The 2011 animated adaptation of Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter x Hunter has become an unrivaled staple in the world of Shounen anime. Hunter x Hunter’s popularity has expanded throughout the West since its first manga was released in 1998. As the most popular genre in anime, it can be challenging to set apart a story, but that’s precisely what Togashi has achieved through his brilliant story-telling, character depth, and complex world-building.
From the protagonists to the villains, each character in Hunter x Hunter has their own progressive story, with incredible character development and a fundamental place in the world. Togashi’s meticulous attention to detail creates an especially attentive character build as well, leaving just enough nuance for fans to find exactly how indispensable each character is. This multidimensionality and complexity are noticeable in the story’s villains, each of them getting their own arc and incredible development. For that reason, we have compiled a list of the ten best villains in Hunter x Hunter, not including the still ongoing story in the manga.
10. Genthru (Bomber)
Although Genthru is the villain of the Greed Island arc, he is hardly the main protagonist of the saga. The former leader of the Bomber group — only consisting of two other members, Sub and Bara — is the main opponent of Gon and Killua in the Greed Island game. As the biggest challenge faced by the two children, Greed Island proved to have quite a number of powerful foes in its midst.
However, Gon and Killua end up needing to go against Genthru along the way, a powerful opponent due to his intricate Conjurer ability in which he places an invisible bomb on the people he touches. Detonating all the bombs with just a word, Genthru could easily defeat his opponents, posing a huge threat inside the video game where there are inherently no rules. The presence of Genthru in Hunter x Hunter grants Gon and Killua a reason to become even stronger under Biscuit’s mentorship, serving his purpose in making the kids even more understanding of the world dynamics which they’re in.
9. Feitan Portor
As the #2 in Phantom Troupe, Feitan is the second leader of the Spider in Chrollo’s absence. Although not much is known about Feitan’s past itself, it is confirmed that he was one of the founding members of the Troupe, pledging allegiance to the spider first in favor of their leader, Chrollo. Feitan, just like the members in the Troupe, comes from Meteor City, a junkyard city inhabited by outcasts. He was also reportedly involved in the extinction of the Kurta Clan.
Feitan is not only incredibly powerful but an essential part of the Troupe. As the main interrogator, Feitan is a sadist who thoroughly enjoys inflicting pain on others, going as far as competing with Troupe members to see who has more kills. At times using abilities similar to that of Killua, Feitan is extremely proficient in the art of assassination. In rare moments where Feitan allows himself to open up, he can be found talking and even playing with the rest of the Troupe’s members, and when angered, he talks in a foreign “inverted” language, which opens up the possibilities of an even more complex past than imagined.
Shaiapouf is one of the Chimera Ants whose sole purpose is to protect the Chimera King, and undeniably, one of the best villains in the story. Pouf is a butterfly humanoid conceived by Chimera Ant Queen, providing unwavering loyalty and devotion to his king. However, as time would tell, Chimera Ants aren’t nearly as one-dimensional as one is led to believe.
Pouf is the middle guard, and one of the most extreme and off-the-wall characters in the series. In reality, Pouf’s character shows how expectations may just be the end-all of someone’s life. From his birth, Pouf was a calm and collected character who spent his time playing violin and reading books, however, as time progressed, Pouf’s behavior became erratic and unpredictable. Unlike the other two royal guards, Pouf desires a ruthless and ideal king, which is not personified by Meruem himself. Pouf’s bizarre progression just goes to show the pinnacle of character development for the worse, as he takes on his fanatical dreams and fantasies, driving himself mad whilst becoming a useless tool in his own vision. This incredibly written character shows the perfect contrast between a Chimera who despises humanity, while humanity within himself is the cause for his madness.
Youpi is one of the three Royal Guards protecting the king, alongside Pouf. Although he doesn’t have a lot of quirks to his name individually, he does serve his purpose in a very efficient way, carrying out his duties and killing whoever is needed. Youpi shows great loyalty toward the king, although not obsessively like Pouf.
Youpi’s character development occurs during the battles with the hunters. Knuckle, Shoot, Morel, and Killua all forced him to adapt to the strongest opponents he’s had to face, turning him into an even stronger foe. However, out of all the guards, Youpi has had the most welcoming acceptance of his humanity, to the point where he actually shows appreciation for the hunters he fought against for allowing him to become stronger, sparing their lives in the process. This character shows the perfect example of evolution and humanity within creatures who aren’t supposed to retain any, causing viewers to feel sympathetic toward Youpi until his very end.
Uvogin is the #11 member of the Phantom Troupe and the troupe’s tank. As an Enhancer, Uvogin was objectively the strongest member physically, transferring his nen efficiently throughout his body. Headstrong, determined, and fearless, Uvogin is a character that took every challenge head-on, undermining the possible consequences of his fights, and doubting anyone to be capable of defeating him.
Although arrogant, Uvogin was always cherished by the rest of the troupe as a reliable fighter and a trusty companion. Uvogin and Nobunaga especially shared a very peculiar friendship in which neither admitted the fondness and bond shared with the other. Through Uvogin, everyone was able to tell that these supposed villains are much more than what meets the eye. Not only are we met with a complex villain — who was also a friend — but Uvogin’s true purpose in the story is also very clear: he is meant to show exactly how powerful Kurapika has become, defeating the strongest member in the Troupe.
5. Illumi Zoldyck
The eldest sibling in the Zoldyck family would most likely land on a grey area when it comes to his malice. Although not exactly someone whose sole purpose is to be evil, Illumi is still a pebble in the shoe, especially for Killua. The oldest Zoldyck sibling is ruthless, sinister and borderline creepy, showing practically no emotion unless stirred up by Hisoka, or even by Killua himself. He is also one of the strongest characters on the show thus far, even though he has yet to be seen in an actual physical fight.
As a manipulator, Illumi comes off as very cunning, with clear intentions and obviously a knack for manipulating others, especially through his nen-infused needles. By using his powerful needles, Illumi is able to control anything and anyone at will, including his own brother at his volition. For this exact reason, Illumi becomes an extremely powerful opponent for anyone, especially coming from a family of assassins and trained to be a swift murderous machine. That was if he wasn’t also obsessed with his own little brother, and a bit deranged in addition.
Pitou is quite possibly the most brutal villain in Hunter x Hunter. The strongest Royal Guard, although dangerous and murderous, still holds incredible depth, making them a perfect example of how complex the villains in Hunter x Hunter truly are. Upon introduction, Pitou often appears to be playful and quirky, but quickly enough, their bloodthirst is evident, as well as their terrifying aura.
Although they appear to have no morals or empathy, Pitou’s one and only goal in life is to attend to all of Meruem’s needs, regardless of their own opinions on the matter. Whereas Pouf and even Youpi often disapprove of their King, Pitou never once went against Meruem throughout the entire arc. This sadistic character — who is undeniably a part of Hunter x Hunter’s darkest and most stomach-turning parts — is still humane in their own way. From the moment they saw Meruem was in danger, Pitou’s sole intention was to preserve the King’s happiness and wellbeing, going as far as to beg Gon for their life, just so they could save Komugi, all for her king’s sake.
3. Chrollo Lucifer
The leader of the Phantom Troupe is none other than Chrollo Lucifer, a calm and intelligent young man who has gone against a few of the most powerful characters in Hunter x Hunter. Just like most members in the Troupe, not much is known about Chrollo’s past other than his involvement with the extinction of the Kurta Clan, as well as his origin from Meteor City. Chrollo is also a Specialist, meaning he can completely dominate all types of nen.
The only instance in which Chrollo appears in a fight is against Silva and Zeno Zoldyck, where he appears to hold back against the extremely skilled assassins, even if it was a rather close fight. During the fight sequence, Chrollo’s true ability is also disclosed: he can steal other people’s nen abilities with his book, emulating them when needed. Chrollo is also an extremely peculiar villain, as he does not fear death in the slightest. Even against his natural opponent, Kurapika, Chrollo does not flinch at the thought of death, completely accepting his fate as long as the Spider still lives on. His entire persona, paired with an overpowered ability, makes Chrollo a wonderful fighter and villain for the world of Hunter x Hunter, even though his true intentions have yet to be fully revealed.
2. Hisoka Morow
One of the most controversial characters in Hunter x Hunter has to be Hisoka. Introduced from the first arc, Hisoka is the antagonist throughout most of the series. Although the main villain in the first arc, from then on Hisoka shows to be more of a nuisance rather than a straight-up villain.
Hisoka is a Transmuter to the core. Whimsical, prone to deceit, and fickle, this character’s only purpose is to create havoc. Whether he’s going against the protagonists or fighting alongside them, Hisoka is the type of character whose bloodthirst goes as far as to keep a child alive, as long as it means he will become a formidable foe in the future. In reality, Hisoka just wants to fight people as strong, if not stronger than him, regardless of the outcome. Sadistic and immoral, this killer magician is still a fun and quirky character than draws everyone in – questionable actions against children and all. In spite of his evil intentions, at the end of the day, Hisoka will just do whatever he wants, as long as it amuses him.
Meruem is by far the most complex villain in Hunter x Hunter, if not of all Shounen anime. Conceived to be the most powerful Chimera King to ever exist, Meruem was born from perfection. A master of all Nen types, as well as unrivaled physical strength Meruem is by far the one character capable of mass destruction and mind-manipulation in the world of Hunter x Hunter. However, he suffers from one devastating malfunction: the ability to experience human emotion.
Although he was the strongest Chimera King to ever exist, supposedly unable to ever experience any emotion, throughout the entire Chimera Ant arc, Meruem has one of the most introspective developments in anime. His unexpected fondness for one blind human child completely shifts the narrative for this character. Previously capable of even cannibalization and devouring infants, suddenly Meruem found himself protecting the life of a child, rather than following his purpose in life: to transform humans into cattle. His very own inner dilemmas create a shift in the narrative when he finally starts questioning the differences between Ants and mankind, and whether violence and strength equal true power. His last scene with Komugi is still enough to lead every single Hunter x Hunter fan to tears, showing exactly how poetically written this character is.
Although “best” is a very broad concept, the truth is, all villains or antagonists in Hunter x Hunter have their own traits and purposes in the story, deeming them absolutely indispensable and unique in their own characteristic way.