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Franchise / Final Destination

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"In death, there are no accidents, no coincidences, no mishaps...and no escapes."
Bludworth the Coroner, Final Destination

Final Destination is an American horror franchise revolving around a series of horror films that has since expanded to include comic books and novels. It originated from an unproduced spec script for The X-Files written by Jeffrey Reddick.

The franchise revolves around the premise of a group of people being saved from dying in a horrific accident due to one of them having a premonition shortly before it happens. In doing so, they "cheat death", which leads to Death itself setting out to kill the would-be victims one by one, often in elaborate fashion, to balance the books.

The works in the franchise are:

This franchise bears no relation to the stage of the same name from the Super Smash Bros. fighting game series. Although Within Temptation wrote "Final Destination" after being inspired by the title of the original film, said song does not appear in any of the films.

This franchise contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Arc Number: If the number 180 (like Flight 180 in the first film) appears, death is on its way.
  • Asshole Victim: This being a slasher franchise, this happens a lot. See below for specific examples.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: No matter what the characters do, Death will always claim them.
  • Because Destiny Says So: We're never given a reason for any natural deaths (as natural as the disasters that start the film could be) beyond the idea that Death has a plan and it must be followed.
  • Big Disaster Plot: Every story begins with a premonition of an elaborate disaster unfolding around the Main Characters.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Mainly averted in the films, but occasionally invoked in the expanded universe.
  • Blessed with Suck: The premonitions. Sure, you might be able to save your friends and some bystanders from a horrible death, but you still have to witness it all to begin with. Not to mention, now that they've been saved from one grisly fate, an even worse one is on its way.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: While the first movie can hardly be called tame, the deaths get notably more and more gruesome with each subsequent film.
  • Cassandra Truth: Those who have the premonition are almost never believed by their friends or authorities, who think it was a freak accident or that they're somehow involved in the disaster. And when bodies start to drop, it also takes the cast a while to accept that Death is still chasing after them.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: The premise of every single film in the franchise is that a moment of premonition allows people to predict, and avoid, an accidental death. Then, a strange force ensures that all of those people will die soon afterwards in similar accidents. What's more, several characters across the franchise manage to invoke this trope multiple times before death catches up with them.
    • In the first film, Carter is saved from his death and thus skipped over until Alex and Clear manage to escape a second time as well—at which point Death circles back to start with him again.
    • Halfway through 2 it's revealed that the survivors of the highway accident also cheated death when the deaths of the previous film's survivors led to them not reaching their own. On top of that, Kimberly is pulled away from a speeding truck just moments after her own premonition, and later only dies temporarily from drowning before being saved and revived.
    • In 3, Wendy, Julie, and Kevin manage to avoid not only their deaths on the roller coast but also several near misses in the climax. They're killed at the end in a subway accident.
    • In 4, Nick gets several premonitions to save the characters from the initial accident, as well as himself, Lori, and Janet a second time. This leads them to getting run over by a truck in the final scene.
    • In 5, Sam and Molly avoid the initial disaster and the ensuing fallout, only to die from the explosion of Flight 180 at the beginning of the first film. Furthermore, Nathan dies from the results of that as well despite being skipped over earlier.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: It would probably be easier to list the ones who didn't turn into giblets.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Each one of the films has a cast up against Death itself. Death is never presented as a defeatable force, and is unimaginably cruel in how it goes about balancing the books. And no matter what you do, Death will claim you.
  • Cosmic Plaything: All the Main Characters are at the mercy of Death, and none of them survive.
  • Crapsack World: Death is real and it either hates you or thinks your silly attempts to live are amusing. Also, because of Death, horrible accidents that involve dozens or even hundreds of people dying are commonplace. Everything, from ceiling fans to roller coasters to planes, is on the verge of falling apart or blowing up due to the slightest provocation. And when it does fall apart, it will do so in the way that is most likely to kill anyone around as it happens.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Many of Death's kills are incredibly sadistic, as if the Reaper has a grudge against the Main Characters for cheating it the first time.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Again, Death. It manipulates small events into larger ones in order to kill someone, even if it seems like they're safe or somebody managed to save them once.
  • Disaster Dominoes: The buildup to the kills sets up small elements within each seen that each connect to each other and create inescapable death traps for the victims.
  • Downer Ending: Every movie, save for 2, ends with the characters either dead or in danger of dying.
  • Driven to Suicide: Defied. You don't die until Death decides you die.
  • Enemies with Death: All the characters are trying to outrun it...and none of them do or can.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: This is how Death gets you, who can use every implement imaginable in its task.
  • Failsafe Failure: The majority of deaths in the series are assisted or directly caused by electric and mechanical systems failing to a ridiculous degree. Computers will start fires, ceiling fans will not support their own weight, and if that's not enough, wait until any modern construction is placed under stress (an explosion, a large number of people, being activated in the first place, etc.). Death must have killed off all the actual engineers a while ago.
    • It's even lampshaded in the fifth film, by agent Block pointing out, that in order for the LASIK machine to do what it did, five failsafe systems had to fail.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: No matter what you do, Death will find a way to claim you in sadistic fashion.
  • Foreshadowing: This film series and Expanded Universe is all about the foreshadowing. Anything can be a reference to how someone is going to die. Fans make it a game to try and find all the foreshadowing in later viewings.
  • For the Evulz: The only adequate explanation for why Death kills survivors so horribly. This is even offered as an explanation in the novelization of the third film, where Wendy also surmises that the reason why people are rarely ever killed while alone is because Death likes having an audience.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The first three films all ended with two or three of the main characters still alive, and the movies left it open-ended as to whether they ultimately survived or not. Eventually, however, it was revealed that every single one of them died, whether on-screen or off, whether it was explicitly established in the canonical films themselves (as with Alex and Clear) or simply because the creators said so (as with Kimberly, Thomas, Wendy, Julie, and Kevin). By the time the last two films came out, the audience was likely no longer expecting there to be any chance at all that any of the characters marked by Death would ultimately live, which may be why the filmmakers finally dispensed with the ambiguous endings and just killed off all of the characters onscreen.
  • The Grim Reaper: The antagonist in both the films and books. Unusually, Death is presented as what can only be described as a "force" rather than as a person (although WMG has sprung up in relation to Tony Todd's character about this). "It" is usually seen as wind, though the other elements like to get in on the action too; generally speaking, water works to fake out the audience, sometimes teaming up with its old friend electricity, whilst wind, fire and earth lay the real Disaster Dominoes.
  • Hate Crimes Are a Special Kind of Evil:
    • In The Final Destination, when Carter is preparing to burn a cross on George's lawn, Death causes his truck radio to start playing "Why Can't We Be Friends?"; then it kills him in a manner not too dissimilar to how racist lynch mobs would execute their victims.
    • In Final Destination 5, Death does the same thing to Isaac, an idiotic sleaze who tries to invoke a Happy-Ending Massage at an Asian parlor after other visitors point out that he's not at a brothel. Isaac's head is crushed by the same Buddha's statue he previously sneered at.
  • Homicide Machines: Just. About. Everything. They'll all make a serious and very real attempt to kill you no matter what bizarre coincidences need to happen.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A personal favorite technique of Death and the producers. Whenever you see a film, expect at least one impalement either in a premonition or the main story. There's only one major one in the first film, which comes when Lewton manages to make kitchen knives fall on her in her burning house, but Death ramps it up to ladders and poles for the other movies.
  • Invincible Boogeymen: Death is both all-powerful and eternal, meaning it's not really a fair fight so much as a sadistic boy squashing a bunch of helpless ants. This is because death itself is inevitable.
  • Made of Explodium: A lot of structures and vehicles seem to inexplicably explode. Sure, there are accelerants often involved, but nowhere near the amount that would be needed to, say, blow up a house, or even an apartment.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Death shows up in a lot of small, mysterious ways, like random portents of death showing up (such as the number 180).
  • Necro Non Sequitur: Death doesn't care how it has to kill, even if the way it does so defies the very laws of physics and probability. Quite simply, this trope is the entire premise of the series.
  • No OSHA Compliance: These films may as well be called "No OSHA Compliance: The Movies", as there are just too many gruesome deaths resulting from seemingly trivial mechanical glitches. Then again, said glitches are explicitly the result of supernatural influence by the Grim Reaper.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. While most of the films have characters who don’t have the same name, there are two victims named Carter. One is in the first movie, who is a bully to the others, and the other is in the fourth movie, who is a racist.
  • Primal Fear: The inevitability of death, especially since Death is portrayed as an Invincible Villain.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: There is no doubt that the premonitions always come true, and then they come true in other way through the cruel deaths of the survivor.
  • Prophecy Armor: Played with in a very cruel fashion: Death wants you dead, and Its cruel game which includes giving some people visions about disasters so they can get away and It can keep on hunting them down is played by Its rules. This includes deciding to take your own life to try to appease Death: Death just won't let you die until It feels like taking you.
  • Our Slashers Are Different: This is essentially a Slasher Movie series with a twist: Death itself is hunting the protagonists and killing them off one by one after they survive a major freak accident or incident. Separate movies adopt slightly different attitudes towards the exact nature of the connection, which will be detailed on the individual pages.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: As the list of unusual deaths on the other wiki shows, people sometimes do die in incredibly bizarre circumstances, such as being killed by an airborne fire hydrant when a car struck the hydrant and the water pressure propelled it "like a bullet". Some people even died in incredibly similar circumstances to the films, like decapitation by elevator or getting their insides sucked out by a pool drain.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: And it goes off without a hitch almost every single time. Justified in that it is planned by Death and it undoubtedly had quite a lot of practice in setting these things up.
  • Sadist Show: The Final Destination film series pits normal humans against an immortal, undefeatable, omnipresent force explicitly identified as the Grim Reaper. The humans escaped their original deaths due to unexplained premonitions of their demises. Death wants to balance its books, and it goes about it in a spectacularly sadistic way. As a result the series mostly revolves around figuring out what horrible ways in which the Main Characters end up dying.
  • Sentient Cosmic Force: In the series, the main cast is faced off against "Mr. Dead", which is to say Death itself. Death has no form or body, but rather exists as a sentient force of nature that brings about the deaths of those that are meant to die. It's also rather Eldritch-y, being an inscrutable and unstoppable entity picking off hapless mortals in ridiculously cruel ways for the sake of what seems like sheer sadism.
  • Slasher Movie: The set-up is your basic "Dead Teenager" premise, only instead of, let's say, a knife-wielding, masked killer, it's the goddamn Grim Reaper itself.
  • Spiritual Successor:
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Cars, barbeques, apartments, computers, houses, malls...
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: The series follows this trope all the time, with only varying times between the near-miss and the death blow.
  • Too Dumb to Live: At least half of the time, death would target its victims when they make careless decisions.
  • Unseen Evil: Death is never seen, only appearing as wind or other subtle forces to set things in motion.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: A popular theory, also supported by Word of God (James Wong) is that there is some other force out there trying to prevent Death from killing these people. This secondary force could be where the premonitions possibly come from, including the warning signs. Another possible theory is that Death is sending the visions because it likes to see how long survivors can last, as it challenges itself to come up with increasingly convoluted, horrific ways of trying to kill them. A theory supported by Roger Ebert is that the force characters refer to as "Death" or "Fate" is actually God himself. Yet another theory is that people managing to cheat Death is purely a flaw in the design of the universe or a sensitivity certain people possess, making them able to “read” Death’s plans.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Death always wins, regardless of what those on Death's list do to spite it. Given that nobody lives forever, no survivor can elude Death indefinitely. There is only one proven way for a survivor to escape the list which is to kill someone else and take their lifespan- but this gives Death its desired victim anyway and fills the rift in its design.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Done very frequently by Death when an intended method of execution for its victim fails.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: The premise of this film series. Even when the premonitions are avoided, most (and all in the long run) of the characters get their due death. A subversion occurs in the comic books: The Reveal in one of the comic books is that the main character is the reincarnation of the goddess of fate, and that she was used by death to enter our world, which might explain how the Main Characters of the movies get the premonitions in the first place.
  • You Have No Chance to Survive: Literally nobody survives, whether it's left ambiguous (Wendy and the other survivors in 3), or whether it appears that they survived then they die at the end in 5, or they appear to survive only to die offscreen later, such as Alex in 1.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Nobody can evade Death for more than a couple of weeks...and it's always following the "design".
  • Your Head A-Splode: One of the go-to deaths in the franchise.
    • Lewis in (Part 3), getting it crushed between two dumbbells.
    • Nadia in (Part 4), while yelling at the survivors just outside the track and right before getting obliterated head-first by a tire flying through them.
    • Isaac in (Part 5), crushed by a falling Buddha statue.

"I'll see you soon."