Whittle-Em-Down Rhyme
A rhyme/poem/song where the characters are killed off verse by verse


(permanent link) added: 2011-09-13 06:41:58 sponsor: somerandomdude (last reply: 2011-11-04 15:19:28)

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Ten little Indian boys went out to dine
One choked his little self and then there were nine.
The first verse of the rhyme from And Then There Were None

This is a specific type of Ironic Nursery Rhyme that kills off each of its characters, or otherwise gets rid of them, one by one, verse by verse. Often used as a cautionary tale, but that's not a requirement. They're also common in children's rhymes where they're used to help teach children numbers, primarily subtraction. Typically children's rhymes don't have the "death" factor, instead saying "went home" or somesuch.

The usual form of such a rhyme is something along the lines of this:

X little Y's [did something]
One [did something to get themselves killed] and then there were X-1.

Note: to be an example of this trope, there has to be a number that decreases as the song goes on, or at least an implication that something is being slowly reduced, not just a list of deaths.

Do We Have This One?? Probably Needs a Better Title, and definitely Needs a Better Description.

Examples:

  • The plot of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None revolves around a rhyme like this. Lethal.
  • The German song Zehn kleine Jägermeister works like this. Some lethal [[hottip:*:Neun kleine Jägermeister wollte gerne erben, damit es was zu erben gab, musste einer sterben]], some not [[hottip:**:Acht kleine Jägermeister fuhren gerne schnell. Sieben fuhr'n nach Duesseldorf und einer fuhr nach Köln.]]
  • Ten Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Not lethal, but rather painful.
  • The famous "99 Bottles of Beer/Coke/Whatever on the Wall." Not lethal.
  • In "I'm Being Swollowed by a Boa Constrictor" this happens to the narrator. Lethal.
  • "Ten in the Bed". Not lethal, though perhaps causes head injuries.
  • "Ten Green Bottles". Not lethal.
    • In a blackout sketch on The Benny Hill Show a group of Irish singers started to sing this, but after the first "should accidentally fall / there'll be" they can't figure out what comes next.
  • A parody of the Christmas carol "We Three Kings" talks about the Three Wise Men puffing on a rubber cigar, which is for some reason loaded with explosives.
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