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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.

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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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In Runaways (Rainbow Rowell), 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  Although 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.
  • In Jonathan Joestar, The First JoJo, Joseph mentions hot dogs while talking to Jonathan, who, in a misunderstanding, believes that they're made from actual dogs, which then causes him to be reminded of the gruesome way Danny had died.
  • Made into a Running Gag in A Second Chance, where Walt, Geo, and Hops all get unceremoniously killed off over the course of the fic, the first two getting eaten off-screen by Marceline (revealed by her burping up a feather) and One Eye respectively, while Hops gets vaporized by Fenton (due to the former being on a rampage after getting into contact with Lisa's Psycho Serum). It was done because the author couldn’t think of any roles for them to play, unlike Charles, Cliff, and Fang.

    Films — Animation 

    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 says 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.
    • The gag of the dog tied to a car's rear bumper and forgotten was remade in Aldo, Giovanni and Giacomo's film Tre uomini e una gamba, in what is almost certainly a deliberate Shout-Out.
  • Near the start of Robin Hood: Men in Tights, two are thrown in at the end of the Everybody's Dead, Dave sequence when Robin comes home. His dog got run over by a carriage and his pet cat ended up choking to death eating his pet goldfish, making that one a two-for-one deal.
  • In the third Scary Movie film, the trope is part of a throwaway joke where George has to break the news to Sue that her teacher Brenda just died. George does an awful job at it by basically screaming the news at her face while also bawling out that he just ran over Sue's dog about five minutes prior as he was parking his car in the driveway.
    "Everyone you love around you is DYING!"

  • One very dark joke goes, "A fortune teller said I would experience heartbreak in twelve years, so I got a puppy."Explanation 
  • Joke with several different punchlines starts with "A woman answered her door to find a man standing there, who said "I'm sorry madam, but I have run over your cat..."
    • The man offers to replace the cat - the woman says "How good are you at catching mice?"
    • The woman asks if the man is sure it was her cat. "What did it look like?" (The teller assumes a "dead" pose) "No, no, before that!" (The teller assumes a terrified or Deer in the Headlights pose)
    • An even sicker variant has it as a man hitting and killing a farmer's bull. He offers to replace it. The farmer leads him to the pasture, points at a cow, and tells him to get to work.

  • 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.)
  • Chicago Fire: A season 6 subplot has one. One of Herrmann's kids visits the firehouse with a school group and gives Casey a hamster named "Mr. Sprinkles". As the teams get dispatched to a call, the cage opens and Mr. Sprinkles escapes. The bunker room ends up with a foul odor and a hazmat operator is called in. He breaks open part of a wall housing the source of the smell. It's Mr. Sprinkles. Cue Oh, Crap! faces from Otis and Cruz with Herrmann looking like he's about to eat them alive. Otis's girlfriend paints a tribute photo of Mr. Sprinkles for the crew to put on a wall at Molly's, right next to Burgess's vest. Herrmann tells Otis and Cruz to pony up $200 or they'll never be welcome at Molly's again. That money will be donated to the Chicago Humane Society.
  • 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.
  • Girl Meets World: One episode starts with Riley returning the class pet—a goldfish—to school after petsitting it for the weekend, only for it to go bellyup seconds later. Riley is genuinely horrified, but it quickly transpires that every other student in the class also killed it during their weekend. Lucas managed to kill two by leaving the bowl in the park while he was playing baseball and managing to hit two homeruns right into it (which also means he left the park, bought a new goldfish, and proceeded to learn nothing in a very short period of time). The local pet store owner is well acquainted with them and has a literal Replacement Goldfish ready and waiting when Riley comes in. He provides a "funeral" for it by tossing it offscreen and pulling a rope that makes a flushing noise, implying that the entire backroom is a toilet designed for that exact purpose.
  • The Golden Girls:
    • In "Comedy of Errors", according to Rose, the coworker of hers who doesn't like her recently suffered the loss of his pet dog... due to his dog peeing to an electric fence. The trope is in place once Rose mentions the name of the dead pet dog.
      Rose: Poor Sparky.
    • The episode "From Here to the Pharmacy" starts with Rose trying to prepare Sophia's will, but Sophia acts rather flippant, prompting Rose to recount the incident where Charlie (Rose's late husband), in an attempt to be funny while preparing a will for his family, left all inheritances to a pet cow in his will, only for a lawyer who got a hold of the will to try to enforce it on contingency, which resulted in Rose spending six months to get the farm back (presenting her piece to a jury of cows, at that, according to Rose). Then Rose exacted some payback...
      Sophia: But you must have been relieved when you won.
      Rose: Oh, yeah, we celebrated... with a big, thick steak.
      [Sophia looks horrified]
      Rose: I hated that cow. I still don't think she should have been awarded that car. (with a vindictive grin) Not that she got to use it.
    • In "Questions and Answers", Rose's account with Rusty the dachshund that she and Charlie used to have as a pet ends with Rusty dying... after running back into the burning house that everyone escaped from in an attempt to fetch the TV.
      Rose: I mean, he was a dachshund, for God's sake. What makes him think he could carry a TV?
      Sophia: You know how pigheaded the Germans are.
  • 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.
  • How I Met Your Mother: One episode shows Marshall's obsession with musical slideshows. He makes an upbeat song and slideshow about cat-sitting for Lily's mom, and the photos show him playing with the cat by an open window (their apartment is on the third floor). Cut to the next slideshow of the cat's funeral, scored with a solemn song where Marshall makes sure to sing that this isn't entirely his fault.
  • 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 that hates him 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 Marcy says that Buck didn't know how to roll over and play dead, Al quips "until now".
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus:
    • The 'Dead Parrot' sketch plays a pet owner's attempt to return his dead-on-arrival parrot for laughs.
    • At the beginning of another sketch, Mrs Premise tells Mrs Conclusion that she just spent four hours burying her cat. "It wouldn't keep still—wriggling about, howling its head off." In a Call-Back to a sketch from the first series which had a witness being brought to court in a coffin, she clarifies that it wasn't dead, "but it's not at all a well cat." Her rationale is that it's more convenient to bury ailing pets before she goes off on vacation than have them sicken and die in her absence.
  • 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 time trying (and failing) to get rid of the body without her finding out, including trying cremating the poor animal... which leads to Jez eating its 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.
  • In Stranger Things season 2, Dustin tries to raise a Demogorgon, which ends up eating his cat. While this isn't completely played for laughs, it is brushed off as part of Dustin's wacky hijinks rather than treating it as the violent murder of a beloved pet.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn't seem to respect pet fish much. It's played for laughs when Jake fails to feed Amy's fish while she's undercover - it doesn't even come up as causing any relationship friction - and Hitchcock eats/drinks his own goldfish-in-a-jar while the team bets on the outcome of the inevitable jar mixup (they assumed Scully would've been the one to accidentally confuse the fish with his lemonade).
  • Dwight "mercy-kills" Angela's cat in The Office (US), leading her to break up with him. The cat required a lot of medication, and he blamed his farmer's instinct in deciding his way was better. He claimed the cat was already dead when he put its body in the freezer, but Angela found claw marks all over the frozen vegetables.
  • In an episode of El Chavo del ocho, Doña Cleotilde is seen putting bird seed in an empty birdcage. Don Ramón asks Quico about this and Quico explains that she's hoping that her pet sparrow that seemingly escaped will come back, but that's not gonna happen. When Don Ramón asks why, Quico pulls out a slingshot.
  • That '70s Show: After Kelso seemingly shoots Hyde in the eye with a BB gun by accident, Donna points out Kelso had done the same thing to Eric's hamster Snowball when they were in the 4th grade (something Eric didn't know about till then).

  • "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

  • 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.

     Urban Legends 
  • A well known one involves a contractor hired to replace a family's livingroom carpet. After the job is done, he notices a lump under the middle of the carpet. Assuming it's a pack of cigarettes he must have dropped while working and not wanting to go through the trouble up pulling the whole thing up, he instead takes a hammer to the lump, flattening it. The family soon comes home and while the contractor is showing the parents the new carpet, their child runs in yelling about how the door to their hamster cage is open, with the pet nowhere to be found. As the parents console the child, the contractor notices a red spot where the lump was.

    Video Games 
  • Deep Rock Galactic: The Beastmaster perk allows dwarves to tame lower-tier Glyphids and have them kill their hostile brethren. They're always called Steeve, they can be given fond petting, and since there's so many glyphids out there, the position of Steeve has a High Turnover Rate. This makes the dwarf's reaction to its death increasingly comical, since they're bound to replace it within the minute and lose that one in the next five minutes too.

  • In Men in Hats, Aram compares shredding Beriah's report to "putting a dog to sleep instead of letting it run around with a tumor in its brain." Beriah asks Aram if that's what happened to Scruffy, and Aram replies, "No, that dog was just ugly."
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: When Wonderita tries to adopt a kitten, Wonderella recites how superhero pets can break your heart— like her pet crab who cut the wrong wire on a bomb, her pet goldfish who she took up to zero-gravity, and an adorable terrier who couldn't stop an intercontinental missile.
  • Unsounded: Apparently Mikaila went through two squirrels and a rabbit before her parents called it quits on her pets, with the implication she killed them trying to practice pymary, and Duane half-jokes that he's terrified she'll next try to cast on her baby brother. The amusement associated with these little stories fades when Mikaila is revealed as alive and out doing war crimes, somewhat unknowingly, while whooping for joy.

    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.
  • The Onion gives us "Puppy Dies Adorable Death."
  • The Scott The Woz episode "Death of a Franchise" opens with Scott adopting a pet fly he named Ringo. He had to bury it 20 seconds into the episode after he accidentally swatted it.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Origins", Gumball's parents get him his first goldfish that he named Darwin, which goes belly-up offscreen. Richard buys several new Darwins and there's a montage of them dying in different ways: Nicole forgetting to take the bowl off the car before pulling out from the mall and it falling off, Richard accidentally buying a carp and poisoning it when he tries to paint it orange, a sleep-deprived Nicole accidentally dropping a vitamin tablet in one's bowl, and Leslie accidentally kicking the last one's bowl after mistaking it for a ball. This leads to Richard discovering the Awesome Store and finding the fish that became the current Darwin.
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode "Full Bars", Bob goes to Teddy's Halloween party and accidentally crushes his pet guinea pig Frances while putting on a sumo suit. Teddy spends the rest of the party trying to figure out who killed Frances, getting increasingly irrational in his investigation.
  • Futurama:
    • In the 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 Comedy Central run, the episode "In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela" has Bender morosely comment that he hasn't felt much of anything since his guinea pig died.
  • 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 Louds' sixth hamster after five others, Geos I through V, 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 realizing 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 (1991):
    • 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 that Chuckie spilled 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 hospital in the potty."
    • In "Share and Share a Spike", when Tommy is reluctant to share Spike, his pet dog with Dil, his younger brother, Angelica tells Tommy that every kid needs to have their own pet, as she has Fluffy, her pet cat, and Phil and Lil have turtles and a goldfish for pets. Upon hearing this, the twins tell her "Not anymore." in sad tones.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Bye Bye Birdie", Rocko and Heffer are taking care of Filburt's pet bird while he's away, only for Heffer to leap onto the couch and sit on the bird, killing it.
  • 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 (otherwise known as Snowball V) 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 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".
    • Snowball II's entire purpose for existing is this. It's been shown that they used to have a white cat that they named Snowball who was hit by a car so they bought a black cat and named it Snowball II.
    • In "Stop! Or My Dog Will Shoot", Bart brings his pet snake, Strangles, to school for show and tell at the same time Martin brings his pet rabbit. Martin tells the class how he's trained the rabbit to hop to music then gets ready to show them only to see the bars of its cage bent and the rabbit hopping from inside the snake before being digested.


Video Example(s):


Uncle Phil Kills Harry

Uncle Phil accidentally sits on Nicky's pet rabbit and kills him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / BlackComedyPetDeath

Media sources: