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A Death in the Limelight

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"If you start learning a lot of information about a member of your team you barely knew, get your funeral attire ready."

Briefly, an episode or issue that suddenly focuses on a character specifically because they're going to die at the end (or fairly close to the end).

Usually this is a relatively minor recurring character, or someone who technically is in the main cast but never had a Backstory or much in the way of characterization. The episode/issue may be honest about what's going to happen, or try to make it appear that the character is finally going to be promoted to a main character. Episodes about the death of a major character who already got plenty of exposure and a fairly full Backstory don't quite fit this trope, since it's not as obviously different from the character's normal treatment.

Sometimes obviously the result of the writer realizing that they need a dramatic death, can't sacrifice the main cast, and the chosen character just hasn't been given enough to do that the audience might care. In other cases, the understandable result of Real Life Writes the Plot when the actor has to leave the series and the writer wants to give them something to be remembered by.

Related to Back for the Dead, and can happen in the same story if the character hasn't been on screen for a while but never actually said to have left. This is a leading cause of Alas, Poor Scrappy, if the character was disliked.

The big clue to many of these is a detailed backstory suddenly popping up when normally the character gets two or three lines an episode.

In Reality Television, it's marked by one contestant getting more "confessionals" (individual interviews) than they usually do, or by footage of them talking to other contestants about a) how much they want to win or how much the win will mean to them / their family / their future; b) how good they are at some particular aspect of the competition (in this case, it will almost certainly be that aspect that proves to be their undoing); c) that they've realized that one particular aspect is their weak spot and that they are going to be especially careful to do that thing correctly from here on out (in this case, they most likely will be eliminated for making exactly the mistake they said they were going to avoid); or d) how much they are controlling the game.

A subtrope is Death by Flashback and Sympathetic Murder Backstory.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Fan Works

  • Cast Swap
    • "Food Fright" has Beardo trying to find his place on All-Stars. He gets eliminated, but as a consolation prize, his friends tell him that by being himself, he's important to the show, and end it by taking a group selfie.
    • This also occurred to Duncan in "No One Eggspects the Spanish Opposition", as he tries to prove he's a bad guy through multiple attempts. He gets eliminated, but regains his status by stealing Chris's wallet.
  • A Codette World Tour
    • Tyler becomes the hero of the Africa challenge of Chapter 7, overcoming his usual clumsiness and saving Cody and Bridgette, only to be eliminated afterwards.
    • Courtney gets a lot of focus during the China challenge of Chapter 6, as her emotions over Duncan cheating on her with Gwen reach their climax and she is eliminated afterwards.
    • Sierra is the centre of attention in the Alberta challenge of Chapter 8, as she is forced to come to terms with Cody hooking up with Bridgette and gets eliminated afterwards.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K: Whenever a significant named character gets Killed Off for Real in this series, there is a likely chance that their death scene is going to be told from the perspective of said soon-to-be-dead character. The odds of this increases the more important that character is. So far, the list of characters who have died during their POV segments includes Kraken, Borvant, Shaak Ti, Gaksian Krell, Bly, Kallak Norn, Araknus, the fake Grievous, Kuat of Kuat, and Ishtara Ordane.
  • Underverse:
    • Outertale!Sans appears as Sans is snooping around, but he barely spends any time with him before Killer takes his life.
    • In 0.5, Muffet and Mettaton die at the hands of their XTale counterparts, barely a few minutes after their first appearance.


  • Beast Wars: Uprising:
    • "Head Games" is all about Buzzclaw, an insecure Predacon who managed to win a death match via sheer luck. He joins the Resistance to impress Ser-Ket, and on his first outing gets sent on a dangerous mission into Fortress Maximus, who starts talking to Buzzclaw, getting him around to his way of thinking, and tells him Ser-Ket will be spared if Buzzclaw just kills everyone else. And as soon as he gets near them, Buzzclaw is killed, the psychic link killing Fort Max in turn. Which is exactly what the Resistance knew would happen. In fact, it's exactly why they sent Buzzclaw there in the first place.
    • "Trigger Warnings" focuses on Wolfang, a cynical cop/mole in the Maximal police, as he investigates an unusual murder case. This eventually gets him attacked by his superiors, who think he's turned traitor, and he ends up dying in an air-strike.

Web Original

  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged started doing this about Episode 17, when they killed Zarbon. Although it's more obvious from Episode 19 on, you could add Episode 18 if you count the death of Vegeta's sanity.
    • 17) Zarbon. 18) Vegeta's sanity. 19) Guldo. 20) Recoome (dies in 21). 21) Burter. 22) Jeice (dies in 23). 23) Ginyu. 24) Super Kami Guru. 25) Nail. 26) Dende. 27 and 28) Vegeta (fatal blow in 27, dies in 28). 29) Krillin. 30) Freeza.
    • Justified though, as that's how the series largely worked where minor villains were concerned. Get to know them, then Goku or one of his friends takes them down.
  • Game Grumps during their Let's Play of Shadow of the Colossus. Knowing that the character's horse, Agro, was soon to fall off a bridge and seemingly die, Arin made a point of noting how lovely the horse was, lulling Dan and the audience into an emotional state all the better for pain.
  • Madness Combat: "Inundation" stars Jesus after he had fully committed to a Heel–Face Turn, taking on several Mooks before combating the Auditor himself. Unfortunately for him, the Auditor hit him with a Drama-Preserving Handicap, and he ends up being Killed Off for Real at the end of the episode.
  • Survival of the Fittest has this come up a few times (although it's not so much an episode as a limelight post) an example of this treatment is Andy McCann, who is killed in his first appearance in the game (that being because his handler left, but still). Notably, his section of the post is about three times as long as that of the character that actually killed him, detailing what he had been doing up to that point on the island and nostalgically thinking about his favourite superhero. Due to the system that deals with inactive characters, this tends to happen to them the majority of the time.

Alternative Title(s): Death In The Limelight