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5 Deaths That Rocked The Anime’s Foundation Ranked

Kukaku, Quilge, and Yachiru


  • Kaien Shiba’s tragic death deeply impacted Rukia and influenced her future actions greatly.
  • Nemu Kurotsuchi’s defiance of Mayuri led to her demise, revealing hidden emotions beneath the surface.
  • Gin Ichimaru’s betrayal was motivated by his love for Rangiku, showing a softer side to his character.



With a popular manga and anime series in addition to a few light novel side stories, Bleach is one of the most popular series out there, rightfully earning its spot in the shonen anime Big Three. The series is also home to a cast of characters that remain iconic even after the series has reached its end, such as Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki.


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Despite being incredibly unique and intriguing as individuals, these Bleach characters sadly don’t get quite as much attention as their peers.

But while many characters in the series are still alive to make an impact on Bleach’s story, other unfortunate characters did not live to see the fulfilling end of the series. Though their character arcs met an untimely end, the deaths of these characters were more than enough to shake up the entirety of the series.

5 Kaien Shiba

Left Rukia severely guilt-ridden and traumatized

Kaien Shiba introducing himself to Rukia in the Bleach anime

  • Appears in:
    Bleach Episode 49; Chapter 136
  • Cause:
    Impaled by Rukia while fused with Metastacia

While the other members of the Thirteenth Division treated her differently due to her noble status, Kaien Shiba became the most important person in Rukia’s life. As the person who trained Rukia in swordplay and taught her his philosophy of hearts, Rukia in turn held Kaien in the highest regard and considered him a true friend for his kind demeanor towards her.

Unfortunately, during the battle with the Shinigami-killing Hollow Metastacia, Kaien unwittingly fell under the Hollow’s influence, forcing Rukia to kill him. Though Kaien thanked her for stopping him, Rukia was nonetheless devastated by this incident; her self-loathing surrounding Kaien’s death is what inadvertently led Rukia to transfer all of her Shinigami powers to Ichigo during their first meeting.

4 Nemu Kurotsuchi

Disobeys Mayuri for the first and only time

Nemu Kurotsuchi as she appears in Bleach Brave Souls

  • Appears in:
    Bleach Episode TBA; Chapter 643
  • Cause:
    Annihilated by Pernidas’ The Compulsory ability

Usually acting as the Twelfth Captain Mayuri’s silent and passive lieutenant throughout the series, Nemu eventually takes it upon herself to fight the Sternritter Pernidas Parnkgjas instead of Mayuri during the Wandenreich’s second invasion of Soul Society. Although she manages to overwhelm Pernidas at first, Nemu is ultimately killed when Pernidas uses The Compulsory to obliterate her, much to Mayuri’s complete shock.


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Not only was this the first and only time Nemu actively disobeyed Mayuri’s wishes in the series, but upon her death, it is revealed that Mayuri had always thought of Nemu as close to perfect, which contrasted his speech about how he loathed perfection in the Hueco Mundo arc. Upon this realization, however, Mayuri quickly finishes off Pernidas and creates Nemuri Hachigo, who would later serve as Nemu’s replacement.

3 Gin Ichimaru

Betrays Aizen for Rangiku’s sake and reveals his knowledge of Kyoka Suigetsu’s weakness

Gin Ichimaru Smiling At Ichigo With His Zanpakuto In Bleach

  • Appears in:
    Bleach Episode 308; Chapter 416
  • Cause
    : Impaled by Aizen’s Kyoka Suigetsu

In his first appearance, Gin Ichimaru presents himself as the polite but sinister Captain of the Third Division, making him one of the strongest Shinigami in the Gotei 13. It is only after the events of the Soul Society arc that Gin, along with Aizen and Tosen, is revealed to be a traitor who had orchestrated much of the discord and turmoil during the arc itself.


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During the Fake Karakura Town arc, Gin suddenly betrays Aizen by exploiting his Kyoka Suigetsu’s loophole and attacking him with his own Bankai. Though Gin was ultimately slain in the process, his reasoning behind his betrayal was to avenge Rangiku, the only person in the entire series with whom he had a genuine relationship.

2 Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto

Failed to rectify his mistake of not killing Yhwach


  • Appears in:
    Bleach Episode 373; Chapter 511
  • Cause:
    Bifurcated and annihilated by Yhwach

Although many other Shinigami in Bleach have vied for the title, it was Yamamoto who was always and rightfully credited as the absolute strongest Shinigami in Soul Society. As the founder of the Gotei 13, Yamamoto has demonstrated his immense battle prowess many times throughout the series, overpowering many tough opponents such as Ayon, Wonderweiss, and even Aizen.

Despite Yamamoto’s recognizable strength, he still found himself completely outclassed by the Wandenreich leader Yhwach, who managed to steal his Bankai and completely disintegrate his body. With Yamamoto’s complete and utter defeat in this manner, not only was his mistake of sparing Yhwach compounded, but the gap between the Wandenreich and the Seireitei became firmly cemented.

1 Retsu Unohana

Succeeded in teaching Kenpachi the way of the sword


  • Appears in:
    Bleach Episode 376; Chapter 572
  • Cause:
    Killed by Kenpachi Zaraki after a long duel

Serving as one of the primary healers in Bleach, Unohana hardly seemed like the type who would find her thrills in fighting and bloodshed. The Thousand-Year Blood War arc broke this perception of her by revealing her status as the first Kenpachi who only taught herself how to heal to enjoy fighting forever.


Bleach: Unohana’s Incredible Power, Explained

Considering Unohana’s colorful past in Bleach, this Shinigami healer may not be as sweet and innocent as one might have thought.

When tasked with teaching Kenpachi proper swordplay, not only did Unohana display much apprehension upon facing him, but she even revealed her “sin” of unwittingly forming Kenpachi’s habit of suppressing his power to better enjoy fighting. Conversely, upon her death, Unohana takes solace in both Kenpachi’s growth as a warrior and in having succeeded in having nurtured a warrior stronger than herself.

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