"A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises Honoring those who improve the species... by accidentally removing themselves from it!" While I have common sense I rarely let it interfere with my actions, preferring to use it to analyze why I shouldn't have done what ever it is that I did to cause the most recent Darwin moment.
The Darwin Awards
are a collection of stories of those that have given the best their DNA can offer to the gene pool. That is, they removed their DNA from the gene pool through actions (of their own devising)
with such stupidity that the fact they can no longer breed is worth an award. It is worth noting that, although most of the winners remove themselves from the gene pool in a fatal manner, there are a precious few who manage to leave the gene pool in a spectacularly stupid manner while still remaining alive (albeit... incomplete
Although internet based, the Darwin Awards have released books authored by Wendy Northcutt detailing the "winners" of that year.There are four categories:
- Darwin Award winners: Those killed or unable to reproduce note . Further being classed as;
- Confirmed by Darwin: In reliable news sources.
- Unconfirmed by Darwin: Unable to find reliable sources however not proved to be false.
- Debunked by Darwin: A story previously thought to be true is found to be false.
Honorable Mentions At Risk Survivors: Those that did their best to kill themselves yet somehow managed to survive.
- Urban Legends: Those stories believed to be true yet have no basis in reality.
- Personal Accounts: Members of the internet put forth their own personal stories with no other proof.
See also 1000 Ways To Die
, which is based on a similar premise (the major difference is that 1000 Ways To Die
doesn't really care about the death being due to stupidity if it's spectacular enough
Finally, there was actually a film (The Darwin Awards
) based off of some of the stories from this site. A few of the stories were also tested by the Mythbusters
(who, incidentally enough, made cameo appearances in the movie).NOTE:
People who take out innocents in the process of removing themselves from the gene pool are expressly disqualified from Darwin Awards consideration by the website (Though some of the early Darwin Awards did mention the death or injury of bystanders before this rule was added. In addition; if anyone in their right mind would flee the area if they saw what the contender was doing and a bystander stays to watch, then the rule doesn't apply, and the bystander can also get nominated). People with mental disorders are also disqualified as Wendy sees these deaths as tragic. Youths under the age of 16 are generally disqualified unless a majority of the youth's peers agree the action taken by the nominee was incredibly stupid. Anyone who won before a rule change, that would have disqualified them, gets to keep the award as part of a Grandfather Clause
. Finally, there was a unofficial rule change that says the nominees must have unintentionally caused the incident as to prevent people from harming themselves to try to win. There are a few exceptions due the aforementioned grandfather clause.
Fictional examples of this kind of activity go on Too Dumb to Live
The Darwin Awards contain examples of the following tropes:
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The excessive consumption of intoxicating beverages often plays a major role in these stories.
- A few of the books have had to include disclaimers explaining that this doesn't excuse you from winning a Darwin Award, since it was your decision to get drunk in the first place.
- The books also noted that being drunk when handling a pet snake led to the most Darwin-eqsue reptile accidents... which is ironic since one way to make a snake let go of you/back off is to get alcohol in its face.
- All Animals Are Domesticated: People being stupid enough to take this trope to heart are common nominees.
- Special mention goes to the two guys who jumped into a tiger enclosure, threw flowers on the tiger, and were somehow surprised when the tiger promptly mauled them.
- Extra stupid points allocated considering that the end would still be the same if they had jumped in an enclosure with a perfectly domesticated guard dog that was as unfamiliar with them as the tiger was.
- A tourist who purportedly left a Safari car in South Africa to check on some lion cubs who apparently "didn't look right". Right under the nose of their mother.
- A well-known Personal Account relates the story of a soldier who attempted to cross a field inhabited by bison, and with warning signs on the fences, insisting that the sign must be a joke because, "Real, live buffalo don't exist!" He survived to learn that he was wrong, but still would fall under the category of Honorable Mention in light of his injuries, were it better documented.
- Ballistic Discount: Subverted. The genius who decided to rob a gun store fails miserably. The story was good enough that it also wound up on 1000 Ways To Die. Turns out it was embellished, but not by much.
- Based on an Advice Book: The film is an inversion, as it's based on a source about things nobody with half a brain ought to do.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: One of the winners who was left alive but unable to reproduce ended up that way by attempting to have sex with a porcupine. Another man was kicked to death while attempting to acquire carnal knowledge of a cow.
- Black Comedy/Cringe Comedy is the reason why these deaths are funny instead of morbid; the people are so stupid they Cross the Line Twice.
- Black Comedy Rape: There are a few stories dealing with attempted rapes that went horribly, horribly wrong. Like the story of the woman who bit her assailant's balls off. Then took off with them, and handed them in to the police, which meant her assailant was arrested when he checked into the hospital with a matching injury. The evidence proceedings for that case must have been interesting.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: The Honourable Mention story "(Un)armed and Dangerous" opens like this: "A drunk driver? No Darwin. An one-armed man driving an unadapted car? No Darwin. A man driving while talking on a cell phone? No Darwin. But a drunken one-armed man driving an unadapted car while talking on a cell phone? Darwin Award - almost!"
- Bullying The Dragon: Often leads contenders to their nasty ends. Notable examples include the guy who kicked a bear in the balls, the man who deliberately challenged his son to stab him to death, and the famous incident where a robber decided to rob a gun store filled with gun users and a cop.
- The Cameo: The Darwin Awards movie boasts cameos by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman as well as Metallica.
- Chainsaw Good: See Off with His Head! and Testosterone Poisoning.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Most accounts are this mixed with a healthy smattering of Undignified Death.
- Death as Comedy: The point; see Black Comedy.
- Death by Irony: Here.
- Draft Dodging: Tales of those killed or crippled while attempting to inflict a minor injury to avoid military service include a farmhand kicked in the head by a draft horse, and a man who had his arm bitten off by a lion.
- Forgot I Couldn't Swim: This guy who chose to dive into a lake, without a life jacket, and without having safety ropes available aboard his boat.
- Epic Fail: Pretty much the reason these awards exist.
- Eskimos Aren't Real: "Real, live buffalo don't exist!"
- Explosive Stupidity: The story note of the would-be mail bomber who died when the package was returned for insufficient postage.
- Groin Attack: Self-inflicted attacks are the general cause of a person exiting the pool without exiting this mortal coil. However, they can also prove fatal. Here and here are just two of a fairly large number of examples.
- Hilarity In Zoos: There are a few stories of people ignoring signs and barrier fences with fatal results.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: As well as many of the Award "winners", founder Wendy Northcutt considers herself a klutz and a "potential Darwin Award candidate", which would be this trope (and cruelly ironic) if it happens.She's come close.
- Taunting a prosecutor with the evidence needed to convict you of a capital felony and getting you executed isn't exactly viewed as a genius idea.
- Infant Immortality: Sort of. Obviously since these are from real life kids can die, it's just that children aren't considered eligible for Darwin Awards. Occasionally an exception is made for teenagers if their actions were so astoundingly stupid that it can't be chalked up to naivety.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Naturally, irresponsible use of firearms is an extremely common way for people to get themselves killed or injured: see here, here and here for just a few examples.
- Kick the Dog/Villain Ball: Some of the less savory nominees and honorable mentions.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In Kenya, a thief stole from a church offering basket in plain sight of everyone else there, ran into the street, and was struck and killed by a bus.
- Medal of Dishonor: The Darwin Award is for the highest class of idiots.
- Mile-High Club: Two pilots decided to have sex in the cockpit of the plane they were flying. It worked out about as well as you'd expect.
- Motorcycle Jousting: here is an example involving motor scooters that resulted in the deaths of both involved, the girl they were trying to impress was naturally not impressed.
- Must Have Nicotine: Several Darwin awards have been won by people smoking in inappropriate situations, including one woman who stepped off a moving bus because she was desperate for a cigarette.
- Nail 'Em: This guy managed to shoot himself in the brain with a nail gun while messing around. Fortunately for him (but unfortunately for the rest of us) he somehow managed to get away without serious damage.
- Off with His Head!: See Chainsaw Good and Testosterone Poisoning.
- Old-School Chivalry: A medieval knight who once asked a favor of a lady was once given one of the lady's dresses as a token. He then proceeded to wear the dress instead of armor while jousting. Needless to say that didn't go well. Gotta hand it to the lady though. Brilliant way of getting rid of an unwanted suitor.
- Only in Florida: Considering all the shenanigans that go on in America's biggest Weirdness Magnet, the state has its fair share of award winners.
- Out with a Bang/Death by Sex: Considered textbook examples since the victims are stopped from procreating while making the attempt. Like so.
- Poor Communication Kills: "Are you OK?" "Yes!"
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Accidentally; one urban legend is about a man who tried to use a power plant's coal runner as a treadmill, but tripped and was converted into power for hundreds of homes.
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter: Do not taunt lightning.
- Soft Glass: Some winners fatally avert this trope.
- Stupid Crooks: A few of the award's recipients. A chapter in one of the books is dedicated to them.
- Stupid Evil: A good many of the more assholish contenders apply for this. For example, the honorable mention who decided to swerve off the road and crash his own car in an attempt to hit a random dog For the Evulz or the guy who mutilated himself for a get-rich-quick insurance scam.
- Television Is Trying to Kill Us: Many Darwin Award winners have died attempting to re-enact things they saw on TV.
- Testosterone Poisoning: The Most Macho Man In Europe. and a whole lot more. One of the chapters in one of the books is titled "Testosterone Poisoning", though in this case it refers to stupidity brought on by excessive displays of virility.
- The Movie: A fictional film was made in 2006 about two investigators chasing Darwin Award-type stupidity, starring Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder. (Reviews were generally bad, according to the other wiki.)
- Throw the Pin: Grenades seem to be a magnet for Darwin Award winners.
- Too Dumb to Live: All of them. That's the entire point of the Darwin Awards, and, according to the creator, one of the biggest reasons why it's funny instead of morbid. This is also why minors aren't included on the list, as there's a big difference between this and legitimately not knowing better.
- A few "lucky" ones don't kill themselves, but still end up being unable to have children.
- Tree Buchet: According to an Urban Legend, a heavy storm caused a tree to get bent over and wedged under the eaves of a house. The homeowner climbed up the tree to saw the top of tree off to free it from the eaves. Once he cut through, the tree sprang back, catapulting the owner to his death.
- Underside Ride: One Darwin Award winner tried this while attempting to diagnose a truck's engine, apparently to watch the engine while it worked. It seemed a fine idea until the moving parts caught his sleeve... Link
- Undignified Death: All deaths that don't count as Cruel And Unusual Deaths.
- Urban Legends: Sometimes end up being submitted by people who mistake them as true, though they're almost always proven false if they are. This includes one of the most popular Darwin Awards, the famous JATO story.
- Walk on Water: attempted by a priest who, obviously, failed miserably and fatally. Also a group of people tried to learn to walk on water, their attempts were eventually ended after their leader slipped on a bar of soap in the bathtub and drowned.
- Who Would Be Stupid Enough: Apparently, quite a lot of people. With that said, Don't Try This at Home. If you fancy trying this yourself, you're doing the human race a favor by ridding us of your stupidity. Thanks!
- William Telling: Perhaps unsurprisingly this example involves the participants using beer cans instead of apples.