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Accidental Murder

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A little anger can lead to a huge consequence!
Pi: I swear, that was an accident.
Ennesby: Congratulations. You just invented "negligent regicide".

Accidental Murder occurs when a situation that wasn't intended to be lethal ends with the death of someone anyway. Occasionally, this happens because a fight just goes too far (Bob and Alice start fighting, and the fight gets more heated than anyone expects, and Alice ends up braining Bob with a heavy object or accidentally knocking him onto something sharp... and she doesn't realize he's dead until it's over). Other times, this happens when innocent bystanders are caught up in someone else's fight and are dead before anyone else realizes they are there (Bob and Alice are fighting; Carol, a friend to both, tries to break it up and gets accidentally shot while Bob and Alice are wrestling for a gun). And sometimes there's no fighting involved at all; the person who dies is killed because the unintentional killer does something stupid.


Either way, it's simply bad luck for the dead guy, and for his killer. No one was meant to die, but someone died anyway. The ultimate result of an Accidental Murder varies. Bob killing Carol (or Alice killing Bob) may cause him to become The Atoner, or make a Deal with the Devil to bring her Back from the Dead. Often the character who committed the Accidental Murder will vow to become a pacifist, although it may just be the first step down a slippery slope of murder and mayhem.

See also I Didn't Mean to Kill Him, which is usually what Bob tells the police when he's arrestednote . Compare to Murder by Mistake, where Bob had every intention of killing Alice, but for some reason ended up killing Carol. If the accident involved a gun going off in the wrong place and direction at the wrong time, this trope overlaps with I Just Shot Marvin in the Face. Supertrope to Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon. It can also be caused by someone who's being reckless in a dangerous situation, such as a Drunk Driver or Reckless Gun Usage. Accidental Suicide, i.e. unintentionally killing yourself, is an inversion.


Legal note: by definition, in most legal systems "murder" requires that the death be intended by the killer or the result of deliberately inflicted injuries the killer could reasonably have expected might be lethal. In most of the situations described above, the charge would be manslaughter, or it might not even be a crime at all, but only a fatal and unfortunate accident. Between the two exists "negligent homicide," which may or may not be the name of the crime (if any).note  However, that makes for a less evocative title.

There is also a curious variation of the "Accidental Murder" trope, the "Let's Immediately Become Criminals" trope, which involves either an individual or a group. The situation may actually be that there is an abundance of physical evidence and eyewitnesses to corroborate that death was unintentional. Nevertheless, in this version of the trope, it is common for the witnesses and/or the accidental transgressor to decide on faulty logic that, since they will be seen as guilty immediately, that "we have to bury the body" and/or "hide the evidence", despite the fact that in many cases such an act could be ruled death by misadventure. In these cases, trying to cover it up is (ironically) the only actual crime committed.

Not to be confused with Make It Look Like an Accident, a which is when the murder was deliberate but is dressed up to look like this.

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


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    Comic Books 
  • Chip Zdarsky's run on Daredevil starts with one by Matt Murdock himself: after Matt goes out as Daredvil despite still being in recovery, he goes after a pair of petty thieves, and accidentally knocks one to the ground, slamming his head against a curb, and causing a fatal brain aneurysm. A lot of the rest of the book is Matt trying to deal with inadvertently violating his Thou Shalt Not Kill policy. Badly.
  • One story in Judge Dredd had the judges investigating the apparent suicide of radio DJ Cool Johnny Cool. The pre-cog's discover that the DJ himself was also a pre-cog who was picking up the combined thoughts of all of the people in Mega City One who hated him and how narcissistic and annoying he was and wanted him to kill himself, which due to his power he was compelled to actually do it. The pre-cog's even note that for Johnny to be affected like this with his power millions of people would have to have wanted him to kill himself in order for him to do it. Dredd notes they can't arrest people for just wishing someone would off themselves just because it resulted in him actually doing it.
  • In The Maze Agency #7", the killer never intended to kill anyone. They were attempting to erase sensitive information on the Victim of the Week's computer using a powerful electromagnet. However, the victim - who was seated at his computer at the time - had a bullet lodged in his chest from an earlier wound. The electromagnet shifted the steel bullet, which hit his heart, killing him: leaving a seemingly impossible murder of someone who had been shot in the heart with no entrance wound.
  • In Superman storyline A Mind-Switch in Time, Euphor sends three minions after Superboy. Superboy notices they are expending energy from their power source to keep up with him, so he flies away to force them to run out of steam. Instead of exhausting themselves, though, the three mooks push themselves until their bodies become consumed by their own powers.
  • One of these factors into the pre-Crisis origin story of Superman villain Terra-Man. An alien currency thief attempted to stun a Wild West outlaw who attacked him, but overcharged his powers in rage and killed him instead. Feeling remorseful, he took the outlaw's son in as his protege, leading to the boy becoming Terra-Man.
  • During the X-Men arc X-Cutioner's Song, a mutant named Kamikaze attempted to sneak up on and attack Archangel. Unaware of his attacker, Archangel spread his metallic wings, decapitating Kamikaze.
  • Wonder Woman Volume 1: From their prior fights Diana knows that tossing Artemis' sword away will get the unrelenting undead Amazon to stop attacking her to retrieve it. In their final fight when Diana kicks the sword into a plane she is surprised and horrified to discover that being far enough away from the sword causes Artemis to crumble into ash and die a final death. By her people's reckoning Artemis was already dead, but Diana is still upset to have brought about her demise.

    Films — Animated 
  • Big Hero 6: Professor Callaghan stays in the burning building to fake his death; Tadashi Hamada runs in and tries to save him, so his death in the fire becomes Callaghan's indirect responsibility. At first, he callously dismisses this as Tadashi's own mistake, but in the end, Callaghan comes to regret it.
  • Played for Laughs in Coco. Ernesto de la Cruz died in 1942 when a stagehand was so entranced by his singing he ended up pushing a lever that dropped a giant bell, which crushed Ernesto. Not that Ernesto didn't deserve it after what happened to Héctor. Funnily enough, in the Land of the Dead, his ultimate fate is to get crushed by another bell.
  • Frozen (2013): Elsa accidentally strikes Anna's heart with a blast of her magic which leads to Anna freezing from inside out and eventually turning into solid ice. She gets better though.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: When Frollo chased after Quasimodo's mother to recover the "stolen goods", he caught up with her, ripped the bundle from her hands, causing her to fall down the steps of Notre Dame and fatally hit her head. Still, he has no remorse for killing her and thinking the baby that turned out to be in the bundle was a monster because of what he looked like, he attempts to throw the baby in a well, only to be stopped by the Notre Dame Archdeacon.
  • Minions have a tendency to inadvertently kill their masters:
    • Millions of years ago, when they first moved onto land, they served a Tyrannosaurus rex, until one of them inadvertently pushed him into a volcano.
    • When humans first evolved, Minions immediately flocked to them. One caveman died because a Minion took away his club and handed him a flyswatter to fight a bear with, apparently expecting it to work.
    • The Minions built the Pyramids. They were originally built sideways, then they fell over and crushed the Pharaoh.
    • During the Middle Ages, the Minions had "fun times" serving Dracula. Then they threw him a birthday party and opened a curtain to let in a little light.
    • The final death that caused them to give up on serving for a long time was Napoléon Bonaparte, who died when they accidentally fired a cannon at him.
    • During the '60s, while Kevin, Bob, and Stuart were sent to search for a new boss after all the time they'd spent hiding in a cave since the days of Napoleon, the rest of the Minions briefly served a tribe of Yetis inside the cave. One Minion blowing a tuba too loudly dislodges a chunk of ice which falls and crushes the chief Yeti's head.
    • They also nearly kill Scarlet Overkill by causing a chandelier to fall on her. Fortunately, she survives, but then gets humiliated by a very young Gru. Also, equally as fortunate, Gru found a way to keep the Minions from killing him.
  • The Prince of Egypt: Moses tries to stop an Egyptian foreman from whipping an elderly slave and accidentally pushes too hard, sending the foreman plummeting off a multi-storied scaffold to his death. This is Bowdlerizing the original story somewhat: in the Biblical account, Moses ended up beating the Egyptian foreman in question to death out of rage.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Abandoned Mine: Laurie, already driven mad by her experience in the Jarvis Mine, hears Brad carrying Sharon. She thinks it's Jarvis, grabs a long thin object, and then attacks him when he rounds the corner. The next shot is revealed to be a funeral.
  • In Act of Vengeance, Jack accidentally strangles Diane while attempting to keep her quiet while raping her. He decides he does not like the sensation of murder.
  • Ajnabee: When fighting Raj during the finale, Big Bad Vicky accidentally kicks his own Love Interest out of the ship's window and she falls to the pier and breaks her neck.
  • In Bad Boys (1983) Mick accidentally runs over the 8 year old younger brother of a guy he tried to rip off. This, among other charges gets him sent to jail and the guy who's brother he ran over ends up in with him! Ever since then the guy who's brother he killed has been giving him hell.
  • Bloody Reunion: While attempting to stop Sun-Hee from pushing Mrs. Park's wheelchair over a cliff, Mi-Ja winds up accidentally pushing Sun-Hee over the edge to her death.
  • Boys on the Side: Holly accidentally kills Nick while overpowering him to escape. This was arguably self-defense, though she can't prove it. She ends up taking a plea bargain to involuntary manslaughter and serves a short term in prison.
  • Clownface: In the third act, Jenna is being pursued by Clownface in his own lair, she stabs someone around a corner, and realizes she mortally wounded Zoe.
  • Cruel and Unusual: Edgar kills Maylon by pressing down while struggling to grab the phone with his arm against her throat, strangling her.
  • In Curse of the Headless Horseman, the Horseman is attempting to scare Mark's friends off the ranch. This results in two deaths: one girl runs in front of a van while trying to flee from him, and another—who is high on LSD—seems to just drop dead after being splashed with blood (it's possible that she suffered a drug induced heart attack but, like almost everything else in this movie, it is never made explicit).
  • Cut To The Chase: While one of the Man's thugs is aiming his gun to kill him with another thug there behind him, Max knocks the guy's arm aside, which results in him shooting the other by mistake.
  • The protagonist of Damage, John Brickner, is released from prison on parole. His crime? Second-degree manslaughter. He killed a man named Matthew Reynolds in self-defense during a fight.
  • In Daniel Deronda, Gwendolen hesitates just... one... moment too long when her husband, Grandcourt, falls off their boat. He drowns, although she does make a belated effort to save him.
  • In Dark August, a young girl runs in front of Sal's car and is killed. Sal is found innocent of manslaughter, since the girl didn't give him time to brake, but the girl's grandfather doesn't care and wants revenge.
  • Probably the only unintentional death in Dead Birds is the child William accidentally shoots while the gang is fleeing the town. William even shows remorse over this death.
  • In Deep Rising, Canton accidentally axes Vivo in the head when he believes that it was the creature on the other side of the door.
  • Detour: Assuming that Al Roberts' account is accurate, then Vera's death is this. Al was trying to rip out the phone line to stop her calling the police; not knowing the she had wrapped the cord around her neck while drunkenly rolling on the bed.
  • Elevated: After Ben climbs on top of the elevator to get back inside, Hank and Ellen crush Ben against the building's roof by riding the elevator to the top, thinking he is one of the monsters.
  • Erik the Viking: The plot is instigated after Erik accidentally kills Helga, a woman he was trying to save from his fellow Vikings. He goes on a quest then to resurrect her by petitioning the gods.
  • Extreme Measures: The film's climax has Myrick killed when Luthan is fighting Hare over his gun, a stray shot from which hits him in the neck.
  • Flower (2017): Luke accidentally kills Will by pushing the latter onto a coffee table... and impaling him on an Eiffel tower figurine. Since he was roofied, this is not apparent right away.
  • In The Gentlemen, Aslan's death really wasn't planned. During the struggle in Noel's flat, Dave gives him a shove to get him off his back, and Aslan stumbles over the edge of the balcony.
  • In Ghost (1990), after Sam Wheat was killed by a mugger who later on broke into his apartment, he enlists the help of Oda Mae Brown, a reluctant medium, to get a message to his girlfriend, Molly. When Molly tells their friend, Carl, about the conversation she had with Oda Mae, Sam follows him and finds out that the killer, Willie Lopez, was just supposed to steal Sam's wallet and give it to Carl, so that Carl could get hold of his access codes to their bank's system, as Carl had used certain accounts to help launder the mob's money. Unfortunately, Sam fought back, and Willie ended up killing him.
  • The Ghost of Yotsuya: Iemon is being haunted by the ghosts of the people he murdered, namely his wife Oiwa and her friend Takuetsu. Iemon sees Ghost Oiwa, a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl, on the bed mat looking all gross. He stabs her with his sword, only to find that he has really killed his new wife Ume. Then he sees Ghost Takuetsu approaching and runs him through with his sword, only to find that he has really killed his new father-in-law Ito.
  • The Gourmet Detective: A Healthy Place to Die reveals that a husband and wife chef couple at a spa are in hiding because the wife accidentally killed a man some years ago. The man was their partner in a restaurant, but when he kept hitting on the wife, she put a dose of eyedrops in his water bottle because she had heard that would make people sick, only to use too strong a dose. Since the couple were the sole beneficiaries in the man's will, they were forced to go on the run and set themselves up in a new restaurant under aliases as nobody would believe the death had been an accident under those circumstances.
  • The Grand Illusion: Rauffenstein catches Boëldieu in the act of escaping and tries to shoot him in the leg to stop him when he ignores him. Unfortunately, due to low visibility and a fast-moving target he accidentally hits him fatally in the stomach instead.
  • Happens at the end of The Grifters: Lilly and her son Roy are fighting over Lilly trying to steal Roy's money which she put in a suitcase. When Roy tries to take the suitcase from her, she swings the suitcase into a glass of water that Roy is holding, shattering the glass and stabbing him in the neck.
  • In The Guilty, Iben kills her infant son Oliver by gutting him under the impression that she's letting snakes out of his abdomen during one of her psychotic episodes.
  • In the original Halloween II (1981) a speeding cop isn't able to brake in time and winds up hitting the drunken Ben Tramer, slamming him against a parked vehicle.
  • In Hood of Horror, Snoop Dogg's character, Devon, accidentally kills his sister, and sells his soul, becoming the Hound of Horror in exchange for her life.
  • Insomnia:
    • Will Dormer accidentally shoots his partner Hap while they're tracking Kay's killer through the mist, but he covers it up because he had a motive for killing him. Towards the end, however, not even he is sure whether it was an accident or not.
    • Subverted with Kay's death. Walter Finch claims that this is how Kay died, but he's just making excuses. When she died, rather than panicking, he meticulously and calmly prepared her body to remove any evidence. Dormer also reveals near the end that the research shows that he would have to have taken around 15 minutes to beat her to death, making it anything but accidental.
  • Jason's Lyric: The main protagonist, Jason, fatally shot his father, Mad Dog, when intended to stop his old man from potentially killing his mom, Gloria. Thus, leaving him a lifetime haunting guilt and becomes the major problem that gets in the way of his relationship with Lyric, besides his brother, Joshua, that is.
    • Later in the climax, as the two brothers get into a heated argument, Joshua shoots Lyric on the shoulder until she falls unconscious. Joshua claims that he didn't mean it (killing her), because he just wants to use her as a bait to lure his former accomplice, Alonzo. Thankfully, Lyric miraculously survives.
  • In Judas Kiss, the gang goes into the apartment building planning to pull off a kidnapping. The shooting of Mrs Hornbeck is seemingly an unfortunate case of 'wrong place, wrong time'. However, as events progress, Coco, Det. Friedman and Special Agent Hawkins all to feel that the killing might not have been as accidental as it first appears.
  • Kin (2018): Jimmy and Taylor struggle to control Taylor's gun. Taylor's brother, along with a couple of his soldiers, are killed when it goes off repeatedly.
  • Knives Out: Marta the nurse accidentally gives Harlan Thrombey a fatal morphine overdose after getting her medicine bottles mixed up after they'd been knocked to the floor, and she can't find the antidote in her bag... except not. Marta is actually good enough at her job that she can identify the correct medication by touch, since the medicine was actually switched and the antidote stolen by one of Harlan's family members, who was trying to make Marta responsible for his death because Harlan had left his entire fortune to Marta in his will.
  • A running gag in The Little Shop of Horrors: all the murders committed by Seymour are accidental, even if he does feed the bodies to his man-eating plant. (Not so in The Musical.)
  • The Loft: Believing that Sarah has committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills, Philip attempts to make the crime scene more dramatic by handcuffing her to the bed and then slitting her wrist. However, it turns out that Sarah was Not Quite Dead, but actually in an insulin coma, but she then bled out from the slit wrist.
  • In Magnolia, a very convoluted, accidental murder is shown in one of the tales at the start of the film. A boy attempts to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of his building. His attempt would have failed as he would have been saved by the safety netting below, installed by window washers but... he is fatally shot with a shotgun, fired by his mother, as he passes their window on the way down. She was threatening the boy's father with the shotgun when it unexpectedly goes off. She later tells the police that it was never kept loaded and that she and her husband often threaten each other with it all the time but... a friend of the boy says that the boy, having his fill of his parents constant arguing, had loaded the gun the day before, hoping something would happen during the next argument.
  • In Mario (1984), Mario accidentally pushes another boy off the top of the fortress Simon built, killing him.
  • The end of Memento reveals that Leonard killed his wife, who was diabetic, by accidentally injecting her with too much insulin. He copes with the guilt by imagining that his wife was killed by a burglar. The story of Sammy Jankis and his wife was Leonard projecting the true story onto Sammy.
  • M.F.A.: Noelle doesn't actually intend to kill her rapist. She just accidentally knocked him over the railing to his death when pushing him away. This inspires her to kill other rapists though.
  • Mixed Nuts: Stanley the landlord gets shot through the door when Gracie is emptying the gun by firing it wildly.
  • Money Movers: When Eric robs the cosmetic company, the manager manages to trip the alarm. Dolan comes to investigate and Eric runs into him as he is fleeing. Eric hits him to get away, but hits him too hard and Dolan dies.
  • In Mouth to Mouth, Axe helps Manson (a much younger kid than everyone else) flip into a trash can to get food. Manson lands on a nail which hits an artery, killing him quickly.
  • Mr. Ricco: Steele broke into Mary Justin's house, thinking it was unoccupied. Instead Mary saw him and started screaming. Steele tried to shut her up but ended up accidentally killing her. All this comes as a surprise to Ricco, who honestly thought Steele was innocent.
  • In Murder at the Baskervilles, Straker is kicked to death Silver Blaze while attempting to lame the horse.
  • No Escape (1994): Casey, one of the young Insiders whom Robbins meets is doing a life sentence because he was involved with a notorious kidnapping where two children held hostage smothered when locked inside a closet. He tried to warn his boss against holding them there, but was ignored. Being a part of the kidnapping leading to this would have got him on the hook for Felony Murder.
  • In Pain and Gain, Daniel ends up killing one of their targets unintentionally by causing a stacked barbell to drop on the guy's head. Daniel himself frames it as an accident, but it's mostly because he's so stupid, as he was kicking the bench in a rage after beating the guy up.
  • Practical Magic has Sally putting belladonna into Jimmy Angelov's tequila to put him to sleep. Without something to measure the safe amount, she puts in too much and kills him.
  • Happens twice in Psycho II:
    • While frantic about Norman's Sanity Slippage, Mary accidentally stabs his therapist Dr. Raymond in fear of being attacked by Norman, causing him to fall downstairs to his doom.
    • Mary herself would suffer this as well. When she tries to lure Norman into a trap to kill him, the police arrive on the scene, mistake her as the real killer and shoot her dead before she notices them.
  • Pulp Fiction:
    • Butch accidentally kills another boxer in the ring and gives a quiet "Sorry about that" when he finds out.
    • Also Vincent killing Marvin: "Aw man, I Just Shot Marvin in the Face!"
  • In The Film of the Book Rebecca, Maxim accidentally killed Rebecca, his first wife; he got angry and pushed her, and she fell and struck her head. In the original novel, he shot her, very much on purpose. She rather had it coming, to the point of taunting him into doing it.
  • The Reckless Moment: Bea is so angry with her sleazy boyfriend that she hits him over the head and runs away. It turns out that she hit him so hard that he stumbled away and fell on an anchor that killed him.
  • Rough Night is all around this, when five women on a bachelorette night accidentally kill what they believe to be the stripper, and spend the next few hours making things worse for themselves as they try to cover it up, until they learn that the man they killed was part of a gang of thieves and their killing him can be legitimately classified as self-defence.
  • Salvation Boulevard: Pastor Dan accidentally shoots Dr. Blaylock with his antique pistol, and immediately panics at how it looks, thinking he killed him. He, therefore, attempts to make it look like a suicide. It turns out that Blaylock survived and knew it was accidental, however. He still goes to prison, presumably as a result of his cover-up, as he tampered with the evidence.
  • In Scarecrow Slayer, Caleb shoots at the Scarecrow, not realizing that it is lying on top of Dave. His bullet goes through the scarecrow and kills Dave.
  • A Shock to the System. The Villain Protagonist shoves away a homeless man who's hassling him at the subway station, only to watch in horror as the man falls in front of a train. To his surprise, however, he gets away with it, as no-one saw what happened. This starts him committing murders for real, to get rid of people who've angered him and to work his way up the corporate ladder because he now thinks he can get away with anything.
  • Shortcutto Happiness: When his typewriter breaks as the last piece of a Humiliation Conga, Stone snaps and flings the machine out his window. Where it kills an old woman walking by on the street below.
  • In Six Reasons Why, The Sherpa tells a story of how he 'borrowed' his brother's rifle and was practising his aim by sighting on a lone rider on the plain when the rifle went off in his hands and killed the rider (which exactly parallels the plot of the Johnny Cash song "I Hung My Head"). It is later revealed that he is originally from the Utopian community to the west and this crime got him exiled, and he is now attempting to find is way back.
  • Happens twice in Skins (2017). First, Samantha runs over Christin's legs. He had intentionally stuck his legs out, hoping they'd be damaged enough to amputate, but Samantha drives off and he dies of blood loss. Then, Vanesa's agent dives to catch a briefcase of cash thrown out of the window, only to die in the fall.
  • Subverted in The Skulls, where Luke's best friend Will ends up dead, and he suspects his new friend Caleb. He watches the security tapes and sees Will fall off a ledge to the floor below (which isn't enough to kill him), but Caleb grabs his legs to try to save him. He doesn't hold on, and Will falls on his head, and a cracking sound can be heard. Caleb assumes he accidentally broke Will's neck and leaves. However, Luke then continues watching and realizes Will is still alive until Caleb's father's men arrive and finish off Will.
  • Slaughter High: Carol hears someone coming around the corner, and lashes out with an axe that she had in hand, accidentally killing Skip.
  • Spider-Man 3 reveals Uncle Ben's death as this. Desperate for money for his ill daughter, Flint Marko attempted to carjack Ben, but sympathetic Ben replied, "Why don't you drop the gun, and go home?" Touched by the man's sympathy, Marko almost agreed. But just then, his accomplice Dennis Carradine ran by with the money he just stole and slapped Marko on the shoulder, startling him and causing him to jolt and accidentally shoot Uncle Ben in the chest. Marko tried to help Ben, but Carradine abandoned his partner. Carradine later tripped and fell out a window to his death during a fight with Parker that same night. Realizing now that Ben's death was a genuine accident (as neither Marko nor Carradine had any intention of killing him in the first place), Parker forgave Marko and lets him escape so that he can support his sick daughter.
  • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Adrian Toomes fires his minion Jackson Brice for incompetence. Brice threatens to out Toomes as a criminal to his family. In response, Toomes blasts him with a ray gun that reduces him to a pile of ash. Shocked, Toomes says he meant to shoot him with an anti-gravity gun, but the guns were near each other and he picked up the wrong one. He shrugs it off pretty much instantly. Considering the guy's behavior, you can't really blame Toomes.
  • Stag: The deaths of neither Kelly nor Stoker were planned. Kelly suffers Death By Falling over after the men tossing her in the air drop her on the tile floor and she breaks her neck. Stoker gets shot in a Gun Struggle as Taylor and Pete attempt to wrestle his gun off him. The epilogue states that those involved in Kelly's death were charged with Reckless Endangerment, and Stoker's death was treated as self-defense.
  • Stronghold: Things start falling apart for the two home invaders when one of them starts a fistfight with a guy who was trying to steal their loot and punches him accidentally towards rake-spikes, which impale him from the back of his neck.
  • Snatched (2017): Emily Middleton keeps killing people by accident while trying to save herself and her mother from kidnappers, albeit always in self-defense.
  • In Summer Camp Nightmare, Stanley Runk (a.k.a. Runk the Punk) accidentally murders Mr. Warren, the Dean Bitterman camp director, with his knife during Franklin Reilly's takeover of Camp North Pines, and his body has been dumped into a cave to prevent anyone else from knowing what happened to him. The "official story" is that Mr. Warren has been transferred to the girls' camp for the time being.
  • In Superstar (1999), Mary Katherine Gallagher's parents were killed by their step dancing group stomping them to death accidentally during a performance, when the music was accidentally sped up.
  • Tamara: Tamara is killed by accident when her head strikes a table due to struggling with Shawn when his prank is sprung.
  • Thelma: Thelma unwittingly killed her little brother and father using her powers. She also possibly killed Anja, though temporarily in her case.
  • In Tokyo Zombie, Mii-chan and Fujio's accidentally kill their boss by hitting him on the head with a fire extinguisher.
  • In Tombstone, Curly Bill Brocius accidentally shoots and kills the town marshal, Fred White, while high on opium. Historically, the real-life Brocius and White were friends, and everyone, even Wyatt Earp himself (who arrested Brocius after the shooting) said that it happened accidentally (and in the end, Brocius was acquitted of murder and the shooting ruled accidental). In the movie, this is made clear by Curly Bill repeatedly (and mournfully) asking, "Get up, Fred! C'mon now, get up!"
  • Trick or Treats: As Andrea is walking through the attic, Malcolm leaps out of the shadows and kills her. Then he sees she's not Joan.
  • In Twelve and Holding, Jeff and Kenny accidentally kill Rudy while trying to burn his treehouse down.
  • In The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, Jekyll forcing control back from Hyde at the worst possible moment leads to him accidentally strangling Maria to death.
  • In Very Bad Things the titular action kicking off a slew of death and destruction was the accidental death of a prostitute due to a bathroom towel hook during coitus.
  • In Walk Hard, Dewey Cox accidentally cuts his brother in half with a machete. Later, his father cuts himself in half.
  • Waves: After getting in an argument with her at the party that turns physical, Tyler angrily hits Alexis, making her fall and hit her head on the hard floor below. To his horror, she bleeds out from her injury, and he's convicted of second degree murder for it.
  • In The Windmill Massacre, Shell-Shocked Veteran Jack suffers a flashback while visiting a prostitute, thinks she is attacking him and kills her reflexively.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: Magda and Nina are impaled together with an arrow after a policeman shoots it by accident.
  • In X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, Dr. Xavier has to go on the run after he accidentally pushes another doctor out of an upper-story window.

  • In the Irish ballad "Molly Ban", Molly's boyfriend mistakes her for an animal while hunting.
  • The Dillards: "Polly Vaughn" (a more modern version of the Irish folk song "Molly Ban") tells about a young man shooting his true love Polly during a hunting trip, having mistaken her white apron for swan plumage.
  • In the Porcupine Tree song "Way Out of Here", the protagonist's depression is implied to be because of this.
    And I'm trying to forget you
    And I know that I will
    In a thousand years, or maybe a week
    Burn all your pictures, and cut out your face
    The shutters are down and the curtains are closed
    And I've covered my tracks
    Disposed of the car
    Trying to forget even your name and the way that you look
    When you're sleeping
    Dreaming of this
  • YNW Melly's song "Murder On My Mind" is a chilling and real-life example of this. In the song, Melly accidentally shoots his friend because he "caught him by surprise." He even says that he shot his friend two times which was enough to kill him.
    I didn't even mean to shoot 'em, he just caught me by surprise
    I reloaded my pistol, cocked it back, and shot him twice
    His body dropped to the floor, he had teardrops in his eyes
    He grabbed me by my hands and said he was afraid to die
    I told 'em it's too late my friend, its time to say goodbye
    And he died inside my arms, blood all on my shirt.
    • On the same note, Melly released a counterpart to the song named "Mind on my Murder." and it's equally as disturbing. In this song, the murder is told from the victim's perspective:
      Sky is getting red, body getting cold
      Losing hella blood, Lord, please save my soul
      If I have to die, don't know where I'll go
      I don't want to die, I'm only 10 years old, oh
      My mama cried
      Yellow tape around my body, it's a homicide
      And he told me it was accidental, by surprise
      Ambulances everywhere and I just pray that I survive
  • The The Velvet Underground song "The Gift" features a protagonist who comes up with a cheap alternative to visit a woman he lusts after who's long past him. Due to making the package he ships himself in difficult to open, the song ends with said woman's friend accidentally stabbing him through the head with a sheet-metal cutter.
  • In the modern folk song "The Willow Maid", a man falls in love with a fairy that inhabits a willow tree. When she refuses his affections and tells him she can't leave the forest, he chops down her tree and declares that she now belongs to him. It turns out the tree is tied to her life force and she fades away, transforming into a flower that will only bloom for one night.

  • Less is Morgue: Riley has a nasty habit of doing this, on account of their poor impulse control, paranoia, and Horror Hunger. In Episode 1, they accidentally attack and eat Jon, a Pizza Guy, because they forgot they ordered a pizza and mistook him for an intruder. In Episode 2, they eat zombie beauty guru Brains Vincent because they lost control of their appetite after skipping breakfast.
  • The Magnus Archives: In "Vampire Killer" the statement-giver claims to have killed several 'people' who were certainly vampires, but also two people he's not sure about and one who definitely wasn't (but that one was a violent criminal, so he doesn't lose much sleep over it).

    Religion & Mythology 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • In the myth of Perseus, his grandfather Acrisius receives a prophecy that his grandson will kill him and as a precaution locks up his daughter Danae. When this doesn't stop Zeus from impregnating her, Acrisius locks both Danae and baby Perseus in a trunk and throws it into the ocean. Years later, an adult Perseus returns to the city for the athletic games and accidentally kills Acrisius by throwing a discus at his head.
    • Zeus has an affair with the mortal woman Semele and gets her pregnant, but a jealous Hera appears to her as an old woman and implies that he may be only pretending to be Zeus. The next time she sees him, Semele makes Zeus prove his identity by showing her his full godly form. He complies and accidentally incinerates her, but the baby (Dionysus) lives and Zeus sews him into his thigh to finish growing.

  • Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues:
    • Zia loses her temper while arguing with Ivy and Jessica and nearly uses her telepathy to psychically strangle them both. She stops herself before it becomes fatal, but she's still horrified at what she nearly did.
    • During the Time Skip leading up to finals, Jacob accidentally uses his time manipulation powers to rewind a screwdriver into Barbra's body, killing her. Fortunately for her, this triggered her immortality power, but the incident had a horrible mental toll on Jacob.
  • This happens quite often in Survival of the Fittest.
    • A notable example during V4 is Kris Hartmann getting spooked by Reika Ishida and shooting her in the chest. Eric Lorenz's death at the hands of Alex Rasputin was also accidental.
    • In V3, Abel Williams is accidentally tripped up by Michael Anders and falls over... hitting his head on a rock and dying.

  • Romeo and Juliet - Tybalt kills Mercutio, bringing a plague on both Montagues and Capulets. Though it's up to the show whether their fight was in deadly earnest, or if they were just fooling around and it got out of hand. What everyone agrees on is that Romeo really messed it up.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Dee Vasquez killed Jack Hammer, but it wasn't her intention. He was trying to murder her — she just pushed him away from her, resulting in him falling on top of a wrought iron fence that impaled him. Self-defense, in a nutshell. Crosses over with Death by Irony, since Hammer had previously accidentally killed someone by pushing him on top of that same fence. In fact, the whole reason he tried to kill Vasquez was that she covered up the incident and used it to blackmail the hell out of him.
    • Discussed in "Turnabout Goodbyes". Miles Edgeworth has been plagued by guilt and nightmares for fifteen years even since the day his father Gregory died, inspired by the fear that he's the one who accidentally killed him as a child when he tried to another man from strangling him; he picked up a gun that was lying on the floor, threw it at them, and promptly blacked out from oxygen deprivation from being confined in a sealed elevator. When he came to, his father lay there, dead from a shot to the heart. Phoenix and Maya eventually prove that Edgeworth wasn't the killer; the bullet pierced the elevator door and shot Manfred von Karma, who despised Gregory for incurring the one and only penalty on his legal record by exposing him for coercing a confession. The doors opened, von Karma saw Gregory passed out and vunerable, picked up the gun, and got his revenge.
    • Discussed in "The Magical Turnabout". Everyone but Apollo, Athena, Ema Skye and Nahyuta Sahdmadhi thinks that Trucy accidentally killed Manov Mistree when she thrust a sword through the coffin where Mistree was found (this was part of a magic trick where he was supposed to come out alive, of course). Subverted — it was a premeditated murder that had nothing to do with Trucy's sword, and the killer was someone who tried to frame Trucy.
    • Beh'leeb Inmee was the target of Puhray Zeh'lot, a member of the Secret Police who hunted down and killed members of La Résistance. While defending herself, she pushed a gigantic slab towards Zeh'lot, whose weight pushed him backwards and accidentally got him impaled by a statue's spiky feathers.
  • Amnesia: Memories: Explains where Shin's father is. His father was drunk one night, got into a fight with another drunk guy, and one hit caused the other guy to lose his balance and fall badly onto the ground, dying from the impact. This has lead to Shin's father being incarcerated for involuntary manslaughter.
  • Danganronpa:
    • In the first game, Mondo ends up accidentally killing Chihiro in a fit of rage after Chihiro accidentally presses Mondo's Berserk Button.
    • Twisted around in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, where an accidental murder does indeed happen... exactly as the victim planned! Nagito Komaeda engineers an elaborate suicide-by-proxy where nobody, not even the killer, would realize a killing had even taken place until it was too late. He did this because he discovered that the entire class including himself were members of Ultimate Despair, except for the traitor. Since the rest of the class symbolized despair in his mind, the traitor must, therefore, symbolize hope, and thus he felt that only the traitor deserved to live. However, he didn't know who the traitor was, and thus counted on his Ultimate Luck to make it so that the traitor was the one to actually murder him. The idea was that the class would either assume he committed suicide on his own and vote for him as the culprit, or they would figure out his plan to make one of them accidentally kill him but wouldn't be able to figure out who it was and have to blindly guess, most likely guessing incorrectly. Chiaki, however, figures out his real motivation and outs herself as the traitor in order to spare everyone else.
  • The "Bad Boys Love" route of Hatoful Boyfriend is kicked off when the heroine is found dismembered. Much horror-mystery and exposition later, it is found that Dr. Shuu was secretly weakening Ryouta Kawara's body to make him the carrier of a fast-acting lethal-to-humans virus for use as a bioweapon, and the (human) heroine died when she went to the infirmary to check on her friend Ryouta and was exposed to the virus. This revelation sends Ryouta across the Despair Event Horizon.
  • In Kiss of Revenge, the protagonist's mother died in surgery twelve years ago due to a mistake on the part of the operating surgeon. This sets off the game's whole plot, as the protagonist spent the following twelve years planning revenge for her mother's death and how it was covered up.
  • Virtue's Last Reward: This is what Clover ended up doing when she pulled an injection gun full of a lethal drug on Luna only for the trigger of the gun to accidental get pulled mid-struggle. Or, at least what she thinks she ended up doing. Luna never actually died from the injection due to being a robot.
  • In Murder by Numbers (2020), Fran wanted to collect insurance to avoid going broke, but in her attempt to stage a crash ended up running someone over.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: In Volume 3, Cinder fixes the Tournament fights to ensure Penny and Pyrrha fight while Emerald controls what Pyrrha sees. Pyrrha accidentally destroys Penny on global television, generating such a negative backlash that the Grimm are empowered to start an all-out assault on the City of Vale — exactly as the villains planned.
  • Stupid Kids:
    • In Unatkozik? Öljön mosómedvét (Bored? Kill a raccoon), Bazsi tries to hit a guard with a stake to escape from jail but accidentally stabs him in the head.
    • In Bazsimentes kaland (Bazsiless adventure), Boti and Dani accidentally steal a black car from a mafia member, when he finds them and wants to shoot them, they get helped by a restaurant cashier. The cashier drives the black car along with Boti and Dani, the mafia member steals a truck and all of them gets into a Car Chase, while being unaware there is a kidnapped person in the black car's trunk. Boti takes control of the black car because he wants to go back for his hat and accidentally crashes both vehicles. Only Boti and Dani survive the crash.
  • The Twins (2022): Lake pushes Lucas down into an empty road and refuses to help when Lucas complains about his ankle. This leads directly to Lucas being killed by a hit and run. It's clear killing Lucas was not Lake's intention when he shoved him and yet...

  • Banished: Rak is held captive on Strix 13 due to this crime.
  • Played for Laughs in Captain SNES: The Game Masta. In Mysidia, the Elder attempts to thank Frog for his valiant efforts by lifting the curse of his frog form, over Frog's objections. One quick casting of Esunaga later and Frog is once again Glenn... albeit very briefly, as the curse quickly takes hold again. After the Elder has tried again and again without lasting success, he explains in frustration that Esunaga should be working just fine even on such a powerful curse, because it works by directly addressing whatever cause is keeping the curse in place, to begin with. Frog explains that the curse is tied to the life of his old arch-enemy, Magus, which means the Elder, unbeknownst to either of them at the time, had killed Magus with each casting of Esunaga. The reason why it didn't stick? Magus had been adventuring with Mario for a while in the Mushroom Kingdom and had been collecting extra lives all the while.
    Elder: So tell me, how many drinks does it take to forget you killed a man ninety-five times?
  • Played with in Eerie Cuties. A demon that came out of a magic mirror in Nina's form tied vampire hunter Tiffany's shoelaces together to trip her. Unfortunately, Tiffany was carrying a sword and impaled herself on it when she fell, becoming a ghost, temporarily. However, it turns out that she's not really dead, the sword causes someone's astral form to be thrust from their body while leaving the body intact. One vampire bite later, Tiffany is back where she belongs, albeit with other concerns now.
  • Escape the Night has Matt accidentally kill Sierra during an exorcism. Matt truly didn’t intend to kill her, but has a reputation of a Dirty Coward, so when the others find out he had the choice of killing Sierra or himself (something which Matt only figures out after Sierra has died) everyone thinks he did it on purpose. In his defense, however, Sierra had told Matt to hurry up, so he skimmed through the instructions, causing him to miss the part where the choice was mentioned.
  • Played for Laughs in Hell(p). While team 11 is sneaking up on an enemy, a cameraman gets recklessly close to them, almost sticking his camera right in their faces. Cue Marcus getting startled and kicking the poor idiot down the hill and into a landmine.
  • In chapter three of The Powerpuff Girls Reimagined, Buttercup hit Sadusa with the intent of just knocking her out, but accidentally hits her hard enough to snap her neck.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, a set of mines set for security purposes accidentally blow away King LOTA, resulting in the page quote. However, like every good robot dictator, LOTA had a secure backup system.
  • Welcome to Hell: Sock kills his parents... in his sleep. He soon joins them in the cemetery.

    Web Original 
  • 7-Second Riddles: The solution to a riddle involving a man's girlfriend dying while at his proposal dinner involved the man putting the ring in her food- causing her to accidentally choke to death.
  • The 15 Experience: In a drunken fight with Catherine when she insists on leaving the house due to her bad headache, Anthony ends up pushing her down the stairs, accidentally killing her. They then learn they were caught on security camera.
  • This happens in the Black Box TV episode "Zombie". When caught embracing Adrian, the main character, by his friend, Adrian's unnamed boyfriend panics, accuses Adrian of coming on to him, (all while Adrian repeats, "What are you talking about?" while on the verge of tears), and then punches Adrian, knocking him down. Adrian hits his head on a rock and lies, staring and lifeless. It is implied it cracked his skull.
  • Mr. Gibbs: In "Duck Hunt Hide and Seek", Ledger carries around a hammer to kill Brock with, but abandons it due to accidentally killing an NPC Duck Hunt by dropping it on their head.
  • In Noob, Master Zen's backstory includes doing a Hair-Trigger Temper-induced Appliance Defenestration right when an old lady happened to be under his window.
  • On Cinema: The vapor device made by Dr. San and given out by Tim at the Electric Sun Desert Music Festival causes the accidental deaths of 20 teenagers and gets San and Tim arrested for Manslaughter charges.
  • Jane of Outside Xbox has a pattern of accidental fatalities in her Hitman (2016) and Hitman 2 outings, as opposed to Andy (who rarely kills anyone but the targets) and Mike (who tends to be a bit casual with his collateral damage and has, on more than one occasion, ended levels with a score of zero). So far, she's absent-mindedly mauled someone in a hay baler, attempted to choke someone out into unconsciousness with a garrotte, and watched an NPC she had just knocked out slide off a riverbank and disappear into the water.
  • In the Real-Time Fandub of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic's death is framed this way. Mephiles tries to scare Sonic off his lawn while he's distracted by a "corrupted weed gem", but he accidentally impales him with an Energy Weapon and goes into full-blown panic mode as he and Elise witness his death.
  • In a Red vs. Blue season 15 flashback, Biff is fatally impaled with a flag thrown by Tex at Carolina, who casually swats it away. To make matters worse, neither Freelancer is concerned with the guy bleeding out right in front of them. This is Temple's Start of Darkness.
  • From the RPC Authority , RPC-049 accidentally kills three members of the Site-049 archival team by exposing them to papers embeded with a memetic kill agent.
  • In the final Rockman 4 Minus Infinity video, raocow accidentally sucks up Eddie when attempting to suck up some extra lives.
  • In Sex House, the housemates accidentally kill the repairman they took hostage by keeping him in a room full of mold.
  • Zsdav Adventures: In Zsdav adventures: A film (The Movie), Zsdav and Agzt01 build a ceremony to bury Freezzy's corpse where he gets exploded by TNT. Turns out Freezzy is still alive and wakes up, but it is too late and gets killed by the TNT. He gets better by the next episode.


Video Example(s):


Missed Bullet

Wendy tackles Bebe trying to get a gun away from her, the gun goes off but neither of them was hit. The bullet flew to Kenny's house and struck him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / BaitAndSwitchGunshot

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