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My Death Is Just the Beginning
"The Darkness is not so easily destroyed! No... My death is just the beginning!"
Pious Augustus, Eternal Darkness

There are some plans perpetrated by a select few that involve the villain's own demise as the finishing touch: A Plot Triggering Death that is self-triggered. Naturally, any plan that involves the literal end of the world would finish off an antagonist as well as everyone else, but that's usually a side effect. My Death Is Just the Beginning has it as the first (or one of the first) items on the Big Bad's To Do list.

There are plenty of reasons for why these plans are drawn up. Sometimes it is to evade justice from the heroes; the villain knows that if he is successful, someone will want to take revenge. Perhaps the character doesn't actually want to die, but knows that there's no way around it if he wants to succeed. It could be a plan to turn The Hero to The Dark Side, or maybe the villain's death is part of an overarching Gambit Roulette and it will set in motion events the heroes couldn't possibly predict. Still, there are some bastards who just love to have the last laugh.

My Death Is Just the Beginning isn't the sort of plot the average antagonist will use, as it requires a certain dedication to results over personal glory and power. Well Intentioned Extremists can drift towards plans of this sort, especially if they happen to be dedicated to the fulfillment of some lofty ideal. The Chessmaster has the sort of talents to execute this kind of scheme, and will opt to do himself in if the gains are substantial enough. A Magnificent Bastard will never use this sort of plan unless it also doubles as his Crowning Moment Of Awesome.

This all depends on what the nature of death is in a series though. Media in which Disney Death is common, Death Is Cheap, or uses any death trope along similar lines that lessens the impact of a character dying is less likely to use My Death Is Just the Beginning, because the essential sacrifice is missing. Then again, that doesn't stop some writers.

If done in a series in which Status Quo Is God, it may herald a Genre Shift, or will at the least be the climax of a major story arc.

Protagonists are also capable of doing this, but more often than not those are just undertakings that are considered suicide and not part of some master scheme. If anyone on the hero side pulls this off, it will probably be The Obi-Wan, complete with an Obi-Wan Moment.

Can overlap with Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred.

Compare Suicide by Cop, in which dying is the goal and not a step. It usually also makes Facing Death With Dignity a little easier. Also compare/contrast Thanatos Gambit, in which the villain or hero's death is the final part of a complex plan. These two often overlap, though, due to the nature of both schemes. It can also overlap with Villainous Legacy. Take into consideration Nice Job Breaking It, Hero as well (when either the hero kills the villain without considering the consequences, or does it anyway despite the warnings of what might happen). Is frequently the motivation for/preceded by "Strike Me Down."

See also You Cannot Kill an Idea and Inspirational Martyr.

Unrelated to Xanatos Gambit because the planner's death is a crucial element, and so if it doesn't happen, The Plan fails.

As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • In Death Note, Mello's last move involves his own death. His sidekick Matt also dies, though this wasn't necessary.
    • With L dead and Light assuming the identity of L unbeknownst to the world, it would seem like Light had won... if not for a countdown timer set up by L to inform his chosen heir of his death if he fails to reset it every month.
    • In the live-action version, L writes his own name in the Death Note, which grants him temporary immunity from Kira, but will kill him in 23 days time. L's backup plan often works like this too, since if he is killed by Kira it will narrow the suspects down significantly.
  • Goku's death in episode 5 of Dragon Ball Z sets up his afterlife journey to power up for the battle against Vegeta and Nappa.
    • In OVA Movie 7, Dr. Gero's death (not by the main characters) sets off the finishing of three more androids (15, 14, and Big Bad 13).
  • Desty Nova in GUNNM.
    • He gets better. More than once. And, currently, has multiple versions of himself around, EACH with separate plans.
  • Dewey Novak in Eureka Seven.
  • Masami Eiri in Serial Experiments Lain throws himself under a train as the last part of his plan to discard the physical body and live on the Wire as God.
    • Also, Chisa Yomode throwing herself off a building is what sets almost all the events of the series in motion. Lain doesn't notice anything strange in her life until she and other girls receive e-mails sent after Chisa's suicide — and she's the only one who replies to these messages.
  • UFO Robo Grendizer: This Mazinger series gave us a rare heroic example. In the Go Nagai manga, a Saucer Beast cornered Duke Fleed and Blackie demanded that he reveal Grendizerís hideout. He refused to talk and assured that all his friends would go on fighting until they defeated them using his Humongous Mecha.
  • Emperor Dornkirk in Vision of Escaflowne as part of his plan to activate his fate engine. Stupid Karmic Death.
  • Altena in Noir shows she is willing to sacrifice everything and everyone she loves for her holy cause, including herself.
  • The first Patlabor film opens with the suicide of a computer scientist. As the police protagonists investigate his death along with the suddenly-destructive behaviour of the Mecha he wrote the operating system for, they reveal a sophisticated plan according to this trope.
  • In the last episodes of Gundam 00, Ribbons kills the "twins" Regene Regetta and Tieria Erde, only to find that Regene was manipulating him all along. Regene and Tieria's deaths allow Tieria's consciousness to be uploaded into the supercomputer VEDA, where he works against Ribbons as a benevolent AI.
    • This was also Aeolia Schenberg's backup plan: despite being in cryogenic suspension for two hundred years, his murder at the hands of Alejandro Corner immediately triggers the Trans-Am program for the Gundams, giving them a critical advantage over their enemies.
  • In One Piece, the government executes the pirate king, Gold Roger, to send a message of warning to all the pirates in the world. Instead, Roger uses his moment of publicity to announce to the entire world where his treasure can be found, setting off the beginning of the Great Age of Pirates. It's also revealed that Roger planned it this way, rather than just taking advantage of his last moments to screw over his enemies one more time. He turned himself in, knowing it would result in a public execution, because he was already dying and wanted to make sure his death would mean something.

    • Like Roger, Whitebeard, in his last moments, declared that the legendary One Piece really does exist and triggers another coming age of pirates.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: Clow Reed. He only predicted one particular aspect of everything wrong (the Yaoi Guys, Touya and Yukito), and it was one that didn't have any effect on the plan.
  • Friend from 20th Century Boys tries to do one of these by faking his death. Unfortunately, he underestimated one of his subordinates, who seizes the opportunity to kill him for real and take his place in the scheme.
  • Kyo Kara Maoh: Shinou died to set into motion a great Conspiracy drawn out over a period of four millenia, which involved manipulating the whole of Demon Tribe for all those years in a cycle of incarnations and reincarnations, in order to defeat the Big Bad Shoushu. And he managed to do it without being evil... well, at least most of the time!
  • Miyori Sahara from Ayashi no Ceres, who kills herself in the most gruesome way she can come up with (by flying to the highest building in her surroundings and throwing herself off there) as revenge against Aya, whose alter-ego Ceres murdered Miyori's beloved mother in her initial Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Masaki Kihara of Hades Project Zeorymer. He was killed by Oki before the start of the series. However, by creating clones of himself with personality flaws galore, an android with the ability to grow up to serve as the titular mech's main system, implanting his personality into said mech so that he can pull a Split Personality Takeover on one of the clones when the time is right. In his own words: he gambled with himself for control of the entire world. It was a Gambit Roulette in which he was able to bet half of everything on red and the other half on blue. Thankfully for the world, the ball lands on 0 as a result of one of his clones overpowering his personality and then incorporating it into himself, and then blowing the other remaining clone to bits.
  • Lelouch vi Brittania to bring about the Zero Requiem in Code Geass.

    Comic Books 
  • At the end of V for Vendetta, V does this, although here he seems to just commit Suicide by Cop once his plan is almost finished. The reason is that V is now unneeded. The destruction is finished, what is needed is someone with the powers of creation, not the monster V knows he has become. So, he specifically trained his 'sidekick' to succeed him, and then committed suicide. She becomes V, he becomes immortalized, and she picks a new sidekick.
  • Lord Emp, founder of Wildstorm superhero team Wildcats, needs to ditch his corporeal body in order to complete his ascension into an energy being, but the rules dictate that he can't do it himself. Because the process of ascending releases enough energy to incinerate the killer, Emp tries to trick his long-time nemesis into killing him, thereby killing two birds with one stone. However, it turns out the nemesis is apparently so obsessively attached to their ongoing rivalry that, unable to accept the situation, he kills himself instead, so Emp moves on to plan B, getting his Nigh Invulnerable android buddy to do the deed instead.
  • Citizen Soldier, a constantly-reincarnating Captain America Expy from Stormwatch: Team Achilles. Anticipating that the protagonists, who know about his reincarnation cycle, will put him in cryogenic suspension, he arranges for someone less knowledgeable to find out his location and kill him right as the protagonists are about to take him into custody.
  • Marvel Comics' The Defenders originated as a result of this sort of plan by a forgotten enemy of Dr. Strange, who had created a technomagical device that would destroy the Earth if he died — then stepped in front of a bus. Strange gathered the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner to stop the device from working, only to find out they were part of the Evil Plan already. Eventually, the villain returned anyway.
  • A recurring villain in Tom Strong, Paul Saveen, does this.
    Denby Jilks: Do you think Paul Saveen will let being dead stop him?
  • Marvel's supervillain genetic engineer Maelstrom is the king of this; basically all but two of his stories end with him killing himself so the heroes can't capture him, and then transferring his soul into a clone body to start scheming anew.
  • Perhaps the most ridiculous example from Marvel is Adolf Hitler. According to one comic, his suicide was only intended to free up his soul to be transferred into a clone body, thus not only Faking the Dead but also perfecting the procedures necessary for his true master plan: To possess the Cosmic Cube. Also, his clone body dresses in a purple Klansman outfit and goes by the name "Hatemonger." No, I'm serious. See for yourself.
  • Winnowill eventually tries to pull this off in ElfQuest. She at least gets the dying part right.
  • The Sandman, though saying anything more would be spoiling some of the most epic moments.
  • In Crisis on Infinite Earths, Harbinger is possessed by one of the Anti-Monitor's shadow demons and kills the Monitor under its influence. However, the Monitor anticipated her betrayal, and arranged it so that the energy released by his death was able to preserve Earths One and Two from being destroyed by the Anti-Monitor.

    Film 
  • The serial killer in Se7en was a Mad Artist who wanted to orchestrate a string of deaths correlating with the seven deadly sins and culminating with his own murder. He thinks this will inspire a new wave of violent piousness in the modern, secular masses, but we never find out whether it works.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi's death in Star Wars is either a heroic version of this trope or a Heroic Sacrifice depending on whom you ask.
    • One of Palpatine's many plans ended with Luke killing him, thus cementing his feet onto the path of the Dark Side.
      • It's also hinted in the Dark Empire arc that Palpatine planned for his own death so he could grow stronger in the dark side, or at least created a back up plan involving cloning in case his original body had been unexpectedly killed that consequentially resulted in him gaining more power.
  • The Matrix Revolutions. Neo knew going in he could not defeat Smith without "balancing the equation", i.e. negating both of them.
  • The film Constantine had the protagonist turn to this sort of plan to stop Gabriel from releasing Mammon.
  • Bartleby and Loki's plan in Dogma revolved around this. Azrael, who was manipulating them, had something else in mind.
  • A literal example of this occurs in Saw IV. After finding a microcassette in the stomach of Jigsaw during his autopsy, the medical coroner calls the police in. They listen to the tape as Jigsaw explains that his death is just the beginning, and that his work will continue. Of course, a detective ended up taking on his mantle.
  • In Hellboy, the clockwork cyborg Karl Ruprect Kroenen does this to infiltrate BPRD headquarters. He "killed" himself by unwinding his own clockwork heart; upon finding his body, BPRD agents took him back to their headquarters to examine him, unaware that he could be revived.
  • In I, Robot, Dr. Alfred Lanning orders Sonny to kill him by throwing him out of his office window. He does this in order to attract Detective Spooner's attention because he knows that the vehemently anti-robot Spooner would fully investigate the incident and discover the inherent flaw in the Three Laws Of Robotics.
  • In The Frighteners, Michael J. Fox can see ghosts but cannot interact with them. Twice in the movie he is forced to let his physical body die so that his spirit can fight with the spirit of the serial killer. He got better.
  • Fallen: The demon Azazel cannot take over Denzel Washington by his usual touch transference, but he can do so if his spirit is released from its host by death. So he spends the entire movie crapping on Denzel's rep and framing him for murder so that he can finally get Denzel to kill him in a Suicide by Cop scenario and run wild in his body.
  • The aversion of this is a driving plot point in L: change the WorLd, a spinoff to the Live-Action Adaptation Death Note films. The ecoterrorist Big Bad has a super-virus that will wipe out humanity, but he is not willing to die along with the rest of us. However, the scientist who created a vaccine destroys it and kills himself after learning of the villain's plan rather than let the plan succeed, causing the villain to go after the scientist's daughter, who has notes on the vaccine and who L takes in.
  • The Mummy shows a literal example with Imhotep. Down to carving it in the very coffin he's buried in.
  • In Sherlock Holmes, Blackwood when asked if he had any last words before his hanging declares that death is only the beginning. Of course, he comes back from the dead and wreaks fear and havoc across England. Turns out he actually faked his death and would eventually get his Karmic Death in the end.
  • Subverted by Prince Vigo in the second Ghostbusters movie. Despite his apparent last words being "Death is but a door; time but a window. I'll be back!", it was not his intention to die and become all powerful. He was murdered with extreme prejudice against his wishes, and just happened to have a way to reincarnate as an immortal overlord a few centuries later.
  • Due to a device attached to his heart, the death of Jason Wynn in Spawn would cause The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Subverted in Elizabeth when Norfolk is arrested for treason.
    Norfolk: "I believe a man's courage is measured in the manner of his death. So cut off my head and make me a martyr. The people will always remember it."
    Walsingham: "No, they will forget".
  • In Serenity, The Operative knows what he does is evil, but is deprived the ability to pay for his sins with death when Mal refuses to kill him after winning their duel.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra begins in the 18th century when the French authorities prepare to punish Destro's ancestor. When he speaks the tropes, the French respond, "We're not going to kill you, we're going to make an example of you." and shove a red hot metal mask on his face.

    Literature 
  • Crake in Oryx and Crake.
  • Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter.
    • Harry, too.
    • While Cedric's death really didn't "inspire" anyone to avenge him or whatever, his death was the tell-tale sign that the series had taken a turn for the more serious.
  • Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
    • Should be noted that Aslan is Christ — *IS* Christ — and thus is linked to the Bible reference below.
  • Mellar in Jhereg attempted this, to start a war between the Houses of Dragon and Jhereg; unfortunately for him but fortunately for everyone else, he was Out-Gambitted by the protagonists.
  • Mr. Wednesday in Neil Gaiman's American Gods plots this along with Mr. World. He started off trying to unite the old gods in a war against the new gods so that he and Mr. World could secretly gain overwhelming power from the many casualties, and he decided the best way to unite the distrustful old gods was to arrange for himself to be assassinated by the new gods.
  • Dune: God Emperor Leto II's final step in ensuring his Golden Path was, after millennia of setting himself up as the biggest obstacle to humanity's growth and finding a way to block anyone else from abusing an Omniscient Morality License as he has, to drive them to kill him in some twisted combination of My Death Is Just the Beginning and a Heroic Sacrifice. Humanity promptly explodes outward onto the universe with such force that nobody can ever hope to find them all ever again, supposedly ensuring their survival in the upcoming Robot War and forever afterward.
    • In the prequel series, Serena Bulter tries to get Omnius to kill her in order to become a martyr and inspire humanity to destroy Thinking Machines once and for all. Erasmus catches on and stops Omnius before he can do this. Unfortunately for the Thinking Machines there is also a plan B. Serena is killed by one of her female guards and her death is presented as Omniusí fault anyway.
  • Kelsier in Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson sets himself up as a figure of quasi-religious adoration, gets himself publicly and heroically killed, and arranges for a shapeshifter to take his form and make a bunch of ambiguous appearances, as part of an elaborate plan to foment rebellion.
    • The Lord Ruler himself counts as well — he didn't intend to die, but he does inform the heroes that if they kill him, the world situation will become even worse, as he's the only thing standing between mankind and destruction. He's right, and it turns out in the third book that he did have plans for the eventuality — which the heroes wind up following.
      • Also Preservation, who sacrificed most of himself to set off the dominoes that would ultimately lead to the death of his opposite number Ruin. Technically he didn't actually die until much later, but since his sacrifice left him almost totally unable to interact with the world, and his eventual true death was also part of his plan, it counts.
  • In the second Skulduggery Pleasant book, the death of the Grotesquery is apparently necessary for the return of the Faceless Ones, in contrast to Baron Vengeous's belief that the Grotesquery would be able to summon them.
  • Warrior Cats: Tigerstar spends all his time in the afterlife walking in other cats' dreams and training them to kill Firestar. However, sickness as well as Firestar's own heroic sacrifices, have done a better job of killing him off than Tigerstar's interference.
    • Spottedleaf died in the first book in the series, yet is still a recurring character, acting as a guide and mentor to Firestar and his descendants through dreams and visions.
    • In fact, half the plot of the fourth series is about the dead spirits of all of the disgraced, evil, and forgotten warriors rising up and waging war on StarClan.
    • And the other half of the plot is how the Clans' most heroic spirits, both dead and alive, work together to fight them.
  • In Toll the Hounds, book eight of Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen, Anomander Rake and Hood both sacrifice themselves in order to free the world within Dragnipur and reconcile the Tiste Andii with Mother Dark.
  • In the backstory to Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, the Sithi prince Ineluki attempts to use forbidden magic to destroy the human forces invading the city of Asu'a, but the spell backfires and kills him and his five servants. However, his spirit survives and eventually returns to haunt the world as the Storm King.
  • Played with throughout J.C. Hutchins' 7th Son trilogy. The main villain, John Alpha, is killed in the climax of the first book in order to further his wicked plans. However, the villains can copy their consciousness into clone bodies, so it's only a temporary setback.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Mage Wars trilogy, the wizard/warlord Ma'ar said something to this effect as he killed himself moments before his stronghold underwent the Earth-Shattering Kaboom thing. Considering that he had found a way to send his soul into hiding until he could hijack a descendant, this was a rather accurate assessment.
  • Also, according to Simon's father in The Illuminatus! Trilogy, the night before his execution, Joe Hill called the local Industrial Workers of the World chapter and told them "Don't grieve, organize".
    I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
    Alive as you or me
    Says I, "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
    "I never died," says he...
  • In Orson Scott Card's Ender in Exile, when two characters both come up with a plan to expose their rival for "who he really is" that involves being beaten to death (or almost) by the other character and recording a video of it. And try to do this to each other at the same time.
  • In Daniel Suarez's Daemon, a dying, reclusive billionaire game designer sets up oodles and oodles of programs to start working once one of them detects his obituary appearing in the media. Societal upheaval ensues.
    Matthew Sobol: Detective Sebeck. I was Matthew Sobol. Chief technology officer of CyberStorm Entertainment. I am dead. I see youíve been assigned to the Josef Pavlos and Chopra Singh murder cases. Let me save you some time; I killed both men. Soon youíll know why. But you have a problem: Because Iím dead, you canít arrest me. More importantly: You canít stop me. Since you have no choice but to try and stop me, I want to take this moment to wish you luck, Sergeant Ė because youíre going to need it.
  • In Margary Allingham's Albert Campion novel Police at the Funeral, the solution to the mystery is that the first victim killed himself, making it look like murder, and left booby traps in the house he shared with his family which killed and injured several of them. He hated them that much.
  • In Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides, the vodun sorcerer Edward Thatch — better known as Blackbeard the pirate — schemes to become the eternal king of the West Indies by gaining immortality from the Fountain of Youth, then staging his own demise in battle so he can be reborn with no criminal record and use his ill-gotten fortune to take over the region.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story The Problem of Thor Bridge, Maria Gibson, jealous of the close relationship between her husband and the family's governess, commits suicide and attempts to frame the governess for her murder.
  • In the Deverry novels, a curse was placed to ruin the start of Maryn's reign, triggered to start the moment his rival Burcan died. The full details of the curse were not discovered until after Burcan had been killed in battle. Unusually for this trope, it is uncertain that Burcan was ever told about the curse (It was cast by his sister/lover).
  • Harry Seldon in Asimov's Foundation trilogy. The series begins with him as an old man with only a few years left to live. But the entire rest of the trilogy (taking place over the course of something like 400 years) involves his plan for the foundation playing out as he set it up with holo-recordings of him dropping in at regular intervals to offer his thoughts on the most recent crisis.
  • A select few Aspect holders in Glory in the Thunder will become immortal and ageless when they die for the first time. Rashk murders Tsovinar to activate this against her will, saving her from a probable eternity in a weak and frail body when she eventually succumbs to old age.

    Live Action TV 
  • Suzie Costello in the Torchwood episode "They Keep Killing Suzie". So expertly plotted on her part that her suicide had actually taken place several episodes before; setting off a series of events that — once Torchwood became involved — would lead to her own resurrection.
  • There was an episode of Charmed which involved a warlock needing to die nine times to attain immortality.
  • At the end of the third season of Angel, Daniel Holtz ordered his disciple Justine to kill him in order that Connor would believe that Angel was the murderer. Holtz even specifies that he be stabbed in the throat in two places — seemingly with vampiric fangs — to make it appear that Angel had turned evil again and bitten him.
  • An episode of CSI: Miami featured a woman who provoked her own son to kill her with a nail gun so she could frame her much-loathed ex-husband.
  • A similar event happened, in an episode of CSI: New York: a woman decided to get revenge on a doctor that negligently killed her daughter by giving her CPR while under the influence of drugs by getting a job as a door woman in the doctor's building, having an affair with him to produce fake evidence, and finally kill herself all to frame him for her "murder."
  • On Supernatural, Lilith manipulates Sam and Dean into killing her, since her death is required to free Lucifer.
  • Freddy Krueger gets such a moment in the pilot episode, and then the opening credits, of his spinoff series Freddy's Nightmares. Once he's been set on fire, he triumphantly shouts "I'm free, I'm free!" and laughs maniacally before he dies, as though he already knew what his death would bring. Oddly enough, the sixth movie of the Elm Street franchise later showed the exact same scene in a flashback, except this time there's no such moment of triumph (instead, he makes a desperate Deal with the Devil while dying).
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Homaged with Ming the Merciless-expy Dr. Chaotica as he lays dying, 'killed' by Queen Arachnia and Captain Proton (Captain Janeway and Lieutenant Paris) in The Adventures of Captain Proton! holodeck program.
    Chaotica: Arachnia, death as you know it has no hold on me. My defeat is but a temporary setback. I shall return to seek my revenge.
    Janeway: He doesn't give up, does he?
    Paris: They never do.
    Chaotica: Our love was not meant to be, my Queen, but be warned. You have not seen the last of...Chaotica.
    THE END then shows on the screen, followed by a question mark, and Chaotica's Evil Laugh.
  • While not exactly his plan, the Master in the new Doctor Who series creates a cult of Fan Girls and leaves specific instructions on what to do in case he is killed. After he is shot by his wife, he chooses not to regenerate so as not to end up the Doctor's prisoner, and because he knows his followers will bring him back to life. Unfortunately for him, his resurrection is sabotaged by his wife, which causes him to Come Back Wrong. Worse, this all may have been a Gambit Roulette of Timothy Dalton the Time Lords.
    • Bonus points for showing someone take his ring after his death in the style of Ming the Merciless.
    • In The Seeds of Death, when Fewsham, who has been a Dirty Coward up until this point, finally grows a pair and makes sure that Earth gets desperately-needed info on the pending invasion, at the cost of his own life.
  • John Locke's death on LOST first seems to be part of a preordained plan to save the island. Later events make it seem Locke was suckered into believing his death would have meaning, when really it was part of the villain's grand plan. Ultimately, however, John's death is the trigger for the Oceanic 6 to return to the island, which leads to the villain's defeat.
  • Roswell opens with this voiceover: "I'm Liz Parker and five days ago I died. But then the really amazing thing happened. I came to life." It was only a Disney Death, though.
  • Mary Alice's suicide is what prompts the main events in Desperate Housewives.

    Music 
  • The song "Hero" by Heather Dale.
  • "By And By" by Chumbawamba (on the legendary Folk singer Joe Hill)
    "Don't waste the days when I'm dead and I'm gone
    Wind up the clocks, ring around, carry on
    Don't gather flowers, dry your eyes, call your friends
    For all I sang was a start, not an end."

    Religion & Mythology 
  • In The Bible, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    • By having himself killed in a particularly nasty and brutal way after a mock trial, Jesus made it sure he would be far more dangerous to his enemies dead than alive. He managed to stain the reputation of Pharisees and Sadduceans ever after, and by having himself martyred he made sure his teachings would live on and on.
  • In Norse Mythology, Odin once carefully performed all the appropriate rituals to be a human sacrifice... to Odin. He hung himself from the world tree for nine days, before returning to life with new knowledge - nine magical songs and eighteen magical runes. Determinator much?

    Tabletop Games 
  • Becoming a lich in Dungeons & Dragons requires that a wizard or similar spellcaster kill himself in a specific ritual to attain greater power in undeath.
    • There's also the Clone spell, which is essentially a buggy arcane resurrection. A villain in Forgotten Realms had multiple clones going before his death, and all or most of them started running around, leading to hilarity.
  • In the Shadowrun universe, the great dragon Dunkelzahn (also president-elect of the United American and Canadian States) sure planned ahead for his death. His Last Will is long enough for a book and arranges the founding of the Draco Foundation, a Mega Corporation that supervises the fulfillment of all of Dunkelzahn's last demands and has a lot of control over the sixth world. It is financed by the dead dragon's vast riches and is the only Mega Corp the players can work together with without feeling guilty afterwards. Also it is very successful in making the world a better place. It's revealed in the Dragonheart Trilogy that Dunkelzahn arranged his own death in order to power a spell to prevent the Horrors from crossing over into the world.
  • Magic: The Gathering: According to Phyrexian myth/propaganda, Yawgmoth killed himself for various reasons that make sense only to Phyrexians. The true story is very different.
    • Also, this is the point of the "double" spells from the joke set Unglued, which affect the next game you and your opponent play. So, you might lose the current game, but win the next one.
  • In Illuminati, one power (The Servants of Cthulhu) can win by committing suicide. Each player has one main group (Illuminati) and over the course of the game can control, neutralize, or destroy various subordinate groups. In addition to the general victory condition—controlling a certain number of groups—each player has his own special victory condition as well; the victory condition for the Servants is to destroy eight (not necessarily subordinate) groups. Now, if a player does not control at least one subordinate group at any time after his third turn, his main group is destroyed and he is eliminated from the game. Also, a player can voluntarily give up control of any subordinate group he controls. Thus, if the Servants have already destroyed seven groups, they can give up control of all their subordinate groups, killing themselves—and winning the game because they just destroyed their eighth group.
  • In the backstory of Warhammer 40,000, the psychic powered shamans of ancient times realized that their power was beginning to wane. In order to preserve their power, every single shaman congregated to a single place and simultaneously committed ritual suicide. In doing so, their powers were combined and and placed within the body of a single human being who would later become the God Emperor of Mankind.
  • Exalted: The First Age Solars, who by that point had gone cuckoo for cocoa puffs, were killed during the Usurpation, and as their souls settled into the Underworld, they finally realized what sort of atrocities they'd committed. That is, save for 13 Solar ghosts who still raged at their betrayal... and who were all too happy to accept the deal the Neverborn offered them. Thus were the Deathlords born — immensely powerful ghosts with a stated goal of dragging all of Creation into the maw of Oblivion.

    Video Games 
  • Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem is the Trope Namer, although Pious Augustus, the character who utters the eponymous phrase, technically isn't an example.
    • If you play through two New Game Pluses, this becomes accurate, as the three times you kill him and beat his associated Guardian (which changes each playthrough), you unwittingly empower the Bigger Bad of the game.
    • Edward Roivas, Alexandria Roivas' grandfather, is a rare protagonistic example: The ending to his chapter implies slightly that he was fully aware of the monster present in the room being poised to kill him, but allowed it to happen anyways, presumably as part of his and other characters plans to stop Pious and his ancient's plans to be released.
  • Kingdom Hearts has Xehanort, a guy whose plans involve him sacrificing himself so that his heart and body can be split into two separate entities, both of which will perform a separate task, at which time they will combine to revive him, granting him his final goal: the X-Blade, Kingdom Hearts, and a new Keyblade War.
    • As you defeat Xehanort for the first time in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep he says "Only now have I truly won."
    • A second example is that by defeating his two forms in a specific order, he comes back to life making this a very literal example.
  • In Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven, if you kill a white ninja, they shout 'I'LL BE BACK! In another fo~orm!'
  • The first campaign in Spell Force.
  • Diablo features a plan that requires two deaths, masterminded by the eponymous demon himself. It was first hinted at in Diablo II by the fallen angel Izual, who hints that the deaths of the Prime Evils are serving some greater purpose. In Diablo III, the purpose is to get all the defeated Evils, Prime and Lesser, into the same Black Soulstone, which is then jammed into the chest of the daughter Diablo fathered after being killed the first time. This allows Diablo to become the personality in charge of the full power of the Prime Evil.
  • Kel'thuzad in Warcraft III allows Arthas to kill him, knowing that Arthas will eventually pull a Face-Heel Turn and bring him Back from the Dead.
  • The last words of the Arishok in Dragon Age II are "One day we shall return!"
    • Though due to the philosophy of the Qunari it's not really a threat, or the Arishok indicating there's a gambit in the motion. It's more of stating facts, since that's how they roll.
    • Anders, on the other hand, says this before you kill him for blowing up the Chantry with the Grand Cleric and some other people inside. Before you strike him, he asks you to do it quickly, as the sooner he dies, the sooner his name would live on to inspire generations of mages to strive for freedom. It can be averted if you don't kill him, but he gets the war he wanted either way.
  • In World of Warcraft, Teron Gorefiend pulls off one of these. To avoid destruction at the hands of the Alliance and the destruction of Draenor, he committed suicide, scattering his relics to several different locations. When the time is right, his ghost manipulates the player into collecting those relics so that he can be revived. Of course, as a Death Knight, this is not the first time Gorefiend has died...
  • Castlevania
    • Cornell's storyline in Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness.
    • Also, there are Epileptic Trees concerning the Crimson Stone from Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, now in the possession of Dracula/Mathias, which suggest that every time Dracula is defeated and resurrected, his power is multiplied exponentially, and that it's all part of a Gambit Roulette similar to the Diablo example above...which would certainly explain why Drac, a proven Manipulative Bastard, keeps letting himself die in predictable confrontations with the heroes. One does have to wonder, though, where Soma Cruz fits into this...
      • It's implied that after the death of his second wife and Alucard's rebellion, Drac got tired of the his eternal fight and may have only been going through the motions, until the Belmonts finally found a way to finish him. And Soma's life is significantly better than the previous go around.
    • Castlevania II Simons Quest is the very result of one of these on the side. Dracula cursed Simon upon being defeated in an attempt to destroy the Belmont bloodline. Sadly, it didn't work, as Simon resurrected Dracula himself to kick his ass and break the curse.
      • This would be the only time in Castlevania history that someone resurrected Dracula specifically to beat him down.
      • Not the only time, Simon's grandson Juste did it too.
      • Not really. Maxim tried to, but it wasn't time. Juste collected the parts that Evil Maxim had scattered which pulled the evil out of Maxim when he rejected it at the sign of Juste's friendship and formed a brainless monstrousity composed of Dracula's latent power. It wasn't Dracula however because it was too soon for his revival (getting his butt kicked twice in succession by Simon set him back 100's of years in power). Death openly admits that his lord is not in the castle and has been trying to figure out why it's even appeared.
  • Final Fantasy loves this trope.
    • Garland in the first game dies, only to come back as the ultimate Chaos (though, he didn't plan it in the present, probably, he did in the future). Confusing? It gets worse.
    • Final Fantasy II's Emperor Palamecia allows himself to be overthrown and killed, to return as the ruler of hell and resume the world-taking-over.
      • Made even worse in the remakes. It's revealed that his soul split in half at the time of his death: his dark half became the Emperor of Hell, while his light (but still evil) side became the Light Emperor and presides over the game's equivalent of Heaven. Mateus has you screwed from both sides of the celestial chain.
    • Zemus in the fourth part doesn't really fight back, when he is attacked by Golbez and FuSoYa... because afterwards he becomes near invulnerable Zeromus, a being of pure hatred.
      • He even states most of the Trope Name as he dies in the original translation: "Death is only the beginning..."
      • This is also Scarmiglione's plan to kill Cecil. Upon being killed in your initial fight with him, he rises again as a zombie, much more powerful than he was.
    • Exdeath in Final Fantasy V merges with the void after his death. If it's planned is not entirely sure, though.
      • It's not planned. Exdeath wanted to rule the world with the power of Void. Neo Exdeath specifically wants to reduce everything to nothingness.
    • Seymour in Final Fantasy X is hardly affected by death. It's probably not wanted, but he doesn't care much and instead increases in strength, whenever he returns. Also "main villain" Sin's death is nothing but a break for the people to catch their breath, before it returns.
      • Auron accidentally falls into this trope as well, ten years prior to the game's beginning, when he's killed but immediately reanimates as an Unsent. He took advantage of his new mortality status to ride Sin to Zanarkand and help mold Tidus into the hero his father wanted him to become. Namely, one who'd be willing and able to destroy his father, the newest incarnation of Sin, forever.
    • Also, in terms of gameplay, it is often times easier to allow your characters to die and then revive them than heal their wounds and negative status effects. Lampshaded in Final Fantasy XII, where many status effects stay on dead characters, and a merchant points this out.
    • In the original Final Fantasy Tactics, after failing to sacrifice the protagonist's sister in the penultimate Boss Battle, Hashmalun pulls a Villainous Sacrifice to summon Ultima (mistranslated "Altima" in the English version), the Bloody Angel.
    • XIII-2 has Caius, whose death by itself causes the end of the world. He possesses the Heart of Chaos, which, when destroyed, destroys the goddess Etro, and basically when she dies, chaos is released into the world, destroying it. He therefore plans to have Noel kill him in order to achieve this.
  • Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 3. The Boss didn't have any plan of her own past dying, but before the final battle, she ominously states that whoever lives will have to face an endless series of battles and will never obtain peace. This is undoubtedly true, as Big Boss's victory is what sets up the rest of the series.
  • Portal ends with a song where the villain AI, GlaDOS, taunts that she is "Still Alive", that your escape taught her new things, and that she is continuing her research on new subjects. It spawned one of the largest internet memes ever.
  • In Guild Wars, PLAYERS can sometimes do this (though usually only in pvp). There was once a gimmick build involving this (it was hit by nerf collateral, but still technically works), where players suicided to provide corpses necessary to power production of army of undead minions. since Death Is Cheap, this was a viable tactic. Another build involved abusing Edge of Extinction, an environmental effect that that caused health loss when a creature of same type died (i.e., damage to human if human within range died). Several players on the opposing side could suicide to trigger this effect, instantly wiping opposing team without even having to be close to them, and if some precaution was takes so that suicide team would have one survivor ... instant victory. Another PvP tactic with similar effect was abusing Warrior skills 'I Will Avenge You!' that gave bonus for each dead ally within range. Hilarity ensued when people started running several warriors with pets (which also count as allies) and PETA took notice. In PvE this is much tamer, but still: The only way to get title of 'Legendary Defender of Ascalon' is to let monsters level up by killing player repeatedly so that player can kill them later for experience, this usually consists of luring monsters to respawn point and letting them camp player for several hours. Similar tactics are also used when obtaining high-level pets: instead of capturing low-level version and leveling it by normal gameplay, player can elect to aggro pet, lure it to respawn point and let it level off by killing and camping the character while the player browses TV Tropes. And then there is a resurrection skill called 'Vengeance' that returns player to full life with hefty damage buff, and there are many interesting combination of abuse of the skill Rebirth (resurrects dead player and teleports him to casters location) and necrotic traversal (Players teleports to corpse): If players can manage to kill foe beyond obstacle, one party member can traversal through it and have rest of party commit suicide and then rebirth them to the other side. As you can see, Dying Is Fun in Guild Wars.
    • There is one mission in the first Guild Wars campaign (Prophecies) in which it is almost impossible to complete the bonus objective unless you use the skill "Necrotic Traversal" or have a member of your party who can use that skill. This is highly irritating to players who are trying to go for a "Survivor" title.
  • In Killzone 2 when Rico and Sev find Visari, he points out that killing him would only make him into a martyr figure for the Helghast. Rico shoots him anyway, and the war rages on.
  • Silent Hill 4: The Room has main character Walter Sullivan committing suicide as one of the steps necessary to perform the 21 Sacrements. His ghost continues the ceremony by killing sacrifices in his stead.
  • Suikoden II has a variation of this trope in that killing Luca Blight accomplished nothing. The only result was a country calling for blood and a continued war. Luca would have approved.
  • City of Heroes/City of Villains has the "Vengeance" power, which a character can use when an ally is defeated to give all teammates a significant power-boost. On some tough fights, having one person charge in and die as "Vengeance Bait" then reviving them is a reasonable strategy.
  • Valkyrie Profile: Lezard Valeth kills himself to gain immortality, which allows him to survive Ragnarok. This is only seen in the best ending, but presumably occurs in every one since there are no Nice Job Breaking It, Hero moments related to him.
  • Nathan Hale's last words in Resistance 2 before he is shot to death.
  • In Fire Emblem Akaneia, be careful not to slay Medeus before you recruited or killed the Noble sisters or they will offer their lives to Medeus.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Ganondorf's final words are a promise to Link and Zelda that his death will not change anything, reassuring them that he will insure that the history of light and shadow will be written in the blood of his enemies. All of this was conceivably working under the premise that one day he expected his Triforce of Power would revive him from the dead despite his defeat at Link's hand. Ganondorf's Triforce of Power symbol on his right hand then powers down and disappears from his hand entirely, leaving things up in the air if Ganondorf will ever return.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the final boss of the game, the ancient demon Demise finally released from his seal placed on him by the gods invokes this against Link and Zelda and their descendants. He says that an incarnation of his hatred will continuously be reborn to seek revenge against them. Said incarnation? Ganondorf.
  • One interpretation of the plot of Vagrant Story: Sydney has been manipulating events so that when he and the Duke die at the end, Ashley is the only person left with the power to master The Dark.
  • In Bioshock 2, Subject Delta unless you get the neutral selfless ending. In the evil, neutral selfish, and good endings, Eleanor drains his Adam into her and his viewpoint melts into hers, implying that Delta's living consciousness is now inside of Eleanor, despite his body being lifeless.
  • In the Seal of Nehahra, a four-hour long Machinima fully rendered in Quake, the phrase "Death is Just the Beginning" is uttered numerous times by a number of characters, most notably by Sergeant Lawrence Maxwell when he executes Major Bent.
  • Bioshock Infinite's Daisy Fitzroy is stopped from murdering a child only by the intervention of Elizabeth... then the Burial at Sea DLC reveals that Fitzroy had no intention of murdering the boy, was actually upset at the idea of even making the empty threat, and only went through with the plan because she was told up front that she would die at Elizabeth's hands, and that her death would harden Elizabeth into the woman who would be instrumental in bringing down Zachary Comstock.
  • In Tears To Tiara 2 Hasdrubal takes his own life and gives his most able subordinate Izebel one last order to ensure that his son's rebellion will succeed. Izebel is to pretend that Hasdrubal has rebelled and she crushed it, and there-by secure the position of Governor-General of Hispania for herself. From there she is to as far as possible limit the expansion of the Holy Church within Hispania, and she would be in a position to protect the seeds of rebellion, his son and other subordinates, until the time is right.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has a continuing plot arc involving a family of spirit mediums, so it was really only a matter of time before you found yourself interrogating a channeled spirit whose testimony begins "The plot began with my death."
    • While it wasn't exactly intended, because I don't think she planned to be executed, the death of Dahlia Hawthorne did not stop (the continuation of) her Evil Plan, the entirety of which spanned for three whole cases.
    • Apollo Justice of the same franchise has Magnifi, if you think about it. His death and trial for it caused the events that eventually resulted in Phoenix losing his license, the death of Drew Misham and framing of Vera, and finally the creation of the Jurist System.

    Web Comics 
  • In The Order of the Stick, Belkar tries to provoke Miko into killing him so that she would get her status as Paladin revoked. He assumed that his teammates could just resurrect him afterward. However, this is subverted as V points out that they needed 5,000 GP's worth of diamond dust, which they did not have. Also given that he's a jerkass Sociopathic Hero going on Villain Protagonist, his teammates might not have been willing or (and given they were in a Lawful Good country in which he had murdered someone) able to gather the components to Raise him.
    • The kobold oracle is able to use his power of foresight to predict his own death, which allows him to both arrange for a cleric to resurrect him, and (in the case of that time he was murdered by Belkar) set up a nasty surprise for whoever was responsible.
  • Schlock Mercenary has had this come up occasionally. Most particularly, when Captain Tagon and Commander Andreyasn are discussing Hugo Matsui Xinchub, the man they consider their archenemy...
    Tagon: He could turn his own death into a tactical advantage.
    Andreyasn: I've done that before. It hurts, but it's not actually that difficult.
  • Parodied in this strip of Penny Arcade.
    • There are also a couple of shirts [1] [2] with the same basic text.
  • GI Guy from Kid Radd, being a Well Intentioned Omnicidal Maniac, thought the only way to stop the circle of violence for sprites and humans was to kill them all. When he actually tried to go through with it, he was happily the first to die.
  • The last words of King Stonehammer in Remember are literally "I do pity you, my death shall empower history, yours will be but a footnote."
  • Subverted in Goblins, when Thaco the Goblin finally defeats Dellyn Goblinslayer, the ranger who captured and tortured him years before. Dellyn takes great delight in telling Thaco how his name will go down in legend among the goblins because of his glorious death at Thaco's hands. Things do not turn out like he hoped.
  • Suicide for Hire: One client wanted to die because of the constant harassment after he was involved in a classmate's accidental death by alcohol poisoning. Hunter helped him assemble evidence of every instance of harassment (copies of the threatening letters and emails, photos of the defacement of his dorm room, etc), resulting in lawsuits between both sets of grieving parents after the suicide was completed.
  • Dragon Mango: A shapeshifted fortune teller explains she's doing this — and her enemy is too overconfident to care.
  • Axe Cop: In "The Dogs", the witch doctor cats, Iggy and Willy, let the superhero dogs kill them on purpose so that they can be resurrected as mummies and turn the whole world into cats.

    Web Original 
  • In the SCP Foundation tale "The Dark At The End Of The Tunnel", Dark is revealed to be long dead due to heart condition after she refused Marshall and Carter's life extenders. She continues to run Marshall, Carter, and Dark from beyond the grave through letters containing detailed orders, having used some means of seeing the future to arrange things centuries in advance. Every time Marshall and Carter tried to disobey the orders, they would suffer misfortune.
    Eternally prophesying, eternally predicting, eternally manipulating.
    Dark would probably be pleased. If she wasn't dead.

    Real Life 
  • Unfortunately, the motive of every lunatic suicide terrorist who wants to be an inspiring martyr.
  • This commercial featuring the late Bob Monkhouse, filmed (mostly) before his death with the rest edited in later. "Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your TV again, here I am."
    • Similar to the John Wayne anti-smoking ads that he filmed as he was dying of cancer. Something like, "If it can kill me, it can sure kill you." They waited until after he died to air them.
    • Yul Brynner did this as well.
    • So did John Huston.
  • The alleged last words of Che Guevara.
    "I know you have come here to kill me. Shoot, you coward, but you will only kill a man."
    • He probably didn't know that it was also the beginning of one of the most popular t-shirt motifs...


Mercy KillChoosing DeathNever Suicide
Missing Steps PlanThe PlanPlaying Both Sides
Honesty Is the Best PolicyGambit IndexComplexity Addiction
Mutual KillDeath TropesMy Life Flashed Before My Eyes
My Biological Clock Is TickingPlotsNasty Party

alternative title(s): My Death Is Only The Beginning
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