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"Everybody wants a happy ending, right? But it doesn't always roll that way… Then again, that's the hero gig. Part of the journey is the end."
Tony Stark, Avengers: Endgame
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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. Your Days Are Numbered is when they knew they are going to die at the end. On the other hand, if the hero Died Happily Ever After or found peace in death, it might even qualify as a Happy Ending.

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Of course, sometimes the hero's dead from the very start of the story; in that case, see Dead to Begin With and/or First Episode Resurrection.

Compare Decoy Protagonist, where the dead hero turns out to be not the real protagonist, who will appear later.

Note: This is both a Spoilered Rotten and a Death Trope, meaning that EVERY SINGLE EXAMPLE on this list is a spoiler by default and will be unmarked. This is your last warning, only proceed if you really believe you can handle this list. That being said, it's also possible that examples may involve subversions or multiple protagonists.


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    Animation 

    Audio Plays 
  • In Sonosuke Harada's CD of the second Wasurenagusa series, the heroine gets stabbed by an angry and petty opponent after she and Harada get ambushed. Take note— this death is notable in that this is one of the only times the heroine meets such an end, in any of the CD sets. This is why it comes off as a huge surprise.

    Comic Books 
  • In V for Vendetta, V is mortally wounded in the final confrontation and soon dies, 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.
  • The Ted Kord Blue Beetle in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, who died uncovering the things that'd lead-up to Infinite Crisis proper by Max Lord.
  • Sgt. Rock is killed by the last bullet fired in World War II… which rather begs the question; how was it Sgt Rock was still around in 1974 when he appeared in "The Brave and The Bold", teaming up with Batman in pursuit of a villain who Batman thought was The Devil and Rock was convinced was… HITLER!
  • Sin City does this in two major stories and a few of the short stories.
  • Spider-Man:
  • Captain America, who died in his eponymous comic at the end of the Civil War. Well, for at least three years, anyway...
  • Superman:
    • In The Death of Superman, the Man of Steel fights Doomsday to the death (the story is sometimes called The Death and Return of Superman due to his coming back).
    • It also happened to his New 52 incarnation in The Final Days of Superman, though Superman Reborn revealed he and the "pre-Flashpoint" Superman were really the actual pre-Flashpoint Superman split into two and both remerged at the end of the story.
    • In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Supergirl sacrifices herself to destroy the Anti-Monitor, and dies in her cousin's arms. Although she fails to kill the Big Bad, her sacrifice saves Superman, saves momentarily the last five surviving Earths, and gives the surviving heroes time to regroup and come up with a new strategy.
    • She also gets killed by Cyborg Superman in "Be Careful What You Wish For", although she gets brought back to life in that same storyline.
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton Kara sacrifices herself to take Worldkiller-1 with her. Though, the baddie hurls her into the Sun, and the sudden influx of solar energy restarts her still heart.
    • Valor: The young version of Lar Gand who had been the star of his solo is killed by Glorith, he's replaced by a much older version of himself who'd been time traveling in a failed attempt to patch the very large break in the timestream his early death causes, and then that version allows himself to fade out after Shadow Lass dies.
    • The whole original Legion of Super-Heroes dies and fades from existence during Zero Hour.
    • Previously, Lightning Lad died in The Death Of Lightning Lad saga in order to save Saturn Girl.
    • In The Death of Superman (1961), Kal-El gets permanently killed by Lex Luthor.
  • 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:
    • 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 Transformers (Marvel), Optimus Prime himself at the end of Regeneration One. Rather fittingly he dies in the arms of Rodimus who, thanks to Prime's teachings, will go on to become the new hero. However, the same issue shows Rodimus himself dying of old age eons later.
    • In The Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Optimus sacrifices himself to destroy Unicron in the eponymous mini-series, and the final issue of the series, Post, focuses on him reflecting upon his life during his last moments.
  • 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.
  • All Fall Down ends with Sophie dying and No Ontological Inertia averted.
  • Dara Brighton dies at the end of The Sword as all the injuries that the eponymous magic sword healed her of come back once she has lost the sword. Since dying means that she gets to be with her family again after having killed the elemental demigods and saved the world, it's not really such a sad ending.
  • Paulie dies at the end of Circles. Sadly, due to a drunken night, he contracted HIV from his friend Keith and over many years lived healthy until he succumbed to a rare form of leukemia.
  • Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan disintegrates Rorschach to prevent him from informing the public of Ozymandias' plan.
  • Age of the Wolf: In the final arc Rowan is blown up while cradling her adopted daughter as the werewolf curse that brought about the destruction of civilization is being reversed.
  • Project Superpowers: Chapter One ends with Fighting Yank dying in order to become part of the American Spirit, granting him the power he needs to save the other heroes from a trap.
  • The Mighty Thor spin-off Thunderstrike ended with Erik Masterson dying to stop Seth and the Bloodaxe.
  • Batman: Thrillkiller: Robin is poisoned by Bianca.
  • The Transformers: Unicron ended with Optimus Prime sacrificing himself to stop Unicron, after many other Transformers sacrificed themselves before that, including Soundwave, Elita One, the Mistress of Flame, Blurr, and even Starscream.
  • The Walking Dead protagonist Rick Grimes was gunned down by Sebastian Milton in Issue 191. He reanimates in the following issue and is then mercy killed by his son Carl, who promptly takes over as the protagonist.
  • Wolverine got this twice:
    • The classic Wolverine died after losing his Healing Factor and being coated in liquid Adamantium in Death of Wolverine. It didn't stick as Marvel Legacy saw his return (sort of) and the details where revealed in Return of Wolverine as Persephone's ability to animated dead people unintentionally reactivated his healing factor, resurrecting him for real. And Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1 revealed the Wolverine who did show up in the titular one-shot of Marvel Legacy was really Old Man Phoenix (an old Wolverine with the Phoenix force) from Jason Aaron's Thor run.
    • The Old Man Logan ongoing culminated in the miniseries Dead Man Logan, which ends with what the title suggests: Old Man Logan dead as a result of his injuries, the use of the Regenrix drug destroying his healing factor, and the Adamantium poisoning all taking their toll on him.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): The prophecy that led to Artemis' death eventually led to Diana's as well, at the hands of Neron. While her death was tragic and attracted the attention of the wider superhero community it didn't last long as Athena was able to step in and manipulate her parents into supporting her return as a goddess, from which Diana was then downgraded back to human.
  • While it's due to its nature as an Elseworld story, the last chapter of the Batman Vampire trilogy sees many deaths—including Bruce Wayne himself (granted, he was a Fallen Hero by that point, having given into vampirsim). In fact, Bruce's death is the last death shown.
  • Captain Marvel's death was detailed in the one-shot The Death of Captain Marvel, revealed to be the result of the battle between him and Nitro in the latter's debut.
  • The Flash Barry Allen exerts so much kinetic energy in Crisis on Infinite Earths in order to stop the Anti-Monitor's machines that his cells break apart and his body totally disintegrates.
  • Dark Souls: The Age of Fire: Arkon's fate is to be just another Black Knight whom the Chosen Undead defeats.
  • A good chunk of Stormwatch died in the Wild C.A.T.s (WildStorm)/Alien crossover, killed by the Xenomorphs in various ways with some of the survivors going on to form The Authority.
  • In the IDW Beast Wars comics, Razorbeast is forced to be euthanized due to the Angolmois he was injected with making him too dangerous for both friend and foe, especially with no enemy to fight.
  • Nnewts: At the end of the final book, Herk dies putting all his energy into a spell to destroy the Chillingwrath. He is reunited with his parents in the afterlife.
  • The first volume of Vigilante, chronicling the adventures of Adrian Chase ends with Adrian, having sunk into depression over various issues including a number of people who died taking up the Vigilante moniker after his retirement, his identity becoming public knowledge, and even a Heel Realization that he became a Fallen Hero, drove Adrian to shoot himself in the head.

    Fan Works 
  • John Freeman dies in the final chapter of Half-Life: Full Life Consequences, having stayed behind to fight the Combines while his son evacuates, and being caught in the "hug tower's" explosion. He gets a statue out of the deal, and his son becomes president.
  • Flechte dies at the end of I Did Not Want To Die, in one of the most heartbreaking instances of this trope in fanfiction.
  • The main character dies in the Pokemon fanfic No Antidote.
  • In A Sad Story, Harry Potter dies.
  • In Clash of the Elements, Alex Whiter dies at the end of Part 2, sacrificing his life to destroy his Evil Counterpart Chaos Alex.
  • Bubbles in the third of the Immortality Syndrome series, Solitary Vigil while succeeding in fixing the past.
  • Some Semblance of Meaning: at the end of the 44th Hunger Games, Vale dies, leaving Obsidian as the winner of the Games.
  • The Naruto fanfic Going Sideways by Taiko Hawk has Sakura dying in a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Being Dead Ain't Easy, Joey Wheeler dies in the very first chapter. The story centers around his un-life as he tries to figure out what happened and how to fix it, if he can.
  • In Zelda's Honor, Link himself dies not once, but twice. The first time, his resurrection comes with a Deus Ex Machina plot device via Navi; however, the second time he dies, it is for real.
  • The Hey Arnold! Dark Fic Hey Arnold: the Furnace, Arnold is murdered at the hands of Sid and Harold because Sid spilled the beans about them murdering Stinky.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, the story is structured like a game of GURPS, allowing the readers to choose what happens next. The author warns them that poor decisions can potentially lead to Izuku's death, as shown by the ominous "achievements" at the end of certain battles.
  • In Ashes of the Past, Ash has died a few times over the course of the fic, from dying of blood loss while fighting Mewtwo himself, blocking attacks from the Primals, and getting vaporized by Primal Dialga. Luckily, he has Ho-Oh's Sacred Ash to bring him Back from the Dead, but he only has so much of it...
  • A few times during the course of Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, Varric (the narrator) has excellent reason to think that the Inquisitor has died for one reason or another, and while he acknowledges that a good story often involves a heroic death, this isn't the story he wants to tell.
  • The Black Stallion starts with the black stallion coming for a pony. As it turns out, he's there for the protagonist, who is killed by a hungry nyru.
  • In NUMB3RS story Don Eppes, Don dies after being taken off life support after being shot multiple times while trying to save some kids and flatlining twenty minutes earlier.
  • In Destiny of a Savior (a crossover fanfiction between Yu-Gi-Oh! and Harry Potter), Yugi Muto dies in his attempt of protecting Ryou Bakura from Narcissa Malfoy's killing curse during The Battle of Hogwarts. His death provides enough distraction for Harry to outdo Lord Voldemort by probably few milliseconds in a wizard duel, giving him slight advantage. Apart from several Yu-Gi-Oh!'s characters involvement, Voldemort's fate is the same as in the seventh novel.
  • In Under the Big Top, Castiel dies by suicide at the end of the story.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: After wresting back control of his body from Darth Nihilus' Demonic Possession in the penultimate chapter, Jaune Arc kills himself with his own sword so Nihilus will no longer be able to continue using his body to harm his friends. This succeeds in stopping Nihilus and the epilogue reveals that Jaune gets remembered as a hero by the public for his sacrifice.

    Films — Animation 
  • In All Dogs Go to Heaven, Charlie B. Barkin dies saving Ann Marie when the watch which revived him gets broken in the water. He gets to talk to her one last time in spirit form, however.
  • All-Star Superman: Superman flies into the Sun as he dissolves into pure energy, replenishing the star and keeping Earth alive.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: The Peter Parker of the current universe dies in just his second appearance. He's soon replaced by Miles Morales and several versions of himself from across the multiverse.
  • Tangled opens with Flynn Rider, as the narrator, telling the audience that "This is the story of how I died." By the end, it turns out to be half-true.
  • In Transformers: The Movie, Optimus Prime dies.

    Literature 
  • Leslie Burke from Bridge to Terabithia is the kind, positive, and energetic heroine of the story who dies in a very bittersweet ending so the main protagonist could mature.
  • Amelia from Future History does this in the very first chapter, but the story continues due to this being simply a memory from her future.
  • Sherlock Holmes in "The Final Problem." It didn't stay "final" for very long due to fan outcry.
  • Paul from All Quiet on the Western Front is killed in battle just before the Armistice that ends World War I. Actually everyone dies pointlessly over the course of the book.
  • The Dresden Files Harry Dresden as of the end of Changes. He then spends the next book, Ghost Story, solving his own murder. As a ghost.
  • The novelization of the original Mobile Suit Gundam, aside from many other differences from the plot of the anime, has Amuro Ray die several chapters before the end of the book. Despite Yoshiyuki Tomino's reputation as "Kill 'Em All Tomino", he said that he only did it because he thought it would be a single complete story and that if he had planned on making sequels from the start, Amuro would have lived.
  • 1984. Winston and Julia are caught, tortured and Mind Raped by O'Brien, a guy who was supposed to be their link to "the Brotherhood," but is actually a member of the Inner Party. They are broken so thoroughly that all love that they had for each other is dead (particularly since the two were forced to betray each other through means of Room 101, which faces them with their worst fear — for Winston, it was rats, though since the story is in Winston's perspective, we never do find out what Julia's worst fear was), and then executed by being shot in the back of the head. Not just a Downer Ending, but a Shoot the Shaggy Dog, given the last four words: He loved Big Brother. The film version interprets the bullet in the metaphorical sense. We see Smith alive at the end, declaring his love for Big Brother and maybe even rationalising why, on a planet wracked by perpetual three-way war, the system under which he lives is necessary.
  • Outbound Flight: Lorana Jinzler, the only unambiguously good character in that half of the novel, died in a Heroic Sacrifice. The other major characters, who might be called heroes, survived — but Thrawn and Car'das and Doriana weren't entirely good people.
  • In Firewing, Shade the Bat kills himself in the Bat Underworld to give his son, Griffin, and his friend, Luna, life force to feed on and become living, breathing bats again. In the end, he still survives, but in the form of the foliage of the forest floor. When he's dead, he flies around the world and can be anything he wants to be.
  • Jean Valjean dies at the end of Les Misérables. However, it's the culmination of a long life during which he achieves sainthood, so rather a necessary part of the novel.
  • The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar: Guess what the Persian translation of the main character's new official title is? Yeah.
  • In The Last Chancers last novel, Kage, possessed by a Slaaneshi daemon, decides to commit his first ever act of altruism and jumps off a cliff to his death, taking the corrupt governor with him.
  • Parrish dies at the end of Parrish Plessis, committing suicide when she realizes even her Heroic Willpower isn't able to hold off The Corruption any longer.
  • In The Plot, Jacob is drugged by his wife Anna and then given a lethal overdose. Anna then reveals herself to be Dianna, Evan Parker's sister upon whose life his story and later Jacob's book Crib is based on.
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles: David dies at the end of Firestar. Initially, this looked like it would be the end of the series, making it an unusually harsh ending for a book aimed at the 8-12 bracket. The series did creep on, and David came Back from the Higher Plane of Existence, with the implication being that he became one with God(ith) and saw all the knowledge in the universe through his daughter's eyes, but if unexpected, the ending of Firestar can be a real punch.
  • Nathaniel dies in the third and final book of the The Bartimaeus Trilogy, resulting in a Bittersweet Ending, Tear Jerker and Heroic Sacrifice all in one.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin: Tom is whipped to death by the plantation owner.
  • At the end of The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré, Jerry Westerby goes into a dangerous situation to try to rescue his love interest, who is tangled up with the bad guys, and is killed. It underscores his status as the "honourable schoolboy" of the title, too straightforwardly honourable to survive in the murky world of espionage.
  • Antony and Galen in the second and third books, respectively, of Marie Brennan's Onyx Court series. Technically, all the mortal heroes of the series could count, as given the large time skip between books, the hero of the previous one is always dead by the time the next one comes around, but Antony and Galen get special mention for dying during their respective stories.
  • In Phantastes by George Macdonald, this is the happy ending.
    I was dead, and right content.
  • Dragons of Requiem:
    • Benedictus is the main character of the Song of Dragons trilogy. He's killed at the end of the second book, which is aptly named Tears of Requiem.
    • King Elethor is the central character in the Dragonlore trilogy. He sacrifices his life to kill Queen Solina at the end of the third novel.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas; both Bruno and his Jewish friend Shmuel die in the concentration camp. The last scene focuses on Bruno's father, realising he basically caused his own son's death, and crying.
  • The Fire Thief Trilogy has Prometheus trying to find a human hero to prove that him giving fire to humans was a good thing, while chased by the Avenger. He has to uncover a hero to the city he visits by traveling through time, only to discover that through some back tracking, he's the hero the town celebrates. The avenger crushes his body and takes him to the afterlife after a few good-byes.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The main character of the series, Firestar, dies in The Last Hope, the last book of Omen of the Stars.
    • Hollyleaf, one of the heroes and point-of-view characters, appears to die in Sunrise: during a chapter that isn't from her POV, she runs into a tunnel and it collapses on her, and her brothers find no sign that she's alive. Turns out she survives, but she dies for real as well in The Last Hope.
    • Gray Wing in Path of Stars, the last book of Dawn of the Clans, right after getting a mate and kits.
  • House Stark in A Song of Ice and Fire are probably the closest the series has to a Good Guy faction, and suffer mightily for it:
    • Patriarch Eddard "Ned" Stark is tried on trumped-up charges of treason, and while he was originally sentenced to be banished to the Wall Joffrey changed his mind and had him executed instead.
    • Robb, his heir, was betrayed at the Red Wedding and and killed by agents of Houses Frey and Bolton along with his wife. His mother Caitlyn was murdered soon after, but got better. Sort of.
  • Turin from "The Children of Húrin" ends up throwing himself on his sword after finding out his pregnant wife was his sister Nienor and she has killed herself upon finding out. His father Hurin later throws himself into the sea. Some other writings of Tolkien claim Turin will come back to life to kill the dragon Ancalagon the Black or Morgoth who had cursed his family but this is unclear.
  • In Andrey Livadny's Serv-Battalion, the entire battalion is wiped out in the end. However, their serv-machines absorb enough of their memories that, after they're recovered from the battlefield. their AIs eventually start exhibiting characteristics of their former pilots. After a while, the minds of the dead pilots are "reborn" in the AIs, and the epilogue has them return to save the creator of the AIs.
  • Piccadilly of the Deptford Mice trilogy is clearly more experienced and heroic than the other characters from the start, and in the third book starts gaining a lot more plot attention which results in him eventually being elected as the leader of the forces fighting against the Big Bad. His sexual tension with the central heroine even starts going into overdrive, and he's eventually chosen to be the one to carry the MacGuffin and use it against said Big Bad. One climatic fight against The Dragon later and... the MacGuffin fails to work and the Big Bad kills him dead with a single attack.
    • Oswald Chitter also gains a lot of attention in the book, and indeed graces the cover. He spends a lot of time looking for another MacGuffin, and eventually turns up at the climax with it. He at least gives the Big Bad a fight, before dying from a Heroic RRoD.
    • Vespertilio the bat from The Oaken Throne, a book in the prequel trilogy, is the male lead. He is cursed by the high priest of Hobb, and is fated to die at the sound of bells. Subsequently, he is terrified whenever he hears any. In the end, Vesper is poisoned by the ghost of the defeated high priest, and his body lies among rustling bluebell flowers.
  • Utopia 58 ends with Kay failing to flee the White Army and getting subsequently captured and later executed.
  • Almost every hero in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy ends up dead by the last page of the final book.
  • Frankenstein: Victor dies of an illness on Walton's ship.
  • The Stranger: His death is not depicted, but Meursault knows he's going to be executed at the end.
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, Ehiru, the main protagonist and object of the story in The Killing Moon, inevitably dies after having become a Reaper by neccessity and to make space for Nijiri to become a Gatherer.
  • Harry Potter learns in the final installment that his entire life has led up to one thing: willingly allowing Voldemort to kill him, as he is a Soul Jar for Voldy and his death is necessary to defeat Voldy. And then it ends up subverted as Voldy destroys the piece of his own soul inside Harry but fails to kill our hero, allowing him to come back and defeat Voldy once and for all.
  • In Misery, writer Paul Sheldon invokes this in his last planned entry in his pulpy romance Misery series by having the heroine die during childbirth. He just wants to move on and write "mature" stories. Unfortunately Misery's biggest and craziest fan finds out and isn't happy. Not one bit.
  • Takashi Yanase:
    • The Japanese children's book The Kindly Lion/The Gentle Lion (known as Yasashii Lion) ends with the main protagonist (an escape circus lion) and his mother (a dog) getting killed by a group of policemen.
    • The Rose Flower and Joe (Bara no Hana to Joe) ends with Joe the dog and a sentient pink rose dying together near the end of autumn.
    • It's implied that Chirin from Chirin no Suzu (known as Ringing Bell) died alone as an adult ram by the end of the story.
  • The third book of the Divergent trilogy kills off Tris, the narrator of the first two books and co-narrator of the third. The rest of the book focuses on Four as he comes to terms with her death.
  • Feed: Narrator Georgia is killed near the end of the book, and POV switches to Shaun. She does come back near the end of the following book, Deadline, via cloning and memory transfer.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Jesus from The Bible. Don't worry, he gets better.
  • Samson and Delilah: Samson pulls the Temple of Dagon down upon him and the entire Philistine nobility.

    Podcasts 

    Roleplay 
  • 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.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, quite a few prominent heroes end up dying over the course of the story arcs.

    Theatre 
  • 1789 ends with Ronan dying at the Bastille. Averted in the second season of the French Production where they killed off Olympe instead.
  • The Crucible ends with John Proctor being hanged as a witch.
  • Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, obviously since he's the salesman.
  • An example of The Villain Protagonist dies: Don Giovanni dies at the end of his play. This leads to the Aesop of the play, which is "the death of a sinner always reflects his life".
  • 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 title character's death in Hamilton is even blatantly stated near the end of the first song, with Burr's line being a very straightforward way of mentioning it.
    Burr: And me?/I'm the damn fool that shot him
    • Everyone died, considering all of this happened a few centuries ago, but only Hamilton plus his best friend John Laurens and son Philip]] die in the timeline of the show. Washington does die off-stage, but no mention is made of it until "The World Was Wide Enough", when he's one of the people Hamilton sees in heaven, along with Laurens, his mother, and Philip. His sister-in-law Angelica and wife Eliza also pass away during the finale, but due to the nature of the end (that the actors step out of their character and into their role as present-day actors telling the stories of the founding fathers) that's kind of a given.
  • 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.
  • Repo! The Genetic Opera kills off its title character, the Repo Man Nathan Wallace, near the end of the play.
  • 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 Protagonists at this point.
  • Bobby Strong, the hero of Urinetown, dies midway through the second act.

    Toys 
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night:
    • In the Fate route, Saber gives up her quest for the Grail and returns to the moment in time when she made a pact with the World at the moment of death. No longer removed from the course of history, her original body is allowed to die for real. (Granted, that doesn't stop her from being summonable. The Grail system is like that.) The Realta nua epilogue also shows Shirou's spirit, after a lifetime of struggle and hardship, reuniting with her in Avalon after his own death.
    • Shirou dies in the Normal End of the Heaven's Feel route and the finale depicts Matou Sakura dying herself, having waited years in vain for him "to come back."
    • Illya survives the Grail War in a few of the scenario ends but, even when she does survive, she probably only has a few years of life left due to her circumstances. She is killed onscreen in the Unlimited Blade Works scenario and makes the best of it at the end of the Heaven's Feel True End when she uses herself as the completed Holy Grail to perform the titular Third Magic and save Shirou's life.
  • 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.
  • In Gravity Bone, Abel himself is shot and killed by the Evil Redhead at the end of the second mission.
  • In the CLANNAD spin-off/sequel Tomoyo After, Tomoya undergoes surgery to cure his repeating amnesia and although the surgery itself is successful, Tomoya dies moments latter due to the surgery's complications.
  • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, the original player character and heroine, Kaede Akamatsu, only gets to be the heroine for Chapter 1 before becoming the second student to die in the killing game. When she tried to set a trap to kill the Mastermind, the trap (supposedly) killed another student, Rantaro Amami, by mistake. (However, it's later discovered in Chapter 6 that Rantaro's true killer was the Mastermind herself, who framed Kaede for it.) Once it becomes apparent in the Chapter 1 trial that Kaede is (apparently) the killer, the point of view switches to that of her best friend Shuichi Saihara, who becomes the new protagonist for the rest of the game as Kaede is executed at the conclusion of the Chapter 1 trial. Shuichi himself subverts this trope, since while he and the other students besides the mastermind are prepared to give their lives to end the killing game for good and seemingly perish as a result, he and two others ultimately survive.
  • Heart of the Woods is a bit of a complicated example, depending on what ending you get and whether you consider Madison or Morgan the true protagonist.
    • If you consider Madison, the officially advertised protagonist and the one you play as most often, to be the main character, then this trope is zig-zagged. Near the end of Chapter 2, the Big Bad tricks Madison into running out into a blizzard and freezing to death, but Abigail saves Madison's soul. In two of the three endings, Madison comes Back from the Dead, but in one bad ending, the death of Geladura, the Fairy Queen, means that Madison, the temporary Fairy Queen, must play that role in her stead. As a result, Madison and Abigail disappear after the final battle and are never seen again, although Tara believes that the two of them are still alive in a sense.
    • If you consider Morgan the main protagonist, since she's the one who makes all the critical player decisions that determine the ending, the other bad ending sees Morgan perform a Heroic Sacrifice to defeat her mother.
    • The Golden Ending averts this, since all of the heroines survive.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 
  • Nana from Nana's Everyday Life, who dies alone in an abandoned alley. Considering how much of a living hell her life was, being allowed to die in peace is almost a mercy.
  • 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.
  • Homestuck:
    • 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.
    • In the Meat route of the dubiously canon The Homestuck Epilogues, John is Killed Off for Real taking down Lord English once and for all.
  • In Irregular Webcomic!, Death is Both Cheap and a Running Gag. That said, one particularly notable example is when the author announced that he was going to permentantly kill off a major character, and ends up doing so to himself (not in real life, obviously).
  • In The Order of the Stick, Roy confront Xykon solo during the epic Battle of Azure City. It doesn't end well. Luckily for Roy, the story takes place in a Dungeons & Dragons-based world, where death in battle is a temporary setback as long as somebody cares enough (and can find enough money) to resurrect you.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Transformers: 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. Then subverted again in Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2015), where he returns in a new, more powerful body, and thus a new toy for the kids.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang is killed by a lightning blast to the back from Azula. While Aang was resurrected 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.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Korra's uncle Unalaq kills the previous incarnations of the Avatar and the Avatar spirit and ends the reincarnation cycle. Korra survives and defeats Unalaq but the Avatar as we know it is dead (Korra does reunite with a reformed Raava at the end of the episode, indicating that she's now the first Avatar of a new cycle).
    • Although this was a Foregone Conclusion, Avatar Wan dies on a battlefield at the end of his two-part flashback episode, immediately followed by the cry of the baby Airbender Avatar.
  • All eight protagonists of Drawn Together are permanently killed by an eraser bomb thanks to Spanky Hamm's antics in, "The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie".
  • 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.
    • Fry also falls to his death a number of times in "Meanwhile" while trapped in a time loop.
    • In "The Late Phillip J. Fry", another future version of Fry is crushed to death by a time machine.
  • 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.

    Real Life 

 
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The Death of Alex Murphy

Officer Murphy is rushed to the ER, where his life flashes before his eyes as he dies.

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