Cliffhangers are important tools in storytelling used throughout fiction to give watchers a sense of suspense and to make them come back for more. Inserting cliffhangers at the end of episodes in new animes guarantees fans will come back to watch the next episode.
Fans then watch the latest episode and are encountered with a cliffhanger, thus continuing the cycle until the anime is complete.
This list will examine some anime with cliffhangers that are incredibly suspenseful and leave the audience on the tip of their seats.
Note: This list of anime is in no way exhaustive and reflects only the author's opinion. It also contains spoilers for each anime series listed.
9 anime that have incredibly suspenseful cliffhangers
1) Re: Zero
Natsuki Subaru, the primary protagonist, was walking home from a convenience store when he was suddenly transported to a different world. The strange new fantasy is filled with unique magical spells and power greater than Subaru could ever comprehend. Subaru decided to explore the new world he found himself in, and after being killed once, he realized he could reset the world after each of his deaths using Return by Death.
Re: Zero is an incredibly graphic anime that features Subaru suffering through unimaginable horrors and terrible pain. As a result, when season one aired in Spring 2016, every weekly episode had a cliffhanger. This anime kept fans on their toes, hoping for something unique, only to make them wait an entire week between each end to get what they wanted.
2) Sword Art Online: Alicization
Kazuto Kirigaya, or Kirito, was transported to a virtual world by initiating a complete dive with his soul via the Soul Translator. The fantastical realm he was transported to is known as Underworld and exists as an experiment to create the perfect Artificial Intelligence (AI). Kirito became childhood friends with Eugeo and Alice Zuberg, two kids who live in Underworld.
One day, Alice accidentally disobeyed an order of the Axiom Church and was forced to become an Integrity Knight. He later exited Underworld and had his memory wiped for confidentiality reasons. Kirito enters Underworld again after being mortally wounded while escorting Asuna back home. He was hooked up to the machine and forced into a full dive to save his life.
Although there were not many cliffhangers throughout most of the season, the ending had fans in suspense and anticipation. After defeating the Administrator, Kirito contacts Rath to explain his situation. However, this was during the invasion of the Ocean Turtle, causing the power to be turned off and Kirito's floodlight to be damaged. This had fans on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out what happened to the Black Swordsman.
3) Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2
Eren and the rest of the Survey Corps made it back to Shiganshina and finally had a chance to plug the hole in Wall Maria. However, they were met with resistance as Reiner and Bertholdt did everything in their power to stop them. The Survey Corps seemed to be holding on fine against the two until Zeke Yaeger as the Beast Titan began to launch volleys of crushed boulders at the soldiers.
Despite the amount of opposition they faced, the members of the Corps were able to pull through, retaking Wall Maria and reaching Grisha Yaeger's basement. The season ends with the main cast celebrating at the beach. They thought they were finally free, but Eren realizes that everyone on the other side of the ocean is their enemy and needs to be defeated for them to be truly free. This fantastic scene was suspenseful and acted as a tremendous cliffhanger to end the season.
4) The Promised Neverland
Grace Field House is an orphanage surrounded by a massive expanse of grass and trees. The children in the house live happily with their caretaker Isabella, who they frequently call Mama. For most of the day, the kids spend their time playing outside or relaxing inside. However, each morning, they are required to take standardized assessments, which have a dark truth behind them.
Season one ended with Emma, Ray, Norman, and the rest of the kids escaping from the Grace Field House and reaching the cliff. Isabella gave up chasing the kids that ran and instead congratulated them on being able to outsmart and outrun her. She bids them good luck as the horizon peaks over the cliff, and the kids realize they have finally gained their hard-earned freedom. However, little did they know that escaping from Grace Field House was only just the beginning.
Satoru Fujinuma is a 29-year-old aspiring manga artist who can send himself back in time by a few minutes before a dangerous accident occurs. After a mysterious murderer kills his mother, he is falsely accused and is suddenly sent back to 1988. The anime follows Fujinuma as he saves his former classmates that had originally died while trying to uncover who the murderer is.
In one of the last episodes, Fujinuma reveals that the murderer was his homeroom teacher Gaku Yashiro. Unfortunately, Fujinuma did this while in Yashiro's car. This resulted in Yashiro drugging Fujinuma and purposely crashing the vehicle in an attempt to kill him. Fujinuma was left there as the episode ended, and fans could only wonder if he was dead or alive.
6) Parasyte: The Maxim
Parasytes suddenly arrived on Earth and quickly began to integrate into human society. They would burrow into a person's brain and take over the body using their mind. They would typically enter through the ear canal, which is the closest entrance to the brain.
However, Shinichi Izumi, who is also a victim of a parasyte, seemed to be infected differently. The parasyte that tried to infiltrate his body could not enter through his ears or any other hole near his head, so it tried entering his hand. Thus, beginning the darkness and gore of the anime.
The greatest cliffhanger in this anime occurs when Shinichi's heart is destroyed by a parasyte controlling his mother's body. Although Migi warned him that the body was no longer his mother, Shinichi still held out hope. A metallic blade suddenly pierced his heart, and the creature left him for dead. Fans did not think he was going to survive, but thanks to Migi's quick thinking, he was able to save Shinichi's life.
7) Code Geass
After the Holy Empire of Britannia completely took over Japan and renamed it Area 11, there have been constant bouts of combat between the rebels and Britannia's military. Lelouch Lamperouge was on his way to school when caught in the crossfire between Britannian Armed Forces and Area 11 insurgents.
However, he was able to escape when a girl named C.C. appeared and bestowed upon him Geass or the Power of Kings. Once he realizes the immense potential of Geass, he takes up the name Zero and becomes a mysterious vigilante hell-bent on getting revenge on Britannia.
The greatest cliffhanger in Code Geass occurred in the last episode of season one. Suzaku and Lelouch face off, both wielding guns; meanwhile, Kallen collapses to the ground after discovering Zero's true identity. To save Nunally, Lelouch begs Suzaku to join him, but he refuses. The episode ends with a defeating gunshot and Nunally appearing on screen before a blackout. Fans were left in suspense as nobody knew who was hit by the gunshot.
8) No Game, No Life
Tet is the One True God of Disboard and rules over each of the sixteen sentient races. Imanity is the lowest of the races since they have no affinity for magic, but all of that changed after two siblings arrived in Disboard.
Sora and Shiro are inseparable step-siblings who spend all their time playing online games. One day, a mysterious character challenges the two to an internet chess game. The two seemed to have the time of their lives as they struggled a bit for the first time in a game, but they swiftly won the game. This resulted in the pair being transported to Disboard, and the mysterious sender was revealed to be Tet himself. Tet tasked the two with defeating the other races and challenging him to a fair game.
The end of the anime's first season is a devastating cliffhanger as fans have no idea what happens next. The anime aired almost a decade ago, but there has been no mention of a continuation as of right now.
9) Cowboy Bebop
In 2071, humanity has expanded its influence throughout the entire universe. Plants were filled with civilizations similar to that on Earth, and as a result, crime was also spreading. Due to the timeless nature of the crime, no matter how far away a planet is from Earth, humans will continue to commit murder, theft, violence, and more. As a result, these intergalactic outlaws are chased by skilled bounty hunters.
The protagonists, Spike Spiegel and Black Jet, are galaxy renowned bounty hunters who make a living off of bringing criminals to justice. They each have their secrets and troubled pasts, but they never pry into each other's lives. Their group, the Bebop, was soon joined by three eccentric characters. Faye Valentine, Edward, and Ein make up the newest members of the Bebop and travel with the bounty hunters across the galaxy.
One of Cowboy Bebop's final scenes is a powerful cliffhanger. Spike Spiegel's assumed death and the last message to the anime's audience left everyone in suspense and shock. Nobody could move from their seats as they finished the final seconds of the masterpiece. There is no sequel to this amazing anime that confirms whether or not Spike did die, leaving fans with theories.