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16 Anime Where the Main Character Dies

Updated August 3, 2020 29.1k votes 8.9k voters 284.0k 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.

  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, humanity's future lies in the hands several teenagers who link up with mechanical beings to fight gods. Many of the main characters die in the post-series film, The End of Evangelion, including Asuka, one of the show's central characters.

    To this day, fans debate over whether Asuka survived. At the very least, she dies for some period of time before re-materializing in the new world that is created in film. However, she is physically linked to her Eva, which is quite brutally destroyed, so its more than possible that Asuka does perish along with it.

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  • By the end of Death Note, it isn't really surprising that the main character is destined to die. While Light Yagami starts off as a hard-working student, as the series progresses, he slowly descends into madness. By the final episode, Light has fully committed to his decision to play God, and happily judges whether others deserve to live or die. 

    With such lofty, insidious goals, it was only a matter of time before someone tried to take Light down. When he's finally outsmarted, the character has an end worthy of a villain. 

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  • Photo: Devilman Crybaby / Science SARU

    Many fans found Devilman Crybaby's finale tragic yet poignant as everyone died except the main villain. Not only do beloved supporting characters like Miki and Wamu die, the main protagonist, Akira, meets his demise at the hands of his best friend Ryo. Although Ryo's true identity as Satan causes him to decimate everything around him, he's still able to feel grief and loss over Akira's death. We couldn't help but shed a tear as Ryo cried while holding Akira's lifeless body in his arms.

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  • Throughout the entire series, viewers rooted for Twelve and Nine's rebellion against the corrupt government. Because of their exceptional intellectual ability and drive for vengeance, it seemed that Twelve and Nine would accomplish their goals and lead a peaceful life. But this anime takes a tragic turn when U.S. forces shoot down Twelve. An outraged Nine threatens to detonate their bomb but Shibazaki calms him down. Nine's short life also comes to an end when he experiences the same painful headache that Five had before she died. While their deaths were tragic, they did not die in vain as Project Athena was finally exposed to the world.

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