25 Saddest Anime Deaths Of All Time (Spoilers)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Anime can’t be all sunshine and rainbows.
Which is good, since it adds another layer of suspense.
It gives a feeling that a character could be gone at any moment. And although it makes us sad to see our favourite characters get killed off, it also leaves us cherishing them more in the long run.
There’s plenty of deaths in anime, but which ones really take the cake? Well I’ll be ranking them all right here.
And obvious note: this whole list is a spoiler, so proceed with caution!
Anime: Tower of God
This is going to be an odd pick, as let’s face it, Bam definitely survived.
However, the final scene of the show depicted the death of his innocence.
After entering the Tower to find Rachel, giving it his all to protect her, to be with her, he sees her true colors. Just before emerging victorious, the woman he cared for so much pushed him to his death.
Or at least that was the intention.
The soul-crushing look on his face as he fell, looking in disbelief at the woman he loved, was definitely worth a mention here.
Anime: Akame ga Kill
This show could fill up half the list. Everyone and their mother dies by the end.
And everyone has their pick for the saddest death, too.
The kind hearted Sheele turned dog food, the heroic Tatsumi or the big brother Bulat.
But personally, Leone’s death had me in tears the most.
This is because most of the characters died on the battlefield, protecting their friends, with everyone crying around them.
But Leone was a woman of the people.
She knew her time had come, so she strolled down to the markets to see the lively crowd one last time before dying in an alley all alone and yet content. Damn this list is hitting heavy already…
23. Byakuya Ishigami
Anime: Dr. Stone
Now this one is a bit different from the rest, because only a few tears were shed.
Senku, being the man of science that he is, didn’t seem too shaken up. But the message was loud and clear.
His father, who had died thousands of years prior, believed in him.
He believed that Senku could revive the world and make sure that the future remained bright.
No matter how goofy his father was, he always had the best intentions for Senku. And their love was definitely mutual.
So seeing Senku show his emotions, even for just a little bit, was beautiful. Yet so sad.
22. Shirou Fujimoto
Anime: Ao no Exorcist
This one really hit hard because so much guilt was thrown into the mix alongside sadness.
Shirou was such a good father figure, so having the final moments before his demise be a conflict between him and Rin just hurt.
As Satan possessed Shirou, he looks down at his hand that he struck Rin with. He blames himself.
Rin and Yukio blame Rin, thinking their altercation made Shirou weak. And while trying to desperately help his old man, for the first time, Rin shouts out “Dad” showing just how much he truly cared for him.
The OST alone can make you cry, but the entire package is just too much.
21. Sir Nighteye
Anime: Boku no Hero Academia
Nighteye devoted his life to Allmight, wanting to change the future he saw where the great man he admired so much died a tragic death.
And just before he passed away he called Deku, the boy who changed his own future, and proved that there is still hope in the world.
As he lay in his hospital bed, he comforted his students. And told them all to smile because he doesn’t want to see a gloomy world.
With Mirio thanking him for making him strong, Deku pleading for him to fight on and live, and Allmight crumbled in regret for not talking to a person he held so dear… Sir Nighteye passed away smiling.
20. Ayumi Otosaka
Ayumi’s death signified a major change in the show’s atmosphere.
What was initially a happy go lucky show about some superpowered teens, quickly became intense, gloomy, and dark.
Because of pure jealousy, the little Ayumi was backed into a corner with a box cutter. And out of fear she released her power and got crushed by the collapsed building.
More than anything, seeing Yuu a broken man, trying to find her amongst the rubble, was harsh.
And then later on completely losing his purpose in life struck really hard.
She does get revived later on, but this moment was a pure tear-jerker.
19. Akira Fudou
Anime: Devilman Crybaby
Akira’s death marked the end of the series itself, as everyone died besides Satan/Ryo.
Ryo talks to Akira, looks back at all of their memories, recalls how he never had sympathy for anyone and how Akira was always quick to mourn a loss.
He remembers being told “You’re crying too Ryo”.
And now as Ryo looks at Akira’s body that’s been torn in half, and realizes what it means to lose someone close to you, he finally understood sorrow.
He hugs Akira’s corpse and starts crying as the Earth is engulfed in light.
It was such a beautiful yet sad ending.
The final episode of Dororo was definitely action packed. And yet left with a pretty somber note.
After having his final clash with his brother Hyakkikaru, Tahoumaru is left in his burning castle to die.
His mother appears right before his demise to finally tell him what he had always wanted to hear: that she’s there for him and won’t leave.
He wanted his land to be prosperous, and was willing to give up his own brother for those means. Even though he and his brother were one and the same: broken.
Hyakkimaru had finally retrieved his body, but was now able to see the pain and suffering all around him.
There was no real victory here. Just a gloomy end.
Anime: Hunter x Hunter (2011)
I’ll go on record and say that I have never been sadder for an antagonist’s death.
Just when Meruem finally learned what it means to be alive, to be Meruem and not just the King, he has to leave this world.
He spends his final moments with Komugi, the girl that taught him all of these lessons. Trying to finally beat her at Gungi.
As they play in the pitch dark Meruem, he asks Komugi if she was still with him repeatedly, worrying more about her life than his own.
And as he draws his final breath, he only asks Komugi for one last thing: to call him by his name, to acknowledge him as a person.
16. Neji Hyuga
Anime: Naruto Shippuden
Naruto had a lot of sad deaths. Jiraya, Minato and Kushina, Itachi, you name it.
But honestly, Neji’s death hit a little different.
This is the man who belittled Hinata and Naruto for not being geniuses like himself, for denying the fate he had laid out.
Now he was prepared to sacrifice his own life to save those two.
What hurt most of all were Obito’s words, asking Naruto whether he could claim to protect his friends once again, as countless bodies laid motionless beside him.
It was a really hard reality check for Naruto. And coupled with Neji’s dying expression and the beautiful soundtrack, this became my saddest death of the series.
Ebisu’s character had quite the development in a short span of time.
Initially seeming like a classic bad guy, to somehow becoming a beloved character whose death made me genuinely sad.
It was his conversation with Yato that really made it so touching, as on the one hand Yato finally felt recognized and wanted. And on the other hand Ebisu had found his sense for living.
For the first time, Ebisu did not want to just die and reincarnate. He wanted to be his current self. And it was all thanks to Yato.
So seeing Yato with little Ebisu later on was somehow just as sad, as Yato tried to explain what his previous reincarnation truly meant to him.
14. Tomomi Masaoka
Watching the relationship between Tomomi and his son Ginoza evolve during the show was very touching.
Ginoza wanted nothing to do with Tomomi initially. He just labelled him a latent criminal, someone who should be avoided.
But as time passes he starts to understand his old man bit by bit.
But unfortunately, by the time Ginoza fully understood, it was too late.
In a selfless act to save his son, even though it meant failing the mission, Tomomi sacrifices himself. Ginoza watches his father die in front of his eyes, feeling a degree of sorrow he had never felt before.
13. Erwin Smith
Anime: Attack on Titan
Although a slave to his curiosity, Erwin was a great leader.
When facing the Beast Titan and a rain of boulders that had killed so many, Erwin decides to make a bold move.
He states how the living give meaning to the deceased, and leads a suicidal charge at the titans so that Levi can sneak up on the enemy.
He charged straight forward, fearless, even in the face of death.
To his very last breath Erwin kept asking questions, never once being satisfied by the answers this cruel world gave him.
And when such a great man falls, you can’t help but shed a tear, if for no other reason than out of respect.
12. Rintarou Okabe
Anime: Steins;Gate: The Movie − Load Region of Déjà Vu
The thing is that Okabe didn’t die in the movie, but rather his very existence was erased… for a while, that is.
And this hit even harder than a normal death scene. As no one besides Kurisu even remembered that Okabe had ever existed.
As she suffers alone, Kurisu pulls out the most heart breaking scene by imitating Hououin Kyouma.
Her friends get some déjà vu. But for the most part she suffers alone, remembering a great man whom she loved so much.
This scene was the most unconventionally tragic scene I have ever witnessed in anime. It definitely belongs on this list.
Anime: Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Kamina was such a hero.
He’s the loud-mouthed kind hearted guy who wasn’t afraid of anything and spread so much positive energy that everyone gravitated towards him.
He cared for others so much that even on his death bed he gave it his all and fought alongside Simon to secure the victory.
But the victory meant nothing, as they had lost the man who started it all.
The man whose spirit was larger than the group itself.
But he accomplished one thing: Simon was finally able to believe in himself, and not because Kamina believed in him, but belief from within.
Anime: Vinland Saga
The man who initially seemed like the end goal villain, yet turned out to be a hero.
He ultimately engaged in his last brawl, cutting down all those who opposed him. All for the sake of saving Canute and Wales, he sacrificed his own life and allowed the prince to stab him.
And what he left behind was a boy in despair.
A boy who no longer had any purpose in life, Thorfinn.
He finally gave him closure, telling him to move on. To venture to lands ever further than those his father had been to, to become a true warrior.
And with that, he had repaid every favor.
9. Twelve and Nine
Anime: Zankyou no Terror
These two were ready to put their life on the line to show a great evil to the world.
All so the world would acknowledge and take responsibility for what they had gone through. And just as they had accomplished that task, as Shibazaki finally understood the two terrorists he had been chasing for so long… they were both shot.
Now leaving everything to Shibazaki, they passed away, hoping that through him they will have justice.
Mishima cries as her beloved friends are no more. And the roar of helicopters fills the air.
A chilling conclusion to say the least.
Anime: Death Note
L’s death was twisted on so many levels.
After finally starting to close the walls around Light, L falls out of his chair, never to take another breath again.
Light had finally done it. And it wasn’t so much that he outsmarted L, but rather that he was more twisted. So he manipulated Rem through Misa and had her do the deed.
The worst part was that Light embraced L in his final moments, still putting on the façade that he cared for him. And stared into his eyes triumphantly, with a grin on his face.
Staring at the face of his killer… at least L got closure.
He finally knew that he had been right all along.
Anime: Grave Of The Fireflies
The saddest part of Setsuko’s death is how realistic it was.
There was no fantasy world or demons. Just a little girl who was starving.
While visiting the doctor, her caring brother is simply told to feed her. Even though poverty doesn’t allow for such luxuries.
He does his very best, resorting to stealing, but can only get her a little piece of watermelon.
While he left looking for some more food, his innocent little sister simply passed away.
Again, no fantasy to it.
Just the reality of how cruel the world can be towards those who society has given up on.
6. Jonathan Joestar
Anime: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
You usually wouldn’t associate sadness with the JoJo franchise.
But the demise of the original Joestar was truly heart breaking.
In his battle with Dio, he sacrifices himself so that Erina could live.
The saddest part is that he held no malice towards Dio. Even after everything, he thought of him as a brother.
He was such a kind-hearted man that he couldn’t even hate his own killer.
And to some degree, those feelings were reciprocated, as even Dio felt sadness.
While the fire burned around them and he was embraced in the dying arms of his brother, Dio lost his last sliver of humanity.
Anime: Assassination Classroom
This entire show is about killing this man, and yet his death struck me out of nowhere.
The fact that he trained his killers, teaching them how to live, to fight, to be good people overall.
After having helped each student overcome their biggest hurdle in life, it was finally time to say goodbye.
And the fact that they were all on top of him, bawling their eyes out as he spoke his final words, sends tears down my face to this very day.
That world may never again see a tentacle man with such a kind heart and love for his family.
4. Portgas D. Ace
Anime: One Piece
When One Peace decides to make you sad, it makes you depressed.
The fight for Ace’s retrieval was dramatic on many levels.
From his touching moment with Whitebard to his reuniting with Luffy.
But at the very end, Ace sacrificed himself. And took a magma arm through the chest to protect the boy he loved like a brother.
In utter shock, Luffy begs for someone to heal the fallen Ace, but it was too late.
With his dying breath he thanked his captain, his comrades, and his friends for loving him. Even though he had demon’s blood. And with that final thank you, Ace was no more.
3. Sohryu Asuka Langley
Anime: Neon Genesis Evangelion
Evangelion is sad as it is. But Asuka’s death was probably one of the most brutal.
After finally realizing how much her mother loved her, Asuka springs into action and takes on multiple Evas all on her own.
As her power is running low, she keeps taking out one after the other.
But in the end, it was not enough.
She gets pierced through the head and the surviving Evas feast on Nigoki like vultures, tearing it apart.
Even then, Asuka raises her hand towards the sky, vowing to kill all those in her way.
But a rain of spears end her vow before she could take another step.
2. Maes Hughes
Anime: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood
Envy, jealous of humanity for being able to love.
And Hughes, a man who loved as much as he possibly could.
Unfortunately, justice didn’t win this time around.
After just beginning to unravel Father’s plans, Envy ambushes Hughes and pierces his shoulders.
He manages to escape and enter a phone booth, only to be shot minutes later.
The worst part being that Envy took on the form of his wife when she pulled the trigger.
As his heart stopped beating, all Hughes could do was apologize to his wife and daughter. And remind them how much he truly loved them.
1. Lelouch Lamperouge
Anime: Code Geass
Lelouch paid the ultimate price for his ideals, wanting a world where there are no wars or discrimination.
He took it upon himself to become the lightning rod hatred would be directed towards.
He wanted to destroy the world, and build it anew.
His final moments were tragic and yet happy, as his best friend pierced his heart, his little sister clenched his arm and cried. And the crowd cheered, for the monster is now dead.
And yet he smiled, as his friends were now safe. Ultimately the world moved on and truly became better because of him.
In his eyes, it was a worthy sacrifice.
Yet we can’t help but cry as someone else took on the name of Zero, and the world kept moving, leaving him in the dust.