One of the classic manga downer endings was Devilman, which ended with the main character losing everything and everyone he loved (including his Plucky Girl girlfriend, savagely dismembered by a psychotic mob of humans), losing the final battle between his army of devilmen and Satan's army of demons and ending up ripped in half by Satan, who was really his best friend Ryou (who was in love with him), and quite dead. And humanity probably got all but wiped out, although it doesn't go into great detail about that. The sequel series, Violence Jack was, if anything, even nastier.
As for Violence Jack. It turns out that the title character is Devilman Reborn, the main bad guy is created to TORTURE SATAN, created by Satan himself, and it ends with Satan and Devilman getting ready for round 2.
The original Mazinger Z ended with Kouji killing Dr. Hell. However, the Mykene Empire -that had been awaiting for one of their enemies destroying the other- struck inmediately, razing to rubble several major cities -New York, London, Paris, Moscow and Tokyo-, bringing down the Photon Power Research Institute, destroying Diana-A, Boss Borot and Mazinger-Z itself. Kouji almost died, and he was saved by Tetsuya Tesurugi pulling off a Big Damn Heroes moment with Great Mazinger. The series ended with the humanity on the brink of being wiped out as several characters told Mazinger-Z was now useless. And later, in Great Mazinger, Dr. Hell returned, showing Kouji's efforts and struggle had been all for nothing. It was even worse in several retelling of the series.
In Shin Mazinger even though Kouji kills Dr. Hell and saves the day, it turned out to be a Batman Gambit by Baron Ashura, ensuring the Mikene Empire will rise and the series ends with Mazinger-Z defeated, the God Scrander destroyed!
The original Getter Robo anime and manga ends with Musashi's death. However, in the manga, the remains of the Dinosaur Empire escape, save for Emperor Gore, who's murdered by Burai and his Hundred Demon Army, with Ryouma and Hayato vowing to continue the fight in the new Getter Robo G.
Another infamous one is Osamu Tezuka's Jungle Taitei, known to the rest of the world as Kimba the White Lion. Remember in the original anime about the fun adventures of Leo and Lyra? In the end of the manga and the 1997 movie adaptation, Lyra dies of a plague and Leo sacrifices himself to save his human companion in the middle of a blizzard. HUGELY subverted in the anime sequel Leo the Lion to the original anime.
Heavy Metal L Gaim has this kind of ending, combined with Tear Jerker. Although The Empire is destroyed and the war is over, Daba tells his friends that he is retreating to live alone with his sister on Koam and nurse her as she was brain-damaged by Poseidal.
Both exemplified and ultimately subverted by Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Most of the individual arcs end with one of the main characters either brutally murdering or being murdered by one (or more) of their best friends, but the cycle of murders ultimately leads to a Good End for the main characters.
The same applies to its companion, Umineko. One of the worst endings has the protagonist stripped naked, forced to be a pet/servant to the antagonist, and is eaten alive by people in goat-masks. Oh, and this is after a lot of the other island's inhabitants are murdered.
The ending of the series also apply where it at best is bittersweet Battler finally once again can meet his family and Beatrice in the golden land or a downer where everything from ep 3 and forward was just a way for an amnesiac Battler to sort out his memories about Rokkenjima.
The Mega Man X OVA: The Day of Sigma. Dr. Cain dies, Abel City is destroyed, X and Zero are in bad conditions and the Mavericks and Sigma are taking over the world.
Given that it's about war orphans starving to death in 1945 Japan, Grave of the Fireflies has not just a downer ending, but a downer beginning and a downer middle. There's ironically a ray of sunshine in the ending in that the two ghosts are reunited in the afterlife, but overall, the whole thing is the downer of downers.
Fortunately, however, fireflies also symbolize reincarnation.
Unfortunately, the movie ends with the ghosts of the two characters sitting on the park bench and overlooking a modern city, suggesting that they refuse to move on to the next life and still haunt the place where they died even decades later.
Strangely enough the story was based on a semi-autobiographic about the author and his sister. Considering that he wrote a book about it, he must still be alive, or maybe he's like Ghostwriter.
He wrote the story due to feelings of guilt he had that he survived while his sister died. He remarks that there were many times he found food and ate it without bringing any back for her and wishes that he had died.
Monster Rancher, an anime on Fox Kids TV, ended its second season with most of the cast sacrificing their lives in a fight against the Big Bad. The main hero was sent back to Earth in shock. There was a third season where they were resurrected, but it was not shown on network TV. And don't forget that Holly was left on her own in the middle of an icy tundra full of the dead and dying. And the last anyone saw of Genki was him falling off of a dragon into the forest....
The first episodes of Chrono Crusade suggested a more-or-less lighthearted comedy/action series, if with a few shocking parts. It ended with most of the cast either dead or mentally scarred for life and the Great Depression just around the corner. Azmaria's fate might have been enough to push it towards bittersweet, but Remington is metaphorically kicked between the legs when he sees that the villain survived, and is on his way to try and assassinate the Pope. End series.
Fortunately, this is not the case in the manga version; while still hardly completely happy, it certainly wasn't as unbearably bleak as the anime. Most notably, the villain had the good graces to stay dead, and all of the main cast members survived (although Rosette still died much younger than she deserved, leaving Chrono to live on without her. So like I said: not completely happy.)
Or did he live on without her? Since Chrono had disappeared, never seen again in the years before Rosette's death (and was last seen battling Aion), it is heavily suggested that he had died at some point. Many have interpreted the final scene, where Rosette has a seizure, calls out for Chrono, and sees him enter the church, running out to her with his arms out, as Chrono's spirit coming to take her with him to the afterlife. Still sad, though it does bring about happy tears.
He most certainly did live on without her. Somebody was putting flowers on Rosette's grave in the epilogue after all.
Moriyama said at an anime con in Seattle that he purposefully made the ending a bit ambiguous about Chrono surviving after seeing the anime's ending and deciding it was too sad, so both interpretations of Chrono being alive or dead appear to be valid.
Aion most certainly didn't survive. That ending was merely a metaphorical representation (and since we see it through the eyes of Remington who by that point is in horrible shape, most likely a hallucination). It merely serves to illustrate how insignificant the protagonists' sacrifices were in the grand scheme of things. I.e. Aion is dead, but everything is still going the way he intended it to go, so he may as well be alive and well.
The dub of GX was halted after Season 3. Consequentially, the American version concludes with several people dead or missing, and Cyrus losing his best friend and older brother forever.
The first season of Magic Knight Rayearth ends with the protagonists discovering they were being manipulated for almost the entire series, essentially assisting the suicide of the very person they were meant to rescue and being sent home, traumatized.
Apparently that was the original ending. The continuation was made entirely because of fans raging against CLAMP.
L/R Licensed by Royalty ended with at least one, if not both, of the main characters pointlessly dying within the literal last minute of the show. Much screaming and ranting from this editor ensued.
There are no happy endings in Ghost in the Shell. The conspiracies are stopped and life goes on, but the whole thing will get covered up and most of the villains go free. Not much left to do than count the losses and cleaning up the mess.
Texhnolyze, while maintaining an extremely dark and depressing atmosphere throughout the show, still manages to pull off one of the saddest Downer Endings imaginable (could also be classified as Kill 'em All).
The Suzuka manga takes a sharp turn from what had previously been a Love Hina-esque Romantic Comedy after an unplanned pregnancy results in the couple contemplating an abortion before deciding against it, backing out of college and a promising career in track and field for the both of them so that the male protagonist may become a salaryman while the female stays home and cares for the baby. To top it off, the male protagonist's rival and the character who had perpetually played second banana to him in track go on to represent Japan in the Olympics. There's probably a moral in here somewhere.
This Troper would'nt call it a downer ending, rather a Bittersweet Ending. True that they had give up their dreams and school, but look on the bright side: they are married and living happily together with their kid. Also in the last chapter, Suzuka, (after getting married) finally admits that she is in love with Yamato. Before that she hadn't said it out loud before.
Futari wa Pretty Cure had a Downer Ending in theory, but by the time it aired, it was already well known to even the most oblivious viewer that the Oddly Named Sequel starting next week would have to start by waking Mepple, Mipple, and Porun back up.
Gilgamesh, itself an extremely dark and depressing show with overtones of hopelessness, has one of the most spiteful Shoot the Shaggy Dog Downer Endings ever. Kiyoko, having already lost everyone and everything she cared about, having been forced into debt, despair, and work as a call-girl by the very Countess supposedly trying to "save the world" whilst ruining the lives around her, and who in lonely desperation turned to a member of the opposing Gilgamesh who then impregnated her, dies after mutating into a birthing cocoon for the hybrid lifeform. In the climactic final battles against the twisted Enkidu, his cohorts, and the Gilgamesh forces, it's revealed that they're essentially unstoppable and un-killable. This leads to the Kill 'em All deaths of pretty much everyone in the cast not already dead at this point. In the end, it's revealed that the TeaR organism responsible for the first near-apocalypse and which has instigated the horrible events of the story is actually a living manifestation of the Countess's own petty, dark, hateful, jealous, twisted heart, and that she's directly responsible for everything without realising it, despite ostensibly and ironically trying to fix it. Upon this revelation, she accepts the death of Humanity and allows TeaR to wipe out all life on Earth. To add insult to injury, in the odd, meta-void left behind, TeaR is then killed by the Gilgamesh spawn from the husk of what was left of Kiyoko, meaning that TeaR won't go on to recreate the planet in its image and it's all gone for good.
Death Note: Light Yagami is finally found out as the murderous Kira when his final gambit involving an Ax-Crazy Teru Mikami fails and launches into a Motive Rant which is decisively shut down by Near's Shut Up, Hannibal! speech, goes into Villainous Breakdown mode and tries to use what's left of his Death Note to kill Near and the SPK members, only for Matsuda, his biggest fan among the SPK, to go completely ballistic and shoot him multiple times, only to be stopped short of actually killing him. As Teru kills himself with his own pen, Light escapes the warehouse mortally wounded and returns home defeated, and Ryuk puts the final nail in Light's coffin by making good on his promise to Light (from the very first episode) and writing Light's name in his Death Note.
The manga has an even more hopeless end for Light, where rather than escaping the warehouse, he remains wounded and screaming on the floor. He panics and pleads to not die, but at that point, there's no hope for him as Ryuk has written his name. Light spends his last moments alive panicking and recalling the moment Ryuk told him that there's no such thing as Heaven or Hell. As the heart attack hits, he can only manage to utter "Damn it" and dies with a horrified expression, all in front of the SPK and Japanese taskforce. In the anime, after escaping to another warehouse and resting on the steps, Light goes through a prolonged heart attack through the credits. He then sees the "ghost" (more likely a hallucination) of L watching him, and his eyes slowly close as he takes his last breath. In the "Director's Cut" of the anime, a brief shot is added of Matsuda and Aizawa discovering where Light ran off to and being shocked at the sight of his corpse.
The Berserk anime ends with Griffith, who is completely fucked up from a year of being put to the torture before being rescued by Guts and the Band of the Hawk, and who has pretty much lost everything worth living for, using his Crimson Behelit to call forth the Godhand on the day of the Eclipse, resulting in Guts and all of his friends being transported to Hell. There, the Godhand, the Big Bads of the setting, reveal the true nature of demons and persuade Griffith to sacrifice the Hawks in exchange for becoming their fifth member. Griffith accepts their Deal with the Devil, everyone gets marked with the Brand of Sacrifice, and from there, it all goes to hell as everyone is picked off one by one by a whole mess of things out of pure nightmare until only Guts and his love interest Casca are left. Then Guts' left arm gets caught in a demon's jaws as he tries to save Casca from the demons, and as he tries to free himself, Griffith is reborn as a demonic god known as Femto, who proceeds to fly down and start having his way with Casca. Guts is forced to chisel off his arm with what's left of his sword in order to save her, only to be dogpiled by more monsters and is forced to watch as Femto rapes Casca right in front of him as his right eye is clawed out. The manga continues the story after this, but the anime ends there. Never watch the last episode of Berserk if you're feeling depressed.
Weiss KreuzGluhen ends with Sena and his long-lost mother both dead, Omi having sacrificed what was left of his innocence in order to fully establish himself as the head of the morally dubious Takatori family, Ken in prison, Yoji amnesiac and lacking most of his personality, and Aya apparently bleeding to death on a city sidewalk from a gut wound while the many pedestrians walking past take no notice.
It really is more of a Bittersweet Ending. Ken had nothing to really live for and voluntarily went to prison so he could think, finding out that soccer was the only thing he still enjoyed, being in prison didn't matter to him. Considering the traumas and heartbreak yoji went through in his life, ending up with amnesia and getting married afterwards was a great thing for him. Aya really had nothing left to live for, he left behind his sister, his friends, his home. Omi sacrificed his innocence to protect the Takatori family and perhaps reshape it.
Saikano has one of the most depressing finales ever: despite Chise's efforts, the world ends and the only survivor is apparently Shuuji. Chise herself becomes a tiny ball of light and the viewer is left with the impression that hope is utterly lost for good.
Whereas in the manga Chise turns into a spaceship and she and Shuuji leave the lifeless earth and head into space (assuming Shuuji isn't hallucinating or hasn't gone mad because everyone he knows is dead).
Given that it involved Time Travel one would suspect the manga Golden Days by Takao Shigeru to have one of these. It does, and by the time Mitsuya returns to his time every single person (excluding his grandfather) he met in the past is dead - which is all the more sad, since there was a possibility they would still be alive. (He only went about 70 years back in time.)
The ending of Air undoubtedly qualifies; the final episodes follow Misuzu's excruciating battle to remain cheerful through bouts of extreme pain, ending with her death in the arms of Haruko. For those who paid close attention to the mythology of the Anime and the Game, there is still hope: The curse of Kannabi No Mikoto, Misuzu's first previous life, can be broken if one earns true love and happiness, which she does through Yukito and Haruko. So although she may have died breaking the curse, her next life will be free of it, and free to pursue happiness - if she has a next life, that is. It's All There in the Manual, hence strictly speaking it's a Bittersweet Ending with an uplifting and hopeful note - if it were not for the fact that the anime's ending is still rather ambiguous, even with the manual in hand. And of course, for poor grieving Haruko it all doesn't make one shred of a difference.
By the end of Space Runaway Ideon, over half of the cast has been killed with many of the surviving protagonists expressing a rather bleak pessimism about their fates. Eventually, the series ends when the anime's title robot is destroyed along with the surviving cast members. One of "Kill 'em All" Tomino's most notorious endings.
Of course, that's nothing compared to the fact that everyone in the entire universe died. Or did they? The ending was very surreal and sort of left up to the interpretation of the viewer whether anyone had truly "died" in the end.
Yoshida Akimi's hard-boiled shoujo mangaBanana Fish is famous for being a Tear Jerker. When the manga came close to its end the author was flooded with fan mail that begged her not to kill off Ash, the main character. Unfortunately she did, but provided readers with several one-shot prequels and a bitter-sweet sequel only months after the series ended. (All of these can be found in Banana Fish - Another Story.)
The first season finale of Code Geass: the protagonist, Lelouch, has just been forced to kill his beloved half-sister because his own Magical Eye went haywire and drove her Ax-Crazy, going on a rampage killing all the Japanese people she can see just when the series was about to make a brighter turn (the Japanese were about to have equal rights with their conquerors, and Lelouch was about to ally himself with the cause). As he leads his forces into battle with The Empire, he finds out that an agent of the Emperor has kidnapped his younger sister, the person for whom he's doing all this. In the process of going to rescue her, he loses his army and C.C., his closest ally, his trusted bodyguard Kallen has her faith in him badly shaken, and to cap it all off he ends up in an almost surely fatal Mexican standoff with his former best friend Suzaku, who now despises and wants to kill Lelouch because said half-sister was his girlfriend. It all ends with the two friends leveling their guns at one another.
Diabolo ends with the main character, Ren, killing his evil best friend and cousin, then committing suicide-by-cop. There are only two characters left standing by the last page, and they're side characters: a prostitute and a guy with six months to live.
Magical Princess Minky Momo: Classic magical girl anime from the 1980s, Minky Momo, has a sudden swerve at the midpoint with Momo, the main character, and princess of the Land of Dreams... being run over by a truck. She dies rather anticlimactically. However, she is reborn as a human, but by then, the plot's actually over, with the final stretch of episodes only existing in the baby Momo's dreams. Later parodied in the very first episode of Excel♥Saga.
And then there's the legendary battle of Windaria which opens brightly in a city saving upbeat vignette with a young handsome farmer as Hero. An epically crafted collision of Romeo and Juliet with Hamlet, by the time it is done the technological mountain kingdom has brutally massacred their brave but less developed lowland neighbors; the once-saved city (and its helpless populace) is undone and under a thousand feet of water; in a desperate doomed attempt to end the carnage the beautiful Princess reminds us she is Chekov's Pickpocket and kills her beloved Prince with his own gun before turning it on herself in one of the most powerful, heart rending and tear-jerking moments ever put to film; our Hero - after betraying EVERYBODY - comes home to find out that his innocent loving wife is now a ghost who only stayed to see him one last time ... and to cap it off, in the story's closing heartbeats, when he - having become such a weak, selfish lowlife that he's one of the few folks who actually deserves to die - can sacrifice his life to join his wife in the afterlife, he doesn't even have the guts to do so.
Witchblade features the Witchblade breaking down and slowly destroying Masane's body (which it doesn't do in the original version), and when she finally dies, her daughter's only indication that she died is a tiny shell made from Masane's remains.
Franken Fran stars apprentice Mad Scientist Fran (who looks like a cross between Sally Ragdoll and Terra) who can perform miracle surgeries, but seems to be unheeding of the consequences. Of course, this being a Little Shop of Horrors-style manga, a downer ending is all but guaranteed. For instance, Fran's emergency surgery on a girl who just rejected a homely boy saves her life, teaches her humility and the power of love, restores her body, brings the two of them closer, and suddenly transforms her into a giant praying mantis who eats her boyfriend the first moment they're alone. To the girl's credit, she did seem to like him for who he is and not how he'd taste. It's also an Cruel Twist Ending, as well.
Frankly speaking, just about all of Franken Fran's stories end with particularly mean-spirited and horrific fates for her patients victims, to the point it is sometimes really hard to sympathize with Fran at all.
Not all of the stories have downer endings. And Fran do what she does because she is literally incapable of giving a mercy kill (she was made this way), so she'll always try to save someone's life, no matter what.
To be fair to Fran, for the second episode mentioned as example, the result might be unintentional due to Fran being a Genius Ditz - in reality, in many insect species (including praying mantis) female insects eat their male counterparts during copulation/mating, and Fran seemed only dimly aware of this(at most she knew that it would lead to some sort of transformation).
Not true. In the wild most species of insect the female doesn't eat their male counterpart, including the preying mantis. This is something that is typically only seen in captive insects, which for the longest time is the only way scientists watched the mating rituals of insects.
Tsukihime has these in about half of its routes, especially in the True Ends.
Arcueid, continually losing her power, in the end leaves her lover behind and goes back to eternal sleep in her castle, forever dreaming of her times spent with him.
Akiha's route ends with the protagonist killing himself to restore her sanity, though it is hinted in the fandisc sequel that he might still be alive. Her normal ending simply has her spending the rest of her life as a mindless bloodsucker.
Hisui's ends with her sister Kohaku, the mastermind behind most of the game's events, killing herself in guilt and to let Hisui live in peace. Akiha also dies. This is a really bittersweet ending since you still get the girl and it gives an incredible feeling of life continuing.
The Epilogue, taking place after any (or all) of the routes, has the protagonist once again meeting the woman who taught him to value life. He thanks her for all she had done; during their talk, it is revealed that the protagonist will only have a few years left to live, less if he continues to use his Mystic Eyes.
Narutaru, the anime, had No Ending. In the manga, however... Every character got their own little downer ending, for one thing, but it all culminated when everyone in the entire world dies except for Shiina and Mamiko, both of whom are pregnant. The briefest glimmer of hope is given in the final pages, which show Shiina's daughter and Mamiko's son, in an Adam and Eve Plot.
This is really just a downer series. Example - one supporting character gets anally raped, cut up, decapitated, and has his head stuck on his Creepy Doll.
Bokurano, another manga by the same author is not, by any mean, happier either. Starting as a game, the children soon realize that everything is more serious than it seems when the adult who introduced them to said game disappears and the first child who had piloted dies. The anime, however, manage to pull off a Bittersweet Ending.
Zeta Gundam. The Titans have been defeated, but with the exception of Kamille, Fa, and the crew of the Argama, everyone else is dead or missing. Axis Zeon emerges as the strongest power after the war, and while Kamille succeeds in killing Scirocco, he got his brain fried as a result. Then again, if you know that Kamille gets better in ZZ Gundam, then the ending isn't as bad.
The final episode of the First Generation in Gundam AGE. Despite spearheading a successful operation against the Ambat fortress, Grodek gets sentenced to life for committing treason and the Earth Federation covers up the evidence of his findings about Veigan. Also, the Earth Federation reveals genocidal motivations by renaming the first battles against Veigan as the War of Bat Extermination. Back in the Diva, Millais, Woolf, and Adams all get a Heroic BSOD from finding out that the UE were people all along and Emily overhears Flit grieving over his inability to save Yurin. Most importantly, Sir Ezelcant's forces are shown preparing for the next step of the war against Earth Federation. Keep in mind however that this show has two more generations to go, so it's still possible for the Asuno family to Earn Their Happy Ending.
At the end of Angel Cop, All the main and secondary characters are dead, Japan's government doesn't change at all despite our heroes' efforts, and it's headed toward a complete economic collapse. Angel was badly wounded and Raiden had to activate a bomb within his body that would kill Lucifer. Most likely, both of them were killed in the resulting explosion.
It wasn't a complete downer, Angel was only knocked down by the resulting explosion that came after shooting Raiden in the head, Asura survived the fight with Lucifer and left with Angel away into parts unknown in the end, Taki escaped his custody at the end and killed Maisaka+ Nogawa with a bomb.
Often referred to as one of Yoshiyuki "Kill 'em All" Tomino's happier endings, the ending of Heavy Metal L Gaim isn't an upper to any significant degree, even if everyone kind of screws themselves over in reality. Sure, all the heroes live, but the villain succeeds in his plan to kill the main characters family off by causing irreparable brain damage to the hero's little sister, and in a bit of a stupid move on his part, he goes to live alone with her on some planet away from everyone else in the team. Meanwhile, neither Love Interest gets the nod, the best friend and the fairy sidekick may think they are dying of radiation poisoning and leave the group to wander alone somewhere, and even the dude who does the Heel-Face Turn doesn't get to be with the one he loves.
Junji Ito's Uzumaki. Everybody succumbs to the curse of the spiral, Everybody. And it'll keep happening, again and again...
This also occurs in Ito's other work Gyo. The protagonists survives and likely joins the group working on a vaccine for the germs later on, but his girlfriend and uncle are were both infected by the germs and the girlfriend was killed by a mob of the infected, while the uncle carried off his attractive assistant to parts unknown. Not to mention Japan has been devastated and the infected are still on the march as well as having spread outside of Japan. Arguably not as bleak as Uzumaki, as there was at least a faint light of hope in the vaccine the students were working on.
Despite the fact that the mood in the School Days anime starts very happy and then gradually goes downhill, the ending is still a big shocker when the pregnant Sekai knifes the male protagonist Makoto to death, then gets slaughtered brutally by her rival Kotonoha, who slices her open with a hacksaw to see if she's really pregnant. Kotonoha then carries Makoto's severed head around on her sailing trip. Brrrr! "Nice boat," indeed.
Likely the only positive thing about this ending is that Makoto, who in the anime is a dimwitted and lecherous scumbag who uses the girls around him for his own pleasure, gets what he deserves (and then some).
Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto ~Natsu no Sora~ ends with protagonist Sora returning to her hometown and succumbing to her heart condition. This is especially egregious since she seemed to be mostly fine for the largest part of the series.
The anime version, meanwhile, is at worst a Bittersweet Ending, and that only if you take the interpretation that Millie is simply dreaming when Kain comes in to land on a repaired Swordbreaker. Oh, there is the matter that it's revealed that, despite the implied Kain/Millie potential romance, the two are actually related, as Millie's grandfather, who is also the Big Bad, was the brother of Kain's grandmother (making the granddad Kain's great-uncle). But Japan has a rather different view of incest than the West and they are second-cousins at closest relationship, so they may not care.
That said, the anime version swerves to this if one takes it as canon that Lost Universe and Slayers are part of The Multiverse together. If this is so, then this means that Slayers TRY is the official sequel to the Lost Universe anime... meaning that not only does Volphied survive, but so does Dark Star, and the two go on to fuse into a single insane Eldritch Abomination and go on a Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum that wipes out their universe.
The end of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 1, where Jonathan dies to save his wife and unborn child, taking his adoptive-brother-turned-villain, Dio Brando, down to the bottom of the sea with him.
In the context of just Part 1, this is more of a Bittersweet Ending; however, of course, in part 3, Dio survives and steals Jonathan's body.
X1999. Almost the entire named cast is pretty much dead or assumed so, either in mutual takedowns or as suicidal charges against the Big Bad, and Tokyo is largely destroyed AND flooded. The sole survivor is the protagonist, but even he loses his two best friends, one of whom arbitrarily does a Face-Heel Turn the literal instant the protagonist chooses to join the heroes to protect the two of them. The villains don't get to celebrate this new ally for long, because the Face Heel Turn-ed friend eventually chooses to screw the rules and decides to Kill 'em All.
This is, notably, only true of The Movie. While the casualties are large in all incarnations of the story, the ending of the TV series is more of a Bittersweet Ending and the manga is currently stuck in an indefinite hiatus.
Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket. At the end, Al's friend Bernie attempted to fight and destroy the Federation's latest Humongous Mecha, the Gundam NT-1, or risk having the peaceful Space Colony nuked. Except that he was himself using a damaged grunt unit. And the pilot of NT-1 was Chris, Al's neighbor who's attracted to Bernie (the feeling is mutual). The two dueled until Bernie was killed and Chris gravely injured. In front of Al.After Al found out the nuke carrier had been stopped and rushed to tell Bernie. And then Chris asked Al about his "cousin" Bernie...
What drives it further down is the last scene. Al is sitting in his classroom where his friends, with whom he was so ethusiastic about mobile suits at the beginning, are still discussing war and mobile suits. Al finaly snaps and starts crying. One of his friends tries to cheer him up stating: "Don't worry, there will be another war!" thinking Al is saddend over the "cool" battles being over. Al is alone in understanding that mobile suits are warmachines piloted by other people, who if not for the war might aswell be friends. What makes this line even worse is that his friend is right. There will be other wars and they will be just as terrible.
In Doubt, when you finally think everything is over, Hajime is hung by another Wolf, and Yuu picks up Mitsuki's cellphone, which ends up in Mitsuki getting into her Wolf mentality again and killing Yuu. Obviously, Rei gets away with all of this.
A very old example is Triton Of the Sea , When the title character spends the entire series avenging his family, who were annihilated 5000 years ago by the bloodthirsty Poseidon family, only to find out from after defeating the Big Bad that it was the Triton family who were the bloodthirsty ones and he proved it by committing genocide, thus causing a Heroic BSOD. THE END. It should be noted that this is the first series written and directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino, and was considered a kid's show at the time.
Pom Poko ends with one of the three Transformation Masters dying, another one going insane and forming a Buddist Dance Cult, before proceeding to turn his 'male parts' into a treasure ship, and sailing away (with some of the tanuki who couldn't transform) to reach Nirvana, not realising that they're sailing to their deaths. Meanwhile, Gonta and another group of tanuki have one final attack against the humans which results in them all getting killed. In an act of desperation, the rest of the tanuki stage one final performance - of how their home used to be, before appealing to the humans. Although they are slightly successful it is too late, thus forcing the tanuki to do what the kitsunes did: blend into society, abandoning those who couldn't transform. The film tries to end on a happy note by having all the tanuki meet up, rejoicing, but it doesn't really work, and there isn't enough happy to make it a Bittersweet Ending.
An incredibly depressing ending to what was just another Super Robot series, Space Warrior Baldios: the hero Marin and his allies can only watch as the Big Bad, Zeo Gattler, unleashes his "Final Weapon" which triggers a cataclysmic series of gigantic tsunamis that ravage the surface of the earth. The last shot of the series is a freeze-frame of a tsunami wave, with the word "End" appearing next to it. This ending was made partially because the series was supposed to run one more season and they had to cut it off somewhere. The ending is famous enough to be the downer end screen on the 44th scenarios of Super Robot Wars Z.
The ending of Chirin no Suzu (or The Ringing Bell, as it's known in English) is the story of a lamb who is out to avenge the death of his mother, who was killed by a wolf. After realizing he can't kill the wolf in the state he's currently in, he offers to become the wolf's apprentice. After many years of training Chirin is now an adult, very rugged and disfigured with many battle scars, and the wolf decides to bring him to the farm where he grew up to kill a sheep and bring it back to him. Once he kills the guard dogs, he makes his way into the barn, chooses a sheep and charges - but he realizes that he can't bring himself to do it, because she has a lamb with her. He leaves, but the wolf confronts him. Chirin stabs the wolf with his misshapen horns, and the wolf congratulates him on succeeding with his goal before dying. Chirin decides to go back to live on the farm, but the other sheep are afraid of him. He realizes that without the wolf he no longer serves a purpose, as the sheep won't accept him and the wolf he has grown to love as a father figure is dead, so he goes back to the mountains where the wolf lived, during a blizzard. He is never heard from again and is presumed to have died; but he, or at least his ghost, was rumored to have visited the valley, as the sheep heard the ringing of a little bell that was never removed from his neck.
Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade ends with the protagonist being forced to shoot his love interest in order for her to remain a bargaining chip in the Wolf Brigade's schemes against the police. The last line after the event? "And then the Wolf ate up Little Red Riding Hood."
5 Centimeters/Second had the two lead characters meeting by chance in school and quickly falling in love with each other. However, since their parents' jobs require them to move a lot, they quickly lose contact with each other (the anime is set in the 1990s, where cell phones and e-mail are not as widespread as today). Both characters basically never see each other again, which causes a great deal of emotional pain to both of them. The film ends with a Tear Jerker montage of how they both move on with their lives. What makes it even worse is when the film teases the audience by having the two leads pass each other on a railroad crossing, but neither recognizes the other until it is too late, and a passing train separates them.
Another Gundam example in the novel, Hathaway's Flash, where Mafty Navilles Erin (aka Hathaway Noa) is captured in the end and was sentenced to death by Bright Noa, who had no idea it was his own son he was executing. Ouch.
That, and moments before he's executed, the ghost of Quess Paraya appears to him, tells him she never loved him, and tells him that his struggle, started by her death that made Mafty go against the Federation, was all fruitless and his reason for starting it a lie. Double ouch.
Kite manages to pull this off with the came-out-of-nowhere murder of Oburi while Sawa patiently awaits him at his apartment for their Happily Ever After.
The Black Butler anime has quite the downer ending where we see Sebastian rowing a boat with Ciel laying inside of it in a bed of white roses, just like in the second ending animation. However, we see Ciel isn't dead yet, and around him in the water are the Cinematic Records of his memories up to that point. When they reach their destination, Ciel sits on a bench (the same one as in the final shot of the opening theme) and looks at Sebastian, ready for what's to come. Sebastian tells him he'll make his death as quick and painless as he can, but Ciel retorts, saying he wants him to make it as painful as possible. Sebastian agrees and we see him gently caress Ciel's face, removing his eyepatch in the process. The last few shots we get are of Ciel's 'normal' eye wide in what looks likes an almost sorrowful expression as he stares at the demon. Sebastian leans down, and our final shot is of his lips curling into a smile before it cuts off to the credits.
Not to mention what happened an episode or two before that where Maylene, Bard, and Finny have to kill Pluto. We also don't know what happened to the three afterwards, although we're left with the knowledge of "when I left they were still breathing".
And there's the ending of "Black Butler II", which is arguably either a sequel to the first series or an Alternate Continuity all of its own, where the wish of a dying enemy turns Ciel into a demon in his own right, which means that Sebastian can never claim his soul. So Sebastian doesn't get what he wants, is now be forced to serve Ciel (if you believe he doesn't enjoy serving Ciel), and Ciel, who is arguably a Death Seeker, will have to live with his pain and the emptiness of his revenge forever.
Quite a few of the manga arcs have had downer endings too. The Jack the Ripper arc ends with Madam Red dying. The Circus arc has all the first tier members die except Snake. And let's not forget all the children Ciel had burned alive when he set BaronKelvin's estate on fire, although his reasoning was that the children would never be themselves and remain in such a traumatized state that killing them was probably the best option.
The circus arc in particular was a major downer ending, as nearly everyone involved except Baron Kelvin and the doctor were sympathetic characters, and turned out to have done Kelvin's bidding and died for nothing.
The ending of the FRLG arc in Pokémon Special involves preventing a giant airship from crashing into Vermillion City, Silver coming in terms with his father, everybody happily talking about meeting up with their other friends and getting turned into stone statues. Thankfully, the next arc seeks to correct this.
The Transformers Armada episode "Credulous". Sideways turns out to have been a Double Agent who chooses this point to declare for the Decepticons, Hotshot gets beaten and severely damaged, and Starscream gets the Star Saber.
In Akumetsu, all of the Shou clones die, having failed in their mission to rid Japan of corruption and evil. The Prime Minister's reforms also fail, which resulted in him becoming homeless.
The Whitebeard War/Marineford arc of One Piece ends with Ace and Whitebeard dead, the probable Big Bad more powerful, the arguably hero antagonist/well intentioned extremist marines crippled, Luffy horribly wounded and in a Heroic BSOD, hundreds of vicious criminals set free and all of Luffy's allies almost certainly far worse off than before the war started. Such as Jinbei being injured even worse than Luffy and Hancock being known to have been fighting indiscriminately.
The ending of the Six Tailed Beast arc in Naruto. The arc's Big Bad has been defeated, Hotaru saved and Ukataka The six tailed Jinchuriki has finally realized the truths of a master and student and is ready to take on Hotaru as his student. Seems like a happy ending right? Well despite all the developement he got through the whole arc, those who read the manga knew from the start that Ukataka was going to be captured by the Akatsuki which the end promptly featured.
Deep Love: Ayu no Monogatari ends with a broke and anorexic Ayu dying from AIDS in the city streets.
In the sidestory Pao no Monogatari, which is told from Ayu's dog Pao's perspective, he dies alongside Ayu at the end. Just before passing on, he remembers all of the people who had loved and cared for him throughout his abusive life.
A rule of hentai is that if it isn't a romance or comedy, it will be depressing to the viewers. The following is spoilered due to squick. You have been warned.Inyouchuu The Animation has the heroine and her friends captured by the Lord of Nightmares. Her friend and love interest try to save everyone but is captured and beaten to a pulp. The heroine offers her body to the Lord of Nightmares, to save her friend and give him an opening to kill the villain. At the end of the episode, the love interest finally recovers and charges the Lord of Nightmares using The Power of Love to fuel him... only to be killed and reduced to green ash/gunk. The heroine says that she had given herself up shortly after offering her body to him, because her friend would not get up to save her. The anime ends with her saying she barely remembers his face, as the flames finally die down. Whether or not this is worse then the manga is up for debate.
On the topic of hentai and downer endings, one that's strange even for hentai downer endings (the typical hentai downer ending being the Big Bad being victorious and leaving the protagonists as his/her sex toys), the Lilith series Shion deserves mention. After apparently settling down for a fun, carefree life in freedom with her new boyfriend (and his other lover), in the closing minutes of the last episode, the eponymous heroine is killed by her old boss, with the implication that he would go on to kill the others as well. Subverted if you watch the series "bonus clip," which implies that they all get better.
or remains straight if you factor in the lyrics and dialog at that part, and that video's title(NSFW)
Black Lagoon: The Hansel and Gretel Arc. It's not entirely their fault that they're psychopathic murderers but it's explicitly stated that all they will do is kill people, so they both are killed. The same can be said about the final Yakuza arc.
Lampshaded by Benny, "Stories like this don't have happy endings."
The Yakuza arc isn't much better. Rock earns Balalaika's respect, but he fails in his attempt to save Yukio and nearly gets Revy killed.
The final chapter of the horror mangaEmerging makes it very clear that the virus that ravaged Tokyo may be mutating - possibly to an airborne strain, which would not only be much more contagious, but also be unaffected by the vaccine serum. Cue a scene where Ooshima and Misaki unknowingly walk right past someone with the trademark Incurable Cough of Death as 'disease particles' float around.
Phantom of Inferno: (Anime) In literally the last minute of the show, Reiji is shot & killed by a disguised assassin in a passing hay wagon, and Ein commits suicide by consuming a poisonous Oxytropis leaf.
At the end of the anime's first season, Kaiji bets four of his fingers and all of the money he got in the E-card game in one final gamble. He loses.
In Battle Royale almost every named character dies. Though the protagonists survive they're upset about the deaths of their classmates.
Despite the large number of deaths among named characters only one unnamed Government mooks is killed, though the rest are injured. As the remaining mooks are put in a raft and dropped into the sea it's unknown it they survive.
Surprisingly, or not, as the case may be, the manga version of the final battle against Chaos in Sailor Moon, in which the main character has the choice of either destroying Chaos utterly and the Cauldron with it, thus dooming the universe to a slow extinction, if a new Cauldron doesn't pop up somewhere else, meaning a new powerful enemy appearing causing hundreds of billions of being to be killed in the ensuing fight, or just 'momentarily' delaying the ultimate evils return resulting in a massive battle...in which hundreds of billions of people will die anyway, but might end up being reborn because the Cauldron is still there. Guess which option she chooses?
The story of the manga Not Simple ends with the protagonist Ian committing suicide in a subway bathroom after he learns that the woman he has been waiting three years to reunite with, the only person apart from his deceased sister who has ever made him happy, has died in the time since he last saw her. This turns out to be a mistake, however, as the young woman that gave him the news thought that Ian was looking for her aunt, when he had actually been looking for her mother. However, due to the Anachronic Order of the story, this could technically be considered a downer beginning.
Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory - Gato and Delaz are killed, but ultimately The Bad Guy Wins. Kou lost his beloved Hot Scientist, and is courtmartialed for stealing the GP-03 after the GP-01's destruction, though released later. Captain Synapse commits suicide in order to take responsibility for the above. The Titans, who most of the Albion crew join, are formed, and we all know how well that turned out. This is Gundam, after all.
Eureka Seven - While the anime has an almost-disgustingly happy ending, the manga ends with Dominic and Eureka both dead. While Renton believes that Eureka may still be alive, the rest of the characters assure that the Coralians are completely wiped out.
And then the real finale, where Vicious violently takes over the leadership of the Red Dragon, Spike reunites with his long lost love Julia only to lose her to the Red Dragon's men, and then decides to leave the Bebop to pursue a final one-man assault on his old syndicate, an assault that ends with Spike and Vicious both falling in the final showdown.
The first Fullmetal Alchemist anime has a Villain Episode that features Lust, who is contemplating her existance. A man from her past shows up and it's revealed that she does have a heart of gold - she taught the man to save an entire village from an awful sickness. The man and her reconnect, and she gradually draws too close to him. Eventually, the man asks Lust to run away with him, explaining he fell in love with her years before and his fiance doesn't matter to him. Lust's response is to kill the man, who is revealed to have the disease. This is immediately followed up by everyone else in the village screaming in agony as the disease kills them. To top things off, his fiance shows up and sees his corpse, and dies from the disease as well. Lust's response makes it even more chilling, showing that even the villian has given up on her objectives and will to live.
Hyakka Ryouran while a lighthearted series throughout the first eleven episodes, the final episode has BOTH Moe!Jubei and Badass!Jubei perform a Heroic Sacrifice by sending the resident Yandere Gisen up to the atmosphere to disintegrate. Unfortunately, Gisen goes on to state that within a thousand years later, she will be resurrected to do this all over again.
This adaption of Little Red Riding Hood manages to make you uncomfortable while not containing a single word. The cute drawing-style only helps its cause to leave you with a bitter aftertaste.
Basilisk. Gennosuke and Oboro are reunited at the end, but they commit suicide and ALL of their friends are dead.
The end of episode 12 "The Pizza Cats Are Only Human" in Samurai Pizza Cats ends with the Pizza Cats being defeated and Speedy collapsing, and episode 36 "Bad Bird Uncaged" ends with Speedy being defeated by Bad Bird. It is even worse in the original version, where Bad Bird appears to kill Speedy as he is lying on the ground defenceless.
Master of Martial Hearts: The Platonic heart doesn't exist, the losers of the tournament go insane and sold off as SexSlaves. Turns out, Aya's entire life has been an utter lie. Her childhood friend Natsume, love interest Haruki, and newest friend Miko all want her dead. The entire tournament was set up by them for revenge on what her parents did to their families. Aya's mother saves her, kills Natsume, Haruki, and Miko. She stays behind in the burning building to to atone for Aya's sins, which kills Aya's Mother and the insane losers of the tournament. Aya then kills Natsume's mother, who was responsible for Natume and Miko's decision to hold the tournament.
On the upside, this did finally end the Cycle of Hatred that was running rampant in their families. Though Aya now has no friends or family. So, yeah, her life is pretty much down the crapshoot.
Shiki: The villagers hunt down all the Shiki in the village, despite a few who weren't truly bad in the first place and were only being strong-armed into attacking their loved ones and friends. And while the villagers were acting out of self defense, its obvious nothing will be the same when everything's over. Yuuki dies fighting Tatsumi, blowing them both up. And just when it seems the villagers have won, their village mysteriously catches on fire and burns to the ground. Oh yeah, and the one who started all this, Sunako, manages to get away.
The OAV clarifies the mysterious fire as an intentional act of arson by a badly disturbed local woman.
Then there's the Shiki who are still in the cities. Whose jobs were to gather people to feed the ones in the village. It's never mentioned if they were ever in the village when both sides were fighting.
The Tokko manga ends with Ranmaru monologuing that the world ended two years after the end of the story.
Memories. Magnetic Rose ends with the two guys on the spaceship torn apart, Miguel hypnotised and condemned to the fate of those who have fallen into Eva's wiles before him, and Heintz stuck drifting in space in his suit that will probably run out of oxygen soon. Stink Bomb ends with Nobuo releasing the chemical to kill Japan's military leadership and most likely wiping out Tokyo at the very least.
MW. Father Garai foiled Michio Yuki of gassing the entire world with the titular chemical weapon by sacrificing his life of taking it down with him to the ocean, the latter gets gunned down by one of his hostages, Shunsuke Ban still doesn't recover from his last attack, and Michio, impersonating his older lookalike brother, escapes punishment and is free to do whatever he wants.
The manga Shigurui has several Downer Endings to various arcs within the story:
Gonzaemon was in love with a young woman, but due to Kogan's prodding that he abandon whatever was "holding him back" so that he may become a great swordsman. He slaughtered her.
Gennosuke is shown to be in love with Mie, but his childhood trauma combined with loyalty towards her father prevents him from expressing his feelings. While he is skeptical, he does not step in when Kogan attempts to persuade Irako into impregnating his daughter in front of the other samurai.
Mie misinterprets Irako's refusal as charity and after Kogan's death, the school is thrown into disarray and loses all money and support. The new successor Gennosuke and Mei struggle to regain their pride by having Gennosuke defeat Irako in battle. Upon Irako's death, instead of embracing the comfortable life she has come to know with Gennosuke, she slits her throat and leaves him alone once again.
One of the notable examples is Absolute Boyfriend. Towards the end, Night begins to grow sleepier and sleepier. The problems developed by him exceeding his abilities eventually causes his machinery to stop working, resulting in his "death".
The ending of episode 9 of Popotan: Konami is revealed to have died, sending Mai back into the depression she's been trying to avoid throughout the series. Most sad endings in Popotan are at least bittersweet. Ain't anything sweet about this one.
The first part of Magician is probably this what with Edermask being beaten by Janus and disappearing, Dirt dead and Janus's complete takeover of the continent.
Lupin III: Happens sometimes. We're not counting just when the gang fails to get anything from their heist; that happens often. Some stories have one character that the audience felt deeply about being killed off for the ending. Lupin III Island Of Assassins stands out as probably being the codifier for the fan opinion that if Lupin's wearing a black shirt under a red Jacket, people are going to die.