Mon. Dec 4th, 2023

It is a common trope in fiction for characters to have an untimely death just before completing their goals or reaching the end of their life’s work. Many are graying and battle-hardened veterans that seek the peace of retirement. Sometimes, these characters even have to come out of retirement to save the protagonist in order to finally reach the freedom from conflict they strive for.

RELATED: 10 Saddest Deaths In Naruto, Ranked

However, many of these characters make one final push only to fall at the hands of their enemies, giving the protagonists renewed motivation and vigor.

10 Hiruzen Sarutobi’s Death Is A Wake-Up Call For Naruto And His Friends (Naruto)

Hiruzen Sarutobi smiles wearing Third Hokage uniform

Hiruzen Sarutobi, the Hidden Leaf Village’s Third Hokage, was forced to come out of retirement following the death of the Fourth Hokage. When we reassumed the mantle, he was already aged out of his prime.

RELATED: Naruto: 10 Ways Hiruzen Sarutobi Was The Worst Hokage

So, by the time the original Naruto series is in full swing, the Third Hokage is noticeably older than all of the other shinobi. However, before Sarutobi could retire for good and hand off the title of Hokage to whosoever would become the Fifth, he was killed by his old pupil, Orochimaru.

9 Jonathan Joestar Almost Makes It To America Before Dying At The Hands Of Dio (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)

Tears well in Jonathan Joestar's eyes

Jonathan Joestar, in the first season of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, suffers greatly at the hands of his nemesis and adopted brother, Dio Brando. However, he finally triumphs over Dio and resolves to move to America, where he might finally find peace and live out the rest of his days with his new wife. This is all dashed when Dio is revealed to have survived and stowed away on their ship. Chaos ensues and Jonathan is killed before the Joestars can arrive safely on American soil.

8 Avatar Roku Is Left To Stop The Volcano On His Own (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Avatar Roku enters the Avatar State and firebends

Avatar Roku is one of the few avatars to be depicted with long white hair, suggesting his old age, and he might have gotten even older if it had not been for the volcano eruption that rocked the island he had retired to. He and his wife, Ta Min, had made a home on Roku’s Island, where they stayed during their downtime.

RELATED: 10 Things You Need To Know About Avatar Roku

Unfortunately, before Roku could retire more permanently, a cataclysmic eruption occurred, and Roku sacrificed his life to allow the citizens of the island to evacuate unharmed.

7 Hidan Kills Asuma Before He Gets To See His Unborn Daughter (Naruto)

Asuma Sarutobi stands with his weapon held before him during Hidan fight

Another member of the Sarutobi clan, Hiruzen’s son, Asuma, was killed by the immortal Akatsuki member, Hidan. This came as a shock to characters and fans alike, who were devastated at the jonin’s untimely death. Even more upsetting, Asuma left behind Kurenai and their unborn daughter. While it may have been a while before Asuma completely retired, the advent of a child would have meant the beginning of domestic life for Asuma and Kurenai. Sadly, all hopes of domestic bliss were destroyed.

6 Igneel Comes Out Of Retirement To Defeat Acnologia (Fairy Tail)

Igneel grins while holding Natsu, who is comically screaming, in his arm

When the dragons who raised Dragon Slayers disappeared, many assume they had abandoned their wards to retire or return to their human-free lives. However, when Acnologia returns, it is revealed that Igneel’s plan had always been for the dragons to wait inside the Slayers for the right time to confront Acnologia. Unfortunately, during the fight with Acnologia, Igneel is killed, thus rendering him unable to enjoy a life with Natsu, free from the threat of Acnologia’s power. Afterward, Natsu resolves to kill Acnologia for taking away his father figure.

5 Spike Is Dragged Back Into Syndicate Business (Cowboy Bebop)

Spike Spiegel makes finger gun and points

Spike Spiegel becomes a bounty hunter after narrowly escaping his obligations with the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate, but faking your death and running away to a new life has its risks. Eventually, an old acquaintance from his days in the Syndicate, Vicious, becomes aware of his being alive, and Spike is pulled out of retirement.

RELATED: Cowboy Bebop: 5 Ways Spike Spiegel Is A Hero (& 5 He’s A Villain)

Spike storms the Syndicate and confronts Vicious, but during the battle, Spike is mortally wounded. While it is not certain Spike truly dies from this encounter, it’s widely held that Spike perishes.

4 Gol D. Roger Never Gets To See His Sons Before Dying (One Piece)

Gol D. Roger stands against pink background smiling

The elusive and legendary Pirate King and keeper of the famous One Piece treasure, Gol D. Roger (aka Gold Roger), was executed for piracy, but his last words set many pirates, including protagonist Monkey D. Luffy, on a course that would change their lives. It is revealed that Roger, who is also Portgas D. Ace’s father, had achieved his ultimate goal of amassing vast wealth and controlling the Grand Line. But before he could retire, he was stricken terminally ill, and he turned himself in to be executed, initiating the Golden age of Pirates.

3 Jiraiya Laments Never Finishing His Last Book (Naruto)

Jiraiya stands in his signature, Kabuki inspired, pose with a wacky look on his face

One of the most heart-wrenching deaths in the Naruto franchise is that of Naruto’s mentor and father figure, the legendary Sanin, Jiraiya. When locked in combat with Pain/Nagato, Jiraiya notices that the six Paths are all related to his past, but he is then mortally wounded. As he dies, his memories of Naruto and Minato inspire so much that he is emblazoned with enough energy to leave a message revealing Pain’s identity. He then thinks about his book series and decides upon the final installment which he never gets to finish.

2 Manji Is Pulled From Retirement To Die Over and Over (Blade Of The Immortal)

Manji scowls downward while unsheathing his sword

In Blade of the Immortal, protagonist Maji is infected with blood worms that prevent him from dying, but in order to be rid of them, he must kill 100 evil men to atone for past sins he had committed. Only then can Manji finally rest and retire. However, throughout the series, Manji is killed time and time again, only to be revived by the power of the blood worms and sent on to continue his quest. Even by the Meiji period, Manji has yet to achieve his goal and be free of the blood worms

1 Maes Is Killed Before He Can Get Back To His Daughter (Fullmetal Alchemist)

Maes Hughes laughs and smiles slightly uncomfortably

Military officer Maes Hughes’ death is another gut-wrenching moment for anime fans. Maes is well-known for his deeply rooted and comically portrayed love for his family – his wife, Gracia, and daughter, Elicia. Before Maes can reach retirement age and leave the military to be with his family, he is killed by Envy. Fans see Hughes’ death as a major turning point in Fullmetal Alchemist, as it is both shocking and a catalyst for events to come. In homage to his service, Hughes is posthumously promoted to Brigadier General.

NEXT: Fullmetal Alchemist: Maes Hughes’ 5 Greatest Strengths (& 5 Biggest Weaknesses)

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