Generally, shonen protagonists are good-natured people who want to become the strongest they can to save the world from evil. With the power of friendship and endless abilities at their side, these characters generally achieve their goals and become empowering figures for their comrades and the audience alike. However, not every shonen protagonist is very likable.
Some of them fall victim to over-reliance on standard tropes, while others are simply unlikable because of their irredeemable actions throughout their series. Whatever the case, these shonen protagonists don’t live up to the images of their beloved contemporaries.
10 Natsu Dragneel Didn’t Have Any Character Development (Fairy Tail)
Many viewers wanted to like Natsu when they started watching Fairy Tail, but his character arc fell flat because he never developed. Audiences want to see a character with believable and inspiring growth, but Natsu remained stagnant throughout the series.
Many of his victories just feel contrived. Most of them translate as him winning solely because he’s the protagonist, and he’s expected to overcome every hardship thrown his way. Many of Fairy Tail’s side characters, like Erza, are more compelling than Natsu.
9 Takemichi Needs To Grow A Backbone (Tokyo Revengers)
While other protagonists take their hardships with stride and use it as ammunition to prove their foes wrong, Takemichi would rather sulk and victimize himself. He may have tons of determination, but it’s completely useless if he’s going to start crying instead of fighting. In the brutal world of street gangs, it’s important to have a backbone, and Takemichi has yet to grow one.
At the end of the day, Takemichi is a 26-year-old man who’s still getting bullied by elementary schoolers and would rather build puzzles than improve himself as a person.
8 Gon Is Too Selfish (Hunter X Hunter)
Although Gon is the protagonist, he’s outshined by the side characters, especially Killua. While he has plenty of lovable qualities, a few glaringly apparent issues make him hard to like. Throughout the series, Gon is incredibly selfish. When he left Whale Island and upended his life for the Hunter Exam, it was a pursuit that disregarded his foster mother so he could chase after his absentee father.
While many viewers didn’t mind this, Gon’s selfishness came to a crescendo during the Chimera Ant arc. He even treated Killua, his best friend, poorly and many of his actions are inexcusable.
7 Goku Is Too Predictable (Dragon Ball)
Though Goku is one of the most popular anime protagonists, it’s not easy to like him. Even the fiery Vegeta is more likable than Goku. Every time a new villain pops up, it’s a given that Goku will defeat him because he’s the protagonist, and that’s what he’s supposed to do.
On top of that, it’s become predictable that Goku will always give the villains too many chances. Even though he’s a talented fighter, his strategies have also become predictable throughout the series. Rather than switching it up a bit, Goku’s approach to battle has become somewhat formulaic and contrived.
6 Izuku Doesn’t Know When To Give Up (My Hero Academia)
Izuku Midoriya is one of shonen’s most popular protagonists, but many fans find it hard to like him. Though he comes from humble beginnings and has an underdog story unmatched by most, Izuku’s overemotional personality and tendency to get into everyone else’s business gets old after a while.
Additionally, it doesn’t seem like Izuku knows when to give up in battle. When he first acquired One For All, he was so reckless that he’d break his fingers and limbs repeatedly if it meant he’d win the fight. It was empowering at first, but it became too predictable.
5 Asta Is One-Dimensional (Black Clover)
All shonen protagonists are excitable and yell a lot, but Asta’s constant yammering is just overkill. Most people can look past his constant shouting since he stops doing it as much in the series, but even after the timeskip, Asta never showed any significant character development.
He plays into every shonen cliché, but he doesn’t do anything revolutionary with them. Sure he’s determined and unwaveringly optimistic, but so is almost every other shonen protagonist. Asta brings nothing new to the table and he’s a one-dimensional character.
4 Boruto Can’t Shine In His Father’s Shadow
Since he’s the Seventh Hokage’s son, and one of the most famous anime characters of all time, Boruto had some pretty big shoes to fill. Unfortunately, he’s failed to shine in his father’s shadow. Unlike Naruto, Boruto had no conviction at the beginning of the series.
Even though this stemmed from his resentment for Naruto, nobody wants to watch a protagonist with no conviction or goals. Even when he started training to be a ninja, Boruto couldn’t accept defeat and acted like a stuck-up brat instead of taking the loss and moving on.
3 Yukiteru Is A Coward Who Can’t Think For Himself (Future Diary)
Yukiteru might be the most universally hated shonen protagonist of all time. He’s excruciatingly indecisive and would rather hide behind Yuno than deal with the challenge ahead of him. All of his successes in the series are thanks to Yuno.
While this behavior was excusable at first, there’s no reason why Yukiteru couldn’t have grown up at some point in the series and started pulling his own weight rather than relying on everybody else. Some argue that he’s just a scared kid in an unfamiliar world, but compared to other shonen protagonists, it’s a pretty weak excuse for his behavior.
2 Eren Is Well-Written, But He’s Far From Likable (Attack On Titan)
There’s no denying that Eren Yeager is an excellently-written character, but it’s hard to like him. Just because a character is well-written doesn’t mean that he’s the type of person anyone wants to be friends with. Although he had noble aspirations at the beginning of the series, it’s pretty hard to find any redeeming qualities in a mass-murderer. He went from a brave hero to a complex anti-hero and then became a full-blown villain by the end.
Even at the beginning, he was a reckless guy who boldly declared that he would eradicate all the Titans. It’s a bold claim for anyone to make, but everyone respected him after seeing how devoted to the training he was. Unfortunately, he fell off the deep end and is now irredeemable.
1 Light Yagami Has A Warped View Of Justice & A Major God Complex (Death Note)
Despite his charisma, Light Yagami is one of shonen’s most unlikeable protagonists. He’s arrogant, manipulative, and appointed himself as the god of the new world. He said he wanted to eradicate crime but ended up killing everyone who got in his way, including his father.
Light’s behavior was infuriating. He would manipulate whoever he needed to acheive his goals. Although Misa is also unlikable, she never deserved to be abused and used as one of Light’s pawns. He disregards the value of human life, and everybody is disposable to him.