->''"I am doctor Edward Roivas. I am a clinical Psychologist. I am also dead. (...) Their attention turns to my grand-daughter. For she is the last of my line, and the last hope of humanity."''
-->-- ''Videogame/EternalDarkness'', Introduction (abridged).

Between the [[DeathTropes many ways death can be used in media]], there's its use as [[IncitingIncident a trigger for the start of the story itself]]. It could start a RoaringRampageOfRevenge from part of the protagonists and pull them into something even greater, maybe looking for the truth behind the death could make the protagonist know about [[HeKnowsTooMuch something he wasn't supposed to know]], the protagonist could suddenly see himself [[TakeUpMySword having to continue where the deceased left off]], or the execution of a baddie [[MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning may bring forth something even worse]], etc.

In order for a death to be covered by this trope, it has to satisfy some conditions:

* The death has to either occur [[PosthumousCharacter before the story begins]], or during the first moments of it.
* The death must either: '''1)''' Make the plot start moving (without needing to affect the protagonists directly at first), or '''2)''' Make the protagonists start taking some kind of action which later pulls them into the big plot (which must not be necessarily related to the death).
* In case of TV series or long runners with clear continuity, the death must have affected the big picture of the series. For example, the deaths occurring on every episode of a murder mystery series do not count; but the death of a close one that made the protagonist take the decision to become a detective so he could investigate the mystery behind that murder ''does'' count. Deaths on this kind of works that trigger new mystery arcs also count.
* On some occasions, the death is ''self''-triggered: if MyDeathIsJustTheBeginning, then the protagonist obviously can't force the antagonist to stop... antagonizing.

Can sometimes overlap with StartsWithASuicide, PosthumousCharacter, DeathByOriginStory, TheLostLenore, ILetGwenStacyDie, StuffedInTheFridge, CrusadingWidower, DoomedHometown (can be a greater scale of this trope), and the list [[LongList goes on and on]].

!!As a death trope, unmarked spoilers are bound to appear. Beware.


[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* Episode 1 of ''LightNovel/HighschoolDXD'', shows the main character dying ''before the show even begins''.
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'', the death of Gold Roger launches the Golden Age of Piracy, the setting of the story.
** His FriendlyEnemy Whitebeard similarly launched a new era of piracy with his own death.
** The death of Corazon [[spoiler:(aka Donquixote Rocinante, Donquixote Doflamingo's younger brother and Trafalgar Law's idol)]] is the primary driving force of the Pirate Alliance Saga. [[spoiler:His death earned Doflamingo Law's hatred, causing him to spend the next thirteen years of his life plotting revenge. If Corazon had never died, it's highly doubtful Law would've been a ''pirate'', let alone one of Luffy's allies. Seeing as the Dressrosa arc now involves practically every major power in the world, you could easily argue that his death is an integral part of how the new era of piracy will be shaped -- which is ironic considering that Corazon was a ''Marine spy'' sent to infiltrate his brother's pirate crew.]]
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'': C.C. "dies" but not before granting Lelouch a Geass. With his new superpower, he investigates the murder of s mother Marianne.
* ''GurrenLagann''; although not at the start of the plot, the death of Kamina (a quarter of the way in) was the key trigger to the character development of Simon throughout the rest of the series
* The first/second season of ''Anime/YuGiOh'' is motivated by the death of Pegasus's wife.
* ''DeadmanWonderland'' employs this in true gory fashion: an entire classroom of junior high students gets outright blended to bits by the Red Man (A.K.A. "Wretched Egg"), save for Ganta Igarashi- implanted with a Branch of Sin, turned into a Deadman, and tactically framed for the killings so he's sent to the titular hellhole prison.
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'': The death of Ed's and Al's mother pushes them to perform human transmutation to try to bring her back; their attempt [[GoneHorriblyWrong goes horribly wrong]] and they end up losing (part of) their bodies, thus prompting Ed to join the military to find a way to restore themselves, and the rest is history. Her death is what ultimately caused their involvement in the whole story, and ironically, it's also one of the only two non-[[BigBad Big Bad]]-related deaths in the whole series.
* ''Anime/GaReiZero'': The death of Kagura's mother a few days before the series starts up results in Kagura meeting [[TragicHero Yomi]], and played a significant role in Kagura starting her career as a Vanquisher so early.
* ''Anime/TheSoulTaker''
** Mio's actions just prior to death are what awakened Kyōsuke's mutant powers and his realization that she did so out of love is why he chooses to protect humanity.
** Maya also qualifies. Her death is what inspires Kyōsuke to find and protect the other Flickers, rather than just saving his sister.
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'': The title character is the person-shaped can for a monster the city's previous leader (who is also the titular character's father) died sealing in him when he was a baby. Much, much later, we learn that in a technical way, ''[[TheLostLenore Rin's death]]'' of all things is what started the plot. Why? Because her death in the backstory directly motivated [[spoiler:Obito]] into becoming '''''[[TheHeavy Tobi]]'''''...who unleashed the monster on the city in the first place, prompting the leader to seal it away inside the title character.
** It goes much deeper than that -- it's ultimately the reason why [[spoiler:Obito]] took up Madara's offer, leading to the creation of the Akatsuki, the attack of the Nine-Tailed Fox, the Uchiha Clan Massacre, and eventually, the Fourth Great Shinobi War. Had she not died, the entire plot of ''Naruto'' would have been avoided almost entirely, and chances are that both Naruto and Sasuke would have had much happier lives.
** Going back even further, it was the death of [[spoiler:Princess Kaguya]] that laid the foundations for current events due to [[spoiler:Black Zetsu manipulating events in an attempt to revive her]].
** Izuna was his brother Madara's entire world. Madara is the man he is today because of Izuna's death, [[spoiler:which allowed him to be susceptible to Black Zetsu's manipulations.]]
* ''Anime/SerialExperimentsLain'': The [[StartsWithASuicide suicide of Chisa Yomoda]] and subsequent e-mails claiming to be from her are what kick off the story.
* ''Manga/AkameGaKill'': The deaths of Tatsumi's two friends from his village motivates him to join the Assassin Group Night Raid, a group devoted to taking down targets in the EvilEmpire.
* ''Manga/InuYasha'':
** Kikyou's death was the trigger for almost everything that occurs in the story. It's why Inuyasha and Naraku are enemies, it's why Kagome's dragged back in time, it's why the Shikon no Tama is released back into the world and it's why Kagome is the only one who can decide the jewel's ultimate fate.
** Also, the reason Miroku becomes a part of the group in the fight against Naraku is because his grandfather was such a significant enemy of Naraku's that Naraku cursed Miroku's entire lineage: the deaths of Miroku's grandfather and father are the reason he encounters Inuyasha's group and joins it, which is what enables Inuyasha to learn the identity of Kikyou's killer in the first place.
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'':
** The deaths of Masaki Kurosaki, Souken Ishida, Kaien Shiba, and Hisana Kuchiki all combine to create the reason for why the first 181 chapters of the manga unfold as they do. Even after those chapters have passed, Masaki's death continues to be the motivation for [[TheHero Ichigo's]] resolve to protect as many people as he can, Souken's death remains the primary motivation for Uryuu's determination to stand by Ichigo and work with the shinigami despite quincies and shinigami being traditional enemies, Kaien's demise is the reason why Rukia opened up the path to power for Ichigo in the first place (and continues to guide her decisions after she replaces him as 13th division lieutenant), and the death of Hisana is the reason why Byakuya adopted Rukia and why Ichigo and Byakuya now possess a bond so unbreakable it can even defy brainwashing. Without those four deaths, this story would have been completely different, or perhaps even non-existent.
** Plot-triggering deaths have been confirmed to have impacted the final arc as well. Both Masaki and Kanae's deaths are tied into the events of the final arc having been caused by [[TheEmperor Yhwach]] performing ThePurge on impure quincies six years before the beginning of the story. The impact of these two deaths on the behaviour and decisions of their husbands (Isshin and Ryuuken) over the intervening years, and subsequently on their sons (Ichigo and Uryuu), are hugely important to the development of the final arc.
* ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'' has several significant deaths that set the events of the story in motion.
** The death of her parents set Mikasa neatly onto the path of becoming TheAce and Eren's protector.
** The death of Karla Yeager not only provides Eren with the desire to destroy all Titans, but leads her husband to take drastic action before disappearing.
** The death of Marcel, a childhood friend of [[ThoseTwoGuys Reiner and Bertolt]] has unseen and far-reaching consequences. [[spoiler: It not only returns Ymir to human form and sets her back on the board as a major player, but is the clue needed for Hange to discover that Titans possess a CannibalismSuperpower]].
** The murder of her mother resulted in [[spoiler: [[HeroicBastard bastard]] [[BadassPrincess princess]] Historia Reiss being forced into the identity of Krista Lenz. Her presence in the Survey Corps helps expose the GovernmentConspiracy and makes her vital to their plans to overthrow the government]].
** The deaths of Farlan and Isabel resulted in [[WorldsStrongestMan Levi]] abandoning his life of crime, and laid the framework for his UndyingLoyalty to Erwin.
* In ''Manga/PandoraHearts'', [[spoiler:Lacie’s death caused Jack to form a contract with Oz, the B-rabbit, which caused the Tragedy of Sablier, in order to bring the world to Lacie in the depths of the abyss. The contract forced Oz to be brought 100 years later along with Jack, although Oz remembers nothing about it, causing him to seek the truth about his own existence, which is why the story happens.]]
* ''LightNovel/TokyoRavens'': The [[HeroicSacrifice death]] of [[KillTheCutie Hakuto]] prompts Harutora to become an [[MagiciansAreWizards onmyoji]] to fulfill her wish.
* In ''Manga/KeymanTheHandOfJudgement'' the brutal murder of Lockville City's champion, the titular Keyman, starts the plot.
* The death of Ryuko's [[spoiler: and Satsuki's]] father sets off the plot off ''Anime/KillLaKill''.

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* The Comedian's murder in ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}''.
* ''ComicBook/SpiderMan'' is set into his heroic path because of the death of his Uncle Ben.
** ''The Death of Jean [=DeWolff=]'' in ''[[ComicBook/SpiderMan Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man]]'' which set off the Sin Eater arc, which in turn caused the origins of Venom.
** The death of Joe Face just before the beginning of ''ComicBook/KravensLastHunt'' - Spider-Man is shot after attending his wake.
** The death of Aunt May (later reversed) was the catalyst of ComicBook/TheCloneSaga, with Ben Reilly arriving in Manhattan to pay her respects and thus being drawn back into Peter's life.
* The Wayne family in ''ComicBook/{{Batman}}''.

[[folder: Fan Works ]]
* [[PosthumousCharacter Ace Swift's]] death in ''WebAnimation/TurnaboutStorm''. It ends up with [[WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic Rainbow Dash]] being accused for it, which in turn leads up to [[Franchise/AceAttorney Phoenix Wright]] being summoned to Equestria.
* In the VisualNovel/KatawaShoujo fanfic, ''{{Fanfic/Reconciliation}}'', the death in question is ''Hisao himself''. After he dies of a heart attack, his wife Lilly calls their old friend Hanako, who has not seen either of them since Hanako's bad ending in canon, resulting in her flying out to Scotland.
* ''Fanfic/MassEffectHumanRevolution'' has Shepard, without whose death Adam would never have gotten involved in Saren's plot.
* In ''Fanfic/NecessaryToWin'', Mizuho's death was the catalyst behind Saki and Teru's parents separating, and Saki gets involved in tankery at Oarai in hopes of reuniting the family.
* In ''XCOMFromTheAshesOfTemples'', the plot kicks off with the Council Spokesperson being informed of the death of the XCOM Commander.
* In "Fanfic/LastRights" Senior Chief Security Officer Athezra Darrod dies from a shrapnel hit in the first scene, and the rest of the story deals with the disposition of his body: To wit, should the Kobali be allowed to turn him into one of them?
* ''Fanfic/BrokenSouls'' begins with Harry and his team investigating the death of reporter Konrad Tschida, who's discoveries become the driving force of the rest of the story.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* In a rather roundabout example, Coral's death in ''WesternAnimation/FindingNemo''. Her death happens some years before the actual story, but hadn't it been for that, the plot wouldn't have happened, at least not the way it did.
* Ellie's death in ''WesternAnimation/{{Up}}'', although it happens some time before the plot starts. The real {{inciting incident}} is the ruling that their house will be demolished and Carl sent to a home, but Ellie's memory drives him tostart the plot.
* Another Pixar example is Leland Turbo from ''WesternAnimation/{{Cars 2}}''.
* 2's death in ''WesternAnimation/{{Nine}}''. The BigBad Fabrication Machine absorbs his spirit near the start of the film, killing him and powering it up enough to start fighting against the other protagonists.
* In ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'', the deaths of the king and queen of Arendelle forced their daughter [[AnIcePerson Elsa]] to become Queen at a young age, leading to her powers being accidentally outed at her coronation.
* Metro Man's death at the hands of his arch nemesis ''WesternAnimation/MegaMind'' [[spoiler: which he planned all along]].

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The main plot of ''Film/AliceDoesntLiveHereAnymore'' gets rolling after Alice's husband is killed in a car accident, forcing her to find a job to support her and her 12-year-old son.
* ''Film/TheBigChill'', the reunion of old college friends happens thanks to the suicide of one their friends Alex.
* ''[[Film/DocSavage Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze]]''. Before the movie starts, Doc Savage's father dies in a South American country. When Doc realizes that his father was murdered, he and his aides start an investigation that leads into the main plot.
* ''Film/{{Octopussy}}'': 009 is murdered in East Berlin. MI6, suspecting Soviet involvement, calls in 007.
* The death of the hooker at Christmas turns out to be important in the first ''Film/LethalWeapon''.
* The murder of her best friend that Tea Leoni's character witnesses occurs at the start of ''BadBoys'' and drives the rest of the plot.
* The murder of Marvin Acme in ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'', the investigation of which exposes AFarMoreSinisterPlot.
* In ''The Skeptic'', the death of the protagonist's aunt is what drives the plot forward.
* In ''Film/IRobot'', Dr. Alfred Lanning [[spoiler:uses his own death to set Detective Spooner on the trail of a conspiracy only he knew about]].
* ''Literature/OrdinaryPeople''. In both the film and the novel the death of the family's eldest son in a sailing accident sets into motion the emotional crisis which the family has only outwardly recovered from at the start of the narrative.
* The plot of Werner Herzog's ''Film/HeartOfGlass'' rests on the precedent death of the (never seen) foreman glassmaker Mühlbeck, the only one to knew the secret formula of the valuable [[MacGuffin ruby glass.]]
* ''Film/ItsAMadMadMadMadWorld'' opens with paroled tuna-factory robber Smiler Grogan crashing his car in the Mojave Desert. Before [[VisualPun kicking the bucket]] he tells the group of passing motorists who've come to his aid about $350,000 in cash "buried under a big W" in a state park near the Mexican border. HilarityEnsues.
* Ichirō Yashida’s death at the beginning of ''Film/TheWolverine'' is what triggers the plot. [[spoiler:Except, it turns out, not really.]]
* The death of the eponymous ''Film/{{JFK}}''.
* Goldie's death at the beginning of 'The Hard Goodbye' segment of ''Film/SinCity'' triggers Marv's RoaringRampageOfRevenge.
* All ''Film/BackToTheFuture'' films have this. Doc in parts 1 and 3, and Marty's father George in part 2.
* ''Film/AKnightsTale'' starts with a squire taking the place of his dead master in a joust.
* ''Film/RoadToPerdition'' begins with a funeral where the deceased's brother drunkenly rambling that the mob boss they both worked for killed him. This man later on is killed himself and his death is witnessed by Michael Jr.
* ''Film/{{Highlander}}'' starts with Connor killing Fasil which draws the attention of the police and the Kurgan.
* In ''Film/{{Braveheart}}'', the death of the hero's love interest is kicking off a Scotland-wide rebellion after his RoaringRampageOfRevenge against an English oppressor.
* ''Film/{{Yamato}}'' happens because Makiko Uchida wishes to honour her adoptive father's LastRequest.
* The death of Will's wife Claudia in ''Film/{{Unforgiven}}'' colors his attitude for the rest of the film.
* In ''Film/TrueGrit'' The murder of Mattie Ross's father by Tom Chaney sets in motion the revenge quest that drives the story.
* The death of Sam Spade's partner Miles in ''Film/TheMalteseFalcon''.
* Luther in ''Film/TheSting''.
* ''Film/FirstBlood'' started with Franchise/{{Rambo}} visiting his friend Delmar Barry, only to find he had already died. Had Rambo known, he never would have come to the area and he never would have been harassed by the local police which kicks off the movie.
* ''Film/TheKingdom'' started with a terrorist attack on an American housing compound in Saudi Arabia.

[[folder: Literature ]]
* ''Literature/SenseAndSensibility'' starts with the death of Mr. Dashwood, forcing his widow and daughters to move away from the family home and live in greatly reduced financial circumstances.
* ''Bath Tangle'' by Creator/GeorgetteHeyer begins with the death of Lady Serena's father, leading to her discovery that he has [[WorkingWithTheEx named her ex-boyfriend as her guardian.]]
* ''Literature/DragonBones'' starts with the death of Ward's father, and Ward inheriting the title. As Ward has pretended to have brain damage from a beating his father gave him years ago, he is now considered unable to rule, and has to convince everyone that he is actually quite intelligent and has only feigned to be more affected than he was in order to avoid more violence.
* Used recurrently in Creator/DanBrown's novels.
* In ''Discworld/{{Thud}},'' the murder of Grag Hamcrusher leads Sam Vimes on a quest to discover the truth behind the battle of Koom Valley.
* Another ''Discworld'' one is Deccon Ribobe at the start of ''Discworld/MovingPictures''. In the first scene of the book he dies of old age, leaving no-one to perform the rituals that [[SealedEvilInACan keep the Holy Wood magic in check]].
* The death of King Brion Haldane at the start of ''[[{{Deryni}} Deryni Rising]]'', which begins the multi-volume saga of King Kelson Haldane's rule as well as the specific challenges of getting him safely crowned king.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' doesn't have a single inciting death, but it uses them for the initiation of individual plotlines:
** In ''Literature/AGameOfThrones'', Jon Arryn's death is what causes Eddard Stark (and by extension, the rest of his family) to become involved in the main plot.
** The Iron Islands plot in ''Literature/AFeastForCrows'' is triggered by the death of Balon Greyjoy, which happens offscreen during the events of the previous book.
** The deaths of Robert Baratheon and Ned Stark are what ends up triggering the War of the Five Kings.
** The pre-series executions of Brandon and Rickard Stark, Ned's father and brother, by King Aerys Targaryen, along with the apparent kidnapping of his sister Lyanna by Prince Rhaegar, are the immediate triggers for Robert's Rebellion. The uprising ends with the death of Mad King Aerys, which results in Robert becoming king and marrying Cersei and Viserys and Danaerys fleeing into exile. Fifteen years later, these events result in the plot of ''Literature/AGameOfThrones''.
** King Viserys I's death starts the Targaryen civil war known as The Dance of the Dragons in ''Literature/ArchmaesterGyldaynsHistories''.
* Henry Archer's death in ''Literature/AtlantaNights''. Nearly all characters in the book are in some way connected with him.
* Aimee's suicide in ''Literature/{{Aimee}}'' is the reason why the main character is put on trial for murder and forced to leave her hometown. Her court-appointed psychiatrist suggests that she write a diary, which is the FramingDevice for the book.
* [[AuntDimity Aunt Dimity's]] death starts the whole series.
* Happens in ''Literature/WarriorCats''. In the first book, ''Into the Wild'', Redtail and Oakheart, the deputies of [=ThunderClan=] and [=RiverClan=] respectively are killed in a very early battle. Fireheart, main character of the first arc, spends the next three books trying to prove that the celebrated [=ThunderClan=] warrior Tigerclaw actually murdered Redtail, while uncovering Oakheart's dark secrets and connections to the other Clans
* Shortly before the start of ''Literature/TheLegendOfSunKnight'', Sun's childhood friend Roland is tortured and killed for sport. He is then revived as a powerful undead creature known as a Death Knight. Sun, being the poster board for the church and the one in charge of stopping undead attacks on the city, goes to face him and is unintentionally set up as Roland's killer. The lengths he goes to in order to obtain evidence to prove his innocence and to expose the real murderer cause him to learn revival magic to bribe/threaten his fellow knights into secrecy, which causes another church to interfere in the next book. Had he not met the head of that church, he wouldn't have been called in to help in book 3, etc.
* Hector, of the {{Web Serial Novel}} ''Literature/TheZombieKnight'', is an undead example of this trope. The story begins with him dying and meeting [[GrimReaper Garovel]], which is how he starts involving himself in dangerous situations in order to save other people's lives.
* In the ''Franchise/StarTrek'' novel ''Literature/SpocksWorld'', the death of the BigBad's mate caused the BigBad to think that "once again [said character] did not have [their] desire" and set out for MisplacedRetribution on Spock.
* The ''Literature/BookOfExodus'' starts when the Egyptian Pharaoh orders the massacre of the Hebrews' firstborn which led to one of them being [[MosesInTheBullrushes hidden away and found by Pharaoh's daughter]].
* The deaths of Fantine and Gen. Lamarque are very important in ''Franchise/LesMiserables''.
* Old Major's death triggers the plot of ''Literature/AnimalFarm'' as both Snowball and Napoleon plan to make his dream of freeing the farm from human control a reality.
* The destruction of Buenos Aires in ''Literature/StarshipTroopers''.
* ''Literature/NicholasNickleby'' starts with his father's death, forcing him to work for his miserly uncle.
* ''Without Remorse'', an early Creator/TomClancy work and his only book that's not in the technothriller genre, kicks off the main plotline with the brutal murder of escaped SexSlave and recovering drug addict Pamela Madden by her pimp. Her boyfriend John Kelly, a former Navy SEAL, [[VigilanteMan decides to settle the score personally.]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]
* Police procedurals revolve around this plot.
* In the first season of ''Series/TheKilling'', Rosie Larsen's murder is what brings all of the characters into the plot.
* ''Series/VeronicaMars'' had some seasons begin with the death(s) of important characters to stimulate the season long story arc or A-plot.
* In ''Series/{{Glue}}'', the murder of local teenager Cal Bray jumpstarts the plot.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** [[SpacePirates The Raiders]], who for most of the first season of the show, were the only recurring antagonists, ended up getting wiped out [[CurbStompBattle in a matter of seconds]], soon after pulling off their greatest heist, as part of TheReveal of what would be the show's primary villain for the next few seasons.
** And for the first SeasonFinale of the show, the death of [[TheBadGuyWins President Santiago]] kicks off the other major portion of the story for the next three seasons.
* Nate Sr.'s death at the beginning of ''Series/SixFeetUnder'' sets the plot in motion, causing Nate Jr. to end up staying with his family.
* ''Series/JohnnyBago''. Johnny Tenuti, just out of prison, is set up on a blind date by his cousin with mob connections. The date kills TheDon's son, framing Johnny for the crime. Johnny goes on the lam.
* The pilot of ''Series/{{CSI}}'' starts with an apparent suicide. This sets up the Paul Millander mystery arc which lasts one and half seasons.
* The death of drug baron Harvey Wratten on ''Series/TheShadowLine'', which triggers the two main plots of the show by providing a starting point for [[TheProtagonist Jonah Gabriel's]] investigations and putting [[{{Deuteragonist}} Joseph Bede]] in charge of Wratten's organisation.
* ''Series/SingleFather'': Rita's death kicks off the series as her widower and children try to find a way to cope afterwards.
* ''Series/ThePalace'': King James is onscreen for a few seconds, doesn't even get a line, and dies before the opening titles. His unprepared twenty-something son Richard becomes King. [[BigScrewedUpFamily Scheming ensues.]]
* ''Series/{{Alias}}'': Sydney tells her fiancé that she is a spy, leading to her boss [[FirstEpisodeSpoiler having him killed]]. When her leave of absence gets a bit too long for her boss's comfort, he [[FromBadToWorse sends killers after her too]]. Then she finds out that she works for the bad guys, and that her semi-estranged dad is one of them. Then she earns the bad guys' trust so that she can become a double agent with the CIA. ''Then'' she finds out that her dad has been a double agent all along. Whew. On to episode two.
* ''Series/TeenWolf'': The murder of Derek's sister Laura kicks off the first season, since her body being found in the woods is the reason Scott and Stiles are wandering around out there at night, leading to Scott being bitten by the Alpha and becoming a werewolf.
* ''Series/DowntonAbbey''
** The major plot of centers around Matthew [[UnexpectedInheritance becoming the heir to the title "Earl Grantham" (and the corresponding estate)]] after both people with better claim to it go down on the Titanic, forcing some rushed (and frequently foolhardy) attempts by the present Earl and family to make sure his daughters are still provided for.
** The death of Sybil's friend Tom Bellasis in season 2 motivates her to become a nurse.
** Lavinia's father died in season 3 leaving his fortune to Matthew.
** Season 4 began in the aftermath of Matthew's death.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'': Had Daniel, Regina's true love, not been killed by Cora years before, Regina would never have been embittered and angry at her mother, which drives her to cast the Dark Curse that is the subject of much of the first season.
** David's transformation into Prince Charming began when his hitherto unknown twin James was killed in a duel.
* ''Series/DoctorWho''
** The show uses this in [[{{Recap/DoctorWhoS32E1TheImpossibleAstronaut}} The Impossible Astronaut]], which kicks off the plot arc of Series 6. The character who dies is the Doctor himself, and apparently permanently. Subverted when it turns out he was FakingTheDead.
** The main Series 7 arc is also launched when the confirmed new companion Clara is killed off in her second episode. Of course, it's not that she died and more that this was the second time the Doctor saw her die, making him realize there's something weird going on. Because, you know, the same person on two different planets and two different time periods died.
* Mary Winchester's death in ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'''s [[Recap/SupernaturalS01E01Pilot pilot episode]].
* In the first episode of ''Series/{{Farscape}}'', when Crichton travels through the wormhole into that strange new part of the universe, his craft accidentally collides with a Peacekeeper vessel at the other end, killing its pilot, who is soon identified as Peacekeeper Commander Bialar Crais' brother--which sets up Crais' vendetta against Crichton for the rest of the season.
* ''Series/ViudasEHijosDelRockAndRoll'' began with a flashback in 1992. Miranda had a romance with Diego in Villa Gesell, and everything was fine... until her best friend Sandra [[MayDecemberRomance seduced Roby]], Miranda's father. Miranda tried to see Diego again at the Buenos Aires obelisk, as planned, but he failed to meet her in time (and, trying to give mistery to their first date in Buenos Aires, they did not exchange adresses or phone numbers). She renounced to everything related to Rock and Roll, swore to never interact again with the dreaded Sandra or Roby, and started a romance with Segundo, a delicate high-society boy. End of flashback. Now, in the present, Roby has died. Miranda is now the heir of Roby's rock radio, she has to work alongside Sandra (Roby's widow) on a daily basis, and Diego saw her in the funeral and finally located her after so many years.
* September 11 caused Reese to become an assassin and Finch to build [[MagicalDatabase The Machine]] in ''Series/PersonOfInterest''.
* David Palmer and Michelle Dessler are killed at the start of ''Series/TwentyFour'' season 5.
* ''Series/TwinPeaks''. "Who killed Laura Palmer?"
* ''Series/PushingDaisies'' had two.
** Ned the piemaker can bring back the dead resurrects his mother but the father of his childhood friend, the girl named Chuck, dies in her place.
** Chuck herself is murdered and Ned resurrects her.
* ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' begins with his ex best friend and super spy Bryce getting killed but not before sending him The Intersect.
* Mary Alice's suicide in ''Series/DesperateHousewives''.
* George dies at the start of ''Series/DeadLikeMe'' and the rest of the series is about how she must adjust to her new life as a grim reaper and how her family must deal with her death.
* ''Series/TheWire'' kicks off its initial investigation with the murder of a state's witness in the trial of D'Angelo Barksdale.
* ''Series/{{Weeds}}'': The untimely death of her husband is what pushes Nancy to sell marijuana.

[[folder: Theatre ]]
* OlderThanSteam: ''Theatre/{{Hamlet}}'' begins with the king's death (though the dead man also appears as a ghost).
* Another Shakespearean example: the murder of the Duke of Gloucester (before the start of the play) in ''Theatre/RichardII''. We never learn exactly who did it, but we do learn that King Richard himself was behind it, and his actions to prevent that fact being discovered, sets the rest of the play in motion.
* ''Theatre/{{Chicago}}'': Roxie Hart shoots her boyfriend, which is what lands her in prison and on trial for murder.
* ''Theatre/ARaisinInTheSun'' involves an inner-city black family's conflicts over how to spend a life-insurance check following the death of the father.

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* Robert's death in ''VideoGame/TheLastOfUs'' has set off a chain of circumstances that leads to Joel meeting up with Ellie. If it wasn't for Robert selling the guns to the Fireflies (without Tess and Joel's permission), Joel would never have met Marlene, the Leader of the Fireflies. And if Joel never met Marlene, he would never have to escort Ellie to safety out of her request.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Xenoblade}}'', the [[StuffedintotheFridge death of Fiora]] in the hands of the Mechon in the first moments of the game is what inspired Shulk and Reyn go ahead and kick [[MechanicalMonster Mechon]] ass [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge in order to avenge her]]. As time passes, everything starts getting much more complex than that.
* President Al-Fulani's execution in ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' and Dmitri Petrenko's death in ''VideoGame/CallofDutyBlackOps''.
** Will Irons sparked Jonathan Irons's, CEO of [[PrivateMilitaryContractor Atlas Corporation]], involvement in the story of ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyAdvancedWarfare'' [[spoiler:(although given the fact Irons is sitting at the helm of the world's largest standing military and dislikes government militaries even prior to the game, things may have happened with or without Will's death)]].
* Cave Johnson's death can be seen as this for the ''VideoGame/{{Portal}}'' franchise. His death sparked the creation of [=GLaDOS=], which in turn caused the creation of Wheatley, and the plot of ''Portal''.
* Your guardian Gorion's death at the start of ''Videogame/BaldursGate'' (the first game) kicks off the plot (as well as Bhaal's once more of the plot is uncovered...).
* As the page quote shows the plot of ''VideoGame/EternalDarkness'' is set off by the death of the main character's grandfather, which leads Alex to his house and to find the [[TomeOfEldritchLore Tome Of Eternal Darkness]] which serves as a framing device for previous characters' struggles in the fight (who might also count as this trope, given they have a tendancy to die [[AndIMustScream or worse]] at the end of their chapters).
* The plot of ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'' starts when CJ comes back to Los Santos after five years in Liberty City to attend his mother's funeral.
* ''VideoGame/EchoNight'' begins with Richard learning that his father perished in a house fire. While searching for anything that might be salvaged from the ruins, he discovers a secret passageway to a room containing a strange painting, which drags him back onto the deck of the Orpheus and strands him there.
* The main plot of ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'' is kicked off some 4000 years prior to the time the game takes place with the death of Lord Indoril Nerevar. His death, the subsequent events of Dagoth Ur and the Tribunal using the Heart of Lorkhan to obtain divinity, and his prophesied {{Reincarnation}} are the driving force behind the game's plot.
* North Vandernot in ''VideoGame/BeTrapped''. He left the bulk of his estate - including [[ArtifactOfDeath the Bloodstone]] - to his niece, May, who lived in New York.
* Jade Champion in ''VideoGame/{{Interstate 76}}''.
* In ''VideoGame/TheCatLady'', the Queen of Maggot's plan to exterminate the Parasites is only set into motion once Susan, the protagonist, takes her own life.
* ''VideoGame/GhostTrick'' starts with [[DeadToBeginWith an already dead Sissel]] discovering the powers of the dead he's been granted, looking forward to use them to solve the mystery of who he was. As he progresses, it is discovered that the entire chain of events that lead to the current situation also started off with a death. Namely, the BigBad's "death" caused by [[MagicMeteor the Temsik meteorite]] ten years before.
* ''VideoGame/{{Bayonetta 2}}'' kicks off with Jeanne sacrificing her soul to save Bayonetta from [[TurnedAgainstTheirMasters an out of control demon]], which causes Bayonetta to go find a way to Inferno to rescue her.
* The death of the Balance Guardian Ariel kicks off the ''VideoGame/LegacyOfKain'' saga.
* ''VideoGame/{{Far Cry 4}}'''s plot is triggered after the death of Ajay's mother, who wishes to have her ashes scattered through Kyrat. However, [[ViolenceEnsues he finds in the midst of a civil war]].
* ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerTiberiumWars'' begins with Nod destroying the GDI satellite Philadelphia. ''Kane's Wrath'' revealed [[spoiler: it was to make sure Redmund Boyle would become GDI's director and Nod's UnwittingPawn]].
* ''VideoGame/{{Vigilante 8}}: 2nd Offense'' begins with the newly reformed Coyotes killing the Vigilante leader Convoy.
* ''VideoGame/{{Warcraft 3}}''.
** The undead campaign picks up where the human campaign left off after Arthas plunges Lordaeron into turmoil by killing his father the king.
** The night elf campaign begins with the undead invading Kalimdor because their demigod Cenarius was killed by chaos orcs in the previous campaign.

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Sayoko Robbin's murder at the beginning of ''VideoGame/AnotherCode'' sets her husband off to finish her invention and, later, her daughter to go and clean up their messes.
* Played straight [[spoiler:and subverted]] in ''VisualNovel/HotelDuskRoom215''. The death of Bradley's sister Mila sets him off on his plan to take down Nile, followed by his [[spoiler:faked]] death at Kyle's hands to prompt Kyle to find him and unravel the mystery behind it all.
* The death of Gregory Edgeworth could easily be one of these in the ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series. Basically, it was his death that kickstarted Miles' ambition to be a lawyer, which started Phoenix's. You could even go further back and say that it was Isaku Hyodo's death that led to Gregory's, and so on. Gregory's death was also the distant catalyst for Misty Fey's disappearance (which in turn had ''several'' repercussions on the Fey clan, such as Dahlia and Iris's father leaving, Mia's PromotionToParent, etc, Yanni Yogi's ObfuscatingStupidity, etcetera).
** In fact, a lot of deaths in this series have kicked off new arcs and plots (Mia Fey, Magnifi Gramarye etc). This makes sense in a world where it's AlwaysMurder.
* ''VisualNovel/{{Snatcher}}''. Jean-Jack Gibson's death leads Gillian and Metal Gear to investigate what he was doing before his [[OffWithHisHead gruesome end]]. This leads right into Gillian resuming Gibson's investigation on where the Snatchers are being built in Neo Kobe City.
* While [[KillEmAll many deaths occur]] in ''VisualNovel/UminekoWhenTheyCry'', it turns out that there was the death of one person in particular that was really responsible for setting the events of the series in motion: Beatrice Castiglioni, Kinzo's secret lover, who [[DeathByChildbirth died from giving birth]] to their daughter, Beatrice II.