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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.

As this is a Death Trope and an Ending Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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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 except Otonashi, who remains trapped in the afterlife, alone. That is, however, if you decide to ignore the potential implication of reincarnation that The Stinger has...
  • 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.
  • Banana Fish: The show ends with Ash getting stabbed by Lao and bleeding to death in the library. And this is just after he decides to see Eiji go home to Japan.
  • 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.
  • At the climax of the final episode of F-Zero: GP Legend, Captain Falcon dies by destroying Black Shadow with an absolutely epic Falcon Punch after Passing the Torch to Ryu Suzaku.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean kills almost the entire main cast before resetting the universe, allowing for the next part, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run to serve as a Continuity Reboot.
  • The first half of One Piece ends after the deaths of Portgas D. Ace and Whitebeard before the second half opens after a two-year Time Skip.
  • The penultimate episode of Sonic X features Cosmo performing a Heroic Sacrifice to save the universe from the Metarex as she urges Tails to kill her to pull her plan off, despite Tails's tearful objections. Afterwards, Shadow performs his own Heroic Sacrifice to help everyone escape with Chaos Control, leaving his fate up in the air.

    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 (1999) 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.)

    Fan Works 

    Film - Live Action 

  • 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 (who returned only the book prior), 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 a huge cast, but among them is Egwene, who has been one of the main characters since the start.

    Live Action TV 
  • The final season of Arrow builds up to the death of Green Arrow, which occurs TWICE during the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event. First to buy the residents of Earth-38 more time to escape, and the second to destroy the Anti-Monitor once and for all with the powers of The Spectre and create a new multiverse.
  • 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.
  • Barry: Both Barry and Noho Hank die in the final episode.
  • Every series of Blackadder ends with this trope.
    • The first series ends with 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.
  • Breaking Bad: The last episode ends with Walt dying from a bullet wound he took Taking the Bullet for Jesse after killing all the Neo-Nazis, although his imminent death was a Foregone Conclusion either way due to his advancing cancer.
  • The fifth season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer ends with Buffy sacrificing herself to protect Dawn, and it was almost the final episode of the series before it was renewed. The first episode of the following season features Buffy coming Back from the Dead.
  • 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 in Season 8.
  • 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 Morgan's death via lethal injection, too, but this ended up not happening. He is instead murdered (though it's only done to spare him of such a fate) by his son Harrison in the finale of New Blood, the sequel miniseries.
  • The Doom Patrol (2019) Grand Finale ''Done Patrol" ends with Rita Farr dying of old age due to it being too late for Immortus to restore her longevity and Cliff Steele fatally succumbing to Parkinson's in spite of his restored longevity after he visits his family during his grandson's first birthday.
  • 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.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • Sadoc Burrows dies in the first season finale.
    • Isildur is also presumed to be dead after going missing.
  • One Foot in the Grave is perhaps notable for being a rare example of a sitcom killing off its main character in its final episode, with Victor becoming the victim of a hit-and-run incident.
  • 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.
  • Power Rangers in Space ends the storyline that started in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers with Big Good Zordon telling Andros to destroy his containment tube that will unleash an energy wave to defeat the United Alliance of Evil once and for all.
  • 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 business you had and 100% complete the game.
    • The prequel, Red Dead Redemption 2 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia's Grand Finale "The Hardest Thing" features Anne Boonchuy dying after performing a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the Final Boss once and for all, only to be brought back to life by divine intervention.
  • Beast Machines ends with Optimus Primal sacrificing himself to defeat Megatron once and for all by tossing them both into Cybertron's core, causing the planet to be reformatted into a techno-organic world in the process.
  • Subverted in BoJack Horseman, where the penultimate episode was about BoJack's Dying Dream, but the final episode reveals that he survived.
  • The first season finale of Hazbin Hotel features Sir Pentious getting Killed Off for Real by Adam before he can make a Heroic Sacrifice, though it’s subverted when later in the episode, Sir Pentious ascends to Heaven.
  • Regular Show: Pops, being the ultimate good of the universe, has repeatedly been forced to 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 launching his brother and himself into the sun.
  • Star Wars Rebels: Kanan Jarrus dies in the final season episode "Jedi Night" to save the other heroes from an explosion caused by Governor Pryce.
  • The penultimate episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)'s fourth season, fittingly named “Requiem”, shows Master Splinter being murdered in cold blood by the Super Shredder, and the following episode begins with his funeral before the Turtles and their allies decide to avenge Splinter by defeating Shredder once and for all.
  • The three-part Grand Finale of Transformers: Animated features the deaths of Prowl and Starscream, with Prowl sacrificing himself to reassemble the Allspark from pieces all around Detroit, including the shard that Starscream was using to stay alive.