With the second season of Re:Zero about to draw to a close, we thought it fitting to count down the best deaths of the series protagonist, Natsuki Subaru. For those unaware, Re:Zero follows the life of Isekai’d teenager Subaru who has the innate ability to “Return By Death”. That is to say, when suffering fatal damage, he respawns at a random checkpoint sometime before he died. Subaru has died a great number of times until this point and will possibly continue to perish long into the inevitable third season. Regardless, let’s countdown the best Subaru deaths based on brutality, emotional impact, and how gosh-darn cute the little murderers were!
10. Death By: Thugs (Season 1 Episode 2)
Let’s kick things off with perhaps the most innocent of all Subaru’s deaths - being attacked by three ruffians in an alleyway. Having met them before during a previous life, this time, he has no time for such matters. He hastily pushes past them before being gruesomely stabbed. Fearing the consequences of their actions, the thugs quickly flee the scene, leaving Subaru to bleed out and reset shortly after. Re:Zero plays with the idea of death a lot in its premise and while we never fear that Subaru will leave our screens, it’s incredible how having such an unstoppable force as your protagonist does not impact the narrative even slightly.
Re:Zero and other anime such as One Punch Man tap into tropes that blight other anime and flip them to produce something truly unique. The deaths in this show are used as impeding forces above anything else and hinder the advancement of the plot. We hate seeing Subaru die not out of sadness but because we know we won’t get to see what happens next! For all the crazy deaths undergone by Subaru over his time in this world (monsters, magic, etc) he is just as perishable by a thief in an alleyway. This death reminds us that Subaru is not in fact indestructible and the Grim Reaper is most certainly waiting for him around every corner.
9. Death By: Elsa (Season 2 Episode 7)
Elsa wins the award for most deaths inflicted upon Subaru over the series. Most of these occurred during the first several episodes of the series and acted as a good method of introducing us to the Return By Death mechanic. Unfortunately, for us to become properly acclimated with all the intricacies of Subaru’s powers, he had to be killed by Elsa - a lot! A stabbing in the hallway, a stabbing at old man Rom’s place, a stabbing out in the open. Say what you want but Elsa certainly knows how to keep a relationship fresh. No predictable night in ordering Chinese food with a side of light mutilation for this young couple!
The Elsa death we chose, however, occurs during the second season after Subaru returns to the mansion. After being attacked by Elsa and a Mabeast, Subaru is saved by Betty dragging him into her library. There, he tries to end his life to bring back the deceased Petra and Frederica. Watching Subaru clutch the disembodied hand of Petra is very painful to watch and we understand his need to go back in time. However, Betty has other plans and forcefully stops Subaru from taking his own life. It isn’t until a bloodthirsty Elsa finally finds the pair that Subaru can Return By Death.
8. Death By: Suicide - Rock Dive (Season 1 Episode 7)
Instead of venturing into town during this timeline, Subaru instead forges a contract with Beatrice. In doing so, he hopes to remain alive until the fourth night under her powerful protection. Happy days as, instead of dying horrifically, Subaru finds himself waking up without a scratch. Unfortunately, it is Rem who has perished this time and so, left without any other option, Subaru takes to the skies in an act of self-sacrifice, in hopes of finding a better ending where nobody dies in a parallel world.
This was the first time we see Subaru actively using his Return By Death, as opposed to simply relying upon it when things go wrong. This opens the gateway for so many interesting possibilities and crucial decisions that must be made over the series. Whose death is valuable enough to commit suicide over and whose death can be sanctioned in hopes of progressing to the next checkpoint? Is there any limit to the number of deaths Subaru can undertake before his powers stop working? All these questions and more, coming up - hopefully in season three!!
7. Death By: Suicide - Petra’s Hankerchief (Season 2 Episode 10)
After Satella—the witch responsible for Subaru’s Return By Death abilities—appears in the Sanctuary, the gang quickly tries to do away with her. However, their efforts prove futile as she easily dispatches the Ryuzu clones as well as a transformed Garfiel. Continuing to profess her love for Subaru, she subsequently swallows him up into a black void. Thanks to some magic from Echidna, the handkerchief given to him by Petra transforms into a magnificent sword. Phew, thank goodness, we were worried Subaru wouldn’t find a way to kill himself! He promptly stabs himself with the blade before proclaiming that he will save Satella.
As he trudges toward the land of death, Subaru pulls down the veil masking Satella’s face to reveal a striking resemblance to Emilia. We are already aware that Satella has some kind of connection to Emilia as well as Subaru, but this death puts the nail in the coffin allowing for speculation to run riot amongst the Re:Zero fandom. Hopefully, soon, we can find out exactly why Satella chose to gift her powers to Subaru.
6. Death By: Ram (Season 1 Episode 7)
When Subaru first arrived in his new world, let’s just say, he struggled to make new friends. One of these people was the famous Rem, who harbored nothing but suspicion for Subaru at first, concluding that he belonged to one of the factions opposing Emilia’s bid for the throne. Using her ball and chain, she hunts him down before cutting off his leg. However, should he die so easily, he could not be pried for information. So, she makes sure to heal his blood loss while continuously bludgeoning him with her weapon. Unable to witness this torture any longer, Ram slits his throat from afar to put Subaru out of his misery.
It’s crazy to remember, having seen the journey Rem and Subaru embarked upon, just how much Rem distrusted and disliked Subaru during the initial few episodes of Re:Zero. Oddly enough, with this death, the cold and reserved Ram that we have seen even more of in this second season is the one doing the Euthanizing. This death was what allowed the relationship of Rem and Subaru to start by giving Subaru the knowledge as to what to do it next. Relationship origin stories always make for great anecdotes. We met at the bar, our friend introduced us, I tortured him for several hours until my twin sister decapitated him. How romantic!
5. Death By: Mercy Killing (Season 1 Episode 23)
After a tough fight against Petelegeuse the Archbishop of Sin, things seem to be picking up for our hero. Unfortunately, that Petelegeuse is surprisingly perseverant for someone supposedly representing sloth. He acts fast after his own body is destroyed and quickly takes control of Subaru’s body. With the little control he has left, Subaru orders Julius to take his life before Petelegeuse can do any more damage. After some teary exchanges between Julius and Felix, Julius does his duty and brings down his blade to end Subaru’s life.
While many of the deaths on this list can be attributed to mistakes made either on Subaru’s part or the part of his peers, this death in particular, hits home since the gang was so close to besting their foe, only to trip at the final hurdle. It must have been incredibly jarring to shift from elative celebration one minute, to unimaginable anguish the next. Subaru has no qualms with ending his own life but forcing his friends to commit such a horrendous act, must have been incredibly painful. Subaru was mercy killed by Ram previously but, at that time, she harbored little to no positive feelings towards him. Julius admits that he thought of Subaru as a friend, making this death all the more powerful.
4. Death By: Great Rabbit - 1 (Season 2 Episode 8)
Earlier in the list, we alluded to Subaru’s murderers having varying levels of cuteness. While Elsa is surely attractive and nothing screams adorable like Subaru’s suicidal craziness, the cutest serial killer award has to go to the Great Rabbit. After wandering around in the snow, Subaru, unable to find any sign of life, happens across an adorable little bunny. He goes to pet it but before he can react, his fingers have been cleanly ripped from his body. We zoom out to witness the absolute terror that is the Great Rabbit - named so not because of its size, but because of the sheer number of them.
Subaru has died in some pretty grizzly ways over the years but this one manages to push that gruesomeness to an entirely new level. As the rabbits enclose around Subaru, they begin to tear his body to shreds as they devour him alive. Just imagining the incredible pain that Subaru must have undergone during this death is traumatizing in itself. Evidently so, as when Subaru awakes from this particular death, he still retains some of the previous pain that he had recently undergone and proceeds to, pardon the French, freak the hell out!! The Great Rabbit came out of absolutely nowhere to provide one of the most shocking deaths we had seen in quite some time. .
3. Death By: Suicide - Broken Blade (Season 2 Episode 1)
This death comes in at such a high ranking for multiple reasons. While perhaps the other deaths on this list were flashier or more stylized, this is the only death where we can bear witness to the aftermath of Subaru’s decisions. After we join our crew having defeated the White Whale, Subaru makes his way through crowds of people tending to the sick. Still thrown aback by Emilia’s lack of knowledge with regards to who Rem is, it’s clear that a sense of relief washes over him when he sees her body. However, Rem did not manage to hold on long enough and passed away shortly before Subaru’s arrival. Unable to cope with this outcome, he picks up a broken blade and takes his own life.
The reason that this death, in particular, holds so much weight is due to its return in Subaru’s trial. Echidna replays this death for Subaru (as well as several others) only, this time, playing the fallout as well. As everyone huddles around Subaru trying to resuscitate him, we hear lines akin to “you won’t die a coward’s death!” from his peers and “Liar!” cry out from Emilia. We, as an audience, know that each Subaru death is almost meaningless. However, to just finish defeating the White Whale, after months and months of planning and casualties, only to find your leader having taken his own life during the aftermath? One can only imagine the pain caused by such an event. Subaru asks Echidna afterward if each of his deaths causes a separate timeline to form. We receive no answer but, should this be the case, just how many people has Subaru left behind?
2. Death By: Great Rabbit - 2 (Season 2 Episode 11)
You finally did it Subaru - you finally got what you always wanted. You got to live out the remainder of your days in Emilia’s arms. It’s unfortunate that the remainder of those days is about...thirty seconds? Give or take. We’re back with the Great Rabbit for the penultimate death on this list. Not as shocking as the first encounter with the demon bunny but definitely a more heart-wrenching one. After talking with Roswaal and discovering that he is aware of Subaru’s ability to live multiple lives (although unaware of the methodology), he promptly kills Ram and Garfiel to force Subaru to revert. As the clown beat-down continues, eventually the Great Rabbit arrives on the scene. Roswaal is soon dealt with leaving only Subaru remaining.
But wait, what’s that? Oh, it looks like Subaru managed to escape somehow and make his way to the traumatized and oblivious Emilia, still cooped up in the trial arena. Well, she may have gone completely insane but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. Cozy on up in her lap pillow like you always do and...wait why is the screen going red? Yes, unfortunately, Subaru did not survive the Rabbit attack as the camera pans out to reveal Subaru’s body having been ripped to shreds. Emilia, none the wiser, continues to coddle him before he eventually bleeds out in her arms. This was one of the turning points for Subaru. He finally had everything he ever wanted, this being Emilia offering herself on a plate to him. However, he comes to realize that an Emilia at his beck and call is a servant and not a lover. This death was a great Monkey’s Paw subversion of Subaru’s wish to spend the rest of his life with Emilia.
1. Death By: Puck (Season 1 Episode 15)
Puck ends Subaru’s life a total of three times, usually due to his inability to save Emilia’s life. However, one of these deaths in particular has left the most impact on Re:Zero fans across the globe. Let’s set the scene. We’re currently fighting Petelegeuse with no way out in sight. After being captured, who else but our best girl Rem comes along to save the day. Unfortunately, this fight proves too hard to bear as Rem is subsequently tied up and tortured in front of Subaru’s helpless eyes. Rem’s soon-to-be corpse then crawls to a disheveled Subaru and frees his restraints before confessing her love for him. With nowhere else to go, Subaru carries Rem’s body back to the mansion where, lying in wait, an enraged Puck, furious that Emilia was allowed to perish, has frozen the entire world in ice, he instructs Subaru to sleep alongside his daughter, before beheading him. Roll credits over Subaru’s headless body.
Ooh, this one hurt. This one hit home, that’s for sure. Not only did this death come at the end of one of the most climactic scenes of the first season, but the ending that plays a solemn melody over Subaru kneeling in the snow is also incredibly moving. As mentioned previously, it can be easy for such an overpowered ability to lose its gravitas after multiple uses. However, this death proves that the Re:Zero writers know what they are doing and are dedicated to making each death as powerful as the last.
Subaru has died so many times over these two seasons and he will assuredly die many more times to come. Whether your find yourself more invested in the gruesome deaths as opposed to the sentimental ones or vice versa, with so many to choose from, you’re very much spoiled for choice. Let us know your favorite Subaru death down below!