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Death as Comedy
Come on, admit it. We've all seen it. Some hapless loser or faceless redshirt bites it in a strange and unusual way. Maybe it was embarrassing. Maybe he died because of his own stupidity. Maybe he had an anvil dropped on him, or better yet a bridge. Maybe he keeps getting killed every week by some monster, only to come back to be killed off again. Perhaps he's small, furry, and cute, yet the death is depicted as gory and defined as possible. Any way it happens, someone is going to chuckle... unless you happen to be a Moral Guardian or easy offended, in which case it's Dude, Not Funny!.

Many an Omnicidal Maniac who Crosses the Line Twice benefits from this trope. So does the Affably Evil or Faux Affably Evil villain if they make the audience appreciate the killings they do.

If this happens to your own Player Character, it's Have a Nice Death. Yet Another Stupid Death also applies if a bit of forethought or common sense could have prevented it.

In Real Life, this can be a coping strategy for those close to death and/or the dying.

Often a form of Black Comedy and a Sister Trope to Gallows Humor. They Killed Kenny Again is a subtrope of this if it's Played for Laughs. Compare Black Comedy Rape.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Film 
  • One of the most well-known examples is from Pulp Fiction:
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street gets loads of this, be it in film or stage production. Killing people to a tune or with camp makes it funny, apparently. Or maybe it was the pork pies...
  • Head Office kills off two characters within 20 minutes. The first one is Rick Moranis's character, who dies of a heart attack after his blood pressure went too high from stress. The other one is Danny DeVito's character, who jumps to his death from the building into the fountain.
  • Weekend at Bernie's and its sequel, along with any film that uses the same schtick.
  • Tropic Thunder, so violent that the only death on the movie is this: Damien has just finished giving a Rousing Speech, and then gets blown to bits by a landmine.
  • Final Destination movies can be interpreted as rather dark comedies.
  • Hot Fuzz: every death in this film is done in a weirdly twisted, but comical way.
  • Mob Boss Momo from Get Shorty keels over with a Hollywood Heart Attack on receiving a Shock Party.
  • Running Theme in Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. With just about every single character who dies.
  • Mystery Team. "Someone stole that man's face." Rather unusual in that the characters usually react very seriously to death otherwise (although the line "Two dead bodies, that's my limit!" certainly qualifies as a joke).
  • "Dadadadada! I. Am. Your singing telegram!" BANG! *Thud*
  • The Mummy Returns has this:
    Jonathan: Look! There's a burial ground. We're safe! We're safe! See those sacred stones? They'll never cross those.
    Shafek: You are sure?
    Jonathan: Yes, of course I'm sure.
    [a pygmy runs past and stabs Shafek. Jonathan screams]
    Jonathan: Sorry. My mistake.
  • Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: I don't think they make a "Sorry Your Dodgeball Coach just got crushed by two tons of irony" Hallmark card."
  • The Trouble with Harry: The closest thing Hitchcock ever made to a comedy. A body turns up in the woods outside a small town. As the local authorities try to figure out who killed him, one by one the entire town confesses to the murder.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has a few.
    British soldier: This land is hereby forever claimed for the glorious name of his majesty, King George—BANG
    Spaniard: Someone make a note of that man's bravery.
  • The Hangover Part III has two in a row in its beginning, setting up the film's plot: a giraffe is decapitated by an overpass, causing a pile-up; and Alan's dad has a heart attack after discussing this with him (it happens in the background as he is listening to some loud music to get over the heavy conversation).
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes and its spiritual sister Theatre of Blood. The latter becomes especially funny if you know your Shakespeare.

    Literature 
  • Double subverted. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the entire planet gets blown up in the first part of the book... because it was in the way of a intergalactic freeway. Subverted when they replaced Earth. Then subverted once more when it was blown up again.

    Live Action TV 
  • In the Friends episode "The One Where Heckles Dies", there is a bit of this. Mr. Heckles dies rapping a broom on the ceiling in an attempt to get the friends in the apartment above him to quieten down.
  • Monica Mancuso from Las Vegas flies off the roof of the casino when a gust of wind catches the "winged-style" dress she was wearing. She flies around for about five minutes before crashing into a shoe store more than a mile away. Characters spend the episode debating the impossibility of it, and buying shoes from the store. To add to the humor, the theme of The Wicked Witch is playing as she flies.
  • Arnold J. Rimmer. Twice. And in fact everyone on the ship except for the main characters; this is after all the Trope Namer for Everybody's Dead, Dave we're talking about.
  • Dean from Supernatural gets a whole series of funny deaths because of a Time Loop.
  • Dead Like Me features a lot of these. Believe it or not, the Dead Guy Of The Week is usually the episode's comedy relief. The drama comes from George and/or her (still living) family.
  • A SBTB: The College Years episode featured the death of a professor followed by the usual wacky humor.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Elijah knocking off Trevor's head? Harsh, but hilarious. Elijah forcing Slater to stake himself? Awful, but hilarious. Elijah ripping out two people's hearts at THE SAME TIME? Evil, but epic.
  • The sudden death (at her desk) of Don's ancient secretary Miss Blankenship on Mad Men (in episode 4.09, "The Beautiful Girls") is played for some of the most ridiculous laughs the series has ever seen from start of the subplot (the discovery that she's dead) to the shunting around of her body in a rolling chair to avoid being seen by the clients. The subplot ends, however, on a very heartwarming moment from her former lover Bert Cooper: "She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She's an astronaut."
  • The IT Crowd has Denholm Reynholm walk to a high-story window and casually commit suicide when confronted by the authorities for accounting irregularities and it's hilarious.
  • Firefly features the villain of the week, Crow, being kicked into Serenity's engine intake by Mal. It's clearly played for comedy, and it is pretty funny.
  • Numerous times on Whose Line Is It Anyway? has this trope been acted out by one of the performers.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show had the episode "Chuckles Bites The Dust", often cited as the funniest episode of any show ever, which rotates around the death of performer Chuckles the Clown in a parade - "He went as Peter the Peanut... and a rogue elephant tried to... shell him."
  • Horrible Histories uses this often, and even has a recurring sketch, "Stupid Deaths," dedicated to the subject.

    Video Games 
  • Evil Dead: Regeneration does this with Sam, Ash's half deadite sidekick. He gets better each time, but he still doesn't like dying. Killing him is actually a gameplay mechanic as well as something Ash does in the cutscenes.
  • Most sand box crime games like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row play off the deaths of whoever is on the street while you shoot them in the face this way, usually occurring elsewhere in the game's plot because of the less than serious tone much of the games have.
  • People die so many times in Ghost Trick that even they can find their own deaths amusing if they're ludicrous enough. It helps that we know the deaths won't stick.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia has this following exchange:
    Jade: I'm a member of the Guild. I live on Leanbox, but I don't follow Lady Green Heart...
    Neptune: ...Why're you telling me now? What's up with this?
    *grack*
    IF: ...And that's that. You finished him off.
    Neptune: Oops. Well, that was for ruining the moment.
  • In Temple Run, your deaths are often played for laughs. Whenever you die, you get a laconic text message. For example, when you die from falling into a pit, this message may be "I knew I should have learned how to fly" or "temple slippery when wet". These two messages have a double irony, since you can use "wings of resurrection" and since you can slide without problem over even the roughest surfaces.
  • Thanks to the hilariously bad voice acting as well as some of the cutscenes, Dynasty Warriors 3 is arguably a case of where deaths are more hilariously funny than probably intended. A good example includes the death of Taishi Ci.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Played straight nearly constantly on South Park, be it with Kenny or anyone who happens to get hit with the biggest Idiot Ball at the time.
  • Happens to many, many, many mooks on The Venture Bros., most often by the hand of utter badass Brock Samson.
  • Those poor interns.
  • Some episodes of the French comedy shortcom Avez-Vous Déjà Vu ?... (Have You Already Seen...) definitely fall under this trope. An example involves three houses that play a game to see how far they can spit their inhabitants out. One of them launches a guy through the chimney, who then lands right onto the road. The poor dude is run over by a bus, after which the house happily says "Yay, a bus ! That's 1000 points !".
  • Every single episode of Metalocalypse. Sudden, gruesome deaths account for about a third of the show's humor.
  • Happy Tree Friends uses this in every episode with its characters dying in very painful and unusual ways.

    Real Life 
  • The Darwin Awards
  • A major factor in Jewish humor, medical humor, military humor... in fact, just humor.


Deadline NewsComedy TropesDeconstructive Parody
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