"Well, there goes my appetite."
"They tell me your son squealed like a girl when they nailed him to the cross. And your wife moaned like a whore when they ravished her... again... and again... and again.
A character is killed off in a particularly gruesome manner and left to be found
just to offend or insult someone, or to cause someone serious anguish. The usual victims are those who matter to the hero
, specifically best buddies
, love interests, and sidekicks
. In some cases, the doomed character may be killed by natural forces or by a character who doesn't have the intent to cause someone else angst — in this case, the intent comes from the writer, who wants to rouse strong emotions in another character.
The name of the trope comes from a storyline in Green Lantern
, in which the villain Major Force leaves the corpse of Kyle Rayner's girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, literally stuffed into a refrigerator for him to find. Years later, Major Force repeated the gimmick with Kyle's mother in an oven. It was just a trick with a mannequin that time.
The term (sometimes formed as "fridging") was popularized by comic book writer Gail Simone
through her website "Women in Refrigerators
." On that site, Simone compiled a list of instances of female comic book characters who were killed off as a plot device. The term came to be used more broadly, over time, to refer to any character who is targeted by an antagonist who has them killed off
, abused, raped
, incapacitated, de-powered, or brainwashed
for the sole purpose of affecting another character, motivating them to take action.
While it is strictly true that Tropes Are Not Bad
, this one, especially as a catchphrase, is often given a very negative connotation as it is all too often a hallmark of supremely lazy writing - using a dead woman as "cheap anger" for the male protagonist, and devaluing the life of a woman in the process, instead of giving the villain something actually interesting to do that can involve all three characters and more emotions than simple anger and angst.
This trope appears in many media. The Throw-Away Country
is an extreme example, and the Doomed Hometown
is in many ways the RPG Video Game
equivalent. See also Disposable Woman
, I Let Gwen Stacy Die
, and Finger in the Mail
. Compare What Measure Is a Mook?
. If it happens to multiple love interests of the same character, said character likely suffers from the Cartwright Curse
. The intended effect is very much akin to Cheap Heat
Compare Collateral Angst
, a more general case where bad things happening to Character A are primarily important for their effect on Character B. Also compare Death by Origin Story
. Depending on how useful/interesting the character is, and whether their death was pointless or not, can overlap with Dropped a Bridge on Him
. Not to be confused with being Put on a Bus
as a Human Popsicle
. Also not related to Fridge Logic
, Fridge Horror
, or Fridge Brilliance
. Also don't confuse with Locked in a Freezer
or It Came from the Fridge
If the love interest who gets Stuffed Into the Fridge remains relevant to the ongoing story, continuing to be loved and missed by living characters, sometimes to the point of appearing in flashbacks and dream sequences, and is the standard by which any subsequent love interests are measured by, she "graduates" to being a Lost Lenore
- in quotation marks as the trope still needs to be handled with care to avoid being tasteless. Related to Men Are the Expendable Gender
as that trope is part of the reason this trope applies more to women.
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Anime and Manga
- Bleach: Genre Savvy that he is, Big Bad Sosuke Aizen planned to specifically invoke this, killing Ichigo's friends and leaving the corpses for Ichigo to discover. Ichigo appeared in Big Damn Heroes fashion and forcibly moved Aizen out of town.
- A slightly odd example from Darker Than Black: Towards the end of the second season, Yoko, The Team Normal for the Quirky Miniboss Squad, is found horribly murdered, prompting her girlfriend Mina Hazuki to make an It's Personal-induced attempt on the life of the person they believed responsible. Thing is? She thought it was Hei. She was wrong.
- May have happened in End of Evangelion. After all, Shinji emerging from the ruins of NERV HQ and seeing the brutally gored and eviscerated remains of Unit 02 is part of what pushed him over the Despair Event Horizon to start Third Impact.
- In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, a killer appears who skins women alive while recording it. This was actually a case of the trope being weaponized. The killer was a soldier who had been mentally conditioned and trained to go behind enemy lines and commit these atrocities to break the enemy's will to fight. Unfortunately, the mental damage was so great he never stopped.
- Hellsing has a rare male example with Pip Bernadotte, who dies after Zorin Blitz stabs him while he's trying to carry a blind and mutilated Seras to safety. Seras breaks down in tears, and is pushed over the edge when Zorin mocks Pip's death, calling him 'a mere insect'. Seras responds by drinking his blood and becoming a fully-fledged vampire, and going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, culminating in her painting the wall with Zorin's face.
- Subverted in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. After Rena beats Rina/Ritsuko to death with a metal pipe in self-defense, she's seen stuffing Rina's body into a refrigerator in the junkyard. It's subverted in that Rina's boyfriend/partner in crime Teppei never discovers her; Rena lures him out to the junkyard and hacks him to death with her billhook before that can happen.
- Kamui Den: The rape and subsequent death for the peasant girl Mine early in the first series becomes an inciting incident for two of the major male characters to fight the oppressive powers of their feudal domain.
- Mayonaka No X Giten Kamiya did this to his own sister, after she was murdered by someone wearing his body.
- In the manga MPD Psycho, Amamiya Kazuhiko's multiple personality disorder is triggered when the serial killer he's tracking mutilates his girlfriend and delivers her limbless but barely alive body to the police station in an ice chest.
- Pain attempted to invoke this trope by killing Hinata in order to anger Naruto, but it was subverted when Hinata survived.
- Rin's death is what would directly motivate Obito into becoming the masked man known as Tobi. Her capture is what would inevitably lead to Obito's "death" and land him into the clutches of Madara. Made even worse with The Reveal that the trope was deliberately invoked by Madara. He was the real mastermind behind Rin's capture and death (Kakashi being the one to actually finish her off was a bonus). The sole reason he targeted Rin was so he could drive Obito into despair and make him his pawn.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Kaoru is stabbed through the heart by Enishi and has an X-shaped scar carved onto her left cheek just as Kenshin's, and is left nailed to the dojo wall, slumped in a pool of her own blood. The gruesome display was meant to send Kenshin over the edge with grief, knowing that he failed to save his second love. It works really well. She ain't dead after all.
- The Gung-Ho guns of Trigun are usually finished by one of their own after Vash claims a (usually circumstantial) victory. For example, this occurs in episode 16 where E.G. Mine nails two of his defeated former comrades atop a building, which Vash only notices once the blood drips onto the back of his head while walking. Mine then proceeds to refer to them as "decorations", making it obvious they were put there to set as examples for the Gung-Ho Guns' intolerance for failure.
- Aika in Zetsuen no Tempest: killed off before the series begins to spur Mahiro onto his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Sort of a deconstruction; he goes to ridiculous lengths to find her killer, and is compared to Hamlet in terms of insane, violent determination. He eventually gives up on vengeance when he learns that she killed herself, even though it was partly Hakaze's fault for telling Aika about it and accidentally making her decide to set up a Stable Time Loop via suicide.
- Sailor Moon kicks off its final story arc with this, with its Big Bad Sailor Galaxia being introduced to the readers by having her murder the titular character's love interest right in front of her. She goes on to do that with most of the manga's cast putting Usagi through a massive Trauma Conga Line, but even then she wasn't through, reviving all them under her control sicking them on Usagi, forcing her to kill them while maintaining the hope of reviving them later, but Galaxia grabs their Star Seeds and destroys them.
- In Psycho-Pass, Shinya Kougami's Start of Darkness and demotion to Enforcer started when he found the corpse of his Enforcer partner, Mitsuru Sasayama, dismembered and arranged in the most gruesome way.
- Parodied in the new Ambush Bug series. Ambush Bug is shopping:
Ambush Bug: Do you have any major appliances that don't come with a dead body in it?
Saleslady: It's a standard feature. Have you checked out our compact fridge with built-in pygmy?
- She's not dead, but in Batman, Hush cut out Catwoman's heart. She was somehow gotten to a machine in time. An example of an Invoked Trope, as Hush was deliberately looking for the most traumatic thing he could do to Batman. It was then subsequently subverted as when she recovered, Selina was the one who went for revenge, not Bruce. She ruined Hush, to boot.
- Batwoman: Kate's sidekick and cousin Bette "Flamebird" Kane is brutally mauled by The Hook and left in a coma. Not only does this cause Kate more angst, it also allows the DEO to find Bette and figure out Kate's identity. Though following this incident, Bette does get an arc about her road to recovery, her subsequent training, getting her back into the fight and personally defeating The Hook herself; in the end, the maiming motivated her more than Kate.
- Since Blackest Night was about the dead returning as intelligent but soulless zombies with the intent of overwhelming and feeding on various emotional reactions, ripping each victim's heart out in the process, it was conceptually predisposed to this trope from the beginning. Several characters, both male and female, were killed just to get a rise out of other characters. The textbook example of this trope, though, was Gen, the girlfriend of Jason Rusch, who was turned to salt and had her heart ripped out (simultaneously) while Jason got a front row seat inside her killer's head. On the topic of Blackest Night, Alex, the Trope Codifier as shown above, came back to life. In a fridge. A fridge with a Black Lantern Corps magnet. Black Comedy? or just Dude, Not Funny!? Either way, Alex came out of it, and Kyle found the moment a considerable step down. She also pulls Kyle and his current girlfriend into the fridge in an attempt to kill them.
- During Brightest Day:
- Deathstroke killed Ryan Choi, the Chinese Atom. This was basically done to make Deathstroke seem more "hardcore" and provide angst and motivation for Ray Palmer, Choi's white mentor. The resulting racial controversy was huge, and even got coverage on non-comic sites, which lead to DC retconning the incident during the New 52. Prior to the retcon, some fans had proposed the term "Minorities in Matchboxes" for this type of situation, where a character of color is killed off to provide angst for a white character.
- This almost happened again with John Stewart when editorial pushed for Stewart to get killed off, but a Writer Revolt from Joshua Hale Fialkov prevented it from happening.
- In Death Of The Family, Raya Vestri, one of the chessmasters during Nightwing's first story arc, ends up getting shot up full of Joker Venom and dies. Nightwing now has one more reason to be upset with Joker.
- In the Death of the New Gods series, this happened in the first few pages to freaking Big Barda. Granted, the assassin was targeting all of the New Gods, but her death is what motivates her husband Mr. Miracle's actions, such as using the Anti-life Equation — something he once swore he would never do in the past. To add insult to injury, she was killed off-panel and left with no signs of a struggle and her body was found in — you guessed it — the kitchen.
- Poor Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man, got a quadruple whammy of this in Identity Crisis, both in-story and out. Her mysterious murder was 1) the impetus of a company-wide Crisis Crossover in which it was revealed that she was 2) murdered by Jean Loring in a convoluted attempt to make her ex-husband The Atom/Ray Palmer love her again, and it was revealed that she was 3) raped years ago, which had provoked a number of retconned events from the DC universe's past, which were 4) used to fuel future drama and storylines in the other DC titles.
- Golden Glider from The Flash is a supervillain version of this; she's killed off mainly so that her brother Captain Cold can angst about it.
- One Flash villain actually adopted this as his ethos. Hunter Zolomon, the second Zoom, came to believe that great men are defined by adversity and tragedy, and started targeting Wally West because of it. He actually caused his wife Linda to miscarry, causing Wally to give up on being The Flash for a while.
- The first Zoom, Eobard Thawne, does this as well to Wally's predecessor, Barry Allen, by killing his wife (though she got better). He's about to do this again to his fiancee, Fiona Webb, until Barry snaps his neck. After Barry returns from the dead in Final Crisis which was orchestrated by Thawne, it's revealed in 'The Flash: Rebirth that Thawne retconned Barry's past by killing his mother and framing his father for it. And this is all because he wants to make Barry's life more miserable and to see him suffer.
- Fray: Melaka Fray's friend, Loo, was killed by Fray's mentor, Urkonn, to give her the push to truly embrace the role of the Slayer. This is outright stated by Urkonn when she discovers this and sets him up for killing in turn, acknowledged by Fray herself just before she kills him.
- The original incident was fueled by Executive Meddling: The scene, as originally drawn, showed Kyle Rayner's girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, completely intact, but still dead. DC editors thought this was too gruesome, so mandated a redraw, that showed the partially open door with the arm sticking out of it, suggesting dismemberment.
- During the end of the same third volume, Kyle Rayner had a re-match with the same villain who had mutilated aforementioned girlfriend, Major Force. This villain decided to top himself by stuffing Rayner's mother into the oven. Believe it or not Major Force later played this for laughs by pointing out it was a dummy and that he 'never repeats the same trick'.
- Sadly, Kyle's mother did not escape the metaphorical fridge in the end. Sinestro had the living virus Despotellis kill her in retaliation for Kyle branding him with a Green Lantern symbol during Green Lantern: Rebirth. Then he revealed this to Kyle to make him vulnerable to Parallax possession.
- While this time it didn't involve actual kitchen appliances, Major Force got to do this again, killing off Arisia, former Lantern, former girlfriend of Hal Jordan and current friend of Guy Gardner, suffocating her in order to bait Gardner into a fight. The scene in which he did so earned some disgust from readers, since because of the way the panel was drawn and the powers he had, it was impossible to tell whether he'd done it just by covering her nose and mouth, or by pouring his arm down her throat. When they cross paths during the "Battle for Bludhaven" miniseries, Hal Jordan (having learned of Alexandra's fate beforehand) gives Force a taste of his own medicine by slamming an energy construct of a refrigerator onto him.
- Kyle even has this happen with friends. Terry Berg, his assistant, was horribly gay-bashed and beaten into a coma. Like in your standard story line of the kind, the story focused more on Kyle's angst that someone could do this to a friend of his, rather than Terry dealing with the trauma himself. He terrorizes the thugs responsible, then takes a leave of absence from Earth because he's despairing for the state of humanity, while his friend is still bedridden.
- Green Lantern seems to be made of this:
- John Stewart's first wife Katma Tui is killed in gruesome fashion by Star Sapphire to prove a point to Hal Jordan while she is depowered and in her kitchen!
Katma Tui: Star Sapphire? What are you doing here?
Star Sapphire: You're not Hal Jordan, but you were a Green Lantern. You'll do.
- Nearly every Red Lantern seen so far had people close to them brutally murdered — the rage they felt over these deaths is what draws the red power rings to them in the first place. Among them are an alien whose mate was eaten by Sinestro Corp member Arkillo, a housecat from Earth whose owner was murdered by a burglar. Their leader Atrocitus has the worst case — his entire space sector, including his family, was killed by the Guardians' rogue Manhunters. His entire reason for living is to kill the Guardians. The rage that Mera felt over losing her husband (Aquaman) and her son in addition to the rest of the crap she's had to deal with over the years and her own rather short temper was strong enough to make her a deputy Red Lantern during Blackest Night. Guy Gardner briefly became a Red Lantern when Kyle Rayner was killed (he got better).
- Notably averted by Bleez, whose entire family was killed by the Sinestro Corps. When she regained her intelligence and returned home it's revealed the reason a red ring was drawn to Bleez is because of what the Sinestros did to her, not her family, whom she actually blames for the whole ordeal in the first place.
- As if his life wasn't terrible enough, any female close to the Incredible Hulk dies horribly or suffers some traumatic events.
- His original love interest and later wife Betty Ross Banner had her blood tainted by the Hulk's enemy, the Abomination (she got better though) and died painfully from Gamma radiation poisoning. To twist the knife even further, she returned only to subsequently return to the grave soon after the fact. She returned again, however she has been turned into the Red She Hulk and gained an entirely new set of problems.
- Marlo, one-time girlfriend of Hulk's 'Mr. Fixit' personality and the wife of the Hulk's erstwhile sidekick, Rick Jones was killed by a crazy woman who believed herself to be Rick's mother and then brought back to life as a mindless vegetable. She got better, though.
- There was also Caiera from Planet Hulk, whose death fuels his rage for World War Hulk.
- Hulk's second major love interest, Jarella (after Betty but before Caiera), likewise died by being crushed beneath a collapsing building during a fight the Hulk had with a robot drone.
- Atom Eve appears to get fridged, but in the next issue she not only survives, but saves Invincible's life. We also have villain Powerplex who essentially does this to himself. He accidentally kills his own family while fighting Invincible.
- Played straight with Omni-man and the bug people he settled down with after leaving Earth. His fellow Viltrumites slaughtered thousands of them to, in their own words, piss him off. To Omni-man's own surprise, it worked.
- Iron Man: Obadiah Stane revealed that he once won a school chess tournament by killing his rival's dog and putting the corpse in the rival's school locker, so that he would be too upset to concentrate on their final match. This was the first major example of Stane's psychological warfare ... to win a chess tournament, and Stane was a child at the time.
- In Judge Dredd, the first-shown female Judge is killed off in a few frames by a Judge-murdering gang, just to provide motivation for a male Judge (who loved her) to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and get killed. Neither were established characters. (For a long time, Judges were prohibited from having relationships for just this reason.)
- Justice League: Cry for Justice:
- Much like any other big event DC comic, has people dropping like flies offscreen, but the stuffee was not a woman, but a girl. Lian Harper, daughter of Roy. Linkara was not amused.
- Starman's African-American boyfriend Tony was killed (offscreen!) in the first issue, just to give him some motivation.
- The Alan Moore story The Killing Joke, where The Joker shoots and cripples Barbara Gordon in an effort (which includes photographs of her lying naked and wounded) to drive her father insane. Moore has stated that he regrets including this, mainly because he didn't give any focus to Barbara and how she was affected.
- Continuing the tradition in the DCnU series Earth 2, Alan Scott's boyfriend note was killed in an explosion quickly after being introduced.
- Karen Smith, the partner of the Martian Manhunter in his guise as detective John Jones, was murdered by his evil brother Malefic as part of his ongoing campaign to destroy J'onn's life. J'onn responded by throwing Malefic into the sun.
- Mockingbird, on three occasions now. Firstly, when she's raped by Phantom Rider, which acts as something of a subversion as its her who gets the most affected by it, resulting in her killing the Phantom Rider; Hawkeye angsts about this, but only because he's scared she's descending back into supervillainy after all the work she did to get out of it. Later, she's killed by Mephisto, resulting in Clint falling into a downwards spiral for a while and eventually breaking up the West Coast team. After she's revived, she gets shot while on a mission with the New Avengers, all just to make the team, and Hawkeye, more angry at the villain.
- In Proposition Player, Archangel Michael arranges the gruesome deaths of several people who sold their souls to the protagonist, Andy (which forced him into said big boys' game), resulting in them materialising in his makeshift afterlife (his apartment) in the state they were killed (a pile of ashes, a guy with rebar through his head, a mangled corpse, and a pile of alligator dung - it's essentially the "default setting" for an afterlife until specified otherwise) - all as a message telling him how out of his depth he really is and how he should get out of the game while he still can. Michael and his angel-goon Bill then kidnap Andy's girlfriend (whose soul is also his property), violate and mutilate her, and then present her to him, barely still alive, with a final offer: sell the souls to them and she'll get a free ticket to Heaven with her original appearance intact, or refuse and the girl spends the rest of eternity as a mutilated freak. Andy promptly slits her throat and tells them that he intends to step up the game instead and kick them from the table. As it turns out, he had earlier changed his "afterlife presets" - people now come back looking as good as they ever did in life, although it doesn't help the already deceased - so she was perfectly okay, and safer than ever. And with a reserved spot in his new pantheon.
- Just as the 2099 version of the Punisher was starting to get his life back together, thanks to his girlfriend Kerry, Fearmaster decided to send a message to him and turned her to glass.
- The Malibu comics adaptation of Street Fighter has Sagat brutally kill Ken Masters and mail his bloody scalp to Ryu.
- Superboy's first love, Tana Moon, got this treatment. To make matters even worse, the woman who killed Tana did it because she felt Superboy, as a clone of her father Cadmus director Paul Westfield, was a huge disappointment. Recent retcons show, however, that Superboy is not Westfield's clone at all, but a joint DNA clone of Supes and Lex. So Tana's death was not only nasty, brutal and ugly, but the very reason she was targeted was just dead wrong!
- Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?: A rare male variant with Pete Ross, stuffed in a box by The Prankster and Toyman.
- Gail Simone, who coined the phrase (and has stated that the term has been distorted and over-applied since then) played with the trope in Wonder Woman, where Wonder Woman's best friend Etta was captured and tortured into catatonia by Genocide. She was deliberately targeted as one of Diana's loved ones, she was tortured to make us hate the villain even more, and she was left for Diana to find with a mocking note...all the hallmarks of a fridging except for the fact that she didn't die. Etta however, got better and was shown to be none worse for the wear in the long run, even telling Wondy not to feel guilty for what happened.
- Ironically, played straight in Batgirl: Future's End one-shot written by Simone. Barbara Gordon's new husband is introduced and quickly killed off, spurring Barbara to go on a mission to wipe out seemingly every crime organization in the next 5 years.
- For a gender flip, Mystique killed Ms. Marvel's boyfriend while disguised as her, in a matter that was particularly gruesome for a 70's comic (Mystique was originally a Ms. Marvel villain and was intended to be her archenemy). Due to the cancellation of Ms. Marvel's book, the issue showing that murder was only printed in the 1980s in the anthology title Marvel Super Heroes.
- The trope is invoked, deconstructed and played straight in Y: The Last Man. In the finale, Altar murders Agent 355 because she wanted to die by a man's hands. Agent 355 is killed off unceremoniously right in front of Yorick in an attempt to motivate him to do the deed.
- Subverted in Captain America; Sharon Carter is apparently killed stopping Arnim Zola's fortress from attacking Earth, only for it to turn out 10 issues later that she's actually been taken hostage by Zola.
- This has happened to Wolverine a lot for a single reason; his Arch-Enemy Sabertooth. Almost every time he finds something or someone that makes him happy, Sabertooth goes out of his way to try and destroy it. Sabertooth is perfectly willing to murder people just to make Logan miserable and hurting Wolverine is the one thing that Sabertooth cares about. Part of the reason Logan tries to avoid serious romantic relationships is because of how often they end tragically.
- Parodied/referenced in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man when Bullseye attacks Boomerang. Fred attempts to escape by convincing Bullseye it would be more dramatic to kill his girlfriend and leave him to angst about it. This attempt fails. Miserably.
- Discussed in The Just #1, where Kyle Rayner has a traumatic flashback of his girlfriend's death at the hands of Major Disaster (Major Force in the main DC Universe). The issue even begins with Sapphire Mason, a.k.a. Megamorpho, committing suicide.
- A Growing Affection: Itachi's wife is killed by Madara, who leaves her out for Itachi to see, claiming she was an intruder. Both of them know that is not true and the real reason Madara killed her.
- In Circles of Power, a Harry Potter fanfic, Draco defects to the light side. In retaliation, the Death Eaters kill Draco's good friend Pansy and then break into the house where Draco has been taken in by Harry and his friends for protection, just to leave Pansy's mutilated body on Draco's bed.
- It's kind of a Memetic Mutation in the Fire Emblem Awakening fandom to have Lon'qu fridged via being shot with arrows, in fanworks related to the Bad Future. This is because of the massive popularity of the Lon'qu x Lissa pairing, how in their supports Lon'qu does get (non-fatally) shot to protect her, and the canon fact that Lissa's husband canonly died protecting their kid Owain from arrows. Discussed here.
- In a now Lost Forever comic about the Bad Future, not only Lon'qu gets shoved inside the metaphorical fridge — but so do Panne and Virion. Panne's demise is also an egregious case of Women in Refrigerators and Disposable Woman, since she gets killed off solely to have her already mentally unstable widower Henry go the deep end.
- Alleged to happen with Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Methods Of Rationality. According to Draco, Dumbledore burned her alive as a warning to the rest of the Voldemort-supporting Malfoy family. Unreliable Narrator is in full force here.
- Happened more directly with Hermione Granger, leading to complaints of anti-feminism on fan sites. And the narrator is reliable this time. But as the author reminds us, the story isn't over yet.
- In keeping with many canon films, the James Bond Fan Film Property Of A Lady had this happen to Bond’s girlfriend as she is specifically targeted to have an effect on him. However, Bond is wise enough to call an ambulance and it’s implied she survives.
- A rare male example in Pokémon fanfic Symbiosis Sabrina's lover, Atsushi and her young apprentice Britany killed when she is mind-controlled by a Rocket psychic to destroy Saffron. Sabrina swears revenge on the psychic that did this to her.
- In Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams, Rick Sheridan's friend Cyrus is Driven to Suicide after he suffers a brutal Mind Rape at the hands of the demon Cobweb. What makes this even worse is that it becomes a twofer, as Sleepwalker is eventually forced to kill his brother N'ogskak as a result of the same plot.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- The book has a rare example of the sexes being switched for this one - Khal Drogo's fatal injury and subsequent death are all to motivate Daenerys to take her next level in badass.
- Later on, Lady Hornwood was married to Ramsay Bolton for politics, then promptly shut in a tower and left to die. She was found with her own fingers gnawed off in hunger and desperation. Her cousin Wyman Manderley was not pleased and is now plotting his revenge against House Bolton. Manderley is also taking revenge against House Frey, who had allied with House Bolton, to take down the Starks, the banner-lords for Houses Bolton and Manderley. Also, Wyman's son Wendel was killed at The Red Wedding.
- Both Eddard and Septa Mordane's heads are displayed on the Red Keep's walls by Joffrey to traumatize Sansa.
- In Tyrion's backstory, Tysha is an example of this, especially after he finds out she really did love him. Shae is also an example, except instead of her being killed to cause Tyrion angst, Tyrion kills her to show that he's fallen off the deep end.
- The entire plot of The Count of Monte Cristo is Edmond Dantes doing this to the people who betrayed him and had him imprisoned, culminating in an Aesop about how revenge ultimately corrupts one's soul.
- Charlie Parker's wife and child are murdered by a serial killer and left in the kitchen of his house for him to find in John Connolly's Every Dead Thing.
- Connolly tends to use women like that. In Dark Hollow, Charlie Parker is motivated by the gory death of Billy Purdue's wife and son.
- In The Killing Kind, Charlie Parker's ex-girlfriend is found killed and he is hired to find out what happened. He is later effectively fired but ultimately chooses to continue the job so he can bring some justice to Grace Peltier and the rest of the Aroostok Baptists.
- In Leon Uris' Exodus, a story about the founding of Israel, the lover of a main character is kidnapped, raped dozens of times, and dumped in pieces near her home.
- In Firestarter, Vicky is murdered and stuffed behind the ironing board.
- A rare “heroic” example occurs in the Guardians of the Flame series. The heroes adopt the habit of mutilating the bodies of slavers they kill in humiliating ways, then leaving them for other slavers to find as a warning.
- In Leo Tolstoy's novelette Hadji Murat, the reader is first aware of the death of Hadji Murat when someone shows off his head in a sack. This rather brilliantly makes a death that for the history savvy reader is inevitable something rather shocking and horrifying, just as it is to the characters in the story, who do not have the benefit of hindsight.
- Tim Rackley's young daughter, Ginny, is raped and cut up, leading to the Deputy Sheriff to go on a mad rampage in Gregg Hurwitz's The Kill Clause.
- Quite early on in the first book of The Last Werewolf trilogy, the title character finds his long-time human companion's severed head in a bag in the boot of his car.
- In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Capa Barsavi's daughter was killed by the Grey King and sent back to him in a barrel of horse urine.
- In the climax of Lord of the Clans, Blackmoore hurls the head of Thrall's human surrogate sister at his feet when the Orcs besiege his castle, trying to break his spirit. Unfortunately for him, Orcs do not work that way.
- In Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp series about an elite counterterrorism agent, the protagonist's backstory includes a tale of his high school sweetheart dying in a terrorist bombing as the impetus for his career. Aside from a couple of prequel books, her character is rarely mentioned outside her death and the role it played in enlisting the protagonist into the murky world of espionage and black ops.
- In the backstory of Sword of Truth, this happens to Zedd's wife. She's viciously beaten and raped by D'Haran soldiers, and just to twist the knife in further, she's left for Zedd to find. Zedd, being a Wizard of the First Order, naturally attempts to heal her, only to find that doing so sets off a trap spell designed to kill her painfully in response to any magical healing. Ouch.
- Richard finds Kahlan like this. People stop him from healing her for that reason. It takes her months to get better.
- Richard does this with Brother Narev for Jagang to find, and then later has this done with all of the Fellowship
- In Twilight, James attempted this trope, videotaping him torturing and killing Bella to make Edward seek revenge and start a "game" with him. Lucky for Bella, Edward was fast enough to avert it.
- In Villains Inc. (sequel to Wearing the Cape), this is played with. Early on, Astra is presented with a superhuman murder where the victim was reduced to soup-in-a-box. Then she learns that Blackstone, one of her teammates and mentors, was killed in the same fashion in a potential future. The threat is very motivating.
- In a rare example from Council Wars, Dionys McCanock decides against slitting Daneh's throat post-rape, just so she can go tell Edmund what was done to her.
- Music writer Tom Ewing accused Kenny Rogers's "Coward of the County" of this.
- The traditional folk song and child ballad "Lamkin" or Long Lankin" proves that this trope is Older Than Steam.
- Aleena the Cleric's fatenote in the "red box" version of Dungeons & Dragons was some 1980s gamers' first introduction to fridge-stuffing.
- A character with the Signature Move "Sacrificial Buddy" from Hong Kong Action Theatre has an Extra in every one of their movies who is a friend or relative of the role they play, whose main purpose is to get killed by the bad guys (usually in this fashion) and give the role some serious motivation for revenge.
- In Assassins Creed II, Ezio is driven by the death of his father and two brothers.
- Castlevania games loved this trope in the mid-2000's.
- In Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, vampire Walter Bernhard specifically kidnapped Leon Belmont's love interest Sara Tantroul to motivate him to fight for her, as he desires a challenging battle. By the time Leon sees her again, Walter has already bitten her, forcing him to put her out of her misery. This was also Mathias Cronqvist's plan, with intent to motivate Leon to kill Walter and thus grant him access to his vampiric qualities and alchemic items.
- In Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, Isaac arranges for Hector's girlfriend Rosaly to be killed in a witch hunt specifically so that he will seek revenge, reawaken his devil forgemaster powers, and contribute to the resurrection of Dracula and his castle. Rosaly is sufficiently a Disposable Woman that we never actually get to see her, and the game's female lead Julia is practically declared to be a replacement for her.
- And in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Celia kills Mina right in front of Soma's eyes just to piss him off and make him become Dracula. It's a doppelganger. Also, if Soma is sufficiently fooled, he kills Celia less than a minute later without even a fight scene.
- In Dantes Inferno the hero returns home to a scene right out of the aforementioned film Gladiator, thus setting up the entire rest of the game.
- Jenny meets this fate in The Darkness.
- The death of Hildi towards the end of Dead to Rights. Stuffed through a window, to be precise. In fact, this happens with nearly every female character Jack encounters, save for one in the Retribution reboot.
- The original Double Dragon was about Billy and Jimmy Lee's quest to save their lady-friend Marian from the clutches of the Black Warriors gang. In the sequel, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, the same girl is brutally gunned down by the gang's leader, leaving our heroes with the duty of avenging her death instead.
- The death of Lucien Lachance in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
- In the Civilization 4 mod Fall from Heaven, Einion Logos' flavor text describes him returning from making a truce with the demon civilization, only to find his wife brutally murdered - a ploy by the demons to incite him into breaking the truce right out of the gate. Even worse, Word of Kael says that it was another human civ (the Amurites) that did it, not the Infernals. It only looked like the demons did it so that Einion would take the Amurites' side against the infernals.
- Final Fantasy VII has Aeris which was related to the death of a real person: Sakaguchi's mother, who died early in the production of Final Fantasy VII. This made Sakaguchi, the man behind the entire series, include a realistic death in the game as opposed to the Hollywood-style deaths in earlier Final Fantasy games.
- Before your first mission on the Dread Isle in Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame, Matthew's love interest, Leila, who is spying on the enemy organization is not only found dead, but is left in such a way that the main characters don't realize this and try talking to her before realizing what has happened. An interesting use in this case as Matthew is the one most affected by this rather than one of the three main characters, and asks the next mission off to pay her proper respects. You are not forced to, but conversation elements would be different based on whether you brought him along on the next mission or not, having a similar effect to Player Punch only more indirect. You can also make Matthew get support conversations with her killer Jaffar, where he brutally calls him out.
- In the same game, Limstella, The Dragon kills whichever Reed brother you defeated by sucking the life out of him. The Reed brother you didn't fight finds their corpse and blames Eliwood and pals for killing his brother.
- Discussed in Fire Emblem Awakening. In Owain and Cynthia's supports, as they they discuss their approaches to heroic deeds, we find out that he has come up with a story about Cynthia and himself as heroes... in which Cynthia gets killed off. She is very unhappy, and in their S Support she asks Owain to not do such things anymore — and then accepts his declaration of love.
- Galerians Rion's parents, specifically his mother, who he finds in the fridge.
- In The Godfather, Aldo's Love Interest Frankie Malone gets abducted and killed by Tattaglia goons, complete with a Hope Spot when we briefly think she's okay... Nope.
- Anton in Guild Wars gave information to the Charr in exchange for the safety of his wife and his village. It worked out exactly like you think it did, and the quests to gain him as a hero in Eye of the North have you helping him track down the Charr he made the deal with.
- Discussed in Knights of the Old Republic II. According to Atton and HK-47, Revan finds this method a preferable way to deal with Jedi. By harming a Jedi's Padawan or allies first, the Force bond can cause disturbance to the Jedi, thus it would be easier to turn the Jedi to the Dark Side.
- And, sadly, the Exile herself suffers this fate in the tie-in novel Revan and the Old Republic MMO. Specifically, she was killed by Lord Scourge, and then her Force ghost stays for 300 years just to keep Revan alive.
- Sarah, the daughter of the main protagonist in The Last of Us is seriously wounded by a gunshot and dies to turn Joel into an Action Hero, and justify his Stay in the Kitchen mentality towards Ellie.
- Amie's death in the prologue of Neverwinter Nights 2 is to piss the player character off.
- The plot of the freeware platformer Ninja Senki begins with the hero's girlfriend Kinuhime killed, sending him on the path of revenge.
- No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle:
- In the beginning, some goons kill Travis' best friend, Bishop Sidax, and toss his head in a paper bag through Travis' window into his bedroom.
- Subverted in the cutscene before the Final Boss. Travis is presented with what appears to be the severed heads of his girlfriend Sylvia, his half-brother Henry, and fellow assassin/spurned love interest Shinobu in an attempt to demoralize him before the fight. Halfway through the first phase of the fight, Henry bursts through the window and saves Travis's life before explaining him that the heads are just replicas. Sylvia makes a reappearance at the end of the fight, when she saves Travis from falling to his death in the aftermath of the struggle. Shinobu doesn't make an reappearance or get even a passing mention in the epilogue, but considering Henry's and Sylvia's deaths were faked, it's safe to assume that hers was as well. Especially because originally there was going to be a final fight with Shinobu after killing the original final boss, sorta like the fight with Henry in the first game. Sadly it was cut due to constraints.
- In the first Phantasy Star game, Nero dies, which spurs Alis on her adventure to begin with. Alys' death in the fourth game is very obviously for the development of Chaz's character more than anything else, but was handled extremely well, substituting gruesome violence for a slow, suffering demise, and punctuated with a huge Tear Jerker death scene. What's interesting about Nero's case is his brutal murder was done publicly to try to prevent anyone else from opposing Lassic.
- Planescape: Torment:
- Your entire party. In the best ending, though, the Nameless One resurrects them.
- Deionarra was killed specifically to become a ghost so she could provide inside information. The one who made her that way is YOU.
- In Police Quest: Open Season, a severed head is found in the Big Bad's fridge.
- In the second chapter of Return To Krondor, William's girlfriend Talia is lying on the floor bleeding in her father's bar. She dies surrounded by James, Jazhara and William. Apparently, Big Bad Bear raped her and then fatally wounded her.
- Several examples in Saints Row 2. Firstly, your friend Carlos Lo is tied to a car and dragged across the streets at high speeds by the Brotherhood after the first two missions to punish you. The Boss, being the Villain Protagonist that they are, responds in kind by arranging the murder of Brotherhood’s leader girlfriend, Jessica. in a similarly gruesome way.
- Aisha's death is done purely to motivate Johnny Gat and the Boss to take down the Ronin, along with starting the latter's Sanity Slippage. This is further emphasized in the third and fourth games by the Boss and Her/His Evil Twin.
- Killbane decides to kill one of his old boss' secretaries, and then politely invites her sister to Murderbrawl while she's grieving over the body!
- And then five years later, Zinyak blows up EARTH. Just to insult everyone who was 'accepted' into becoming mind-slaves. Also, Johnny is forced to watch a simulation of his wife getting 'stuffed' over and over. For five years.
- The murder of Harry Mason in Silent Hill 3, motivating Heather to seek revenge against Claudia. Also done to "fill her heart with hatred" to nurture the demon god she is pregnant with. And then there's Vincent's death near the end of the game, which nearly pushes her over the edge into birthing the God.
- In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, the player character's live-in ghoul, a sweet young woman named Heather, is kidnapped and brutally murdered by the Sabbat, with the PC arriving just in time to witness her death, triggering a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Spirit in Wing Commander II gets a Stupid Sacrifice when her fighter is damaged and rather than eject, she kamikazes into the Heaven's Gate station. Her death is not brought up afterward, except in a passing reference by Jazz, who wanted revenge on the Tiger's Claw crew for the death of his brother, and her death seems to exist to facilitate Maverick and Angel getting together. In Wing Commander III, Angel gets killed off as soon as she's introduced, although the player doesn't learn of her death until much later, and this sets up the last mission as being one for revenge.
- The tradition carries on into Wing Commander Prophecy, albeit retroactively, when Hawk reveals to Lance Casey that this happened to Iceman sometime after Wing I. Replace "fridge" with "his own jet".
- In Sleeping Dogs, Wei Shen's best friend Jackie Ma is captured by the rival 18K triad and buried alive on an island off the shore. Wei hops into a boat and races to the island to find he's alive. Although he's having serious thoughts about continuing his Triad lifestyle at that point, at least he looks like he'll make it through to the ending...until the second-to-last mission where he's eviscerated and used as bait to lure Wei to his own death by Mr. Tong and Big Smile Lee. Upon his escape from his imprisonment, the Roaring Rampage of Revenge ensues for Wei.
- Watch_Dogs does this with the hero's motivation is that a hit was ordered on him and the assassin killed his niece instead, sending him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Later on, Clara is murdered in a Stupid Sacrifice just to drive home the point how dangerous Aidan has become to people close to him because of his crusade.
- Saya no Uta sees several characters dismembered and stuffed into a fridge with the purpose to preserve them and eating their flesh later. This happens to both men and women though, which is less usual for the trope. When Koji finds the remains of his girlfriend, the player decides how he reacts about it. Neither variant ends in a good way.
- Blur the Lines subverts this trope. 
- The B-Movie Comic: Mopey pulls this to provide encouragement to Biff here.
- The Green Lantern case was lampshaded in this Casstoons strip.
- One humorous scene from 8-Bit Theater:
Ranger: Honey, I'm home. Apparently. Hmm, a note... covered in blood, hair, and brain.
"Dinner is in the fridge. Your Wife."
[A hail of arrows sprays from the fridge, turning Ranger into a fine mist.]
- This Exterminatus Now comic combines this trope with Goldilocks, when their boss (an anthropomorphic bear) is royally pissed with the protagonists' latest screwup.
- Lampshaded in the superhero-deconstruction Heroes.inc, when a retired superhero tells his wife who was just attacked to stay 'home', because he thinks the attack was meant to get at him. His wife furiously replies that she won't be his private "Woman in the fridge".
- Homestuck has several Ensemble Dark Horse characters killed off rather suddenly to show the stakes of Sburb, as well as a few just plain Dropped a Bridge on Him deaths to clear out the massive Cast Herd. Hussie has lampshaded both.
- Octopus Pie heavily exaggerates this, although non-canonically in their 2010 Halloween story arc: Greg is cut apart and his body parts self-reportedly stuffed into multiple cupboards throughout the house. Hannah eventually comes across this sight, and has such a violent physical reaction to it she ends up dying as well... It's a comedy arc. Link
- Jane, a fairly minor character from Our Little Adventure was unceremoniously stuffed naked and bloody in a tree trunk by Umbria/Zaedalkaah. It would be terrible for Jason and Trevoricus if they ever found her like that.
- Subverted twice in Sluggy Freelance.
- Completely subverted, with a lampshade thrown in for good measure in this Super Stupor strip.
- Happens to Socks (who by the way was promoted to Kid Hero from Adorable Evil Minion for this reason) in the Kings War arc of Roommates. His death served the narrative purpose of motivating James to end a war (in one way or another). This even got a person shaped lampshade in the form of the representation of the narrative, who arranged this. The thing was literally made out of an Ironic Nursery Rhyme when it guided the spear that killed the kid.
- In Broken Saints, Shandala's mother, then later, pet cat are fridged by Lear as part of his plan to drive her across the Despair Event Horizon so she can become a living component of his Kill Sat weapon system. This is an interesting case in that it involves the planning of two identically similar deaths, done several years apart, with the second death providing the victim with final push towards insanity.
- In Demo Reel, the two main women are Rebecca Stone (who has a Rape as Backstory that she's dealing with) and the memory of Elissa Hoffman (Donnie's mom who committed suicide). "The Review Must Go On" ass pulls that Demo Reel was a purgatory punishment for The Nostalgia Critic, and all the characters were never-alive-to-begin-with constructs to help him along.
- This on LJ fanficrants.
- In the Feminist Frequency video Women in Refrigerators Anita Sarkeesian says, "Writers are using the Women in Refrigerators trope to literally trade the female characters’ life for the benefit of a male hero’s story arc. They are making clear that women, even powerful female superheroes, are basically disposable."
- She also mentions its overwhelming use in video games as well, in her "Tropes vs Women - Damsel-in-Distress" series, along with it being combined with Distressed Damsel in "The Damsel in the Refrigerator".
- Parodied in The Nostalgia Chick's Dark Nella Saga. Dark Nella captures Chick in parts 1 and 2 and stuffs her (alive) in a conveniently empty fridge. She gets out both times. It helps that said fridge is Bigger on the Inside.
- See the "Ode◊ to Aeris." Also known as◊ "Patron Saint of wannabe girlfriends that get dumped The Hard Way."
- This occurs in Survival of the Fittest with the death of Adam Dodd's girlfriend, Amanda Jones, at the hands of Cody Jenson. It was overshadowed by the simultaneous death (and rape) of Madelaine Shirohara.
- The Hangman does this to Aelia, Gaven's guide, during the Third Night of The Tale Of The Exile by yanking her up a building and strangling her while Gaven is speaking to her, solely to spook Gaven into running into a trap set by Despair.
- Samantha from We're Alive is killed on the floor of the Arena by a sadistic zombie who "likes to play with his food." We never actually hear her dying but can only imagine how gruesome it was and it leaves Datu scarred from then on.
- This fueled the creation of Women in Refrigerators, a protest site by comic-fan-turned-writer Gail Simone, who pointed out that these roles are not only almost always applied to female characters but to lead characters who happen to be female. A healthy amount of debate has risen up about whether the list is good evidence or not, but the meme, at least, lives on. By the way, if you an opinion on the topic, please keep it to the discussion page.
- Exaggerated and parodied 3 times in The Boondocks episode "It's Goin Down". Jack Flowers's 3 successive girlfriends are decapitated, pushed off a skyscraper and then exploded in midair, and tied to and fired from a cross-town rocket then blown up. All three are lampshaded, ending with "what kind of fucked up, Wile E Coyote shit is that?".
- In an episode of Samurai Jack assassin robots destroy several villages and kill their inhabitants (surprisingly unsettling, considering the only onscreen victims are robots) solely to draw the title character to them. Probably the horrific brutality with which it's done, which had they been human would have bumped up the rating two or three notches.
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) Karai has attempted to invoke this trope several times in her attempts to hurt Splinter (whom she believes killed her mother) by targeting the guys, and hurt the guys by targeting April.
- This has happened at least twice in Transformers Animated, first to Ratchet—while Arcee didn't actually die, having your memory completely wiped is still pretty bad. Next episode we find out that Optimus' friend (and Sentinel's implied girlfriend) Elita was eaten alive by giant spiders. Or so they thought. But as Blackarachnia, she fared little better, being a Faux Action Girl who wound up the Damsel in Distress every time she appeared.
- In the Wakfu special "Goultard the Barbarian", the villain Katar kidnapped and murdered Goultard's wife and children just to piss him off. Katar wanted to make Goultard look like a more appetizing host for the parasitic rage eating demon inside him. It worked, but Katar only got to enjoy a few seconds of freedom before Goultard finished him off.
- The second season of Young Justice has been doing this after a five-year Time Skip.
- Beast Boy is now on the Young Justice team after getting his superhero origin last season. But the episode "Earthlings" reveals through flashbacks and dialogue that his mother, who shared his original spotlight episode, was killed in an accident that was really orchestrated by supervillains. This traumatized Beast Boy deeply. But he is an orphan in the comics, so his mom was sadly Doomed by Canon.
- For extra points, Beast Boy wasn't even the hero Queen Bee was getting revenge on. That would be Miss Martian, who grew up idolizing Beast Boy's mother on her short-lived television show and wormed her way out of being blackmailed by Queen Bee. Queen Bee tells Marie Logan point-blank that she's only killing her for revenge, and the time stamp shows it was less than a month after the first season ended. So Marie is both Stuffed into the Fridge to hurt Miss Martian and Death by Origin Story to enable her son to become a superhero.
- Aqualad has gone through a Face-Heel Turn after being driven mad by the death of his former girlfriend, Tula. This turns out to be a ruse to that Aqualad could infiltrate the enemy's cadre. Tula certainly is dead though.