Oh G.O.B, you could charm the black off a telegram boy!
Imagine, for example, a Chinese or Middle Eastern character in an American film. He may (or may not) have adopted the culture and speech of the country that he lives in, but he may also occasionally speak in his native language. While most of the other characters think nothing of it, there is one character who harasses him
, insisting he should only "speak 'Merican
, goddammit!" That one character is also given the most humiliating death scene in the entire movie. What we've just seen is Death by Racism
. When it happens to one-shot, otherwise flat
characters, it's more of a convenient way to treat the audience to a visually stunning death without having to display a title card afterwards reading "Trust us, he was a dick.
" Often, though, the killer will not even care that the victim was a bigot, having just chosen a target at random — which makes this more Kick the Son of a Bitch
. The killer might even be a bigot themselves, and it's just that bigotry was irrelevant in this particular killing.
This trope is most common in shows that have a single Token Minority
, but it can also turn up in shows with a Five-Token Band
. When taken to extremes, it can become Narm
or be an obvious Author Tract
. Often overlaps with Bullying a Dragon
or Mugging the Monster
. Compare Politically Incorrect Villain
and Asshole Victim
. Contrast Vasquez Always Dies
and Black Dude Dies First
. When a character's racism directly
causes their death, that's a form of Laser-Guided Karma
Note that if done badly, this could be a case of Strawman Has a Point
and Felony Misdemeanor
. If the target of the insult was himself an Asshole Victim
, or the outburst the writers considered irredeemably racist comes off to certain audiences
as excusable, the death may not seem like the Karmic Death
it was intended to be.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime and Manga
- In Black Lagoon, during the Neo-Nazi Arc, many Nazis are killed by the protagonists Chinese-American Revy and Dutch (also, the crew had a hacker Jew and a former Japanese salaryman on board at the time). When the commander is cornered, given a gun by Revy, and given a choice to either die by suicide or for them to shoot him, he decides to try to shoot Dutch, only to find out there were no bullets. Revy pulls out her other gun and the two both shoot him.
- In One Piece, reveals that the Fishman Fisher Tiger died because he refused to have human blood transferred into him when a blood transfusion would have saved him, claiming that "The blood is filled with hatred towards the Fishman race". This is opposed to the story everyone hears as spread by Fishmen, that he didn't get a transfusion because humans were too racist to give him one. Which could've been true in most other cases.
- While on Fishman Island, Sanji almost dies due to his explosive nosebleeds, because no Fishman would donate blood to him.
- Sin City has had two instances in which a man uses a racial slur against Miho. To call them Too Dumb to Live would be an understatement.
- In a CREEPY story called Hell Hound Blues, a couple of racist record collectors go after an old, valuable blues record that a wise old black man tells them he has in a secret location. Throughout the story they belittle and insult this old man. They, uh, don't make it to the record.
- In one Runaways arc, the team ends up in 1907 New York, where Nico runs afoul of the local "heroes", one of whom calls her a "chink" and threatens to beat her. He's later seen getting his spine ripped out by one of the local villains during the climactic battle. It's worth noting that he's the only one from his team who is shown dying in that battle.
- Subverted by Lilli, who refers to Nico as "the Oriental who looks at me like I'm a bug". Not only does she not die in the battle, but it's revealed that she survived to present times, where she's an old lady.
- A secret agent jumps out of an aeroplane without a parachute in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, chasing after the title characters, after 90 minutes of brutalizing and terrorizing ethnic minorities.
- Toned-down example in the first movie, where a racist cop ends up getting arrested.
- The racist who insulted young Hannibal Lecter's Samurai-blooded aunt is sliced into chunks by him with her family's Katana as the boy's first victim in Hannibal Rising. Given Lecter's dislike for rude people, this also overlaps with Laser-Guided Karma.
- The first victim of Death in The Final Destination is a redneck who has no compunctions whatsoever about calling African Americans the N-Word. (His character is actually listed as "Racist" in the end-credits.) He is given a humiliating end when he tried to burn a cross KKK-style in front of the black lead's house: his tow truck drags his burning and screaming carcass while playing War's "Why Can't We Be Friends" before it explodes.
- Isaac in Final Destination 5, who, in comparison to the above, is merely unbelievably insensitive and stereotypes the Asian workers as the massage parlor. This is only one of his many character flaws. He gets some karmic retribution from the staff before Death comes in and drops a heavy Buddha statue on his head.
- Big Dan Teague in O Brother, Where Art Thou?: When our heroes crash a Klan meeting he's attending, after he does his best to kill them, they drop a giant flaming cross right on his face. Homer Stokes gets his comeuppance after he reveals his membership to The Klan during an angry tirade, which contributes to the audience quite literally running him out of town on a rail.
- By its very nature, Crash (the Haggis one, not the Cronenberg one) averts and subverts this with various characters.
- Koobus from District 9 could be considered an example. Late in the film he admits that he loves watching prawns die, 'prawns' being the aliens. At the climax, a group of prawns tear him apart and eat him.
- The bulk of the interaction between the Jerk Jocks and the Indian kid Ravi in The Final consists of them taunting him with racist remarks about "dotheads" and "thank you come again!". They don't actually die, but judging by what happens to them, death may have been a welcome escape.
- The unfortunate Boss Tanaka from Kill Bill, who makes the rather grievous error of insulting O-Ren's Japanese-American/Chinese-American heritage. He pays dearly for his insult.
- In A Bronx Tale, C's friends, and especially Slick, die because of their hatred of black people. They get blown up by their own Molotov cocktails after a black guy throws one back at them.
- Cesar in REC. The moment he starts making racist comments about the Asian family, you know he isn't going to last long.
- Not really deaths in most cases, but the Bruce Lee film Fist Of Fury (or alternatively, The Chinese Connection) is all about a bunch of stupid, stupid people being racially discriminating and abusive against the Chinese - and Bruce Lee's character and Bruce Lee personally himself, by extension - and promptly getting the snot beaten out of them. In a more literal case, Chen himself: yes, Chen was guilty of a number of crimes, but there was absolutely no justice in his "arrest" in the film's ending sequence. It is highly likely that no-one in the Japanese karate school faced punishment for massacring the students at Chen's kung-fu school, seeing as how the Japanese authorities viewed the Chinese as lesser people.
- Treated realistically on Law & Order: SVU, where an Arab-hating teen who killed an Arabic victim earlier kills a Middle Eastern fellow prisoner in a holding cell. His lawyer tries a version of the Insanity Defense that's pretty extreme even by Hollywood Law standards; that he's biologically programmed to hate Arabs. He's convicted for the earlier murder, but never serves his time for either murder, as he's ganged up on and killed by the dead prisoner's friends.
- In the Tonight Someone Dies episode of Arrested Development, the narrator points out the woman who does die after she says Gob could "charm the black off a telegram boy."
- Toned-down example: the pilot for Spenser: For Hire has cool badass Hawk working as the bad guy's bodyguard — when he's ordered to kill Spenser, he refuses due to mutual respect. Bad guy yells "I told you to kill him, you goddamn nigger!" Hawk raises an eyebrow, clucking "Racial invective!", promptly resigns, and lets Spenser kick the guy's ass.
- Inverted on The Jeffersons, when a leader of The Klan who'd refused to let his son learn CPR in a class with Louise and Florence suffers a heart attack and is saved by George's use of this skill. His parting words ("You should've let me die") suggest he'd have preferred Death by Racism to owing his life to a black man.
- In the episode "Kaddish" of The X-Files, a very rabid Neo-Nazi who incited three teenagers to murder a Jewish store owner is strangled to death by a golem created in the image of the murdered man, after it's killed the three teenagers. No one sheds any tears over any of them.
- The video for Fatboy Slimís "Donít Let The Man Get You Down" introduces you to a nice-looking fellow named Don. Don likes a lot of neat things, like fishing. DON IS A RACIST. The middle of the video is mostly about how he makes his own life miserable by being mean to non-whites. At the end, he dies in a non-sequitur fashion, and an apparent Spoof Aesop is that if you are a racist, you will die in some sort of Karmic Death accident.
- Monty Python's song "Never Be Rude to an Arab" plays with this hilariously.
- A staple of the Insane Clown Posse's discography.
- Garithos from Warcraft was torn apart and eaten by ghouls because Sylvanas was tired of him trying to take Lordaeron from its undead citizens on the grounds that, well, he just didn't like zombies (or any other non-human race).
- Bonus points for the fact that he spent the previous campaign harassing the Blood Elves. If Sylvanas (also a High Elf in life) had known this, his death probably wouldn't have been any less gruesome.
- Garithos's death wasn't brought on by racism, Sylvanas killed him because she had promised him control of Lordaeron in exchange for his aid against Balnazzar, which she had no intention of ever actually giving him. It's still an example, though, because Garithos' racism is used to make the murder seem "okay" even though Garithos was completely in the right in that particular situation.
- In Red Dead Redemption, Herbert Moon is rather prejudiced. This comes and bites him in the expansion Undead Nightmare, where he proclaims to John Marston that he doesn't like Jews, non-whites, Native Americans, Catholics, Fabians, socialists, homosexuals, Asians, British and women. He also claims the current situation is the work of the "Jewish British Catholic homosexual elite" to bring down America. About two minutes later, he leaves his store and is promptly ripped apart by some zombies while John looks on smoking a cigarette with a grin on his face.
- In both Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis and its comic-book adaptation, Nazi colonel Klaus Kerner meets his end this way. When Indy, Sophia, and the Nazis all find themselves in the Colossus at the very centre of Atlantis, the Nazis decide to see if the Colossus really can transform human beings into gods- and Kerner insists on being the first test subject. In the comic, he boasts that since he is the only person there of "pure-blooded Prussian" ancestry, he is the most fit to be a god; in the game, he brags that his Aryan genes will make him immune to the nightmarish mutations that occurred in most of the previous test subjects. Ignoring the hideously deformed skulls littering the area and (in the comic) even shoving other people out of the way, Kerner triumphantly mounts the platform at the center of the room just as the machine is starting up and proclaims, "I, Klaus Kerner, will rule the world! That Bavarian upstart, Hitler, will kiss my feet!" - right before he melts into a hideous mass of brown gunk. His fate in the game is little better: as the power of the Colossus courses through him, he grows to at least twice his height and laughs triumphantly... then his left eye begins to swell. Without warning, he shrinks and mutates into an antlered dwarf almost identical to the long-dead test subjects he'd earlier dismissed as subhuman. Screaming in horror, he flings himself off the platform and into the lava below.
- Speed Racist from Cyanide and Happiness is a short where a racist dies in a car crash, caused by speeding, after yelling "go back to Africa" to a black guy. This is a short, and not a comic, because it's three minutes of him lamenting (and debating) the irony of the situation, though it's not enough to save him.
- A now-deleted entry from the SCP Foundation "The Racist Door". A door decoration that, when placed on a door, would attempt to injure any non-white person who tried to open it. A white-supremacist doctor at the organization keeps it on his door for his amusement. Eventually, said doctor mysteriously dies after a prolonged illness. It it then determined that the doorway upon which the decoration is hanged will, over time slowly kill anyone who walks through it. The report concludes by suggesting the possible sentience of the item in its attempts to protect non-white races from the effect, and the note that "racism is not exclusive of Caucasians."
- Rarity in DRESS.MOV of the PONY.MOV series forces illegal Mexican immigrants to make dresses for her. It doesn't end well.