"At the beginning of the second season, Warner Bros. suggested that I introduce a hotshot pilot to the show and my first thought was, 'I'll kill him by the end of the season.'"
have it rough, be they Chew Toy
, Butt Monkey
, or Creator's Pet
. However, some characters never have "it" at all,
they're Killed Off for Real
, Put on a Bus
, or otherwise kicked out
almost as soon as they join. Too little time for the audience to get attached to them (assuming, of course, there's something worthwhile there
to attach to). In rare instances, these characters are tragically brought Back for the Dead
or have someone drop a bridge on them
. Sometimes writers will reassign their arc to an existing character or to a totally new character
Possibly named after the particularly tragic Irish anti-war song Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
, which devotes itself to describing the horrific wounds received by a soldier returned from war while alluding to the carefree, even cruel life that he led prior. (Its tune is better known as The Ants Go Marching Two By Two
or When Johnny Comes Marching Home
In Real Life
, this applies to just about anybody who dies. It depends on the perspective of the individual and how much they knew said person.
Compare Sacrificial Lamb
. If the character was a hardly-seen Recurring Extra
who finally gets A Day in the Limelight
only to be killed off, that's A Death in the Limelight
. Might result in the cast itself forgetting their fallen friend.
This is a Death Trope
. Unmarked spoilers ahoy.
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Anime and Manga
- Most of the SSS members in Angel Beats! suffer from this, partly because of the sheer number of characters, but more likely, the decision to go from 26 to 13 episodes.
- Sven in Voltron, sort of. He was revived in the dub.
- Leomon in Digimon Tamers. Introduced in ep 21, dies in ep 34 in a way that was fairly disturbing, seeing as it was the first Killed Off for Real of a main character in Digimon, ever.
- Matt from Death Note got maybe 12 panels in the manga before he gets killed. All we know is that he likes video games and is good friends with Mello.
- Ukita, the member of the task force who charges off to Sakura TV and gets killed by Misa, gets more panels, but less development. His death largely serves to prove that it's possible for a death note user to kill without knowing someone's real name if in possession of the Shinigami Eyes.
- Kolulu from Zatch Bell! gets defeated pretty fast, although she is still one of the most important characters since she was Zatch's inspiration and the one that made him want to win.
- Gai Daigouji from Martian Successor Nadesico dies both needlessly and anticlimactically in the third episode, sending a clear message to the viewer that it was not a Super Robot show, but a Real Robot show.
- Thank goodness for Super Robot Wars.
- Not to mention this one female pilot that replaces the main character in one episode. She gets all of two scenes and five sentences of dialogue; the last one being spoken mere moments before she bites it.
- All of the recruitable characters in the anime adaptation of Valkyria Chronicles. Contrast to the game where the characters have character, and you'll pull your tank and all available troops just to make sure no one dies.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Mami Tomoe dies two and a half episodes in, although she does recur in alternate timelines.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, this happened to Quartum, Quintum and (maybe) Sextum Averrunci. Although they may be Not Quite Dead.
- In the Birdy the Mighty anime, Tute, Birdy's police partner, dies by the third episode of the first season.
- In Tegami Bachi, Lily Confort is introduced, given a small backstory, suggested as another love interest for the main character... and then has her Heart eaten by a Gaichuu over the course of four chapters.
- This is the fate of Acta in Black★Rock Shooter: Innocent Soul, who dies the same chapter she's introduced.
- Bleach: Chojiro Sasakibe, despite being the vice-captain of Division 1, is usually relegated to a background character that does nearly nothing major. At the very beginning of Vandenreich invasion, he's abruptly killed off. His memorial is used by the Shinigami to reminisce about his in-universe reputation, which is a revelation to the audience, but it's only to set up future consequences for the Gotei 13.
- Heine Westenfluss in Gundam SEED Destiny. The Typical Gundam SEED Destiny notices that his voice actor was probably very expensive.
- In the manga version of Bokurano, Junji "Katari" Karita, is first shown appearing on TV and falsely claiming to be the pilot of Zearth and is shot dead by an assassin a few pages later.
- Due to the nature of the series, this happens in Attack on Titan a lot. The sheer anonymity of Marco Bott's death serves as the catalyst for Jean Kirstein's Character Development.
- Gamaran: since the series in heavily focused on battles, often with strong warriors taking down weaker ones with ease, is not uncommon to see people interesting-looking, named characters who are however quickly dispatched before we can learn more about them. This trope becomes increasingly common in the second part of the series, in the war between the Ogame School and the vast legions of the Muhou School, with many of their officers and elite warriors introduced and killed in the same chapter they appear.
- Most of the episodic characters in Casshern Sins.
- Kannabi no Mikoto in Air is killed one episode after her introduction.
- Many characters who die early in Legend of Galactic Heroes qualify, but the most notable among them is probably Jean Robert Lappe, Yang Wen-li's best friend since their cadet days who is reputed to be of similar calibre as Yang but has the misfortune of being assigned under an incompetent commander and is ultimately killed in action in episode 1.
- Ferro Lad from the Legion of Super Heroes. In the cartoon, he shows up at the start of the Sun Eater arc and then pulls a Heroic Sacrifice at its end; he was around for only slightly more time in the original comics.
- John the Skrull in Captain Britain and MI-13. Dies by the end of the first arc.
- This happens to new X-teams quite a bit:
- The original Thunderbird, John Proudstar, died just a few issues after he was introduced in the Giant-Size X-Men #1.
- Serpentina, one of the characters introduced in the first issue of X-Men 2099, was killed off in the third issue. She later came back as a zombie, though.** The original lineup of the young mutant team Generation X included a character named Blink, a nervous girl with teleportation powers and pink skin. She was killed less than a month after her first appearance. Blink defied this trope, though, by proving extremely popular with fans despite her small number of appearances. So Marvel decided to bring her back... without resurrecting her. Instead, they made the Age of Apocalypse version of Blink the leader of a new team called the Exiles, which were then given their own series.
- Speaking of the Exiles, at the end of the first arc of their first arc one of their original five members, Magnus (son of Rogue and Magneto from another reality), is killed. In the second issue of the series.
- 52 spends a surprising number of pages on the origins of Native American hero Superchief and then has him join up with a team of kooky side characters, only to kill him off a few issues later for basically no reason.
- Saga hypes up a particularly scary villain character, then has her suddenly and unexpectedly offed by another bad guy just an issue or two later. Possibly an example of the Sacrificial Lion trope.
- Mariko in Perfection Is Overrated dies in the prologue as a result of Akane's Child being destroyed, having made the entire Fuuka Academy Campus, Akane included, consider her their most important person. She is mentioned from time to time later and is also featured in the SUE-centric "A Common Enemy Without A Commmon Cause", but even there, is the first to die.
- Kendra dies in the very scene she's introduced in Your Eyes Have Seen after Xander mistakes her for a Terakan assassin.
- Plenty of named characters in Tiberium Wars end up being Red Shirts due to the realistic nature of how often people die in war. The most egregious examples occur in Chapter XIII, where various characters are brutally killed by Lieutenant Cristos mere sentences after their full name and rank are revealed to the readers.
- Some characters in What Lies Beyond the Walls seem interesting enough to have their own subplot or backstory, while others seem like they're important to either the plot or the primary characters. Said characters have a nasty habit of being slain very abruptly before the readers can find out a good deal about them.
- In System Restore, the first murderer doesn't stay around for very long, since the premise of the fic is having the intended target die instead of the one who got killed by accident. This doesn't quite count for the victim, who, despite dying much earlier than in canon, makes posthumous appearances from time to time.
- Despite surviving for four chapters, Minoru Yoshihara of Despair's Last Resort doesn't get as much development or interaction with the main character compared to previous victims. The author realizes this, and blames it on lack of free time spent with the character as she intended to have more about them revealed in his free time events.
Films — Animated
- Epic : Tara and Dagda, the latter even more so as he dies offscreen.
- Ellie in Up. Thanks for the adventure. She was only alive for about ten minutes of the movie, but those ten minutes were so brilliantly crafted to make sure that you would care when she died and understand Carl's motivation through the rest of the film.
Films — Live-action
- Mouse from G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
- Godzilla (2014):
- Sandra Brody and the scientists stuck on the wrong side of the breach doors are the first characters to die.
- The only time audiences got to see the centipede-like Teaser Trailer Monster, it was already dead.
- Plenty of the other tributes in The Hunger Games films, given the premise.
- Besides Katniss and Peeta, only six (Glimmer, Marvel, Cato, Clove, Rue and Thresh) of the other 22 tributes are even named.
- Ben Talbot is killed only a few minutes into The Wolfman (2010).
- Chris Bradley is the first victim of Team X in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
- Let's be honest here, does any remember Apoc from The Matrix that well? His only contribution was being the most stoic of the Nebuchadnezzar.
- Ogilvy, Henderson, and Stent in The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. All three of them die together early in the book, have no real bearing on the plot, and are almost never mentioned again.
- Gregorovitch the wandmaker, Bathilda Bagshot the historian, and Grindelwald the prisoner in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (Granted, Bathilda was already dead by the time we met her, whereas Grindelwald and Gregorovitch are killed by Voldemort, as seen through Harry's consciousness.)
- The POV character of the prologue chapter in every book of A Song of Ice and Fire is doomed to die, and the same applies to the epilogue characters in the two books which have them. None of these characters' POV is shown anywhere else in the books, and all but two (Varamyr Sixskins and Kevan Lannister) are pretty insignificant characters that we mostly haven't seen close-up before.
- Redtail from Warrior Cats, who had a scene in the prologue of the first book and was killed offscreen a few chapters later.
- Being only told from the perspective of one tribute, The Hunger Games naturally falls into this, with 13 unnamed tributes being killed in the opening bloodbath. The heroine can't dwell on their deaths, since she's being hunted herself.
- In Battle Royale, four of the students (Mayumi, Izumi, Hiroshi, Ryuhei) are offed before any information about them is revealed, other than the last two being part of Kazuo's gang. Also, Fumiyo is killed before the games begin...for whispering, and their original teacher, Mr. Hayashida, was killed offscreen after protesting the Program.
- Hey, look guys; It's the new GONE book! Oh, looks like they've added in a new character...Oh don't worry about it, he died in his first page. Horribly. (See Roscoe, Bette, Paint, Jasmine and Tyrell)
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians Poor, poor Bianca Di Angelo. While Riordan developed her pretty well for the limited time she appeared in the third book, and she's a interesting and likable character, it was hard to really feel at a loss for someone who all you really knew is that she was Nico's sister.
- Several of the Forsaken in The Wheel of Time die before the reader gets to know them well, notably Rahvin (who hangs around for several books but appears on-page rarely and is given little backstory or motivation) and Be'lal even more so (introduced late in the third book, appears in the flesh in only one sequence and then dies although later in the series Demandred, who is extremely similar to Be'lal but about ten times as Badass, is an extremely significant villain. Subverted with Aginor and Balthamel, who are the first of the Forsaken to die after a brief fight scene in the first book- and then show up in reincarnated bodies anyway several books down the line.
- In Eternal Sonata, you only get Claves in your party for one short section of the game before she leaves, only to be mortally wounded soon afterwards. What's notable is that she then spends a good ten minutes lamenting her fate before she dies alone. You can get back, though, at the very end of the game by completing a Bonus Dungeon. It doesn't really add much to the story, though, as in the ending the characters still act as if she isn't around. In the PlayStation 3 version, though, you can get a bit of additional dialogue in Encore Mode in a second bonus dungeon if you play it after she's been revived.
- Ash Crimson in The King of Fighters.
- In Metroid: Other M, Samus meets up with Adam, Anthony, and four other federation soldiers on the Bottle Ship. Of the four soldiers, three are dead within the first third of the game, the body of one of which is never found, and the other dies later on. None are characterized very much. K.G (he who was never found) in particular gets just two lines.
- In Blaze Union, minor villains Norn and David both die in the first chapter—Norn at the beginning of the fourth fight, and David exactly one battle later. David had been hyped as an important character (though he still is, as far as providing a reason for another character's Roaring Rampage of Revenge goes). It's an apt tone-setter, really.
- Mhairi of Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening is introduced during the first area, given some hints of a personality, and even has an opportunity for you to gain or lose approval, before failing the Joining and dying.
- Depending on Hawke's class, either Carver or Bethany will die in the prologue of Dragon Age II, cutting short their respective character arcs, which'd otherwise span the entire game. Also, Orsino is introduced in the end of the second act, has a few scenes in the third act before going One-Winged Angel and getting killed by Hawke in the finale no matter what decisions you made.
- Several characters in the first Mass Effect:
- Nihlus is introduced as badass senior to the Player Character, and seems like he could've made a good mentor. He gets killed by Saren twenty minutes into the first mission.
- Jenkins is a trusted squadmate who despite the name is a trusted soldier who averts the Leeroy Jenkins trope. He dies about one minute after the first mission begins and is replaced by Ashley.
- Benezia, Saren's lieutenant and Liara's mother, gets a brief cameo at the beginning, her boss fight... and that's it.
- You only meet Sovereign near the end of the game. Of course, he dies in the endgame.
- And in Mass Effect 3, we have Lieutenant Tarquin Victus who dies via Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the same mission he's introduced in.
- In Neo Contra, Mystery G. You fight him as the Mid Boss of Stage 2, and if you do well enough, he performs a Heroic Sacrifice in Stage 5 to save you from Master Contra. Last thing he does before dying is give Bill Rizer a Rousing Speech about how Bill isn't a fake if he risks his life fighting for his ideals.
- In the second Wing Commander game, Elizabeth "Shadow" Norwood is Blair's only friend for the years after he was accused of allowing the Tiger's Claw to be destroyed. She serves as his wingman during the first set of missions, but then gets killed off, a victim of Retirony.
- Can also be invoked to Blair himself during the funeral by dying right in the first mission of the first game.
- The Walking Dead contains dozens of characters who die in the episode they appear, but some examples of characters who died after one or two scenes include Shawn Greene, Irene, Jolene, Chuck, Reggie and Doug or Carley, depending on which is saved in Episode 1.
- Hinawa of MOTHER 3 is killed in the first chapter of the story, right after the player gets relatively attached to her.
- X3: Terran Conflict: Jesan Nadina is a mercenary fighter pilot who hires the player for the "Operation: Final Fury" plot. He gets about six lines in the recruiting mission, then is unceremoniously killed in action offscreen two missions later.
- In Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Major Grillo, the SAS agent you rescue in the first mission, is killed off at the beginning of the second.
- In Fallout: New Vegas: Honest Hearts, the entire Happy Trails caravan is wiped out in a White Legs attack at the beginning of the DLC.
- In Fallout 3, you only get to meet Jonas once, during the tutorial prologue, before he is beaten to death by Vault security at the beginning of the main story.
- Soldier of Fortune II's Madeline Taylor, the Shop's replacement for the first game's Hawk, is given little characterization, much less action, and is unceremoniously bumped off by a random mook halfway through the game.
- Morph in the 1992 X-Men animated series. (Revived later in the series as a villain, but you can't blame this trope for people not staying dead. Especially members of the X-Men.)
- In the comics, John Proudstar was introduced as a member of the All-New All-Different X-Men...and promptly killed off in the next storyline. And he stayed that way.
- Princess Yue of Avatar: The Last Airbender turned out to be the someone who dies tonight after only being around for three episodes.
- Oddly though, we see her several more times as the moon spirit.
- Tigerhawk, from Transformers: Beast Wars was introduced in one episode, was alive in the next, died in the one after that. It should be noted though that he died in the Series Finale.
! There's much to do. We will attack other planets, we will suck them dry, we will rebuild a planet a hundred
times more powerful than Cybertron! And I
will RULE THE GALAXY!!"
Zarak, oh so calmly: "Who shall rule?"
Galvatron: "MEE! It is MY DESTINYYYYY!!"
Zarak, still oh so calmly: "We shall see, Galvatron. We shall see..."
- There's also the Autobot Punch, the spy, who becomes the Decepticon Counterpunch. Sixshot has six modes. Mindwipe is a giant bat who can Mind Control anyone, and talks all spookily about the powers of darkness. The rest came and went too fast to really leave a mark, seeing how this three-parter introduced more characters than the entirety of season three.
- Transformers Prime gives us Cliffjumper, who died in the pilot episode ten minutes in, came back as a zombie in the 2nd episode and then died again just as fast.
- From Transformers Animated is Blurr He had a cameo in "Velocity", was formally introduced in the last episode of Season 2 and suffered a horrifying on-screen death in the first episode of Season 3.
- Buckley from King of the Hill. We hardly knew anything about him before he was killed off, he appeared in at most about 10 episodes, he was kind of lazy and spoke in a monotonic voice, he loved to crack sex jokes, rarely showed any emotion beyond sarcasm, and we never knew his last name or met his family.
- Total Drama Island: Ezekiel appears in the equivalent of four episodes of season one, barely spoke and after sending Women's Lib back about a century by being sexist to women, he was voted off first. In season two he appears more frequently, but only in the Aftermath episodes, and he talks even less. He comes back for season three, but is voted off first again - he appears in a few later episodes, but is no longer fully human for some reason, and ceases talking entirely. This is how he has been for the rest of the series up to this point. He was a very flat character; his main traits were being stubborn, having almost no social skills, and accidentally offending everyone, specifically women.
- And as of season 4 Staci shared the same fate as Ezekiel did in season 1, due to her annoyance towards her team (Although Ezekiel was voted off in episode 2 of season 1, due to episode 1 ending on a Cliffhanger). The difference is that she got flung over.
- And as of the first two Pahkitew Island episodes, both Beardo and Leonard shared the same fate as the two, making this a borderline example of Black Dudes Gets Eliminated First.
- Several characters in Animals Of Farthing Wood were only around for 1 season or a few episodes before they were killed off. A few such examples are the Pheasants, Dreamer, Bounder, the baby field mice, and the Newts.
- The second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, dies via flashback in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Fall of the Blue Beetle!" His Heroic Sacrifice was awesome, but it's sad that he had to die in his first animated appearance...
- In the pilot episode of The Cleveland Show we are introduced to the family dog Meadowlark Lemon, in the next episode he is accidentally run over and killed by Cleveland.
- Speedy from The Venture Bros.. Poor little guy, he was this close to getting his wings.
- Let me tell you a story about a little henchman named Speedy...
- Played with in the Show Within a Show of Itchy and Scratchy on The Simpsons, specifically when they introduced Poochie who, in-universe, only appeared in one episode, and then had the second episode very sloppily edited so that he left for his home planet and died on the way there.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- King Sombra is a villainous example. We don't get much introduction other than that he was an evil sorcerer king whose body was destroyed by Celestia and Luna, and during his two-parter "The Crystal Empire", he shows off very minimal characterization, then he dies at the hands of his former slaves the end. According to Meghan McCarthy, this was intentional.
- Season 2 episode "Dragon Quest" introduced Peewee, a phoenix chick pet for Spike. The next time we see Peewee is in the Season 3 episode "Just for Sidekicks", in a series of photos showing Spike returned Peewee to the wild to be raised by adult phoenixes.
- None of the ponies from the G1 My Little Pony special Rescue at Midnight Castle returned in any subsequent episodes, despite being some of the most popular, including Twilight, Applejack, and Firefly, who inspired three of the mane characters in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.