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Infant Immortality: Live-Action TV
Played Straight

  • Doubly subverted in Angel. Darla, his sire, wants to make sure that he is still soulless, so she leads him to a crib with a baby that she had kidnapped, and tells him to drink its blood (though not in so many words). Courtesy of Dramatic Irony, the audience knows Angel is ensouled. Angel then rescues the child.
  • In Being Human, this trope is played with when a young boy who Mitchell befriended is hit by a car and critically injured. It is left for the mother to decide if he dies...or takes another way out. They play it straight and have Mitchell turn the boy into a vampire.
    • The plot of Season 4 revolves around a prophecy in which George and Nina's baby must die to save humanity from global vampire rule.
  • Boy Meets World: the sight of an empty hospital bassinet fails to evoke our fears that premature Joshua did not survive, thanks to this trope and the fact that it's a friggin TGIF sitcom. Sure enough, when we pan over, the baby is in mom's arms.
  • ER tried to pull this too. When Abby and Luka's baby was born prematurely, a scene ended with the baby flatlining in surgery. The next scene indicated that several months had passed and featured staff members quietly discussing the couple's need for privacy. Cut to an empty crib. . .and pan to Abby holding her son. Another example, one of ER's most famous episodes, Love's Labor Lost comes very close to averting this when Dr. Green mishandles a routine birth, and up until the final moments of the episode, it seemed very likely that the baby would die, only for him to survive while his mother did not.
    • However, they heartbreakingly averted this trope when Dr. Carter's son was stillborn at seven months. The horrifying reality of this ruined his relationship with the mother.
  • Charmed: Piper's unborn baby is impossible to kill due to the magical lineage of the baby; any fireballs or missiles that flew in Piper's direction were nullified by a glowing barrier orb around pregnant Piper. It is even hinted that the unborn fetus is consciously providing the magical protection. This protection lasts long after his birth. Many episodes featured the villain trying to grab the kid and getting blasted across the room.
    • Although this takes a darker turn when they realize why the child would have gone evil in the future - trauma over someone capturing him and trying for weeks to figure out a way to kill him.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the episode "The Runaway Bride", most of the Racnoss's laser beams whip around quickly — except for one heading towards a little girl, which moves sloooooowly enough for someone to grab her and run to safety.
    • Averted in "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood", when little Lucy Cartwright is killed and has her body taken over by a member of the family.
    • Dead straight in "The Curse of the Black Spot", in which a child is vaporized by the villain... and the Doctor suddenly knows all's not what it seems. With no in-story reason to think this at all, the Doctor soon decides that the alien may only be moving people, not killing them, and he is soon proven right.
  • In Harper's Island, it was very unnerving that they had Madison, who got people killed because of her withholding information, and her annoying Mom Shea live, while the father, Richard bought it. 99% of the show's fans wish that they both died.
  • In the Inspector Morse episode "Dead on Time", we are shown the death of a baby in flashback sequence. And through the series, several children are killed off at various times.
  • In Japanese Spider-Man, in which adult characters are rarely spared from tragic deaths for the hero to angst over, one can always be sure that cute kids whose lives are in danger will always be spared. Moreover, one episode featured a heroic dog who was shot and fell hundreds of feet off a dam. Cut to tearjerker scene of the dog lying in the river... his owner calls and the dog struggles to his feet and limps over... and five minutes later, the dog is completely well again.
  • Elsewhere in the Tokusatsu genre, the earlier Kamen Rider series, which had far less problem offing random civilians in good-sized numbers to show how bad the Monster of the Week and his plan are than more recent series, have so many instances of death - in so many scary-despite-Special-Effects-Failure forms - instantly taking adults but only hovering menacingly in the direction of children (who are snatched out of the way by Riders) it's hard to pick the best. However, one time in Kamen Rider Skyrider, a child infected by something that had disintegrated everyone else affected by it is not seen after the woman who'd been carrying her a second ago was kidnapped. By all rights that means she's dead, but we didn't see it.
  • It's been confirmed by Damon Lindelof that Vincent the dog will survive through the entirety of LOST.
    • Also, when young Ben is shot by Sayid, he survives...in a way that makes him "lose his innocence".
    • Also, it was kind of obvious that they were never going to kill Walt.
  • In the Animal Planet show Lost Tapes, anytime there's a child involved, they will be ensured to survive. Most egregious example is in the Thunderbird episode, where a boy with a broken leg is picked up by a massive raptor. The end narration says they found him the next morning with minor scrapes and bruises, meaning the giant bird of prey didn't so much as nibble the boy, and carried him in its talons with the utmost care.
  • In the series epilogue of Prison Break, Sara Trancredi is sent to prison and later physically assaulted by female correctional officers for her role in the Fox River break out. However, they gave her the courtesy of avoiding hitting anywhere that would cause harm to her unborn child.
  • Subverted in the 2009 version of The Prisoner. A character's toddler daughter rides her tricycle through a gate that has carelessly been left open, in the direction of a bottomless pit. She rides closer and closer to the chasm at full speed, until, at the last minute, she falls the fuck in, head-first, tricycle and all, on camera, never to be seen again.
  • On an episode of CSI: Miami the team has been searching for a kidnapped baby. When Horatio finds the guy he tries to escape by driving away with the baby in the car. After a car chase through an airport the bad guy's car flips repeatedly and both he and the baby survive without serious injury until Horatio shoots the guy.
    • On the original CSI, the roller coaster "Pharaoh's Fever" was considerate enough of this trope to wait to fail until after a Mom with her kids had disembarked and an all-adult group of riders had gotten on board.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Naomi Wildman. Sort of. See, on the day of her birth she is killed...and survives a horrible menace. At the same time. Yes, it is confusing. As usual, in horrible deaths, Harry Kim is part and parcel of it.
    • Poor, dumb Harry.
    • The ship is split into two identical Voyagers. The Harry and Naomi from one die, but the Harry and Naomi of the Voyager that eventually gets kaboom'd manage to survive and join the Voyager crew that lost theirs.
  • Averted in HBO's The Pacific, with the mother on Okinawa, an involuntary suicide bomber, who tries and fails to hand off her baby before she blows up.
    • However, Hoosier does save the dog in Part Two.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • The very first zombie kill by Rick Grimes is of a small child, who as part of the zombie transformation had to die first.
    • In one second season scene, T-Dog is searching through cars for supplies, and then he searches through one car with a baby seat in the back. The seat is coated with blood and bits of flesh. He's as freaked out by this sight.
    • Averted later in season 2 with Sophia, who gets lost and is found later as a walker.
    • Rather brutally averted in the season 4 mid-finale when Meghan is bit after accidentally finding one buried in the mud she was playing in. The episode also very creepily suggests that Judith was bit by walkers, although it is played straight when it is revealed that she was saved by Tyreese.
    • An extremely nasty aversion happens in "The Grove" with Lizzy and Mika, an especially horrifying case in that for once it's not the walkers that do it. Lizzy actually murders her own sister and then Carol has to shoot her because of how irrevocably messed up she has become.
  • In The Wire Stray bullets kill a child midway through a gang war, and a preschooler is killed to send a message
  • The X-Files occasionally killed kids, including Scully's alien hybrid daughter.
    • They killed a toddler in "The Calusari." Perhaps the threshold is learning to walk?
    • They buried a baby alive in "Home", and the uncensored version has it screaming the whole time.
    • Played with strangely in "Invocation". It turns out the child was still dead...so it was his ghost?
    • Played straight with Baby William at every turn. Either Scully is attacked by a giant slug that threatens to abort him ("Roadrunners"), Scully has a placental abruption ("Empedocles"), somebody wants to make sure he isn't born ("Deadalive"), someone evil wants to kidnap him at birth for evil purposes ("Essence/Existence"), a crazy cult actually does kidnap him ("Provenance/Providence"), or he's injected with an unknown substance to cure him of his alien-ness ("William"). And through all of this there's not even a scratch on him. He's one tough little guy.
    • Dogs were not immune to death either: Scully's dog Queequeg was eaten by an alligator in "Quagmire", and one dog didn't make it in "Teso Dos Bichos".
  • Inverted in Babylon 5 - the youngest character to survive an episode is a teenager: Garibaldi's daughter.
  • The dog variation is lampshaded by Dr Johnny Fever in an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati in which he says "It's like in the movies, ya know? You can waste the entire Confederate army, nobody cares - hundreds of thousands of guys deader than doornails! But kill one collie, everybody collapses in grief!"
  • In an episode of Stargate SG-1, a young girl is the only survivor of a plague on her planet. It is later revealed that she was turned into a bomb in order to destroy the SGC. She doesn't actually blow up, though.
  • Aishiteru's plot starts with the death of a seven year old boy. To make things worse, the murderer is a ten-year-old.
  • Egregiously played in the National Geographic documentary Guns, Germs, and Steel where a Boer family was attacked by the Zulus and we see the husband, wife, and the older son dead in the morning. However, the infant survived the attack and his cries can be heard.
  • While everyone else in the Mc Namara family in Nip/Tuck goes through hell and a half, the family's young daughter Annie never seems to have anything bad directly happen to her, at least in the early seasons. In fact, she is completely absent from roughly two thirds of all episodes.
  • House's Patient of the Week doesn't always make it, and this has included babies.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys : In the very first episode Hera kills Herc's wife and all three of his children.
  • Surprisingly enough, subverted in Power Rangers (specifically, Power Rangers in Space). Granted, it happens offscreen, but a one-shot character is mentioned to have had a 12-year-old brother who died recently. Not only is it a plot point of the episode, but she's even seen at his grave at one point. These types of occurrences are part of why Power Rangers in Space is considered Darker and Edgier compared to most other Power Ranger seasons.

Exceptions

  • Often averted on daytime soaps.
    • All My Children killed off infant Leora (heart defect) in 2003 and Donna's baby (fire) in the early 80's, as well as Gloria's premature infant Anna Claire (one of the saddest daytime scenes EVER), and most notably, Brooke's 6-year daughter Laura was killed by a drunk driver.
    • One of General Hospital's most famous storylines involved BJ Jones being killed in a car accident and her heart being given to her dying cousin Maxie.
    • Many soaps (As the World Turns, One Life to Live, The Bold And The Beautiful) have featured characters being within weeks of delivery a healthy baby, only for tragedy to strike — car accident, premature labor — resulting in the baby's stillbirth.
    • Even more disturbing is that the likelihood of this often seems to be inversely proportional to the mother's or couple's feelings about the pregnancy — if she's Happily Married (or happily involved with the baby's father),happy about the pregnancy, and looking forward to motherhood, odds are, the child is doomed. If she's miserable and/or the child was conceived under dicey circumstances, such as an affair, the kid will make it. Case in point— on The Bold And The Beautiful Rick and Amber decided to have a child to solidify their reconciliation and were blissfully happy about her pregnancy, only for the baby to be stillborn. Meanwhile, Brooke conceived during her affair with her daughter's husband Deacon and after consciously deciding not to have an abortion, spent months wailing and angsting about the turmoil and havoc that was going to result from the child's birth and promptly gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
  • The first death in The Day After is that of a young girl in a red dress who is afraid to take shelter in the basement of a Kansas City office building. She's reassured by a guard, but shortly after the first bomb drops on the outskirts of the city she's trampled by a panicked crowd. Seconds later, dozens of children are vaporized when bombs fall on Kansas City and Whiteman AFB, including Airman McCoy's infant child and a class of preteens.
  • House averts this by having a newborn baby die in the episode "Maternity."
    • 'Forever' has mentally unstable Patient murder her child on-screen.
    • Medical dramas in general tend to avert this trope, and to milk it for all the heart-rending tears it's worth when they do.
  • Heroes: Averted with the onscreen death of future-Sylar's child, Noah - though this may be a case of Expendable Alternate Universe.
    • He also seemed to have very little blood on him. For a show not shy about its gore, you'd think having a grown man and some furniture tossed onto him would result in a little more than just Blood from the Mouth.
      • He may very well have been knocked out cold, and Sylar didn't know it. If the furniture didn't kill him, the nuclear explosion did.
      • With all that weight on him, the kid most likely suffocated while unconscious.
  • Trip and T'Pol's daughter, cloned from their tissue, does not survive in Star Trek: Enterprise.
  • A baby was killed by a disguised Cylon in the pilot for the new Battlestar Galactica; this is one the few — perhaps the only — infant murders ever shown on TV. It happened again in the second season opener, where Commander Adama (leader of the humans) drowns a baby in Baltar's dream sequence on Kobol. The baby-killing on this show is starting to worry this editor. Though that scene in the pilot was quite ambiguous, with specific directions to the actress playing the Cylon to make it so. Was it just a murder, was it a mercy killing so the baby wouldn't have to go through the nuclear holocaust that would be released in a few hours, or was it an accident with the Cylon not realizing how fragile a human baby would be?
    • The death of Cami, the girl from botanical cruiser in the Miniseries is a clear aversion. And we see it onscreen!
    • And there are the offscreen deaths of 99% of all children in the Colonies. That's billions.
    • In The Plan, Cavil coldbloodedly stabs a small child who repeatedly tried to sneak in to his chapel and befriend him. What makes it so chilling is that the kid has been seeking refuge there for the length of the movie. In the end, Cavil seems to give in, sharing his food and learning that they both have the same first name. The whole scene is leading up to a Pet the Dog moment until he kills him and casually dumps his body to the side.
  • Little House on the Prairie, in an effort to be true to the infant mortality rates of the harsh frontier, is another show that did not adhere to this trope. Babies died on several occasions on this show.
    • Wilder's first son Charles Jr. dies of leukemia before he even turns a year old.
    • When the school for the blind Mary and her husband run is on fire they two are able to get all the students out only to realize their baby and another woman are trapped inside. They are then forced to watch helplessly as the woman and baby appear at a high window unable to escape and plead for help until they are both overtaken by the flames. (All of this happens onscreen and is quite unsettling)
    • Laura and Almanzo's unnamed son dies during the night after becoming ill a few days before. (It is now believed that he was conceived to soon after Laura recovered for diphtheria later causing his illness and death.)
  • In an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, one of the victims is a baby. This then proceeds to move Grissom so much that he gets quite angry at Greg Sanders for working on a gang-related case which happened earlier in the week.
  • Played to the hilt in CSI: Miami, when the sole survivors of a murdered family are the murderer playing his wife's postpartum stress as the cause, and a toddler who wandered away from the crime scene in a blood stained shirt.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, vampires never hesitated to kill or turn children and babies, though naturally this never occurred on-screen. Darla discovers the effect of Angel's soul when he refuses to drink from a baby. Spike, after becoming unable to hurt humans but before becoming ensouled, tells Dawn a story of slaughtering a family, leading up to his discovering the baby in the coal bin, but he quickly revises this story when Buffy arrives, to her evident skepticism.
    • And in the episode "Band Candy," the Mayor orders his minions to steal babies as a tribute (Read: Lunch) to one of the demons he owes a debt to. Guess who the Big Bad of the season turned out to be?
    • In "Triangle", Olaf the troll requests babies to eat. Nobody actually grants this request though, nor does he ever get any babies to eat.
    • In an early season 3 episode of Angel, one type of demon is said to prefer babies.
    • In the season 8 (comic) Faith discovers that a mother was turned with all of her children - and Faith has to stake those children, as well! (though we only see "paff" and not the moment of impalement.
    • We do see Buffy's cousin Celia being killed by Der Kindestod in detail in "Killed By Death" in a flashback.
    • Also, Wes once dreamed about baby Connor being fatally bitten by Angel.
    • In "The I in Team", Adam skewers and dissects a small boy. We only hear about it on the news, however.
    • The flashback of Holtz who finds that Angel (going by Angelus at the time) killed his wife and turned his daughter. Holtz grimly forces her out into the sunlight where she burns to death. The scene of the mother being killed also cuts away after the sound of a baby crying is heard and Darla is seen looking hungrily at the cradle.
    • In "Lie to Me" it looks like Drusilla is about to chow down on a young boy, but Angel shows up in time to rescue him.
    • The plot of "Gingerbread" was kicked off by the discovery of two children's corpses. It later turns out they were illusions created by the monster of the week to stir dissent among the people of Sunnydale.
  • Doctor Who: The episode School Reunion opens with a child being eaten.
    • In The Stolen Earth we see a family of three, with a child about ten years old, retreat back to their house after being ordered out by the Daleks. And then the Daleks blow up the whole house.
    • In Survival, the Doctor pursues the predatory Cheetah People to Earth. The first person he meets is a little girl in tears because someone has killed her cat.
    • In Full Circle, a juvenile Marshman known simply as the Marshchild dies (and is, in fact, the only Marshman to perish in the story). Tylos and Varsh also arguably count, as both are teenagers who die during the Marshmen's rampage aboard the Starliner in the final episode.
  • The villain in the Torchwood episode "Sleeper" had no problem killing babies. Two infants in prams were strongly hinted to have died in unfortunate manners, though they stop short of showing it.
    • Children of Earth. Three children get killed, and many more are placed in great danger. Several suffer a Fate Worse than Death.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: A child Slitheen disguises himself as a schoolboy, and later a child genius. Although it is not explicitly stated or shown onscreen, in both cases the real boy must have been killed and skinned so the Slitheen could assume his identity.
    • The Day of the Clown, which states that all the kidnapped children that weren't taken recently by Odd Bob "fade[d] away".
  • An episode of the '60s Dragnet featured two parents who were so high on drugs that they forgot they put their baby in the bathtub. Whoops. Another followed the officers as they investigated a case of child abuse; that one ended with them arresting the father after he shook his baby to death.
  • This was is what sent Hawkeye over the edge in the Mash Grand Finale, the fact that a mother had to smother her child because he told her that she had to keep it quietnote  We only see the head fall back but it's obvious the baby is dead. Hawkeye had been so traumatized by the incident that at first he steadfastly remembered the infant being a chicken, until Sydney Freedman was able to draw the truth out of him as the big heartbreaking reveal.
  • Claire and Russell's baby died on Promised Land, which was unusual because it was a "family" show, with the characters actually looking forward to the birth.
  • In Frank Herbert's Dune miniseries, Paul Maud'dib's baby son is killed in a Sardaukar raid. The scene shows a soldier advancing towards the baby with a knife, then jumps to another scene with a yelp from the baby in the background.
  • Very averted: Nearly the entire arc of the fourth season of The Shield surrounds the Strike Team trying to help Shane after a vicious gangster executes a young girl and frames him for it.
  • In Deadwood, Stubs and "The Nigga general" lose control of a wild horse they were trying to castrate. It runs through the camp and caves in the chest of the sheriff's nephew, who he was raising as his son with his sister-in-law who was living as his wife.
  • Farscape episode "Different Destinations" ends with the mass murder of an entire nunnery, including the eight-year-old novices.
    • And in "Prayer," a Scarran officer aboard a research vessel disposed of a test subject's unborn child by using his heat-projection to fry it alive inside the womb. And the holographic display also shows the fetus writhing and shrivelling in the heat.
    • However as the mother was a mole hopefully they faked it to scare aeryn. Hopefully. She got what's coming either way.
  • Charmed: Unlike Piper's unborn son (see above), Phoebe's actually-not-her-child has no such luck: he is burned alive when the Charmed Ones reflect his power back at the Seer, in whose womb he is currently residing. Apparently this Trope doesn't apply if you're the Spawn of Satan.
  • Played straight in one episode of Legend of the Seeker, and conspicuously averted in another. In the first case, a male Confessor is born, who by Confessor law has to be put to death, but Richard stops them in the end. In the second case, the episode opens with kids playing hide and seek, with one finding a mysterious object, and the scene cuts away when it opens. A little later, the heroes show up in the village, and find everyone dead, including the kids.
  • In I, Claudius, during the purge in Tiberius's reign, both Sejanus' son and daughter were killed, both under age. The boy was given his "manly gown" and the girl was raped before being killed as killing a virgin would bring bad luck to the city.
    • Furthmore, Gemellus, aged perhaps twelve or thirteen, is murdered and decapitated offscreen, his head brought to Caligula as evidence and Caligula's infant daughter Drusilla is murdered in her cradle along with her mother. There are still more child deaths in the book. All in all, thoroughly averted.
  • Babylon 5's Believers ( An alien boy is killed by his parents at the end because they believe a surgical operation has caused his soul to leave his body.) and Confessions and Lamentations ( 99% of an alien race dies of a plague, including a prominently featured girl).
  • At least two children are killed during the series run of The Wire.
  • Like the the novels it was based on, the world of A Game of Thrones is very dark and gritty, and Anyone Can Die. To drive this home, a child of perhaps 7 or 8 years is shown impaled on a tree, along with the dismembered remains of her family group, within the first two minutes of the pilot. She is unlikely to be the first child to be dead (or die) onscreen.
    • One of Arya's friends is murdered as a scapegoat for the well-deserved mauling of Joffrey. While we don't see the act itself, we do see his corpse being hauled away by the Hound.
    • More children (including an infant) die in the Season Two premiere, "The North Remembers," as part of a massive purge of King Robert's bastard children.
    • During an attack on the Night's Watch, one of the young orphan recruits ends up getting a sword through his throat when his captors realize that he can't walk unassisted.
    • Two Lannister children are attacked and murdered in their beds by Stark bannermen.
  • The third series opener of Merlin revealed that Uther used to drown the children of magic users in case they inherited their parents' abilities. Though the drowning itself is entirely offscreen, their ghosts appear en masse.
  • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy has a solid aversion. The Magna Defender's revenge obsession is due to the (witnessed onscreen) death of his son. However, his son was a Magna Defender in training (despite being ten-ish, if we go by the size and the voice) who was never seen demorphed, making this less daring than some examples. Still, he doesn't ultimately survive, time isn't rewritten, he doesn't Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, or anything like that, and he's small and has the voice of a kid.
  • In the Law & Order franchise, there are the occasional episodes where juvenile deaths are investigated.
  • Walking with Dinosaurs and its spinoffs averts this. The first episode of Walking with Dinosaurs has a litter of prehistoric mammals eaten by their own parents. For pure terror, however, the first episode of Walking With Beasts shows a baby terror bird that is still hatching when it is devoured by ants.
  • Sons of Anarchy averts the trope off-screen in the first episode of season 6, Straw, with a school shooting. Averts the trope so hard, in fact, that Kurt Sutter was later compelled to apologise for it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/13/kurt-sutter-parents-tv-council_n_3921807.html.
  • Being a child makes absolutely no difference in Criminal Minds. Recurring villain Karl Arnold slaughters at least 8 children in the first season alone, and the second season episode "Ashes and Dust" had a child graphically burned to death entirely onscreen.
  • In Coronation Street, Zoe Tattersall's newborn baby, Shannon, died from meningitis in 1998.
  • One of the first victims on The Strain TV Series was a young French girl named Emma. She becomes a vampire and is later killed again by Setrakian.

Partial Aversions

  • Bones has dealt with child victims, notably in The Boy in the Bush, The Mother and Child in the Bay, and The Girl with the Curl, along with numerous teen victims. However, in The Baby in the Bough, a baby in a car seat is blown free from a car crash and fired into a tree.
  • An episode of Power Rangers in Space, "Carlos on Call", reveals that a boy of about twelve died of an undefined circumstance (probably illness or injury). Not that incredible since the death occurred offscreen and we never meet the character but...it's Power Rangers for god's sake!
    • Not just that, but a character explicitly states that the boy "died a few months back". Not "passed away", and not (considering this is Power Rangers) "destroyed", or "lost," but "died". A subversion of Never Say "Die" indeed.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force has an ancient sentient Megazord who has taken on the form of a child. He dies in this form.
  • Primeval played the trope straight throughout the first three seasons where if there was ever a child involved in an anomaly attack they would be rescued or helped out but it was averted in the fourth episode of season 4 where an anomaly opened up in a school and a pack of prehistoric wild dogs ran loose. It resulted in a girl around 14 being eaten after she wandered out of detention and into the gym.
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