Anime Characters With Wasted Potential: The Ultimate ListThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Just like in real life, sometimes anime just isn’t fair.
Be it a character we love for their personality who gets thrown under the bus (or onto the bus), or someone with powers beyond what’s needed that dies unnecessarily, we all hate when potential is totally wasted.
So here we’re looking into some characters in anime who just had everything, but were carelessly thrown away by their creator.
Definite spoiler warning ahead, though.
If you read the title of the anime and haven’t seen it yet, be careful!
1. Houtarou Oreki
Phenomenally smart and able to deduce things most characters wouldn’t even understand, Houtarou is let down as a character by a fatal flaw – his “energy conservation”.
Which, in this case, is a positively-spun euphemism for “he’s exceptionally lazy”.
If he was bothered to lift more than a finger at any point, Houtarou would have been one of the best characters in the show.
Heck, if the laziness hadn’t been used as a crutch by the writer to make sure he didn’t outshine everyone else, he would have felt like a more fleshed out and realistic character full stop.
However, what we got was little more than a teenager who couldn’t be bothered.
And as realistic as that might be, it’s not super interesting, is it?
2. Naomi Misora
Anime: Death Note
Poor Naomi. Sometimes being intelligent just makes the writer put you in a corner that only your death can fix.
See, the show would have ben about half as long had Naomi actually managed to reach her full potential as a character – which doesn’t do much for telling a good story either.
So once she made her revelations, she was swiftly exited as a part of showing us how smart and all-seeing Light Yagami is, at the cost of her actually worth being in the show in the first place.
It doesn’t pay to be smart, kids!
At least if you’re an anime character, that is.
3. Rock Lee
The Naruto anime underwent a bit of a powershift early on with a large timeskip, meaning a vast swathe of characters who were incredibly strong wound up being brushed aside easily.
Rock Lee got the worst end of this deal by far.
His character development was sound up to that point, too – he had no discernible ninja skills, so underwent special training that we saw in fairly complete depth.
We got a good angle on all sorts of things to do with his character.
Then Shippuden happened, and all of a sudden Rock Lee became less than a background character, despite all the investment in him.
What a waste of a potentially fantastic addition to the story.
Anime: Dragon Ball Z
It seems like Dragon Ball has a real problem with introducing random siblings, and then completely ignoring them forever.
This entry could easily have been Raditz, Goku’s older brother who just sort of existed for most of the show.
But it’s Vegeta’s younger brother Tarble who really got done dirty by the writers.
He exists purely so that the story can happen, then durdles around for half an hour or so, and then completely vanishes.
He doesn’t even get a look in at the end when every other character gets to sit and eat together!
I’d say poor Tarble, but I didn’t even get a chance to care about him enough to do so.
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist
We’ve got the wasted potential checklist pretty much completed with Paninya, let me tell you.
Some characters might fit one or two of these, but we’ve got a clean sweep here!
Interesting backstory not fully explored? Check.
Character who resonates with fans not given more fleshing out, instead fading into the background? Check.
Getting straight-up vanished out of nowhere before never being seen again with no explanation as to where they’ve gone? Check, check, checkaroo.
And I mean vanished – zero explanation, zero reason. Just completely gone!
It’s a shame, because Paninya absolutely had something to offer the show.
Instead? Poofed out of existence. Life just ain’t fair.
Anime: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
When it comes to characters like Tonpetty, it’s the expectation that turns out to be the cause of the inevitable disappointment.
Tonpetty was a great character, strong and advisory in a way that it seemed like a sure fire thing he would help Jonathon Joestar beat Dio, then train him to fight off all the future potential threats.
Tonpetty gets reduced to sidekick duty while Jonathon fights Dio and then he “retires”, which is a generous way of saying he gets to be not written or talked about anymore and we never see him again.
Justice for Tonpetty.
7. Elizabeth Liones
Anime: Seven Deadly Sins
Depending on who you ask, this entry is either controversial, or I’m being too nice about just how wasted this character was in this show.
People seem to really hate Elizabeth for some reason.
While I can’t say that I understand most of the vitriol that she gets, I can say I understand exactly why she feels like such a wasted character in the show.
It feels like, for most of the show’s runtime, Elizabeth exists to be groped, exposed, or otherwise used as purely eye candy – as opposed to, you know, being an actual person.
There are so many interesting things that could have been done, but they get lost in the creators need to show her off so much.
In fact, I can sum it up in two words – fan service.
8. Gates Capa
Anime: Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
There were a lot of unique or interesting things going for Gates Capa when he appeared in Mobile Suit Zeta, nearly all of which either weren’t expanded on or just flat out ignored.
Being a male Cyber-Newtype was one.
Being a Cyber-Newtype who wasn’t completely bananas insane thanks to all the hypnotic conditioning was another.
And yet, what did we get out of a basically unique character like that?
Well in the anime adaptation at least, he just dies suddenly. No warning, no real reason.
And as for the manga adaptation, it’s possibly even worse: he just goes insane all of a sudden and he and his partner kill each other.
So what was the point of him existing? Little to none, apparently.
9. Yasutora Sado (Chad)
This is one of Ichigo Kurosaki’s closest friends who appears from episode two of this long anime, and is by all rights an intensely powerful character.
Chad is best known for… erm, best known as…
Well, he’s just sort of there, isn’t he? He doesn’t do very much, he doesn’t say very much either.
He was involved in a few fights and flashbacks, but lost the only real significant fight he had after a lot of hyping up.
So why did Chad get so little presence?
At least with Orihime, they went back and gave her a role of some importance – Chad got sold a little short, given his seemingly large part in the whole show.
Anime: Sword Art Online
While some fans may agree that her, let’s say “dress sense” certainly wasn’t a waste of potential – it feels like that might actually be one of the few things Rosalia has going for her.
Though that doesn’t mean it was completely beneficial for her.
In her big battle with Kirito, her being so self-absorbed means he demolishes her without much effort.
This leads to her basically begging to join his party, which he rightfully declines. Given she tried to kill him and all.
Which leaves her as not only a sad looking sort of a loser, but a character which you can only think “what was the point to them being in this show at all?”
11. Yuri Nakamura
Anime: Angel Beats!
Finally an instance we can’t blame on the writers.
Angel Beats! suffered from meddling much higher up the chain, meaning that a staggering thirteen of its planned twenty six episodes were cut.
As you’d expect from a show that was suddenly half as long as it was supposed to be, a lot of characters just didn’t have time to be developed.
Or focused on at all.
Or even not disappear without a trace!
Such is the fate of Yuri Nakamura, who not only lost a lot of precious backstory given she’s one of the main characters, but we also don’t ever get to know how or why she dies.
Which, for a main character, is pretty egregiously wasted potential in my book.
12. Prince Clovis
Anime: Code Geass
I think we’re all on the same page about Prince Clovis not being a morally good character.
He was pretty appalling all round, then tried to be more appalling to cover up his atrocities.
But does that mean he couldn’t have been a better character, development wise? Not at all.
In fact, Prince Clovis had multiple opportunities taken away from him by the writers to actually round him out a little.
But as it goes, he was a one-dimensional bad guy for all of about half an hour, before being killed in the first episode.
Meaning it was pretty much a waste to have even introduced him in the first place, really!
13. Tsumugu Kinagase
Anime: Kill la Kill
For someone who was originally a fearless warrior who would literally fight anyone completely naked, Tsumugu Kinagase has had quite the fall from grace when it comes to being represented as a character.
He seemed to hit a point of badassery, and then all of a sudden, things just started getting taken away.
His fearless warrior rep was replaced by him becoming a bumbling laughing stock of a character.
His tragic backstory was flat out ignored after a while and never revisited.
They even started cutting all of his dialogue, to the point where most of his participation came in the form of grunts or short replies.
Sometimes a noble sacrifice can be the defining moment of a character’s arc.
Maybe they’ve been a semi-villain and turned, or they’re doing something out of character to save someone they love.
That’s not what happened with BlackWarGreymon.
Being the creation of an evil Digimon who turned his back on his master and questioned his existence, BlackWarGreymon didn’t get much of a chance to expound on his new discoveries – as he sacrificed himself for no real reason shortly after he was introduced.
This is why self-sacrifice isn’t always noble. Because sometimes it robs us of actually getting a chance to connect with an interesting character.
15. Midori Save-the-World
Anime: Space Patrol Luluco
With a name like Save-The-World, there’s no way that Midori could possibly be a wasted character, right?
Surely she’ll be a main character and be the focus of every episode.
Well… not quite.
She is a main character, for about two and a half episodes at least.
After that? She falls prey to not being one of the two other main characters who fall in love with each other, and gets shunted to one side in favor of their story.
Poor Midori. Inventing a machine that creates blackholes doesn’t even protect you from being a third wheel in this day and age.