The Top 10 Saddest Anime Deaths of Minor Characters

Ah, yes, everyone in their hearts has a list of anime deaths which have made them feel emotions no other animated character has. And for the most part, they tend to be major characters-protagonists or  antagonists, series leads who we have come to love throughout the course of the show.

But what about those less than featured characters, whose spotlight was limited to just a handful of episodes? Those character we saw so little of, yet had such a huge impact on us? Well, that’s what we’ll be discussing today! So let’s not waste any time, and get right to it – the top 10 saddest anime deaths of minor characters!  (Also, SPOILERS)

10) Kaworu Nagisa – Neon Genesis Evangelion

kaworu nagisa

Mode of Death: Being crushed in the giant hand of an Eva

Well, this death is more sad for the circumstances, and its effect on the main character. See, the main character Shinji is a typical lonely clinically depressed teenage boy, who feels either used or hated by everyone around him. Then mysterious Kaworu Nagisa shows up and tell Shinji he loves him and genuinely shows him care and affection. Then it turns out Kaworu is an angel and thus, Shinji must kill him. The audience waits in suspense as the seconds tick away, Shinji in the Eva, and Kaworu trapped in the hand. He even accepts his fate, telling Shinj to do it. Nothing prepares you to see the shadow of Kaworu’s head fall into the water. Nor the ensuing crazy that results from it.

9) Kyoko Honda (Tohru’s Mom) – Fruits Basket

kyoko honda

Mode of Death: Hit by a car

Tohru Honda is the sugary sweet protagonist of Fruits Basket, but often we forget that she is, in fact, an orphan. Tohru’s mom Kyoko, an ex-Yanki gangster and single mother, was in a tragic car accident while crossing the street. She could have been saved by Kyo, one of the main male protagonists of the series, but due to a curse he was unable to do so. Her dying thoughts as she was bleeding out onto the concrete, were of her daughter. She ended up leaving her fragile kid to the care of an old grandfather, and other relatives who really hate them both. Knowing this fully as she died. If that isn’t incredibly tragic, then I don’t know what is.

8) Kaori – Akira

Kaori of Akira

Mode of Death: Being crushed (and absorbed) by her giant monster boyfriend

There’s not much you can say about Kaori. In the manga, she was a slave to Tetsuo. In the manga, she’s his girlfriend and she dies one of the most gruesome on-screen dates to date. Not only does she try to help her boyfriend, whose been kind of a dick to her, but gets trapped in his expanding tumorous body and is crushed to death. He even says that he can feel her pain. Even just thinking about it makes me a little queasy (it could also be the fact that I saw this movie when I was 12). Not exactly the most pleasant way to go.

7) Zabuza and Haku – Naruto

zabuza haku

Mode of Death: Ninja Battle

These two share a listing because they die for each other, so it would be silly to separate them. The antagonists of a small arc in Naruto, Zabuza and Haku are two ninjas of the Hidden Mist, with Zabuza being the master and Haku the pupil, or servant perhaps (it’s never quite clear). However, when Zabuza is in danger, Haku steps forward and is killed protecting him. Through some (rather contrived) shounen-style-tropes, Zabuza admits to caring for Haku beyond simply using him as a tool, and chooses to die as well, ultimately being laid side by side. The only reason they aren’t higher on the list is because they come back in Shippuden, and officially entered Now That’s What I Call Bullshit territory.

6) Yumi Komagata – Rurouni Kenshin

ruruken yumi

Mode of Death: Stabbed through the chest by her lover (in order to stab Kenshin)

There’s a saying that behind every great man is a great woman. If that’s the case, then behind every crazy ex-mercenary, there’s an equally crazy woman. That woman is Yumi Komagata. The devoted lover of Shishio Makoto, she has done everything to ensure he has survived and thrived to become the crazy warrior he is. However, when the big battle between Kenshin and Shishio became too intense and threatened to kill Shishio, she stepped between the two. After begging Kenshin to stop and let Shishio live, she is rewarded for her loyalty with a sword through the chest. Yes, Shishio uses her as a distraction in order to stab Kenshin, killing her in the process. Ain’t love just grand? Maybe not so for Yumi.

5) Nephrite – Sailor Moon

Nephrite-Sailor Moon

Mode of Death: Killed saving Naru/Molly, then being turned to dust (in the anime only)

Ah, Sailor Moon, the one shojo anime everyone remembers from their childhood. Even though the dub butchered a lot, and the censoring made it worse, the show was all we had in terms of media made for young girls. That’s not to say it was fluffy and without substance. See, Nephrite was one of the main villians from the first season of the show, who ultimately fell in love with Sailor Moon’s best friend Naru (Molly for those who saw it in English). Despite his loyalties, he saves Naru from monsters, only to be stabbed by one and slowly watch as his energy drained away. He dies in Molly’s arms, floating away as dust as his love cries, leaving behind nothing but a bloodied bandage. Hell, if that’s not dark for a kid’s show, I don’t know what is.

4) Mami Tomoe – Puella Magi Madoka Magica

mami tomoe

Mode of Death: Decapitated and eaten by a witch

Holy shit, did this death come right out of nowhere. You could hear the whiplash from fans across the Internet as Mami’s head suddenly disappeared from her body with one foul chomp. And I’m including her here as a minor character cause she was only around for 3 episodes, and was rarely ever the main focus. But just because she never made it to the end of the show doesn’t mean we didn’t feel for her when she died. In fact, if anything, we felt for her more because she was the first to show the audience, as well as Sayaka and Madoka, that this isn’t a joke – being a magical girl has serious, sometimes fatal consequences. Not to mention the look of absolute terror and despair in her eyes right beyond the fatal chomp. This was the event that set the tone for the show, and will be remembered in Internet history.

3) Maes Hughes – Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Maes Hughes

Mode of Death: Shot in a phone booth by a Homunculus 

Few fans of the show will deny that the death of Maes Hughes was one of the greatest characters on the show, and that makes his death all the sadder. He was known for showing off pictures of his daughter and being a light-hearted ally to the Elric brothers. In the final moments before his death, he was attempting to relay important information to Roy Mustang at a telephone booth. There, he was faced by Envy, disguised as a fellow soldier, Maria Ross.

However, Hughes could see through the disguise. His only flaw was hesitating when Envy transformed into his wife – though can you blame the guy? No one would just blindly stab their own wife. This ultimately led to his demise, alone in the dead of night on the street. His funeral was one of the most heartbreaking moments of the show, and signaled a change in tone of the show. A worthy end to a stellar character.

2) Ace – One Piece

ace one piece

Mode of Death: Insides turned to char by lava punch-attack

What’s the worst about this death was that it was so close to not happening. There was an entire arc dedicated to freeing him, they were almost to safety and then suddenly, death. There’s nothing worse than that to a reader than to have that hope dashed from right in front of you. Ace is the (spoilers: non biological) brother of the main character Luffy, who is eventually captured by the Marines and is set to be executed. During the massive rescue attempt, Ace decides that life is worth living and ultimately escapes.

However, the victory is short lived. As they try to make it back to the boats, Ace intercepts a magma-punch punch for Luffy, which destroys his insides, and he dies within minutes. After deciding in the earlier part of the arc that he wanted to live. And with his last breath, thanked all his loved ones for caring for him. Man, does Eiichiro Oda really know how to pack an emotional whallop. While not big in America, One Piece is huge in Japan, and Ace’s death was a huge surprise to all. Gruesome, poetic, shocking – the death of Portagas D. Ace was a sad one indeed.

1) Nina Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist/Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

nina tucker

Mode of Death: Being genetically deconstructed/exploded by alchemy

This is the ultimate test to see if someone has a heart or not. If you did not feel awful for what happened to this poor child, then you are an evil person and you need to go sit in a corner. FOREVER. Nina Tucker was the daughter of State Alchemist Shou Tucker, and in the original anime, we spend quite a few episodes with the little four year old. She’s a cute, sweet, loving girl who hangs out with her giant fluffy dog Alexander. Then, one night, Ed and Al find that Shou has created a talking chimera, which is unheard of in the universe of the show.

Only do the two protagonists eventually realize that Shou has merged Alexander and Nina together in a monstrous painful sin against nature, a fate they determined also befell his late wife. So not only did Shou transform his daughter and dog into a suffering science experiment so he could remain a State Alchemist, but did this to his only living relative, and knowing it would fail because he had already done this to his wife.

In the end, the Nina-Alexander chimera is kill, either being destructed genetically, or being exploded by alchemy (depending which version of the show you saw), so their suffering more or less ended there. Poor little Nina is turned into a monster against her will simply for being in proximity to a crazy alchemist, suffers great pain and sorrow during her time as a chimera, and then is destroyed in a gruesome fashion along with her beloved dog. The death of innocence incarnate.

The following two tabs change content below.


As just a regular, hard-working work, often-stressing, procrastination-mastering history and journalism student, I often turn to the silver and small screens for relief, even though I'm only an average cinema-and-television loving viewer, commenting on what, and does not, makes good entertainment. I love horror everything - book, TV shows, games, movies - even though they frighten me terribly. I'm a long time believer of the old saying "When life gives you lemons, don't take life's lemons! Give the lemons back!" So, onward I go, returning lemons and logging an unhealthy amount of screen time for your enjoyment. So please be sure to read my stuff and let me know what you think, I'm alway looking to improve and be the best, most cynical critic I can be!

Latest posts by Starshine5050 (see all)


As just a regular, hard-working work, often-stressing, procrastination-mastering history and journalism student, I often turn to the silver and small screens for relief, even though I'm only an average cinema-and-television loving viewer, commenting on what, and does not, makes good entertainment. I love horror everything - book, TV shows, games, movies - even though they frighten me terribly. I'm a long time believer of the old saying "When life gives you lemons, don't take life's lemons! Give the lemons back!" So, onward I go, returning lemons and logging an unhealthy amount of screen time for your enjoyment. So please be sure to read my stuff and let me know what you think, I'm alway looking to improve and be the best, most cynical critic I can be!


    (Kaworu is debatable certainly but)

  2. Hmm, I checked out this list because I was expecting a KEY character to make it. The problem with this list is while all these deaths made an impact, none of them made me cry.,,mainly because I haven't seen Brotherhood yet. I know, you will tell me to watch it in hyperbole, but I'll pick it up when I feel like it. I didn't read some of them as to not spoil myself.

    I'll just mention the ones I have seen.
    -Ayumi from Samurai X was sad because of her eternal loyalty to a tyrant she saw as a visionary, a hero and a real man's man. Ultimate sacrifice indeed. Weird, I always thought her name was Ayumi when it's just Yumi.
    -My problem with Tohru's mom's death is…ANOTHER ORPHANED ANIME KID!? Okay, that's how I feel now, but back when I was younger, Fruits Basket was kinda touching…when you did not stop to really think about it as a whole and identify MANY of its flaws…but I didn't back when I first watched it.
    -Haku is similar to Yumi but the difference is that Zabuza mourned over his death more as that of a person he cared for deep inside than that of an fateful follower like Shishio saw Yumi's.
    -Mami's death was more of an eye opener and an attraction when you think about it. Otherwise, it was CHEAP!
    -I haven't seen One Piece in years and you already know I haven't FMA.
    -I never cared for Evangelion and Sailor Moon is also on my to-do list.

    • Not really, I am not an obsessive FMA fans of either of the animes or manga. Watch it when you can. It's a good show but it's not going to blow your mind. And which character did you expect? Also Mami's death was brutal for me. Just cause the death served a thematic purpose for the show doesn't make it invalid. Also, point, I never cried at any of these. I'm pretty heartless I guess.

      • I never said Mami's death was lame. I just said that moment was one that played a major role in getting people who unfairly denied the show at first to pay attention to it.

        I will pick FMA up someday.

        Nah, you're not heartless, just not known for crying. That's all.

        Anime deaths that made me cry…if I can find ten, I'll eventually make my own list…but there aren't that many yet.

        A preview: Michiru from Air. Oh goh…that really got to me for some reason.
        Tenshi from Angel Beats ALMOST had me…oh who am I kidding, I wept like a yelping when she and the male lead said goodbye. Curse you KEY anime for being tearjerking masters. Maybe not for you, but for me they produced waterworks.

      • As I have never seen either series, I'm getting the tissues and watching them soon.

  3. one piece isnt huge but you belittle it with you talk of ace…

  4. What really adds weight to Ace's death is how plainly Oda makes it that this is permanent. Every single other minor character up to that point suffered Disney deaths for the sake of dramatic tension, and they show up a scant few chapters later saying "I got better".

    Death in One Piece is something that has portent without being too serious. So for Oda to suddeny switch gears, decisively killing off one of the most popular characters in the franchise, already makes it a Very Big Deal. The presentation and arc long build up was just the icing on the tragedy cake.

    • From what I know of One Piece (I'm a casual reader at best) I was shocked how dark and deep it was – the manga is pretty light hearted. I think you articulated it much better than I. I guess I didn't really notice the death-and-revival til you pointed it out…which is not a good thing on my part. I placed it on the list at that position because it had such a huge impact, though I see now it was a bigger shock than I thought.

  5. nicholas d. wolfwood???

    • I will admit I never finished Trigun — not because it was a bad show (quite the opposite, it was very good) but mostly because I've never made the effort (or had the time to make the effort) to sit down and watch it all.

  6. I guess this thread is kinda old, but I just have to add that Ushio’s death, in Clannad After Story, deserves to be in the top 10. Though I guess it’s debatable if she actually died, before the “miracle” happened. I’ll still count it as an “on-screen death”. ;P

Leave a Reply