Sometimes, nobody can die, even when it seems like they should. Unlike Never Say "Die"
, they're allowed to use the words
"kill" and "die", but for whatever reason no one ever actually does
any killing or dying. Amusing Injuries
don't count — the situations faced by the characters are presented as realistically dangerous and the threat of injury or death is definitely present. Nor is it simply Plot Armor
— when Nobody Can Die, even the lowliest mook is seemingly immortal. It simply seems to be a law of physics that no situation can result in the death of a person — gunshots leave people injured but alive
, explosions cause lots of property damage but never seem to happen with people in the blast radius, etc. Note that, since talking
about death is allowed, there may be references to characters that have died in the past, but onscreen deaths are still verboten.
Nobody Can Die is a compromise between Anyone Can Die
, which can be upsetting to younger audiences, and Never Say "Die"
, which can seem childish even to children. It is occasionally imposed
upon writers by Executive Meddling
; in these cases, expect them to try Getting Crap Past the Radar
Compare and contrast Non-Lethal Warfare
, where the combatants are deliberately using nonlethal weaponry, rather than the lack of deaths seeming to be a happy coincidence. Also compare Everybody Lives
. The difference between that trope and this one is that Everybody Lives generally applies to just one book or season, whereas in this trope, people never
die. Not to be confused with Death Takes a Holiday
, which is when death is literally impossible because The Grim Reaper
is no longer on the job.
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Anime and Manga
- Astérix. Death is always a threat and characters try to kill each other not infrequently, but Mooks just get Amusing Injuries (by the thousands), more seriously injured or sick characters get better or get saved, and only one character in the entire run does anything close to dying (the Optio in Obelix All At Sea is Hoist by His Own Petard after giving himself a Phlebotinum Overdose that turns him to stone).
- The Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie features food raining from the sky. You'd think that that by itself would be enough to cause some bodily harm, but no matter how severe it gets — with spaghetti twisters that suck people up into the noodle funnel cloud while flinging boulder-sized meatballs hard enough to destroy buildings — the only injury in the entire movie is a child who went into a sugar coma from eating too much raining candy.
- The live-action George of the Jungle movie. When a guy falls at least 400 meters from a rope bridge over a cliff, the Narrator reassures the audience: "Don't worry — nobody dies in this story. They just get really big boo-boos." *cut to heavily bandaged and bruised guide* "What did I tell you?" Later, when Lyle shoots George in the middle of the movie, the Narrator comes in again saying, "Poor George was really shot, but can't die because let's face it, he's The Hero."
- In Labyrinth, no one was allowed to get hurt. A boulder even falls on a goblin cannon, and the smashed cannon says, "Hey, no problem." Jim Henson talks about purposefully doing that in the making-of documentary.
- Masterminds starring Patrick Stewart is a fantastically flagrant example of this. People should be dying left and right but every single time, the film's powers that be go to the outrageous lengths needed to contrive the deadly threats somehow to always have non-lethal consequences. (As opposed to the earlier movie Toy Soldiers, which has almost the same plot, but not this constraint.)
- Enforced by Executive Meddling in The Road to El Dorado. At one point, a guard is almost crushed under the foot of a stone monster that just barely misses him, screaming "I'm okay!" Then another foot comes down and actually crushes him, but he survives and says "I'm still okay!" Originally he didn't survive the latter, but the execs wouldn't allow it. Subverted however with Tzekel-Kan's Acolyte, who is not seen again after being pushed into a boiling vat of liquid.
- To a disturbing degree in The Legend of the Titanic where it turns out nobody died during the sinking of the Titanic as they were saved by a giant octopus. Also the characters that are seen to die in the film are shown to be alive and well with no explanation how they survived.
- In Iron Man 2 despite the Hammer Drones going amok amid the crowded Stark Expo and doing untold fortunes in property damage, not a single bystander is ever shown getting so much as a boo-boo.
- Ang Lee's Hulk makes sure to show soldiers emerging unscathed from each military vehicle that Hulk wrecks in order to keep him sympathetic.
Live Action TV
- On The A-Team, cars full of mooks would often crash — at which point the camera would linger for us to overhear brief dialogue between them. ("You okay?" "Yeah, I'm fine.") Just to assure the viewer that no one had really been hurt. See also the marksmanship issue.
- Power Rangers has had to do this for decades, thanks to Stock Footage of giant monsters rampaging throughout a cardboard city and smashing buildings. Occasionally the writers will lampshade the trope with things like the monster saying "I hate empty buildings!" before smashing, or the Rangers remarking that he's in the "warehouse district". Power Rangers has featured several deaths, however. The monsters themselves in the early episodes (although, it was never a big deal when they bit the dust). As the series progressed, it became notably more dark, and major characters did indeed die, good and bad.
- Most MMOs have either this or Death Is Cheap, either in-universe or as Gameplay and Story Segregation.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean Online, you get sent to a Cardboard Prison with a sleeping guard. Even if your ship sinks. While fighting a deadly ghost ship.
- The MMORPG City of Heroes/City of Villains uses this to justify character respawning. Instead of dying, characters are "defeated" and teleported to the nearest hospital to recover. Likewise, the enemies are teleported to jail before they can be killed... most of the time. In City of Heroes, anyway. Unsurprisingly, the Rogue Isles are a bit less accommodating towards supervillain victims.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online, you don't even have health, you have "morale." When your Morale reaches zero, you are defeated and can "retreat" to a respawn point. That's a viable retreat from anywhere, whether it's the pinnacle of Orthanc, or the middle of the Battle of Helm's Deep.
- In Prince of Persia (2008) it is literally impossible to die. If you fall off an edge or take too much damage in battle the princess will use her magic to pull you back to safety.
- PAYDAY: The Heist uses this trope for the players. You can get riddled with bullets and bleed out completely, but bleeding out just places you under police custody and if you get traded to get back in the game, you come back with full health.
- Marvel Avengers Alliance is set in a comic book world, so the characters can all throw incredibly vicious attacks at one another, using swords, magic, metal claws, energy blasts, and what have you. Apparently none of that is enough to force more than a Non-Lethal K.O. Two villains are brought back from the dead in the plot, but your hero didn't kill either of them.
- In the Crazy Taxi series, pedestrians invariably dive out of the way of your car. Additionally, they seem to have no issue hopping from your car at 100 mph.
- Touhou, thanks to the Spell Card rules literally enforcing Non Lethal KOs as law. Technically the fairies and Mokou die, but they immediately regenerate so they hardly count.
- Most Advance Wars games and spinoffs believe War Has Never Been So Much Fun. When Kid Hero Andy wonders if the infantry is doing OK getting attacked by tanks and recon vehicles, one member tells Andy that they eat war for breakfast! Maybe two villains explicitly die in the series, and never by the player.