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15 Anime With Bittersweet Endings

Updated April 17, 2019 18.1k votes 4.6k voters 122.3k views15 items

List RulesVote up the anime that you found to be the most bittersweet at the end.

While they may break your heart, there's no denying the everlasting impact that anime with bittersweet endings have on you. Not every anime series can end on a happily ever after, nor should they. For Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop, his happily ever after is snatched away from him by the life he tried to leave behind. In the anime Erased, Satoru Fujinuma's victory over the mysterious slayer comes at the cost of his youth. These stories and more deliver a bitter pill to swallow for the viewer, but they serve as great inspirational tales that will stick with you forever.

These memorable anime series told their stories exactly as they needed to be told, in order to get their powerful message across. Love it or hate it, there's no denying the beauty in these tragic endings.  

  • "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." That good, old-fashion quote by Lord Tennyson summarizes the bittersweet anime ending of Plastic Memories beautifully.

    The sci-fi romcom about a college dropout named Tsukasa Mizugaki and a female android named Isla is built on short-lived love. Despite the two's strong feelings for one another, Isla's expiration date is nearing its end. While Tsukasa doesn't get the long happy future with Isla, he is forever thankful for the chance encounter that brought them together. 

    Was this ending bittersweet?
  • Despite diverging from the manga's storyline, the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist series is still a terrific watch. One thing that made the series so engaging to watch was the brotherly love between Edward and Alphonse Elric.

    Their journey, to reclaim their original bodies, was filled with hardships, misery, and pain. Despite the tragedies they endured, the two stayed strong together. That's why, for its series finale, it was heartbreaking to see Ed sacrifice himself in order to save his little brother. Ed's sacrifice returns Al to his original human form, but as "equivalent exchange," he must live the rest of his life in an alternate reality. 

    Was this ending bittersweet?
  • The visual novel-inspired series Clannad: After Story continues the blossoming romance between Tomoya Okazaki and Nagisa Furukawa where the previous series left off. The two high school lovebirds are now enjoying adulthood as a married couple.

    However, Nagisa passes during childbirth, causing Tomoya to go through a severe state of depression. He eventually recovers for his daughter, Ushio, but she too is taken away from him by the same illness that claimed her mother. Staying true to its visual novel roots, Clannad: After Story does have an alternate happy ending that allows Tomoyo to be with his family. 

    Was this ending bittersweet?
  • Photo: Funimation

    Chrono Crusade takes many tragic turns near the end of its story. Joshua Christopher, the long-lost brother Rosette has been looking for all this time, loses his entire memory of her and the events that happened throughout the series, leaving him with an 11-year-old mentality for the rest of his life.

    The series epilogue, set years after Rosette and Chrono gave everything they could to prevent the apocalypse from happening, suggests their efforts were ultimately in vain, as an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II's life sets the stage for the end of the world. However, what fans truly remember from the series finale of Chrono Crusade was Chrono and Rosette spending the remainder of their short-lived life together in a cabin secluded from the outside world, until passing together, hand in hand. 

    Was this ending bittersweet?