Too Good for This Sinful Earth
But I could have told you, Vincent, This world was never meant for one As beautiful as you.
— Don McLean, "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)"
The good die young, or so authors would have us believe.
A popular and old
(and perhaps outdated
) trope to justify Kill the Cutie
. If there is a child of extraordinary beauty, goodness and innocence in the story, he or she will invariably die in as Anvilicious
a manner as possible. The child will be certainly an Ill Girl
, and frequently a Waif Prophet
, whose death will be slow, torturous and lingering
or other disease was a particular favorite in the 19th Century), giving the child a chance to bid farewell
to everyone she loved in a long, drawn-out drama scene. Sometimes she gets to speak a few last words to hammer in An Aesop
relevant to the larger plot at hand. After she's breathed her last, her loss is mourned by all who knew her — in particularly extreme cases even the Big Bad
will take a moment to reflect on it — and may serve to re-energize tired or disillusioned heroes to fight on for her cause.
The trope name comes from a frequent comment made at the subsequent funeral, that the poor departed child was too good for this sinful earth
, and thus was called home to Heaven by a merciful God. In Real Life this trope may have been of some comfort to the friends and next of kin back in the days before decent sanitation and modern medical care.
Often a form of Death by Newbery Medal
(a major reason why this trope still lives on and in many people's minds why this trope has yet to be really
discredited, or at least is still used). Needless to say, in the hands of an inexperienced author, this trope is prone to being used badly.
is often the surviving child. Indeed, Parental Favoritism
may not even really kick in until the Favorite is dead.
This trope often overlaps with What Measure Is a Non-Human?
, I Just Want to Be Normal
, Pinocchio Syndrome
, and some variant of Gentle Giant
, in characters that are created by Mad Science
or even regular science
. In this type of story, the artificial creature is too innocent
for this sinful Earth, and is at risk of being corrupted by it
. Sometimes, instead of dying, the "monster" chooses voluntary exile.
Compare with Diabolus Ex Machina
. Littlest Cancer Patient
could be considered the modern take of this trope, but with a slight hope of healing and living for the affected kid (and also more likely to be played for comedy). Compare with Shoo Out the Clowns
, in which the lighthearted and comic-relief characters are taken or killed off the story to show that things have gotten serious.
Contrast Like You Would Really Do It
See Purity Sue
for the kind of character who most often gets this treatment. Also see Bury Your Gays
to see how this is applied to homosexuals.
Not to be confused with the Knight Templar
, who sees himself
as "too good", and his duty as being to wipe away all the "sin" by any means possible. Contrast Asshole Victim
This is a Death Trope; beware of Spoilers.
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Anime & Manga
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has Jonathan and his father George in Part 1, the latter was a kind man who lent mercy to an otherwise awful man and his even worse son, while wishing he and his own son would get along eventually no matter how much he scolded them something that is not rewarded as the ungrateful adoptee decided to kill him in order to become a vampire. The former in his final moments, despite everything horrible he did to him throughout his life felt only brotherly love rather than hatred for him, as well as pleading his pregnant wife to take care of a stranger's orphaned baby girl. A truly kind and gentle soul like his father before him, also murdered by his ungrateful brother.
- Air does this with both Misuzu Kamio and Michiru. And it does this very, very well.
- Same in CLANNAD for Fuko, Nagisa and Ushio. Thankfully, they got better.
- The Dauphin in Rose of Versailles died before the Revolution started.
- Sayo aka Magdaria from Rurouni Kenshin.
- Rubina from UFO Robo Grendizer -one of the Mazinger Z sequels-. All she ever wanted was people stopped killing each other and being happy with the man she loved. What she got for her efforts in stopping the war and try to convince everybody to forgive, forget and rebuild? She got killed.
- Shirley from Code Geass, depending on how much you like her and what you make of the picture of her as an angel that appears in the last credits.
- Euphemia. It was her naivete and goodwill that led her to do something that led to the political need to meet with the man who could control people's minds, which ultimately led to her death. Ironically, that same compassion leads to the man admitting his defeat, a claim none of her more ruthless or intelligent siblings can make.
- Susannah Julia Von Wincott from Kyo Kara Maoh falls under this trope. Can almost be called the Messianic Archetype. It is said that she was too pure for the Shoushu, the Big Bad of the show, to possess her. Thus, making Yuuri the last hope. She sacrificed her life trying to help injured soldiers.
- Ace's death in One Piece. While not having a happy childhood, with nearly everyone unknowingly telling him that his father Gold Roger was a cruel, unsympathetic bastard and with the World Government claiming that a child of Gold Roger's didn't deserve to live, this character was a relatively friendly, polite and all-round nice person.
- Haku of Naruto was incredibly selfless and kind. His death to protect Zabuza was what spurred the man into his Self-Destructive Charge and revealed the humanity he had long since buried. And then, as if the double-death scene wasn't poignant enough, it snowed.
- Princess Iria from Sora No Woto. She brought hope to everyone who knew her, and died trying to save a kid.
- Nina Tucker and Alexander from Fullmetal Alchemist.
- Android 16 from Dragon Ball Z - made to be a killing machine, somehow ended up a Friend to All Living Things. If he didn't have a soul when Dr. Gero built him, he would most likely have earned one by the time Cell brutally murdered him. To drive it home further, his is one of the few deaths to stick in a franchise notorious for its revolving-door afterlife.
- Hokuto is afraid something like this will happen to her brother Subaru in Tokyo Babylon. Given what happened, this trope might have been more merciful. And in a sense, that's what happened to her instead.
- Menma from anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day could be seen as this, having been a painfully-cute Genki Girl who always put others before herself when she one day drowned at the age of ten.
- Angelica and Henrietta in Gunslinger Girl.
- Subverted with Enrica; for the first several volumes of the manga we only know Enrica through Jose's flashbacks, all of which portray her as incredibly innocent. When the manga begins to detail the Croce family's backstory, Enrica is portrayed with a lot of human flaws that weren't initially shown. Not that her dying in the backstory doesn't suck, mind you.
- Played upon in Gestalt. Ohri, the resident Cute Mute and Manic Pixie Dream Girl starts as a slave girl, offered to Oliver, the main character. As Oliver flatly refuses to accept her (as he's staunchly opposed to slavery), Ohri, willing to follow him, describes this trope point-by-point, telling him that being too cute and helpless to thrive in a world so sinful to accept slavery, she would be eventually sold to someone else, without Oliver's morality, and die in the most Anvilicious manner possible. Oliver finally relents, and accepts her as one of the True Companions.
- Hare in episode 15 of Guilty Crown. When a group of students fear they'll be allowed to die because their voids aren't useful enough, they go out to try and get more vaccine from a hospital and prove they aren't useless. Shu and Hare head out to stop them so they won't get killed pointlessly. Before Shu can get them to listen to reason, they are found and attacked by the Antibodies. Souta, having been among the group going to the hospital, asks Hare to use her void in order to "heal" a car so they can escape. She gets targeted by Daryl, Shu sees this, and he dives to save her. They both get caught in an explosion and get badly hurt. Hare chooses to use her void to heal Shu while she's bleeding out of her stomach and talks about a picture book she read once about a "kind king" who tries to make everyone happy, but his kindness ends up ruining his kingdom and angering his people. she says she liked him despite this, and loved Shu because he was similarly kind to a fault. she then dies and starts to crystallize, only completely disappearing after Shu wakes up to see her dead body. What helps prove how good she is is that the sight of her fading from existence causes Shu's worst Heroic BSOD yet, sends him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and quite possibly (at time of writing) led to a Start of Darkness in Shu as he seems to lose all hope and kindness.
- Shouyo-sensei in Gintama is shown in flashbacks as an oasis of kindness, patience and wisdom for his students during the Amanto war. He is perhaps the only purely gentle and caring character without any bizarre personality defects in the series. His death is a driving motivation for the serious storylines, particularly how his students responded to it: Gintoki accepts the sinful earth that killed his teacher and protects it anyway; Takasugi thinks an earth so sinful should only be destroyed completely.
- Spoofed in Fate/Zero's Einzbern Consultation Room extra. Lancer learns from Irisviel that the source of his suffering was not actually from his curse. As it turns out, being noble fangirl bait voiced by Hikaru Midorikawa in an "Urobutcher" series makes his likelihood of dying horribly and tragically 170%.
- Shuu from Get Backers, when he is killed by Kumon Horii.
- Many childhood friends of Ginji, during his childhood in the Limitless Fortress, especially a girl who was a close friend of his.
- Kolulu from Zatch Bell!. Even though she was only sent back to the Mamodo World when her book was burned, this is still treated as the equivalent of the death in the series, not to mention the impact it has on people.
- Yui Toyokawa from a filler episode of Bleach
- There is also Senna from the film, "Memories of Nobody".
- In Barefoot Gen, there is Tomoko Nakaoka, along with Shinji, Eiko, and many children who were vaporized in the bombing of Hiroshima and its aftermath effects.
- Marco Bott, from Attack on Titan. Idealistic, kindhearted, genuinely selfless without any sort of complex, always there to encourage the others, and pivotal in holding the 104th Trainees Squad together emotionally during their first battle. His best friend, Jean, discovers what's left of Marco on the second day of cleaning up after the battle, and is horrified when he cannot find anyone that saw his final moments. This tragedy serves as a catalyst for Jean's evolution from a selfish Jerkass into The Leader Marco always believed he could become. Later events suggest something more sinister may have been involved in his death....
- Rebuild of Evangelion has Kaworu "Bishonen space Jesus" Nagisa. Although his morality was far more ambiguous in the anime series and the manga adaptation, all Rebuild Kaworu wanted was to see Shinji happy. And where his death in the TV series came by his own request, after he had attempted to cause Third Impact, in Rebuild it was basically because of a mistake on Shinji's part that he died.
- Valvrave the Liberator loves this trope so much that some wonder if the writers had problems with these kind of people. First we have Aina, the character who deemed the hero's curse as a blessing and is seen in the manga as one of the few people accepted Saki Rukino. She is killed in a crossfire. Then we have Lieselotte, a member of alien-like clan who wanted her people to coexist with humans. She dies sacrificing her life to protect a person who she once saved as a child. Then we have Kyuma Inuzuka, who had a crush on Aina and wanted prove his curse is also a blessing by protecting the people who five minutes ago wanted him dead. Think that's enough? Nope. In the finale the hero Haruto loses all his memories as a result of his curse in his final fight. He dies shortly afterwards.
- Anchan of Rainbow Nisha Rokubou No Shichinin is this, fullstop. You come to realize fairly early on that someone so good and inspirational and beloved and constantly in danger isn't going to make it for very long.
- Tatara Totsuka of Project K was an extremely kind and well meaning young man who just happened to be friends some dangerous people, and died far too young because of it.
- The storyline in the comic Lenore where the eponymous character dies (again) makes reference to this trope in its opening. This is intended to be ironic, as the title character has been dead for 100 years, has a wonky eye, is childish, has hair like straw, and tends to directly cause the deaths of nearly every person or animal she encounters — the closing in fact seems to indicate that her death is the opposite of this trope, with nature finally getting around to fixing a mistake.
- Nate Morgan in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog.
- Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacy is treated this way in retrospect. Before her death she was a more well-rounded character who was actually allowed to have flaws like a real human being, but the way she's spoken of nowadays has earned the sarcastic nickname "St. Gwen."
- Like Gwen Stacy, Jean Grey of the X-Men was held up as the standard to which all women in the book she'd departed could only aspire after her first "death" (later retconned to be more of a weird coma). After her second death, she didn't loom as large over the books, partly because her primary torchbearer, Cyclops, was already falling for someone else when it happened, and partly because she'd been incorrectly labelled as someone who kept dying and coming back, though Wolverine still worships her memory.
- When Illyana Rasputin, Colossus' kid sister, originally died from the Legacy virus, it was pretty much this, and it really established what a Crapsack World the Marvel universe was, particularly for mutants. However, since coming back, she's been anything but innocent, bordering on Villain Protagonist and, at best, Sociopathic Hero. In fact, Emma Frost even tells Illyana that the older X-Men's memories of her as an "impossibly innocent" child and guilt over her death are why they put up with all the shit she pulls.
- In an odd way, Wanda in The Sandman. She isn't particularly "pure" (in fact, she's rather snarky), but she's a very sympathetic character caught in a world in which far too many people (and supernatural entities) impose their own ideas of gender on her instead of accepting her for the awesome woman she is.
- Lisa of Funky Winkerbean was promoted to this shortly after her cancer returned. After she croaked, it seemed like one could hardly go a month without Les making reference to her. Like Gwen Stacy, a detractor nickname for her is "Saint Lisa".
- Deconstructed with Magik, the younger sister of Colossus. Her death as a young girl seemed to be this trope but she was brought back to life later. She Came Back Wrong and as an adult she's a borderline sociopath who does things like murdering villains in cold blood. Emma Frost admits that the only reason the X-Men put up with her hideous behavior is because they're all plagued with guilt over her death, especially Colossus. This eventually reached it's zenith when Magik responded to her brother treating her like a Purity Sue by forcibly cursing him to be the new Juggernaut.
- In Connecting The Dots, a Naruto/Justice League crossover, there's a benign, saintly old minister named Norman McCay who advises Hinata and consoles Sasuke. Guess what happens to him.
- Riku quotes this almost word for word when describing Sora's eyes as he's dying in "A Dirge For You".
- The Room: Johnny commits suicide over his fiancee having an affair.
: Everyone betrayed me! I'm fed up with this wahruld
- The film Powder (not to be confused with the video game), in which the main character is the kind hearted, perfect, Ambiguously Gay, next step in human evolution that is Too Good For This Sinful Earth, so his friends cheer him on as he dies and leaves this awful place.
- It's not entirely clear that he dies. He runs into a stormy field, gets struck by lightning, and disappears in a blinding flash of light.
- As are many (and more accurate to the book) film depictions of Frankenstein's monster.
- The title character in Starman is an alien who is Too Good For This Sinful Earth. Except that instead of dying, he leaves Earth on a spaceship.
- Inverted in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. The human world is sinful, but David, rather than dying, gets trapped and frozen underwater — and winds up outlasting the human world, eventually awakening to find it long gone.
- Any one of the Billy Jack films will roll out a cartload of Anvilicious dead Native Americans, minorities, white hippies and disabled children. All victims of the horde of rednecks that inevitably end up surrounding their peaceful little commune.
- Simon Birch
- Sister Agnes in Agnes of God surmises that her immaculately-conceived (?) daughter is this.
- Ofelia in Pans Labyrinth who refused to hurt her baby brother and decided to face the wrath of her evil stepfather who coldly shoots her in the stomach.
- Subverted by Alice in Super 8. She's practically a saint compared to her troubled father, and she gets swept up by the alien just as the father tries to apologize to her for being cold to her. In the end, her friends save her from becoming an item on the alien's menu, and she lives to reconcile with her now-redeemed father, who had reconciled with Joey's father after her capture.
- A Soviet film Property Of The Republic (Достояние республики) has The Marquis (played by Andrei Mironov), a former fencing teacher for the nobility. He's adventurous, kind and witty, a hopeless romantic at heart and so out of place in the 1920s Soviet Russia that he inevitably ends sacrificing himself.
- Chicago gives us Hunyak. The only woman to not commit the murder she was accused of is the only one to hang. What makes this even worse is the fact that this is because no one at the police station could speak Hungarian, and they didn't bother with getting a translator.
- Into The Wild uses this as the angle Christopher McCandless (the young college graduate who abandoned all his possessions for attempting to live off the land in the Alaskan wilderness, only for starving to death in there) is portrayed into.
- The Song of Bernadette, based on the life of Saint Bernadette Soubirous, is basically "Too Good For This Sinful Earth: The Movie". Unsurprising given that Saint Bernadette is still regarded by the Catholic Church as this.
- In The Big Chill, Harold says this about Alex during his eulogy.
- Invoked in A Brother's Price to explain why boy babies are so often stillborn. It is more likely to be due to environmental issues, but the characters have no idea and thus look for a supernatural explanation.
- One of the best-known examples is Evangeline St. Clare, alias Little Eva, of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
- Elizabeth "Beth" March of Little Women is right behind, complete with a loving poem written by her older sister to Beth's honor.
- Also from Alcott is Ed from Jack and Jill. He dies from typhoid because he's basically a male, less-known Beth and too good and pure for the world.
- Simon from Lord of the Flies is the purest of the boys, who is senselessly murdered by the others. Subverted, however, in that Ralph is the only one of the group who actually cares... and aside from Piggy, seems to be the only one who notices, or at least, be willing to admit noticing.
- Simon was a full-fledged Christ figure. Seriously, there have been professional literary critics who've written essays on this very point.
- The Little Prince.
- The title character of "The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen carries it off. Well, the narrative does not so much carry this trope as flamboyantly juggle it while singing the complete score to Handel's Messiah. Few works treat a little girl freezing to death as such an unequivocally wonderful thing.
- "The Little Mermaid", by Hans Christian Andersen, subverts this trope. The innocent and sweet mermaid who sacrifices her undersea life for love ends up giving up the boy she loves and sacrificing herself instead. However, the story makes it clear throughout that she doesn't have a soul — and upon her death, she is given a purgatorial afterlife where she might, with hard work and dedication, win a soul and go to heaven. So after her death, she begins to work her way up to Too Good For This Sinful Earth. Depressing, but not hopeless - which could well be the point.
- Ill Girl Helen Burns, Jane's best friend in Jane Eyre, dies of tuberculosis right before a typhoid epidemic kills many girls in the Boarding School of Horrors. But Helen still has time to impress on Jane the importance of dedication to God and trusting in her own conscience more than the love of others.
- John Coffey of the book and movie The Green Mile is a stellar example. Although not a child, he is a childlike Gentle Giant on death row for a crime he couldn't reasonably have committed, with magical healing powers and rather obvious Significant Monogram.
- The book and movie Pay It Forward, where the little boy at the story's center is killed while performing his third and final good deed... and is all but canonized by everyone else in the story.
- Referenced in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, as a possible reason why the pequeninos are ritually killing the humans that did them most good.
- Harry Potter. If you are a kind, loving, sympathetic, well liked character chances are YOU WILL DIE. This happens to Harry's mother Lily pre-series, and later, Cedric, Dumbledore (In his later years anyway), Hedwig, Dobby, Fred, Sirius, Lupin, and Tonks. The only obvious aversion/subversion is Hagrid, who appears to be killed off a couple of times but manages to survive until the end.
- Remedios "The Beauty" Buendia from One Hundred Years of Solitude. (from The Other Wiki: "She rejects clothing and beauty, sewing a cassock as her only clothing, and shaving her feet-long hair to not have to comb it. Ironically, it is her touch with base human instinct that perpetuates her as an object of lust for more men, whom she treats with complete innocence and no reservations. Too beautiful and, arguably, too wise for the world, Remedios ascends into the sky one morning, while folding laundry."... while Fernanda watches horrified as she is taking the clean sheets away with her.
- Parodied in Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: when the eponymous character is believed to be dead, many in the funeral service use variations of the titular phrase... even though all of them had previously declared Tom to be a little devil.
- From Twain's drafted-but-never-quite-finished Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy:
- Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Except that, at the end of the story, Scrooge's knowledge of the future allows him to prevent Tiny Tim's death.
- Played straight with Scrooge's little sister Fan, whose Death by Childbirth is offscreen and only alluded to.
- Also from Dickens, Little Nell Trent from The Old Curiosity Shop exemplifies the Victorian fascination with this trope. Oscar Wilde's opinion on the trope in general and Little Nell in particular was that "one must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing."
- The Doctor agrees with Wilde; in "The Unquiet Dead", he tells Dickens that he found Little Nell's death hilarious.
- Dickens probably did it on purpose as a Take That to his fans, who were almost fanatic about it — they arranged prayer groups for Little Nell, continuously sent of letters begging him not to kill her (allegedly going so far as to offer their own children to save her), etc. According to one source (a friend/colleague), Dickens was reading some of them, turned to him with the most malicious look on his face, and said (roughly) "I'm going to kill off Little Nell."
- Simon Callow claims in his one-man stage show about Dickens that one fan, on first reading it on a train, threw his copy out of the window and shouted, "He should not have killed her!"
- In the Casteel books by V. C. Andrews, Leigh (known as "Angel") suffers a tragic life and is eventually raped by her stepfather. She succumbs to Death by Childbirth at the tender age of just 14. By the same author, the saintly Laura Logan from Music in the Night, Gabriel(le) Landry in Tarnished Gold, and Ill Girl Eugenia Booth in Darkest Hour are also examples. Heaven and Dawn, who both die in tragic accidents in their early to mid-30s, may also count.
- A variant in the Gemini series: the rather bratty and annoying Noble does not fit the usual image of this trope, but his mother certainly considers that he does, and when he dies suddenly she forces his twin sister, Celeste to dress as a boy and "replace" him.
- David Eddings's Elenium series gave us a minor character named Sir Parasim, a young knight stated by the (male) main character to be beautiful, with a singing voice to match. The words "clear" and "pure" are used to describe him more than once. Turns out, he's the youngest of 12 knights destined to give their lives to help keep the Queen of the kingdom alive. You know the rest...
- Heavily foreshadowed by Eddings, who has his characters actually discuss Parasim with language like "He's too good for this world" and "God will probably call him home very soon." It's actually a comfort to Sparhawk when he finds out (after the fact) that Parasim's death was in a good cause.
- Notable in that this reveals more about the other characters than Sir Parasim himself. As old professionals, they've seen the good ones die young often enough to recognize the signs.
- In Eddings's Belgariad series there is mentioned (very briefly) to be a member of the good guy army who is a young, brain-damaged lad with a transcendent musical talent, playing songs of exquisite beauty. He sits and plays one of the most lovely songs the world had ever heard during a battle and is killed by an enemy ignoring it. This is presented as an indication of how cruel war is.
- Georgiana, from Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birth-Mark", had a birthmark on her cheek. When her Mad Scientist husband eventually removes it, she dies, going directly to heaven since she has no other flaws separating her from being an angel. Because Science Is Bad.
- Deconstructed in The Scarlet Letter: The congregation believes this is the reason that Dimmesdale's health is declining, but the actual reason is his inner torment over his secret sin.
- Subverted in the Brother Cadfael novel A Morbid Taste for Bones. At the end, the monks assume that this is what has happened to the beautiful and saintly Brother Columbanus. In fact, Columbanus was a murderer, and after his Karmic Death Cadfael fakes his assumption into Heaven to stop the other monks asking awkward questions.
- Melanie from Gone with the Wind is yet another example.
- Yalith in Madeleine L'Engle's Many Waters is a possible example, when she is whisked away by God to avoid death by the Flood.
- Diamond in George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind.
- The "twist" death of Willow in Handle with Care has strong overtones of this - several reviews have mentioned that the character was so wise and saintly that the story felt unrealistic.
- Subverted in Jerome's Three Men in a Boat with the narrator's dog Monmorancy. When the narrator first got the dog, he was sure it was so good and fragile it would die shortly... until he witnessed the fox-terrier's aggressive nature.
- Briana in The Dead And The Gone, a book about an asteroid hitting the moon. She gets adult-onset asthma due to the ash in the air from volcanoes. She never stops believing that her parents are alive, despite Alex and Julie's warnings, and prays for everyone. One day, when the electricity comes back on, she goes down to their old basement apartment to write her parents a letter. As she is going back up, the power goes out and she dies in the elevator. Alex and Julie find her 3 days later.
- The poem "Ye xu" ("Perhaps") by Chinese poet Wen Yi-duo, written as an elegy for his young son.
Perhaps you've tired from your cryings.
Perhaps, perhaps you need a sleep.
Perhaps, listening to the earthworms burrowing
The root-tips of young grass seeping water
Listening to the music of such
Is better than the curseful sound of humanity.
- In Edith Pattou's East, the main character, Rose, was born to replace her dead older sister Elise, her mother's favorite child. In one of the sections Rose narrates: "Mother was always telling me about Elise—how good she was, how she always did as she was told, how she stayed close by, and what a great help she was to Mother in the kitchen."
- John Grisham's The Testament: Rachel Lane, a beautiful, saintly missionary and long-lost daughter of tycoon Troy Phelan, dies of dengue fever and malaria in the penultimate chapter.
- In Romantic literature there was a series of characters who committed suicide because they felt they were too sensitive or too idealistic for a crass, corrupt world—from Werther in 1774 to Delphine Gay de Girardin's Napoline in 1833, by which time it was just about a Discredited Trope.
- Raamo in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-Sky Trilogy. Even by Kindar standards, he is quiet, humble, and completely without a violent bone in his body. Snyder killed him off at the end of the trilogy...but then realized she made a mistake with that and inverted the trope with possibly the first canonical video game sequel to a book.
- Joshua in Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels dies at the age of seven after a blow to the head during a vacation. He was not only a perfect little boy (incredibly intelligent, good at sports, insightful, said the darndest things, etc.) but didn't lose his cheerful disposition despite being kidnapped and almost murdered — his mother Jennifer was so desperate to prevent that that she asked a Mafia prince to do everything he could to rescue him, up to and including killing the kidnapper. Jennifer sees his ultimate demise as karmic payback for, during the aforementioned trip, spending a night with his father Adam (the boy was the product of an illicit affair).
- The protagonists of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
- Invoked in In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (based on the true story of the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic). Mama says that she thought Patria was going to die at a young age because she was such a good child.
- In the well known novel A Separate Peace, the main character Gene reflects on the death of his best friend Finny and comes to the conclusion that Finny had to die because he was too good-hearted to be able to live during a war.
- Almost literal in Awakened; Jack is killed by Darkness because Neferet needed to give Darkness a soul she could not taint (as a payment for trapping Kalona's soul). Later, when Nyx appears to the crowd at Jack's funeral, she tells his boyfriend Damien that he is one of the happiest souls she's known.
- In L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, Walter, the poetic, sensitive, whimsical second son of Anne and Gilbert, is killed in action during World War I.
- In Montgomery's other series, Emily of New Moon, there is a Murray cousin who died young. This trope is invoked, almost by name, and the young boy is described as being handsomer and more virtuous than anyone. Ever. So naturally, he had to die.
- So many of the women from Edgar Allan Poe's stories and poems. Poe himself wrote: "The death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world"-"The Philosophy of Composition" (published 1846)
- Roy Meritt from Daemon. In Freedom Loki/Gragg muses that his idealism and nobility were too far at odds with the nature of the world.
- Henry Darger's Story of the Vivian Girls includes a subplot about a turbulent, half-mad girl named Jenny, who is killed (in a weather disaster, naturally) at the very end of the story. She lingers for a time, saying lovely Little Eva-like goodbyes to everyone. Her final words (and the last words in the book) are Oh, I see God!...
- Henry's got boatloads of characters like this. Six-year-old Jennie Anges, who is "already marked for heaven", snatches consecrated communion hosts out of a church tabernacle to protect them from enemy soldiers who would desecrate them. Naturally, she gets desecrated instead.
- In Death series: Poor Marlena Kolchek. She was beautiful, innocent and pure. Unfortunately, a gambling syndicate that Roarke was in a rivalry with kidnapped her, and performed a torture murder on her that involved breaking her kneecaps and raping her. When they were done, they left her body on Roarke and Summerset's doorsteps. Her father Summerset wanted them punished, but the Inspector who was called in was a Dirty Cop in the syndicate's pocket, and he made sure the investigation led to nowhere. What a horrible thing to happen!
- Clive Barker's Abarat series: Princess Boa. Averted as of Absolute Midnight.
- In The Castle in the Forest, Adolf Hitler's sweet youngest brother, Edmund, dies of an illness in childhood. His father takes it very hard.
- In Someone Else's War, Otto is undeniably the kindest and most compassionate of the Child Soldiers. His offscreen death comes as a total shock later in the book.
- Jenny in The Truth of Rock and Roll: “And that was good. That was right. Jenny was made for another time and another place. She never fit in here.”
- Prim in The Hunger Games. Another beloved, sweet, and innocent little sister, as well as a natural healer and Friend to All Living Things.
- In Spin after Wun Ngo Wen, the man from Mars, gets killed by highway bandits, people start to see him this way. He would probably have disapproved.
- When Princess Sophia dies in The Kingdom of Little Wounds, the kingdom acts like this is the case, going so far as to call her "The Perished Lily."
- The Fault in Our Stars:
- Augustus alludes to this, saying, "Like, are you familiar with the trope of the stoic and determined cancer victim who heroically fights her cancer with inhuman strength and never complains or stops smiling even at the very end, et cetera?"
- "According to the conventions of this genre, he kept his sense of humor until the end, did not for a moment waver in his courage, and his spirit soared like an indomitable eagle until the world itself could not contain his joyous soul. But this was the truth..."
- There are many, many books based on the lives of (supposedly) nice, beautiful and perfect fatally ill children who faced their upcoming deaths with incredible fortitude and courage, loved by everyone and being pretty much purity sues until they beautifully kicked it. Naturally, more cynical readers will think of this as unrealistic tripe, and some might even point out that their parents (who more often than not wrote these books) are likely getting lots of either economic or social/moral profit from exposing their saintly children's short lives in such ways...
Live Action TV
- Superior Court: A couple of episodes:
- There was the episode where a defendant, a cult leader was accused of killing several young women. He unsuccessfully tried to justify the killings as God telling him the women were too innocent and pure to live in this world. Needless to say, he was convicted and sentenced to death.
- In an early first-season episode focusing on the rights of the accused vs. victims' rights, a court hearing is held to remand a 7-year-old girl to the custody of the state after she killed her younger sister. The hearing reveals that the girl had been viciously sexually abused by her father (a respected Southern Baptist minister and community leader) and that he was starting to target the younger child, who was 5. The truth comes out only after the girl's father is removed from the courtroom (when the judge noticed the girl was intimidated and taking cues from her father). In the end, the judge acquits the girl, saying she indeed was trying to protect her sister and stop the cycle of abuse ... she was too good and innocent to endure her father's abuse. (He is taken into custody, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to prison.)
- Referenced / inverted in a this particularly cynical comment by Sir Humphrey Appleby of Yes, Minister:
Sir Humphrey: Bishops tend to lead long lives — apparently the Lord isn't all that keen for them to join him.
- In the Amazing Stories episode that apparently inspired The Green Mile, a death row inmate gains special healing powers, but is put to death anyway just so the episode can pack a dramatic punch. Said punch is somewhat lacking due to the inmate being played by Patrick Swayze.
- In Heroes Season 3 Peter goes to the future and finds that Sylar is a waffle-making soccer dad with a four- or five-year-old son named Noah. As soon as you saw that sweet, innocent, and adorable kid, you knew he wouldn't make it to the end credits alive. Claire, Knox, and Daphne barge in, and Knox crushes Noah with furniture in a battle in Sylar's kitchen, after which Sylar literally explodes.
- Deconstructed on an episode of Law & Order where a woman smothers her baby and then incinerates the body so the child won't have to live in this terrible world. Her defense lawyer then argues that it was the Will of God that she murder her baby.
- Supernatural pokes fun at this trope in the episode "Tall Tales", with Dean exaggerating Sam's empathy in a recollection.
[to a guy Dean and Sam are interviewing about a case]
Sam: You brave little soldier. I acknowledge your pain. Come here. [hugs him] You're too precious for this world!
- And then this trope smacks you straight in the face by killing the only truly good angel.
- Chelsea Dawn Anderson, oldest sister of Deadliest Catch fisherman Jake Anderson:
Jake Anderson: She's in a better place, Mom. (chokes up) She's finally beautiful now. She can run.
- Chris Miles from Skins fits this trope, although he's a rather odd choice for it: he does lots of drugs and has lots of sex. Not "sinless" by many people's standards. He's clearly meant as this by the show, though, when they take care to point out how he has so much more love in his heart than just about anyone and how he's an innocent Woobie who got repeatedly shit on by life. There's also his method of death; he dies due to an illness that has been plaguing him since childhood, and which previously claimed his brother's life.
- Lady Sybil Branson in Downton Abbey: beautiful, noble, believes in fairness and justice for all, and frequently described as the kindest and sweetest member of the family. In the third series she dies at age 24 from complications following the birth of her daughter.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tara Maclay was without a doubt the kindest, most mature and most good-natured character of the series. And this being a Joss Whedon show, she ends up getting shot and killed for no real reason by one of the most evil villains in the series. Doesn't make it any less of a shock.
- Anna Draper from Mad Men.
- Only Fools and Horses: Del considers his mother Joan as having been an example of this. Subverted big-time in Rock and Chips where it's revealed that Joan was nearly as devious as her son—if a bit more kind-hearted—and not only did she have an affair which resulted in her becoming pregnant and giving birth to Rodney, she used Rodney's birth to secure the family a better home in Nelson Mandela House.
- Even before Rock and Chips, it was obvious just how oblivious Del was to what type of lady she was. Such as how Joannie was the first woman in Peckham to smoke menthol cigarettes, how she was often to be found in the corner of a pub with two geezers and of how she used to buy her school aged son alcohol in pubs.
- In How I Met Your Mother, the Mother is presented as a flawless person, the perfect fit for Ted, who gives sage advice to all of his friends. She then dies (without any particular angst) in the finale so that Ted can get together with Robin.
- The Priest has Nera, one of the fallen angels who serve Temozarela and the only genuinely good character in the entire series. She refuses to infect the village close to her caravan with the Dark Doctrine despite given the order to do so and in fact protects it from any harm. Nevertheless, the villagers mistake her as a witch, slaughter her friends, and hang her. Even then she refuses to spite people; when Temozarela himself appears to Nera as a vision and offers to free her if she declares her hatred against God, she tells him that despite everything Temozarela has done, deep down he still wants forgiveness from God and then camly accepts her fate.
- TAL brings us Laon Hiljo, a blind, somewhat blunt chachaoong under Ja Gwi's orders. He was only following Ja Gwi to ensure survival for himself and his two children, Haje and Jenna, and hopefully be freed from him by having their marks somehow removed even though Ei Mae had already removed Jenna's mark. Attempting to hide Yu Jin's identity from Ja Gwi, however, resulted in Ja Gwi detonating Hiljo's mark, killing him. Haje was so angered he was about to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, but was stopped by Yu Jin 'awakening' as the Second King and disabling Ja Gwi, followed by Chau Yoong arriving and sending Ja Gwi to Hell for eternity. Chau Yoong stated he would ensure Hiljo's soul was taken care of, before taking him away to properly bury him.
- Done oh so Narmically by The Posies' Love Comes.
Oh baby you're too pure
You're too pure for this wicked world
Your data's uncorrupted
- "Only the good diiie young, only the good die young..." Of course, he's singing that to a girl so she'll give up her virginity and live longer.
- Queen's "No One But You", written as a moving tribute to the late Freddie Mercury, speaks of such a person: "One by one/ Only the Good Die Young"
- "Vincent", by Don McLean, quoted above, about Vincent Van Gogh.
- Mentioned in Jimmy Eat World's "Hear You Me"
And if you were with me tonight,
I'd sing to you just one more time.
A song for a heart so big,
God wouldn't let it live.
- Very darkly played with in "Rum to Whiskey" by the Murder City Devils
She was the only decent thing
In a good for nothing town
She was the prettiest girl
In an ugly town
He must feel sorry I know
He hates sin
He switched from rum to whiskey
Bang, bang, he put her down
- Meat Loaf's Bat out of Hell.
Baby you're the only thing in this whole world
That's pure and good and right
And where ever you are and where ever you go,
There's always gonna be some light
- Michael Jackson's "Little Susie" (HIStory) has an extreme example with the title character, an abandoned tyke. She sat alone in an apartment and in her loneliness sang along to a music box song all day; "She knew no one cared" and "Neglection can kill/Like a knife in your soul". Only one other person was aware of her and did nothing — and then she was found dead and bleeding at the bottom of some stairs. As Joe Vogel's book Man in the Music points out, for all the song tells the listener, it could have been suicide, an accident, or even a murder (in which case it would have to have been a stranger throwing her down there For the Evulz!). In any case, everyone in the building gathers around to weep and gnash their teeth over the wasted life.
- The title character of "Ocean Gypsy" by Renaissance, after being dumped.
- The sculptor's lady in "Turn of the Century" by Yes, motivating him to memorialize her in stone.
- Jenny Drew in "Nothing that I Didn't Know" by Procol Harum
- Micheala from Story of Evil. In a Crapsack World like that, we all knew she wouldn't even last one song.
- The unnamed girl from the "Concrete Angel" music video by Martina McBride. She's a cute little girl that the video's protagonist crushes on, is heavily abused by her mother... and in the middle of said video, she's beaten to death by said mom. The "concrete angel" is actually located on the girl's grave.
- "Amelia" by Tonight Alive:
Wish you were here, but it's becoming clear,
that Earth's just not the place for an angel like you.
- The 1921 hit "They Needed a Songbird in Heaven (So God Took Caruso Away)".
- Daniel Johnston's "Danny Don't Rap" from Yip/Jump Music about Danny Rapp from Danny & The Juniors who committed suicide. The song almost literally quotes this trope:
When no hope was left in sight
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could’ve told you, Danny
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as…
Religion & Mythology
- Galahad of King Arthur's court. No sooner does this sinless, invincible young Christ figure achieve the Quest of the Grail than he is taken up to Heaven.
- The Norse god Baldur already lived in heaven, but maybe he was Too Good For This Sinful Asgard. In any case, he was the best of the gods, so of course he died.
- Older Than Feudalism: Kleobis and Biton in Greek Mythology.
- In The Bible:
- Enoch "walked with God, and was not, for God took him." According to Rabbinical literature, God took Enoch so the world couldn't corrupt him.
- Jesus Christ Himself (He died for our sins, you know). He got better, though.
- Elijah was too badass for this sinful earth. He was snatched up to heaven in a flaming chariot.
- Numerous nameless individuals in Hebrews 11. "Of whom the world was not worthy..."
- Ironically, (innocent children aside) anyone who was "too anything" — too beautiful, too wise, too wealthy — was sometimes thought to have made a Deal with the Devil.
- Many a Christmas cantata performed in a church will, if not a specific example of an Ill Girl or Littlest Cancer Patient, somebody integral to the plot has to die for the sake of the plot.
- In Warhammer 40,000, this is a common view of Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels. A man with a kind heart who genuinely believed in the goodness of others, he still tried to turn his brother Horus back from Chaos in their final battle and gave his life in a battle he knew he could not win, but still fought.
- Though now non-canon, the imperial guardsman Ollanius Pius was another such figure, standing between Horus and the Emperor with nothing more than a lasgun.
- He's back- in the newest Horus Heresy novel, Know No Fear.
- In Puccini's opera Turandot, Liu does a Heroic Sacrifice, and everyone weeps for her, except for the titular ice princess (who hasn't had her "Shut Up" Kiss yet). Then the composer dies, leaving the ending to be written by Franco Alfano.
- Rodrigo di Posa in Verdi's opera Don Carlo (not in Schiller's play) might be a male version of Liu, only with a different social status.
- The Nurse's daughter in Romeo and Juliet: "Well, Susan is with God; /She was too good for me."
- And, of course, Romeo and Juliet themselves.
- From RENT: Angel Dumott Schunard. S/he is a talented, compassionate, cross-dressing (and homosexual) percussionist who wastes away from AIDS, which is depicted in the movie. Not only was s/he in a happy relationship with Collins, s/he is by far the most beloved person among characters and fans, despite a tendency towards paid dog-killing.
- The Princes in the Tower, in Richard III. This is certainly justifiable from our point of view because Richard almost certainly had them killed, but in Richard's time there was no big outcry - people didn't sentimentalize childhood like they do now, and the average Englishman of Richard's time didn't care about the Princes' deaths as much as he did about the survival of his own children, which was more likely under the stable government Richard had set up.
- IRL, he probably didn't do it. The evidence they've got at The Tower of London paints a pretty convincing case for Henry being the guy who did it.
- That's a bit generous. He remains to most historians the most likely suspect, but there's nothing totally conclusive; Henry VII is a distant third as the most likely (#2 is Buckingham, to most people).
- There are documents dealing with the princes' care dating after Richard died. This does seem to make him an unlikely suspect.
- There is a contemporary diary from an Italian merchant living in London, who records that people were weeping because the princes had ceased to appear and they assumed they had been murdered.
- Henry VI, right up to his death in Henry VI Part 3 — he is consistently portrayed as far too meek and unworldly to wield power. In Richard III, Lady Anne is reproving Richard for having murdered him, and Richard responds sardonically:
Anne: Thou mayst be damned for that wicked deed!
O he was gentle, mild, and virtuous!
Richard: The better for the king of Heaven that hath him...
Let him thank me, that holp to send him thither,
For he was fitter for that place than Earth.
- Though it might fall more under Mentor Occupational Hazard, Abuela Claudia in In The Heights is probably the most selfless, good-hearted person in the entire barrio, and probably the most beloved person in the entire community. Guess what happens to her at the beginning of Act 2?
- But she's not a completely straight example, in that she's an older woman to begin with (and what this means is that her death is more understandable than these other examples).
- In Time and the Conways by JB Priestley, Act 2 is set nineteen years after the events of the first act and shows how the lives of all the Conways have completely fallen apart. Carol does not reappear, and we discover that she died of appendicitis at age eighteen - implied to be because she was too good and innocent to deserve the same fate as the rest of the family.
- In Arthur Sullivan's dramatic oratorio The Golden Legend, Elsie's self-sacrifice inspires an A Capella chorus to sing, "O pure in heart!" It turns out, however, that she doesn't have to die after all.
- King Lear: The eponymous King's youngest daughter Cordelia. It is announced during the final scene that they were just a little too late to save her from execution, and cue her devastated father staggering in with her corpse in his arms...
- Spoofed by The Simpsons when Smithers cradled an apparently dead Mr. Burns and cried he was too beautiful to die.
- Even better, Smithers thought Burns drowned and screamed "Why do the good die so young?"
- Played Straight with Bleeding Gums Murphy, Frank Grimes and Maude Flanders.
- Also spoofed by Futurama, where Bender and every other robot on Earth is being tricked into getting deactivated. They are the cause of global warming, as it turns out. Bender, in a rare moment of altruism, is willing to die (for the turtles), and Fry claims that the world isn't good enough for him. Bender simply replies, "Not even close."
- Played shockingly straight in the Adventure Time episode "All Your Fault," with the death of Lemonjon, the eldest child of the Lemongrabs. He sacrificed himself so he could save his family. In his Final Speech, he says, "I must dissolve the bonds uniting me, and become component to all!" Finn and Jake are respectfully silent for a moment, before Finn sadly says, "Man, that Lemonjon was all right."
- King of the Hill when Buckley dies and causes Luanne to go a little crazy and lose faith in humanity's goodness.
- Played with in South Park with Kenny who is arguably the most down to earth and morally centered of the four boys and he of course gets killed in nearly every episode of the first five seasons and nowadays once a season
- Played Straight with Chef who was possibly the most down to earth of the townsfolk
- Beast Wars mixes this trope with Sacrificial Lamb, introducing a deformed, yet powerful robot with a child-like innocence that starts off its episode not even knowing good from evil. It winds up befriending Silverbolt and Rampage, who both want to protect it for different reasons. Silverbolt cherishes its innocence, while the insane mutant Rampage feels A Shared Suffering. By the end of the episode, it winds up sacrificing itself to stop its two friends from fighting.
- Subverted with Pigeon Man from Hey Arnold!, whose decades of negative experiences with human beings don't cause him to commit suicide, but rather fly away with his pigeons into the sun in one of the series' most notable examples of Magic Realism.
The following are people depicted in media
(occasionally including news media) as this trope.
- Alexander the Great, especially in the eyes of 19th century historians and academics
- Crusader propaganda attributed this to Godfrey of Bouillon, who died of typhus at age 40 shortly after being named the first King of Jerusalem.
- Abraham Lincoln said his son Willie was this. "My poor boy. He was too good for this earth. God has called him home. I know that he is much better off in heaven, but then we loved him so. It is hard, hard to have him die!"
- Shiloh Jade Pepin: the -once- only person in the world living with mermaid syndrome. Mermaid syndrome occurs when a baby is born with the legs fused together like a mermaid's tail. Most babies die within a few hours. Two other girls who were born with the disease were able to survive past infancy and successfully had surgery to separate their joined legs, but Shiloh's condition was so severe that surgery wasn't even an option. TLC ran a couple specials on her because of her remarkability and adorableness. She died of pneumonia at the age of ten.
- Ezekial Aikle's gravestone bears the epitaph "Only The Good Die Young." Considering he was 102 years old when he died makes this an Inverted Trope.
- Beatrice Portinari believed by scholars to have been the inspiration for Beatrice a character in the Divine Comedy and in the game based off the book, The Other Wiki cites that Dante viewed her as the mortal representation of purity and virtue. She also died at age 24 where as Dante lived to be 54 so this may invoke Too Good For This Sinful Earth.
- The Catholic church has a slew of young saints who are this. St. Maria Goretti died in 1902 at age 12 fending off a rapist. She lived for a day or so, forgiving her attacker. Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the kids who saw the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, died of influenza compounded by self-imposed neglect ("sacrifices") at age ten (1919) and nine (1920) respectively. Jacinta was an especially good example of this; she lingered for over a year, quietly enduring Body Horror and preaching sermonettes to all and sundry.
- Speaking of young saints, it's said that Oprah's favorite poet/prophet/inspirational figure Mattie Stepanek, who died at the age of 13 from cerebral palsy and was the only one of his equally-afflicted siblings to survive past the age of four, is on the path to sainthood.
- Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine Massacre, was known for being incredibly kind to students, and is now the symbol of anti-bullying in high schools with the "Rachel's Challenge" program dedicated in her memory.
- All the child victims of the Sandy Hook massacre have received this treatment in the media.
- In fact most of the adult victims as well, especially Victoria Soto.
- Same goes for Auroa Shooting victims
- Anne Frank may be the poster child for this trope.
- Anyone killed by the nazis for peacefully resisting their politics qualifies in the very literal sense that they were too good for this sinful government.
- Fred Rogers was considered a living example of Incorruptible Pure Pureness while alive, but after his death, he was everything but deified by the media and public alike.
- Ricky Wilson, late guitarist of The B-52s was by all accounts incredibly nice, not to mention shy. He didn't want to tell his friends and sister that he had AIDS, for fear of upsetting them. Ricky is deified by fans of the band.