The entire main cast of Rose of Versailles dies by the last episode, leaving only a few of the supporting characters to narrarate the historical fates of the more prominent figures people most easily recall of the French Revolution.
The manga is particularly egregious about it. At the start, the protagonists were supposed to be Marie Antoinette, Oscar and Fersen (later Demoted to Extra). At the end it looks that at least Fersen (who in Real Life survived until 1810) will survive the series, we already got the Sequel Hook to Eikou no Napoleon-Eroica... Cue the second to last page detailing Fersen's eventual death by lynching and the last one being a page-wide drawing of his dead body.
As its sequel, Eikou no Napoleon-Eroica follows suite. In this series we have four protagonists: Alain and Bernard are inherited from Rose of Versailles, and then we have the title character Napoleon Bonaparte and his first wife Joséphine de Beauharnais. Alain and Bernard dies halfway after a failed attempt to kill Napoleon before he can be crowned emperor, Joséphine dies her historical death in 1814, and the manga ends with Napoleon's death at Saint Helena.
Trope NamerYoshiyuki Tomino has produced a number of anime, including several Gundam shows, where he kills off a large number of characters, often due to bouts of depression in his own life. He's not known as "Kill 'Em All Tomino" for naught. Incidentally many instances of his Kill 'Em All tendencies coincide with instances of executives trying to screw with him, see Zeta Gundam, Victory Gundam, Aura Battler Dunbine, Space Runaway Ideon.
Space Runaway Ideon is the all-time heavyweight champion of this. The entire cast (including children) die bloody and gruesome deaths, culminating in the complete destruction of the entire universe and everyone in it. Between this series and its predecessor Zambot 3, creator Yoshiyuki Tomino actually earned the nickname "Kill 'Em All Tomino".
So much so that Tomino even gets killed in Be Invoked.
Amusingly, Tomino himself has admitted that he sometimes wonders how he came up with the ending to Space Runaway Ideon.
Enough so that Soukou No Strain, whose directing team worked with Tomino, ended up being a subversion. It began as an Everybody's Dead, Dave and ended that way, but just about everybody expected Sara and her cohorts to drop off.
Saikano feels incredibly influenced by Ideon, particularly considering the two have essentially the same ending; the main difference is, Saikano has no Earth-Shattering Kaboom, and Shuji stays alive as the last man on Earth as Chise accompanies him as an Energy Being.
Many of the Gundam series directed by Tomino also have high death counts, Zeta Gundam and Victory Gundam in particular. The ironic thing about the Gundam series is that Tomino's stated reason for his Kill Em All tendencies was to discourage sequels.
In particular, Zeta Gundam's penultimate episode is titled "Casualties of War." What happens in it? About half the cast dies. Believe it or not, it still gets worse.
Though Tomino is not involved with Gundam 00, the latter half of the first season (especially episode 24) sees a massive die-off of both main and named characters.
Likewise, the final two episodes of Gundam SEED, while leaving nearly all the main heroes safe, killed off the majority of the supporting cast, and the only survivor among the antagonists was via a last-minute defection to the good guys. Unfortunately, the most blatantly obvious death (and the most moving one at that) got eliminated via Retcon in the sequel, with no explanation ever given (the Special edition was slightly more ambiguous). Seriously, the guy gets disintegrated by antimatter, and then comes back to life.
The original idea for the SEED ending involved the main cast being killed off one way or another, with the only survivor being Athrun (who would be maimed). The idea was dropped due to protests from the voice actors, who became attached to their characters early on.
Its worth noting that Gundam Seed currently holds the record for most character deaths, out of all the Gundam series.
Likewise, episodes 47 and 48 of Gundam AGE killed most of the supporting cast. Moreover, with the exception of Lord Ezelcant and Falk, EVERY NAMED CHARACTER from Vagan in the Third Generation gets offed by the end of these two episodes.
But the end literally ALL the support pilots died. The only surviving pilots for either side were the 3 Gundam pilots and Ezelcant's clone (because Kio goes out his way to save him.) Despite this they still act like it was a happy peaceful ending despite all the Vagans Kio and Asemu actually wanted to save dying.
MS IGLOO 2. Everybody dies, except for one lucky Federation soldier and a Feddie higher-up. It's no small wonder some people have compared this to V Gundam in terms of bleakness.
Amusingly subverted with ∀ Gundam, in which (despite it being a Tomino directed series) most of the cast survives, even those you wish got blasted to hell (looking at you Guin). Course, this series was made long after Tomino apparently found a new lease in life, so...
Also Aura Battler Dunbine sees one character survive, a sylph by the name of Cham Fao, who Tomino seemed to have a soft spot for. Everyone else went down in flames and explosions, taking most of Earth and Byston Well with them.
That they tried to push, as it was mentioned that she was never seen again.
To illustrate how associated Tomino is with this Trope, for a good time the picture for this page was of him smiling. And he's the Pantheon'sdesignated Deity thereof.
Mirai Nikki, in the concluding arc of the series, almost all of the characters in the whole series are progressively killed off, including the series' deuteragonist, Yuno. However, the ending subverts this, with the existence of an alternative parallel universe where the cast survives.
Neon Genesis Evangelion also had a "kill 'em all" ending, due to the writer Hideaki Anno going through depression at the time (much like "Kill 'Em All Tomino"). However, Evangelion manages to avert this, sort of. The last two TV episodes and the movie all detail The End of the World as We Know It, and while every lifeform is merged into a giant amorphous superconsciousness, human individuals can potentially choose to get out of it. The main cast, however, is practically obliterated - only Asuka and Shinji are seen alive at the end, and most of the other mains were killed before Instrumentality even began. However, the facts that Asuka herself was killed before Instrumentality began, and that the mysterious Quantum Rei "witnesses" their deaths implies that they have another chance...
Genesis Climber Mospeada pulls this in its first episode. The one character who survives becomes protagonist by default.
In Dragon Ball Z, the villain Super Buu has an attack dubbed "Human Extinction," that does exactly as the name implies. To add to that, anyone who isn't killed by this attack he kills personally (by turning them into candy, no less). Then he reverts to his even crazier Kid Buu form and immediately blows up the Earth for the lulz. Then, he turns to the rest of the universe, and eventually makes his way to the afterlife, and starts destroying stuff there. This is one of the rare cases where the heroes have a Reset Button - which itself becomes a plot point, as the surviving secondary cast rushes to find it before it becomes too late for everyone (as the Reset Button has a time limit, and it's something that Buu is capable of destroying if he gets to it first).
And in Future Trunks' timeline, Goku dies from a virus, all of the Z-fighters are killed by the Androids, and eventually Gohan meets his maker as well. There is no Reset Button here, since Piccolo died, disabling the Dragon Balls (and finding the other set, located on planet Namek, wouldn't work because of the above-mentioned time limit, which has already expired), and altering the past only creates an Alternate Timeline (aversion of Temporal Paradox).
Staying true to the original Shichinin no Samurai, by the end of Samurai 7, Gorobei, Kyuzo, Kikuchyo, and Heihachi have all died in battle, leaving only three of the original seven. Naturally, this is also true of its Western remake The Magnificent Seven.
In Sailor Moon anime, every secondary heroine sacrifices her own life to allow the title character to press on toward the Final Battle. Twice. There is a subversion in the final season. While all the main cast except Usagi die, the Starlights actually live to see Sailor Moon save the day.
The manga likes this trope even more. The guardian Senshi get killed in the first and third arcs, Sailor Pluto dies in the second arc, and everybody dies in Stars. Nobody on the good side dies in the fourth arc.
Mangaka Mohiro Kitoh may be said to be a challenger to Tomino's Kill Em All Throne:
Bokurano makes a valiant attempt to out-Tomino Tomino himself. Early on, the children discover that even if they win their battles, they're guaranteed to die. Only later is it revealed that for every battle they win, an Alternate Universe is destroyed. Which they are, on occasion, forced to watch by their Robot Buddy.
In Wolf's Rain every character dies, one at a time. While the world dies. And then the world is born again. And everyone is apparently reincarnated a really long time later... possibly in the modern day.
In From the New World, the protagonists Saki and Satoru are the only named characters left alive in the end. Every other named character, human and Bakenezumi, gets brutally killed off by the end of the war. You know it's going to get bad when three out of the five main characters get killed prior to the final battle. And that's before getting into how Kamisu 66 and its entire population got erased off the face of the Earth...
The Chrono Crusade anime fell victim to this. In fact, the only major character that wasn't either permanently killed off or otherwise rendered ineffective was the Big Bad. Downer Ending, indeed.
Berserk closes the Golden Age arc by killing off every major character but four: Guts (who lost a hand and eye to demons), Casca (who lost her mind), Griffith (who went eviland was responsible for all of the above), and Rickert (who was not with the Band when everything went to hell). The entire world of the series seems to be heading that way, as well.
Hellsing, while not over yet, is definitely veering in this direction. As of the latest chapter, only Integra, Seras, possibly Heinkel, Islands, and the Major (who's a freaking robot) are still kicking out of the named cast, and there's a high probability of more killing. Millennium, Iscariot, and likely the Wild Geese have all been destroyed, the Hellsing organization is just barely hanging on, Islands is planning to bomb the area into oblivion to end the mess, and, oh yeah, the entire population of London has been completely obliterated.
It is over now, and, out of the entire original cast, only Seras, Integra, and a now immortal Heinkel are still alive after the 30-year timeskip. As for everyone's favourite psychopathic vampire, well... Alucard came back after 30 years.
Osamu Tezuka used this trope often, even in his early career. In his late '40s work Lost World, out of the dozen or so main characters, only three survive to the end & several nameless extras are killed when the rocketship crashes on top of them. Astro Boy storylines frequently ended with everybody who wasn't a main character or a Recurrer dead (and sometimes even them!). Most of the Phoenix stories end with everybody except the eponymous bird dead, including the entire populations of a couple of planets, which is understandable since the main theme of the series is that the quest for immortality is futile & we should be happy with the lives we have.
In Ga-Rei Zero-, the entire named cast dies in the last 2 minutes of the FIRST episode. It's an effective cliffhanger, but... Then they kill half of the cast not presented in first episode. The body count keeps rising in the manga including some survivors of Ga-Rei Zero-.
A slight subversion of this trope comes from the not-very-well-known anime Shin-Hakkenden in which, by the end of the series, only two of the named characters are alive. One is the narrator (who doesn't really even take part in the story until 3/4 of the way through the series) and the Misled Villain Girl, who's pregnant. The reason this sort of counts as "subverted" is the two main characters die.
RahXephon ends up with about half of the main cast dead by the end of the penultimate episode. However it's like that at first until Ayato "retuns" the world to get a happy ending.
The X1999 movie starts killing off its cast from its first scene - in some cases not even bothering to pause to introduce the characters first - and doesn't stop until everyone but Kamui is dead. The TV series is a little gentler, but as far as the manga is concerned, all bets are off.
Also by those Sadistic Lady Mangaka, RG Veda (which was also their debut longrunning manga). Some people were actually surprised that two major characters survived.
Xxx Ho Lic: By the end of the manga, all the main characters except Watanuki have long died, courtesy of Clamp's last minute timeskip, pardon the pun.
Characters in Gantz die once to get involved in the story (and can possibly die again). Being a Mauve Shirt or even a main character is no protection from death. Then came the Osaka arc, and after thatcame the Italy arc.
By the end of AKIRA (The Movie, not the manga it's based on) the only survivors are Kaneda, Kei, Kai, and the Colonel. Everyone else is either killed by Tetsuo or killed when Akira sucks everyone else into a vortex; Tetsuo's fate is left ambiguous.
Uzumaki: in the end, everybody dies. Not only the main characters, but everybody who's in Kurï¿½zu-cho. This is a big part of why it's effective as a Cosmic Horror Story.
At the end of MD Geist, the main character, who is a military developed human killing machine reactivates a canceled countdown time that unleashes a self-replicating robot army designed to exterminate all human life on the planet, just so he can have a stronger opponent to fight.
Then in the sequel to MD Geist, he foils a plan to nuke all of the robots in one stroke, and then leads them to humanity's last remaining stronghold so that they can completely destroy it.
Though possibly expected, in the space of about three chapters, Gunslinger Girl has rapidly descended into this, with almost half of the named SWA cyborgs (Beatrice being among them) and likely their handlers, in the case of the others, being killed in a bloody battle against a well-armed terrorist group in possession of a missile.
Everyone does die.
Except for a few select handlers and SWA staffers. Even then, only Jean is seen in the Distant Finale, with everyone else's fate uncertain. And Petrushka, Rico and Claes get to avoid dying in battle and live out the rest of their short lifespans in peace (or succumb to cancer in Petrushka's case.)
By the end of the first volume of Urotsukidouji (otherwise known as Legend of the Overfiend) the only survivors are Jyaku, Megumi, Nagumo, and Akemi; everyone else is killed by demons, Niki, or Nagumo in his transformed state.
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom does this over the course of the series, and then finishes its spree very callously in the final episode. At the episode's end, after the series seemingly following the "Cerulean Blue Sky" route of the Phantom of Inferno visual novel, Reiji/Zwei, at the episode's end, is shot dead by either Elen/Ein or a completely random passerby on a cart, and depending on the interpretation of the final scenes, Elen/Ein herself possibly committed suicide by oxytropis. In conclusion, every major character, except MacGuire, possibly Ein, Shiga and Mio is dead by the end of the series.
The fate of Elen and Reiji is actually ment to be ambiguous, as we are never shown if they are actually dead. This is not the first time that both characters have been "killed" before.
Gall Force series manage to do that nearly all time. Each time lots of cast is introduced just for one purpose: to gradually kill everyone and finally wipe all life from the entire galaxy.
The entire point of Saiyuki's prequel, Saiyuki Gaiden, which deals with the original incarnations of three of the ikkou, and Goku's childhood in Tenkai. Contains flavours of Foregone Conclusion as well, because of this. It ends with three out of the four main characters horribly dead and the fourth subjected to Laser-Guided Amnesia and sealed in a cage for 500 years.
By the end of the Kite movie, Every important character is dead except for the main heroine, who is so so screwed up inside it seems implied she will keep waiting for her dead boyfriend until she dies from starvation or dehydration.
Baxinger ends with everyone but the team's tagalong kids dead.
Toward the Terra introduces many characters over the decades of time and light-years of distance it spans. In the end, the only named survivors are a small handful of minor characters, one major character who's been there the whole time, and one major character who was introduced in the second half. Compare that to the dozens-strong kill count of named characters, including both main characters, and it's a wonder the ending is as upbeat as it is.
The anime Gilgamesh killed all of the characters but one in an event that also wiped out everyone else on Earth, but gave birth to one new life, which was immediately strangled by the sole survivor. Since she would have died alone shortly after, I guess this counts as Kill Em All + 1.
In the hentaiSpy of Darkness, the protagonist Anne sacrifices herself to kill the rampaging "sex-beast" known as Dragon after it brutally rapes and murders all of her companions. In the end, it's stated that the records of Anne and her comrade's deaths will be sealed away under top level clearance, which means that very few people will even know what happened to them.
It is never actually made clear if this is how GaoGaiGar FINAL ends, but considering that the Brave Robots all get defeated in the quite brutal ways (Volfogg is impaled by 5 clones of one Soul Master, ChoRyuJin is cut in half vertically, after which both Enryu and Hyoryu use Supernova, destroying them both and their enemy). After the Big Bad is defeated, GGG is only able to send two people back to our own solar system, while the rest will be stuck in an alternate universe that is on the verge of collapsing. And you thought GaoGaiGar was a happy-go-lucky Super Robot Anime?
In the Japanese version of the final episode of the 80's series of Kimba the White Lion almost all of the main cast, including the main character, died after 52 episodes of them appearing regularly. This even extends to characters who didn't die in the original manga.
DT Eightron, another Sunrise show, does this in a particularly maddening way - it happens out of the blue in the last 2 minutes of the show!
Outlanders has Japan vaporized in a skirmish, then North America is obliterated from orbit, then the Moon is crashed into the Earth killing everyone else. Finally, except for the two main characters and their ship's crew, everyone dies in a suicidal attack on the imperial capitol, which blows up taking the entire planet with it. It's a good thing that the surviving characters are fertile (quintuplets, no less).
Battle Royale: This is the very premise of the manga. Even people outside of the competition itself get to die a lot as well.
Every single salmon in the Crimsons - The Scarlet Navigators of the Ocean manga about a school of migrating salmon dies. Even the ones who aren't eaten by predators and successfully make it back to their birthplace to spawn. Because, according to The Other Wiki, "Salmon not killed by other means show greatly accelerated deterioration (phenoptosis, or "programmed aging") at the end of their lives. Their bodies rapidly deteriorate right after they spawn as a result of the release of massive amounts of corticosteroids."
The premise of Death Notedictates this conclusion from the beginning. By the final episode of the Anime, nearly every major character of the show is dead, including Light himself. To further hammer home the point, one of the final rules of the notebook is that once someone dies, they may never be brought back to life.
"Conclusion: God's War", Shotaro Ishinmori's posthumous finale to Cyborg009 (written by his son from the drafts and notes on the arc), pulls this BIG time on the cast. Although there's a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, the cyborgs are bumped off one by one, until 009 and 003 are left to die together as the world is destroyed and then reset.
In a series where very few people from mooks on up are ever Killed Off for Real, One Piece has this happen in two Straw Hat's back-stories: Nico Robin was the sole survivor of the population of her home island, the population was purged beyond just the academics who could read the illegal glyphs, but the entire population because of the mere possibility that some academics escaped and were hiding among the general populace. All of Brook's friends died a slow death by poisoning as they recorded their last song as a group, dying off as the song was played. Brook's back-story takes it Up to Eleven, because even he didn't survive his own Kill 'em All backstory. He just had a power that let him come back.
Pride of Baghdad ends with all four protagonists being gunned down by American soldiers without even achieving the freedom that they'd been dreaming of. It should probably be mentioned that the protagonists are lions.
Coheed and Cambria: The Amory Wars - The Second Stage Turbine Blade. Not only do Coheed and Cambria get tricked into brutally murdering their own children, they also die mostly because Cambria destroys a spaceship's engine in a fit of rage. Secondary characters also die in a failed coup, by the truckload. And that's just one of the chapters in the story!
To make matters worse, Claudio (the protagonist for much of the storyline followed SSTB) is supposed to destroy the entire solar system, and release the souls of the Keywork!!! (The Keywork is the fictitious Solar System thing). Because Destiny Says So.
Also The Punisher: The End, where after a nuclear apocalypse, the Punisher and his sidekick venture out of a bomb shelter when the radiation has gone down enough for him to make it to the people responsible. He kills them, then his sidekick (who was actually a murderer), and then dies.
The Elseworlds graphic novel Batman: Crimson Mist ends up with every named character in the Batman world, except Dr. Jeremiah Arkham and, apparently, a female expert in the supernatural, killed off.
The comic kills off team members intermittently throughout the series, before slaughtering the survivors en masse in the final issue. Still managed to have a sequel series, by showing some of the characters' fates in the afterlife.
Despite being violently killed along with his teammates, Doop turned up alive in Nation X and is currently a supporting cast member of the Wolverine and the X-Men comic.
The original Transformers Marvel comics run featured vast numbers of deaths. In fact, something like 1/5 of all the characters introduced in the comic series had died by the end (in the case of Optimus Prime, twice over, but everyone else was for real). In fact, sometimes characters who had been the focus for multiple storylines with them evading death multiple times would suddenly be killed with no warning in a very off-hand manner several years later most notably Blaster, who had something like two year's worth of storylines based around him during which time he was repeatedly shot, infected with a horrific robotic illness, at one point completely disassembled and then tortured non-stop for months on end by Grimlock before finally getting some semblance of a normal life, only to be killed a year later by Starscream without a second's thought. This trope then went insane in the Transformers Generation 2 sequel series in which the corpses mounted up at an alarming rate.
The later Universe comic introduced a gigantic number of characters in the first issues. This was way more than could be properly handled, so they massacred most of them until it was at a better size.
Furman would be brought in to write the series finale for Beast Wars. His first question to the staff? "Who can I kill?" The answer? Tigerhawk, Depth Charge, and every Predacon except Megatron and Waspinator.
It's probably not much of a stretch to say that Simon Furman is the white Yoshiyuki Tomino.
Every character that he kills off that gets a death scene of their own concludes it with the line "Oh well. Never did want to live forever!"
Rising Stars is about 113 people with superpowers, called the Specials. At the end, they're all dead. The two most important non-Special characters also die.
X-Men featured at least one story arc which took place in an alternate future in which Sentinels had killed most of Earth's heroes and enslaved the rest. By the end of it, the adult Shadowcat is the only X-Man alive. Though Rachel Summers managed to also survive via Time Travel, and now lives in the main Marvel Universe.
There's also the Age of Apocalypse, an alternate timeline where Professor Xavier was killed years before he would've formed the X-Men, and Apocalypse takes over half the world and has already killed off most of the population. It goes downhill from there.
The Great Lakes Avengers have a nasty habit of losing members, including Mr. Immortal's love interest in issue 1.
Probably the only safe characters are Mr. Immortal (whose power is Exactly What It Says on the Tin; he absolutely cannot be killed by any means, not even by completely obliterating his body) and Squirrel Girl (who's too popular to kill).
Actually, they honestly haven't gotten it nearly as bad as one might think from the way their first Dan Slott mini parodied the kill-happy nature of major comics crossovers. The only long-term member who has died and stayed dead is Dinah Soar; Doorman died but came back as an angel of death, and Big Bertha and Flatman are still alive and kicking. Aside from that, you've just got characters who were essentially created by Dan Slott to die.
Ultimatum, Ultimate Marvel's big Crisis Crossover before the title reboot, cut a wide swath through the heroes and villains of the canon. By the time it's over, around 70% of the named characters and millions-strong chunks of international populations are dead.
Make that 70% of named mutants. Looking at the casualty list on The Other Wiki, there are nearly two dozen Ultimate X-Men characters dead (including Xavier, Magneto, Cyclops, and Wolverine), compared to a handful from The Ultimates (Ant-Man and Wasp), Ultimate Fantastic Four (Dr. Doom and Dr. Storm (Sue and Johnny's dad)), and miscellaneous heroes (Daredevil and Dr. Strange). The Ultimate Spider-Man cast got out relatively unscathed, even gaining a few Transplants from the other series (Iceman and Human Torch).
The Legion of Super-Heroes storyline "End of an Era", which rebooted the Legion, ended up by killing off everyone from the old history before restarting history.
Doom Patrol pre-dated most of this by pulling a Total Party Kill in the Sixties. All four of the actual members (The Chief, Rita Farr, Cliff Steele, Larry Trainor) were nuked saving a small fishing village.
At the end of the prison arc in The Walking Dead, every single character present during the attack from the Governor, including a baby, were brutally murdered, save for Rick and Carl. That's seven of the main characters!
It's only gotten worse since that storyline. Although there are a shitload of new characters (who are constantly dying as well) the only survivors from the original group that was introduced on day 1 are Rick, Carl, Andrea, and Sophia. Considering that this series is partially meant to chronicle the life of Rick, and the zombie apocalypse seems to be going on with no end in sight, it's more than likely that the series will end with everyone dying.
The Marvel Mangaverse "Rings of Fate" arc (which also was the Series Finale of that set of comics) wound up killing a good chuck of it heroes and some villains leaving only a handful left standing.
Gotlib drew a Hamlet parody. The source material being what it is, it ends with all named characters death. The doctor who diagnoses all deaths as viper beat (yes, even Ophelia's) dies beaten by a viper. The gravedigger has an heart attack seeing all these corpses. Then the narrator shoots himself.
The Infinity Gauntlet featured Thanos using the title object to wipe out over half of the universe's population in order to impress Death, which includes several major and notable supporting characters from various Marvel books, like the Fantastic Four, the original X-Men members (then known as X-Factor) save Cyclops, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, and Rick Jones. Then halfway into the storyline when the surviving heroes band together to form one last stand against the power-mad titan, it doesn't end well. In the end a Reset Button winds up restoring everything back to normal.
What If? is often known for doing this in several of its issues, usually ones that show what the downer outcomes to major events within the Marvel Universe could have been like.
The sequel, Sluagh, is worse. Depending on how you look at it, NONE of Our Heroes are left standing after the Battle of Druim Cett, and if half of those creatures aren't out of the author's imagination, there's some funky stuff in water of those Irish springs.
Speaking of Harry Potter, One Step Too Far plays with this by having Rowling realize she just killed the last available character... in the middle of book 6.
In Das Boot, just as the eponymous submarine returns home and the crew is greeted by the cheering people the air raid siren sounds and Allied aircraft attack the harbour, sinking the sub and killing all aboard but three people (Werner and the Chief both manage to survive the air raid, and there was that one guy who got rushed to the hospital just before it happened). This is actually an anti-war subversion, the U96 and all her crew returned safely home (U96 was considered a lucky boat in that none of her crew was killed). Her captain Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock went on to captain Germany`s first and only nuclear powered freighter. So although the book/film (based on the real crew) had a downer ending, Real Life did not.
In Stalingrad, only 3 characters are alive near the end, and then a Russian sniper kills one of them, and the last two take cover and slowly freeze to death in the snow. As the two stop moving and are slowly covered by the falling snow, the credits roll. If one pays attention to how the movie focuses on smaller and smaller groups of soldiers (from full regiments to single characters) it can be said that this trope is exactly what this movie is about. Only one of the soldiers, Rollo, doesn't die onscreen, but after he witnesses the remaining German soldiers surrender, it's ambiguous whether or not he joined them. If he did, his chances would be slim anyway.
Russian war movies about WW2, while being somewhat more upbeat, also include this:
A Russian War MovieThe Crossing (not to mix with the USA film) depicts a Soviet anti-tank platoon, which is retreating toward the eponymous crossing, where the Soviet troops are regrouping. They travel one whole day towards the crossing, then on the dawn of the next day they are attacked by a German armored troop, and are wiped out, without managing to inflict any (serious) damage to the enemy. A tragic and pointless end.
Similarly, the Based on a True Story film The Brest Fortress. The whole garrison is ultimately killed, with exception of a few captured soldiers. However, the casualties they inflicted on the enemy were horrendous.
I am a Russian Soldier, also being based on the Brest Fortress siege, understandably has a similar ending.
The Commander's Daughter, also being based on the Brest Fortress siege, also pulls this off. All the protagonists die except for the eponymous heroine; her survival, however, is of the I Died variety, as we see the enemy killing everyone. This is Truth in Television, however, as both her prototypes survived the war.
In the Russian film Zvezda (The Star), the eponymous scout unit is eventually cornered, shot, and flamethrowered to death by SS and Wehrmacht troopers. The captain who sent their team out narrates the result of their sacrifice, then mentions that he also died later in the war.
The later season of the cartoon series casts doubt on this, as many of the Transformers killed in the movie are seen up and walking around again, although some of these occasions are believed to have been animation gaffes. The impact of this is lessened since the highest-profile fatality, Optimus Prime, returned in the cartoon series. In the comics set after the movie, impressively, he stayed dead permanently.
Oddly, although Jazz and Cliffjumper survived in the movie, Casey Kasem (Cliffjumper's voice actor) quit and all of his characters disappeared, and Scatman Crothers (Jazz's voice actor) died, so Jazz disappeared too.
9. First, humanity is, apparently, completely wiped out. Then, the only two explicitly named human characters die, one before the movie even begins. Then, all of the stitchpunks, except 3, 4, 7 and 9, die along the course of the film. Granted, the ending itself isn't all that bleak, but that doesn't mitigate the loss of life.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is a prized one. Only two characters survive at the end: Aki Ross (the main character) and Dr. Sid. All the other characters are killed by phantoms except Major Elliot (who gets shot) and General Hein, the antagonist, who is blown up inside his ship.
The Brave Little Toaster. During the musical piece, "Worthless," ALL of the cars singing the main parts die. Granted, this is because they're singing AS they're being carried to their deaths.
Films — Live-Action
In Season of the Witch, everyone (except for an altar boy/Knight Wannabe and a girl that was possessed by a demon) dies rather horrible deaths.
In Casino Royale (1967), the villain is tricked into eating an explosive pill, which blows up the casino at the end with every main character in it. However, all the good guys are seen in heaven, strumming harps. Even the villain, until "Six of them went to a Heavenly spot, the seventh one is going to a place where it's terribly hot."
The last few scenes of The Departed ends up with every main character but one getting shot by each other - then the very last scene has that final main character getting shot by the other main character's boss.
The Sidehackers was a brutal, gritty biker film in which almost every character (including the hero's extremely likable love interest, whose death Mystery Science Theater 3000 had to cut out of the aired version and have Crow explain) was gang raped and killed. The hero himself was gunned down by the fatally wounded villain whilst walking away from a Mexican Standoff. The three that lived (the black guy, the guy who told bad jokes, and the hero's friend) all ran off when the battle was in progress. Sidehackers incidentally, was the movie which prompted Best Brains to institute their policy of watching a movie all the way through before selecting it for their show.
These two survivors die in a later movie. Every character from the first two films ends up dead.
Oh the irony... Heston actually re-wrote the ending to the script (in which Taylor destroys the entire planet) because he didn't want it to become a Franchise Zombie, and would rather just end it then.
In John Carpenter's Village of the Damned remake with Christopher Reeve, only the teacher girl and her kid (the only alien child who had more or less normal emotions) survive. Everyone else in town is dead.
A subversion of the original story (The Midwich Cuckoos and the original Village of the Damned movie) in which none of the kids had human emotions. They all died along with the teacher responsible for their deaths, but almost everybody else they hadn't "influenced" survived.
Scarface (1983) ends with Tony Montana and crew dead and the drug lord who ordered the film-ending attack still alive. Fortunately or not, you don't get to see his presumable satisfaction with this. The video game depicting an alternative take on the film picks up after Tony's 'death' and has the player control him as he attempts to rebuild his drug empire. This can be viewed as an alternate continuity.
Those who do not die onscreen in the cult French Resistance movie Army of Shadows are killed off in the epilogue screen titles.
In The Fall, Roy almost ends his story this way, much to Alexandria's horror. Only her confession of love convinces him to allow their avatars to live.
The Cabin in the Woods has everyone dying at the hands of the Ancient Ones, not just the cast, but every living being on the planet and the planet itself.
In the Saw franchise, no one (up to and including the eponymous serial killer himself) survived all seven movies except one. Jigsaw nursed that one back to health after he survived, then he trained him as his apprentice, and by the time all this is revealed at the end of Saw 3D he's proven to be the one confirmed good egg out of Jigsaw's apprentices. The last scene has him leave a rogue apprentice, Hoffman, in a room he'd remember from the game in the first film.
The Quentin Tarantino movie Reservoir Dogs ends with just about the entire crew dead except for Mr. Pink, who either gets caught by the cops during the ending credits or is shot to death.
Return of the Living Dead, where everyone who hadn't already been killed by the undead were nuked by the U.S. Army. The film's only survivors are a couple of voices at the other end of a phone call because they're the ones who called in the nuclear strike.
The Scottish film Outpost has a squad of mercenaries and their scientist/corporate employer wiped out by undead Nazi super-soldiers. The end of the movie leads the viewer to believe that a second team was wiped out the same way.
Dead Man. Interestingly, the only death that isn't really seen is that of William, presumably the eponymous "dead man."
The entire crew of the Icarus II dies in the sci-fi movie Sunshine (2007), but they do manage to save the world in the process. It is hinted that Kappa might not die, but is frozen in time right before his death, stuck admiring a wall of fire. In all probability, he died too.
REC: Nobody survives. Leading lady, camera man, hero firefighter, mother and daughter, Chinese family, young cop... they ALL bought it and/or came back. Except probably an old couple.
Quarantine. There's a few Hope Spots, in particular one close to the end when the landlord says there's a way to get out through the basement, but really. What really sells it is that most characters who die pop back up as (let's just say) zombies, and near the end there's a sequence where the two leads have to fight through what's left of the rest of the cast.
The Blair Witch Project. Considering that the whole concept of the movie is "Hey, we found this video camera out in the woods..." why would you expect anything else?
Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning ends with everybody dying in the massive P-Fleet vs Babel 13 space battle. A few survive, though, and Earth is freed from Emperor Pirk's tyranny.
All eight characters who got a speaking part in The Descent died. At least in the original version, the US got a different ending.
In the sequel, featuring the two main characters, everyone dies in an Ass Pull of epic proportions.
The Final Destination series. The survivor of the first movie gets killed in the second and the survivors of the second one all survive the BBQ finale, with a Red Shirt biting the dust instead, but are said to be dead at the beginning of the third one. The third movie decides to not waste time and kills everyone in a not very ambiguous ending. The next movies turn it into outright Shoot the Shaggy Dog stories: the protagonists never had any influence on their respective demises, and all their actions were for naught. Death is a sadistic cosmic entity who plans out everything just the way he intended.
By the end of Miracle at St. Anna, with the exception of Hector and Angelo, every single villager and Allied soldier in St. Anna is killed during a battle with German soldiers.
Which makes sense, because the real massacre of Sant'Anna di Stazzema  resulted in 560 people being killed, even though the intrusion of american soldiers is completely fictional and there was no battle. It was, quite simply (and sadly), a huge massacre of innocent civilians. The place now is pretty much a ghost town.
By the end of the first Scary Movie everyone except for Cindy's father, Sherriff Gale, and Doofy (who's the bad guy) are killed. Many of said characters inexplicably come Back from the Dead in the sequels.
In Dead Snow, the cast is slaughtered one by one during an exceptionally bloody standoff against the Nazi Colonel Herzog and his stiff soldiers. The toughest one survives after figuring out that the Nazis are after a box of stolen gold and presenting it to them. Though when he finally gets back to the car, he discovers he has accidentally brought a gold coin with him. The Colonel appears and offs him shortly afterwards.
The credits of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance start rolling when all characters are dead except one, who is fatally wounded. As the screen fades to black, you continue to hear his mumbling and moaning as he slowly bleeds out due to having his gut sliced to ribbons. At the end of the credits, he is still not dead.
In Stranger Than Fiction, this is stated to be author Karen Eiffel's Signature Style. It becomes an issue when the main character Harold Crick becomes her new protagonist and when confronted with this she is plagued by guilt at how many actual lives she might have ended.
The Dirty Dozen. 11 of the eponymous group die, and the last is badly injured. The two officers with them both survive, though.
In the Spanish movie Nicotina every single person that is plot pertinent dies. Actually, even that ones that aren't important ended up dying, since the whole building explodes.
The Alien franchise in general seems to enjoy outright slaughtering its characters. Alien³ picks off 2 of the survivors from the previous movie in the first 5 minutes, kills another survivor partway through, and kills Ripley at the end. Out of all the other characters present throughout the movie, only 2 survive,one presumed dead throughout the film and is only even given a small cameo in the film itself.
Dario Argento's films seem to be rather fond of this, killing most of the main cast and rarely ever having a survival count higher than 2. The most egregious example of this being Suspiria, where once the main heroine kills the head witch (Suspirorum, the Mother of Sighs), the building starts to collapse, and the moment she leaves, it bursts into flames, supposedly killing every single person within the building except for the main heroine.
In the John Carpenter film Dark Star two out of four crew members are obliterated in a nuclear blast by a malfunctioning bomb that decides there is no point to existence. Ironically, this stems from a crew member trying to convince the bomb not to explode. Now floating around helplessly in space without a ship, one of the two remaining ones is sucked in by a group of asteroids to slowly drift off and die, while the other decides to surf into the nearby planet's atmosphere on a piece of debris to burn up.
In Silent Running, the protagonist murders his crew mates in order to save the last forest from being destroyed, then eventually commits suicide to prevent a rescue mission from discovering the truth. Only a single robot (of the original three) is left "alive" to care for the plants.
The 2009 French zombie movie The Horde ends with only 1 survivor left standing, possibly 0 as you can hear the zombies approaching before the credits roll.
Nukes from a Soviet sub wipe out the cast of The Bedford Incident in retaliation for the Bedford firing their nukes at the Soviet sub first.
Zombie's Halloween II (2009) has everyone die... including Dr. Loomis, Michael Myers, and Laurie!
The two Count Yorga movies ends with all the characters either dead or turned into vampires (most of the female cast for the latter).
In Uwe Boll's Tunnel Rats, only two soldiers survive the Viet Cong massacre of their camp... only to be killed when the Air Force levels the place. A third soldier that had nearly escaped the VC's labyrinth of tunnels was buried alive and slowly suffocated.
In the ending of Cannibal Holocaust when Monroe meets with the TV Executives one last time, he meets again with the three executives and tells them that he has viewed the final reel and says that it is "offensive, dishonest, and inhuman". He leads the executives into a screening room to view the final reel of the recovered film.
The Mission might well be one of the most depressing cases of this, as it ends with every single one of the protagonists getting massacred by the Portuguese soldiers, and out of a tribe they'd been trying to help, only a handful of women and children make it out alive. Worse still, the men responsible for the massacre get away with it.
Applied In-Universe in the film Formula of Love, where one of Caliostro's servants sing a song with nonsense words, and when asked by some woman what the song means (she presumes it's in Italian), he tells her a tragic story ending with "So in summation, everybody died."
By the end of Play Dirty, there is only one member of the unit who is not confirmed to be dead. And since he's lying helpless in a truck that nobody living knows the location of with a serious gut wound, the best one can say of that man is that at the end of the movie he might not be dead yet.
The Grey is about a small group of Alaskan oil workers who get caught in a plane crash on the way to Anchorage, and have to both survive the wilderness and fend off attacks by wolves. Eventually, they all die, except for the protagonist who may or may not survive.
Fitting with the Cube series' deep cynicism and the utter lethality of the eponymous mazes, nearly all characters usually die, either by the cubes or by their own hands. The survival rate in the series' entries is, successively, 1:0:2.
By the end of Bodyguards and Assassins, there are a grand total of two bodyguards and zero assassins still living. 90% of the surviving cast are people who fit in neither group, and as such didn't spend the last hour of the movie killing each other.
In Hell in the Pacific, the American soldier and the Japanese soldier seem to be about to turn on each other- and then a bomb kills them.
The main crisis of The Sundered is, "Who will live? Humanity, or humanity's fractured slaves?" Take a wild guess.
Mostly Harmless. At the end, most of the main characters throughout The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series and all possible Earths are completely obliterated from all possible timelines. Permanently. (The only possible survivor is a character who stepped into a teleporter in a previous book and wasn't seen again.) And then, to make it even worse, Douglas Adamsdied. Adams had, before his death, adapted the novel for a radio version; he had stated some dissatisfaction with the Downer Ending and, in the radio version, it is revealed that the Babelfish can teleport its host if they're about to die. Since all the main characters are using a babelfish for translation, they survive (landing at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe).
In Island of the Blue Dolphins, the protagonist's entire people sailed away from her island, and the brother left behind with her is killed by wild dogs soon after. Then it's revealed that their ship sank. So even after she leaves her island, she's very, very alone. It turns out later the boat didn't sink until after it had unloaded its cargo on California. Everyone on the ship died, but it was a completely different set of people.
A Song of Ice and Fire went this way at full speed since A Storm of Swords, and it's not like the first two books lacked corpses either.
From Martin himself: "No one will be alive by the last book. In fact, they all die in the fifth. The sixth book will be just a thousand-page description of snow blowing across the graves..."
The reputation of the series is partly bolstered because of the tendency for characters to be presumed killed, in addition to the ones who actually die.
Averted in House of Leaves. In the photograph insert after the cover, there is a typed note in the middle of the mess, detailing the author's desire to kill off Will Navidson's children in brutal ways. "Drown them in blood" was the particular phrase.
In Sonya Hartnett's The Midnight Zoo it is heavily implied that the three Rom Children and all the zoo animals are dead at the end of the book. Similar to The Last Battle it seems to be a happy ending with the children and animals reaching Heaven Or...Some kind of afterlife...This is supposedly a very hopeful uplifting ending...Maybe...
The Terror. This is a bit of a Foregone Conclusion, as the book is based on the real life Franklin Expedition, where nobody survived. Over the course of the book, the 129 men are subjected to a horrific Dwindling Party scenario. In the end, Francis Crozier and Lady Silence (who wasn't even part of the expedition in the first place) are the only survivors.
Todd McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books have, thus far, featured exploding mine holds, three continent-threatening plagues (two of which infected dragons) and almost a Weyr taken out in one swoop by a bad jump between.
Battle Royale. Everyone dying is the premise of the book. In fact, in the end, one more survives than was supposed to...
Considering his subject matter, this is not uncommon in the works of Derek Robinson, particularly in his wartime novels. Character turnover is so great that you are lucky to end a novel with two of the original cast (in works by an author who is famous for Loads and Loads of Characters)
A Good Clean Fight particularly, in that two of the three primary viewpoint characters die in a very abrupt manner.
H.P. Lovecraft never pulled this off, probably because he always presented his stories in a semi-realistic manner, so ending it with "then everybody died" when the world is, very clearly, not dead, would kinda ruin the setting. Instead he had lots of "everybody WILL die. And there's nothing we can do about it".
Well, he did write things like Nyarlathotep and The Doom That Came To Sarnath, which describe the sudden and mysterious fall of entire cities. Might avert the trope mainly by virtue of not having a lot of explicitly named characters, mind.
That, and he wrote a fair few stories in which the majority of the named characters died, like "The Call of Cthulhu," or "The Lurking Fear."
His short story The Temple begins with The Captain sinking the lifeboats of an enemy ship before the body of a crewman from said ship turns up on deck. Then he begins executing individual members of his crew when their superstitions get the better of them. Then at least two crewmen are killed when the engines unexpectedly explode, forcing the ship to go deeper. The six remaining crewmen are killed by the Captain for trying to start a mutiny, and then the one officer that remains is eventually Driven to Suicide. The Captain is likely to die of suffocation, as he is now trapped at the bottom of the ocean with no chance of rescue; the only reason his death isn't recorded is because he's the one telling the story.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Somewhat subverted in the final Narnia book, in which all nearly the characters from our world appear, having died there in a train accident. They get a Happy Ending, while much fan consternation is caused by the fate of Susan, who is "no longer a friend of Narnia", does not appear in the book, and survives. The sole survivor is the one who, in typical plot terms, gets casually killed off.
Apocryphally, Neil Gaiman deals with this loose end from The Last Battle in his 2004 short story The Problem of Susan.
Approximately half of the characters introduced in the first book of Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series are dead by (and mostly during) book three. 75% are gone by the end of book six (including most of the Big Damn Heroes from earlier on). However, many of those characters are either reincarnated, resurrected or continue to play an active role as ghosts.
Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar cycle of novels have spanned something like 200 years to date, so with a few magical exceptions every major character from the first book is now dead. However, the end of the ''Serpentwar' sub-series was notable for not only wiping out most of the then-supporting cast and a couple of leading characters in a devastating war, but also destroying the city of Krondor, where a significant amount of the action in the books had taken place. Later books took this to an insane extreme by blowing up the entire planet of Kelewan, which had seen a lot of the action take place there as well.
Paul Kearney 's splendid five-book The Monarchies of God series ends with the death of every single character. Seriously, the only character who isn't expressly shown to be dead is a second-tier character who ceased being of any importance and vanished after the third volume.
This was originally supposed to be the fate of most of the main characters in the Honor Harrington novel At All Costs in which even the protagonist herself was supposed to die so that her son could take up the mantle a few decades down the road. The Author decided to change that, however, when coauthor Eric Flint sped up the Mesa plot - and probably headed off what would have been the greatest fan rebellion in science fiction since Star Trek was first canceled. Effectively, like a character from the Honorverse? Too bad - there's roughly a 50% chance they'll die within a few books. Unless that character is the favorite character of David Weber's wife, i.e. James MacGuinness.
Sometime Never: A Fable for Supermen, the human race is wiped out in the fictional WWIII and WWIV. The Gremlins survived by hiding underground, only to learn that they are going to cease to exist because they are created by the imagination of humans.
In The Stand, 99.4% of humanity is killed off in the first quarter of the book, and then most of the many, many main characters die over the course of the book, leaving two or three alive.
Iain M. Banks is a big fan of this. Both Consider Phlebas and Against a Dark Background end with just one main character alive (barely). And now Matter as well. Consider Phlebas goes further than the main characters: virtually everybody picked out of the crowd, even just as "the security guard", is killed off.
A few of the 108 heroes of Heroes of the Water Margin (or Suikoden, for those of you more familiar with the Japanese title) had already died before the end, but a huge list of them get killed off fighting another rebel group, just as the government had hoped because they feared the heroes' power. Whichever survivors that didn't scatter to the winds after that were poisoned by order of the emperor.
In Daemon World, the epilogue states that there is a legend that one of the book's characters lived. Other than that slight possibility, all the characters (named and unnamed) and the entire population of the world died — plus the world itself. An Eldar maiden world, it was Driven to Suicide because of all the horrors that had been committed on it.
In the Grey Knights novel Hammer of Daemons, Alaric himself survives. Also some low-level unnamed Mooks, and two Grey Knights who weren't captured in the opening chapter. Other than that, every named character and large chunks of the unnamed masses die.
The Gaunt's Ghosts novels inevitably go this way. The author started killing off major characters in book 5 (of 12, with no ending in sight), hasn't stopped since, and explicitly stated that he's going to continue writing for the series until people lose interest in them or there is no-one left to write about.
In Legion of the Dammned all but one of the defenders die fighting the invading Blood Crusade. This Heroic Sacrifice causes a legion of vengeful ghosts to rise up and wipe out the Blood Crusade army. Subverted in the end when the relief force arrives and discovers that the women and children survived by hiding in the graves. The Space Marines and the local defense force deliberately sacrificed themselves so the Blood Crusade army would assume that it killed everyone on the planet and move on before discovering the women and children.
Has a lampshade hung on it by Mark Twain in the afterword to Pudd'nhead Wilson, where he explains that the solution to the convoluted original plot was to drop the original characters down a well in the back yard, which only ceased when it seemed likely the well would fill up.
Moby-Dick. Everyone and everything except the narrator and the whale dies. There's a reason he starts the book by saying "Call me Ishmael."
This is exactly the point of the Hunger Games, the novel's eponymous reality TV-show. Subverted when Katniss and Peeta attempt a double suicide with poison; to avoid this, the Capitol makes them both winners. The Capitol is not very happy about it, either.
Not to be outdone, the sequel Catching Fire has even more people dying. Though, subverted slightly in the end of the Quarter Quell as the six remaining victor-tributes survive the end of the book. District 12 is bombed, causing more deaths, though an estimate of survivors is not given until Mockingjay.
The one that really takes the crown in the trilogy is Mockingjay. Drumroll for the death toll: Finnick, Boggs, Prim, Cinna, Portia (along with the rest of Peeta's prep team), all except seven of the 41 living victors of previous Hunger Games, a random woman in the Capitol that Katniss shoots, quite a few Capitol children, Snow, Coin, all except for four other members of Katniss's team. And if you're counting when it's seen, almost 2/3 of District 12's citizens, including Madge and her family are all dead by the book's end. Really, you could tell someone who's never read the books that "Everyone dies," and you wouldn't be too far off.
The Hero of Ages, the final book in the Mistborn trilogy. By the end, the series' body count includes, Kelsier, Dockson, Clubs, Ore'Seur, The Lord Ruler, Tindwyl, Zane, Preservation, Elend Venture, and Vin, the main character herself. Doesn't include outright villains, such as Straff Venture or Ruin. This is a mitigated case compared to many others, based on Sazed as a god explicitly informing the survivors that he has spoken with Vin, Elend, and Kelsier in whatever spiritual form they now exist, and they're apparently happy.
In all of Matthew Reilly's books except for Hover Car Racer, nearly all characters die except for the small main group of people.On average this leaves about 4 characters unharmed at the end of each book.
By the end of Les Misérables, only about three of the main characters are left alive.
At the end of The Children of Húrin, main character Túrin, his sister Niënor, their mother Morwen, Túrin's best friend Beleg, romantic rival Brandir, the entire kingdom of Nargothrond, a plot-significant outlaw tribe, and several important villains are all dead. About the only significant characters to make it out alive are the (immortal) Big Bad, Húrin himself, Thingol and Melian, and Mablung- and the last four all have their days numbered. Fun times! And this story is but a mere chapter of The Silmarillion, where the surviving characters can be counted on one hand.
Alma Alexander's The Secrets of Jin-Shei features eight main characters. Four die dramatically in quick succession toward the end of the book, and one disappears. Then comes the epilogue, where the one remaining main character muses on the deaths of the others—oh, and her husband and son are dead by then, too.
Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom subverted it. Every character, named and unnamed, dies, except for the main character, who comes out of it with a slight change of vocation. He decides to fix things, but is unable to restore everyone, including all the Denizens, a vast majority of the named characters in the series. Further, two humans are (arguably) affected: his mother and himself, though the New Architect buds off a new Arthur.
In Lolita, the four main characters die off in various ways. One is hit by a car, one is murdered, one has a heart attack, and the last one dies during childbirth.
Glen Cook's Black Company series does this, partly in the original trilogy's climax but primarily in the ironically titled final volume, Soldiers Live, which sees a cast of several dozen virtually wiped out. In fact, the last half of the series was spent building up the cast and carefully keeping most of them alive, which serves this trope very well when it is finally used.
Catch-22. The first two thirds of the book are extremely light-hearted and funny. And then they remind you that this is a war. The brilliant part though, is that their deaths happen so gradually, you don't realize just how many people have died until Yossarian tries to picture all the people he's known who're dead.
The Nibelungenlied: None of the Burgundians who get to Etzel's court survive, tons of Etzel's men, his brother Blï¿½del, wife Kriemhild and son Ortlieb are killed as well, as are Rï¿½diger of Bechlaren and all his men, and all of Dietrich's retainers except Hildebrand. The only named Burgundian survivors the two queens left behind in Worms (Ute and Brunhild, although in some adaptations, notably the Fritz Lang movie, Brunhild commits suicide or dies after Siegfried's murder - having loved only him, she has no reason to go on living). And there's the (unnamed) chaplain who had to return home after Hagen unsuccessfully tried to drown him in the Danube.
The Brief History of the Dead would seem to be exempt from this, since it starts with only one character still alive. The catch is that half the book takes place in an afterlife where souls linger so long as at least one living person remembers them, so that one character is preserving her friends, her family, her colleagues, and the cashier at the grocery store where she used to shop. When she goes, they go, and there's no one left to remember her.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: The ending is very vague, leaving the orphans marooned on an uninhabited island, with only The Beatrice Letters to suggest any of them made it back to civilization. As for the rest of the characters, anyone who didn't die can easily be presumed dead, especially the unimportant background characters who perished in one of Olaf's acts of setting a building on fire.
In David Thewlis's novel The Late Hector Kipling, the main character's two best friends, both his parents, their dog, his girlfriend's mother and his lover all die. And that is besides the bloodbath he himself creates. Ironically, the title character's epithet of "late" does not come true, as he's about the only one who survives.
The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey: Any letter in English alphabet begins the name of a child who died: "A is for Amy who fell down the stairs..." and so on.
In The Long Walk, every contestant (save for Ray Garraty) dies during the Walk, and it looks he won't have long to live either, even though he won. It's mentioned earlier in the story that most of the previous Walks' winners died not long after due to the immense physical and psychological strain it placed on them.
Trapped on Draconica: Kalak is possessed by Mordak in the climax and goes on a killing spree that wipes out most of Team Good before killing himself to stop himself. Ultimately defied, though. Erowin comes down from Heaven to personally make sure it doesn't happen.
The Elric Saga: The story ends with Elric destroying and re-making the universe to right the cosmic balance by using the Horn of Fate (and having to kill his best friend, Moonglum, with Stormbringer so he has the physical strength to do so), before committing suicide by killing himself with Stormbringer. Oh, and everyone whose was killed by Stormbringer - their souls were consumed by the sword, so presumably they're not re-incarnating in any particular form in this new universe.
The penultimate chapter of Redshirts ends this way. The very brief final chapter then admits that the author was just kidding about that.
On the Beach ends with the main characters taking Cyanide Pills to avoid succumbing to the horrible radiation poisoning that is guaranteed to kill off everyone who doesn't.
Remnants begins with the death of every single person on Earth except for eighty people that make it out... and then it gets worse. It's easier to list the survivors: of the thirty-something people who made it onto the Mother, the only seven survivors were Jobs, Mo'Steel, Olga, Edward, Violet, Noyze, and Roger Dodger.
The Ugly Barnacle: "Once, there was an ugly barnacle. He was so ugly that everyone died. The end."
The last two books in Michael Grant'sGone have an enormous body count, with over half the central cast dying, and 40% of the kids trapped in the FAYZ dead.
Werther Has Already Been Written(1979) by famous Soviet writer Valentin Kataev, a novel about Cheka terror in Odessa in 1921. By the end, all significant characters, good or evil, are dead. A few who survived the main storyline are killed in a flashforwards. And the most of unsignificant characters dies, too.
Terry Brooks didn't kill off every character by the end of Wishong Of Shannara, but he came close: by the end, only Jair and Slanter were left from the Culhaven company, and Allanon had also been killed.
Of the six members of the eponymous Jackdaws, a World War II thriller by Ken Follett, only two survive the mission to occupied France.
''Mila 18" by Leon Uris is mainly set in the Warsaw Ghetto, which was of course brutally destroyed by the Nazis and their minions. Only a couple of main characters manage to escape the slaughter, as might be expected. Many of those who died went down fighting, taking a significant number of their tormenters with them.
Bonanza: Several episodes had this averted, particularly in the 12th (1970-1971) season, including:
"Terror at 2:00": As Virginia City is set to celebrate the signing of a treaty between them and the Paiutes (which Ben Cartwright had helped broker), a white supremacist named Ganns and two of his henchmen — all are posing as reporters from the East Coast — plan to massacre the entire town by spraying the celebration with machine gun-like fire (they had stolen a Gatling gun from the Army and are on the run). Averted when Little Joe and Candy discover their plans and shoot Ganns shortly before he attempts to use the gun to interrupt the ceremony.
"Kingdom of Fear": In this adaptation of Cool Hand Luke, the main villain — a deranged ex-Army captain who has imprisoned innocent men to work in his gold mine — realizes that the authorities are on to him once one of his latest slaves (Little Joe) has escaped and is getting help.
Being Human(UK). Between seasons 3 and 4, the entire main cast is killed off, and replaced by newcomers.
It is worth pointing out that this was unintended. The writers had a fifth season planned in which it would be revealed that only one character was definitely dead. The rest had merely been stunned and taken prisoner. However, the BBC decided to cancel the series at that point, so it was just assumed that almost everyone was dead. Also, Avon wasn't gunned down on screen (we only heard shots being fired) and in theory survived.
The Black Adder ended with all but two of the main characters dying from drinking poison as a result of a convoluted power struggle. Later seasons of the Blackadder also tended to end with the wiping out of all or most of the cast. This was played for morbid laughs in Blackadder II (and averted Blackadder the Third), but treated deadly seriously in Blackadder Goes Forth.
The Dinosaurs finale, "Changing Nature," had the dinosaurs in the process of going extinct due to environmental catastrophe brought about by the actions of the WESAYSO Corporation. A very bleak ending to a generally light-hearted show.
Mortal Kombat: Conquest. Reportedly, there was supposed to be a second season, which either undid some of the deaths, or continued with a new crew, but the series was canceled, and thus finished with the Downer Ending in which Shao Kahn killed everyone.
Cold Case dealt with a mall shooting where the perps killed and maimed more than 15 people before offing themselves. After further investigation, it's learned that one of the survivors helped motivate them into the shooting, thinking they'd just take out the jerks who tried to rape her earlier that day, only to have this revenge plan backfire when she realized they were unstable enough to go after people at random. The survivor eventually tried to off herself, as well, thus fulfilling the trope in spades.
The Young Ones ends with the four main characters dying in a bus crash. Granted, they died just about every episode, but we're to assume this one sticks.
Also, Vyvyan's hamster and their landlord both died in the same episode, under different circumstances. (Although the landlord was eaten by lions in the previous season, oddly enough.)
British soap opera Dream Team took this to insane lengths: 37 deaths of (mostly) main characters over its run, which considering the show is set at a relatively normal soccer (football) team is quite some achievement.
These deaths range from freak coach explosions to chewing gum.
Six Feet Under features a doozy of an finale, as the audience finds out how every main character died: Ruth, David and Federico die of natural causes, Keith is shot to death as he exits a security van, Brenda is 'talked' to death by her brother, and Claire dies at the age of 101.
V: The Series had numerous secondary characters being killed off during the series, including resistance fighters who had been present since the original miniseries (and other long-term characters simply leaving, never to be seen again). At the end, the viewer is left to infer that resistance member Robin's child, Elizabeth (a.k.a. "The Star Child") and her boyfriend were killed when they boarded a transport with a hidden bomb on it.
A number of Doctor Who stories end like this. It's worth noting that in these cases the Doctor's actions usually prevent a far greater number of casualties, and the Doctor and his companions (almost) always survive, but the high body is rather unsettling for what is ostensibly a family program.
"Pyramids of Mars" leaves only one survivor other than the Doctor and Sarah... and he (a bit part) only survives because he's in Egypt while the action takes place in England. The novelisation states that this character is killed off-screen by cultist henchmen later.
In "Horror at Fang Rock", the entire guest cast dies. The Doctor and Leela sail off, leaving a lighthouse full of corpses behind them.
"Logopolis" has every single member of the eponymous planet dead, and approximately a quarter of the universe destroyed. By accident.
The Fifth Doctor era was notorious for this, with four examples of this trope. It got to the point where one of his companions, Tegan, left because she couldn't handle all of the death anymore:
"Castrovalva" has seemingly everyone except the Doctor and his three companions die. The Master also seems to die, though he somehow escapes with no explanation whatsoever.
"Warriors of the Deep" has every single guest character, Red Shirt and Mook dead by the end, with the possible exception of a bit character who was hiding at the time. The final shot is the Doctor standing amid half a dozen corpses, mournfully saying "There should have been another way..."
"Resurrection of the Daleks" has every single guest character, Red Shirt and Mook except for one secondary character (noticing a pattern?) dead. Including Davros, who dies but appears in a later episode with no explanation whatsoever. This is the one where Tegan finally gets fed up and leaves.
"The Caves of Androzani", where a grand total of two characters survive - Peri and the villain's secretary. Even the Doctor "dies".
In "Attack of the Cybermen", the Doctor and Peri survive. Perhaps some Cryons survived, far enough away from the explosion.
"The Parting of the Ways" has everybody on Satellite 5 except for Rose (as well as a significant portion on Earth) killed by the Daleks, then the Daleks disintegrated. Jack Harkness and the Doctor die too, but Jack's brought back to life (permanently) and the Doctor regenerates.
In "Voyage of the Damned", only the Doctor and three people aboard the Titanic survive. And the episode started with hundreds of people on board.
In "The Vampires of Venice", one or two bit characters (the greeter or whatever, the girl in the alley) may survive, but every non-regular with even the tiniest connection to the plot dies.
"The God Complex": Everyone dies expect for The Doctor, Amy, Rory and Gibbis.
Spinoff Torchwood has a pretty high mortality rate too. Out of the original cast of six, Suzie dies in the pilot, Owen dies, comes back wrong, then dies permanently in the Season 2 finale while talking with Tosh, who's bleeding out and dies moments later. Finally, Ianto dies in Jack's arms when they confront the 456. And that doesn't even include Captain Jack, who dies around 1300 times but always comes back.
The short-lived NBC show The Others ended with all but one character (Albert) biting it.
The final episodes of the Canadian TV series Butch Patterson: Private Dick ended with five of the seven main characters being killed off one by one, the sixth going to jail for their murders, with only the title character being the last man standing.
Forever Knight. Oh, Forever Knight. Virtually everyone on the show was killed off over the course of the third season, culminating in the hero seemingly killing his beloved and then asking his sire to stake him.
In the five-episode zombie series Dead Set, absolutely every character, and, indeed, most - if not all - of Britain, is either dead or undead by the final episode.
Angel. In the final episode, Wesley and Lindsey are both killed in the final battle, and Eve refuses to leave the collapsing building, and may or might die. Doyle, Cordelia and Fred have all died previously. Connor escapes, as does Lorne. The last thing we see is Angel, Spike, Illyria and a mortally wounded Gunn facing off impossible odds. Although Joss Whedon later wrote comics in which most characters survive (sort of, but in the process the entire city of Los Angeles was sent to Hell), this was the end for a lot of the TV audience.
LEXX. By the end of the miniseries everyone seen on-screen except the main characters wind up dead. It became a signature of the second season that nobody that the main characters met would survive to see the end credits (there's only one exception, a child who escapes in a small spacecraft only to reappear and be killed in the opening sequence a few episodes later). A universe gets destroyed at the end of the season, killing everyone who'd lived there. While many of the supporting characters make it through to the end of the third season they all die at the end when the Lexx blows up the afterlife. Similarly, season four takes place in just one locale and many of the characters survive until the end of the season when the Lexx blows up Earth. One of the three protagonists dies for good too, though perhaps in trade some of the named supporting characters actually survive to escape for a change.
24. Virtually every major character (and most of the recurring ones) introduced in the first season has been killed off, with the exceptions of Jack, Kim and Tony (who is now in prison for probably several consecutive life sentences).
A small list of major characters managed to get out without being killed, like Chase Edmunds (minus a hand), Mike Novick, Audrey Raines, Erin Driscoll or Kate Warner.
Out of 25 main characters and several minor ones on Harper's Island, 4 make it out alive (2 due to Infant Immortality). There are 29 deaths on screen. The promos had heavily implied that everyone was going to die, although the writers opted not to go there.
Taken Up to Eleven in the Vengeance finale, where the writers manage to kill off every single villain on the show, and quite a few protagonists, too. And the rebellion fails, so one can presume that the rampant character deaths aren't going to stop anytime soon.
And Victory, the War of the Damned finale, gives us the end of the rebellion, in which (inevitably) every remaining major character except Caesar, Crassus, Agron, Nasir, Sibyl and Laeta dies, mostly in battle.
Often done with LOST with the minor characters: by the beginning of Season Five, all of the background survivors are dead, and by season six most of the background Others are dead.
Played with in the last season. All the main characters, including some villains, die and end up in purgatory to fulfill their loose ends. In the last episode, they meet up inside a church with Jack's dead father before moving on together.
Primeval is slowly heading this way. Claudia Brown, Tom Ryan, Stephen Hart, Nick Cutter, Helen Cutter, Sarah Page...well, to put it simply, there are three main characters left from series one. Three.
The only characters to survive the Masters Of Horror episode "Cigarette Burns" are Kirby's theatre assistant, Bakovic's widow, and Henri, none of whom were present at the climax. The angel also survives.
Played with in Punky Brewster in the 2-part "Perils of Punky" episode. In it, Punky and her friends encounter an evil spirit which then proceeds to kill all of her friends and her dog. Although it's eventually revealed to be a ghost story Punky's telling to her friends, several fans of the show still wonder what the writers were thinking for creating such a disturbing, dark episode in an otherwise light and family-friendly sitcom.
Merlin was a family show, but didn't hesitate in killing off most of its cast. There were fifteen major characters in all: Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Guinevere, Uther, Gaius, Kilgharrah, Morgause, Agravaine, Lancelot, Gwaine, Elyan, Percival, Leon and Mordred. By the end of the series, only 'five are left standing: Merlin, Guinevere, Gaius, Leon and Percival. Some die along the way, but four are taken out in the Grand Finale. Kilgharrah is still alive, but it had been established in an earlier episode that he was dying of old age. And if you take into account the final scene, which depicts Merlin in the present day, then everyone is dead except him.
American Horror Story: Asylum manages to kill off every main character save one (possibly two as one of the character's fates is quite ambiguous) as well as all of the recurring characters.
The bizarre finale to Hey Dad..! in which the family is taken hostage by a bank robber who blows up their house. The "dad" of the show's title lived on by virtue of having been absent from the show for some time by then.
Ultraman Leo: Episode 40. Oh Jesus Tap Dancing Christ. Commander Black releases Silver Bloom, which kills everyone on the MAC team, destroys most of Tokyo and nearly kills Leo.
In The Protomen's Act I, Dr. Wily orders the robot army to kill the crowd. In live performances, he sometimes says the line verbatim.
Iron Maiden's concept album "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". A town is wiped out due to an disaster, and Lucifer plans on canceling mankind.
Played for laughs in not one, not two, but three songs by Tom Lehrer. "The Irish Ballad" is about a woman who murders every one of her relatives (and is then arrested), while "We Will All Go Together When We Go" and "So Long, Mom (A Song for World War III)" are both about nuclear war.
An alternative explanation is that this didn't mean that everyone would be killed, but rather that instead of eternal paradise or damnation (noted as lies in the previous line), people Take a Third Option and just... end.
Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. Not only is it in the collective's name, but at the end of the song "Window", Tyler, The Creator kills the main members of the group, minus Earl Sweatshirt.
Porcupine Tree's "Strip The Soul," from the 2002 album In Absentia: "Strip the soul, kill them all.."
Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," about the real-life sinking of the titular ship on Lake Superior, killing all twenty-nine crew members, in 1975.
Weird Al's bizarre Christmas song, "The Night Santa Went Crazy," is about a night at the North Pole in which Santa Claus loses his mind and goes on a killing spree. More than half the elves and all but two of the reindeer die.
Santa: Merry Christmas to all... now you're all gonna die!
The final battle of Ragnarok involves almost every living being in existence and at the moment of his own defeat, the Surtur, the Giant-God of Fire, will blow himself up in a massive explosion that kills pretty much all life in the world. At the end, the only exceptions are Baldr (who returns to life after the battle) and a few guys who hide in a tree. Also, given the extremely robust roster of Norse Mythology, the list of named characters who kick the bucket goes well beyond just the Aesir.
The Indian Mahabharata has very detailed lists of the two massive armies fighting in the Battle of Kurukshetra: 393,660 chariots, 393,660 war elephants, 1,180,980 horse riders, and 1,968,300 footmen, for a grand total of 4,330,260 soldiers, fighting over 18 days. Survivors: 10.
The Arthurian Cycle ends with King Arthur facing his traitorous son Mordred at the Battle of Camlann. The only survivors are Arthur, two of his knights, and Mordred. Not satisfied, Arthur rushes the destroyer of his kingdom, leading to a Mutual Kill. One of the two knights dies of his wounds soon after.
Warhammer 40,000 lives for this. The Forever War nature of the setting means that horrific levels of death are the norm, and while there are a handful with Contractual Immortality for the vast, vast majority of characters a swift end could be around the next corner.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse promised this end from the word go, and to its credit, most of the end-game scenarios defaulted to it.
Vampire: The Masquerade promised nothing of the kind, but in a couple of the end-game scenarios the best you can really do is "life will someday evolve again."
The "Wrath of God" card from Magic: The Gathering. There are other cards with similar effects, including (but by no means limited to) Damnation (which is essentially the same as Wrath of God but uses black mana instead of white), Day of Judgement (which leaves out the "They can't be regenerated" part and is currently usable in the Standard tournament format, unlike Wrath of God itself), Akroma's Vengeance (which costs more than any of the so-far named cards but also destroys artifacts and enchantments), Chain Reaction (which is red, and although it doesn't explicitly have that kind of effect, it deals damage to each creature equal to the number of creatures in play, allowing it to do the same under the right circumstances), and Novablast Wurm (which is a creature that kills all other creatures when it attacks).
The biggest is are either Decree of Annihilation, which does about what you'd expect in such a way that not even indestructible creatures can survive it, or Apocalypse, which wipes out everything currently in play no matter what the card's type is and no matter what abilities it has.
The basic premise of Exalted is that if things continue as they are, all that ends up happening is everyone keeps losing by inches, until one of three things happens: the Wyld dissolves the world, everything falls into the Abyss, or the Yozis take control of a blasted hellscape. Prior to release, it was a prequel to Old World of Darkness, so this ending was set in stone. Now, as with most things in Exalted, it exists mainly for the player characters to kick it in the nards and set it on fire.
Paranoia does this all the time. Repeatedly. If the PCs don't kill each other or themselves, the GM will. This is why they're each given a set of "backup" clones.
It's not uncommon for a PC to die during the mission briefing. And not unheard of for a PC to die before they even make it to the mission briefing.
The mission debriefing offers one last chance for the PCs to hand each other a death sentence, by bringing up all the evidence of treason they collected earlier and hadn't already presented. It also encourages them to kill each other during the mission to set up a Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit.
The "Tips for Traitors" section, when discussing how to manipulate the marching order for tactical advantage, includes a warning to not let the guy with the area-of-effect weapon take far left or right flank - the temptation to turn and wipe out all his teammates at once is way too high.
FATAL has this as the eponymous spell, which destroys the universe. The spell can be cast as a random effect of a spell miscast.
In the Cthulhu Mythos board game Arkham Horror (and the dice game Elder Sign) the players are investigators trying to seal away a Eldritch Abomination before it awakens. If it does wake up, there's a last-ditch Boss Fight against it. Except Azathoth. Azathoth takes longer to wake than other Great Old Ones, but if he does then everyone dies immediately.
By the end of Hamlet, the only major character left alive is Horatio. Hamlet's Dad is dead before the curtain goes up in the first place, Polonius is murdered by Hamlet in a case of mistaken identity (though Hamlet's not too unhappy about that), which causes his daughter Ophelia to commit suicide. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are executed offstage. The final scene then ends with a bloodbath that kills off Hamlet's mother, his uncle, Ophelia's brother Laertes and finally Hamlet himself.
Ingmar Bergman went one better on this in a famous 1990s staging of the play. Fortinbras and his army are portrayed as fascists playing heavy metal from boom boxes. When they break in at the end through the back wall, instead of listening to Horatio's explanation, Fortinbras has two of his men take Horatio offstage and shoot him, then finishes the play himself as a press conference.
King Lear is scarcely less bloody, featuring seven (eight if a given production kills off the Fool) deaths, and it's all but explicitly stated that the Earl of Kent exits at the end of the play to commit suicide, which leaves only Edgar and Albany alive.
Romeo and Juliet, anyone? Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Mercutio, Paris, Benvolio, Lady Montague... It's almost a trope in itself for a character not to realize this and say something like: "Oh, what a beautiful, heartwarming love story, just like Romeo and Juliet!"
Just about the only two members of the main cast who survive Othello are the bad guy (Iago), who probably will be executed soon, and one now-crippled good guy (Cassio), but everyone else (Othello, Desdemona, Rodrigo, and Emilia) is deader than a doornail.
Even the history plays are not immune to rapidly climbing death tolls. Henry V kills Sir John Falstaff (who never appears on stage, but did appear in the prequel), The Earl of Cambridge, Lord Scrope of Masham, Sir Thomas Grey, Bardolph, Nim, The Duke of York, the Boy, Mistress Quickly, The High Constable of France, Lord Rambures, The Dauphin, and Lord Grandpre. That's just named cast and not one of them dies on stage.
If all the gods from Rheingold are considered to be in Valhalla then the Ring cycle manages to kill 29 out of 33 named characters. The only surviving characters at the end of Götterdämmerung are the three Rheinmaidens, and Alberich. Given that the whole 14 hours started off with these four characters (in the same location), this is rather appropriate.
Wagner started on the path of Everyone Dies early. His boyhood tragedy Leubald featured 24 deaths and by the last act he was having to bring characters back as ghosts.
In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, all but Toby, Anthony, and Johanna wind up dead. The original Broadway musical and Stephen Sondheim himself indicate that Anthony and Johanna do, in fact, survive, having burst onto the scene with the constable in tow (Sondheim has said that they are the only two characters to have a "happy" ending, relatively speaking). Toby, however, has gone completely and incurably insane.
In the Disney musical Aida, Aida and Radames are buried alive, Mereb is stabbed, Nehebka is presumably beaten to death, and the Pharaoh is poisoned. This leaves only three characters (Amneris, Aida's father, and Zoser) alive, with Zoser presumably executed soon after the musical's end.
Explicitly referred to in the Toxic Avenger musical, in which the eponymous monster considers doing this in the appropriately named song, "Everybody Dies." Averted when he changes his mind after one murder.
'Tis Pity She's a Whore ends with most of the main characters dead. Shakespeare was downright tame next to some of the major Jacobean playwrights.
Greek tragedies often killed off all or nearly all the main characters, leaving only one or two minor characters to carry on. Example: Antigone. Other times it was Everybody's Dead, Dave. And if they don't die? Well, the wounds they carry aren't usually just of the psychological variety. Case in point, Oedipus Tyrannus (or Rex, depending on the translator), who, after his mother/wife hangs herself, uses her cloak-pin to gouge out both of his eyes. When you get up and leave the theatre at the end of a Greek Tragedy? Expect to feel phenomenally relieved that it didn't happen to you.
All the characters of Le Pï¿½re Noï¿½l est une ordure (Santa Claus is an asshole) die: one is shot half-way through the play, the others die at the end when the depressive upstairs neighbor who's been trying to get help all night finally gives up and blows up the whole building. The ending was changed for the big screen adaptation, which makes for funny conversation when someone who's only seen the play talks to someone who's only seen the movie.
P.D.Q Bach's "half-act opera" The Stoned Guest kills off its four principal characters (In a production whose cast consists of four people and a dog) in a minute and a half: Donna Ribalda strangles Carmen Ghia to death. In revenge, Don Octave tries to stab Donna Ribalda, but she dodges and he is Hoist by His Own Petard. Il Commandatoreador draws a pistol and fells Donna Ribalda in one shot, but he then succumbs to an overdose of alcohol. Then, due to Executive Meddling, all four have an Unexplained Recovery so they can sing the happy finale.
The show Urinetown: The Musical ends with the rebels, led by the villain's daughter avenging the death of the Protagonist and throwing the Big Bad off a building. Unfortunately, it turns out the "evil" measures the villain had taken to ensure water conservation really were the only sensible choice. Everyone, save for the secretary Mr. McQueen who moves to the Amazon, ends up dying slowly of dehydration whilst singing a gospel of how the only water they need is inside them. Yeah, it's not.
Henrik Ibsen ends the play Brand with a Cataclysm Climax, i.e. an avalanche. This avalanche is described as "filling the entire valley" - effectively killing off the entire cast.
Fire Emblem Jugdral, after fighting his way to the capital to clear his family name as well as defeating the real villains, Sigurd and his army are betrayed and killed by Arvis. Just before killing Sigurd, Arvis even shows off his new wife Deirdre who used to be Sigurd's wife before being kidnapped and brainwashed.
Doom. By the end of the first episode every single living character, no matter how minor, is confirmed dead. That's every single one of the scientists your crew was sent to check up on, every single one of your teammates no matter what station, and the protagonist himself is killed in the episode finale to boot.
Drakengard's 4th ending does this to all the main characters. Even all the supporting characters are gone.
Odin Sphere ends in Ragnarok - the game's five protagonists must each fight against the five harbingers of apocalypse. Fighting them in any but one order (as hinted at through a series of prophecies) results in everybody dying, regardless of the player winning the fights.
The Good Ending isn't much better. Four of the five main characters survive, but everyone else in the world is dead.
The Manhunt series, where your objective is to kill enemies to rack up points and survive. Very few story characters remain alive by the time the games are completed.
Call of Duty 4 has one of the main characters as well as his entire squad, a pilot he just rescued, and countless other Marines, dying in a nuclear explosion. On the SAS side, the player is forced to watch as his entire squad is slowly killed off before being able to kill the Big Bad once and for all.
In Modern Warfare 2, only three characters of the main storyline survive. The same three that surived the first game. In the Washington side plot, everyone with a name seems to survive.
Planescape: Torment ends with the entire party dead and one's character sent to eternal punishment in the lower planes or erased from existence entirely. It's possible to save everyone but the main character, who goes to his eternal punishment if you do so. And that's the good ending. Though it is implied that he kicks ass in the afterlife, as well.
The Base Defense missions in the middle-late portions of Marathon 2: Durandal have the player scouring a friendly base from evil clones of the friendlies. How to tell them apart (except that clones explode when approached)? Well, the first such mission is called God Will Sort the Dead. Yes, it's a very viable strategy, and on the Xbox 360 port, it's actually necessary for 100% Completion.
Also the Asagi Route; in a divergence from her normal characterization, Asagi spitefully destroys the world, forcing you to start a New Game+ with her on the team.
In Far Cry 2, every named character (except for one) is dead, including all of your buddies and the player character. In fact, you kill them all yourself, other than the Jackal - who was the one you were sent to Africa to kill in the first place...
The losing team in Team Fortress 2 is stripped of their weapons and made to run slower while the winning team gets a speed boost and 100% critical hit chance. Hilarity Ensues.
In the finale of Payload maps, both teams will be usually be near the bomb as it explodes (one team pushing the cart into the others spawn point), usually resulting in both team being killed.
The final mission of Freespace 2 unexpectedly ends with the local star going supernova, and both the player's character and his entire squadron are incinerated. If you replay the final mission forewarned and position yourself near the jump point and can escape before the star explodes, you survive but your team-mates' heroic sacrifice is mentioned in the final cut-scene, implying that it's a bit disappointing you didn't join them.
Most of the lead and supporting cast of the Max Payne games is dead by the end of the second game, with only Max himself and one of the minor secondary characters surviving, unless you beat the game on the hardest difficulty, in which case Mona Sax also survives.
A humongous number of named characters are dead by the end of StarCraft: Brood War, with only 5 characters from the first game surviving (Kerrigan, Jim Raynor, Zeratul, Artanis and Arcturus Mengsk). The Epilogue hints that even all the player characters (with the possible exception of the Protoss Executor) were subsequently killed, either because they have outlived their usefulness or, because of the sequential nature of the campaigns, were on the losing factions.
The actual canon continuation, FEAR 2, isn't much better... Every ally that protagonist Michael Beckett comes into contact with except one dies throughout the course of the game, and Beckett himself is raped by the Big Bad at the very end, his fate after that left hanging.
Shin Megami Tensei I in the Neutral Ending. Starts off an ordinary day in a modern Japanese town setting. By the end, it's just you, the Heroine and the Old Man left alive in the entire world, more or less. The Lawful Ending has God's chosen people Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, which sort of fits. It's averted in the Chaos Ending, but the survivors have a far worse world to look forward to.
Nocturne takes this Up to Eleven in the True Demon Ending as it is a multiversal extinction and creation of a new world is no longer possible.
In the bad ending of Breath of Fire IV, the final boss fight is against your former party members, ending with them all dead, as it's impossible to lose. It's then implied that your character goes on to end humanity as the credits roll over a black background.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 is just heartwrenching. Despite all the multiple endings, only one of them is actually canon, and it's the worst ending possible. In the true ending, Serah dies, then EVERYONE DIES (except for Noel, maybe). And then it's revealed that Lightning has been Taken for Granite. The end.
Lightning Returns clears up some of the confusion though. While it is revealed that not everyone died, a good chunk of the population was eradicated during the Time Crash. And the trailers for Lightning Returns show that Lightning, Noel, Hope, Fang, and even Snow are alive and well, along with some form of civilization.
DEFCON's motto is "Everybody Dies". Appropriate as everybody DOES die as a result of a nuclear war.
Some advanced NetHack players choose to accept the "extinctionist" challenge, a special form of play where you have to drive every single monster to extinction. This can be accomplished by casting an appropriate spell on the monster you want to wipe out, or killing 160 of it. NetHack being how it is, most of those players' characters end up dying anyhow.
The Refusal Ending of Mass Effect 3. Everyone from every civilization in the entire galaxy is killed by the Reapers.
Also the low-EMS Destroy ending, in which the Crucible misfires and causes massive destruction on Earth and presumably throughout the galaxy. While the final cinematic in the Extended Cut shows that some people survived, every main character is implied to die except Admiral Hackett, who is shown to be in a situation where he probably won't be alive for much longer.
Though the correct sequence of choices will lead to only four of the ten crewmen of the Ebon Hawk alive. Darkside female Revan can kill Mission, Zaalbar, Carth, Bastila, Juhani, and Jolee, leaving Canderous, HK-47, T3-M4, and herself alive.
They deleted the Kill 'em All ending from Knights of the Old Republic 2 as well.
Depending upon your interpretation of the ending of Final Fantasy Tactics, it might be just this. Every villain is killed, possibly all of House Beoulve the entire playable cast might have been blown away by the Final Boss's death explosion in the Airship Graveyard, and as for Delita and Ovelia, they have a frank discussion of their mutual differences using knives. Every non-playable character you meet is murdered somehow. By the end the last surviving characters are the ones at Ramza's funeral - and one of them is said to have been executed by the Church in the frame story. Valmafra, Mustafo's dad, and ironically Aerith are the only confirmed survivors. Orran also survived long to have produced at least one son, but is mentioned in the epilogue to have been executed.
In the "bad" ending, the only survivors are Quote and Kazuma
The "good" ending adds to this list Sue, Sakamoto, and Itoh.
The "best" ending, however, is not an example of this trope; as you have killed Ballos and prevented his powers from running rampant, preventing the freefall of the island to the planet's surface, which would otherwise kill everyone on the island, you also save Jenka, Balrog, Misery and a bunch of Mimigas. Everyone who wasn't already dead by the point you fought the Undead Core.
It's quite possible to end Heavy Rain with all of the four protagonists (and quite a few extras) dead.
While few characters are shown dying in Sunset Over Imdahl, the end implies that absolutely nobody within Imdahl's walls got out alive—the few who survived the plague were slaughtered by soldiers and dumped in a mass grave, which is found in a Bad Future that the hero utterly fails to avert.
The prequel game Halo: Reach is named after and takes place on the planet Reach, which in the Expanded Universe has always been described as the humans greatest and most devastating defeat, so terrible that it's not even called the Battle of Reach but usually just called the Fall of Reach. That the Master Chief is always mentioned to be the last surviving Spartan supersoldier and you play as a soldier in a Spartan team makes it clear from the very start how the game will end. Though in fact, additional material confirms that Doctor Halsey was successfully evacuated from Reach, which would indicate that the Spartan sent with her to make sure she would not be captured alive, also survived.
Radiant Silvergun. The game opens with the end of all life on the Earth at the hands of the Stone-Like, with the protagonists conveniently not being on Earth. Guy dies in a senseless(and rather bone-headed)sacrifice, ramming himself into the Stone-Like in a futile attempt to destroy it. Tengai loses it immediately after and does the same thing, his suicide run buying Buster, Reana and Creator time to flee into orbit. Buster and Reana are then teleported to 100,000 BC, and are vaporized in one final flash of light emanated by the Stone-Like. Creator, the sole survivor, permanently deactivates years later. Fortunately, this is immediately after successfully completing and awakening clones of Buster and Reana - the first two human beings, in a bizarre Eternal Recurrence plot.
The ending of Agarest Senki implies that everyone except the party members are going to die. And guess what? This is not the bad ending or the normal ending. This is the TRUE ENDING. Justified because the gods have supported the world and since you just kicked their asses, the world now belongs to the mortals but first, the ones who live at the continents have to die first.
The vast computer system that controls the Precursors of Mega Man Legends. Good thing Mega Man's the only surviving entity that can override it, or else it would've actually happened. Twice.
Not only does everyone die in Digital Devil Saga, the final dungeon is itself the afterlife (which is deep within the Sun!). Amazingly, you can still wrangle a good ending out of this.
Dawn of War 2: Retribution has this occur in the Tyranids' ending: the resurgent Hive Fleet drives off the Inquisition, then proceeds to devour the subsector, killing 94% of all Guardsmen stationed there, and every last loyalist Blood Raven... to say nothing of the billions of civilians in the subsector. The last shot in the ending is bugs as far as the eye can see.
The Chaos ending is similar, with the entire sub-sector subjected to Exterminatus.
The original Dawn of War isn't much better, with the majority of the planet's population either slaughtered or corrupted, the planet itself about to be eaten by a Negative Space Wedgie, and all but three characters dead.
The Ork ending of Winter Assault has every character except Gorgutz and his unnamed Yes-Man dead.
Almost every protagonist in Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is killed off. Technically there are three survivors (and Alex), as the three characters don't die on-screen, though the final character implies that even if they're still alive in the present day, they'll be hunted down for the rest of their lives.
In the Gamecube's Resident Evil (which is for all practical purposes the original RE), everybody but the player could and probably would die. In the worst ending, everyone dies except for the player character. Canonically, Jill, Chris, Barry, Brad, and Rebecca all survive, although this is impossible to achieve in the game.
In Resident Evil 3 the entire city is nuked, killing all but the lucky few who escaped.
Infinite Space has quite possibly the biggest body count in any video game ever. By the end, billions of people and entire planets are dead.
This is more or less the goal of the Dragon Age: Origins expansion pack The Darkspawn Chronicles. In an alternate universe where the Warden dies during the Joining ritual, the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who accompany him/her in the main game must prevent The End of the World as We Know It without his/her leadership. But in this expansion, you play the game as one of the darkspawn - and killing all of these heroic characters is your objective.
Virtue's Last Reward has over twenty endings, a number of which imply a total castpocalypse. Special mention goes to Clover's ending, however, which involves the player character walking in on a room filled with the corpses of six of the cast and promptly deciding to join them. The remaining two characters fates are left ambiguous; Quark is presumably left trapped in the Cryo chamber, whereas K appears to have picked up the deadly virus Radical-6.
Telltale Games's take on The Walking Dead ends with Clementine as the only confirmed survivor. Whether or not Omid and Christa survived is not covered.
As of Season 2 Episode 1,they survived for a few months before Omid was killed, then nearly a year and a half later Christa goes missing and her fate is unconfirmed
By the end of Asura's Wrath Only Mithra lived to tell the tale. Literally, as she is the one who's voice you hear in the next episode previews.
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 has the Conquest ending, in which Nepgear literally kills off every single one of the CPUs and Gamindustri itself will soon crumble.
Power Stone 2 does has meteors rain down from the sky and kill all the players should they take too long to kill each other in sudden death.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution can end up this way depending on your actions, with only Frank Pritchard, Megan Reed, the Tongs and Bob Page as the certain survivors (with all but Pritchard being Doomed by Canon).
Of the key characters who die, Zeke Sanders, Isaius Sandoval, and Faridah Malik can all die if Jensen doesn't intervene. Bill Taggart, Hugh Darrow, David Sarif and protagonist Adam Jensen also die should the player choose the "Cover Up" ending and destroy Panchaea along with most of the protagonists/antagonists.
Spec Ops: The Line has this through all of the endings as part of the heavy anti-war moral; ignoring the fact that most of Dubai is already dead or doomed before the game even begins, or that Walker's team dies before he reaches the conclusion, or the additional probability that the truth could get out and ignite another world war, the player then gets a final whammy depending on the ending chosen:
In the non-epilogue ending, Walker is horrified by a revelation after confronting Konrad, and kills himself out of guilt over his actions, resulting in Walker joining the already huge body count.
If Walker doesn't commit suicide, he is one of the few survivors and the game unlocks the epilogue endings:
Attacking the US squadron that finds Walker and dying means that Walker dies horribly along with the truth.
Attacking the US squadron that finds Walker and surviving only increases the chance of conflict and leaves Walker trapped and alone in a barren desert city.
Surrendering to the US squadron that finds Walker grants the only "happy" ending, but Walker remains shell-shocked and even alludes to the possibility that just because he didn't die doesn't mean he didn't survive.
Max Payne originally kicks this off with Max Payne, Alfred Woden, Vladimir Lem and Vinnie Gognitti being the only major characters to live to the second game (with the Gognitti barely doing so when Max leaves him bleeding to death in an alley).
Max Payne 2 takes this to the extreme, as Woden is shot, Lem is shot and falls to his death, Gognitti is blown up, newcomer Valerie Winterson is shot by Payne, and Mona Sax even comes Back from the Dead only to die yet again. The only major characters that live to Max Payne 3 are Max himself and Jim Bravura (and Jim later dies from a heart condition in the MP3 midquel comic.) Hell, it really isn't too surprising that many fans ignore the third as only Max returns.
OFF's endings both qualify. At most, the merchant, the tutorial's teacher and a Bonus Boss survive. Otherwise, you and the Batter literally pull the plug (or rather, the switch) on the entire world and everyone in it.
In Calm Time, the conclusion to the game ends with almost everybody except the main character dead. The main character was the one who killed everyone else.
Lu Bu's ending in Dynasty Warriors 6 can count. In the final stage, an alliance has been formed against Lu Bu and his men. This alliance has many warlords including Liu Bei, Yuan Shao, Cao Cao, Sun Quan, Zhang Jiao and Dong Zhuo. Even the likes of Liu Yao, Liu Zhang, Yuan Shu, Liu Biao, Zhang Lu and Kong Rong get involved. When their first attack plan doesn't work, they all attempt to attack Lu Bu together. No points for guessing how it turned out.
The bad ending of Tales of Xillia 2 does this by having Ludger turn on and kill off every single member of the party for the sake of his protecting his older brother, who doesn't want to live and needs to die for the sake of the world. You actually have to fight all of them in a proper battle, which understandably isn't easy, with it being one versus eight (Though mercifully, you only have to fight four of them at a time, with replacements coming in as each one falls).
Tecmo's Deception series (and its PS2 sequel Trapt) winds up with almost every single character dead by the end of each game, that's any mook you see, any minor or major character along with the main character too, none of them are safe.
Japan-only Wii game Zangeki No Reginleiv has this as the ending, which is fitting, as the whole story is basically a version of the Nordic Ragnarok mentioned up in Mythology. This tends to make the story a bit of a Shaggy Dog Story, as Frey and Freya fight off the giants and save civilian lives all for naught in the end, with the Giants eventually wiping out everyone but them. Their final battle with Surtur sees him die in a great ball of fire, as in the myth, which consumes everything, but The Stinger implies that Frey and Freya themselves survived, and became Adam and Eve for our world today. Don't try to think about it too hard...
In Fate/stay night's Heaven's Feel route, almost the entire supporting cast, and Saber, the Love Interest from one of the other routes die, and in one ending even Shiro, the protagonist, dies.
Actually, it's not that much worse than the other two routes. Rin, Sakura and one of Ilya or Shirou survive, and none of the minor non-magi characters are known to have been killed. Saber dies, yes, but Rider survives (which isn't true in any other route), and all of the servants bar one die in every route anyway (that's the point of the war). The only person who dies in HF and no other route (other than Shirou) is Zouken, and that's hardly a great loss....
The prequel Fate/Zero is even worse. The protaganist Kiritsugu is diseased, and everyone else except for Kotomine and another main character dies.
The "Submarine" ending plays it perfectly straight, with every other Nonary Game participant dead and covered in blood, before you get knifed In the Back. That's every character killed. Ace feigned death, and the Snake that was dead in Door 3 was not the actual Snake that you met. Snake would probably still die, though.
The "Axe" ending, quite likely. Clover killed Seven, Santa, June and Junpei, and Ace likely killed Lotus to get into door 9. Clover would have killed Ace: she was covered in blood, he had Lotus' bracelet. Word of God states she was unable to work out the kyuu/Q (9/q) puzzle, and burned in the incinerator.
The entire town of Hinamizawa is wiped out in one of the continuities in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (several, actually), and most of the main characters die - generally in horrible and bloody ways - in the other continuities as well.
One of the arcs is actually named Minagoroshi, Mina = everybody, goroshi = to kill. The kill 'em all arc, the official English title is "The Massacre Chapter."
Subverted in Matsuribayashi-hen. It says a lot about the series that not killing everyone could be considered a subversion rather than just an aversion.
In Analogue: A Hate Story, you are sent to investigate a derelict Generation Ship, the entire population of which perished about 600 years ago for mysterious reasons. Long story short, a Human Popsicle from a far more democratic period of the ship's life was made to go through heavy abuse from the ship's noble families and snapped so hard that, as she describes in a diary entry aptly titled "I'll kill them all!", she cut off the ship's life support system, killing everyone including herself onboard.
In Nobody Scores!, the main characters have a low chance of surviving any single comic. As the author puts it, each scenario is a "more or less intricate machin[e], the end result of which is always failure".
College Roomies from Hell!!! seemed to be heading in this direction - with Mike murdered by April and Marsha gunned down by Mike's mother to keep her from killing April... before she could do it herself. They all recovered. For a given value of "recovered," that is, considering that this is CRFH.
Word of God is that Ugly Hill was originally going to end with one of these, but he couldn't bring himself to do it.
Paonia Pawns had a villain literally nuke the entire cast, including all of his fellow "Players". Only five characters out of dozens appear to have survived.
Homestuck is the embodiment of this. Whilst the death of a character is usually a spoiler, it is safe to say that at some point, a character will die. This does not always matter, however, as Death Is Cheap.
In Klay World's movie, 95% of the cast dies at the end. Almost all of the Klaymen, Marv, Mr. Black, Smiling Gary, Vince, all the Aliens, Rick, the armless guy, a news anchor, one of the cavemen at the beginning, Dr. Brown, the ax guy, and the long arms guy, leaving Chip, Pick, and Dr. Bob as the only survivors.
Most of the klaymen are "rebuilt" by the survivors in the end.
In The Demented Cartoon Movie, the ending credits point out that only one character survived the movie. Everyone else died in explosions, head explosions, car accidents, explosions, crushing, and explosions.
The credits were clearly referring to the stick figure who ran off the left side of the screen after watching a car hit a wall and explode. However, since another car came out from that part of the screen, it's possible that he was promptly ran over. And if not, he would've been killed in the Earth-Shattering Kaboom thirty seconds later. Perhaps Mr. Weight would be a more likely example.
There Will Be Brawl ends with damn near the entire cast getting killed off, many of whom die in the last episode.
In City of Unity, the eponymous Einheit City was recently invaded by an army amassed from the remnants of the colonies that were on the losing end of a genocidal war. They're pissed. The city resembles a sci-fi version of the battle of Stalingrad at that point. Character deaths are very, very common.
The premise of Survival of the Fittest (although it's something of a given, considering it is based off of Battle Royale). By the end of the game, only one student it going to be left alive, something which entails the death of over 100 named characters to get to that point. Even then, one of the winners was thrown back into the game and hasn't been heard from since that version's conclusion, and another winner was killed a year after their game.
In the Young Justice episode "Failsafe", by the end the entire Justice Leauge and Team is dead, as is good portions of the world's military, with the exception of Miss Martian and the Maritian Manhunter, who later stabs M'gann in the chest. Thankfully, it was just an Unwinnable Training Simulation, but still.
Arguably subverted with G.I. Joe: Resolute, which promised a high body count and by all means delivered on that promise...with Cobra. While a pretty good amount of known named Cobra characters were killed (some more gruesomely than others) the G.I Joe team was for the most part pretty much intact. The only named G.I. Joe character who was killed is Bazooka, who died offscreen and his corpse is perfectly clean and intact (while some of the Cobras can't quite say the same thing about their fatalities).
Pretty much the ending of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated results with almost all of Crystal Cove, save the gang, dead. However, once Nibiru implodes, it creates a Cosmic Retcon so not only is everyone who died alive, but all of Crystal Cove's mysteries have never happened, created an alternate world in which only the gang remembers the previous one.