aka: Attempted Suicide
"(Well, hoop hoop) You say there ain't no use in livin'This is when someone attempts to kill themselves, and fails. This may lead to them trying to kill themselves again, or maybe they'll see it as a sign and go on their merry way. It's not Interrupted Suicide; they go through with it... they just don't die, for whatever reason. It may be because of some kind of immortality, or maybe the means they used weren't effective enough. People who are physically not able to die for some reason usually cannot kill themselves no matter how hard they try. If done well, this can be either touching or tearjerking... and if done badly, it can just seem like the writers didn't have the guts to kill a character off. Occasionally Played for Laughs. This is Truth in Television, Ate His Gun being a frequent source, although with firearms being the most lethal method, the great majority of these in Real Life involve drugs or cutting - the two least likely to work due to the time they require (which often leads to the attempter being found before it's too late) or due to the lack of knowledge of the attempter (trying to overdose on a homeopathic remedy, sideways cuts). Compare Interrupted Suicide.
(Well, hoop hoop) It's all a waste of time
(Well, hoop hoop) 'N you wanna throw your life away, well
(Well, go on, do it!) People, that's just fine
(Hoop hoop) Go ahead on 'n get it over with then
(Well, hoop hoop) Find you a bridge 'n take a jump
(Well, hoop hoop, well, hoop hoop)
(Well...) Just make sure you do it right the first time
(Hoop!) 'Cause nothin's worse than a Suicide Chump."
(Well, hoop hoop) It's all a waste of time
(Well, hoop hoop) 'N you wanna throw your life away, well
(Well, go on, do it!) People, that's just fine
(Hoop hoop) Go ahead on 'n get it over with then
(Well, hoop hoop) Find you a bridge 'n take a jump
(Well, hoop hoop, well, hoop hoop)
(Well...) Just make sure you do it right the first time
(Hoop!) 'Cause nothin's worse than a Suicide Chump."
— Frank Zappa, "Suicide Chump"
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
If you're thinking about killing yourself, have done this but not sought help yet, and/or the possibility of failing at suicide is all that's holding you back from it, we insist you get help and beg you not to do it. Please, talk to somebody.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Paranoia Agent has an episode dealing with 3 people who had made a suicide pact over the internet. Over the course of the episode, all of their attempts to kill themselves (jumping in the path of a subway train, hanging) are thwarted, and it's all Played for Laughs. Subverted in that at the end it's revealed that they were Dead All Along.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has this happen repeatedly.
- Played for drama in Rurouni Kenshin - It's evident in the scars on Megumi's wrists that she'd attempted suicide multiple times before meeting (and joining) the Kenshin-gumi.
- The second chapter of Gunjo has a woman who tries to kill herself after the death of her son and fails. She succeeds after another try.
- In one episode of Q.E.D., a graduate of MIT tries to mark himself as the math major with highest honors of his graduating year by killing three highest-honor holders in other majors, then attempting suicide, but fails.
- One Piece:
- Parodied by Kumadori's inability to commit Seppuku.
- Played less for laughs and more for awesome by Kaido. The man has survived so many execution and suicide attempts that he regularly takes up suicide as a hobby, to find out if he can be killed. His Establishing Character Moment shows him jumping off a freaking sky island and coming out without a scratch despite leaving a huge Impact Silhouette.
- Kaze Hikaru has two: Okita's first love and the 10th unit's captain Sanosuke Harada's historical attempted seppuku. The latter is Played for Laughs, as it was years before the story starts and Sanosuke only did to prove he could. He brags about the scar (as he did in Real Life).
- Ogiue in Genshiken joins the group after hurling herself out a window (and breaking her arm) following an altercation with the Manga Club. Later it's revealed she jumped off the roof of her old school after her "friends" ruined her life. It's not stated how she survived or what injuries she incurred.
- Poor Sayaka. She doesn't purify her Soul Gem (which she needs to in order to stay alive), thinking that this will put her out of her misery. This being Puella Magi Madoka Magica, however, this suicide is bungled in a rather horrifying way.
- In Hoshi wa Utau, this is what happened to Chihiro's previous love Sakura. Her attempt left her comatose in the hospital.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion:
- It's implied that Asuka cut her wrists in episode 24, and is seen in a bathtub with water that looks like it's stained red. It's also implied that she was starving herself. She survived only because Section 2 found her before she bled out and she was too weak to resist being taken into custody.
- Rei subverts the trope. She's a confirmed Death Seeker and in episode 23, she pulled off a Taking You with Me and succeeded... only to be brought Back from the Dead against her will.
- The first scene of End of Evangelion heavily implies that Shinji tried to drown himself but failed. After watching the rest of the movie, everyone will agree that it would've been better for everyone if he succeeded.
- Kaworu's character design originally included scars on his throat and wrists to hint at multiple failed suicide attempts, explaining why he asks Shinji to kill him.
- Berserk provides a particularly depressing example with Griffith. After enduring a year of Cold-Blooded Torture that left him permanently crippled, seeing all his dreams and ambitions go up in smoke, and finding out that both his Love Interests hooked up with each other, he tries to kill himself, only to find that he can't even do that right. Unfortunately for the entire cast, this sends him over the mother of all Moral Event Horizons.
- One of the characters in Life attempts to kill herself by jumping from a school balcony, but only ends up fracturing her foot and hurting herself.
- In the very beginning of the manhwa My Lovable Fatty the protagonist tries to hang herself but ends up breaking the rope.
- In Digimon Tamers, after hitting his Villainous BSOD, Beelzemon attempted a Suicide by Cop via throwing himself at a huge group of Digimon that specialize in electrocution. It failed for three reasons: one, the Digimon thought he was dead and left him there; two, Renamon and Rika came and patched him up; and three, he was just too damn tough to die. And yes, they show the whole thing.
- In A Cruel God Reigns Jeremy tries to throw himself into a lake after finding out his mother knew he was being raped by his stepfather. Good thing Ian has ears like a fox, heard it, and managed to find him through the sleeting rain and fish him out. Jeremy also has two failed suicide attempts after returning to Boston while he is living with his aunt.
- Sandra has two of these, one pre-series and then another after Greg cancels their wedding.
- Marjorie has quite a few failed suicide attempts. The most notable of these is when Pascal locks her in the bathroom while he beats Jeremy in a drug induced rage. She tries to drown herself in the bathtub.
- Coco and Mina both end up being this in Copernicus Breathing.
- The first chapter of Ana Satsujin shows our main character, Kurosu, try to commit suicide by hanging himself on a wall-mounted hanger. However, the hanger tears out of the wall due to shoddy construction, creating a peephole into his neighbor's bedroom and acts as the catalyst to the story.
- In Half & Half, Shinichi and Yuuki want to commit double-suicide before their 7 Days are up and jump off a cliff together. But the same light that saved them at the beginning keeps them from dying, so that they have to wait the remaining days out.
- Nyu tries to kill herself by wrist-slitting in the Elfen Lied manga, after learning of her Split Personality's Psycho for Hire ways. She fails.
- Arseface from Preacher— he was trying to imitate the suicide of his hero Kurt Cobain, but failed in a particularly grotesque fashion (thus the name.)
- In Alpha Flight, Jerry Jaxon tried to hang himself. He survived but did enough damage to leave himself paralyzed.
- This pops up in Ultimate Fantastic Four as part of deconstructing the Thing's Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome powers. He's a huge, freakish rock monster, stands out anywhere, has to be careful about crushing anything he touches, has almost no sense of touch. In the 616 Marvel Universe, this is played for drama now and then but sometimes falls into Wangst territory. In the Ultimate Marvel universe, which is both Darker and Edgier and is earlier in the characters' timelines, he tried to kill himself several times but has not found anything that can break his skin.
- In a similar vein, Sharon Ventura in the 616 Marvel-verse tried to kill herself after being mutated into She Thing. And failed for the exact same reason.
- Mr Immortal from the Great Lakes Avengers (or whatever they are now), after losing the love of his life (and then loses another). Given his name ...
- During the 80s run of The Defenders, a depressed Gargoyle tried to hang himself. He failed, due to the fact that his body was too strong.
- This banned commercial.
- The movie Better Off Dead features multiple attempts by the central character to kill himself, all of which fail spectacularly (and hilariously).
- Happens twice in a row with Winthorpe in Trading Places: first, he lifts his gun to his head and it fails to go off, and Ophelia and Valentine save him after he takes a bunch of pills. In both cases, the aftermath is Played for Laughs.
- In The Man in the Iron Mask, Porthos gets depressed and believes he has nothing to go on living for. He kisses the tavern girls goodbye and goes into the barn to hang himself. Naked. You hear a big thud, and Porthos swearing. Aramis knew he'd try to commit suicide and sawed through the beam. ...Then the barn collapses on him, since Aramis sawed the wrong beam (he lives).
Aramis: I'm a genius, not an engineer!
- Happens once in Final Destination 2. Eugene tries to shoot himself in the head, but all the bullets fail because it wasn't his time to die yet. He dies later in the film of an explosion after mass equipment failure and bad luck at the hospital.
- Happens again in Final Destination 4, George tries to off himself multiple times later in the movie, but fails for the same reason. He gets killed by an ambulance exiting a hospital.
- Groundhog Day: Phil kills himself on a few occasions during his "Groundhog Day" Loop, but he keeps waking up in that damn bed and breakfast.
- The Narrator in Fight Club. Although it could be argued that this was less a Bungled Suicide and more a successful murder.
- Jude Law's character in Gattaca attempted suicide after the "accident" (which may or may not have been attempted suicide in itself) that crippled him. But he eventually did succeed after the main character, who had taken over his identity, finally got to go into space.
- Franz Liebkind in The Producers at one point breaks down and attempts to shoot himself. His gun doesn't fire, and he figures it's jammed. Then he drops the gun... and it goes off.
Franz: gun clicks "Jammed! Ach, when things go wrong!"
- In the fratboy comedy Bachelor Party, a supporting character, despondent over his girlfriend dumping him, tries to slash his wrists... with an electric shaver.
- Harold in Harold and Maude repeatedly attempts (apparently fake) suicide attempts, usually involving Rube Goldberg-style complicated processes.
- In the final third of The World's End it's revealed that Gary had tried to commit suicide some time before the movie by slitting his wrists.
- Stanley Moon in Bedazzled (1967), feeling like a failure, unable to even talk to the woman he pines for, puts a noose around his neck, steps off a chair - and the pipe he's tied it to promptly snaps, dribbling water over him and making him out to be a total failure.
- Steve Carell's character in Little Miss Sunshine comes into the film fresh out of one of these.
"So that's when you tried to kill yourself?""Yep. And I failed at that as well."
- Subverted in the film The Quiet Earth:
- Zac Hobson did go through with his suicide attempt and did end up walking away from it at the start of the film. The subversion lies in the fact that he walked away because his suicide attempt was successful; he was at the moment of death, which protected him from the Event that wiped out most of humanity.
- At the end of the film, the exact same thing happens when he attempts to make a Heroic Sacrifice to avert a second Event. He fails.
- Woody Allen's character in Hannah and Her Sisters, despairing over the meaninglessness of life, tries to shoot himself with a rifle, but is so nervous and sweaty, he slips and misfires. He later finds a reason to go on watching a Marx Brothers movie.
- In Taxi Driver, after the final shootout, Travis tries to shoot himself, but all of his weapons are out of ammunition.
- Nick tries to kill himself in The Invisible, but it fails because of his ghostly state.
- The Saw films:
- It is revealed that John Kramer, having been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor, attempts to commit suicide by driving off an embankment. His car is trashed, but he survives, the incident having given him more appreciation for the time he has left. On the downside, this same incident also inspires him to become Jigsaw.
- The first movie also contains a subversion: Jigsaw's first victim was a man who appeared to have attempted suicide, but Jigsaw argues that he never intended to kill himself and was merely seeking some attention.
- In the Harold Lloyd short Never Weaken, the main character tries to kill himself by tying a rock to himself and jumping off a bridge into a river. He lands in the river, to discover that the water is only ankle deep.
- Herbie the Volkswagen in The Love Bug actually tries to leap off the Golden Gate Bridge. He's partially saved by the fact that his wheels won't let him climb the railing very easily, giving his owner time to reach him, so this is also something of a Interrupted Suicide.
- Richie in The Royal Tenenbaums cuts his wrists after learning the romantic history of Margot, with whom he is in love. Complete with Important Haircut and some great music.
- In Bringing Out The Dead, the main character — a paramedic — responds to a suicide attempt where the victim has sliced his veins horizontally rather than vertically, thus ensuring that he's got plenty of time to be healed. Since the main character is going through something of a nervous breakdown at that point, he merely uses this as the starting off point for a rant in which he instructs the surprised and now-terrified victim how to do it correctly next time.
- Averted in Valkyrie: in Real Life General Beck botched his suicide rather painfully, and had to be finished off by a sergeant. Removed from the film to prevent the touching final scene becoming comical.
- In S.O.B., Felix Farmer makes multiple attempts to kill himself only to have each of them unintentionally thwarted. He ultimately ends up committing Suicide by Cop almost accidentally.
- Chuck of Cast Away tries to commit suicide by hanging when stranded on an island, but he does a test run with a dummy and the tree branch snaps. He later says that was the moment when he hit rock bottom — he couldn't even die on his own terms.
- In The Avengers Bruce Banner mentions that he tried to kill himself by putting a gun in his mouth, but "the other guy" just spat the bullet back out. This is also a reference to a deleted scene from The Incredible Hulk, where you actually see the attempt.
- One of the main characters in Cosy Dens (Pelisky) attempts suicide by gas poisoning. Problem was that the oven he had put his head into was electric oven.
- Played for Laughs in the Korean film adaptation of the manga Antique Bakery. Min Seon-woo, after having his love confession to a male classmate rejected and a cake shoved in his face, attempts to hang himself in his home and fails miserably. This happens in the opening credits.
- In Series 7, a terminal cancer sufferer named Jeff is selected by lottery to compete in a Deadly Game reality show. As soon as he's given a gun he tries to blow his brains out, but it isn't loaded. Later on, towards the end of the film, Dawn and Jeff agree to shoot each other, in essence committing suicide. Dawn dies, but Jeff falls into a coma, then later, to his horror, wakes up.
- In Skyfall, Big Bad Silva's Start of Darkness happened when M sold him out to the Chinese, who tortured him for months. Silva then used his Cyanide Pill but it didn't work, horribly disfiguring his jaw and teeth. He then dedicated the rest of his life to getting revenge on M.
- In the Buster Keaton film Hard Luck, Keaton's character tries to commit suicide but has no luck at it. For instance, he once saw approaching headlights and put himself between them for the car to hit him, only to learn that it was actually two motorcycles running along side by side and avoided him easily.
- A character in Detox is revealed to have stuck a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, but only succeeded in blowing a hole in his cheek.
- In Kill Your Darlings, Lucien Carr attempts to hang himself in a jail cell with his sheet, but the knot undoes itself.
- A Scanner Darkly: Charles Freck tried to commit suicide by taking a bunch of downers with some wine. He fails, hallucinating a rather... bizarre experience, and is eventually seen at New Path. In the book, he never appears again after the suicide attempt, so he may have succeeded.
- Seong-yeun tries to kill himself by jumping off a bridge in Castaway on the Moon. Instead of drowning, he finds himself washed up on an island in the middle of the river, under the bridge. A Robinsonade commences from there.
- In Mermaid, Alice has one leg over the side of the bridge when Aleksandr pushes by her to jump. She jumps in after him and saves him. Later, Aleksandr attempts to get hit by cars, but Alice again saves him.
- A little guy is sitting at the bar just staring at his drink for half an hour when this big trouble-making biker steps next to him, grabs his drink and gulps it down in one swig. The poor little guy starts crying. "Come on man. I was just giving you a hard time," the biker says. "I didn't think you'd CRY. I can't stand to see a man crying." The little guy sniffs and says "Today is the worst day of my life, I can't do anything right. I overslept and was late to an important meeting, so my boss fired me. When I went to the parking lot, I found my car was stolen and I don't have any insurance. I left my wallet in the cab I took home. I found my wife in bed with the gardener and my dog bit me. So I came to this bar trying to work up the courage to put an end to my life, and then you show up and drink the damn poison."
- A Dumb Blonde arrives at the hospital with a severed finger.
Receptionist: How did that happen?
Blonde: I tried to commit suicide!
Receptionist: By cutting off your finger?
Blonde: No, I bought a gun, and I pointed it at my chest, but then I remembered that I just recently got breast implants and they were very expensive, so I didn't want to ruin them. So then I put the gun in my mouth, but then I remembered all the expensive dental work I've had done over the years and I didn't want to ruin that either. So then I put the gun up to my ear, but then I realized that the gun was going to make a loud bang... so I put my finger in my other ear.
- There's a joke, which may or may not have been originated by The Two Ronnies, in which the world's most unsuccessful soccer goalkeeper attempts to throw himself under a bus, and misses.
- Ethan and Mattie in the novella Ethan Frome.
- In the novel Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, the "Bag Man" is a guy who tried to commit suicide but ended up shooting most of his face off. He wears some kind of covering over his face, hence the name.
- In Spenser's The Faerie Queene, the character Despair tries to kill himself over and over and it never works. Believe it or not, this is really creepy.
- In the Heralds of Valdemar series, Vanyel tries to kill himself in the chapel where his dead love Tylendel is laid out pre-burial. Yfandes raises the alarm in time for rescuers to save Vanyel's life, aided by the fact that Vanyel "didn't know the right way to slit his wrists".
- In Sometimes a Great Notion, Leland is introduced with one of these. As he explains later, he was lying in bed waiting for his house to fill with the gas he'd turned on in the kitchen, when he suddenly decides to have a cigarette. The house explodes, but Leland is miraculously unharmed, and he finds a letter from his brother (along with an understandably confused postman) on what's left of his front porch and decides that he might as well return home and help his family fill their logging quota.
- In Duma Key, this is Wireman's story. After his wife and daughter died, he decided to shoot himself in the head and actually went through with it. Instead of killing him, the bullet lodged in his brain, causing him trouble later.
- In Stephen King's story, "Hearts in Atlantis", a college student who is freaking out about the possibility of flunking out and getting drafted tries to OD on baby aspirin.
- A Scanner Darkly: Charles Freck tried to commit suicide by taking a bunch of downers with some wine. He failed and only hallucinated. The hallucination might be a Dying Dream - Freck never appears in the story again either way.
- In a very ridiculous scene in Petronius's Satyricon, widely considered to be the first modern novel (written in ancient Rome), one character tries to hang himself off of a bedpost. The post being so low, he fails, but another character comes in and sees him lying there, thinks he's dead, and tries to kill himself with the first knife he grabs, which turns out to be a prop. Hilarity Ensues.
- In The Idiot, Ippolit Terentyev attempts to shoot himself in the head, but his gun doesn't fire. Although other characters speculate that he was just Attention Whoring, and that he had deliberately loaded his gun incorrectly.
- In the Dresden Files novel Ghost Story, the readers find Harry has done this because he feared becoming a monster as Mab's Winter Knight. So this trope is used in a very convoluted way.
- In A Clockwork Orange, the Narrator Alex can't conventionally kill himself because the thought of violence makes him cripplingly ill - the reason he wants to kill himself in the first place. In a moment of sudden desperation he leaps from an apartment window, only to break most of his bones and wind up immobile and unable to talk in the hospital instead of dead. Needless to say, he isn't pleased.
- Joanne Greenberg's I Never Promised Youa Rose Garden takes place in a mental hospital during the Fifties, from the perspective of teenage inmate Deborah, who was hospitalized after cutting her wrists and bleeding herself out into a basin. Her doctor recognized this as a plea for help, a suicidal gesture, not a true attempt. Another inmate says that "a nut is someone whose noose broke", meaning that failed suicide is a common background for the inmates.
- In Jaroslav Hasek's The Good Soldier Švejk Švejk tells a story about a cadet driven to suicide by uncertainty of cadets' official status.note As Švejk puts it:
...one of them jumped into the river Malše [...] [but] was fished out again alive. In his excitement when he jumped into it he had forgotten that he knew how to swim and has passed swimming test with honours.
- In One Hundred Yearsof Solitude, Colonel Aureliano Buendía has his personal physician paint a target on his chest right over his heart, intending to shoot himself after signing a peace agreement. After he survives, it turns out the doctor was Genre Savvy enough to paint the target in a spot where the bullet would miss every single vital organ.
- Towards the end of John Marsden's Take My Word For It, Lisa reveals that, some time before the book started, she attempted suicide by overdose, but ended up waking up twenty-four hours later feeling awful, and soon realised that no one in the house had even noticed.
- At the end of Madame Bovary, Emma decides to kill herself by swallowing arsenic, expecting this to be Perfect Poison. However, reality doesn't work that way, and she doesn't die until much later, remaining in agony the entire time.
- It’s revealed in The Death Cure that Newt tried to kill himself by jumping off one of the Walls some time before Thomas’s arrival. He survived, but broke his leg, hence his permanent limp.
- In Another Note, Beyond Birthday uses Self-Immolation as part of his Murder-Suicide plot. He is stopped by Naomi; she doesn't talk him down, but rather blasts him with the fire extinguisher, and gets him medical attention before placing him under arrest. He survives with horrific burns only to later die from a Kira-induced heart attack in prison once he recovers from his injuries.
- Angel: Shunned by his people, Groo left to fight monsters until one would inevitably kill him. He laments that he couldn't even do that right, as he won every time.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the season 4 episode "Doomed," Spike has been rendered incapable of harming humans by the Initiative's chip in his brain, and by the time of this episode, he's been reduced to such a shadow of his former self that Xander of all people openly mocks him and declares him to be Not Worth Killing. With that, he decides to dust himself by falling on a stake... but just as he's about to do so, Willow and Xander enter the room and distract him, causing him to miss the stake. Willow ends up feeling so sorry for him that she insists they take him along to thwart the current apocalypse and stop him from trying again (though Buffy and Xander can't possibly fathom why Spike committing suicide is a bad thing).
- Episode "The Walk" of The X-Files opens with a man attempting suicide by drowning himself in boiling water and failing because he can't die. Mulder and Scully come to investigate it.
- AJ Soprano of The Sopranos tries to drown himself in his pool by tying a cinder block to his feet. A last minute change of heart leaves him stranded in the middle of the pool with his head barely above water.
- Michael from Lost attempted suicide at least twice, but the island wouldn't allow him to die until he had redeemed himself for his actions in season 2.
- The Twilight Zone Classic episode "Escape Clause". A man makes a Deal with the Devil for immortality, and tests the pact by trying to commit suicide. Eventually he starts doing so for money by threatening to sue companies for accidents he caused.
- My Name Is Earl episode "Something to Live For:" the person Earl's helping this week, Earl had regularly stolen the gasoline out of his car. Problem was, the guy was trying to kill himself by running his car engine and piping the exhaust into the passenger compartment every night, but since Earl kept stealing his gas he kept running out of gas before he died.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003) - Boomer has her suicide attempt interrupted by Baltar, who actually encourages her to do it. He leaves, then she bungles it anyway.
- Discussed in The Wire: Omar's brother "No Heart" Anthony got his nickname from bungling his suicide attempt when he was sentenced to several years in prison. He attempted to shoot himself in the chest, but came away with only "a contact wound and a new nickname".
- The Young Ones: Rick's attempt. After finding out no one in the house liked him, Rick tried to hang himself with his belt but couldn't find any place to attach it. He then tried to overdose on pills, not realizing the pills he was popping into his mouth by the handful were laxatives. Hilarity ensues.
- Pretty much the entire premise of the show Gravity, a drama/comedy about a support group for people who have made failed suicide attempts. The main character is widely known as the "Suicide Dummy" for driving his car off of a cliff - and accidentally landing it in the swimming pool of a passing cruise ship.
- The short lived TV News Show Drama Live Shot had a character about to shoot himself in the head. There's a Gory Discretion Shot of a bullet cracking the glass on a picture on his wall, followed by the attempted suicide lamenting that "I missed. How did I miss?"
- In the Superman The Musical TV Special, Superman was depressed after Metropolis shunned him. So, he tried to kill himself by tying an anchor to himself and jumping off of a bridge. Did anyone mention that this is the 'Man of Steel'?
- In an episode of ER, a patient once came in after he Ate His Gun, but his aim was off, and instead of going through his brain, the bullet went out the back of his neck and left him alive.
- After Phoebe shunned him in Charmed, Cole tried to kill himself. He even tried to goad the sisters into vanquishing him. By this point, however, he's become so powerful that not even the Power of Three can destroy him.
- Charles Logan in the 24 series finale.
- The US version of Wilfred opens with Ryan attempting suicide with what turn out to be sugar pills.
- Karofsky in the Glee episode "On My Way."
- Subverted in Mad Men ("Commissions and Fees" S5E12): Lane Pryce tries to kill himself by suffocating himself with the exhaust of the Jaguar his wife bought him; however, the engine wouldn't start on account of the faulty electrical system (which had been mentioned several times earlier). However, he later goes back to his office and hangs himself instead.
- In Sons of Anarchy, Juice tries several times to hang himself. When he does manage to jump off, the branch snaps.
- A Hill Street Blues episode ends on a Cliff Hanger when Howard Hunter puts his gun to his head, pulls the trigger, and the screen goes black. The following week we learn the gun was emptied of bullets by another officer.
- Luck has a scene where Joey Rathburn calls his ex-wife and kid, hangs up, then puts a gun to his head. Right before he fires, a minor earthquake erupts, jogging his aim and making the shot go wild, ricocheting around the room until it grazes his cheek. He decides to go to a hospital instead where he discovers that his constant stuttering has stopped.
- Played for Laughs on Scrubs when Ted tries to work up the nerve to jump off of the hospital roof, then ends up accidentally falling off (and smiling as he falls). He lands on a lower roof, where two janitors have placed a large pile of full garbage bags. If he had gone to the other side of the roof he would have succeeded.
- An alien in Star Trek: The Next Generation attempts a Thanatos Gambit by shooting himself with Riker's phaser in order to frame Riker for his murder and permanently sour diplomatic relations between his race and the Federation. He fails because he doesn't know how the phaser works and ends merely stunning himself.
- Taggart. In "Forbidden Fruit" a doctor decides to drown himself after being exposed as a fraud. His wife sees the overturned boat and rushes into the house to call for help, only to find him inside dripping wet. Things probably would have worked out if he hadn't forgotten about the written confession he left behind, in which he confessed to murdering the Victim of the Week.
- In the first episode of Breaking Bad, Walter White attempts to shoot himself in the head, only to find that the gun he's using still has the safety on. He removes the safety and misfires the gun into the ground, and he decides not to kill himself after all.
- On Seinfeld, a segment where Jerry performs stand-up has him talking about how he doesn't understand why people stop trying to kill themselves after a failed suicide attempt, when logically, they would have even more reason to kill themselves, since they now know that there's yet another thing they suck at. He goes on to say that maybe the whole reason their lives are crappy enough to make them want to commit suicide in the first place is that they just give up too easily.
- Ellen's suicide attempt, shown in Flashback, in Slings and Arrows. She spends a while balanced on the edge of a bridge, dressed as Ophelia, with Oliver dramatically pleading with her not to jump and her telling him to go away. Then she does jump... and the water is about a foot deep. When she tells Geoffrey about it in the present day, he can't help but think it's hilarious.
Ellen: Don't laugh! I was extremely upset.
- In ''Coupling, Jane attempts suicide by taking paracetamol. Two of them.
Jane: Well, that's as many as you're allowed, it says so on the bottle. You can only take eight in 24 hours. Frankly, I don't know how anyone finds time to commit suicide.Susan: I think you'll find the point of an overdose is that you exceed the recommended dosage.Jane: Isn't that dangerous?Sally: Two paracetamol won't have any effect Jane.Jane: That's rubbish. It got rid of my headache, I feel fantastic!Susan: Which, suicide-wise, isn't exactly a near miss, is it.
- Hardware has a character attempt suicide after being humiliated by Mike, by throwing himself under a bus. He misses.
- Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumours":
Girl of sixteen, whole life ahead of her
Slashed her wrists, bored with life
Didn't succeed, thank the Lord
For small mercies
- It became even Harsher in Hindsight when singer Dave Gahan attempted suicide the same way a few years later. See Real Life.
- Neutral Milk Hotel's "Three Peaches", in a similar vein:
You're in the bathroom carving holiday designs
Into yourself, hoping no one will find
You, but they found you, and they took you
And you somehow survived
- Dave Mustaine once introduced Megadeth's "Skin o' My Teeth" in concert with "This is a song about how many times I tried to kill myself and just couldn't get the fucking job done."
- The Monkees did "Going Down" where Mickey Dolenz sings of trying to drown himself in the river over a spurned love. When he gets over his anxiety he decides he's better off without her and takes the river out of town.
- Suicidal Tendencies' "Suicidal Failure" is sung from the perspective of a 19-year-old who has tried many different means of killing himself, but he just can't get it right.
- In the video to Milaya by Filipp Kirkorov at 1:27 the cat takes poison, puts his neck in a noose and tries to shoot himself and pull the stool from under himself. And everything fails. The song doesn't mention suicide, though. Possibly inspired by an urban legend below.
- Cracked's 6 Insane Disney Comics You Won't Believe Are Real shows some 1930 Mickey strips where breaking up with Minnie causes him to attempt suicide several ways but fail each time.
- In one very early Garfield arc, Jon considers getting the tubby tabby in question declawed. Garfield decides to stick his head into the over and end it all.
"Stupid electric stove."
- Gamma World adventure GW6 Alpha Factor. The Rakees are flying squirrels with the mutation of being almost unkillable. Going crazy because they've lived so long, they constantly attack any creature they can in the hope that the opponent will put them out of their misery by killing them.
- The play Spared by Israel Horovitz is all about this trope. The protagonist has been trying to kill himself for years, but somehow he's been unlucky enough to live.
- Konstantin in The Seagull attempts to shoot himself in the head in Act Two and survives, then succeeds in Act Four.
- In the stage version of Amadeus Salieri attempted to commit suicide by slitting his throat, but survived.
- In Wolfgang Borchert's play The Man Outside, a Shell-Shocked Veteran returns home to Germany after World War II only to find that everyone wants to pretend Those Wacky Nazis never happened and refuse to have anything to do with him. Eventually, he tries to jump in the river, but even the river won't take him.
- Per the Zeroth Law Of Trope Examples, Shakespeare did it with Antony in Antony and Cleopatra.
- In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Lucy's failed self-poisoning following her rape by Judge Turpin provides important plot, in the person of the Beggar Woman, who is Lucy after her failed suicide and imprisonment in Bedlam drives her insane. The character in question winds up dying at husband Sweeney/Benjamin's hands, and his realization afterward of who she is leads to his killing his partner in crime and allowing his own murder.
- Siren. Akira Shimura shoots himself with his hunting rifle after having just too much of the Cosmic Horror that the village of Hanuda became. Unfortunately being that Hanuda has become Cosmic Horror, instead of dying he revives as one of the many Shibito and cracks up when he realizes that he's still there.
- If you fail to save Cid in Final Fantasy VI, Celes will throw herself off a cliff in despair, only to survive landing at the bottom. It's mentioned that dozens of other people threw themselves off and did die; when she realizes she survived, she concludes something wants her to survivenote . On returning to Cid's body, she finds a note directing her to his raft, and the game proper resumes.
- Also counts as a Happily Failed Suicide, since finding a seagull patched up with what looks like Locke's bandana makes her happy she didn't try and gives her the determination to head out and look for her friends.
- In Planescape: Torment The Nameless One can actually stage these as a means to at least two ends, thanks to his immortality. First to knock a suicidal Dustman back on his rails in the Hive, then to discredit a lecturer's claims of afterlife during your stay at the Civic Festhall.
- .hack//G.U. has Atoli's player Chigusa, who bears several marks on her left wrists from failed suicide attempts. She has stopped trying to end her life after meeting Haseo.
- Subverted in the opening scene of Persona 3: Yukari is shown pointing a gun at her head and trying to pull the trigger with shaking hands, then dropping it and crying, but it turns out she was only trying to summon her Persona, not kill herself.
- In Agent Stone's backstory of Twisted Metal: Black, he tries to shoot himself in the mouth after realizing that his anger not only led him to kill the target, but also a girl and her mother. However, it fails because the gun was out of bullets.
- It's never shown or stated outright, but Adrian Andrews' attempted suicide in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All was most likely this.
- Yaginuma's sister in Kara no Shoujo attempted suicide and failed, but there was too long of a time without air getting to the brain and she was left brain damaged.
- What happens to Aeka in Yume Miru Kusuri if you aren't on her path (or if you get her bad ending). She survives, and spends the rest of her life comatose in the hospital.
- In the backstory of Hakuouki, Harada Sanosuke (like his real-life counterpart) attempted to commit seppuku after being mocked by a retainer who accused him of being a peon who wouldn't know how to do it properly. He survived the experience, and occasionally shows off the scar at drinking parties.
- Kanon: In Sayuri's backstory, she tried to commit suicide after the death of her little brother but didn't cut deeply enough. As she couldn't have been older than 12 at the time, this is probably understandable.
- Warbot from Warbot In Accounting throws itself from the roof of the office building it works at. As it's a decommissioned combat robot, it survives.
- Happens several times in the early strips of the "Suicide Girl" storyline of the extremely NSFW comic Sexy Losers, though she eventually does end up offing herself when she mistakes a handgun that she bought to protect herself from the lecherous Shiunji (who wants to have sex with her dead body) for a hairdryer. Things get worse from there.
- This causes the entire plot of YU+ME: dream . The protagonist found her mothers old suicide note, decided to "finish" what she started, and got into a car accident. She survived but was put into a coma which is where the series begins...
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Mr. Rochester's explanation of the nightmarish scream and mysterious accident number two from episode "Blood". Jane tries talking about it in episode "Mr. Mason". She thinks Mr. Mason tried to commit suicide and that Mr Rochester stopped him. Forgone Conclusion of the book however makes it clear that it did not in fact happen.
- In the Daffy Duck cartoon "Plane Daffy" a soldier tries to shoot himself after confessing a military secret to a spy. He goes outside to the hallway, closes the door, we hear a shot, then he opens the door again and says: "Uh,... I missed!"
- In South Park, the episode where the homeless are like zombies, a man tries shooting himself in the head several times, each one (except the last) destroying his head a little more without killing him. By the end, he is writhing on the floor disgustingly, gargling and bleeding. Ick.
- Another South Park example: in one episode, Cartman tries to commit suicide (over High School Musical's popularity) by sitting in his mom's car in the garage with the engine running. This doesn't work since his mom drives a hybrid.
- In the "Coon and Friends" story arc, Kenny, aware of his immortality, sometimes shoots himself in front of his friends in the frustration of them not being able to remember his deaths. In fact, when he and the other heroes are sent to R'lyeh by Cthulhu and Cartman, he fatally falls on a spike because he'd escape R'lyeh by waking up back home. At the end of part II, he says "good night" by shooting himself in the head, knowing that he'll just wake up in his bed the next morning.
- In "Britney's New Look", Britney Spears blows half her head off with a shotgun, but survives (looking like Mike the Headless Chicken afterward). She finishes the job at the end of the episode.
- A running gag with chronically depressed Moe Szyslak of The Simpsons.
- In "We're on the Road to D'ohwhere," he relates how he tried to hang himself, but the rope broke. So he sued the rope manufacturer, who gave him a huge cash settlement... and a new rope, which is already tied into a noose.
- In "Simpsons Christmas Stories," Moe makes three consecutive attempts: he hangs himself with a popcorn string that snaps under his weight, rides a sleigh into heavy traffic only for every single vehicle to miss him, and shoots himself in the ear, only for the gun to send a "Merry Christmas" flag out the other ear. Finally, he asks Barney to kill him as a Christmas present; however, Barney has already bought him a hat, so the heartwarmed Moe decides to live for the time being, making this an Interrupted Suicide of sorts. At the very end of the episode, however, he tries the sleigh-through-traffic method again, heading towards a loaded tractor-trailer, which of course misses him ("All eighteen wheels," as he notes bitterly).
- Moe apparently succeeded once in a Treehouse of Horror special. Unfortunately, Homer had just killed the grim Reaper so no one could die. Moe's left hanging there. "If I had known it would've taken this long, I would've put on the TV".
- Homer's attempted suicide in "No Loan Again, Naturally" is also played for laughs.
- Another one played for laughs is Mr. Burns' in "The Fool Monty", where he survives an airplane hitting him, then slamming against pine tree branches and whacked away by a bear.
- An Eastern European cartoon humorously showed a despondent man trying suicide and failing repeatedly... until he's held up at gunpoint, and abruptly fearing death, gives away his money as well as all his clothes. It ends with him naked and loving life.
- Played for very dark, Mood Whiplashy laughs on Adventure Time in the episode "Princess Cookie". The episode deals with a rogue cookie named Baby Snaps that is holding children hostage in a store demanding Princess Bubblegum's crown, due to his aspiration to make people happy as a child leading to him wanting to become a princess. As a child he told the princess, who giggled at him, which he took the worst way possible. Jake, after hearing his Freudian Excuse, feels sorry for him, and helps him to escape. This leads to them running away from the Candy Guards and when they reach a cliff, Baby Snaps thanks Jake for making him happy, and jumps off the cliff. Cue him on the ground in pieces being recovered by Candy Guards yelling "I GLUBBED UP!" ...Yeah.
- In one episode of The Oblongs, Debbie Klymer is driven to suicide when she sees that her beautiful face has been horribly scarred. Milo tries to stop her from jumping off a bridge, but she does it... and the water is way too shallow. That's actually why Milo wanted to stop her — everybody in the neighborhood has tried it at one point, it just doesn't work.
- Rick of Rick and Morty attempts this in "Auto Erotic Assimilation." After being dumped by Unity for being a destructive and negative influence on everyone around him, he attempted to vaporize his head with a heat beam. The attempt failed because he passed out on the last second and fell out of the beam's path.
- There is a story about a high schooler who tried to kill himself by jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge. He survived, and after police recovered him from the water, he is supposed to have told them, "dammit, I can't do anything right!"
- Another urban legend, debunked, holds that a fat woman was despondent because her husband left her for a smaller woman. She jumped out of the window and landed on top of him. She survived, he didn't.
- An English botanist in Australia tried to kill himself by eating a poisonous root. Being English, however, he boiled the root first, robbing it of its poisonous qualities - and discovered he'd made tapioca, which has been a staple in South America for centuries and needs to be boiled for detoxification.
- Mithridates, the king best known for taking minimal doses of poison every day to avoid being poisoned, also faced defeat, so he... poisoned himself. Astoundingly enough, this failed to work, so he got one of his retainers to kill him with a sword.
- Mark Antony, upon hearing of his fleet's defeat, tried to throw himself on his sword. Didn't work. Or rather, it worked, but not as speedily as he probably hoped.
- Maximilien Robespierre; most sources agree that he tried to shoot himself during The Thermidorian Reaction note , but missed and hit his jaw. A doctor dressed the wound, but the next day the executioner ripped off the bandage, causing the man whose Committee for Public Safety had sent hundreds to their deaths to scream in pain until he himself was finally guillotined.
- Stalin's son Yakov Dzhugashvili also attempted suicide with a self inflicted gunshot. Stalin, who didn't like him, noted that he couldn't even "shoot straight".
- The Darwin Awards have a whole Honorable Mention section for this. A particularly interesting one: a guy who took poison holding a loaded gun while his neck was in a noose on a tree overlooking a sheer drop into the sea. He drank the poison, jumped off, and shot himself. Except he missed, hitting the rope instead. He survived the drop into the water, but swallowing seawater made him vomit the poison. A boat picked him up and took him to a hospital, where he later died of hypothermia. (Source: Darwin Award Urban Legend (sadly enough).)
- Napoleon Bonaparte carried a vial of poison with him after the retreat from Moscow in 1812. He drank it in 1814 after surrendering to the Allied armies, but after two years it had lost most of its toxicity and he survived - though it still made him quite ill.
- It's possible, though unpleasant, to survive gunshot wounds to important body parts. The skull, especially the face, is surprisingly good at protecting the brain, and it's not always clear to a layperson what parts of the brain are necessary for life rather than less vital functions like conscious thought, memory, or motor control.
- In one notorious case, a man shot himself in the head five times. The first four shots all missed the brain. (Sadly, the last one was dead-on... though it took two hours for him to die.)
- Ricky Ray Rector, after killing a police officer, shot himself in the forehead and severed three inches of his left frontal lobe, effectively giving himself a lobotomy.
- Rotten.com's "Motorcycle" guy, who blew his face off with a shotgun and apparently survived, giving himself a Fate Worse Than Death. The wrong way to eat your gun.
- Two guys attempted suicide after allegedly hearing subliminal messages in Judas Priest's Stained Class album. One succeeded, the other failed, but blew out his maxilla.
- Herbert Sobel, the universally hated captain portrayed by David Schwimmer in Band of Brothers became greatly depressed and resentful after the war and finally shot himself in the head in the '60s—except it failed to kill him and rendered him blind. He lived for seventeen more years in an assisted living facility and eventually died of malnutrition. He may have been terrible to his men, but that's still depressing as fuck.
- Kirk Douglas attempted suicide once, but when he stuck the barrel of the gun in his mouth, he hit his front teeth and it hurt so much that he forgot all about the suicide. Then he decided that if he was so worried about some aching teeth, he probably did not have enough reason to kill himself.
- On one episode of Stan Lee's Superhumans, one of the people interviewed attempted to kill himself by grabbing the coils of a power station at a younger age. He was unharmed due to the superhuman level of electrical resistance his body has.
- Nedeljko Cabrinovic, a would-be assassin of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, had a spectacularly Bungled Suicide to go with his Bungled Assassination. After accidentally blowing up the car behind Franz Ferdinand's vehicle, Cabrinovic tried to kill himself by jumping in the nearby river — which was only three foot deep. Then he tried to shoot himself, only to discover that his gun had gotten wet and wouldn't fire. Finally, he took a cyanide pill, which turned out to be old, and only succeeded in making Cabrinovic throw up. Then he nearly got killed by the angry mob who had witnessed his attempt on Franz Ferdinand's life, before the local police intervened and saved him.
- For an encore, Gavrilo Princip, the assassin who actually ended up killing Franz Ferdinand later that day, tried two out of the three suicide methods that Cabrinovic had used — and also failed to kill himself, as his cyanide pill was from the same batch, and the assassins' pistols were of such crappy quality that they tended to misfire even when they weren't wet (though unfortunately for Franz Ferdinand and his wife, it did work when Princip shot them). Both men subsequently died of natural causes in a Serbian prison during the course of World War I.
- Hideki Tojo (Prime Minister of Japan during World War II) shot himself, but was revived by the Americans. Who then hanged him for war crimes.
- Italian singer Gino Paoli attempted suicide in 1963 by shooting himself in the heart. The bullet went through the heart without stopping it and got stuck in the pericardium. He survived, and to this day lives with the bullet buried in his chest.
- Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan attempted suicide in 1991 by slashing his wrists.
- Tuli Kupferberg from the band The Fugs once jumped off the San Francisco Bridge in the river, but survived. According to him he swam to the shore, went home, took a shower and went to bed. In reality he did suffer injuries and was sent to a hospital.
- Two well-documented cases by Elton John:
- One pre-fame attempt which was chronicled in "Someone Saved My Life Tonight" after the pickle heiress he was engaged to told Elton (untruthfully) he was the father of her child, and expected him to choose her and the baby over music; Bernie Taupin describes this dark-humouredly as a "Woody Allen attempt" as Elton turned on the gas on the oven and laid down on the kitchen floor, however, he left the window open.
- Another attempt at the height of Elton's fame, during Elton John Week in California. A very stressed out and depressed Elton, having invited friends and family to a poolside celebration at the hotel he was staying in, downed fifty Valiums and dived in the swimming pool to drown, before being rescued to safety. His grandmother, at a loss for words and not knowing how the handle the situation and its aftermath, deadpanned to the partygoers, "Well, I suppose we'd better get going now."
- A pre-fame Billy Joel, down-on-his-luck, financially strapped and having already thought himself as clinically insane, enough so that he would turn himself into an asylum at one point, attempted suicide by downing a bottle of furniture polish (he'd later comment he did so as "it tasted better than bleach") After being horrified by the mid-1980s than many of his teenage fans would romanticize this time in his life and attempt suicide themselves, he would write "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" to address these fans not to kill themselves.
- Richard Pryor admitted in his autobiography that his famous freebasing accident was deliberate, albeit while high.
- One attempt that definitely produced some good involved a US Army inductee who tried to kill himself in 1951 by overdosing on the rat poison warfarin (which kills rodents by causing massive internal hemorrhaging). After several attempts caused mild surface bruising but failed to end things, he reconsidered the matter and checked himself into a hospital, where large doses of Vitamin K (a coagulant) cured him. After further investigation confirmed its relatively low-key effects on humans, warfarin quickly became a standard treatment for blood clots.