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Chronically Killed Actor

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"I could die for you in every way known to man, and in a few ways known only to scriptwriters. I could see now that provided I remained fit, the future held many more deaths yet. I could only hope that they would serve some purpose and that perhaps a reputation might come in the same way as a coral formation, which is made up of a deposit of countless tiny corpses."

This actor's character always dies. Almost inevitable if the actor is confined to villainous roles or ill-fated mentors...which explains the high number of British actors on this page.

See also Vasquez Always Dies, when actresses that play Action Girls meet this fate; Black Dude Dies First, when it's a black character that gets offed; and They Killed Kenny Again, where the repeated deaths happen to a character rather than an actor. See also Dead Star Walking, and contrast Contractual Immortality.

Websites such as Cinemorgue help put together which actors are bound to this.

As of December 2016, the official count can be found here.

As this is a Death Trope, expect unmarked spoilers.

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  • British actor Jamie Bamber has had so many of his characters get killed off (eleven at last count) that they're apparently running out of ways to do it. Six have been shot—Tom from Ghost Rig, Tony Dewhurst from The Scarlet Pimpernel note , Mitchell Hoban from Outcasts, Vincent Plowman from The Messengers, Archie Kennedy from Horatio Hornblower, and Matt Devlin from Law & Order: UK. The final two even died in an eerily similar manner—Blood from the Mouth and Heroic Sacrifice, prompting a commentator in one of LOUK's forums to snark, "Jamie looks pretty good dying onscreen. As well he should, he's done it so many times already." And the other five? Two of them (on Cold Case and Ghost Whisperer) were already dead when the show started, the third (on Star Trek Continues) was outright made a Red Shirt (prompting their commentators to wonder if the producers were poking fun at this trend), the fourth, the titular John Doe: Vigilante, died after taking a Cyanide Pill, and the fifth, in the film The Car: Road to Revenge, was an Amoral Attorney murdered by criminals. His appearances on House and Rizzoli & Isles just barely subverted this, having his character become very ill on the first show and fall from a bridge in the second, only to recover/be rescued in the next episode.
  • Noah Bean has died on four well-known shows already: a Victim of the Week on Cold Case, as Ellen's fiancè David Damages, Fletcher on Nikita and Regina's lost love Daniel on Once Upon a Time.
  • Speaking of Sean Bean, the poster boy of this:
    • Watching his star-making performance in Sharpe while aware of this reputation can get pretty surreal. Scenes where the original audience would have been confident in our hero's Plot Armor — such as his (faked) execution in Sharpe's Honour — can become surprising nail-biters today.
    • A popular meme lampshading this trope is Richard Sharpe: So badass being played by Sean Bean couldn't kill him.
    • Michael Biehn and Sean Bean appear on Curfew. Bean's character dies at the end of the third episode while Biehn's dies within ten minutes of his introduction.
    • He gets killed off in the TV Mini Series Scarlett also.
    • He also dies as Robert Aske (the leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace executed for it) in the 2003 Henry VIII miniseries.
    • His death as Ned Stark in the first season of Game of Thrones was surprisingly shocking to fans of the show (less so to fans of the then 15-year-old book).
      Lary Williams: (sputters in disbelief) How is it that...the character that you portray as the central main the protagonist of this fucking series...not to mention, Sean Bean is probably the probably among the highest if not THE highest paid actor on your payroll... He's on all the advertisements. Your press photos. He's on the goddamn cover of the FUCKING BOOK! And he doesn't make it past season one?
      Honest Trailers: Ride along on an adventure where any lead character can die, whether you're Sean Bean, Sean Bean's wife, Sean Bean's best friend, Sean Bean's son, Sean Bean's daughter-in-law, Sean Bean's family dogs, or Sean Bean's unborn grandkid. All men must die...who are in any way close to Sean Bean!note 
    • Medici has him as the Big Bad Wannabe of its Season 2, Jacopo de Pazzi. Like Robert Aske above, he was historically executed for his crimes.
    • Even the advertising of some of his recent projects has gotten into this: TNT's advertisements for their TV series Legends featured the hashtag #DontKillSeanBean.
    • Actually defied in Snowpiercer at the end of season 3. Bean, as the villainous Mr. Wilford at the mercy of the protagonists, is deliberately put in suspended animation rather than killed for fear of making a martyr out of him.
    • One of his early roles was in Inspector Morse, where he played a prisoner who was accidently poisoned. Despite what you are now thinking, he actually survived that and somehow made it all the way to the closing credits.
  • Kristen Bell has died in Heroes, Deadwood, and her 2 appearances in Robot Chicken have earned her brutal fatalities. Even video games aren't exempt since her character gets Killed Off for Real in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Anna in Frozen even comes very close to getting killed, by freezing into an ice statue. The Good Place goes a bit further with Bell's character dying before the show takes place.
  • Michael Coleman is a go-to for walk-on deaths in Canadian productions including Supernatural and Eureka.
  • Rick Cosnett has died in, so far, all three of his regular/recurring roles on American TV; killed as Wes Maxfield on The Vampire Diaries, suicide on both The Flash (2014) as Detective Edward 'Eddie' Thawne and Quantico as Elias Harper.
  • Alan Dale has now died of a heart attack on three different shows (Neighbours, The O.C. and Ugly Betty), and, oddly enough, each show had his character in a relationship with a gold-digger and in a strained relationship with his adult children at the time. He's also shot dead on Lost. On Dynasty (2017) meanwhile, his character is killed in a car crash. (Averted on 24 of all things.)
  • Despite having a relatively small number of tv and film credits to his name, Colin Donnell is developing a reputation for this trope; most notably, his characters on Arrow and The Affair were both series regulars whose death had a significant impact on the show. He's died in at least one other guest star role (Unforgettable) as well.
  • Christopher Eccleston almost always ends up dying in whatever movie or TV series he's starring in, so much so that this isn't really considered a spoiler anymore (from a certain point of view, even including the end of his tenure as the Doctor). If the story is dark enough to feature character deaths, the question isn't if his character will die, just how. One could easily list at least 16 death scenes of varying brutality or (rarer) characters that die off-screen. His mini-series Blackout is probably an intentional subversion in this regard. His character ends up deciding not to commit suicide at the very last second.
  • Actress Jasmine Guy doesn't necessarily die chronically, but several films/series immediately preceding or following A Different World have killed her characters off. Namely, "Dominic La Rue" in Harlem Nights, "Roxie" in Dead Like Me, and "Grams" in The Vampire Diaries. In the latter two series, her character continues to exist after being killed, however.
  • Keeley Hawes very rarely survives to the end credits in her TV roles.
  • Jacob Kogan, at least in some of his television roles.
    • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Blood Brothers", Tripp Raines is killed with a rock to the head by his half-brother Arturo.
    • In the final episode of Delocated, David is choked to death by his father.
    • It remains to be seen whether his character Luca Jameson will live or die in The Tomorrow People.
  • Law Lok-lam is probably the Trope Codifier in Hong Kong that he 'died' five times in different dramas in a 24-hour period only by coincidence...Though this can be justified by the fact that he has played a lot of roles for many years, and the company he works for has a shortage of elderly actors at that time period.
  • Jaime Murray has died in Warehouse 13 (ok she gets better but still), Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Dexter and Fright Night 2: New Blood. Several jokes were made when Hustle finished that she had actually survived the show's run.
  • Pedro Pascal lampshades this in a WIRED interview that he usually dies in his TV roles such as Game of Thrones and Law & Order and its two spin-offs (Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit). He's not even safe in some of his movie roles such as Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Equalizer 2. His Triple Frontier co-star, Oscar Isaac, jokingly mentions that Pedro made a career of dying spectacularly.
  • Michael Shanks is this for TV roles - Stargate SG-1, Smallville, Stargate SG-1, Burn Notice, Stargate SG-1, Andromeda, Stargate SG-1, Sanctuary, plus that Little Red Riding Hood remake. Seriously not kidding about SG-1. (It's said that Dr. Daniel Jackson doesn't have a medical history, he has a medical encyclopedia.)
  • Kevin Tighe. With the exception of Emergency! and Roy Desoto, Kevin seems to die in the majority of the roles he plays. He often chooses villain roles, probably to distance himself from Roy, and that is partly the reason.
  • Indira Varma has racked up a few. Among her most notable performances she’s died in include Game of Thrones, Rome, Torchwood and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Extra credit for the last one, having died twice.
  • Jared Harris has died multiple times across multiple series and films, and apparently earned the nickname "Kenny". His most famous deaths have been suicide by hanging (twice!), being thrown over a waterfall by Sherlock Holmes, and lung cancer triggered by smoking and unexpectedly having to be king during World War II, but he's been killed at least a dozen times by his count:
    "So far I've been shot 6 times, (by a Gatling gun, & by a U-Boat), eaten by sharks, hurled over the Reichenbach Falls, bludgeon with a chair leg, roasted by Mt. Vesuvius, hung twice, & died in my sleep. But my personal favourite — being split in half by the space-time continuum."


  • Denis O'Hare has died onscreen in three of his five American Horror Story roles. (Granted, he came back as a ghost in two of those.) In the other two seasons, his characters may have survived, though one had an inoperable brain tumour and the other had been heavily mutilated.
  • Geoffrey Palmer has appeared as three different characters in three different Doctor Who stories and each time been killed off early onnote . By the third time it was a Running Gag.
  • An in-universe example in Monk: In the 100th episode, Randy shows up with an actress girlfriend whose specialty is getting killed in TV shows. It becomes a Brick Joke at the end of the episode when Stottlemeyer and the culprit of the week are wrestling with a gun; it goes off randomly and she certainly looks like she's been shot by accident. But then she recovers and admits, embarrassed, that she acted like she'd been shot on reflex.

  • Many of Ice Nine Kills' music videos star frontman Spencer Charnas' girlfriend Nadia Teichmann, often playing somebody who gets killed. This actually becomes a plot point in the music videos for their album Welcome to Horrorwood, which have a Story Arc where Spencer is charged with her murder. The cops are trying to figure out exactly which video actually depicts the crime, and needless to say, they get fed up real fast.

  • It would probably not surprise anyone that Sean Bean's debut acting role after graduating from RADA in 1983 is Tybalt from Romeo and Juliet. He would later follow up as Romeo himself in 1986 and as Macbeth in 2002.
  • In-Universe, Mortimer from The Fantasticks. He specializes in death scenes and is known as "the man who dies."
  • Lea Salonga always lands roles in Broadway where her character dies, whether she's Fantine or Eponine on Les Misérables or Kim in Miss Saigon.
  • Samantha Barks has played Eponine and also Nancy from Oliver!. Of her role on Amélie The Musical, she remarks happily that she doesn't die for once.

    Video Games 
  • As you would have it, Sean Bean's foray into video game roles has followed him here too:
    • The reaction to Sean Bean being cast as the English dub voice of the father of the protagonist from Final Fantasy XV in the prequel movie Kingsglaive was that Square Enix basically spoiled his fate in the game proper in advance. Sure enough, he dies at the end of the film which occurs concurrently with the first chapter of the game.
    • That's not the only video game in which Sean Bean dies. Back in 2006, Sean Bean voiced Emperor Martin Septim in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Septim performs a Heroic Sacrifice at the end of the main quest.
    • Played straight in Civilization VI, of all things. He's the Narrator, but he also voices a character in the intro movie. Said character dies.
    • He plays the first Elusive Target in Hitman 2, so he may or may not die depending on the player's skills. Ironically enough, his character is a rogue spy infamous for constantly cheating death.



Video Example(s):


The Many Deaths of Sean Bean

A rapid fire death reel of Sean Bean, courtesy of Honest Trailers.

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Main / ChronicallyKilledActor

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