10 Shonen Anime with surprisingly sad endings

10 Shonen Anime with surprisingly sad endings

Shonen anime can be very versatile; while known for high-octane, action-packed stories, it has also been able to dip its toes into other genres, such as comedy, drama and horror. That being said, some of the most famous shonen anime are relatively positive and tend to end on a high note for the characters.

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Unfortunately, not all shonen stories can be so lucky, as there have been more than a few that have a truly surprising decline, and some of them are from anime you’d least expect on the surface. From bittersweet to downright outrageous, no one could have seen these sad anime endings from watching the first episode.

10/10 Yugi & Pharaoh’s story is coming to a bittersweet end


Given all the over-the-top trading card duels that Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise is known for, it’s generally a pretty positive series, even with its darker elements. Still, the original series knew how to pull at the heartstrings near the end when Yugi and the Pharaoh had to say goodbye.

After Yugi defeats his alter ego in a final duel, Pharaoh says goodbye to him and all their friends. Pharaoh assures them that their bonds will last forever, reaching the afterlife just before the Temple and the Millennium Artifacts are buried forever. While it’s not the last time viewers will see Yugi or the Pharaoh, the first ending to their adventure was nothing short of bittersweet.

9/10 Simon wins everything and then loses everything too

Gurren Lagann

While Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann had its share of disturbing moments throughout its run, it’s generally an uplifting mecha anime with epic action scenes and themes of believing in yourself to face any challenge. Yet, the end sees protagonist Simon hit massive highs and devastating lows all in one go.

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While Simon manages to win the day and marry Nia, she disappears soon after, and Simon commits to wandering the world as a nameless drifter while humanity continues its progress. Even if he takes all of this in stride, it’s a pretty sad way to end the journey of a great hero who rose from nothing.

8/10 Goku says goodbye to everyone and then rides off into the sunset

Dragon Ball GT

Dragon Ball GT is somewhat of an infamous entry of this iconic anime series, but surprisingly it has an almost definitive ending that Dragon Ball’s ever received. After Goku defeats the last of the Shadow Dragons, Shenron decides to take the Dragon Balls with him to prevent another disaster like the Shadow Dragons from happening again.

Goku decides to leave with Shenron, saying goodbye to all his friends one last time before disappearing into the sunset. This episode recalls events from the original Dragon Ball, Zand GTand period Super would bring Goku and the Z-Fighters back into the spotlight years later, this really felt like the end.

7/10 Jonathan and Dio go down with the sinking ship

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is many things, from weird, action-packed and at times horrifying, but the series has managed to fit in more than a few sad moments. Phantom Blood’s The ending may be one of the saddest the series has ever seen. After marrying Erina, Jonathan and his new bride are attacked by Dio, who manages to land a fatal blow on his stepbrother.

Jonathan saves his wife, and an orphaned baby holds Dio down, dying as the ship sinks into the sea. This wasn’t the end for Dio, but it sure was a sad one for Jonathan. Even though he was torn away from him forever, Jonathan was a “true gentleman” to the end.

6/10 The Shiki are dead, but at what cost?


Even a horror story full of bloodsucking monsters that Shiki found a way to end on a low note. Death comes for the Shiki as the villagers hunt them down and kill them one by one without mercy. The fire eventually consumes the village, forcing the surviving villagers and Shiki to flee.

Even though the humans triumph against Shiki, their village still ends up being destroyed anyway, making all the violence and bloodshed for naught. It’s a bleak and open finale that casts doubt on who the real monsters really are. It could be the undead Shiki or the villagers who dehumanized their neighbors.

5/10 The Tamers are separated from their Digimon partners forever

Digimon Tamers

Usually the end of possibly Digimon season, the kids are separated from their Digimon partners after the battle is won. But, Digimon Tamers has the most sudden and harrowing version of that ending. As a side effect of the victory, the Tamers’ Digimon can no longer remain in the real world and are all forcefully brought back to the digital world.

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Each of the tamers gets to say their tearful goodbye, but no one is ready for it. While there was apparently some hope that Takato could see Guilmon again, it’s ambiguous and for a series known for its themes of friendship, this was a pretty sad way to end the season.

4/10 The war is won, but there is no one left to celebrate

Akame Ga Kill!

Akame Ga Kill! was an anime that cemented itself pretty early on as one where anyone could die, and that the cause count went further and further up until the very end. Night Raid successfully saved the city, assassinating Esdeath and the corrupt Prime Minister, ending the Empire’s tyranny once and for all. Still, almost everyone, except for Akame and Najeda, is dead.

Najeda decides to use the little life she has left to build a better empire, while Akame decides to travel the world alone, carrying on the will of her dead comrades. Even with a new era of peace on the horizon, the high cost of all the people lost hangs over it, making it more sour than uplifting.

3/10 The two young musicians remain forever apart

Your lie in April

With despair and childhood trauma as dominant forces in Kousei’s story, Your lie in April starts with a heavy atmosphere. It’s not until Kousei and Kaori meet and grow closer that things turn around for him, with a possible romance budding between them. However, tragedy found a way to strike towards the end of the anime.

Kaori passes away during one of Kousei’s greatest performances, so their romance was never meant to be. Despite that, the anime’s messages of confidence, happiness, and music still thrive quite well—it’s just that they’re also wrapped in heartbreaking messages of love and loss.

2/10 Class 3-E succeeds, although it’s not really a victory

Assassin’s Classroom

Right from the start, the main goal of Assassin’s Classroom was for Class 3-E to kill their powerful, tentacled teacher, Korosensei. Even with that as the driving force of the plot, it didn’t prepare viewers for the moment when the class would finally succeed. After saving the students from the Reaper, Korosensei allows them to fulfill their mission and they end his life in tears.

Over the course of the anime, the students and audience got to know Korosensei, warts and all, and appreciated his nurturing spirit, so seeing him die was emotionally devastating. Still, it’s comforting to see the anime end with how the 3-E kids turned out years later. Korosensei would be proud.

1/10 Tekkadan has a grizzly and unfair ending

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans

The Mobile Suit Gundam the series has had its uplifting finales as well as sad ones over the years, though the award for least happy ending might just go to Orphaned children with iron blood for how the main characters turned out. Season 1 ended with Tekkadan triumphant, but Season 2 ended with the polar opposite and casualties left and right.

Although they fought tooth and nail, almost every member of Tekkadan is killed by Gjallarhorn in their final battle. What separates this ending from other inferior endings is that despite how corrupt Gjallarhorn is, they win, which makes all the sting of watching Tekkadan lose his life that much more painful.

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