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Kill Em All / Live-Action TV

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Kill ’Em All in live-action TV.

  • In 24, almost every major character (and most of the recurring ones) introduced in the first season is killed, with the exceptions of Jack, Kim, and Tony (who is now in prison for probably several consecutive life sentences).
    • Overall, a small list of major characters manage to get out without being killed, like Chase Edmunds (minus a hand), Chloe O’Brian, Mike Novick, Erin Driscoll, and Kate Warner.
  • American Horror Story: The creators really love this trope, also combines with Anyone Can Die (see that trope page for more details).
    • Asylum manages to kill off every main character save one (possibly two as one of the character's fates is quite ambiguous) as well as all of the recurring characters.
    • Roanoke outdoes Asylum by killing off all the main characters, leaving just two characters alive at the end — and they are very minor characters at that.
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  • Angel. In the final episode, Wesley and Lindsey are both killed in the final battle, and Eve refuses to leave the collapsing building. Doyle, Cordelia and Fred have all died previously. Connor escapes, as does Lorne. The last thing we see is Angel, Spike, Illyria and a mortally wounded Gunn facing impossible odds. Although Joss Whedon later wrote comics in which most characters survive (sort of, but in the process the entire city of Los Angeles was sent to Hell), this was the end for a lot of the TV audience.
  • Being Human. Between seasons 3 and 4, the entire main cast is killed off, and replaced by newcomers.
  • The Black Adder ended with all but two of the main characters dying from drinking poison as a result of a convoluted power struggle. Later seasons of the Blackadder also tended to end with the wiping out of all or most of the cast. This was played for morbid laughs in Blackadder II (and averted Blackadder the Third), but treated deadly seriously in Blackadder Goes Forth.
  • Blake's 7. They even threw in a line of dialogue which revealed that the only previous regular character to make it out of the series alive had died off-screen at some point since.
    • It is worth pointing out that this was unintended. The writers had a fifth season planned in which it would be revealed that only one character was definitely dead. The rest had merely been stunned and taken prisoner. However, the BBC decided to cancel the series at that point, so it was just assumed that almost everyone was dead. Also, Avon wasn't gunned down on screen (we only heard shots being fired) and in theory survived.
  • Bonanza: Several episodes had this averted, particularly in the 12th (1970-1971) season, including:
    • "Terror at 2:00": As Virginia City is set to celebrate the signing of a treaty between them and the Paiutes (which Ben Cartwright had helped broker), a white supremacist named Ganns and two of his henchmen — all are posing as reporters from the East Coast — plan to massacre the entire town by spraying the celebration with machine gun-like fire (they had stolen a Gatling gun from the Army and are on the run). Averted when Little Joe and Candy discover their plans and shoot Ganns shortly before he attempts to use the gun to interrupt the ceremony.
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    • "Kingdom of Fear": In this adaptation of Cool Hand Luke, the main villain — a deranged ex-Army captain who has imprisoned innocent men to work in his gold mine — realizes that the authorities are on to him once one of his latest slaves (Little Joe) has escaped and is getting help.
  • Breaking Bad has had a large body count throughout the series, and the ending is no different, killing off much of the main cast and several minor characters as well.
  • The final episodes of the Canadian TV series Butch Patterson: Private Dick ended with five of the seven main characters being killed off one by one, the sixth going to jail for their murders, with only the title character being the last man standing.
  • Cold Case dealt with a mall shooting where the perps killed and maimed more than 15 people before offing themselves. After further investigation, it's learned that one of the survivors helped motivate them into the shooting, thinking they'd just take out the jerks who tried to rape her earlier that day, only to have this revenge plan backfire when she realized they were unstable enough to go after people at random. The survivor eventually tried to off herself, as well, thus fulfilling the trope in spades.
  • Parodied on Community with the Show Within a Show Cougarton Abbey:
    Troy: Britta, why did everyone on Cougarton Abbey just die?
    Britta: They only ran six episodes. That's the great thing about British TV. They give you closure.
  • In the five-episode zombie series Dead Set, absolutely every character, and, indeed, most — if not all — of Britain, is either dead or undead by the final episode.
  • The Dinosaurs finale, "Changing Nature", had the dinosaurs in the process of going extinct due to environmental catastrophe brought about by the actions of the WESAYSO Corporation. A very bleak ending to a generally light-hearted show.
  • A number of Doctor Who stories end like this. It's worth noting that in these cases the Doctor's actions usually prevent a far greater number of casualties, and the Doctor and his companions (almost) always survive, but the high body is rather unsettling for what is ostensibly a family program.
    • "Mission to the Unknown" kills everyone except the Dalek and the mysterious council of aliens (all of which die later, in "The Daleks' Master Plan"). Everyone means everyone — the Doctor and his companions don't show up in this episode at all, and so are spared.
    • "The Power of the Daleks" kills everyone in its large, well-developed, Chronic Backstabbing Disorder-prone cast apart from the Doctor, his companions Ben and Polly, The Stool Pigeon Quinn, and last-minute Heel Face Turning Valmar. Everyone else in the colony government, the rebel faction, Lesterson, the entirety of Bragen's personal guard and all of the Daleks die.
    • "Pyramids of Mars" leaves only one survivor other than the Doctor and Sarah... and he (a bit part) only survives because he's in Egypt while the action takes place in England. The novelisation states that this character is killed off-screen by cultist henchmen later.
    • In "Horror of Fang Rock", the entire guest cast dies. The Doctor and Leela sail off, leaving a lighthouse full of corpses behind them.
    • "Logopolis" has every single person from the eponymous planet dead, the Doctor dead, and approximately a quarter of the universe destroyed. By accident. Special points for this explicitly including all of the surviving characters from the previous story, "The Keeper of Traken", except for the one who became a regular. The only survivors are the companions Adric, Nyssa and Tegan (Nyssa's entire family dies in this story and Tegan's only on-screen family member gets murdered) and the Master. And, well, the Fifth Doctor is created at the end of this story.
    • The Fifth Doctor era was notorious for this, with four examples of this trope. It got to the point where one of his companions, Tegan, left because she couldn't handle all of the death anymore:
      • "Castrovalva" has seemingly everyone except the Doctor and his three companions die. The Master also seems to die, though he somehow escapes with no explanation whatsoever.
      • "Warriors of the Deep" has every single guest character, Red Shirt and Mook dead by the end, with the possible exception of a bit character who was hiding at the time. The final shot is the Doctor standing amid half a dozen corpses, mournfully saying "There should have been another way..."
      • "Resurrection of the Daleks" has every single guest character, Red Shirt and Mook except for one secondary character (noticing a pattern?) dead. Including Davros, who dies but appears in a later episode with no explanation whatsoever. This is the one where Tegan finally gets fed up and leaves.
      • "The Caves of Androzani", where a grand total of two characters survive — Peri and the villain's secretary. Even the Doctor "dies".
    • In "Attack of the Cybermen", the Doctor and Peri survive. Perhaps some Cryons survived, far enough away from the explosion.
    • "The Parting of the Ways" has everybody on Satellite 5 except for Rose (as well as a significant number on Earth) killed by the Daleks, then the Daleks disintegrated. Jack Harkness and the Doctor die too, but Jack's brought back to life (permanently) and the Doctor regenerates.
    • In "Voyage of the Damned", only the Doctor and three people aboard the Titanic survive. And the episode started with hundreds of people on board.
    • Even though it's set in another timeline, "Turn Left" has to be mentioned here. The Doctor, Martha, Sarah Jane, Maria, Clyde, Luke, Gwen and Ianto are all killed because Donna turned right at an intersection. With Donna and Rose the main characters of the episode, Jack immortal, and Owen and Tosh already dead, that's every character that's ever had billing in all three series up to that point. Since this all gets reversed by the end of the episode, it's also an example of the Second Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics. To reverse it, even Donna dies.
    • In "The Vampires of Venice", one or two bit characters (the greeter, the girl in the alley, the villains' steward) may survive, but every non-regular with even the tiniest connection to the plot dies.
    • "The God Complex": Everyone dies expect for the Doctor, Amy, Rory and Gibbis.
    • Spinoff Torchwood has a pretty high mortality rate too. Out of the original cast of six, Suzie dies in the pilot, Owen dies, comes back wrong, then dies permanently in the Season 2 finale while talking with Tosh, who's bleeding out and dies moments later. Finally, Ianto dies in Jack's arms when they confront the 456. And that doesn't even include Captain Jack, who dies around 1300 times but always comes back.
  • British soap opera Dream Team took this to insane lengths: 37 deaths of (mostly) main characters over its run, which considering the show is set at a relatively normal soccer (football) team is quite some achievement.
    • These deaths range from freak coach explosions to chewing gum.
  • Forever Knight. Oh, Forever Knight. Virtually everyone on the show was killed off over the course of the third season, culminating in the hero seemingly killing his beloved and then asking his sire to stake him.
  • How Frasier's live radio drama ends in "Ham Radio" when an annoyed Niles highjacks the proceedings and kills off the entire cast in about 30 seconds.
  • Out of 25 main characters and several minor ones on Harper's Island, 4 make it out alive (2 due to Improbable Infant Survival). There are 29 deaths on screen. The promos had heavily implied that everyone was going to die, although the writers opted not to go there.
  • The bizarre finale to Hey Dad..! in which the family is taken hostage by a bank robber who blows up their house. The "dad" of the show's title lived on by virtue of having been absent from the show for some time by then.
  • Lexx. By the end of the miniseries everyone seen on-screen except the main characters wind up dead. It became a signature of the second season that nobody that the main characters met would survive to see the end credits (there's only one exception, a child who escapes in a small spacecraft only to reappear and be killed in the opening sequence a few episodes later). A universe gets destroyed at the end of the season, killing everyone who'd lived there. While many of the supporting characters make it through to the end of the third season they all die at the end when the Lexx blows up the afterlife. Similarly, season four takes place in just one locale and many of the characters survive until the end of the season when the Lexx blows up Earth. One of the three protagonists dies for good too, though perhaps in trade some of the named supporting characters actually survive to escape for a change.
  • Often done with Lost with the minor characters: by the beginning of Season Five, all of the background survivors are dead, and by season six most of the background Others are dead.
    • Played with in the last season. All the main characters, including some villains, die and end up in purgatory to fulfill their loose ends. In the last episode, they meet up inside a church with Jack's dead father before moving on together.
  • The only characters to survive the Masters of Horror episode "Cigarette Burns" are Kirby's theatre assistant, Bakovic's widow, and Henri, none of whom were present at the climax. The angel also survives.
  • Merlin was a family show, but didn't hesitate in killing off most of its cast. There were fifteen major characters in all: Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Guinevere, Uther, Gaius, Kilgharrah, Morgause, Agravaine, Lancelot, Gwaine, Elyan, Percival, Leon and Mordred. By the end of the series, only 'five are left standing: Merlin, Guinevere, Gaius, Leon and Percival. Some die along the way, but four are taken out in the Grand Finale. Kilgharrah is still alive, but it had been established in an earlier episode that he was dying of old age. And if you take into account the final scene, which depicts Merlin in the present day, then everyone is dead except him.
  • The "Mr. Neutron is Missing" Sketch of Monty Python's Flying Circus has NATO trying to stop Mr. Neutron (who actually wasn't up to anything and was just spending the day hanging out in a quiet suburb of London — the worst thing he does in the episode is hit on a married woman) by nuking every single place they thought he might be... Which ultimately turned out to be every single place in the world except for where he actually was.
  • Mortal Kombat: Conquest. Reportedly, there was supposed to be a second season, which either undid some of the deaths, or continued with a new crew, but the series was canceled, and thus finished with the Downer Ending in which Shao Kahn killed everyone.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 played with this trope in the episode featuring Gunslinger. Near the end of the movie, most of the extras who played the townspeople, along with a few others, up and disappear before the final confrontations. Thus, after the main major characters save main heroine Rose are killed, Crow and Tom run with the idea that everyone is dead, leading to the last riff being Tom, pretending to be replacement sheriff Sam Bass, screams in horror at "seeing" the bodies.
  • The short-lived NBC show The Others ended with all but one character (Albert) biting it.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Camp", the androids have standing orders to "execute Procedure Seven", the murder of all the human prisoners, once they are no longer needed. At the end, when Prisoner 98843 exposes them, the commandant orders this, but the human prisoners manage to overpower them and escape.
  • Primeval is slowly heading this way. Claudia Brown, Tom Ryan, Stephen Hart, Nick Cutter, Helen Cutter, Sarah Page... well, to put it simply, there are three main characters left from series one. Three.
  • Played with in Punky Brewster in the 2-part "Perils of Punky" episode. In it, Punky and her friends encounter an evil spirit which then proceeds to kill all of her friends and her dog. Although it's eventually revealed to be a ghost story Punky's telling to her friends, several fans of the show still wonder what the writers were thinking for creating such a disturbing, dark episode in an otherwise light and family-friendly sitcom.
  • While not everyone, Robin Hood ends with a good number of the main cast dead, including Robin himself, Marian (she's actually killed off at the end of season 2), Allan A Dale, Guy of Gisborne, and the Sheriffs of Nottingham (both Vasey and Isabella). Oh, and Nottingham Castle is blown up as well. Djaq and Will leave at the end of season 2 and are, presumably, alive. Much and Little John (the only surviving original outlaws) are alive, along with newbies Kate, Brother Tuck, and Archer (the newly-discovered half-brother of Robin and Guy).
  • Six Feet Under features a doozy of a finale, as the audience finds out how every main character died: Ruth, David and Federico die of natural causes, Keith is shot to death as he exits a security van, Brenda is 'talked' to death by her brother, and Claire dies at the age of 101.
  • The season one finale of Spartacus: Blood and Sand is actually entitled "Kill Them All", and does pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin, at least as regards the Roman characters.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the Vengeance finale, where the writers manage to kill off every single villain on the show, and quite a few protagonists, too. And the rebellion fails, so one can presume that the rampant character deaths aren't going to stop anytime soon.
    • And "Victory", the War of the Damned finale, gives us the end of the rebellion, in which (inevitably) every remaining major character except Caesar, Crassus, Agron, Nasir, Sibyl and Laeta dies, mostly in battle.
  • Ultraman Leo: Episode 40. Oh Jesus Tap Dancing Christ. Commander Black releases Silver Bloom, which kills everyone on the MAC team, destroys most of Tokyo and nearly kills Leo.
  • V (1983): The Series had numerous secondary characters being killed off during the series, including resistance fighters who had been present since the original miniseries (and other long-term characters simply leaving, never to be seen again). At the end, the viewer is left to infer that resistance member Robin's child, Elizabeth (a.k.a. "The Star Child") and her boyfriend were killed when they boarded a transport with a hidden bomb on it.
  • The Young Ones ends with the four main characters dying in a bus crash.
    • Also, Vyvyan's hamster and their landlord both died in the same episode, under different circumstances. (Although the landlord was eaten by lions in the previous season, oddly enough.)


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