Anime characters often exhibit some of the most unnerving smiles, with Sukuna, Dimple, Tomura Shigaraki, and Death Note’s Ryuk prime examples.
Anime offers a diverse range, from action to romance and everything else, ensuring there’s something to cater to everyone’s taste. Given the animated nature of the medium, creators can convey their characters’ emotions in unique and striking ways.
Iconic characters abound in series like Hunter x Hunter and Jujutsu Kaisen. Smiles are typically seen as warm and welcoming, but in certain contexts, they can evoke fear. Usually, the villains or evil characters brandish such terrifying grins, although occasionally, a cherished character might as well.
Anime Characters With Scary Smiles
Frightening smiles in anime are frequently linked to characters who are either mentally unstable or harbor a deep-seated sinister essence. Such unsettling smirks can incite a sense of dread in viewers as they reflect an absence of empathy and foreshadow potential aggression. Despite their seemingly charming and charismatic demeanor, their true, menacing selves are unveiled through these disconcerting expressions.
These smiles underscore the multifaceted aspects of a character’s persona, thereby enhancing the narrative’s tension and suspense. Therefore, if you encounter a petrifying smile in anime, take it as your cue to flee.
In the following, I’ll discuss several characters whom I believe possess the most terrifying smiles.
12Nnoitra – Bleach
Notable alias: Nnoitra Jiruga
Creator: Tite Kubo
Nnoitra, the fifth member of the Espada, was considered the most dangerous. He conspired with Szayel to cast Nelliel, another member, into the harsh desert. Nnoitra took pleasure in causing harm to others.
During his battle with Ichigo Kurosaki, the villain often wore a smug and patronizing grin. Nonetheless, Kenpachi was able to break through his tough Hierro and emerge victorious, wiping the smile off the villain’s face. Ultimately, due to Nnoitra’s provocative behavior, the shinigami had to kill him.
11Sukuna – Jujutsu Kaisen
Sukuna, the cursed spirit, is of a unique grade and considered the most dominant in the series due to the immense amount of cursed energy he possesses. Upon his awakening, Shibuya immediately felt his presence.
In Shonen series like Jujutsu Kaisen, viewers are often uplifted by the moments when a character displays unwavering self-assurance and a smile on their face as they enter into an extremely challenging battle.
It can be scary to see Yuji Itadori not smiling when he’s fighting in Jujutsu Kaisen. This is because a cursed spirit named Sukuna lives inside Yuji and is known for wearing a large, terrifying smile. Those who have seen Sukuna’s smile likely did not survive to describe its horror.
10Dimple – Mob Psycho 100
Although Dimple is known as a cult leader in Mob Psycho 100, some fans tend to overlook how eerie he was when he was still a human. His followers wore masks with empty, lifeless grins, while his own mask had red circles around his rosy cheeks.
In a Batman comic book, a person became exposed to the Joker’s laughing gas. Cult leaders are known for being charming and appealing, but this person’s smile resembles someone who has been affected by the same gas. Fortunately, after passing away, they transform into a green mist and no longer display the smile that helped them gain a following within their cult. This character is Ryuk from Death Note.
9Ryuk – Death Note
Creators: Takeshi Obata, Tsugumi Ohba
When it comes to my lists, I tend to avoid ranking characters, although I understand that many fans believe Ryuk should be at the top. This particular list was created by Obata and Tsugumi Ohba.
The following is my interpretation of Death Note. The anime introduces a dangerous god creature named Ryuk, also known as a Shinigami, who plays a crucial role in Light’s journey with the death note.
Ryuk has a distinct appearance, with large greyish-blue features and hair reminiscent of Dragon Ball characters. His unsettling eyes and constant half-smile with razor-sharp teeth make him a frightening presence. It’s like seeing someone half-smiling at you from across the room.
8Haumea – Fire Force
Among the White Clad’s most hopeful members, Haumea spearheads several operations against Tokyo’s protectors. As she exercises her ignition power over her foes, her malevolent grin broadens, and she is almost perpetually smiling.
At times, she accentuates her customary smirk by sticking out her tongue, resulting in a bizarre and terrifying gesture. Consequently, she stands as one of the most memorable and lethal characters within her organization.
7Caster – Fate/Zero
The Fate series comprises a multitude of stories, unfolding within an expansive and intricate narrative universe. Fate/Zero brings viewers into the Caster class of the Fourth Holy Grail War, where Ryuunosuke Uryuu’s master, Gilles de Rais, is a serial murderer whose inherent bloodlust aligns seamlessly with his own.
Caster’s facial features, particularly his smile, frequently spark discussions among the fandom due to their unsettling quality. Rather than reflecting the joy typically associated with greeting someone, his smile instead mirrors the adrenaline rush experienced when one ensnares their prey.
6Tomura Shigaraki – My Hero Academia
The antagonist Tomura Shigaraki has consistently exuded an unsettling aura since his debut in My Hero Academia. Over time, his previously off-putting grin has morphed into a chilling trademark as his power and maturity escalate.
His disintegrating visage amplifies the horror of his smile. Even though he often obscures his face with his hand, his signature grin is so iconic that it remains strikingly visible. When he smiles, it’s a clear signal to all that his sole intent is to inflict damage on whomever he targets.
5Doflamingo – One Piece
Doflamingo had ample justification for his frequent smiles. He was the king of Dressrosa, a celestial dragon, and also a member of the Seven Warlords.
For this villain, there was a perverse pleasure in reveling in his enemies’ miseries. His grin was at its peak when he coerced King Riku into stealing from and slaughtering his own people. The only expression that rivals Doflamingo’s expansive smile is his resentful frown when his schemes are thwarted by Luffy or Law.
4Smiling Titan – Attack On Titan
Please note that this excerpt contains spoilers for Attack on Titan. Titans, being enormous monstrous beings, are undeniably fearsome. There are numerous instances in the anime where a smile can be outright horrifying.
One such prominent instance is the Titan referred to as the Smiling Titan or Abnormal Titan, owing to its distinctive facial expression. Initially thought to be a random assailant when it targeted the Jaeger family, Eren was forced to witness his mother’s demise at its hands.
Ironically, this particular Titan was Eren’s father’s first wife, who was accused of treason and transformed into a Titan. In Attack on Titan, every narrative thread is interwoven in a manner that is emotionally taxing.
3Nanika – Hunter x Hunter
Every character involved in Killua’s life holds a position within the Zoldyck family. Alluka Zoldyck, Killua’s younger sister, is possessed. The final arc of Hunter x Hunter’s 2011 version introduces the most intriguing among them, though most of them are not virtuous individuals.
Inside Alluka resides an entity known as Nanika, which serves both as a blessing and a curse. Nanika’s lifeless, emotionless grin is chilling and tension-building, for anyone versed in horror knows that children can be exceptionally eerie.
Marik Ishtar, simply referred to as Marik in the anime and manga series Yu-Gi-Oh! Marik, an adopted child, was raised by his elder brother who instilled in him the belief of his own inferiority.
Assuming control of his own destiny, Marik ascends as the chief of the Rare Hunters, a faction dedicated to pilfering rare Duel Monster cards.
Additionally, Marik possesses a relic from ancient Egypt known as the Millennium Rod. This artifact grants him the ability to manipulate individuals by exploiting their “weakest point.” He employs this power to maneuver several characters throughout the arc, including Seto Kaiba and Mokuba.
1Mad Pierrot – Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop is regarded as a top-tier anime due to its adeptness in traversing between earnest and lighter tones. Unexpectedly, the episode “Pierrot le Fou” introduces a character who is a horrifying combination of an entertainer and a lab experiment. His rigid smile suggests a sense of entrapment within his own skin.
Crafting a more terrifying smile largely involves the character’s eyes, and with Mad Pierrot, his intense red eyes remain unblinking, locked in a perpetual stare.