Death is always a sad thing; it is not necessarily tragic, but it is always sad. It is present in fiction as much as it is in real life and the fictional deaths from our favorite series can hit us as hard as real-life deaths do. And while Bleach has featured a large number of deaths, even among the main characters, fans never really reconciled with the deaths of some of their most important characters. In this article, we are going to bring you a list of the 15 most important deaths in Bleach as they happened, both among the protagonists and the antagonists.
15. Kūgo Ginjō
Kūgo Ginjō is the leader of Xcution and the major enemy of the Fullbringer arc; he is a shinigami who also holds the power of Fullbring. He had been the original Substitute Shinigami long before Ichigo, but he relinquished that role and vanished at some point; thereafter, he joined Xcution under Tsukishima’s leadership, whom he later succeeded as the group’s commander.
He appears for the first time seventeen months after the fight with Aizen, when he invites Ichigo to join him at the Xcution headquarters, where he would go on to explain the nature of the Fullbringers and offers him the possibility to regain his powers; after actually helping him in this, he suddenly turns against the boy revealing the plot against him: the goal of the organization, in fact, has never been to get rid of their powers thanks to him, but on the contrary to take possession of his powers to become even stronger.
After the arrival of Gotei 13’s Shinigami, he is taken to another dimension by Yukio’s Fullbring, within which he fights with Ichigo and Ishida; at the end of a violent duel, however, he is defeated by the Shinigami. He is revived later during the Quincy War arc, but his initial death was impactful for Ichigo and his story as the Substitute Shinigami, which is why we included it on this list.
14. Kaname Tōsen
Kaname Tōsen was the Ninth Division’s captain. Sajin Komamura, the future captain of the Seventh Division, has been a friend of his since before he enrolled in the Shinigami Academy, and despite his appearance, he has no ill feelings toward him. A hundred years prior to the current events, he was already working with Aizen and helping him with his Hollowfication experiments because he thought that the captain of the Fifth Division’s ideals were the only ones that could lead to world peace in the future.
During the Fake Karakura Town arc, he confronts his former friend and reveals to him that the reason why he betrayed the Shinigami is that his sense of justice forced him to seek revenge against the killer of his friend; thanks to the powers obtained from the Hōgyoku he transforms into Hollow but, taken by the ecstasy of being able to see him for the first time in his life, he is mortally wounded by his former lieutenant Hisagi. After returning to his human form and asking forgiveness for his actions, he is destroyed by an Aizen kidō before the eyes of his two former companions.
13. Baraggan Louisenbairn
King Baraggan was an intriguing character, but he had no emotional depth. He was a narcissistic ruler and all he cared about was his own pride as a ruler, which is why his story wasn’t as intriguing as Starrk’s, Ulquiorra’s, or even Harribel’s. Still, his fight against Soi Fon was quite interesting and he forced the 2nd Division’s Captain to her limit, i.e., using her Bankai on more than one occasion during the same fight.
Baraggan’s technique was hard to counter, but thanks to Hachigen’s help, Soi Fon and the Vizored managed to trick him and thus kill him using his own technique, as even Baraggan was not immune to his own deadly power.
12. Coyote Starrk
The deaths of the Espada, save for Ulquiorra’s, were important for the plot, but they did not have much emotional impact, although they were intriguing, especially Starrk’s. This was, though, a result of Starrk’s story being great and deep, which could not be said about Baraggan. Namely, Starrk fought Kyoraku to the death in probably the best fight in Fake Karakura.
Kyoraku did not resort to using his Bankai, but because of Starrk’s abilities, he was quite close to doing so. Still, with the help of the Vizoreds, he managed to survive Starrk’s Cero shots and eventually used his Zanpakuto’s special abilities to overpower Starrk and cut him down nobly, thus ending a very majestic fight and killing the Primera Espada.
11. Gin Ichimaru
Gin Ichimaru is one of those creepy characters you have a love-hate relationship with from the beginning. He was shifty and suspicious, which is why it did not come as a surprise that he ultimately was a traitor along with Aizen, especially since the two were very close even before Gin became Captain of the 3rd Division. What did come as a surprise is that Gin had another plan – revenge. He was actually working as a double agent the whole time, although no one save for him knew it.
Namely, as was revealed later, while he was still a boy and friends with Rangiku, Gin observed some Shinigami, whom he recognized as those that moved away from the place where he found a collapsed Rangiku, with Aizen. Deducing Aizen was their leader, he promised to kill him, eventually. He later became a Shinigami and allied himself with Aizen, eventually finding out how to escape his Zanpakuto’s hypnosis ability.
In the real Karakura Town, which was in Soul Society, Gin ultimately betrayed Aizen and opted to kill him and steal the Hogyoku away from him, but it turned out that Aizen, according to his own admittance, predicted this, but the issue was that Aizen’s transformation was now complete, even without the Hogoyku being physically inside of him. He quickly found Gin and killed him for his betrayal, but Gin was happy to see Ichigo coming back to defeat Aizen.
10. Sōken Ishida
Sōken Ishida’s death had a profound influence on his grandson and while it was a very simple death – he was killed by several rogue Hollows in the Human World because the Soul Society did not send some Shinigami to aid him – it turned out to be quite impactful. Namely, while Ishida was fighting Mayuri Kurotsuchi, whose Division is in charge of monitoring Hollow appearances in the Human World, the Captain revealed a shocking fact to the young Quincy.
Namely, Mayuri revealed that he was personally responsible for the death of Ishida’s grandfather. He was aware that there were too many Hollows, but he delayed sending in reinforcements. Only when Sōken was dead, did delegate the appropriate Shinigami to transport Quincy’s corpse to Soul Society so Mayuri could study it and conduct experiments on it. After hearing this, Ishida’s animosity toward the Shinigami has shifted away from Shinigami as a whole and toward Mayuri.
9. Nemu Kurotsuchi
Nemu had always had the difficult task of being Mayuri’s daughter, even before she ultimately sacrificed herself for her father and master. Although Mayuri cared for her, it was a very twisted and disgusting form of love, which is why Ishida despised Mayuri so much when the two of them clashed for the first time. Still, Nemu was exceptionally loyal and that is why she ultimately sacrificed herself to save Mayuri when the two of them fought Pernida Parkgjas.
Sometime during the fight, Nemu successfully avoids a powerful assault by Pernida and charges fearlessly in his direction, where she manages to obliterate one of the Quincy clones and save Mayuri. She attacks Pernida with Konpaku, striking him in the eye, and the middle of his hand, and dissolving Pernida, after leaving Mayuri in a very tall structure. He does, however, manage to disassemble Nemu into many pieces and reassemble himself, but he is encircled by several eyeballs as he continues to absorb Nemu.
After going into a trance, Mayuri is able to stop Pernida from controlling Nemu’s mind. At that point, Pernida’s body starts to experience the effects of absorbing Nemu, a pituitary gland product, which speeds up cell deterioration and leads to his self-destruction. Then Pernida explodes, killing both Nemu and herself on the battlefield as it destroys Nemu. When Nemu passed away, Mayuri truly expressed her feelings and felt devastated.
8. Kaien Shiba
Although it happened before the main plot, Kaien Shiba’s death in Bleach had a very important role in the development of Rukia’s story, both during the Soul Society and the Hueco Mundo arcs. Namely, Kaien Shiba, Ukitake’s Lieutenant at the time, found out that the Hollow Metastacia killed and took over his wife’s body, so he went alone to avenge her. Unfortunately, he himself ended up being possessed by Metastacia.
He was attacked by Rukia and Ukitake and although the latter proceeded to kill the Hollow, and Kaien with it since there was no way to kill the Hollow and save Kaien, he was immobilized by his disease. This is why Rukia had to kill her mentor and friend, which is something that Ukitake wanted to avoid at all costs.
She was stunned as she faced him immobile, her Zanpakut drawn. Rukia was assaulted by Kaien, or more precisely, the Hollow, who dove right into her Zanpakuto. Thanking Rukia, Kaien said, “Left his heart with her.” Kaien was taken by Rukia to Kūkaku and Ganju, where he passed away smiling. His body vanished entirely. Kūkaku and Ganju initially believed that Rukia had murdered him because she had not explained what had occurred to them, and they were perplexed as to why Kaien did not hate Rukia. Only when Ukitake had explained everything to Kūkaku would Kūkaku accept Rukia’s apology.
7. Chōjirō Sasakibe
Sasakibe’s death was a special moment in the series. Sasakibe was never a character that was featured much in the series, and although it was later revealed that he was the strongest among the Lieutenants, we never really saw him in action. Even his final fight happened off-screen and we only saw him impaled on a Heilig Pfeil, which is how he ultimately died.
After losing his Bankai to Driscoll Berci, the Sternritter “O”, Sasakibe is seen flying into Yamamoto’s office impaled on a giant Heilig Pfeil. He speaks to Captain-Commander despite his severe wounds and informs him that foreigners are capable of stealing their Bankai. He succumbed to his wounds soon after and passed away. Sasakibe was later cremated, and Captain-Commander was devastated by the loss of his best friend, which is why Sasakibe’s death is so important to the plot.
6. Ulquiorra Cifer
Ulquiorra was killed in Hueco Mundo by Ichigo in his Vasto Lorde form, which he transformed into after having been killed by Ulquiorra. It was a fierce battle that definitely deserves to be named one of the best battles in the whole series. And while the Espada had the upper hand for the majority of the battle, he did not stand much chance against Vasto Lorde Ichigo.
After being struck by one of Vasto Lorde Ichigo’s most powerful techniques, Ulquiorra is in terrible condition; he only has his upper body, one arm, and one wing remaining. His torso and head, however, were unharmed. The Hollow attempts to kill Ulquiorra fully before throwing the remainder of him to the ground, but Ishida stops him. Despite being in a terrible condition, Ulquiorra seizes the opportunity to create a Lanza Del Relampago that he will use to break one of the Hollow’s horns, which formed the Cero, and launch an assault from behind.
The Cero then loses focus and totally deforms before exploding. Ichigo’s face is made visible as Hollow’s mask is destroyed by the explosion. His body regenerates as he loses consciousness, and the hole in his chest closes. Ichigo abruptly stands up, as if he just woke up from a nightmare.
Tensa Zangetsu is removed from Ishida’s body by Ulquiorra, who then places him in front of Ichigo and begs him to put a stop to the conflict once and for all. Ichigo firmly declines and tells him that in order to make the fight equal, he will have to amputate his limb and leg, exactly like he did to Ulquiorra. Ulquiorra loses all of his strength, though, and his body starts to deteriorate gradually.
5. Masaki Kurosaki
When Ichigo was 9 years old, Masaki died. While they were strolling together, Ichigo spotted a young woman who appeared to be in trouble. However, this was only a trap set by the powerful Hollow Grand Fisher, who wanted to consume Ichigo, and Masaki was killed by Grand Fisher for defending Ichigo. At the time, Ichigo did not know about his mother’s history, but everything was explained later on.
Masaki was officially struck by a car. Ichigo initially held himself responsible for her passing up until the day he learned the Hollow was to blame. Nearly two years later, Isshin revealed to Ichigo that Yhwach was the real culprit for Masaki’s passing. He had utilized his “Auswählen” technique at the time to recover his lost abilities while robbing all “impure” Quincys of their capabilities. Masaki ordinarily wouldn’t have had any trouble surviving Grand Fisher’s assault. She was killed, though, when Yhwach interfered and took away her abilities.
4. Retsu Unohana
Retsu Unohana fought Kenpachi Zaraki so that he could awaken his true powers. It was a brutal and majestic fight between some of the best fighters in Soul Society. But it was also, at the same time, Unohana’s sacrifice.
Zaraki falls repeatedly throughout the combat between the two Kenpachi, and his flesh is beginning to separate from his bones. Everything returns to normal as they both cross their swords once more, leaving Kenpachi to wonder if he has been dreaming the entire time. Despite both of them landing hits, neither party seems prepared to stop fighting.
Retsu recalls her first altercation with Kenpachi and claims that there can only be one Kenpachi at a given moment. She then bids Kenpachi farewell while getting his throat punctured with his Zanpakut, leaving Zaraki as the victor of the crucial conflict and the sole surviving Kenpachi at the time. Unohana is beaten after Zaraki’s Zanpakut impales him.
Zaraki’s victory, but, is bittersweet because he begged Unohana not to risk dying at his hands. In the midst of Unohana telling Zaraki that he was the only person who made her happy during the conflict, Zaraki connects with his Zanpakut’s spiritual side, which is willing to reveal its name.
3. Jūshirō Ukitake
Jūshirō Ukitake was the Captain of the 13th Division of the Gotei 13. He was a noble and intelligent, but also a very sensitive man who was deemed to be one of the most powerful Captains in the Gotei 13, despite his illness, which would often render him incapable of doing anything except lie in bed and rest. Namely, Ukitake developed a fatal lung disease when he was just three years old and after the doctors decided to let him die, his superstitious parents prayed to the fallen god Mimihagi to spare their son’s life.
The result of that was that Mimihagi, the right hand of the Soul King, became a part of Ukitake. It saved his life and allowed him to become a powerful Shinigami, although it did not cure his disease. As long as Mimihagi was part of Ukitake’s body, he would not die of the disease, although he would still have episodes where he would cough up blood and have to rest.
During the Quincy War, as Yhwach was about to kill and absorb his father, the Soul King, Ukitatke decided to sacrifice himself so he could try and stop that from happening. The Kamikake on his back would, through a ritual, make him the new right hand of the Soul King, and Ukitake hoped that he could stop Yhwach from absorbing him that way. The plan ultimately failed; Ukitake did sacrifice himself, but that did not stop Yhwach, who would be defeated by Ichigo only later.
Once in the Soul Society, Yhwach finds himself in front of Aizen, who welcomes him to what he calls “his” Soul Society; the king of the Quincy attacks the former captain, who nevertheless comes out unscathed and even thanks his opponent for having freed him from that “infernal chair”. Just before the two can actually start fighting Ichigo and Renji arrive, but Yhwach again destroys Tensa Zangetsu – repaired by Shukuro Tsukishima – thanks to his power; Renji then activates the Bankai and throws himself into the attack, but is defeated without even being worthy of a look.
The king of the Quincy then states that all the Bankai have already been destroyed in the future and, shortly before giving the final blow to Abarai, Aizen intervenes in his defense: Yhwach taunts him, as this represents a weak attitude that the former captain claims to have always detested, but Aizen, in response, uses the Hado 99, Goryuutenmetsu, the most powerful of destruction spells, against him, without even reciting the formula.
While the entire Soul Society is destroyed Aizen throws himself against Yhwach, who however points out that Kyōka Suigetsu has already been broken: when Aizen realizes it he is defeated with a violent blow to the abdomen, and immediately afterward Ichigo is also stopped, who had tried unsuccessfully to hit the King of the Quincies from behind.
Yhwach bids him farewell and gives him a hole in his chest, then unleashing all of his power on the Soul Society; suddenly, however, the king of the Quincy realizes that he is not facing Ichigo but Aizen who, thanks to the power of his Zanpakuto, had deluded him for the duration of the fight. Tensa Zangetsu then passes through him from side to side and Yhwach is cut in two by the real Ichigo’s Getsuga Tensho.
When everything seems to be over, Yhwach resurrects thanks to his power stating that being able to change the future he can also change the moment of his death and, after swallowing Aizen, Yhwach also stops Ichigo’s attack and prepares to merge the Soul Society with the human world. When his victory now seems a certainty, the king of the Quincy is suddenly hit by Ishida (the only one immune to his power and therefore invisible to forecasts) with a particular arrow able to cancel his powers in the time necessary to allow Ichigo to grab his now shattered Zanpakuto and attack him.
Yhwach reaches out his hand, convinced that he can stop the thrust, but suddenly Tensa Zangetsu shatters and old Zangetsu comes out in his place: at that moment the king of the Quincy understands that the vision he had had was not a simple dream but a gash of the future shown to him by Haschwalth.
Defeated and dying, Yhwach tells Ichigo that the road to a fearless world has just been closed because of him, as living beings will continue to live with the terror of death. Ten years later, Yhwach’s power will manifest itself again for a brief moment before being completely eradicated by Kazui Kurosaki, the son of Ichigo and Orihime.
1. Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto
Captain-Commander Yamamoto was a pillar of the Bleach franchise since its very beginning. Although he was an old man, he was feared and respected both within and outside of Soul Society. He was the most powerful among the Shinigami for millennia and is responsible for the establishment of the Gotei 13. There was no enemy he could not defeat, save for his bitter rival, the Quincy ruler, Yhwach.
After the Sternritter launched the invasion of Soul Society, Yamamoto finally decided to join the battle and after avenging the death of Sasakibe, he finally faced Yhwach again. It was a fierce battle in which Yamamoto managed to come out as the winner, but it turned out to be a trick. The Yhwach he was fighting was actually Royd Lloyd, the Sternritter “Y”, who used his powers to turn into a fake Yhwach.
Yamamoto thus proved that he would’ve been able to defeat Yhwach this time, but after this exhausting battle, his powers were significantly lower. Then the real Yhwach appeared and easily defeated the weakened Yamamoto, who simply couldn’t withstand yet another battle like that. This was a heartbreaking moment and a death that showed just how brutal and fear-inducing the Quincy really were, and a moment that plunged the Gotei 13 in utter despair.