"For all they who take the sword shall perish by the sword."
No matter how evil the villains are, the good guys can't just kill
them: heroes are supposed to be better than that. They need to stay pure and noble (or innocent); role models, exemplars of solving their problems without resorting to bloodshed. If they take another person's life, no matter how justified, they will lose their moral edge.
But when the villains are just arrested and hauled away by the police, this isn't satisfying. For one, they have a tendency to escape
. For another, the mundane workings of the criminal justice system seem woefully inadequate to hold or to punish a really evil
villain. We, the viewers, want to see real justice administered, and we don't trust human hands (or at least not heroic human hands
) to administer it.
... so, the writers arrange for the villain to die in a manner that is completely his own fault.
Or, at least, obviously not the hero's.
If he dies right in the act of attempting to kill the hero
, this gives a particularly nice karmic zing
. (If he attacks after
being defeated and then spared by the hero, this is one of the rare circumstances where the hero can dispatch the villain personally and still come across as blameless).
Note that this only applies if the villain is clearly human, or the show universe's nearest equivalent. If they change into some kind of monster
, they are no longer protected
by this trope: the hero might hesitate to kill another human, but a mutated, horrendous beast is fair game — doubly so when the villain took this form for the sole purpose of murdering the hero.
More common in Western markets, as a result of heavy censorship
and the general reluctance among writers to feature their character (usually in a show with a younger Demographic
) doing such acts as killing, especially if they're underage
. Occasionally known by the older demographic as "getting one's comeuppance." Given that there is a certain charm to Self Disposing Villainy
, this trope can show up in works that allow the hero to kill people; it's just that it's much more common for it to show up in situations where the hero has a no-kill policy for one reason or another.
is an example of Death by Irony
. Disney Villain Death
, The Dog Bites Back
and Just Desserts
Compare Hoist by His Own Petard
. See also Cruel Mercy
. The Dog Shot First
usually involves this. The Killer Becomes the Killed
is a Crime and Punishment Series
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- The wolf that wants to eat the pigs in the tale of the "The Three Little Pigs" gets himself killed in trying to break into the house of the third pig, and in Joseph Jacobs' variant the pig actually eats him.
- In Time Lords and Terror, Hydia spends the entire story trying to release the S'muz because she believes she can use it to destroy her enemies. Naturally, she's the first one it renders Deader Than Dead upon its release.
- Invader Zim The Series: Reg, an Irken Blood Knight with elemental fire powers and a personality to match, ends up burning to death in the wreck of his ship when it's destroyed. For bonus points, the ones doing the destroying are the Tallest, who Reg's been shown to be covertly plotting against with the story's Legion of Doom.
- In Ace Combat The Equestrian War, Big Bad Red Cyclone is responsible for starting the whole conflict and for the most part of the story, he only issues orders, such as the scorching of Equestria. He becomes trapped inside his own creation by Zeakros after Rainbow Dash and Firefly destroy the fortress' core generator, starting a self-destruct countdown. He is consumed by the expanding explosions as Fortress Intimidation is collapsing.
- Peter Ludlow, the real Big Bad of Rise of the Galeforces gets an EPIC one near the very end. He sets it up by apparently spending most of Episode 3 trying to capture the T-rex family that initially antagonizes the heroes as part of a tourist attraction (actually an excuse to publicly kill them along with all other non-human species). When he later drops all pretenses, he defends himself from the angry father rex by shooting him in the eye. This enrages both the fellow 'rex he was defending - actually a Scaled Up Violet - and Chomper's own babies to boot. The result: Ludlow gets every bone in his body broken for his trouble, and is devoured by the very baby 'rexes he had been working so hard to acquire.
- In the Pony POV Series, the blackbirds that have tortured Dark World!Derpy for a thousand years by trying to eat Dinky (who has been turned into a muffin), are ultimately thrown into Ponythulhu's dimension to be eaten themselves, also by being turned into a baked good.
- Equestrylvania: Dirt Nap ends up being burned to death by the power of the very demon he sold his soul to.
- Bad Future Crusaders: Twitch, who gleefully took part in the bombing of Broncton — caring nothing for the civilians caught in the crossfire — is killed when a shot from Apple Bloom's gun detonates one his bombs while it's still on his belt.
- In the My Little Pony / The Dresden Files Crossover The Dresden Fillies False Masks:
- After spending the whole story trying to assassinate Harry Dresden (believing him to be a resurrected Evil Overlord) , putting innocents in danger, summoning He Who Walks Behind (TWICE) , and in the process of all these things betraying the kingdom and the ponies they swore to protect, the Order Triune itself is betrayed by Novel Notion and sacrificed to a demon rather quickly. Unlike most examples, however, it still proves to be quite tragic .
- Novel Notion and his cohorts' own demise in the epilogue is just as karmic though not nearly as tragic. Completely unrepentent of their heinous crimes, they hatch up a scheme to make another Deal with the Devil in the Nevernever to gain the power they need to seek revenge. After four days of wandering, the first demon they meet promptly swallows them whole and they die slowly and painfully in its digestive fluids.
- In the third Gensokyo 20XX story, presumably we have this with Seija, after she's attempted to get Yukari to murder the children because she saw them as a hinderance when food and fresh water had run scarce (because of her), as it's unlikely she survived on her own after having three of her limbs and a few fingers cut off and then being sent away, then again, she had it coming.
Films — Animated
- Disney movies do this a lot. They've done it enough to get their own subtrope. To name a few examples:
- The Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fell off a cliff after being struck by lightning while trying to push a rock onto the Seven Dwarfs. Not only did she fall to her death, but the rock falls on her. And for good measure, vultures eat her body.
- Gaston of Beauty and the Beast fell off of the castle after one final attack on the Beast. (This coming after the Beast spared his life.)
- Tarzan's Clayton fell off a tree while attacking Tarzan with a knife, and was strangled by vines despite Tarzan's attempt to warn him (also an Ironic Death after saying "Africa was made for me...!").
- McLeech, the villainous poacher in The Rescuers Down Under, seemed to avoid his karmic death by escaping a pack of crocodiles, only to be swept over the Inevitable Waterfall seconds later.
- Scar from The Lion King is killed by the hyenas that he threw under the bus while pleading for his life to be spared.
- Zira in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride died because of her own stubbornness and refusing the help from Kiara to save her life.
- At the climax of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Judge Claude Frollo raises his sword to strike the defenseless heroes, bellowing, "And He shall smite the wicked, and plunge them into the fiery pit!" Three guesses what happens next...
- After his attempt to use his army of undead soldiers reanimated by the titular Black Cauldron is thwarted, the Horned King is sucked into the Cauldron himself (and horrifically stripped to the bone in the process).
- In The Great Mouse Detective, Ratigan uses a hand-bell as a summons for his hungry cat to eat any mouse that displeases him. At the climax, Basil swipes the bell and rings it just before Big Ben chimes, shaking Ratigan off to his death.
- In The Princess and the Frog, when Dr. Facilier's demonic amulet gets shattered, that's considered to his Friends on the Other Side as breaking their contract, causing the shadowy demons that once worked for him to drag him into a gaping mouth to the Other Side, all the while happily chanting the exact same song that he was singing when he was cursing Naveen.
- At the end of Bambi, the hunter that supposedly killed the titular character's mother is actually implied to have been burned alive in his own forest fire. Walt had at one point planned to show the guy's body, but after an animator cheekily asked "Well-done or medium rare?" shelved the idea as tasteless.
- Toward the end of Treasure Planet, the villain Scroop is literally thrown out of an airlock and into outer space by the heroes as revenge for killing a character named Mr. Arrow (who was literally tossed into outer space and into a black hole by Scroop) earlier in the film.
- In the climax of Wreck-It Ralph, King Candy/Turbo receives the ultimate comeuppance for messing with the program. Since Sugar Rush was never his game from the start, he's finally gone for good when he's vaporized by the light coming from Diet Cola Mountain after becoming a Cy-Bug mashup.
- In Tangled (2010), Rapunzel's hair is cut. Mother Gothel starts grabbing at it in a desperate attempt to hold onto her eternal youth. However, as it browns, it starts to rapidly age her to the point where she covers her face, shrieking in despair until she accidentally backs out of the nearby window. Seemingly subverted by Pascal dragging dead hair to trip her, but Gothel turns to dust mid-fall.
- Done figuratively in Cars. At the end of the movie, Chick Hicks wins the Piston Cup, but in doing so his Pride, Wrath, and Ambition have revealed him to be a poor sport to the rest of the world. His career dies a metaphoric — yet very karmic — death as a result.
- At the end of Kung Fu Panda 2, Lord Shen rejects Po's Last-Second Chance and makes one last attempt to kill him. He ends up crushing himself to death with his own giant cannon before Po even lands a hit on him. Doubles as Death by Irony.
- In Rio 2, Big Boss runs a logging business that is cutting down trees in the Amazon. In the aftermath of the final battle, he gets swallowed by a boa constrictor as he tries to escape.
Films — Live-Action
- The Running Man: Damon Killian, host of the top-rated TV series "The Running Man" (wherein political criminals must earn a chance at a full pardon by evading "stalkers" out to kill them) is exposed as a fraud by the film's main protagonist … then sent into his own game zone (via a rocket sled) – the same place where every other contestant had died so brutally – to meet his fate.
- James Bond films do this a lot, and often accompanied by a Bond One-Liner, of course.
- A rare serious example was in Licence to Kill, in which Bond asked Sanchez, "Don't you want to know why?", showing him a silver lighter -the wedding gift that Bond had given to Leiter and his wife, before Sanchez had her killed and Leiter maimed by a shark. Bond then set the oil-soaked Sanchez on fire with their wedding present.
- In Ella Enchanted, after Edgar's treachery is revealed, he gives his villain's rant, and then proceeds to place the crown that he poisoned on his own head. He has a half-second to realize his mistake before the poison takes effect.
- In The Black Hole, The movie's main villain is crushed to death by debris as the ship is drawn into the eponymous black hole (hypermass), as his souless, evil robotic bodyguard Maximillian simply leaves the room despite his repeated pleas.
- In Boy Eats Girl, Nathan, having escaped death by hanging with the aid of a magic spell, must poetically die by hanging at the end; although....
- In Masters of the Universe, He-Man finally destroyed Skeletor's source of power, his troops are beaten, etc. Because he's ''such a good guy'', he tells Skeletor that it's over, and He-Man turns his back to Skeletor. Skeletor replies, "...yes... for you!", pulls out a hidden sword and attempts to run He-Man through. He-Man dodges in the nick of time, and Skeletor falls down a handy bottomless pit. (Subverted: Skeletor lives via Stinger.) note
- The Mummy hung a lampshade on this: Evie tells Beni that people like him always meet an unfortunate end. He does.
- The demise of the crime boss Komtuan in Ong Bak possibly epitomizes the concept of karmic death, as he is crushed under the falling head of a giant Buddha statue, which he was trying to remove and sell. You don't get much more karmic than that.
- Carl, the villain of Ghost, dies after he swings a hanging hook at the hero, in a massively futile attempt to halt Patrick Swayze's ghostly offensive, smashes the window behind him, and ultimately winds up impaled on the very un-soft glass. And as if that wasn't enough, the film becomes terrifying. Carl only gets to experience his first few seconds in the afterlife on that plane before shadows boil out of everywhere and drag him off screaming to Oblivion or whatever hellhole or damnation the viewer can only imagine.
- The B-Movie The Sadist goes to rather extreme lengths for this. Out of nowhere, the villain falls into an abandoned well which is quickly revealed to be inhabited by dozens of poisonous snakes.
- In Killing Zoe, Eric fucks up the heist, murders numerous civilians, and takes glee in spreading his AIDS. As he's about to murder his childhood friend, his gun jams. French police show up seconds later. At least six cops empty entire magazines from their machine guns into him, causing him to dance for nearly half a minute as he's torn apart by bullets. His infected blood is sprayed all over the place.
- Subverted in No Country for Old Men. Near the end of the movie, "ultimate badass" Anton Chigurh is leaving his last victim's house when he gets hit by a car. Despite this, he maliciously survives with an open arm fracture and some broken rips, and manages to escape the scene, and, although heavily injured, can walk into the proverbial sunset. The implication is of course that his Implacable Man status doesn't just come from pure skill, but also quite a bit from pure dumb luck.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street:
- The deranged and abusive asylum owner Mr. Fogg is left to the care of his "children", who quickly turn upon him and tear him to pieces. It's much more poetic (if much less awesome) than the stage play, where Johanna shoots him.
- And in both the film and stage versions, Sweeney Todd himself is killed by a minor character — a young boy Mrs. Lovett took in, who goes insane after discovering what the meat pies are really made of. And he's killed using the very same razor that Sweeney used to kill so many people.
- And Mrs. Lovett is baked alive in the oven where she cooked her cannibalistic meat pies.
- In Ip Man, the cruel Japanese Colonel Sato, who had shot Master Liu to death earlier for losing against Japanese fighters, eventually gets killed by a shot from his own gun after it is wrestled away from him.
- This seems to be the preferred method of dispatching villains in The City of Lost Children.
- The Octopus kill each other — they're conjoined twins, despite the singular name — due to mind control by the ringmaster they used to try to kill Miette.
- Krank dies after his attempt to steal Miette's dreams goes wrong, and he sees himself as the children he abducts do — a nightmarish, arbitrarily cruel monster of a man. He wakes screaming from his dream, and the shock kills him.
- And the inventor, after going murderously insane and deciding to violently correct the problems he's set in motion... ties himself to Krank's oil rig and lashes explosives to his body. He recovers his senses too late, and the explosives are detonated by a seagull.
- Push. Nick's final battle with Victor, The Dragon. He gets a chance to kill him but doesn't, for unknown reasons. Victor is killed seconds later by a Bleeder though.
- The Shawshank Redemption 's Warden Norton has what can be considered a Karmic Death. Once Andy rats him out, we see a close-up of one of the Warden's wall decorations, it says "His Judgment Cometh, and that right soon." Moments later he shoots himself through the head rather than be arrested. Red later gives us the all-satisfying line; "I like to think the last thing that went through Norton's head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the HELL Andy ever got the best of him."
- In The Frighteners, the two main villains (one of which is already dead) are dragged into Hell by a giant worm. Awesome.
- A voiceover at the end of Picnic at Hanging Rock tells us that Mrs. Appleyard dies while attempting to climb the rock. Even more karmic in Joan Lindsay's novel: Mrs. Appleyard falls and smashes her skull open when she sees a horrific vision of a gruesomely disfigured Sara.
- Star Wars:
- At the end of Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader kills Emperor Palpatine while Palpatine is trying to kill his son.
- Also, Anakin Skywalker's transition to Darth Vader is marked by Palpatine using Force Lightning to make Mace Windu fall to his death, while Vader's return to the light side/being Anakin is marked by Vader sending Palpatine to fall to his death. Even better: Palpatine was using Force Lightning to kill Luke, and Vader's act stops him.
- Also in ROTJ, Jabba the Hutt gets strangled to death by Leia with the chain he was using to keep her enslaved.
- In The Avengers (1998), Father and Mrs. Peel's clones were killed when their balloon exploded after it ran into the Wonderland Weather sign.
- One of the most blatant and cringe-worthy uses of this trope occurs in The Postman, where near the end of the film, Kevin Costner's character has already defeated the villain, has the option to kill him, but refuses because he's just too damned nice. Naturally, the villain draws a hidden gun and is blown away by his former trusted lieutenant and his own stupidity.
- The Ghost Rider movie. After taking the San Verganza contract, Blackheart dies after Ghost Rider uses the penance stare. It didn't work the first time because Blackheart had no soul, but now had one thousand corrupt souls.
- In the first Spider-Man film, Peter discovers that Norman Osborn is the Green Goblin and hesitates. Osborn takes advantage of the momentary weakness to try and kill him, but Peter dodges the attack and Osborn ends up getting stabbed by his own glider.
- In the film adaptation of Clive Cussler's Sahara, the villain responsible for contaminating much of Mali's drinking water with toxic waste appears to have slipped away from punishment, until it is implied that the CIA has secretly replaced his bottled water with the very same contaminated water. (This happens in the book too.)
- Raising Arizona: Leonard Smalls puts Hi in a bear hug to weaken him up before shooting him. Hi spends this time gripping at Smalls' jacket, where Smalls keeps his grenades. Smalls knocks Hi to the ground, pulls out his twin twin-barreled shotguns, and cocks all four hammers. Hi holds up his hand in a "have mercy" gesture. That's when Smalls notices the hand grenade pin around Hi's finger. You can figure out the rest.
- Carl Showalter's death could be seen as this.
- Wade Gustafson's death even more so.
- In Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009), Lord Blackwood dies by hanging (from a chain from the top of the unfinished Tower Bridge; of course he'd attempted to kill Holmes after Holmes had spared his life from almost certain death seconds before). Furthermore, the plot hinges on him cheating death at the gallows and escaping his much-deserved execution for murder at the beginning. Guess Karma wasn't too thrilled at him for that...
- The Book of Eli. Gary Oldman's character escapes with the book and a leg injury, only to learn that it's a Braille Bible and thus useless to him. He tries to get his blind concubine to translate, but she refuses also noting that she can smell a wound on him that has gone septic. With most of his men dead he witnesses the anarchy below and it is heavily implied his end comes from either the riots or his infection.
- Almost the whole point of the British World War I horror movie Deathwatch (2002). Every character who aids in torturing the lone German prisoner dies in a suitably horrible fashion (suffice to say, one can become very creative when it comes to barbed wire). The only character to survive the movie (and even then it's fairly ambiguous) is Charlie (because he tried to help the prisoner). Other characters get killed in a more traditional sense of karmic death, for instance, the Upper Class Twit officer being murdered by a particularly disgruntled (possibly deranged) trooper.
- In the 1959 Journey to the Center of the Earth film, Count Saknussem tries to mislead and kill the heroes, but is eventually caught and sentenced to death. However, no one wants to kill him, so they take him along. Sometime after they reach the center of the earth, however, Saknussem eats Gertrude, Hans's duck. Shortly afterward, he falls against a boulder and is killed when several heavy rocks fall upon him.
- Though not technically the main villain, Dr. Worley from Return to Oz uses an electro therapy machine to damage his patients' minds, and he will then lock them in the cellar. He nearly does this to Dorothy, but the power goes out at the last second. Later, Ozma helps Dorothy escape, resulting in Dorothy getting back to the Land of Oz. While she is away, Dr. Worley's clinic is hit by lightning and burns to the ground. Everyone is rescued, but Dr. Worley runs back into the fire to rescue his machines...
- This trope is pandemic in the Indiana Jones films.
- Three of the four movies end with the primary villain being undone by their own ambition when the artifact they've been searching for destroys them. Although not the best example of the trope in action, since in every movie Indy has few compunctions about killing bad guys left and right.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Donovan chooses poorly and drinks from a false grail, leading to his Nightmare Fuel demise of aging rapidly to death. This is karmic payback for shooting Henry Sr. a little earlier. Meanwhile, Schneider pays the price for helping the Nazis. She attempts to steal the real grail out of the temple, which triggers a Cataclysm Climax. In a Take My Hand moment, she reaches for the grail, but in a dash of karmic justice, it had landed literally inches outside her hand’s reach. She’s too greedy to give up when she’s so close, despite Indy losing his grip on her slippery gloved hand. Just as she’s about to get it, the glove pulls off and she falls to her death.
- Hilariously subverted in Punisher: War Zone, in a scene where the cops are careful and diligent about arresting and restraining a captured mobster, only for the Punisher to unceremoniously execute him half a second later.
- The Alien series:
- Aliens: Weyland-Yutani Project Developer Carter J. Burke. Essentially got killed by the hell he indirectly unleashed on the colonists on the LV-426 Hadley's Hope Colony.
- Alien: Resurrection: Dr. Wren subjected at least eight people to be victims to the facehuggers and have an alien embryo burst out of their chests. He dies by having a chestburster break its way through his own skull.
- While he didn't die, Steele begins the movie Balto as the town hero but is rotten to the core inside while the hero of the film, Balto, is the town outcast with a heart of gold. At the end of the movie, due to Steele's refusal to let Balto have the glory that Steele craves for saving the town, Balto ends up the town hero, with the girl Steele spent the whole movie trying to get, while Steele's lies are revealed, resulting in him being a hated outcast by the town dogs. Further irony comes from the fact Steele would've gotten greater fame if he'd let Balto help him in the first place.
- In Saw 3D, Mark Hoffman is captured by Dr. Lawrence Gordon and left to die as punishment for killing Jill Tuck. "Game over."
- (Unintentionally?) inverted in the Korean movie The Last Day. In the final scenes, about everyone who displays some kind of altruism dies, often horribly, for having tried to save lives. Most of those who were only concerned with their own survival, well, survive. Family-Unfriendly Aesop much?
- The Mind Screw movie 11:14, displayed in Anachronic Order, features among the many characters a teenage girl who is sleeping with two different young men without their knowledge. She pretends to be pregnant and tells each of them that she needs $500 to get an abortion. In reality, she intends to take their money and leave with a third man. Near the end of the movie, she's speaking to this person on her cellphone when one of the two young men calls for her attention, telling her that he got the money. She immediately crosses the street, only to stop in the middle of it to answer a call on her phone. Moments later, she's hit and killed by a speeding van filled with several of the film's other protagonists.
- Speaking of the aforementioned Patrick Swayze, in his other classic, Road House, the evil Brad Wesley basically runs the town the movie is set in, forcing the local businessmen to pay him and trashing their shops if they refuse. In the final showdown with Dalton, it's not Swayze who kills him (as the latter did, graphically, to his Dragon Jimmy), but the aforementioned business owners, filling him with enough lead to take down a bear. Can also overlap with The Dog Bites Back or The Dog Shot First.
- In X2: X-Men United, Mitchell Laurio is killed by the prisoner he hated and abused.
- In X-Men: First Class, Magneto kills Shaw by telemagnetically pushing a coin through his brain. It was the very same coin that Erik was commanded to move as a child to prevent Schmidt from killing his mother; Erik failed and Shaw shot his mother. Magneto even gives an Ironic Echo of what Schmidt said to taunt his victim.
- At the end of the dark comedy Miss Nobody, the Villain Protagonist lampshades this after realizing she's just taken a fatal dose of the poisoned water she had intended to use earlier on a colleague whom she'd suspected of being the person blackmailing her over murdering her way up the corporate ladder. She had poisoned one of the jugs in his personal supply, but never got around to disposing of it after the blackmailer turned out to be someone else. So in the end, when the jug in the water cooler in the office which she has as a result of her murders runs out and her assistant raids the colleague's supply for a replacement, he unknowingly selects the poisoned jug.
- In The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Wood Hite, a violent bully who threatens and insults Bob, laughs off His threats of a bullet in the head. Later He is shot in the head by Bob.
- The designated antagonist Jonas in Twister.
- George Harvey in The Lovely Bones.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Judge Doom is killed by the same 'Dip' that he is planning on using to kill all the other cartoons. While Eddie Valiant has no qualms about killing the guy responsible for the death of his brother, the death that Doom suffers is a total accident that would have never happened if he had not invented 'dip' to begin with, or if he hadn't sidestepped the punching glove launched at him, which accidentally hit the 'dip' release valve which subsequently melted Doom.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
- Dylan Gould's fate. He reactivates the Control Pillar of the Decepticons' Space Bridge —- despite Sam Witwicky trying to reason with him —- in order to bring Cybertron near Earth (he was promised that he would be spared after the rest of humanity was enslaved, and also possibly be given the role of humanity's "CEO"). Later on, Sam hits him with a metal bar, causing him to lose his balance. He eventually collides with the Pillar's energy beam, and is ultimately electrocuted to death, all the while screaming in pain.
- Earlier, Sentinel Prime wounds Ironhide and then executes him point blank despite his plea for him not to. At the end, a wounded Sentinel is excuted point blank by Optimus Prime despite his plea for him not to.
- Transformers: Age of Extinction: Harold Attinger was an unnoticed CIA agent who founded Cemetery Wind to wipe out Transformers and replace them with man-made version to appeal his xenophobic paranoia and greed. He's killed in his failed attempt to murder Cade Yeager by Optimus Prime. Fittingly, although Optimus swore revenge on his fallen comrades, he barely paid any attention to Attinger when he shot him.
- In Crank High Voltage, Poon Dong, an elderly Triad boss who uses Organ Theft to prolong his own life, gets captured and has Chev's stolen heart extracted, killing him.
- In Machete, Senator MacLaughlin is a racist bastard who encourages vigilantes to kill illegal immigrants and plans to build an electric fence on the U.S./Mexico border. In the end, some vigilantes mistake him for an immigrant (he was wearing tattered clothes and was trying to sneak away from people trying to kill him) and open fire on him. Wounded, he staggers into an electric fence. He even seems to be aware of it, and lets out a chuckle before he dies.
- Frankly Madson the villain in the Kenneth-Branaugh penned Dead Again. He killed his victim by stabbing her to death with scissors, then ends up Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on a giant scissors sculpture.
- In Zatoichi at the Blood Fest (1973). Ichi slashed his way through mooks to get to the rice merchant, who exploited farmers. After he decided to let him go, the merchant slipped on spilled rice and fell on a katana -and the pointy end was up.
- The title character in Tamara loves to play with her victim's insecurities and deficiencies before inflicting gruesome Psychic Assisted Suicides on them. Roger, who did nothing while the rest of the group (minus Chloe) agreed to cover up Tamara's death, kills himself in a manner referencing the Three Wise Monkeys. Her father, a man who loved the bottle more than his (now ex-)wife, eats a glass beer bottle that tears apart his mouth, throat, and esophagus from the inside.
- The first segment of horror anthology Scary or Die is about a couple of racist rednecks who kidnap Mexican immigrants, drag them out to the desert near the border, and kill them. After they do this to their latest victims, everyone they've ever killed rise up as zombies and kill them.
- G.I. Joe: Retaliation:
- Firefly is killed by one of his own bug bombs.
- Zartan murdered a female GI Joe member in front of Storm Shadow, a man who's disgusted with killing women in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and in this movie he later gets killed by the same man who he killed the woman in front of because he murdered his master.
- In Jack the Giant Slayer Roderick is killed by Elmont after the former attempted to push the latter to his death out of the cave.
- In Daybreakers:
- The vampire bureaucracy was treating humans like cattle; in the end head bureaucrat Charles Bromley ends up being slaughtered like one.
- Also, the Vampires who eat Frankie immediately become human. Unfortunately for them, they do so within sight of a small army of starving vampires who subsequently devour them just as messily.
- Braveheart: The English lord who executes Murron by slitting her throat has his own throat slit by Wallace, using the same exact knife.
- The Lone Ranger:
- Latham Cole falls to his death, along with the several tons of silver and a locomotive, both of which his plan revolved around, which crush him to death.
- Butch Cavendish and the Captain are killed when they're caught in a train collision. To paraphrase the Captain, they were with the railroad company.
- In The Last Boy Scout, Marcone grabs what he thinks is the briefcase full of money out of the backseat of the car. But instead it contains the bomb that he meant to kill Sen. Baynard, and Marcone is blown up when he opens it.
- Two in Pitch Black.
- Paris panics and runs away, which disables the best light source and screws over the entire group. He is killed very quickly afterwards.
- Johns is willing to kill anyone else in the group, even Jack, to distract the creatures so he can escape. Riddick wounds him instead, letting him be the distraction.
- Elysium: Kruger, whose favorite method of killing people is blowing them up into gibs, gets torn apart by his own grenade.
- Delacourt was killed by Kruger, the same psycho she hired.
- In the remake of I Spit on Your Grave Jennifer's killing of her rapists reflects a way they personally raped, tortured, and degraded her.
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Adam and Vadoma kill Abraham and Mary's son William. They are then killed by his parents' respective silver Tragic Keepsake.
- Death Warrant: The corrupt doctor who harvested the prisoners' organs is captured by the prisoners and implied to be killed by vivisection.
- King Kong (2005 Edition), combined with Disproportionate Retribution: as Lumpy - the ship's cook - treks with the rest of the crew to rescue Anne, very large mosquitoes and bugs bite him and those around him; however, while the rest of the crew simply slap and swing at them as though they are average pests, Lumpy unloads machine-gunfire on them, killing a few viciously. Later in the movie, as the surviving crew members dwindle, they fall into a valley infested with Big Creepy-Crawlies, including enormous leech-like Carnictus Worms that slowly absorb Lumpy's left leg, left arm, and head into their mouths. We don't see their mouths finally close, but that worsens the effect when the last thing we hear is his muted scream from inside one of their throats.
- The Grey Zone: During the Auschwitz-Birkenau uprising, a random SS guard in the crematoria is killed by the Sonderkommando by shoving him into the ovens which the Nazis used to dispose of the Jewish corpses.
- At the end of Unconscious, León dies to a Falling Chandelier of Doom that was knocked down by a ricocheting bullet he himself fired, in a failed attempt to assassinate Sigmund Freud.
- In City of Ember, the Mayor is eaten alive after locking himself in a room filled with food.
- In O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Klansman Dan Teague, played by John Goodman, is crushed to death when a burning cross falls on top of him. Sheriff Cooley's death by drowning can be seen as a metatextual example, as well, considering his counterpart in The Odyssey is the sea god Poseidon.
- In The Catastrophe of the Emerald Queen:
- King James is thrown off the battlements of Alegria castle by Mordalayn, to plummet into the woods a mile below. This was after murdering Leppard in a similar manner earlier in the book (dropping him into the Abyss room).
- Also Susan Veer sets a magical trap for Queen Sophie that she herself falls into. As she was a former Queen of Alegria the trap works equally well on her, despite not activating when Jared Miller stood directly on top of it moments previously.
- Finally Rancidrain, who is killed by a rainbow blade. A similar weapon to the one he used in his failed assassination attempt on the Emerald Queen.
- In The Lord of the Rings:
- Saruman is killed by much-abused servant Wormtongue, and Gollum falls into the volcano by dancing too exuberantly. In The Film of the Book, the former was entirely cut from the film and only viewable on the extended DVD.
- Used straight by the film adaptation. Gollum goes over the edge while struggling with Frodo for the Ring rather than simply a misstep.
- The Witch-King stabbed Frodo with a Morgul blade, and the same is done to him by Merry, allowing him to be killed by Éowyn.
- Harry Potter:
- The villains in the Dirk Pitt Adventures (the National Underwater and Marine Agency) of books written by Clive Cussler tend to die this way.
- The person who wanted immortality and nearly flooded the oceans with a very hard-to-kill Gorgonweed ended up killing herself by taking the potion meant to make her immortal, because someone she had killed had messed with it, making sure that anyone that drank all three of the shots needed for immortality would die from it.
- One person who wanted to destroy the world's fish trade with mutant fish was eaten by his own creations.
- A third person wanted to control the world's water and ended up dying by drowning, but the place where she was ended up blowing up, so that may have killed her instead.
- A fourth whose improper disposal of waste was poisoning the local water tables, causing madness in those who drink the water, is tricked into drinking that water which has been secretly bottled and brought to him.
- In Jack London's The Sea Wolf, Wolf Larsen is struck by a migraine while trying to steal the protagonist's lady love. The migraine is a symptom of the brain injury that leaves him paralyzed and eventually kills him, while the protagonist and lady love stay at his bedside and spoon-feed him.
- Jane Eyre:
- Bertha Mason's death by fire is very karmic, since she started it in the first place and Mr. Rochester went back in to get her as well.
- Similarly, we have Jane's cousin John who had always bullied her and gotten away with it many times. Even when he was an adult, his mother helped him twice get out of jail, paying off his debts, and he still returned to his ways. For the third time, his mother finally refused to help him and it was suspected he committed suicide to escape his debts.
- In Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, Briar Cudgeon is attacked by Opal Koboi after the latter learned he was planning to kill her off after taking over. She then rammed him into plasma, where he was fried.
- In Charles Dickens' Dombey and Son, Carker dies by accidentally stepping back into the path of an onrushing (and symbolic) train—right in front of a horrified Mr. Dombey.
- Near the end of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, the appalling Mr. Grandcourt finally meets his end when he falls off a boat and, unable to swim, asks his wife to throw him a rope. She hesitates just a moment too long...
- Brother Cadfael novels:
- Ellis Peters manages to wrap up a judicial duel with a Karmic Death in One Corpse Too Many. Hugh dropped his sword after disarming Adam, choosing to continue the fight dagger-against-dagger. When Adam went for Hugh's sword, Hugh tackled him. In the ensuing wrestling match, Adam rolled onto his own dagger and died.
- In The Raven in the Foregate, the new priest lacks the critical virtues of charity and humility. He pronounces a naďve penitent irredeemable and refuses her absolution, and she drowns herself in the millpond. Later, he slips on a patch of ice near the same millpond, hits his head on a stump as he falls, and goes into the water unconscious. The one person who saw it happen doesn't feel any guilt about not helping him—extra points for irony because he viewed the Holier Than Thou priest's fate as divine judgment—the measure the priest gave was the measure he received, just as Jesus said.
- The Belgariad: The Grolim Chamdar attempted to kill the last descendants of the Rivan King by burning their house down. Years later, the sole survivor's first conscious act of magic is to set him on fire. Made even better by the fact that Garion is horrified by this sudden use of magic and watching someone burn so he decides to put out the fire. However, his aunt then tells him Chamdar killed his family, so Garion makes the fire hotter and burns Chamar to ash.
- The titular character of HP Lovecraft's short story Herbert West - Reanimator is in the end killed when a horde of the more or less insane (mostly the former) victims of his experiments swoops into his laboratory and brutally rip him apart.
- Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park (not to be confused with The Film of the Book) has Hammond blaming everyone else (except Nedry) for the mess he's created, pausing to admire how pretty the Compsognathi slowly surrounding him are, and then admiring the respect they show him as he slowly dies of their poisoned bite. It's really quite a moving scene for a Karmic Death.
- At the end of the Redwall book Lord Brocktree, after Brocktree (apparently) killed Ungatt Trunn and threw his broken body in the ocean, Ungatt wakes up on a beach half out of the water, all his bones shattered. When one of his minions finds him, he begs for help. Too bad it was the minion whom he had kidnapped, and killed his entire family. Instead of saving his life, the minion pushes him further into the ocean, yelling the lines of praise he was forced to say every day, but this time inserting all the titles that Ungatt had despised and previously banned.
- In the Dale Brown novel Plan of Attack, the Jerkass General Gary Houser, who had obstructed Patrick McLanahan and steadfastly denied the possibility of a Russian attack on the American mainland, dies when he is caught in the attack.
- In The Sword of Truth karma appears to be squarely on Richard's side, since practically everyone who disagrees with him dies unpleasantly. This may be because he or someone who works for him killed them, but if they don't then fate will see to it for them.
- A regular occurrence in the Florida Roadkill novels. The most notable example being an insurance claims worker whose job it is to deny medical coverage, especially if said coverage is an official part of the claimant's policy. He gets shot and taken to the emergency room. The calls to his insurance company (the one he works at) get routed to his desk, which, since he is at the hospital instead of at work, he can't answer. So he is denied coverage, the bullet remains in his body, and he dies of lead poisoning.
- In Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, John Clark organizes one of these for the book's main villains; a monstrously fanatical environmental group that attempted to use a modified Ebola virus to wipe out everyone on Earth except themselves. The Rainbow Team tracks them to their headquarters in the Amazon Rainforest, destroys everything useful, and then leaves them to "live in harmony with nature." Clark speculates they might last a week if they're lucky.
- Invidia, of Codex Alera is pretty much a poster child for Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. So much so that the Big Bad can't even bring herself to be angry at her sudden but inevitable betrayal because that's what Invidia does. This gives it a significant amount of irony when her death results from being stabbed from behind.
- The Red King from The Dresden Files prepares a ritual to target the Dresden bloodline by harnessing the lifeforce from hundreds of human sacrifices. Unfortunately for him, because all red vampires share his blood, they are as vulnerable to the curse as Harry Dresden is. As a result, when Harry kills the youngest Red Vampire on the altar, the Red King and his whole Court are destroyed by the energy of all the hundreds of people they murdered.
- In the first book, Victor Sells had tried to kill Harry first by siccing a demon on him, and then sending gargantuan scorpion constructs after him. How does he die? Victor Sells tells Harry the real name of the demon, so Harry uses that to free the demon from his control. The demon attacks Sells, and knocks him into a pit of his scorpions, where he is devoured.
- In Salamander, Maridon convinces Coelus that he, Maridon, needs to be the subject of the Cascade ritual because if something goes wrong and the subject dies, he's expendable and Coelus isn't. Naturally, his attempt to Take Over the World is interrupted when something goes wrong with the ritual and the subject dies.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- A Game of Thrones: Viserys Targaryen marries off his sister Danaerys to the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo in return for the latter's assistance in regaining the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. When he loses his patience, he ignores his adviser's comment that Drogo will offer assistance when he is good and ready, gets drunk, and publicly insults Drogo, Danaerys, and the entire Dothraki people, and demands Drogo gives him the crown he "paid" for with his sister. Drogo agrees to give Viserys a crown, melts down the gold from his belt, and "crowns" Viserys by pouring the pot of molten gold onto Viserys' head.
- In the same book, Janos Slynt takes special glee in pushing Ned Stark onto the block during his execution, after betraying him earlier. Later, during court, Ned's daughter Sansa sees him enjoying his new position and wishes that some hero would kill him, but thinks that there are no heroes. Janos is eventually knocked down a peg and forced to join the Night's Watch. Four books and three years later, Jon Snow, Ned's bastard, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, is forced to deal with Janos' insubordination. He decides to execute Janos and beheads him personally.
- A Storm of Swords: Lysa Arryn had a lot of people who she didn't like executed by throwing them off a mountain. Later, after she nearly kills Sansa by the same method, Littlefinger tells her that the only woman he ever loved was her sister and shoves her off the mountain himself.
- Arya becomes good at dishing these out. In A Clash of Kings, Raff the Sweetling captured Lommy, a boy with an injured leg. When Lommy said Raff would have to carry him, Raff stabbed him in the throat. Arya later stabs him in the leg, has the exact same conversation with him, and then stabs him in the throat. The Tickler asks his victims certain questions as he tortures them to death. When Arya stabs him to death, she repeats those same questions.
- In Death:
- Memory In Death has Trudy Lombard, a greedy Manipulative Bitch, get killed off by being clubbed very hard in the back of her head by her own sap, which happened to be a sock stuffed with coins.
- New York To Dallas has Eve's mother kill a cop by slicing across his throat with a laser scalpel, and later her own partner Isaac McQueen kills her by slicing across her throat with a knife. The irony and poetic justice of her mother's death was not lost on Eve Dallas.
- This happens in the Sherlock Holmes stories wherein several criminals get killed by the murder weapons and methods which they used to kill others.
- The Speckled Band: The venomous tropical snake used to murder turns on the man who sent it.
- "The Devil's Foot'': The exotic drug used to attack the victims, resulting in death and insanity, is used on the killer by the suitor of one of the victims.
- In the Spider-Man Sinister Six Trilogy, The Gentleman, who always put wealth above anything else, is killed by The Chameleon and has all of his fortune stolen from him. To rub salt in the wound, a detective whose life The Gentleman ruined confronts him as he lays dying. He thinks he has the final laugh until the detective points out he'll die a pauper. The detective then lays a penny on the opposite end of the room and leaves knowing The Gentleman will crawl for it.
- Diogenes Pendergast from the Agent Pendergast novels spends two books trying to ruin his brother's life, by getting him arrested and destroying his loved ones, while he's set up for their murders, use the same device that robbed him of his own sanity on hundreds of people, and additionally trying to drive his brother's ward Constance to suicide first by seducing her and then revealing the truth behind her extended life in hopes the despair will crush her. This last tactic harshly proceeds to bite him back in the ass. Constance instead becomes so rage-driven at the way she was used that she winds up chasing him halfway across the world all the way to his remote home; every time he attempts to kill her she completely outsmarts him, and it all culminates with her causing him to fall down a volcano. He could have avoided all the trouble that inevitably lead up to his death and got away scot free after his "drive innocent people mad" failed if he hadn't have been such a cocky bastard and not tried to eff with her mind.
- Caro King's Shadow Spell
- Strood, while trying to kill the heroes, accidentally triggers the Curse Escape Clause of his Complete Immortality, causing all his previous "deaths" to catch up with him. His end is rather gruesome.
- And shortly before that Strood subjects Ava Vespilio, the most evil of the Seven Sorcerers, who also is responsible for making Strood what he is now, to a Fate Worse Than Death, by killing his current Host, then throwing his Heart Drive Ring into a literally Bottomless Pit, making sure he can never possess a human again and will remain locked in the ring forever.
- Earlier, Mrs Dunvice, a brutal, remorseless werewolf in Strood's employ, is killed by the Skinkin which she was transporting for killing Nin.
- The Saint: Simon Templar made this a regular part of his repertoire as he matured in the stories.
- In "The Man from St. Louis", he manipulates a nastily ambitious punk gangster into murdering an even nastier Dirty Coward with Chief Inspector Teal as a witness.
- In "The Million Pound Day" he boomerangs a villain's murder attempt back onto the bad guy using a kid's toy,
- In "The Death Penalty" he "deliberately and with malice aforethought" (his own words) visits the title punishment on a villain who under English law did not deserve it... but under The Saint's law, well....
- Stephen King seems pretty fond of this trope.
- Annie Wilkes from Misery watches the novel she wanted to read more than anything in the world get burnt, is forced to swallow it by her most favorite writer, who also beats her to death with the typewriter he used to write it. This death would be so sad... if it wasn't, well, Annie Wilkes.
- All the characters who bullied Carrie get killed by her power, that they activated by making her so enraged. Special mention goes to Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan (who are killed when Carrie takes control of the vehicle Billy tries to use to run her down), as well as Margaret White (in the movie, Carrie actually crucifies her fanatically religious mother).
- Patrick Hockstetter from It gets killed by leeches growing in the fridge he used to kill animals. Also, leeches are the only thing he truly fears.
- Norman from Rose Madder is killed in a Rasputinian Death by a monstrous version of the woman he abused for years, who gives him an Ironic Echo before biting him to death (Norman loved to bite his wife).
- Jack Mort from The Dark Tower series, who killed people by pushing them under vehicles, is forced by Roland to go in front of an upcoming train.
- A few times in Galaxy of Fear.
- The Enzeen are swallowed by the very planet they've been feeding people to.
- Doctor Evazam was killed shortly after murdering a child to make into a zombie; thanks to his Professor Guinea Pig experiments he comes back as an intelligent zombie, and when the anti-zombie formula is produced from his notes and splashed around, he reverts back into a normal corpse along with all the other zombies.
- Borborygmus Gog is Dragged Off to Hell, or parts unknown anyway, by the vengeful wraiths of the planet he cleansed of life.
- Grimpen, who had been forcibly removing people's brains and putting them into brain spider droids, which could not speak and had a lot of trouble telling anyone what happened, so he could put criminal brains into their bodies, doesn't die. No, his brain is removed and put in a jar on a shelf, where it would stay until the end of the universe or his enlightenment, whichever came first.
- Vroon, the activist who killed thousands of the animals which prey on drog beetles, gets Eaten Alive by them.
- In The Picture of Dorian Gray the protagonist stabs his magical painting that gave him eternal youth and absorbed the physical effects of his sins (because he was disgusted and paranoid about people finding it), thereby, making himself age rapidly, transferring the physical effects of his sins to himself and restoring his painting. He is found by his servants, stabbed in the heart and horribly withered and aged. He had previously stabbed the painter with the same knife. (And the painter had offered to destroy the painting with a knife when it was just made).
- In City of Ashes, Valentine arranges the death of teenage warlock whose blood he needs by tricking the kid into summoning a demon that will be able to bypass the magic circle used to contain it. In City of Glass, Valentine has setup his own magic circle to summon the Angel Raziel to force it to remove the powers of the Shadowhunters that refuse to serve him. His daughter Clary, whom he has effectively bound and gagged nearby, manages to alter the circle, allowing Raziel to smite him in punishment for his evil deeds, but only after giving him "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- The Twits are offed by gluing them upside-down to the floor after they have tortured Muggle-Wump and his family by making them stand upside-down on top of one another.
- In Överenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt, Count Rosenschiöld takes aphrodisiac drugs, which enables him to keep on sexually abusing much younger women. But after he has brutally raped and almost killed Beatrice, the story's female protagonist, his decadent lifestyle finally catches up to him only a few days afterwards, when he becomes sick and dies what we only can hope is a painful death.
- In ''Romance of the Three Kingdoms:
- Sun Jian, after he was accused of stealing the Imperial Seal, proclaimed, "If I have this seal and am hiding it myself, may my end be unhappy and my death violent!" He later dies from rocks on his head after only one chapter.
- Much later in the story, Emperor Cao Rui orders Lady Mao to commit suicide after he found a new favorite consort. One chapter later, his wife comes back from the dead to haunt him, and he becomes deathly ill.
- In The City of Ember, it's revealed that the mayor drowned in the river while trying to leave Ember ahead of everyone else.
- All My Children: After getting Off on a Technicality, Michael Cambias is shot dead by Bianca Montgomery, the very same woman he raped and knocked up, who was not only legally armed and acting in self-defense, but was also acquitted of all murder charges by a sympathetic judge. The karma doesn't stop with his death, either; Tad Martin, along with Boyd Larraby and Aidan Devane, proceed to steal his body from the funeral home and bury it in the garbage dump.
- In Babylon 5, Lord Antono Refa, a racist Centauri noble, responsible for the bombing of the Narn homeworld with Weapons of Mass Destruction and the mastermind of death camps and genetic cleansing programs, is handed over to a mob of Narn insurgents led by G'Kar and beaten to death. All to the tune of "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place".
- Mr. Morden made the mistake of asking Vir what he wants. At that point Mr. Morden and the shadows had started a war between Centauri prime and Narn by taking advantage of Londo "dreaming about better days". About two years later Vir almost gets his wish. He did live a lot longer due to the ship that was about to destroy Centauri prime being called to the front.
Vir: I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up at your lifeless eyes and wave...like this. <waggles fingers, smiling> Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- In the second-season episode "Go Fish", the coach, who has been dosing the swim team with steroids that are turning them into Gill Monsters. He attempts to have them gang rape Buffy, but when she escapes he is devoured by his own creations — convenient, given Buffy's reluctance to kill normal humans.
- A less Hoist by His Own Petard-esque example happens in Xander's Day in the Limelight episode, to the Zombie Jock who swears cold-served revenge... before abruptly getting eaten by a werewolf.
- Mentioned but avoided in the finale of Season 5, where Giles points out that since Buffy is a hero, she could never kill in cold blood, but he is not a hero, and proceeds to suffocate the Big Bad, while she is trapped inside her mortal and innocent shell.
- Not-technically-death-example: Catherine Madison, who tried to curse her daughter into being stuck in a cheerleading trophy, and accidentally cursed herself there instead.
- In Angel Holland Manners encourages Drusilla and a freshly vampirized Darla to go on a killing spree. The same night, he holds a dinner party, which naturally the vampires crash. Furthermore, due to him spending the season trying to make Angel go bad and demonstrating how vile humans can be, Angel decides to leave them to die.
- Doctor Who:
- Hilariously done in the Doctor Who spoof "The Curse of Fatal Death", where the Master falls down a pit into a vast and disgusting sewer network. Three times. He doesn't exactly die, but it's still pretty bad.
- Numerous Doctor Who villains are finished off by this trope, most likely due to the Doctor being a Technical Pacifist. Notable examples include Davros killed by his newly-created Daleks in Genesis of the Daleks (extra points for Davros pleading to his creations in the same way that the Doctor was pleading to Davros earlier), and the Master killed by his physically and mentally abused wife in "Last of the Time Lords".
- John Lumic, creator of the Alternate Universe Cybermen clearly didn't anticipate that they would turn against him. While he doesn't die, he gets to live out a Fate Worse Than Death by being Cyber converted.
- Subverted in Stargate Atlantis episode, "The Prodigal." At the climax of the episode, the half-Wraith Big Bad Michael is hanging by his fingers from a very high point on Atlantis. Teyla kicks his hands loose and he falls to his death. He had threatened her son and the entire city with the self-destruct.
- Although many victims suffer karmic deaths, a particular favourite was in "Ending Happy" where the abusive bouncer Lorenzo "Happy" Morales survived being hit over the head with a club, poisoned (twice) and shot (all arguably deserved) - but ultimately died from falling off the chair (and into a swimming pool) that he had failed to fix.
- Another episode dealt with an investigation of the death of a body builder. As the case developed, it was discovered that the body builder was using steroids and had murdered a woman he had slept with the night before. Ultimately, they found out that the bullet from the gun he used to kill her traveled into a wall and just happened to lodge itself under a leaky pipe. Over time, mold started to grow off of the water and residue blood from the bullet and eventually infested the house. Because of long term steroid abuse, the killer's immune system had weakened to the point where his body couldn't fight off the mold spores and he died of fungal infection. The characters even remarked at the end of the episode that this was a case of poetic justice.
- The man who killed the HIV-positive porn star in the snuff film, only to become infected with her HIV when her blood splattered across his eyes. Lampshaded by Catherine and Sara who note that "You killed her. I guess she killed you back."
- Sanford Harris. Gloriously.
- Bob Dunn at the beginning of "Midnight". Spends his time cheating on his girlfriend at local nightclubs. But then he picks up the wrong girl and ends up getting his cerebrospinal fluid sucked from a chewed-up hole in what remained of his neck.
- Phil on LOST punched Juliet in an attempt to make Sawyer talk during an interrogation. Later, as all hell breaks lose during an electromagnetic incident, he gets impaled by a flying metal bar.
- Several in all seasons of Primeval, the most notable pair being Season 3, where Christine gets chomped by a future predator after getting into a pissing match with Helen over who is the bigger Jerk Ass, and Helen herself finds the punishment for trying to Ret Gone humanity is death by Dromaeosaurus.
- In the Merlin episode "Lancelot and Guinevere", Hengist is eaten alive by his own pet monster after the heroes escape. However, this is unusual for the series - most of the villains are killed a little more directly.
- In the third season The Man From UNCLE episode "The It's All Greek to Me Affair", the estranged husband of the innocent-of-the-week is a convicted criminal who's escaped from prison, and who spends most of the episode threatening to kill his estranged wife's meek, milquetoast schoolteacher boyfriend. In the climactic fight scene, the estranged husband (who is fighting with his estranged wife's boyfriend) winds up accidentally stabbed to death by the THRUSH Central representative to whom he had hoped to sell a valuable U.N.C.L.E. code he'd stolen earlier in the episode.
- Criminal Minds
- The episode "Paradise" had a serial killer (played by Wil Wheaton) that would kill couples and then stage their bodies in cars at blind intersections so that they would get hit by tractor trailers and have the deaths blamed on an accident. When the team finally catches up with said killer, he runs away, only to get hit by a tractor trailer. Wesley got "Crushed".
- In another episode, a hitman manages to elude capture by the BAU (and probably would have walked anyway, since they had no hard evidence against him). In the last scene, he is shot to death by the protege of a mobster he killed for trying to rat him out earlier in the episode.
- Many episodes of Criminal Minds, if they're not portraying the criminal as The Woobie or as an Everyman with issues, but rather as a completely demonic killing machine, end with one of these. Usually a member of the team will point a gun at them and give them a "Reason You Suck" Speech, then the guy will pull a gun or other weapon and be shot on sight, dying instantly. When this trope is subverted and the guy actually lives, it's often even more satisfying.
- The titular serial killer of Dexter is a walking instrument of Karmic Death, but he usually makes sure the victims really get the karma. When he's got a drunk driver who gets out of convictions by feigning regret on his table, he plays the video of his last victim that was played at his trial. When he's working on a guy who breaks legs for a bookkeeper to pay off his gambling debts, he uses a room with disused casino equipment. And in the pilot, he forces a pedophilic serial killer to look at the bodies of his victims before going to work.
- The Outer Limits (1995) uses this a lot:
- In the episode "Tribunal", an elderly, but unrepentant and still evil Nazi is brought back into the past and stranded in the concentration camp where he used to work. His past self casually executes him, not realizing who he was, and dismissing the corpse as "Just another worthless Jew".
- In "The Vaccine", the Jerk Ass Social Darwinists force the nurse main character to mix up the titular vaccine for them at gunpoint, and even after they promise to save one dose for the little boy, they take it and give it to one of their own when the nurse's back is turned. They then go into anaphylactic shock, because they were already exposed and immune to the virus; the vaccine itself killed them and they inadvertently saved the lives of more sympathetic characters.
- In "Deja Vu", a character suffers a Karmic Fate Worse Than Death; the general who secretly tried to weaponize a teleportation experiment ends up trapped in an endless loop of the second before his death when the experiment goes awry.
- In "Last Supper", a Mad Scientist tortures an immortal woman while trying to figure out the secret to her immortality and eternal youth. Eventually, he injects himself with a syringe of her blood. It makes him younger... and younger... and younger until he's reduced to a puddle of raw cells.
- Burn Notice does this a lot. It's rare that Michael actually kills anyone directly, despite his colleagues urging him to do so on many occasions. He often leaves the bad guys to be dispatched by angry fellow bad guys after he's done sabotaging their plans.
- Teen Wolf: It was implied that Gerard might die after his defeat in season two. His master plan you ask ? To cure his cancer by becoming a werewolf. Only after Scott tampers with his medicine, does Gerard's body rejects the werewolf bite, and he starts violently oozing black goo. Of course this is just an implication, so viewers are still gonna have to wait for season three.
- The Wild Wild West used this early and often to kill off the Villain of the Week.
- Numerous Thousand Ways To Die victims, including "Booty Trapped".
- The X-Files episode "Aubrey" had a former serial killer die at the hands of his estranged grand-daughter who was channeling his "genetic memory" and had essentially become him.
- Charlie Harper in Two and a Half Men was a frequent womanizer who cheats on various ladies. According to Ashton Kutcher, the reason the character died was because he went to Paris, cheated on a woman there, and she decided to make sure he paid for it by pushing him into a bus.
- In Medium a suspect has killed his wife and staged her death to make it look like she fell of a boat. Allison had a dream about how he really did it, as he killed her up in a mountain and chopped her hand off. When the police and her father discovered her remains, the father brought him in the woods and killed him the same manner the suspect killed his daughter.
- Another episode had a doctor who supposedly died an accidental death in the shower. Of course, his business partner is revealed to have arranged the whole thing. Said partner then flees the country before he can be arrested. The episode ends with a dream, where Alison sees the man slip and fall in the shower, dying. She smiles when she wakes up.
- In the season 2 finale, series-long Big Bad Percy is finally killed by Nikita just as he was on the verge of becoming a Karma Houdini. (Un)fortunately, he chose that exact moment to shift into a Smug Snake, and rather than walking away tries one last time to kill her, which ends up resulting in him being dropped down a missile silo. For bonus points, he ends up falling smack into the prison cell he spent the first half of the season locked up in.
- Earlier in the season, there's the former Division scientist who was turning people into Manchurian Agents, and ends up killed by one.
- The Twilight Zone is practically made of this trope.
- Serrator on Power Rangers Samurai had a plan of taking over both the human and Nighlock worlds by splitting the Earth in half. The Rangers ultimately destroyed him by splitting him in half.
- An interesting case on the other side of the world would be the Big Bad of Choujuu Sentai Liveman, Great Professor Bias. After spending an untold amount of time trying to find eternal youth while showing a clear disgust of any other form of life, he ultimately dies as a weak old man who needs to be taken care of by his Dragon.
- In Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Ashur rapes Naevia and later arranges for her to be sold as a Sex Slave; all of which was simply for him to get revenge on Crixus (who was in love with Naevia). In Spartacus: Vengeance, Naevia and Ashur face off in a sword fight, culminating with her castrating and beheading him.
- Lampshaded, though done in a way that would be Redemption Equals Death interestingly, in the Season 2 Finale of Once Upon a Time. Regina was going to use a device to destroy Storybrook and kill everyone, while using magic beans (which she stole from the heroes) to safely transport herself and Henry to the Enchanted Forest. Other villains capture and torture her, steal both the beans and the device, and plan on using to it to kill everyone including her. She then teams up with the heroes, plans on slowing the device down which will kill her, but will give everyone else enough time to steal the beans back and escape. She explains that all of this is ultimately her fault, so it is only fitting that she die trying to stop it. It winds up being Redemption Earns Life instead.
- A few in Breaking Bad, but none are more fittingly karmic than Lydia's. As a Dirty Coward who treated everyone as expendable loose ends to be murdered at the drop of a hat the second they become a liability, she fittingly dies (or ends the series dying) the slowest and most anti-climatic death in the series, with Walter poisoning her tea with ricin. In the end, for Walter, she was nothing more than a loose end who was just barely even worth his notice.
- The vocaloid songs series The Seven Deadly Sins by mothy has plenty of this:
- In Conchita, the titular character eats herself.
- In Venomania, the duke is killed by a man dressed like a woman.
- In Judgement, Marlon is sent to Hell with the exact same words he gave criminals.
- In Princess Sleep-Bringer, Margarita commits suicide by drinking the poison she had given to everyone.
- Riliane (Daughter of Evil), Kayo (Tailorshop on Enbizaka) and Nemesis (Muzzle of Nemesis) are the only ones who avert this trope. Kayo gets away with it, Riliane's situation is...complicated, and Nemesis is the one who's dishing OUT karma in her song.
- Manfred Von Karma of Phoenix Wright of course, though it's debatable whether he was sent to life in prison or was given capital punishment. Phoenix does a turnabout and proves that Von Karma shot and killed Edgeworth's father when Edgeworth threw a gun and triggered the bullet to hit him. Von Karma goes through a long series of events to get Edgeworth guilty of either that murder, or the murder of another man. Why he didn't just wait a few days after the Statute of Limitations to frame Edgeworth for this other murder so that he couldn't be proved guilty is a bit boggling.
- He wanted Edgeworth to believe he had murdered his own father (not just to get found guilty for another murder), which he wouldn't have been able to bring up in court unless he brought the case before the statue of limitations expired. Which means, surprise, his desire for a very specific sort of revenge helped lead to his downfall.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, one killer fled the country for a few years after successfully testifying in a trial against the man he was framing. Eighteen years later he admits his crime happily now that the statute of limitations is up - but by fleeing the country while still technically a suspect all those years ago, he wound up extending the statute on the case, giving him a one-way ticket to prison once he confessed.
- Ace Attorney Investigations features Manny Choachen getting murdered by the leader of a smuggling ring. Said leader ordered Choachen too kill a witness to the ring 10 years prior and the motive as too why said ringleader murdered choachen? Because he was a witness too. Well, technically there were multiple motives but this is one of the main ones.
- The victim in case 1-3 actually dies by being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on some metal fence spikes. As revealed during the trial, the woman whom he tried to kill and who pushed him on the spikes witnessed her boyfriend being accidentally killed by the victim in the exact same manner on the same spikes.
- Fate/stay night has this happen oh-so-satisfyingly to Shinji Matou in two of the three routes. In Fate it takes the form of fleeing the scene of Rider's annihilation at the hands of Saber and Excalibur only to run into Ilya and Berserker. In Heaven's Feel he meets his end at the hands of his own sister Sakura of all people when he tries to blackmail her into a position where he can rape her. For practically the millionth time. In Unlimited Blade Works, he doesn't die, but he might as well have.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: 9 years ago, Ace threw Akane into the incinerator. For Science! In the "Safe" ending, he gets his comeuppance in the very same room and burns.
- In the sequel, on K's path, Dio is placed into a treatment pod for security reasons after it's revealed he killed the old woman. Sigma and Phi come back later to find that he asphyxiated because the oxygen supply was cut off by K.
- During Arcueid's route in Tsukihime, a combination of factors make Shiki go briefly insane and sexually assault a drastically-weakened Arcueid. The player can choose whether Shiki gets a hold of himself, or gives in to his desire and rapes her. The correct choice, naturally, is to stop; the next night, Arcueid has another spasm and tries to drink Shiki's blood...and hesitates, long enough for Ciel to come to Shiki's rescue. If Shiki gave in to his dark side and raped her, on the other hand, Arcueid doesn't hold back, either...
- Dangan Ronpa has a good number of these, as to be expected. Most of them are execution scenes, but some of the murders count as well.
- In anti-HEROES, the lich Finx, lampshades this moments before his demise.
- The Fat Guard at the claws and beak of Fluffles in Goblins. His plan was to, through months of agonizing torture, turn it into a killing machine that would fight for Brassmoon. Well, he got the first part right...
- The Wotch: Natasha Dahlet of DOLLY is turned into a dolly.
- In Sam and Fuzzy, this trope is double subverted. Mr. Blank looks like he'll be setting it up when he is dangling from the side of a flying skyscraper and proclaims that Sam doesn't have it in him to let him fall — only to be proven wrong when Sam steps aside and lets Fuzzy unceremoniously kick him off. As it turns out, this didn't take and Blank is later seen climbing up the side of the skyscraper — only to be hit by the corpse of a man he murdered in cold blood earlier on in the arc, loose his footing, and fall off the building to his death together with the corpse.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl has, from its bonus comic alternate universe Disaster Dominos comic, Kizuna, who, after murdering several students, dies of the bloodborne disease one of them carried. It isn't present in the main series. Yet.
- The titular business of Suicide for Hire runs on helping people bring karmic deaths onto themselves.
- In The Kenny Chronicles Kenny and Funky's feud started when Funky made a porno of Kenny and his girlfriend having sex in a dumpster. A year later Funky fell six stories into a dumpster (a complete accident, though his friends think Kenny is somehow responsible).
- Homestuck: After making his Face-Heel Turn, Eridan kills Kanaya with the magic wand she made for him. That's not the karmic death. That comes when after Kanaya comes back as a Rainbow Drinker, she snaps said wand in half, then tears her killer a new one with a chainsaw.
- This is also one of two ways a player that has reached Godtier can be permanently killed (the other being a Heroic Sacrifice), as Vriska finds out.
- In the space arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space the False Guenevere's mysterious illness is clone degradation. The karmic bit is that it is excerbated by the spells she casts to prevent Arthur realising she's not the real Guenevere.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Tsukiko is a necromancer who believes that Humans Are Bastards, and that inversely, the undead are misunderstood people who are better than them. However, in the end, Redcloak proves her wrong by taking control of her wights — while describing the undead as mere "tools" and "weapons" — and having them drain her to death and eat the body. Believe it or not, it's actually pretty sympathetic, as evidenced by this exchange:
Demon Roach: What's wrong with you?
Demon Roach: So? No one cares.
Monster in the Darkness: I know. That's why I'm sad.
- Yukyuk, Belkar's third Evil Counterpart in the Linear Guild, made his debut by trying to kill Mr. Scruffy for no reason. After being mentally dominated by Vaarsuvius for a while, he ends up being killed in an attack by his own teammates, while Mr. Scruffy uses him as a body shield.
- In The Greatest Gift, Neptune, the father of Venus (Jupiter) and Astra (the real Venus), was Venus' Predecessor Villain and absolutely ruthless mob boss of Las Haygas. In the end, he ends up short changing an assassin he hired to kill a rival mob boss, who kills him in revenge.
- Jack O'Connor of Survival of the Fittest cheats in a Ten Paces and Turn duel, only to find his opponent (Adam Dodd) had been walking down a slope (something of a Deus ex Machina). Jack shooting early allows Adam time to find his aim and fatally wound Jack to win the fight and v1. This also apparently makes the fact that Adam was planning on cheating okay simply because Jack tried it earlier.
- Laeil Burbank's first kill (and, in fact, first scene in V3,) involves her torturing her helpless cousin, leaving him begging for mercy before killing. Of course, it's only fitting that her death involves a helpless Laeil getting horribly tortured and left to die, also begging for mercy.
- It's also a rare case of a Karmic Death where one can feel sympathy for the victim, mostly because her cousin was a dickweed, she had something of a temporary Morality Pet in both Jimmy Trejo and Eddie Sullivan, and the guy who tortured her, JR Rizzolo, was a monster. And there's also her tragic Back Story...
- In another example, rapist and literal lady-killer Adam Reeves has a two-for-one when he gets his nuts blown off right before his death at the hands of Alexis Machina.
- The Accuser: That's what Dr. Pirot gets for helping a serial killer to survive execution.
- My Little Pony, In "The Glass Princess", the Raptorians get turned into glass.
- The Powerpuff Girls, "Knock It Off" features one-shot villain Dick Hardly, who mass-produces shoddy clones of the Girls for financial gain. When confronted by the girls, he literally swallows an entire bottle of Chemical X, turning him into a monster. He is soon afterward killed when his clones turn against him and his factory falls on top of him.
- Justice League:
- During a battle with his brother Orm in the aquatic underground, Aquaman has Orm hanging off a frozen cliff, begging his brother to have mercy. After he said "You're weak! You're not fit to...(slips)" (Had the sentenced have been finished, he would have likely said "rule"). Aquaman stares, walks up to Orm while he hanging on the cliff, extends his hand and... picks up his trident, leaving Orm to fall to this death.
Aquaman: I believe this is mine.
- It's worth considering that Orm threatened Aquaman's son earlier. Clearly, that's one heck of a Berserk Button.
- Another example (although Superman didn't know it at the time), was in "Twilight of the Gods", with Darkseid dying when Brainiac's home-base overloaded in his aim to search for the Anti-Life Equation. Superman probably wouldn't have thought this was fitting death given what he did to him in their last encounter. Darkseid, who took a received end of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge seemed to find Karma's decision quite funny since Superman didn't finish him off, and spited him in his last word(s):
- Metalocalypse features a slimy PR lady-slash-cult leader get squished by the very comet she tried to kill everyone with.
- The Legend of Korra: Unalaq is killed by the very same spiritbending technique he used throughout the second arc and considering everything he did up to that point (banishing Tonraq, putting Tonraq in jail, manipulating Korra, putting Jinora into a comatose state, treating his own son as a liability, destroying Korra's link with her past lives, nearly destroying the world etc) he definitely got what was coming to him.
- In Season 3, the Earth Queen had been enslaving airbenders and eating baby sky bison. She is assassinated by Zaheer using airbending by asphyxiation.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Aang actually sits down and discusses this trope with Avatar Kyoshi, no doubt hoping his upcoming battle with Fire Lord Ozai could end the same way as her battle with Chin the Conqueror.
: But you didn't really kill Chin. Technically, he fell to his own doom
because he was too stubborn to get out of the way. Kyoshi
: Personally, I don't really see the difference. But I assure you, I would have done whatever it took to stop Chin.
- Also, Zhao's death was a combination of this and Hoist by His Own Petard.
- After turning out to be Not Quite Dead toward the end of Barbie & The Diamond Castle, Lydia attempts to turn the heroines to stone with a magic spell, only for the spell to be turned on her instead.
- Most episodes of Jonny Quest TOS in which a Villain died.
- All of the examples in Hoist By His Own Petard except "Arctic Splashdown", "Mystery of the Lizard Men" and "Pirates from Below."
- "Arctic Splashdown". While trying to murder Dr. Quest, the Big Bad is blown up by the Self-Destruct Mechanism of the rocket whose guidance control he was trying to steal.
- "Riddle of the Gold":
- An assassin named Ali is killed by a tiger released by the villains while trying to assassinate Dr. Quest.
- The Villain working for Dr. Zin is killed by the leopard pet of the man he murdered earlier.
- "Calcutta Adventure". The enemy Mook pilot strafing the Quests is killed when his plane runs into some trees, has its wings ripped off and crashes.
- "Shadow of the Condor". The Big Bad likes to shoot condors who live near his castle in the Andes. As he's trying to shoot down and kill Race Bannon in an aerial duel, a condor attacks his plane in revenge and causes him to crash into a mountainside.
- "Turu the Terrible". The Big Bad is killed while trying to save the titular pteranodon he used to terrorize and enslave native workers.
- "Monster in the Monastery". A group of Mooks masquerading as yeti (who tried to murder Jonny and Hadji) are killed by a real yeti who's angry about the impersonation.
- "The Fraudulent Volcano". A group of enemy mooks flying in hover platforms ram into a cliff and blow up while trying to kill the Quests.
- "House of the Seven Gargoyles". Dietrich (the dwarf masquerading as a gargoyle) is murdered by his boss Ivar.
- Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker:
- Played straight in the unedited version, in which the Joker is fatally shot by a young Tim Drake, temporarily unhinged by the Joker's mental and physical tortures. Largely averted in the edited-for-kiddies version, where his death is a not-very-ironic accident. In any case, the Joker himself denies it:
- Joker ends up suffering this twice, after using a small device on Tim's neck to inject his own DNA and turn Tim into the new Joker. The new Batman puts a permanent stop to him by destroying the device with one of the Joker's own electrocuting buzzers.
- Corpse Bride. Barkis Bittern, who lured Emily to her doom so many years ago for her money and then attempted to do the same to Victoria, makes a sneering toast to her at her and Victor's interrupted wedding ceremony and downs the goblet of poisoned wine that Victor was going to (willingly) drink. Once dead, he is left at the mercy of enraged corpses.
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold:
- Joe Chill, killer of Bruce's parents, dies this way. It's lampshaded and justified soon afterwards:
Phantom Stranger: Ultimately it was karma that delivered the final blow to Joe Chill. ...Funny how Chill just happened to be under that crumbling ceiling when it came down.
Spectre: I wouldn't know anything about that...
- Also, in the series finale, Batmite succeeds in getting the show cancelled for a Darker and Edgier one, but as a light-hearted and silly character, there's no room for him in the new show, and he is erased from existence.
- Megabyte in Reboot had this happen to him in season 3, though he ended up Not Quite Dead in season 4. After being spared by Matrix Megabyte tries to escape to the Supercomputer, but Mouse changes the portal's destination to the Web, which is supposed to be fatal to viruses. Megabyte had previously sent Bob to the Web back in season 2, so being sent to the Web himself is an ironic end, had he not survived via Retcon.
- The South Park episode "Reverse Cowgirl", has Clyde's mom being a bitch about her son leaving the toilet seat up. When Clyde once again leaves the seat up, guess what happens.
- The Big Bad of Scooby-Doo! and the Witch's Ghost gets Dragged Off to Hell by the titular Bigger Bad, which he himself summoned.