"These things are nothing for kids...Death is a difficult enough matter for adults to deal with. It's no surprise, then, that children find it especially painful when they meet death for the first time. It's easy to imagine how upset they'll feel if, when one of their grandparents or a beloved family pet dies, even the grown-ups cry. Different from Death by Newbery Medal in that the elderly relative or animal who dies has not been treated as a major character, so it plays out more like a Very Special Episode than a Downer Ending.
But it did happen to you.
You're a kid,
And yet here you are,
And suddenly you have no grandma."
But it did happen to you.
You're a kid,
And yet here you are,
And suddenly you have no grandma."
— Chorus, Allegro
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The manga Bunny Drop opens with the death of six-year-old Rin's elderly father. By the chapter's end, Rin is able to acknowledge that the man won't wake up ever again. Though a later chapter touches on Rin becoming afraid of dying herself, and of her new guardian dying.
- In Gundam 0080, 11-year-old Alfred has to come to terms with death when his friend Bernard, a Zaku pilot and Zeon soldier, is killed by another one of his friends, Christina (whom is a Earth Federation gundam test pilot). He also has to come to terms with the realities of war, in which he previously had over-romanticized notions of.
- The last part of the first chapter of Gakuen Babysitters revolves around the protagonist, Ryuuichi, finally allowing the reality of his parents' deaths to sink in, with the realization that he and Kotarou may now only have each other. As he sits in the pediatric hospital crying, Chairman Morinomiya arrives to comfort him, revealing that her initial interest in him started at the funeral for the plane crash victims, when she noticed that like her, they were the only ones not crying, out of subconscious denial of what had happened. She then tells him that even though their loved ones are gone, they do not have to cope with their deaths alone.
- Near the end of the Obon Festival in 3-gatsu no Lion, Hina, after making up an excuse to leave the house, runs off to an isolated area in the neighborhood to cry by herself over her deceased mother, save for Rei who follows her and chooses to stay by her side as she cries.
- In an episode of Fullmetal Alchemist a little girl's cat dies. She tries to get Izumi to fix her but she explains death is irreversible. The cat left behind kittens though.
- As a child, Julie Winters was marked by the maiming and eventual death of a rabbit (although she was equally troubled by the callous way her mother put it out of its misery.)
- At one point in Transmetropolitan, Spider recalls when he first learned about death - when his grandfather died. This being Transmetropolitan, he first has to be told that Grandpa's never coming back, and no, it's not like that time he beat up Grandma and then declared he wasn't coming home; once it sank in, instead of being sad, little Spider got angry.
- In a short sequence from Gahan Wilson's Nuts, the Kid is puzzled that he can't cry when a favorite uncle dies. Then he imagines how he would feel if his dog died, and completely loses it. (Meanwhile the dog is very much alive, and straining at the leash because it wants to pee.)
- Avatar: Princess Neytiri and Dr. Grace Augustine have a good relationship, for Neytiri was one of Grace's many students to learn English. When Grace passed away, Neytiri felt a great sense of loss.
- B.B, the daughter of The Bride and Bill from Kill Bill, first finds out what death is when her fish dies. In perfect Tarantino style, Bill explained this in one of the most awesome monologues in movie history.
- Shadowlands: C.S. Lewis and his stepson deal with the death of Joy Gresham.
- In Finding Neverland, the fictionalized Llewelyn Davies boys are introduced after having lost their father, which caused severe disillusionment especially in Peter, who continues to act like an adult through much of the film.
Live Action TV
- Mr. Hooper's death in Sesame Street. It's not quite the same, as Mr. Hooper was a major character and Will Lee's death (from prostate cancer) was a case of Real Life Writes the Plot for the episode in which his death was addressed. It was also a case of Enforced Method Acting as the tears you see on camera are real — something the single take bears out very clearly. That being said, it did teach little kids that it was okay to miss the deceased, and that adults also feel sad, cry and miss loved ones when they die.
- An episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood sees Mr. Rogers try and fail to revive a dead goldfish, then bury it in the backyard of the television house. He discusses having to cope with the death of his dog when he was a child.
- Ever since the famous Sesame Street episode, various preschool shows have had an episode to introduce its young viewers to the concept of death. To name three Canadian examples, Today's Special had the episode "Butterflies" in which Muffy Mouse faced the old age death of her new butterfly friend Hazel, Under the Umbrella Tree had the episode "Farewell Findlay in which Gloria, Iggy and Jacob faced the death of their goldfish Findlay, and The Big Comfy Couch had the episode "Full of Life in which Loonette faced the death of a caterpillar. And in 2010, Sesame Street did it again with the primetime special "When Families Grieve," showing Elmo and his family dealing with the death of his Uncle Jack.
- An episode of Full House dealt with the grandfather's death, primarily from Michelle's POV. While this isn't the first of her family to die, this is the first time she's had to consciously confront the concept in real time, rather than in retrospect. Jesse doesn't fare much better, as it was his grandfather who had died; he ends up throwing himself into a myriad of tasks to avoid directly dealing with his feelings, only stopping to process the loss when he sees how his emotional distance is hurting Michelle.
- An early episode of The Cosby Show featured Rudy dealing with the death of her goldfish, although this is clearly more comedy — particularly in Cliff's attempts to think he's soothing Rudy's "grief" (when she was simply shrugging her shoulders).
- Growing Pains
- Mike traumatized by the death of his favorite uncle, whom we'd never seen before.
- Infamously in the 1989 episode "Second Chance," where Carol's boyfriend succumbs to internal injuries he suffered in a drunk driving accident.
- Family Ties
- Mallory is deeply traumatized by the death of her favorite aunt. Plenty of dark comedy abounds in the episode as a planned wake for the aunt and a garage sale for Alex's fraternity take place at the house on the same day, and grievers and bargain hunters naturally get in each other's way.
- Also, Alex was traumatized by the death of his best friend, whom we'd never seen before.
- In the first episode of Freaks and Geeks, Lindsay's new rebelliousness and questioning of her life is linked to the recent death of her grandmother.
- A Kenan & Kel episode centered around Kenan's dad leaving him and Kel in charge of looking after his prized pet cockatoo and the bird dying in their care, although this was mostly Played for Laughs.
- In an early episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show titled "Never Love a Duck" this happened (partially offscreen). Rob brought home two baby ducks that were used in an "Alan Brady Show" sketch and Richie raised them. Cut to a few months later - one is dead and the other is dying. Rob explains to Richie that no matter how much he loves it, it's not enough for it to survive. They have to release it into the wild. (How a duck raised by humans will cope in the wild isn't discussed.)
- A Star Trek: The Next Generation episode focused around the young son of a Red Shirt reacting to his mother's death. Several of the main characters remember their own first experiences with death; Wesley feels awkward trying to comfort the boy, reminded of the death of his own father on a mission commanded by Picard, while Worf (who was commanding the mission the mother just died on) wants to perform a Klingon bonding ritual with him because he too was orphaned at a very young age. Of course, this being Star Trek, they had to deal with these real emotional issues while dealing with the boy promptly being kidnapped by an alien who posed as his mother.
- In Pippin, Theo has a pet duck named Otto who gets sick and dies, despite Pippin doing all he can for it (which isn't very much). After the duck dies, Pippin tries repeatedly to cheer Theo up, to no avail.
- Nanako Dojima of Persona 4 is deeply affected by the passing of her mother prior to the time the story takes place. If you build your social links with her enough she'll ask the protagonist questions about death. Also, her stage in the game resembles Nanako's idea of what heaven should be like, and is borne of her deep-down desire to see her mother again - either on this plane or the next.
- Rather harshly subverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Regina Berry discusses when she first encountered death... and makes it clear she has no idea what it is.
- Lucidity: The entire game is a little girl coming to terms with the death of her Grandmother.
- Ni no Kuni has the protagonist dealing with the death of his mother.
- Much of the epilogue of Tales Of Graces F addresses Sophie's fear and initial lack of a complete understanding of death and mortality. It has a larger meaning to her than most people.
- One of Carter's sermons in Harvest Moon: Back to Nature is about a boy whose mother died of an illness. He didn't understand death so his father tried to skirt around the issue and tell him that his mom is sleeping. This backfired when the boy wanted to buy an alarm clock for her.
- The episode "I Remember Melville", not only does Chuckie's pet pillbug die but the babies have a funeral for it. This may not entirely count as a Death Is a Sad Thing because Chuckie's mother has already died. Then again, this was never actually shown in the series, and Chuckie honestly had no idea who his mother was, just remembering her in dreams.
- The episode about Chuckie's mother has shades of this, but it's an odd example. Chuckie starts out upset that he apparently has no mother, and ultimately is comforted to find out about her, skipping the usual grieving. However, it includes his father Chaz having to deal with his own sadness in order to comfort Chuckie and tell him that his mother is still with them in spirit.
- Similar to the Rugrats example, its Spiritual Successor Recess had a similar case where the class hamster, Speedy, dies, and the kids decide to hold a funeral for him on the playground during recess. Then things get confusing when many people show up for the funeral, including high schoolers, college-aged people, adults, and even the town mayor. Especially when the natural lifespan of a hamster is only 2 to 3 years, and the Speedy they knew had wildly different appearances. It turns out that there's been many, many, grade 4 class hamsters named "Speedy".
- An episode of Harold and the Purple Crayon named "I Remember Goldie" has Harold's goldfish prematurely passing away. He meets a mermaid who tells him death is a natural part of our life.
- An upcoming episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, "Daniel's Goldfish Dies" (already released in book form as Remembering Blue Fish), based on the episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood described above, is about Daniel learning to deal with his feelings after his favorite fish in the family fish tank, Blue Fish, dies. In the episode's second half, "Daniel's Strawberry Seeds," Daniel and Katerina Kittycat visit the Enchanted Garden to pick strawberries, only to find that the strawberry plants have died.
- Alvin and the Chipmunks has an episode in which the Sevilles adopt a cat, Cookie Chomper III, which is subsequently run over on the road and killed. The episode shows how Alvin, Simon and Theodore cope with their loss and how Dave eventually encourages them to remember the happy times they had with Cookie. In the end, Dave persuades the Chipmunks that they can learn to love another pet just as much as they did Cookie, leading to them adopting a dog, Lily, from the animal shelter.