Certain concepts considered "too sensitive" are only ever referred to by euphemisms.
The most common example is euphemisms for death in children's shows, even in cases where a character is killed
and they are rendered dead
, the script will never use those two words. Almost always, the writers don't even get very creative with poetic descriptions, and will apply basic synonyms of "destroyed" to living things that we usually associate with inanimate objects, or have the characters unable to finish their sentences ("Is he...?"). Hell
is also constantly neutered; when the plot absolutely needs something similar, they often resort to calling them "Nether-something" (of course, except for the Netherlands, aka Holland
Another frequent method is to hastily add dialogue that suggests the people we've just indirectly seen killed didn't really
die, e.g. showing a city being destroyed, and having a character note: "Good thing everyone in that city evacuated at the last minute!"
For one reason or another, children's shows also shy away from using "God." Whenever religion comes into play, it is generally replaced with something along the lines of "the big guy"
. This one also has its roots in ancient tradition: in Judaism, it is considered blasphemous to use any of God's various actual names
except in specific prayers, so His titles ("God" is considered a title; also "the Lord", "the Name", etc) are used instead, and over time even these have become somewhat taboo, to the point where very observant Jews will write "G-d". Words such as Damn and Hell will likely be replaced by "Dang it!"
while Hell is replaced by underworld or Hades
and so on, even though many people claim that anything in the Bible isn't a swear.
It should be noted that one likely reason for this trope is because the demographic is most likely one that doesn't understand
the concept of death all too well. Perhaps actual 'death' is considered too dark for the demographic, as if a seven-year-old will be traumatised by the idea that the villain actually intends to kill their heroes, rather then just 'destroying' them.
One major exception is the verboseness of a Big Bad
usually makes the trope work for him.
Also note that just because a character didn't mention any variation of "dead", "die" or "death", that doesn't automatically make it an example of this trope. Saying something like "It's time to smash you into pieces!" isn't this trope. Saying "It's time to defeat you!" is, because "defeat" is directly used in replacement of "kill". "Smash you into pieces" is used for specific wording emphasis. This is not a trope for every single examples where a villain uses wording to do with something other than death when confronting the hero, or vice-versa.
It should be noted also, that this isn't for examples in which a show has a character being "taken away" instead of killed. If the character really was
taken away, then it's not an example of this trope. If the character was obviously killed but instead they refer to their death with "they were taken away", of if a certain version of something changes a character's death scene so they never died, then it is an example.
This isn't for complaining about scenes where a character was "killed off the show" in a way other than death.
Please note as well, that this also isn't for complaining about examples where a disaster of some kind resulted in no deaths. If said disaster is something where it's insane to think that no one got injured at all, then it's an example. If it's a disaster in which no one getting killed isn't an unreasonable occurrence, then it is not.
Usually a form of Executive Meddling
. Compare with: Gosh Dang It to Heck!
, Unusual Euphemism
, Frothy Mugs of Water
, The Disease That Shall Not Be Named
and No Endor Holocaust
. Coming closer and closer to becoming a Discredited Trope
. When used as an actual in-world element, it's Double Speak
or a Deadly Euphemism
. Contrast Try Not to Die
. Often, but not always, foisted on the Badbutt
, who will instead use words like "toast" or "beat." If they're allowed to say
"kill" and "die" but aren't allowed to actually
kill characters, then it's Nobody Can Die
. If you're looking for a character who never says die — who never quits and won't back down even in the face of death — then it's Determinator
But please note as well that just because 'defeated' or 'eliminated' is used in replace of "killed", or "they were...taken from us..." is used instead of "they were...killed", it doesn't make it an example of this trope either. Sometimes alternatives are used because they sound flashier, have a better impact, or because the enemies really do just get "defeated" and fade away. After all, the creators often don't want their characters coming off as cold-blooded killers. This is for examples in which it is obviously censors due to the fact that they don't want to mention death. Any other form of replacing death with anything else does NOT count as this trope.
If you're looking for the album Never Say Die
, go here
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The Facing The Future Series averts this as the characters often say words like "die" and "kill".
- Ace Combat: Equestria Chronicles zigzags this, in regards to Mooks. They're usually said to be "defeated" by the heroes, but it's often very clear said Mooks were killed: punches and kicks are often aimed at a foe's neck or head, and there's a general implication that if they aren't killed in mid-air, they fall to their dooms off-screen, due to their injuries leaving them unable to fly.
- Named antagonists, however, are often explicitly said to be killed.
- In fact, the use of "defeated" isn't a case of Insistent Terminology: the first story describes Derpy Hooves as "eliminating" a griffon soldier, and in the sequel there is a reference to the last thing an enemy pegasus sees "before dying". The word is likely just a quirk of translation, as the author is Polish.
Films — Animated
- Despite being the Trope Namer for Disneyfication, the Disney Animated Canon isn't afraid to say die: "The Sleeping Death", "Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger, on the spindle of a spinning wheel - AND DIE!", "I'll KILL you for this!", "It won't hurt because they're dead", "Kill the Beast! Kill the Beast!", "How many times do I have to kill you, boy?", "Stay where you are, or the girl DIES!", "The King is dead. And if it weren't for you, he'd still be alive." We could go on.
Bagheera: You've got to be brave, like Baloo was.
Mowgli: You mean... oh no.
- They are also not quite as liberate with religious terms; the use of "Gosh" is very frequent, and at one point, the utterly hilarious line "Oh my gods!"
- There are, however, cases of religious terms being used, most notably during the famous Hellfire sequence in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
: Destroy Esmeralda/And let her taste the fires of hell!
Maleficent: Now, you shall deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of HELL!"
- Played with in Big Hero 6. "Dead" and "die" are used once, but the rest of the time everyone uses "gone" to describe Tadashi's death, showing how uncomfortable everyone is about the subject. Hiro tells Baymax to destroy Callaghan after he callously denounced Tadashi's death as Tadashi's fault, a nice Call Back to his earlier bot fight to ruthlessly destroy his opponent. In the aftermath, the rest of the team repeatedly said that they "never signed on" or "wasn't part of the plan" to kill Callaghan.
- In the Kung Fu Panda series, whenever someone mentions Tai Lung after Po uses the "Wuxi Finger Hold" on him, which seemingly causes him to blow up in a golden burst of chi, all we hear is that Po "defeated" him. During the holiday special, however, Tai Lung shows up in a dream and Po states, "I thought you were d—" before he gets clobbered, unable to finish his sentence; then again, the one having this dream didn't even witness Tai Lung's fate. Other than that, they aren't shy talking about death, especially in Kung Fu Panda 2, which outright states whenever characters are Killed Off for Real. Of course, there's not much of an excuse to use this trope when you have genocide as a major plot point.
- During said genocide, Lord Shen tells his minions to "get" the pandas and later tells Po that he "took away" his parents.
- In Chicken Run, although the human characters are planning a mass slaughter of the chickens, they never, ever say they are going to kill them. The chickens, however, use not only "kill" but also "die," "death," and even "suicide." Lampshaded by Rocky after he tries and fails to keep such words out of conversation to avoid panic. Apparently Americans care more about this trope than British do.
- Parodied and lampshaded in Bartok the Magnificent, the Big Bad orders her Obliviously Evil Minion to kill the Prince of Russia, but phrases it "Get him out of the way", so he does just that, locking him at the top of the tallest tower in the palace. When she finds him, the exchange goes like this:
Villain: The Prince? I told you to get him out of the way!
Minion: He's in the highest room in the tallest tower, how much more out of the way could he be?
- The Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Hobbit gives a puzzling version of this trope in the song "Fifteen Birds" sung by the goblins as they have Bilbo and his party trapped in burning trees. They list method upon method of graphically killing and eating the dwarves, but when it comes time to say "die..." See for yourself.
- The release of Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (the VHS version) had several small pieces cut out, one of which was part of the scene where Nemo gets the incantation to activate the Royal Scepter's Wave Motion Gun function. Specifically, the part where it's brought up that since Nemo is just a kid, firing the Scepter will kill him.
- Inverted in The Lego Movie with "Come with me if you want to not-die!".
- The Book of Life. Funnily enough, for a film about the Day of the Dead. Manolo doesn't die and the arena bulls aren't (in most lines) killed; they 'pass away' and are 'finished' respectively. The oddest example: Joaquin's father "passed away" fighting against Chakal.
- Averted in the 1986 Australian-animated version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hyde murders several people onscreen and commits various acts of mayhem and violence. (And while the camera may cut away from time to time, the acts themselves are not censored.) What makes it odd is that the film seems clearly aimed at children. About the only part of the film that might fall under this trope is when Mr. Hyde orders two beers at a bar and then smashes them before he can drink them. (Which, Phelous sarcastically notes in his review, makes him a Great Role Model for kids.)
Films — Live-Action
- Muppet Treasure Island plays with the trope: Billy Bones' death after getting the Black Spot (a) is totally overblown for comedic effect, and (b) gets a reaction of "He's dead!? But this is supposed to be a kids' movie!" along with, "Guys... we are standing in a room with a dead guy!" There's also a "character" (just a skeleton wearing a pirate hat) named Dead Tom (introduced in succession after Old Tom and Really Old Tom). This was taken further when a pirate is crying over a recently shot Dead Tom until another pirate patiently explains he was already dead. That's why he's called Dead Tom. The bereaved pirate unceremoniously drops the skeleton and moves on.
- This is spoofed in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, where the villainous Acme Chairman orders one of his henchmen to "Destroy the duck! And when I say destroy the duck, I mean KILL HIM! Messily and painfully!"
- The narrator of George of the Jungle takes the time to explain to the audience that no one in the film is allowed to die, they just get really big boo-boos.
- Bodily functions taboo lampshade: In Pleasantville, Jennifer is astonished to find the girls' room at Pleasantville High has no toilets. Apparently it exists only as a ceramic-tiled girls' chat-retreat with running water, as the Fire Department exists only to get cats out of trees. As for death... what's that?!
- In a variation on this trope, the film The Pope Must Die (about a newly elected Pope being plotted against) was forced by Catholic outrage to change its name to The Pope Must Diet (about a fat... newly elected Pope... being plotted against). The "t" was added to the cover art as if cut from a magazine. No dieting happens in the movie.
- In Drop Dead Gorgeous, one of the brainless bimbos talks about her previous dog, a German Shepherd who went to 'live on a farm' after attacking her. Naturally, she doesn't get that it's a euphemism.
- In the Victorian farce The Wrong Box, young idlers Morris and John (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) need to procure a death certificate to cover up an untimely demise; they get a lot of mileage out of the word 'thing':
Morris: Now you remember that chambermaid you got into, umm...
Morris: Thing. Who was the doctor who did the, umm...
John: Thing? Pratt, Doctor Pratt.
Morris: Was he a venal doctor?
John: I didn't think to ask.
Morris: Well, did he do the -
John: Thing? Yes.
John: But what's he got to do with it?
Morris: He's part of the plan! Now, you and I are the only two people in the world who know that Uncle Joseph is...
Morris: Dead. (And so forth and thing...)
- In Bugsy Malone, pie takes the place of guns and bullets. Characters who get pied are said to be "finished," and never show up again.
- In The Warriors, the slang terms "waste" or "wasted" are always used instead of "kill" or "dead." This was probably done to make the violence seem casual to the characters, rather than soften it for the audience.
- Censors forced Anatomy of a Murder to replace the word 'penetration' with 'violation', even though 'penetration' is the word actually used in Michigan state law's definition of rape.
- An unusual in-universe example in X-Men: The Last Stand. When Wolverine is questioning Jean about what happened to Cyclops, she refuses to actually say he died. How much of this is guilt or foreshadowing is up to interpretation.
- "Goonies never say die!"
- In Into the Woods, instead of saying Jack's Mother died, the Baker says "she didn't make it." Though they also zig-zag it.
- After the earthquake Paddington is desperately looking for his Uncle Pastuzo and all he can find is his hat. Cue bearhug between Paddington and Aunt Lucy.
- Later when Aunt Lucy gets Paddington hidden a lifeboat on a ship to London, she said that she was going to stay at Home for Retired Bears. To first time viewers of this franchise, it seems like a comfortable lie she is telling Paddington when actually she more likely is going off some place to die. Only later, is it shown that she is entirely serious.
- In The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, the kids are told the Lady will come "soon" for the two little ones. Lucia is stricken and says softly "You're going to take them — you mean they're going to..." (And they did.)
- Subverted most notably in #22. Rachel initially wants to say she's going to 'destroy' Sixth Ranger Traitor David, but that's a 'weasel word' and she admits to herself (and the reader) that she wants to kill him. Badly. While Cassie comes up with the only safe alternative to killing David, Rachel is stuck struggling with her violent tendencies for the rest of the series.
- Again subverted when a family of campers gets caught up in a battle between Yeerks and free Hork-Bajir, who have, until this point, stubbornly refused to believe that the battle was real no matter what evidence they'd shown. They'd appeared to believe, but we find that they didn't really get it until this scene happens: (Paraphrased)
Jake: Try not to get killed.
Camper: When you say killed, you mean killed as in "captured" or "stunned," right?
Jake: Unfortunately, I mean killed as in dead.
- However, in other instances, this trope is played straight - the kids talk about how the Yeerks would "destroy" them and their families, and so on, also using "annihilate" as a euphemism. However, as the Yeerks are parasites, these vague euphemisms could be used to mean "killed or infested".
- Piers Anthony does this on purpose in his Xanth series. Instead of going to the bathroom or engaging in sexual activity, characters merely see ellipses.
- In The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, the Big Bad seeks to assassinate the title character. That this is rendered as making him "sleep forever" is especially ridiculous in a story which begins with a global nuclear war, though one might well question the suitability of the latter for a children's story.
- Assassins don't kill people. They are "inhumed".
- Deconstructed in Hogfather, where the Tooth Fairy's country is defined by the belief of children, looking like a children's drawing for instance, and death does not exist there because no-one tells children about it. People just disappear when fatally injured. And the molecular-thin blade of Death's sword cannot exist there.
- Warrior Cats,
- Played for Drama in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, where Francie is made by her mother to cross out every instance of the word "drunk" (a frequent condition of her father) in her diary and replace it with "sick."
- The Green-Sky Trilogy doesn't have issues describing something as dead, but as pacifists, they replace the word "kill" with "dead", and stigmatize the usage as a verb.
- A culture described in Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures raised children with no concept of death so that they would be abnormally fearless.
- The novel The Impossible Bird plays this trope a bit more literally: only people who have killed someone are physically capable of saying the word "die." (It's never explained exactly why this is so, although all the killing does turn out to be important to the plot.)
- From Borges' "Narrative Art and Magic": «Saracen historians, whose works are the source of José Antonio Conde's Historia de la dominación de los árabes en Espańa, do not write that a king of caliph died, but that "he was delivered into his final reward or prize" or that "he passed into the mercy of the All-Powerful," or that "he awaited his fate so many years, so many moons, and so many days."»
- Comes up in A Brother's Price. When she hears that her big brother is going to leave the family to be married, little Bunny Whistler wails "I don't want Jerin to go away like Papa did!". Immediately Jerin assures her, "Papa died, honey. I'm not going to die. I'm just going to live at someone else's house." It's a subversion, but one that initially looks like this trope.
- In Watership Down, characters mostly use the phrase "to stop running" as a euphemism for death. That said, the concept of death is not swept under the rug at all, and is an omnipresent threat throughout the story, and the word "kill" is frequently used with no hesitation or sugar-coating.
- In I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen's parents apparently employed this trope by letting little Stephen know that his dog, Shasta, had moved to a big farm upstate. He takes this at face value, thinking his beloved pet had abandoned him in favor of more space to run around and play with his grandfather, and insisting that even though his new dog was better than Shasta ever was, even if he was getting slower in his old age.
- Used by special operatives in Vladimir Vasilyev's Wolfish Nature duology. The reason for that is that the dog-humans of this Alternate Universe have mastered genetic engineering and have subjected all people on the planet to the Bio-Correction centuries prior, which removed everyone's "wolf gene" (i.e. the gene that allows a person to kill). Anyone who kills another person, even by accident, is usually driven insane by the act. In fact, any murders that happen are either the result of madmen or special operatives, who spend many years training to do so without going insane. Even then, the psychological toll of killing is such that they're afraid of even using the word "kill", lest the word itself push them over the edge. Instead, the word "fuse" (as in "dynamite fuse") is used, so an operative might be asked how many fuses he's had in his career (very few have anything even close to 10).
- In The Giver, nobody *dies* in the Community, they are "released"-or in rare cases, "lost".
- Young Hercules: Ares says several times that he will 'destroy' Hercules, but never actually mentions killing him. In fact, throughout the whole run of the series, only two characters were actually shown being killed onscreen. The other two references of death occurred either between episodes or in the pilot movie.
- Sesame Street: Averted famously in the "Goodbye, Mr. Hooper" episode that opened the 16th season. Will Lee, who played longtime "Grandpa" figure and curmudgeonly storekeeper Harold Hooper, had died in December 1982, while filming for the 1982-1983 season was still ongoing. The remainder of his episodes were aired in early 1983, after which his character is absent and no mention is made of either that or why he is missing... the subject not dealt with until that fall. Several options on how to explain why Mr. Hooper was missing were debated, including him having retire and leave Sesame Street, before the definitive episode on explaining death to a child became the final product. The producers decided to make it part of the show that Mr. Hooper died and, on the advice of child psychologists, they pulled no punches. Big Bird is told that Mr. Hooper died (not "passed away," not "moved on") and will not be coming back. Big Bird is confused and angry, and the adults (with actors not attempting in the least to hide their tears - many holding hands throughout) tell Big Bird that's it's okay to be sad and to miss him. One of the best moments in the history of TV.
- The A-Team. Since it was classified as a children's show, you have the ridiculous premise in which the A Team amasses a massive arsenal of machine guns and weaponry, faces off against a similarly armed force, exchange thousands of retorts of gunfire - and no one dies. Man, their aim sucked. Parodied in Family Guy when Peter and company, dressed as the A-Team, attempt to stop a construction crew from demolishing a park using guns and ramming into things with their vans. The main characters are surprised when the construction crew assumes Peter and friends are trying to kill them.
- Webster: In early first-season episodes, the title character (played by pint-sized Emmanuel Lewis) was told that his parents were "away" (they had actually been killed in a car accident) and that he was merely staying with George and Katherine. George decides he can no longer put off telling Webster the truth ... and does in a truly heartbreaking scene.
- Power Rangers goes overboard with this, sometimes to (unintentionally) comic effect, speaking of people as having been "destroyed." In one particularly comic example, a well-known proverb becomes, "Those who live by the sword shall come to their end by the sword." Which made it all the more surprising when the Pink Ranger in Time Force screams that she would "not let [her fiance's] death be in vain," (though at other times, she says that he was "destroyed"). Of course, it turns out that he's Not Quite Destroyed.
- An example was the episode of Wild Force in which the impostor Master Org gloats about how he killed Cole's parents. He manages to refer to it with the most contrived death-word-aversions, never using the same one twice and making what would've been a much more intense scene if they'd only stuck with the usual "destroy" into not quite Narm, but it does sorta break the flow of the scene. You forgive it because, after all, they have this unbreakable rule that decrees they must absolutely, positively never utter any die-related word come Shadow Realm or high water, and then the new villain, in the very next scene, says "The real Master Org died three thousand years ago and is never coming back!" before announcing himself the new Big Bad and tossing "Master Org" to his Not Quite Death, er, destruction. If they can use death words a few times, why not make one of them during the scene that needed it most?
- The most noticeable one: "I will destroy you or be destroyed trying!"
- In an episode of Power Rangers S.P.D., a monster goes so far as to announce "I hate empty buildings!" before smashing one to pieces, assuring the audience that no one was inside to be hurt. There are also occasional references to various battles taking place in the "Abandoned Warehouse district", which just smacks of poor urban planning.
- No less than a season later in Power Rangers Mystic Force, we're told by the team's mentor that Plucky Comic Relief Clare's mother "depleted her life force" sealing the gate keeping the villains in the Underworld. Oddly, a later episode includes a Monster of the Week stealing people's life force, which seems to make them unconscious/zombified but quite alive, returning to normal once the monster was defeated and the life force was returned. You really have to wonder if Clare's mother is locked up somewhere in the base until she can get a life force infusion. A later episode averts this, with Daggeron declaring he would "rather die with honor than live without it."
- This actually becomes quite an impressive accomplishment in Power Rangers RPM, where they manage to kill off 99% of humanity without using the "d" word. Ranger Blue uses "die" twice, though... a record for actual life-threatening circumstances. When Ziggy becomes a target of several mob cartels, he fears being 'Ghosted', a term the mobsters also threaten him with; as the d-word was used elsewhere in the series - maybe it's gangster Future Slang? (We did get repeated death words way back in Space, when Zhane was Mistaken for Dying). And two of the Ranger characters had backstories involving the deaths of people close to them, both of which were shown on-camera in flashbacks. (If you count a plane blowing up with its pilot not visible to be "on-camera.") And yet nobody actually says they're dead or were killed.
- It also extends to some forms of weaponry. Power Rangers villains almost never use "bombs." Rita and Zedd have used "implosion devices" that sure seemed to explode, Divatox used "detonators," and a Monster of the Week used "charges."
- So it was quite surprising when, in the episode with Robogoat, Goldar said Tommy was going to die.
- Not to mention the infamous "laser pellets" of Power Rangers S.P.D. that were just plain bullets in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger.
- You know how trailers sometimes have "clean" alternate takes of dirty dialogue? Well, in the trailer for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie, Billy says that Zordon is "aging at an accelerated rate", instead of what he says in the actual movie: "He's dying."
- Soap Operas are notorious for having couples "make love" instead of "have sex"; perhaps the most egregious example was when General Hospital's Laura Webber recalled her rape by Luke Spencer as "the first time we made love". Pregnant women also seem to be fond of referring to themselves not as "pregnant" but as "carrying [baby's father's name]'s child," although this is starting to change.
- Part of the "carrying [baby's father's name]'s child" might have come from the fact that soap operas can be so damn confusing, they might need to remind the audience who did what to whom and when.
- Squeamishness about sex does not seem to be the reason for the use of the term "making love" as soaps often show sex scenes.
- In-Universe example in the NCIS episode 'Grace Period', where Ziva continually states that they will kill a terrorist they are hunting. It becomes a Running Gag in the episode.
Abby: But we only caught one of them. What if somebody else tries to stop it?
Ziva: We kill them, Abby.
Tony: We catch them. That's the preferred term.
Cassidy: I like her's better.
- Australian soap opera Home and Away was notorious for doing rape storylines without actually being allowed to use the word "raped", resorting to euphemisms like "attacked" or "assaulted" (or, on one occasion, "violated) which left some viewers thinking the girl had just been mugged or sexually assaulted but not actually raped.
- One of the worst was in late 2007 with the return of Michael, the adopted son of an insane cult leader who had brainwashed him with drugs and (apparently) forced him to rape Tasha, with the intention of getting her pregnant. Belle described his crime to Annie with the words "she had a baby with him when she didn't want to." Things have now relaxed somewhat, with the word being used during the storylines with Joey and Charlie in 2009 and Bianca in 2011. However, viewers still have to sit through scenes of it being described as an "attack", one of the worst examples being when Bianca discussed her rape with a counsellor without either of them once using the word.
- There was also a scene in 2007 where Peter mentions "date rape" when Belle tells him about the drugs she found in Kellie's bag. Ironically, this was not during a rape storyline, and it came before Michael's return.
- Neighbours has been guilty of the same thing leaving out the word "rape" during such storylines as Izzy lying to Karl that her baby with Gus was the result of rape, Rebecca admitting to Paul that Oliver and Declan's father raped her (conceiving Declan in the process) and Bridget accidentally killing a guy who was trying to rape her. Especially strange when you consider that back in 1993 they had no problem with the scene where Julie reveals to Philip that her conception was the result of rape. Or Scott sarcastically calling himself a rapist during the first week of the show back in 1985).
- Discussed in Lie to Me when an alleged rape victim said "he sexually assaulted me". Foster deduced that she was lying because actual rape victims don't shy away from saying "rape".
- Played with in Arrested Development, when a doctor appears to be doing this by saying "we lost him," but it turns out that George Sr. just climbed out the window to avoid going back to prison.
- Interestingly, The Dick Van Dyke Show never used the word with regard to Laura's pregnancy (which was visited repeatedly in flashbacks), but could use it freely regarding animals, as in the 1962 episode "Never Name a Duck."
- British children's Game Show Raven The Island used a lot of euphemisms for the contestants "dying". "Perished" was the closest they got.
- Speaking of British children's Game Show, the hard to win Knightmare uses "death" a lot.
- Occasionally subverted on MythBusters:
Jamie: "Genetic material?" It's sperm!
- This was an expression of frustration on Mr Hyneman's part that was allowed into the edit - the use of "genetic material" in the first place was at the Discovery Channel's specific request. The words "expression of frustration" and "Mr Hyneman" in the same sentence should give a clue as to how annoying this trope can get. Especially since they were allowed to say "sperm" several times in an earlier episode. (One of the myths about cola they tested in Season One was whether it would act as a spermicide).
- They did go an entire episode of "flatus" themed experiments without once using the word "fart". But this was only because they thought that it was classier to avoid it, not for censorship.
- There's also the episode of sayings where they had to shine poop. Adam provides the caveat that they can't use certain words by listing them while being bleeped.
- When the Mythbusters Top 25 episode was done during the Discovery Channel's 25th Anniversary celebration, they played quite a few segments of older episodes where the Mythbusters crew exclaimed "Holy crap!" completely uncensored (in response to either the unexpected scale of destruction a particular test caused or when something failed to work properly), while the original episodes had the second word bleeped out.
- Despite being overwhelmingly the most-requested subject for Beakmans World to tackle, the show waited until the very last segment of the very last episode to tackle flatulence. (And they got away with saying "anal sphincter").
- In the Nickelodeon version of Robot Wars, Sir Killalot was re-named Sir K.
- The famous episode "The Contest", about the characters competing to see who can hold off from masturbating the longest, probably only made it to air because none of them actually say the M-word. Although it's really pretty well done, as the dialogue never seems forced to avoid the term.
- Also, the episode where Elaine tells Jerry her date "took it out" while they were in the car. The term it is repeated several times, not once explaining what exactly it means. It is the guy's penis. What really makes the moment is when Kramer enters halfway through the conversation and immediately knows exactly what they're talking about.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures, normally a show with a low body-count, has Sarah Jane encounter Oddbob, source of the Pied Piper myth. Naturally, when he disappears children, they don't "die", but are sent to another dimension. Since his powers have No Ontological Inertia, his defeat frees them. But as it would be a storytelling inconvenience to deal with the reappearance of the hundreds of children he's abducted over 700 years with only three minutes of show left. So this possibility is ruled out with the explanation that the abducted children do not die but "fade away" over time. Frankly, the idea of the abducted children "fading away" seems a bit more nightmarish than to just explain Oddbob as a prolific alien serial killer. Especially since it wasn't afraid of using the word die in Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? when Maria tells Andrea she was meant to die and Andrea repeats the line back to her in disgust.
- In an episode of iCarly, the kids have to find a bunch of newly-hatched chicks in four hours or "bad things happen".
- Kamen Rider Dragon Knight uses being "vented" to explain that the defeated riders are sent to the "Advent Void," the nexus point between the mirror world and the real one, and will not be able to ever return. This seems to be one more case of replacing death with a Fate Worse Than Death.
- One episode is actually entitled "Vent Or Be Vented".
- The series actually runs with this idea, later revealing that the Advent Void wasn't meant to be a Fate Worse Than Death, since the Riders' leader had the ability to retrieve them from the Void and thus it was more of a temporary break than a permanent banishment. Of course, at the start of the series he's not around, so it is a prison for a while.
- From Buffy:
Buffy: If there were just a few good descriptions of what took out the other Slayers, maybe it would help me to understand my mistake, to keep it from happening again.
Giles: Yes, well, the problem is, after a final battle, it's difficult to get any... well, the Slayer's not... she's rather...
Buffy: It's okay to use the D word, Giles.
- The forgotten The Mystery Files Of Shelby Woo never lets anyone die, which, for a grown up, is jarring in a detective series. The closer the show ever got to show a character dying (or even saying the d-word, for that matter) was when a victim was attacked... and fell into a coma.
Angie: "He was my mentor.. and now he... he is-"
Detective Delancy: "No! No, he isn't... yet."
- Charmed is very fond of the word "vanquished".
- Only for demons. The words "death," "die", and "kill" are still used for humans, except for sarcastic expressions like "Somebody vanquish me!"
- Monty Python's Flying Circus, the dead parrot sketch: "'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile! This ... is an ex-parrot!"
- Scrubs: "We never say die! Except when a patient actually dies. Then, we're kind of forced to by law."
- In one episode of Happy Days, ABC's Standards and Practices department forbade a priest character from using the word "God" in a comedic context: instead he pointed ceilingward and spoke reverently of "Him".
- The Nineties children's show Shining Time Station, in one of the later episodes where Billy's nephew Kit comes to visit. Billy asks Stacy if she'd heard about Kit's father, and she responds, mournfully, "Yes, I'm sorry."
- Played with in-universe on the Bones episode "The Body In The Bounty", when the host of a kids' science program wants Brennen to guest-star on his show. People dying on Bones is nothing new, but one of the characters expresses doubt as to whether Brennen can avoid talking about autopsies or grisly modes of death long enough to appear on a kiddie Show Within a Show.
- On That '70s Show, they rarely said exactly what it was they were smoking, calling it "the stash" instead. In some cases it wasn't too awkward, such as when they were around adults.
- The smoking itself was only implied. The only time characters are actually seen smoking anything in the circle is an episode where they're smoking cigars, causing one character to comment, "This is way worse than what we normally do in the circle. THIS should be illegal."
- In-universe, this was attempted but ultimately subverted to hell and back in an episode of Roseanne when Jackie tries to break some bad news to a relative that is hard of hearing.
- In one episode of Get Smart, KAOS is eliminating Control couriers during plane flights, by dropping them out of a trap door when they go to the bathroom. We later see Max avoid the trap. However, the 'bathroom' clearly doesn't have a toilet - apparently the airline just included a private room for passengers to go and wash their hands.
- Some of the more racier game shows on US TV in the 1970s substituted the word "whoopie" for sex. Notable examples include The Newlywed Game and The Match Game.
- The Hanzel und Gretyl track SS Deathstar Supergalaktik has this in its lyrics, probably as a reference to the lightheartedness of Star Wars.
- The Cheetah Girls' song "Girl Power" contains a literal example of this trope, as the phrase "Never Say Die" is actually in the refrain.
- YUI has a song entitled "Never Say Die".
- The Gothic Archies song "Freakshow" has the lines "real people ask you why/with a face like you've got, won't you just lie down and..." with the obvious missing word being "die".
- At WWE Extreme Rules 2011, when John Cena announced to the crowd that Osama bin Laden had been killed, he stated that he had been "captured and compromised to a permanent end." This from a man who used to say "bitch" frequently. When he was the hero.
- Rush Limbaugh often refers to the recently deceased as having "assumed room temperature".
Religion and Mythology
- In Christian theology, "death" refers to being spiritually dead — that is, condemned to Hell. Thus, other terms may be used for death of the body.
- In his biblical epistles, Saint Paul would never refer to dead Christians as having died. He would say that they have "gone to sleep". Since Paul did not want to imply damnation by any means, he used a euphemism.
- Jesus also uses the term "fallen asleep" (in John 11:10) to refer to the soon-to-be-raised Lazarus. He actually has to explain what he means to his disciples, as they don't get it.
- In at least one translation of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) people don't die, they "pass from life into life". The reason is the same as Paul's.
- Older Than Dirt: The Ancient Egyptians believed that to record something in writing made it more real. Scribes usually did not speak of death, only of euphemisms such as passing west (towards the setting sun and The Underworld) or joining the sun god's barque in the sky. Set was never said to have killed or murdered his brother Osiris; instead he knocked him down.
- The Qur'an explicitly forbids to call martyrs dead because "they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision".
- In the Mage Knight miniatures game, a critter is explicitly dead when its dial is turned and three skulls appear in its stat slot. In Hero Clix, by the same company, there are no skulls — instead, three big red 'KO's appear, and the rules specifically refer to such as state as being 'defeated'.
- Kissing up to 1980s action cartoons, Cartoon Action Hour follows this trope with a capital N—unless of course, you playing The Movie.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game, any card with the word "Death" in its name has it changed to the deliberate transliteration of "Des." So we have Des Koala and Des Frog instead of Death Koala and Death Frog. Additionally, cards with the word "Demon" in their name got it changed to "Archfiend," so "Red Demon Dragon" is "Red Dragon Archfiend" now. Unfortunately, some "Demon" cards had been released with various other renames before those names actually became gameplay-relevant, so an Obvious Rule Patch had to be put in play designating all those cards as "Archfiends" even though their names weren't changed. (Later, a type of rules text called an archetype condition was added to the game, allowing the cards to specifically name themselves as Archfiends, rather than players having to look up the list online to prove the cards were Archfiends.)
- The word "Hell" in some card names was changed to "Chthonian", or "Stygian".
- Reversed in Magic: The Gathering: since the Magic 2012 expansion, creatures are said to "die", not merely "be put into the graveyard from the battlefield". (The "graveyard" is the main general-purpose discard pile zone, the "battlefield" is the zone of cards in play.)
- Other grim terminology is older (an amount of damage that would kill a creature is "lethal"; effects that attempt to move permanents, including noncreature ones, from the battlefield to the graveyard "destroy" them) or discontinued (effects that tried to destroy a permanent without a chance of saving it with regeneration were said to "bury" it).
- However, players with no life left just "lose the game", and really gone cards are merely "exiled" (formerly "removed from the game").
- Two very similar abilities that make creature return from the graveyard are called "Persist" and "Undying".
- In general, well-defined and intuitive technical terms are more important than avoiding scary words; individual cards are far more creepy in any case.
- Lycee TCG has an interesting take on this trope. Characters that left the field due to losing battle or hit by certain effects is said to be 'discarded', as though they are merely cards in your hands or decks. There is no clear border between 'a character' and 'a character card', unlike Magic or similar competitive card games. Which helps the players in not imagining what logically happens: it doesn't matter if your Ibuki Fuuko is knocked out by Shiina Mayuri, Serpent of Akasha, or Demonbane, she's only 'discarded' into your 'dustbox'.
- Chess could be the Ur Example of this section: despite it being a strategy game with allusions to battle, your pieces (excluding, played properly, the king) are said to be "captured" but never "killed". (Although since your pieces are only removed from the board to be played again next game, it could be a case of Nobody Can Die, depending upon perspective.)
- The word slipped through a couple of times, but the early years of BIONICLE mostly used "destroy" and "defeat". This changed later years, however. Its replacement, Hero Factory, being much Lighter and Softer, seems to play the trope straight again, though even it seems to be veering away from this slowly. The German release of the third BIONICLE Direct-To-DVD movie cut the bit when Roodaka expresses her need for the corpses of the Toa, even though it's the whole point of the rest of the scene, and the first movie's German said die.
- In Halo, Spartans in-universe are persistently rumored to be immortal as a form of psychological warfare against the Covenant, and to boost morale in the UNSC. Thus, even when they really do die, they are never listed as "KIA", only "MIA" or "WIA".
- In Soul Blazer for SNES, the characters repeatedly say people "passed away".
- In Dynasty Warriors, there are "KO counts" instead of kill counts.
- In both Dynasty Warriors and sister series Samurai Warriors (and, by extension, the mash up series Warriors Orochi), this can be appropriate as many defeated characters are explicitly NOT killed and instead forced into retreat.
- The US version of Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage changed the KO count to "Kills", since claiming someone who just burst into bloody giblets or was sliced into confetti is only KOd is REALLY stretching the definition. The achievement icons involving a large number of kills were left unchanged and still read "KO" though.
- An egregious if little known example is Dragon Ball Z Legendary Super Warriors on the Gameboy Color. It appears that at some point the translators did a find/replace on the words 'die', 'died', 'death', 'kill' and 'killed' and switched them all for 'lost', regardless of sentence structure. So while things like "I can't believe Piccollo lost!" make sense, more or less, you also get dialogue like "Lost, Vegeta! Lost!", "The entire planet will lost!", and "I guess you DO want to lost!"
- Final Fantasy:
- The English translation of Final Fantasy VI was forced to avoid explicit mention of death. One dungeon is the tomb of Setzer's girlfriend, Daryl. In a flashback she states that Setzer can have her airship, the Falcon, if "anything happens to her". You even get to see Rachel's preserved corpse, and hear the story of her death, but again, no d-word. The suicide attempt scene especially, has any mention or notion of suicide removed. An exception occurs after Kefka gives Celes a sword on the Floating Continent, as he tells her: "Kill the others and we'll forgive your treachery! Take this sword! Kill them all!"
- Final Fantasy XI's flavor of blue magic involves "absorbing the essences" of foes who use the proper moves.
- Final Fantasy IV is a pretty egregious example, being bound by the same prohibition of d- and k-words.
- Most games would also avoid using words related to death early in the series when it came to your party's status after their HP hits zero, using words like Swoon, Disabled, Stun, etc. Final Fantasy VII referred to knocked out characters as Dead. However, using Dead led to confusion when one of your party members was killed off due to the plot and people wondered why a Phoenix Down wasn't used to bring them back to life. The series then use KO (knocked out) to describe defeated party members, dipping back into the trope.
- The words "death", "dead" etc. were formally banned from all Nintendo games for many years as part of their policy for family-friendly content, back in the early days. Abandoned in later years, of course, though The Legend of Zelda series in particular still insists on describing enemies as being "defeated" after you slice the hell out of them. One of the bosses in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening even lampshade this. He sends a variety of minions at you, and after you're finished with them, he yells "You K-K-K-Beat my Brothers!!!" Ironically, two of Nintendo's own titles got away with it in the SNES era. F-Zero got to keep its Death Wind courses, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past retained Death Mountain even in the American version. Some third-party games for the NES and SNES, like Friday the 13th, do use the D and K words.
Join me Link, and I will make your face the greatest in Koradi, or else you will DIE
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles don't die, they "get caught". Justified at least in the NES version since they DO get caught if defeated and can be found tied up in a chair and rescued in later levels.
- The SNES port of Flashback renamed the Death Tower the Cyber Tower.
- City of Heroes uses the ambiguous "arrest" or "defeat" to let the players decide whether their heroes use lethal force or not. This is subject to much Lampshade Hanging in fan works and sometimes the game itself. Yes, you can "arrest" people with a katana or giant lightning bolts, apparently.
- The manager of the Monkey Fight Club insists "The monkeys ain't kilt! That's de-feat-ed!"
- The developers seem to have become more lenient over the years, though - there are obvious instances of characters outright dying, and plenty more where it's left easy to assume. Although there is one character that some players seem to wish had died in the first appearance, considering the result when they returned.
- City of Villains uses this more classically a lot of the time, even when contacts are telling you to use lethal force. You are, after all, a Villain Protagonist.
- More specifically, all the game's system messages ever say is "defeated." What "defeated" means is subject to context if the particular story involving the "defeat" chooses to elaborate. Some elaborations involve capture and interrogation, some involve death and killing, and some involve the defeated character "teleporting away." There is no default stance given to what a generic "defeat" should mean, however.
- Parodied with a generic activist who describes War Witch (a ghost) as "breathing-challenged".
- Megaman Battle Network: Killerman.EXE, a shinigami-styled assassin Navi, cries, "Jigoku ni ochi na!" ("Fall into hell!") as he buries his scythe in his victims. The English adaptation switched this to whispering "Sweet dreams" in the victim's ear. Hell, the guy himself is an example; the translation changed his name to "EraseMan" (with his chips still in the "k" code). Yeah, we're buying that.
- The man who created Pokémon, Satoshi Tajiri, wanted his series to focus on the collecting potential of the Game Boy's Link Cable, instead of the violent nature of many an RPG, hence why the Monsters don't die in battle, only faint. That didn't stop Team Rocket from murdering Marowak in the original games, even in the English versions. Your Rival even points out this difference when you fight him in Pokemon Tower.
TIME: Still, American kids like Pokémon, even without the blood.
Tajiri: I was really careful in making monsters faint rather than die. I think that young people playing games have an abnormal concept about dying. They start to lose and say, "I'm dying." It's not right for kids to think about a concept of death that way. They need to treat death with more respect.
- Mega Man Star Force never uses the verb, neither to humans nor to aliens. They also never use destroy, but some really poetic terms ("not among us anymore" or "he/she is in Heaven") or the sentence is never completed ("If you keep doing this, she will..."). In a part of the game, "die" is replaced by "hurt", creating this very stupid dialogue:
Geo: "W-W-W-Wait a sec!! If you do that, you'll hurt the other guys, too!"
Mega: "Then what do you suggest? Leave them be and let them cause an (car) accident and get hurt that way?"
- In the third game the translators really had no choice, as such a high number of characters die, though mostly not permanently, yet they still danced with euphemisms quite a bit. When Ace dies, "kill" and "die" are used freely, repeatedly in the mourning dialogue. When Luna dies though, it's Never Say "Die" to the rescue.
- X-Men Legends II turns all villains defeated (except for the giant bugs, which splatter) into a Non-Lethal K.O., which isn't always plausible (tossing someone into lava, for example.) Discussion of death isn't toned down, though. This is the Marvel Universe. It is a physical impossibility for a person to stay dead there, so it's not as lunatic as it might first seem.
- The Kingdom Hearts series uses this trope oddly. When in Disney worlds, the words "kill" and "death" can be used freely... by everybody EXCEPT the main characters. In the game's "real" storyline though, the words are completely forbidden, often being replaced by "destroyed", "finished", "defeated", and "sent to Oblivion".
- The main exception to this rule was in the handheld Chain of Memories. After battling Riku Replica in the "Reverse//Rebirth" mode (playing as Riku), he talks about his own death as he fades, even asking where his heart will go, or whether it will just disappear. Thanks to that the remake got a 10+ rating (surprisingly, the original GBA game didn't have trouble with that - possibly because that rating didn't exist then). Also, Vexen never actually said die - but Axel probably wasn't doing the game's rating any favors when he cut off "I don't want to [die]" by setting him ablaze. The remake also averts it, with Axel saying "don't you go off and die on me now" before fighting Sora the first time.
- The whole "Never Say Die" thing is even written into the story. Even if the world is consumed by darkness, the people living there don't die. Some of them become summon crystals, while the rest fall dormant until their world is restored. Even the people taken by the Heartless don't really die - when Sora "kills" a Heartless, its heart is cleansed and set free, and can return to its previous owner.
- It gets even worse once it's not clear what the characters are even saying any more. Consider this: In KH2, a major subplot is Sora trying to find Riku. He knows he's alive about 3/4s of the way through the game, but then the evidence dries up. Near the end, he fights with a vision of Roxas, who tells him he "defeated" Riku. Once the fight's over, this sends Sora almost into a paranoid attack. But wait: that was just a vision, and Roxas hasn't existed for most of the game. That means he can't possibly be using "defeated" to mean "killed" since Riku is still alive after that and even the player knows it. That means, in the Kingdom Hearts world, "defeated" isn't censorship, but worse: the word actually does mean both "killed" AND "defeated", and no can ever figure out which you mean without an explanation.
- Before one of his boss battles, Axel claims he'll "make it all stop". Larxene occasionally tells Sora to "Vanish!" during her boss battles. When Xemnas merges with Kingdom Hearts, he ask for the power to "erase" Sora and his friends.
- After saying that Axel's betrayal ruined her and Marluxia's plans, Larxene tells Sora, "Now, I'm left with no choice but to eliminate you!" when she's pretty clearly intending to kill him.
- One of Saix's lines during battle averts this trope, however, as he says "I want to see you die fighting.", though the line was supposedly removed in the actual release.
- Vexen averts it after his first fight with Sora: "As I expected, you weren't one to die very easily!"
- The English version of Birth by Sleep actually uses the word on a semi-frequent basis, even when the usage of "die" and threats of murder could have easily replaced with something less hostile without it even sounding the least bit odd. Then again, it is a prequel that takes place before the Heartless were unleashed. The concept of death was likely much simpler before you could return to your normal self by having someone wielding a magic key kill your monster self. There are some instances where euphemisms are used, such as Aqua commenting on how Master Eraqus had been "struck down" and Ven asking his friends to "put an end" to him, though given the circumstances, it could be that the characters themselves (rather than the censors) want to avoid using the actual words.
- The first English localization of ActRaiser did this to the extreme. In a very obviously god simulation with world-changing whims and angels who report to you, the localization tried hard to completely erase all notions of this in the text. God became "Master", temples became "shrines", prophets/seers became "fortune tellers", and other thoroughly unconvincing euphemisms. The game itself, though, was one of the best god sims of its time, and remained this good in English, the transparent Executive Meddling notwithstanding.
- In the NES version of Dragon Quest IV. Psaro/Saro's nickname Death Pizzaro/Psaro the Manslayer is rendered as Necrosaro.
- Nobody dies in Kingdom of Loathing, they just get 'Beaten Up', a condition that lasts 3-4 gameplay turns. You can assume NPC's also suffer the same fate, since the end of combat is usually described as simply, "You win the fight!" But if the combat ends on a Disco Bandit's face stabbing combos, a "FATALITY!" is announced.
- Oddly inverted in the Kirby Super Star sub-game "The Revenge of Meta Knight"—Meta Knight clearly says "Prepare to Die!" before dueling Kirby, yet in the Video Game Remake, he says "Prepare to meet your doom!"
- Played for laughs in Super Paper Mario. Death is replaced by "game over" and kill by "end the game" (or, in one instance, "send to the next world"). And getting resurrected by Jaydes is called a "continue". The game, as well as the whole Paper Mario series, does not always play this straight, since Wracktail says "death" when Mario meets him. Peach also averts this near the end of the game in a very serious moment. Also, the first Paper Mario has Mario being accused of being a murderer.
- The kings of the Floro Sapiens, a race of plants, never die. They just "wilt".
- In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, seemingly every use of "die" or any of its derivative forms is replaced with "KO". Vaguely lampshaded at one point, where Exposition Fairy Starlow asks an enemy character if they've got a "KO wish". "Dying" is also substituted as "passing out".
- Played for laughs in Mario Super Sluggers, where a Magikoopa who Bowser charged with guarding a lighthouse confuses sayings each time you challenge it. (For example "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man angry and hungry for pies."). If you fail his challenge and talk to him he'll attempt to use the expressions "Never say die" and "live and let die" only replacing the word 'die' with 'bye.' When a Lakitu attempts to correct him, he interrupts the correction and the challenge begins.
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii's instruction manual quite glaringly refers to "blunder" and "make a mistake" rather than death. It still says you "lose a life" though.
- Super Mario Galaxy: "She's- She's- She's sleeping under the tree on top of the hill!" (Justified seeing as how Rosalina, still being a child, didn't quite understand the concept of death)
- Also, before you even fight him, Bowser will actually say "I'm gonna smash you to space bits!"
- Mario Party series with its "Dice Block".
- In the Mother series, defeating enemies will render them to "become tame", "stop moving", "return to normal", "disappear", or "be defeated". Justification occurs though that some things such as moving records, lamps, and street signs would "stop moving" and return to normal, non-animated/living objects.
- Furthermore, the official translation of EarthBound removes all references to death from the in-game dialogues (see here or here for examples.)
- In Star Wars Battlefront II, the text bar that records important actions says "killed" or "died" for when an ordinary soldier is killed and "defeated" or "fled" for heroes. Though the all-heroes battle (Mos Eisley Assault) treats heroes like normal characters.
- Metal Gear: Ghost Babel for GBC. This is a game about terrorists trying to start a nuclear war. It contains a scene where a minor character is killed out of the blue by exploding handcuffs. It contains another where the Big Bad graphically discusses a rape-murder and avoids those specific words. Also, a character on Snake's support team who turned out to be a traitor is described as "having a bullet put through his head" during the ending cutscene. And Snake's cigarettes were replaced with a cigarette-shaped smoke-emitting device known as the "Fogger".
- The French version of Tales of Symphonia is a funny example of this when you understand English, because while the text is in French, the voice acting is still in English. So you hear "killed" and read "destroyed/eliminated/disposed of/badly hurt". They toned down some of the stuff Zelos says, too...
- In Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean MMORPG, you are asked to "defeat" a certain type of enemy, even if "defeating" means whacking them with a cutlass, shooting them, throwing grenades at them, or what have you.
- And now it's gotten worse: Sonic Colors manual refers to "losing a try." The earliest Sonic games referred to Lives as Chances, though, so this may be a case of returning to its roots.
- The Sonic Advance manual referred to lives as "tries" as well. For example: "Gain an extra try".
- All references to House of the Dead in Sega Superstars Tennis and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing are labelled "Curien Mansion" or acronymed as "HOTD". This is for three reasons: A) Sumo Digital aimed for the games to be as family-friendly as possiblenote , B) the House of the Dead series is banned in Germany, the application of this trope here serving as a form of sneaking past German censors, and C) They do not want to mention the name of an M-rated series in an E10+ game (however, they seem perfectly fine with mentioning T-rated franchises).
- The SNES port of Art of Fighting replaced the "Super Death Blow" (actually a literal translation of "Chou Hissatsu Waza", the Japanese term for Super Moves) with a "Super Fire Blow".
- The heavily bowdlerized SNES port of Mortal Kombat, aside for removing all the blood and gore from the arcade game, renamed the game's "Fatalities" into "Finishing Moves", with at least three of the characters' original Fatalities being replaced by so-called "new moves". However, variations of some of them did end up in newer games, like Sub-Zero's freeze-and-shatter.
- Some of the early Romance of the Three Kingdoms games on SNES(/PSX?). Whenever you captured an opposing officer in battle, you were offered the chance to "Hire/Recruit" them, release them, or "Capture" them. Judging by the fact that, once you "capture" them, they never show up in that particular playthrough again, it's fairly easy to decipher what happened.
- The later games (PS2-era on) definitely avert this trope, replacing the word "Capture" with "Execute" - complete with death quotes (usually pleas for mercy) and the telltale sound of a sword being unsheathed. Although it's usually a good idea to hire them first if they're skilled - then to check to see if they've got a large family. Executing someone with the family name Sun will make your life very difficult later.
- Countless instruction cards for early video games referred to vanquished player characters as "becoming tired" or similar; a big offender when you actually saw Pac-Man dissolve to nothing and *pop* as the ghost ate him.
- The manual for the Action Man game on Game Boy Color makes a big deal about the fact that all the enemies are robots and that your weapons are anti-robot only.
- In Ripto's Rage in one level you have to kill a Yeti, and while the character talking clearly says "Even though I am a vegetarian, I think you should kill that Yeti," in the subtitles, the game replaces "kill" with "torch".
- The 1992 Sega Genesis fighting game Deadly Moves (originally called Power Athlete in Japan), was retitled Power Moves when it was ported to the Super NES. It became Hilarious in Hindsight when Nintendo later published a certain game called Killer Instinct.
- Played with in the Touhou manga "Strange and Bright Nature Deity"; according to canon, fairies instantly resurrect when killed. So it has the three protagonist-fairies regarding a tree which has been split in half by lightning, worried about the fairies that lived there. "They must have been ...!" Cut to a dazed-looking fairy floating along in the breeze. "Yeah, that must be them over there. They'll probably be out of commission for a while."
- Strangely inverted in Snoopy Flying Ace. As it is a Peanuts game, pilots whose planes are destroyed, no matter how violently, make it out alive and can be seen parachuting down safely. However, the game itself still refers to bringing other planes down and getting shot down yourself/crashing as "Kills" and "Deaths".
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban's GBA version, defeating an enemy results in the following quote: "(enemy) went away!", and the results screen says "The fleeing enemy dropped". Odd for a series that deals heavily with death.
- The early PC games describe in-game dying as "fainting". So when Harry falls down a Bottomless Pit, that caused him to "faint". At the same time, it's no problem when the storyline is discussed in cutscenes. Well, it would be rather hard to pretend Moaning Myrtle became a ghost as a result of "fainting", wouldn't it? However, the second game did censor the word "Muggle" (apparently someone decided that racial slurs still count even if they're Fantastic), changing it to "non-magical" or "non-magical folk". When the characters have to refer to Muggle-borns, it becomes especially awkward: "Those who are not wizard born will be purged from Hogwarts."
- Played straight in The World Ends with You, with the constant repetitions of "failure" in the Game leading to "erasure." Up until The Reveal, anyway. Erasure isn't a stand-in for death - you're already dead.
- In DC Universe Online, when you die you are "knocked out". The game also usually refers to killing mobs for quests as "destroying" or "knocking out".
- The first Freddi Fish game very strangely averts this trope, though all of Humongous Entertainment's other games try to avoid using this trope. In the Junior Arcades, the manuals would never call it "death" if you lost a try.
- Strangely played straight in Demons Souls and Dark Souls. The message that pops up after you successfully kill the world's host during an invasion is always "Target is Destroyed" instead of say, "Target Killed". Even when Dark Souls' patch changes some of the other status message, only that particular one is unchanged. It might be because in Dark Souls nearly everyone is already undead.
- R. Scott Campbell of Interplay tells this story of how a SNES game based on The Lord of the Rings was originally rejected. Nintendo would not let them include the line "Nine for mortal men doomed to die". They seriously considered changing it to "Nine mortal men doomed to cry".
- Downplayed in the Monster Hunter games. Most of the missions involve "hunting" large monsters, which effectively means they have to be killed. But the word "kill" does appear when the mission involves an ancient dragon, and it's also used to warn that a mission will fail if the point is to capture the monster alive.
- Fur Fighters: "You fluffed it."
- While A Witchs Tale generally averts this, defeated monsters are crushed into bits rather than killed.
- A Bonus Stage episode in which Joel learns, from the book Do-It-Yourself Standards & Practices, how to retool the show for a child audience, we hear this exchange (words in brackets being obviously dubbed):
Phil: Wh—... what just happened?
Joel: It's been a week, dude. You came back from the [hurt] after I [destroyed] you and sent you to [Hades]. That stuff was, uh, cut... for, uh... time.
- One of the oddities of language in Erfworld is the use of "croaked" instead of "dead" or "killed" (and "uncroaked" instead of "undead"). However, this is clearly done by the characters and not the author, because Parson does refer to it as death and takes note of how completely inappropriate death seems in this otherwise cute and cuddly setting.
- Death is depicted throughout Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and the Planeteers and other characters tell it like it is, especially when it comes to how pollution kill wildlife. The death of Boris, Linka's cousin, from a drug overdose is clearly depicted in the episode "Mind Pollution". However, while the villains attempt to kill the Planeteers and other characters, perhaps in the most brutal ways by kids cartoon standards, almost never say to "kill them", finding other words to use instead.
- An episode has the Warners escaping from a boring man, exclaiming "Free at last, free at last, thank G-" at which point they are cut off by the man reappearing.
- Another episode featured Slappy Squirrel guarding the apple in the Garden of Eden. She claims she was given the job by "Mr. Big".
- In the first Rita and Runt cartoon, where the two are in the pound. Rita says "Ah what difference does it make, soon we'll be sleeping the 'big sleep'." Runt states that he could use a nap, to which Rita snaps "They're gonna gas us you buffoon. We'll be dead!"
- Parodied (and also a great comment on Disney's "for kids" movies) in one of the funniest Slappy the Squirel shorts "Bumbie's Mom" where Slappy and Skippy see "Bumbie" and Skippy freaks out when Bumbie's mom is shot and killed. Throughout the entire episode Slappy tries to explain that no one dies in cartoons and that Bumbie's mom is alive. Skippy continuously replies "Bumbie's mom, she's...huuuuuuhuhuhoohoohoohoo!" Slappy finally takes Skippy to see the "actor" that played Bumbie's mom and he feels better...then on the plane ride back they show "Old Yellow" and Skippy starts crying when they shoot Old Yellow the dog. Slappy then just says "Ah, fade out already!"
- One high-risk episode has the Warners visiting Hell and annoying the devil. When it does come up, Hell is called "Hades." Though the Devil does outright refer to himself as "Satan", and Wakko even tests out the "snowball's chance in Hell" metaphor.
- "Meatballs or Consequences" is an odd one. It was supposed to be called "Death or Consequences", but Executive Meddling forced the change. Still, the words "death", "die" and "dead" are used throughout the episode (along with a euphemism: "living-impaired").
- A very strange example in the Slappy Squirrel short "Critical Condition." The stand-ins for Siskel & Ebert are reviewing a Looney Tunes laserdisc collection, among which is included What's Opera, Doc? Elmer Fudd's classic cry of "Kill da wabbit!" is shown, but as the critics are hysterically quoting the cartoons, they say "Capture the wabbit."
- G.I. Joe is infamous for having characters always parachute out after enemy aircraft are shot down, even from helicopters. A writer on the series has noted that the closest they could come to death was mentioning "casualties."
- Another infamous example is in G.I. Joe: The Movie, where Duke is mortally wounded by Serpentor. He was originally supposed to die (and taking the scene at face value, he does). But when the Executives found out about it, they decided to try it out in Transformers: The Movie. After the reaction to Optimus Prime's death, however, they backpedaled and made them insert dialogue about Duke only being in a coma, and a line about him recovering at the end. The theme song that appears in the movie actually says that the Joes "Never Say Die". Mind you, they don't have to, because nobody ever does.
- Averted in the Darker and Edgier/Bloodier and Gorier G.I. Joe: Resolute, where right off the bat we not only see two major characters die, but see their bodies.
- G.I. Joe: Renegades plays with this though, having numerous deaths (off-camera), but still managing to avoid the "d-word" itself, even when the Joes are eulogizing a fallen comrade.
- Kim Possible: Villains sometimes talk about "destroying" or "eliminating" Kim.
- Teen Titans
- Every synonym in the book was used in the second season finale episode "Aftershock", which felt especially awkward with the dark dialog and tone the episode set.
- The Big Bad in the series was only ever referred to as Slade; in the comics he's Deathstroke the Terminator. (It doesn't sound too out of place in the show; "Slade", without the "Wilson" sounds like just another codename.) "Killer Moth" and "Brother Blood" were kept, but the production crew had to fight for them.
- In season four finale "The End". Slade saying "I don't even expect you to live" is probably the closest the series ever came to an aversion of this trope. But he's not even able to directly address his own currently undead state, when his mask is knocked off to reveal a skeletal face. To be fair, he does mention that Terra's betrayal should have led to his 'demise'.
- Averted in "The Sum Of His Parts". Granted, Cyborg was talking about his batteries dying but he did say die and Starfire thought he meant actual dying. Also, his suit is life support, so wouldn't his batteries dying kill him?
- The effect this had on the show really varied a lot. Most of the euphemisms worked coming from Slade, because it fit with his Creepy Monotone and general clinical cruelty. In the abovementioned Terra scenes in "Aftershock", however, the dialogue felt jarringly Narmful precisely because the episode was so intense- nobody would use a euphemism in that situation! Unless, of course, Slade could continue to control Terra's lifeless corpse through the suit, so they would have to do more than kill her, they'd have to properly "destroy" her entire body...
- Teen Titans Go! on the other hand, given its comedic nature...
Trigon: (To Raven) I'm so proud. The only thing left to do is kill all your friends.
Starfire: (Cheerfully) Kill us! Kill us! You can, like, totally do it!
- Various examples in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, known for its particularly heavy censorship. Semper had to have Mary Jane and the Green Goblin fall through an interdimensional portal instead of to their deaths. It is stated that The Punisher's family, rather than being gunned down, was simply "caught in a crossfire between rival gangs," and the same applied to the wife of the Destroyer. Uncle Ben simply "tried to stop the burglar that broke into his house, but the burglar was armed." At one point, when the Goblin returns after seemingly perishing, Spider-Man says, "You?! But I thought you were—" and the Goblin cuts him off with, "I'm not... but you'll soon be!"
- The Punisher when appearing on the show was said to use "lethal force", but the words "death" and "kill" never appeared. He's also eventually talked into using non-lethal weaponry pretty quickly by his sidekick.
- Morbius the Living Vampire drank "plasma", not blood (he was also modified to use suckers in his hands rather than biting people). (But in the Swedish dub, it was "blood plasma", so he was sucking blood through suckers in his hands.)
- Interestingly enough, Venom constantly commenting to Spidey on how "We will destroy you" didn't lose any of its effectiveness, most likely due to the manner in which he delivered it. He eventually became a very popular character in the show despite his few appearances. It's still effective because it might actually be accurate. Venom hates Spider-Man to the point that simply killing him would never be enough. He wants Spider-Man alone, friendless, and broken before he dies. It also worked because Eddie Brock blamed Peter Parker and Spider-Man for destroying his career and making him a laughingstock. Finding out they were the same person drove Eddie to want to do the same to Peter, at one point he hangs an unmasked Peter over the side of building so that the press might catch a glimpse of his face, but ultimately pulls Peter back before the press can get a clear shot.
- The worst example, though, was Carnage, a particularly brutal serial killer who became popular in the comics as part of the Darker and Edgier late '80s/early '90s. It's stated that he was a vicious criminal before becoming super-powered, but the word "killer" is never used. After becoming super-powered, he is recruited by the alien-god-thing Dormammu to drain the life force from people to power him up, bringing him into this world. Draining people only leaves them near death, and naturally, when he's defeated, all this life energy is returned.
- Interestingly, The Spectacular Spider-Man has actually had fewer death references than the 90s series, and no deaths (other than backstory ones) thus far. However, there's less Bowdlerising in other areas. The 90s series wasn't even a little bit shy about the Death by Origin Story, and also had the clone Mary Jane and Hydro-Man die (a Tear Jerker of a scene, actually) as well as the real Mysterio (by choosing to stay behind in the Collapsing Lair with his lover, who deliberately initiated the collapse because, to her, death was preferable to remaining disfigured. Double suicide in a kids' show. Later, Mysterio was referred to as "no longer with us" - avoidance of the word, but a reminder of a censor-unfriendly moment you'd think Fox Kids would want swept under the rug.) It contained far more deaths than some shows that were braver when it came to using the D-word.
- Sometimes the aversion of the word death would take the dialogue into serious Narm territory. In the episode "Return of Hydro-Man Part 2" Mary Jane says, with all seriousness, "I just can't shake the feeling that when we find out what's wrong with me, it's going to lead to my destruction!" Serious intents or not, try saying that out loud and see what kind of reaction you get. This Mary Jane was later revealed to be a clone, and did indeed die shortly later..
- Not only did TSSM avert this, but they sometimes used even more colorful language concerning death. For example...
Doc Ock (holding up a captured Spider-Man): Rhino, you won the coin toss. Will you crush his skull or simply impale his heart on your horn?
- As well as
Green Goblin: Any minute now the creme de la creme of New York City is going to paint the town red! (low, ominous voice) Well the ballroom anyway...
- Ultimate Spider-Man flip-flops on this. Some episodes do use "die" and "kill," but others don't. The most egregious example would be the episode where White Tiger tries to take revenge on Kraven, the man who killed her father. Awkward attempts to dance around the subject like "You destroyed my father!" and "He took my father's life!" are used, and Spidey even notes that Nick Fury and Phil Coulson refuse to talk about what happened to White Tiger's dad.
- The Deadpool episode parodies this as Deadpool cannot say "the k-word" (though Spider-Man makes it very clear that he can at least) and prefers the term "unaliving" his enemies.
- "Game Over" plays it 100 percent straight. Arcade's Murderworld is changed to "Madland".
- During the "Spider-Verse" storyline, when Peter drops in on Miles Morales, Miles sputters and stammers "death", "dead", "killed" and others, though this is mostly because he's looking at Peter, who should be dead in his universe.
- The 1981 Spider-Man series, while only referring to Uncle Ben's death as a "fatal accident", also had a flashback to Spider-Man confronting the burglar who shot Ben and Spidey calling him a "murderer".
- The 1967 Spider-Man series get away with this, despite this being, well, the late sixties, including, among other things, the word "hell" being spoken, plenty of references to death, and even someone being instructed to shoot to kill. Uncle Ben was indeed murdered, and Spidey, in his own words, laments that "in a sense, it's really I who killed him." In a way, this show was more progressive about this trope than its successors. Of course, this is the same show that also included quite a few sexist or racist characters by today's standards.
- In the Silver Surfer animated series, Thanos is the primary antagonist. In the comics, Thanos has a crush on (the embodiment of) Death, a plot which carries over into the show. Death, however, is called "Lady Chaos" for television purposes.
- Partial aversion: X-Men plays this trope as straight-as-can-be throughout (especially in the second episode) but got to play with quite tellingly in the first appearance of the Juggernaut. He is crushed under rubble and Jubilee cries out, with unmistakable delight, "You killed him!". Of course, Jugs is just fine, revealing that the word can be used if it doesn't actually refer to someone dying.
- Beast even once said "Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and..." in a manner very reminiscent of the Spider-Man series). Also, the series certainly broke some rules with Nightcrawler's introductory episode, in which the character would repeatedly refer to God by name and give deep, meaningful testimonies in regards to His works (ironically, Fox execs said they HAD to... lest people think Nightcrawler was a devil). In the "Phalanx Covenant" two-parter (well into the more heavily-censored part of the series), Magneto was even allowed to say "Thank God!"
- ...and Beast once got to refer to hell - as in, the really hot place that's the reason the word is controversial - by name at another point!
- Which is weird, considering that the Hellfire Club's name was changed to the "Inner Circle Club"... this grand tradition has also apparently been carried on in Wolverine and the X-Men. That said, Wolverine and the X-Men did avert the rule of never saying "die", "kill", or "killed".
- Overall it wildly varies, villains often say "destroy them!", but Bishop regularly uses the words "die" or "killed" in the "Days of Future Past" two parter, and Magneto also uses the word "die" in the Season 1 finale. It seems there was a limit on how often they could say die or kill, but not a ban.
- In the Bratz DVD "Genie Magic", Cloe (one of the 4 Bratz) is annoyed at two of the regular boys for scaring the girls during a slumber party and says, "I wish you would croak." Their new friend turns out to be a genie, and a Literal Genie at that, as she turns the boys into frogs. One of the other girls gets cut off while explaining what Cloe really meant.
- Rugrats unabashedly used the word "dead" in the episode when Chuckie's pet potato bug died — of course, the babies' grasp of death is only that it's "when you sleep for a long time... like forever." — but eventually shied away from it. For example, in the Passover special, the 10th plague on Egypt is called "taking away the first born" (and in any event, Pharaoh Angelina gets scared and frees the slaves before it happens).
- This is most painfully evident in the "Mother's Day Special", where the fate of Chuckie's mom is strongly hinted at, but never said outright. (Didi just about says it at one point, but Chaz cuts her off; later, when talking to Chuckie, he nervously mentions his mom being "in the hospital.") Her grave is seen in a later episode.
- The Spin Off All Grown Up! apparently had no qualms about saying the d-word, albeit not in the sense of literally dying. For example, one ep has Angelica say "I wouldn't be caught dead at her stupid party"... and then react to finding out that Tommy caught her saying that on tape, "Tommy Pickles is a dead man." (The same episode also has an instance of the k-word, of course, not in the sense of actual killing: "I'll kill you off in this movie, and bring you back as the alien robot in the sequel.")
- As far as other Nicktoons go...
- Played straight in "Doug's Christmas Story". Porckchop bit Beebe's leg (he was trying to save her from falling through thin ice) and is blamed for attacking her. He is sent to the pound and isolated in the Very Very Bad Dogs section. The Bluffs press charges and if he's not proven innocent, will be put to sleep. When Doug tries to get people to sign a petition about how Porkchop is a good dog, one woman says that Christmas is not the time for this and he should wait until after the holidays; Doug tells her it will be too late by then. The closest the episode comes though is when Doug remembers past Christmases with Porckchop and then saying, "But this Christmas..." with an image of Doug looking at Porkchop's tombstone in the rain.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show averted this as early as its pilot episode, "Big House Blues". When one of their inmates is carried off to be euthanized, Stimpy asks Ren what the "big sleep is". Ren responds with "HE'S DEAD!!! DEAD, YOU IDIOT!!! YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT DEAD IS?" The show even averts Nobody Can Die, as Ren and Stimpy die at the end of many of their episodes (although Snap Back and Negative Continuity cancel it out each time). "Terminal Stimpy" is even about Stimpy being on his last life and learning how to accept death.
- Rocko's Modern Life also averts this in the episode where Rocko and Heffer take care of Filburt's pet bird. When Heffer sits on it, it dies. Rocko's response is "He's dead. We've killed him. We've killed Filburt's bird." This was also averted in many other episodes, such as when Heffer went "To Heck and Back."
- Spongebob Squarepants averts this time and again. There's even an episode called "Dying For Pie."
- Subverted with the episode where they believe they've killed Squidward.
I don't know how to tell you this, Pat, but Squidward...he's...he's pushing up daisies
- Played straight for the sake of humor in "Bubble Buddy" where the "has to GO" variation is used. Spongebob mistakes this for a euphemism for going the bathroom.
- Invader Zim plays Nobody Can Die straight often, as seen with Keef in "Bestest Friend", Iggins in "Game Slave II", and the various people crushed on-screen in "Hamstergeddon". However, the show will avert this trope as often is it plays it straight. For example, in "Hobo 13":
* upon seeing Invader Skooge
* Skooge?! But I thought The Tallest killed you!
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has a weird relation with this trope: it mostly averts it, both in humorous and serious dialogue, but sometimes (especially in season 3) it would play it straight. Some defend that the times the word is not used is justified, since the characters who go for euphemisms wouldn't want to use the actual words, but there are occasions a little harder to justify ("The Southern Raiders" had a nigh complete avoidance of explicitly using the word, even though the episode's entire plot is about killing a person to get revenge for another person's murder).
- As far as "The Southern Raiders" goes, that's probably why. They could use the words in episodes where death wasn't the main focus, or when it was a villain attempting the killing, but an entire episode about a teenage girl main character setting out to kill a man for revenge? That's not something a parent can cover the kid's ears for, or justify by pointing out that it's a bad guy committing the violence. Not to mention that they probably had to give up something in exchange for the infamous tent scene.
- Lampshaded quite hilariously in "The Ember Island Players" where the characters watch an abridged series of their own show performed by actors on stage. It includes the lines "Did Jet just die?" followed by "You know, it was really unclear." Jet being a character who did die earlier in the show in a manner ambiguous enough to make it seem like he might not have. To drive the point home harder when giving a recap of off screen play moments Sokka mentions how he thinks Combustion Man died.
- Averted in the Grand Finale. When Aang is missing, the Gaang turn to a bounty hunter, June, and her shirshu to find him, because shirshu have excellent senses of smell and can track someone from across the world, if given something belonging to that person. They give her Aang's glider, and the shirshu gets the scent, but then just walks around in a circle before laying down, having failed to find where it came from. June explains that if the shirshu can't track him, then he doesn't exist. Sokka asks her if she means that Aang is dead, and she replies that no, he's not. The shirshu could find him if he was dead. When she said nonexistant, she meant disappeared off the face of the world.
- The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, while generally not shying away from mature themes (and even explicitly showing two onscreen deaths in the 1st season finale!), still didn't use the actual word very often. Lin Beifong makes use of the ever-popular "toast" at least twice, while Amon's use of the phrase "untimely demise" when referring to Korra actually makes it hard to tell whether he's talking about killing or de-bending her. Furthermore, when the Equalist biplanes showed up in the two-part finale, virtually every single instance of one being shot down or crashing showed the pilots successfully bailing out and parachuting to safety in an almost GI Joe-like fashion, save for one or two exceptions.
- It is notable that in the series, they use debending as a metaphor for death. This allows them to get away with probably the closest thing to the Holocaust ever shown on children's programming. Plus, if you're going to get away with the villains going out in a Murder-Suicide, you're going need to make all the sacrifices you can get.
- In season 3's "Long Live the Queen," Zaheer commits regicide by bending the air out of the Earth Queen's lungs. Though the scene itself is very graphic (particularly for Nick), even Zaheer's broadcast to Ba Sing Se's citizens uses a number of euphemisms to avoid any mention of "death." The closest anyone comes to saying it is describing the scene as "violent.". Driven to almost parody during Zaheer's final speech to the Queen, taking place while he is literally sucking the air out of her lungs, and suspiciously resembling a Last-Second Word Swap.
You think freedom is something you can give or take on a whim, but to your people, freedom is just as essential as... air. And without it, there is no life. There is only... darkness.
- El Tigre expresses the most common usage of the trope in current American cartoons. While they use the word kill passively, "I was nearly killed," they skirt away whenever it calls for directly: "Are you sure this isn't a part of some sinister plot to destroy me?/She tried to get close to me, to destroy me." Basically you're not generally going to hear the statement, "I kill you" in an American cartoon today.
- Making Fiends is all about a psychopathic little girl named Vendetta who creates demons and wants to kill another girl because she doesn't fear Vendetta and unwittingly thinks she's her best friend. Yet Vendetta almost always says "destroy" instead of kill. Being that she likes to be vague with her statements and has slightly broken English, she may be invoking this, though this trope was subverted in Nickelodeon's version of the fourth webisode when she exclaimed "You should be dead!".
- Subverted in Breadwinners. In the original YouTube pilot, Buhdeuce says "Does this mean we're going to crash and burn and die a fiery death?", while in the remake of the short on Nick.com, he instead says "Does this mean we're going to crash and burn and end up roast meat?"
- The World of David the Gnome did have a final episode where the gnome couple "pass over" in an enchanted meadow, but has only been shown one time on Nickelodeon.
- The Little Prince had one episode jump through several hoops to avoid even considering the apparent death of a old man's pet bear, even though the man is clearly praying before the bear's grave in one scene. As this cartoon is from abroad the American edition has to hurriedly throw together awkward dialogue and editing in order to "resurrect" the little bear by the end.
- While the cast of Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light would do the whole "destroy" thing, they interestingly also commonly used the word "slay", which - given the neo-medieval basis of the story - is fairly appropriate.
- The Powerpuff Girls played this trope straight even to cockroaches, which are not killed but "squished, smashed, stepped-on," etc. In the same episode, a cockroach-based villain is thrown from his cockroach mecha to splat on the pavement below...
Blossom: Oh noooo! It's definitely not okay to squish a person!
- Fortunately, it was just a robot.
- In "Ploys R Us", where the Professor sleepwalks and unknowingly steals toys from the toy store for the girls, the mayor and police ambush the professor towards the end, shooting at him with toy guns till he collapses. The girls assume he's dead, but all they can get out is "Now he's... gone!". That is, until the girls find out that the Professor was shot with "fake bullet suction thingies".
- The Brazilian dub of The Movie suffers from this. At one point when the girls are hiding behind a bus from a giant Mojo Jojo, Bubbles whispers "Is he dead?" when Mojo Jojo briefly ceases his attacks. Later, that scene was redubbed and Bubbles' line changed to "Is he finished off?".
- Parodied in an episode of Family Guy where Meg says that her class is performing Death of a Salesman, but because they aren't allowed to say "death", the ending just has everyone dancing around with sparklers.
- From the Inhumanoids Five-Episode Pilot: "If his friends release him, we're ended."
- When the inhumanoids themselves were making threats, they often used language that was downright poetic, such as when Metlar said "You shall dwell in eternal darkness!"
- A sad, sad example would be the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Off Balance," where agents of Talia al-Ghul's Society of Shadows quite clearly each use a gaseous Cyanide Pill—their dead eyes staring into nothingness—and in the very next scene Batman tells Gordon that they'd used the gas "to erase their own minds." Suuure they did.
- This was possibly a bit of a Take That to the censors at Warner Bros. In the DVD commentaries, both Bruce Timm and Paul Dini state that since they were not allowed to kill off any humans, they frequently tried to come up with things that were inherently more disturbing than outright death. In this case, the bad guys essentially lobotomized themselves.
- They took advantage of the times they were allowed to do so indirectly, though; in "Mad Love", for instance, a newspaper headline reads: "Joker still at large; body count rises."
- An example of Tropes Are Tools is the death of the Flying Graysons. They were not allowed to show their fall or death in any way, but that shot of the severed rope swinging back into view is all the more gruesome.
- Likewise with The Joker's laughing gas. Also a certified source of Nightmare Fuel.
- Reportedly, the production staff was able to get around this restriction in the case of the Scarface dummy, which did not qualify as alive; the animators were able to vent their "darker impulses" upon the dummy by destroying it in increasingly grisly ways (i.e., machine-gunning it, chewing it up in a grinder, etc.) in every episode in which it appeared.
- Assassins carrying pills for "erasing their minds" is later brought back up during Batman Beyond. At least they're consistent.
- One of the episodes focuses on a mysterious martial arts technique which translates to "big sleep" or, more specifically, "eternal sleep".
- This was frequently the case in the latter part of Batman Beyond. After freely being able to reference death and get more explicit with violence in the Kids WB! episodes of Batman, the pendulum turned the other way and the creators weren't even allow to so much as imply a revenge-seeking assassin was killing her former associates off-screen (instead she was poisoning them into comas, as referenced above). After the fact the creative team lamented their unintentional overuse of "ice" and "waste" in place of "kill" (changes best displayed in the original and edited versions of the animated feature Return of the Joker.
- In the episode "Rats!", Dana asks Ratboy what happened to the other kids he kidnapped. Before siccing his rats on her, he responds, "They don't make fun of me anymore".
- When discussing the Society of Assassins and Curare, it's asked what happens when one of them fails to take out their target. "She *becomes* the target."
- In The Batman they never said die. Except during Mister Freeze's constant ice puns.
- This was actually averted in some cases, such as Robin's intro episode.
Bruce: The criminal responsible for my parents' death was never brought to justice, Alfred. That's a burden I won't let Dick carry.
- The Legend of Zelda animated series had an interesting one. Something like "One more blast and you'll be de-energized, Ganon!" Though there was one time where Ganon actually was defeated, with the same result as with his minions — he just gets transported into the Evil Jar, and will presumably free himself in the near future to wreak more havoc. On that note, another episode begins with Ganon attacking Hyrule Castle and trying to zap Link into the Evil Jar, though a convoluted series of events makes only his body go there, with his spirit left behind. As Zelda mourns the apparent loss of the hero, Link's spirit remarks "Gee, you'd think I was destroyed or something!" So apparently a fall in combat has different consequences for good and evil.
- In The Fairly OddParents movie, Cosmo and Wanda's newborn son has been kidnapped by H.P. and Anti-Cosmo. Wanda tells them, "If you so much as lay a hand on our baby, I'll destroy both of you!" It did sound a bit forced, but was worth it to hear her threatening to single-handedly murder them.
- However, just like Danny Phantom, Timmy has talked about worrying about dying or getting killed before.
- Danny Phantom enforced this too. Rather oddly considering Avatar: The Last Airbender aired immediately after it on Fridays and was allowed to say kill and death all the time.
- In one episode there was a Shout-Out to Goldfinger with a famous quote slightly altered.
Timmy (as Bond): Do you expect me to let you get away with this?
Vicky (as Goldfinger): No, Mister Twerp; I expect you to CRY!
- On the Garfield and Friends musical episode, "The Man Who Hated Cats", Garfield overhears the titular man singing about a cat he owned when he was young who ran away. He sings, "Foo-Foo had fled/I wished I was..." and starts sobbing.
- A U.S. Acres segment parodying the poem "Casey At the Bat" includes a quip about the fans chanting " 'Kill the Umpire!' long and low/But you cannot kill a person/On a TV cartoon show."
- Winx Club: An S2 episode shies away from explicitly saying that the Trix had killed one of the Specialists Prince Sky, settling for having one of the Winx check for a pulse and say he doesn't have one. The 4Kids dub takes things further, by having the Trix explicitly say a couple times that they've put the Specialist in a 100-year deep sleep (Not That There's Anything Wrong with That, because of what happens next), while strangely still keeping in the pulse bit.
- S4: Ep 24 kills off Nabu, Chekhov's Gift notwithstanding... or does it? When Morgana takes Nabu's body away, she promises to take care of him "until he wakes up". This has lead some of the fans to believe that Nabu is still alive, but in a coma, although the way the other characters act in the last two episodes seem to make it clear that Nabu really is dead.
- The ghost monsters in Pac-Man always talk about how they're going to chomp the eponymous character (this is justified by having them actually bite him whenever they have the opportunity to do so).
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 has a slight variation. "Die" is sometimes said, otherwise replaced with "perish" or "pass away". However, this is rather "Never say kill" as they only use "destroy" or "slay."
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), for a while, didn't use any words referencing death, but "Panic In The Sewers" features Splinter, who is terrified that his sons will meet with the Shredder again after he handed their shells to them, says that the Shredder will not rest until "all of [the Turtles] are dead", and they use the words referring to death somewhat more often (Kraang Prime clearly and bluntly states their intention to kill the Turtles, as does Mutagen Man.).
- 10-year-old WordGirl is never "almost killed," since it's an educational kids show. Still, "Is this the end for WordGirl" is repeated a few times. A villain proclaims "Good-Bye, Word Girl!" as his robot is commanded to "Crush" her. She's almost "Done For," "Finished Off," "and Defeated." And since this is a show about vocabulary, I'm guessing they'll find other ways to carefully explain how she was almost killed.
- In Transformers Generation 1, death words are used frequently, but death happens infrequently (outside the movie, which is nearly a Kill 'em All so new toys can replace the old. The season following the movie didn't kill off any known characters, though one disastrous battle saw the destruction of several ships known to be manned.) Later series use them less, preferring 'scrapped,' 'taken offline,' etc but are more likely to have a death stick. Rattrap's Catch Phrase is a sardonic "we're all gonna die," but when someone's actually believed to be dead, "scrapped" or "destroyed" is much more likely to be used when referring to their condition. However, when it comes to the presence of death, the Beast era takes Anyone Can Die to a higher level than even 24 or Torchwood.
- In "Five Faces of Darkness Part 3", Wheelie shoots down a mook. The mook begs Galvatron to save him, but Galvatron calls him a loser for not being able to Face Death with Dignity. Galvatron doesn't bat an eye as the mook explodes on impact.
- In Transformers Animated "offline" seems to be the primary euphemism for death, but it's still not exactly the same: the series Magnetic Plot Device is still able to bring you back from that.
- "Offline" is also preferred in Beast Machines, which, like Animated, was headed by Marty Isenberg.
- Then it's averted when it comes to a human in the premiere of the third season of Animated, when Prime tells Ratchet to get Sari out of her Superpower Meltdown with his EMP and Ratchet flat out says "...that could kill her!"
- Transformers Prime averts this right from the start (and does so gloriously, killing off Cliffjumper in the first five minutes. Then Megatron brings an army explicitly back from the dead... yeah, it's not going to ever play this straight, thank God. Death words and robot-ier equivalents both see use.
- Averted, shockingly enough in the pre-school series Transformers: Go-Bots - In "Racer-Bot Road Rally", one racer ends up falling of a cliff. He is saved though, prompting the commentator to say this:
Go News Network reporter: Amazing! Aero-Bot saved that rally driver from certain death.
- In an episode of ThunderCats, Lion-O and WilyKit stumble across what is clearly a dead body. WilyKit's reaction... "He's not alive!"
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog plays this trope literally; at one point, when Sonic and Tails are rushing toward a wall, Tails says "It's a dead end!" Sonic replies, "Hey, Sonic the Hedgehog never says dead!" In general, the show tended to avert this, but that was just a really weird incidence.
- In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, M.O.D.O.K., the Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing becomes MODOC, the Mental Organism Designed Only For Chaos (or Conquest. Definitely not Killing, though). Odd, since the series makes no attempt to gloss over Howard Stark's death.
- Justified in ReBoot. Though in the third season and beyond they often would use the words 'kill' and 'death'. For the first two seasons, the reasonable substitute 'deleted' was frequently used in its place.
- The first two seasons used "erased" in place of death (still an appropriate term). The later seasons used "deleted" most of the time but would occasionally use "kill" and "death" when "deleted" wouldn't sound right.
- Lampshaded in Metalocalypse where upon finding out that Pickles is dying, the band insists on using the term "Hamburger Time" when referring to death. Hilarity Ensues.
- The entire Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Gee-whiz" makes fun of this trope. A billboard for a gun show appears to show the face of Gee-whiz in the woodgrain of the gun stock. Frylock plays an informative video from "Standards and Practices" outlining what is and isn't allowed on the show so that Meatwad will understand why Frylock has to say "Gee-whiz." (Although in the end, it's not Gee-whiz, but Ted Nugent.)
- Mostly played straight in Inspector Gadget, except for a few instances such as "A killer piano", "I am offering you a life or death contract", or "When the clock strikes five, guess who won't be alive?".
- The Simpsons
- Parodied when a gangster expresses surprise at seeing disgraced actor Troy McClure, having believed him to be dead because his boss told him he 'sleeps with the fishes.' Turns out it wasn't a euphemism for death, but rather a euphemism for his alleged sexual fetish involving marine life.
- Ned Flanders has shown himself to be reluctant to just come out and tell Marge about Homer's "death" in the season 7 episode, "Mother Simpson"
Ned: Marge, we're here because of Homer's, you know, passing...
Ned: ...Into death...
- Also spoofed in the first act of an early Tracey Ullman Show-era short, "The Funeral." After the parents tell Bart and Lisa that their elderly uncle had passed away, Lisa asks what "passed away" means. Bart, taking sadistic glee in explaining what it means, uses various not-very-appropriate euphemisms such as "kicked the bucket," "pulled the croak chain," "had a meeting with ol' Mr. Grim," etc. When Homer scolds him for it, Bart glumly says, "That he died."
- In Baby Looney Tunes, Granny says her mom "lives a long way away now" in "Mother's Day Madness". Hrm.
- Averted, though, in the Looney Tunes classic "What's Opera, Doc".
- Also averted in The Looney Tunes Show. Perhaps the most notable example is the episode "Muh-Muh-Muh-Murder," in which Daffy thinks Porky Pig is a serial killer and he's his next victim. There was also a scene in "Beauty School," in which Daffy thinks Tina killed her boss and admits he's considered murder to settle his disputes and offers help hiding the body.
- Deliberately averted with Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. Characters openly acknowledge corpses ("New Frontier," "Gift of Life"), fear for their lives ("One Million Emotions"), and make death threats.
- In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, when Rabbit disappears in one of Gopher's many dynamite explosions, the others look all over to see where (if anywhere) he landed and come up empty. Tigger's line: "We're just gonna have to face it. Bunny-Boy's gone." (Turned out he had grabbed onto a tree branch and was still hanging from it.)
- Anytime death would be a possibility in ˇMucha Lucha!, the threat is instead to the removal of their mask. Fights where their masks are on the line being a big deal for luchadores is truth in television, but it gets ridiculous when the Mayincatec Slamazonians plan on sacrificing Buena Girl's mask to the gods.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes both plays it straight and averts it. MODOC is (like in an example above) changed from Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing to Mental Organism Designed Only for Conquest, and the phrase, "Destroy them all!" gets exclaimed often. But there are also several onscreen deaths (some quite brutal) and the words "kill" and "dead" are mentioned.
- Averted in Star Trek: The Animated Series, which was not afraid to mention or show death. This became a rather large source of controversy in the episode "Yesteryear", which featured the death of Spock's childhood pet and the sadness that comes with it in a surprisingly realistic manner.
- What was even more shocking was that the pet was euthanized.
- In Go, Diego, Go! it's never quite said why certain animals are deathly afraid of their predators, most likely due to the show being targeted at toddlers and young children.
- It's most played straight except for one Wonder Twins story, "Drag Racing", when one boy responds to two guys who want to drag race on a city street that it's against the law and they could be killed doing it. It is also worth mentioning that Jim Craddock invokes the "land of the dead" in the story, "The Ghost."
- There's also a later episode (from 1985, when the show had changed its name to The Super Powers Team), flat-out titled "The Death of Superman", and, while they mostly used euphemisms like "lost" or "demise" or (most absurdly) "no longer with us", they managed to slip death-related words in a few times ("Ironic that he should die of Kryptonite while trying to find its antidote!" "From what you've told me of Superman's death, it could be very important.")
- Parodied in a Johnny Bravo episode; Johnny, as a superhero, saves a falling passenger plane... solely to eat the peanuts that fall out of it, then he tosses the plane beyond the mountains where it explodes in a fireball. Then the passengers' offscreen voices assure the viewer: "We're fine!"
- Parodied in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold adapting one of the "Bat-Manga!" comics. The short ends with villain Lord Death Man's helicopter crashing and the villain dying right there, but Robin makes mention of seeing a parachute. When the short ends, Bat-Mite mentions how silly American dubbers are.
- Parodied in the South Park episode "The Biggest Douche in the Universe." It opens with Eric Cartman being rushed to the hospital as his "condition" (Kenny's soul occupying his body) is apparently lethal. The doctor says that he's "running out of time" and, rather than mentioning any other specifics, simply runs with the concept, mentioning such things as a possible "time transplant". Subverted when Kyle and Stan go tell Chef about it and Stan says, "Cartman is in the hospital. They think he might die."
- Zig Zagged on Hey Arnold!.
- In some episodes such as "Eugene's Pet", they will go out of their way not to say "die" words, whereas in other episodes like "24 Hours to Live", they have no problem saying it loudly and often. They seem to be mostly okay with the word "kill", however, even in very serious situations like Big Bob saying "I almost killed my own daughter!" in "Arnold's Halloween".
- One interesting variation is the episode "Grandpa's Birthday." First, it's played straight when Grandpa thinks he will pass away among turning 81 (due to an alleged family curse), using all the old euphemisms. But among learning he is OK (he made a mistake calculating the curse), he gleefully cries "I'm not going to die!"
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, being rated TV-Y, tries to avoid mentioning death directly (although words like "dead" or "kill" are used metaphorically) and instead uses various euphemisms:
- When Spike and Rarity are falling to their deaths, the former says, "I need to tell you something, just in case we don't make it."
- Celestia's description of phoenix's rebirth cycle is "renew[ing] itself by shedding all its feathers and bursting into flames," not even mentioning that it requires the bird to die.
- Rarity, threatening teenage dragons that wanted to harm Spike: "I'll rip you to pieces."
- In Book Within A Show, the villain to the protagonist, right before putting her in a Death Trap: "And now, you shall meet your doom!"
- Rainbow Dash, having her wing trapped under a boulder on the bottom of a gorge, worries aloud about being stuck there "forever."
- Rarity's character in a holiday pageant refers to freezing to death as a "horrible fate." (Although this may be justified, as it's implied that it's more of an And I Must Scream scenario.)
- Trixie, just before kicking Twilight out of town in "Magic Duel", invokes You Are Already Dead by saying "She's already gone".
- "Sleepless in Ponyville" straight-up parodies this. After hearing a Ghost Story about the Headless Horse, whose victims "were never heard from again," Scootaloo dreams she's being pursued by the Headless Horse and laments, "I'll never be heard from again! I want to be heard from!"
- In "Wonderbolts Academy," Rainbow Dash says her friends could have been "smashed to pieces" and "demolished" by a tornado caused by Lightning Dust.
- "I'll destroy her!"
- Rarity laments that they almost lost Pinkie Pie to her ridiculous rock pile in "Maud Pie".
- Played straight in "Princess Twilight Sparkle - Part 2" when Luna says it is her duty to "destroy" Celestia. Averted later when Fluttershy flat out says the Tree of Harmony looks like it's dying.
- In-universe example: Clay's mother Angela Puppington on Moral Orel hates words like "die" or "death" and prefers the term "passing" because she miscarried 10 times before Clay was born.
- In the Motorcity episode "Vega" After capturing Mike, Kane tells him that his "termination" is imminent.
- In Generator Rex, this usually isn't a problem. As a Cartoon Network original that isn't afraid to come up to TV-PG, "kill" and "dead" and guns that shoot bullets are A-OK. However, in "Dead Zone," there's a classic parachute moment. The bad guys (on this occasion, that's Providence Mooks under the command of a Knight Templar) are mostly on air vehicles, and apparently every single staff member on these airships wear parachutes at all times, because whenever one is destroyed, parachuted personnel can be seen dropping from it. This mostly serves to keep Rex from killing fellow good guys with a boss who sometimes goes too far.
- Generally averted in Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Perhaps most heart enchantingly when Razer tries to use this trope.
Hal: Where is Aia?
Razer: She's gone.
Hal: Where is she?
Razer: She's gone.
Hal: What do you mean she's gone?
Razer: She's dead! That thing killed her!
- Contrary to the film series it's based off of, Kung Fu Panda Legends Of Awesomeness makes frequent use of this trope, most commonly using "destroy" to replace "kill". A particularly painful example is the episode "Master and the Panda" where the show goes to ridiculous extremes to avoid saying that Po "killed" Tai Lung, instead using the (admittedly funny) euphemism "skadooshed".
- DuckTales, "Hero for Hire": Two examples from the Beagle Boys; on one occasion, one tells Launchpad that he must "be at the studio in ten minutes or [Doofus] is gonna be a pancake!" and the second time, the same one tells Doofus to "keep [his] mouth shut, or [Launchpad] gets it!"
- Knocked down and stomped on by Gravity Falls, where "die" and "dead" are almost never danced around. One example of many is Stan's Badass Boast in "Scaryoke":
"All right, you undead jerks, you ready to die twice?!?"
- This is done in Archie's Weird Mysteries when a blob monster made of tapiocca pudding is devouring everyone it can throughout Riverdale. Without ever using the d-word the episode treats it as if the victims actually are dead and the survivors prepare to blast the thing with an experimental laser. They learn just in time the victims are only trapped (but running out of air) meaning they need to quickly find a non-lethal way to dispatch it.
- Averted in Young Justice, both in comedic and serious dialogue- when characters die (or appear to), characters make it perfectly explicit in the dialogue. Online, creator Greg Wiesman actually discussed how he was able to get around this trope, specifically in the case of the episode "Failsafe", which is about an alien invasion of the Earth killing off 99% of the main-cast. He was just barely able to the get the use of the word (and the plot itself) past the censors due to a) characters in universe maintaining, for the majority of the episode, that it simply looked as though their friends had been killed, and b) it turning out to have been All Just a Dream.
- For the most part averted in Steven Universe, in which Steven almost dies in basically every other episode, and his friends are not afraid to comment on this fact. Sometimes it's done very seriously, such as in one episode where Steven reflects upon his impending doom seconds before freezing to death, and sometimes it's done comedically, such as when Steven sings a cheery rock song about having watched alternate versions of himself die before his very eyes.
- Pendleton Ward has confirmed that Finn's Hurricane of Euphemisms when discussing the mysterious death of Ghost Princess, in the Adventure Time episode "Ghost Princess", was because he wasn't allowed to use the word "murder" in the script, even though it had been used in the earlier "mystery" episodes "Mystery Train" and "The Creeps".
- The Roleplay Rules of the LEGO Messageboards only permit a member to "defeat" another member, not kill or maim them.
- The Tarot de Marseille calls the number XIII (Death) "The nameless arcana".
- According to APA Style, you NEVER use any euphemisms for death, whether while reporting general news or writing an obituary/death notice.
- At Disney Theme Parks, it's mentioned that "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" is haunted because it's built on a "sacred place" to natives. Obviously, an Indian Burial Ground.
- U.S. Acres: These worms said "go".