Sometimes when a character, especially a Sad Clown
or Plucky Comic Relief
type, is facing death, they find the whole experience laugh-out-loud funny. Or sometimes, the laughter itself is what kills them, especially if they've just been hit with Comedy as a Weapon
. Either way, that's where this trope comes in. Can also overlap with Laughing Mad
Compare Go Out with a Smile
This is a death trope, some examples may be uncovered.
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Anime & Manga
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Jougan and Balinbow make a Heroic Sacrifice to save Gimmy and Darry, then they die laughing in the face of death... and take out an Anti-Spiral fleet with their death.
- Kittan also does this, laughing about his new found Spiral power.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Rena dies laughing in the Big Bad's face during one arc.
- Rurouni Kenshin: When Shishio spontaneously combusts from his extreme body temperature, he dies, burning in flames, laughing to the end.
- In Hellsing, the Captain dies laughing (which Seras described "like a child") when he is killed by Pip.
- In the Dragon Ball Z OVA "Bardock, Father of Goku", Bardock goes out this way when he realizes the prophecy he had of a Saiyan vanquishing Frieza wasn't of him, but of his son, Goku.
- After Jessie ends up being incapable of restraining her amusement of Haunter's antics when the platform she and the rest of Team Rocket were on and lets go, Meowth comments while she is laughing that she's going to die laughing. Knowing these characters, they survive, albeit at the end of the episode, they are encased in cement.
- In Sin City, when Marv learns that his foe is Cardinal Roark, he realizes that it's going to kill him, whether he takes down Roark or not. Marv decides to press on: "Hell, dying will be nothing. I'll die laughing if I know I've done this one thing right." And so he does.
- Joker venom, starting with the very first Batman vs. The Joker story. Victims die laughing with huge unnatural smiles on their faces.
- The Joker himself, after being crippled by Batman in The Dark Knight Returns, SNAPS HIS OWN NECK BY TWISTING IT AROUND to frame his nemesis, and then dies laughing.
- A refined version of Joker venom causes victims to laugh up their own intestines.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: All but one of the weasels die of laughing and become ghosts. Just like Doom warned them they would.
- Laughing gas was used as a weapon in The Radioland Murders.
- In The Princess Bride, Vizzini drinks poisoned wine and then laughs maniacally, thinking he'd outsmarted Westley. He literally keels over mid-laugh.
- In Mary Poppins, the grumpy old banker Mr. Dawes Sr. dies laughing when he finally gets Mr. Banks's joke.
- In Batman, the toxins Joker releases into various cosmetics causes the people who combine them to laugh uncontrollably and die with a Joker-esque smile. At the end, after Joker falls from the cathedral, he's seen on the ground with a grin, laughing - only the laughing is just a looped recording playing over a tiny speaker.
- El Guapo in the ¡Three Amigos! . "That was a good trick too. Hahaha....."
- The Joker in The Dark Knight laughs all the way down his seemingly fatal plunge off the skyscraper and would have died that way if Batman hadn't saved him.
- In Predator, the mortally wounded alien, rather than die from bleeding out, sets a suicide bomb and begins laughing maniacally.
- Jack Vincennes does this in L.A. Confidential, after using his carefully chosen last words to set up a trap for the man who killed him.
- The werewolf Gmork in The NeverEnding Story is starving to death. Atreyu finds him and the two have a long winding conversation, neither realizing that they should be trying to kill each other. When Atreyu tells Gmork who he is, the werewolf laughs hauntingly and dies.
- In the backstory of The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, the comedian Ah Hoon was found murdered, with a laugh frozen on his face. As we find out at the very end, this was due to the great difficulty the killer had in reaching Ah Hoon: The killer looked ridiculous at the moment of the murder.
- The Dark Tower: Cuthbert and Roland, the last gunslingers of Gilead, are pulling a Self-Destructive Charge to take out as many of the enemy as possible. Cuthbert loses first one eye, then the other, to enemy projectiles. And he still keeps laughing, right up to the moment he falls.
- A shapeshifting emotion vampire tries to kill Roland this way in the final novel. It's mentioned that this was a particularly effective method as Roland is normally rather humorless.
- Prak, near the end of Life The Universe And Everything, tells "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about the entire universe, and drives everyone who hears it mad. Prak himself dies after several days of uncontrollable laughter upon meeting Arthur Dent: he apparently found the "truth" about Arthur fatally hilarious.
- In Holes, Kathleen Barlow ("Kissin' Kate Barlow") is taken in for arrest, to be tortured for information. Before they can do anything to her, however, a Yellow Spotted Lizard bites her on the ankle, which causes a slow, painful death; and Kate dies laughing, as "there was nothing more they could do to her now".
- Harry Potter:
- Sirius Black gets offed mid-laugh. His cousin and murderer, Bellatrix Lestrange, cops it exactly the same way from Molly Weasley.
- Fred Weasley dies as he's laughing at a joke made by Percy, who up to this point has displayed No Sense of Humor.
- In The Underland Chronicles, a certain type of carnivorous plant in the Vineyard of Eyes emits a euphoric gas that makes you laugh at everything, rendering you helpless to the attacking vines.
- In The Hunger Games President Snow dies laughing after Katniss shoots Coin, having believed what he told her about Coin dropping the bombs that killed her little sister, Prim.
- Hobson's Island has a pack of bio-weapon monkeys brought to the island that do this to people who touch them. Everyone on the island falls victim to them. Only one guy survives. He goes insane, as it happened it the middle of his comedy show and he believes that he is responsible.
- Near the end of Cold Copper Tears, Morley throws a stolen potion at one of the armored attackers. After a moment's exposure, the attacker starts laughing too much to fight; Crask takes the opportunity to kill him, only to start giggling himself from secondary exposure to the potion.
- The Long Ships: Styrbjörn is killed at Uppsala by a spear through the neck just when he is laughing at the approaching Swedish army.
- Overlapping with Laughing Mad: Thot Trom in the Star Trek Novel Verse. After learning that his peoples' plans across several novels form a Stable Time Loop, that his superiors' attempted recovery of a crashed Alternate Universe starship from Tirana III in Star Trek: Cold Equations - the failure of which led to his penetration of the alternate universe in Star Trek Section 31 Disavowed - was an effort to salvage a ship he would actually crash there himself, Trom is reduced to laughing madly as he plunges toward the planet.
Live Action TV
- This was the fate of "Ali Baba's Camel" in a 1931 novelty song covered by the Bonzo Dog Band.
- Subverted in Metallica — Sparky is grinning as he's strapped into the electric chair, but he doesn't die from being electrocuted.
- In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Big Daddy explains to his son Brick that he wants to leave behind all of his riches to him and the rest of the family because his own father was a worthless old hobo. His only tie to glory was a worthless old uniform from his time served in the Military which he gave to Big Daddy, but despite his terrible situation he died laughing with his son by his side. Brick thinks that he died laughing the way he did because he was happy that he had his son by his side, and that he left behind many happy memories and love for his son the best way he knew how, Big Daddy is deeply moved by this perspective.
- In Little Shop of Horrors, Orin the dentist goes out laughing by accidentally asphyxiating himself with nitrous oxide.
- Silent Hill 4: Jasper laughing hysterically as he burns alive, glad to have met "the Devil", followed by carving 17/21 into his own chest with a candlestick right before he dies.
- Father Grigori does this in Half-Life 2 if you allow him to be killed.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, while Ghirahim is violently converted back to his master Demise's sword, he laughs maniacally, then falls limp when Demise pulls his sword out of Ghirahim's body. It's debatable whether this is an actual "death", but it meets most qualifications.
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham Origins the Joker's toxin causes this to happen.
- Another Joker example is in Injustice: Gods Among Us, where an alternate universe version of the Joker dies laughing as he gets exactly what he wanted.
- In one of the cut endings of Knights of the Old Republic 2, this is how Atton dies, after fighting a futile battle against Darth Sion. The audio still exists in the game file, and it may be... worth listening to.
- Suprisingly, Kefka Palazzo of Final Fantasy VI didn't do this, instead dying in complete silence.note He did go out this way in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, with a sad, remorseful laugh rather than his trademark roaring cackle after Terra points out he only fought because death is the only thing that could make him truly happy.
- Gestahl does, however, refer to the trope when Kefka starts laughing for no apparent reason when Gestahl attempts to kill him to prevent him from having the Warring Triad unleash their true power and cause the apocalypse. Subverted in that his spells have absolutely no effect on Kefka due to being in the Warring Triad's energy field. It's even given a Continuity Nod in Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy, from Sephiroth says the trope name word for word when about to fight Kefka.
Final Fantasy VI:
Gestahl: No hard feelings, now... I'm just going to use this power you've unleashed to put you to sleep.
(Kefka starts laughing)
Gestahl: What's so funny!? Very well... I suppose it's only fitting that you go out laughing.
Sephiroth: (to Kefka) Die laughing.
- Onimusha 3: Gargant the Genma General is killed by Samanosuke in the intro video. He laughs as he explodes in light.
- Sebastian LaCroix in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines dies laughing in the Anarch and Independent endings if you hand him the sarcophagus key. The absurdity of the situation and the last-minute knowledge that he's been the Unwitting Pawn probably had something to do with it. To clarify, he dies laughing because he thought the sarcophagus had the corpse of an ancient vampire in it whose powers he could then steal, but it turns out that instead it's been rigged with explosives. Explosives that are about to go off in his face.
- One of the various ways to die in The Sims 4, but your Sim has to be laughing really hard in order for that to happen.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni EP 4, during "The Sweet World of Witches" segment, Rosa laughs as MARIA repeatedly kills her.
- Alex Mitchell found The Goodies episode "Kung Fu Kapers" so funny he laughed non-stop for 25 minutes straight. The strain on his heart was such that he suffered a fatal heart attack. His widow sent The Goodies a letter thanking them for making his last moments so happy.
- Somebody died laughing while watching the scene in A Fish Called Wanda where Kevin Kline puts chips up Michael Palin's nose.
- The Greek philosopher Chrysippus is said to have died laughing when he gave his donkey wine and then watched it drunkenly attempt to eat figs. Doubles as Death by Irony, as the philosophy school he belonged to was Stoicism.
- Legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker died young, suffering from a lot of health issues, which led to him dying laughing while watching a juggling act on television.