Chronically Killed Actor

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"I could die for you in every way known to man, and in a few ways known only to scriptwriters. I could see now that provided I remained fit, the future held many more deaths yet. I could only hope that they would serve some purpose, and that perhaps a reputation might come in the same way as a coral formation, which is made up of a deposit of countless tiny corpses."

This actor's character always dies. Almost inevitable if the actor is confined to villainous roles or ill-fated mentors... which explains the high number of British actors on this page.

See also Vasquez Always Dies, when actresses that play Action Girls meet this fate; Black Dude Dies First, when it's a black character that gets offed; and They Killed Kenny Again, where the repeated deaths happen to a character rather than an actor. See also Dead Star Walking, and contrast Contractual Immortality.

Websites such as Cinemorgue help compilate which actors are bound to this.

As this is a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers. Beware.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The great Christopher Lee, a serious contender for the greatest amount of recorded screen deaths. A side effect of being Type Cast as so many bad guys, as seen here. Also provides the page quote. According to his autobiography, he once caught his kids watching late-night TV and playing a guessing game called "How Will Daddy Die This Time?"
  • Sean Bean, who also happens to be the Trope Codifier.
    YouTube Commenter: Kid named after Sean Bean — dies immediately.
    Commenter: If Sean Bean was in a horror movie with a black guy, who would die first?
    Commenter: Sean Bean would play the black guy.
    • There's a list of his on-screen deaths here as of 2009. Interestingly, it also provides a surprisingly large list of roles he survives. But still, you know it's impressive when someone can put together a 4-minute death montage and still be accused of missing a few examples.
    • Silent Hill: Revelation 3D becomes borderline hilarious thanks to this trope. Chronically Killed Actor, plus a character that dies in the original source material, somehow equals Spared by the Adaptation?
    • Watching his star-making performance in Sharpe while aware of this reputation can get pretty surreal, too. Scenes where the original audience would have been confident in our hero's Plot Armor - such as his (faked) execution in Sharpe's Honour - can become surprising nail-biters today.
    • A popular meme lampshading this trope is Richard Sharpe: So badass being played by Sean Bean couldn't kill him.
    • Parodied in The Order of the Stick's take on "Jack and the Beanstalk." Bean appears in three panels, and is shot dead by an orc archer in the second.
      Wizard: Hrmph. I suppose I should have seen that coming.
    • Which makes his role in Troy almost a Casting Gag: He plays Odysseus. The only main character who doesn't die.
    • And on the small-screen, his death as Ned Stark in the first season of Game of Thrones was surprisingly shocking to fans of the show (less so to fans of the then 15-year-old book).
    Lary Williams: (sputters in disbelief) How is it that...the character that you portray as the central main character...as the protagonist of this fucking series...not to mention, Sean Bean is probably the highest...is probably among the highest if not THE highest paid actor on your payroll... He's on all the advertisements. Your press photos. He's on the goddamn cover of the FUCKING BOOK! And he doesn't make it past season one?
    Honest Trailers: Ride along on an adventure where any lead character can die, whether you're Sean Bean, Sean Bean's wife, Sean Bean's best friend, Sean Bean's son, Sean Bean's daughter-in-law, Sean Bean's family dogs, or Sean Bean's unborn grandkid. All men must die...who are in any way close to Sean Bean!note 
    • Ironically, there's only one character killed in National Treasure, in which Sean Bean played the villain. And it was not Bean's character.
    • Subverted in Pixels. Knowing his reputation, you expect his character to die when the Centipede is after him, but against all odds, he survives.
    • In The Martian, Bean plays the base commander of the Mars mission gone awry. And he lives, although he is forced to commit career suicide after okaying an extremely risky maneuver to get the stranded astronaut back from Mars behind his bosses' backs. The maneuver works, but he still has to fall on his sword to save NASA's reputation.
  • Kylie Minogue. Even though she hasn't starred in many roles, she dies in the majority of them. In Holy Motors, she is Driven to Suicide; in San Andreas, she is among the casualties of an earthquake; in Cut, she is slashed to death. Not to mention her role in a special Doctor Who episode, Voyage of the Damned, where her character dies as well, and her role in the video of "Where the Wild Roses Grow", where she is killed by Nick Cave's character.
  • Michael Biehn. Frequently in the military. Frequently dies. On the rare occasions when he survives (e.g., Aliens or Navy Seals) he ends up badly wounded before the final reel.
    • In Alien³ he even manages to die before the movie begins.
  • Humphrey Bogart is this in almost all of his pre-The Maltese Falcon roles, as well as several after, including: Sirocco, The Desperate Hours, The Two Mrs Carrolls, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. His earlier deaths include, but are not limited to: Dead End, High Sierra, Angels with Dirty Faces, The Big Shot, Kid Galahad, The Return Of Dr X, The Petrified Forest, and the dozens of movies in which he played a gangster.
    • Ironically, Bogart's stardom is the reason he doesn't die onscreen in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. Producers thought him dying would tank the film.
  • Helena Bonham-Carter, most notably in Harry Potter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Dark Shadows. Usually, her character had it coming.
  • Richard Beymer. Let's see: Gunned down in Westside Story, gassed in The Diary of Anne Frank, death by andiron in Twin Peaks, shot again on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine... as a consolation prize, he achieved immortality on The X-Files.
  • Jeff Fahey has died in Darkman and a bunch of other movie and TV roles.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Michael Coleman is a go to for walk-on deaths in Canadian productions including Supernatural and Eureka.
  • Michael Shanks is this for TV roles - Stargate SG-1, Smallville, Stargate SG-1, Burn Notice, Stargate SG-1, Andromeda, Stargate SG-1, Sanctuary, plus that Little Red Riding Hood remake. Seriously not kidding about SG-1. (It's said that Dr. Daniel Jackson doesn't have a medical history, he has a medical encyclopedia.)
  • British actor Jamie Bamber, who has had so many of his characters get killed off (ten at last count) that they're apparently running out of ways to do it. Six have been shot—Tom from Ghost Rig, Tony Dewhurst from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Mitchell Hoban from Outcasts, Vincent Plowman from The Messengers, Archie Kennedy from Horatio Hornblower, and Matt Devlin from Law & Order: UK. The final two even died in an eerily similar manner—Blood from the Mouth and Heroic Sacrifice, prompting a commentator in one of LOUK's forums to snark, "Jamie looks pretty good dying onscreen. As well he should, he's done it so many times already." And the other four? Two of them (on Cold Case and Ghost Whisperer) were already dead when the show started, the third (on Star Trek Continues) was outright made a Red Shirt (prompting their commentators to wonder if the producers were poking fun at this trend), and the fourth, the titular John Doe: Vigilante, died after taking a Cyanide Pill. His appearances on House and Rizzoli & Isles just barely subverted this, having his character become very ill on the first show and fall from a bridge in the second, only to recover/be rescued in the next episode.
  • Christopher Eccleston almost always ends up dying in whatever movie or TV series he's starring in, so much so that this isn't really considered a spoiler anymore (from a certain point of view, even including the end of his tenure as The Doctor). If the story is dark enough to feature character deaths, the question isn't if his character will die, just how. One could easily list at least 16 death scenes of varying brutality or (rarer) characters that die off-screen. His mini-series "Blackout" is probably an intentional subversion in this regard. His character ends up deciding not to commit suicide at the very last second.
  • An in-universe example in Monk: In the 100th episode, Randy shows up with an actress girlfriend whose specialty is getting killed in TV shows. It becomes a Brick Joke in the end of the episode when Stottlemeyer and the culprit of the week are wrestling with a gun; it goes off randomly and she certainly looks like she's been shot by accident. But then she recovers and admits, embarrassed, that she acted like she'd been shot on reflex.
  • Jacob Kogan, at least in some of his television roles.
    • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Blood Brothers", Tripp Raines is killed with a rock to the head by his half-brother Arturo.
    • In the final episode of Delocated, David is choked to death by his father.
    • It remains to be seen whether his character Luca Jameson will live or die in The Tomorrow People.
  • Kristen Bell has died in Heroes, Deadwood, and her 2 appearances in Robot Chicken have earned her brutal fatalities. Even video games aren't exempt since her character gets Killed Off for Real in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Anna in Frozen even comes very close to getting killed, by freezing into an ice statue.
  • Kevin Tighe. With the exception of Emergency! and Roy Desoto, Kevin seems to die in the majority of the roles he plays. He often chooses villain roles, probably to distance himself from Roy, and that is partly the reason.
  • Alan Dale has now died of a heart attack on three different shows (Neighbours, The O.C. and Ugly Betty), and, oddly enough, each show had his character in a relationship with a gold-digger and in a strained relationship with his adult children at the time.
  • A specific series example: Geoffrey Palmer has appeared as three different characters in three different Doctor Who stories and each time been killed off early on. By the third time it was a Running Gag.
  • Noah Bean has died on four well-known shows already: a Victim of the Week on Cold Case, as Ellen's fiancè David Damages, Fletcher on Nikita and Regina's lost love Daniel on Once Upon a Time.
  • Jaime Murray has died in Warehouse 13 (ok she gets better but still), Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Dexter and Fright Night 2. Several jokes were made when Hustle finished that she had actually survived the shows run.
  • Rick Cosnett has died in, so far, all three of his regular/recurring roles on American TV; killed as Wes Maxfield on The Vampire Diaries, suicide on both The Flash (2014) as Detective Edward 'Eddie' Thawne and Quantico as Elias Harper.
  • Despite having a relatively small number of tv and film credits to his name, Colin Donnell is developing a reputation for this trope; most notably, his characters on Arrow and The Affair were both series regulars whose death had a significant impact on the show. He's died in at least one other guest star role (Unforgettable) as well.

    Theater 

    Other 
  • An odd case is Joe Buckley, a fan of Baen Books, who is frequently featured as a cameo within the books only to be killed off in short order.
  • Italian actor Giuseppe "Beppe" Fiorello, brother of far-more-known showman Rosario Fiorello, is infamous for this, so much that he dedicated - with his brother - a stand-up sketch to parody and lampshade this trope, when Rosario's holding a dying Beppe in his arms. And they milk death being overly dramatic for all it's worth.
  • David Bowie could qualify as this if you just considered his musical output. The protagonist in "We Are Hungry Men" is eaten by those men, Ziggy Stardust dies at the hands of his own fans, Major Tom is heavily implied to die of asphyxiation or thirst in space, his businessman in the "Jump They Say" video is Driven to Suicide, and one of his Loads and Loads of Roles in his Rock Opera 1. Outside is a murder victim. One of his first film roles was as a painting come to life — not for long — in the 1969 short The Image. From there his character dies in all of the following films and TV productions: Just a Gigolo, Baal, The Hunger (both the film and the TV anthology inspired by it, as two different characters!), Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Gunslinger's Revenge, and Mr. Rice's Secret. His one major stage role was the title character in the stage version of The Elephant Manhe perishes at the end. Amazingly, his two best-known film roles, Thomas in The Man Who Fell to Earth and Jareth in Labyrinth, do survive, but then again, neither of them has anything to live for anymore.
  • Jim Troken, who appears in the That Guy with the Glasses Massive Multiplayer Crossover films Suburban Knights and To Boldly Flee has played characters that die pretty early on in gory fashion.
  • In Vocaloid songs and PVs, Len Kagamine has this fame in the fandom, to que the Urban Dictionary, "He has yellow hair and dies periodically."
  • In Sean Bean Saves Westeros, the "real life" Sean Bean is transported into the land of Westeros of A Song of Ice and Fire. Now living as Ned Stark, not just playing him on TV, Sean Bean lampshades this more than once! He goes out of his way to keep himself alive as the "resurrected" Lord Eddard Stark.
  • Sean Bean again. This time in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, when Martin Septim summons the avatar of Akatosh to defeat Mehrunes Dagon.
  • If Robin Atkin Downes is doing motion-capture for a Naughty Dog video game, you can expect him to be killed off. To date, only one character he's portrayed has made it to the end credits.
    • It's taken Up to Eleven in Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, where his character, Hector Alcázar, was Dead All Along and may not have even been involved in the backstory at all.
  • The Russian speculative literature as a whole has a Chronically Killed Publisher: Yuri Semetsky, a prominent figure in the Russian science-fiction and fantasy fandom, whose namesakes and lookalikes keep popping up in various sci-fi authors' books as secondary characters, only to be killed before the story's end. Sergey Lukyanenko is credited with starting the trend in his early books, and in the early '00s, there was even a joke award for "The Best Literary Murder of Yuri Semetsky" at the Interprescon conventions.

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