17 Anime Where the Main Character Dies

Anime is notorious for killing off main characters, much to the dismay of the supporting cast and fans alike. After all, there's hardly a more climatic way to send off a series then to allow the protagonist to go out in a blaze of glory. 

While shows typically save the most intense character deaths for the grand finale, a few anime are confident enough to off a hero midway through the series. In Dragon Ball Z, pretty much all the protagonists die more times than one can count, to the point that mortality ceases to be that big a deal. Similarly, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure uses the death of one hero to usher in the start of a new protagonist's story. 

If you have ever been wronged by watching an anime where the main character passes, you know how rough it can be to continue watching like nothing happened. Even so, some of these series are so gripping that the subsequent payoff is worth the required emotional labor.

  • 1
    3,420 VOTES

    Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion

    Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion provides a beloved main character with a tragic end. After following Lelouch vi Britannia through several plot lines, viewers have to watch him get killed by a disguised Suzaku. As his end creeps closer, Lelouch smiles at his sister, who, crying, holds his dying body in her arms.  

    It's a heartbreakingly agonizing moment, but it needs to happen so that the show can reach a satisfying conclusion. 

    3,420 votes
  • 2
    3,365 VOTES

    For many people, Cowboy Bebop is an absolutely essential anime. Much of the show's success came from fans' love of Spike Spiegel, the cool-guy protagonist with unnaturally bendy legs. Whether he's eating lit cigarettes or accidentally ingesting psychedelic mushrooms, the moment Spike steps onto the screen, viewers are bound to be in for a treat. 

    After the episode where Spike meets his untimely end, many fans were left outraged, and some even deny that the character actually died. Regardless of arguments to the contrary, a bloodied Spike is last seen collapsing face-first down a large flight of stairs, so it's safe to assume that he didn't make it out alright. 

    3,365 votes
  • Grave of the Fireflies is a Studio Ghibli film based on a semi-autobiographical short story of the same name. The movie takes place in Japan during World War II, and shows two siblings struggling to live after they are separated from their family.

    Unfortunately, neither of them survive, making Grave of the Fireflies the most depressing anime Studio Ghibli has put out to date. Seriously, by the halfway point in this film, you'll be praying for the characters to be given a quick, painless death. 

    2,094 votes
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood gives a tragic yet heroic end to one of its main characters. The first JoJo, Jonathan Joestar, passes after saving his wife and an orphaned baby on a burning ship. In his efforts to defend them, he overexerts himself, and ends up dead as a result. His wife then raises the child as her own, and the baby eventually grows up to birth the anime's main protagonist, Joseph Joestar.

    1,700 votes
  • 5
    590 VOTES

    Banana Fish

    After all the suffering that Ash has been through, he finally has a moment of peace and closure when Eiji gets on a plane back to Japan. As he's reading Eiji's heartfelt letter, it seems as though he's finally able to leave his dangerous life behind him. But in that moment, Ash gets stabbed by Lao. Ash retaliates by shooting him down and manages to make it into the library. The final scene ends with Ash reading Eiji's letter as he slowly bleeds to death. This death was shocking as many viewers had hope that Ash's life would turn around for the better. But the fact that he is comforted by Eiji's letter in his final moments makes it a bittersweet finale.

    590 votes
  • 6
    1,211 VOTES

    Chrono Crusade is an emotional tale of love, loss, and adventure, that comes to a tragic end. Fans everywhere were left shellshocked after the demise of the anime's protagonist, Rosette Christopher.

    Rosette is a strong, loving young woman who flights hard against demons in hopes of finding her brother. However, her long, arduous journey comes to an end when she and Chrono die, along with many other people. All Rosette wants to do is save her brother, but she dies in the process of doing so, and his memory is forever lost. Talk about depressing.

    1,211 votes