Audience expectations are that The Protagonist
has Plot Armor
. But like most audience expectations, some writers like to subvert
this. Which leads to the trope title; although it is not quite Exactly What It Says on the Tin
since The Protagonist
does not have to be a Hero Protagonist
for this trope to apply, and this trope does not apply if The Hero
is a Hero Antagonist
. As long as they don't end up bringing the hero back later
, this can also be a good way to show that Anyone Can Die
When this happens in the middle of a work, make sure not to confuse this with Our Hero Is Dead
, Disney Death
, and Not Quite Dead
. However, it can use a different protagonist afterward, either through Take Up My Sword
or switching perspective
When this happens at the end, it is one of the main causes of a Bittersweet Ending
or Downer Ending
. This can mean that The Bad Guy Wins
, or it can be a Heroic Sacrifice
Of course, sometimes the hero's dead from the very start of the story; in that case, see Dead to Begin With
Obviously, since this is a very specific death trope, expect many unmarked spoilers below!
That being said, it's also possible that examples may involve subversions or multiple protagonists.
You Have Been Warned.
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Anime and Manga
- The death of Joe in Ashita no Joe is considered one of the most famous and influential death scenes in all of Japanese fiction, to the point that most of the other anime/manga examples on this listed are at least in some way a nod to it.
- At the end of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hohenheim, the hidden protagonist, dies in front of Tricia's grave. This is not a Downer Ending, however, as he has lived for 450 plus years and did not want to live any longer, having to watch his family die before him.
- Although he decides at the last minute that he does want to live, and then he dies.
- In the finale of the 2003 anime version, Ed is killed by Envy. Al, who is the new Philosopher's Stone, transmutes himself a few moments later to revive him.
- This counts for the second death of Yusuke Urameshi in YuYu Hakusho, not in the beginning when he's Dead to Begin With.
- Jonathan Joestar dies at the end of the first part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, sacrificing himself to take Dio with him. It isn't until part 3 that we find out that his death was in vain, as Dio's head took his body and used it to revive himself.
- Part six, Stone Ocean, ends with the deaths of: Jolyne (the protagonist), Hermes and Anasui (allies), and Jotaro (protagonist of part 3 and Jolyne's father). Two more allies, Weather Report and Foo Fighters, died earlier in the part.
- And yet, they are reborn as new-but-old people in the new universe.
- Death Note has this, depending on who you consider the hero]]:
- Ash is killed by Shin's brother in the final chapter of Banana Fish.
- Spike from Cowboy Bebop, though he may actually be a subversion. While there's a boatload of evidence that Spike is walking up the stairway to heaven, Word of God is that Spike's status is completely open to interpretation.
- In Code Geass, Byronic Hero Lelouch is killed at the end of the series, dying in the arms of his sobbing sister Nunally. Magnificent Bastard that he is, Lulu planned the entire thing to atone for the horrible things he'd done trying to build a better world and to give Nunnally, Kallen, and the rest of humanity a chance for a better future.
- He didn't plan it from the very start of the series, but as things get worse and his actions cause or help cause countless deaths, he has a My God, What Have I Done? moment and decides that the only way he can truly up for all the tragedy he caused is with his own life.
- There is also considerable debate among the fandom as to whether or not he is actually dead. Word of God says that they added the extra scene with C.C. and the suspiciously Lelouch-like cart driver specifically to cause this debate. So it's either subverted or played straight depending on which team (alive or dead Lelouch) you are on (a writer later said he was dead, but he was frustrated at being asked that question constantly, so it's still up in the air).
- Aya was supposed to die in the final episode of Weiß Kreuz Gluhen, but a manga sequel was greenlit and they retconned it so that he survived.
- Legend of Galactic Heroes. Both of them. Yang Wen-Li didn't even make it into the last season.
- The ending to Yu-Gi-Oh! is that Atem passes on to the afterlife, finally freed from the Millennium Puzzle.
- Ichise in Texhnolyze, Along with the entire human race.
- Though inconclusive, the nameless Gun God, the main character of Angel Notes, which is part of the Nasuverse, is possibly dead.
- In Chrono Crusade, the titular Chrono's source of his powers is Rosette's own life, meaning every time he uses his powers it shortens her lifespan. When the series starts, she's not expected to live beyond thirty. And at the end of the manga, when the epilogue skips ahead eight years...
- The anime version still uses this trope, but in a different way - due to having used up so much of her life during the final battle, Rosette's life span is shortened to the point where she only has months to live. Rosette and Chrono both go into hiding, getting their own log cabin to live the rest of their short lives together in peace before dying. Leaving the series here would have made is a Bittersweet Ending - however, it's then revealed that the villain may still be alive after all...
- Phantom of Inferno. In the anime, both Reiji and Ein die at the very last scene.
- The Sky Crawlers. The anime film's Hero goes one-on-one with, and dies at the guns of, the Teacher who was previously known as Lynx/Cheetah, the player character of the Wii game, The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces.
- Witchblade. In the anime, Masane performs a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the Witchblade and every single I-Weapon that crowded around her.
- Toward the Terra ends with Jomy dying side by side with Keith. Except then there's the coda...
- Munsu from Shin Angyo Onshi, aka Blade Of The Phantom Master, dies like a true warrior after the antagonist is killed.
- Wolf's Rain does this with pretty much everyone.
- Goku (who provides the above image) has sacrificed his life twice in Dragon Ball Z; the first time being when he held his evil brother Raditz still for Piccolo to shoot him with his Special Beam Cannon, knowing fully well that he would have to die too. The second time was near the end of the Cell saga: Cell has inflated to massive size and is threatening to blow up the earth. Thinking quickly, Goku uses instant transmission to send Cell and himself to King Kai's planet and stays during the detonation so that the world will be safe. He is resurrected both times.
- In Dragon Ball GT, after beating the final dark dragon. Goku sacrifices himself for one more wish to restore the order of the world before going with the dragon, never to be seen again by his family and friends. The last bit of the anime is his spirit watching his descendants fight in the Budokai tournament before he heads back to the afterlife.
- Captain Noah from Space Carrier Blue Noah dies after saving the world, him being the hero the show is named after.
- Ash Ketchum from Pokémon: The First Movie is killed (or near enough) by a crossfire of psychic attacks. He gets better by a stream of Swiss Army Tears.
- Hagino/Ekaril from Blue Drop. It's all ultimately for nothing.
- The movie adaptation of Macross Frontier. Alto (and likely Brera) are caught in final explosion. And Sheryl is likely doomed to A Fate Worse Than Death ... unless she manages to wake up on her own.
- Madoka from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Several times. She eventually manages to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
- The main character in Millenium Actress dies after telling her life story in an interview.
- Kimba the White Lion has this happen at the ending of each of its adaptations with the exception of the 60's anime sequel and the 2009 TV special.
- In Bakuman。 no one dies in the main story but, Nanamine's Classroom of Truth and the main characters' Reversi kill off their main characters. The former is a Shoot the Shaggy Dog example, in which even he fails to escape the survival tournament for his class. The latter combines is a case of Dying as Yourself, and is seen in-universe as a fitting conclusion to the story.
- The manga Claudine finishes with the main character committing suicide.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has this happen in the first half of the series when Kamina, who at that point was arguably the main character, dies. The story shifts proper to Simon for the duration of the series.
- All the protagonists are dead by the end of Bokurano. In the manga, that is. In the anime, the youngest of the girls survives.
- Blassreiter kills off the entire XAT save Amanda at the halfway mark.
- Both Riki and Iason die in Ai no Kusabi.
- Tomoya in CLANNAD ~ After Story, right after his own daughter dies no less. However, it's undone in the following episode so he can change the events that led to this.
- Late into the Gunslinger Girl manga Henreitta dies. She was already dying and had shot Jose when she flashbacked to the night her family died. Jose shot her and she shot him back. At the time of the manga Triela was more of the protagonist though. She dies too, along with all the other girls.
- The Anime adaptation of Akame Ga Kill kills off The Hero, Tatsumi, in the penultimate episode after defeating the emperor of The Empire the main cast had been fighting against throughout the series. Notably, the anime had diverged significantly from the manga at this point so these events haven't taken place in the latter.
- During the final minutes of the first season of Aldnoah.Zero Asseylum is shot down, though there's doubt to whether she died. The protagonist, Nao, gets shot in the head a moment later.
- V for Vendetta, though he managed to accomplish his goal of bringing down the Norsefire party.
- David Knight in Starman. Not much of a spoiler, since he dies in the first few pages of issue 1 and the rest of the series is about his brother Jack's time as Starman.
- Captain America, who died in his eponymous comic at the end of the Civil War. Well, for at least three years, anyway...
- The Death of Superman (sometimes called The Death and Return of Superman) due to his coming back.
- King Arthur at the end of Dracula Vs King Arthur
- Subverted by Sleepwalker, when the title character seems to make a Heroic Sacrifice to return his Heroic Host Rick Sheridan to life. Sleepwalker probably would have died at this point, but since he's pulled back into Rick's mind as Rick regains consciousness, it's implied that he'll be able to heal himself. Previous issues had already established that when Sleepwalker returns to Rick's mind, he can rest and recover from any injuries he suffers in the human world.
- Transformers: Wings of Honor: Had an interesting take one this, with several of the heroes dying in the first story, including Metalhawk and Over Run, though Dion, who had the most time devoted to him, makes it out. In the sequel, the main characters are arguably Dion and Magnum, and the story ends with both fatally wounded, and one of them, rebuilt into Ultra Magnus, while the other dies on the operating table.
- In the end of Nemesis the Warlock, Nemesis ultimately dies. However he makes sure to take Torquemada down with him once and for all and saves the day.
- Towards the end of Life With Archie: The Married Life, Archie Andrews makes a Heroic Sacrifice by Taking the Bullet for his gay friend (and senator) Kevin Keller, leading to a Downer Ending, or a Bittersweet Ending if the apprehension of busboy and Heteronormative Crusader Wendell counts. Of course, Archie's death was already announced beforehand in April 2014, but not revealed how and why until three months later.
- Ellen Ripley in Alien³. She gets better. Sort of.
- Neo and Trinity die at the end of the last Matrix film, though it isn't a downer ending, since he fulfilled his purpose successfully.
- Nada (played by Rowdy Roddy Piper) from They Live!. His death ends up saving the world however. At the end, he dies giving the camera the finger. Arguably a metaphor for the whole movie.
- This happens in Gladiator, the hero arguably succeeds.
- Lester from American Beauty tells us that he's dead in the beginning of the film.
- Ah Jong of John Woo's The Killer dies without fulfilling his promise to have Jenny's eyes fixed. Wong Hoi, the same triad boss who killed Ah Jong, is finished off by Inspector Li Ying, the other primary hero. But Li is arrested by his fellow officers afterward because he did it in cold blood right in front of them.
- 300: With the sole exception of Dilios, whom Leonidas sent back home to rally Greek support by telling the tale of the 300 Spartans, everyone on the Spartan side ends up dead on the third day of the Battle of Thermopylae. Most definitely not a case of The Bad Guy Wins, since their sacrifice delayed the Persian army long enough for Athens to be safely evacuated before it was destroyed, and for the Greeks to begin their own campaign to drive the Persians out of Greece forever. The movie skips past a year of this campaign during the epilogue, but there's another graphic novel in the works that will be set in that missing year; a movie sequel based on this new novel is coming out in 2014.
- In both the book and the movie of Cold Mountain, Inman dies after making it home to Ada and fathering a child.
- The title character of Carlitos Way is killed just as he is about to reunite with the one he loves.
- No Country for Old Men, in particular the movie, takes full advantage of this trope. Not a Kill 'em All, but definitely a The Bad Guy Wins and a Downer Ending.
- The Three Ten To Yuma 2007 remake ends with the death of the protagonist. After he had survived all the obstacles, too. Not a case of The Bad Guy Wins, though, as even the self-styled heartless villain was touched by his Heroic Sacrifice and stubborn determination.
- Jericho in End of Days. Not a case of Downer Ending, as we clearly see he's headed for a better place.
- The bureaucrat protagonist of Akira Kurosawa's classic Ikiru dies in the neighborhood playground he created to justify his life.
- Possibly Nina in Black Swan, who stabs herself with a mirror shard, thinking she has killed Lily, and completes the performance while bleeding profusely.
- Rooster Cogburn dies of old age in the remake of True Grit.
- In L: change the WorLd, to capture Kira L writes his own name in the Death Note, giving himself 23 days to live. The film is about how he chooses to spend them.
- In The Book of Eli, Eli has succumbed to his gunshot wound by Carnegie and died upon reading all the contents from his memory of the King James Bible to Alcatraz press company.
- John Creasy dies at the end of Man on Fire, but he accomplishes all his objectives by taking out almost all of the kidnapping organization and even saving Pita's life. His death is also a "screw you!" to the bad guys, since he dies before the Voice (the brains behind the operation) can get his hands on him. The Voice himself is killed by Detective Manzano on the same day.
- While it's hard to call the protagonist of Looper a hero, he does give his life to keep the woman safe and her son from becoming a monster in the future. Since he's too far away to keep his embittered future self from shooting the woman, he turns his blunderbuss on himself, and his future self vanishes moments later. The gold further ensures the woman and her son get to lead a better life, so perhaps the boy won't grow up to level cities with his mind.
- The schoolteacher who stands up to the corrupt South African government in A Dry White Season (set during the Apartheid) gets run over by Captain Stolz. The next day, Stolz himself is shot by one of the teacher's friends.
- The Wages of Fear is a French film about a man in South Africa hired to drive a Nitro Express to put out a fire in an oilfield. Out of all the men hired, he's the only one to make it to the oilfield. He gets paid a fortune... and then decides it's a fun idea to drive his truck fast on a winding mountain road. You can guess how this ends.
- While it's hard to tell whether or not the eponymous characters of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in the end, due to its Bolivian Army Ending, the ending itself could be interpreted as anything but ambiguous.
- John Dies at the End. Well, you'd think so, anyway.
- Lincoln: It's about Abraham Lincoln. What do you expect?
- Detective Will Dormer dies at the end of Insomnia. It straddles the line between downer and bittersweet. He redeems himself for his sins and kills Kay's murderer, and he ensures that Ellie Burr maintains her integrity. On the other hand, by doing so Dormer ensures that a large part of his life's work will be undone when his dishonesty gets out.
- Elysium: Max agrees to die so that information in his head can save the rest of the people.
- Jack Harper (Tech 49) did a heroic sacrifice at the end of Oblivion by detonating a nuke within the Tet and destroying it. Fortunately for the heroine Julia, Jack's other surviving clone (tech 52) manage to reunite with her after 3 years of searching the forest house.
- Walt Kowalski dies at the end of Gran Torino. After Spider and his gang go too far and viciously gang-rape Sue Lor, the audience is expecting bloody retribution of Biblical proportions (since this is a Clint Eastwood movie). But Walt, a veteran of the Korean War, knows full well the horrors of killing, wants nothing to do with it anymore, and doesn't want Thao, her brother, to get himself killed or end up with the stain on his soul that comes with killing. Instead, Walt tricks Spider and his gang into shooting him in broad daylight, shattering the code of silence of the Hmong neighborhood which has kept them unpunished and getting the entire gang put away for murder.
- Dr. Olham explodes at the end of Impostor when he realizes that he was in fact the biorobot that the police have been looking for.
- Breacher bleeds to death after being fatally shot in the final shootout in Sabotage.
- Any one who is familiar with the real life story of the 47 Ronin should know how the film is gonna end.
- In Pay It Forward, Trevor dies protecting a kid from some bullies. Nonetheless, his dream of changing the world by doing random acts of kindness lives on.
- Curtis from Snowpiercer pulled a heroic sacrifice by shielding Yona and Timmy from the explosion blast, his body wasn't shown in the aftermath.
- In Ra One, both human hero Shekar and his robotic successor, G.One, die Although G.One comes Back from the Dead; Shekar, attempting to protect his son from Ra.One, and G.One at the climax of the film, to ensure the defeated Ra.One stays dead.
- The heroine of Cat People dies and turns into a black panther.
- The Sixth Sense: Malcolm himself at the end is revealed to be Dead All Along. The film concludes with Malcolm saying goodbye to his wife and moving on to the afterlife after he finally comes to terms with his fate.
Live Action Television
- Fox Mulder from The X-Files. It'd take a page to list just how many times he's been killed and brought back to life.
- There's a rather large amount of jokes associated with how many times Daniel Jackson form Stargate SG-1 has died, and later come back to life.
- Jack Shephard dies in the final scene of LOST, and we even get to see him moving on to the afterlife.
- Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena, after "dying" several times throughout the series, dies for the final time in the series finale.
- Walter White from Breaking Bad dies in the Grand Finale in the very last scene after killing the Aryan gang and taking a bullet protecting Jesse from his own M60 rig.
- Michael Scofield in Prison Break. In the flash-forward at the end of the final regular episode, Michael's friends, wife, and son go to visit his grave. He is revealed to have died via electrocution in the post-show movie, where his brain aneurysm is proven to have returned, meaning his death was a certainty anyway.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy died at the end of the Season 5 episode "The Gift." The next season, they brought her back. She also died at the end of the first season, but only for a few minutes and was revived with CPR.
- When Flower died on Meerkat Manor, the show was completely shattered. Next Generation with Rocket Dog just wasn't/isn't the same... She was their star and the pillar that held the show up.
- Victor "I don't believe it!" Meldrew was stuck down by a car in the finale of One Foot in the Grave. Noticeably, the climax of the episode wasn't his death, but rather his wife's reaction to it.
- Nick Cutter is shot midway through the third season of Primeval
- Robin Hood dies at the end of the third season, joining his wife Marian who had died at the end of the previous season. Despite attempts to set up for a forth season, the show was inevitably cancelled.
- Farscape's John Crichton (one of the twinned two, anyway) died a hero's death at the end of Season 3's two-parter Infinite Possibilities. Luckily, there was a backup "copy" on Moya.
- Doctor Who:
- In "Father's Day", the Ninth Doctor is consumed by Clock Roaches after Rose creates a paradox saving her father. After her father fixes this error, the Doctor and every other victim of the Clock Roaches on Earth return.
- In the episode "Turn Left", the Tenth Doctor is killed in the parallel universe created by Donna's mind after he floods an abandoned Torchwood base with him inside it, creating all sorts of chaos and havoc.
- In "The Impossible Astronaut", the Eleventh Doctor is shot and killed before he can regenerate, afterwards being mourned and cremated, only to show up a few minutes later, completely clueless as to why everyone is so upset. Their past, his future, cue plot arc.
- This could be said to happen to the Doctor every time a regeneration occurs. He more or less states outright in "The End of Time" that regeneration feels like the death of the current incarnation.
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures story Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane, the Trickster makes a deal with Sarah Jane's friend and switches places with 13-year-old Sarah Jane, making her fall to her death. She later relinquished her deal, causing time to return to normal.
- Earth: Final Conflict is a rare case where the hero died at the end of the first season, but the show still continued without him.
- Captain Jack of Torchwood. Repeatedly. Firstly by Dalek extermination on Doctor Who, and over 1300 times (not all chronicled) since.
- Owen Harper is shot by the leader of The Pharm, Aaron Copley, is made undead, and presumably dies again after being trapped in a nuclear plant control room flooded by radiation.
- Toshiko Sato is shot by Jack's brother Gray.
- Ianto Jones dies from a virus inflicted by the 456.
- In Torchwood: Miracle Day, Esther Drummond is shot by the Three Families while temporarily immortal to stop Torchwood from making humanity mortal again. They refuse, and Esther succumbs to her wounds.
- The team fall under the category of this trope because they are all heroes (at least by series 2), and get roughly the same amount of screen time.
- Shinji Kido, the titular Rider of Kamen Rider Ryuki. Got better by way of Reset Button in the finale.
- Jonah Gabriel from The Shadow Line was killed off in the final episode of the series.
- Bill Henrickson bites it in the last episode of Big Love after getting shot by an angry neighbor.
- Merlin has King Arthur die in the end. It's unavoidable, though, given what happens to Arthur in the legends.
- Last Resort sends Captain Marcus Chaplin down with his ship in a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Game of Thrones: Robb Stark, son of Lord Eddard Stark, meets his end in the third season. Unlike the source novels, where Robb is only a significant secondary character, the show gives him considerably more exposure and screentime, putting him in the top five central characters of a wide ensemble series, and making his death that much more unexpected and tragic.
- Blake's 7 removes from the general scheme of things (on a "missing, presumed dead" basis) the group's leader, whose name is in the title of the series, at the end of the second season... and the series goes on for two more seasons! At the very end of which they finally find him again - upon which he is shot by one of his own on the basis of a horrible misunderstanding and the rest of the main cast is subsequently killed off shortly thereafter!
- The horror anthology show Masters of Horror was fond of this one:
- "Dreams in the Witch-House": Walter ends up in an insane asylum after being framed for the baby's murder by the Witch's rat familiar. The familiar then tracks him down and burrows into his chest.
- "Jenifer": Jenifer manipulates the hero into getting himself killed by attacking the cannibalistic woman in broad daylight and getting shot for his trouble by a man who thinks he's just a crazed psycho. The cycle starts anew with Jenifer latching on to another hapless puppet who tries to care for her.
- "Cigarette Burns": Kirby ends up killing himself under the cursed film's influence.
- "The Screwfly Solution": Anne's escape to the frozen north to escape the murderous men ends up being for nought and she freezes to death.
- Spartacus: Blood and Sand has Spartacus killed during the final battle in War of the Damned.
- Boardwalk Empire ends with Nucky being murdered on the Atlantic City boardwalk by Tommy Darmody.
- Sons of Anarchy ends with Jax crashing his motorcycle into an incoming truck and killing himself while being pursued by the police.
- Matoro in the Mahri Nui arc of BIONICLE sacrifices himself to repower the universe. One of the few actual deaths in the series, since most of the other supposedly dead characters turned out to be alive, just stuck on a space station.
- In Doubt Academy, Misaki Watanabe is viewed as the protagonist by many. However, she is the sixth victim, shoved off a balcony and impaled on a candlestick by Nanase.
- Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, obviously since he's the salesman.
- Bobby Strong, the hero of Urinetown, dies midway through the second act.
- Antigone commits suicide out of spite.
- Well, she has been walled up inside a building first. Why she's in there is a matter of dispute.
- The eponymous character of Hamlet. Granted, he doesn't go alone.
- Also Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, Julius Caesar... essentially, the title character of every Shakespearean tragedy (although how heroic they are is a matter of some debate in each case).
- What's interesting about Julius Caesar is that the title character dies halfway through the play, spending the rest of it as a corpse, a ghost and some military inspiration. Whether or not this in fact makes Brutus the hero is up for debate.
- The same applies to the title character of nearly every tragic opera as well.
- The eponymous character of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, along with his partner-in-crime Mrs Lovett, although they're both more like Villain Protagonistss at this point.
- Repo! The Genetic Opera kills off its title character, the Repo Man Nathan Wallace, near the end of the play.
- Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. Also, pretty much everyone else in the cast... except the lovers Marius and Cosette, and the two most horrible people in the entire play - The Thenadiers - who become rich in addition to living. Pretty dramatic example of the trope.
- In RefleX, the pilot of the Phoenix is brutally killed by the ZODIAC Virgo in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- In The Walking Dead, Lee Everett dies handcuffed to a radiator in a police station in Episode 5 after the Twist Ending of Episode 4. With Clementine in the room. She can even do it.
- Luke fon Fabre in Tales of the Abyss...maybe. It depends on whether the red-headed man in the post-credits sequence is him or Asch, or perhaps some combination of the two. Or, to quote Word of God, it depends on who you think it is.
- Walker dies in two of the four endings of Spec Ops: The Line. Depending on the interpretation of the game, he may have died during the In Medias Res helicopter fight at the beginning.
- Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, the sequel to The Longest Journey, has April, the hero of the first game, get unceremoniously stabbed and fall into a swamp. Zoe, the hero of this game, is poisoned by a woman she trusted and falls into a coma. It's not clear if she will ever come out of it. And the third protagonist, Kian, is charged with treason and taken back home to be executed. However, many fans believe that none of them are actually dead. In fact, April learns to breathe underwater in the first game, so she may have survived falling into the swamp. We also learned from the epilogue of the first game that she grows to an old age, so her "death scene" is really moot. Zoe's spirit is shown traveling to another dimension, although that is actually Zoe's ability.
- Borderlands2 has Roland shot in the back by Handsome Jack and he dies instantly. When you tell the major players in Sanctuary about the news, most of them are very heartbroken.
- Dust from Dust: An Elysian Tail is enveloped by the lava of the Everdawn Volcano after defeating General Gaius. In the end his spirit is implied to depart with the Blade of Ahrah, whether to the sword's resting place or a new danger is unclear.
- In Saga Frontier 2, Gustave XIII is killed by monsters in the middle of the story, an event which kicks off two generations of warfare as the empire he built in the first half of the game breaks apart.
- In Avencast: Rise of the Mage, the end is a Heroic Sacrifice to take out the Big Bad for good.
- Sora dies near the end of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance as a result of a (literal) broken heart. Of course, he gets revived after his friends rescue his body from Master Xehanort.
- At the end of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life you die. It's not a complete Downer Ending in that you die of old age and lived a, well, wonderful life.
- Although he's not the main character, Captain Brenner of Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin fits this trope since Will (the star) is simply his sidekick until it happens. He's nuked while holding off the enemy and the focus of the story shifts to Will instead.
- In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Decoy Protagonist Solid Snake drowns aboard the sinking Tanker, prematurely ending his side of the story and switching the perspective to a rookie FOXHOUND operative named Raiden. However, it ends up being subverted near the end of the game with the reveal that Iroquois Pliskin is indeed Solid Snake, and his voice acting and suspiciously-similar mannerisms weren't a coincidence.
- Shirou dies at the end of the Heaven's Feel route of Fate/stay night (Unexplained Recovery in one ending). Saber dies at the end of the route she's the heroine in, after being sent back to her own time and giving up on the Grail.
- The Yarudora game Sampaguita has, in Good End 3, the protagonist Taking the Bullet for his lover Maria. What makes this a Good Ending (unlike Normal End 2, which follows the same sacrifice pattern, but doesn't include the following), is the protagonist awakening as a ghost two years later, and finding that Maria is now safe, and living happily with the baby boy born from her and the protagonist, conceived during the time they were cohabiting. The baby is able to see him, and he manages to make Maria aware of his presence via a power outage.
- The heroes multiple times die in the When They Cry series. Every arc besides a select few end with them being killed.
- In Gravity Bone, Abel himself is shot and killed by the Evil Redhead at the end of the second mission.
- Captain Kaff Tagon and Seargent Schlock in Schlock Mercenary (arguably the two primary characters) are killed and stripped of all memories/former self, respectively. Averted via time travel.
- ...eventually. The strip ran for quite a while looking like leadership of the Toughs was going be by Kevyn, with a degree of awkward mentoring from Tagon's father. Technically, the time travel was mostly required to avert the death of everyone in the galaxy.
- John Egbert's physical self ends up getting killed by Jack Noir. He gets better when his Dream Self replaces him, and in fact this event allows him to reach the god-tiers... and then his god-tier self is also easily killed by Jack Noir. Fortunately, god-tiered characters have conditional Resurrective Immortality.
- All of the kids and all of the trolls, except Gamzee, have died at least once. As of the current plot a lot of characters have died twice, and most of these second deaths have proved to be permanent.
- Act 6 invokes this trope with the apparent death of a newly introduced main character. After about a month, it turned out that she actually did not die, but the fact that the event came out of nowhere certainly shocked readers.
- Transformers: The Movie. Optimus Prime dies.
- And that's just the first example. Optimuses die a lot... *
- Special mention goes to Beast Machines, Where Optimus Primal does indeed get Killed Off for Real at the end.
- At least he takes Megatron II with him and turns Cybertron into a technorganic paradise... and then he leaves Cheetor in charge.
- Transformers Prime has several cases of near-deaths for Optimus Prime, but nothing permanent. Until he dies for real in a Heroic Sacrifice at the Grand Finale of the series. Unlike most versions of the character, his death is the final scene of his respective series and his death also heralds the end of the Prime lineage itself, as he leaves no successors in his name.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang is killed by a lightning blast to the back from Azula. While Aang was ressurected a few minutes later, his death had disastrous consequences. Namely, the Fire Nation took over the Earth Kingdom (their only obstacle to world domination besides Aang himself) and Aang was rendered unable to use the Avatar State until the final episode.
- In Futurama: Bender's Big Score, a future version of Fry named Lars dies because he is doomed by a Temporal Paradox. Time clones being doomed (DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMEEEEEED) is in fact central to the plot.
- The Venture Bros.: The Venture Brothers are killed off in the first season finale. They return in the second season after their memories are put into identical clone bodies. In fact, it's revealed that they've died several times before the start of the series: the boys are so accident-prone that Dr. Venture has an entire room of clones ready in case they die.