9 Brutal Times Pacifist Anime Characters Had To Betray Their No Killing Code

Armin Kills A Person To Save Jean In 'Attack On Titan'

Just because an anime character doesn’t want to kill doesn’t mean that they never will. Even the kindest, most gentle characters are sometimes put in situations where they have very little choice but to go against thier principles and take a life. 

There are plenty of anime pacifists who were forced to kill. One particualrly harrowing example is Euphemia Li Britannia, who was hypnotized into opening fire on a group of people who she’d pledged to protect. There’s also Itachi Uchiha, whose fervent desire for peace left him vulnerable to being manipulated by Danzo into eliminating his own family. But not every example is a tragedy – Gohan stepping up to take down Cell is an example of his character growth.

Which of these examples had a big impact on you?

1. Euphemia Li Britannia Is Hypnotized By The Geass In ‘Code Geass’

Euphemia Li Britannia Is Hypnotized By The Geass In 'Code Geass'

All Euphemia Li Britannia ever wanted was to help the Japanese people achieve as much freedom as possible despite her family’s ironclad rule over their country. She even makes some headway by opening up a zone that is exclusively governed by the Japanese people, thus creating a peaceful compromise between her colonizing family and the Japanese people. On the day that she’s set to give a speech announcing the plan, Lelouch accidentally uses his Geass to order her to eliminate every Japanese person she encounters, she whips out a machine gun and turns from savior to shooter. The whole mess ends with Euphemia passing away as Suzaku reassures her that she’d done the helpful thing she tried to do. 

2. Itachi Uchiha Is Forced To Eliminate His Clan In ‘Naruto’

Itachi Uchiha Is Forced To Eliminate His Clan In 'Naruto'

Despite desperately desiring peace, Itachi Uchiha has probably taken more lives than most serial killers. As a talented child from a powerful ninja family, he was more or less forced into the trade. Even then, it was tough for him to cope with all the fighting, because his early wartorn childhood had traumatized him. Things got worse when Danzo Shimura, the leader of Root, gave him an ultimatum that he knew he’d accept: take out his entire family and be spared along with his brother, or wait for Root to do the job and spare no one.

Rather than warn his family of the coming attack, Itachi took up Danzo on his offer. He knew that if the Uchiha family was expecting it, it would spark a war that would cause countless casualties outside of his family. To keep the peace, he felt that he had to eliminate his own family. 

3. Vash The Stampede Is Manipulated Into Breaking His Vow In ‘Trigun’

Vash The Stampede Is Manipulated Into Breaking His Vow In 'Trigun'

Trigun is pretty much all about this trope. Vash absolutely doesn’t want to take lives under any circumstances, and has carefully arranged his existence so that he doesn’t have to. Legato Bluesummers –  Knives’ right hand man – really, really wants Vash to go back on his principles. He repeatedly forces him into situations where if he doesn’t take someone else’s life, he’ll lose his own. When Vash finally gets him into a compromised position, Legato tries to persuade Vash to end him. Vash refuses until Legato threatens to eliminate Milly and Meryl. Feeling cornered, Vash shoots Legato in the head. Legato passes away happily, knowing that the event will traumatize Vash for life. 

4. Sakunosuke Oda Is Driven To Revenge In ‘Bungo Stray Dogs’

Sakunosuke Oda Is Driven To Revenge In 'Bungo Stray Dogs'

Despite being a member of the mafia, Sakunosuke Oda refuses to take lives. Not only does he expend extra effort into avoiding fatalities, he also puts effort into helping people when he doesn’t have to – the biggest example of this being when he adopts five children who were orphaned in a mafia-related incident.

It’s actually the kids that trigger him to give up his former pacifism. After he refuses to work with an organization called Mimic, they retaliate by kidnapping his kids and destroying them via explosion. Enraged beyond his capacity, he decides to get revenge. Upon finding Mimic’s hideout, he wipes out every member he comes across, before ultimately losing his life in the skirmish.

5. Armin Kills A Person To Save Jean In ‘Attack On Titan’

Armin Kills A Person To Save Jean In 'Attack On Titan'

Up until this point, Armin has never killed a Titan. Therefore, it’s quite tragic that his first kill ended up being another human. Since our protagonists always viewed Titans as humanity’s enemies, it never occurred to them that they would have to kill humans as well. Out of all the characters, Armin is the most gentle and compassionate. But when a member from Kenny’s squad points her gun at Jean, Armin reacts quickly and shoots her first. Although he saved Jean, he is deeply disturbed and regretful that he took another human’s life. 

6. Gohan Realizes That Compassion Has Limits In ‘Dragon Ball Z’

Gohan Realizes That Compassion Has Limits In 'Dragon Ball Z'

Unlike many of the characters in Dragon Ball Z, Gohan has always taken the sanctity of life seriously. Reluctant to do permanent damage to his enemies unless absolutely necessary, he prefers gentler resolutions to problems. But during the fight against Cell, he realizes that in some cases, a peaceful resolution is impossible, and what matters is protecting innocent people from harm. After achieving his Super Saiyan 2 transformation and getting a little bit of encouragement from his dad, he targets Cell with a fatal blast. 

7. Shinichi Izumi Fights For His Own Survival In ‘Parasyte’

Shinichi Izumi Fights For His Own Survival In 'Parasyte'

Before being introduced to the dangerous world of parasites, Shinichi Izumi was a staunch pacifist who wanted to avoid conflict at all costs. Once Migi starts living in his right hand, he has no choice but to defend himself against other parasites who want to destroy them for being “abnormal.” For a long time, he refuses to kill anybody no matter how much danger he faces, preferring to allow himself to be severely injured instead. In most cases, it’s Migi who tries to defend them both. 

But ultimately, when Shinichi is facing an extremely powerful parasite named Gotou, he decides to destroy him rather than allow himself to be destroyed. He realizes that he is no different from the parasites who he abhorred – he, like them, is simply an animal fighting for his own survival. He has to prioritize human life because he is human, just as parasites have to prioritize parasite life. The conclusion is what allows him to push aside his feelings of guilt to save himself. 

8. Akira Fudo Is Transformed Into A Monster In ‘Devilman Crybaby’

Akira Fudo Is Transformed Into A Monster In 'Devilman Crybaby'

Akira Fudo is a kindhearted person who has no desire to hurt anyone, but he isn’t given much of a choice after his childhood friend Ryou Asuka forcibly transforms him into Devilman. His former pacifist self slowly begins to disintegrate, leaving him a bloodthirsty disaster-being who cleaves through monsters and humans alike. Though he tries at first to control himself, his more bestial side eventually takes over. He still tries to defend humanity whenever possible, but Ryou’s manipulation makes this more than a little difficult.

One notable example of this is when a demon named Jinmen devours his mother and takes possession of his father’s body. In order to stop the demon, he’s forced to eliminate his father. He’s wracked with guilt afterwards, but it also serves as a catalyst to push him further into his demonic behavior.

9. Kogami Becomes Obsessed With Revenge In ‘Psycho-Pass’

Kogami Becomes Obsessed With Revenge In 'Psycho-Pass'

In the world of Psycho-Pass, the Sibyl System determines whether a citizen is capable of becoming a threat to society. It can predict whether you’ll commit a crime before you even do it. Shinya Kogami used to be an Inspector for the Public Safety Bureau, a job that only a person with a clear Psycho-Pass is allowed to hold. But after witnessing the brutal murder of his colleague and friend, Kogami becomes obssessed with revenge. Consequently, he is demoted to an Enforcer and his Crime Coefficient increases. He vows to kill the culprit, Makishima, even if it means letting go of his humanity and becoming an enemy to the Sibyl System. Despite Akane’s attempts to stop him, he delivers his vengeance upon Makishima in a moving finale.