While anime fight scenes serve to ramp up the tension and heat things up with eye-catching action, they aren't always the most memorable scenes and moments in an anime's run.
Even shonen anime series—which are known for their battles, tournaments, rivalries, and action-packed fights—have their quiet, tearful, and even heartbreaking scenes. Sometimes these are the moments that define an entire series.
Here are our picks for the saddest anime moments and scenes that show just how emotional an anime series can be.
Note: Because sad anime scenes often contain spoilers, we're listing each scene with just the name of the character involved to avoid giving away too much about why the scene is sad.
16. Hange Zoë (Attack on Titan)
On the one hand, we could've included the scene of Commander Erwin Smith making a sweet sacrifice for Levi to defeat the Beast Titan. But we're going with Commander Hange Zoë's sacrifice instead.
What makes this moment that much more heartbreaking is how Hange seemingly knows she isn't going to make it back, and so she passes the now-vacant position of Commander to Armin as part of her inevitable goodbye.
15. Minato Namikaze (Naruto Shippuden)
The Naruto Shippuden series—and even some of the Naruto movies—features several scenes where Minato Namikaze bids farewell to various people for various reasons.
But the scene that hits us the hardest is when Naruto tries his best to say goodbye to his dad after the Reanimation Technique is lifted by the Sage of Six Paths and Minato has to leave.
14. Portgas D. Ace (One Piece)
Portgas D. Ace is one of the more controversial characters in One Piece. He was, after all, a commander of the Whitebeard Pirates and the son of the Pirate King Gol D. Roger.
Even so, his death made us hate Akainu more than ever as we're left to grieve with Luffy and the rest of the crew.
13. Asta (Black Clover)
No, don't worry, Asta isn't dead! But the scene where he's told that he can never use his arms again? That was a tough one to watch.
Even without magic, Asta always worked hard to take steps toward fulfilling his dream of becoming the Magic Emperor. But when he's told the fate of his arms, you can feel his pain.
Fortunately, with the help of his squadmates, Asta's arms do eventually return to normal (albeit at a price).
12. Ojiya (Dororo)
Ojiya was Dororo's mother in the Dororo anime series. Her hardships after that one miserable event—you know which one—are what make her one of the most pitiful characters in the series.
In the end, she dies and leaves Dororo all alone at such a young age, all after carrying such a heavy burden on her back.
11. Kite (Hunter X Hunter)
In Hunter X Hunter, Kite is a pro Hunter with a very peculiar Nen ability called Crazy Slots. It allows him to summon different kinds of weapon based on the random number that appears on the slots.
And yet, even though Kite was one of the strongest and best-composed Hunters in the entire series, his sudden death at the hands of Pitou left viewers and fans shocked.
10. Korosensei (Assassination Classroom)
Assassination Classroom is the story of delinquent students who are tasked with killing their teacher (Korosensei), who happens to be an alien creature that's threatened to destroy the planet in a year.
The thing is, he's a great teacher. While the students train and learn different ways to possibly kill him, he teaches them academics and life lessons in hopes of turning their lives around.
Not surprisingly, they develop bonds that go deeper than they initially expect, and the final episode has drawn many tears.
9. Kushina Uzumaki (Naruto Shippuden)
Kushina Uzumaki is Naruto's mother and also the former host of the Nine-Tailed Beast, Kurama.
After an unfortunate event that unseals the powerful Nine-Tailed Beast, Kushina heroically sacrificed herself to protect her baby (Naruto) from the claws of the rampaging Kurama.
Almost any mother would do the same for her own child, making the scene a heartbreaking one about a mother's ultimate love.
8. Kyojuro Rengoku (Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train)
In Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train, everyone celebrated when the Lower Moon One demon Enmu was defeated—but anime watchers never expected that another high-ranking demon would appear.
Inside the train, we only see Kyojuro Rengoku slashing demon flesh to protect the passengers. But outside the train, we're treated to the one-on-one battle between the Flame Hashira and the Upper Moon Three.
While the fight is certainly heated and intense, we're left with Rengoku dying and Akaza fleeing the scene.
7. Jiraiya (Naruto Shippuden)
Nobody saw the death of Jiraiya coming, and many even disbelieved it when it happened. This beautiful farewell to one of Naruto's most beloved characters is one of the saddest moments in anime.
Behind his perverted tendencies and carefree attitude, Jiraiya was one of the greatest masters alive. His cleverness and unique style in battle made him a formidable opponent—one that even troubled Pain, who had to use all of his bodies to bring him down.
6. Sabo (One Piece)
For a while, One Piece viewers thought that Luffy and Ace were the only two brothers. But when we got more backstory, it was revealed that there was another who was thought to be dead long ago.
Sabo's reunion with Luffy is a heart-touching moment, one that even lessens some of the pain we felt from Ace's death. Luffy's reaction is priceless and we know why.
5. Escanor (The Seven Deadly Sins)
In The Seven Deadly Sins, Escanor is one of the strongest characters—he's even on par with the Captain (Meliodas) and some of the Ten Commandments.
His physical and magical abilities that are augmented by the sun are what make him so formidable. Sadly, as strong as he was, Escanor had "unreciprocated love" for Merlin.
So, when he dies and says goodbye to the squad, the already heart-touching scene is made more emotional when even Merlin—who has no feelings towards him—feels the warmth of his love for her.
4. Kaori Miyazono (Your Lie in April)
Your Lie in April is an overall heartbreaking anime series, but its developments toward the end are pretty light and fun.
That's what makes Kaori Miyazono's fate—succumbing to her deteriorating health condition—so powerful for viewers.
While her last performance on stage is all-out and incredible, it's ultimately a tear-jerking scene that proves anime can make you cry even harder than any movie or TV series.
3. Seita and Setsuko (Grave of the Fireflies)
Director Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies—about young main characters striving in a war-stricken setting—is one of Studio Ghibli's most critically acclaimed works.
Seita and Setsuko are siblings who have endured many sufferings together, from surviving the WWII bombings to living in poverty. Together, they're two of the most iconic Studio Ghibli characters.
Grave of the Fireflies hits hard because it's wholly unlike the rest of Studio Ghibli's anime films. This one's starkly realistic, grim, heavy, and depressing as it shows us who the real victims of war are.
2. Kurama (Boruto: Naruto Next Generations)
Throughout the entirety of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox was always—involuntarily—by Naruto's side.
He was an evil character in the early arcs of the series, but later became the closest friend and companion of Naruto. It was a big moment when we learned that his name was Kurama.
However, in the Boruto sequel series, Kurama sacrifices his existence to give Naruto the necessary power boost to defeat an opponent stronger than anyone they had faced before.
To some, Naruto only seemed to have lost his powers and huge chakra reserves, but for Naruto himself, he lost the long-time friend who was always there with him. It's a most devastating loss that hits even harder than when he lost his mentor and father figure, Jiraiya.
1. Going Merry (One Piece)
Going Merry is the ship of the Straw Hat Pirates led by Monkey D. Luffy. She endured many harsh yet fun adventures, and her last voyage was when she rescued the crew while saving Nico Robin.
The crew's farewell to their beloved ship is so heartfelt that everyone—both anime viewers and manga readers—were crushed.