Bleach is an excellently written story that found multiple ways to surprise fans. Although the story followed the growth of Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends, many of the characters who they interacted with were interesting. Sometimes, these characters would make surprise appearances that helped other characters or contributed more to the plot than readers expected.
Some even were far more complex than they appeared to be on the surface level, either hiding their feelings and intentions, revealing unexpected abilities, or having a sudden change of heart. These twists do an excellent job of keeping the story fresh and unpredictable.
10 Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck Saves Ichigo Kurosaki From Nnoitra Gilga
After fighting Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, Ichigo is completely exhausted. In a cruel twist of fate, Nnoitra appears, and he is even stronger than Grimmjow. Ichigo is too tired to offer much of a resistance, and although Nnoitra reveals that Nel is a former Espada who lost her memory, fans were still surprised when she reverted to her adult form in order to protect Ichigo. Fighting Nnoitra saved Ichigo's life, and if she didn't change back into a child, she would have defeated him.
9 Kisuke Urahara Uses His Kido To Seal Away Sosuke Aizen
For a while, it seemed like Ichigo would be the one to properly defeat Aizen. He learned the Final Getsuga Tensho, an ability so powerful that it would cost Ichigo his Shinigami powers. When he battled Aizen, Ichigo was so powerful that he had the upper hand the entire time.
Eager to end the war, Ichigo uses the costly technique, but it isn't enough to take Aizen down. Instead, Urahara uses his kido to successfully seal Aizen away, since Aizen had been significantly weakened.
8 Gin Ichimaru Betrayed Aizen
Gin spent decades learning about Aizen's plans as well as his weaknesses, and he managed to keep his bankai's abilities a secret as well. Using this to his advantage, Gin left a poisoned fragment of his sword in Aizen's body and stole the Hogyoku. His attempt didn't work, and Aizen killed him for his betrayal. These few precious seconds gave Ichigo enough time to catch up with them, meaning that Aizen never had the opportunity to destroy Karakura Town.
7 Ulquiorra Cifer Stops Ichigo's Rampage As A Hollow
Ichigo brutally loses a fight against Ulquiorra and appears to be dead. Orihime Inoue's cries for help give him the willpower to come back, and Ichigo turns into his hollow form, inflicting fatal wounds onto Ulquiorra.
When it appears that Ichigo is going too far, Uryu Ishida steps in and tells him to stop. However, this only makes Ichigo focus his attention on him, unable to discern friend from foe. Thanks to Uryu's momentary distraction, Ulquiorra is able to cut through Ichigo's mask, snapping him out of it and saving the lives of his friends.
6 Masaki Kurosaki Defeats White
Isshin Kurosaki, formerly Isshin Shiba, was a Shinigami Captain in Soul Society. Regardless, he struggled to defeat White, and as the hollow prepared to fire a point-blank cero, Masaki interrupted the fight. She captured the hollow's attention, and after she lured it in, she managed to defeat it easily. Her arrival saved his life, and since she appeared to be an ordinary high school girl at first, Isshin was completely shocked.
5 Ryuken Ishida Helped Uryu Get His Powers Back
Ryuken doesn't seem to have a particularly close relationship with his son. He doesn't appear to have any interest in being a Quincy either. Thanks to these two factors, Uryu had no idea that his father was a Quincy until Ryuken offered to help him get his powers back. The resulting training is brutal, and Ryuken pushes Uryu to his very limits before shooting him in the chest with an arrow. These conditions were later revealed to be the requirements for Uryu to regain his powers.
4 Karin & Chad Defeat Bulbous G
When Chad first encounters Bulbous G, he is still unable to see Hollows. He flees from the Hollow in an attempt to get him away from people but encounters Ichigo's sister, Karin Kurosaki. Thankfully, Karin was better able to see the creature, and thanks to her guidance, Chad stood a chance of winning. Once Chad remembers the importance of protecting others, his Fullbring activates, and he gains the power to properly fight Hollows.
3 Retsu Unohana Helps Zaraki Kenpachi Regain His Full Potential
In order to lift the restrictions that Kenpachi put on himself, Unohana had to battle him and bring him close to death over and over again, a slow and brutal process that made him stronger with each near-death. Kenpachi needed to have access to all of his strength in order to truly be an asset against the invading forces. Due to Unohana's love of violence and sadistic mannerisms, it was difficult for readers to understand just how much she was helping him until she died from the battle, signifying that Kenpachi was finally stronger than her again.
2 Acidwire Breaks Off His Own Mask To Save His Sister
Sora Inoue was Orihime Inoue's brother and primary caretaker until his tragic death. He eventually turned into the Hollow called Acidwire, and the transformation made his mind warped and drove him to attack Orihime and her friends. After nearly eating her, Sora breaks his own mask, which dooms him but prevents him from regressing back into a bloodthirsty monster. Even after death, he put Orihime first.
1 Ryuken Is Instrumental In Yhwach's Defeat
After losing his wife when Yhwach forcibly takes away her Quincy powers, Ryuken discovered the cause of her death was a silver blood clot, which he then shapes into an arrowhead. This arrowhead is capable of making Yhwach lose his powers for a short time. He gives this weapon to his son, who is successful in shooting Yhwach with it, and this allows Ichigo to finally defeat someone who was otherwise a god.