As an idiom, the phrase "dead man walking" is most infamous as a call-out once traditional in American prisons; when the wardens would lead a man on Death Row down the hall, declaring "Dead man walking! Dead man walking here!" Dead Man Walking means YourDaysAreNumbered and you and/or the people around you know it. Now that prison wardens no longer use it (least not where they can be noticed), modern use of the term broadened somewhat to other types of doom, even benign "doom" such as losing a job (which may actually be the original meaning, but so far no one's been able to trace it conclusively).

Sometimes, when the police are investigating a "murder" without a body, they find the so-called "victim" alive and well and the police utter "Dead Man Walking?"

Does not have anything to do with TheUndead but is often used that way JustForPun. Compare YourDaysAreNumbered, WhodunnitToMe, IncurableCoughOfDeath, DoomyDoomsOfDoom.

Invoked by DeadStarWalking. Sometimes used to describe a state in a game that's UnwinnableByDesign. Not to be confused with DeadCharacterWalking, which describes a video game glitch where the player still has control over a dead character.


[[folder: Film ]]
* ''Dead Man Walking'', [[TropeNamer obviously.]]
* As a dog is being led away to be put down at the [[PoundsAreAnimalPrisons pound]] that Lucky's taken to in the Creator/EddieMurphy film version of ''Film/DrDolittle'', one of the dogs comments "dead dog walking."
* There's a chilling scene in ''Disney/LadyAndTheTramp'' at the pound in which some of the dogs obliquely reference this trope when a dog is taken by a human into a back room, hinting that the dog will be put to sleep.
* In ''Film/LooneyTunesBackInAction'', Daffy gets fired from Warner Bros. Studios and is led out of the office by Kate and Bugs calls out "Dead duck walking!"
* In ''Film/NightOfTheComet'', the {{Technically Living Zombie}}s [[spoiler: are doomed to dissolve into dust if they go too long without drinking human blood, and by the end of the film, they've all crumbled into nothingness from starvation]].
* In the first ''Film/IronMan1''-movie, Yinsen describes certain bomb victims that people in his village called "the Walking Dead". These people have had small bits of shrapnel enter their bloodstream, and live for about a week before their organs are torn to shreds. This happens to main character Tony Stark as well, who only survives by having an electromagnet implanted into his chest to keep the shrapnel from entering his heart.

[[folder: Literature ]]
* Creator/StephenKing's ''Literature/TheGreenMile'' has prison guard Percy Wetmore, who tries to carry out the traditional callout as he leads John Coffey to his cell in E block. The protagonist and supervisor tells him to shut up - by the time the story is set the phrase is becoming deprecated so it established Percy's character as a {{Jerkass}} and a later villain.
* The title of the book and subsequent film and stage adaptation ''Film/DeadManWalking'', BasedOnATrueStory of a nun who became the spiritual advisor to a Death Row convict.
* In Creator/RudyardKipling's ''Literature/TheJungleBook'' a wolf who loses a challenge is called the Dead Wolf as long as he remains alive, "which is not long as a rule".
* Literally the title of a TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}} novel, showcasing the [[CrapsackWorld incredibly dour]] [[PuttingOnTheReich Death Korps of Krieg]] as they battle the [[ImplacableMan implacable Necrons]]. The title comes from the fact that the [[WeHaveReserves Kriegers have no moral compunction against sacrificing their own men to kill the enemy]], and are all drilled to have no dreams, aspirations, or visions of the future beyond service in the [[RedShirtArmy Imperial Guard]]--and their inevitable death. [[UncannyValley They are so cold and emotionless]] as to creep out their fellow Guardsmen.
** [[CloningBlues It helps that all Kriegers are cloned.]]
* Another [=WH40K=] example: Within the Literature/NightLords legion there was a practice of placing a suspended execution upon legionaries who warranted death, but were too valuable to be executed at present. Their gauntlets were painted [[MarkOfShame arterial, or "sinner's" red]] and their lives continued at the whim of their primarch.
* Variation from ''Discworld/TheFifthElephant'', when [[spoiler:Vimes is accosted by a hostile SuperSupremacist werewolf]]:
--> Vimes realized he was a dead man bathing.
* One of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books features a pair of red-shirts called Dedman and Walken, who are (obviously) doomed.
* Almost directly name-checked in the last book of the ''Literature/UkiahOregon'' series, when the leader of an outlaw biker gang familiar with the Pack (Ukiah's 'family') sees Ukiah looking beaten and bruised. "Looks like someone gave the Cub a going over. Who is that dead man?"
* At one point in the {{novelization}} of ''Literature/RevengeOfTheSith'', Anakin starts losing the duel when [[IShallTauntYou Dooku starts taunting him over his fear of the anger in his heart]], until Palpatine yells at him to use his fear and anger as his weapons to kill Dooku. At that point, the narration makes it clear that Dooku's a dead man; despite trying to keep up the fight, even he sees his impending death.
* In ''[[Literature/TheRiftwarCycle Shadow of a Dark Queen]]'', condemned criminals are drafted into a combat squad, told that they are legally dead and without rights, and forced to wear their nooses as a constant reminder of the alternative to service. [[spoiler:The survivors of their major SuicideMission are [[WinYourFreedom awarded their freedom]] at the end.]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* On ''Series/{{Mythbusters}}'', the Narrator often intones the phrase jokingly when referring to the (inanimate) victim of the day's experiment - usually Buster the crash test dummy but there's been [[TheAllegedCar "Dead Car Driving!"]] and others.
* An ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' episode titled "Dead Man Walking" involves a victim who has gotten radiation poisoning and the team has to figure out whodunit before he dies.
** This premise gets reused in the ''Series/NCISNewOrleans'' episode "The Walking Dead."
** ''NCIS'' also brings it up in the episode "Forced Entry," after [=McGee=] is tricked into drinking Gibbs' coffee:
-->'''Marine Sgt. Hegarty''': [[BerserkButton You never mess with a Marine's coffee]], if you want to live, Agent [=DiNozzo=].\\
'''Tony [=DiNozzo=]''': [laughs] That's right. Dead man walking!
** Also comes up after everyone on the team learns about [=McGee=]'s novel ''Deep Six'', which has characters based on him and his co-workers. Including an {{Expy}} of Gibbs named "L. J. Tibbs."
--> '''[=DiNozzo=]:''' Where is LJ, Dead Agent Walking?
* ''Series/TheThickOfIt'' episode "The Rise of the Nutters", to a politician who self-destructed on television:
--> '''Malcolm Tucker''': ''[Ben enters a party]'' Oh, here he is. Dead man walking.
* In the third episode of ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', Rodney, who is starving because an Ancient device won't allow him to feed, abuses this phrase and its variants.
* An episode of ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'' is titled "Dead Man Walking". In which Jack tries to resurrect someone with a magic resurrection gauntlet against the warning of his companions.
* In the Episode "Bridesmaids Revisited" from ''Series/GilmoreGirls'' Rory and Logan are at the wedding of Logan's sister. They encounter the groom in the hallway, and Logan has to help him get ready for the ceremony. He grabs his shoulder and calls out that phrase as they walk to his room.
* In ''Series/TheITCrowd'', after Roy finds out via an online quiz that he will die tomorrow, he tells everyone to ignore it and that everything will be fine. Then, as he is walking to his desk, Moss yells out "Dead man walking!"

[[folder: New Media ]]
* There's a website with a feature called Dead Bro Walking, that focuses on the BlackDudeDiesFirst trope.

[[folder: Professional Wrestling ]]
* Wrestling/TheUndertaker, in 2002 started using theme music with ominous bells and the phrase "Dead Man Walking". Fans remember it as the year he beat Wrestling/HulkHogan.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* In ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'' part two there is a minigame called DeadManWalking in which you fight infinitely respawning enemies, trying to take as many as you can with you.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins''. All Grey Wardens, due to the Taint. Also, [[spoiler: Wynne]] and, more figuratively speaking, the Legion Of The Dead. Their initiation is a dwarven funeral rite. Since they are already dead, they have nothing to fear.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Crysis}}'', [[spoiler:everyone who puts on a Nanosuit.]] And more literally, Alcatraz, the PlayerCharacter in the second game.
-->'''Hargreave''': [[spoiler:[[WellIntentionedExtremist This isn't a war ordinary men can win!]]]] This is the future, death's an inconvenience now, nothing more. We are ''all'' dead men walking.
* [[HitmanWithAHeart Thane Krios]] from ''VideoGame/MassEffect2''. He has an incurable disease that slowly destroys his ability to breathe, and all the doctors say he'll be dead in less than a year. If he survives ''Mass Effect 2'''s SuicideMission, then when you meet him again in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', he tells you that the doctors say he'll be dead in around three months...and [[{{Determinator}} he last talked to them nine months ago.]] Later on, [[spoiler:he manages to drive off Kai Leng from the salarian Councilor despite his disease, leaving him barely able to breathe]].
* In ''VideoGame/YakuzaDeadSouls'', Goro Majima gets bit by a zombie. By the next chapter of the game, he is falling ill and his eye is turning red. He goes to a sauna in a last-ditch effort to cure himself. [[spoiler:Ultimately subverted: the zombie that bit him wore dentures and never actually infected him. The sickness and the redness in his eye? Just allergies.]]

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* In an issue of ''TalesOfZenith'' a gallon of milk in a store wants to sneak to the front of the display case. The reason is, his expiration date is yesterday, which means he'll be burst and dumped down the sewer if he can't escape by being bought. The cottage cheese and sour cream notice this, and they call out ''Dead Milk Walking!''

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* The second ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}'' Christmas episode has "Deactivated robot walking" when Bender's being taken to the [[strike: electric]] [[CoolAndUnusualPunishment electromagnetic chair]].