Best Manhwa With Criminal Protagonists


  • Stories of anti-heroes and criminals offer a fresh perspective on traditional hero tales, making for exciting and complex narratives.
  • Manhwa like “Return of the Bloodthirsty Police” showcase diverse characters in unique situations, adding depth to familiar genres.
  • From intense revenge plots to comedic mishaps, manhwa like “Killer Crush” offer a wide range of themes and emotions to engage readers.

The best part about manhwa and other forms of storytelling is that it’s possible to find a story about anything. From students to office workers to parents, there are tales of people from all walks of life, even if they’re a little fantastical. Anti-heroes and dark protagonists are particularly popular because most stories feature characters with good morals.


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The perspective of criminals is also popular as the direct opposite of the hero archetype. Their goals and motivations tend to be more selfish or made to spite someone else, and their methods are unsavory and malicious. However, those are the things that make these stories exciting and differentiate them from others.

9 Return Of The Bloodthirsty Police

MyAnimeList Score: 7.07

Bi Gwang in Return of the Bloodthirsty Police

  • Published: 2023 to Present
  • Genre/Themes: Action, Organized Crime, Reincarnation
  • Author: Jehwan Lee
  • Illustrator: Yoon-Kyoon Lee

Living as an assassin is hard, but when Bi Gwang gets reincarnated as a police officer, he realizes the rules of his old life don’t apply. He has to abide by the law and go through official channels to do what he wants, despite how meaningless it all seems. However, he needs the justice system if he wants to get revenge.

As far as revenge and reincarnation stories go, this manhwa offers an intense plot with action and drama. Bi Gwang is a strong protagonist who definitely doesn’t fit the image of a proper police officer. Unfortunately, the story struggles with a sense of progression because of his strength.

8 Boss In School

MyAnimeList Score: N/A

Seth Kwon in Boss in School

  • Published: 2017 to 2018
  • Chapters: 118
  • Genre/Themes: Action, Drama, School
  • Author: Hoon-yeong Lee
  • Illustrator: Ui-gwon Kim

Fighting among students is common in school manhwa whether it’s sports or bullying. It’s a popular theme that can make an otherwise boring setting much more exciting. Boss In School is about Seth Kwon, a teenager known for his immense talent at fighting. At his mother’s request, he stopped getting into trouble, but after his father died, he was allowed to throw punches again.

That’s the simple idea in this manhwa, but it does get more complicated as family history gets involved. It’s a thrilling story with endless excitement. However, it has problems in character development and pacing.

7 Villain To Kill

MyAnimeList Score: 7.28

Cassian Lee Hero To Kill

  • Published: 2021 to Present
  • Genre/Themes: Action, Super Power
  • Author: Fupin
  • Illustrator: Eunji

In a world where people are genetically predisposed to be good or bad, having superpowers makes things much more complicated. Psyker Cassian Lee is murdered out of the blue and reincarnates into a Korean boy who’s just become a villain. Now his mind fights with his innate urge to cause harm.


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Despite being the protagonists of their stories, these characters possess villain-like traits.

Fueled by revenge, Cassian needs to learn who was behind his death and why. However, now that he’s a villain, he must be more careful due to the prejudice against villains in society. It’s an interesting concept, but it’s held back by the undeveloped characters and simple storytelling.

6 Castle

MyAnimeList Score: 7.41

Castle Manhwa Cast

  • Published: 2019 to 2022
  • Chapters: 120
  • Genre/Themes: Action, Adult Cast, Organized Crime
  • Author: Jeong Yeon
  • Illustrator: Jeong Yeon

Castle is the leading crime syndicate in South Korea made up of corporate bigwigs and other high-profile people, spreading its influence throughout the nation. They take what they want, do what they want, and kill whoever gets in their way. The protagonist, Kim Shin, is set on getting revenge against the entire organization.

Gang fight manhwa is pretty common, but none are as well organized and presented as Castle. All the characters feel like real people, each one with their agendas and motivations and having a clear purpose in the plot. The fights do feel repetitive in some places, but it doesn’t distract from the great story.

5 Hero Killer

MyAnimeList Score: 7.52

Engen and Ihwa in Hero Killer

  • Published: 2021 to Present
  • Genre/Themes: Action, Super Power
  • Author: Kkulbeol
  • Illustrator: Beolkkul

Anti-heroes have become incredibly popular in recent years, and many forms of media have taken to telling stories that go against traditional superhero logic. Hero Killer follows Ihwa as she works towards revenge for her older sister who died at the hands of Heroes. She allies with the Unknown, a notorious group of villains led by the infamous Smiling Man.


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They set out to disrupt hero society and kill whoever gets in their way. It’s an action-adventure that takes many dark turns as Ihwa fulfills her goals. However, each character is complicated and unique, adding more depth to an otherwise normal revenge story.

4 Killer Pietro

MyAnimeList Score: 7.59

Pietro in Killer Pietro

  • Published: 2023 to Present
  • Genre/Themes: Action, Adult Cast, Organized Crime
  • Author: Jung-Hyun Kim
  • Illustrator: Lina Im

Pietro is the world’s best assassin, killing anyone and everyone for his organization. However, he’s old now and he’s got cancer. Unable to do jobs and a vast amount of wealth saved up, a bounty is put on Pietro’s head. Fortunately, when Pietro gets shot, he wakes up hours later as a younger version of himself.

Using his new appearance and years of experience, he plans to bring down the organization that betrayed him from the inside out. The plot itself is intriguing, and the protagonist is skilled and bold, which leads to a fast-paced story full of action.

3 Plaza Wars

MyAnimeList Score: N/A

Gijun and Giseok in Plaza Wars

  • Published: 2020 to 2021
  • Chapters: 63
  • Genre/Themes: Action, Adult Cast, Organized Crime
  • Author: Se-hyung Oh
  • Illustrator: Gyuntae Kim

The life of gangs and the mafia is filled with illegal dealings, but even they have their own unwritten rules. When his brother is murdered out of nowhere, Gijun comes out of retirement to find the culprit, and he makes it everyone’s problem. Once known as the fiercest fighter, he doesn’t hesitate as he destroys and kills to find his brother’s murderer.

Unlike other gang-war-type manhwa, this isn’t about two different organizations. This is one man against the entirety of South Korea’s crime network, and it’s all for his brother. Gijun’s fights are exciting, and his actions are cruel. However, it’s his motivations that add depth and emotion to the story.

2 Killer Crush

MyAnimeList Score: 7.81

Dahyeok and Taemen in Killer Crush

  • Published: 2021 to Present
  • Genre/Themes: Boys Love, Comedy, Adult Cast, Organized Crime
  • Author: Eresemo
  • Illustrator: Eresemo

Serial killers are known to be unfeeling and emotionless individuals who take lives with ease. Is it possible for one to fall in love? Joo Taemen has been a hired killer for 14 years, but for the first time, his heart skips a beat when he meets national heartthrob Kang Dahyeok. As Taemen interacts more with the actor, he realizes his occupation could ruin things, so he must hide his illegal dealings at all costs.


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Despite how dramatic the plot sounds, this manhwa leans heavily toward comedic mishaps and awkward conversations. There are a few action moments, but for the most part, the story focuses on developing a cute relationship between Dahyeok and Taemen.

1 Bastard

MyAnimeList Score: 8.48

Jin Seon in Bastard

  • Published: 2014 to 2016
  • Chapters: 94
  • Genre/Themes: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Gore, Psychological
  • Author: Carnby Kim
  • Illustrator: Young-chan Hwang

Known for being one of the best psychological, horror manhwa to exist, Bastard is about a young boy named Jin Seon. Stuck in an impossible situation, Jin Seon is forced to help his father commit murder, acting as bait for young girls. With his own life on the line, he has no choice but to comply.

When a new transfer student arrives, his father immediately targets her, and Jin Seon has to decide whether to save her or help kill her. It’s a unique story with a great art style that matches the tone and atmosphere. While the writing isn’t overly complicated, it is a complete package when it comes to manhwa.


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