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Kill the Cutie
"The Lackey patented formula for success—make your audience identify with and care deeply for a character, then drop a mountain on him!"

A series introduces a character as sweet and lovable, more comic relief than anything, who likes nothing more than to pet little puppies. They make you adore them, root for them and love them.

Then they proceed to put them in to a battle against an antagonist and they wind up brutally killed off. Further, the awful deed is done on camera to make sure we know it. Usually they get a few moments to show their ability to keep a warrior on his toes, but their deaths are all but certain once they decided to pick up a weapon and go through trial by combat. As for the audience, what comes next is obvious.

Like Breaking the Cutie, such deaths provoke the lead character to an unprecedented level of bloodlust from watching the girl die in such a gruesome manner and he is driven to kill the bastard who cut her down. At best, characters who witness this will enter an Unstoppable Rage. At worst, they may very well turn evil from the depravity of the act. A lesser grunt will either die in futility challenging the murderer or die a redeeming death for their beloved girl. Expect an Anti-Villain or Noble Demon who witnesses the act to get pissed off at the offender, possibly with an Even Evil Has Standards rant. Moments like these are especially harsh for someone with a no kill code, so any villain who does this had better hope that the hero regains his composure before he becomes a bloody corpse on the ground.

As if it needs to be said, the above example is not the only circumstance this trope kicks in for. Essentially, any time the least deserving and absolute last character you wanted to see die horribly -by combat or otherwise- ends up dying horribly will likely be a Kill the Cutie moment.

Occasionally coupled off with Break the Cutie for extra gruesomeness. It's also part of the ideal behind the Ryona phenomenon: Killing off characters (usually female) in order to strike at the protective instincts of their fans. Too Good for This Sinful Earth is often used to justify this trope.

See also Death by Newbery Medal, Gut Punch, and Player Punch. Contrast Final Girl. Sub trope of Moral Event Horizon as characters who are guilty of this tend to cross it. A cause of being Stuffed into the Fridge. Related to Nice Job Fixing It, Villain.

This is a Death Trope, so beware of spoilers.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Monochrome Factor: Good Lord, Kengo. After suffering as the punching bag and butt monkey of nearly the whole gang, although its mainly cause of his puppy-like behaviour he ends up being killed gruesomely by Homurabi, who lets the kid suffer while outlining his plans before violently ripping out his dark inshi to use it against Akira.. it totally ruined the ending for most people, partly because of their reactions.
  • Kokoro Connect: Averted. Though the definitely have you going for most of the episode.
  • Elfen Lied: In the first episode/chapter, you are shown an adorably ditzy secretary during the alert. Within minutes, she meets Lucy. Before the secretary even realizes she's in trouble, Lucy twists her head off and uses her body as a meat shield. Her death is even worse in the manga, what with Lucy using her as a shield first and Kisaragi actually speaking to her sweetly before getting her head cut.
    • When you get right down to it, Elfen Lied is just a series of cuties breaking and killing/trying to kill each other.
    • In the manga, Diclonius Number 28.
  • Code Geass: Euphemia and Shirley. Sweet Lord, poor Euphie and Shir-Shir. One was accidentally forced by her own brother to slaughter hundreds of innocent people that she herself had gathered together for a plan to bring peace between the warring states before being shot by her own brother and dying in the front of her love interest. After that, she ends up being universally hated. The other learned that her love interest killed her father. She was Mind Raped, almost killed her love interest, lost her memory, got it back, and then had her love interest's mentally broken and psychotic wannabe little brother shoot her because she wants to reunite her love interest with his sister. She then dies in his arms while being repeatedly commanded to live. And to further twist the knife, both of them suffered a Break the Cutie before.
    • Few fans are also none too amused when minor hot looking Knights of the Round got killed off. Some hope that in the SRW game they debut in, they will not die similarly to the Astray Girls in Alpha 3.
      • They did appeared one level, are fightable and disappear altogether when defeated. whether or not saved is unknown. The Valkyrie Squad was replaced in game by men instead.
  • Elemental Gelade loves this trope to death. Any Edel Raid that wasn't a good guy will be pretty much dead meat as in one notable issue, Gladius cuts down a bunch of Edel Raids of one guy after he failed to defeat Coud. The anime had more G rated death but it is still killing cuties by the handful.
  • Aqua from MÄR was a victim of the trope. Girom, a fellow Chess bishop, kills her after her draw against Nanashi. Later on, Nanashi is shown placing Aqua's corpse in the water as burial.
    • To really twist the knife, she's given a Hope Spot. She plays Rock-Paper-Scissors with Rapunzel with the promise of being spared if she wins. She does beat Rapunzel, but Girom beat her.
    • Towards the end of the anime, Snow fulfills this role, especially for Ginta. Her death send him into a deep depression, though he tries to reject it. Luckily she fuses with Koyuki in the end, so she technically doesn't stay dead.
  • Gilbert from Kaze to Ki no Uta had a really, really horrible life. Abandoned by his parents, raped by a friend and later by his uncle who is really his actual father (repeatedly), abused in every way possible by said uncle, conditioned into some major Stockholm Syndrome, raised without any understanding of the real world and left to fend for himself at a boarding school where he is either bullied, ignored or used sexually, he's not really all that sound of mind. Eventually, he does manage to find some form of happiness in a relationship with Nice Guy Serge, but the school rejects them and the two boys are forced to flee to Paris. There, he's gang-raped, drugged, and returns to prostituting himself before running into the street while hallucinating where he's run over by a carriage and killed. This is not a very happy manga.
  • In Rozen Maiden, Hinaichigo, the most deliberately cute of the dolls, is killed off in the second season. The anime version will have you crying for hours. The manga version will have you crying for days.
  • Everyone in Higurashi: When They Cry. Repeatedly.
  • In Texhnolyze, Ran's death causes main character Ichise to go berserk and punch off the Big Bad's head in a single blow.
    • Also, Ichise himself at the end of the anime after spending the entire anime in one long Break the Cutie process.
  • Chiriko in Fushigi Yuugi is a rare male example.
  • Naruto's Haku was very much a kind loving character. He wanted nothing more than to pet bunnies and enjoy life. And protect the Demon of Red Mist, murderous ninja Zabuza, whom he owes his life to. That aside, he was killed rather abruptly and violently to protect Zabuza. To be fair to Kakashi, Haku was NOT his intended target and the event causes Zabuza's eventual redemption.
    • A more direct example is when Pain apparently killed Hinata in chapter 437. The character and fan base reaction was certainly there. Subverted as she lived through it despite what it looked like.
      • You could only really tell because the death was like the ones in the Rescue Sasuke Arc.
    • Subverted with Hinata yet again in the Chunnin exam when she became a target of Revenge by Proxy. The reaction from Naruto was not pleasant. There's also some Fridge Horror here when you think about what could have happened if Orochimaru didn't use that 5 pronged seal.
      • Remember though, part of the reason Naruto went eight tails against Pain was that the seal has been gradually weakening over time. By the end of Part I, Naruto was only able to achieve one tail, and even then it was a combination of a desire to bring Sasuke back combined with self-preservation, so he probably would only have gone one tail if he saw Hinata apparently killed in front of him during the Chuunin exams. Bad news for Neji, yes, but nothing that would threaten the entire village, especially since there were genjutsu experts on site, and if nothing else, Gaara was there to keep Naruto occupied, at which point everyone runs away from the two bloodthirsty jinchuriki.
      • Then some random ANBU guy restrains Naruto before anyone gets hurt.
  • Aruru in Utawarerumono tries standing up for Hakuoro. It doesn't turn out well and turns him into GODZILLA! or something. But she gets better because Godzilla is actually a god/demon of some sort. This has also happened before.
  • CLANNAD does this with both Nagisa and her daughter Ushio. Separately. With just enough time in between for Tomoya and the audience to rediscover hope. The six episode gap just serves to rebuild happiness, so the latter death could rip is all away a second time..
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Nina Tucker. She suffers a Fate Worse than Death, followed by Mercy Kill.
  • Carly from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. Twice. The second time, she pulls a "Dying as Yourself", but she gets better, even after that.
  • Baccano! has a unique example due to the effects of the elixir. Czeslaw Meyer inevitably becomes a victim of this trope over and over again by his beloved guardian. Strangely it is through Kill the Cutie that Break the Cutie occurs and results in Czes turning into a Jerk Ass Crazy Survivalist. He gets better, but ONLY after this cycle is repeated many times.
  • Weiß Kreuz is pretty fond of this trope. The clearest examples appear in Weiss Kreuz Gluhen: first Nozomi-chan, after befriending Sena, is given the Break the Cutie treatment and Driven to Suicide within the first few episodes. Then, in the second half of the series, Asami is rewarded for her effort to be a good and caring teacher by getting Impaled with Extreme Prejudice by Tsuji, and dies in Aya's arms. Sena isn't immune either, he survives to the second-to-last episode before getting shot by his mother and also dying in Aya's arms. Seems to be a trend.
  • Kotori from X1999, after a prolonged stretch of Break the Cutie.
  • Pretty much every teenager used by the National Scientific Welfare Foundation in Witchblade, and Wadau's secretary he used to test the ultimate blade. Also, the main character which resulted in a Break the Cutie for her daughter Rihoko.
    • Pseudo Big Bad Maria, especially once Masane kills the only friend she ever had. It seems that up until that point she treated the power of the witchblade and fighting as a game, her only non-childish moment prior when she was driven mad with rage and killed her mother for rejecting her. (Lets just say she's had a similar upbringing to Shinji but responded to it as Asuka would have.) Once her friend dies, the flash of emotions over the next 60 seconds could only be described as a Heroic BSOD for the neutral anti-hero.
  • Lichty and/or Christina in Gundam 00. Louise almost joined them, and it got worse for the kid onwards. And then, she got better.
    • There's a cute little girl in Gundam Seed who is introduced early in the story and gets killed along with the settler ship by Duel Gundam. Thanks a lot for that, Yzak Joule.
    • The most recent victim comes from Gundam AGE. Yurin's death is this and Fram being the last casualty. Not that guys get much better, specially if their name is Woolf Enneacle — he first witnesses how a Vegan soldier is the cutie being killed, and one generation later he is the cutie that kicks it, much to the anguish of the Asunos..
    • To be precise, this is often called the Lalah Named after Lalah Sune, a female Newtype who provides Amuro and Char their first true emotional bond with and then died. Since then, if the girl is on the enemy side and is a psychic. Start buying some life insurance of her.
    • To be fair, all Kill 'em All Gundam stories loves this, especially Victory Gundam, with mass amounts of persons of all kinds (and specially cute Action Girls) getting killed. War Is Hell indeed.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino's Kill 'em All shows are overloaded with this. Non-cuties die plenty too, though. Just know that the Fan Nickname "Kill 'em All Tomino" is well-earned.
  • The 1980 Astro Boy series thrives on this. More often than not an episode will introduce a sympathetic robot character only to kill them off, leaving Astro to bemoan why humans had to make robots that way.
  • Wolf's Rain: Toboe. And Toboe's death is just the START of it.
  • Rin from InuYasha suffers a subversion of this trope on two occasions. The first time, she is killed by wolves and brought back to life by Sesshomaru's Tenseiga . The second time, she dies after being abducted to the Underworld but is revived by the Meidou Stone .
  • Done brutally in RahXephon to Hiroko Asahina. What makes it worse is that Ayato Kamina, The Hero, does it to her while trying to protect her, not knowing that she was linked to a golem he was fighting, thus every damage done to the golem was equalled to an injury in poor Hiroko's body. It's a Tear Jerker deluxe with pain flavored sprinkles.
  • In Fang Of The Sun Dougram, when Rita's naivete gets her killed, it doesn't just send George, who was quite obviously in love with her, into an Unstoppable Rage, it actually turns him into a cynical asshole for much of the rest of the show.
  • Though not a particularly "cute" child in-looks due to having been experimented on for years, Takashi is suddenly shot in the head by a would-be hero with bad aim, causing his friend AKIRA's catastrophic meltdown that levels Neo Tokyo in the manga version.
    • What makes it even worse is that right then, Takashi was happily going towards Akira, walking up to him while all "Hey, Akira! Remember me? I'm Takashi! I used to be your friend! Come with me, let's go home, Kyouko and Masaru are waiting...". It seems that it will get better... And then? Boom, Headshot. For no real reason at all. WAAAAAH!
    • Kaori also dies in both the manga and anime, but two different ways. In the manga she's shot to death by the local Smug Snake and the grief-stricken Tetsuo carries around her lifeless body afterwards and in the anime she dies horrifically within Tetsuo's mutated form.
  • Bleach: Almost happened to poor Momo Hinamori. Nice Job Breaking It, Hitsugaya. Now, since Hinamori is a protagonist, the likelihood that she will die? As if. (Nobody Dies In Bleach, anyway.) But it's heartbreaking all the same. " Shiro...chan...why?" Aizen is a bastard, that's why.
    • Did happen to Hidetomo Kajoumaru, as he's sliced into two by the Stern Ritter Leader. Now, the likelihood that he will kick it? He doesn't have Plot Armor and Kubo seems to be pulling punches less in this particular arc, so the poor dude is surely a goner.
      • Following this last bit of logic, Kira Izuru is pretty much done for. Only a miracle can save him now. And while he didn't start as a cutie, Byakuya Kuchiki has gone through a cycle of Character Development and was very cute as a kid... and now he's few more than a splatter on a wall after a massive Curb-Stomp Battle. Then he lives on... but barely.
  • Lisanna from Fairy Tail is presented this way as a character in a Flashback. Adorable, sweet, and a Love Interest for Natsu, she was quickly liked by everyone... until she goes on an S-Ranked mission with her Sibling Team and is killed by her older brother Elfman when he loses control of his Take Over magic.
  • Black Lagoon: Hansel and Gretel are quite the variation on the trope. They are portrayed as soulless killers with no mercy, but then we get to lean that their shared Back Story involved almost unspeakable horrors (Parental Abandonment, Orphanage of Fear, rape, murder, snuff, etc.), which shaped them both into the killers we meet. So their whole life is a long, bloody, slow Kill the Cutie process...
  • Franz and Edmond in Gankutsuou.
  • Saya from Black Cat, when Creed finds out Train doesn't want to live a life of assassin and wants to be free, and finds out its because of her.
  • Alois/Jim from Black Butler II.
  • Miki Makimura from Devilman, outside of the somewhat Lighter and Softer TV anime adaptation, is usually killed brutally. Amon: Apocalypse of Devilman has both her and underaged brother killed right off onscreen by a group of mad men. Akira realizes it, and snaps. Too bad we don't see him tearing those bastards apart.
  • The manga and movie versions of Kimba the White Lion ends with Kimba's and Lyra's deathes.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Mami.
  • With a name like Corpse Party, it was probably inevitable, but Seiko's death is still devestating due to what leads up to it.
  • The 10031 MISAKA in the A Certain Magical Index series and it's never pretty.
  • In Blood-C we have Nene and Nono GOD DAMN!! And to twist the knife even more? They weren't exactly cuties, their deaths were faked, and then their definitive demises were even worse.
  • Happens in the second chapter of Limit. The cute, "perfect", but cruelly judgmental Sakura dies while on a bus accident. It's ironic since she said that another girl, who she deemed pathetic and worthless, should die; but that girl ended up surviving.
  • Rose of Versailles:
    • Charlotte, after going through a long stretch of Break the Cutie, kills herself by falling down the balcony.
    • Later, Marie Antoinette herself being sent to the guillotine, after also going though the same thing mentioned above. But considering history, this is bound to happen.
  • Sekirei is a big battle royale with teams mostly made up of cute girls, so this is pretty common. It's suggested that losers can be brought back, though.
  • Saint Seiya had Esmeralda, the daughter of Ikki's master. Years later, in Saint Seiya Omega, Aria, the fake Athena, went through a demise just as heartwrenching.
  • Mayuri from Steins;Gate, repeatedly and at length, across several timelines. To the point that the very inevitability of her death is a plot point; Mayuri will die, no matter how painfully contrived the circumstances, unless Rintaro can undo enough changes to the timeline to return from the "beta" world line to the "alpha" world line.
  • Yukari in Murasakiiro No Qualia. Her death is off-screen, and serves as a catalyst for her best friend Hatou to then use her abilities to search for anything about her death in the infinite possibilities of infinitite possible worlds.
  • Marco Bott from Attack on Titan ends up Dying Alone, as a reminder of how cruel and senseless death often is for the Red Shirt Army the cast belongs to. He was a kind and patient young leader, well-respected by his comrades, and absolutely vital in holding the trainees together during the Battle of Trost. In the aftermath, his mangled corpse is discovered by his best friend, Jean.
  • Berserk, being the Grim Dark setting that it is, likes to kill and break cuties all the time. The first instance is that of a cute, adolescent girl named Colette who seems to develop a crush on Guts when she and her father offer him a ride in their wagon. When night falls, the evil spirits that are attracted to Guts' brand animate the skeletons from an old battle and first make their presence known by running Colette through with a spear. It's then taken a step further when they animate her corpse and force Guts to cut her in half.
  • Happens a couple of times in Gunnm (even to the lead character) but the worst example is probably Haruka: a sweet, flute playing girl who wouldn't hurt a fly runs into an ancient vampire and bravely reaches out to him to make peace. The self important scumbag then just bites her, infecting her with his "curse" to show her that humans and vampires will NEVER be able to exist together (and because he hates "poisonous innocence"). We now have to watch how the poor girl dies in excruciating agony wile also succumbing to absolute despair since she had been told before that infected humans have less than one percent chance of survival. After this, Haruka's beloved, who is the man destined to restore human civilization, is permanently hardened and the entire future of the world turns out much more dystopian then it normally would have been. An cruel example of "Karmatron dynamics" in action, really.
  • In Sword Art Online, Kirito's girlfriend Sachi dies because Kirito didn't warn their teammates about the trap they were about to trigger. The trap sealed off all escape routes and summoned hordes of monsters to attack them. While she didn't know the exact reason that Kirito didn't want to open that chest, she knew there was a good reason, but couldn't talk the others out of opening it. Kirito wasn't able to save any of them, with Sachi dying last, after hearing the screams of impending death from her friends. The whole thing pushes Kirito past the Despair Event Horizon.
    • Kirito gets better only to cross the Despair Event Horizon again after his fiance/in-game wife Asuna is struck down taking a fatal blow meant for him. He was about to resign himself to dying with her until he thought of all the people who were counting on him and pulls off a dramatic Taking You with Me. The Big Bad was so impressed, he decided not to apply the rule that if you die in the game, you die in real life to them.

    Comic Books 
  • Dreamkeepers has a rather disturbing version of this trope, where a cute little girl is, for lack of a better term, butchered.
  • The Walking Dead has this trope to an effect, with Jim's wife and daughter being shot but its hardly noticable due to the fact that Half the cast die.
  • Fray doesn't kick into high gear until the brutal murder of Loo.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Total Drama story, Courtney and the Violin of Despair, the Violin spirit is origninally content merely to humiliate Courtney, but starts trying to do her in after she becomes a public figure. It appears to succeed, but that success (and perforce the trope) is subverted with an “or so it would have been” disclaimer.
  • Happens in Mutant
  • Inevitably for a Hunger Games fanfiction, the tragic death of Kit at the hands of a mutt in Some Semblance of Meaning. The deaths of Lark and later Vale herself also qualify.
  • In Gensokyo 20 XX, this happens loads of times but one that sticks out is Sakuya, who dies of radiation sickness, caused by the fallout of the nuclear bomb.

    Films — Animated 
  • 9: Poor, poor 5. It's just not enough that he dies, oh no, he has to have what fans call the saddest death in the whole movie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Rachel in The Dark Knight.
  • British indie actress Myanna Buring is naturally adorable, and this tends to carry across to her characters. She also has a tendency towards horror films and characters with suicidal tendencies, so this happens a lot.
  • The Condemned had a horrible scene of a woman being raped and killed (behind a tree, for what that's worth) while her husband was forced to listen. Wikipedia shows the character of Rosa (played by Dasi Ruz) to have "stood by her man during the duo's merciless killing spree, which landed her a seat next to her husband on death row. Charges of prostitution flesh out her mile long rap sheet." Nevertheless, it was one of the scenes which established The Dragon.
  • Jamie Lloyd from the Halloween series, who winds up impaled on and ripped open by tractor harrows courtesy of uncle Michael in the sixth film.
  • The main character's Love Interest in the remake of Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) is rather pointlessly executed after being kidnapped by the Big Bad.
  • Marlena in Cloverfield. Especially the way she dies. Not that anybody else is getting out of this alive, though.
  • Newt was killed off pretty quickly in Alien³, and the audience is given an sickeningly just-out-of-shot autopsy scene to confirm this.
  • Eusebios in the 2010 Clash of the Titans, clearly the youngest of the group of heroes. He is turned to stone by Medusa after watching his companion die, and his body is then smashed to pieces at Perseus' feet.
  • Lorna in Hostel II. Being played by Heather Matarazza only made it that much worse.
    • Josh in the original. The fact he gets arguably the most painful death in the entire movie just makes it much, much worse.
    • Also, Karen from Cabin Fever The closest thing to a nice character gets infected, locked in a shed, has her face eaten by a dog and is beaten to death with a shovel.
  • Randy Meeks from the Scream films is the lovable and excitable movie geek who gets mutilated beyond belief in the sequel and before that plays the general role of the underdog with many Break the Cutie moments occurring. As an adorable common relief character whose only crime is making constant tongue-in-cheek remarks he certainly didn't deserve that to happen.
  • Boltie (Ellen Page) in Super gets a third of her head blown off with a shotgun. Even though she's a psychopath, you can't help but like her and the brutal nature of her death hits hard.
  • In Pan's Labyrinth, Captain Vidal, after taking his baby son from his step-daughter Ofelia, coldly takes out his pistol and shoots her in the stomach. Thankfully, it's followed by one of the most satisfying death scenes in recent memory.
  • Su-in from Dead Friend. Just poor, poor Su-in.
  • The Avengers: Agent Phil Coulson
  • The Expendables 2. The new recruit Billy the Kid is killed by Jean Vilain.
  • Sweet, innocent little Carlo in the movie Hornets' Nest. He won't get out of the way of his older friend Aldo's line of fire when Aldo wants to shoot an onrushing carload of German soldiers, and Aldo, sociopathic little snot that he is, cares more about killing Germans than the lives of his friends, so he guns down the younger boy to remove the obstacle to his target.
  • In Daybreakers, the fate that awaits Big Bad's cute daughter.

  • In Stephen King's Cell, Alice is the only character that one can really love, due to her innocence and naiveté. She dies suddenly and with no foreshadowing or reason. Stephen King, you bastard.
    • Not only that, but the way she dies sounds incredibly painful.
      • The killers die a much more excruciating death. And while Alice was unaware of the pain, they're fully aware of it as they bleed out.
  • Rue in The Hunger Games.
    • Depending on definition, also possibly Cinna from the second book, although we don't know for sure that he's actually dead.
    • And just when you think that maybe Rue has fulfilled this trope enough for one trilogy, they go and kill off Prim in the final book. Pass the tissues.
  • Nancy in Dickens' Oliver Twist
    • Dickens does this a lot. Paul Dombey in Dombey and Son, the infamous death of Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop, Dora in David Copperfield, Smike in Nicholas Nickleby. He plays with the trope in A Christmas Carol, in the Christmas Future scene where Tiny Tim is dead, but Scrooge's repentance averts the death.
  • Johnny in The Outsiders
  • Kianna goes out in contorting, flaming ruin in the second book of Douglas Niles's Watershed Trilogy.
  • Emilio in JC Hutchins' Personal Effects: Dark Arts is another rare male example.
  • Harry Potter's potentially extensive list: Dobby and Colin Creevey with arguably qualifying mentions to Lily Potter, Fred Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks, Remus Lupin and Hedwig depending on how you want to define cutie.
  • In the Strugatsky Brothers novel Hard to Be a God, the concluding Roaring Rampage of Revenge is caused by the deaths of the Hero's Love Interest and Kid Sidekick - possibly the only pure characters in the story.
  • Erin Hunter's Warrior Cats. if there is a cutie, expect she or he to end up broken, and then dead.
  • Martin the Warrior has Laterose die at the end of the book, causing Martin to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Piggy from Lord of the Flies. Simon, too.
  • In The Book of the Dun Cow, Beryl, the Wee Widow Mouse, and the three Pins count.
  • Lavan's Companion followed by Lavan himself in Brightly Burning. As bragged by Mercedes Lackey:
    "The Lackey patented formula for success—make your audience identify with and care deeply for a character then drop a mountain on him!"
  • The German book The Land Of Oblivion has a particularly gruesome variation. Technically, The Shadow Child is already dead by the time of introduction, but in the end, she ends up Deader than Dead, condemned to nothingness, and there is nothing to do about it. Ouch.
  • Laura and the Silver Wolf, meanwhile, has the death of The main protagonist. But at least she Died Happily Ever After
  • ''Bridge to Terabithia': Poor Leslie...
  • Rilla of Ingleside loses her favourite brother, Walter, in World War One. Made worse by the fact that Walter desperately didn't want to go, and had spent half the novel in a state of torment because he thought himself a coward. And he was always the kindest, gentlest of the children.
  • Bheth Halleck from Dune: House Harkonnen: The gentle younger sister of Gurney Halleck's Bheth is first kidnapped by the Harkonnens for trying to protect her brother. Next they cut out her larynx so she can't do more than scream wordlessly. Then she is subjected to 6 years (starting at an innocent 17 years old) of sadistic rape and torture by a recorded 4620 Harkonnan soldiers. The Beast Rabban finally kills her in retribution of Gurney's attempt on his life.
  • Weena in The Time Machine.
  • Manchee and Maddy in Chaos Walking.
  • Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451.
  • Ray Pierce in Mildred Pierce. Also in the film and the miniseries adaptation.
  • The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara has Ryer Ord Star, who...
    hung from the yardarm of Black Moclips, swaying gently at the ends of the ropes tied about her wrists. Blood coated her arms from the deep gouges the ropes had made in her flesh, and sweat ran down her face and body in spite of the cool night air. Her pain was all encompassing, racking her slender body from head to toe, rising and falling in steady waves as she waited to die.
  • In Lonesome Dove, while moving cattle from Texas to Montana, Sean O'Brien, a novice cowhand and lovable young Irish immigrant wades into a nest of water moccasins while crossing a river, where he is bitten several times by a group of them before being hauled out of the water and dying painfully on the shore. Even the most grizzled, experienced cowhands of the group are shocked and disturbed by the sudden, unusual, and brutal nature of his death.

    Live Action TV 
  • Bonanza: Seemingly every episode that featured a Cartwright becoming romantically involved with a young woman.
  • Joss Whedon is positively obsessed with this trope.
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Examples include Jenny Calendar, Tara, Amanda, and Jonathan.
    • Cordelia Chase and Winifred Burkle in Angel
    • If there's one blessing in the short lifespan of Firefly, it's that Whedon didn't get a chance to do this to us. Though he made up for it by killing Wash in The Movie.
    • He also poked fun at his penchant for this in the pilot of Firefly, with Kaylee's "death" (it all turns out to be a psychotic joke by Mal). The only reason that the joke was as effective as it was is because of Joss's track record.
    • Dollhouse:
      • Bennett Halverson in "Getting Closer" (2x11). That is all.
      • In "The Hollow Men" (2x12) Mellie kills herself to protect Ballard.
      • In 2x13, Topher performs a heroic sacrifice and gets blown up.
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Cally. Dualla. Boomer. Athena. Repeatedly, in the latter two cases.
    • Billy. Oh, sweet, sweet Billy.
    • The irritatingly cute chicken-eating munchkin in the original miniseries. Introduced in one scene, playing with her doll and talking to Laura Roslin about how she's going to have dinner with her parents. Blown up by Cylons in her very next scene. This was when it became clear that Cylons aren't all bad.
  • Kutner, possibly the most likable character on House. Cause of death? Suicide.
  • Ianto in Torchwood.
    • Owen and Toshiko, as well.
    • From Miracle Day, we have Esther. At this point, we can all agree that if you're nice, likable, and a fan favourite, you can expect to die by the end of the season.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The daughter in "The Doctor's Daughter". Thankfully, she got better.
    • Katarina
    • Adric, although frequently cited as a case of Alas, Poor Scrappy. Peri is a much straighter example unless you believe that "warrior queen" business, which was put in at the last minute.
    • Astrid, from "Voyage of the Damned".
    • That adorable little kid (who was sent in by Blue Peter, no less) in the episode "Utopia", and who ended up turned into a twisted little Toclafane.
    • Chantho. This is almost the first thing The Master does in the new series, and he only gets worse from there.
    • Rory is surely a killed Cutie. The amount of times he gets killed and frankly he is adorkable. However, by this point, he's taken so many levels in badass that in fandom, the They Killed Kenny jokes have fully stopped in favor of adding to his Chuck Norris Facts type list, "What doesn't kill Rory Williams makes him stronger. What kills Rory Williams also makes him stronger." He's still The Cutie, though.
  • One can never forget the tragic death of Charlie on Heroes. But She got better too.
  • On LOST, Anyone Can Die, so it's no surprise this applies. Libby, Juliet, Charlotte, Daniel, Charlie, Boone and Shannon would qualify
  • Initially Lilly Kane, the character who dies before the beginning of the first episode of Veronica Mars, would count as an example, since she was a young attractive teenager who got her head smashed in with an ashtray, though she becomes arguably less of a 'cutie' during some of the later flashbacks as her innocence level drops.
  • Horatio Hornblower has this happen twice in "Retribution". Both Wellard and Archie are killed when the Spanish prisoners retake the ship. Archie lasts long enough to perform a Heroic Sacrifice for Horatio, though.
  • The acclaimed Star Trek: TOS episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" offers Kirk a Sadistic Choice: either Kill the Cutie or alter history so the Nazis win World War II. He does the right thing in the end, although it's hard for him.
    • Although it's not so much "kill" in this case as "allow to die"- the character in question was originally supposed to die in a road accident, but Kirk falling in love with her would have prevented that.
  • At the end of the third/beginning of the fourth seasons of Breaking Bad, unfortunate circumstances force Jessie to kill Gale.
  • On Bones, the creators even admitted they killed Vincent Nigel-Murray "for the heartbreak".
  • William, Lavinia, and Sybil in DowntonAbbey
  • Supernatural's "most adorable angel in heaven," Samandriel was killed by a mind-controlled Castiel.
  • AMC's live action adaptation of The Walking Dead:
    • The Chick Amy was the kindest and most pleasant of the survivors, to the point where even Merle liked her, and he was a openly racist, sociopathic Jerkass. She was also the first one to die after walkers attack the camp. Well, OK, Carol's husband was killed and eaten before she was, but none of the survivors or viewers gave a toss about that wife-abusing asshole.
    • To say nothing of the show brutally averting Infant Immortality with the death of Sophia. She goes missing early in Season 2 after being split up from the group. The survivors find her later zombified in a barn.
    • Dale might also count. A sweet old man who only wanted what was best for the group, and was a much needed father figure/rock for Glenn.
  • Kate on NCIS.
  • In the 1999 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Lord Tony Dewhurst suffers from Death by Adaptation. He's a cute young man who laughs and smiles and stutters adorably. Killing him off in the very first episode is just too cruel. Percy is a bit shattered when he hears that Tony's dead, but he recovers very quickly and says that he knew the risks of working for the League.
  • Wendy in the 1975 version of Survivors was pretty much introduced for he purposes of later killing her off, after a drunken Tom Price kills her for refusing his drunken advances, forming the entire plot of the episode "Law and Order".

    Tabletop Games 
  • A very common tactic for cruel Dungeon Masters, regardless of system or setting.

  • Bernardo and Riff in West Side Story are arguably the funniest characters in the show, even if they are gang-leaders. They provide snarky relief from Maria's and Tony's overly serious gushy lovey-doviness.
  • Seward's son in Macbeth challenges the title character to single combat in the middle of the climactic battle. Macbeth is a brutal, murderous Fallen Hero with years of combat experience. Seward's son is just some poor brave kid. Guess the end of that one.
    • Also, MacDuff's entire family, onstage, just to get him to come back to Scotland. It works.
  • Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Next To Normal: Defied with Diana but played straight with Gabe.

    Video Games 
  • Rhyme dies saving her brother, Beat in The World Ends with You. Worst part is how this echoes perfectly how Beat and Rhyme died in the first place to enter the Underground. Cue Heroic BSOD by Beat after losing Rhyme TWICE. And then, at Day 2 on Week 3, Rhyme is killed AGAIN as her noise form. She's brought back of course, but still.
  • Xion in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. Made even worse by the fact that the lead character, Roxas, is the one who kills her. Cue epic Tear Jerker.
  • Tiltyu in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, after the Time Skip was subjected into lots and lots of Break the Cutie moments to the point it killed her.
    • Ethlyn and Quan too. They were travelling through the Yied Desert to meet up with Sigurd. However, Travant ambushes their army and wipes them out save Finn (who was back at Lenster with Leaf) taking their baby Altena hostage. And no, there is no way to save them—not only are the enemies that they're fighting are coded as "other" units so you can't even attack them if you manage to get your units to them (although you probably won't be able to lend much aid since the desert will slow down everyone except your lone flying unit), but if the Random Number Goddess somehow deigns to allow them to win the Hopeless Boss Fight, there's a good chance it'll lead to an Unwinnable by Mistake situation.
      • In the same chapter, you can't save Vylon, either, though this is a different trope. Worst case scenario is that he dies before Sigurd reaches him. If you get Sigurd to speak to him before the enemy can finish him off, he passes down their family's Holy Weapon, Tyrfing, to Sigurd...and then dies. Keep the enemies from getting to him, but don't speak to him? He'll just randomly disappear, without any fanfare, as soon as you capture the first castle.
  • 12-year-old pianist May Norton from Clock Tower 3 is introduced as the serial killer Sledgehammer's first victim by taking said weapon to the face.
  • Tales of the Abyss with Arietta the Wild. And a tragic one too.
    • Keeping in mind that it's YOU who is killing the God Generals such as her. And you also kill the sentient animal that was her adopted mother.
    • The anime even made it MORE heart-breaking.
    • That one kid in Akzeriuth.
  • Tales of Legendia has Fenimore.
  • Martel's death in Tales of Symphonia has a corrupting effecting effect on Mithos.
  • Aeris from Final Fantasy VII is a classic example of this trope. If Cloud's anger doesn't count, the millions of players hucking PS1 controllers around when they found out a Phoenix Down doesn't help probably does.
  • Yeul and, at the end of the game, Serah in Final Fantasy XIII-2.
  • While not a cutie by Grand Theft Auto standards, Ling of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars dies in the next mission after meeting Huang and the guy remarks on how he misses her a lot.
  • Chidori's death in Persona 3 exemplifies this, dying to revive Junpei from the dead, causing him to enter an Unstoppable can revive her in FES, but she does not remember anything. Unfortunately, Chidori's death is canonical.
    • This also applies to Minato in P3
    • Then tampered with again for Yosuke as he loses Saki. God the Junpei partner type is easily have the worst luck, this is lampshaded when he plans to murder Namatame first...after Nanako's apparent death. Unlike the above examples, she can get better, but only if you choose not to kill Namatame.
    • Persona 2 has Maya Amano. It's her death that brings forth the end of the world and sets the stage for the second game in the duology.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, should you choose the Dark path, you get to force-persuade Zaalbar to kill Mission Vao.
    • Arguably, sacrificing Visas in your duel with Nihilus in the sequel counts.
    • A really, really mean character can do this to Bastila along the Dark path.
  • After all you go through to find Mayu in Fatal Frame 2, in the default ending, Mio strangles her for the ritual. The more tragic thing? This is the canon ending.
  • Arguably, Super Metroid of all things. Samus's surrogate child gets kidnapped and treated in a somewhat Woobie manner, and then killed off by Mother Brain. Every time the player dies in this game, he/she is treated to an image of the Metroid still calling out to Samus in its little shrieks, too..
  • Cave Story takes this to a whole 'nother level of Player Punch. Toroko is kidnapped by Misery at the start of the game after being mistaken for Sue, driving the player to try to get her back somehow on top of other plot threads. Things take a trip down Dark Way and Edgy Avenue when you get to the Sand Zone's Storehouse, where Balrog (compelled by the Demon Crown worn by the Doctor) stuffs a red flower down Toroko's throat. The player winds up fulfilling this trope as a mercy killing to keep Toroko from going completely berserk.
    • This only gets us started on the doom train. Secondary characters start dropping like flies. King dies from wounds he got trying to stop the Doctor, immediately after Toroko. Then you get sent to the Labyrinth, where one of the scientists helping out will die in front of you. Then Curly Brace, your cute partner, will sacrifice herself to save you from drowning. Doing a few unintuitive things can save some of them, but long odds you aren't going to know what those are the first time.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • In the bad ending of Disgaea 3, Raspberyl's murder at the hands of Super Hero Aurum triggers Mao's Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum.
    • Before Beryl, Almaz is killed and generally is the one that drives Mao insane in the first place as well as the reason that Sapphire turns her back on Mao. This is only in the bad ending though as in all the other endings, he comes back to life.
  • Deconstructed with Artina's death 400 years before Disgaea 4 as a result of No Good Deed Goes Unpunished turning Nemo into an Omnicidal Maniac bent on destroying both the human world and the nether world.
  • Potentially, Kelly Chambers in Mass Effect 2 can die before the player's eyes in a horrible fashion if the player dawdles after a certain event. Especially brutal if she was your lover. Fortunately, however, it's easy enough to avert. Which means that if she does die this way, it's your fault. In Mass Effect 3, she has severe PTSD from the events at the end of the previous game, and is still very likely to die due to your actions. note 
  • Mami in Breath of Fire IV is a particularly heartbreaking example of this trope. Country Mouse finds King in the Mountain God Emperor that The Empire (that aforementioned God Emperor founded) is trying very, very hard to kill. Country Mouse Mami nurses God Emperor Fou-lu back to health. Mami and Fou-lu end up falling in love, it being a bit more obvious in Mami's case. The Empire finds Mami is hiding the King in the Mountain. After helping Fou-lu escape, Mami is captured by The Empire, subjected to a major case of Break the Cutie via Cold-Blooded Torture, then is killed by being used as literal Human Resources for a Fantastic Nuke (termed the Carronade) that is typically Powered by a Forsaken Child who has a very strong connection to the intended Ground Zero (yes, the thing explicitly runs on the principle that Love Hurts—in fact, the more love, the more hurting via curse). Fou-lu discovers to his absolute horror that his girlfriend has been used as literal Hex Cannon Ammo because of their relationship, promptly goes Laughing Mad as a result, and goes from The Woobie to Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds in approximately 2.3 seconds flat. Oh, and Fou-lu is also quite literally a Physical God.
  • In Limbo you are the cutie. And you WILL die....often. After the first death though, the mindset you have while playing completely changes, as you turn Properly Paranoid about everything you see in the environment.
  • Security guards in The Getaway: Black Monday will feel no guilt about killing Samantha, a petite, nineteen year old woman who cannot defend herself at all. If you get the bad ending, Skobel does it himself.
  • Valkyria Chronicles Isara Gunther, younger sister by adoption to Squad 7's Commander, spends most of the game trying to overcome the prejudice of others against her due to her being of Darcsen descent. She goes out of her way to be helpful and kind despite the response and prejudice of other squad members against her because of this, especially the hostility of Rosie. However she perseveres and, being a brilliant engineer and tank pilot, proves to be a huge asset to the squad and overcomes the prejudices of her squadmates. Following a victory made possible by smoke shells invented by Isara, Rosie approaches her intending to apologise for her previous attitude...Isara promptly gets shot and killed by a sniper. Words cannot express how devastating this scene is after all the build up of her character throughout. To make things even worse, it is possible to complete Valkyria Chronicles without losing a single other member of your squad, making it arguably even harder-hitting. And because it is part of the storyline rather than gameplay (unlike other potential deaths) it is impossible to prevent. Without playing through the rest of the game you don't get the same impact, but for those curious, link to the death scene: The funeral scene:
    • Valkyria Chronicles III: Even someone who barely know of her feel saddened by her death, as fellow Darcsen Imca can attest. This game also has its own cutie-killing event, except that it's you who do it: you can't proceed to the final battle without killing Zig, the Darcsen lad who is loyal unto death to Dahau.
  • Throughout Tales of Monkey Island, both Morgan LeFlay and Guybrush are cuties in that she is a sweet femme fatale and he is Adorkable. It is very sad that LeChuck has to go and kill them both in Chapter 4: first sending the latter (Guybrush) on a case of Mistaken for Murderer, and later turning his act of triumph into a stunning, tragic Tear Jerker. (Thankfully, he gets better in Chapter 5.)
    • Other than that, also in Chapter 4, the only "cutie" that the Marquis De Singe has "killed" is the Pyrite Parrot of Petaluma, which he uses as a test subject for the Jus de Vie in the Vaycaylian Wind Control Device in front of Guybrush and Elaine.
    • Also, Noogie in Chapter 3. He is so Adorkable when he plays the bongos and has a date with Morgan LeFlay despite his glasses. After the betrayal, capture, and interrogation, however, Noogie disappears. Guybrush can ask Bugeye what happened to Noogie during the ship battle for La Esponja Grande, and Bugeye can reply that Noogie "went to a quiet farm upstate", meaning, of course, that he is killed off-screen. You can even find his grave in the afterlife in Episode 5. Poor Noogie.
  • Soma Cruz becomes corrupted by his powers after seeing his child hood friend killed in front of him in the bad ending of Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. Subverted in the true ending as it was a fake.
  • In the intro mission to Call of Duty: Big Red One, you meet a young new recruit who just transferred into your squad, and apparently immediately out of basic. He is, unlike the other war-weary characters, happy, energetic, ready to kill some bad guys, and dives to the ground every time a plane passes over, much to the annoyance of your squadmates. Unfortunately, he is killed at the end of the level.
  • Eve Valentine from Super Heroine Chronicle, who gets Brainwashed and Crazy halfway through the game by the villains and is fought and killed by the protagonists.
  • In Blaz Blue Chrono Phantasma, Hakumen and Trinity face off against Terumi Yuuki. Hakumen manages to kill Terumi once and for all, but Terumi manages to take Trinity with him by stabbing her and dragging her down the lake.
  • In First Encounter Assault Recon, Alice Wade suffers this at the hands of Paxton Fettel.
  • Double Dragon II's Roaring Rampage of Revenge plot starts with the Black Warriors' murder of Marian.

  • Andrew Hussie must really enjoy making Homestuck fans cry, due to the alarmingly frequent number of times this trope is used. Kanaya (though she got better), Feferi, Tavros, Nepeta, and Dream Jade.
    • Not to mention Aradia, who was dead before the story even began. She gets better.
    • Also invoked with John. He's not dead, but still, the reader reaction...
    • Some will argue that Vriska qualifies. Others will argue that she had it coming from lightyears away.
    • As of [S] Cascade, real Jade, WK, WQ, and WV.
  • Poor Yuki is killed in the most brutal way so far in Mitadake Saga.
  • Vampire Cheerleaders does this in vol.4, during the "Adventures in Space... and Time?!" arc. Suki gets involved in a fire fight with a group of murauders and gets blown in half.
  • Luminary Children kills the cute girl Sandra almost right after her introduction.

    Web Original 

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