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-> ''"Tis a vile thing to die, my gracious lord, When men are unprepared, and look not for it."''
-->-- '''Catesby''', ''Theatre/RichardIII''

The protagonists are walking down a hallway or simply just relaxing and minding their own business when suddenly out of nowhere one of them is killed in a horrific manner. This often can and does fall in the category of {{Gorn}}. This form of demise can lead to TheReveal and can often lead to the confrontation with the BigBad. Typically includes or is accompanied by ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice. Sometimes is foreshadowed very briefly by the killer being shown just before the character's death. Most commonly associated with Horror and typically the responsible party is of the monster variety. It can also be used to reveal any obstacles in the protagonist's way by killing a less important character or a RedShirt, if there are any. Not limited to villains, however, as it can also be done as part of a MookHorrorShow.

Compare with DroppedABridgeOnHim. Can also be considered a subtrope of HarbingerOfImpendingDoom but is generally a plot twist. As in, up to this point everything has been going in the protagonist's favor up until this trope is invoked. Also compare with DynamicEntry, which is usually nonfatal and portrayed in a [[LighterAndSofter lighter tone]]. InTheBack may use this. KilledMidSentence is a specific sub-trope, and DistractedFromDeath may overlap.

'''As a DeathTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Kaname Tousen from ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. When fighting Hisagi, he pulls out his [[OneWingedAngel Hollow form]], and while busy laughing at how screwed the heroes are...is promptly stabbed in the head by Hisagi before he can show anything. This doesn't kill him though. As he lies dying, Tousen is filled with remorse. He asks Hisagi if he can show him his face, but is abruptly killed by Aizen, who explodes his body.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'': Senba's Burai is sniped InTheBack by Gino in Turn 6 of R2, exploding and killing him.
* Happens at the end of the second episode of ''Anime/CrossAnge'' when Coco is killed by a portal opening.
* ''Manga/DeathNote'' had a particularly nasty one at the end when Mikami, realizing that Kira and his cause are done for, drives his pen into his chest, puncturing his heart and [[HighPressureBlood spraying blood everywhere]]. He dies within the minute.
* ''Manga/ElfenLied'' is full of these, two of the most notable examples being the deaths of Kouta's sister and father: Lucy splits Kanae in half while she tearfully apologizes to Kouta, and then decapitates his father when he walks over a moment later. Both deaths happen within ''mere seconds'' of each other.
* ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic'':
** When the Arbalest makes it's first appearance in Khanka, Sousuke [[MookHorrorShow plays a lethal variation of hide-and-seek with five Savages]]. As in, every time he appears from the dark, a Savage permanently goes off the radar via being stabbed, shot or hit by a tree.
** The entrance of Clouseau in ''The Second Raid''. As a Savage is about to unleash some autocannon goodness on Sousuke and co. fleeing in a car, it takes a headshot from the side. Then Clouseau disengages ECS, throws one of his machetes into another Savage then expertly dodges incoming shots and stabs the third.
* ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'': Anderson attempts this with Seras and nearly succeeds, but misses her heart.
** Also, when Seras and Alucard are ordered to chase down the vampire couple that are massacring houses. Alucard blasts the male vampire through the door when he goes to answer it, empties a entire clip into him, reaches into his chest and crushes his heart, killing him.
* ''VisualNovel/HigurashiWhenTheyCry'': uses this on occasion; during the Massacre Chapter, the [[TrueCompanions club]] have just [[HopeSpot dispatched the men pursuing them]], and decide to hijack their car to get Rika and Satoko to safety. The group run in to knock out the last few men, when a shot rings out, and Keiichi suddenly falls over. The manga completely averts this however, by having Hanyuu stop time before the bullet hits so everyone can contemplate what to do when it inevitably hits Keiichi (when she stops time, it's inches from his chest).
* ''Manga/HunterXHunter'':
** Neferpitou, who was just introduced, jumps directly to the heroes and rips off Kite's right arm. After their off-screen battle, Neferpitou is showing sitting with Kite's severed head and is shown to have only received scratches from the battle.
** Sillva's deadly DynamicEntry kills Cheetu (before he can showing all his abilities).
** Phinks is undercover and arrives at the place where Uvogin is captured, where he impales Dallzollene.
* In ''Manga/{{Judge}}'', this happens to Hiro. After he and Hikari have accomplished their goal, they talk about how they are finally free and can start a new life... only for Hiro to collapse and Hikari admitting that she poisoned him because she learned that he was indirectly responsible for Atsuya's death.
* Seeing how ''Manga/OnePiece'' [[NeverSayDie never ever kills any major characters outside of flashbacks]], and that the Marineford Arc was all about saving Ace, it was pretty sudden when they're finally free and running away that [[ShootTheShaggyDog Ace suddenly throws himself between Akainu and Luffy, getting impaled and burned to death in the process]].
* ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'', Episode Three. Mami doesn't pay enough attention when fighting Charlotte, and promptly gets eaten head first.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the ''VideoGame/Left4Dead'' comic two guards just heard the alarm to evacuate their base, then they are killed by a Hunter and a Smoker before they could react.
* Agent 355 in ''ComicBook/YTheLastMan'' dies this way shortly before the end of the story, just as she and Yorick have decided that [[WillTheyOrWontThey they will]].
* Shockingly, this is how Tommy Oliver dies in ''ComicBook/MightyMorphinPowerRangersBoomStudios'' #25, ran through the back by his EvilCounterpart Lord Drakkon. What makes this so surprising is that this is ''Power Rangers'', a series known to be LighterAndSofter than its Super Sentai counterparts.

* Rei does this in ''FanFic/AeonEntelechyEvangelion'' as a variation of her first appearance. On the other hand it could been all in Shinji's head (looking at Cosmic Horrors from up close is not a good thing for your sanity) and what really happened was a DynamicEntry by Misato's team.
* ''FanFic/FalloutEquestria'': Steelhooves/Applesnack is on the wrong end of a Hellhound attack very early on in Chapter 39. This comes as a bit of a shock due to his status as a Canterlot ghoul, hence able to revive from most forms of damage. Turns out decapitation isn't something he can revive from.
* It happens to multiple characters in the Homestuck fancomic ''Webcomic/AlabasterTheDoomedSession'', but mainly to [[http://mspfanventures.com/?s=236&p=907 this poor dog]].
* Partway into {{FanFic/Eugenesis}}, Autobot City is getting swarmed by Quintessons. Grimlock meets up with Ultra Magnus as the Autobots are trying to fight them off and the two start discussing what they should do. Than in midsentence a string of gunfire from a passing hovercraft blasts Grimlock in the chest and kills him. The narration even notes that as he fell over he looked[[LampshadeHanging more surprised than pained]].

* ''Franchise/{{Alien}}'' series.
** ''Film/{{Alien}}'': The dinner scene. Kane, having been infected previously, eats dinner after recovering appearing perfectly normal. He suddenly starts convulsing and is killed by a chest burster.
** ''Film/{{Aliens}}'': The android Bishop is apologizing for scaring the heroine. At this moment he is ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice and you see the [[Main/BigBad Alien Queen]] drop down from underneath the Dropship where it had stowed onto the ship and then rips Bishop in half with her claws. Subverted in that Bishop isn't dead -- he's a robot, after all.
** ''Film/{{Alien 3}}'': Dr. Clemens is built up as a main character, but then he suddenly gets grabbed by the Alien and killed off. The prison warden is killed while yelling at Ripley, in a room full of other people no less.
* Used for comedy in ''Film/TheBoondockSaints''. In the middle of a relatively serious scene of the main characters getting drunk and discussing plans, Rocco slams his fists down on the table. This sets off his gun, resulting in his girlfriend's cat getting blown all over the wall to the complete shock of everyone involved.
* In ''Film/{{Cache}}'', after inviting Georges into his home, Majid slits his own throat. It's the fact that the death is self-inflicted that is shocking, as well as the apparent lack of motivation for doing so.
* In ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'', Bane is on the point of killing Batman, and suddenly gets BlownAcrossTheRoom by Catwoman without any preamble or any indication whatsoever of what's about to happen. The [[DroppedABridgeOnHim suddenness and anticlimax]] is the main reason why many people watching expected him to get up again, thinking that his metal vest might have protected him, coupled with the fact that he's [[MadeOfIron Bane]] and anyone who has played [[VideoGame/BatmanArkhamAsylum the video game]] knows he can survive being hit by the Batmobile.
* As Michael in ''Film/DeathWarmedUp'' goes through a HeroicBSOD about winning over the bad guys in the film's ending, power lines near him suddenly break loose and electrocute him to death. His girlfriend Sandy then runs into the night, and credits roll.
* ''Film/DeepBlueSea,'' Samuel L. Jackson, when he gets snarfed down by a shark as he's giving his RousingSpeech.
* In ''Film/TheDeparted'', Billy Costigan is killed by a shot to the head instantly and with no warning whatsoever.
* ''Franchise/FinalDestination'' is now known for its drawn out, [[RubeGoldbergMachine overly complex and infeasible death sequences]] but [[Film/FinalDestination the first movie]] has a notoriously simple and shocking death when Terri is hit by a bus immediately after a heated argument with her friends. Cue the rewind button on a lot of home videos to check if that really did just happen.
* A similar scene happens in ''Film/FinalDestination4'' when two characters leave a hospital deep in conversation, and one gets run over by an ambulance.
* In ''Film/{{Goodfellas}}'', Samuel L. Jackson, [[RuleOfThree again]], is late for his own fucking funeral. We get a full second's warning before he gets a bullet in the head. His killer gets one himself, when he thinks he's about to be a made man, but is shot in the back of the head, not even completing his realization, "Oh, n---!"
* ''Film/TheHatefulEight'': When [[Creator/SamuelLJackson Warren]] orders Daisy's brother to come out of the basement by holding Daisy hostage, the siblings share an "it's going to be okay" smile as they look at each other... then Warren blasts his head off.
* ''Film/JurassicPark'', this happens with the programmer played by Creator/SamuelLJackson when he goes to reset the circuit breakers and is eaten alive by a Velociraptor offscreen. Ellie has to run from the very same Velociraptor when she enters the bunker to reset the breaker.
* In the film version of ''[[Film/TheLordOfTheRings The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers]]'', this is how Hama dies. He and Gamling, riding along, minding their own business, then their horses start freaking out and then, suddenly, warg attack!
* ''Film/{{Mermaid}}'' has Alice and the car at the end which just barely misses her. And the second one which doesn't.
* Defied in ''Film/PacificRim''. Hannibal Chau [[TemptingFate tempts fate]] by giving a long description of how the newborn Kaiju was doomed from the first, only to get swallowed mid-rant. See TheStinger to learn how that went.
** Played straight with Raleigh's brother Yancy, who's ripped from Gipsy Danger's cockpit and KilledMidSentence with absolutely no forewarning.
* [[FanNickname "Bikini Girl"]] from ''Film/PlanetOfTheDinosaurs'': It is less than thirty seconds from the time she ''starts'' to strip down to her bikini to the time she's eaten by a monster.
* One death scene in ''Film/{{Psycho}}'' was filmed to invoke this, as focusing the camera on the man's feet would clue the audience in that something was about to happen.
* ''Film/PulpFiction'': The scene which is the TropeNamer for IJustShotMarvinInTheFace, is additionally also an example of this.
* In ''Film/RedDawn2012'' Jed is suddenly shot in the head when the Wolverine's base is ambushed.
* The first ''Film/ResidentEvil'' movie does this not only one, not twice, not even three times but four times.
** The first time is is when the Red Queen kills half the military team and the leader by using the lasers to kill them off one by one until the team leader avoids the deadly lasers and the Queen creates a laser net to kill him resulting in ThereIsNoKillLikeOverKill.
** The second time is when the remainder of the team is trying to escape and trying to open a code locked door. One of the members gets it open, and is dragged to the ground and devoured, complete with screams, to show exactly how much shit has just hit the fan.
** The third time is after Spence backstabs the group and traps them in the lab, he tries to get on the train. He stops to inject himself with the anti-virus, and is attacked by the [[strike:Hunter]]Licker and killed, introducing another obstacle that later tries to attack them while still trapped in the lab when the Queen unleashes a {{plan}}.
** The fourth and final time is when the [[strike:Hunter]]Licker attacks the group as they're fleeing on the train and rips open one of the doors and snatches Kaplan and eats him outside the train, after which he attacks the rest of the group.
* ''Film/{{Serenity}}'': The crew is being chased by a Reaver ship through a giant space battle. After some technical difficulties they manage to make a rough landing. Wash starts to repeat his signature line for the movie, congratulating himself on landing with no power to speak of, when a huge metal spike crashes through the cockpit window and takes Wash right through the heart, killing him instantly. Turns out he didn't lose the Reavers, which are still after them and the crew is still utterly screwed.
* At the start of ''Film/SevenPsychopaths'', two hitmen are discussing various topics. Suddenly, a man in a mask walks up and blows both of their heads off - introducing us to the first psychopath, the Jack of Diamonds.
* Parodied in ''Film/{{Spaceballs}}'' (which even has [[ChronicallyKilledActor John Hurt]], who [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] the entire event by muttering "Oh no, not again!")
* In ''Film/TheTexasChainSawMassacre1974'', Kirk has just entered the farmhouse when Leatherface suddenly appears next to him and kills him with a hammer. What set this apart from a standard jumpscare is the matter-of-factly way its done. No ScareChord, no crazy angles, just... a quick death.
* ''Film/TheThing1982'', when one of the members has an apparent heart attack and the doctor tries to revive him with a defibrillator. Turns out the team member was the titular Thing when the guy's chest splits open and [[{{Squick}} literally disarms the doctor]].
* In the film ''{{Film/Spartan}}'', Val Kilmer's character is having a quiet meeting in a grassy backyard with an information who clues him into the disappearance of an unnamed government official's daughter. [[BoomHeadshot It doesn't end well.]]

* Creator/EdgarAllanPoe's "Literature/TheMasqueOfTheRedDeath" had a mysterious guest appear in Prince Prospero's MasqueradeBall clad in funeral garb and an apparent mask to mimic that of the victims of the plague the nobility had shut themselves away from. The results are not pretty.
* Quite common in works by Creator/DerekRobinson. All part of his campaign to make sure his readers know that WarIsHell.
* Happens with regularity in the Creator/DaleBrown novels, where human error results in the Dreamland team getting snuck up on and taking a pounding. For example:
** In ''Flight of the Old Dog'' the Kavaznya laser cannon actually acts like a RealLife laser in being instantaneous, seemingly coming out of nowhere and effectively undodgeable to its various victims.
** In ''Shadow Command'' EB-1C Vampires have just successfully attacked a laser cannon when Russian missiles speed in and splash them before countermeasures can be taken.
* ''Literature/TheForeverWar'', being a sci-fi war novel written by an actual Vietnam vet, takes this trope and runs with it. Causes of sudden, random death include: laser to the face, dropship crash, space suit malfunction, earthquake, surprise missile attack by your own superiors, dart to the chest, jumping too hard and leaving orbit, and ''slipping and falling on frozen helium''.
* ''Literature/StarshipTroopers'' has its share of very sudden deaths, compounded by rampant AnyoneCanDie.
* This being a death trope, the ''Literature/MalazanBookOfTheFallen'' series has multiple instances. One that stands out for being a rather egregious DiabolusExMachina, [[CrapsackWorld even for this series]], is the death of [[TheHero Trull Sengar]] at the end of ''Reapers' Gale''. The BigBad is dead, the war is over and Trull is taking a moment alone to catch his breath. Then he's stabbed in the back by the now-totally insane EvilChancellor we haven't seen for the past 200 pages.
* When the party [[DwindlingParty starts a'dwindling]] in ''Literature/GalaxyOfFear: The Doomsday Ship'', each death is novel and rather sudden, each soon after the last - EvilElevator, [[DisneyVillainDeath knocked down an empty elevator shaft]], sucked into space through a hole in the ship, attacked by [[HollywoodAcid acid-spraying robots]] until falling. There's even a noncomedic example of DoorSlamsYou and a character being locked into a room with the air being pumped out, but those characters don't die.
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''
** In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix'' Sirius is killed unexpectedly when he falls through a veil that separates the living from the dead when struck be a stunning spell from Bellatrix right after Dumbledore arrives and Harry and Neville think they're all saved and the fighting is dying down.
** During the Battle of Hogwarts in ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheDeathlyHallows'', Fred Weasley is suddenly and unexpectedly killed in an explosion. Bonus points for being the ''last'' character anyone expected to die.
* Not uncommon in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''. For instance, people can be forgiven for flipping back a few pages during the Red Wedding to determine when exactly the crossbows came out.
* Happens often enough in the ''Literature/{{Destroyermen}}'' series, which is unsurprising in gunnery duels between WWII warships. The best example is Seaman Ray Mertz, a messman aboard the USS ''Walker''. The poor bastard is in the galley during the Battle of Baalkpan, making sandwiches for the crew, who have been fighting a numerically-superior Grik/Japanese fleet for hours. A 10-inch shell from the battlecruiser ''Amagi'' rips the galley right out of ''Walker'''s midship deckhouse. Mertz never knew what hit him, and there wasn't even enough left of him to bury when it was over.
* In book fourteen of ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', ''{{Literature/Cold Days}}'', Lily, the Summer Lady, gets shot in the head by Maeve with no warning. Bonus points for [[DidntSeeThatComing nobody]], not even [[TheChessmaster Mab]], [[DidntSeeThatComing seeing it coming]].
* In ''Literature/CodexAlera'' Rook gets killed by the Vord Queen in a shockingly offhanded way, with no drama and just a callous comment that barely relates to her at all, showing her total lack of significance to the Queen.
* In ''[[Literature/ZeusIsDead Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure]]'': Jason, surprising because up to this point he was (arguably) being groomed to be the book's official hero.
-->'''Thalia:''' Oh, gods! No one survives a plummet!
* In ''Literature/KillDecision'', the team are planning their next move when Hoov gets killed by a sniper.
* Used bizarrely in ''Literature/CiaphasCain''. In one story, one of the quotes at the beginning of a chapter is "Well that was unexpected" by a certain Varan the Undefeatable. When we actually meet him in a later story, it's actually a IAmNotLeftHanded moment as he screams the line while revealing his chaos mutations extend to a bulletproof carapace,and Cain has some diffficulty killing him.
* In ''Literature/TheDinosaurLords'', Pope Pío is in the climax of an impassioned call to arms when he drops dead from a cardiac arrest, to surprise of everyone.
* In ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', Rand's attempt to defeat the CardCarryingVillain Sammael is shaping up to be a high-powered WizardDuel between TheChosenOne and someone who considered him his nemesis for 3000 years, right up until Sammael gets unceremoniously overrun by a horrifically lethal FogOfDoom. This caused much speculation since Rand NeverFoundTheBody, only for WordOfGod to explain that Sammael was a "louse" who didn't deserve a more narratively fulfilling death.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/TrueBlood'' loves doing this, especially in ways that you ''really'' didn't see it coming.
** Season 1 and two had Eddie (suddenly pierced with a wooden floorboard) and Gabe (NeckSnap courtesy of Godric).
** Season 3 had Alcide suddenly shooting Cooter through the head, as well as Jason's surprisingly swift murder of Franklin. Others include Lorena Krasiki and [[BackStab Talbot]]. And let's not forget [[OffWithHisHead the Magister]].
** In season 4, Claudine (attacked by Eric), Sheriff Blackburn, Sheriff Kirsch, Nan Flanagan herself (taken off guard by Bill), Flanagan's guards, Luis Patino - all qualify.
** In season 5, almost everyone. [[ConvenientlyTimedAttackFromBehind Russell Edgington, Hayes]] (vampire guard from 5x01), [[NeckSnap General Cavanaugh]], [[BackStab Don Bartolo]], [[YourHeadASplode Rosalyn]], Alexander Drew, Roman Zimojic, [[OffWithHisHead Dieter Braun]], [[OffWithHisHead Kibwe Akinjide]], [[OffWithHisHead Sheriff Elijah Stormer]], Cat Ingerslev and the other Sanguinistas seen in 5x01, [[BoomHeadshot Chelsea]], the unsavory vampire who was feeding off Hoyt, Gondry and Lambert (Bill's guards who Jessica and Jason killed), the escort guys Eric staked, the two male vampires that Alcide fought and of course the entire security staff of the Authority Headquarters.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'': Arzt in Season 1, and Ilana in Season 6. The latter seems to have been a homage to the former, as they both die in the same manner - exploding mid-conversation while handling dynamite.
* British sitcom ''Series/{{Ideal}}'': Moz mentions to Cartoon Head (a hitman) that they should "take Craig out", meaning taking him out to a club. Cartoon Head, high on LSD at the time, misinterprets this and shoots Craig in the head.
** In a later series Craig's identical twin brother Steve suffers an equally sudden death, accidentally shooting himself with a gun Psycho Paul told him wasn't loaded while preparing to rescue Moz's dad.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** When the MonsterOfTheWeek is introduced odds are good that it is going kill, eat or kidnap someone, possibly plural. It's a wonder anyone bothers moving to Sunnydale, since any decently run government would've labeled it a deathtrap and [[Film/{{Aliens}} nuked the site from orbit just to be sure]].
** In the very first scene of the very first episode, the young guy sneaks his young female friend into the High School at night. It's dark and creepy and she's uncomfortable. It's clear he has dark and creepy [read: 'pointy teeth'] designs on her. She timidly asks if they're really all alone and when he verifies that they are, she's the one who grows teeth and puts the bite on him!!!
** This could also apply to Tara in season 6. Warren runs into Buffy's lawn, shoots a few times with a gun, and Buffy and Tara are both hit, which sends Willow on a revenge spree.
** Good lord, by this point someone should have slapped Sunnydale with the label "Death Trap" with all the times this trope is invoked.
** A villain-on-villain example, when Simone kills The General.
** Toru surprises the gang by appearing out of nowhere and putting the pointy end of the Scythe through Renee's chest, killing her.
* In the second episode of the second season of ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}'', "Valley of Darkness", some Viper pilots are relaxing after fighting off a Cylon basestar in the previous episode, "Scattered". Cue one of the Cylon Centurions who've boarded the ''Galactica'' looming out and slashing one of them across the chest.
* Infamously, Paul from ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'' in the final episode.
** Also Bennett. Seriously, Whedon loves killing people.
* Used several times in ''Series/OneThousandWaysToDie''. One notorious example is the ''Pam Caked'' segment: the AlphaBitch Pamela causes the flyer of her cheerleader group, Amber, to fall to the ground in public due to petty jealousy, and when she stands in front of the girls to gloat... she is accidentally [[TrampledUnderfoot trampled to death]] ''[[TrampledUnderfoot by the whole football team]]'', as they enter the sports grounds through a banner that blocks her from their view.
* Kate from ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' dives in front of Gibbs in order to take the bullet intended for him. For a second everyone believes her dead, but she jumps right up, revealing her BulletProofVest. However, as they are all laughing in relief, [[BigBad Ari]] shoots her in the head and walks away.
* This is how it ended up with Claire Kincaid in ''Series/LawAndOrder'': In the the last few seconds of "Aftershock" (while driving a drunk Lenny home), her car is t-boned by a drunk driver. Claire was only supposed to be crippled by the accident, but since Jill Hennesey declined to come back to film a farewell scene, they wrote her off as having died.
* ''Series/TheMentalist'' has His Red Right Hand in which Jane and Lisbon are lightheartedly joking with a secretary as they make their way to Bosco's office... where Bosco and his entire team are found massacred.
* ''Series/TheMissing'' - In series 2, the end of an episode ends on Jorn in the present day following a seemingly normal lead into one of the missing girls - turns out he'd accidentally found a prime suspect in the kidnap case. They both realise at the same time that the prospect-kidnapper has been caught out, and the man grabs Jorn in a headlock and grapples him to the ground, before grabbing a powerdrill and drilling Jorn IN THE FACE. It's a very sudden and brutal death that the episode ends on, and the character murdered was a fan favourite and one of the few characters in the show without any unlikable aspects to his personality.
* Scully's father on ''Series/TheXFiles'' was killed off this way. The first time we meet him, he's having dinner with his daughter at her home. An hour later, she gets a call saying he's died of a heart attack.
** Diana Fowley's death was this. After a season and a half of tormenting Mulder and Scully, she is murdered and we are only informed after the event.
* Most of the deaths on ''Series/TheSopranos'' qualify, since mob hits generally take place when the victim isn't expecting it. Notable examples include Jackie Aprile Jr., Tony Blundetto, and Phil Leotardo in the final episode.
** Gigi Cestone, a fairly prominent regular, abruptly dies of a heart attack on the toilet midway through Season 3. Later in the first episode of Season 6, Ray Curto, who had been a captain in Tony's mob since the first season, randomly dies of an aneurysm in the car of an FBI agent.
** Two murders committed by Tony - Ralph Cifaretto and Chris Moltisanti - are not exactly "sudden", but are even more shocking than the other hits because Tony decides to kill them spontaneously, rather than by an arranged whacking.
** One of the interpretations of the final moments of the series is that it was a depiction of the murder of Tony Soprano -- from his perspective.
* ''Series/TwentyFour'':
** The fifth season opens with series mainstay David Palmer writing his memoirs while visiting his brother. He steps in front of an open window... and immediately gets struck dead by a sniper's bullet, less than three minutes into the episode.
** Usually members of the main cast are killed at the end of an episode, to make their deaths all the more surprising or shocking. Bill Buchanan dies close to ''the beginning'' of one in the seventh season, performing a very quick HeroicSacrifice that causes an explosion, annihilating himself.
* ''Series/LawAndOrderUK'': After the successful prosecution of a murderous drug dealer, DS Matt Devlin and CP Alesha Philips are escorting the chief witness to juvenile detention, praising him for his decision to testify in the face of threats and intimidation. It seems as though the episode will end on a high note, until a car pulls up and shots ring out. Devlin is fatally wounded pushing Alesha and the kid to safety.
** In the episode "Hard Stop", DI Wes Leyton celebrates his birthday at the police station with the other officers, leaves for a dinner with his wife--and is gunned down in the parking lot.
* ''Series/TheWalkingDead'':
** In the episode "Nebraska", Rick, Glenn, and Hershel meet two guys in the bar. Rick kills the two in about five seconds flat when they imply they want to take the farm by force.
** Axel is having an amicable chat with Carol while they're both on watch duty, when he suddenly goes down to a PrettyLittleHeadshots courtesy of the Governor, presaging an assault on the prison.
** In the sixth season, Denise gives a monologue about overcoming her fears when she takes a crossbow bolt through the head mid-sentence.
* ''Series/GameOfThrones'' takes after the books in this regard. Then adds a few other rewind-worthy, surprising deaths of minor, background or adapted characters. [[AnyoneCanDie As if the death count wasn't high enough as it is in the main plot.]]
** Ramsay abruptly stabs Roose less than a minute after it is announced that Walda has given birth.
* ''Series/{{Casualty}}'' has the death of Paramedic Jeff Collier. He's still inside a tipped-over people-carrier that explodes ''after'' all of the victims-of-the-week (who are regular cast members themselves) have been pulled out of the wreckage alive.
%% * Derek in''Series/TerminatorTheSarahConnorChronicles''
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** Most of the Doctors died spectacular deaths while saving the Universe or a small part of it. Poor Seven: ten minutes into the film he steps out of the TARDIS door and is caught in crossfire.
** When the Tenth Doctor meets his next incarnation he expresses hope that his death won't be one of these. Like tripping over a brick. [[note]]The Sixth Doctor, who was killed suddenly by ExecutiveMeddling, is not an example of this trope.[[/note]]
--->"That'd be embarrassing. Then again, painless. Well there are worse ways to go. Depends on the brick."
* ''Series/TrueDetective'':
** Reggie Ledoux getting unexpectedly shot execution-style by Hart. It's mostly surprising because he was the primary suspect for the murders, and most people were thinking he'd have a bigger role.
** Det. Teague Dixon from episode 4 of the second season is unceremoniously shot in the head near the beginning of a shootout.
* ''Series/TheWire'' generally avoids this, except for the infamous case of Omar Little, the EnsembleDarkHorse and MemeticBadass drug dealer Robin Hood, who, after four seasons of constantly outsmarting and killing some of the biggest names in the show, is abruptly shot in the back of the head - by a child - while buying cigarettes.
* ''Series/WetHotAmericanSummerFirstDayOfCamp'': [[spoiler: Greg and Jim Stansel are both shot in the head in quick succession by The Falcon while Jim is talking to the press]]. Despite the show being a goofy comedy, their deaths are pretty startling.
* ''Series/LALaw'': Rosalind Shays' infamous death via falling down [[ElevatorFailure an elevator shaft]]. Most viewers didn't realize the elevator wasn't there until Rosalind had already stepped in to her doom.

* In ''Theatre/MurderBallad'': after building up to the murder for an hour and a half, the decision, preparation, and act clock in at 25 consecutive seconds.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Can happen in a non-narrative way in almost any game that has kamikaze, shotgun, or otherwise one-hit-kill enemies if you're not paying attention. One of the most well-known examples of this are the Creepers in ''VideoGame/{{Minecraft}}''.
* ''VideoGame/DeadSpace'' introduces the necromorphs by having the player enter another room to shut down a security lock. A bio-hazard lock down is immediately triggered and both [[RedShirt Red Shirts]] accompanying the player are ripped apart as the player watches.
* ''VideoGame/DeadSpace2'' practically starts with one of these, as a man who wakes Isaac up out of a coma is suddenly [[BlackDudeDiesFirst impaled]] and turned into a necromorph.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Doom 3}}'', you're introduced to the Lost Souls through the horrific death of a female scientist, whose head rips itself off her body to become the monster in question.
* ''VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon'':
** In ''F.E.A.R.'' your first encounter with Alma, sorta, is after you open a gate and walk back to rejoin your squad you find that they have been skeletonized, you also get a replay of exactly what happened as well, and it's the first inkling you have that something is amiss. You spend the rest of the game being terrorized by her and almost getting killed by her.
** In ''F.E.A.R. 2'', after Terry Halford gives you a nice little energy weapon, it looks like you're going to be saddled with an EscortMission...that is, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jpr5nwAb3I until a Replica Assassin uncloaks from behind and rips the guy's head off]].
** In ''F.3.A.R.'' the first real look one gets at the Creep is when it manifests in the middle of a group of Armacham soldiers and rips them apart right in front of you.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Starcraft}}'', a group of demolitions specialist marines and a Ghost have boarded a space station overrun by Zerg. In spite of the seriousness of the mission, the soldiers have brought a case of beer as they set the bomb. And, of course, as one is drinking his beer and laughing off the danger of the Zerg presence, he gets a Hydralisk talon right through the back of his skull and out his face, the first strike in the Zerg attack.
* ''VideoGame/{{inFAMOUS}}'': One mission called "The Informant" has a citizen telling you they saw something they shouldn't have. Now most would come to the conclusion this is a cue for an escort mission. But instead a group of {{Mooks}} comes in and promptly shoots the citizen and you have to fight them off. Could be averted because occasionally, he won't be shot at all giving you time to 'save' him.
* At the end of ''VideoGame/DragonAgeInquisition's'' Trespasser, Solas and his enemy the Viddasala speak, after which Solas turns and walks away. The Viddasala prepares to throw a spear at him and without turning or reacting in any way, Solas' eyes glow and the Viddasala immediately turns to stone. Even though the player knew he was Fen'Harel and she had no chance, it's still an OhCrap moment to see just how powerful he is. It's even moreso for the Inquisitor, who witnesses this unaware of Solas' identity or power.
* Solo Wing Pixy's return in ''VideoGame/AceCombatZeroTheBelkanWar'' is marked by shooting down PJ with his spiffy new "Morgan" superfighter's FrickinLaserBeams.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'', just before entering GNR, Initiate [[RedShirt Reddin]] gets this treatment courtesy of a Super Mutant Behemoth.
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'':
** An E3 trailer shows the player character moving down a tunnel, a comrade in front of him. Your comrade turns to talk to you, but a second later someone appears from BehindTheBlack and kills him.
** Another one would be a guy reaching up over a railing on top of a mountain and pulling the nearby guard over the edge.
* ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare 2'' mission "Just Like Old Times" has Soap and Price abseiling from a mountain road for some DeathFromAbove on Shadow Company mooks.
* ''VideoGame/{{Resistance}} 2'':
** Hawthorne and Warner are killed by BigBad Daedalus surprising the characters in separate instances as they walk ahead of Hale in spacious corridors by impaling them with his tentacles in order to discourage Hale from advancing to him, a sort of FinalBossPreview.
** Subverted with Capelli, who's grabbed by the Mother Spinner and dragged off a massive tower. However, as a HalfHumanHybrid his [[FromASingleCell regeneration]] saves him, and after the boss fight he says that his "regen kicked in just in time" and a team member jokingly comments that his [[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome video feed just made the highlights reel]].
* May appear in ''[[VideoGame/SonictheHedgehog2006 Sonic 06]]''. Sonic and Elise are just walking around when BLAM! [[ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice Death Ray!]] And [[LargeHam hammy]] [[Creator/DanGreen laughing,]] too.
* Done a bit elaborately, but for the same dramatic effect, in the intro of ''VideoGame/{{Mass Effect 2}}''. The very first thing that happens in the game is a huge alien ship coming out of nowhere, immediately shooting your trusty ship from the first game to pieces. There's nothing to do but abandon ship and watch the ship disintegrate around you while rescuing the pilot. Then they fire again, blowing it up and sending you flying down towards the planet in a leaking space suit, struggling to breathe and eventually stopping. It really works perfectly in establishing the new villains of the game and instantaneously wanting to destroy them, without any mention of who they actually are.
* Repeatedly in ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'', especially the scene in which Lugo shoots the Radioman in the head.
* In ''VideoGame/HaloReach'' Kat is shot in the head midsentence, while you and the rest of your team are running to a safety bunker midway through what amounts to hyper-nuclear bombing. Funny thing is, another member of your fireteam noticed a few moments ago that all the Covenant aircraft were suddenly leaving the area (to avoid the nuclear death beam), so that one dropship with the sniper has no reason to be there.
* Episode 1 of ''VideoGame/TelltalesGameOfThrones'' ends with [[spoiler: [[WouldHurtAChild Ramsay Bolton unceremoniously stabbing Ethan Forrester through the neck.]] He dies from blood loss in less than a minute.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheWalkingDead'' none of the characters are safe from being killed without warning.
** In Season 1 Episode 3 Carley/Doug gets unexpectedly shot by Lilly after a group argument and it was one of the most shocking and anger inducing moments in the game and in Season 1 Episode 4 a new character, named Brie, gets killed suddenly and quickly by incoming walkers while the other characters were distracted by another argument.
** In Season 2 Episode 1 you are given two sudden deaths to two important characters: one is Clementine's new parental substitute Omid, and the the other is a dog.
** Season 2 Episode 4 gives you another one with Rebecca, who dies a few days after giving birth to her baby from a mixture of cold and exhaustion.
** Season 3 Episode 2 gives you [[spoiler:Javier's niece Mariana, who is [[BoomHeadshot shot in the head]] from behind by [[WouldHurtAChild Badger]], a New Frontier lieutenant, after Javier goes to rescue her and the rest of his family from the junkyard.]]
* The second ''VideoGame/DigitalDevilSaga'' has a few of these. The first is Cuvier, who gets shot in the head by Angel while the E.G.G. is being overloaded. Then Angel and Gale kill each other, and Serph and Sera die while trying to communicate with God when the HAARP facility blows up.
* ''VideoGame/BatmanTheTelltaleSeries'' has [[spoiler:Carmine Falcone abruptly KilledMidsentence while Bruce is visiting him at the hospital]] midway through Episode 2.
* ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'': Your first real fight of the game is against [[TeamMom Toriel]] (if you choose and try to leave the Underground). Video Game logic says "keep fighting her until she gives up" or you defeat her and she relents. Instead, if you keep fighting her, one of your attacks will suddenly do an insane amount of damage. [[KilledOffForReal Mortal damage.]] A shocking way to set the stage for how fights [[AnyoneCanDie (and deaths)]] work in this game.

* Conversed about in ''Webcomic/TheBirdFeeder'' [[http://thebirdfeeder.com/comic/8 #8]], "Death." Josh worries about his wing falling off suddenly while in flight. Later, in [[http://thebirdfeeder.com/comic/323 #323]], "Balloons," he makes sure to have balloons handy for just such an emergency.
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' the Geisterdamen announce their presence in Paris and the fact that they've been alerted to Agatha's group by spearing Malek through the chest with some kind of hook on a rope and yanking him out of the carriage while he's talking to Violetta.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Mac's death in Chapter One of ''Literature/{{Antlers Colorado}}'' happens unexpectedly just as her and Austin start to become friends, and it seems that she's becoming more of a main character.
* ''WesternAnimation/KlayWorld'''s death scenes are usually very predictable, and extremely common. However in the episode "Klay Camping", an unpredictable death happens when the Dilly-Dally Ghost finds an unfunny joke to be very funny.
-->'''Klay Man''': Wait, wait, wait, give me a minute!\\
'''Dilly-Dally Ghost''': What is it, dilly-dailier?\\
'''Klay Man''': What did the robot say to the centipede?\\
'''Dilly-Dally Ghost''': ''[{{beat}}]'' Get a new car?\\
'''Klay Man''': No. "Stop being a centipede!"\\
'''Dilly-Dally Ghost''': ...[[FlatJoy That's funny]].\\
'''Klay Man 2''': It is?\\
'''Dilly-Dally Ghost''': Mhmmm. Yeah. It's the funniest thing I've ever heard. It's funny because the robot ain't got no arms. I'm not gonna kill you guys.\\
'''Klay Man 2''': You're not?\\
'''Dilly-Dally Ghost''': Mmm-mmm...I'm gonna kill myself. ''[Shoots himself in the head]''

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/BojackHorseman'', Sarah Lynn dies while [[DiedInYourArmsTonight cuddled up against [=BoJack=]]], looking up at a shot of the stars in a planetarium. She'd been trying to get sober for nine months, but seeing [[PoisonousFriend [=BoJack=]]] again made her fall off the wagon again. Sarah Lynn openly acknowledged that her HardDrinkingPartyGirl lifestyle would eventually catch up with her, but [[IAmWhatIAm just grew to accept it after a while]]. She was right.
* The Scotsman in ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' is killed rather abruptly while raining Aku with endless insults.
* When Lars from ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' jams a pointed rock into the "[[EyeScream eye]]" of one of the [[KillerRobot Shattering Robonoids]], it suddenly ''explodes''. Problem, Lars was sitting on top of it. He takes shrapnel to the face, slams into a wall with an audible CRACK, then falls a good ways to the ground and [[FamilyUnfriendlyDeath doesn't get up]]. Fans of the show were VERY surprised that this moment [[WhatDoYouMeanItsForKids made it past the censors]].