9 saddest deaths in RWBY, ranked from sad to heartbreaking (and 3 most satisfying ones)

In the world of RWBY, actions have consequences, heroes are made, villains are undone, and the audience is forever kept on the edge of their seat (and with tissues nearby).
RWBY - ©2024 Rooster Teeth
RWBY - ©2024 Rooster Teeth /
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RWBY - ©2024 Rooster Teeth /

1) Penny Polendina

Ugh. S-A-L-U-T-A-T-I-O-N-S, my baby girl.

Penny Polendina's death is an unforgettable moment that oozes tragedy and shock in the show. Penny was the epitome of innocence and kindness. She wasn't just a character, she was a marvel of animation, a synthetic being with a heart of gold. In the course of the show, Penny dies twice, and I don't think I've recovered yet. It's not just about the loss of a character; it's the shattering of an ideal, the snuffing out of a bright light in a world already shadowed by conflict. Penny's death is heartbreaking because she represents something pure and hopeful in the gritty reality of RWBY.

Her first death was a gut-wrenching event that left us all in disbelief. Penny, a sentient android with a soul, participates in the Vytal Festival Tournament, a friendly competition between the various Huntsman academies located throughout Remnant. Her death happens during a match against Pyrrha Nikos. Unbeknownst to both Penny and Pyrrha, they are both being manipulated as part of a larger scheme orchestrated by Cinder Fall and her allies to incite fear and chaos. Her death happens when Emerald Sustrai, one of Cinder's many accomplices, uses her Semblance to create an illusion in Pyrrha's mind. Pyrrha, known for her control over metal through her Polarity Semblance, sees hundreds of swords coming towards her instead of the single one actually being controlled by Penny. In a defensive reaction, Pyrrha uses her Semblance at full strength, ultimately shredding and tearing Penny apart due to her metallic frame. The scene is both visually and emotionally jarring. Penny is dismembered and torn apart by her own weaponized strings as they are manipulated by Pyrrha's Semblance. Talk about emotional damage to the audience and poor Pyrrha.

Following her tragic death in Volume 3, the world is made right again as Penny is rebuilt by her creator and father figure, Pietro Polendina. In volume 8, after being severely injured, Penny is infected with a virus by Arthur Watts, which was intended to control her and force her to open the Vault of the Winter Maiden. In a dramatic turn of events, Penny chooses to become human to prevent the virus from using her robotic body and abilities. This transformation is done by Ambrosius, a jinn who lives in the Staff of Creation - an ancient and powerful artifact in the RWBY universe. The Staff, which can create anything the wielder can imagine, is used to give Penny a real human body, fulfilling her desire to be more human, a theme that is very much explored throughout her character arc.

After being transformed into a human, Penny still holds the power of the Winter Maiden. This power is crucial in the battle for control of the Relics and the fate of the world of Remnant. But Penny is mortally wounded during a conflict with Cinder Fall, who is possibly the most hated villain in this entire show besides Tyrian and, at this point, is relentlessly pursuing the powers of the Maidens and the Relics. Faced with her impending death, Penny makes a selfless decision to ensure that the power of the Winter Maiden does not fall into the wrong hands. In her final moments, she asks poor Jaune Arc, a fellow huntsman and friend who also happened to witness Pyrrha Nikos' death, to end her life while she is in the presence of Winter Schnee. By doing this, Penny ensures that the Winter Maiden's powers are transferred to Winter, whom she trusts to use the powers responsibly and for the greater good.

Jaune, with great reluctance and emotional turmoil, fulfills Penny's last request. Need I say more?

Now, we've talked about the saddest deaths, the ones we didn't like to witness or wish didn't happen. Let's talk about three insanely satisfying deaths, shall we?