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Did You Die?

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Elaine: Horsehockey! You honestly expect me to believe that you were disintegrated in acid?
Guybrush: Sure, well I—
Elaine: And yet here you are telling me all about it, looking very integrated indeed.
Guybrush: Yes, well, that is... Ah... Okay, so I embellished it a little for dramatic effect. Sue me!

Stock Phrase: one character is narrating an adventure they went through, and at a particularly dramatic moment, someone in the audience asks, trembling, "did ... did you make it?"

Subtrope of Foregone Conclusion, as they clearly did live to tell the tale — except when they had an Unexplained Recovery. (Other exceptions may involve a From a Single Cell Healing Factor, The Undead, or coming Back from the Dead.) May lead to an Ask a Stupid Question... situation ("Yes, I did die. I'm not here."). Cases where the storyteller really did die tend towards a Dead All Along or Dead to Begin With reveal. Can also cover cases where a character telling a tall tale that had been believed up to that point breaks their listener's suspension of disbelief by getting too carried away and proceeding to describe their own supposed death. Contrast Posthumous Narration and Undead Author.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In a flashback in Duel Masters, Shobu loses a "Kaijudo"note  duel, and possibly dies. The person listening to his story wonders if he might be a zombie. "What do you want me to do? Not eat a brain?"
  • Mazinger Z: In episode 91, Kouji tries to bring a severely beaten Boss around. Boss mutters he is dead, and Kouji reminds him dead people can not speak. Boss realizes he is right and stands up.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In the classic (read: all the usual crazy turned Up to Eleven) episode "Holy Matrimony!", James is making up a story as a child who escaped from his controlling parents and abusive "fiancee," ending with him dying in the snow, in front of a church, with his loyal Growlithe by his side. While everyone else is caught up on the emotional tale, Misty reminds them that the young boy that "died" is the man telling them the story.
    • In the episode "Moving Pictures", Sophia, an elderly lady, relates one of these stories about herself and husband Marcello in flashback. Given she's already told a few tall tales at this point, nobody is fooled on this one.
  • In the first One Piece movie, Luffy is quite disappointed to learn that old man Ganzo survived his fall from a cliff as a child.
  • Psychic Squad has a character asking this...about HERSELF.
  • Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple features an indirect variant. Kenichi has a bit of a huge crush on Miu Furinji; sometimes, it makes him a bit dense. When Miu's grandfather was relating a flashback in which a young Miu was captured by some pirates off the coast of Thailand, Kenichi practically threatens to beat the old man up if he lets her die. Resident ditz Apachai helpfully points out that Miu is in the next room, cooking.
  • In Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally, Suzaku talks about an incident in his childhood, in which he fell into a pit with Nunnally, and the pit slowly started to fill with water. Euphemia grows concerned about what happened to them, but Suzaku laughs and says that he obviously made it out all right, and she realizes it was a silly question to ask.

    Audio Plays 
  • Inverted in an old Bert and I... sketch. The titular duo finds a body in the kelp resembling Elmer Johnson, the lighthouse keeper. They stop at the lighthouse to see if he's all right, and he answers the door. They tell Elmer what they saw, and he asks a series of follow-ups.
    "Was they high boots, or was they low boots?"
    "They was low boots."
    "Are you sure?"
    "Well... come to think of it, they was high boots turned down low."
    "Oh. [Beat] Well, 't'weren't me."
  • Big Finish Doctor Who, "The Uncertainty Principle". At the cliffhanger of the adventure Zoe is relating, she had just been zapped by aliens. The next episode opens with her interrogator asking how she could possibly have survived. Zoe, not in the best of tempers, snaps back "I didn't — I'm a ghost!" but is soon persuaded to reveal the actual reason.

    Comic Books 
  • In a Barry Blair ElfQuest story featuring an Indiana Jones-style adventure. At the beginning of Part 2 one of the people the hero is telling his adventure to says something like, "So what happened next? I want to find out if you got killed or not."
  • Done in the Comicbook Adaptation of The Ren & Stimpy Show, where 20 Minutes into the Future Ren's grandson asks him this after elderly Ren ends his past flashback of himself practically exploding in a mushroom cloud of rage when he finds Stimpy dipping chocolate into his favorite peanut butter after returning from a rehabilitation center to cure his anger.
  • A Knights of the Dinner Table comic has Brian describing a role-playing adventure that he calls "the best I ever played." Eventually, the party was captured by an army of trolls, but Brian was able to escape his bonds, distract the guards with a spell, and impale the troll king on a spear. At which point, one of the other knights asks, "How did you make it out alive?"
    Brian: I didn't get out alive. They killed me, of course. I mean, c'mon. There were like two thousand trolls and me all by my lonesome? I didn't stand a chance.
    Sarah: But you said it was the best adventure ever...
    Brian: Well, yeah. Killin' that troll king was awesome.

    Fan Works 
  • At the end of episode 9 of Bowser's Kingdom, Jeff asks Karate Duo Numbah Won how, if his brother died in the story he had been telling, was he sitting there with him? Their answer? "Rucky Candy!"
  • Used in the Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfic Say Something when Grandpa Muto relates the story of a game of Russian Roulette.
  • In Undocumented Features's Road Film with Fighting, since it's basically a fanfic version of a Top Gear episode, they use this trope like Top Gear below.
    FADE TO Int. Day. Top Gear Studio. CLARKSON and HAMMOND stand near the INDESTRUCTIBLE TOYOTA.
    Hammond: [with overacted eagerness] The suspense is killing me, Jeremy. Did we escape from Earthforce or not?
  • In My Little Mommies, Derpy has been retelling the story of how her daughter was created from a magic mirror, which involves her and her then-coworkers Sparkler, Raindrops and Speedy battling a gorgon, with Raindrops and Speedy getting poisoned. When the flashback ends, Rainbow Dash is desperate to know if Raindrops and Speedy survived. Twilight points out that Raindrops is working on the weather patrol with Rainbow Dash, and has in fact been covering for her during their recent vacation.
  • A variant happens in A Twixie Love Story: after Trixie has moved in with Twilight, the Crusaders take her captive (they have a grudge against her for what she did to their sisters), so Trixie tries to mollify them by telling the story of how she and Twilight became a couple, which involves them duking it out at a sci-fi convention. The story is very captivating, and while Scootaloo gets excited over the action scenes, Sweetie Belle latches on to the romance plot and wonders if Trixie and Twilight will be able to patch things up. Apple Bloom helpfully reminds her that the ponies in question are a genuine couple now, so obviously they did.
  • In episode 3 of the Touhou Project fanime Fantasy Kaleidoscope, Sanae tearfully asks Marisa if she died after the cliffhanger from the previous episode. Reimu points out Marisa is the one telling the story. Of course, Touhou is a Fantasy Kitchen Sink where ghosts can and do exist, so this question is more valid than in other settings; as if lampshading this, Yuyuko can be seen in the background waving during this conversation.
  • In Heroes Chiron returns from talking to Lupa about a possible meeting with Camp Jupiter.
    Little girl: Chiron, what if you made her mad? Did she eat you, Chiron? Did you die?!
  • I Am NOT Going Through Puberty Again!: At one point, the protagonists discuss trying to follow the original timeline and conclude that they don't remember everything clearly enough (it was twenty years ago from their point of view, after all) to get it perfectly right anyway. Naruto isn't sure if Sasuke was even with them during the Wave mission, and then decides that Sasuke was in fact killed that time. Sasuke points out that he would have remembered getting killed, but Naruto insists it happened. He admits that Haku might only have nearly killed Sasuke, which the latter argues is a whole different thing.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Chicken Little, Runt expresses his amazement over how accurate the Hollywood retelling of their story is, even as his movie counterpart is dying on-screen.
  • In the commentary for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, the directors mention that they got a lot of comments from people who thought Sam drowned after cannonballing into the pool in the jell-o castle, despite the fact that she shows up in the very next scene.
  • In Finding Nemo, after Dory tells the baby sea turtles about her and Marlin's journey, one of them asks Marlin "Mister Fish, did you die?"
    Dory: Sorry. I was a little vague on the details.
  • In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, when Buck is telling of his encounter with The Beast (a.k.a. Rudy), and indicates he was eaten. Justified by Buck being crazy, and Crash and Eddie not being especially bright:
    Crash: Were you killed?
    Buck: Sadly, yes. But I lived!
  • Tangled: The narration starts with Eugene telling the audience that this is the story of how he died. He isn't entirely lying.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Running Gag in Cool Runnings every time their sled flips over: "Hey Sanka. You dead?" "Ya, mon." At the end of the film, inverted to indicate they aren't willing to give up.
    Sanka: Derice. You dead?
    Derice: Nah, man, I'm not dead. But we gotta finish the race.
  • Lampshaded in Kick-Ass, which occasionally has the title character give voice-over narration. In one such segment, he says that just because he's telling them the story doesn't mean that he survived it, mentioning a number of movies, including American Beauty, narrated by dead people.
  • In Alien: Resurrection, one of the characters asks Ripley what she did last time she ran into the xenomorphs. Notable because it is not a joke — Ripley actually did die. The one in Resurrection is a clone.
    Ripley: [raises eyebrows] I died.
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen:
    • Inverted when the climax of the story the Baron is narrating seems to end in the Baron's death, complete with tragic funeral procession — at which point we hear the Baron cheerfully bellow "and that was just one of the many instances in which I met my death!"
    • But played straight earlier in the film, when Sally first speaks to the Baron (note that the story mentioned was supposed to be treated as a true fact explaining the ongoing war):
    Sally: What happened in the story?
    Baron: What?
    Sally: In the Sultan's palace. Did you escape? Were you killed?
    Baron: [annoyed] I don't know!
  • Similarly, in the Czech film Baron Prášil (a.k.a. Když Burian prášil) the main protagonist, descendant of Baron Munchhausen, dramatically relates how he was surrounded by bears on a narrow bridge over a chasm:
    Prášil: So consider this: a bear in front of me, a bear behind me, me in the middle, and below me a chasm.
    Butler: So, what did you do?
    Prášil: What was I supposed to do? I got myself eaten!
But the ghost of the old Baron, which knocks a plate from the wall whenever anybody tells a lie, is polite enough to wait until the end of the story.
  • Roger Ebert noted that the documentary Touching the Void had this effect on him. Joe Simpson is narrating his own experience of being stuck on a mountain with a broken leg, so clearly he survived, but the situation he's in looks so impossible to get out of that you're still kind of surprised he makes it. Heck, Simpson had this response himself — while recreating the scenes of pulling himself towards safety across the snow he underwent a mental breakdown, imagining that he had never actually made it home, that his recreation was the real deal, and that everything after the mountain was actually just the fevered imaginings of a dying brain.
  • Parodied in Without a Clue. When "Holmes" tells the story of facing a poisonous snake, had it not been for his quick reflexes, he would be telling that story, but standing there a dead man.
  • This great little exchange happens towards the end of the 1942 war film Flying Tigers, between John Wayne and his copilot aboard a plane loaded with nitroglycerin:
    Jim: I used to drive a roller coaster once.
    Woody: Carrying nitro?
    Jim: Yes.
    Woody: Were you killed?
    Jim: Uh-huh.
  • Hopalong Cassidy once finished one of his dimwitted sidekick's long-winded stories for him by saying "I know, you died." California's response? "That's right, I died." It takes him a few more seconds to notice his mistake.
  • In the "Second Honeymoon" segment of VHS, a young woman whose husband just stepped out of view behind boulders at the edge of a very deep canyon calls out to ask him "Did you fall?", as if he'd be in any condition to answer if he had fallen.
  • In "A Minute's Wait", the second segment of John Ford's The Rising of the Moon, the engineer begins a drawn-out suspenseful story about a ghost he discovered while exploring in an old castle. The officious station master comes in and says the train is (once again) ready to depart. The barmaid asks "What happened to the ghost? Did he not come back and get you?" The engineer assures her he'll finish the story later, "when there's more congenial company."
  • In the Polish comedy Kiler, the main character (who is mistaken by everyone for a notorious contract killer) is interviewed by in prison by a journalist. She asks him about "his" first contract and he starts musing about the (completely made up) circumstances, until she asks him if he succeeded in killing his mark.
    Kiler: Nope. I died.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the senior bridge officers die in a simulated battle during a training session at Star Fleet Academy. When Admiral Kirk sees Captain Spock immediately after, the first thing he says is "Aren't you dead?" Spock's response: raised eyebrow. note 

  • There is a Russian joke about an old man telling his grandson a story from his days as a partisan during the Great Patriotic War, about him getting caught by the Nazis and being forced to choose between death and sexual slavery.
    Grandson: So what did you choose, Grandpa?
    Grandfather: I died, kiddo, I died.
  • Subverted in the stock insult "Did your mother have any kids that lived?"
  • There's an ancient Roman joke (found in the Philogelos) that goes something like this:
    An Absent-Minded Professor meets one of a pair of identical twins. He asks, "Was it you or your brother who died?"

  • David Brin's Uplift novel Brightness Reef has Alvin complain of how the clear answer to this question in his first-person account interferes with the dramatic tension of the story.
  • Older Than Radio: In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, after the Mariner describes how everyone on his ship died, the wedding-guest interrupts the story with "I fear thee, ancient Mariner!" and has to be reassured that the Mariner is not a ghost.
  • In the His Dark Materials short story "Once Upon a Time in the North", Lee Scoresby tells the politician's daughter about the time he was chased by a bear. Her question, "Did he catch you?" is a clue that she isn't the brightest bulb in the drawer.
  • Played with in Sun Blind, book two of the Secret of the Unicorn Queen series, when the eponymous queen and Sheila are trapped by the Big Bad. As Sheila despairs, Illyria tells her a story about when she was trapped on a cliff side between a hungry cave bear, and a Lyros, a mountain wolf as big as a pony- and her fingers were slipping. She promptly ends the story, and Sheila asks, hopeful, how she made it.
    "Oh, I didn't. The bear ate me."
  • Inverted in Tall Tale America where someone asks Jim Bridger how he survived a fight with a nine-foot-tall Indian. "I didn't (...) that dratted Indian killed me."
  • A twist occurs in Way Of The Peaceful Warrior. Dan is visiting Socrates in the hospital after the old man had a heart attack and, it seems, did actually die and miraculously come back to life. Dan is explaining what happened when Soc interrupts, "I'm rooting for you. I can't wait to find out how it all came out."
  • Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson, which purports to be a biography of the title character by his best friend, has this line halfway through:
    The reader, if not versed in recent history, may be anxious to discover whether or not Julian and I were killed on Independence Day. I do not mean to protract the answer to that important question...
  • The Amelia Peabody novel The Last Camel Died at Noon starts with Amelia, her husband Emerson, and their son Ramses lost in the Nubian desert, several days away from the Nile, after the death of their last camel. There is then an extended flashback to show how they came to be in this situation, which Amelia assures the reader is not for the purposes of causing any suspense about her survival because "Obviously I could not be writing this if I were in the same state as those poor camels."
  • Invoked by Pierre Fley in John Dickson Carr's Dr. Gideon Fell novel The Hollow Man:
    "Three of us were once buried alive. Only one escaped!"
    "And how did you escape?"
    "I didn't, you see. I was one of the two who did not escape."
  • Amusingly inverted in Lord Dunsany's short story "In a Dim Room":
    "And then the smooth floor came to a sheer smooth rock without crevice or crack in it, and no turn to the left or right. The cave had ended. I turned round in the dark and smelt, rather than saw, the tiger."
    "What happened then?" asked one of the boys.
    "He ate me," said Jorkens. "It is a ghost that is speaking to you."
    And all the fuss that happened in that dim room was blamed entirely on me.
  • Played with in Jack Blank. At the beginning of the story, Jack is reading an old comic book about the space hero, Prime, who had suddenly been infected by the Rüstov techno-virus, but the last page is missing. Once Jack discovers Prime is a real person and not just a comic book hero and is alive and well, and that the Rüstov techno-virus is unquestionably fatal, he asks Prime if what happened in the comic book was true. Prime responds that comic book artists like to embellish the truth.
  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan is framed as a volume of memoirs written by the narrator in her old age, about the exploits of her youth. Describing a bout of yellow fever that she contracted, she says:
    In short, I nearly died — a phrase I can write with equanimity only because it was so long ago, and because I have the reassurance of knowing that I survived. (As you can plainly tell, for I am not writing this memoir from beyond the grave.)
  • Wagons West: while on the original wagon train, Whip was telling some of the boys on how he almost didn't survive one winter because he did not spend enough time on clothes meant for cold protection. One of the boys asked if he died, to which Whip responded with a chuckle and made sure to hammer in the point to the boys that one needs to make sure a job is properly done.
  • In the Dragaera novel Tsalmoth, Vlad is discussing being transported to other worlds by magic with the Necromancer when she mentions being transported to worlds without oxygen atmospheres. He asks what she did in that situation, and she tells him she died. Vlad then mentions in the narration that he was about to ask how she could be there telling him this if she died when he remembered that he was talking to a necromancer so powerful that she spells her name with a "the."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Inverted and played with in Everybody Loves Raymond; after Robert is gored by a bull and ends up in the hospital, he's relaying the story to his family. When he gets to the part the bull actually charges, Marie fearfully asks, "Did you get away?" Robert stares at her for a moment, then responds...
    Robert: Where are we, Ma?
  • Variation in the first episode of As Time Goes By. Jean is explaining to her daughter Judith that Lionel, the man Judith met earlier, actually used to be Jean's old flame. As Jean goes on to say that they were separated because Lionel went off to the Korean War, Judith, enthralled by the story of Star-Crossed Lovers and a hopeless romantic, guesses breathlessly, "And then he died!"
    Jean: You just had lunch with him.
  • Top Gear's Richard Hammond is frequently subjected to this trope — for example, after sitting in a car while it was struck by lightning. Lampshaded in one episode, where after showing half of on film, he quips "We'll come back later to see if I died."
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The episode where Riley returns has Buffy and Riley promise to swap stories if they get a chance. She asks if he died, and when he says he didn't, she says, "I'm going to win." (She'd died and come back in the year since he left.)
    • This was a favorite of Buffy writers:
      Buffy: So, how've you been?
      Amy: Rat. You?
      Buffy: Dead.
      Amy: [politely] Oh.
  • On Dave Allen at Large, the comedian told a one-liner in which one drunk man asks another, "Say, was it you or your brother who was killed in the war?"
  • Doctor Who:
    • Inverted in the episode "The Time of Angels". The Doctor asks Bob how he escaped the Angels. He replies that he didn't - they snapped his neck. This is the point where it's revealed the Angels are basically using his corpse as a puppet to communicate with the Doctor.
    • Reused in "Asylum of the Daleks", where an explorer describes how he got stranded on a glacier without shelter. It's only when it's pointed to him that it's been a year that he realises he forgot about dying.
    • A similar case occurred in "The Time of the Doctor". Tasha Lem recaps how their ship was overrun by Daleks, ending by saying they died screaming the Doctor's name. And that's when she realises what happened and the Dalek puppeteer parasite controlling her comes out.
    • In "The Impossible Astronaut", the Doctor is shot by an Apollo astronaut on fixed point in time and his body burned. In a later episode, it turns out to be him inside a shape-shifting robot. He wanted to disappear from the scene as he had gotten "too big."
  • Asked by Kelly once in Married... with Children. It wasn't a death case. Al told the family a woman at the store asked him to move to a Greek island and live with her. Kelly, being her, believed Al when he said he went.
  • Non-lethal version in an episode of Becker: Margaret is telling Linda the story of how she met and was eventually hired by Becker, and at a point in the story when Becker throws Margaret out of the office, Linda asks "So where did you end up working?"
  • Slight variant in Merlin. After a particularly nasty fight, Elyan calls out "Gwaine? You still alive?" Gwaine emerges from the darkness with "What do you think?"
  • A Horrible Histories sketch has Colonel Blood offering to tell King Charles II all about the time he tried to assassinate... King Charles II.
    King Charles II: Did you succeed? No, no, no, don't tell me, I'll wait until you come 'round!
  • Babylon 5 managed to work this into a serious bit of dialogue after Sheridan came Back from the Dead and showed up to rally the League races who had given up on fighting the Shadows.
    Drazi Ambassador: Captain, we're sorry. We thought you were dead.
    Sheridan: I was. I'm better now.
  • On General Hospital, local Felicia Jones faked her death to get Serial Killer Ryan to confess to his crimes—her "ghost" haunted him until he finally broke down. When she testified at his trial, his lawyer questioned her tactics, then practically lampshaded this trope by apologizing for having to ask such a ridiculous question—"You weren't ever really dead, were you?"
  • Another non-lethal version from Saved by the Bell. Jessie's father has invited the gang to Palm Springs for his wedding and is showing them the spot where he proposed. Screech (of course) queries, "So what was her answer?"
  • In the All in the Family two-parter where Edith is nearly raped, as she tries to explain it to Archie:
    Edith. He had a gun. He said he was going to kill me.
    Archie. Did he?
    Edith. No.
  • After encountering the fiancé who she thought was killed during the Civil War, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman asks "You didn't die?", to which he answers "No".

  • In Arlo Guthrie's "Motorcycle Song", Arlo recounts the time he accidentally rode his motorcycle off a huge cliff and wrote the refrain to this song on his way down:
    I was goin' at 150 miles an hour sideways and 500 feet down at the same time...I knew it was the end...But as fate would have it, I didn't die! I landed on the top of a police car. And it died.
  • The Tragically Hip's frontman Gordon Downie often plays with this trope in concerts. Usually during an instrumental break on "New Orleans is Sinking", he'll launch into a story about how he got his arms bitten off by a killer whale at Sea World or drowned while rescuing a family from Hurricane Katrina.
  • There is also this:
    Were you lost? — No, just bewildered.
    Were you caught? — No, just surrounded.
    Were you brave and were you courageous?Well, wait and see.
    — Bing Crosby, "Incident at Rogers Creek", A Christmas Story, 1957.

    Puppet Shows 
  • An episode of The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss features a boy telling his friends about his adventures with his pet fish, Norville. In the middle of the story, one of the friends asks, "Did you and Norville die?" The others look at her and replied "Duh..."

  • Adventures in Odyssey takes a story from Bernard's childhood, told to an impatient listener who knows that a matter of life or death is involved, adds a commercial-break cliffhanger (dramatic music and all) and blunts it within ten seconds of coming back.
    Tamika: So it was Bernard who died!
    Bernard: What? No, no, I didn't die, I'm standing right here in front of you.
    Tamika: ...oh. Right.
  • Bleak Expectations:
    Sir Phillip: We resolved to escape from St. Bastard's or die in the attempt!
    Sourquill: And what happened?
    Sir Phillip: We died in the attempt.
    Sourquill: Oh, how awful!
    Sir Phillip: Of course not, you blundering idiot! How would I be talking to you now?
  • At least one Storyteller sketch in John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme ends with the Storyteller not surviving and then saying you shouldn't think about that too much.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, this is one question you aren't allowed to interrupt someone else's tall tale with.
  • In one of the inns in the 7th Sea universe, you can tell any tall tale you like, no matter how outlandish, and get away with it as long as you confirm that you did die at the end.

  • Malcom invokes this himself in The Full Monty The Musical. When Jerry and Dave are discussing ways to help him kill himself, he chimes in, "I stuck my finger in a socket once. It hurt real bad...but it didn't kill me." Jerry's response: "Malcolm, stay out of this."
  • In the beginning of Don Giovanni, there's just been a duel between the title character and the Commendatore. Leporello, Giovanni's servant, asks "Who died — you or the old guy?" Giovanni replies "What an idiotic question — the old guy!"
  • Inverted in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory The Musical. During the song "Willy Wonka! Willy Wonka!", Charlie is telling the history of Willy Wonka to a local candy shop owner, unaware that he is Wonka himself.
    Wonka: What happened next?
    Charlie: He died.
    Wonka: What?
    Charlie: Commercially, he died.
    Wonka: That's hardly the same thing.
  • Six: At the end of Don't Lose Ur Head, Katherine Howard asks Anne Boleyn if she really died after being beheaded. Anne answers in the affirmative. Then again, none of the queens are actually alive by this point, and the show depicts them as members of a girl band, with their ladies in waiting as back up musicians.

    Video Games 
  • Deadly Rooms of Death: In the ending sequence of the first game, Halph quotes the trope by name. Beethro says "No, I didn't die." with a completely straight face.
  • The Monkey Island series:
    • Inverted in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge. If you "kill" Guybrush during the game by not escaping the torture chamber in time, Elaine (whom Guybrush is telling the story to) tells him that can't have happened, since he's obviously not dead.
    • Similarly, in Return to Monkey Island, if you try to drown Guybrush by staying underwater for eight minutes, the game will cut back to him telling the story to his son, who calls him out on it. But if you try again two more times, the game will cut back to the now empty bench they were sitting on and tell you that Guybrush died for real, leaving behind his wife and no children, before returning to the main menu. And then you get an Achievement.
  • Fallout: Inverted. Harold has a lot of war stories who will invariably respond to questions like "How did you survive?" with "Didn't. Got killed! Hehehehehe!"
  • Final Fantasy X: Not outright asked, but definitely alluded to with Rin and Auron's meeting on the Thunder Plains. Rin refers to having assisted Auron with his injuries 10 years ago, but was surprised to find him gone by morning, as "an ordinary man would not have been able to walk." Auron sternly asks him to drop the subject. Auron left in the morning because he did die, and became an unsent.
  • Implied in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: The events of the game are being related to a third party by the Prince, after the fact, (sort of), and if the player dies in-game, the Prince can be heard saying something to the effect of ", that didn't happen...let me start again..." Either it's this trope, or the Prince has simply added a passage into his story where he is permanently killed, having forgotten that he is in fact alive. A popular assumption is the person he's telling the story to got bored and interrupted to say he died to get him to shut up and leave.
  • There was a similar thing going on with Sacrifice: "Of course that's not what really happened... let me start again..."
  • The old PC game Conan the Cimmerian is narrated by a traveler sitting at a campfire, telling Conan's story to a group of other men. If the player causes Conan to die, the game over screen cuts back to the storyteller, saying something along the lines of, "No, that's not right. Surely Conan would have known better than to do that." (The message varies according to how Conan died.) Then, of course, you reload your save and try again.
  • Banzai Bug: Uses a "change my retelling" effect to undo deaths, since the whole game's events is being retold by the titular bug as a geriatric.
  • In Kingdom of Loathing, agua de vida allows you to flip your consciousness through time and experience the lives of characters from the distant past and future. If you flip back in time to the legendary adventurer Krakrox the Barbarian and manage to get him killed, you are tersely informed that the story of Krakrox's death is well known and you've clearly gotten the details wrong.
    You stroll nonchalantly into the cavern chamber and find, unexpectedly, a wumpus. It blinks in surprise, but it is evidently not as surprised as you are; it lashes out with a lightning-fast claw and eviscerates you before you can react. Ouch. This would be a pretty sorry end for an adventurer as mighty as Krakrox; maybe you should take advantage of the weird time-travel thing going on here and try that again.

    Krakrox shouted his mighty battle-cry and charged into the chamber with his sword upraised. Unfortunately, the wumpus was nowhere to be seen. There was a sound behind him and he spun around, but not quickly enough; the wumpus claimed another victim. Which is odd, because historians are pretty sure that Krakrox didn't die from being eaten by a wumpus. There must be some kind of interference in the flows of the ancestral... thingumbob. Maybe you should just try again.

    Hmm, that can't be right; you're pretty sure Krakrox lived to a ripe old age and didn't die by falling down a pit in a dark cavern in the middle of nowhere. In fact, history records that he died from injuries resulting from a drunken brawl with a tavern wench's boyfriend at the age of seventy-three — the handbrake on his wheelchair broke after he ran over the guy's head several times, and on the way home he accidentally rolled off the side of a mountain. Anyway, my point is, maybe you should try that again.
  • After dying in the games intro and subsequently being resurrected by Cerberus Mass Effect 2 has a few variations on this:
    • Once, a guard stops you, claiming that his scanning thinks you are dead and asks for an explanation ("I was mostly dead," or "I've been getting that a lot").
    • During the encounter with Wrex:
      Wrex: So Shepard, how's the Normandy?
      Shepard: Destroyed in a Collector attack. I ended up spaced.
      Wrex: Well, you're here now. Ah, the benefits of a redundant nervous system!
      Shepard: ...Yeah... humans don't have those.
    • And later:
      Joker: Come on! It'll be better than the old days.
      Shepard: I hope so. I died.
      Joker: Gah, you're such a downer.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn cuts off Batman's way to the surface by blowing up the elevator, leading to an exchange between Bats and Oracle:
    Batman: Harley Quinn tried to slow me down. Dropped an elevator on me.
    Oracle: Did it work?
  • Inverted for dramatic effect at the end of Spec Ops: The Line, where the clear implication is that he wished he had:
    Delta trooper: How did you survive?
    Walker: Who said I did?
  • In Tales from the Borderlands, the Framing Device involves Rhys and Fiona relating their story to a Mysterious Stranger who has captured them. If you fail a quick-time event and die, the Stranger will wryly ask if they want to try telling that again, as they're clearly not dead.
  • In Persona 5, if you fail to complete the current story dungeon in time, you get a Non-Standard Game Over where it shows an extended sequence of the consequences of your failure, ending in the Protagonist being arrested. However, the game's Framing Device is a How We Got Here retelling after the Protagonist was captured after a botched heist 6 months later, so it's actually the Protagonist's mind being jumbled due to the drugs the police used on him. However, when Sae, the interrogator, steps out to let the Protagonist clear his head, he's assassinated.

    Web Animation 
  • Sam & Mickey: While in prison during "Flying High", Barbie is asked this at one point by one of her cellmates.
    Rebecca: Did the passengers all gang up and kill you?
    Barbie: See, now you're just being silly.
  • Red vs. Blue: Tucker explains how some thugs killed his original team and then tried to kill him. Caboose really hopes he stopped them.
  • When Homestar Runner hosted a talk show, we heard the tail end of one of his stories.
    But it turned out, I didn't die.

    Web Comics 
  • Unsounded: Duane is at one point telling a group of listeners a story from his military days, where at one point the ground explodes below him and he falls into a pit. One of the awed young listeners asks if he died from it. Played with in that Duane is actually a zombie, so it's a perfectly reasonable question. But no, that was not where he died.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Riff and Torg have to explain that, no Kiki, they were not killed by a a giant, carnivorous Smurf.
  • In Psyguy's Sonic fan comic Get Blue Spheres (a comic parodying the mechanics of classic Sonic games - this scene is a reference to how Tails, when Sonic and Tails are together, always reappears shortly after dying in the games) Tails at one point ends up falling down a chasm to his apparent death. Later in the story he meets up with Sonic and the others without a scratch.
    Sonic: Aren't you supposed to be dead?!
    Tails: Well I was but I forgot.
    Tails: I don't remember.
  • Sleepless Domain: Joked about in the Alt Text in a comic. In a flashback to when Heartful Punch was a baby, taking place just after H.P.'s maternal family has been killed by a monster, with H.P. herself the sole survivor, a magical girl, Starlight Spear, rushes the infant H.P. to the hospital despite having just been grievously injured herself. Heartful Punch is one of the comic's main characters, and the flashback comes just after Heartful Punch and Undine have spoken to an adult Starlight in the present-day. The Alt Text reads "Dang I sure hope neither of them died!"
  • Max from Leftover Soup reacts this way sarcastically when Ellen says she and Jamie have hit their first major snag as roommates: "Oh shit, did he finally murder you in your sleep?"

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • A pre-commercial cliffhanger in "The Cutie Mark Chronicles" has a young Fluttershy falling from a great height. She's telling the story to the Cutie Mark Crusaders in the present, so...
    • The "Rashomon"-Style episode "P.P.O.V (Pony Point of View)" has shades of this. Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Applejack all claim their boat sank in a storm in the middle of the ocean, and every time, Spike asks (with increasing frustration) how they made it back. As it turns out, the boat never left the dock.
      Rarity: Well... Maybe it wasn't the middle of the ocean...
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington", Homer reads a story from Reader's Digest magazine:
      Homer: Then I heard the sound that all Arctic explorers dread... the pitiless bark of the sea lion! [gasp] He'll be killed!
      Marge: Homer, he obviously got out alive if he wrote the article.
      Homer: Don't be so...[flips page] oh, you're right.
    • In "King of the Hill", Grampa is trying to convince Homer to not attempt to climb the "Murderhorn" mountain (a subversion, as it turns out it was his climbing partner who died, and the slighty-senile Grampa probably just got confused):
      Grampa: Son, don't go up that mountain! You'll die up there like I did!
      Homer: You? Did?
      Grampa: Sure.
    • In "The President Wore Pearls", Willie tells a story about working in a coal mine which collapsed:
      Willie: No-one made it out alive. Not even Willie!
  • The Popeye cartoon "Big Bad Sindbad" featured Popeye telling his nephews about one of his adventures (using scenes from "Popeye Meets Sindbad the Sailor"). At one point they ask "Did you get killed?"
  • In an episode of Invader Zim, Invader Skooge successfully conquers his assigned planet, but the Tallest 'reward' him by shooting him into the planet from orbit. However, later, he returns, leading to this:
    Zim: Skooge? I thought the Tallest killed you?
    Skooge: Yeah, but I'm OK now.
  • In the Shrek Halloween special, the characters are telling scary stories, and the gingerbread man's supposedly "true" story ends with "And then they ate me!" The Three Little Pigs run out screaming "weeeee!" (The Big Bad Wolf sighs that they'll be doing that all the way home.) It's Shrek who asks the gingerbread man, "If they ate you, how are you still here?"
  • Rocko's Modern Life: Technically, he did die once.
    Heffer: You know, I died once.
    Filburt: Yeah?
  • In the Futurama episode "Where No Fan Has Gone Before," while listening to the testimony of those involved, Zap Brannigan comments, "So Melllvar ordered a battle to the death. I assume no one survived?"
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Eligible Bachelors", Granny is relating her adventures as a spy in World War II to Daffy, who interrupts at every thrilling cliffhanger with "Did you die? You died, didn't you? I bet you died!"
  • King of the Hill uses a variant:
    Dale: I've been at John Redc—uh, the gun club... playing Russian Roulette.
    Nancy: Aw, did you win?
    Dale: ...You're not really familiar with the game, are you?
    Nancy: No.
    Dale: [proudly] Yeah, I won.
  • Inverted in the Cars short "Mater the Greater", when Mater claims that it was Lightning McQueen who tried performing a death-defying leap across a canyon...and that he "didn't make it". (And it's Lightning himself he's telling the story to.)
    • In another Pixar Short, "Geri's Game", the title character plays a chess game against himself, and while it's ambiguous whether or not he's somehow crazy enough to believe he's two separate people, or if he's just goofing off, he pulls this on himself when "White Geri" pretends to have a heart attack, and "Black Geri" looks dismissive, then concerned, then seemingly calls a time-out on the whole thing as he checks his own pulse to see if there's anything obviously wrong... then, having satisfied himself that he's not, ends up checking under the table anyway.
  • In the American Dad! episode "National Treasure 4: Baby Franny: She's Doing Well: The Hole Story", Steve, Hayley, and Jeff watch an old news report of when Francine was trapped in a well when she was little. An embarrassed Francine turns off the TV before it can show a clip of her rescue, and Jeff complains "I want to see if you made it!".
  • In the Big City Greens episode "Cricket Versus," Tilly has this reaction to Cricket's tale of having fought a lion.

    Real Life 
  • Variation used by Wild Bill Hickock. As the story goes, he'd often be telling some story or another to an audience of eager kids, get to a climactic point and pause dramatically. One of the youngsters would ask, "And then what happened?" to which he'd answer, "Well, boys, they killed me!"
    • Mountain Man Jim Bridger also had a reputation for such yarns, supposedly due to being annoyed that people initially thought he was making up the stuff he seen in what's now Yellowstone park.
  • From a courtroom transcript:
    Lawyer: What happened then?
    Witness: He told me, he says, "I have to kill you because you can identify me."
    Lawyer: Did he kill you?
    Witness: No.
    • Sadly, this might actually have been a case of the lawyer covering his ass just in case. Trials have been drawn out over insane things before. Also, in direct testimony (at least in the U.S.), "leading the witness" is not allowed, so a more common phrasing like "But, of course, he didn't kill you, correct?" could be objected to. Technically the "Did he kill you?" could have been objected to as a prejudicial question.
    • Another legendary bit of courtroom dialogue inverts the trope:
      Lawyer: Doctor, do you recall the time that you examined the body?
      Witness: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
      Lawyer: And Mr. Smith was dead at this point, correct?
      Witness: No, he was lying there on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.
  • A comment attributed to the legendarily Absent-Minded Professor William Archibald Spooner: "Was it you or your brother that was killed in the war?"
  • Played straighter than straight in a local TV news broadcast in the UK, where an impressionable young presenter was interviewing a World War 2 veteran:
    Awestruck Interviewer: And... I hear that you died heroically.
    Amused Veteran: I didn't die.
  • In one Eddie Izzard bit, she describes flying in a tiny plane where she argues with the pilot over who gets to eat the better cookies that are on board when the pilot decides to intentionally crash the plane, ending with:
    Izzard: And we hit a mountain! And I died!


Video Example(s):


Buck Gets Eaten

In Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, when Buck is telling of his encounter with The Beast (a.k.a. Rudy), and indicates he was eaten. Justified by Buck being crazy, and Crash and Eddie not being especially bright.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DidYouDie

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