One thing that makes watching action-packed anime fun and engaging is watching the heroes achieve their lifelong goals and seeing their dreams finally come true. Unfortunately, not everyone gets this privilege.
Every now and then, an inspiring character will meet his end long before his time is up, leaving his hopes and dreams unfulfilled and stuck forever. Despite giving it your all, sadly some dreams are destined to be nothing more than figments of a hero’s imagination. There will be spoilers later.
10 Berserk – Griffith sacrifices the Falcon’s Gang before his resurgence
After rescuing a tortured Griffith, his Band of the Hawk realized that any chance of regaining his former glory was moot. Still, they clung to the hope of a new dawn now that they had reclaimed their founder, leader, and morale. Unfortunately, her beloved commander had other plans.
In a fit of suicidal despair, Griffith sacrificed his most loyal men and friends to the Hand of God in exchange for power. Only Guts and Casca survive the infernal Eclipse, but both are forever changed in the worst way imaginable. Casca is a shell of what he was before, while Guts turns into a monster much worse than the Apostles who brutally kills.
9 One Piece – Whitebeard dies before piracy rebirth
Even before dying in battle, an old Whitebeard knew that his days were numbered. Still, his inevitable death couldn’t have been less tragic as he failed to achieve the only reason he had for waging the war on Marineford: to save Ace, the closest pirate who has ever had a child (more on Ace later). Soon after, Whitebeard dies in front of Blackbeard and the Marines.
Whitebeard uses his last words to confirm that the mythical One Piece is real, rekindling the pirates’ spirit of rebellion. While it gave Gol D. Roger’s age of freedom a second wind, Whitebeard never lived to see One Piece or raise Ace to be the new Pirate King.
8 Attack On Titan – Erwin Smith Never Learns The Truths Of Paradis
Attack on Titan It is defined by tragic deaths, Erwin being one of the saddest. During Shiganshina’s recovery, all hope is lost when the Beast Titan corners Erwin and Levi’s squad. Erwin leads a suicide charge to provide cover for Levi to defeat Zeke and is killed doing so.
What makes this sadder is that Erwin and everyone who died never learned the truths of Paradis, the Titans and their suffering that is hidden in Eren’s basement which was within walking distance. Levi considers saving him with the Titan Serum, but ultimately chooses Armin, concluding that Erwin should now rest.
7 JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood – Jonathan Joestar dies before reaching America
While not exactly a fan favorite Jojo arc, Ghost blood still has one of the saddest deaths in the series. The anime’s inaugural JoJo, Jonathan Joestar, dies protecting his loving wife Erina and their son, just moments away from starting a new life in America.
Dio, now a sensitive talking head, sneaks aboard Jonathan’s honeymoon trip and attacks. Jonathan bleeds out from Dio’s attack, but not before dragging him down with the sinking ship. Even sadder, Johnathan somehow finds in himself forgiving Dio before he dies, much to the surprise of his childhood rival.
6 Naruto: Shippuden – Jiraiya falls before writing “The Story of Naruto the Great”
Jiraiya was one of the strongest ninjas around, but even he was no match for Pain. While the legendary ninja successfully discovered Pain’s weakness, he died with many regrets. The main ones are: not being able to win over Tsunade, losing Orochimaru to evil and endangering his mentor and student (Hiruzen Sarutobi and Naruto, respectively).
For what it’s worth, Jiraiya accepted his past failures in his final seconds. This does not erase the fact that he will never be able to redeem what he considers to be his greatest failures, nor will he see how proud his godson Naruto would have made him, which he would have recounted in “The Tale of Naruto the Great.”
5 Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – Kamina dies before humanity overthrows the beastmen
In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, humanity has been forced to live underground while the Beastmen rule the surface world. An unstable truce is forged between the races, where they are left alone. Kamina disagrees with this and promises to bring himself, his brother Simon, and humanity to the surface.
Kamina founds Team Gurren, but just as the resistance gains its first major victory, Kamina dies. The shock of Kamina’s death early in the anime is so great that it not only unlocked the Giga Drill Break and changed Simon, but fans are still (understandably) crying about it today. Kamina’s disappearance consistently tops the lists of “saddest anime deaths” for a reason.
4 One Piece – Ace never makes up for lost time
Marineford’s bow was so difficult for One piece fans who make it here twice. Ask those same fans whose death was the saddest, and they’ll unanimously answer Portgas D. Ace, Luffy’s longtime brother. The two are not related by blood since Luffy’s grandfather adopted Ace, but they better be told how close they were.
Ace and Luffy spent years apart and were eventually reunited during the former’s execution, which Luffy, the escaped prisoners from Impel Down, and Whitebeard’s crew interrupt to organize a rescue. Unfortunately, Ace is killed with a fatal attack aimed at Luffy. This happens shortly after Ace promised Luffy that he would make up for lost time and after he finally acknowledged his self-worth. Worse still, he doesn’t even find out that his best friend Sabo is alive.
3 Tokyo Ghoul – The pigeons execute Ryouko before he can live a new life
Ryouko is not a main character in Terror in tokyo, but he had one of the most painful deaths in the entire series. Ryouko and her daughter Hanami find refuge in the Anteiku, but after resting and preparing to start a new life elsewhere, they encounter the Pigeons that are chasing them. Ryouko dies, keeping Hanami safe, without promising her that they can start over.
What makes matters worse is that Ryouko’s memory was desecrated, as Mado used her kagune along with her husband’s and nearly killed Hinami with it. Fortunately, Mado was arrested for what can only be explained as divine intervention. Ryouko’s kagune refused to follow his orders at the last second, leaving him exposed to a fatal blow from Touka.
two Fullmetal Alchemist – Envy kills Maes before he can grow old
Not all dreams need to be great, like saving humanity or defeating an ancient evil. Sometimes they can be as simple as being a family man, which was the case for Maes Hughes in both incarnations of Fullmetal Alchemist. Maes just wanted to do his job well and grow old with his family, which makes his brutal death that much sadder.
Just when Maes discovered the truth behind the Homunculus, Envy took him down. Maes desperately tries to stay alive to see his beloved daughter again, but Envy finishes the job. Twisting the knife even more was that Maes’s death was not heroic; it was terribly realistic and painful. That, and his funeral, was displayed in moving detail. Maes’s death was truly a terrible day for rain.
1 Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Sayaka’s heart breaks in every timeline
Sayaka became a magical girl in the name of love, specifically her crush Kyousuke. But when she ends up dating someone else and discovers that magical girls are doomed to become the same witches they fight, Sayaka becomes a witch. Any dreams of love and magical adventures she had were quickly shattered, making her end at Kyoko’s hands even more tragic.
The most painful thing about this is that in the different timelines that Homura has seen, Sayaka’s tragedy is a constant. No matter what Sayaka does, she is doomed to lose herself in despair, her friends being the only ones capable of ending her misery. Sayaka’s resurrection in Rebellion she does little to numb the seemingly endless suffering her innocent love gave her.
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