Anime Underground
8.8k voters

16 Anime Where the Main Character Dies

Updated August 3, 2020 29.4k votes 8.8k voters 282.0k views16 items

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.

  • 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.

    Did this death leave you crushed?

    More JoJo's Bizarre Adventure 

    #46 of 81 The Most Popular Anime Right Now#56 of 245 The Best Anime Series of All Time#68 of 137 The Best Fantasy Anime of All Time

  • 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.

    Did this death leave you crushed?

    More Chrono Crusade 

    #108 of 109 The Very Best Anime for Kids#101 of 201 The Saddest Anime Series of All Time#158 of 205 The Best Grown-Up Anime of All Time

  • 7

    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.

    Did this death leave you crushed?
  • 8

    Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

    Like many of the series from Gundam's franchise, Iron-Blooded Orphans is quite bleak. Every one of the main characters die during their final battle against Gjallarhorn. And what's worse is that their sacrifice was meaningless since Gjallarhorn wins and Rustal Elion maintains his power in the end. While it's refreshing to see a story that strays from conventional happy endings, Iron-Blooded Orphans' finale will leave you feeling empty and disheartened over the fates of the main protagonists. 

    Did this death leave you crushed?