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Bury Your Disabled

"Cito necatus insignis ad deformitatem puer esto"Translation 

Bury Your Disabled happens when a disabled character is killed off in a movie or TV Show. There are four types of Bury Your Disabled.

  • Type 1: Someone who is disabled and dies at the end of the movie due to natural causes. Usually due to complications arising from their disability (Rory O'Shea Was Here).
  • Type 2: This type occurs when the disabled person is killed off in a violent manner. This can be because they (the disabled character) were considered, by the writer and audience, an easier victim because of their disability. Type 2 tends to carry the Unfortunate Implication that someone who is disabled can't protect themselves. note  Type 2 usually involves murder or neglect.
  • Type 3: Suicide, which carries the Unfortunate Implication that one is better off dead than disabled. Or, worst case scenario, the writer who uses this trope really does believe that one is better dead than disabled.
  • Type 4: Mercy kill. Someone close to the disabled kills - or even murders - the disabled, either by his/her request or thinking that life as disabled would be too hard to bear. This type overlaps outright murder, Mercy Kill and euthanasia, and carries the same Unfortunate Implications as Type 3.

More than likely the character in question is being killed off by the writers specifically because he/she is disabled. This is usually a plot point that is supposed to be a Tear Jerker or, in the case of horror movies, meant to be shocking. This can also combine with Littlest Cancer Patient: the frail, wheelchair-bound waif is Too Good for This Sinful Earth, and their death will be a sweet release at the end.

Bury Your Disabled will most likely happen to a current or (near-)future wheelchair user, but other disabilities are not discriminated against as much. See also Death by Disfigurement, which has some similar implications, and Throwing Off the Disability, the other common way to "dispose of" a disabled character.

As a Death Trope, this involves SPOILERS.


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  • Fray, set in the future of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer timeline, features, as the heroine's friend, the one-armed, one-eyed, absolutely adorable, radiation mutant Loo. But Joss Whedon is writing the script, so...

  • The eponymous character from Rory O'Shea Was Here (aka Inside I'm Dancing) died due to complication from his Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy.
  • The Viet Cong sniper girl in Full Metal Jacket. Joker is compelled to perform a Mercy Kill for the sniper who has gotten a paralyzing wound in the firefight with Animal Mother. This qualifies as Type 4.
  • The wheelchair-bound Franklin Hardesty from the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) has the dubious honor to be the only person to be killed with a chainsaw.
  • Marvel Ann from Psycho Beach Party. Though it may be possible she was killed because she was a huge bitch.
  • In Breakfast on Pluto Patrick "Kitten" Braden's childhood friend dies in an IRA bomb blast. The police sent in a simple robot to disarm it, and he rushed out assuming it was a toy. The friend in question, Lawrence, had Down Syndrome.
  • In the first Final Destination they make a point of showing that one of the passengers on the ill-fated Flight 180 is a physically and mentally handicapped man.
  • Derek, the Token Minority in Hellraiser: Hellworld, has very severe asthma, and "dies" in his hallucination when he wanders off alone to look for his inhaler after losing it. In the real world, he just had an attack and died from it.
  • Gattaca subverts this trope then plays it straight. The subversion comes along in the form of Inspirationally Disadvantaged Vincent Freeman, who is disabled by society's standards by not being genetically engineered. He has a life expectancy of 30.2 years, yet he's alive by film's end. Played straight with Jerome Eugene Morrow, who is paralyzed from the waist down and commits suicide at the end of the movie by climbing into an incinerator. Toyed with, however; Jerome's disability is revealed to be from a failed suicide attempt earlier in his life.


  • Dragon Queen: Trava's father is blind, but dies of natural causes, making this a type 1.
  • Played straight in the second-to-last Animorphs book, where all of the Auxiliary Animorphs (all of whom had been handicapped at some point and most of whom still were) are ruthlessly murdered by Visser One/Three.
  • Played straight in Louisa May Alcott's books. Between Little Men and Jo's Boys, two minor characters die, one physically disabled ( Dick, the young hunchback, the other mentally ( Billy, the boy driven to mental illness by his dad).
  • Narrowly averted in The Great Brain when Andy Anderson loses his leg to gangrene and tries to kill himself with J.D.'s help. Neither attempt is successful to begin with, but Tom walks in on the two trying to hang Andy in the barn and offers-for a fee, of course,- to teach Andy to do his chores and play games with his peg leg.
  • The books Jason X Death Moon and Jason X To The Third Power both feature blind characters who get their heads chopped off.
  • Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub, includes a blind character who is killed by a murderer wearing his dead wife's perfume.
  • Lenny from Of Mice and Men, is killed by his friend George because he was incapable of controlling his strength and accidentally killed a woman, and George couldn't bear the thought of Lenny being subjected to imprisonment.
  • Snowkit in Warrior Cats is killed by hawk, because as a deaf kitten he can neither hear the bird, nor warnings about it.
  • In A Single Shard, Crane Man (who has always been forced to live as a beggar due to his bad leg) dies. However, it's justified for three reasons: one, it's established that Crane Man was very old, two, he had a heart attack from a fall into a river, and three, Death by Newbery Medal demands it.
  • In Iron Fist, Ton Phanan appears to be between Types 2 and 3. He crash lands on a hostile world and his wingmate follows to try and save him, but though Phanan tries his best he refuses to let them be captured by the enemy, who after all would treat the injuries created in the crash. He suffered from a great deal of Cybernetics Eat Your Future, and Word of God is that though he feared death and tried to avoid it, he didn't feel any great impetus to live. It was more important that the mission continue and the Big Bad be killed, than that he lived and the Big Bad went on making more people like him before he could be stopped.
  • Option 3 is encouraged by the Tendu of The Color Of Distance. They're fantastical healers, but if an injury is too severe to be completely restored within a year they expect the injured party to "die honorably". One even asks a human why her wheelchair-bound brother hasn't killed himself yet. The two who go to Earth quickly learn to think past that mindset, and in the end Ukatonen, given a traumatic brain injury and losing much of his old healing skill, decides that he will live.
  • In the German Scare 'Em Straight book Die letzten Kinder von Schewenborn (The Last Children of Schewenborn), which is about an Atomic bomb being dropped on Germany, a boy whose legs were lost in the catastroophy commits suicide.

     Live Action Television  

  • Subverted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Ethics. Worf becomes paraplegic after an accident. By Klingon tradition, he can commit ritualistic suicide (and he comes close to it). However, he takes another presented option when a research doctor wants to test her theory that she can create a new spinal cord for him.
  • Inverted on Cold Case, when a student at a school for the deaf kills his best friend because he'd gotten a cochlear implant and stopped being disabled, which made the culprit feel both insulted and abandoned.
    • But played straight with a disabled teenage boy, talked into standing before a train.
  • Three Evil Cripples featured on Criminal Minds (horribly burned Randall Garner in "The Fisher King", paraplegic Ian Coakley in "Roadkill" and quadriplegic Mason Turner in "To Hell and Back") die at the end of their respective episodes. Averted with wheelchair-bound Jeffrey (another Evil Cripple) in the episode "A Family Affair" and with the UnSub from "Into the Woods" (he only had a limp but still had a ton of painkillers).
  • In Dead Set, the Jerkass producer, Patrick practically pushes a wheelchair user in front of a zombie so that it can eat him and save his own skin by hiding in a toilet cubicle.
  • In Glee: Jean Sylvester, Sue's older sister, had Down's Syndrome, and died of pneumonia. Subverted with Becky, who attempts suicide, but is stopped by Sue.
  • Played straight in ER when Dr. Romano is killed by a falling helecopter after having lost an arm to a helicopter in a previous season. Possibly subverted when Dr. Weaver has surgery that improves her gait and leaves the show to pursue a new career opportunity and new love interest.
  • The original Survivors plays it straight with wheelchair user Vic Thatcher, who died at the start of the second season when a fire broke out in the Big Fancy House the main cast had moved into. Almost qualifies as a Type 1, however, as this was long before British fire-safety law was tightened up to ensure that escape routes were suitable for wheelchair users.
  • There was a mentally disabled immortal in Highlander who was killed off specifically because of his disability. He does the deed himself by laying his neck on a train track as a train approaches.
  • The Darker and Edgier second season of ''War of the Worlds started by killing off two characters from the first season, one of whom was wheelchair bound.


  • In the musical When The Switch Is Pressed, almost all the characters have committed suicide by the end. One of them is a wheelchair user.
  • The Deconstruction of this trope is the main plot of the play The Cripple Of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh: Billy is born disabled, making him walk poorly and prone to illness. He claims to be dying of TB to gain a sympathy favor from Babbybobby (whose wife died of TB), and Billy is then seen to die from that (Type 1). Then it is revealed that the death scene was Billy playing a cripple dying of TB in a film (subversion of Type 1). Babbybobby is so furious to be deceived that he gives Billy a savage beating (Type 2), but Billy survives. After being beaten, Billy plucks up the courage to ask his crush Slippy Helen out, and she rudely turns him down. Billy is seen to prepare himself for suicide in the same manner of his parents (Type 3), only to be interrupted when Helen comes back and changes her mind. Billy's jubilation over his success is cut short by an Incurable Cough of Death with Blood from the Mouth (Double Subversion of Type 1).

     Video Games  
  • Strangely averted in Mass Effect 2. Joker, the brittle-boned pilot who walks very slowly (at times with a cane), is the only member of your crew who cannot be killed during a playthrough. You can kill literally everyone else in your crew, including yourself, and still finish the game, but Joker simply will not die except under very specific circumstances, such as when the crew is abducted by the Reapers while walking him around the Normandy. If he walks up the ladder too quickly in engineering, he'll be killed by a scion. This gives you a Non-Standard Game Over, meaning he is the only playable character whose death guarantees that the player loses the game. It's also implied he may die in some of the worst endings for the third.
  • Alexander Caine in Hitman: Blood Money, who dies at 47's hands due to his being the game's Big Bad. He's a Flunky Boss and a Handicapped Badass, so achieving this trope isn't easy.
  • In the horror game The House 2, the family that lived in the house had a daughter by the name of Alrena. Alrena was born severely disabled, and the couple poisoned her and stuffed her body in the safe because they didn't want to see her suffering any more, making this a case of Type 4. But Alrena wanted to live, no matter what, and she was not happy about what her parents had done to her. After trying to "start over" with an adoptive daughter and killing the maid that they hired because she had found out too much, they eventually couldn't deal with the guilt of what they had done any longer and killed themselves.


    Real Life 

  • This trope is Older Than Feudalism in real life: In the ancient world, around the Mediterranean sea, disabled new-borns were "exposed", that is, left in the street to die, by their parents.
  • Nazis sat up the Aktion T4 so as to "ensure the betterment of the Aryan race" and getting rid of "useless eaters".
  • Peter Singer feels that it is perfectly acceptable to kill disabled newborns.
  • Sadly, type 3 is more common amongst severely disabled or terminally ill than we ever care to even think about. No further examples of this type are necessary.
  • Harry J. Haidelsen left several newborns with severe birth defects to die.