Bury Your Disabled happens when a disabled character is killed off in a movie or TV Show. There are three 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.
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 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.
- The movie When You Remember Me. Of course, considering it's based on real events, this is a case of real life writing the script.
- Averted in Alien: Resurrection, where Vriess, despite being disabled, survives till the end of the movie. This being an Alien movie, that is quite a feat!
- Maggie Fitzgerald from Million Dollar Baby. Also a feat of Unfortunate Implication since Clint Eastwood had a battle against the Americans with Disabilities Act before the movie was made.
- Marvel Ann from Psycho Beach Party. Though it may be possible she was killed because she was a huge bitch.
- Averted in Feast. Hot Wheels was one of the survivors at the end.
- Semi-averted in Diary of the Dead. Samuel doesn't kill himself because he's deaf, he kills himself because he gets bit by a zombie. Subverts the usual implications of Type 2 because Samuel was more than capable of defending himself from zombies, making it more a case of a couple of other tropes.
- In Friday the 13th Part 2, Jason doesn't pick favorites, and kills everyone equally, which is bad news for Mark, the kid in the wheel-chair. Just as he's about to get lucky with Vicki, he gets a machete to the face. Then pushed down a flight of stairs. In the rain.
- Kevin Dillon from the film, The Mighty.
- Played straight 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.
- Will in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Possibly a subversion, since he was killed in his dream, where he can walk. In Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare the deaf character gets his head exploded.
- 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.
- 1971 film The Zodiac Killer has a scene where the villain shoves a person in a wheelchair off a cliff.
- The wheelchair user Uncle Albert gets slashed to death by the eponymous vengeance demon in Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud.
- 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.
- Rubber subverts (or averts?) this with the wheelchair-bound Spectator at the end of the movie. The closest type he fits is Type 2, however it's obvious he's more of a case of Anyone Can Die than Bury Your Disabled considering the nature of the killer in the film (a Psychokinetic Tire).
- 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.
- Averted by House of Leaves, in which Reston, a black man in a wheelchair, survives the book intact.
- Lenny from Of Mice and Men, killed because he was incapable of controlling his strength.
- Snowkit in Warrior Cats is killed by hawk, because as a deaf kitten he can neither hear the bird, nor warnings about it.
- Smike in Nicholas Nickleby.
- 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.
- The blind man in Guy De Maupassant's short story.
- Initially averted but later played straight in Glen Cook's The Black Company series. The wizard One-Eye suffers a stroke late in the ninth book, Water Sleeps. He gets through that book and the four years between it and book ten, Soldiers Live, before finally losing his decades-long feud with the werepanther Lisa Bowalk in the early chapters. Considering that the two have fought to a stalemate multiple times before, the stroke (and One-Eye's advancing age, now being around 200 years old) seems to be the deciding factor.
- 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
- Played straight and narrowly averted 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.
- Glee: Averted with Artie and Becky, who, despite being paraplegic and having Down's Syndrome respectively, are perfectly fine otherwise. But it's played straight with Jean Sylvester, Sue's older sister, who also had Down's Syndrome and died of pneumonia.
- 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).
- 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 Nonstandard 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.
Peter Singer feels that it is perfectly acceptable to kill disabled newborns "