Every once in a while, a series comes along that makes the controversial choice to kill off its main character. Creators kill characters for a multitude of reasons, but it’s important for them to remember that a character’s death has to have an impact. A death thrown in for shock value or one that doesn’t serve any purpose to the story or another character’s growth is a death wasted, and it cheapens the story that it’s meant to enhance.
Some series are notorious for character deaths, such as Game of Thrones, while others are more conservative with their death scenes (if they choose to show any at all). Nevertheless, well-written character deaths can set the premise for a series or give it a satisfying ending.
10. Grave Of The Fireflies: Seita & Setsuko Starve To Death While Trying To Survive Post-World War II Japan
Grave of the Fireflies is a highly acclaimed war animation by Studio Ghibli, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. After the 1945 firebombing of Kobe, Japan, Seita and his little sister Setsuko are left orphaned and scrambling to find a way to live. Their predicament was an unfortunate reality for many Japanese youths that suffered after the destruction of their homes and families during the war. Despite his best efforts, Seita cannot keep up with providing for both of them, and both children succumb to malnutrition and starvation.
9. Death Note: Light Yagami’s God Complex Ultimately Does Him In
Death Note is a psychological thriller that’s got no shortage of mind games and diversions up its sleeve. The protagonist-turned-antagonist, Light Yagami, starts out as a principled and disciplined genius who wants to use the power of the Death Note to purge the world of evildoers. In the process, Light becomes an evildoer himselfwhose main goal is to maintain his hold over the world as Kira. The series foreshadows Light’s eventual death by having the Shinigami Ryuk tell him plainly that when it’s his time to go, Ryuk will be the one to write Light’s name in the Death Note.
8. Dragon Ball Z: Goku Dies & Is Revived A Few Times Over The Course Of The Series
When considering the entirety of the Dragon Ball series, Goku dies more than a few times. As far as Dragon Ball Z is concerned, however, Goku officially dies at least three times, depending on the timeline. In the main timeline, Goku is killed by Piccolo in a last-ditch effort to defeat Raditz. He dies again during the Cell Games after Cell decides the only way to win is to blow himself up. Goku teleports Cell to King Kai’s planet, where Cell’s explosion destroys them all. And in the alternate Future Trunks timeline, Goku succumbs to a rare heart disease and cannot be revived.
7. Devilman Crybaby: Ryo’s Drive For Revenge Ends Up Killing His Best Friend
Devilman Crybaby is an original net animation based on the original manga series Devilman, and it’s one hell of a ride (pun fully intended). The animation is smooth and brilliant and the series is unapologetic in its depictions of sex and gore. Akira Fudo is an ordinary, albeit overly sensitive, high school student who reunites with his childhood friend, Ryo Asuka.
After a violent event at an underground nightclub, Akira gains the abilities of a Devilman by channeling the power of Amon. It turns out that Ryo is the reincarnation of the fallen angel Satan and intends to destroy humans while sparing Akira since that’s the only person he ever cared for. Akira refuses Ryo’s new world order, however, and their climactic battle ends with Akira’s demise.
6. Zombie Land Saga: The Main Character’s Death Is Actually What Sets The Plot Into Motion
In a manner resembling an isekai anime, Sakura Minamoto is unceremoniously run over by a delivery truck on her way to school, promptly killing her off in the very first episode. But it turns out that Kotaro Tatsumi has plans for Sakura, as he revives her using necromancy and intends to use her as a member of an idol group in the hopes of revitalizing the Saga prefecturein Japan. It’s a nonsensical plan and Kotaro isn’t open about how he intends to fulfill his goal using a zombie idol group, but the premise of this series is completely reliant on Sakura’s unfortunate death.
5. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: The Phantom Blood Arc Ends With Jonathan Joestar’s Death
The very first arc of the JoJo’s series is notable for its depiction of the first JoJo’s, Jonathan Joestar’s, death. After spending a significant portion of his life at odds with Dio, he devotes the rest of his days to stopping Dio’s aspirations for world domination. Jonathan maintains the poise of a gentleman until his final moments when he sacrifices his own life to try and ensure he takes Dio down with him. Unfortunately, Dio survives the sinking ship and reemerges as a threat in future installments of the series.
4. KonoSuba: A Modern Isekai Parody That Kills Its Main Character Humorously
While the typical modern isekai plot consists of a plain, well-intentioned youth meeting an untimely demise while trying to protect someone else, there is no such noble death for Kazuma. Instead, Kazuma’s death is a comical and arguably unnecessary event. He thought he was saving someone from getting run over, but in truth, the vehicle wasn’t moving fast enough to kill anyone, and Kazuma died from the shock of thinkingthat he was going to die. It’s a fitting introduction for an anime that ruthlessly parodies the average isekai.
3. Attack On Titan: Eren Chose To Sacrifice Himself In Order To Save Humanity
Honestly, this series isn’t shy in killing off a large majority of its main cast and plenty of members of its secondary cast, not to mention the countless civilians who are consumed by Titans. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, then, for mangaka Hajime Isayama to have the confidence to kill off his own main character.
There are several circumstances and plot points in Attack on Titan that make Eren’s death necessary, inevitable, and foreseeable. For some, it was even satisfying to see him go.
2. Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni: Escaping Death Is The Goal For The Entire Main Cast
Not only does the main character Keiichi die multiple times, but the majority of the main cast are fated to meetgruesome, horrific deaths unless Rikaescapes the Hinamizawa of 1983. Character deaths are pivotal to this series, as the entire point is to solve a murder mystery and prevent the characters from having to meet their untimely demise. Although it seems as if the main characters are resurrected each time they’re killed and the scenario is reset, the truth is that they’re just occupying anothertimelinewhere they haven’t died yet.
1. Cowboy Bebop: Spike’s Past Make His Eventual Death Inevitable
Spike Spiegel’s death is a point of contention for many fans, with some thinking that Spike shouldn’t have died at all. Realistically, however, it’s unlikely that his rival Vicious would have allowed Spike to live a happy life at all. The events of Cowboy Bebop are intended to show that it’s impossible to outrun your past and it’ll eventually catch up to you. That’s exactly what happened when Spike finally got the opportunity to play out his escape with Julia as far as he could. After her death, Spike realized he needed to face Vicious and set things right… or die trying.