DARKNESS! Who doesn’t love a little darkness every once in awhile? The world is a cruel and terrible place after all, and when you have the creative license to bend reality like in anime, you can make it even darker. So which shows get horribly dark by the end where there is even barely an ember of hope left?
*Note: We will try very hard to avoid specific spoilers since no one likes a spoiled ending.
This series is a real fickle pickle. As things go on, you find yourself not even rooting for the people that are supposed to be the good guys after a point, and all you are left with is a villain that is diving even deeper into the depths of darkness. Yet, even if you are rooting for the villain, things will get even darker for you.
The original Berserk anime, not the 2016 version that was inexplicably named the same as the original, had one of the most dark and devastating endings of all time. While the story continued after the ravishing anime ending in the manga, anime only fans were left feeling a little bit raped by it. There was no real conclusion and they just left it super dark. Still, there are few endings that are as gripping as those final episodes of the original Berserk series.
Grave of the Fireflies
Although a movie and not so much an anime series, Grave of the Fireflies is notorious for its ability to induce feels. It is a depressing movie about war orphans slowly starving to death in 1945 Japan, so it is pretty much a big downer all the way through and it doesn’t end happily.
Space Runaway Ideon
New school mecha occasionally tries their hands at dark endings, but the old school stuff, when it is not sticky sweet and optimistic, can become extremely dark. As is the case in Space Runaway Ideon. This is a series with a lot of protagonists, and let’s just say there are not a lot of them by the end. What main characters are left aren’t really in such a good place either.
School Days, despite the upbeat tone it starts with, is ultimately a harem show taken to extremes. While the ending was pretty much well deserved on the part of the main character, it wasn’t very happy for anyone involved. In fact, it is the darkest harem ending you could ever expect.
Corpse Party was based on a video game in which had multiple endings. While the manga version shows a particularly happy version of the ending, the OVA shows one that is significantly darker. It was so dark that it was somewhat hilarious.
Higurashi: When They Cry
The Higurashi anime can be a fickle beast to pin down. As the story is told in several different arcs, it has several different endings true to the visual novel it was based on. Each little arc in the series ultimately has one person killing others in some horrible way, but this does ultimately lead up to an overall good ending. So does it have a dark ending? Kind of.
The Gantz anime majorly fails for deviating from the source material during the second season where it pretty much makes up its own ending. Sure, they missed animating some of the best arcs in the series, but whatever. However, the Gantz anime ending does make itself pretty dark as well, but they might have been better off just stopping after the Buddhist temple arc, which still would have been a pretty dark place to stop.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
The ending of Evangelion is as contested and debated as it is depressing. As the creator was going through a bit of a dark period himself when it came time to create an ending, it ended up being a bit of a visualization of that depression. It is both a dark ending and filled with a lot of confusing high-minded philosophy.
Not unlike Death Note, Code Geass likes to put its heroes and villains in varying shades of grey rather than back and white. Of course when you do this, it means that neither the heroes nor the villains really win. In the end a goal is achieved, but it is not achieved by the happiest means nor is everyone content, or even alive, to see it happen.
There are probably other series with dark endings out there. We know we debated heavily on shows like Madoka Magica that was kind of dark throughout, but ultimately ended with a shred of hope for most characters. So if you think you have a really good dark ending that we might not have considered, let us know in the comments section below.