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[[caption-width-right:350:Yes, even the guy in the wheelchair is not safe.]]
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->''"Once you decide that you're going to have the death of Spock, then how does that affect the other people? Why is it there? I got a lot of stick from a lot of people from the very beginning about the idea of killing Spock. Somebody said, 'You can't kill him'. And I said, 'Sure you can; the only question is whether you do it well'."''
-->-- '''Nicholas Meyer''', Director of ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan''
%% One quote is sufficient. Please place additional entries on the quotes tab.
Most of the time when you finally grasp who the main characters of the story are, you can expect that [[PlotArmor these characters will survive]] through the end of the story (or at least until the last episode). WellThisIsNotThatTrope.
This is very common in DarkerAndEdgier works. When the writers want to impress you with their ruthlessness, they may trumpet that TonightSomeoneDies, then kill off a random second-stringer that nobody much cares about. They might even kill off a major character because his actor was leaving anyway, or because they needed a good cliffhanger to convince people to watch the next season. That is also ''not'' this trope (although it's pretending to be).
Anyone Can Die is where '''no one''' is exempt from being killed, including pets, children, the elderly, even the main characters ([[TheHeroDies maybe even the hero]]!) The SacrificialLamb is often used to establish the writer's willingness to kill off important characters early on. To really be the Anyone Can Die trope, the work must include multiple deaths of named characters, happening at different points in the story. Bonus points if the death is unnecessary and devoid of HeroicSacrifice.
This trope is very helpful in keeping fans from being SpoiledByTheFormat. In a kid's show, ''of course'' AliceAndBob are going to survive the raging rapids. In a work of this type however, the danger actually becomes dangerous.
War shows like ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' benefit from having a larger cast since there are so many people to kill off. The frequent deaths within a wide cast make the storyline unpredictable, forcing you to wonder who'll be left standing once the dust settles.
Still, even if all characters are allegedly up for [[MatterOfLifeAndDeath the possibility of a dance with the reaper]], the general laws of storytelling (and, more importantly, how actors are contracted) tells us that you can expect the chances of main-character death to increase as you approach the climax of an arc, the final episodes of a season, the final chapters of a book, or the final instalment of a series, even if the work averts DeathIsDramatic. A creator needs to be quite committed to the concept to kill off an important character in a completely plot-irrelevant way.
Note that the character needs to be KilledOffForReal for the trope to have the desired effect; it does not work if the writers cheat and [[DeathIsCheap bring back the guy later]] (see NotQuiteDead, DisneyDeath, and ClimacticBattleResurrection). As such SuperHero Comic Books as a medium have gained a reputation of "Anyone Can Die... [[FirstLawOfResurrection until someone wants to use the character in a later story]]."
A good way to check if this trope applies is to see if who survives is an important plot point, rather than only how they survive.
Contrast with TonightSomeoneDies, SortingAlgorithmOfMortality and ContractualImmortality. Compare SecondLawOfMetafictionalThermodynamics. Compare CharactersDroppingLikeFlies, which is just about lots of people dying, and can overlap with this trope.
See also KillEmAll, when everyone ''will'' die. Opposite of NobodyCanDie and PlotArmor, where not even situations that ''should'' kill people manage to. See also DwindlingParty, where the deaths are evenly spaced rather than near the end. Easier to do in works with LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters.
This is TruthInTelevision because immortality does not exist. According to ''Website/TheOnion'', [[http://www.theonion.com/content/node/39236 world death rate]] has been holding steady at 100% every single year for the last five billion years.
RedShirt is (usually) when the deaths are reserved for nameless extras. This trope tries to upgrade them to MauveShirt first.
%% If you have time, please take time to put examples in alphabetical order.
%% This page Administrivia/HowToAlphabetizeThings should help you with that.
!!'''As a DeathTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''
* AnyoneCanDie/VideoGames (including VisualNovels)