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
As this is a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers. Beware.
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Anime and Manga
- As mentioned in her article, characters voiced by Houko Kuwashima end up dead conspicuously often. If it isn't her character, then characters close to her character will do.
- Mamoru Miyano is a mild example if Death Note, High School Of The Dead, and Tekken: Blood Vengeance are anything to go by.
- Micah Solusod is famous for this; over half his roles have died. Though he's coming out of it with roles like Soul and Touma, it's still a Running Gag with his fans.
- Brett Weaver is also made famous because of his roles as Roy Fokker, Gai Daigoji and Toji Suzuhara, all of which die, even if he's occasionally got roles where he didn't die (although played with when he's playing Goh Saruwatari, the guy isn't dead, but he came really close to it, cocooned by the Insania Virus and all). Up to the point that he was nearly chosen to play Kamina, until it was announced that Kyle Hebert got the role.
- A lot of anime love casting Yoshino Takamori whenever they need a Disposable Woman.
- Sean Bean.
: Kid named after Sean Bean - dies immediately.
Commenter: If Sean Bean was in a horror movie with a black guy
, who would die first?
- 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 + Character that dies in the original source material = Spared by the Adaptation? What?
- 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 to not 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?
: 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 anyway close to Sean Bean!
- Ironically, there's only one character killed in National Treasure, in which Sean Bean played the villain. And it was not Bean'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.
- 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.
- Helena Bonham-Carter, most notably in Harry Potter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Dark Shadows (maybe). 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.
- Steve Buscemi, when he's not either the Only Sane Man or protected by the Lunatic Loophole. It was once observed that each time he dies in a Coen brothers movie, his remains get smaller and smaller (as seen when the other characters scatter his character's ashes at the end of The Big Lebowski).
"When I get cast, I always flip to the end of the script to see if my character gets beaten up or killed. I really thought that after getting killed on The Sopranos.
I should not accept scripts where I die. I mean, there's nowhere to go after getting killed by Tony Soprano. But then I got offered this great part in The Island
. I didn't even make it a third of the way through the movie."
- Laetitia Casta gets it an awful lot on screen - she's stabbed in Gitano, shot in Rue des plaisirs, executed in the Italian miniseries Luisa Sanfelice, killed in a car crash in her first American movie Arbitrage...
- Adolfo Celi can never seem to last to the credits. Thunderball, Danger: Diabolik, and The Next Man are only a few examples.
- Kim Coates dies much more often than he survives. His death reel has its own website and includes 32 deaths, but there are so many that the maker of that video is apparently contemplating doing a follow-up death reel with 20+ more deaths. Curiously, whenever he co-stars with Sean Bean, Kim always survives.
- Billy Connolly has made light of this in some of his standup routines.
Billy: I'm a huge filmstar...but you have to hurry to the movies, because I usually die in the first fifteen fucking minutes. I'm the only guy I know who died in a fucking Muppet movie!note
- Elisha Cook, Jr. was known as Hollywood's "fall guy" for several years in the Golden Age of Hollywood for dying in a surprising amount of movies (usually in the role of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain or a shady Hired Gun). Cook even stated in an interview that he might have died in "fifty, a hundred... at least that many."
- Tom Cruise is usually an aversion, with an article noting how he only died in Collateral and Valkyrie before a role basically built around repeated deaths in Edge of Tomorrow.
- Willem Dafoe, both when he plays good and bad guys. Most notably in Wild at Heart (accidentally blows his head off with a shotgun), Spider-Man (impaled), Platoon (shot fleeing from NVA soldiers, complete with Crucified Hero Shot), Shadow of the Vampire (disintegrated in sunlight) and The Last Temptation of Christ (crucified).
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan, in most of his television roles (such as Supernatural, Grey's Anatomy, and -posthumosly - on Weeds), and Watchmen.
- The French film Les cent et une nuits de Simon Cinéma, directed by Agnès Varda in honour of the centenary of cinema in 1995, features a funny conversation between Michel Piccoli and Gérard Depardieu in which they discuss the many varied ways in which they died unnatural deaths with clips of their death scenes from various movies, including Piccoli eating himself to death and dying with a long loud fart in La grande bouffe and Depardieu being burned at the stake in Le retour de Martin Guerre.
- Johnny Depp has expired in quite a few films, including A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (his movie debut), the aptly titled Dead Man, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, From Hell, The Brave (very strongly implied), Public Enemies, The Astronauts Wife, 21 Jump Street, Transcendence (twice, once as a human and again as an artificial intelligence), and (if you count it) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. In Dark Shadows, he gets halfway there.
- Leonardo DiCaprio: The Quick and the Dead, Total Eclipse, Romeo + Juliet, Titanic, Blood Diamond, The Departed, Shutter Island (sort of), Inception (also sort of), J. Edgar, Django Unchained and The Great Gatsby.
- With 7 deaths, Mike Doyle claims that it is easier to die with your eyes open.
- Idris Elba has a bunch of roles that involve getting killed off, including The Wire, The Unborn, American Gangster, Prometheus and Pacific Rim.
- Dwight Frye's roles consisted of two things: playing weirdos who die.
- Terry Gilliam in the Monty Python films: Apart from Patsy, all his characters in Monty Python and the Holy Grail die (including in a Creator Cameo); he's one of the crucified in Monty Python's Life of Brian; and in Monty Pythons The Meaning Of Life, he's disemboweled for a liver donation and is among the people who eat a rotten salmon mousse.
- Danielle Harris has, over the course of her career, played characters who have been killed off. Then again, that's what happens when you're a horror movie star.
- John Hawkes has actually had to say "I don't die in every movie I appear in."
- John Hurt has died over forty times in his career. When he doesn't die, he often lives up to his name.
- Michael B. Jordan (no relation) is morphing into one of these. On top of being killed off on the first season of The Wire and in the film Chronicle, he also stars in Fruitvale Station, based on the true story of Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed by Oakland police in 2008.
- Klaus Kinski, especially in his early movies. He was one of the actors who appeared most in the Edgar Wallace series and his characters really never got to see the end of the one they appeared in.
- Chiaki Kuriyama is known both for starring in low-profile horror flicks and dying dramatically in them. About the only media she does not die in are J-dramas.
- When she first started out, Queen Latifah seemed to get killed a lot; she was in three movies in quick succession (Set It Off, The Bone Collector and Sphere) where she was respectively shot, stabbed and killed by jellyfish.
- Christopher Lee: a side effect of being Type Cast as so many bad guys, as seen here. Also provides the page quote.
- Jared Leto dies in many of the films in which he appears (Panic Room, The Thin Red Line, Alexander, American Psycho, Lord of War, Prefontaine, Dallas Buyers Club) and even in the ones in which he doesn't something horrible usually happens to him (his character is subject to a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in Fight Club and ends up looking like this◊, while his character in Requiem for a Dream gets one of his arms amputated). Leto was even killed in a music video for his own band, 30 Seconds to Mars
- Jennifer Lim, who played the girl who committed suicide in Hostel, is an aversion; she noted that it was her 20th film, but the first in which her character died.
- Steve McQueen died in Hell Is For Heroes, The War Lover, The Sand Pebbles and Tom Horn.
- Liam Neeson, which makes his character in Les Misérables (1998) being Spared by the Adaptation all the more surprising and ironic. Even in video games, he ain't safe. Given many of Neeson's roles are of The Mentor, quite often he fits The Obi-Wan (including the one who trained the Trope Namer).
- Gary Oldman has too many to count, but it started with playing real life people like Sid Vicious and Joe Orton and then playing villains; after that meant getting killed a lot. Even his more sympathetic characters buy the farm sometimes, like Sirius Black or Rosencrantz (although the latter was a Foregone Conclusion). And like Liam Neeson, his deaths aren't restricted to outside of video games., either.
- David E. Paetkau is one of the horror genre's whipping boys, having been offed in several horror movies he appeared in, including, most famously, Final Destination 2.
- Joe Pantoliano (probably best known as Cypher from The Matrix) gets killed in most of his major film roles and quite brutally on The Sopranos. The chronologically-reversed Christopher Nolan film Memento even starts with his character's brains blown out!
- Bill Paxton, who's essentially never played a character that's survived him appearing in anything with Michael Biehn, and holds the distinction of being killed by an Alien, Predator, and The Terminator (Lance Henriksen is the only other person to hold the distinction). Then there's Navy Seals and Tombstone. Granted, if Michael Biehn's not in the movie, his characters don't die nearly as often (one notable exception being Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). He was even shot and killed at the end of Big Love. He played a family man who owned a home improvement store.
- The late Harve Presnell had a reputation for getting killed on camera a lot: getting shot in Fargo, beaten to death in Face/Off, a memo spike in an episodes of Monk, sky-jumped sans parachute in The Pretender, and probably many more.
- Up until recently, Olga Kurylenko's roles generally consisted of her having sex and then getting killed (rare exception: Quantum of Solace, where the other girl sleeps with James Bond and dies, while Kurylenko does neither and survives). This is taken to its logical conclusion in Seven Psychopaths, where she spends her ten minutes of screentime having sex and getting killed.
- Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney were quite often sentenced to death by the Hays Office, their only crime being that they were also typecast as gangsters. They generally only survived after making a Heel-Face Turn.
- Michelle Rodriguez tends to pick roles of the Vasquez Always Dies kind, although she now has a few aversions, two because the franchises went on long enough that she got resurrected.
- Hilary Swank. It was once remarked, after Million Dollar Baby's release, that she seems to have made a career out of being beaten to death.
- Quentin Tarantino, in the movies where he appears as an actor. And those are mostly the ones he directed. Which makes a certain amount of sense — limiting your onscreen time by having your character die means you don't have to do two jobs for the entire shoot.
- Daniel Radcliffe is being slowly but surely molded into one, as seen in December Boys, The Simpsons (granted, his character did have it coming, having suckered Lisa into becoming a vampire and not letting her back out once she starts to have second thoughts), and The Woman in Black. Technically, he also died in Harry Potter, although not permanently.
- Giovanni Lombardo Radice, most infamously with a drill to the head in City of the Living Dead.
- Alan Rickman, in Die Hard, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Harry Potter, Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (sort of), Truly Madly Deeply, etc.
- Eric Roberts. Even if he doesn't die in any given movie, his fate will probably be ambiguous, as demonstrated when Sal Maroni gets involved in a car accident and at the very least suffers further injuries in The Dark Knight.
- Chico Roland, a Token Minority African-American actor in many Japanese films from the 50s to the 80s, usually died horribly in most of his appearances, for example, getting his tongue telepathically ripped out by Hiroshi Fujioka in ESPY, Getting skeletonized TWICE in Warrior of Love Rainbowman, being killed in a laboratory explosion in Kamen Rider Super-1, being emasculated by Sonny Chiba in one of the most infamous scenes from The Streetfighter... about the only roles where he did not die a horrible death are as an MP in Toshio Masuda's The Imperial Japanese Empire and Prophesies of Nostradamus.
- Liev Schreiber, in Scream 3, Salt, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sphere, Phantoms, The Manchurian Candidate, etc.
- Tom Sizemore bites the bullet in most films he appears in, particularly when they're crime dramas. A short list: True Romance, Heat, Saving Private Ryan, Red Planet, Natural Born Killers, Devil In A Blue Dress and Wyatt Earp among others. Oddly, Sizemore manages to make it out of the rather causality heavy Black Hawk Down nearly unscathed.
- Heavily averted by Sylvester Stallone, who even tried to change the ending of F*I*S*T so his character wouldn't get killed (he failed).
- To be a fan of Danny Trejo is to watch a movie he's in bearing the additional burden of hoping his character doesn't die early in the film.
- When his role is more substantial than a cameo, Meat Loaf gets killed quite a bit. In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it happens close to dinner. With an icepick.
- Noticeably averted by Clint Eastwood, who in his six-decade career has only been killed three or four times. He dies in The Beguiled, Honkytonk Man, and Gran Torino, and High Plains Drifter hints that his character may have been Dead All Along.
- Robert Redford has inverted and defied this for the most part, which is why Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has its Bolivian Army Ending (he claimed that Redford characters don't die to achieve such an ending for the film). It should be noted that the first of his characters to ever die was The Great Gatsby.
- If she's not the lead performer, there's a good, if not 100%, chance that Sue Shiomi will die in her movies (particularly if it's an actioner), as seen in The Streetfighter, The Streetfighter's Last Revenge, Golgo 13: Kowloon Assignment, Shogun's Ninja, and Legend Of Eight Samurai. Usually her death is a result of being an Action Girl in a film that also features a more feminine supporting character.
- Her frequent costar during the heyday of her career, Shinichi Chiba, doesn't fare much better outside of the martial arts genre, dying in The Yakuza Papers: Hiroshima Deathmatch, Dragon Princess, The Resurrection of Golden Wolf, G.I. Samurai, Shogun's Ninja, and Legend Of Eight Samurai and getting a Bolivian Army Ending in Samurai Reincarnation.
- Michael Ironside. His deaths are often quite gory and messy, and he loses a limb or two in the process.
- CCH Pounder. She starred in movies such as RoboCop 3, Face/Off, and End of Days, and she dies in those three.
- Conrad Veidt got cast as doomed tragic heroes or villains so often he rarely survived a movie without dying. His female fans started a "Don't Let Conrad Veidt Die On The Screen" club in 1941 and lobbied MGM to give him parts in which he wouldn't get killed at the end. It didn't help.
- Owen Wilson, before his claim to fame in Shanghai Noon, notably died in movies for three years in a row: 1997's Anaconda, 1998's Armageddon, and the remake of The Haunting (1999).
- Most of Chow Yun-Fat's Hong Kong and Chinese roles had him dying near the end of the thing, primarily because CYF is good at playing tragic heroes.
- Porn star Ron Jeremy dies in pretty much every non-pornographic movie he stars in.
- Classic French actor Jean Gabin seems to die in every other movie he starred in during the '30s. These films include (but are not limited to) Pépé le Moko, Le Quai des brumes, La Bête Humaine, and Le Jour Se Lève.
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.
- Jamie Bamber, who has had so many of his characters get killed off (eight at last count) that they're apparently running out of ways to do it. His character from Law & Order: UK, Matt Devlin, not only died in a manner eerily similar to Archie Kennedy, his character from Horatio Hornblower (Blood from the Mouth and Heroic Sacrifice), he was the fifth (along with Tony Dewhurst from The Scarlet Pimpernel, Tom from Ghost Rig, and Mitchell Hoban from Outcasts) to get shot. A commentator in one of the show's forums snarked, "Jamie looks pretty good dying onscreen. As well he should, he's done it so many times already." And the two of the three who weren't shot (on Cold Case and Ghost Whisperer) were already dead when the show started, while the third (on Star Trek Continues) seems to have happened just to lampshade this trend. His appearance on Rizzoli & Isles just barely subverted this, having his character fall from a bridge, only to 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 (on 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 three well-known shows already: a Victim of the Week on Cold Case, Fletcher on Nikita and Regina's lost love 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.
- 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 Man — he 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.