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Bury Your Disabled

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"Cito necatus insignis ad deformitatem puer esto"Translation

Bury Your Disabled happens when a disabled character (be it physically or mentally) is killed off in a movie or TV Show. There are four types of Bury Your Disabled:

  • Accident: Someone who is disabled and dies at the end of the movie due to natural causes. Usually due to complications arising from their disability (Rory O'Shea Was Here). Depending on the nature of the disability, may be Truth in Television.
  • Murder: The disabled person is killed off in a violent manner. This can be because they (the disabled character) were considered, by the writer and audience, an easier victim because of their disability. Tends to carry the unfortunate implications that someone who is disabled can't protect themselves.note 
  • Suicide: May carry the unfortunate implications that one is better off dead than disabled. Or, worst-case scenario, the writer who uses this trope really does believe that one is better dead than disabled.
  • Mercy Kill: Someone close to the disabled kills — or even murders — the disabled, either by their request or thinking that life as a disabled person would be too hard to bear. This may overlap with suicide, mercy killing, euthanasia, and even murder, and may carry the same unfortunate implications as suicide.

More than likely the character in question is being killed off by the writers specifically because they are disabled. This is usually a plot point that is supposed to be a Tear Jerker or, in the case of horror movies, meant to be shocking. This can also combine with Littlest Cancer Patient: the frail, wheelchair-using waif is Too Good for This Sinful Earth, and their death will be a sweet release at the end.

Bury Your Disabled will most likely happen to a current or (near-)future wheelchair user, but other disabilities are not discriminated against as much. See also Death by Disfigurement, which has some similar implications, I Will Only Slow You Down, where a disabled person volunteers to be left behind, Living Is More than Surviving, which is sometimes used to justify the "Suicide" and "Mercy Kill" examples, and Throwing Off the Disability, the other common way to "dispose of" a disabled character. Compare to Bullying the Disabled (which can also lead to this) and Abandon the Disabled.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Zigzagged in Attack on Titan. Commander Erwin Smith loses an arm during a critical battle, and his life is soon threatened when the government arrests him for treason. He escapes death, successfully organizing a coup to overthrow the corrupt government. But two months later, he leads the mission to reclaim Wall Maria from the Titans. During the climactic battle, he sacrifices himself by leading a suicidal charge against the Beast Titan — all to give Levi a chance to kill the enemy commander. However, Erwin remains a vital player even after being crippled and his decision to sacrifice himself is because no one else is capable of rallying the troops and leading them on a suicide mission to save humanity.
  • At the end of the first season of Made in Abyss, Nanachi enlists Reg's help in killing their best friend Mitty, who was left horribly disfigured and barely sentient as a result of ascending from the Sixth Layer. Nanachi loves Mitty and had been prepared to care for her indefinitely, but believes that Mitty is in agony and wants to relieve her suffering. After Reg reluctantly kills Mitty with his Incinerator, Riko assures him that while she was comatose, she had a vision of life from Mitty's tortured perspective and that death was truly a mercy.
  • Subverted in A Silent Voice. Shouko, who is deaf, tries to kill herself in the Festival Chapter, however, Shouya saves her.

    Comic Books 
  • Fray, set in the future of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer timeline, features, as the heroine's friend, the one-armed, one-eyed, absolutely adorable, radiation mutant Loo. But Joss Whedon is writing the script, so...
  • In The Order (2007), quadriplegic Heavy dies after Stane disables the nanites that keep his badly damaged lungs functioning.
  • X-Men does this so much you'd think this would be shocking considering the bloodbaths they've been through. A large number of the Morlocks, for example, were all physically different to the point of having to stay out of sight of humans were slaughtered by the Marauders, and when they decide to include characters with disabilities in the comic, you're lucky if they survive one month in comics time let alone real time, and by far one of the most embarrassing events occurred during Grant Morrison's run, where a group of different mutants who were outcasts in the school, became the Special Class. These included both Beak and Angel Salvatore, who have recently been seen again in New Mutants (2019) but also they included one of the most embarrassing mutants in their history Dean Boswell or "Dummy". Dean was autistic, and his mutant power was that he was a sentient gas cloud and had to live in a latex suit. The class on an outing was attacked by the U-Men and Dean's suit was lightly torn, meaning he had to be saved by a condom, and later on when Kid Omega tried to take over the school, Dummy was skewered by a piece of shrapnel and possibly died. Later on Basilisk, another member of the class, said that he could smell him, meaning that his existence was as a fart. Hopefully, Hickman can remember him.
    • Charles Xavier could have qualified as this a few times, though he always comes back.

    Fan Works 
  • Attempted in the Warriors fic The Broken Cat. A newborn is kicked out of her Clan for being three-legged. BloodClan ends up adopting her and naming her "Snowy".
  • Attempted in Bubbles: Derpy's mother doesn't want to deal with her disabled daughter anymore and tries to poison her. It backfires when Derpy's dad comes home, notices she's ill, and takes her to emergency. No one connects the poisoning to Derpy's mother so a few days later she tries this again. When her husband is away at work, she takes Derpy into a forest and abandons her for dead. That, however, also didn't work because the story is about the childhood of an adult character.
  • In the oneshot Life Lessons, Ozai kills a baby turtle-duck with a bad leg in order to teach Azula a lesson about "survival of the fittest".
  • Paradise: In Celestia and Luna's home herd, a pony's "Time" was considered up when they couldn't run with the herd anymore.
  • Subverted in this Warriors Fan Animation. The artist didn't like that Snowkit was killed off just because he was deaf, so they drew an AU where he was Spared by the Adaptation. Snowkit escapes the hawk and is reunited with his family (his mother Speckletail and his forgotten-in-canon litter sister Mistlekit).

    Films — Animation 
  • Subverted in Alpha and Omega. As a pup, older wolves tried to kill Daria because she's blind and can't hunt. Her mother hides her but ends up killed herself. Daria is then adopted by porcupines.
  • Francis' first love interest in Felidae is a blind cat named Felicity. Felicity only lasts a few minutes before she ends up killed and beheaded.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Barb Wire, the titular heroine's blind brother is tortured to death by the bad guys.
  • The Black Stork: The film's main aesop is that it's better to let disabled infants die than save them since they will only live unhappy lives, using a lot of outdated "science" to support it. Harry J. Haiselden (who plays the film's physician, who's based on himself) did exactly that, leaving a baby boy with birth defects to die after persuading the boy's parents it was the best thing. After he had been acquitted by a jury, Haiselden launched a massive public campaign in defense of his action, the film being one part, and it got disturbingly high support.
  • In Blade: Trinity, one of the Nightstalkers, Sommerfield, is blind. She doesn't make it to the end of the film.
  • In Breakfast on Pluto Patrick "Kitten" Braden's childhood friend dies in an IRA bomb blast. The police sent in a simple robot to disarm it, and he rushed out assuming it was a toy. The friend in question, Lawrence, had Down Syndrome.
  • Inverted in Cube, as the severely autistic Kazan is the Sole Survivor - every neurotypical character fails to escape the titular Cube.
  • In The Curse of Frankenstein, the Creature kills an old blind man.
  • In the first Final Destination they make a point of showing that one of the passengers on the ill-fated Flight 180 is a physically and mentally handicapped man.
  • One of Jason's kills in Friday the 13th Part 2 is wheelchair user Mark, who gets a machete buried in his face, which sends him rolling down some stairs.
  • The Viet Cong sniper girl in Full Metal Jacket. Joker is compelled to perform a Mercy Kill for the sniper who has gotten a paralyzing wound in the firefight with Animal Mother.
  • Gattaca subverts this trope then plays it straight. The subversion comes along in the form of Inspirationally Disadvantaged Vincent Freeman, who is disabled by society's standards by not being genetically engineered. He has a life expectancy of 30.2 years due to a heart condition, yet he's alive by film's end. Played straight with Jerome Eugene Morrow, who is paralyzed from the waist down and commits suicide at the end of the movie by climbing into an incinerator. Toyed with, however; Jerome's disability is revealed to be from a failed suicide attempt earlier in his life.
  • Head in the Clouds: Mia has an injured leg that makes her limp, and dies in the Spanish Civil War. She was the film's only disabled character.
  • Derek, the Token Minority in Hellraiser: Hellworld, has very severe asthma, and "dies" in his hallucination when he wanders off alone to look for his inhaler after losing it. In the real world, he just had an attack and died from it.
  • Million Dollar Baby. A combination 3 and 4, Maggie would rather be dead than quadriplegic.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Randle McMurphy, after Big Nurse has him lobotomized.
  • The Steven Seagal film Out for Justice has the villain shoot dead the paraplegic Chas the Chair. Right before he does so, he tells him he's putting him out of his misery.
  • Power Rangers (2017): The one Ranger who's Killed Off for Real is Billy, the one with Asperger Syndrome. Fortunately he's revived via The Power of Friendship.
  • Marvel Ann from Psycho Beach Party. Though it may be possible she was killed because she was a huge bitch.
  • In the film version of The Relic, the wheelchair user Dr. Frock is killed by the monster plaguing the museum (in the original novel, Frock lived).
  • The eponymous character from Rory O'Shea Was Here (aka Inside I'm Dancing) died due to complications from his Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Justified; Duchenne is a life-limiting condition and those affected rarely survive beyond early adulthood.
  • One of the many Jews that Amon Goeth murders in Schindler's List is a man with one arm.
  • The wheelchair user Franklin Hardesty from the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) has the dubious honor to be the film's only person to be actually killed with a chainsaw.
  • Trick 'r Treat: The segment "The School Bus Massacre Revisited" recounts how a school bus driver was paid off to kill a busload of mentally disabled children by their parents, who couldn't stand to care for them anymore. Thirty years later, the children rise as zombies and exact horrible vengeance on the bus driver.


By Author:

  • Played straight in Louisa May Alcott's books. Between Little Men and Jo's Boys, two minor characters die, one physically disabled (Dick, the young hunchback, the other mentally (Billy, the boy driven to mental illness by his dad).

By Title:

  • Played straight in the second-to-last Animorphs book, where all of the Auxiliary Animorphs (all of whom had been handicapped at some point and most of whom still were) are ruthlessly murdered by Visser One/Three.
  • Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub, includes a blind character who is killed by a murderer wearing his dead wife's perfume.
  • The death of the titular character of Stephen King's novel Blaze is a combination of this and Suicide by Cop.
  • Not all the weaker and older badgers make it through The Cold Moons. This is prepared for in advance by allowing several to stay behind, but some die even before they can make it to the rendezvous point.
  • Option 3 is encouraged by the Tendu of The Color of Distance. They're fantastical healers, but if an injury is too severe to be completely restored within a year they expect the injured party to "die honorably". One even asks a human why her wheelchair-user brother hasn't killed himself yet. The two who go to Earth quickly learn to think past that mindset, and in the end Ukatonen, given a traumatic brain injury and losing much of his old healing skill, decides that he will live.
  • In the German Scare 'Em Straight book Die letzten Kinder von Schewenborn (The Last Children Of Schewenborn), which is set in a Germany devastated by nuclear war, a boy whose legs were lost in the catastrophe commits suicide following the death of the girl who took care of him. In another book by the same author, titled ''Der Schlund", the disabled younger sister of the main character falls victim to a mass murder of disabled children, perpetrated by Germany's new far-right dictatorship.
    • Also, the narrator's youngest sister (conceived shortly before the bombs dropped) suffers radiation damage in-utero, resulting in her being born with no eyes and stumps for arms. She is mercy killed by her father.
  • A Dog's Life: Squirrel's mother gave birth to a runt with misshapen legs. She kicked him out of her birthing wheelbarrow and ignored him, causing him to quickly die. This is Truth in Television as animals will usually abandon sickly offspring.
  • In the protagonist's first life in A Dog's Purpose, he received a permanent injury to his leg during a fight. It was just a limp but when taken into a crowded shelter he was euthanized with other "unadoptable" dogs (namely a too-aggressive dog and a too-old dog).
  • Dragon Queen: Trava's father is blind, but dies of natural causes.
  • False Memory: Dusty's older sister Dominique, who had Down Syndrome, was officially a crib death. Dusty accuses their mother of intentionally killing her because of her condition. Claudette does not deny this accusation.
  • The Good Earth - one of Wang Lung's children is mentally handicapped due to being malnourished in infanthood. While she's cared for by Wang Lung, he tells Pear Blossom to poison her after he passes away - expecting that her life will be miserable without his protection. Pear Blossom spares her, however.
  • Narrowly averted in The Great Brain when Andy Anderson loses his leg to gangrene and tries to kill himself with J.D.'s help. Neither attempt is successful to begin with, but Tom walks in on the two trying to hang Andy in the barn and offers — for a fee, of course — to teach Andy to do his chores and play games with his peg leg.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows reveals that Dumbledore's younger sister Ariana was left mentally disabled after an incident involving three Muggle boys. She lived for a few more years with erratic magic but eventually was killed in a duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Neither of them knows which cast the curse that killed her.
    • Moody, an Auror disabled while fighting Dark wizards is killed by Death Eaters (after spending most of his time in Goblet of Fire being impersonated by Barty Crouch Jr.), and Umbridge gets hold of his magical eye.
    • Additionally Wormtail, who lost his hand to Voldemort's resurrection ritual and has it replaced with a silver one under Voldemort's control, is killed by said hand when he shows mercy to Harry.
  • The Hunger Games:
    • The District 10 boy has a crippled foot. Despite this, he manages to survive for a few days in the arena before dying from unknown causes. Katniss suspects he was killed by the Careers, but this is never confirmed.
    • Rue mentions an incident where a boy with the mental capacity of a young child was killed for stealing a pair of the night-vision glasses which District 11's agricultural workers use if they have to continue working after dark. The boy in question only wanted to play with the glasses, but this made no difference to the local Peacekeepers.
    • Averted with Katniss (permanently deafened in one ear) and Peeta (leg amputee), who survive the entire trilogy.
  • In Iron Fist, Ton Phanan crashlands on a hostile world and his wingmate follows to try and save him, but though Phanan tries his best he refuses to let them be captured by the enemy, who after all would treat the injuries created in the crash. He suffered from a great deal of Cybernetics Eat Your Future, and Word of God is that though he feared death and tried to avoid it, he didn't feel any great impetus to live. It was more important that the mission continue and the Big Bad be killed than that he lived and the Big Bad went on making more people like him before he could be stopped.
  • The books Jason X: Death Moon and Jason X: To the Third Power both feature blind characters who get their heads chopped off.
  • The book and subsequent movie Me Before You has its male lead Will (who has quadriplegia) commit suicide, with all the unfortunate implications that entails. It then goes further and has him leave the female lead a ton of money so that she can "live boldly."
  • Lenny from Of Mice and Men, is killed by his friend George because he was incapable of controlling his strength and accidentally killed a woman, and George couldn't bear the thought of Lenny being subjected to imprisonment or (even worse) the savage violence of a lynch mob.
  • Marquis de Sade's Philosophy in the Bedroom features a pamphlet saying all the deformed should be killed. He has characters propose this as well, or that they be used as guinea pigs in experiments. This is justified on the basis that they are useless (except as test subjects).
  • The Red Tent mentions that babies born with some kind of deformity or defect would simply be left outside to die of exposure. When Leah was born, the midwife called for this to happen, because Leah had heterochromia, and the midwife thought she was cursed or a demon child or something like that. Her mother, Adah, however, firmly told the midwife that she would not be abandoning Leah.
  • In A Single Shard, Crane Man (who has always been forced to live as a beggar due to his bad leg) dies. However, it's justified for three reasons: one, it's established that Crane Man was very old, two, he had a heart attack from a fall into a river, and three, Death by Newbery Medal demands it.
  • The Ship Who... Sang starts with the assertion that Helva's birth defects (deformed limbs and dim senses) meant she was born a "thing" and "as such would be condemned" if she didn't pass the encephalograph test required of all newborns. Because she was found to be intelligent, her grieving parents were presented with the choice of euthanizing her or surrendering her to be converted into a "shellperson" who would one day be the "brain" of a Living Ship. By implication, most disabled babies in this setting are killed.
    • The other books in the series, published a good thirty years later, try to soften this by portraying non-shelled disabled adults who are happy, reframing shells as life support, and explaining to a Naïve Newcomer that shells are the end point of assistive technology made to allow the disadvantaged to live as normal a life as possible. It's still the case that the sheer expense of becoming a shellperson leaves them as indentured workers for often decades or longer.
    • However, several Politically Incorrect Villains do still despise shellpeople. It's noted in one book that this is a society where people with money can change their appearances quite readily, and the very concept of shellpeople discomforts and disgusts some. Polyon gets into a snit realizing that he's being transported on a brainship, sneering that it's absurd that something like "it" has not just been allowed to live but given a job that someone like him could have filled instead. The Kolnari in The City Who Fought are such Social Darwinists that their standard response to "disabling illness", any disease that can't just be shrugged off, is for the afflicted to either kill themselves or be killed as weak. Injured warriors who won't pull through with nothing worse than scars face the same choice, and Kolnari even kill their own children for perceived flaws.
  • Sword of Truth: When the Imperial Order conquers a city, it's shown they kill a mentally disabled man as he's deemed "useless" (they only keep citizens with useful skills alive as slaves). This is used to highlight their cruel brutality in the book where it happens.
  • Talion: Revenant: Nolan's little brother Aruk had a clubfoot and was specifically targeted when his family were murdered by a soldier whose culture says this means he'd been touched by a demon in the womb, thus worthy of death.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga story The Mountains of Mourning infanticide (usually by the mother cutting the baby's throat) is the usual fate of children born with visible mutations born in the backcountry on Barrayar. Technically it's illegal but is rarely prosecuted since the isolated communities tend to protect their own. In stories set in later years, the practice seems to be finally dying out, with the arrival of uterine replicators and gene cleaning.
    • Defied by Aral Vorkosigan and Cordelia Naismith, to the point of Aral and Cordelia ordering that Aral's father should be shot with a stun gun if he tries to kill their child.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Snowkit is killed by a hawk because as a deaf kitten, he can neither hear the bird, nor warnings about it.
    • Dappletail mentioned that she had a deaf kitten in her first litter. He disappeared at three moons old. They Never Found the Body but guessed a fox killed him.
    • It's mentioned that cats with disabilities rarely survive kithood. This is Truth in Television as disabled animals usually can't survive in the wild. Cats with less disabling issues may survive, especially if they're warriors or at least apprentices, but it can still end up a Career-Ending Injury.
  • Wings of Fire: It's mentioned that dragons with too much, or too little, fire are killed by SkyWings not soon after hatching. On top of that, their parents are banned from the breeding program due to their "defective" genes.
  • The Broken Earth Trilogy: During a Season, anyone who is not required for the survival of a group may be mercy-killed or be exiled to die in the wilderness. Essun is threatened with this when she loses her arm and most of her ability to do orogeny, but is allowed to remain in Castrima due to her friends and their skills. Minor characters are variously mercy-killed after barely surviving an animal attack and left to die as the community crosses the desert.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story has several examples:
    • American Horror Story: Murder House: Adelaide, who has Down Syndrome, is fatally hit by a car in the fourth episode. Although of the characters who die she probably has the best fate since she's not stuck as a ghost in the house for eternity and actually gets to pass on.
    • American Horror Story: Coven: Nan, played by the same actress, has Fiona and Marie drown her and give her soul to Papa Legba.
    • Most of the freaks in Freak Show, notable exceptions being Jimmy, Dot, Bette, and Desiree, who are all played by disabled actors.
  • The Barrier: When the group of people alongside whom Julia is meant to escape Madrid is raided by the police, she briefly shares a hiding place with a disabled man and his elderly father. When the police find the hiding place, the fact that the two other people are killed first is what lets Julia live long enough for her brother-in-law to show up and help her talk the police into letting her go.
  • In the Blake's 7 episode "Aftermath", where we are introduced to Dayna, Servalan murders Dayna's blind father, after destroying the device that helps him see.
  • Inverted on Cold Case, when a student at a school for the deaf kills his best friend because he'd gotten a cochlear implant and stopped living life as a profoundly deaf person, which made the culprit feel both insulted and abandoned. It's played straight with a disabled teenage boy, talked into standing before a train.
  • Three evil cripples featured on Criminal Minds (horribly burned Randall Garner in "The Fisher King", paraplegic Ian Coakley in "Roadkill" and quadriplegic Mason Turner in "To Hell and Back") die at the end of their respective episodes. Averted with wheelchair user Jeffrey (another Evil Cripple) in the episode "A Family Affair" and with the UnSub from "Into the Woods" (he only had a limp but still used a ton of painkillers).
  • In Dead Set, the Jerkass producer, Patrick practically pushes a wheelchair user in front of a zombie so that it can eat him and save his own skin by hiding in a toilet cubicle.
  • The Doctor Who serial "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" sees Dortmun, the wheelchair-using leader of the rebels, die facing off against the Daleks.
  • Echo (2024): In "Chafa" Maya's mother, who it turns out was a deaf woman like her, dies in the flashback. She's the only relative aside from Maya's father who dies, and the very first chronologically. Downplayed however as Maya herself of course survived.
  • In Glee: Jean Sylvester, Sue's older sister, had Down's Syndrome and died of pneumonia. Subverted with Becky, who attempts suicide, but is stopped by Sue. Averted with the Inspirationally Disabled Sean from Season 1—he attempted suicide by driving into the pool but was found before he could succeed.
  • Played straight in ER when Dr. Romano is killed by a falling helicopter after having lost an arm to a helicopter in a previous season. Possibly subverted when Dr. Weaver has surgery that improves her gait and leaves the show to pursue a new career opportunity and new love interest.
  • There was a mentally disabled immortal in Highlander who was killed off specifically because of his disability. He does the deed himself by laying his neck on a train track as a train approaches.
  • Killing Eve: In the first episode of Season 2, Villanelle meets Gabriel, who has been severely injured in the car accident that killed his parents. She kills him due to believing he's better off that way.
  • The Man in the High Castle: In the eugenics-supporting alternate world created by the Nazis, the infirm are one of the groups targeted for extermination by the authorities.
    • During Joe Blake's drive through the country from NYC to the Rocky Mountains, he passes a hospital that burns its disabled and terminally ill patients there at the end of every week.
    • John Smith, a high-ranking SS officer in America, is horrified to learn that his son has muscular dystrophy because it means he will have to be euthanized.
    • Smith's older brother, whom he worshiped as a child, died of the same disease. His wife mentions how such people are not allowed to suffer, not knowing she was talking about her own son.
    • Thomas Smith eventually turns himself in to be "euthanized", which he's lionized for.
    • It's discussed after Juliana hears of this upon emigrating into the American Reich, and asks what would happen to a friend of hers who's disabled due to a respiratory ailment, learning about their policy.
  • Next (2020): Dr. Richard Parish, a scientist with tetraplegia, is killed using his robots by Next the same episode he's introduced.
  • In Our Friends in the North, Mary's physically and mentally handicapped brother Patrick passes away of natural causes.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • Discussed in the "The Enemy" we learn that the Romulans kill all disabled children when Geordi is stuck with a Romulan soldier, who basically asked him why he's still alive. Naturally, Geordi is quite offended (and is living proof that disabled people can contribute greatly to society).
    • Also discussed in "The Masterpiece Society", where Geordi mentions that on Genome colony, he'd have been aborted as just a zygote due to the colonists terminating those with detectable disabilities before birth.
    • Subverted in the episode "Ethics". Worf becomes paraplegic after an accident. By Klingon tradition, being disabled such that one cannot fight is a major dishonor, and the proper course of action is ritualistic suicide (and Worf comes close to it). However, he takes another presented option when a research doctor wants to try out an experimental treatment that will create a new spinal cord for him (which nearly ends up playing this trope straight — Worf dies on the operating table, but recovers due to a quirk of Klingon anatomy). It was also mentioned that Klingon neuroscience had been severely lagging because of their "better dead than crippled" policy; the Klingon medical community had essentially no experience with actually treating spinal cord injuries.
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: After introducing to great fanfare a blind main character, Hemmer, played by the franchise's first blind actor, the series kills him off after he appears in just six of the first nine episodes - fewer than any other main character in the franchise. However, this is a downplayed example — his race, the Aenar, are naturally blind and are compensated by other; his death isn't because of his disability but he's been infected with Gorn eggs and he decides to perform a Heroic Suicide to prevent the creatures from continuing trying to kill his crewmates; and his main goal in the series is to be a Sacrificial Lion: as he's Doomed by Canon, his storyarc is for him to bond with an uncertain Cadet Nyota Uhura and guide her on the path to becoming the iconic member of the Enterprise and his Last Words are to tell her to take that risk and make more bonds rather than drift to try and not get hurt again.
  • The original Survivors plays it straight with wheelchair user Vic Thatcher, who died at the start of the second season when a fire broke out in the Big Fancy House the main cast had moved into. This was long before British fire-safety law was tightened up to ensure that escape routes were suitable for wheelchair users.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): Discussed in "The Obsolete Man" as the Chancellor openly speaks of how anyone too disabled to do useful work is eliminated by the State (either by physical impairment, sickness or just age). He claims Adolf Hitler as one precursor of the State (whose own regime had murdered thousands of disabled people), but also that Hitler's killings didn't go far enough.
  • The Darker and Edgier second season of War of the Worlds (1988) started by killing off two characters from the first season, one of whom was a wheelchair user.
  • In the final season of The Wire, Blind Butchie is killed off.
  • World on Fire: Justified. The introduction of Aktion T4 leads to the mass murder of people with disabilities in Nazi Germany. The Rosslers' daughter Hilda has epilepsy and her mother kills her and then herself in a Murder-Suicide that could be seen as a Mercy Kill.
  • You (2018): James, Love's first husband who was deaf, is already dead by the time of the story-he thus appears only in flashbacks. It's somewhat downplayed though since Dante, a recurring visually impaired character, is introduced in the third season.

  • In the Sick Sad World episode "The Dangers Of Being Disabled", the first case is about a disabled girl murdered by her father. The hosts vehemently disagree that it was a mercy kill.

  • A Deconstruction of this trope is the main plot of the play The Cripple Of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh: Billy is born disabled, making him walk poorly and prone to illness. He claims to be dying of TB to gain a sympathy favor from Babbybobby (whose wife died of TB), and Billy is then seen to die from that. Then it is revealed that the death scene was Billy playing a cripple dying of TB in a film. Babbybobby is so furious to be deceived that he gives Billy a savage beating, but Billy survives. After being beaten, Billy plucks up the courage to ask his crush Slippy Helen out, and she rudely turns him down. Billy is seen to prepare himself for suicide in the same manner as his parents, only to be interrupted when Helen comes back and changes her mind. Billy's jubilation over his success is cut short by an Incurable Cough of Death with Blood from the Mouth.
  • In the musical When The Switch Is Pressed, almost all the characters have committed suicide by the end. One of them is a wheelchair user.

    Video Games 
  • In Fire Emblem: Thracia 776, Dorias, who is missing an arm from an earlier battle, eventually pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save his troops from an Imperial Army ambush.
  • Alexander Caine in Hitman: Blood Money, who dies at 47's hands due to his being the game's Big Bad. He's a Flunky Boss and a Handicapped Badass, so achieving this trope isn't easy.
  • The Tanakth in Horizon Zero Dawn have this as part of their culture. They believe that anyone who can't fight is worthless so anyone who suffers a disabling injury is forced to fight a machine to prove that they are still able to fight which almost always results in their death.
  • In the horror game The House 2, the family that lived in the house had a daughter by the name of Alrena. Alrena was born severely disabled, and the couple poisoned her and stuffed her body in the safe because they didn't want to see her suffering anymore. But Alrena wanted to live, no matter what, and she was not happy about what her parents had done to her. After trying to "start over" with an adoptive daughter and killing the maid that they hired because she had found out too much, they eventually couldn't deal with the guilt of what they had done any longer and killed themselves.
  • Strangely averted in Mass Effect 2. Joker, the brittle-boned pilot who walks very slowly (at times with a cane), is the only member of your crew who cannot be killed during a playthrough. You can kill literally everyone else in your crew, including yourself, and still finish the game, but Joker simply will not die except under very specific circumstances, such as when the crew is abducted by the Reapers while walking him around the Normandy. If he walks up the ladder too quickly in engineering, he'll be killed by a scion. This gives you a Nonstandard Game Over, meaning he is the only playable character whose death guarantees that the player loses the game. It's also implied he may die in some of the worst endings for the third.
  • Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh: Paul Allen Warner and Dr. Marek have been feeding mental patients from Marek's asylum to extradimensional Starfish Aliens because no one would miss them. It's implied that they were used as Human Resources.
  • Narrowly Averted in Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable—in this version, Kyosuke's angst about his Career-Ending Injury is upped so that Sayaka actually walks in on him trying to kill himself, prompting her contract to heal him.

    Visual Novels 
  • The final version of Katawa Shoujo contains only one death (which is only in a Bad End), though a leaked Darker and Edgier beta version does:
    • Subverted with Misha, as she's the only student in her school who isn't physically disabled (she transferred to the school to avoid the bullying she had at her old school). After Shizune and Hisao begin dating, her Stepford Smiler traits come to light due to her being in love with Shizune herself. Shizune's father bullying her helps increase her depression and accentuates her feelings of inadequacy. Eventually she is Driven to Suicide. This causes Shizune, who is deaf, to become depressed. She ends up in the hospital due to dehydration and the Bad End has her also Driven to Suicide, as she pulls out her IV.
    • Hanako plays it straight. She doesn't seem to have any physical issues however she is severely burnt (and is implied to have an anxiety disorder and possibly PTSD). After undergoing a Trauma Conga Line she ends up Driven to Suicide in her third Bad End.
    • One of the Bad Ends in the final product has Hisao (who has a heart ailment) accidentally falling off a building if he doesn't end up with any of the girls. In the beta game, he can die several different times in Hanako's Bad Ends.

    Web Comics 

    Real Life 
  • This trope is Older Than Feudalism in real life:
    • In the ancient world and in most of medieval Christian Europe around the Mediterranean sea, disabled newborns were "exposed": that is, left in the street to die by their parents.
    • Sparta's Gerousia institutionalized this practice, possibly the world's first state eugenics.
    • Ancient Egypt and Israel defied this trope, outlawing infanticide in their societies and severely punishing those who committed it. The former group would even rescue children "exposed" by foreigners living in Egypt, and people with dwarfism were especially honored, some even rising to very high positions (possibly the only society on record with such attitudes). The latter group's influence on Christianity and Islam led to the rise of orphanages as unwanted children were left at the doors of mosques and churches instead of being left in the woods to die.note  Orphanages often had poor conditions though. Newborn infants also had a high mortality rate regardless in those days.
    • Another ancient group that defied this; the ancient Germanic peoples ... sort of. Historians disagree on this one. Some records like those of Tacitus state that they refused to kill children regardless of if they were disabled. However, this might have been Tacitus romanticizing the Germans. Modern scholars think they did practice this.
  • Supposedly to improve Germany's food situation and genetic stock - but in reality to test efficient methods of mass murder which could be later used against Jews - Adolf Hitler issued an Emergency Order on 1 September 1939 implementing a program, Aktion T4, to murder German citizens with congenital disabilities. The administrators of the program "disinfected" (i.e. murdered) 70,000 innocent people who were said to threaten the national gene pool with ‘congenital physical degeneracy’; others had already been killed indirectly in the period 1933-39 through the defunding of asylums. It should be pointed out that the overwhelmingly vast majority of those “disinfected” were victims of non-inherited congenital conditions such as maternal thyroid deficiency and neonatal hypoxia, and that the Nazis knew that. It was really all about the murders. In a related measure to, again supposedly, uphold German racial hygiene (Rassenhygiene) 400,000 German citizens with so-called morally degenerate traits (long-term homeless and prostitutes, Roma-Sinti/'Gypsies', etc.) had already been sterilized from 1935 onward in accordance with the 1935 Preservation of German Blood And Honor ('Nuremberg') Laws. Nazi Germany being Nazi Germany, many of those killed through neglect or murdered in T-4 had already been sterilized.
  • Even before the Nazis, some eugenicists and euthanasia advocates (especially if they were both) advocated this idea. Because of the history, this remains one reason for euthanasia being very controversial, with a lot of disabled people and disability rights activists suspicious of it as a result.
  • In modern times, a majority of fetuses with Down Syndrome are aborted, according to The Other Wiki: up to 92% in Europe and about 67% in the U.S., often with explicitly eugenicist motives. Worth noting is that the vast majority of people Down Syndrome report that they're happy.
  • Peter Singer feels that it is perfectly acceptable to kill disabled newborns.
  • Disabled people are more likely to be victims of crime, including murder, than non-disabled people. They are often killed by their own caregivers.
  • Unfortunately, suicide is more common among the severely disabled or terminally ill than we ever care to even think about.
  • Harry J. Haidelsen left several newborns with severe birth defects to die. Though a trial jury acquitted him, the Chicago Medical Board threw him out of practice. He even had a film, The Black Stork made defending this, and some notable Americans (even Helen Keller, herself disabled) wrote in favor of it.
  • The horrific—and barely covered in national news—stabbing of at least 45 people in a Japanese care facility in 2016, 19 of whom died. The suspect had earlier sent a letter to Japan's House of Representatives, demanding that disabled people be euthanized. Also notable as the largest mass attack in Japan's post-war history.
  • Animals are prone to leaving sick or disabled members of their group or family to die. This is why mother animals typically abandon their offspring if they're not healthy enough. Some species do take care of their sick or injured, but most don't. Social Darwinists (including the Nazis) had claimed these animal habits supported exterminating disabled humans as well. After all, it was natural, right?
  • Part of the backlash against vaccines is fueled by one fraudulent study that purported to link vaccines and autism (the fraudster hoped to supplant the usual measles vaccine with one of his own). As both scientists and autistic people have pointed out, this leads to some unfortunate implications: better to die in agony than be autistic.
  • In animal shelters, animals with disabilities tend to get euthanized more than ones without because they're harder to adopt out.
  • Curiously enough, averted by multiple stone age communities according to recent analyses of various groups of remains and artifacts. There are examples of both individuals born with severe genetic disorders as well as those who had sustained severe injuries whose remains show evidence of care, and who would've died young due to aspects of their conditions that their caregivers would not have been able to identify and treat. This disproves an old Social Darwinist argument that the opposite was the case.