first truly dangerous opponents. Tao is shown to be cunning, cold, and murderous, killing numerous people simply because he wants to, and almost kills Goku! Goku eventually defeats Tao, and if not for the assassin’s cowardly attempts to get the last laugh, might have lived unscathed; instead, Goku deflects his grenade back to him, leaving Tao for dead.
Later, however, it turns out Tao Pai Pai is far from dead, re-appearing with cybernetic upgrades and bent on killing Tien and Goku! Vastly outclassed by the powerful Tien, he doesn’t show up again until the Cell Games in Dragon Ball Z as little more than comic relief, but still as evil and conniving as usual!
6. Toguro Brothers (Yu Yu Hakusho)
There probably isn’t a more iconic villain in Yu Yu Hakusho than Younger Toguro and his demonically powered muscled form, but even without that recognition, these two Toguros are a thorn in Yusuke and company’s side for the entire series, with Elder Toguro being the longest recurring villain in the show! First showing up during the Spirit Detective arc of the show, the Toguros are a formidable pair of bodyguards to the despicable Tarukane. In a fierce battle against Yusuke and Kuwabara, the pair of heroes are barely victorious against the powerful brothers, and it seems as if Kuwabara has killed Younger Toguro with a sword to the chest.
Shortly after, however, we learn that really wasn’t the case, and sure enough the Toguros re-emerge, forcing Yusuke and the others to fight in the Dark Tournament! Toguro constantly pushes Yusuke to become more powerful, and seems to get his wish, eventually dying to Yusuke’s powered up form. However, the Elder Toguro survives after being presumed dead, reappearing from inside the body of Gourmet during the Chapter Black saga! While his brother only seemed impossible to defeat, Elder Toguro truly seems to be immortal, and it takes a cunning attack by Kurama to sentence the Elder Toguro to a life of never ending punishment, where he can’t hurt anyone again!
5. Orochimaru (Naruto / Naruto Shippuden / Boruto)
When we think of returning villains, Orochimaru is certainly pretty high on that list, perhaps redeemed by the fact that he seems to make amends for his villainy by the end of the series, appearing in Boruto as a neutral character (so far). Still, many anime fans probably can’t forget the first time Orochimaru slithered into the story, and his constant meddling and capture of Sasuke lead to one of the most iconic moments in the entire series: Naruto vs. Sasuke. Orochimaru certainly made himself known throughout the series, utilizing his ability to body hop and revive himself numerous times before being seemingly sealed away and defeated by Itachi.
That sense of victory was short lived, however, as Sasuke himself releases Orochimaru to get answers. This proves to be a turning point for the snake ninja, as he realizes Sasuke is now far too powerful to possess, and instead the once head villain of the series begins his path to something resembling redemption. That said, who knows where Boruto will go, so Orochimaru might end up going back to his old tricks once again...
4. Shou Tucker (Fullmetal Alchemist )
Now if this list were the Top 10 Worst Human Beings Ever, Shou Tucker would certainly be #1 with a bullet (or an alchemically powered hand through the face). However, Shou’s return in the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime was a total (and unwanted) surprise, as the series deviated from the manga quite a bit. While Scar had the pleasure of killing Shou in the manga, in the anime Shou vanishes into ‘military custody’... until he suddenly re-emerges as a chimera!
Shou’s mind is more gone than it was the first time, obsessed with trying to revive his daughter… the same one he turned into a chimera. Shou doesn’t meet his maker this time either, being left in the anime an obsessed failure trying to regain what he lost. We won’t really spend time trying to rationalize this despicable man’s actions, but suffice to say fans at the time were thoroughly shocked to see this terrible man-thing appear again!
3. Char Aznable (Mobile Suit Gundam)
It wouldn’t be far to claim that without Char, Mobile Suit Gundam may not have been as successful as it was. Amuro was an amazing, if flawed, protagonist, and he desperately needed an equally flawed and interesting rival. Char Aznable was easily able to take that position, and the Zeon pilot wreaked havoc on Amuro, pushing the Newtype to defeat him. Char is last seen giving Kycilla Zabi a unique one bazooka salute, before himself disappearing in the impending explosion. However, during the events of Zeta Gundam, a mysterious and charismatic man by the name of Quattro Bajeena shows up. Char’s alias is almost too heroic, coming across as one of the most helpful and good characters in the series, but as with most things dealing with Char, his motives are never that easy to discern.
Char re-emerges as himself during the events of Char’s Counterattack, and he and Amuro resume their rivalry, this time seemingly finishing each other off as their Psycoframe equipped suits overload, leaving both men MIA and presumed dead at the end. However, as of Gundam Unicorn, it seems part of Char is still around, emerging as Full Frontal. The conclusion of Unicorn sees the original Gundam Newtypes are reunited in spirit form, and Char, Lalah, and Amuro seemingly reconcile, ready to finally fade away.
2. Frieza (Dragon Ball Z / Dragon Ball Super)
While Goku had faced numerous powerful foes in both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z, Frieza may be the most iconic and infamous foe, cementing the series as a fan favorite and introducing fans to Super Saiyan Goku, having pushed the fighter to his limits. Frieza is one of the deadliest foes Goku ever meets, and a truly despicable and selfish person, concerned only with achieving immortality and taking over the universe, or killing everyone in it! Goku eventually defeats Frieza, leaving him to potentially survive, until the selfish alien seemingly kills himself with his own desperate final attack. However, when things seem to have calmed down on Earth, Frieza (now cybernetically enhanced!) returns… only to be quickly cut down by Trunks!
Frieza appears a few times during the Majin Buu saga, but mostly as a commentator on the fight against Buu, and has been seemingly finally vanquished… until the movie Resurrection of F! Having escaped Hell, Frieza re-appears on Earth, and his new Golden Frieza form once again makes him an imposing foe. However, his usual failings cost him again, and is this time defeated by Vegeta and Goku. However, this would still not be the end for him, as the Universe Survival Saga sees Frieza return… as a good guy?! That’s right, sort of! Frieza agrees to help Goku in the Universe Survival Tournament on the condition that he get revived. In true Frieza fashion, it becomes hard to figure out what his intentions really are, but in the end he and Goku make an odd couple pairing that, with the help of Android 17, save the day (Frieza even sacrifices himself!). But, as of the closing scenes of Dragon Ball Super, Frieza probably hasn’t learned much, so it’s likely we’ll see him clashing with our heroes once again!
1. Dio (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
If you already guessed the #1 spot on this list, congratulations! If you not, well, we won’t make that joke, but you probably know the one we mean! Sometimes a villain truly makes a series, and Dio is definitely that villain. While the heroes of JoJo’s various arcs are all great, they wouldn’t be half as compelling without the truly awful Dio to stand against. And even when Dio isn’t the central villain, his influence is lingering in the background. From his initial rise to immortality against Jonathan Joestar to eventually stealing the body of his hated rival to the revival of the Pillar Men brought on by people’s fascination with the Stone Masks to the return of Dio in Stardust Crusaders, Dio and the Joestars are forever linked in combat.
But even when the spotlight drifts from Dio in Diamond is Unbreakable, his machinations with the nature of Stands leads to the Arrow finding its way to Morioh-Cho and wreaking havoc as new stand users emerge! And, while they haven’t been animated yet, we’ll just simply say that Dio’s influence in the future JoJo storylines is not to be underestimated… When you least expect it, Dio might just strike again!
Do you have any favorite seemingly immortal villains that heroes just can’t seem to get rid of? Let us know in the comments!
Nicole is a features and a social video script writer for Crunchyroll. Known to profess her love of otome games over at her blog, Figuratively Speaking. When she has the time, she also streams some games. Follow her on Twitter: @ellyberries