10 Demon Slayer Heroes With The Saddest Backstories

Split image of Demon Slayer characters: Misturi Kanroji, Kyojuro Rengoku, and Tengen Uzui.

Even the strongest heroes in the world of Demon Slayer have dark pasts. Only the best of the best can survive in the Demon Slayer Corps. In order to do that, some draw on their misfortunes to give them strength. In other cases, the struggle to move forward with their lives after tragedy is difficult.

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Life in Taisho-era Japan is not kind to any characters, whether heroes or villains. It is the heroes, however, who vow to make the world a safer place and protect the innocent from demons. Many of the heroes that viewers have come to know and love have suffered terrible trauma and loss.



10 Inosuke Hashibira

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When Inosuke Hashibira was an infant, his mother fled with her baby from his abusive father. Inosuke and his mother were taken in by a cult that later was revealed to be created by Doma as a way to lure in and eat humans. When Inosuke’s mother discovered the truth, she escaped with her baby once again, only to be cornered by the demon.

Trapped with no other options or escape, she dropped Inosuke off a cliff into a river in the hopes he would survive. The baby was found and raised by wild boars on a mountainside, never knowing human companionship until he joined the Demon Slayer Corps as a teenager.

9 Genya Shinazugawa

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Genya Shinazugawa stares into the sun in Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba.

Genya Shinazugawa is the younger brother of Wind Hashira, Sanemi. Genya believes Sanemi is responsible for killing their mother and develops a hatred for his brother. Years later, Genya learns his mother was a demon and joins the Demon Slayer Corps to make amends with Sanemi.

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Genya’s hatred fuels his actions, turning him into a bitter and unapproachable young man. He passes Final Selection with Tanjiro but cannot use a breathing style like the rest of the Corps. Instead, Genya uses his own special ability to eat pieces of demons, temporarily gaining their powers.

8 Tanjiro Kamado

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Tanjiro finding his family dead in Demon Slayer.

The first episode of Demon Slayer introduces viewers to Tanjiro Kamado and the immediate tragedy of losing his family to a demon attack. The lone survivor, his little sister, Nezuko, is transformed into a demon before his eyes. The series follows Tanjiro’s quest to turn Nezuko back into a human.

If losing his entire family was not tragic enough, Tanjiro goes on to suffer many more close and devastating deaths. Out of all of his friends and fellow demon slayers, Tanjiro is one of the few characters left standing at the end of the series.

7 Kyojiro Rengoku

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Rengoku laughing in Demon Slayer.

Flame Hashira Kyojiro Rengoku is introduced as a cheerful and kind mentor to Tanjiro’s group. Throughout the course of the Mugen Train arc, audiences learn that Rengoku’s deceased mother taught him to use his natural kindness and good heart to help those weaker than him.

After his mother died, Rengoku’s father, Shinjuro (the previous Flame Hashira), sunk into alcoholism and depression. Shinjuro took his rage out on Rengoku through verbal abuse, constantly telling Rengoku he was useless and would never be a worthy Hashira. Rengoku loses his life without any closure from his father.

6 Giyu Tomioka

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Giyu Tomioka the Water Hashira holding his blade in the snow in Demon Slayer.

The Water Hashira, Giyu Tomioka, has been through a lot. When audiences are introduced to Tomioka, he is a threat to the protagonist Tanjiro. But viewers quickly learn that Tomioka is hoping Tanjiro will succeed him as the Water Hashira.

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After losing both his sister and best friend to demons, Tomioka does not have faith in his own skills or worthiness. Tomioka’s two-toned haori is even stitched together from material that once belonged to his departed loved ones as a reminder of his failures.

5 Sanemi Shinazugawa

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Sanemi Shinazugawa, the Wind Hashira in Demon Slayer, frowning.

The Wind Hashira, Sanemi Shinazugawa, is first introduced as an unsympathetic and unlikable figure. Sanemi hates demons with such a passion that he advocates for Tanjiro and Nezuko’s execution and distrusts Nezuko to the point of stabbing her multiple times with his sword.

Sanemi’s hatred for demons stems back to his childhood. After his mother was turned into a demon, she went on to kill all but one of Sanemi’s siblings. As the oldest and strongest, Sanemi had to use his skills to kill his mother. His surviving brother, Genya, blamed Sanemi for the death of their mother, causing a rift in their relationship.

4 Shinobu Kochu

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Shinobu Kocho smiling in Demon Slayer.

Shinobu Kochu inherited the position of Insect Hashira after her predecessor was killed by the Upper Moon Two, Doma. What makes the loss even more tragic for Shinobu is the fact that her beloved older sister, Kanae, was her predecessor.

After Kanae is killed, Shinobu abandons all hope that demons and humans can coexist. She devotes her life to medicine, developing poisons that can incapacitate and even kill demons. When Shinobu gets her long-awaited chance to fight Doma, she is met with the same fate as her sister. Though Shinobu loses her life, her developments in poison allow her to bring Doma down with her.

3 Kanao Tsuyuri

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kanao smiling at a butterfly that is perched on her index finger in Demon Slayer.

Kanao is first introduced as a fellow demon slayer initiate during Final Selection. When Tanjiro meets her again, it is revealed that she lives and works at the Butterfly Mansion as Shinobu’s mentee. Kanao never speaks and flips a coin in order to make decisions, and the reason why is heartbreaking.

Kanao was born into poverty, and when she was only a small child, she was sold off by her family. Kanao was regularly beaten and abused to the point where she disassociated in order to mentally protect herself from the pain. Kanao is rescued by Shinobu and her sister, Kanae. Though they gave her a safe home, Kanao was so traumatized that she could not take care of her basic needs.

2 Gyomei Himejima

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Gyomei Himejima crying with his palms together in Demon Slayer.

The Stone Hashira, Gyomei Himejima, was dealt a tragic hand from the beginning. Born blind and orphaned, Gyomei lived at a temple with a group of other abandoned children. One night, a demon attacked the temple and killed everyone except Gyomei and one other orphan. Since the demon’s body dissolved in the sunlight, people believed Gyomei was the culprit for the murders.

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Falsely accused, Gyomei remained in prison for years until the head of the Demon Slayer Corps, Kagaya Ubuyashiki, rescued him from execution for his alleged crimes. After his release, Gyomei joins the Demon Slayer Corps and becomes a Hashira within only months.

1 Iguro Obanai

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Obanai Iguro lying on a branch in Demon Slayer.

Serpent Hashira, Iguro Obanai, was born to a family that worshiped a serpent demon. The family would sacrifice newborn babies to the demon in order to appease it and maintain their lifestyle. As Obanai was the first boy born into his family in 370 years, he was kept in a cage for his whole life and spoiled with elegant meals to prepare him for sacrifice.

Obanai lived inside the cage in constant terror for twelve years, at which point the truth of his situation was revealed. Obanai managed to escape his imprisonment, but his entire clan was killed by the demon in the process of trying to recapture him. Obanai blamed himself for the death of his clan and joined the Demon Slayer Corps in order to risk his own life to save others.

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