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Curiosity Killed the Cast

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"His curiosity sealed his fate."

Antimony: Hmm, an ominous passage that plunges into an inky blackness, sealed behind lock and chain.
Kat: You know what this means.
Antimony: We must see where it leads!
Kat: Damn straight!

Just like Pandora should have known better than to open her box, characters in fiction should know better than to ask questions, explore Haunted Castles, read aloud from the Tome of Eldritch Lore, or be curious on general principle. It inevitably starts the plot, which of course starts things moving and gets people dying.

If these characters are in a horror flick, such as a Slasher Movie, anyone showing the slightest bit of curiosity in the dark attic or cellar will die. Or release the Sealed Evil in a Can. Or get their Genre Savvy friend killed as he complains that they shouldn't be there. Or gets them captured. Etc, etc.

Outside of the slasher horror genre, the death rate of this trope drops considerably, even if it still stirs up a hornet's nest of trouble. Since curiosity is often the driving force that starts a plot, it can be used to get heroes into and out of several precarious situations. For example, considering the tone of her Web Comic is goofy and mysterious, odds are Kat and Antimony aren't going to be dead at the end of that particular story... though you can bet your second shadow something interesting will happen if they open a mysterious chest or door!

Sometimes, it pays to be apathetic.

A subtrope of Tempting Fate. Compare Forbidden Fruit, Sex Signals Death, Too Dumb to Live. In games, can be the cause of Total Party Kill. Often the result of falling for Schmuck Bait. See also Curiosity Causes Conversion and He Knows Too Much.

The title is a pun on the idiom phrase "curiosity killed the cat".

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the episode of Cowboy Bebop involving the retrovirus "Monkey Business", the protagonists stumble across a box containing a receptacle of the virus and are told not to open it. Faye is intrigued and opens it anyway, and Spike's use of brute force and firearms to separate the receptacle from its container—evidently based solely on curiosity—causes their hostage (who knows what is inside) much nervousness.
  • Digimon:
    • The Digimon Adventure Inverts this with Koushirou. His curiosity drives him to acquire knowledge and understand the digital world, and when he has that stolen he becomes a zombie until his partner snaps him out of it.
    • Digimon Tamers plays with this trope a bit. Hirokazu and Kenta, who are less mature and act more like their age than the other characters in the series, nearly get themselves killed multiple times when they go to the Digital World because of their curiosity and lack of understanding on how that place worked. On the other hand, it was curiosity and childlike belief that enabled another character to become a Sixth Ranger to the main team. The message seems be that that there's a line between healthy curiosity, which is what the latter had, and Too Stupid To Live, which is what Hirokazu and Kenta can be sometimes.
  • Spoofed in Dragon Ball when Emperor Pilaf lures the cast into a trap by simply painting arrows on the floor leading to it, and ends up entirely amazed when it actually works. ("I had no idea that heroes could be so stupid. Must be one of those mail-order types.")
  • The first arc of Higurashi: When They Cry manages to both subvert this and play it straight at the same time. Throughout the arc, you are led to believe that Rena and Mion are targeting Keiichi because he's asking questions about the curse of Oyashiro-sama. As you might imagine, that's subverted, but the truth was that Rena and Mion had nothing to do with the murders, but Keiichi's panic about it fueled his paranoia about it until he kills not only them, but himself too, making this one played straight as well.
    • But subverted in Nekogoroshi-hen, the aptly-named "Cat-Killing Chapter". Interesting mystery, possible explanations, slight indication that it ties back to the main plot... but everyone decides it's not worth getting involved in.
    • With this all said, the one arc that makes a point of averting this trope is the PS2-only Taraimawashi-hen, in which you make a point of having Keiichi ignore all of the weird things going on around the village. He still dies, as does everyone else, save Mion.
  • In the Trigun manga, Vash and Knives follow a girl who appears on the ship into a closed-off medical room. Things go downhill from there.
  • In World Embryo Yui has an obsession with Takao. When Riku uses his lies to try to steer her away from him, things go wrong and it ends badly.

  • Dave Chappelle invoked this as a response to being told not to visit a strip bar:
    "Naked women inside? I'd be like a white guy in a horror movie: 'I've got to investigate'".
  • Lampshaded in Eddie Izzard's stand-up comedy routine Unrepeatable.
    Izzard: " 'Oh look! Something's moving in the forest about eight miles away! I'll go check'... don't check. Please don't check; that's what curtains are for."

    Comic Books 
  • Lab Rats: Poe is constantly yelling at Wu because he thinks Wu is going to get himself or the others killed with his habit of wandering into places he shouldn't be and poking around. In the end Wu is killed alongside Poe and Issac when they were suddenly attacked by a giant robot, that was created due to Trilby letting her curiosity get the better of her.
  • In Shade, the Changing Man, Shade traps a Celestial in a statue of the mythical Pandora (with box), and she comes to life. Kathy and Lenny find "Pandora's" box and give in to temptation by opening it. The box is empty, but it turns "Pandora" into dust.
  • Combine this with Idiot Ball, and you get a cage (made out of Kryptonite bars) that was used to capture Superboy, with a sign reading "LUTHOR'S TRAP TO CAPTURE SUPERBOY" written on it in giant letters... And Superboy, naturally, falling for it, and getting captured. His logic may have been that "no one would actually put a sign like that on a real trap". Although a trap should've been expected, the one with the big sign on it would normally be the decoy, a written version of Sarcastic Confession. However, even if it isn't a "real" trap, it's still a cage, with no obvious reason to fly into it — there's nothing in there. And the bars are made out of Kryptonite. Fortunately for him, this was All Just a Dream.

    Comic Strips 
  • Narrowly averted in this Quino strip.
  • In Spy vs. Spy, any time one of the spies lets his curiosity get the better of him, it invariably leads to his demise.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Examples include Alan Jonah's little Bullying the Dragon experiment on Monster X, and B3-Golf taking a turn they shouldn't have inside the subterranean levels infested by the Many.
  • Danganronpa: Memento Mori: Downplayed; while Souta against all odds survives the Killing Game despite his curiosity, it results in a ton of problems surrounding him, ranging from him being framed for Kozue's death (which would've killed everyone had they voted for him), to nearly getting killed by a Booby Trap intended for him.
  • In the latter parts of the Gensokyo 20XX series, we have this with Reimu and the fact that bad things have happened because of her curiosity, the two being, 1),she crawls off into the "kitsune territory" and Ran is almost raped, leading her to be badly traumatized (20XXIV, Chapter 9 however, the door to their house was opened) and, 2), she drinks a kind of serum and the other kids drink it, reverting them to toddlers (20XXV, Chapter 35). The fact that Reimu has no sense of danger doesn't make this better.
  • In the Iron Man fic Huge Success, Tony decides to peek at the pym particles sent to his lab for examination before Dr. Pym showed up. He ends up being six inches tall.
  • In The Lion King Adventures story The Interceptor's Challenge, two overly curious cubs called Tuhuma and Mjanja end up being murdered by Shocker when they decide to investigate the resting place of his body.
  • The same author made a one-shot fic The Lilliputian Variation, where Sheldon of The Big Bang Theory just HAS to know how shrinking gas works. Ends much the same way.
  • Redaction of the Golden Witch: In 1996, a small band of Witch Hunters decides to head to Rokkenjima Island to see if they could uncover any evidence of what happened there in 1986 that the professionals somehow missed. Naturally, this had tragic consequences.

    Films — Animation 
  • Shane Acker's 9 is made of this trope. In the feature film version, 9's combination of being both very naive and very curious gets over half the cast of the movie killed before it's all over. Admittedly, 1's death was heroic suicide, but it was 9's curiosity that led him to jam the talisman in the machine and wake it up in the first place.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien:
    • Alien (1979): Kane's overzealous impulse to investigate the eggs leads to himself and then almost the entire crew being killed. Also Ash, for his insistence on keeping the face-hugger for scientific study, until it's revealed that he knew exactly what it was and was prioritizing bringing it to Earth over saving the crew.
    • Prometheus:
      • Milburn deliberately tries to touch the "Hammerpede", a snakelike creature that emerges from a pool of the black liquid. This is despite Fifield's pleas for him to stop what he's doing. It ends…badly. As noted under Too Dumb to Live below, this is a biologist who apparently does not recognise a threat display. One of the deleted scenes shows that he's so ecstatic because nobody's ever found alien life bigger than a bacterium before.
      • Vickers tells Weyland before the team leaves for the structure: "If you go down there, you'll die." Not only do Weyland and most of the team get killed minutes later by the surviving Engineer, but Vickers ends up getting crushed by the falling Engineer ship seconds after her escape pod lands on the moon.
  • Alone in the Dark (2005) has the cast about to open up a door to some other world or whatever. They decide not to as the last people that opened the door where wiped from the face of the earth but not without some questioning. The villain turns up, and for reasons completely unknown, opens up the door. Sure enough, they really shouldn't have opened the door.
  • Bird Box: Several character deaths likely could have been averted if characters acted just a bit more cautiously; the most obvious example is letting Gary in the house.
  • The Blob: Both the original 1958 and remake 1988 versions have a hobo investigating the Blob meteorite that crashed down to Earth by poking it with a stick. The tiny Blob starts to eat their hand and quickly acquires a taste for human flesh.
  • The Box (2018): If that kid just left The Box in the woods where he found it, he wouldn't have read that spell to summon a doppelganger to replace him, and trick the kid's mom into doing the same.
  • The Cabin in the Woods: In this case, it's played straight by the main cast, as well as lampshaded by the ambiguously villainous organization behind it all.
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978): Narrowly averted with Stephen, who routinely gets himself in a trouble by being too curious and impatient for his own good. He almost gets himself killed during the airfield scene and later, when the group just lands in the mall.
  • The characters in the Evil Dead films could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by just leaving that tape recorder alone.
    • Likewise, Professor Knowby himself would've had a relaxing, uneventful weekend if, while working on his translations, he hadn't felt the need to recite a demon resurrection spell out loud.
    • But the most obvious idiocy belongs to Cheryl in the first one, who hears a sound and goes out into the woods at night alone to investigate. She doesn't get killed, per se, but what happens to her when the possessed trees get hold of her is just as bad.
  • Friday the 13th: The popular setup, starting in Part II, is that someone goes somewhere they shouldn't, which draws Jason's attention and starts the killing. This was quickly abandoned, as Jason's Crystal Lake "territory" becomes a bit slipperier in III and IV, and after that Jason's dead and people have moved on, so no reason to expect him to turn up again in VI and beyond. Played straightest in Jason X, where Jason set loose as the result of what amounts to a school field trip.
  • The film Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys also has this when Ayana and some other curious students enter a forbidden shrine said to contain a "demon". Congratulations, Ayana! You've just unleashed an ancient evil unto the world that wants to devour you so it can become strong enough to kill the only thing that can stop it and wipe out all of humanity!
  • Godzilla:
    • King Kong vs. Godzilla: The crew of the Seahawk's fate after investigating the glowing iceberg containing Godzilla.
    • There's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II. "Hey, guys! I found this huge egg! I wonder what's inside. Let's take it back to the lab and...Wait, why is Godzilla attacking us?" The egg contains Godzilla Jr.
    • Occurs in the film Godzilla 2000. Long story short, some curious scientists come across an ancient spaceship in the middle of the ocean. And, well, not surprisingly, it wakes up after 65 million years of dormancy and now wants to create a "new body" (The Millennian aliens inside somehow turned into pure energy after crashing) to become the dominant species on the planet.
    • In Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, a kid finds a large egg left behind by a giant dragonfly that came out of an artificial wormhole. It making a mess of the bag he put it in when he and his mother moved to Tokyo makes it impossible to hide for much longer, so he decides to dump it into a sewer. Turns out that the the Meganulons that hatch from such an egg thrive in water....
    • In Godzilla (2014), curiosity caused a lot deaths at least. In prehistoric times, monsters dove to the depths of the ocean and burrowed past the mantle, far away from human habitat in search of radioactive material that was becoming scarce on the surface. A mining accident leads to the discovery of one of their eggs, which is brought up to the surface for study. A surface where there are new sources of radioactive material to feed on.
  • Grave Encounters: As the tagline states - "They were searching for proof. They found it."
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: When the Blob Monster stops advancing on Earth's surface, people flock around to see what's going on. But then the blob expands further burying the curious crowd.
  • Hocus Pocus: A non-lethal example. When snooping in a house where witches used to live, and informed that a virgin lighting the candle will return them to life, the clueless teen protagonist does just that.
    The Nostalgia Chick: Fucking virgins, man! Why do we even have them, anyway?
  • Jurassic World: Played Straight when park staff enter Paddock 11 to see how the Indominus escaped leading to two people getting killed and her escaping. Subverted later when Zach and Gray decide to go off the grid and enter the restricted zone whereupon they're attacked by Indominus, but survive.
  • Life (2017): Calvin goes into a dormant state because of an accident in the lab. Hugh decides to shock him out of hibernation, which teaches Calvin that humans are a threat, causing the alien to kill the crew.
  • Most of the cast of Midsommar enter Hårga for research and academic research, and most of them wind up being killed for it. Specifically, Josh dies while sneaking in their religious temple late at night after being warned to not take pictures of the sacred text, and Mark and Christian end up dead after being exploited and led away with the promise of sex.
  • The Mummy (1999) (Stephen Sommers version): "You must not read from the book!" Too late...
  • Paranormal Activity 4: Ben comes into the house while there's (apparently) no one home, and stays long enough to hear noises upstairs. He decides to investigate, which causes him to stay and leave cult-related reading material on Alex's computer. Cue Katie...
    • Subverted with the rest of the cast since Alex and her parents never figure out exactly why they are being haunted. This directly contrasts with all the other PA movie protagonists.
  • The Umbrella Corporation people at the beginning of Resident Evil: Apocalypse. The crack team of commandos they sent into The Hive never came back, and one of the two survivors who did barely make it out alive was infected with the T-Virus. What's the smartest move? Re-open the facility and send a second even less well-equipped team in to investigate!
  • The Rizzle: If Elena had just not clicked on that video of The Rizzle, she never would have seen it, tried the dance, and ended up trapped INSIDE of the video.
  • Sinister: A Schmuck Bait in the form of the Super 8 reels and projector, which Bughuul leaves in the attic whenever a new family moves in. Taken even further when Ellison moves his family back to their old house, and Bughuul leaves the "Extended Cut" endings in his attic. His curiosity gets the better of him once again.
  • Ildith should really have listened to her husband Lot when he told her "Don't Look Back" at the destruction of the title cities in Sodom and Gomorrah. But a combination of her lack of faith in the god he says will destroy the cities and her own curiosity causes her to look back at the fiery explosions engulfing her former hometown... and one flash of light later, there's a pillar of salt where she was standing seconds earlier.
  • Species: The female train conductor who approaches the odd looking alien life-forms with not a trace of fear on her face.
  • The main character of The Spiderwick Chronicles just can't help but read the book, especially after a note tells him not to. Considering he's a teenaged boy, this is understandable.
  • The first victim in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) walks, unprovoked, directly into Leatherface's kitchen. Each successive victim heads in looking for the others. Easiest massacre ever!
  • Them!: This is the fate of Blackburn.
  • XX: In "The Box", Danny should not have peeked inside the eponymous box. And the others should not have strived to find out from him what was in the box.

  • The herdsman that gets murdered in "Die Unze" chose to stay alone in the cabin to investigate who was making a mess of the interior every time the group was out tending the cattle. The others, in hindsight rightfully, believed something supernatural was the cause and thus were glad he was offering to keep in wait.

  • Riki and Iason in Ai no Kusabi are Star-Crossed Lovers whose twisted romance was started by fateful intimate encounter fueled by curiosity on both their parts. It doesn't end well seeing how it took place in a Dystopian Society where Iason had to follow the No Sex Allowed law.
  • Goosebumps: In "Beware, The Snowman", Jaclyn's fascination for finding out the mystery of the snowman and why she is here in Sherpia leads to her and her aunt nearly dying if it wasn’t for her father arriving just in time to save them.
  • Non-fatal example: in Hogfather, Ridcully opened the locked door to a steam-bath invented by "Bloody Stupid" Johnson, despite a sign posted on the door reading, "Do not, under any circumstances, open this door." Indeed, this was why Ridcully wanted the door opened; to find out why it was locked. He survived the ordeal, but just barely.
    "This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilization. At least, those bits of it that are now under the sea, fenced off or still smoking."
  • Pretty much the moral of half of H. P. Lovecraft's stories, most notably The Call of Cthulhu, in which everyone who learns too much about the Great Old Ones winds up dead, including the narrator.
  • In The Magician's Nephew, a young man cannot resist the temptation to ring a bell which is marked with a warning (and tantalizing) poem. It turns out that this bell awakens the witch Jadis, who later becomes the first evil force in Narnia. The poem concludes by saying, in effect, "If you don't ring the bell, you'll never know what would've happened. You'll always wonder what would've happened, and it might drive you insane".
  • The Ring: Kanae's curiosity gets the better of her and she watches the videotape. Okazaki promises to watch the copy, only to chicken out, leading to Kanae's death.
  • In The War of the Worlds, Ogilvy, Stent, and Henderson were all minor characters who were interested in the Martians and tried to talk to them. Needless to say, their plan didn't work out very well.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: If Fred hadn't gotten so curious over Illyria's sarcophagus, she'd still be alive.
  • BIMA Satria Garuda: The hero Ray's father, driven by scientific curiosity, opens a portal to a parallel world. Too bad the inhabitants of the other world now want to invade our Earth for its natural resources and kill Ray's parents first.
  • Blake's 7: Just because they're rebels doesn't stop the crew of the Liberator checking things out from sheer boredom or curiosity, usually against the advice of Avon. In "Sacrophagus", they investigate a mysterious alien craft whose inhabitant nearly takes over the ship, only to have the exact same thing happen in the next episode!
  • Doctor Who: Quite a lot of stories begin with the Doctor seeing something insanely suspicious, and going to poke it with a stick.
    The Doctor: I should never have followed those tracks. Curiosity's always been my downfall.
    • In "Utopia", the TARDIS blind-jumps all the way to the end of time in sheer panic at the sight of Jack Harkness. On landing, the Doctor notes even the Time Lords never went that far, and that he and Martha should leave. They should really leave. They don't. This, of course, is the wrong decision.
    • "The Waters of Mars": The Doctor accidentally lands the TARDIS on Mars just before an extremely significant point in history. Again, he knows that what he should do is turn and go, and let history take its course. Unfortunately, by the time the captain of Bowie Base One lets him have his space suit back, it's too late. Really bad things happen.
  • Game of Thrones: Varys says that Jon Arryn was killed because "he started to ask questions." Ned Stark is asking those same questions, and then...
  • Good Omens (2019): Curiosity is apparently what got Crowley kicked out of Heaven. In addition to "hanging around the wrong people", he "only ever asked questions", which was enough to make him Fall. Suffice to say, he is none too happy about it.
  • Merlin (2008): A non-fatal example in "Goblin's Gold", when Merlin releases the goblin.
  • Narrowly subverted in the lion episode of Planet Earth: Dynasties. The nearly-full-grown Red goes off to venture around his family's territory and ends walking straight into a clan of twenty hyenas. He would have died if his cousin Tatu hadn't noticed the commotion.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Contagion", Captain Varley's curiosity about the Iconians (and a more pragmatic desire to keep their technology out of Romulan hands) leads to the destruction of the Yamato and the deaths of of the 1,000 people aboard, as well as nearly causing the deaths of everyone aboard the Enterprise and the Romulan warbird Haakona.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the alternate timeline in "Children of Time", Dax's curiosity about an unusual planet led to an accident that caused the Defiant to become trapped 200 years in the past, leading to Kira dying and the rest of the crew becoming stranded on the planet. When confronted about it by her sort-of future self in the form of Yedrin (It Makes Sense in Context), she admits that her desire to see what was on the planet prevented her from recognizing how unstable the energy barrier around said planet was.
  • Tin Man has the young D.G. set off the film's events; she insists on following a singing voice into a dark cave with ominous writing about evil darkness, a creepy, exploding rock face, and then on going in deeper to help a "little girl" crying for help. Her older sister Azkadelia rightly guesses the little girl wasn't what she seemed, and was in fact a (or perhaps "THE") Wicked Witch who was trapped there. She gets possessed for her foresight, and gets (rightly) more than a little peeved at her younger sister, setting her on a wicked rampage.
  • Torchwood: Gwen almost dies trying to figure out Torchwood. Suzie does die trying to get the glove to work better.

    Mythology And Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • The Fall of Man was brought about by Eve's curiosity about the Forbidden Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, as well as the serpent's lie about it which Eve believed. Adam and Eve don't die immediately, but they do doom themselves and all of their descendants to mortality because of it.
    • As God is laying waste to Sodom and Gomorrah, He explicitly warns Lot and his family not to look back as they are fleeing them. Lot's wife does, and ends up turned into a pillar of salt for her trouble.
  • Classical Mythology's Pandora was created by the gods as revenge against Prometheus for stealing fire from them to give to man, and among her traits was an insatiable curiosity that led to her opening her eponymous box and unleashing evil upon the world. It should be noted that Ancient Greece was very patriarchal and had little use at all for women in general.

  • The Magnus Archives: Numerous statement-makers express regret at not simply leaving well alone or turning away and leaving and thus avoiding their frightening experience (or worse), or tell how other characters made the same mistake.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pick an RPG. Any RPG and any medium. Sooner or later a party will wander where they aren't supposed to, as often as not resulting in Total Party Kill.
  • It's such a well-known thing within the horror or mystery genres of Tabletop Games that it's progressed to the point where several games, such as Trail Of Cthulhu or mystery/horror variants of FATE, have mechanics to encourage/push Genre Savvy players away from averting this trope. It makes a dull game if everybody does the "smart" thing and decides that they don't want to leave the house after all.
    • A related issue with even games like Dungeons & Dragons is that players often create reluctant adventurers that constantly need "motivation" for why they would go on any particular quest. One recommended solution is to tell the player that if their character doesn't want to go on an adventure, that character has now become an NPC and they now have to roll up a character that does want to go adventure and live dangerously.
  • Survival in Call of Cthulhu boils down to a few simple rules: Don't touch anything, don't read anything, don't look at anything, just keep your head down and keep walking. And that's assuming you even left your house in the first place, ya shmuck.
    • The old jokes are that the only worthy treasure in a Lovecraft game are untranslatable crusty old books that permanently remove your character from play if you accidentally look at the pictures; reading any of it aloud may doom the reader, the group, humanity, and the universe; that there are entire hierarchies of threats beyond that who will wipe out the merely-universe-killing threats without even noticing them, only to do the ultimate everybody dies (as soon as the stars are right).

    Theme Parks 
  • Universal Studios:
    • At the Halloween Horror Nights event, following Willing Suspension of Disbelief and the premises for the haunted houses and scarezones, the guests themselves follow this trope by entering dangerous environments on a whim.
    • One of the houses at the 2010 event at Orlando's park, Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate, has a group of ghost hunters entering the long abandoned Wyandot Estate to hold a live seance broadcast. The estate was rumored to be haunted due to the head of the household brutally murdering the rest of his family years before. Guess what happened to the ghost hunters?

    Video Games 
  • In Ao Oni, a group of teenagers decide to explore an old abandoned house and end up being chased by big blue monster. Most of the versions, only the protagonist survives. (There are versions that gives the player the option to save some of their friends.)
    • There's also the surprise end near the start; the first time the player passes the bathroom, a shadow is shown moving behind the fogged glass door (which happens to be locked). Guess what happens if you continually try to open it?
  • Calling has this occur to majority of the cast. Their curiosity about The Black Page and talking in that chatroom leads them into being pulled into the Mnemonic Abyss and ultimately leads to Shin's death and that of others.
  • Cry of Fear has a pedophile who wrote a short poem about three children. Two of them went home, but the third one stayed, and was tricked into going close up to a bush. The final line concludes that, indeed, Curiosity killed the cat.
  • Many character in the Fatal Frame franchise are prone to this, heading into haunted places (some of them do so on purpose). Since those who die in this series become ghosts that players must fight to survive, it's safe to say few of them survive their encounters — even main protagonists aren't immune to this consequence.
  • In Men of Valor, there's a marine who fell for a blatantly obvious Booby Trap in a jungle in the first arc.
  • In Mass Effect this occurs to anyone who studies Reaper tech heavily. The inevitable side effect is indoctrination. This notably occurs in The Arrival DLC, in which the Reaper invasion nearly occurs before anyone is ready.
  • The Path: The entire premise of this psychological horror game, based on Little Red Riding Hood, is guiding a young girl through the woods and off the path until she encounters her "wolf".
  • Averted in Phantasy Star Online 2.. In EPISODE ONE, a geologist and scholar named Rogio is curious as to why there's absolutely nothing on the planet Naberius and hires the Player Character to help out. After doing some research, he becomes convinced there is something entirely wrong with the planet and convinces ARKS to let him go down for further study. He goes missing and is presumed dead using this trope, but it turns out he was rescued and is forced into hiding. After the events of EPISODE TWO, he gets to come back after a lot of ARKS' Dark Secrets gets aired out.
  • Quake IV: All it took for Medic Jeremiah Anderson to die was to inspect the Strogg Medical Lab. He was captured and seemingly killed by a Medic who then proceeds to fight Kane.
  • Scratches has this happen with James Blackwood. His curiosity about African tribes led to him likely getting cursed and bring ruin to his family, before he dies under mysterious consequences. And player character Michael's curiosity about the mystery of Blackwood Manor could lead the same way...
  • World of Horror: The "Eerie Episode of Evolving Eels" case gets kicked off by your neighbor Kana's eagerness to learn just what one of the other residents of your apartment complex has been up to recently. This can lead to them either losing an eye or disappearing entirely.

    Visual Novels 
  • Zigzagged in Double Homework. Dr. Mosely/Zeta first implies that terrible things will happen to anyone to anyone who have discovered too much about her experimentation program. Then, she personally kills Dennis, who has found out too much. Then, she arranges an avalanche to kill all of the other students on Barbarossa, but when they all escape on skis, she asks questions to judge how likely they would be to spill the beans on her, and then just leaves.

    Web Animation 
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: A group of three amateur paranormal investigators and their "dog" enter an eerie Cave Mouth to poke around despite the clear warning on the sign outside and the human skulls littering the cave. One of them ends up dead, another, who did not want to go in the cave in the first place, loses his arm and his memory of the events in the cave, and the third also loses part of her memory.
  • The Spider Cliff Mysteries: The Wednesday That Wasn't: The lead's investigation releases a nasty force and after he uses amnesia potion to reseal it, he does it again.
  • The Walten Files: Whilst searching the backrooms of the K-9 facility in Relocate Project, Ashley Parks comes across an old casette tape and decides to play it in the nearby Billy animatronic. After the tape lists off five names, she is being killed by Bon and stuffed into Billy.

    Web Comics 
  • Cyanide and Happiness gives us an example of this, both literally and figuratively in this strip.
  • Freefall: A robot reads a note about an aggressive neural pruning program and instead of steering clear he looks it up. The program starts downloading into his head when he goes looking for it, threatening him with a mind wipe.
  • In Jack, the man who was tricked into selling his soul to a Fallen Angel to live in a Lotus-Eater Machine pursues the truth of his situation when he realizes things are amiss, and is trapped in an And I Must Scream situation for his troubles. The Fallen Angel compares his curiosity to Adam and Eve's decision to eat the Apple. Mortals will always choose knowledge over happiness.
  • Unexpected Guests has a few examples but Gaster in particular, as his time travel research ended up erasing him from reality and everyone's memories. Sans warns the others against being too curious for their own good.

    Web Original 
  • Ben Drowned: If only Jadusable's curiosity hadn't prompted him to accept the shady game cartridge from the old man, or posted anything to the internet, then the reader's curiosity wouldn't have led them to open "The Truth.rtf", thus releasing Ben to the whole of the internet, and things might have gone a bit better for everyone involved.
  • Shows up in the Fan Film of Left 4 Dead. It's a particularly facepalm-worthy moment as the character in question is an Action Survivor with experience shooting the infected and has a very conspicuous assault rifle. Which she puts down before going upstairs and being lured in by the curious noise.
  • Limited Life SMP: On Day 3, after learning from Cleo about the T.I.E.S. dropping TNT down from the skies, Pearl climbs up to investigate their Skynet, only to be spleefed to her doom by Impulse for his Boogeyman kill.
  • Marble Hornets: A few years ago, a guy named Alex Kralie was shooting a student film of the same name. As he was filming, he started to notice a really tall guy in a suit occasionally lurking in the distance. As of now, Alex is on the run after a failed attempt to rebuild his life, his friend Tim has gone insane and started stalking people while wearing a mask, and we have no idea what happened to anyone besides Jay and Tim. As of late 2014, most of them (including Jay and Alex) are dead.
    • Played straight with the others, but averted by Alex himself. He's known about the Operator before he started the student film. Alex is actually working with the thing, and it's implied that he's been providing the Operator fresh victims for a long time.
    • This is essentially the reason most Slender Man stories happen. Someone disappears or something happens, and someone goes to investigate.
  • QSMP: It was Vegetta ignoring the Duckling's rule to not break down the wall dividing the players that got all of them trapped on Quesadilla Island, thus kicking off the events of the series.
  • Rats SMP: While destroying and removing patches of invasive fungus from the garden, Owen secretly ignores Scott's warnings of how deadly it is to investigate it for "science", first keeping one of the mushrooms in a containment chamber, then after planting said mushroom in the Boiler Room to get rid of the moth infestation there, going into the Boiler Room to investigate it further. By the time he's realized what a bad idea that is, it's too late. His lore finale reveals this fiasco happened in the first place because he let his pride get to him.
  • The protagonists of Sevenshot Kid both refuse to let go of the mysteries they encounter even though they know how dangerous it is getting.
  • In Tribe Twelve, Noah's investigation of his cousin Milo's death turns his entire life upside down. Then he finds out he and the rest of his family have been Slendy's targets for years. Noah's investigation didn't attract Slendy's attention — it just made him aware that he was on Slendy's list all along.

    Western Animation 
  • Justice League, "Only a Dream", Dream Lois' determination to "find out what it is [that Clark is trying to conceal]" results in her death via Power Incontinence.
  • Regular Show - Rigby is astonishingly prone to causing this. In "Just Set Up The Chairs", he cannot NOT connect the blue and red wires, which of course, unleashes the Destroyer of Worlds.
    • "Good Show!!!"

    Real Life 
  • Inversion. Curiosity is a survival advantage for a predator as he needs to look for food. It is more likely to be counterproductive to a prey species who needs to stay away from unknown things. In other words curiosity, though it can kill a cat, is more likely to help the cat and kill the mouse.
  • Another inversion when curiosity is also the reason behind many great scientific discoveries and technological advancements.
  • The Famous saying "curiosity killed the cat" is actually used incorrectly. The original saying was "care killed the cat" and care back then meant "worrying". So the meaning was "don't stress out over things so much or it'll end up killing you".
  • Ferrets have had their curiosity amplified through selective breeding, which combines poorly with their ability to get nearly anywhere.
  • Currently scientists and psychologists are engaged in a project to create a warning sign for our nuclear waste that will not merely inspire our distant descendants to go on digging, so far without much success.
    • The core problem can be stated as this: burying it with no warning risks someone digging it up accidentally; burying it with a warning is basically saying "Hey, interesting stuff here" to anyone who is unable to actually read the warning. Even if they can read the warning, future cultures may assume it's just a scare tactic, like the "curses" inscribed on some ancient tombs.
  • Chernobyl:
    • As a quick summary, the linked article describes the catastrophic nuclear meltdown as not only stemming from shoddy design, but from its workers deciding to see what happened if they turned its few safety systems off. The emergency shutdown test was planned out thoroughly well in advance, but in a spectacular case of bad judgement it was postponed at the last minute for long enough that the experienced techs and supervisors that had planned and trained specifically for it had all gone off shift, and not long enough for them to come back the next day, so the entire operation was performed by the poorly-trained night crew.
  • The discovery of nuclear explosions is probably the first time that this trope has been played fairly straight in Real Life, aside from merely people (usually in positions of power) just not wanting people to be curious. Ironic considering the trope is Older Than Dirt, most of which have some sort of base in reality.
    • It almost certainly originated entirely from people in power using it to solidify their control.
    • Or else it originated in subsistence farming, where when the harvest fails, you die, and if you do things differently, the harvest fails. Germany discovered this in WWI, when the Kaiser's government decreed that potatoes were to be stored, not in Inca-style "lazy beds" in the fields, but in the cellars of public buildings. But public buildings' cellars were heated, so instead of losing some of the potato harvest to moles, they lost almost all of it to mold...
  • The crew of National Airlines Flight 27 got curious about how the autothrottle (kind of like a cruise control for jet engines) worked - did the system read the engine RPM from the tachometers, or directly from the engines? Well, why not pull the circuit breakers for the tachs and see what happens? Unfortunately, one of the engines over-revved and disintegrated. A piece of the engine hit a window, and the hapless passenger next to the window was sucked out to his doom. The NTSB report remarked that "This type of experimentation, without the benefit of training or specific guidelines, should never be performed during passenger flight operations."