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Killer Finale

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In various forms of media, main characters are killed off from time to time. This usually happens in the middle of a work, but not always.

Sometimes, to further the story along and make a lasting impact, a main character is killed at the very end. This leaves the consumer emotionally impacted for years to come.

Sub-trope of Grand Finale. Not to be confused with Deadly Distant Finale.

Since this is a Death Trope, Spoilers Off. You have been warned.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the finale of Angel Beats!, the main characters are the only ones left in purgatory and hold a graduation ceremony to say goodbye to each other before they move on. Everyone is able to disappear besides Otonashi, who remains trapped in the afterlife, alone.
  • Assassination Classroom: The main objective of the series is for Class 3-E to kill Korosensei. Mostly because his unstable cells will blow up the planet. The class manage to find out that won't be the case, but circumstances have Korosensei trapped in a force field that will kill him regardless. After a final battle with Shiro, the scientist who was responsible for his powers, he requests the class Mercy Kill him rather than the military to which they reluctantly carry out after a tearful goodbye.
  • Code Geass: Emperor Lelouch vi Britannia dies in the hands of his best friend, Suzaku Kururugi, who is dressed as the former's alter-ego, Zero. Though the two actually planned this so that the world would finally be reunited as one against the tyrant.
  • Cowboy Bebop: Spike and Vicious square off in a final battle and manage a Mutual Kill, through Spike does manage to kill him first. Spike later drops from his wounds.
  • Death Note: The ending has Light outed as Kira and arrested (manga) or on the run and wounded (anime) with Ryuk writing Light's name into the titular notebook, resulting in him dying.
  • Exaggerated in Space Runaway Ideon, where both Earth and the Buff Clan homeworld are destroyed by meteor showers, and the both the main cast and the remaining members of the Buff Clan are killed during their final skirmish with one another.
  • Exaggerated in Wolf's Rain. In the last few episodes, every living thing on the entire planet dies. Kiba is the last one left alive, but just as he's about to walk into paradise, he turns away as he realizes there's no point now that everyone's dead. He falls through the ice not long after and drowns.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In the final issues, which tie into Crisis on Infinite Earths, a whole slew of supporting characters are killed off including Lauren Haley and Antiope who had each crept their way into being part of the main ensemble over the years.
  • In the run-up to Young Justice and Titans ending, Donna Troy and Omen from the Titans, and Slobo and Secret from Young Justice, were all killed; the former two were killed by Indigo and a rogue Superman robot, while Slobo and Secret were both killed by Darkseid (although, since Secret was already technically dead, she actually reverted to being Greta Hayes, the girl she was before her death.)

    Film - Live Action 
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    Literature 
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The Darkest Hour, the last book of the first arc, ended with the deaths of the main villain Tigerstar and several recurring characters: Darkstripe, Stonefur, Whitestorm, and Gorsepaw.
    • Sunrise, the final book in the Power of Three arc, ends with Hollyleaf seemingly dying when a tunnel collapses on her.
    • The Last Hope, the last book of the Omen of the Stars arc, involves the death of several major characters and supporting side characters, such as the original main character Firestar, Power of Three protagonist Hollyleaf, the ThunderClan cats Ferncloud and Sorreltail, and the spirits of Spottedleaf, Tigerstar, Hawkfrost, and Brokenstar.
    • The final Dawn of the Clans book, Path of Stars, ends with the death of the main character Gray Wing.
  • Many named characters are killed in the finale of The Wheel of Time, which is unsurprising as the series has Loads and Loads of Characters, but among them is Egwene, who has been one of the main characters since the start.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Battlestar Galactica (2003) series finale pulled no punches:
    • Racetrack and Skulls die what a stray asteroid hits their raptor.
    • Helo shoots Boomer dead in a Heel–Face Door-Slam.
    • Tyrol beats Tory to death when he discovers she murdered his wife.
    • Cavil commits suicide when his plans unravel.
    • Anders flies Galactica into the sun.
    • President Roslin's cancer kills her before she can settle on the new Earth.
    • And Starbuck turns out to have been Dead All Along since the previous season, and vanishes.
  • Every series of Blackadder ends with this trope.
    • The first series ends with the poisoning of the entire royal family being poisoned, including the main character.
    • The last episode of the second series ends with a stinger in which the entire main cast is supposedly killed off by prince Ludwig the Indestructible.
    • The third series ends with the death of the original prince regent and Blackadder himself taking his place.
    • The fourth series ends with a famous Downer Ending in which the main characters are sent over the top into No man's land with the implication that they wouldn't have a chance to survive.
  • Big Love: Bill was killed off via Dropped a Bridge on Him after the Time Skip in Season 5.
  • The Call of Warr's final episode ended with a majority of the cast being dead, leaving only Gravesite, Glintz-Terry, and Ashes alive. In order, Killsen was killed by Prince, Durkin and Mabel died exorcizing the demon from Durkin's body while Prince fell on his own knife, and then Vid and Sarah both died in the climax. At the end, most of the deceased characters are shown spending time together, picnicking with Ghost Lady, while the survivors try and recover.
  • In the last episode of Choujin Sentai Jetman, the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue seems to have shown that the heroes have done well for themselves three years after the Final Battle against the Big Bad, with two of them getting married. It ends up becoming bittersweet when one of the heroes, Gai, tries to protect a woman from a mugger, only to get a fatal stab wound for the trouble. Gai end up having one last meeting with his friends at the wedding, while hiding that he was now Secretly Dying.
  • In the finale of Dark (2017) every single major character we've met over the course of the series gets Ret Goned by the correction of the timelines. In the final scene we meet a bunch of new versions of the few characters whose existence wasn't the result of the multiple time loops in the show, and even they are different people.
  • In Desperate Housewives, Mike Delfino gets shot by gangsters who wanted to assault Renee's boyfriend.
  • Dexter: The female lead, Debra died in the Season 8 finale after getting shot but surviving long enough to be declared brain dead. The original ending was initially going to end with Dexter's death via lethal injection, too, but this ended up not happening.
  • Farscape's finale miniseries had Jool be blown up by a Scarran attack, D'Argo is fatally wounded and makes a Last Stand so the others can escape, and Harvey auto-deletes himself after Einstein removes the wormhole knowledge from Crichton's head.
  • Game of Thrones: Daenerys is killed by Jon in the series finale after she goes over the edge and wants to "liberate" the rest of the world by force.
  • In The Good Place, the humans finally have made it to the Good Place where they have newly implemented a door that will allow people to end their existences in order to give their afterlives meaning. Over the course of the episode, everyone in the main four, save Tahani, choses to exit through the door after spending eternity together.
  • Subverted for the Series Finale of House of Anubis, the Made-for-TV Movie "Touchstone Of Ra". From the very beginning of the movie, Eddie told the audience they'd be dying. Then the climax came, and they made their Heroic Sacrifice...and survived. It turned out the only "death" was of the Osirian, not Eddie himself.
  • In the final episode of Oz, Schillinger is stabbed to death by Beecher and Keller commits suicide. It's barely averted by Said and Glynn, who die only a few episodes beforehand.
  • Person of Interest: As Season 5 draws to a close, it isn't a question of who will be killed off, but who won't. In the end, John Reese is the only main character who dies in the series finale. Barely averted with Root, who is killed three episodes before.
  • The Strain (TV series) had no fewer than four deaths in rapid succession. First, Quinlan and The Master (in Palmer's body) engaged in combat which ended with Quinlan mortally wounding The Master. In his dying throes, The Master then savagely beats Quinlan to death and tries to transfer his consciousness to Zach. Eph intervenes and becomes The Master's new host instead, effectively dying as a result. Zach then sets off the nuclear bomb which kills both him and The Master.
  • In the series finale of Supernatural, Dean dies after being impaled (for good this time). By the end of the episode, Sam has died of old age.
  • White Collar: Subverted. Neal is carted off to the hospital in pretty bad shape, and a Time Skip suggests he died. However, Peter eventually figures out he survived. The show ends on Neal living in Paris, having just pulled off the greatest trick he'll ever commit.

    Video Games 
  • John Marston is killed by a firing squad in Red Dead Redemption. You play the epilogue as his son, Jack Marston, but you're not given any story missions (only one stranger mission) and you're allowed to just roam around and finish any buisness you had and 100% complete the game.
    • The prequel, Red Dead Redemption II does the same thing: Arthur Morgan dies at the end (either gets killed or succumbs to his illness), while you play the epilogue as John Marston, the protagonist from the first game.

    Web Animation 

    Web Video 
  • Monster Island Buddies:
    • Subverted in Season 4, which is set up as the final season, centering around Godzilla slowly dying after absorbing the energy of Fire Rodan. He ultimately dies at the end of the season, only for The Stinger to reveal the series wasn't over yet through a Sequel Hook.
    • Played straight in the Series Fauxnale at the end of Season 8, which sees Gojira, Grand King Ghidorah, Destroyah, and Keizer Ghidorah be Killed Off for Real; minor supporting character Mechani-Kong also dies, only to return in Season 9. It's only barely averted with King Ghidorah, Kumonga, and Kamarucas, who die only a few episodes before the finale.
  • Critical Role: Vox Machina: Vax'ildan's bargain for his temporary resurrection comes due when the Big Bad is defeated in the penultimate episode. In the finale, he has enough time to enjoy the party's victory, then vanishes with a manifestation of the Raven Queen.
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    Western Animation 
  • Subverted in BoJack Horseman, where the penultimate episode was about BoJack's Dying Dream, but the final episode reveals that he survived.
  • Regular Show: Pops, being the ultimate good of the universe been having a battle with his brother, Anti-Pops, the ultimate evil. Each battle ended in a tie, which would reset the universe each and every time. To prevent the universe from being reset again, Pops performs a Heroic Sacrifice by lauching his brother and himself into the sun.

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