9 Times Beloved Anime Characters Were Nerfed Too Hard

Gohan Stops Training For Seven Years In The 'Dragon Ball' Universe

What have you done to our boy?! Sometimes anime fans are sadly forced to utter these words when their favorite characters start to lose their cool factor, almost always due to writing choices.

In some cases, these characters just didn’t get the greatest development; they aren’t terrible, but they could stand for some improvement. This is true of Elias Ainsworth from The Ancient Magus’ Bride. Bone Daddy isn’t a horrible character, but he does some things that make his relationship with Chise seriously questionable. In other cases, the character is wrecked beyond all redemption. For example, does anybody really still like Gohan after the Cell Games? And what Sword Art Online fan isn’t righteously pissed when Asuna spends all of Season 2 locked in a cage? 

It’s frustrating when beloved characters get less awesome over the course of the show…let’s commiserate! 

1. Gohan Stops Training For Seven Years In The ‘Dragon Ball’ Universe

Gohan Stops Training For Seven Years In The 'Dragon Ball' Universe

Remember when Gohan beats the living tar out of Vegeta by transforming into a Great Ape? At a very young age, Gohan takes on enemies who are far more powerful than him despite insurmountable odds. Is he scared? Of course, but despite his fear, he does what’s necessary to save humanity. 

That all falls apart as the series progresses. During the Cell Games, Gohan gets too scared to fight. This change seems less like reasonable character development and more a means of creating conflict. Later, he stops training altogether for seven whole years, though he knows new opponents threaten Earth’s safety.

We love Gohan, and he’s definitely still a badass…but when you have the potential to be the strongest fighter in the universe and end up becoming a nerdy scholar instead, fans are going to be disappointed.

2. Ash Ketchum Doesn’t Learn From His Past Experiences In ‘Pokémon’

Ash Ketchum Doesn't Learn From His Past Experiences In 'Pokémon'

Ash doesn’t actually change much over the course of the series; he stays the same happy-go-lucky guy who knows almost nothing about Pokémon. At the start of his journey, this is completely understandable. However, as the trainer works with more rare species, he seems to become less knowledgeable. When he releases Butterfree, Ash understands the Pokémon wants to stay behind and mate. But when the same thing happens with a Cottonee in later episodes, Ash is totally clueless.

If you are a fan who tracks Ash throughout his various journeys, you may find his lack of development hard to forgive. 

3. Orochimaru Loses His Venom In ‘Naruto’

Orochimaru Loses His Venom In 'Naruto'

At Naruto’s inception, Orochimaru stands as one of the most horrifying villains in the series. From his menacing promises to take over Sasuke’s body to his grotesque snake-themed jutsu to the torturous human experimentation he forces on people in pursuit of immortality, Orochimaru is just plain bad.

As the series progresses, though, more and more villains enter the show. Unlike the rest of the villains, Orochimaru doesn’t have a compelling backstory explaining his behavior. He becomes farcical. In fact, he’s considered so non-threatening that during Boruto, the villain is allowed to attend a parent-teacher conference at Ninja Academy and stand in the same room with people he had mistreated.

He may not try to end the whole world like other villains, but he does kill 60 kids in one go and leave the sole survivor under a pile of corpses. So the fact he morphs into an eccentric grandfather is absurd. 

4. Asuna Yuuki From ‘Sword Art Online’ Turns Into A Damsel In Distress

Asuna Yuuki From 'Sword Art Online' Turns Into A Damsel In Distress

When Asuna first appears, she’s an awesome heroine who holds her own in battle, but she eventually accepts Kirito as an equal partner. That’s why their eventual romantic relationship is worth supporting. In the second season of Sword Art Online, Asuna falls victim to a creep named Nobuyuki Sugou. He slobbers all over her, locks her in a cage, and renders her helpless. Asuna relies almost completely on Kirito to rescue her.

A formerly capable fighter morphs into a damsel in distress; the change is surprising and unwelcome.

5. Light Yagami Loses All Self-Respect By The End Of ‘Death Note’

Light Yagami Loses All Self-Respect By The End Of 'Death Note'

When Light Yagami first gets his hands on the Death Note, he genuinely wants to create a better world. He kills criminals without checking if they’re actually guilty, but he still means well. As the series progresses, the character’s focus shifts from bettering humanity to defeating L, avoiding getting caught, and amassing power. He repeatedly compromises his own morals, killing people solely because they get in his way. Light Yagami even puts his own family in danger.

Power corrupts him, but when he actually comes face to face with death, the marauder becomes truly pathetic. He screams, cries, and begs for his life, drooling as he brays a litany of excuses.

6. Jaden Yuki Turns Evil And Ceases To Exist In ‘Yu-Gi-Oh! GX’

Jaden Yuki Turns Evil And Ceases To Exist In 'Yu-Gi-Oh! GX'

Judai Yuki (also known as Jaden Yuki in the dubbed version) is a pretty solid protagonist. He’s cheerful, upbeat, and fun, but he maintains an inner darkness. He’s like Naruto Uzumaki, but with less development and more card games.

In Season 3, though, Judai’s girlfriend from a past life – now a malevolent spirit named Yubel – shows up and brainwashes her former lover. He becomes a genocidal villain; his friends have to defeat him. Judai lets Yubel live in his body, becoming totally cold and unfeeling. He never shows a glimpse of his former, cheerful self. Eventually, he drops out of school and abandons everyone and everything he previously loved.

That’s it. That’s the end of the show; the protagonist’s main arc is unresolved.

7. Ciel Phantomhive Gets Too Clingy In ‘Black Butler II’

Ciel Phantomhive Gets Too Clingy In 'Black Butler II'

Black Butler II focuses less on Ciel as an individual character, and more on weird fan service between Ciel and Sebastian. Instead of being independent and dealing with his own problems, Ciel increasingly depends on Sebastian, relying on his counterpart for everything. Before the second series, Ciel at least tries to be self-sufficient. 

Is it fair for a 12-year-old kid with slain parents to be a little dependent and emotionally unstable? Sure, but Ciel isn’t like that at the start of the series. And his transition is far from organic.

8. Akira Midousuji Stops Maturing In ‘Yowamushi Pedal’

Akira Midousuji Stops Maturing In 'Yowamushi Pedal'

Akira Midousuji starts off in Yowamushi Pedal as a delightfully creepy antagonist, using a combination of intimidating body language, sarcasm, and threats to make his bike team follow orders and scare opponents. It turns out, though, Akira’s poor behavior results from grief over his mother’s death and past bullying. He softens a little and connects with his understanding teammate, Ishigaki, and his opponent, Onoda. Akira even loses a race.

Instead, of using this moment as a catalyst for growth, Akira becomes increasingly unhinged, crossing major lines and manipulating his unstable classmate, Komari, into groping people during a race. 

9. Naruto Becomes A Really Disappointing Adult In ‘Boruto’

Naruto Becomes A Really Disappointing Adult In 'Boruto'

When Naruto becomes Boruto’s dad, his personality takes a total nosedive. As a child, Naruto’s lonely and starved for adult affection. But when he becomes a parent, he spends all his time at work, neglecting his children. In fact, Boruto actively hates his dad.

Young Naruto wants to become Hokage to make his village accept him after a lifetime of being shunned for something he can’t control. When he finally gains this power, he maintain the status quo, rarely achieving real social change. Naruto knows he works for a government responsible for the deaths of his best friend’s family. 

While it’s not unrealistic for Naruto to be so uninspiring and timid, it’s also deeply cynical and disappointing. He’s goes from being a neglected, abused orphan to a disappointing world savior. He can be better in Boruto, but he’s not.