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Death as Comedy

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Ha ha, I died again!
Lynne, Ghost Trick

Come on, admit it. We've all seen it. Some hapless loser or faceless redshirt bites it in a strange and unusual way. Maybe it was embarrassing. Maybe he died because of his own stupidity. Maybe he had an anvil dropped on him, or better yet a bridge. Maybe he keeps getting killed every week by some monster, only to come back to be killed off again. Perhaps he's small, furry, and cute, yet the death is depicted as gory and defined as possible. Perhaps he was a total asshole who deserved it. Any way it happens, someone is going to chuckle... unless you happen to be a Moral Guardian or easily offended, in which case it's Dude, Not Funny!.

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Many an Omnicidal Maniac who Crosses the Line Twice benefits from this trope. So does the Affably Evil or Faux Affably Evil villain if they make the audience appreciate the killings they do.

If this happens to your own Player Character, it's Have a Nice Death. Yet Another Stupid Death also applies if a bit of forethought or common sense could have prevented it.

In Real Life, this can be a coping strategy for those close to death and/or the dying.

Often a form of Black Comedy and a Sister Trope to Gallows Humor. They Killed Kenny Again is a subtrope of this if it's Played for Laughs. Can overlap with Bloody Hilarious and Gorn. Sometimes comes with a Stock Scream. Compare Black Comedy Rape, Suicide as Comedy.

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As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan has titular character Dokuro, an angelic assassin, play this straight with the unfortunate Sakura, who gets an explicitly animated horrible club to the wherever whenever he does something Dokuro finds vaguely inappropriate. Of course, she also possesses the ability to bring him back, which leads to a vicious cycle.
  • Angel Beats! features a universe where no one can die, so obviously this trope is used frequently. It's made even funnier when there are "instant replays" with the sad, dramatic ending theme in the background.
  • In Heaven's Design Team, a poorly designed animal often very quickly becomes a dead animal. Of course, this is all played for comedy, and the designers are usually more devastated by the failures of the design than the animal deaths they cause.

    Comic Books 
  • Star Wars: Kanan: While his death is ultimately treated like a tragedy and given some gravitas when Stance dies there is some rather evident dark humor in his final words being "Don't worry, Caleb. I got your—— BAAACCKKK!", the last being shouted as he's fatally shot in his own back.

    Film 
  • One of the most well-known examples is from Pulp Fiction:
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street gets loads of this, be it in film or stage production. Killing people to a tune or with camp makes it funny, apparently. Or maybe it was the pork pies...
  • Head Office kills off two characters within 20 minutes. The first one is Rick Moranis' character, who dies of a heart attack after his blood pressure went too high from stress. The other one is Danny DeVito's character, who jumps to his death from the building into the fountain.
  • Weekend at Bernie's and its sequel, along with any film that uses the same schtick.
  • Tropic Thunder, so violent that the only death on the movie is this: Damien has just finished giving a Rousing Speech, and then gets blown to bits by a landmine.
  • The Final Destination movies can be interpreted as rather dark comedies.
  • Hot Fuzz: every death in this film is done in a weirdly twisted, but comical way.
  • Mob Boss Momo from Get Shorty keels over with a Hollywood Heart Attack on receiving a Shock Party.
  • Running Theme in Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. With just about every single character who dies.
  • Mystery Team. "Someone stole that man's face." Rather unusual in that the characters usually react very seriously to death otherwise (although the line "Two dead bodies, that's my limit!" certainly qualifies as a joke).
  • Clue has the unfortunate singing telegram girl getting killed, apparently just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • The Mummy Returns has this:
    Jonathan: Look! There's a burial ground. We're safe! We're safe! See those sacred stones? They'll never cross those.
    Shafek: You are sure?
    Jonathan: Yes, of course, I'm sure.
    [a pygmy runs past and stabs Shafek. Jonathan screams]
    Jonathan: Sorry. My mistake.
  • The Princess Bride uses this with Vizzini's death. Failing to accurately determine which of two glasses contain poison, he begins to laugh and boast about his brilliance in "figuring out" where the poison was, only to immediately stop laughing and keel over.
  • DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story: "I don't think they make a 'Sorry Your Dodgeball Coach just got crushed by two tons of irony' Hallmark card."
  • The Trouble with Harry: The closest thing Hitchcock ever made to a comedy. A body turns up in the woods outside a small town. As the local authorities try to figure out who killed him, one by one the entire town confesses to the murder.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has a few.
    British soldier: This land is hereby forever claimed for the glorious name of his majesty, King George—BANG
    Spaniard: Someone make a note of that man's bravery.
  • The Hangover Part III has two in a row in its beginning, setting up the film's plot: a giraffe is decapitated by an overpass, causing a pile-up; and Alan's dad has a heart attack after discussing this with him (it happens in the background as he is listening to some loud music to get over the heavy conversation).
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes and its spiritual sister Theatre of Blood. The latter becomes especially funny if you know your Shakespeare.
  • In Nonstop Trouble with the Family, a dead millionaire has made Didi his sole heir, so various distant relatives attempt to take him out, only to kill each other and themselves. The movie still manages to be considered family-friendly.
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    Literature 
  • Double subverted. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the entire planet gets blown up in the first part of the book... because it was in the way of an intergalactic freeway. Subverted when they replaced Earth. Then subverted once more when it was blown up again.
  • In Valhalla, after an intense and serious chase sequence, the novel's Big Bad is accidentally smashed to death by a rolling mutant walrus.
  • Discworld has some examples, some due to Don't Fear the Reaper; any death that DEATH personally comments on gets a little more lighthearted...except for Mr. Pin. There's also the Agatean poisoning sequence in Mort, various gags involving the Assassins' Guild, and a comment by Vetinari that condemned criminals in one of the former regimes were "pulled apart by wild tortoises. It was not a quick death."

    Live-Action TV 
  • As you had already guessed, 1000 Ways to Die has a good number of these, in which many victims get killed in some of the most hilarious ways. Their stupidity that causes their own death just adds on to the humor.
  • In the Friends episode "The One Where Heckles Dies", there is a bit of this. Mr. Heckles dies rapping a broom on the ceiling in an attempt to get the friends in the apartment above him to quieten down.
  • Monica Mancuso from Las Vegas flies off the roof of the casino when a gust of wind catches the "winged-style" dress she was wearing. She flies around for about five minutes before crashing into a shoe store more than a mile away. Characters spend the episode debating the impossibility of it, and buying shoes from the store. To add to the humor, the theme of The Wicked Witch is playing as she flies.
  • Arnold J. Rimmer. Twice. And in fact everyone on the ship except for the main characters; this is after all the Trope Namer for Everybody's Dead, Dave we're talking about.
  • Dean from Supernatural gets a whole series of funny deaths because of a Time Loop.
  • Dead Like Me features a lot of these — the main cast of Psychopomps specialize in those who die by accident or homicide, so the contrived circumstances of the demise tend to be played for comedy relief. Helped by the fact that the newly deceased usually gets to snark about it afterwards. George's death involved being hit by the toilet seat from the deorbiting Mir space station, and the other psychopomps do not let her forget it.
    George: [Watching Disaster Dominoes in a botched bank robbery] Yep... it was the Banana Peel.
  • A SBTB: The College Years episode featured the death of a professor followed by the usual wacky humor.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Elijah knocking off Trevor's head? Harsh, but hilarious. Elijah forcing Slater to stake himself? Awful, but hilarious. Elijah ripping out two people's hearts at THE SAME TIME? Evil, but epic.
  • The sudden death (at her desk) of Don's ancient secretary Miss Blankenship on Mad Men (in episode 4.09, "The Beautiful Girls") is played for some of the most ridiculous laughs the series has ever seen from start of the subplot (the discovery that she's dead) to the shunting around of her body in a rolling chair to avoid being seen by the clients. The subplot ends, however, on a heartwarming (but still funny) note from her former lover Bert Cooper: "She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She's an astronaut."
  • The IT Crowd has Denholm Reynholm walk to a high-story window and casually commit suicide when confronted by the authorities for accounting irregularities and it's hilarious.
  • Firefly features the villain of the week, Crow, being kicked into Serenity's engine intake by Mal. It's clearly played for comedy, and it is pretty funny.
  • Numerous times on Whose Line Is It Anyway? has this trope been acted out by one of the performers.
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show had the episode "Chuckles Bites The Dust", often cited as the funniest episode of any show ever, which rotates around the death of performer Chuckles the Clown in a parade - "He went as Peter the Peanut... and a rogue elephant tried to... shell him."
  • Horrible Histories uses this often and even has a recurring sketch, "Stupid Deaths," dedicated to the subject.
  • Implied: Punky Brewster and her friend Cherie deal with a customer at Henry's restaurant whom they think is dead. The customer is a narcoleptic who had fallen asleep, but the girls don't know that...yet.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus was notable for this. "The Deadliest Joke In The World" is probably their most famous example. There is also "Is There?," a chat show where four dead people discuss (or obviously not) the topic of there being life after death.
  • Blanche of The Golden Girls recounts how a politician lover of hers was killed while opening a toll bridge when he was run over by "ten Shriners on minibikes who just happened to have the exact change."

    Video Games 
  • Evil Dead: Regeneration does this with Sam, Ash's half deadite sidekick. He gets better each time, but he still doesn't like dying. Killing him is actually a gameplay mechanic as well as something Ash does in the cutscenes.
  • Most sand box crime games like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row play off the deaths of whoever is on the street while you shoot them in the face this way, usually occurring elsewhere in the game's plot because of the less than serious tone much of the games have.
  • People die so many times in Ghost Trick that even they can find their own deaths amusing if they're ludicrous enough. It helps that we know the deaths won't stick.
    • The record holder in that game is Lynne, who dies a grand total of five times (not counting preventable deaths or repeats), and in increasingly absurd ways each time. At one point Sissel suspects that she's doing it on purpose.
    Lynne: Haha! I died again!
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia has this following exchange:
    Jade: I'm a member of the Guild. I live on Leanbox, but I don't follow Lady Green Heart...
    Neptune: ...Why're you telling me now? What's up with this?
    *grack*
    IF: ...And that's that. You finished him off.
    Neptune: Oops. Well, that was for ruining the moment.
    • The crowner was that Compa can heal his wounds, but cannot undo his death flag.
  • In Temple Run, your deaths are often played for laughs. Whenever you die, you get a laconic text message. For example, when you die from falling into a pit, this message may be "I knew I should have learned how to fly" or "Temple slippery when wet". These two messages have a double irony since you can use "wings of resurrection" and since you can slide without problem over even the roughest surfaces.
  • Thanks to the hilariously bad voice acting as well as some of the cutscenes, Dynasty Warriors 3 is arguably a case of where deaths are more hilariously funny than probably intended. A good example includes the death of Taishi Ci.
  • The basic concept of Life Goes On is you need to kill one of your heroic knights to proceed to each level's goal. Killing and using dead bodies in various humorous ways is one of the core gameplay elements; resulting in the dark humour of using corpses as stepping stones, to weigh down weights, etc.
  • The elimination feed in Fortnite: Battle Royale often describes the defeats of unfortunate players in humorous ways as they occur, especially self-inflicted ones.
(player) played themselves
(player) didn't stick the landing (x m)
(player) got lost in the storm
(player 1) 'sploded (player 2)
(player) is literally on fire
(player) went out with a BANG!
(player 1) dealt it, (player 2) smelt it
(player) couldn't handle their own stink
(player) shopped till they dropped
(player)'s landing was below par
(player) needs assistance in sporting goods

    Web Animation 
  • The whole point of Happy Tree Friends is showing its cast of adorable cartoon animals dying in very painful and unusual ways.
  • Red vs. Blue takes a video game deathmatch and makes everyone involved very incompetent, and thus the deaths are often hilarious, starting with the very first, where Church is team-killed by a tank. The first season also has Church recalling his friend Jimmy getting beaten to death with his own skull ("This doesn't seem physically possible!") and Sarge possessed by Church getting shot by Caboose ("What the? Where did my body go? Oh, you've gotta be KIDDING me!"). The show tried to take things more seriously as time went on, but come season 14, a guy walks into a trap and is blown by a huge bomb with "REDS SUCK" painted on it, and a ship full of soldiers explodes because the vessel's AI misheard "shelf construction" as "self-destruction". Season 16 also has Sarge shooting a guy, doing a victory dance straight out of the Six Flags commercials, and then the film crew gets desperate at how their actor was killed.
  • RWBY Chibi: In the first series, when Ruby tries to mention some of the tragic events of the main show, Nora interrupts, emphatically telling the audience that nothing bad ever happens in the Chibi world, prompting Ren to suggest they stick to comedy. Death and near-death is, therefore, a common source of comedy in this show.
    • "Cape Troubles": Ruby hangs herself when she tries to jump from the top bunk only to have her cape get caught by accident. Her face even starts to turn blue from lack of oxygen as she gasps "Not like this! Not like this!"
    • "Neptune's Phobia": Neptune stands in for Sun as the swimming pool's lifeguard. When Jaune slips and falls into the pool right beside Neptune's chair, Jaune struggles for air and desperately calls for help. However, Neptune looks the opposite way and ignores what's happening. Eventually, Jaune sinks below the water and releases one final bubble that pops into the word "dead".
    • "The Floor Is Lava": Whenever somebody attempts to enter Team RWBY's room, Ruby stops them and tells them that the floor is lava. Wiess and Yang use their tools to get to the beds to humor Ruby, then Torchwick arrives to kill them. After Ruby warns him, he declares he will kill her first. He then steps into the room, only to melt away leaving only his hat.
    • In "Boy Band", Neptune tries to fix Jaune's makeup only to discover that it's made of latex, which he's allergic to. His hand and then his entire head promptly turn red and swell up, prompting him to say "Remember me... as I was..."

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Played straight nearly constantly on South Park, be it with Kenny or anyone who happens to get hit with the biggest Idiot Ball at the time.
  • Happens to many, many, many mooks on The Venture Bros., most often by the hand of utter badass Brock Samson.
  • Total Drama makes a Running Gag of the abuse through which Chris puts his interns, up to and including them being killed offscreen while testing new challenges.
  • Some episodes of the French comedy short-com Avez-Vous Déjà Vu ?... (Have You Already Seen...) definitely fall under this trope. An example involves three houses that play a game to see how far they can spit their inhabitants out. One of them launches a guy through the chimney, who then lands right onto the road. The poor dude is run over by a bus, after which the house happily says "Yay, a bus! That's 1000 points!".
  • Sudden, gruesome deaths account for about a third of the jokes on Metalocalypse, whether it be Dethklok's foes, their fans, or just innocent bystanders getting killed.
  • Noted examples from Looney Tunes cartoons:
    • ''Daffy Duck And The Dinosaur" has Daffy, Casper Caveman and Casper's pet dinosaur blown into oblivion after stabbing a giant inflated balloon duck. The three are in Heaven as Daffy turns to the audience and says "Y'know, maybe that wasn't such a hot idea after all."
    • Curtain Razor and Show Biz Bugs ends with the same gag: a performer (an unnamed wolf and Daffy Duck, respectively) swallowing various volatile liquids then swallowing a lit match, causing him to explode. The gag is each's final line when asked to do it again (each performer is already a devil): "I can only do it once."
  • This happens often on Archer, where the main cast's fuckups will often lead to background characters dying in hilarious ways.
  • A comical death is the best fate anyone who befriends, talks to, looks at, or gets within driving distance of Xavier: Renegade Angel can hope for. Two or three episodes (depending on how you interpret the Gainax Ending of "Bloodcorn") end with The End of the World as We Know It Played for Laughs.
  • Kaeloo: Since Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, characters die in ridiculous ways and it's all Played for Laughs. They're always fine by the next episode, or even the next scene in some cases.

    Real Life 
  • The Darwin Awards are dedicated to people "removing themselves from the gene pool" in amusingly bizarre ways.
  • A major factor in Jewish humor, medical humor, military humor... in fact, just humor.
  • There are many videos on the internet, compilations, playlists and even channels, dedicated to laugh at criminals that died while attempting a crime, either killed by the police, or the victim, or by their own mistakes.


 
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Farewell Mr. Bunting

This ode to Dead Poets Society goes terribly (and hilariously) wrong.

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