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Preserve Your Gays

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The LGBT+ characters routinely avoid death.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
lakingsif on Feb 18th 2018 at 5:03:50 AM
Last Edited By:
lakingsif on Feb 21st 2018 at 3:18:08 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Arizona: I survived a plane crash. Big deal.
Steph: And a car crash. And a shooting. You might be immortal.

In a break from tradition, a work features its LGBT characters having an amusing survival rate. To be recognized as an Unkillable Gay, the character is not just a gay character that doesn't die. No, instead they must face situations where it would be expected for anyone to die, but appear to have been given some supernatural protection.

If it's a work where Anyone Can Die but all the LGBT+ characters survive, it's definitely this. If it appears that a Gay Death situation is being set up, and the character comes through unscathed, it is probably this — it's definitely this if that happens several times.

The LGBT+ characters have been afforded Plot Armor, which is only noticeable when they frequently avoid a fated death. This can be done positively: in a survival situation, the gay character has not been sacrificed for the straight ones. Usually this is the case: a well-developed and fulfilled character who just happens to be gay and just happens to have, like straight main characters alongside them, not yet died. They're good characters, the actors don't want to leave, they have lots of potential: why kill them off?

Sometimes it can harbor potential Unfortunate Implications: it could be that the character is almost illogically kept around so that the show doesn't have to develop gay characters. If the character is flat and, realistically, they could have easily died by now, perhaps there is actually some underlying unwillingness to give sustained LGBT+ representation. Here's your character, we're maintaining the quota, but don't expect them to actively participate in storylines. They're just there. Thankfully, this is rarely the case.

For either case, this often is done by creators avoiding or trying to subvert the Bury Your Gays trope.

In some situations it is humorously exploited, especially in postmodern satirical works: the LGBT+ characters are regularly put in positions where they have an almost sure shot at death, are painfully unprepared for a high-stakes situation, or are comically unlucky. And live anyway. They could literally do nothing stood still in the middle of a war and be missed by all ammunition.

It doesn't count for games where you can make the player character gay, because they were never going to die.

Not related to Immortality Bisexuality, which is a law in fiction stating that "the greater the length of time you live, the greater the chance of you finding multiple genders attractive".


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, Badass Lesbian Ymir is given an innocent off-screen death after she'd already departed the series, which is basically sanctity compared to the many characters that die in the series and how bad they were shown.
  • In Kannazuki no Miko, Himeko and Chikane confess their love to each other. Chikane dies and gets erased from existence. Then, come The Stinger epilogue, Chikane reappears, having kept her promise of not letting even the gods stop her from returning to Himeko.
  • Lupin III: Angel Tactics: The "Bloody Angels" are a women's supremacy organization competing against Lupin and his gang. Out of the named characters in the organization, Bisexual Bifauxnen Lady Joe is the only one who survives.
  • In Mai-HiME, gay couple Shizuru and Natsuki die at the end of their fight with each other, as a result of Natsuki using an attack that destroys both their Childs, killing each other, as they are each other's Most Important People. Everyone is fighting, they are the last to die... and then the first to get resurrected in the next episode.

  • After writer Peter David brought Rictor and Shatterstar together, many people guessed that he'd kill one or both of them off, to which he responded that he was aware of the Bury Your Gays trope and would purposefully avoid it.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Eyes of Laura Mars: The killer is clearly going after friends and associates of the title character, but her flamboyant Gay Best Friend does not end up a victim, despite an effective fakeout in the middle act.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe: The heavily-implied lesbian relationship survives despite Ruth's husband trying to keep her away from Idgie. They are implied to kill the husband, and suffer no comeuppance.
  • 1966's The Group was notable at the time for not just having an openly gay character (Lakey, played by Candice Bergen), but also for that character surviving to the end.
  • Partners (1982): When cop and walking gay stereotype Kerwin goes undercover with a straight partner investigating a serial killer targeting gay men, he seemingly makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save said straight partner. But he lives, making him one of the few LGBT characters to make it out of a film of that era alive.
  • Save Me: Lester attempts to bleed himself to death in the bathtub at Genesis House, a gay conversion therapy camp in the desert, to resist the treatment but is found by Mark and rushed to the hospital.

  • Jame and her spouse Cathie in the first Alien vs. Predator novel are among the few characters to make it to the end, some of the only named ones, and are actually among the nicest and most sympathetic characters in it.
  • Done with Patrick Senecal's much Darker and Edgier version of Alice in Wonderland that is Aliss: Bone and Chair, the novel's stand-ins for the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, are a long-established gay couple who also serve as The Dragon to the Red Queen. They're alive and well at novel's end, but are responsible for killing off several other characters along the way.
  • Captain Corelli's Mandolin: The gay character Carlo survives a horrific campaign in Albania while the heterosexual man whom Carlo secretly loves dies in his arms.
  • Ciaphas Cain: Magot and Grifen, the lesbian couple, are pretty much hinted at being the only actual couple with names to survive long enough to see retirement aside from main characters Cain and Amberley. Indeed, it is their relationship that's the main reason that they make it away from the Necrons without a major mental breakdown, which actually impresses Cain a bit, saying that he wishes there were more soldiers like them in the Imperial Guard.
  • Perry Moore wrote his young adult novel Hero as a response to the use of the Bury Your Gays trope in superhero comics. There are several gay characters and several characters who die, but no overlap. The most prominent is the main character Thom, who also faces hatred from his homophobic and superhero-phobic father.
  • Lamplight: Amy, the only gay character, is also the sole survivor.
  • Worm: LGBT characters Parian, Foil, Panacea and Legend ALL survive to the end, and from the latter's optimistic behavior in the epilogue we can even infer that his husband survived too. Meanwhile the only straight couple among the major characters where both parties survive is Defiant and Dragon, and Dragon spent some time dead.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Twofer Token Minority (gay latinx) Joey "Melty Joe" Gutierrez, whose death has been teased on at least two occasions but has been avoided both times.
  • Arrowverse:
    • Sara Lance's multiple reincarnations, the first of which comes just in time for her to come out as bisexual, the second because of her ex-boyfriend and current girlfriend fighting.
    • Main lesbian character Alex Danvers' frequent rescues from death, including her introduction in a plane crash that was later humorously suggested to be the one that killed her actress's straight character on another show, though possibly justified in having a superhero sister.
    • Maggie, the only other lesbian character, gets shot and for a brief time it looks like died; however, she recovers and the near death actually results in her entering a relationship with Alex, who she previously rejected. This episode was made at the height of the Bury Your Gays controversy, too.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Madame Vastra, a Victorian-era katana-wielding Silurian detective and her wife/maid/fellow swordfighter/investigator Jenny, who have so far survived all their appearances. Even though Jenny technically died twice in one episode but got better.
    • During Series 9 hints are dropped that Clara Oswald might be bisexual. In "Face the Raven", it seems like she is Killed Off for Real after literally dying Once an Episode for a while, but two episodes later in "Hell Bent" she is not only revived but made functionally immortal.
    • Main character Bill and Heather, a lesbian couple, who also gain functional immortality.
    • The only literally immortal character is Extreme Omnisexual Jack Harkness.
  • Grey's Anatomy: In a show unafraid to murder its main cast, none of the queer ones have died. Most notably is the long-running lesbian Arizona, who has been in almost as many near-death natural disasters as the main character, Meredith, which is more than anyone else, and survived with only an amputated leg.
  • Hollyoaks: John-Paul and Craig went off into the sunset together, both fully comfortable with their sexuality and their relationship. It should also be noted that Hollyoaks features character deaths quite frequently, and that the majority of the gay or bisexual characters on the show remain alive and well.
  • Reaper: Tony, is the only survivor after the Devil killed all the other demons, and his boyfriend Steve is then redeemed and goes to Heaven as an angel.
  • Strip Mall's series finale "Tammi Takes a Dive" features every main character bumped off except the lesbian couple.
  • True Blood: The show kept one half of popular gay ship Lafayette alive when the book actually killed him, his body would have been found at the beginning of season two it the show stayed accurate to the book. He ends the series alive, which is more than most.

  • Welcome to Night Vale has two gay heroes: Carlos the Scientist and Cecil the Radio Host. Cecil repeatedly survives events that would typically kill most characters, from fighting off golems barehanded to surviving toxic gas attacks. During season one Carlos also nearly dies but a straight guy sacrifices himself so that Carlos can live.

  • The Lost Girls: A lesbian couple are the only surviving camp counselors by the play's end.
  • The Merchant of Venice: Antonio, the titular merchant, is pretty clearly in love with his only friend, the dashing young nobleman Bassanio — so much so that he is eager to enter into a contract on Bassanio's behalf by which the penalty for defaulting on a loan is having a pound of his flesh removed, nearest the heart. Inevitably, he defaults on the loan and is bound to a chair in court to have the flesh removed, which will most certainly kill him — but at the literal last second, Bassanio's new wife (in disguise as a young judge) announces an Exact Words loophole in the contract and saves his life.
  • Spring Awakening: Hanschen and Ernst don't appear again after their kiss, which is a pretty good fate, since saying the lives of the heterosexual characters (well, those who are left alive) suck would be an understatement.

    Video Games 
  • In Open Sorcery the main character can bring back to life a gay character who died before the game began.

  • Girly has a gay policeman called Officer Getskilled, who deliberately survives everything.
  • Goodbye Chains inverts the typical route and has Banquo, the very straight, very promiscuous, gunslinger killed off, leaving behind Colin, his gay and lovestruck partner in crime.

    Western Animation 

Feedback: 9 replies

Feb 19th 2018 at 3:04:15 PM

Well this is… surprisingly thorough for a hatless, replyless YKTTW? At any rate, I would suggest "Preserve Your Gays" as a title, for the dichotomy with Bury Your Gays, though there may be something better.

Feb 19th 2018 at 3:04:41 PM

(At worst, Unkillable Gays itself might not be a witty name, but it's concise and gtst the job done.)

Feb 19th 2018 at 4:00:44 PM

tagged the attack on titan spoiler.

Feb 20th 2018 at 8:28:15 AM

Description needs to mention that this trope often shows up because the creators are trying to subvert Bury Your Gays.

Feb 20th 2018 at 10:45:54 AM

^ Agreed. Also, this comes from the Bury Your Gays TRS thread.

Feb 20th 2018 at 8:43:49 PM

Votes on the name? I like the current for its wit and Preserve Your Gays for a practical (and still pretty funny) redirect. What do you guys think?

Feb 21st 2018 at 3:37:11 AM

Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context.

Feb 21st 2018 at 3:18:08 PM

^ they have either had context added or been commented out in preparation for launch