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 embarassing
. 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.
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
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.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Double subverted. The Hitchhikers 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.
- 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.
- The Darwin Awards
- A major factor in Jewish humor, medical humor, military humor... in fact, just humor.
- 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?
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.
- 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.