This trope involves the cold realization that Shared Universes enjoy events, but not necessarily changing the status quo. Whenever a purported big shake-up occurs, you can bet it's your so-called "C-list" characters and below who will be brought out of the woodwork. Alternatively, if a given series is becoming less popular, given that they are less prominent, have less appeal, or aren't as easy to write for, these characters can be prime candidates for getting the axe, via the single-character subtype of The Firefly Effect.
An optimist will say this is because "minor" characters (and the authors writing for them) are allowed leeway to change more than big shots, and if they're lucky they can become newly popular due to this.
A cynic will say the main use of bringing in C-listers is so you can kill them off, creating a sense of "change" without really affecting the universe in any way, ruining the attempt to make an Anyone Can Die and Tonight, Someone Dies atmosphere when the only real deaths are these characters. Same with a Sacrificial Lamb.
This is a double-edged sword. It certainly can be shocking and emotional to fans of the character, but remember... the main people who recognize these characters are the same people who will be most angry if you kill them off, whereas those who do not recognize them will not care note . Thus, you toy with the emotions of those who are likely to be your most dedicated fans.
Since newer characters tend to be more C-list than older characters, and also tend to include more females and minorities, this may lead to Bury Your Gays and Black Dude Dies First. (Although, on the other hand, outright Red Shirts tend to be straight men.) Another disturbing tendency in the comic book industry is to use teenage super-team characters as this. It works dramatically because of the impact of a child (or young adult) dying, but is over-used to the point where the Teen Titans actually hang a lampshade on this frequently. Similar young teams, the New Mutants and Legion of Super-Heroes, also fall victim to this with regularity.
And anyway, it's not as though the character is being used anyway. Being brought Back for the Dead is better than not being brought back at all, right?
When the character has the shortest, smallest, most stereotypical background possible (especially ended by a He's Dead, Jim to show he's really dead), we're probably dealing with a Red Shirt instead. If one of these "major" characters were created so they can be killed then it might be a Mauve Shirt.
Often leads to cases of Forgotten Fallen Friend. Compare Like You Would Really Do It.
As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.
- Ultimate Sleepwalker: The whole point of Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams and Ultimate Spider-Woman Ultimate Spider-Woman: Change With the Light is to focus the spotlight on underrated C-list characters and mess with the traditional A/B/C-list pecking order of the Marvel Universe. Mainstays like Captain America and Spider-Man do show up, but they are typically guest stars. Heroes like Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers and Doctor Strange don't even live in New York, with New York's hero population instead being rounded out by the likes of Moon Knight and Darkhawk. An excellent subversion of this trope occurs when Bullseye goes up against 8-Ball. The former is a long-standing Psycho for Hire who made the list of Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers during Dark Reign. The other is a supposedly C-list supervillain who only appeared in the Sleepwalker comics and was summarily killed off afterwards in Heroes For Hire. Guess who wins?
- DC Nation lampshades the Teen Titans example above big time, and inverted it. Arsenal gets angry enough to challenge Hades for Donna Troy and convinces the other Titans to go in on it by arguing to the effect "The Justice League die and come back. Titans die and stay dead. Why are we putting up with it when we can have a chance of fighting back?!" As an indirect result, the Nation-verse Titans have thrown a few more challenges and are now the largest hero team in the storyline. This bit them in the ass when Nationverse launched their take on Blackest Night. It's not just the Titans. Nation is notorious for making use of obscure, underwritten, and c-list characters. The Dibneys, for example, are major players. The Doom Patrol is getting re-launched, the Metal Men and the JSA are starting to get more plots... Conversely, it has been very difficult to get a JLA plot done.
- It's common for fanfics for Les Misérables to partake in this trope, being a work where the majority of the main cast dies. Fics that spare a major character will often, in exchange, kill off a more minor one who either survived or had an ambiguous fate in the original; Azelma Thenardier (Eponine's younger sister who is usually Adapted Out) seems to be the most common "victim."
- Parodied in this Aquaman fancomic.
Jackson Hyde: I'm a gay black legacy sidekick. That pretty much makes me the definition of C-List Fodder. My life depends on building a major fan following before the next big event!
- The same artist made a The Avengers fan comic with a similar joke. Living Lightning (being a Latino character who came out as gay as part of a joke in a comedy book, who hasn't been a major part of any notable storylines, and who doesn't have a power set that's unique or tied to any major lore) considers "sudden importance" a mark of death for him and tries to leave the Avengers and go back to being a background character.
- C Listers focuses on Gotham City's C-list villain population, and frequently highlights a lot of obscure Batman rogues. Of course, the audience is frequently reminded that they're just as dangerous as the A-listers, and thus far only one C-list character (Sewer King) has been killed off.
- Masters of the Universe: In the 1987 film, Suarod was killed because the producer wanted one of Skeletor's generals to be killed off in the film, and they wanted to make sure it was one who did not appear in the cartoon.
- Suicide Squad (2016) has three fatalities within the titular squad: Lieutenant Edwards, Slipknot, and El Diablo (plus Enchantress, but she was the Big Bad at that point). The first is a movie-only Mauve Shirt. Of the other two, neither of them are prominent characters in the comic books. Though El Diablo did have a fairly large role and went out in a Heroic Sacrifice, as did Edwards, Slipknot wasn't so lucky, as he was the Sacrificial Lamb bumped off in a few minutes to show the nano bombs were real.
- The soft reboot The Suicide Squad plays with this trope. On one hand, the films opening scene liberally kills off several obscure squad members, including Savant (who briefly served as a decoy protagonist), Mongal, Javelin and Blackguard while leaving TDK to bleed out on the beach. In addition, a film-exclusive incarnation of the Thinker and C-list Batman villain/joke character Polka Dot Man both die by the end, and the popular Harley Quinn, Amanda Waller and King Shark obviously survive. On the other hand, among the dead are Suicide Squad mainstays Captain Boomerang and Rick Flag, both returning from the prior film. C-listers Bloodsport and Ratcatcher II (specifically, a film-original legacy character) also notably survive the events of the film, while Peacemaker and Weasel are granted fakeout deaths as revealed during post-credits scenes.
- Spider-Man: Homecoming only had one death in the entire movie: Jackson Brice, known in the comics as Montana and in the movie as the first Shocker. He's so minor he didn't even get to keep his canon identity here.
- In Deadpool 2, Wade's X-Force consists of Domino, Shatterstar, Bedlam, Vanisher, Zeitgeist and some guy named Peter. All but Domino (the most famous of the bunch after Deadpool) end up parachuting to horrible deaths in their first mission. Wade only explicitly saves Peter via Time Travel, while the fates of the others are ambiguous.
- Wild Cards has had a lot of these—contributing authors were encouraged to come up with "Red Shirt Aces" for the second and third books, just to show that the villains meant business. Then again, Anyone Can Die in that setting.
- Star Wars Legends:
- In the New Jedi Order, guess how many movie characters named on screen of any level of importance die. Two. And one of them is from old age.
- Even more were killed off in Legacy of the Force. Usually either due to one person's dislike or to make Daala and the Mandalorians look good.
- Many characters introduced in the Bantam Publishing era of Legends were reduced to this when Del Rey took the reins, such as Borsk Feyl'ya, Prince Isolder, and several of Luke Skywalker's Jedi students. This remains a point of contention among fans.
- In The Vampire Chronicles: Queen of the Damned, once unleashed, Akasha kills off most of the vampire race except, conveniently, for every single major character in the series, and plots to exterminate all men on earth.
- Warrior Cats: Every time the series needs some more angst, a minor character gets killed. This doubles as thinning of the herd, since there are many characters. In Twilight, the Tonight, Someone Dies book, there's a supposedly "devastating" attack on ThunderClan which results in them needing plenty of help from the other clans in the next book... but then you realize that only three cats died. And two of them were minor characters. The other ends up getting reincarnated, anyway.
- Game Shows that have celebrity players sometimes are accused of using these, especially when A- and B-list celebrities are unavailable or don't wish to do a specific show.
- What's My Line?: Gil Fates, executive producer of the iconic panel game show that aired from 1950-1975, wrote in his 1978 retrospective of the series that some "mystery guests" during the syndicated years were rather obscure to most viewers. These included second-tier Broadway performers, local New York-New Jersey personalities, and lesser-known soap opera actors/actresses of shows produced in New Yorknote . This, he reasoned, was because of having to stretch to find mystery guests for a five-day-a-week program (or, 195 per television season) once the better-known stars had their turn, whereas it was much simpler to find just one prominent star a week for the original CBS series (or, just 35 or so during a September-through-May season). It led to many panelists and viewers scratching their heads, wondering, "Who is that person?"
- In the early days of Smallville, they used the Body of the Week more, but slowly more C-list fodder is killed off. Not counting one-episode characters, or we'll be here all day.
- Season one: Lewis & Laura Lang (appeared in flashbacks), Principal Kwan.
- Season two: Roger Nixon, Steven Hamilton, Ryan James, Tina Greer, Dr. Walden.
- Season three: Morgan Edge, Ian Randall, Pete Dinsmore, Frank Loder.
- Season four: Alicia Baker, Bridgette Crosby, Genevieve and Jason Teaque.
- Season five: Sheriff Nancy Adams.
- Season six: Raya, Dr. Langston.
- Season seven: Sasha Woodman, Agent Carter, clone Lara and Zor-El, Patricia Swann, Gina, Edward Teague.
- Season eight: Regan Matthews, Linda Lake. While this season has the highest body count thanks to Doomsday being around, tons of it are one-episode appearances or even unnamed.
- Season nine: Alia (twice, It Makes Sense in Context), clone Jor-El, Basqat, Doctor Fate, Faora, Zod may have killed more of the C-List Checkmate agents offscreen.
- Season ten: Hawkman, Earth-2 Lionel Luthor.
- In Battlestar Galactica (2003), with the exception of Kara Thrace and Laura Roslin, every character who died was either a C- or B-list character, or has turned out to be a Cylon. Or both, in the case of named Cylons who have died since the Resurrection Hub went up. (This changed in the finale.)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer eventually ended up with the same cast that they started the series with, and a few extras. The only major deaths in the Grand Finale were Spike (who got better on Angel) and Anya who, while popular, never played a role desperately needed on the show. Imagine the outrage from fans if Xander or Willow died in the Grand Finale. Also, throughout Season 7, the group of potentials often seemed to take the role of "people who get killed so as to show the situation is serious." In the commentary track to the final episode Joss Whedon tacitly acknowledges this trope, saying that he couldn't kill off any of the major four (Buffy, Giles, Willow or Xander) or it wouldn't seem like a victorious ending. It also bears mention that Whedon had to kill someone important and Emma Caulfield said explicitly at the beginning of the season that she would not renew her contract, whether Buffy continued or not. So, as Whedon said, she was the logical choice.
- Stargate SG-1, rather unsurprisingly, had a tendency to pop off secondary characters every so often, between the inevitable Red Shirts. Most obvious with Dr. Frasier, the medical officer who spent 78 episodes on the show, and 1 as a corpse standing in for O'Neill (who the writers tried to fake out as being the actual casualty). Later, she made one more appearance as an Alternate Universe version.
- You can figure out which seasons they thought they were being canceled on, due to how many C-Listers get killed. The only C-Lister to escape this was Ensemble Dark Horse Bratac, who was mentioned as dead once. Turns out it was a lie to break Teal'c spirit. A few times he has been dragged off to his doom, left for dead, poisoned, stabbed, shot, and all sorts of lethal thrown at him. They didn't take.
- Supernatural is infamous for this.
- Any character who isn't not Sam, Dean or Castiel will die permanently while those three will keep coming back to life. Many recurring characters, villains and heroes alike, get killed simply to either cause angst or show how badass the boys are just as they are getting character development or interesting story lines (a cause of frustration to fans due to the sheer amount of Ensemble Darkhorses that suffer this fate).
- A good example of this are the Harvelles. Originally intended as support, Love Interest and Distaff Counterparts to the Winchesters, they were quickly hated by the fanbase for various reasons. Writers wrote them out but brought them back with Jo taking a level in badass and becoming much more mature and grown up, making her much more of a hit with fans. Unfortunately, this potential was wasted as they were blown up in the mid season episode in an utterly useless sacrifice solely to cause angst and show how deadly that season's Big Bad was.
- Heroes was originally intended to have a new group of heroes each season. Due to the popularity of the characters, this didn't happen. So later seasons have a tendency to bring in lots of new characters only to kill them off or drop their story line. For some examples Daphne dies, Elle dies, Usutu is killed almost immediately, Maya loses her abilities, West is introduced and then quickly forgotten, Alejandro is around for only a few episodes before he dies, Bob dies, Candace dies, Monica's plot is dropped, and we could really go on forever here. There was even Bridgette, who seemed like she had potential, only to be eaten by Sylar seconds later. Sue Landers? Never stood a chance.
- The Walking Dead (2010) has done this a handful of times. The first was during the attack on the group's camp in episode four, where, although three named characters end up dead, there are over a dozen (many unnamed) extras that are also killed and only seemed to be there to increase the attack's body count. Even later, the attack on Herschel's farm in the season 2 finale only claims the lives of two characters, Jimmy and Patricia, both of whom are effectively worthless to the entire story.
- Stephan Pastis kills off minor characters regularly in Pearls Before Swine - then frequently brings them back with no explanation or the cheap explanation that they "un-died." Examples include the killer whale that lived next door to the seals, Chucky the Non-Anthropomorphic Sheep and Leonard, aka "Tattuli the Self-Esteem Building Bear" (Leonard has yet to be brought back). The crocodiles have clearly been promoted to A-list, and they keep dying also. Of course, there are quite a few of them and they're pretty much interchangeable, so the net effect of killing one off for a cheap joke is nil anyway.
- WWE: Several wrestlers, no matter how talented they are, are unfortunately relegated to competing on WWE Superstars or WWE NXT. Examples include Tyson Kidd, Justin Gabriel, Alex Riley, JTG, and Michael McGillicutty as well as several Divas. In fact, being demoted to the undercard is sometimes considered a punishment. Triple H became the fall guy for the "Curtain Call" incident and was stuck jobbing in opening matches before they finally pushed him again (in fact, rumor has it that he was supposed to win the King of the Ring tournament around this time - a tournament which was then won by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin). A similar case happened with Alex Riley, who was in line for a push, but then an incident with John Cena got him demoted to jobber. Riley then appeared on WWE Superstars and WWE NXT as an announcer for the rest of his tenure with the company. The phrase "future endeavored" has become synonymous with the WWE for their habit of annually letting go a dozen or so of their C-List wrestlers in order to make room for new hires and promotions from developmental. The dismissal is usually accompanied by a wwe.com announcement "wishing him/her luck in his/her future endeavors."
- Concerning Ring of Honor, those who primarily compete for the "Top Of The Class" trophy, on Pro Wrestling Respect Shows or on the Future Of Honor showcase are most likely to be fodder anywhere else.
- Same goes for several wrestlers from TNA
- A similar if not exact term in wrestling is known as the "jobber to the stars." While jobbers are usually completely unknown local talent brought up solely to get squashed, a jobber to the stars is a more high-profile contracted wrestler who is in the mid-card and seen as more of a threat, who are brought up solely to get squashed. Ryback's winning streak originally started against complete unknowns, but he slowly moved up to lower- and mid-card C-List Fodder such as Curt Hawkins, Johnny Curtis, and Darren Young. Historically, this has happened to former main event wrestlers who are now toward the end of their careers, and are jobbing on the way out, often as a way to put over younger stars. Examples include Dominic DeNucci, Tony Garea, "The Unpredictable" Johnny Rodz, "Baron" Mikel Scicluna, Rene Goulet and others. Yet, one-time stars may be one of the headliners of a C-Show card and may even be given a title match against a current champion.
- A promotion will sometimes run a house show with C-List wrestlers in smaller (or new) markets, often as a test ground and/or to give the lower-tier wrestlers work; these will sometimes take place the same night that the promotion is running two (or more) shows, including the A Show, in other towns. While a B Show wrestler or two will often be on the card (frequently as part of the main event, or to help anchor the card and guide the younger/local talent), and a secondary championship will frequently be defended (usually against wrestlers who would never be given the opportunity at an A-Show), these shows also are put on to allow promoters to evaluate new and potential talent. Often, matches against local wrestlers will also be on the card, with the promotion's main wrestlers being the headliners. As such, being on a C-Show isn't always a bad thing.
- For an inanimate example, the Spanish Announcers' Table. Guaranteed to be destroyed at least once in any given show.
- Anyone Can Die in BattleTech, but the Word of Blake Jihad period was infamous for how much of the C-List was wiped out during that time period. A major reason for this was because the Mechwarrior: Dark Age game (released several years earlier) had revealed in its associated promotional material and fiction that the majority of the A-list characters from the Clan Invasion and FedCom Civil War eras had survived the Jihad, and since the Jihad was characterized by how destructive it was, that meant that the C-list had to get a really big pruning. One major instance of this was on Arc-Royal, when a Blakist suicide bomber exploded during a conference of anti-Blake coalition forces, killing only C-list characters who'd been in one or two novels or sourcebooks prior to that point while harming none of the really major characters of the setting.
- Game Masters frequently do this with RPGs. You want to shock your characters out of apathy? Kill a named NPC that the party knows and may even sort of like. But if things go as they normally do, only half of your party will even remember the NPC, making them firmly C-List. Further, if the party starts developing resources, such as subordinate NPCs, you can get their attention by killing off some of those resources… again assuming that the party even remembers them aside from a bullet point on an inventory sheet. This can be subverted if the DM decides to kill off a prominent setting-specific NPC that is often criticized as too powerful. When a supposedly A-list character like Elminster is killed off, you know that the villain means business.
- Invoked and defied. The creators of Sentinels of the Multiverse originally intended the character of Sky-Scraper to be an example of this; within the metafictional world of their fictional publishing company, Sky-Scraper was meant to be a character who'd be killed off in the OblivAeon event, covered by the game's final expansion, to show how serious the situation was. But, as they worked on her deck and art, they decided she was just too lovable to kill, and she ended up surviving instead.
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance: An ongoing subplot in Season 2 was the Circle of 8 making systematic killings of some of the more obscure Marvel villains.
- Mortal Kombat X: A general rule is that characters from Mortal Kombat games after 4 are typically killed, if not already dead, both to show how different this new timeline is and because nobody liked them. Exceptions are Kenshi, Tremor, Li Mei, and Frost.
- In Resident Evil 6 almost every single survivor and BSAA officer you encounter throughout the game will inevitably die no matter what.
- Holiday Wars: Superbowl Sunday is nothing but cannon fodder and killed off at almost the very start of the story.
- Sluggy Freelance has been known to kill so many characters during certain story arcs as to inspire an "secondary characters killed weekly" ad banner for the site, an official killcount site which ran several years (no longer functioning), as well as a contest with the reward of appearing in the official comic to die a horrible death with a horribler pun. Then there was the entire C-list universe that blew up while the main characters were distracted by "space porn". During the Star Trek parody, they subverted it by having Torg and Riff look in mortal danger whenever the emergency lights flashed red, because it made them look like Red Shirts. Then a Kirk-lookalike gets eaten by the aliens because he's too used to the Red Shirts dying first. Pete flat out admitted that the whole point of the Kitten arcs was to kill off characters he no longer wanted around.
- Shortpacked!: Lampshaded when Galasso, owner of the titular toy store, decides to lay off one of the staff. It isn't one of the established cast, it isn't one of the new cast he hired for Christmas, it's some random girl the audience — and the rest of the cast — have never seen before. However, in a subversion this was really a Sequel Hook. Sydney Yus (get it?) came back years later as the Big Bad of a later arc.
- Irregular Webcomic! killed off the entire cast, background characters were visible in the crowd scene on the Infinite Featureless Plain.
- Parodied by Basic Instructions: How to Kill Off a Fictional Character, along with Death Is Cheap.
Scott: Poor, poor Rodney. We hardly knew ye.
Ric: Too true.
- Whateley Universe: In the massive Halloween invasion of Superhero School Whateley Academy, not one protagonist or important side character was killed. The only deaths were some mooks, a couple unimportant members of Whateley Security, and Erik Mahren's girlfriend.
- Atop the Fourth Wall actually discusses this following Event Comic Week III, which reviewed Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, House of M, Secret Empire and Heroes in Crisis, all events where heroes turn evil or are killed off. When asked as to why he complains when characters are killed off, he listed off a number of characters who have been killed, including Danny Chase, who is one of his favorite characters, and have not come back. He, then, mentions Cassandra Cain, who was turned evil, then back to good after vocal backlash. Many of the characters who have a fanbase, thus can be revived or restored at will, but not every B- or C-Lister does, thus it could be years or decades before they come back. Ultimately, he cares for when DC or Marvel kills someone because, otherwise, who will?
- Star Wars: Clone Wars introduces General Grievous — and establishes him as a threat — by having him defeat a team of seven Jedi: Daakman Barrek, K'Kruhk, Tarr Seirr, Sha'a Gi, Shaak Ti, Aayla Secura, and Ki-Adi-Mundi (all but the last three are killed). Who? Exactly.
- Shaak Ti, however, went on to play a major role in Season 2.
- Other material establishes that K'Kruhk lived, and in fact is still alive in Star Wars: Legacy, nearly 160 years after this attack. Thanks to his hat. No, seriously. Since then K'Kruhk's ability to re-appear unarmed after a supposed "death" has become something of a Running Gag.
- Also, Sha'a Gi doesn't even qualify as a C-lister as much as he's a Shout-Out to a character as far removed from Star Wars as you could imagine.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars prefers to use simple redshirts and mauveshirts over this trope in most situations but they managed to kill off one of their better known clone trooper protagonists and one Jedi who survived the Clone Wars in the EU. In "Grievous' Intrigue" however this was averted. Eeth Koth was brought back after an artwork stated him as one of the dead Jedi from Attack of the Clones and originally died in the script but this idea was scrapped in favour of him being too interesting to be simply killed off.
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series: Most of the new Green Lanterns created exclusively for the series have a habit of ending up dead by the end of the episode they debuted in.
- Family Guy: almost nothing changes over 100+ episodes, except Cleveland and Loretta (supporting character and minor character, respectively) separate, Mr. Weed chokes to death, Paddy Tanniger the caddy manager is run over by a tank, and the vaudeville guys (joke characters) are killed by Stewie (though they do show up in the afterlife). Also all the victims in the hour-long special "And Then There Were Fewer" count, though as there was a bunch of other C-Listers hanging around, this actually served to make it more suspenseful: you really didn't know which minor characters would be dead by the end of the episode. Of all the characters who died in the murder mystery episode, two of them were introduced in that episode (Priscilla and Stephanie), another one only appeared in one episode, and wasn't too popular nor interesting (Derek Wilcox) and another one was an extra (Muriel Goldman). Although they did try to make her into a recurring character by having her hang out with Lois and Bonnie during season 6, without any success. The only important death was Dianne Simmons. Muriel's death was actually lampshaded in "The Simpsons Guy". During the fight between Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson, Homer attempts a Pre-Mortem One-Liner by saying "Say hello to Maude Flanders!" Peter pulls a No, You by saying "No, you say hello to Muriel Goldman!", prompting Homer to reply "Who?"
- American Dad! used this in episode that opens with a promise to kill 100 characters during the course of the story. Several A-Listers are teased as possibilities throughout the episode (including a few Tempting Fate moments). Ultimately though, the death toll comes when a literal busload of C-Listers all go off a cliff together. The next episode opens with their mass funeral as a Continuity Nod, then quickly forgets about them to focus on the earlier episode's change to the status quo involving Haley and Jeff instead.
- The Simpsons: one of the most Status Quo Is God series ever. Bleedin' Gums Murphy, Mrs. Glick and Maude Flanders died, as did Marvin Monroe (and he got better). Frank Grimes died in the episode he was introduced. Dr. Nick apparently died in The Simpsons Movie, but got better. Mona Simpson (Homer's mother) did die but the number of episodes she had a major role in can be counted on one hand. The same can be said for the victim of the Tonight, Someone Dies episode of Season 26, Rabbi Krustofsky. And numerous other characters have died, but only in non-canon Treehouse of Horror episodes. Jokingly pointed out in one episode involving a mock trivia question.
Which popular Simpsons characters have died in the past year?
If you said 'Bleeding Gums' Murphy and Doctor Marvin Monroe, you are wrong! They were never popular.
- Justice League and Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Professor Milo, a minor Batman villain. Normally, being part of Batman's rogue gallery grants you Joker Immunity, but not for Professor Milo, who has the dubious distinction of having been Killed Off for Real not once, but twice in truly gruesome deaths in two different animated series:
- In the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Doomsday Sanction", Professor Milo is killed after awakening Doomsday. He thought he could convince Doomsday to kill Amanda Waller, whom he wanted revenge on, but he was gravely mistaken.
- In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Gorillas in Our Midst!" The Spectre converts him into cheese and lets some of Milo's mutant rats feed on him.
- If we consider that in the novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, Milo is secluded in Arkham while he insists he is perfectly sane, that makes him the Butt-Monkey of the Batman villains.
- Also from Batman: The Brave and the Bold, B'wana Beast could be considered an example or an inversion. On one hand he's certainly a more obscure character who they could get away with killing off for real. On the other, his final scenes were both heart-rending and extremely heroic, giving it far more weight then is usual for the trope.
- Other examples from Justice League Unlimited:
- This is a major plot point in the episode "The Patriot Act" where, due to most of the League being occupied/off-world several heroes fill in for Superman at a parade. Said parade is attacked by a villain who stole a Super Serum to match Superman. The civilians wanted to see an A-Lister, but when the chips were down, the Heroes did their damnedest outmatched or not.
- A massive Enemy Civil War breaks out in the penultimate episode "Alive!" and while there are a few major deaths, most of the casualties are villains who've had few-to-no lines in the series: people like Monocle, Neutron, Merlyn, Major Disaster, Lady Lunar, Fastball, Goldface, Hellgrammite, Electrocutioner, Doctor Cyber, Crowbar, Bloodsport, Angle Man… The more relevant villains in the list include Silver Banshee, The Shade, Copperhead, and Parasite. The last one was still a relatively prominent bad guy in Superman: The Animated Series.
- The Wreckers in Transformers: Prime seem to be heading towards this. One of the toys created for Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, a prequel to the show, is a Palette Swap of Bruticus that's made out of several Wreckers including Impactor and Roadbuster. The only time those two are mentioned in the show is in a rant from Wheeljack about the Great War killing almost all of the Wreckers. Though the Wreckers have low life expectancy in pretty much every continuity, so this is to be expected.
- Batman: Assault on Arkham has three confirmed fatalities: KGBeast, King Shark, and Black Spider. The former is a D-lister used to show the bombs were real, the latter two are more well-known but aren't very prominent still, though they at least make it late into the movie. Killer Frost, who is more of a B-lister, likely died when she was in a car that exploded after being thrown by Bane.
- Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay has several major deaths (namely Vandal Savage and Zoom, likely Amanda Waller), but many of the deaths are far lesser-known characters, such as Punch, Jewlee, Count Vertigo, Tobias Whale, Professor Pyg, Silver Banshee, Blockbuster, Copperhead, Killer Frostnote , and Bronze Tiger. Knockout, another C-lister, subverts this in that she was gunned down but ultimately revealed in the follow-up comic to have survived.