No decent anime goes without its share of character deaths, and the best anime make those deaths rich and memorable, or just straight-up cool. Just as in life, a great character's death is inevitable. In anime, the best way to honor those characters is to deliver the end of their story with a blaze of glory.
The death of a beloved character is wrenching and the death of a villainous character is gripping, but the death of any character at all carves a unique depth into a story, enriching its poignancy. Fans might lament the loss of their faves, but there's something undeniably bewitching about a cool death that fans love to suffer, and suffer to love.
10 There's No Love Like A Brother's Love In The Legend Of Korra
The Avatar-verse has always tempered its gruesome moments for the sake of its younger audiences. That's why fans are completely taken off guard by the blatant demise of Amon and Tarrlock in the Season 1 finale. A defeated Amon frees his politician brother, Tarrlock, and the two escape as fugitives.
On the get-away boat, with Amon's back turned, Tarrlock uses Amon's electrified glove to ignite the boat — killing them both in an explosion. Tarrlock's motivation is still debated among fans to this day. Though the question still hangs in the air, the double-death is one of the edgiest moments in the franchise.
9 Greed Is An Unlikely Hero In Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Greed not only dies in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, he dies twice. After his first death, Greed's soul is resurrected into sharing a body with Ling. While he initially bemoans this state of affairs, he decides to team up with both Ling and Edward to benefit his own objectives. This changes in Episode 63, when both Ling and Greed are in danger of being absorbed by Father.
To give Ling and Edward an advantage, Greed sacrifices himself. As he dies, Greed gazes down to see a crestfallen Ling and Edward watching him. He quips that he could do without the pitiful stares, but reveals that the void he has always attempted to resolve with power is satiated with the friendships he forges with Ling and Edward.Greed exemplifies real human compassion in his death.
8 Wolfwood Dies For Love And Peace In Trigun
After a fatal injury, Wolfwood makes his way to a church and reflects on his life, wrestling to make peace with a God he admits he's never confessed to — a priest who has never confessed to his God. He laments in the church, grappling with the violence of his life.
Wolfwood's death comes just after significant character development, in which a clash with Vash's idealism forces him to reconsider his moral absolutes. Wolfwood's death is as painful as it is visually artful. The priest passes away propped up against his enormous machine-gun cross before the altar, one last snuffed-out cigarette at his side.
7 Light Is Not Alright In Death Note
When Light is revealed as the killer, Kira, he psychologically spirals out of control, denying, rationalizing, even bargaining with Near. In a stunning turn of events, Matsuda, the youngest and most light-hearted member of the Task Force, swiftly pumps Light full of lead moments before Light is able to use his Death Note again.
Light's defeat is captivating in its complete degradation. It's only in death that Light behaves as human as fans ever get to see him. He is desperate, cowardly, and in denial — off-setting the cool and collected tones he upheld for most of the series. The Shinigami Ryuk writes Light's name in his Death Note, marking the end of the self-proclaimed God.
6 Gyutaro And Daki Come To A Head In Demon Slayer
After one of the most riveting and lengthy fights in the series, the Demon Brother-Sister duo, Gyutaro and Daki, met their defeat in Demon Slayer's third season. Initially fighting what they believed to be one Demon (Daki) in Episode 4, her decapitation in Episode 7 leads to the revelation that her Demon brother Gyutaro has been living inside of her. The Demon Slayers fight both siblings until Episode 11.
Daki and Gyutaro are an outstanding pair, gaining power from the other, and only fallible if decapitated together. The animation in this arc is lauded as some of the best in anime history, and the final decapitation of both demons shatters the tension of the eight-episode brawl.
5 Levi Lets Erwin Go In Attack on Titan
Commander Erwin's death is refreshingly drawn-out in comparison to the usual breakneck speed of the massacres in Attack On Titan. Erwin's life hangs on the line of an impossible choice: save his life, or save Armin's. Captain Levi can only save one, and he is moments away from administering a life-saving serum to Armin when the opportunity to save Erwin arrives. Eren and Mikasa are crazed, psychologically and emotionally strung out at the prospect of having their friend's salvation swiped from under them.
Levi initially decides on saving Erwin, but an involuntary arm swing from a fading Erwin swats the syringe away. While never explicitly stated, Levi may have determined this eerie moment as a sign to choose differently. He never regrets his decision, and places the future of the Scout Regimen in the next young generation, letting Erwin finally find peace.
4 Baji Always Protects Kazutora In Tokyo Revengers
Baji makes the ultimate sacrifice for his troubled childhood friend, Kazutora, in Episode 22 of Tokyo Revengers. The relationship between Kazutora and the members of Toman is contentious, however Baji always advocates for the goodness of Kazutora's heart. Baji understands Kazutora's skewed psychological perceptions in a way the other members of Toman are not able to, and he takes on a deeply protective role.
During a massive gang war, an emotionally numbed-out Mikey pummels Kazutora, believing he has murdered Baji. Baji revives long enough to stop Mikey, and plunges a knife into his abdomen. By taking his own life, Baji frees Kazutora from the regret of murdering him, and frees Mikey from the weight of killing Kazutora in retaliation. Baji's love for his childhood friend leads to his death, but it's clear it's a sacrifice he is more than willing to make.
3 Carla's Death Is The Catalyst In Attack On Titan
Carla Yeager's death, is as monstrous as it is edgy. Attack On Titan delivers Game of Thrones level shock value in the first episode of the series. Titans breach the Wall Maria for the first time in 100 years and wreak havoc on the Shiganshina District, massacring the townspeople. A young Eren runs home in the chaos only to find it destroyed, and his mother trapped beneath the fallen beams of the house.
Hannes, a Captain of the Garrison military division, arrives to save the three, but Carla begs Hannes to leave her and save the children. Realizing the futility of the situation, Hannes whisks Eren and Mikasa away. Carla is pulled from the wreckage by a Titan, and subsequently devoured in plain view of her young son. The animated sequence of her blood splattering through the air like rain is haunting. The episode comes to a close with a devastated young Eren, forever changed.
2 Mustang Is Hot For Lust's Demise In Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
After delivering near-fatal blows to both Havoc and Mustang, the murderous Homunculus Lust sets her sights on Alphonse and Hawkeye. Mustang arrives in time to save them both after cauterizing his wound and carving a transmutation circle into the back of his hand, re-enabling his Flame Alchemy.
In a stunning vocal performance by voice actor Laura Bailey, audiences listen to Lust shriek in agony as her body burns and regenerates again and again at the hands of Mustang's explosive blows. Lust is centimeters away from piercing Roy's skull before she and the philosopher's stone keeping her alive disintegrate into the air, leaving behind nothing but dust, death, and an ominous, sensual monologue.
1 Kyojuro Sets Our Hearts Ablaze In Demon Slayer
Kyojuro Rengoku captured the hearts of audiences everywhere with his charismatic personality and his enthusiastic commitment to truth, justice, and loyalty. His battle with the Upper Rank Demon, Akaza, was a relentless dance between fatal blows and superhuman stamina.
Kyojuro took hit after hit protecting the young Tanjiro and Inosuke, and the Flame Hashira succeeded in staving off Akaza before succumbing to his injuries. Kyojuro's death was one of the most poignant deaths in anime as he sat in his final moments peacefully facing Tanjiro and Inosuke, reassuring them of their power. He passed away smiling, in total harmony with an honorable death.
NEXT: 10 Anime Infamous For Their Character Deaths