Many protagonists have died in their respective manga or anime at varying points within the story. Memento Mori is a common concept in popular culture. Thus, the deaths of the main characters can sadden fans but shouldn't be entirely shocking.
In the anime and manga world, often, there are ways to cheat death, resulting in the main protagonist returning to life sometime after the fact. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some deaths are permanent in other series, marking the end of those main characters.
Note: The article contains spoilers and reflects the writer's personal views.
8 protagonists who died in their anime or manga
1) Tatsumi (Akame ga Kill!)
Sometimes, the anime deviates from the manga. In the official manga, Tatsumi is alive and marries Mine. In comparison, both Tasumi and Mine die in the anime. Tatsumi died in episode 23 because he used his powers to stop the Shikoutazer.
It was pretty sweet to see Bulat appear one last time to inspire Tatsumi before the latter's eventual demise. In this anime, Tatsumi ultimately dies in Akame's arms in a touching moment.
2) Yusuke Urameshi (YuYu Hakusho)
YuYu Hakusho is a prime example of an anime where the main protagonist dies, but death is not the end of their arc. If anything, the story begins once Yusuke dies for the first time, leading to him being resurrected and becoming a Spirit Detective. The story starts with Yusuke trying to save a boy from being hit by a car, which results in Yusuke getting hit instead.
His first death was in vain since Botan reveals the boy would have survived with minor wounds if he didn't interfere.
However, that isn't the first time Yusuke dies, as he later dies against Sensui in the Chapter Black saga but gets resurrected again, this time by his Mazoku blood. Thus, he cheated death twice and got a happy ending.
3) Natsuki Subaru (Re: Zero)
There aren't many anime protagonists who have died more than Natsuki Subaru. That feat is thanks to his special ability, Return by Death, which transports him to an earlier point in his life once he dies. It's almost like loading a save point in a video game, except the only way to load a save file here is by dying.
As strange as it sounds, he uses it frequently to try and save his friends whenever necessary. Unfortunately, there are instances where he can't save somebody even with this power. Other characters who have died and returned only did so once or slightly more than that, so it's quite a unique ability.
4) Ash Lynx (Banana Fish)
Ash Lynx is the main protagonist of Banana Fish, and he died by the end of his series due to his injuries from being stabbed by Lao. Ash manages to shoot Lao in the end, but the memorable part is when Ash goes to a library to read Eiji's letter during his last moments.
Many fans were sad when Ash Lynx died at the end of Banana Fish, as evident in this reaction video. There were many sad moments throughout the series, so some people just hoped against hope that he would have a happier ending, but alas.
5) Seita Yokokawa (Grave of the Fireflies)
Grave of the Fireflies can be a sad movie, and the main protagonist's death isn't the sole reason for that. It's a war tragedy film that focuses on two young siblings' attempt to survive in Kobe, Japan, during World War 2.
One of those kids is named Seita Yokokawa, the main protagonist of this movie. He dies of starvation at the film's beginning, before the scene transitions to him and his sister being on a train. Viewers are then taken through the course of the sad tale in what's often considered one of Studio Ghibli's best movies.
6) Light Yagami (Death Note)
Light Yagami is a fascinating protagonist who died at the end of Death Note. The series was essentially about a young lad who discovers a book named Death Note, which can kill people whose names are written in it. Through this handy book, he disposes of many criminals, eventually leading to the power getting to his head.
He ironically dies via this book when Ryuk writes his name down by the end of the series. Light Yagami died in the manga with less dignity than his anime counterpart, but the result was the same.
7) Eren Yeager (Attack on Titan)
At the time of writing this article, Attack on Titan was scheduled to air new episodes as an anime. Hence, it would be unknown if Eren dies as he did in the manga. After all, the aforementioned Akame ga Kill! changed the outcome of its protagonist, so the same may have happened here.
That said, Eren Yeager was the main protagonist of Attack on Titan and died by the end of the manga in Chapter 138. Mikasa kills him in a fitting end to his character arc long after he promised to destroy the world.
8) Goku (Dragon Ball Z)
This article ends with a character who died many times, and honestly, death is not that big of a deal in the Dragon Ball series. Characters often come back to life here, so it's less emotionally impactful than the previous anime characters.
Still, the Dragon Ball series is unquestionably near the top when it comes to recognizable manga and animes. Hence, most readers should know who Goku is and likely have already seen one of his death scenes.
Poll : Do you like it when the main protagonist comes back to life?