Bleach is one of the most popular shounen anime ever and follows the journey of Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki who must protect his world from Hollows, the spiritually undead that feed on the souls of humans, living or dead. Like most shounen anime, it’s almost impossible for the protagonist to meet his end, and in cases where he does, situations immediately arise for his revival.
Ichigo has come close to death a number of times and has even been pronounced dead before, but with the help of his friends, partners, and shounen luck, he always bounces back. Here are 10 times the fans were sure that the orange-haired warrior would not be making it out of a fight alive.
10. Ichigo versus Byakuya on Earth
In the early episodes of Bleach, Ichigo defeated countless Hollows with his Zanpaktou. He was even able to defeat Renji, a lieutenant, without knowing the name of his weapon. However this hype train came to an end when he got put down by Byakuya in episode 17. He lost his Shinigami powers and was left to die as Rukia was dragged back to the Soul Society for execution.
9. Training to unlock Zangetsu
After being saved by Kisuke, Ichigo trained to regain his powers and know the name of his Zanpaktou. Unfortunately for him, Ururu, one of the people in Kisuke’s shop was more powerful than she looked and almost killed him. He had his chain of fate destroyed and slowly began turning into a hollow. Due to the fact that shounen protagonists have no business dying, Ichigo managed to escape. Had he successfully been turned into a Hollow, his death would not have been far off.
8. Ichigo versus Kenpachi Zaraki (Soul Society)
Ichigo and his friends had just landed at the Soul Society gate only to be sent back by Gin. They were aided by Kukaku Shiba, Ichigo’s cousin and current head of the Shiba clan with her cannon that shot them straight into the Soul Society. The shot alerted all captains and their squads to their presence and Ichigo was confronted by Kenpachi Zaraki, captain of Squad 11 in episode 36. He barely survived with the skin of his teeth, as Kenpachi couldn’t be cut by Ichigo. Every strike he landed inflicted damage on himself. Ichigo would have been dead if not for Kenpachi’s rule that he doesn’t finish off a defeated foe.
7. Ichigo vs Byakuya’s second fight
In episodes 40 and 41, Ichigo had finally seen Rukia after so long and attempted to complete his rescue escape with her until he was confronted by Byakuya Kuchiki, captain of Squad 6. Ichigo was terribly wounded here from his previous battles. After blocking Byakuya’s first attack, Ichigo was about to be mauled by Senbozakura, Byakuya’s shikai, only for its release to be stopped by Yoruichi Shihoin. She carried Ichigo away from the impending danger while avoiding Byakuya’s attacks. Judging by the power of Byakuya, Ichigo was surely about to meet his end.
6. Ichigo v Byakuya’s final fight
Ichigo, having just saved Rukia with the help of Jouchiro and Kyoraku, is left fighting a full-powered Byakuya Kuchiki in episodes 59 and 60. Even with all his training and achieving bankai, Ichigo was still overwhelmed and eventually subdued by Byakuya and the overwhelming pressure of his bankai. He was about to be killed until his Hollow took over his body and was able to level out the fight.
5. Ichigo and Renji versus Aizen
In episode 61, Ichigo, fresh off a final victory against Byakuya, was ready to battle Aizen with the help of Renji. In a team effort, Renji with his damaged Zanpaktou provided cover while Ichigo went in for the attack. Aizen used a finger to stop his sword before failing to cut Ichigo in half. Aizen stated he was only a moment from doing so. Plot armor was on Ichigo’s side because the power difference between them was extremely huge at that point in the anime.
4. Grimmjow versus Ichigo’s second fight
In Bleach, Grimmjow was always a persistent opponent for Ichigo. In the first act of the “Arrancar” arc, Aizen sent Arrancars to Earth, and in episode 139, Ichigo fought a decent battle against a one-armed Grimmjow with the hollowfication ability he had learned from the Vizard, which gave him a significant edge. The power boost was temporary. After a while, Grimmjow soon had the upper hand. He impaled Ichigo’s hands into the ground and was readying a devastating attack to his head. Thankfully, Rukia intervened and froze Grimmjow’s hand at the last second, saving Ichigo.
3. Ulqiorra leaves a whole in Ichigo’s chest (1/2)
As the “Arrancar” arc reached its second act in episode 162, Ichigo had finally reached Las Noches and was forced to battle Ulquiorra. After getting smacked around, Ulquiorra used his hand and drilled Ichigo’s chest, leaving a huge whole in a lifeless body. Ichigo gets declared dead by Ulquiorra, and it took all of Orihime’s powers to “reject” his death and keep him alive.
2. Nnoitora battles Ichigo
In episode 192, after Ichigo fought his third and final battle against Grimmjow, he was greeted by the powerful Arrancar, Nnoitora. He didn’t give Ichigo any time to heal or recuperate, and Nellyelle had to intervene in the battle. She eventually ran out of power, and Ichigo’s body was getting crushed by the full weight of Tesla’s (one of Nnoitora’s fracción) resurreccion. Kenpachi Zaraki stepped in and saved Ichigo from certain death.
1. Ulquiorra leaves a whole in Ichigo’s chest (2/2)
In episode 266, during the “Arrancar” final act, Ulquiorra once again battled Ichigo. Although he had powered up significantly, he was still completely outclassed and overpowered. Ulquiorra, using his second resurreccion, destroyed Ichigo’s hollow mask and blasted a Cero at his chest in front of Orihime. Ichigo was certainly dead at this point, but with Orihime’s help, as well as his Hollow taking full control of his body, Ichigo was able to defeat Ulquiorra once and for all in a fight he probably didn’t deserve to win.