Take a Moment to Catch Your Death
This happens after the character or characters narrowly escape some kind of disaster. The bomb is defused with one second left.
The Booby Trap
is jammed. The bad guy is buried under a ton of rubble.
Whew. It's finally ov—OH GOD, THE HORROR! Death claims a victim suddenly and often quite violently. The key to this trope is that someone believes that everything is okay, and in that moment of relaxation, when the tense music has stopped, someone dies.
To clarify, this does NOT refer to just any sudden, shocking death like Samuel L. Jackson
's in Deep Blue Sea
. The death in question must immediately follow an escape from imminent peril, interrupting the peaceful tranquility of apparent success. However, the cause of death need not be the exact thing that was perilizing
the heroes in the first place. They could be blindsided by a completely new threat or an older one they'd forgotten about. Or a wound could suddenly catch up to them — aversions of Hard Head
often produce this.
This is often a Jump Scare
. Except when it's supposed to be darkly ironic
. The Beat
is a distant comedic relative.
Can possibly be combined with a Finger Twitching Revival
if it involves a bad guy Playing Possum
The Video Game
variant of this is Kaizo Trap
, when during a seemingly moment of peace the player will be killed if not ready.
Also called "Whew That Was BOOM"... as in... "Boom! Athletes Foot!"
...Only more fatal.
Related to Hope Spot
, may be preceded by a Cat Scare
, and has been known to involve Not Quite Saved Enough
and Diabolus Ex Machina
. This is the kind that definitely ends in death.
If a character collapses and faces the serious danger of death, see After-Action Healing Drama
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Anime and Manga
- Dragon Ball Z
- On Namek, Goku drops his giant Spirit Bomb on Freeza just as Freeza was about to destroy the planet. After everyone relaxes, Freeza reveals that he is still alive, wasting no time severely wounding Piccolo and killing Krillin.
- After being on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle against Freeza, Vegeta is seemingly saved after Goku arrives and takes the moment to revel in the fact that the tyrant is finally going to get his. Freeza almost immediately shoots him through the heart in annoyance.
- The main characters take a moment to mourn Goku who just performed a Heroic Sacrifice to save the Earth from a self-detonating Cell, only for the villain to suddenly reveal himself to still be alive and murder Trunks.
- In End of Evangelion, Asuka catches her death the moment she kills the last of the nine MP EVAs. Out of nowhere, a double-bladed parrying staff is thrown at and stopped by her AT Field - until it re-assembles itself as a synthetic Lance of Longinus, piercing her AT Field and running the EVA through its skull and left eye, subsequently popping Asuka's eye as well. Out of power, Asuka's EVA cannot move as the nine MP EVAs regenerate, devour it, and skewer it with its pilot.
- The villain of the Kyoto Arc of Mahou Sensei Negima! manages to get away from Eva, only to run into Chachazero. Too bad she only scares her silly.
- There was a rare, non-fatal example in The Place Promised in Our Early Days: Sayuri is saved from a Literal Cliff Hanger off the end of an abandoned pier by Hiroki. Just as they are mostly safe and jubilating over the successful rescue, the rest of the dock gives way and dumps both of them into the ocean.
- In Pokémon Special, the Kanto Dex Holders (and Silver) are celebrating after finally coming out on top of all the crap that happened to them throughout the FRLG arc. Then they get Taken for Granite by a villain who has no excuse for surviving the aforementioned crap.
- Caster of Fate/Zero does this to a child in the second episode, claiming that the Hope Spot makes its death more satisfying.
Films — Animated
- In 9, the surviving dolls have a small celebration once they think they've destroyed the Cat Beast. They haven't — it gets back up after a few minutes and kills 5.
Films — Live-Action
- In the Halo novel Ghosts of Onyx: Dante's death. Most of the Spartans get to relative safety, he reports "I think I got nicked, sir," then dies.
- In George R.R. Martin's The Hedge Knight, after the Combat by Champion is over and concluded, one of champions dies abruptly from a wound he suffered during the melee.
- In R. J. Rummel's Nuclear Holocaust Never Again, the heroes are blown up immediately after they prevent a dictator who would have taken over the world and starting a nuclear war from coming to power.
- In The Shining, the evil spirits animating Jack Torrance race him down to the boiler room to relieve the pressure after Danny tells them that they forgot. The spirits (still using Jack's body) turn the relief valve, the pressure starts to go down, and they shout "Not too late!". Then the boiler explodes. (The Stanley Kubrick film abandoned this climax for a completely different ending.)
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Fred Weasley dies in a calm moment during the Battle of Hogwarts
Live Action TV
- Battlestar Galactica (Classic) (1970s): The episode "Lost Planet of the Gods" part 2. After Adama, Apollo and Serina escape from the tomb, a Cylon Centurion suddenly appears and shoots Serina, mortally wounding her.
- Doctor Who:
- Has occurred several times throughout this series.
- The series finale that led to David Tennant's regeneration.
- The 11th Doctor episode Let's Kill Hitler: The random Nazi officer in the beginning.
- In a way that is possible only via time travel, in The Angels Take Manhattan Amy and Rory trigger a paradox (by jumping to their deaths) to avoid a lifetime of being trapped in a building by the Weeping Angels (where they had previously witnessed an old Rory dying). After the timeline repairs itself and everyone is safe in 2012, Rory notices a gravestone with his name carved into it ... before being suddenly zapped back in time by a Weeping Angel (and the gravestone updates itself to reflect the age he died at). The Doctor views it as if Rory had been killed, because that point in New York's timestream has been damaged enough that the Doctor can't land the TARDIS back there to go get him.
- Grey's Anatomy: Has this in Episode 2x17 after the live grenade stuck in a man's chest is finally removed and taken away by a member of the bomb squad, triumphant music plays, dramatic slow motion is in full effect and Meredith has finally a moment to catch her breath after being in mortal danger for almost two episodes. She follows the bomb squad member and... cue Ludicrous Gibs
- NCIS: When Kate gets sniped off.
- Revolution: In episode 11, the heroes and the American Rebel Army decide to make one last stand against Monroe and his army, despite the fact that they are mostly without power and Monroe now has helicopters with big machine guns and rocket launchers. However, Miles manages to get a rocket launcher of his own, with just enough power from a pendant to operate that one weapon. As he takes aim at the helicopter carrying the power supply, a rocket explodes too close, causing him to lose his bearings and drop the launcher. Charlie and Rachel rush out to see to him, and Danny grabs the rocket launcher and takes out the power supply. As it falls to the ground in a fiery inferno, the other one begins a lurching descent to the ground, spraying gunfire in the general direction of the heroes. Danny takes four rounds to the chest and dies as quickly as you'd expect from that kind of trauma, right after his heroics saved the whole rebel camp. However, it does give his mother the option of retrieving a medical device from his lungs that is somehow still functioning after the blackout.
- Stargate Atlantis: The death of Dr. Beckett, following a surgery to remove an explosive tumor, and the subsequent pass off to the bomb squad with portable containment chamber... it explodes before they can get it inside said containment chamber — right in the middle of radioing in the success no less!
- The Young Ones: In the final episode, the characters are on a bus which falls off a cliff. They survive the crash and comment on how lucky it was, and the bus promptly explodes into flames. Whether they survive isn't explained.
- In the middle of season 5 of 24, CTU has been infected with nerve gas and a handful of survivors have made it to quarantined saferooms, but an acidic complex in the gas is slowly dissolving the protective seals. Eventually, two men sacrifice themselves by exposing their room in order to filter the gas. Eventually one of them can't hold his breath anymore and is forced to take a gasp of air. Nothing happens for several seconds, he begins expressing relief and joy that the gas must have been filtered out in time... and then begins coughing up blood and spit. The other guy soon follows.
- This is how Audrey dies in Day 9 (Live Another Day): She's saved by the CIA from a sniper that was about to kill her, only for another assassin accompanying him to run and and gun her down seconds later.
- Mad Men: During the Korean War, Dick Whitman and Don Draper (the real one) take cover from enemy fire. After the shooting halts, the two get up and breathe sighs of relief...until Dick accidentally drops his lighter and causes an explosion, killing Don.
- This was a running joke with Mister Easter, a street-level hero from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe who had the power to come back from the dead after three days (he's Mister Easter, get it?). One of Mister Easter's Disadvantages was "Fated to Die at Least Once Per Story" and boy did he live up to that. During his crimefighting career he was hit by the bus several times, choked on a fish bone, was hit on the head by a falling fire-escape ladder, accidentally electrocuted himself, and once was stabbed to death by a bad guy who wasn't quite dead. And the GM always managed to make his death a perfect example of this trope.
- In Bayonetta, after fighting one of the bosses, there is a cutscene in which one of the angelic enemies braces itself, expecting to be hit by a runaway streetcar. The car stops just before hitting the angel, and you can see the angel sigh in relief— and then the streetcar tips over and crushes it.
- A strange occurrence happens in Dead Space. Throughout the game, Isaac runs into scripted events in which a tentacle shoots out around the corner and grabs him by the ankle. If Isaac fails to wound the tentacle enough, it pulls him into the hole and a scripted death occurs. During one of these death scenes, Isaac holds onto the sides of the hole for dear life, but the tentacle actually lets go. Isaac stands up, trying to catch his breath, but just as he goes to escape, the tentacle comes back out, grabs him by the face, and finally pulls him down, killing him.
- One of Ever17's endings has the characters escaping the imploding facility via submarine. They are amazed that they survived. Cue the Diabolus Ex Machina where the sub starts sinking, and the main character's way of reducing the weight.
- In Dead to Rights, Eve is killed immediately after your Escort Mission with her.
- At the end of the New Alexandria mission in Halo: Reach, the team is escaping to shelter as the city is being glassed. Then "Bang", out of nowhere, Kat is Killed Mid-Sentence by an Elite sniper.
- This can happen in many video games in general: Defeat a difficult enemy with just a sliver of health left and, during the death animation, a stray obstacle defeats the player character and forces the player to fight the enemy all over again.