When an author says a character will die way before they do, thus revealing an important part of the plot. This is used mainly for emotional buildup and to change the audience's focus. Rather than "Will this person die?" the audience will wonder "How and why does this person die?"
Subtrope of Foregone Conclusion
. Leads to Dramatic Irony
. Compare Spoiler Title
, where for some reason you're still meant to be surprised, or to In Medias Res
where they establish some event (might be dying or might not) by showing it and jump back to show how they got there. For the more vague version see: Tonight Someone Dies
. Might overlap with Posthumous Narration
Be warned that as a Death Trope
, there will be unmarked
open/close all folders
Anime And Manga
- Shiki appears to combine this with Spoiler Opening once the characters who'd been shown Stripped to the Bone in the opening theme start dying. However, two of them actually survive.
- The trailer for Neon Genesis Evangelion episode 23 stated that Rei will have to choose sacrificing herself, or allowing Shinji to be attacked. Well, it turns out that it is actually not the most important event in that episode.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: the beginning of Onikakushi-hen and Watanagashi-hen showcase the double murder of Mion and Rena and Rika's suicide respectively, leaving the audience to wonder exactly how things get that bad. Also partially subverted by the fact that Rika's suicide doesn't happen in the arc that shows that clip (at least on screen), but instead an alternate version of that arc told from Shion's perspective.
- Black Butler: the arc starting from chapter 38 does this with the last panel of said chapter showing Sebastian brutally murdered with the words "The tragedy that occurred that stormy night..."
- Late in the Grand Magic Games arc of Fairy Tail, Levy writes in her letter to Lucy that on July 7, X791, at least five characters will die, including "her beloved". She doesn't mention their names, though.
- "September 21, 1945. That's was the night I died." First line. Seita's not the only one who'll die before ninety minutes are up.
Films — Animated
- In the beginning narration of Tangled, Flynn states, "This is the story of how I died." He got better, though, so this is something of a subversion.
- At the beginning of Rango, the mariachi owls declare the story is about "the amazing life and untimely death" of the title character. Throughout the movie, they further drop hints that he is going to die in the desert. At the end, when he's still very much alive, they clarify that "he will inevitably die someday" - just not in that story.
Films — Live-Action
Live Action Television
- Doctor Who:
- Since it's impossible to recast the Doctor without announcing it in advance (along with the replacement) and since contracts work in such a way that he will obviously be dying at the end of the season, this is, on occasion, exploited by the showrunners:
- The Arc of Season 18 - each story drops a heavy symbolic hint that the Fourth Doctor is going to die soon, dealing with themes like the natural death of all things or fears of ageing and weakness. By the time a future incarnation of himself begins interfering in events like a revenant (significantly named "the Watcher"), he - and the audience - know this is it for him. The rest of the story is about putting the Doctor, facing his death with brooding dignity, in a variety of precarious situations and teasing us with how exactly he will die - which, significantly, is not a Heroic Sacrifice like the Doctor wanted but an accident stemming from his attempt.
- The final act of Season 4 and the series of specials with the Tenth Doctor, which started after David Tennant had announced his departure. This was exploited to create maximum pain for both the Doctor and the audience - in-story, we get hints and then an explicit statement that the Doctor is going to die, and out-of-story we get show titles like "The Next Doctor" (which does not star the next Doctor, but could have done) and one particularly brutal Cliffhanger where the Doctor begins to regenerate. The second part of "The End of Time" (in a manner similar to "Logopolis" above) delights in putting the Doctor through all kinds of nasty situations likely to kill him - long drops off high things (as eventually killed the Fourth Doctor), torture from the Master (a Red Herring based around the Arc Words "he will knock four times") - before finally killing him in a situation where he was forced to flood himself with radiation to save the life of a lovely old man.
- The episode "The Death of Dr. Who" (part of "The Chase"). Of course he doesn't die - but his Evil Knockoff Robot Me does.
- Episode "Army of Ghosts:"
Rose (VO): This is the story of how I died.
- Subverted in that she didn't actually die, but got stuck in another dimension, and as a result is officially presumed dead in "ours".
- Something similar happened to Donna at the end of season 4, she didn't actually die either she just got he memories of her experiences with the doctor erased.
- "The Angels Take Manhattan" did this both out-of-universe (The Ponds' demise was announced well in advance) and in-story.
- A flashforward in LOST reveals in advance that Jin never makes it off the island and even shows his gravestone. However, he survives the explosion that you're meant to think killed him. Another at the end of Season 4 reveals John Locke dies as well.
- Played for Laughs on the Tonight Someone Dies episode of Arrested Development, when the one non-recurring, non-celebrity character from the trailer montage says GOB could "charm the black off a telegraph boy," and the narrator chimes in with "OK, we'll just tell you right now: she's the one that dies."
- In the fourth season finale of Babylon 5, we see future historians watch some video footage of Garibaldi at the mercy of terrorists; Sheridan refuses their demands, and the video cuts to black, followed by the sound of gunfire. All this comes to pass in Season 5, but Garibaldi's not the one who gets shot.
- In the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise, the final adventure of the Enterprise NX-1 is shown as a holographic recreation by Will Riker and Deanna Troi. At one point, they sadly look at Trip, and Troi mentions that he didn't know he wouldn't make it back. Trip performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save the Enterprise and Archer.
- Subverted with extreme prejudice in the Expanded Universe continuation novels, which are basically canon Fix Fic.
- On an episode of Cinematech that crossed over with Gamespot, Jeff Gerstmann finished up a summary of Final Fantasy VII as such: "And oh yeah, Aeris dies."
- The final episode of the second series of Sherlock opens with Watson tearfully stating that Sherlock Holmes is dead. The rest of the episode is a flashback telling us the circumstances of his death. In a subversion, the final moments of the episode suggest Sherlock may have somehow faked his death.
- Subverted amazingly in the final episode of season 5 of Leverage: given that there were rumors that the show was being canceled (later proven accurate), when a few minutes into the episode an interrogator asked Ford for the details of the rest of the characters' deaths during the botched heist - and cut to said details - it would not have been surprising if the writers had pulled a Whedon and decided to kill everyone in the final episode of the show. Turns out the whole How We Got Here was actually simply Ford spinning a story of the heist, so that in checking for verification of the story, Interpol would unlock some doors the team couldn't unlock themselves, and they could sneak in and pull off the heist while Ford was being interrogated.
- In an episode of Pushing Daisies, the magician known as The Great Herrmann (played by Fred Willard) hires Emerson to find out who's been killing his assistants. Shortly after that, the show's narrator eventually states that he'll eventually the Victim/Body of the Week.
The Great Herrmann (after performing a death-defying illusion): I live to amaze another day!
Narrator (VO): But not another day after that.
- The first lines of The Darkness go like this.
Jackie: I remember the night of my twenty-first birthday. That was the first time I died...
- In the intro to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Emperor Uriel Septim remarks that his death is only a few hours away.
- Final Fantasy XIII: The first line of narration acknowledges that the world will never be the same, and subtly forshadows the narrator's death;
Vanille (in narration): The thirteen days after we awoke were the beginning... of the end.
- Of course, the narrator is not as blunt as to say she will die by the end of the story, but several of her lines heavily lean towards this:
You said it made you happy when I smiled, didn't you?
Although we didn't know it... our final journey had just begun.
- Also, the very nature of being a l'Cie means you will inevitably die (or end up in a horrible situation) in one way or another; ignore your focus - you're a Cie'th - or complete it - you're an elaborate crystal paperweight. Since the party are made l'Cie very early on in the story, it becomes this trope, and the contemplation of this fate is what creates most of the dramatic tension between characters.
- Project Zomboid: The opening sequence makes it quite clear this is not a game about you survive, it is about how you died.
- God of War begins with Kratos' suicide. Averted when Athena makes him the new god of War.
- Concerned: The Half-Life and Death of Gordon Frohman.
- Homestuck: During the Alterniabound update on 10/25/10, it was revealed that Aradiabot would eventually explode. This didn't actually happen until 12/28/10. However, it's ultimately averted, as the reason Aradiabot exploded was because her dream self died on Derse, which, due to the conditions of said death, wound up bringing her back as a god-tier.
- Dominic Deegan has Jayden repeatedly saying she's going to die it's metaphorical; then again that story has barely begun.