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Death by Irony

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"How does it feel to be killed by the very research you dedicated your life to?"
Nui Harime, Kill la Kill

This trope occurs when a character is killed in an allegorical or lyrical manner; often this is due to their own actions. A favoured fate in tragedies, or to kill off the Villain of the Story. If they are killed by their own hubris, then the hero doesn't have to get their hands dirty and instead has a chance to demonstrate their moral fibre by attempting to Save the Villain or say Alas, Poor Villain. If the cause of death is too trite or unlikely, it will challenge the Willing Suspension of Disbelief, so be careful.

Subtropes include the following:

  • Death by Ambulance: It doesn't get any more ironic if the death was caused by a vehicle that's supposed to save lives.
  • The Death of Death: The one dying is the personification of Death itself.
  • Died on Their Birthday: A character dies on the anniversary of the date on which they were born.
  • Karmic Death: A bad person dies in a way that serves as a fitting punishment for their misdeeds and is their own fault.
  • Retirony: A character dies right before they are expected to retire from a dangerous job, such as police officer.

Accidental Suicide is frequently ironic, but not consistently so to make it a subtrope. The more lethal variations of Hoist by His Own Petard, Turned Against Their Masters and Vehicular Turnabout double as examples of this trope. When frequently invoked by one person, it falls under Poetic Serial Killer. Compare Russian Reversal for a humorous play on this.

If a character who dies this way has the chance to say something before going out, it will likely be Ironic Last Words.

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

Example subpages

Other examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Star Wars Tales #10, "Trooper", is told entirely from the perspective of a career storm trooper who's about to board the Tantive IV. As he thinks back on his life in the military and the things he's done, his ruminations are interspersed with the present as the Star Destroyer pulls the ship into its docking bay and they prepare to board. The man dreads being chosen to be sent in first, because the guy sent in first always dies—he's seen it dozens of times. Naturally, the sergeant chooses him. They set the charge on the door, and the storm trooper dryly remarks on its functionality, designed to blow the door inward and hopefully make the enemy flinch. And for works. The rebels flinch, buying the man time to get into the hallway and start shooting. And right behind him, the sergeant that ordered him in first is shot in the face.
  • The DCU:
    • This is the fate of Darkseid's mother, Queen Heggra. She didn't appreciate how her son was falling in love with a beautiful and understanding scientist, Suli, so she had the court poisoner, Desaad, poison her potential daughter-in-law. Darkseid returned the sentiment by having Desaad poison her, too. This parley would eventually come back to bite Desaad in the ass, too. When Darkseid accidentally freed his father, Yuga Khan from the Source Wall, Desaad grovelled before him, telling him how his service to Darkseid "was a lie". Yuga Khan then reminded Desaad how he murdered his beloved wife, then promptly disintegrated the sniveling toad. He came back with help from Darkseid after Yuga Khan got himself re-stuck in the Source Wall.
    • A possible future demise for noted immortal villain Vandal Savage. In DC One Million, after having lived up to the 853rd century, Savage goes back in time to the 20th-century and arrives in Montevideo, Uruguay just in time to get caught in a nuclear blast that devastates the attack that is ordered by 20th-century Savage.
  • In the older Iron Man comics, Iron Man traveled back in time to Ancient Egypt where he fought an Evil Sorcerer called the Mad Pharaoh. The latter tripped and fell to his death on the blade of one of his swords, something that is described by Iron Man as "ironic".
  • Reverend Craig of various X-Men media gets this in X-Force. He lures his illegitimate mutant daughter, Rahne Sinclair, aka Wolfsbane, into the clutches of his current allies, the Purifiers, so she can be Mind Raped into becoming an assassin. During the fighting, her conditioning gets tripped by accident on his part and she attacks, kills and eats him. Making things more poignant is that he has tried to kill her repeatedly since her mutant powers first manifested.
  • The Inventor in Ms. Marvel (2014). Although Kamala warns him the area is unstable, he climbs atop his fallen Mega-Bot while ranting how all of the teenagers and young adults — who had just earlier worked together to provide a distraction — are far too selfish and idiotic to appreciate or equal his genius. When he carelessly rests his boot against some delicate machinery, the levers shift and he's killed in the sudden collapse.
  • Stormfront in The Boys was a Nazi who was brutally beaten to death by a Brit, a Frenchman, an American, and a Russian.
  • Peter Bagge's Apocalypse Nerd centers around two men, Perry and Gordo, who avoided getting nuked by North Korea by camping in the Cascade Mountains. While staying in the cabin owned by Gordo's friend, the owner comes back and holds Perry at gunpoint. Gordo kills him, and it becomes apparent afterwards that the owner was dying of radiation sickness, and Gordo keeps the man's gun for himself. At the end of the story, Gordo goes back to the cabin, now occupied by Perry and his pregnant girlfriend and tries to blackmail her into letting him stay, but she refuses because he, too, is dying from radiation sickness, likely from the stolen gun he kept in his pants. Just as Gordo's going to shoot himself, Perry kills him first, thinking Gordo tried to attack Midge.
  • Part of Red Sonja's combat prowess is her unstoppable battle rage. One evil wizard cursed her to be unable to forgive, intending that she lose control of her rage and either be killed by an angry mob or exiled to a lonely death for it.
  • Futurama: Issue 28, "Let's Twist Again", features an episode of the Show Within a Show The Scary Door titled "First Degree Irony". In it, a bored man wishes for something exciting to happen, then thinks his neighbor's house is on fire and rushes home to see it. But he discovers too late that he himself is on fire instead.
    Fireman: We tried to warn him that he was spontaneously combusting, but he drove away from us.
    Narrator: Official cause of death, third degree burns... actual cause of death, first degree irony!
  • Shaniah in Thorgal during a trip to the Underworld, is at one point forced to shoot an arrow into a web of anonymous threads, killing a random person by cutting their life thread. As it turns out when she tries to leave said Underworld and can't, she cut her own thread.
  • All through Contest of Champions (2015), Jake Gallows, the Punisher of 2099, holds Nigel Higgins aka Outlaw in utter contempt for giving up the crusade after being approved by Frank Castle himself, telling him he doesn't deserve to wear the skull. In the final issue, Jake is shot through the Civil War-verse Frank Castle, who dryly notes:
    "Wearing the skull. Didn't approve him."

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Besides featuring several Karmic Deaths, the fic lampshades that both Serizawa and Vivienne's respective deaths during the events of Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) were this. Vivienne was killed by the very Titan whose containment she was in charge of before it broke free, while Serizawa (who was born at Hiroshima before the bomb dropped) ultimately died in the blast of a nuclear bomb.
  • In the Naruto fanfiction Catch Your Breath, Black Zetsu's death is very ironic and very satisfying (for the readers). Minato gives him to the Shinigami as the soul price for sealing Yang Kurama into Naruto. Black Zetsu was the one who extracted said half of Kurama from Kushina in the first place.
  • Checkmate (Anla'Shok): Invoked in the 72nd Hunger Games interviews when Caesar asks each tribute what their greatest strength is. When the Games begin, instead of having an opening bloodbath, each tribute is put in a situation where they have to live up to that boast about their greatest strength (the ones who said they are smart have to solve riddles or venomous insects will be sicced on them, the two tributes who said they were lucky have to cross a minefield, etc.), claiming six lives.
  • In the Harry Potter story The Chosen Six, Walburga Black probably would have survived her heart attack, if not for all the obstacles in her house the healers have to overcome to reach her — obstacles she herself installed in her paranoia. By the time they finally reach her, she's dead and can't be revived.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic animation Cupcakes (Sergeant Sprinkles), Rainbow Dash, representing the Element of Loyalty to one's friends, was betrayed and murdered by one of them.
  • Despair's Last Resort, as is the tradition for Danganronpa fics, tends to go for this in executions:
    • Kaito Fujiwara, Super High-School Level Animator and culprit of the first case, is forced onto a dangerous mine-cart ride before being crushed by a giant anvil.
    • Ayame Ishikawa, Super High-School Level Football Player and culprit of the second case, is pummeled with soccer balls and then crushed by an enormous soccer ball bigger than she is.
    • Shizuka Matsuki, Super High-School Level Painter and culprit of the third case, takes a beating from a firing squad shooting her with paintballs before being finished off by an assassin with an actual rifle shooting her in the heart and head.
    • Arata Miyazaki, Super High-School Level Designer and culprit of the fourth case, is strapped to a cloth conveyor belt and impaled by the needle of a giant sewing machine.
  • In A different weasel makes a difference, Aegon Targaryen is decapitated by his Ancestral Weapon Blackfyre. As a reviewer noted, if he's a Blackfyre pretender, then he was killed by the sword his house was named after and largely based their claim to the throne on; if he isn't a pretender and really is Aegon, then the sword of house Blackfyre finally killed a Targaryen king, even if it was too late to do their house any good.
  • Fallout: Equestria has Killing Joke, a plant which specializes in this. Either it kills its victims directly in some ironic way, such as a zebra who said at one point she felt like her stripes were great wounds in her skin having her stripes becomes massive open wounds when touched by a vine, or it simply sets things up for a third party to cause it, such as turning a Hellhound who was about to kill some ponies into a pony. Said ponified Hellhound was then killed by the other Hellhounds who thought he was simply one of the ponies they were hunting.
  • Jaune's death in From Beyond (RWBY) is a result of evading Pyrrha's javelin that would have pinned him to a tree and broken his fall. A boy with no combat experience managed to dodge a deadly weapon thrown at him from seemingly nowhere, that was thrown by a famous prodigy with the intent to save his life. He also views his dodging the Javelin as a sign he may be able to save himself, furthering the irony.
  • I Am Going To Save And/Or Destroy Equestria!: Arabus gets eaten by King Sombra, who comments, "A fate both ironic and poetic: The shadow-eater, eaten by the king of shadows."
  • Island of the Slaughtered: Justin, a supermodel known for his handsome appearance gets his face ripped clean off
    • Bridgette, a surfer who spends a large amount of time in the water, gets set on fire.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger:
    • Collan Eislo is killed by Nihilus, the very Sith ghost he sought to serve. To further add on the irony, Collan is a Sith wannabe who dreams of being able to use their powers, yet Nihilus only awoke from his mask and killed him because he detected that Collan was Force-sensitive. The very power that Collan revered and craved for so long ends up being his undoing.
    • Played for Drama with Qrow Branwen's death. His Semblance causes bad luck to everyone but himself. After being impaled by the wreckage of Ironwood's airship, he receives the type of injury that requires a lot of luck to recover from. His own Semblance guarantees that any doctor would have extremely bad luck while treating him and delays the emergency team from arriving to his location on time. Even though his Semblance didn't directly affect him, it still causes his death by giving bad luck to everyone that could have saved him.
  • The Lunar Rebellion: Early in the story, the rebels create a constant rainstorm over Canterlot in an attempt to flood the city and force its surrender, using up most clouds in the local countryside. This diversion of clouds has the effect of causing a great deal of drought in the surrounding land. At the end of the war, the royalists, after adding to this a bit with some increased sunshine and draining of the remaining water, turn this against the rebels. A massive fire spell later, the entire rebel army is immolated by the side effects of what was intended to gain them a quick victory.
  • In Mario Warfare, Wario killed the King. He is finished off by using a piece of the King's cape to choke him to death.
  • In The North Remembers, the late Lord Walder Frey is notorious throughout the Seven Kingdoms for being extremely untrustworthy, particularly when he betrays his liege lord Edmure Tully for personal gain at the Red Wedding. He is then betrayed by House Lannister, the house that had promised him power, when they take away his daughter Roslin, who is married to said liege lord, and execute her because Edmure had allowed Robb Stark's widow to escape with Ser Brynden Tully. He then promptly dies after hearing the news.
  • Ludlow in Rise of the Galeforces. In Chapter 25 he reveals himself to be an Omnicidal Maniac who intends to destroy all non-human life. 10 chapters later, he is himself destroyed by non-human life.
  • RWBY: Scars: Jaune Arc is burned alive by Cinder, much like how his inspiration Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.
  • SAPR: Amber is killed by a disintegration caress by Cinder in exactly the same manner in which she herself murdered Ozpin just a few minutes earlier.
  • Deidara's death in Son of the Sannin. Just like in canon, he's completely crazy and obsessed with his explosive clay sculptures. Rather than committing suicide to take down his foe, he dies at the hands of his former Akatsuki comrade Konan (who also specializes in another kind of art, origami), who traps him in an explosive paper cocoon. She even delivers this Pre-Mortem One-Liner to rub salt in the wound:
    "But rest assured, Deidara, at the very least, I'll make your demise into a work of art."
  • Ra's al Ghul in A Spark of Genius claims that Xander is a more fitting heir than Batman as unlike Batman, he's willing to kill those who stand against him. He later pushes Xander too far by trying to take his fiances and minions hostage, causing Xander to kill him then vaporize the body to ensure he doesn't come back.
  • Raven in The Tainted Grimoire killed Sir Loin by burning him. Raven's own death came about by burning him.
  • In Vengeance from the Grave Harry, who was forced by the toad-like Dolores Umbridge to write "I must not tell lies" with a Blood Quill until it was carved into the back of his hand, magically compels her to write "I must not eat flies" with a Blood Quill stuck to her hand before leaving the room. She's later found dead of blood loss, having written all over her office walls after running out of paper.
  • Weight of the World: Atlas/Ciel creates the Transformation Institute and uses it to torture and brainwash groups of her people that she finds "undesirable". She is poisoned and loses half her limbs just as footage of the Institute is released to the public. While she would normally resurrect after "dying", the Institute causes her people to turn against and renounce their corrupt Kingdom. As a result, Atlas permanently dies because she hurt the people responsible for her existence.
  • What If I Know Too Many Reasons I Can Be Strong?: Kokushibo used to be nothing but Yoriichi's caring brother, only to turn into a demon out of jealousy for Yoriichi's exceptional talent. Tanjiro kills him with the flute he made for his brother to blow for help.
  • Where Talent Goes to Die, like Danganronpa has executions like this for the murderers.
    • Akito Sakuragi, the Ultimate Sprinter, is forced to run from a steamroller. Unfortunately, since he specializes in speed, rather than stamina, he eventually can't keep up any longer and gets crushed as the steamroller catches up to him, just like how he killed his victim by attacking him from behind.
    • Reiko Mitamura, the Ultimate Proofreader, is The Perfectionist, and killed a student to prevent people from learning that she cheated on a test. Monokuma then draws her name with a calligrapher's brush (Mitamura did calligraphy as a hobby), then impales her, causing her blood to ruin the piece. He then crushes her body by stamping it with a "Perfect" stamp.
    • Sora Hoshino, the Ultimate Astronomer, is burned alive by a telescopic lens magnifying the light of the sun, thus causing a constellation to form in trails of oil on the ground.
    • Daichi Fukuda, the Ultimate Rock Climber, accidentally killed his victim by pushing her down the stairs. He's forced to climb a cliff alone, only for Monokuma to detonate explosives at the last moment, causing him to fall to his death.
    • Anzu Sugiura, the Ultimate Waitress, was also suspected of a murder and secretly recruited as the Ultimate Poisoner. Her wrists are handcuffed behind her back and her legs are tied together with rope, like she did to her victims, and she's force fed poison while being attacked by poisonous animals.
    • Sousuke Kagami, the mastermind, suffers all the previous executions in reverse order- he's poisoned, struck by rocks, set on fire, impaled and then crushed. Unlike Junko, he does not enjoy it.
  • Vow of Nudity: When the Star King offers Haara (his slave) "immediate and absolute freedom" if she can draw a single drop of his blood in a duel, she requests verbal confirmation he's not just setting her up for this.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: Hopper the murderous grasshopper who acts as a Barbaric Bully to the heroic ants, meets his end at the hands... beaks of a tiny songbird's chicks. For all his bluster and intimidation tactics, his ilk are still only on the bottom rung of the food chain. To further this, his size is precisely the reason why the bird goes for him instead of the diminutive Flik.
  • At the climax of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the last thing Judge Claude Frollo says before his Disney Villain Death is "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!" The gargoyle he is standing on then breaks and seems to come to life, as he falls into the pit of molten copper below to his doom, letting out a Big "NO!" all the way.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
  • Syndrome's Omnidroid in The Incredibles originally rips out its own innards while attempting to kill Mr. Incredible, who has snuck inside the droid, having realized that "the only thing strong enough to penetrate it is itself".
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Oogie planned to make Santa and later Sally into snake-and-spider stew and ends up having all his bugs fall into the concoction, becoming stew himself.
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: Puss is seduced back to play "one more number".
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Evil Queen who wanted to be the most beautiful of all dies while being in disguise as an ugly old witch. Cornered on a cliff by the dwarfs, the disguised Queen then tries to knock a boulder loose and bellows "I'll fix ya! I'LL CRUSH YOUR BONES!!" She cackles madly...when suddenly, a bolt of lightning shatters the ledge she's standing on, sending the wicked Queen plummeting to her doom, shortly followed by the boulder falling after her. Don't even guess whose bones got crushed...
  • Coonskin: Madigan, a racist white mafioso, is drugged and blackfaced by the Brothers, then shot to death by police men who think he is just some black man with a gun.
  • The Little Mermaid, As Ursula is about to kill Ariel with the trident, she bellows, "SO MUCH FOR TRUE LOVE!!!" Then, Eric, steering one of the sunken ships Ursula rose from the waters, plows the bow of the ship into Ursula's chest, killing her. True love does conquer all!
  • Corpse Bride ends with Lord Barkis, who had murdered his bride Emily on their wedding night, drinking the poison meant for Emily to kill her new groom Victor with at their wedding.
  • The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan sentences minions who have failed him to death by using a bell to summing his cat Felicia, to eat them. In the climax, trapped on the clock face of Big Ben, the vibrations from the clock striking the hour shake him off and send him plummeting to his death.

  • Oderus Urungus of GWAR was killed by Mr. Perfect, using the very weapon he used to kill so many creatures throughout the years.
  • Another Irish Drinking Song by "Da Vinci's Notebook":
    Irony was what befell me Great Grand-Uncle Sam
    He choked upon the very last potato in the land
  • "Blasphemous Rumours" by Depeche Mode tells the story of a girl who fails a suicide attempt, converts to Christianity a couple of years later, only to get hit by a car and later die. The chorus even lampshades the trope: "I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors but I think that God's got a sick sense of humor/And when I die I expect to find him laughing."

    Myths & Religion 
  • Jesus, son of a carpenter, died on the cross, one of the things carpenters manufactured in his lifetime. Even more ironic is the fact that the Roman authorities crucified him because it was considered to be the most degrading execution method. A few centuries later the cross has become a symbol of martyrdom, worn by many Christians to commemorate whom they consider to be the most admirable human being who ever lived.
  • The Bible describes one of the rebellious sons of King David, Absalom, as a very handsome man with a magnificent mane of hair. His death is therefore rather ironic. To clarify: Absalom instigated a revolution, and overthrew his father, King David. Eventually, David would regroup, and waged more battles in order to drive out Absalom. At the Battle of Ephraim Wood, Absalom got his magnificent mane caught in the low-hanging branches of an oak tree as his steed rode beneath, leaving him hanging there for days until Joab, David's chief minion, found and killed him.
  • Greek Mythology is so rife with this trope, one could even say the Greeks lived in the "Irony Age." Case in point:
    • Procrustes was an evil innkeeper who made all of his vict–, er, "guests" sleep in an iron bed. If the guest was too short, he would stretch them to fit, too tall, and he lopped off whatever overlapped. When he took in the hero, Theseus, as his guest, Theseus killed him by forcing him to lie in the bed he made. No one knows if he was too short or too tall, though, one version simply had Theseus chopping the jerk to bits. In another, Theseus finds him too short, overstretches him, and then cuts him back down to size.
    • Another one of Theseus's villainous victims was an elderly bandit, Sciron, who lived on a cliff-side path. Sciron demanded, because of his apparent age, that everyone who passed by must give him his due respect by washing his feet. Of course, when the schmuck bent over to do so, Sciron pushed them off the cliff, where the corpse would be eaten by his partner in crime, a monstrous sea turtle. Guess what happened when he tried to pull this schtick with Theseus.
    • King Diomedes was given a quartet of fire-breathing, man-eating mares by his father, Ares. Hercules stole these mares, and tamed them by forcing them to eat their former owner.
    • A form of posthumous irony occurred with the Nemean Lion, which had an impenetrable pelt. After Hercules strangled it to death, he skinned the beast with its own claws.
    • Hercules, himself, fell victim to this trope. He was fatally poisoned by the Hydra's blood when his wife, Deianira, mistakenly used the blood of the centaur, Nessus, whom Hercules slew with his poisoned arrows, as a love potion. To clarify (as much as one can, given the various interpretations of Greek myths), the centaur attempted to kidnap Deianira, and Hercules came to the rescue and slew the centaur with an arrow coated in hydra-blood poison. As he lay dying, Nessus told Deianira to take some of his [the centaur's] blood, and if she ever feared that she was losing Hercules to another woman, use the blood as a love potion to keep Hercules faithful forever. Eventually, Dieanira became concerned that Hercules was straying in his devotion (whether or not he was depends on which writer you choose to believe) and spread the blood on his famous lion-skin cloak. Although Hercules was too strong for the potion/poison to kill outright, the pain did drive him to suicide (effectively), so this story actually contains heavy irony on multiple levels.
    • The king Polydectes wooed Perseus' mother, Danae, hoping to marry, then ravish her. In order to get rid of Perseus, who knew of his foul intentions, Polydectes invited Perseus to a lavish banquet where all the guests had to bring a horse, as a gift. As Perseus had no horse to give, he, instead, was tasked with bringing back the head of Medusa, the only mortal Gorgon. Of course, Polydectes assumed that Perseus would either die trying, or live in exile as a failure. He did not anticipate that Perseus would receive divine assistance from Athena, and as a result, paid for it very dearly.
    • Jason's life went really went downhill after the whole "dump the girl who murdered her family members for love of you" thing. Years later, when he'd been abandoned by all, he found the rotting wreck of the Argo, the ship that had carried him to glory and now lying forgotten and useless, much like himself. He fell asleep under the wreck, and the prow fell apart and fell on his head, crushing it.
  • One of the things that can kill a Basilisk or Cockatrice is the crowing of a rooster — roosters also tend to be one half of the parentage of a Basilisk or Cockatrice (the other being a snake or a toad).
  • In some Chinese folktales, the death of Zhao Yun is this. After years of being a great warrior, his wife teased him that he had been through so much and didn't even have a single scar. She playfully poked him with a sewing needle and the undiagnosed hemophiliac Zhao Yun bled to death.

  • Season 3 of Penny Arcade's D&D Podcast ends with Aeofel dying in the villain's mansion by getting caught in a acid pit. Later in the first PAX live game, the group ventures to hell so they can bring him back while getting their revenge on the Big Bad. When they finally get to her, she ultimately falls into an acid pit and dies.
  • In In Strange Woods, Howl, the one who trained Peregrine and her friends to survive, ends up (apparently) dying when he's unable to make it back alive.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Fraggle Rock: In one episode, Junior Gorg accidentally drops an egg into the Great Hall's pond. Wembley takes it on himself to sit on it and take care of the baby tree creature (bird) when it hatches. This turns out to be harder than he thought, especially when the creature (accidentally) causes Red to nearly meet with an ironic end.
    Red: Wembley, if you don't get rid of that monster, I will. He's a menace! He knocked me into the pond right in the middle of my lecture on water safety. I could have drowned!

  • Watchmen: In this version of Rorschach's backstory, he kills the man who murdered a little girl and fed her remains to his dogs by covering him in raw hamburger and steer blood and has the dogs eat him. Then he kills the dogs.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Forgotten Realms: Cyric, a mortal thief, murdering Bhaal, the god of murder. That is all.
  • Also from Forgotten Realms: The Fall of Netheril saw three of these with one action. Karsus, the most powerful mage of the Netherese Empire, used a powerful spell to 'borrow' the divine power of the Goddess of Magic Mystryl to save Netheril from its slow decline.
    • Karsus had initially planned to borrow the power of a lesser god, but at the last second chose Mystryl, the most powerful. He couldn't control that much power and effectively killed himself (which he had expected to happen, but was hoping to hold out long enough to save Netheril) with his own spell.
    • Karsus's failure and death destabilized the Weave. The great floating cities of Netheril suddenly no longer had the magic to keep floating, resulting in the Fall of Netheril and the destruction of the cities by a plan meant to save them.
    • Finally Mystryl, after having her power over magic stolen with magic, had to make a Heroic Sacrifice to prevent the destabilization of the Weave from destroying rest of the world.

  • In The Insect Play, the Chrysalis, after spending two whole acts promising to do great things when born, finally emerges in the epilogue as a Moth. She says she will explain the meaning of the whole world, then falls dead just like all the other moths did.
  • In the play The Whipping Man, the whipping man is beaten to death (Off screen) by a slave, using the first whip that the whipping man had used on that slave.
  • In Romeo and Juliet, the Prince sees the irony in the deaths of two lovesick children of the feuding houses:
    Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!
    See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
    That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
  • Raised as a horrible possibility in the 2013 stage musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which ups the infamous Laser-Guided Karma fates of several of the naughty kids (namely, Augustus, Violet, and Veruca with her dad) into potential offstage deaths — certainly the Oompa-Loompas' songs suggest that's their fates!
  • In Yellow Jack, Dr. Adrian Stokes is eager to continue his experiments in British West Africa injecting rhesus monkeys with yellow fever to prove that the disease is transmissible to an animal suitable for laboratory experimentation. Since the local strain he's already killed one monkey with only causes mild fever in black natives, and so he can't confidently claim that it really is yellow fever, he says: "I'll not be satisfied until I've seen dead white man and dead monk side by side on the autopsy table!" Just a few months later, Dr. Stokes contracts and dies of yellow fever; his assistant's log recalls his earlier remark, and comments: "We have seen that now in the autopsy just performed on Stokes himself."


    Visual Novels 
  • In the Fate route of Fate/stay night Shirou kills Kotomine Kirei with the same Azoth Dagger that the latter gave to Rin 10 years ago. Even more ironic that it also was the same dagger he killed Tokiomi Tohsaka (Rin's father and the one who gave it to him as a gift in the first place) within Fate/Zero.
  • In the background of the Tsukihime story, the magus Zelretch defeated Brunestud of the Crimson Moon, a being who could be called the personification and embodiment of the Moon's spirit, will, and power. How did Zelretch deal the final blow? He teleported the two of them to an alternate universe where humanity was extinct and Earth barren, and then dropped the Moon itself on Brunestud's head.
  • Danganronpa's executions are typically tailored to either the killer's Ultimate talent, their personality, or both at once.
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
      • The opening of the game shows the original headmaster of Hope's Peak Academy, Jin Kirigi, being executed by Monokuma. He had sky-high hopes that his students would be able to survive The Worst, Most Despair-Inducing Incident in the History of Mankind, and he's killed by being trapped inside a rocket and launched into space, where the G-forces leave him Stripped to the Bone.
      • Mukuro Ikusaba: The Ultimate Soldier who worked for a PMC called Fenrir. She's impaled by dozens of spears referred to as the "Spears of Gungnir", named after the weapon the Norse Top God Odin used to fight Fenrir. Furthermore, she was an Extreme Doormat who follows Junko's orders to the letter like a good soldier... and dies because of it.
      • Leon Kuwata: The Ultimate Baseball Player, but he hated the sport and wanted nothing more than to run away from it but was constantly pushed into playing it because he was so good at it. Literally chained to the middle of a baseball field and rapidly pelted with baseballs until death. Additionally, his victim, Sayaka, also got an ironic death since she was the one trying to kill him at first, only to be killed after he fought back.
      • Mondo Owada: The Ultimate Biker, leader of the gang "Crazy Diamond" who blames himself for his older brother dying in a street race to save his life. Strapped to a motorcycle and forced to ride around in a spherical cage so fast his body was pulverized and made into butter.
      • Celestia Ludenberg/Taeko Yasuhiro: The Ultimate Gambler, she styled herself as an Elegant Gothic Lolita with a pseudonym because she was ashamed of her dirt-common name and upbringing and wanted to be seen as high-class and sophisticated. Burned at the stake like a witch... which is exactly the kind of glamorous death she would want, so Monokuma runs her over with a fire truck at the last second (being run over by a vehicle is a very common cause of death).
      • Alter Ego: A very high-tech artificial intelligence created by the Ultimate Programmer. Demolished by a very low-tech backhoe.
      • Makoto Naegi: The Ultimate Lucky Student. Tied to a school desk on a conveyor belt slowly heading towards a giant crusher as Monokuma gives him a sex-ed lesson (i.e. a lesson about "getting lucky"). Also, he survives due to a lucky intervention by the last remnants of Alter Ego.note 
      • Junko Enoshima: The Ultimate Despair and the Big Bad behind the entire killing game and therefore every previous execution. Endures a marathon of every previous execution and loves every second of it. For extra irony, she's okay with both winning and losing so long as somebody feels despair from the process, and the kind of death she wants would be one that gradually builds despair until the final, climactic killing blow; so, as she happily waits for Makoto's would-be crusher to kill her, it jams, catching her by surprise (depriving her of the despair she would have felt when it came down), then smashes her a half-second later before she could process the despair of not dying like she'd hoped.
    • The Danganronpa Visual Fanbook provides information for What If? executions not seen in the original story of Trigger Happy Havoc.
      • Hifumi Yamada: The Ultimate Doujin Author. His execution has him being caught in a beam struggle between two Humongous Mecha; one styled after Monokuma and the other based on Princess Piggles, his waifu and the star of the Magical Girl anime that inspired him to become an artist. Unlike the others, this one was actually shown in the manga adaptation for the game's demo.
      • Sakura Ogami: The Ultimate Martial Artist. Forced to go up against an army but kills so many of them she ends up Buried Alive under their corpses.
      • Byakuya Togami: The Ultimate Affluent Progeny. He came from a long line of morally bankrupt businessmen who saw their children as tools to increase their family's prestige and forced them to fight amongst themselves to be chosen as the successor, with the losers being banished. His execution has him being thrown into a garbage can with Monokuma dressed as a child stoning him before he's cast out into the cold and left to succumb to his wounds and hypothermia (also a reference to his name, which means 'white night').
      • Aoi Asahina: The Ultimate Swimmer. Her execution has her locked in a glass box full of water as part of Monokuma's magic act, but before she can even try to escape Monokuma summons a school of sharks that messily devour Aoi.
      • Yasuhiro Hagakure: The Ultimate Fortune Teller who boasted about having a 30% accuracy rate (which for fortune-telling, is actually pretty good). He's given three doors and told that one of them will kill him, but the first two grow limbs and run away when he approaches. The third then eats him.
      • Chihiro Fujisaki: The Ultimate Programmer. His execution is similar to Chiaki's below, in which he's put into a game styled after Super Mario Bros. and chased by 8-bit Monokumas before they inevitably catch up to him and give him a Game Over.
      • Toko Fukawa/Genocide Jill: The Ultimate Writing Prodigy/Murderous Fiend and Byakuya's Abhorrent Admirer. Hers has her chasing a silhouette of him before a steamroller appears in front of it and flattens her.
      • Sayaka Maizono: The Ultimate Idol. Forced to perform on a stage surrounded by a gigantic Bear Trap, only for Monokuma to sabotage her performance and cause it to slam shut on her.
      • Kiyotaka Ishimaru: The Ultimate Moral Compass. His grandfather was the former Prime Minister of Japan, but was impeached over a scandal. He resented him for the shame he brought to his family name, and swore to work hard and develop a good sense of morality and duty to restore it. His execution has him being forced to sit through a parade in his honor calling him "Prime Minister" before being shot by Monokuma dressed as Golgo 13.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
      • Teruteru Hanamura: The Ultimate Cook (who insisted upon being referred to as the Ultimate Chef). Covered in batter and deep-fried in a volcano.
      • Peko Pekoyama: The Ultimate Swordswoman who viewed herself as a tool without free will. Fights off a horde of robotic samurai as Monokuma controls her with a voodoo doll on puppet strings (i.e. using her like a literal tool), only to be tricked into injuring her master (who was trying to save her) at the end.
      • Mikan Tsumiki: The Ultimate Nurse. Monokuma injects a giant syringe into a rocket shaped like a giant arm that carries her into space (though that one isn't as ironic as it is just plain weird). Additionally, her first victim, Ibuki, was the Ultimate Musician and was killed by strangling (which likely would have permanently ruined her singing voice had she survived). Her other victim, Hiyoko, relentlessly bullied her throughout the game (though the actual murder was to keep her quiet about Ibuki's murder).
      • Gundham Tanaka: The Ultimate Animal Breeder who could tame any animal. Killed by a stampede of various wild animals who were in no mood to listen to him. Additionally, he was a Chuunibyou who believed he had magical powers. He draws a magic circle on the ground and tries to cast a spell to save himself, but it predictably doesn't work. Thirdly, as part of his chuunibyou persona, he was a wannabe Evil Overlord and Card-Carrying Villain who boasted that he would "fill Hell with true Hell" when he got there. The souls of his past pets carry him up to Heaven instead. While he certainly deserves to go there given that he's actually a pretty good guy underneath the act and his motive for murder was a selfless one (it technically wasn't even really murder but an honorable Duel to the Death which his opponent consented to), it also makes the perfect Ironic Hell for someone who wanted to go to the real one, and absolutely destroys any villain cred he might have had.
      • Chiaki Nanami (and Monomi): The Ultimate Gamer. Her, Monomi, and all of Monomi's spare bodies are lined up and shot at Space Invaders-style. They eventually spot an exit door and attempt to flee through it as they are chased by a giant tank shaped like Pac-Man, which runs over all but her and one Monomi. They end up in a giant Tetris machine where they are slowly surrounded by giant Tetriminoes until finally being crushed by the oh-so-coveted line piece, forming a Tetris that causes the whole machine to explode.
      • The mastermind behind the Killing School Trip turns out to be an AI based on Junko Enoshima, who usurped the role of "Observer" from Usami and forced her into the humiliating role of Monomi, Monokuma's long-suffering "little sister". She meets her end when the Shutdown Sequence is activated, summoning an avatar of Usami who takes her revenge on the AI's Giant Junko avatar by pinning its hands to the ground and tying it up in a rainbow ribbon, then casting a spell that causes the Giant Junko to break into pieces.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony:
      • Kaede Akamatsu: The Ultimate Pianist. Hanged from a rope over a giant piano, and her body is manipulated to play a beginner-level piano piece very badly, getting her boos from the audience of Monokumas. After she finally dies from strangulation, the spike-lined keyboard cover of the giant piano slams down onto her.
      • Kirumi Tojo: As someone with Arachnid Appearance and Attire, her execution is based on The Spider's Thread, a story about Buddha attempting to rescue a sinner from Hell by lowering a spider's thread for him to climb, only for the thread to snap when he tried to stop the other sinners from climbing it, believing himself to be the only one worthy of being saved, and that selfishness only damned him to Hell all over again. Like the man in the story, Kirumi also believed she was the one most worthy of graduation at the cost of sacrificing everyone else, due to her responsibilities as de-facto Prime Minister of Japan. Monokuma, not being as benevolent as Buddha, instead provides Kirumi with a thorny vine to climb up a shaft filled with buzzsaws, which tear apart her clothes and body. When she reaches the top, she sees that the "outside" she had been trying to reach was actually a childish drawing taped to the ceiling. At that point, the vine snaps, and she plummets back down to her death. Plus one of the factors that led to Kirumi being exposed as the killer and subsequently executed was her accidentally leaving a piece of her glove in the pool: in other words, the Ultimate Maid failed to clean up after herself. Additionally, her victim, Ryoma, received Body Disposal by Irony in that his corpse was fed to piranhas. As someone who took down The Mafia, it is indeed quite ironic that he ended up "sleeping with the fishes".
      • Korekiyo Shinguji: The Ultimate Anthropologist receives an extremely Japanese execution of being hung up shibari-style and spun around (for added irony, hanging something up and spinning it around is also something he did during his crime), then cut down by a samurai, where he lands in a big pot and is boiled alive. Korekiyo was also a serial killer who believed himself to be possessed by the ghost of his dead sister, who he claims told him to kill 100 girls so that she could have friends in the afterlife. Unfortunately for him, it's proven that he was actually just crazy, since only his own ghost leaves his body upon his death, and when he runs into the actual ghost of his sister, she makes it pretty clear she doesn't approve of the murders he committed in her name by happily assisting Monokuma in throwing salt on his ghost, painfully melting it.
      • Gonta Gokuhara: The Ultimate Entomologist is shot many times with a Bee-Bee Gun firing mechanical wasps, which sting his face leaving it covered in painful-looking welts. A giant, monstrous, clawed insect then impales him through the chest for the killing blow. Monokuma then incinerates both him and the giant insect with a flamethrower. Miu Iruma, his victim, has a threefold layer of irony; she is an inventor who practices BDSM and wears a choker and two rubber barbed wire collars as part of her outfit, and she has a massive potty mouth, colorfully referring to all the deceased as "pieces of shit" that have been "flushed away"; and gave Keebo an upgrade to analyse her turds. She also mentions in her Free Time Events with Shuichi that she was in a near-fatal car accident that left her in a coma. Not only is she the very next person to die, but she gets strangled by toilet paper, in a virtual reality world while her physical body is in a comatose state.
        Himiko: Killed by toilet paper. It was... a fitting end for her.
      • Kaito Momota: The Ultimate Astronaut is given a remix of Jin Kirigiri's execution of being blasted off into space, except this time, the rocket goes down, and tunnels through the Earth subjecting him to the extreme heat of the Earth's core before coming out the other side and continuing off into space. Ultimately subverted, since Kaito dies peacefully from his illness before the execution finishes, enraging Monokuma, and achieved his dream of seeing space before he died.
      • Tsumugi Shirogane: The mastermind of the killing game and die-hard (literally) Danganronpa fangirl sure would have liked to go out in a grand fashion like Junko did. Instead, she is anticlimactically crushed by a piece of rubble as collateral damage from Keebo destroying the school. Which, in spirit, is exactly how the mastermind who started it all went out: against her own plans for a grandiose death, and out of her control. For bonus points, Monokuma strips her Junko cosplay off her just before the rubble falls, forcing her to die as plain old Tsumugi.

    Web Animation 
  • In Fallout Lore: The Storyteller, the Nuka-Junkie, a psychopath addicted to Nuka-Cola who appears in the Season 1 finale and a mini-story arc spanning two episodes in Season 2, is blown up with a Nuka-Grenade, which is a weapon powered by the very same special edition Nuka-Cola Quantum that he was threatening the Storyteller's life for.
  • Homestar Runner: In "Doomy Tales of the Macabre", quite a few of the "doomy fates" Strong Sad imagines for his friends and neighbors qualify as this. The King of Town is drowned in a giant pot of mutton stew, and Bubs gets his head bitten off by his own concession stand after accidentally bringing it to life.
  • Lobo (Webseries): In the end of "Breakout", Slaz and his brother Sniff reunite. They impaled each other by hugging because they have spikes all over their bodies.
  • RWBY:
    • Believing his sister's death was unnecessary, Hazel spends years pursuing a vendetta against Ozpin, convinced Oz gets people pointlessly killed in his Forever War against an Invincible Villain. In the end, he dies in the very manner he once objected to. Once he discovers Salem's true end-game, he sacrifices his life to save the lives of Ozpin and his allies. When Salem asks him if he's given up avenging his sister, he tells her that he's doing exactly what she would have done.
    • Ironwood spends the entirety of Volume 8 sacrificing everyone and everything around him in the name of protecting Atlas from Salem. He dies getting crushed under the city as it falls out of the sky as a result of his own actions, while Salem barely spares a glance at him.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • In the prequel book Start Of Darkness, Right-Eye the rash, impulsive brother of analytical and carefully planning Redcloak is killed when he finally thinks something through carefully and formulates a well-thought out scheme... Only to have it ruined during the execution stage when his brother does something rash and impulsive. Redcloak lampshades it.
    • Tsukiko is killed by her own wights after Redcloak takes control of them.
    • Earlier in the strip, Durkon is relieved that since he'll return home posthumously, he won't be eaten by some monster. How does he die? His blood is drained by a vampire.
    • When the Azure City guard recruits combat-capable prisoners to help fight off an invasion, one prisoner refuses the offer with a blunt "I hope the goblins plaster ya." His cell wall collapses on his head during the battle.
  • Jack Snipe from Erfworld gets the bright idea to take out the throne room's defenders by dropping a balcony on them with a purple dragon, excited by the irony of croaking them with falling statues of their own heroes. However, he doesn't seem to have commanded a dwagon in combat before, because the beast doesn't stop short enough to prevent them both from being crushed. His last words upon realizing what's happened are "Irony, really."
  • In Paranormal Mystery Squad's debut, the deer woman they are chasing is incapacitated when she runs in front of a car.
  • Girl Genius: Two fold for Dr. Merlot, who wanted above all else to gain authority and the Spark. Merlot burns all records, labs, notes, and the cryptographers when they discover that Agatha is a Heterodyne because he had expelled her and couldn't find her. He was afraid he would be blamed. He ends up removed from authority and shipped to Castle Heterodyne for this when, if he had just told the baron who Agatha was, he probably would have been rewarded. Furthermore achieves the Spark due to his hatred of Agatha as he blames her for his imprisonment in Castle Heterodyne. Achieving the spark was his lifelong goal and his actions of burning the evidence both led directly to his death when the Castle killed him to protect Agatha.
  • In Homestuck, Equius, Kanaya, Eridan and Nepeta are killed in this way. Equius is garroted with his own bow — that is to say, the Heir of Void is left void of air. Additionally, he was shot through the leg with an arrow and strangled with a broken bow — after dedicating himself to being an archer, but always breaking his bows and never firing a shot successfully. Kanaya is shot through the stomach by the wand she made for Eridan; her sign is Virgo and she's left barren. Eridan himself is chainsawed in half by Kanaya after she was revived as a rainbow-drinker, or rather, the magician was sawed in half by his lovely assistant (and the Aquarius sign consists of two separate halves, to increase the irony). Nepeta's fate was left unknown for some time after being advanced upon by Gamzee — that is to say, the catgirl existed in a state of possible life or death until it could later be observed. Additionally, Nepeta was the Rogue of Heart, and had the person she cared about most taken away from her just before her death.
    • Then there was Vriska, whose murder of Tavros by impaling him on his own lance led to Terezi impaling her with a stabbing cane. (Further, she was stabbed In the Back, after spending basically a lifetime doing this metaphorically and/or literally to others.)
  • Taken to extremes in Sire. The Binding being a force of the universe as strong as fate will use dramatic irony as a weapon to punish anyone who does not live up to their story. They call it a tragic ending.
  • Matt attempts to do so to Regules in White Dark Life. The irony being Matt using an Instant Kill attack on a boss with two instant kills. Unfortunately, it didn't work.
  • Stockyard in Unsounded dies from hanging (which also decapitates him for good measure). He is clearly fixated on noose imagery (he ties his hair into noose shapes and uses noose iconography in his brothel), and his father was hung — with an implication that he took the fall to save his son, no less.
  • The main villain of Welcome to Chastity is a witch who can among other things conjure fireballs and make women's breasts grow larger. She gets killed because of a fire she started triggers a gas explosions which she couldn't escape from since someone made her breasts so huge she couldn't move.
  • Slightly Damned: The water and ice magic-using demon Lazuli sinks into a frozen lake when Kieri makes her partner Talus fall on top of her. Subverted in that she doesn't die, but she came pretty close.
  • In the Bravoman webcomic, Reverse Anti-Bravoman rails against the comic's constant use of meta-humor, wanting to be taken seriously by the narrative. He is defeated in the most meta way possible: He falls between the borders of the comic after getting punched out by Bravoman and Reverse Bravoman.
  • Mom, I'm Sorry: Loan Shark Yongsik Ma makes a living out of scamming people with lengthy contracts that they don't read all the way through. He happens upon a lifespan dealer who claims he only has a year left and offers him 40 years of his wife's lifespan, and he signs the contract without reading it, unknowingly signing away the long life that was ahead of him. Minutes before his death, Yongsik boasts about the years he acquired, and Henry laughs at the sheer irony of the scammer being scammed.

    Web Original 
  • In Help Not Wanted, Ogrell Syn’Gorrsh was a Serial Killer who enjoyed eating his victims, or forcing them to resort to cannibalism to break their minds. He's Eaten Alive by two wyverns.
  • This is the most common way of choosing an execution method in Protectors of the Plot Continuum.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • General W locked two small children in a room with SCP-682 an immortal, extremely malevolent Eldritch Abomination claiming it was an attempt to kill the creature. They both got brutally murdered. Later, someone else locked him in a room with 682, claiming it was an attempt to kill the creature. He got brutally murdered. It's all but explicitly stated, however, that this was supposed to be karma.
      Dr. Clef: Fucking sadistic asshole. I've got no sympathy for that moron whatsoever. Introducing children to this fucking monster? What the hell...
    • SCP-823 ran on this trope before it was abandoned. The following are just a few deaths that occurred there:
      Two (2) individuals, male and female, fused together at multiple points after emerging from the "Tunnel of Love" dark ride. (dead)

      One (1) individual wearing a "Happy Hippo" mascot uniform, found dead of suffocation. Mouth, trachea, and lungs were discovered to be filled with a fibrous substance later determined to be identical to the stuffing in said mascot uniform. (dead)

      Fifteen (15) individuals recovered from the "Thriller Chiller" roller coaster, all decapitated by blunt force. Witnesses reported that the deaths did not occur simultaneously, but in groups of two, starting with the front row of seats and ending with the back. Forensic analysis indicates that each set of deaths corresponded to a loop or turn in the roller coaster's tracks. (dead)

      One (1) individual recovered from under the "Thriller Chiller" roller coaster, dead of broken neck and massive cranial trauma caused by a fifty-foot fall from an inverted position. Individual was seated at the back of said roller coaster, and somehow managed to extricate self from the ride's safety harness halfway through the ride. (dead)

      One (1) individual found dismembered inside the "House of Mirrors" attraction. Left arm was found sixteen feet to the north from the torso. Left leg was found inverted and attached to the ceiling by sinews. Right leg was found in the possession of Subject 79, partially consumed (forensic analysis indicates that teeth marks found on flesh and bone of said leg are human in origin). To date, no trace of right arm has been found. (alive)

    Web Videos 
  • Ask A Mortician: Caitlin points out that on several occasions, the crew of the Essex shipwreck decided against coming onto land because they feared they would be killed and eaten by cannibalistic tribes. They ended up eating each other after their piddly ration stores ran out.
    Caitlin: The irony is that, if they had only chanced those alleged "scary cannibals" in the Society islands, perhaps they themselves wouldn't have to become the cannibals.
  • Double Life SMP: Grian forbids Scar from going to the Deep Dark due to how dangerous the Warden is. Naturally, Grian loses his final life to a Warden on Day 6, which ends up killing Scar too due to the Can't Live Without You aspect of the soulmate mechanism in the season.
  • In None Piece, Luffy gets unreasonably mad at a group of pirate cat neuterers and kills them all by ripping off the front rod of their cat-shaped ship and hitting them with it. He even lampshades it.
    Luffy: Prepare yourselves for a visually ironic death!
  • In Splinter Cell: Extinction, Julian Hunter is ordered by director Ward to shoot Douglas Hyland (who didn't expect that) in episode 4. And then he's shot by Ward in episode 7. He didn't expect that.
  • World's Strongest Abridged: In this continuity, Doctor Wheelo was a famed cancer researcher. He died of lung cancer. He lampshades it during his introduction. It's mentioned in Broly: The Legendary Super Saiyan that he would later die again, this time of brain cancer.

Alternative Title(s): Ironic Death


A chain reaction

Leia kills Jabba by strangling him with the chain he used to bind her to him.

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Main / KarmicDeath

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