Ultimate Guide On When To Drop An Anime

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Yukiko Tanaka

There’s nothing worse than being disappointed. (Just ask my dad.) All your friends are talking about this new anime. Memes about the latest episode are spread all over the internet. You are excited to give the show a watch, but when you do, it doesn’t seem to spark joy. Inevitability you ask yourself, “When do I drop an anime?”

This can be a hard question. Just because the anime series hasn’t clicked with you immediately, should you give up on the show? What about those slow burn shows that take a while to get going? Once they do, they turn out to be the most rewarding. 

There shouldn’t be only a singular reason to drop an anime, because you could miss out on something greater. But when you start finding multiple excuses to put off watching the next episode, consider putting it down.

Don’t think of it as being picky or having lost something. With so many other great anime series out there, don’t waste your precious moments on ones that don’t make you happy. Plus, if you drop the anime now, that doesn’t mean you can’t always pick the show back up once your tastes change.

Anyway, I’ve put together a list of some signs that it might be time to drop an anime and move on to the next one. 

When It Fails the Three Episode Rule

The Three Episode Rule is common throughout anime fandom. The rule basically states that by episode 3 of any series, you will know if that anime is going to be good or not. 

While not a perfect rule, it gives some good insight. By the time 3 episodes have passed, you should have a good understanding of the main characters, the plot, and a sense of how those will get developed. 

In some series, the end of the third episode will be the “twist”. A character might awaken a crazy new ability, or someone important to the main character might die, or even a several-year time skip could happen. Once the twist has been revealed, you’ll know if it hooks you or not. 

Does the anime make you want to binge-watch the next episode or could you care less about the recent development? If you aren’t excited by this point, chances are you will not enjoy the rest of the series.

The Three Episode Rule is usually a good guideline for shows with around 12 episodes in the season. If you are watching an anime with 24 or more episodes, the five-episode rule or first arc is going to be the best approach.

In most longer anime series, by the end of the first five or six episodes, you will reach the finale of the first arc. This is commonly a good indicator of what obstacles the characters will face and how they approach beating them. From there, it’s just determining if the show fits your expectations.

When You Don’t Like The Main Character

I don’t know why manga or anime creators do this. They decide to make the main character the most whiney, worthless, cowardly piece of trash and expect people to consume the content. Seems to be the same way with hentai artists, loving to use the Ugly Bastard tab.

Like, who is out here requesting this stuff?? If it’s you, stop. Just stop. No other sane person wants this.

There are some main characters that we just don’t vibe with. Usually, because they are so annoying, it makes it painful to keep watching. Anime shouldn’t be cringe, don’t let the naysayers win!

Sometimes it’s because the Main Character doesn’t fit in the universe. I’m not talking about isekais, but that feeling you get when the MC just doesn’t belong. Like when you watch an anime for these epic fight scenes, but the main guy tries to avoid conflict at all costs and seems to drag the mood down. 

Really, this rule should apply to side characters as well. If one of the supporting characters doesn’t mesh with what you want in a show, it can be irritating. 

For example, I personally can’t bring myself to like Zenitsu from Demon Slayer. Deep down, he has a good heart, but it’s really, really deep down. He’s just way too much of a crybaby. He’s only useful when he falls asleep, and even then it’s very anti-climatic. In a show where everyone else works so hard to get where they are, he doesn’t seem to suit the show to me.

But I kept watching because the rest of the show is great and the main character, Tanjirou is a perfect fit for the show. 

The rule of thumb here is if it’s just one or two minor characters, they have little screen time and you can probably push through if the rest of the anime is good. However, if it’s the Main Character, that sucks. You are stuck with him for the entire show. Save yourself the headache and drop the anime.

When Your Favorite Character Dies

I’ll admit it, there are some shows I watch purely for one character. There’s just something about them that brings me to watch the next episode. Before I go any further, this right here should be a red flag.

If you are watching an anime ONLY for one character, you are going to have a bad time. In the same way that there should be multiple reasons before you drop an anime, there should be many reasons for you to keep watching one. 

There should be more substance to an anime than just a single character. We as the anime fandom should and do demand more!

We all make mistakes, myself included. This character carries the show so hard that we don’t even care how bad the show is and we continue to watch. But what happens when the character dies?

When the creator of the show has the audacity to remove your favorite character, that’s a good signal to get out. It doesn’t have to be death, but if your character goes on vacation for a few episodes, joins the B (background) team, or gets increasingly less screen time, you know you should move on to the next anime.

I also felt I should mention a related sign. if it’s an anime that starts, bring characters back from the dead. Characters should stay gone. If they can be brought back willy-nilly for no good reason, then the show lacks finality or any risks. Deus ex machina like these can be a sign of a weak story.

When You Don’t Get The Appeal

I have a few friends who always suggest new anime for me to watch. I really want to like the shows because my friends do, but sometimes the show turns out to not be interesting. 

The important thing is to remember is, it’s OK to have different interests. If the anime isn’t something you like, you shouldn’t have to suffer through it. Your friends will still be your friends even if you drop an anime.

Plus, that means you can spend your time checking out other anime, so you can give your friends recommendations to watch. 

A big one in this category to look out for is comedy. Sometimes shows are not your type of humor. If a show is supposed to be funny and you aren’t laughing, that’s a problem.

Similarly, some ecchi shows can also be too ridiculous. For me, I drop series like Green Green and Eiken. They just seem so basic and bland. There isn’t enough there to keep me motivated to watch. Girls with big… personalities should have, well, more personality. 

When the Plot Development Sucks

So you’ve followed the three-episode rule, and the show surprised you with this epic twist and you hooked on seeing the next episode. Well, the next episode comes, and the next, and the next, but nothing happens. It’s like they forgot all about the twist. Well, forget watching the rest of the anime!

Watching anime, or any kind of entertainment for that matter should be treated as a service. If the service isn’t good or you didn’t get what you came for, go find something else. 

If the characters never advanced the plot, the story has no traction. At this point, you’ll never be able to distinguish it from filler. These shows may not be worth watching, because you get nothing out of them. 

The same goes for the characters in the show. If there is no plot or any elements that threaten the characters, they get no development either. We want to see characters succeed or fail, but if they do neither, what’s the point?

This goes without saying, but even if there is a plot, and it sucks. Don’t stick around. It doesn’t get better.

When The Anime Is No longer Fun To Watch

Some anime shows start out unquestionably great. But as time goes by, your interest in the show can decline. There can be many reasons, but soon or later keeping up with new episodes becomes feeling like a chore, and the characters that once brought you happiness fall to the wayside. This doesn’t mean the anime was bad or that you never enjoyed the show. It simply means you should move on.

My favorite example of this is the Dragon Ball series. I remember in school everyone obsessed over Dragon Ball Z on Toonami. We couldn’t wait to get out of class and go straight home to catch it on TV. 

The series was so cool, but eventually, they ran out of new episodes to premiere. Most of us stayed and re-watched the reruns, but others got bored waiting for new episodes.

This especially happened after the Frieza Saga. Everyone had felt like they shared in such a monumental milestone. They didn’t need to continue, because that story they were interested in had finished. 

It seems more people dropped off at the end of every arc, Cell Saga, Buu, etc. At this point, some were only looking for the story to wrap up, so they could move on. Everyone still cherished the characters and everything that Dragon Ball Z was. They were just done watching the show.

Even when Dragon Ball came out, people were super stoked to check it out. While some enjoyed seeing predecessor, it wasn’t at the same level DBZ had been. 

Anyway, here are some of the most important reasons to drop an anime when it is no longer fun to keep up with.

  • Uninteresting
  • Plot Becomes Too Convoluted
  • Too Many Filler Episodes
  • Too Much of the Same


I tend to search for anime by looking at the tags and then reading a synopsis of what the series is about. So I go into watching a show with some expectations. If the show is offered as a post-apocalyptic wasteland run by robots, I expect the show to have some kind of survival theme. 

But that’s not always the case. Instead, the show might focus on the political landscape of how the remnants of the fallen human government can keep things intact. To some, that sounds super interesting, but to me, it’s just boring. 

If the series doesn’t live up to your expectations or makes you want to see what happens next, then drop it. It’s always going to seem like a chore to finish it out.

•Plot Becomes Too Convoluted

Everyone has different tolerance levels for accepting convoluted plots. I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy watching shows where the plot can be a bit confusing. Because my hope is that by the end, everything will be explained and I get that satisfying aha moment.

But what you will find out is that sometimes that moment never happens. Either the plot gets even more convoluted, or the anime never explains.

My advice is to approach cautiously. If the plot gets out of hand, it’s OK to give it some time to keep you on the edge. But if the story starts to develop additional layers of convolution and explains nothing? Drop it.

•Too Many Filler Episodes

This one is a matter of opinion. Like the beach episode, filler episodes give us a unique look at some characters. We get to see them develop in situations where they probably wouldn’t be exposed to during the action in the main story. These are good, and if you enjoy them, you should watch them.

On the other hand, if you don’t enjoy the filler episodes of a series, this might be a telltale sign you don’t actually enjoy the characters. Sure, you love your favorite character when they fight the big bad, but if you don’t like the way they conduct themselves in their “normal” life, it can be a big problem. 

During a typical story, the beginning always seems to be a primal struggle. You have to fight to survive. But later on, once they are safe, a character will typically adopt an ideal or something that they want to protect. A filler episode can often be a window into what a character thinks is important. If it’s something you can identify early on that you don’t like, you can save yourself the trouble of waiting to the end. 

Lucky for you, most popular series have a filler list. Which is a list of episodes in the anime that are marked as filler and aren’t necessary for the progression of the main story. So you can use this life hack to skip to the good parts.

•Too Much of the Same

Ever heard of too much of a good thing? An idiom that is highly subjective for when something becomes “too much”. 

If you’re watching a shōnen that’s all about fighting, sometimes filler episodes can be a pleasant reprieve. But other times, you just want to see non-stop epic fight scenes. 

Or you might be watching a heartwarming slice of life about cute girls doing cute things. If that’s the case, there should never be a problem with having even cuter girls doing even cuter things. 

The rule of thumb on this one is, as long as you still enjoy it, keep going. When you stop enjoying, you stop watching.

When You Don’t Want To Watch It Anymore

This one sounds obvious, but it can sometimes be the hardest one to act on. Many of us like to think we are logical creatures, and that we have to identify why exactly we don’t want to keep watching. Sometimes it’s not so much a reason, but more of a feeling.

And that’s OK! If you don’t feel like watching something, you shouldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with putting an anime on hold. Give it a couple of days or weeks. Was it easily forgotten, or is it something that always creeps back into your mind for you to finish? That’s usually a good way to tell if you should pick it back up.

Unfortunately, it might not be so simple to know if you don’t want to keep with it. You might be dropping some signs that you should drop an anime, without even realizing it. Chances are, you don’t want to continue watching the anime if you’ve ever done the following:

  • You Say You Don’t Have The Time
  • You Find Distractions While Watching
  • You Ask Others If You Should Continue

•You Say You Don’t Have The Time

There are 24 hours in a day if you are from planet earth. If a show is important, you will be able to make time to watch it! That isn’t to say that some people aren’t busy, or keep a tight schedule. It’s fine to be behind on a series for a few days if things are hectic.

The issue is when you are always finding excuses to put it off. “I would watch it, but I have to help my friend with that thing.” or “I need sleep.” These are just things you keep telling yourself, because the effort to watch the show is not worth the reward. True fans would gladly embrace sleep deprivation just to catch another episode.

•You Find Distractions While Watching

This is another one to watch out for. If you’re trying to do some other activity while still watching the tv screen, you cannot give the show your full attention. 

What’s worse than that, it means that you don’t want to give the show your full attention. If it doesn’t keep you on the edge of your seat, then really, it’s just background noise to be a distraction from your other activity. 

So the next time you find yourself with an anime on one screen and ineedanime.com on the other, just close out of the series. You’ve got more important things to focus on. 💪

•You Ask Others If You Should Continue Watching

Chances are, you’ve come to this post because you had an anime in mind that you are considering dropping. This means you already know the answer. You are just looking for reasons not to finish watching.

Whether if it’s with us or with a friend, if you have to ask, you only want to confirm what you are already feeling. It’s not worth it. If you’ve made it to this point, you should drop the show. There is too much good anime out there for you to be stuck with one you aren’t sure if you like.

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