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Black Comedy Pet Death

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Max: We killed your dog.
Elf: Oh no!
Sam: Yep. He or she ran in front of our car and, well...
Max: I tried to draw you a picture, but I ran out of red crayon!
Sam & Max: Freelance Police, "Ice Station Santa"

Everybody dies someday (in real life anyway), and sadly, that includes pets, most of which don't live as long as humans. A lot of fictional pet deaths are treated as a sad ordeal, but some writers like to play it for Black Comedy.

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Maybe the pet has an undignified death, such as being crushed by something silly or eating something silly. If it's a goldfish, maybe it gets flushed down the toilet after dying. Maybe the pet got eaten by another pet.

The humour could also come from a character's reaction to the death— a pet dying is often played as a darkly humorous reason for a character to be sad, or maybe a naive kid takes "put to sleep" too literally or there's a creative "big X in the sky" metaphor. Maybe a pet is offhandedly mentioned to be a replacement for a previous, dead one.

The humour can also come from the pet itself being odd, such as a bug or an alien, a pet cemetery played for laughs or a ghost pet who died in a silly way.

Can overlap with Dead Pet Sketch, Dog Got Sent to a Farm, There Is No Kill Like Overkill, Microwave the Dog, Old Dog, Chronic Pet Killer and (in the "ha ha, it's only a worm but they're sad anyway" cases) What Measure Is a Non-Cute?. Sub-trope of Death as Comedy. See also Red Shirt and Black Comedy Animal Cruelty. Contrast Lost Pet Grievance. That Poor Cat might appear if the victim is a feline.

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Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In Rainbow Rowell's Runaways, Old Lace's consumption of Dr. Hayes' cats is played for laughs, with Old Lace being shown rubbing her stomach like she's had a big dinner.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • 101 Ways to Kill Scrappy is a Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo fanfiction about Scrappy, a puppy, being killed in over-the-top ways.
  • In the Mork & Mindy fanfiction Mork and Mindy Get a Kitten, Mork initially thinks they're getting Ginger the kitten to eat, and nearly eats his sibling. Later, Ginger and Mindy kill Mork's pet spiders and he calls them murderers.
  • In a Discworld fic, the Assassin wife of wizard Ponder Stibbons is sitting vigil at the death of a pet dog that has been her companion for twelve years. She wonders, briefly, why her five-year-old daughter goes wild with rage and is crying and kicking out at thin air. Ponder, and a Witch friend who is present, grab the little girl and have to physically pull her away, still kicking. Ponder Stibbons is stammering apologies at an unseen third party while the witch is grinning quietly.note . Althopugh tearful for her dead pet, Assassin Johanna is gratified, in an odd sort of a way, that her daughter can get angry enough over the death of a beloved pet to launch an attack on Death himself.
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    Films—Animated 

    Films—Live-Action 
  • Airplane II: The Sequel has a brief moment at the beginning where a child asks a security guard if his dog Scraps can go on the shuttle. The guard then says no and shoots the dog, which then falls down. After a beat for everyone to freak out, the guard announces that the gun is loaded with blanks and that Scraps is fine. The dog then gets up and everyone laughs.
  • The Boondock Saints: One of the blackest jokes in the film is a scene in which Rocco, excitedly slapping down on a table as he talks about helping the McManus brothers with their vigilantism, accidentally sets off a pistol that was lying on the table which completely splatters a cat all over a wall, making Rocco and the McManus brothers react in a combination of horror and befuddlement.
    Connor: I can't believe that just fucking happened!
    Rocco: Is it dead?
  • Invoked in Capricorn One, in which one of the astronauts running through the desert to avoid getting killed by a Government Conspiracy improvises a joke to cheer himself up about a man who encounters a friend after a long time of not seeing and the friend telling the joke's protagonist that his pet cat died horribly. The joke's protagonist tells the friend that it would have been better to tell a tale about how the cat went up on the rooftop and died a comedic death... which is the very same tale the man then says when he speaks about the protagonist's mother committing suicide.
  • In Dumb and Dumber, the two hitmen break into Harry and Lloyd's house, and decide to send a message by killing their pet parakeet. But when Harry sees his dead bird, he thinks its head fell off on its own, spontaneously ("He was pretty old"). Then Lloyd makes a little extra money by selling the dead bird to a blind kid.
  • A Fish Called Wanda: The animal-loving gangster Ken is ordered to kill the only witness to a robbery, an horrible old lady with three small dogs. To his mounting horror, each of his three assassination attempts backfires and kills a dog instead — though the third dog's death gives the woman a fatal heart attack. Each dead dog is given a full-dress funeral service that includes a boys' choir. (As John Cleese has explained in interviews, the dog corpses were originally made up to look realistically mangled, but test audiences were too horrified.)
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel has a case summed up in a line of dialogue: "Did he just throw my cat out the window?"
  • Just Married: When Tom and Sarah first move in together, he has to deal with her dog Bags, which took an instant dislike to him when they met. Eventually he loses his temper when the dog starts gnawing on his ankle, and randomly throws its ball to distract it... straight through the open window. Bags leaps after the ball and straight into the road, and is hit by a car. To cover for this, Tom later lies to Sarah that Bags was chasing a pigeon. While some animals do survive being hit by cars, the next scene has them standing over Bags' grave.
  • In Mary Poppins, when Mary, Albert, Bert, and the kids are floating from laughterWhy?  and need to think of something sad to get down, Albert tries, but then it turns into a joke: A woman answers the door and there's a man who apologises for running over her cat, then says he wants to replace it, and she replies, "That's fine with me, but how good are you at catching mice?".
  • In National Lampoon's Vacation, wanting to get his family moving as soon as possible, Clark unknowingly drives out of the camp site's parking lot with aunt Edna's yappy little dog still tied to the rear bumper. Miles down the road, he's pulled over and confronted with the empty leashnote , Clark says that he would never intentionally kill a dog, and the cop lets him go with a warning. Inside the car, Clark tells the others he was pulled over for speeding, but the cop hands him the leash, and say's he'll try to pick up the dog's remains. Aunt Edna was not happy.
    • In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, one of the recurring jokes throughout the movie is all the difficulty Clark has with getting the electricity for all the Christmas decorations working right. At one point, a cat gets into the wiring and manages to incinerate itself. Clark kicks its body under a chair.

    Jokes 
  • One very dark joke goes, "A fortune teller said I would experience heartbreak in twelve years, so I got a puppy."Explanation 

    Literature 
  • In a book of Andy Griffiths Just Series, Andy hears some noises at night and is afraid, but then wonders if it's just the cat. Then, he realises they don't have a cat... or rather, they used to have one but it went to the vet and never came back. His dad says it was put to sleep, so Andy wonders if it woke up.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • In "The Long Haul", the Heffleys try to lead some lost funeral people to the cemetery, only to find a pet cemetery instead.
    • In "Dog Days", Greg gets a fish, only for it to get eaten by Rodrick's fish.
    • In "Hard Luck", Greg remembers keeping an inchworm named Squirm as a pet two years ago, only for him to be stepped on by a baby Manny.
  • In the Dirty Bertie story "Beg!", Bertie is pretending to be a beggar and tries to look sad by imagining his pet worm has died.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun: In the episode "My Mother the Alien," Mary reluctantly allows Dick to take care of her tank full of tropical fish when she takes a trip to visit her mother. After she leaves, Dick decides the fish need a new "friend" and puts a large angelfish in the tank. The next morning, he discovers the new addition has eaten all the other fish. (This is actually not Truth in Television; while angelfish are carnivorous, they normally eat insects, worms, small shrimp, and ordinary commercial fish food, not other tropical fish).
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: In one episode, Uncle Phil accidentally sits on top of a shoe box containing Nicky's pet bunny, killing it. Him looking inside the box and reacting in horror, and then telling Nicky is all Played for Laughs. Nicky is untraumatized, accepting that it is a part of life, but comically notes, "What a way to go", which is a joke about Uncle Phil being fat.
  • In an episode of Happy Days, Joanie reveals that her mouse got eaten by Jenny's snake.
  • The Cancer Puppy scene from The Magicians. There's a puppy which is actually over 100 years old and magically kept puppy-sized, and it's riddled with cancer. Quentin is trying to figure out a spell to save his dad with cancer, and tests out a spell on the puppy and the puppy dies. It's funny in a sort of Crosses the Line Twice way. Also, Alice uses a kitten as a sort of early warning system while she's being chased by a monster. Whenever the monster gets close to her while she has the kitten, the kitten explodes. It's funny in a sort of Bloody Hilarious way.
  • Married... with Children: "Requiem for a Dead Briard" has the family (or at least Kelly) grieving Buck's death via hit by a car. While she is hysterical and inconsolable, Buck is in heaven "on trial" with a cat as a judge and Ben Stein as a bailiff dressed like a chicken and the rest of the family crack jokes. Even at one point when Kelly says that he didn't know how to roll over and play dead, Al quips "until now".
  • The famous 'Dead Parrot' sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, which plays a pet owner's attempt to return his dead-on-arrival parrot for laughs.
  • In Nathan Barley, Dan accidentally knocks a pair of scissors onto his barbers' cat, stabbing it in the head. This of course, was shortly after his barber explained that the cat was important to him because he'd bought it for his dead wife.
  • In an episode of Peep Show, Jez acidentally runs over the dog of a girl he was going out with and spends most of the episode trying (and failing) to get rid of the body without her finding out, including trying cremating the poor animal... which leads to Jez eating it's charred body while claiming it's turkey in front of the owner and her family until they find out.
  • In the opening scene of Pushing Daisies, Ned's dog Digby is hit by a truck and flung comically into the sky, setting the show's tone of death as too not serious and easily reversible.
  • In The Worst Week of My Life, Howard accidentally causes his future in-laws' beloved pet dog to be flung into a running cement mixer. It gets completely encased in concrete and becomes a dog statue.

    Music 
  • "Dead Puppies" by Ogden Edsl:
    My puppy died late last fall
    He's still rotting in the hall
    Dead puppies aren't much fun
    Mom says puppy's days are through
    She's gonna throw him in the stew
    Dead puppies aren't much fun

    Poetry 
  • The limerick "A Cat in Despondency" has the titular cat commit suicide by being run over nine times.
  • One version of "Old Mother Hubbard" has Mother Hubbard find her dog dead, go to buy a coffin... only to find that he's made an Unexplained Recovery and is laughing.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the TheOdd1sOut video "Our Hamsters", James talks about his dead hamsters and makes jokes about a hamster's short lifespan and wonders if a dog killing a hamster counts as murder, among other jokes.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode "Xmas Story", Fry buys Leela a parrot as a present, only for the parrot to be killed by the Bad Santa and cooked by Bender and eaten by Nibbler.
  • In the King of the Hill episode Hilloween, the resident busybody-ehem, Moral Guardian runs over her cat while chasing Bobby and Hank in her car. She presents his sad carcass to the town hall meeting where she gets Halloween cancelled, to cries of "poor kitty!" and a distraught man making a beeline for the doors. The comedy is more in people's reaction to her dumping him out of a cooler onto a desk in full view of everyone.
  • The Loud House:
    • Geo is said to be the fourth hamster after three others died in the past.
    • In "Spell it Out", Lucy tries to raise the ghost of her dead pet fish Goldie.
    • In "Insta-Gran", Myrtle, the kids' grandfather's girlfriend, kills three spiders in Lynn and Lucy's room, only for it to turn out that they're Lucy's pets.
    • Downplayed in "A Grave Mistake". Ricky the rooster dies, and there is a bit of comedy such as him having said to have "gone to the big barn in the sky", Lincoln belatedly realising that he shouldn't serve chicken nuggets at the funeral, and the funeral itself being botched up, but it's also treated relatively seriously with characters crying and the funeral being redone successfully and with no jokes.
  • Rugrats:
    • In the episode "Spike Runs Away", the Pickles family gets a pet tarantula, only Grandpa Lou thinks he's a pest and kills him.
    • In "Autumn Leaves", the babies experience their first autumn and think the leaves are changing because there is something wrong with the tree, and they think the reason something's wrong with it is because Chuckie spilt apple juice on a maple tree, which is like feeding a goldfish bird food. Phil remarks, "Oh, so that's why Flippy had to go to the vet, then the potty."
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "I (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot", Snowball II (already a replacement for another cat, hence her name) dies and the family tries to replace her but the cats keep dying, until they get one last cat and name her Snowball II to pretend it never happened.
    • In "Trash of the Titans", the Flanderses try to have a funeral for their bunny, only for trash to break through the surface, resulting in the family getting the shit scared out of them by the bunny's corpse suddenly popping out.
    • In the episode "The Boys Of Bummer", Lisa tells Bart that his pet bunny died when he was at camp because Homer accidentally buried the poor thing alive. The black comedy comes from how she says it:
    Lisa (deadpan): Bart, Cottontail died. Dad buried him in the backyard — but not in that order.
    • In "Lisa Gets An 'A'", Homer purchases a lobster to eat but he falls in love with it and accepts it as a pet, calling it 'Pinchy'. In the final minutes of the episode, in a showcase of lethal stupidity, he accidentally boils the poor thing by giving it a hot bath and leaving it alone... and then we cut to Homer approximately a half hour later, feasting on Pinchy's boiled corpse and quickly alternating between crying for his dead pet and blissing out on the taste. He even refuses to allow any of the other members of the family to have a bite because "[being eaten only by me] is what Pinchy would have wanted".

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