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Death by Transceiver

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The Doctor: Messages? Mayday? SOS?
Duke: Pretty much all the satellites had been whacked out of orbit. They managed to send back some... screams.

You know it's coming from a mile away when you hear these fateful words: "Here's a two-way radio so we can keep in touch."

There is a significantly high chance that one of the characters will get killed while the other can do nothing but listen as their final words or screams get Lost in Transmission by Walkie-Talkie Static.

For extra points, add video to the transmission, and have it cut to snow a split second after you catch a glimpse of the horrible monsters that did the deed.

Essentially, it's an Apocalyptic Log broadcast live in real-time. It's a convenient way to pull off a dramatic, emotional death scene while the people on the other end conveniently can't do anything about it. It's also an excellent way to add drama when Mission Control doesn't actually know what did the killing — but now they know that whatever it is, it's obviously deadly.

This trope is often used in place of a Violence Discretion Shot, though many times the violence on the victim's end is actually shown. A subtrope of Sound-Only Death. See also Snowy Screen of Death and Disconnected by Death.


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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in Maiden Rose, after Klaus and a young cadet accidentally get caught in the enemy line just as it advances for battle, they steal a radio to make contact with their own troops. By the time they get ahold of the Murakumo crew, Yamamoto is panicking and yelling about how the captain is hurt until suddenly there are several gunshots and Yamamoto's screams. After a prolonged static-y silence Taki (on the receiving side) begins to freak out himself before Klaus comes on the line and says everything's under control and they're heading their way.

    Fan Fiction 

  • Alien:
    • Subverted while the crew are in the alien ship. Kane goes exploring by himself and finds the eggs, all the time talking to the other party members on his spacesuit radio. After the egg opens and an immature Xenomorph attacks him, his radio goes dead. However, the other crew members rescue him.
      Kane: The pit is completely enclosed. And it's full of leathery objects, like eggs or something. [...] It appears to be completely sealed. Wait a minute, there's movement. It seems to have life. Organic life.
    • Captain Dallas goes into the air ducts to try to drive the Xenomorph into an airlock and blow it into space. He carries a radio with him to talk to the rest of the crew. They use a tracking device to let him know the alien is getting closer and closer, until it attacks and kills him.
      Move, Dallas. Get out! No! Not that way! The other way! Dallas? Dallas!
  • Done again in Aliens, with the Colonial Marines' video cameras. The crew left behind see and hear the last moments of several Marines before the screens turn to static.
  • The beginning of Congo with the killer gorillas.
  • The Dark Knight: Harvey and Rachel get to share this, with Harvey hearing Rachel's death. Of course, this is the whole reason they had transceivers in the first place.
  • Godzilla (2014): When the train carrying nuclear warheads is being transported through the area occupied by Femuto at night, just before the bridge scene, Sergeant Morales attempts to contact the train's military advance guard by radio, and the advance guard's screaming and gunfire comes over the radio. Not that Morales or anyone else present takes that as a sign that there might be serious trouble up ahead, leading them to run afoul of the monster that did the deed a few minutes later.
  • Utilized in Jurassic World during the Indominus Rex attack on park security in the jungle. In addition to the camera feeds we also get heart monitors that flatline as soon as the Indominus gets anywhere near them. The trope is used again when the Raptor pack sides with the I.Rex and turns on Owen and his security team.
  • An early example Played for Laughs shows up in Theatre of Blood: a cop hiding in the trunk of a car in an attempt to follow Lionheart ends up parked on train tracks. We hear him over the walkie-talkie to the other cops:
    Cop: I can hear a train whistle... (rumbling sound) I can definitely identify it as a train... (sound grows louder) T-R-A... KERRRR-UNNCH.
  • Subverted in Tremors. The other survivors are talking with Burt and Heather Gummer over a CB radio when a Graboid breaks into the Gummers' basement and attacks them. Burt yells "Jesus Christ!" into the radio and the other survivors look at each other sadly, believing that they're as good as dead. Then they hear gunfire coming from the Gummers' house, and we see them blow the Graboid away with high power firearms.

  • In Doom, Fly and the numbskulls guarding him listen to a comrade encountering and being killed by an monster.
  • In Variable Star telepaths are instantly aware when their linked twins die.
  • Done with a Crystal Ball in A Witch Shall Be Born. The witch-queen Salome sends a crystal ball with the army she's sent to crush Conan. The man at the other end lives long enough to deliver exposition on how they've been Lured into a Trap before someone cuts him down.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The A-Team episode "Skins", preserve ranger Kim Kaboko drives a jeep to a certain spot and catches a group of poachers. They attempt to bribe him, which he reacts to by attempting to call in backup to apprehend them. The poachers shoot him, and the viewer hears his sister Kamora speaking through the radio, trying to raise him.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Obsession". Rizzo's party has encountered the vampire cloud.
    Rizzo: [Activates communicator] Captain?
    Kirk: Kirk here.
    Rizzo: Captain, there's a strange cloud, sir. [It reaches him and he starts choking] Cloud, cloud.
    Kirk: Fire into it immediately!
    Rizzo: [Heard over communicator] Help me. Help! [Dies]
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Poison Sky", when the Sontarans massacre the UNIT troops.
    • "The Time of Angels", when the clerics are picked off one by one by the Weeping Angels. Except they keep talking, because the Angels are mimicking them.
  • Treadstone. In "The Cicada Covenant", CIA agent Matt Edwards is declared a Rogue Agent and a Treadstone asset is sent to murder him. As Matt's mobile phone is bugged, everyone at Mission Control gets to listen in horror as he's being choked to death.

  • Space Oddity:
    Ground Control to Major Tom
    Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
    Can you hear me, Major Tom?
  • The same story was covered in Peter Schilling's "Major Tom (Coming Home)". Subverted on this version as the next verse implies that the Major Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • The end of the Kaizers Orchestra song "170", with the Call-and-Response Song turning into both lead singer and the chorus repeatedly asking for soldier #170 after he's sent over the top to scout for his unit.
    #170, is it clear, is it clear? (ooh-la-la, we await your reply)
    #170, we await a reply (ooh-la-la, is it clear, is it clear?)

    Tabletop Games 
  • Traveller:
    "This is Free Trader Beowulf, calling anyone...
    Mayday, Mayday... we are under attack...
    main drive is gone... turret number one not responding...
    Mayday... losing cabin pressure fast... calling anyone... please help...
    This is Free Trader Beowulf...
    • GURPS Traveller may retroactively avert it, though:
      "Free Trader Beowulf...
      Come in, Free Trader Beowulf...
      Can you hear me?
      Come in, Free Trader Beowulf...
      Hang in there, Beowulf...
      Help is on the way!"

    Video Games 
  • In the Metal Gear series of Stealth Based Games , you play a series of agents infiltrating hostile sites with support crew contacting you by radio. The natural assumption when the player gets a Game Over is that Snake has been killed or captured, expressed by the ever-popular cries of "Snake?! SNAAAAAAKE!!" on the continue/quit screen.
  • Metroid: Other M has "Samus! What's going on? Respond! RESPOO—-"
  • The introduction level of Doom³ has the player character listening to people die over his radio every ten seconds after the hell invasion begins. There is even a console video depicting a scientist having his neck snapped by a zombie before cutting to static.
  • Road of the Dead: Oh, rest assured there's plenty to go around in these games.
  • Strike Commander kills its father figure character this way a few missions into the game. While the Wildcats are busy fighting off an attack on their strike base in Andes Mallorca, James Stern decides to split the party and head to the Generalissimo's palace in an un-escorted cargo plane to collect the payment they're owed. The Wildcats defeat the attackers handily, but while they're waiting for Stern to get back the radio suddenly comes to life as he radios in to report that he's under attack by enemy jets. He manages to send an "I'm proud of you all" message right before the airwaves go silent.

    Western Animation 
  • A subverted example from DuckTales (1987), "Where No Duck Has Gone Before". After Courage abandons the boys and Launchpad, Scrooge is angrily watching him on the radio when the Kronk ship goes chasing after him and eventually catches the Phoenix. This disrupts the transmission. However, given that it's Launchpad driving the Kronk ship, Courage doesn't get anything more than a bad scare.
  • Jonny Quest episode "The Invisible Monster". Dr. Quest receives a frantic ham radio message.
    Norman: Benton! This is Isaiah Norman. I desperately need your help. You know of my experiments in attempting to harness energy and my theory of controlling it. Well, I'm afraid my efforts have resulted in the creation of something too terrible to contemplate.
    Dr. Quest: But Isaiah...
    Norman: No! Believe me, Benton. It is monstrous beyond imagination. [We see the monster's footsteps as it returns] And what is worse, uncontrollable. Can you come at once?
    Dr. Quest: Of course, Isaiah.
    Norman: Something must be done to stop this thing. [Monster's weird noise is heard] No. No! It's come back! [Monster consumes Dr. Norman]
    Dr. Quest: Isaiah! Isaiah!