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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Idle Dandy: I don't watch it, so I feel reluctant to add it, but I get the impression Prison Break is something of an Anyone Can Die series.

James: The Serenity example given seemed particularly egregious to me. The article says that Anyone Can Die is supposed to show that a program is "serious", but the death of Wash at the very, very end, seemed pointless and contrived. Is there a name for hamfisted death-for-the-sake-of-it like that? Like, the writer tries to score points under the "positive" trope of Anyone Can Die, but fails? I can't find a trope; perhaps one should be added?

  • The real reason that Wash died was that the actor refused to sign on for a sequel. This is a known fact that the actor himself acknowledges. This troper doesn't hold that against Joss Whedon. I'll be a Whedon fan till the end. But let's not forget those little details while we endlessly deconstruct the plot.

Zeke: That's not a bad idea for a subtrope, but Wash is definitely an example of this one. Anyone Can Die doesn't prove you're serious and daring, it proves you're trying to be. Sometimes it just comes off as sadistic.

Freezer: Moved the entry for The Malazan Book of the Fallen to Kill 'em All.
Vampire Buddha: Removed the following, each for one of three examples:
  1. One or two characters dying does not this trope make, especially if it's a bunch of them dying near the end.
  2. If characters die and come back, it doesn't count.
  3. If characters have a tendency not to die, it doesn't remotely count even if you squint.

* Subverted in episode 17 of Macross Frontier, where it's heavily implied that Ozma is going to die, only to have him live in a Not Quite Dead moment. However, the trope is played straight in the Wham Episode 20, where Michael sacrifices himself to save Klan's life.
  • Memorable film example: Deep Blue Sea, in which the major character is wiped out in a freak event. Another memorable example is To Live and Die in L.A..
  • C.S. Friedman's "Coldfire" trilogy includes a sudden, heroic fall from a cliff that no one could survive. Surprisingly, the character really isn't ever seen again.
    • Same with Cordelia on Angel.
  • Doyle on Angel.
  • Two Firefly regulars died during Serenity - for maximum Anyone Can Die effect, one of them was immediately before the big battle at the end.
    • "I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I"- (Giant spear through chest).
      • Joss Whedon has gone on record stating that he prefers a 'verse where Anyone Can Die — and he usually makes it a fan-favorite character so that it will really wrench the viewer, rather than a one-shot guest star to whom nobody can relate. This troper can attest to the effectiveness of that strategy — when Wash died during Serenity, the troper was visibly stunned and kept hoping that the character would stage a last-minute reappearance.
  • Wild Bill Hickock on Deadwood (killed off after 4, but considering that the details of his death were fairly close to what really happened, including the place and the murderer, most people saw it coming).
  • Farscape killed off Zhaan, though this was due to the actress's desire to leave the show rather than any planned story event or arc.
  • In Earth: Final Conflict, William Boone gets killed in a rather lame fashion - being disintegrated while Regenerating In A Tank, by Zoor. Much later, after being replaced by Kincaid as main character, he is brought back.
    • A few episodes later, he is once again killed, this time off-screen.
  • While a light-hearted comedy The Vicar of Dibley deserves mention for having a regular character from the first series die in the Easter Special, immediately after Geraldine has shown apparent Genre Savviness by saying "This is Happy Valley, people don't die here."
  • The second season finale of Robin Hood killed off Marion. This was mostly due to the desire of Lucy Griffiths to leave the show.
  • That's nothing, the second season finale of Robin of Sherwood killed Robin. (In the third season Robin was replaced by Robert, but then, surprise surprise, everyone started calling Robert Robin instead.)
  • Supernatural kills off its characters often and with great relish. Whether they stay dead...
    • Oh jeez, that doesn't count. If they get dead and come right back they aren't dead. Buffy and Daniel Jackson are not part of this trope.
  • This trope is used at the end of the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Security Chief Tasha Yar is killed by living tar. But then again, the rest of the series is a vagrant disregard of this trope, and no major character dies at all. They even go so far as to bring back that killed off character in an alternate timeline situation.
  • It's sometimes still hard for me to believe that Henry Blake got killed on M*A*S*H
  • Half-Life. Valve decided to prove that Anyone Can Die in the Half-Life universe by killing off Eli Vance in Episode 2.
  • Super Robot Wars has a habit of subverting this whenever possible. Especially for Gundam and Evangelion. As an example, Jiro Yamada Gai Daigoji usually has a bigger role in any SRW game that features Martian Successor Nadesico than he does in the series itself. Super Robot Wars W even went as far as to give his appearance a redesign to match the rest of the cast when the story moved on to the "Prince of Darkness".
  • After the murder of Mike and the apparent impending death of his killer, April, College Roomies From Hell!!! seems to have taken this trope to heart, at first. Marsha was taken out so suddenly that a casual reader might not realize she's dead. Then, it is later revealed that both April and Marsha are, in fact, alive, although Hazel apparently intends to finish Marsha off soon and torture April to death over a long period of time. Also, Mike got better and is now a zombie.
  • How about the title character of It's Walky!? That's a pretty big one...although, he got better.
  • Arguably, The Order of the Stick has an example of this trope, when one of the main characters hit the bucket, though this death seems less than permanent.
    • Considering OotS is based off of D&D, non-permanent death and the afterlife is to be expected from the way he died. Now, involve a Sphere of Annihilation or a godsmack, and anyone can die.
      • Except the Entropomancer. Bastard.


The Nifty: This trope is not about any freakin' show that has a character die. I'm cutting the following entries that IMHO have fewer character deaths than the average series;

  • 1632 killed off Henry Dreeson
  • This last season of Nip/Tuck ended with Sean being stabbed many, many times by his crazed, deranged, ex-agent, Colleen Rose. The final scene was of Sean laying on the floor, blood dribbling out of his mouth and onto the floor from his wounds; however, with this being Nip/Tuck, he may pop right back up next season; after all, Julia was shot in the head, but instead of dying, she simply has amnesia. How exciting!
  • The 2005 version of Battlestar Galactica has skirted this trope several times, and may have just crossed over. When an Important Character Inherited From The Original Series turned out to be a Cylon, that was almost as big as dying. Minor characters have met their end, and while they teased the death of Starbuck, a seriously major character, she was just hiding, apparently.
    • The start of the recent mutiny arc certainly feels like this trope is in effect. Even if most major characters survive, the way things have been set up demands a large body count of the supporting case, who have lasted 4 seasons in many cases.
    • Especially since said arc resulted in the deaths of Gaeta and Zarek, both significant characters who had been around since the miniseries and Season 1, respectively. And when you consider just an episode earlier Dualla blew her brains out...
  • Stargate SG-1: In the double episode "Heroes," the viewer is told that someone died a heroic death; we learn at the end it is the fan-favorite Dr. Janet Fraiser. It is still a bit of a cheat, as the audience is led for much of the episode to believe that it was O'Neill who had died. Being dead, however, didn't stop her from having A Day in the Limelight (okay, it was more of a subplot) when an alternate reality Fraiser appears at the base. Notable, as this troper doesn't believe she ever had such a large part before dying.
    • In fact, Stargate SG-1 promptly began to massacre recurring characters starting with season 4, as noted in this article. That the article correctly predicted the deaths of Narim, Jacob Carter and Drey'auc is particularly telling, especially since two of their explanations were based on Die for Our Ship patterns. Fraiser was the absolute pinnacle of this trend; in fact, it could be Daniel Jackson, had Michael Shanks not decided to return.
  • Stargate Atlantis used this trope, with the deaths of Carson Beckett, Dr. Weir and various other characters that were not RedShirts. Unfortunately, they also used Not Quite Dead a little bit too often.
  • J. K. Rowling admitted in an interview that, while she was writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, this was the principle she was working under. She also admitted she had originally planned to kill off Mr. Weasley in the seventh book, but couldn't bring herself to go through with it.
    • But she killed Remus and Nymphadora instead
  • Mai-HiME goes from lighthearted comedy to top-notch drama by breaking this trope out unexpectedly, uses it again later in one of the best and most unexpected twists in anime, and then pulls it out a third time and still manages to take nearly everyone by surprise.
  • The pre-It's Walky Roomies featured the (then) shocking death of Ruth. While it didn't mark any sort of Cerebus Syndrome trend, it did show that the gangs hijinks weren't consequence free (and this was before the aliens showed up).

Note that I'm not disagreeing that characters die in these shows, just that the number of character deaths isn't particularly notable in any of them - the Character Shield is still intact. The nip/tuck entry for example lists ONE character that MAYBE dies. Also, nearly all of the characters that die in Mai-Hi ME get resurrected anyway, so that doesn't remotely count. There's a bunch of others that are debatable (We don't really need entries for horror movies, it's part of the premise of the genre), but I think I'll leave them per the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement.
  • It's Walky and Roomies are the same comic - the latter transitioning into the former. Ruth was the first named character to die in the strip and was far from the last. And as far as Harry Potter goes... just how many deaths does it take to qualify as Anyone Can Die? Though the example I'd use is Cedric Diggory: No one saw it coming, it set the tone for the latter half of the series, and had a major, lasting effect on Harry, himself. Replacing both.

The Nifty: I haven't actually read the last couple HP books, but there's far too few deaths in the previous for the series to qualify (Diggory was a minor character, introduced solely to be killed off), and the trope example only mentions one extra. However, if I'm wrong and the last two books really do turn into Anyone Can Die (ask yourself, were you ever worried that one of the primary characters could die? Did it feel like they were protected by a Character Shield?), please feel free to re-edit it back in. As for the It's Walky example, only one character died. Still, if you're sure they belong I'm not gonna edit them out. I will put spoilers on those two entries you put back in, though - this is a death trope after all.


Dmboogie: Sorry if I misunderstood the trope, but X-Com DOES count, even though none of the deaths are pre-planned, right?
PresidentEvil133: I removed the majority of the entry on Modern Warfare 2, seeing as it spoils a majority of the storyline. Here's the original, in case anyone wants to make it safe and then edit it back in.

  • "Modern Warfare 2" Realizing that they could use this to add more unnecessary plot turns/spectacle, Infinity Ward drags this through the dirt. Not only do you die in first person 3 times, one of the deaths occurs after playing as a character for 30 seconds. That plus the 2 times you get shot in the face and getting stabbed in the chest at the end (but you survive that). In two plotlines, you play as 5 characters. But since it's Call of Duty, that is all piled on top of the massive carnage all around you. But instead of you and your army vs their army with acceptable, realistic casualties, it's a bit different. You see hundreds of civilians die in front of you too, along with policeman, thousands of russian soldiers brutally mowed down in DC, thousands more die when the East Coast gets hit with an EMP, and helicopters fall out of the sky, almost everyone in the elite task force you fight for in most of the game also gets killed, and this is also topped off by two separate instances of walking through US SOCOM troops dying all around you after being hit by American artillery. There are more than a few moments where they kill more important characters too, like when one of your Ranger squadmates is shot in the back of the head while handing you a weapon, one of your task force buddies, and the most highly publicized member of the game, Ghost, is burned alive next to you while you die, and finally when the last three members of the task force alive, Price, Soap and Rook, are all making their escape, Rook is shot in the head seconds away from safety. All this and, oh yeah, the bad guy lives.

Ecliptor Calrissian: Removed the Doctor Who examples because except for Adric, everyone on that list died in the story that introduced them, or in Katarina's case, the story immediately after. That brings the forty-year main character death grand total to a whopping one.