Follow TV Tropes


Death by Ambulance

Go To

The ambulance rushing to the aid of the injured is a staple of any action show, a sign of hope or a proof that everything is "going to be okay", civilization is working.

So, what's more ironic than getting killed by one? When an ambulance runs down a pedestrian, it's a sign that things have fallen apart or whatever God in charge has taken a darkly comedic turn.

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


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • On the climax of the final battle of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Jotaro stops time and crushes Yoshikage Kira's arms and hands with punches to prevent him from activating his time-resetting ability. When time resumes, Kira falls into the path of an ambulance and it squashes his head (the anime arguably makes it worse by showing his head being rotated 180° before cutting away). Note how Kira often boasted that fate was on his side.

    Comic Books 
  • Luke Cage: Billy Bob Rackham, the racist prison guard responsible for Cage gaining his superpowers, was seriously injured when his house collapsed on him during a battle between Cage, Shades, Comanche and Stiletto. He revived during the fight and tried to flee the scene, but was struck by an arriving ambulance and killed on impact.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • An ambulance is used to abduct people and steal their organs in the 1990 thriller The Ambulance. The same scenario takes place in the 1979 German film Fleisch.
  • In Avalanche, the rescue workers cause more on-screen deaths than the avalanche does, including several caused by poor ambulance driving.
  • Cocaine Bear: Paramedics Beth and Tom arrive and collect Liz after a brief skirmish with the bear. They leave with Liz in an ambulance, but the bear pursues and jumps into the vehicle. In the ensuing chaos, Tom is killed by the bear, while Liz falls out of the ambulance and is dragged to death on the road. Beth loses control of the ambulance and crashes into a tree, causing her to fly through the windshield to her death.
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004), when the heroine's gun-toting neighbor is run down by a passing ambulance.
  • Final Destination 4, when the security guard is mentioning a feeling of 'déjà vu' and is run down by a careening ambulance twice.
  • Hot Shots!: Dead Meat survives a plane crash only to be hit by an ambulance. Whether that or the Trauma Conga Line he endured afterward was the cause of his death is uncertain.
  • Run Lola Run, by the same ambulance that destroys the Sheet of Glass.
  • Happens to Victoria in When Evil Calls. As a result of her wish, her mother loses control of her wheelchair as they are leaving the hospital. The chair rolls out into the road where it gets struck by a speeding ambulance.
  • A non-lethal version in World War Z. In the Philadelphia scene, the Lanes are distracted by telling their children to put on their seatbelts and collide with a speeding ambulance. Fortunately none of the Lanes are seriously injured, though we don't see what happened to whoever was in the ambulance.

  • Downplayed, played for laughs, and justified in The Bartimaeus Trilogy. When Bartimaeus was working for a military during a war in the early 1900s, he was tasked with infiltrating an enemy base. He took the form of an enemy medic and stole an ambulance. Because he's a demon (and therefore incompatible with technology) he accidentally ran over several people on the way there. Luckily, this meant that the soldiers at their HQ were so busy tending to his casualties they they didn't notice him sneaking inside.
  • In Han Nolan's Dancing on the Edge, the mother of protagonist Miracle was hit by an ambulance while pregnant, and while they were unable to save her mother they were able to save Miracle herself. Later on we learn her mother was actually trying to commit suicide and jumped in front of the ambulance.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A BBC docu-drama following Real Life ambulance crews opens one episode with some young idiot crashing his blinged-up shitbox into an ambulance as it crosses a junction.
  • Barely averted at least once on Casualty, albeit with a motorcyclist instead of a pedestrian who got away with a few bruises and a stern reminder to look both ways before crossing a junction in future.
  • One episode of the live-action adaptation of Hell Girl has a hell banishment where a nurse who left a patient to die is run over by an ambulance and similarly left to rot.
  • Played for laughs on Limmy's Show; one of the skits has Limmy walking up a roadway, musing to the camera, "Imagine getting knocked down by an ambulance! That'd be funny, wouldn't it?" followed immediately by an ambulance running completely over him and speeding off without stopping. Cut back to Limmy, now on the ground and in pain, regretfully saying, "It's not [funny]'s not."
  • Played for Drama in season 4 of London's Burning after a collision between a fire engine and a car that left one civilian badly injured and resulted in Sicknote facing serious criminal charges. He's ultimately acquitted. A slightly less dramatic example happens during the Christmas Episode: Not only are they leaving the other crews responding to a call with "persons reported" short-handed, but it turns out the driver of the car was literally staggering drunk. George has to be restrained from punching the guy.
  • M*A*S*H: In "Dear Sigmund", Col. Potter has to write a letter to the parents of an ambulance driver who was killed when he overturned the ambulance while driving at unsafe speeds. He turns the duty over to Radar, who writes a touching letter about how their son died trying to save others' lives.
  • Deconstructed on 9-1-1 by showing the effect it has on the ambulance driver. One episode has the crew respond to an industrial accident and have to take the victim to the hospital. After Hen turns on the siren, a young woman in a compact car pulls into the intersection in front of her and Hen rams into the side of her car. Hen is frantic when she sees that she's severely injured an innocent person and completely falls apart when the victim dies.
  • Operation Ouch!: During an 'Operation Takeover' segment, Chris and Xand simulated the job of an air ambulance by attempting to land a remote control helicopter next a patient doll in a model city. Xand lost control of his helicopter and it vanished out over the river, Chris attempted to land as close to patient as possible (ignoring a larger landing space further away) and ended up landing on top of the patient. The pilot who was judging them said he had to give the victory to the one who didn't damage the patient further and declared Xand the winner.
  • The Super Dave Osborne Show: As the Super One is frequently injured during his stunts, an ambulance is often called for. On numerous occasions, the ambulance runs over Super Dave upon arriving.
  • On one episode of Top Gear, Hammond, May, and Clarkson were tasked with creating their own ambulances and "saving" dummies that were rigged with timers. Every time the body was bumped while on the way to the hospital, the victim got ten seconds closer to dying. May's fell out of the back of his ambulance, while Hammond's ended up through a window of the hospital.
  • In the 1980s nuclear Brit Com Whoops Apocalypse, there's a scene where U.S. President Johnny Cyclops, up for re-election, has been advised to fake an injury to gain sympathy and votes. The ambulance rushing him to hospital runs down and kills his political rival.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Cyberpunk: A common fate for anyone who gets inbetween one of Trauma Team's or REO Meatwagon's paramedic services and a policy holder in need of medical aid. Being a cyberpunk dystopia, medical care is big business in this setting. Both companies pride themselves on being able to extract injured policy holders from areas police and corpsec are afraid to go, and their ambulances and staff are heavily armed and armored. That said, they will only aid those with insanely expensive insurance policies, and will not hesitate to run or gun down anyone between them and their target.

    Video Games 
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Invoked, as part of the Crapsack World and imported over from the tabletop. Trauma Team is one of the world's best paramedic services, and they pride themselves on being able to extract their policy holders from anywhere on the planet. To this end, their paramedics are all ex-special forces and equipped with cutting-edge weapons and armor. However, Trauma Team is a business and a notoriously mercenary one at that; they only provide services to people with service contracts, and they will run or gun down anyone who stands between them and a policy holder without a second thought. And if you don't have the eddies on you to cover your latest treatment? Well, let's just say they're happy to take...surprise donations from their policyholders in order to balance your invoice. Genuine healthy organs and high-end chrome sells for a pretty enny on the market, you know.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc used a slight variation for Celestia Ludenberg's execution: it's not an ambulance that runs her over, but a fire truck. However, the spirit of the trope is very much in effect, since the fire truck arrived to extinguish the massive bonfire that was about to engulf her.
  • This clip from DayZ shows that just because there's a red cross on the side doesn't mean its coming to heal you...
  • Grand Theft Auto
    • The ambulance has a tendency to run you over if you stand too close to a wounded pedestrian. The first couple of times this happens you chalk it up to coincidence, but eventually, you get the feeling it's driven by Laser-Guided Karma. Of course, none of this is a patch on the carnage that can result if you're behind the ambulance's wheel yourself.
    • In the side missions where you use the ambulance to do emergency runs picking people up and taking them to the hospital, only the patient actually matters. You can kill as many other people as you'd like along the way with no consequences beyond the potential inconvenience of trying to pick up patients with a wanted level.
    • Players doing the ambulance missions are often foiled by overeager patients sprinting towards your oncoming vehicle. If you're moving really fast (as you will be more often than not), you're gonna squash your patient and fail the mission.
  • A variant occurs in The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction: there are side-missions where you must pick up an ambulance, and rush the wounded occupant to a hospital. You do this by sprinting across the city, through busy traffic and pedestrians, likely causing more loss of life than you actually saved.
  • In the ending of Infernal Runner for the Commodore 64, you have escaped to apparent safety, but then an ambulance drives across the screen and runs you over. You are last seen being hauled away on a stretcher.
  • John Madden Football '92 includes a feature where when an athlete is injured, an ambulance drives onto the field. Athletes standing in the ambulance's path are run over and knocked off This actually caused a minor controversy from Moral Guardians.
  • Some abilities in Nexus War games allow players to throw ambulances, among other vehicles. In the first game, this was a purely Angelic power, but the sequel expanded it to all three moral sides.
  • The Quirky Work Zombie Virus, a.k.a. The Zombie vs. Ambulance, kind of zig-zags this trope, as you do use the ambulance to run down zombies, but you can also rescue people who haven't quite passed over into un-death.

  • Oglaf: One of the random gag quotes appearing above the comic is "I got hit by an ambulance but it was already full".

    Web Original 
  • A clip from FailRace's eponymous series shows a pedestrian NPC from Watch_Dogs 2 getting up after being attended to by an EMT, only for the ambulance to immediately run them over once the EMT is back inside.
  • The now-defunct blog "Random Acts of Reality", by British emergency medical technician Tom Reynolds, contained frequent rants about pedestrians who seem to be actively trying to make this Truth In Television.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The possibility of this was raised following the crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco, when a victim who had been ejected from the aircraft during the crash sequence was run over by an emergency vehicle. Subverted when investigators later determined that the victim was already dead before she was run over, most likely having died after being ejected from the plane, then hitting the ground. (It is also theorized that the body may have been partially or completely concealed by fire retardant foam laid down by another emergency vehicle prior, so the driver's error would be understandable.)
  • Michael Bentine describes how, in the winter of 1939-40, he was part of an emergency exercise, simulating the results of a German attack on Folkestone, Kent, to assess how quickly the emergency services could locate and evacuate casualties. He describes loading a "casualty" onto a stretcher and then a gurney, rehearsing how to get an injured person into an ambulance correctly. Loading the gurney went without a hitch and Bentine closed the rear doors, then banged on the side of the cab as a signal for the driver to start up. Unfortunately, he had not put the brakes on the gurney wheels, nor had he secured the back doors. The trolley rolled back down the ambulance, its weight burst the doors open, and it sprang out of the back, rolling down a sloping road and finally coming to rest - hard - against a statue of one of Folkestone's famous sons, pioneering doctor William Harvey. The simulated casualty then became a real one, with bruises and concussion.