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"Be safe around trains, a message from Metro."

"Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die..."

Dumb Ways to Die is a Public Service Announcement by Metro Trains of Melbourne, Australia to promote railway safety. It clearly shows what some of the dumbest ways to die are. After its original upload, it instantly went viral. It can be watched here. An instrumental version also exists for use in parodies. The Valentine's Day themed sequel video, Dumb Ways to Valentine, can be found here.

The campaign later expanded to the Regional Transit District in Denver, Colorado, using the same characters and video (which retains the original audio).

The video has been adapted into two games: Dumb Ways to Die and Dumb Ways to Die 2: The Games.

These videos show examples of:

  • Accidental Suicide: Considering that the whole premise is about characters being Too Dumb to Live, there are several examples:
  • Adoring the Pests: Or dangerous exotic animals in this case. Mishap tries to keep a rattlesnake as a pet, and it doesn't end well for him.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Most of the characters' genders are unknown, but:
    • The "set fire to your hair" guy (Numpty) is referred to as a dad in the April Fools Ways to Die advert.
    • Of note is the one who sings "I wonder: What's this red button do?" (Ninny); the voice is clearly female, but the kidney guy's (Dunce) girlfriend uses the same model as Ninny except with eyelashes, retroactively implying that Ninny is male because he lacks those eyelashes.
    • One update to the first app game changed the description of Calamity's minigame to "Don't let her fall", confirming her as female at least in the app canon—whether or not this carries over to the original video isn't 100% clear, but there's no evidence against it.
    • Another update to the first app game changed the description of the astronaut (Numskull)'s minigame to "Guide the astronaut back to her helmet."
  • An Aesop: The song has two morals:
  • Animated Shock Comedy: Dumb Ways to Die is a very rare public service announcement that fits this trope as almost every single character dies in a gruesome manner.
  • Anyone Can Die: A very large use, unless the chorus is any indication of the exact opposite— everybody dies during the song, which exaggerates the trope for the verses, but during the chorus it's averted, or perhaps inverted, as the supposedly-dead characters are dancing.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After all the improbable ways to die, the last few involve plausible accidents involving train crossings. After all, it is a railway safety PSA.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: "Eat medicine that's out of date". Out of date medicine isn't directly harmful, just inactive for the large majority. Consuming some won't heal you, but won't poison you either except in rare cases. Eating an unnecessary amount of medicine that's out of date probably isn't recommended, though, as with non-expired medicine.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Recycles the old myth that you explode if exposed to space. Not that being exposed to space is a pleasant experience, but no, you don't explode.
  • Ash Face: Ash Entire Body, actually. Dummkopf is electrocuted trying to use a fork to fork out his toast and his body crumbles to ashes, leaving his skeleton behind. Dimwit tries fixing his own electrical work which results in a fire, leaving him charred throughout the rest of the song.
  • Ax-Crazy: "Invite a psycho killer inside". The psycho killer kills the unseen person with a meat cleaver, and is clearly insane if the "psycho" part is to be believed.
  • Batter Up!: The unseen drug dealer uses a baseball bat.
  • Bears Are Bad News: "Poke a stick at a grizzly bear" is stated as one of the dumb ways to die.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: In the follow-up video Dumb Ways 2 Valentine, Dunce who sold his kidneys on the Internet gives Ninny his heart — and then dies.
  • Big Red Button: One of the dumb ways to die is pressing a large, red button because you don't know what it does, and then it produces a massive explosion.
  • Black Comedy: The characters' deaths are portrayed in a rather comical manner, plus the whole thing is accompanied by a catchy and upbeat song.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Poking a grizzly bear won't end well. Neither will disturbing a nest of wasps.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Who makes a pie with tomatoes and corn in it?
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • One of the characters got whacked by a drug dealer for scratching his new ride.
    • In "Dumb Ways to Die — Melbourne International Film Festival", Hapless, the character who poked a grizzly bear, gets his head bitten off (again) for talking on his phone during a movie.
    • The wasps sting Doofus to death just for disturbing them, although they are wasps, and that behaviour is to be expected from them.
  • Doom It Yourself:
    • "Do your own electrical work". When Dimwit pulls on the light switch, his entire house is engulfed in flames.
    • "Teach yourself how to fly". The pilot, Stupe, loses control of the plane as soon as it's off the ground.
  • Eat the Camera: Putz does it when he attempts to rescue his balloon and is hit by a train.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a list of, well, dumb ways to die.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Deconstructed. Attempts at eating expired pie, expired medicine, and superglue don't end well.
  • Eye Scream: "Keep a rattlesnake as a pet": Mishap is bitten in the eye by his pet snake.
  • Failure Montage: A series of examples of people failing to be safe.
  • Faux Affably Evil:
    • Clod the Psycho Killer gives a friendly wave in the chorus, but he still, y'know, killed someone.
      • In the game, if you win the minigame "Bushwhacked!" Clod will give you a bunch of flowers.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: Played for drama— Lax eats expired pie, throws up, and dies.
  • The Ghost:
    • We never see Clod the Psycho Killer's victim in the lyric "Invite a Psycho Killer inside". He doesn't even turn up in the chorus.
    • The hunters who shoot the moose dresser, Botch, are also never seen.
    • Neither is the drug dealer who hit the garbage bag creature, Doomed.
  • Groin Attack:
    • "Use your private parts as piranha bait".
    • "Disturb a nest of wasps for no good reason": If you look closely, the beehive bounces off Doofus's crotch.
  • Grotesque Cute: Friendly blobs with noodle arms die in horribly funny ways.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be:
    • "Poke a stick at a grizzly bear". Notably, it counts as both this and Off with His Head!, as Hapless' head is the top half of his body, and the bear bites it off.
    • Putz is split in half by a train when he runs across the tracks to rescue his balloon.
  • Haplessly Hiding: one of the ways considered a dumb way to die was hiding in a clothes dryer, presumably because someone could turn it on.
  • Hockeymask And Chainsaw: "Invite a psycho killer inside." The video depicts a door opening to a sprite wearing a hockey mask and armed with a chainsaw and Freddy Krueger glove.
  • Ignorant About Fire:
    • Dimwit's attempt to fix his wiring results in his entire house being set ablaze and his body being covered in ashes.
    • Numpty sets fire to his hair, which kills him. His bio reveals that he was curious about some lit matches.
  • Karma Houdini: Clod is the only character in the original video who isn't seen dying, consequently meaning he doesn't get punished for killing his victim. This may include Ninny, presuming that she may have survived the explosion, or the explosion wasn't where she was.
  • Lighter and Softer: The video is referenced on the Scare 'Em Straight page but, compared to most examples of that trope, Dumb Ways To Die is a colorful, upbeat and catchy music video that still manages to talk about graphic and violent deaths.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: It's an upbeat, cheery, almost lullaby-like song about, well, dumb ways to die.
  • Man on Fire: The first lyric starts with "Set fire to your hair".
  • Meaningful Name: The characters' names are often slang terms of "stupid" or "unlucky", which fits. Averted for the psycho killer though, whose name is Clod despite him being the only one not to be dumb. Though his bio says that he's insane and started killing because he was upset people already had doors. Well, it's hard to explain.
  • The Many Deaths of You: It's called "Dumb Ways to Die", which means there will be characters who show multiple ways to die a very dumb death.
  • "No Talking or Phones" Warning: In "Dumb Ways to Die - Melbourne International Film Festival", Dunce bites Hapless's head off for talking on his phone during a movie.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • "Poke a stick at a grizzly bear": Then Hapless has his head eaten by the bear.
    • "Teach yourself how to fly": Stupe is beheaded when the plane crashes. He then dances during the chorus part while throwing his head in the air a couple of times.
  • Our Slashers Are Different: "Invite a psycho killer inside." The video depicts a door opening to a sprite wearing a hockey mask and armed with a chainsaw and Freddy Krueger glove named Clod.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Apparently "Dressing up as a moose during hunting season" means wearing a hat with antlers on it. It still fools the hunters and gets Botch shot repeatedly.
  • Pet Monstrosity: Keeping a pet rattlesnake is one way to die.
  • Piranha Problem: Dippy's private parts and lower body section are wolfed down by piranhas.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: The last three dumb ways to die involve being unsafe and careless around trains and railroad crossings. (Sending this message was of course the reason the PSA was made in the first place.)
  • Reused Character Design: In "Dumb Ways to Valentine", Dunce's girlfriend looks exactly like Ninny, except that she has eyelashes and he doesn't.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The entire song, save the end, is in rhyme.
  • Running Gag: The campaign also includes several smaller PSAs themed around various events, most of which end on a reminder to:
    Be safe around [topic of PSA]*
    *and trains
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: "Disturb a nest of wasps for no good reason", which results in them stinging someone to death.
  • Scary Stitches: Dunce has a horizontal line of stitches on each side of his body from where he got his kidneys removed so he could sell them on the Internet. In "Dumb Ways to Valentine", he gets another one on his chest after removing his heart to give to his girlfriend as a Valentine's Day gift.
  • Serial Killer: The "psycho killer" kills the victim and, judging by his title, has killed others before.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sticky Situation: Calamity eats super glue from a tube... and remains like this while up.
  • Stripped to the Bone:
    • "Use your private parts as piranha bait": Dippy's lower section gets wolfed down by piranhas, leaving his skeleton behind.
    • Dummkopf gets electrocuted trying to use a fork to get his toast out... and his body crumbles to ashes, leaving his skeleton intact.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: The train-related deaths don't rhyme, lampshaded on the last verse.
    "Run across the tracks between the platforms. They may not rhyme, but they're quite possibly..."
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Hits very hard on those who think about being an Idiot Houdini, showing idiocy can result in consequences, even death.
  • Theme Naming: All of the characters' names are synonyms of "dumb", "idiot", or "misfortune".
  • Title Drop: Repeated many times in the chorus. Almost a Title-Only Chorus.
  • Too Dumb to Live: There's a reason it's called "Dumb Ways to Die".
  • What Does This Button Do?: Ninny asks, "I wonder, what's this red button do?", before pressing it. It blows up.
  • Worth It: Dunce apparently feels this way about selling both his kidneys on the Internet, doing a Happy Dance while waving around a stack of cash.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: "Eat a two-week old unrefrigerated pie" is illustrated with Lax throwing up onscreen.
  • Your Head Asplode: "Take your helmet off in outer space" shows Numskull’s head exploding.

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Dumb Ways to Die

Ninny asks, "I wonder, what's this red button do?", before pressing it. It blows up.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhatDoesThisButtonDo

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