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Accidental Suicide

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The self-inflicted version of Accidental Murder: a character unintentionally kills themself, typically by accident but also by a plan gone awry.

A common portrayal of this trope is when a character who was planning on killing themself changes their mind at the last minute, only for it either to be too late (they already swallowed the lethal dose of medicine and can't throw it back up) or for an accident to occur (stepping out of a tub holding a toaster only to slip on some water and fall right back in). In both cases, these suicides are also examples of Death by Irony, with the latter in particular being mined as a source of Black Comedy in which the victims either have a deathgrip on the Idiot Ball or are just simply Too Dumb to Live.

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Engaging in risky behavior that can lead to one killing themself if not done correctly, like autoerotic asphyxiation is another way this trope has been used. Reckless Gun Usage in particular has also claimed more than its share of accidental victims.

A variant of this trope exists in which a character (usually The Chessmaster) did in fact want to kill themselves, typically as part of a Death Is the Only Option gambit or Suicide, Not Murder scheme. However, they had no intention of staying dead for too long. Unlucky for them, something goes wrong and they remain dead as a doornail. If they were also a villain, then Hoist by His Own Petard and Karmic Death are in full effect.

A fatal accident simply happening to a character is not enough to be this trope. The character must have had some hand in their own demise.

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Can overlap with Accident, Not Murder. Contrast Suicide, Not Accident and Bungled Suicide, both of which are inversions. Also contrast Make It Look Like an Accident, in which a character murders another, but tries to stage it as a freak accident. If they try to stage it as a suicide, then it's Never Suicide. Murder by Suicide and its subtropes are closely related. However, key difference is in Murder by Suicide, someone or something else coerces, compels, or tricks a character into killing themself (and all examples like this should be listed there).

Given that Death Is Cheap in most video games as a game mechanic, avoid adding video game examples in which the death is incidental to the game itself, i.e. just the fact that the player character or an AI controlled teammate can unintentionally kill themselves. Video game examples should either be part of the narrative/story or specifically lampshaded in-game.

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No Real Life Examples, Please!

As a Death Trope, all spoilers related to character death will be unmarked below. Beware.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Subverted in Hunter × Hunter after Gon, in his rage and desperation to kill Pitou, unknowingly creates a nen pact to release all of his current, latent, and future nen ability to do so. This ages him up and turns him into a One-Man Army, whose power, Pitou notes, rivals that of Mereum, a Dark Messiah Physical God and killer of Netero, the leader of the Hunter Association. At the end of the fight, Gon is a literal husk of a person on death's doorstep. It takes Killua's sister Alluka, who has a Make a Wish nen ability via Nanika that allows her to warp reality, to heal him. But even then, it's not enough to restore Gon's nen abilities.
  • Puella Magi Oriko Magica: After learning the truth about witches (namely, that they are former magical girls), Sasa Yuuki crushes her Soul Gem in her hand, resulting in her death. It's suggested that she did not realize that Soul Gems actually held their souls and thought that crushing her Soul Gem would only stop her from becoming a witch, which makes her death accidental.
  • The Grand Finale of the Kyoto Arc of Rurouni Kenshin shows Makoto Shishio getting to his max to finally defeat Kenshin Himura. But before he could give Kenshin the final hit to kill him, Shishio's body shuts down since he pushed himself to fight Kenshin for 30 minutes, way over his 20 minute limit (he can't fight at his max for over 20 minutes since doing so causes his blood to boil). This leads to his inevitable death by Spontaneous Human Combustion.
  • Yo Kai Watch: When Manjimutt was still a human, he got drunk to deal with the pain of being fired and bumped into some heavy planks, which crushed him and a passing poodle to death. This is the reason he is a dog with a human face as a Yo-kai.
    • His Legendary counterpart, Dandoodle, also became a Yo-kai due to a similar accident.

    Comic Books 
  • In the "Voodoo Mansion" back-up story in Lori Lovecraft: Into the Past #1 (which takes place in the same continuity as Lori's adventures), it is revealed that one of the souls residing in the mansion is Patrick, who accidentally strangled himself while attempting autoerotic asphyxiation. To avoid shame, his family removed the pornography before reporting his death. His death was ruled a suicide and his body turned into an anatomy skeleton.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • Corpse Bride: Barkis is wanted by the dead for tricking Emily into marrying him, stealing her fortune, and then murdering her, however they cannot touch him since the dead are unable to harm the living. After some Evil Gloating, he casually takes a sip from a cup placed on the altar. Unfortunately for him, the cup contained the poison which Victor was supposed to drink during his fatal marriage ceremony to Emily and Barkis is instantly killed, leading him to a Fate Worse than Death at the ghosts' hands.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: When Lord Shen is trying to stab Po, he unintentionally cuts a rope that holds up his largest cannon (that he invented himself!) and he is crushed to death.
  • Mary and Max: Vera, who is depressed about her husband's death, grabs what she thinks is some Sherry wine. It is actually embalming fluid, and she dies shortly afterwards.
  • Soul: Joe is excitedly talking on the phone about how he finally got a gig and narrowly (and obliviously) dodges a bunch of dangers. Then he accidentally falls to his death into a manhole, which sets off the movie's plot.
  • Tangled: Of a sort; when Eugene cuts Rapunzel's long hair, Gothel clings to the strands in desperation as they lose their magic and she rapidly ages until she dies. Keep in mind that it had been shown before (albeit briefly) that Gothel will age slightly if she touches Rapunzel's hair if it loses its power.
  • Tarzan: During the final battle, Clayton gets tangled in a mass of jungle vines and tries to hack them away with his machete, but one vine gets caught around his neck and he ends up accidentally hanging himself.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the French film Delicatessen, Aurore spends the entire movie trying to kill herself, but her attempts are always thwarted leading her to get more and more elaborate with her attempts until she's building full-on Death Traps. Her final one includes a combination of swallowing pills while facing a gun set to go off, while she stands with her neck in a noose, with the gas on and a lit Molotov cocktail just under her. Subverting all expectations, she only dies because her husband, not knowing what she's doing, enters the room and turns on the light, igniting the gas and blowing them both up in the process, making this an Accidental Murder and Accidental Suicide twofer.
  • Inception: Death Is the Only Option variant. Upon their return to reality after spending a lifetime together in Limbo, Mal remains convinced that they are still dreaming and that she and Cobb need to wake up by killing themselves since in dreams this is the only way out. She leaps out of hotel window and plummets to her death. While she did intend to kill herself, she didn't think doing so would actually mean she'd be dead given the logic of dreams. The Reveal that she was Cobb's first inception success story, as he planted the idea that her world isn't real when she refused to leave Limbo, makes this also overlap with Psychic-Assisted Suicide.
  • Intolerable Cruelty: Wheezy Joe begins to have an asthma attack during his struggle with Miles and mistakes his gun for his inhaler.
  • Let's Go to Prison: When Nelson gets on the wrong side of Lynard, the leader of the white supremacist gang, he decides to kill himself by injecting a deadly chemical into his veins. Before he can do it though, Lynard enters his cell to kill him. Lynard sees the syringe, assumes it to be heroin, and injects himself with it. The other white supremacists, thinking Nelson killed Lynard, now respect him.
  • In a truly dark moment in Planet Terror, Dakota gives her young son a loaded gun to defend himself against the zombie horde, but he accidentally shoots himself in the head.
  • Depending on your interpretation, Bobby C.'s death in Saturday Night Fever is either this or Driven to Suicide. By the time of his death, Bobby C. is desperate. He has a pregnant, very Catholic girlfriend who he does not want to stay with and is being pressured by his family and hers to marry her. He even asks former priest Frank Jr. if The Pope would give him an exemption. When he starts climbing the bridge he is drunk and acting more recklessly than usual, going on a rant about Tony's lack of care for him, which all points to him reaching a Despair Event Horizon. However in the end, Bobby C. slips off the bridge and falls to his death; he does not jump.
  • Spider-Man: In a last-ditch attempt to kill Spider-Man, the Green Goblin summons his bladed glider to fly at the hero. Spider-Man dodges the attack, and the glider impales the Goblin instead. It is later discussed in Spider-Man 3 that "he died by his own hand".
  • Played for Laughs in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil several times. The college kids, in their hysteria and fear that Tucker and Dale are killer hillbillies, try to "defend" themselves against them, only to end up killing themselves and each other in absurd ways. One guy even lunges into a working woodchipper. Tucker and Dale are so confused by the situation that they believe that the kids must be in some sort of Suicide Pact.
    • The sheriff, who witnesses Tucker and Dale pulling the lower half of the student's body out of the woodchipper and is highly skeptical of their suicide pact theory, accidentally kills himself, too, with a loose beam.
    • Chuck tries to shoot at the hillbillies, but the safety on his gun is on. Dale unfortunately tells him how to fix it. Chuck frantically struggles with it while looking down the barrel and ends up shooting himself in the face.
  • The Thin Red Line: Sgt. Keck accidentally pulls the pin off his own grenade while it's still strapped to him, fatally blowing off chunks of his lower half. He curses himself for making a stupid mistake, and begs his comrades to pretend that he died gloriously in combat.
  • In Walk Hard, Dewey tries to reconcile with his father who has not forgiven him for accidentally killing his younger brother by cutting him in half with a machete years ago. The two men end up dueling with machetes and Dewey's father cuts himself in half with his own machete. He does forgive Dewey before he dies though, as he now realizes how easy it is to cut someone in half with a machete.
  • Wild Target: Faux Affably Evil hitman Hector Dixon tries to shoot sympathetic older Hitman with a Heart Victor and his Love Interest Rose with Victor's old pistol. He learns that a gun whose owner has not bothered to clean it in years is prone to backfire at the split second the magazine goes through his eye.

    Literature 
  • The sadistic prison warden from the short story "Hangman" in Classic Singapore Horror Stories. He enjoys hanging so much that he asks his fellow wardens to take a photo with him posing with a noose around his neck. The trap door beneath him suddenly opens and he ends up hanging himself.
  • In Discworld, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch have a category labeled "Suicide" for some deaths, usually listed in the police report alongside the lesser offence of "Being Bloody Stupid", to conclude reports on the deaths of people who behaved in such spectacularly stupid and heedless fashion as to precipitate their own deaths. A typical Suicide might involve somebody walking into the hardest pub in town, announcing themself as "Vincent The Invulnerable", and challenging anyone to prove them wrong. A close second might be the vampire who took a job in a pencil factory.
  • In the novel Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, the short story "Guts" mentions in passing that some public health officials believe that the recent spike in teen suicides was in part caused by auto-erotic asphyxiation gone awry.
  • The Hunger Games: Foxface spent all of the games hiding from the other tributes, stealing their supplies, and playing smart in order to survive. This came back to bite her in the butt when she steals food from Katniss and Peeta that turns out to be poisonous berries, resulting in her death. Some speculate that it was in fact an intentional action for her to escape the horror of the games, but Katniss's narration does not make this connection.
  • The ending of Warlord of Mars sees the fanatical Phaidor leaping to her death, convinced that her "divine heritage" means that the fall won't even injure her.
  • John Putnam Thatcher: In Murder Makes the Wheels Go Round, as the murderer journeys to kill a witness, the police (alerted by Thatcher) chase after him. When the murderer realizes that they're after him, he loses control of the wheel in a moment of shock and panic, dying in a fiery car crash.
  • Near the end of Oliver Twist, Bill Sykes, whose part in Rose's death has come to light and is suffering from either a guilty conscience or is being haunted by her, tries to escape a lynch mob by tying a rope around his waist and jumping to safety from a rooftop. However, when he's just got the rope over his head, he experiences a hallucination/visitation, slips on a loose shingle, and hangs himself.
  • The Things They Carried: While Curt Lemon and Rat Kiley are playing with smoke grenades, Curt Lemon unknowingly steps on a grenade and dies in the explosion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Criminal Minds: One episode featured a spike in teen suicides in a small town. It turns out the unsub was a paramedic with a hero complex who set up a "Choking Game" challenge to goad high schoolers into choking themselves. When they passed out, he'd get called in to revive them and be hailed as a savior. Of course, the parents didn't always intervene in time.
  • CSI: NY: At least twice.
    • In the season 3 episode "Cold Reveal", the team investigates the death of Toby Finch, who was found dead in a church with angel wings strapped to his back after seemingly falling from the sky. Initially, Toby's friend and girlfriend are seen as suspects but further investigation reveals what really happened. Toby, obsessed with becoming internet famous, drunkenly attempted to catapult himself off a roof, expecting that his artificial angel wings would help him soar across the sky like a hang glider. To ensure this, he pre-cut the bungee cords on his safety harness, thinking that the force of the catapult would fully disconnect them. Unfortunately, they held faster than he expected, giving him such severe whiplash that his neck snapped in two places killing him before he even fell through the church's paned window. Mac surmises that the only crime committed was the victim's misdirected ambition.
    • In the season one episode "The Fall", the crime scene investigators look into the death of Melvin Heckman, a Fat Bastard movie producer, who was apparently pushed from his apartment's balcony. After the investigation goes through a series of people who all had an axe to grind with him for ruining their lives, the team finally discovers that Heckman had been on the balcony eating chocolates and simply lost his balance, falling to his death.
  • Desperate Housewives: After being exposed as a murderer in Season 2, George Williams swallows a deadly dose of sleeping pills. However, he didn't actually intend to die; he was expecting his ex-fiancee Bree Van de Kamp to save him by calling for an ambulance. Unfortunately for him, she chooses not to and lets him die, letting everyone believe that he committed suicide.
  • In the Diagnosis: Murder episode "Murder By Remote Control", a computer expert who had lost his son in a failed operation sought revenge on those he blamed for his son's death by using his computer skills to murder their children. To throw suspicion off himself, he programmed his home computer to fill his bedroom with noxious gas to fake an attempt on his life, expecting his housekeeper to arrive in time to prevent it. Unfortunately, due to an accident on the road, his housekeeper is delayed by an hour and by the time she arrives, it is too late to save him. And since he had already programmed his computer with his remaining targets, his killing spree continues.
  • In Evil (2019), a shy young man named Sebastian is encouraged by Leland to cultivate his resentment against women and to plan a mass shooting. But shortly before the big day, Sebastian is playing with his new guns and accidentally shoots himself in the head.
  • How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast): In the final episode of season 1, Buba, a local drug dealer, has kidnapped Moritz, Dan and Lenny. They have a 3D-printed gun with them that Buba believes to be a fake. To test it, he holds the gun to his head and pulls the trigger.
  • In Quincy, M.E. episode "The Final Gift", two partners in a crop dusting business end up in a plane accident, with one of them suffering severe blood loss. His partner gives him a blood transfusion, but the man dies soon after. During the autopsy, Quincy discovers that the dead guy had suffered from arsenic poisoning and begins to think that his partner had poisoned him to get his half of the business. It's eventually revealed that it was the other way around: the deceased had been slowly poisoning his partner with arsenic in order to get his half of the business. He also had a bad liver, so when his partner gave him the blood transfusion, the arsenic in his partner's blood killed him almost instantly. As Quincy put it, if the victim hadn't tried to kill his partner, he wouldn't have died.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • This was how Rimmer died in the first episode. He repairs a drive plate improperly, causing it to leak radiation and kill everyone on the ship (except for Lister, who was in stasis at the time), including himself.
    • This was also how the Simulant was defeated in "Justice." He had intended to attack Lister but thanks to the effects of the justice field (which reverses any crime committed on the user), winds up being dealt the same blows that he intended to make instead and is destroyed as a result.
  • Six Feet Under: The season 2 episode "Back to the Garden" opens with a man going about what seems to be a daily routine of some autoerotic asphyxiation. This time however something goes off and he ends up killing himself. It was clearly a secret of his as his widowed wife only finds out about his kink from his death.
  • In Switched, the characters switch bodies by jumping off a roof to what would be their deaths while the person they want to switch bodies with is looking, but it only works once per person. A woman who had her body switched with her friend tries to repeat the process to undo the switch and ends up simply killing herself.
  • In Tiger King, Travis pointed his new Luger at Joshua and claimed that, with the clip out, it could not fire. He demonstrated by putting the barrel to his own head and pulling the trigger. This pistol had a round in the chamber and did indeed fire, killing him in front of Joshua. (While Travis was visibly depressed and self-destructive, Joshua maintains that Travis was not actually intending to commit suicide at the moment.)

    Music 
  • Discussed in the lyrics to the 1971 song "Accidental Suicide" by John Mayall, in which he describes the death of Jimi Hendrix as an accidental Suicide by Pills. It ends with a warning to drug users to, "Watch what you do or you can be the next to go."

    Video Games 
  • In Board Game Online, death comes fast and often and is a key component of getting through the game. Naturally, it's possible to accidentally kill yourself through certain actions. A common example is when one player pulls a gun on another player. If the target has Hypno Goggles, they can use them during the target selection phase and make the shooter shoot himself instead. Interestingly, the game did not start off with Death Is Cheap, as it used to be extremely difficult or expensive to prevent dying despite how frequently it came. Later updates made this much more forgiving.
  • Team Fortress 2 will lampshade if a player accidentally dies by fall damage (without another player being the cause) in the form of "X fell to a clumsy, painful death" in the killfeed.
  • Lampshaded in the Unreal series, especially the Tournament games, where regardless of the circumstances of the suicide (player-triggered via console command or self-inflicted damage), the game taunts the player for doing the deed.

    Web Animation 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In "Roots", a Flashback shows young Stan hiding from a kidnapper in a tree. The kidnapper runs in, carrying a shotgun and a length of rope. He trips over one of the tree's roots, falling over so he lands with the gun barrel in his mouth and accidentally pulls the trigger, blasting his skull to bits.
  • In Archer, Archer's butler Woodhouse finds out the "mysterious death" of one of his old war buddies was just an attempt to cover up an autoerotic asphyxiation mishap.
  • BoJack Horseman: "Higher Love" starts with Mr. Peanutbutter's agent accidentally hanging himself during autoerotic asphyxiation. BoJack then learns his costar Corduroy Jackson-Jackson was addicted to that kink, and by the end of the episode, Corduroy accidentally kills himself when he relapses and strings himself up with a phone cord to get that sexual high back.
  • King of the Hill: In "High Anxiety", this is ultimately the answer to the murder of Debbie Grund, Buck Strickland's former mistress. Debbie wanted to kill Buck for going back to his wife Miz Liz, so she hid in a dumpster with a shotgun and waited for him to pass by. After a while, she got hungry and went to go get some food. She returned to the dumpster but found it too difficult to climb inside while carrying both the shotgun and her food, so she put the shotgun in first. When she climbed in herself, her foot accidentally tripped the hammer and caused the shotgun to fire, killing her.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show: Implied in "No Pants Today". Victor and his father laugh after they kick Stimpy out of their car, and because of this distraction, they drive off a cliff and their car explodes offscreen. It's left unclear if they survived or not.
  • The Simpsons: "Homer's Enemy" is all about how Frank Grimes is driven insane trying to figure out how Too Dumb to Live Homer managed to succeed while he's had to struggle through life. Eventually, Frank cracks and starts acting like Homer, doing reckless things and shrugging off the consequences because "I'm Homer Simpson!" It all leads to him electrocuting himself by disobeying the "Do not handle without gloves" sign at a panel with electrical cables.
  • South Park: Resident Butt-Monkey and The Chew Toy Kenny does this a lot:
    • In the episode "Sexual Healing", Kenny kills himself by autoerotic asphyxiation after learning about it from a sex addiction therapist.
    • In "Mecha-Streisand", Kenny hits a tetherball and the rope wraps him around the pole, causing him to choke to death.
    • In "Summer Sucks", during the flashback of the boys as toddlers, Kenny holds onto a firecracker, which explodes and blows his head off.
    • In "Are You There, God? It's Me, Jesus", Kenny sticks a tampon into his ass when he mistakenly believes he's menstruating (it's actually a colon infection). Later, his insides burst from the pressure.
    • In "Chef Goes Nanners", Kenny accidentally drinks water laced with antacid tablets and promptly bursts into Ludicrous Gibs.
    • In "Titties and Dragons", Kenny (as Princess Kenny) jumps out of a window, trying to fly. He promptly falls to his death.


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