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Doomed by Canon

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From the beginning, you know the end...

A story or series of stories has an established core group of heroes, villains, and a supporting cast. In order to add more depth to one or more of these things, the creator(s) put(s) out fully-developed back stories and prequels, or even interquels. While such efforts may produce many great things, they also doom characters and plots to inevitable failure or success. Why? Because the first story or stories established de facto canonicity.

Does the prequel involve a dastardly plot to kill one of the heroes of the original story? Too bad for the one doing the plotting — the readers already know that character will escape. Does the back story have a villain from the original story facing certain death in the face of failure? Great for him, he gets to stick around to at least make an appearance later on in the original. Does the prequel involve a brave group of rebels rising up against an oppressive government that is still standing in the original? The rebels will almost certainly be Doomed Moral Victors who at most inspire the heroes of the original to follow in their footsteps. In the rare cases otherwise, their government is guaranteed to collapse and be reconquered by The Remnant.

When it comes to prequels and backstories, most readers familiar with the original plot will already know what the outcome will be. They are not so much tempted to participate in the story to see how it ends, but how it gets there. And as the Ancient Greeks discovered, if the audience already knows the ending, there is a huge potential for Dramatic Irony.

On the other side of the coin, though, the trope can induce some audience apathy towards the prequel, especially if the story is centered around a character who has been Killed Off for Real further down the timeline. Some would argue, that the prequel won't really matter much in such a case, since there already is a very definite ending to the character's story. If the character, on the other hand, had still been alive, the prequel could still have some potential to change things, either with a reference here or there or lingering effects on the Character Development.

If the prequel or back story involves a character who had hitherto not been mentioned and this character is killed in the course of the prequel or back story, it is usually not really this trope at work, as in most cases it would possible to account for the character not having been mentioned in the interim in other ways. If the character survives, on the other hand, it gives the author a new character to tie into a new installment of the main work. See the Comic Books folder for examples. However, sometimes the prequel includes a character whose death has already been mentioned in the original.

A Sub-Trope of Restricted Expanded Universe, when the Expanded Universe has rules imposed by the executives or original creators that it is not allowed to break; Foregone Conclusion; and Anthropic Principle. Compare Death by Origin Story. Related to You Can't Thwart Stage One, which relates to prequel plots instead of characters. Contrast Plot Armor and Saved by Canon. Unrelated, despite similar-sounding names, to Doomed Protagonist. Different from Death by Adaptation. One way to subvert this is through a full-on Alternate Timeline, often as a result of a Temporal Paradox.

This trope is not about someone who met their demise by cannon (regular or otherwise), you want There Is No Kill Like Overkill for that.

Naturally, this page is loaded with unmarked spoilers.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The first episode appearance of Beyond The Grave is no spoiler to anyone who played Gungrave. But the show isn't about how Brandon Heat is doomed — it's about how his friendship is doomed, his romance, his career and his relationship with his father figure boss are all doomed.
  • We know in the Golden Age saga of Berserk that Guts, who starts off as a loyal mercenary soldier under Griffith, will eventually be betrayed by Griffith and gain the Mark of Sacrifice, leading him to become the merciless Black Swordsman. What that means, unfortunately, is that pretty much everyone else in the Band of the Hawk aside from Guts and Griffith is doomed to a bad fate. But what we don't know is that while nearly all of the Hawks are branded like Guts and indeed die horribly when the Eclipse goes down and the demons come out of the woodwork for the feast, there are two other Hawks who ultimately survive — Rickert, who was not with the rest of the Hawks when the Eclipse went down; and Casca, who, despite being branded like the rest and being put through pure hell by Griffith himself upon him becoming a demon god, was rescued along with Guts by the Skull Knight, but who went insane from her ordeal and was left behind with Rickert and the blacksmith Godot, and ultimately becomes the reason for Guts to lay aside his vendetta against Griffith for her sake.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun:
    • Several chapters of depict Mikoto's attempt to stop the Level 6 Shift Program. The reader already knows the program is only stopped by the grace of Touma's intervention, and that by the end Mikoto will be driven so far as to be ready to give up her life to end the Sisters torment. This especially hits hard with the appearance of Misaka 9982, the Sister Mikoto originally meets and grows fond of during their time together. Readers of Index will also know that every clone before 10032 meets their end by Accelerator's hands, and sure enough 9982 dies, just as Mikoto shows up to the fight scene even.
    • Season 2 of Railgun also shows the horrificness of the project, and Mikoto's vain attempts to stop it. After seeing this, her rant to Touma in the Sister's arc of the first season of A Certain Magical Index becomes much more powerful.
    • During the Dream Ranker arc of Railgun, there's a subarc where Saten Ruiko befriends Frenda Seivelun. Readers know that the friendship isn't going to last because Frenda is murdered during the events of the Battle Royale arc in Index. In fact the subarc is in fact mostly a prelude to the events of the Battle Royale arc, with the exception of the subarc's ending, which takes place afterwards. The ending has Saten wondering why Frenda isn't coming over for dinner, not knowing of her death. As a kicker, Uiharu ends up showing up, with Uiharu having the injury she sustained from the Battle Royale arc.
  • At some point in Claymore the protagonists have to face three former resurrected Number ones. We are given a flashback of the common backstory of two of them. But given that these soldiers are well...resurrected it is no surprise how this ends.
  • Lelouch and Suzaku show up in Code Geass: Akito the Exiled, which takes place between Seasons 1 and 2 of the original Code Geass. Not only will they both survive, you also know they're not going to fix their relationship before Season 2... though they get surprisingly close.
  • Cyberpunk: Edgerunners is a prequel to Cyberpunk 2077, taking place about a year before the events of that game. In the latter, an update allowed you to buy a drink named after the protagonist in The Afterlife (something that only happens to people that die and make a name for themselves). A later update that added some crossover content establishes that David is indeed dead by the time of 2077, with the series showing that he was ultimately killed by Adam Smasher, who meets his own end at V's hands in the game.
  • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: The Despair Arc is a prequel to both the games and the Future Arc, so the fates of a lot of characters are set in stone, though the anime does insert twists where it can:
    • Class 77-B, given that they're the progatonists of the second game (except for Ryota Mitarai, who's also a confirmed survivor as he's a main character in Future), must all survive -with the exception of Chiaki (whose fate is set up to be bad because her game self is an AI, so something must've happened to the human Chiaki)- and become Ultimate Despair. Side: Hope does at least set up the twist that characters doomed because they died in Goodbye Despair were saved; the game ends ambiguous about whether the survivors would ever be able to wake them up, but Hope confirms they were by having them appear.
    • All characters shown as members of the Future Foundation will survive, but Chisa will die first in the last killing game (which is shown before the Despair Arc starts). She even gets to posthumously complain about how she's doomed. The twist is that she, much like her students, was brainwashed into Ultimate Despair... and Makoto didn't save her.
    • Natsumi Kuzuryu and Sato's story is the second 'motive' of Goodbye Despair, so the audience knows that the latter will kill the former and be killed by Fuyuhiko in revenge. Some details are different (most notably, Monokuma's motive game implied that Mahiru destroyed evidence that incriminated Sato, but the anime shows that she didn't and was in fact horrified by the whole affair), but the core narrative is the same.
    • Hajime Hinata, being Goodbye Despair's protagonist, must suffer a Death of Personality and become Izuru Kamukura, although the finale of Goodbye Despair and Side: Hope reveal that he got better.
    • Jin Kirigiri must live through the anime in order to die in the prologue of Trigger Happy Havoc.
    • All of the members of Class 77 shown must survive the anime, but only the ones who appear in Side:Future will survive Trigger Happy Havoc.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Dragon Ball Z gave us two TV specials, Bardock: Father of Goku and The History of Trunks. Anyone who knows the storyline of the original manga will know these specials do not have happy endings. Although, they do fall on the bittersweet side since they do end with a note of hope.
    • In the 2011 What If? story Dragon Ball – Episode of Bardock, Bardock gets retconned to survive Freeza's finishing blow and ends up transported into the past. However, since the setting — Planet Plant — is the prehistoric Planet Vegeta, it's quite apparent that those cute and lovable Plantians will eventually go extinct when the humanoid Tsufurians and Saiyans populate the planet. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 reveals the time-warp was an accidental escape when Mira and Towa tried to capture him.
    • The prequel to Dragon Ball, Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, reaches its climax when Jaco saves the people of East City. However, during the Saiyan Saga in Dragon Ball, East City is destroyed by Nappa and all of its inhabitants are killed. It is also not revealed whether they are revived by the Dragon Balls or not. Also, when it's revealed that the alien pod heading to Earth contains Goku, it becomes obvious that Jaco will fail in his mission to intercept it.
  • Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor: In Right of Left, anyone who doesn't die in the OVA dies in the first episode.
  • Fate/Zero: It's a safe assumption any character not Plot Armored by appearance in Fate/stay night is as good as dead; this is especially certain with any Servant other than Saber or Gilgamesh. This makes Waver Velvet's aversion so surprising, as he seems the least likely to have come out of the War alive. It turns out that Waver was Plot Armored by appearance in Fate/stay night...he's just not called Waver Velvet anymore.
  • Fist of the North Star: The prequel spinoff Legends of the Dark King, a prequel spinoff centers around Raoh's quest to achieve supremacy as the conqueror of the post-apocalyptic world. One of Raoh's rivals in the spinoff is the Holy Emperor of Nanto himself, Souther. Since Souther ends up being defeated by Kenshiro, and not Raoh, in the original manga and anime, Raoh does not get to defeat Souther in his own series, as their battle ends in a stalemate instead.
  • Fruits Basket. You know from the beginning that Tohru's parents eventually die and leave her an orphan, but when you finally hear their backstory, you get attached to them anyway.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden is about the adventure of the first girl to be sucked into the Universe of the Four Gods, Takiko who becomes the Priestess of Genbu. Miaka reveals in Fushigi Yuugi how Takiko summoned Genbu, but was killed in a murder-suicide by her father, because he couldn't bear to see the pain she was in, as Genbu devoured her. While Genbu Kaiden itself alters a few details and makes it first seem like Takiko will die from Tuberculosis before she can fully summon Genbu, it still retains the fact that Takiko and her father do not survive the end of the story.
  • It's almost impossible to spoil Hetalia: Axis Powers because you know from history that, say, the Axis Powers lose and America won the Revolution. On the other hand, plot points relating specifically to character interactions aren't Foregone Conclusions.
  • Ga-Rei -Zero-, prequel to Ga-Rei, does this immediately and extremely, establishing a full cast of characters not present in the original manga, then killing them all off in the first episode. Then it rewinds back in time to tell the prequel story, leaving no doubts as to who is and isn't Doomed. Of particular note is Yomi, whereas Kagura — the deuteragonist of the original Ga-Rei — has Plot Armor as thick as wall of concrete.
  • Getter Robo: Shin Getter Robo is an Interquel that narrates the events between Getter Robo G and Getter Robo Go. So readers know that Ryoma and Hayato will survive but Benkei will die, the Saotome Lab will be destroyed and abandoned, Ryoma will quit and leave... and Shin Getter Robo is terribly dangerous.
  • Gundam:
    • Any of the Interquel or Sidestory manga and games are doomed to suffer from this. Because the continuity has been set in stone for thirty-some years, it's a Foregone Conclusion that, for example, Zeon will lose the One Year War in Mobile Suit Gundam MS IGLOO, or that the Titans will form in Gundam 0083, and that the major characters in whatever story will either die or fade into obscurity and whatever superweapon the enemy have will be destroyed.
    • Sometimes this gets toyed with by having the characters (typically from video games) survive and go on to participate in later conflicts. For example, Jack Bayard from Gundam the Ride: A Baoa Qu becomes an AEUG pilot in the IMAX movie Green Divers and Mobile Suit Gundam École du Ciel. Yuu Kajima from Blue Destiny and Robin Bradshaw and Kurt Roswell from Dual Stars of Carnage fight for their respective sides in Char's Counterattack.
  • Most of cast that appear in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, which is set before Final Fantasy XV, don't do so in the game.
    • Sylva (Ravus and Luna's mother) gets killed by Glauca during Niflheim's invasion of Tenebrae as seen in the Distant Prologue.
    • Crowe does not get mentioned at all in the game, since she gets murdered by Lazarus here.
    • The Niflheim invasion of Insomnia dooms a lot of characters, including Regis, Clarus, the Lucian Council, and the Kingsglaive save for Libertus.
    • Glauca does not appear in XV except in flashbacks to the film, and Ravus being promoted to supreme commander heavily implies that Glauca perished in his fight with Nyx.
  • The Legend of the Galactic Heroes Gaiden OAVs fall neatly under here. Instead of Anyone Can Die, you get "that character there who doesn't appear in the main series will almost certainly die."
  • Mazinger Z:
    • The Mazinger-Z versus Great General of Darkness is an alternate version of the final episode. So that watchers knew that Kouji Kabuto would be defeated and Mazinger-Z would be destroyed by the Mykene, but Tetsuya Tsurugi would show up and crush the Mykene War Beasts.
    • Shin Mazinger Zero is an Alternate Continuity of the original series. So what readers knew what, even though Kouji defeated Dr. Hell for good, the Mykene Empire would rise afterwards. And when a fortuneteller tried to warn Kouji about it, everyone knew that he was his father Kenzo disguised. And everyone knew what would happen when Kouji fought the Mykene War Beasts.
  • The My-Otome prequel Sifr features a whole cast of main characters (Lena, Sifr, Bruce) who you know, as part of the backstory for the main series, will survive the current events but become corpsicles in 15 years.
  • Naruto:
    • Shippuden plays around with this trope once. Firstly, it's a filler arc so it isn't canonical to begin with. Orochimaru needs to absorb the energy of a girl named Yukimi in order to have enough energy to escape the Leaf Village. We know that he gets away so he has to catch her... and he does and absorbs her energy. He did the same to the rest of her clan (who can turn to smoke) but she was special. After he absorbs her energy, she turns to smoke and begins to blow away. Yamato attempts to keep her smoke together, but he just can't keep up. However, Yukimi's clan turned out to not quite be dead and use their remaining energy to bring her back to life.
    • Played straight with Utakata's filler arc, though. The anime gives the Six-Tails' host a detailed backstory that involves him meeting Naruto. By the time the anime aired this arc, however, the manga already went well into the Five Kage Summit Arc, in which it had been established that the only Tailed Beast hosts yet to be captured by the Akatsuki were Naruto and Killer B (and Gaara, who was captured and killed, then resurrected without Shukaku). As a result, one way or another, Utakata must end up being captured by the Akatsuki and have Saiken extracted, killing him in the process.
    • A later filler arc is a flashback to the period during the Time Skip between Parts I and II, chronicling a joint Chunin Exam held by Konoha and Suna. This ended up being a twofer, and an exaggerated example at that, with both Fu (the Seven-Tails' jinchuriki) and Ajisai (an Amegakure kunoichi who'd be used as the second Animal Path for the Six Paths of Pain) among the ranks of genin participating. By this point in the series, Pain's invasion of Konoha was a distant memory and the Fourth Shinobi World War was already in its late stages, with all of the ninja revived by Edo Tensei (Fu included) having been sealed away. In fact, the final episode of the arc shows Ajisai's corpse being delivered to Konan after her death during an S-rank mission as well as Fu being ambushed by Hidan and Kakuzu. On the other hand, any tension during this same arc, particularly when Tenten finds herself imperiled during the second day of the exam, is dispelled by the Plot Armor all of the known Konoha and Suna shinobi possess. There's even a minor antagonist who tries to extract the Tailed Beasts from Gaara and Fu during the exams, the very same thing that kills them later down the road in-canon (and in Gaara's case, set off the first arc of Part II).
  • One Piece: An extended flashback showing how Wano became the hellhole it is now and Kozuki Oden's story has the villainous Orochi being assisted by two Devil Fruit users. An old woman with the Clone-Clone Fruit and an old man with the Barrier-Barrier Fruit. Since only one person may have a Devil Fruit power at any time, and we've seen that in the present-day different people have those specific powers (Bon Clay and Bartholomew), it's immediately clear they're both dead by now. Indeed, the old woman is killed offscreen by Kaido for interfering with his battle with Oden (although she probably saved Kaido's life, the one thing he hates the most is for the chance to have an evenly matched fight with a Worthy Opponent snatched from him, since he's so strong, few can stand up against him in battle).
  • In Peacemaker Kurogane the entire Shinsengumi is Doomed By History. Particularly heartbreaking in the case of Okita Souji who historically dies of tuberculosis. So when he began coughing...
  • Messed around with in Puella Magi Oriko Magica, which takes place before Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Well, kind of. It's an Alternate Timeline that's part of the anime's "Groundhog Day" Loop, occurring before the anime's main timeline. Madoka's death is a Foregone Conclusion, but it's subverted for Mami, Kyouko, and Sayaka, all of whom survive — and Sayaka doesn't even contract. Yuma might also be a subversion if we had any idea what happened to her in the anime's timeline. It's inverted with Kazuko, who survives in the anime, but actually dies in this timeline. Her death is REALLY ugly, too.
  • Rurouni Kenshin invokes this in regards to the historical figures that get roles there. Particularly: Souzou Sagara fails in his rebellion and dies, with his head being shown in public; Okubo is killed by Soujirou and then rebels claim that they did it; Kogoro Katsura loses his bid with the Ishinshishi; Shinsaku Takasugi, already in the last stages of tuberculosis, dies of it; Okita's own fate isn't revealed, but it's fair to assume he died of his illness too.
  • Saiyuki:
    • Considering the main series stars the reincarnations of the Saiyuki Gaiden characters... yeah.
    • Also certain characters in the prequel Saiyuki Ibun, which details how Houmei becomes Koumyou Sanzo. Who dies before the beginning of the series. We know from the Burial chapters that his friend Toudai (the future Goudai Sanzo) will hold the Muten sutra, but will be killed by his pupil. Their youkai friend Tenkai will hold the Maten sutra but will die and Koumyou will inherit it in addition to his Seiten sutra.
  • Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku dies, Sukeroku will eventually have Konatsu (which is quite shocking considering his womanizing ways), Miyokichi will not become a proper Geisha, Yakumo the 7th dies. All this is in the canon, since the first cour is spent in a continuous flashback of Yakumo the 8th's life and it becomes integral to the second cour (where Yotaro — having become the next Sukeroku — tries to grow out of the shadow of his predecessors).
  • Uma Musume is about Moe Anthropomorphisms of famous Japanese race horses. One of them is Silence Suzuka, who was killed at the 1998 Tenno Sho due to a broken leg. Eventually downplayed. Yes, she breaks her leg. No, she doesn't end up dead.
  • The prequel light novel to Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Washio Sumi Is a Hero, features three Heroes: the titular Sumi Washio, Sonoko Nogi and Gin Minowa. Sumi and Sonoko both appear in the anime and have significant roles in the story. Gin, on the other hand, never appears in the series and is only referenced in passing by Sonoko, and not even by name. It doesn't take a lot on the part of the reader to work out that Gin's not going to make it to the end of the novel.

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    Comic Books 
  • All New Firefly tried hard to keep the death of Jayne a secret. But anyone who had read Firefly: Brand New 'Verse knew that it could only be Jayne or Mal dying as they were the two characters not present in that story.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender comics are limited in what they can do by the canon of the sequel series, The Legend of Korra. Katara, Zuko, and Toph can't die because they are still alive in Korra; Aang and Sokka can't die either, because their deaths are set by Korra's timeline as taking place over half a century later. We also know that Aang and Katara will remain a couple and have three children; that the Earth Kingdom will remain a rickety monarchy; that industrialization will take off big-time... there's rather limited room for suspense in a story with so many constraints. That isn't to say there's no room though, as not everything was spelled out in Korra. Azula is a major example. She does not appear nor is she mentioned in Legend of Korra, but it's also never stated that she's dead, meaning that the writers can do what they want with her without worrying about canonicity. Likewise, we know that Zuko eventually has a daughter (who will eventually become Firelord), but it's never stated who her mother is.
  • Before Watchmen: Minutemen focuses heavily on the badass lesbian vigilante Silhouette - who is long dead in the original Watchmen. The miniseries does throw a nifty curveball regarding the supposedly disappeared Hooded Justice, though: turns out that Hollis Mason accidentally killed Justice, having been led by the Comedian into believing that Justice was the "Friend of the Children" serial killer. All that speculating that Mason does in his book about Justice's disappearance was his way of covering up his actions.
  • A certain Latvarian Doctor had the title "Books of Doom" which told his story from the start. Whilst most of the story follows the general history of Victor von Doom with some extra padding on the sides which hadn't been explored, and some implications are made that the machine he built didn't even malfunction, it was... ahem, "the Demon" who blew it up, the part where he takes over Latvaria by forceful military conquest totally goes against the way he explained it in Fantastic Four Annual #2, where he wined and dined Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl. Given that the story is told by a Doombot who thinks he's the real thing, however, Unreliable Narrator may apply.
  • Played with in the Green Lantern arc "Emerald Knights", in which then-current GL Kyle Rayner meets a younger Hal Jordan. When Parallax shows up and confronts the younger Hal Jordan, Kyle realizes that the younger Hal has to become Parallax in order for The Final Night to happen.
  • The DC YA graphic novel series House of El takes place on Krypton before its destruction.
  • Since Injustice: Gods Among Us is a prequel to the game, any characters who show up only in the comic are all but certain to be killed off.
    • Subverted by Doctor Fate, who comes back in Injustice 2, although ironically he is killed off as well.
  • Les Legendaires Origines being a prequel to the main series, this is to be expected; So, Danael had an Childhood friend secretly in love with him who never got any mention in the main series where he already is in a relationship with Jadina? Yep, she most likely won't make it until the end of the book. The Starscream plans to overthrow the Big Bad who we already know made it in the main series? Yeah, not gonna work. Even bigger case with the arcs that already got a mention in the main series (we all know very well Jadina will not marry Halan).
  • Marvel seems to enjoy this trope. Case in point: The Punisher: Born. Frank Castle has a family in Born.
  • Somewhat the case in Rough Riders. A majority of character deaths and survivals happen as they did in recorded history, but a fair amount are faked, occurred much less cleanly, or were undone by mad science. Notably, the Spanish-American War that Theodore tries to prevent with his team happens anyway despite his best efforts.
  • Secret Wars (2015) #1 ends with the Marvel Universe colliding with the Ultimate Marvel Universe, and both worlds being destroyed as a result. The rest of the crossover deals with the surviving heroes on Battleworld, a patchwork planet created from bits of the various multiverse worlds that were destroyed. Despite this, Marvel launched a series of tie-ins branded Last Days, which feature the various Marvel heroes in the final hours before the fateful collision from Secret Wars #1. A few of the tie-ins (such as Captain America and the Mighty Avengers and Magneto) feature characters trying to avert the crisis by stopping the Earths from colliding, or at least saving themselves (like in Loki: Agent of Asgard) by severing their dimension from the doomed Earth, despite the fact that the readers all know the heroes are destined to fail no matter what.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Uncle Ben is the poster boy of "Death by Origin Story". His death, an unexpected consequence of Peter being selfish and using his powers for personal gain, made him learn that "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility". That means that any adaptation of Spider-Man where Ben appears from the start (such as Ultimate Spider-Man or the first Sam Raimi's film) will have him die very soon. Except in the Ultimate Marvel 2024 universe, where Aunt May is killed off and Peter didn't get his powers until adulthood.
    • Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales of Spider-Man series takes place during the first few years of original Amazing Spider-Man comic. Thus any characters and status quo from comic has to be kept during Untold Tales. For example, in one issue where Peter reveals that he's the one who takes Spider-Man photos for the Daily Bugle, an impressed Flash Thompson actually drops his dislike of Peter and actually wants to become friends with him. But since Peter and Flash didn't really become friends until after high school, you know this new relationship between the two isn't going to last long, and indeed by the end of the issue let's just say Flash goes back to disliking Peter.
  • Both Star Wars and Star Trek had monthly comics published between movies. No matter what happened in the comics, all characters end up pretty much where they were at the end of the previous film and/or where they need to be for the start of the next. The Star Wars cast were never going to rescue Han Solo between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Likewise the comics had Spock completely restored between III & IV. A storyline was created to wipe his mind and make the main cast fugitives and back on Vulcan. A prime example is the "Hope Dies" arc of the recent Marvel comics, which kills off every Rebel commander who appeared in Rogue One and A New Hope but was absent in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • Star Wars: Kanan: Depa Billaba is known to have been killed by her clone battalion when Order 66 was issued, so not only are the friendships developed between them and Kanan doomed, their betrayal and murder of their general is shown in the second issue before they are developed further.
  • Supergirl:
    • In Many Happy Returns, The Spectre informs the Pre-Crisis Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) that she has to return to her own timeline for the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths to happen (namely, her Heroic Sacrifice). Then-current Supergirl (Linda Danvers) tries to switch places with Kara, but fails, and Kara dies exactly the way she did in Crisis.
    • Convergence subverted it right at the end. In Convergence: Adventures of Superman, Silver Age Supergirl finds out (and accepts) that she is fated to fight the Anti-Monitor and die to save The Multiverse. However, post-Flashpoint Superman—and his family—and Parallax Hal Jordan join the battle and save her and Barry Allen's lives.
  • There have been a number of stories about Jor-El and Lara, the parents of Superman, some of which chronicle their attempts to save Krypton from its inevitable destruction. Unfortunately, anyone with a passing knowledge of Superman knows their efforts will all be for nothing in the end, as Krypton is destroyed and their son ends up being sent to Earth. Similarly, the Silver/Bronze Age Superboy series sees a similar fate for supporting characters Ma and Pa Kent, who're destined to die shortly after Clark's high school graduation (most Superboy stories were set during Clark's high school years).
    • Another Superman example comes from the Superman: The Secret Years miniseries, which focuses on Clark Kent's college years and largely sidesteps the problem of knowing the likes of Lana Lang are safe. Not so for Clark's new-to-continuity roommate, Billy Cramer, who learns Clark's secret and becomes his best friend... just in time to perish in the third issue in a burning building, not knowing that his buddy Clark is on the other side of the planet at the time and can't hear his signal whistle.
  • X-Men:
    • The Emma Frost solo series takes place prior to the character's turn to villainy, and one of the supporting characters was her boyfriend Troy. Since Troy was never seen in any of the prior X-Men books, nobody was surprised when the poor lad caught a bullet to the head. Indeed, this served as a Start of Darkness moment for Emma. However, this is not a true example, since the story could also have evolved with Emma breaking up with Troy and then forgetting about him. This is exactly what happened when Uncanny X-Men #161 introduced Charles Xavier's former lover Gabrielle Haller in a story where Xavier remembers things that happened about two decades earlier. A couple of years later Chris Claremont not only showed that Gaby Haller was still alive and well, but that she had given birth to Xavier's son David aka Legion. On the other hand, another character introduced in the same story, Xavier's friend Daniel Shomron, who was still alive at the end of the flashback, was then revealed to have been killed in a terrorist attack in the course of the intervening years.
    • Another example that shows that you can't generally apply this trope to new characters is the first appearance of the Shadow King (Amahl Farouk) in Uncanny X-Men #117. In a flashback set at a time before Storm's puberty, Charles Xavier fights against the evil Amahl Farouk and in the end kills him. However, years later it was revealed that Farouk had survived in discorporated form as the Shadow King and would return again and again to attack his old nemesis and his friends.
    • There is a series called Magneto: Testament about a young man named Max. He is a likable Jewish child in Nazi Germany. Since it is published by Marvel, we all know that his entire family will be killed in concentration camps, and his mutant powers will later manifest, and he will become Magneto, always caught in the Heel–Face Revolving Door because although sometimes he'd like to live in peaceful coexistence with humans, he doesn't think it can happen.

    Fan Works 
  • Averted twice in Mass Effect: Human Revolution. Jenkins, the Redshirt, survives and becomes promoted to a Mauve Shirt. Secondly, Shepard herself is successfully assassinated on the Citadel.
  • The Nutdealer Expanded Universe (Deltarune & Undertale): "Nut Leader" opens with a council of sapient nuts plotting Nathan's downfall. Since "TunaElder" had already shown his arrest for public exposure ruining his reputation, it was only a matter of how.
  • Averted then Double Subverted in Protoculture Effect. Jenkins survives, as does another minor Posthumous Character, due to the toughness of Cyclones. Then the second character ends up dying in a later mission.
  • Subverted in Renegade, where Nihlus survives due to timely intervention on Shepard's part; thanks to GDI's jetpack technology, she's able to get to him faster and shoot Saren before he can kill Nihlus.
  • Star Trek: Phoenix (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic & Star Trek): In "Ensign Shimmer", Alma mentions that her brother Max moved to the colony of Ivor Prime. In Star Trek: First Contact, Ivor Prime is overrun and assimilated by the Borg. Sure enough, when the story gets to that point in the timeline, Ivor Prime falls and Max either dies or becomes assimilated.

Ace Attorney

  • Somebody That I Used To Know: Tells an expanded and heavily re-imagined version of the backstory of Juan Corrida, victim of the Farewell, My Turnabout, the fourth case of Justice For All. He does not actually die during the course of the fic, but the story leaves off the night before the events of the game are set to happen, so it's a fair assumption that he dies soon after. Similarly, Celeste Inpax dies about halfway through the story, as her death in the backstory of Farewell, My Turnabout was one of the keys to the entire case.


  • The former Arrow story Red had a subplot of Sara Lance being in love with the protagonist Thea Queen. However, since it was later revealed in the show that Sara was killed by a brainwashed Thea, the story became highly inappropriate.

Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra

  • Field of Innocence centers around Iroh's son, Lu Ten. You know he's not going to make it home from war or be able to protect his cousins from Ozai.


  • Childhood's End focuses on Eileen the Crow saving Father Gascoigne's daughters before they go through the chain of events that lead to their deaths in the original game. Unfortunately, despite Djura's hopes, the same doesn't apply to Gascoigne himself. Or his wife for that matter.


  • After their title fight in Well-Matched, Kate Kane and Sophie Moore agree to a rematch at the next year's Brigade Boxing Open. However, since the story takes place in their second junior semester and Kate resigned from West Point in her first senior semester, such a rematch couldn't happen.

Dragon Age

Fate/Grand Order

  • San Peftastéri follows the Servants from Proper Human History in their fight against the Atlantis Lostbelt, with particular focus on Achilles, Medea, Mordred, and Sir Kay. As the story takes place before Chaldea arrives to the Lostbelt where only a handful of Servants await them, the Heroic Spirits' fate range from confirmed dead by Canonnote , expected to die as they did not appear in the presentnote , or will die in the game propernote 

Final Fantasy

  • Guardian details Lulu's adventures before Final Fantasy X... starting off with her pilgrimage as guardian of Lady Ginnem, who appears in the game as an Unsent. Later we see her burgeoning romance with Chappu, who is visited on the Farplane during the game.

Fire Emblem


  • In the Abraxas prequel one-shot Damnatio Memoriae, focusing on Ghidorah's Start of Darkness, we know the basics of what's going to happen to Ichi, Ni and San because they were already recounted in the main fic in the present, and we also know what's going to happen to the Makers and their Enemy; it's just the details that we don't know. We know that Ichi, Ni and San are going to be captured by the Makers, they're going to be tortured into rage and hate by the Makers' brutal experimentation turning them into Ghidorah, they're going to be set loose by the Makers on their Enemy and exterminate them, and then they're going to eradicate the Makers. We also know that after the one-shot's ending, Ghidorah's heads are going to be tortured and corrupted further by the Old Noise while destroying many more living worlds across the stars, until Ichi and Ni's good traits are completely gone and their relationship with San has turned completely harsh and abusive, leaving Ghidorah as the monster that we know it as in the main fic.

Harry Potter

  • The Very Secret Diary: Since it's about Ginny's struggle against Tom Riddle's diary, Ginny has to eventually succumb completely to the diary, since she's totally under its spell (and unconscious because it was draining her energy to make Tom Riddle more real) in the climax of the original book. This does at least give a Downer Ending a happy epilogue, since we also know that Harry's going to destroy the book with a basilisk fang and save her.

The Hunger Games

  • Characters can become Doomed by Canon in the following ways. Note that some of these may not apply if the fic is set in an Alternate Continuity where the Games have continued past the third Quarter Quell.
    • Being a tribute from District 12 other than Lucy Gray Bairdnote , Haymitch Abernathynote  or Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellarknote , such as Sage Blanken from Tales of the Hunger Games. It's clearly stated that Lucy Gray, Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta are the only victors District 12 produced, so any other tribute from that district is going to, at best, place second — if they even make it to the latter stages.
    • Being a twelve- or thirteen-year-old tribute, such as Willow from Weeping Willow or Catalina and Iry from The Hunger Games Prequel Collection. Finnick Odair is said to have been "one of the youngest victors", if not the youngest, when he won the 65th Hunger Games at the age of fourteen. While this doesn't rule out the possibility that there were other fourteen-year-old victors, it means anyone who gets reaped below that age is not going to get out of the arena alive.
    • For fanfics that were published before The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (such as The End of the World), being a District Twelve Victor other than Haymitch, Katniss, or Peeta. As Haymitch is the only surviving Victor as of the 74th Hunger Games, they will have to die prior to said Games.
    • Being a victor other than one of the sevennote  who are still alive at the end of the second rebellion. Sixteen victors died prior to the announcement of the third Quarter Quell. Another eighteen perished in the arena. Most of the remaining forty-one victors were killed in the rebellion, targeted by the Capitol if they were thought to be allied with the rebels or by the rebels if they were thought to support the Capitol. Some fics subvert this by claiming that additional victors were found following the initial meeting with President Coin.
    • Being a victor from District 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 or 11. Of the victors who survive the second rebellion, Enobaria is from District 2, Beetee from District 3, Annie from District 4, Johanna from District 7, and Haymitch, Katniss and Peeta from District 12. Therefore, any victor from one of the other seven districts must have died before the meeting between President Coin and the remaining victors takes place.
    • Being the Victor of the 25th Hunger Games (First Quarter Quell), such as Josef Swan and Vercingetorix Carnby from Quell and Cheating Death: Those That Lived respectively. In Catching Fire, Effie gives Katniss and Peeta all the Hunger Games tapes of the living Victors to help prepare for the Third Quarter Quell. The tape of that Victor is not among them, meaning that they either died or disappeared before then.
    • Being a pair of tributes attempting to become joint victors in their Games, such as Dove and Cabel in The Hunger Games Prequel Collection. Canonically, the only time there were two victors was at the 74th Games and that was after Katniss and Peeta forced the Capitol to choose between letting them both win and not having a victor at all. Therefore, if two tributes in any of the first seventy-three Games are counting on getting out of the arena together, there's no way they're going to succeed. At best, one of them might emerge as victor.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

The Legend of Zelda

Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • The Forever Captain series: Might count as an in-universe example. Steve knows how Howard and Maria die in his previous version of the timeline, and it weighs heavily on him as he contemplates whether he can or even should be trying to change the progress of history.

Marvel Comics

  • Subverted in the Earth-2706 universe when it comes to Spider-Man. The vast majority of adaptations follow the comics' formula of having Peter Parker's Uncle Ben being killed by the burglar, Gwen Stacy either being killed or otherwise replaced by Mary Jane Watson as Peter's love interest. In this version, however, Aunt May is the one who was killed by the burglar while Uncle Ben lives, Gwen Stacy is alive and well and still Peter's girlfriend, and Mary Jane is Peter's Distaff Counterpart with the two of them being more Like Brother and Sister rather than romantically interested in each other.

Mass Effect

  • Mass Effect: Interregnum details what Garrus and his vigilante group did between Shepard's death and resurrection in Mass Effect 2. As we know from the game, they're betrayed by one of their own, and he and Garrus are the only survivors.

Omen IV: The Awakening

  • Always Visible: If we consider this work to be a novelization of Omen IV: The Awakening, then it will be obvious that the character named Jo and the mother of the girl named Delia will inevitably die during the plot. In the second case, even the method of death is exactly the same.


  • Most of the cast of the Pokémon Rejuvenation prequel Where Love Lies ends up either estranged from each other or dead.
    • Kenneth, the main character, is an idealistic and friendly man living with his wife Taelia and daughter Nora. In the main game, he lives alone and has separated himself from his emotions. It is obvious that his happiness won't last, and neither will his family.
    • Deagan, his estranged brother, reconciles and promises to return to his family and be a better person. Considering how his daughter Amber despises her 'stupid dead father' who abandoned her in the present day, this could never happen.


  • Ruby and Nora has three stories that are prequels that contain this:
    • Pyrrha's Past involves Pyrrha's previous team, Team PEAR. You can basically figure out why her old teammates aren't around in the present.
    • Kuroyuri involves Ren's parents and his home village. Like in canon, his parents die and his village is destroyed.
    • STRQ involves Ruby and Yang's parents and Qrow. Given that in this continuity Taiyang is stated to have died, it's no surprise this story involves that character's death.


  • So, so many fics teaming up the original G1 Transformers and the characters of Beast Wars prior to the reveal at the end of Season Two. Many a fic writers had to scramble around and revise or retcon stories involving interaction, fights and especially romances between the two factions, when it was revealed the Beast Wars characters were merely a quarter of the size of their G1 counterparts. A fic that had Arcee cooing over Cheetor after it's revealed he only comes to her knee is especially Hilarious in Hindsight.

Touhou Project



  • Gonjiki Yasha – Meiji Onmyōji Tales: Of course Yosano Tadayoshi ends up murdered and Hagiwara Sakura loses her lover, this being an adaptation of the game's main story mode, even when the former receives a slightly luckier fate than in canon due to actually appearing alive on-screen once.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, the curse must still be in place in the end. Though interestingly, it's a story being told by the characters themselves, long after the curse has been lifted. For that reason, this trope also applies to Forte's villainy: we know all the heroes will survive and the curse will eventually be broken.
  • With Monsters University, it's pretty clear that Mike is going to fail as a scarer, seeing as he's only Sulley's assistant in the first movie.
  • Deconstructed and played literally in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. It's established that every Spider-Hero across The Multiverse will have certain points of their timeline that are destined to happen, the most common being the unpreventable death of a loved one. These are referred to as "canon events" and breaking these events run the risk of destroying that particular universe, thus Spider-Man 2099 formed the Spider-Society to make sure the canon events happen as destined. This status quo is challenged by Miles Morales, who not only disrupts a canon event in Spider-Man India's universe indirectly by saving a police captain who was fated to die, but seeks to deliberately disrupt one in his own universe when he learns the Spot plans to get Revenge by Proxy on Miles by killing his dad, the latter of which recently became Police Captain. Ultimately it's proven that destiny can be changed when the Captain George Stacy of Spider-Gwen's universe averts his predestined death by resigning from the force. This inspires Gwen to defect from the Spider-Society and assemble a Spider-Team of her own to defeat the Spot and save Miles, potential consequences be damned.
  • Tarzan II: Tarzan can't find out that he's a human, and has to come back with the gorilla band at the end.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Along Came a Spider, Ben Cross has to survive.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man reboots the series by putting Gwen Stacy as Peter's love interest. The sequel makes sure her comics legacy remains intact.
  • In Amityville II: The Possession, the family has to die, and the spirits in the house have to remain active.
  • At the end of AVP: Alien vs. Predator and its sequel Requiem, the Weyland-Yutani Company has to exist, and the public at large has to remain unaware of the existence of the Xenomorphs.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice features Doomsday. His origin story gives him a clear role. Also, Lex Luthor ends up without any hair.
  • In the Tsui Hark movie A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon, the prequel to the first two movies by John Woo, Mark Gor has to survive and have no love interest.
  • In Butch and Sundance: The Early Years, Butch and Sundance have to survive.
  • In the prequel for Carlito's Way, Carlitos Way Rise To Power, Carlito Brigante has to survive.
  • Similarly, in The Cat's Meow, Thomas Ince has to die mysteriously, and the death must remain unsolved (or at least unpunished).
  • The movies of Che Guevara: Che: El Argentino and Che: Guerrilla. Che is killed by the CIA in Bolivia.
  • The Dark Knight has Harvey Dent, and he's constantly tossing a coin. Him becoming Two-Face is a given, with the only surprise being that the Face–Heel Turn happens in the same movie instead of being saved for a sequel.
  • The Day of the Jackal is about a mysterious Englishman who is hired by the OAS to assassinate French president Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Since De Gaulle died in real life in 1970 of natural causes, it's foregone that the assassination attempt will fail. The source novel even points that out in the beginning.
  • Death Race starts with the death of Frankenstein, the sport's biggest star, whose mantle is then reluctantly taken by Jason Statham's character. Two direct-to-DVD prequels show how Frankenstein rose to the top in the first place, though the Frank who died at the beginning of the first movie isn't the star from the other two.
  • In Dumb and Dumberer, Harry and Lloyd must still remain friends, and have no love interest.
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald introduces a beautiful woman who is cursed to transform into a snake. Her name is Nagini — which is also the name of Voldemort's pet snake/horcrux. Put two and two together...
  • The Fast and the Furious:
    • Han is killed in a car explosion in Tokyo Drift but reemerges during the following two prequel films, Fast & Furious and Fast Five. The trope finally gets invoked in the stinger ending of Fast & Furious 6. It does however cast a completely new light on his death. Subverted in F9, which takes place after Tokyo Drift, where it's revealed Han actually didn't die in Tokyo and returns to help Dom and company.
    • This also seems to apply to Giselle, who is Han's girlfriend in the prequels but nowhere to be found in Tokyo. She dies in Fast & Furious 6. This is eventually subverted as Giselle is revealed to be alive in Fast X.
  • Final Destination 5: This is combined with a Cruel Twist Ending. The film's antagonist has been killed and the three remaining characters have (at least by their interpretation of Bludworth's words) cheated death successfully. Then two of them get on a plane. Where six teenagers and a teacher are kicked off.
  • In From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, Domenica Santanico has to become the evil vampìre Santanico Pandemonium, who appears in the first film.
  • In Hannibal Rising, Hannibal Lecter has to go insane and survive the movie. In Red Dragon, Hannibal has to stay in the asylum. (It's not really a prequel — the original book was written and published before The Silence of the Lambs — but most people see/read The Silence of the Lambs first so the trope pretty much applies.)
  • The Hobbit:
    • The Peter Jackson film is a prequel, released after The Lord of the Rings. Anyone who's seen the three LOTR films beforehand, even if they haven't read the books, may catch on that Balin will be killed by orcs between scripts, as he's the one buried in the Moria crypt from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The same goes for Ori and Óin.
    • Also, even if you have never seen The Lord of the Rings, it's pretty clear that Bilbo will survive the events in The Hobbit since the first film opens with his older self sitting down and writing/retelling the story of what happened.
    • Rather than being a case of the author writing himself into a corner, the issues are caused by the fact that Peter Jackson told the story out of order. The Hobbit isn't actually a prequel.
    • Legolas is practically invincible due to his inclusion in the sequels and pulls off impossible maneuvers since he's Saved by Canon.
  • Inglourious Basterds is set up with the audience knowing the plot to kill Hitler will fail. Except it doesn't.
  • For anyone who either read the novel or watched the 90s miniseries, Stanley Uris and Eddie Kaspbrak in It: Chapter Two.
  • Joker (2019): Bruce Wayne's parents are still alive, but since this is the origin for the Joker and Batman must rise against him someday...
  • In Killing Bono, the Bono assassination plot will not succeed, and Shook Up! will not become the most successful band of all time.
  • The King's Man: Given that it was established in the first movie that the Kingsman Agency was founded by men of wealth and power who had lost their heirs during WWI, Conrad was doomed the moment he decided to enlist.
  • Subverted in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as the ending sees the protagonists interrupting and ultimately preventing the real-world Sharon Tate murders.
  • Ouija: Origin of Evil is a prequel that focuses on the Zanders, the (mostly deceased) family of the Big Bad from the original film. Suffice to say, the film must end on a sour note. And it does.
  • Seemed to be a major point with the Planet of the Apes franchise, though the final film, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, was edited in its theatrical release to try and avoid it. The unedited DVD release makes it more clear that the film is setting up the "humans will be wild men, apes will rule and everything will explode". The prequel-reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes has this as well.
  • The Italian movie "Il Primo Re" is based on the legendary tale of the founding of Rome, thus everyone knows Remus will die at the end, killed by his own brother. Much of the film's drama comes from him being the protagonist and slowly becoming a man Romulus is forced to kill for everyone's good.
  • In Ringu 0, Sadako Yamamura has to die and her spirit has to remain bound to the videotape.
  • It doesn't really matter what good things Akkadian mercenary Mathayus does, who he falls in love with, how much ass he kicks, how many times he saves the world, or even who plays him: in the end, The Scorpion King is destined to become villainous enough to try and take over the world himself, fail, and sell his soul to the devil in desperation, before finally being killed by an archeologist in the early 20th century. Otherwise, The Mummy Returns can't happen. Bonus points: all of his women are doomed as well: if they don't get killed in the movie they show up in, they will be Back for the Dead in the immediate sequel ala Austin Powers, if they aren't Killed Offscreen.
  • The main conflict of Spider-Man: No Way Home is about averting this. The villains from the Spider-Man Trilogy and The Amazing Spider-Man Series are pulled into the Marvel Cinematic Universe from before the climaxes of their respective movies. When they discover that some of them were originally supposed to die, the MCU Spider-Man decides to help cure them of their villainous transformations in hopes that this would prevent their deaths. Ultimately, in spite of much tragedy and hardship, he manages to succeed in this endeavor.
  • Star Wars:
    • The entire prequel trilogy (and by extension, nearly everything in the EU set before A New Hope) is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Everyone that isn't in the original doesn't live through Revenge of the Sith, and everyone that is does. So what does that tell us about little Ahsoka? Apparently, it tells us that she does survive, at least to the events of Star Wars Rebels. However she'd left the Jedi before the events of Revenge of the Sith.
    • The entire main cast of Rogue One, as well. These badass heroes of the Rebellion stole the plans for the Death Star and made the heroic victory in A New Hope possible, so why aren't they around to celebrate Luke, Han, Leia and Chewie's victory? Because not one of them made it off Scarif. Same goes for Blue Squadron, and the original Red Five (Luke's callsign in ANH) who all were shot down in the aerial assault on the planet.
  • No matter if the war is won or lost, in Terminator Salvation, John Connor must send Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor (and have sex with her so John is conceived), Skynet must send a T-800 back in time to kill her, John must send a reprogrammed T-800 back in time to protect his younger self, Skynet must send a T-1000 back in time to kill John's younger self, John must send another reprogrammed T-800 back in time to protect his past self, and Skynet must send a T-X Terminatrix to kill John's past self. The ridiculous recursions were finally addressed in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but unfortunately it only lasted two seasons.
  • In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, the Hewitts have to survive.
  • The Thing (2011) depicts the events that went down in the Norwegian base. Anyone who's seen the John Carpenter 1982 film knows that there were no survivors when MacReady arrives. Furthermore, they'll also know that the attempts by the two surviving Norwegians to stop the Thing from escaping will fail due to the actions of Garry.
  • The third Underworld (2003) movie is mostly all the stuff they spent most of the first movie finding out had happened.
  • In Vacancy 2 The First Cut, the killers have to survive.
  • Operation Valkyrie is Doomed By Reality. Hitler's gotta live, and therefore the operation's doomed to fail.
  • Wonder Woman: As this is a prequel to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the audience already knows how some things are going to turn out. No matter how much faith Diana has in humanity, she will inevitably lose a good chunk of it. Also her relationship with Steve will not last although the reason why is not predetermined. Though the fact that he's a World War I veteran, while Batman v Superman takes place in the modern day is as good an explanation as any...
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Wolverine has to lose his memories and rename himself "Logan", Sabretooth has to distance himself from Wolverine to the point of giving him the silent treatment, William Stryker has to survive and so does Cyclops. Silver Fox has to either die or board a bus (since Wolverine doesn't have a girlfriend in the original movie).
    • In X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, and Moira MacTaggert have to survive, and Magneto and Mystique have to turn evil, leave the X-Men and create the Brotherhood of Mutants. Xavier also has to become wheelchair-bound (although he's also walking in Wolverine and the flashback in X-Men 3).
    • Possibly Double Subverted by X-Men: Days of Future Past. On the one hand, the time travel plot of the film allows for the film continuity to be rewritten, enabling characters to avoid this trope e.g. Cyclops, Jean Grey, possibly Mystique. On the other hand, despite being given a 'second chance', most of the characters end up heading towards the same fates they originally did - for example, Magneto still becomes a mutant extremist at odds with Charles. Overlaps with You Can't Fight Fate.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5: In The Beginning is a prequel film detailing the events of the Earth Minbari War (by way of a Clip Show summing up a large chunk of Back Story for new viewers after the show changed networks). Mostly we have characters that we see from the show, doing whatever they were doing before the war broke out, with three notable exceptions: Captain Jankowski, Captain Sterns, and Lenonn. In the movie, two of the three don't survive (one of the Captains, notably gets part of the bridge dropped on him during a brief battle). In the novelization, it is mentioned in passing the other character, upon realizing what his actions had brought forth put a gun to his head.
  • The Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica. It's clear at least Willie and Joseph Adama cannot die. Willie since he's in Battlestar Galactica and Joseph because both Lee and Lampkin state they knew Joseph personally, whereas both won't be born for at least a couple decades. Everyone else, however, was neither seen or mentioned in the series-so their eventual fate is unknown, meaning they're all fair game...
    • Subverted: Willie does die. It turns out he wasn't Commander Adama after all, but rather an older brother who the commander himself was named after.
    • In the main series, there's also Kendra Shaw, who appears in a extended-episode set in the 2nd season's continuity. However, since the show itself was in the 4th season at the time, and despite her high rank and prominent position we'd never seen her in all of the intervening episodes...
  • Better Call Saul: As a prequel of Breaking Bad, all of the major characters present in this series not present there must somehow be out of the picture by the time the events of that series happen. By the time of Breaking Bad, Chuck, Howard, Nacho, and Lalo are all dead, while Kim has broken up with Jimmy and moved to Florida (although the two reconnect in the last episodes, which occur post-Breaking Bad). Several other associates of Los Pollos Hermanos and the Juarez Cartel which are not in Breaking Bad also end up biting it, such as Werner, Arturo, and Tiburón.
  • Doctor Who:
    • An example from the Classic series could also be "Genesis of the Daleks", where the Doctor is sent back in time to destroy the Daleks before they can even be created. However, because of the number of adventures involving the Daleks, this is clearly not possible. The Daleks do end up entombed in the Kaled Bunker, though one of them makes it clear that this will make no difference in the long run:
      We are entombed, but we live on. This is only the beginning. We will prepare. We will grow stronger. When the time is right, we will emerge to take our rightful place as the supreme power of the Universe!
    • Most of the episodes that take place in the past fall under this trope, as the writers don't want to rewrite history too much. Donna can't allow the people of Pompeii to escape Vesuvius, the Doctor and Amy can't save Vincent van Gogh, Barbara can't convince the Aztecs to give up human sacrifice, etc.
    • Some fans believe that the story "Utopia"/"The Sound of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords" (in which it's revealed that the last sentient entities surviving before the heat-death of the universe will be a small group of humans who devolve into nihilistic, psychopathic cyborgs) does this to the entire universe.
    • An interesting example: while it doesn't involve prequels in the sense that it moves forward in the Doctor's personal timeline, River Song can't die in any of her appearances after "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead", since we already saw her final fate. In an attempt to counterbalance this, the Doctor makes a point of mentioning every time River Song shows up that history can be changed and that she could die some other way instead.
    • Played with in "The Waters of Mars", where the Doctor decides Screw the Rules, I Make Them! and tries to save a (future) historical character whose death is a fixed point in time. She dies anyway, committing suicide to preserve the timeline after being freaked out by the Doctor's A God Am I behavior.
    • Subverted in "The Snowmen". The Doctor suspects fairly early on that Clara is the same person as Oswin from "Asylum of the Daleks", and as Oswin died in that episode, she can't die in "The Snowmen", right? Wrong!
    • Inverted in "Listen". Clara and the Doctor meet Orson Pink, Danny Pink's identical descendant. This plus Danny and Clara's relationship makes it seem very unlikely Danny is dead for good in "Dark Water"/"Death in Heaven". He's really dead. Word of God is that Orson is a lateral descendant.
    • Due to the nature of the series, in which the Doctor changes form and personality periodically and is, to a degree, immortal, the notion of a "happily ever after" with any romantic interest who is not, like him, immortal, is doomed by the established canon of the series. To date only two confirmed loves could possibly have fulfilled this, however: River Song is doomed by established canonicity that says she must die in "Forest of the Dead", and loses her ability to regenerate in order to save the Doctor in "Let's Kill Hitler", while Clara Oswald likewise must die as shown in "Face the Raven", making her subsequent technical immortality only temporary.
      • There's always Jack Harkness/The Face of Boe...
  • Endeavour:
    • This being the Prequel to Inspector Morse, it's self-evident that any character who appears in both shows — principally Strange, Max DeBryn and Morse himself — will not get killed off.
    • Given that the older Morse has never been married (he having lost the love of his life when he was a student), any relationship he has in the prequel is doomed to fail. The ongoing Ship Tease between him and Joan Thursday will, ultimately, never amount to anything. Joan's rejection of him (off-screen between Series 5 and 6note ) follows this pre-ordained path, with Joan becoming the subject of a fan theory that she will marry Strange, who has an unseen wife in the original series.
    • A significant Continuity Snarl has emerged as Endeavour has progressed. In the original series, a retired police officer called Desmond McNutt was introduced in the episode "Masonic Mysteries" as Morse's former mentor. However, in Endeavour, this role is very much filled by Fred Thursday — a man the older Morse never mentioned; the Doylist explanation for this is that Fred and his family are characters created for the prequel, with no in-universe explanation having been provided. Although he's been mentioned in passing several times, McNutt has (as of Series 8) yet to appear in Endeavour.
      • Ultimately McNutt does not appear on-screen in the Endeavour series, however, it is suggested in the final episode that Morse should become his sergeant now that Thursday and his family have moved away.
  • The first season of Fargo sees Lou Solverson as an aged widower. The second season, which serves as a Prequel and follows Lou as its central protagonist, sees him with his wife Betsy, who's been diagnosed with some form of cancer. Viewers know she doesn't live to see the events of the first season, but she ends up dying offscreen.
  • In From Dusk Till Dawn, even though the details differ, both Earl McGraw and the Geckos’ original hostage die at more or less the same point in the story as they did in the movie.
  • The third Horatio Hornblower episode is based on "The Frogs and the Lobsters" (or "The Wrong War" in America, where the title's meaning was less obvious), where the Indefatigable gets entangled in the disastrous Quiberon expedition. The expeditionary force actually comes off as more competent they were in Real Life because all of the bickering French commanders are condensed into General Charette and a fictional murderous Marquis, and it doesn't show the questionable decision to bulk out the expeditionary force with French POWs who had fought on the Republican side against Britain and took the chance to rejoin their old comrades. Instead, the series writes in a theft of the orders by French agents as a major reason for the disaster. (It's also made clear that the Admiralty fully expects the expedition to fail but they proceed anyway because it might give the French a black eye, which Captain Pellew is not happy with.)
  • House of the Dragon: Quite aside from the fact that, being an adaptation, everyone who's read Fire & Blood knows what will happen, being a prequel to Game of Thrones means that certain things are already set in stone within the TV series continuity as well. King Joffrey Baratheon describes Rhaenyra's fate to his fiancée Margaery Tyrell during season 3 of that show, and it is frequently mentioned that prior to Cersei, there has never been a successful regnant Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Most of the war was also covered in Histories & Lore "The Dance of Dragons" special released with Game of Thrones Season 5 BD.
  • In High&Low, the first half of season 2 focuses on how the Mugen gang came to be and their eventual fall. Since you already know Mugen was pretty much wiped off the map, you know things don't end pretty. You also quickly realize that Tatsuya isn't seen anywhere in season 1...
  • How I Met Your Mother loves to reveal bits of the future in advance, usually through Future Ted's narration (but sometimes by standard flash-forwards). As a result, while Ted has to marry someone, most of his steady girlfriends are ruled out for us viewers before the relationship even begins. The most extreme case was Robin, who was his love interest for two whole seasons; we knew from the PILOT that she wasn't the Mother. Which doesn't mean they don't get together in the end.
    • The Series writers were upset about having Ted's narration say he never found out why he woke up with a pineapple after a heavy night of drinking. In many cases minor mysteries like these would be explained in later episodes, but this was one of the few mysteries they couldn't touch.
  • In How to Get Away with Murder, the story develops in two alternate timelines: the present day and the night of the bonfire, the latter which is set at some point in the future. In the Night of the Bonfire storyline (called "Flash-Forwards" by fans), the protagonists deal with burying the murder of Annalise's husband, Sam Keating, whose identity as the one being murdered by the protagonists was revealed in the pilot episode, and while we see him in the present day storyline, we already know he'll inevitably die when the narrative timeline reaches the Night of the Bonfire. Which it does on the Wham Episode "Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me".
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • Elendil will fall in battle with Sauron during the War of the Last Alliance.
    • Anarion will become one of the leaders of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men in the war to defeat Sauron, and is crushed by a stone flung from Barad-dûr during the siege.
    • Ironically for someone who believes Morgoth's army to have been completely wiped out, Gil-galad's kingdom will be annihilated by Sauron's army and Gil-galad himself will perish fighting Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance.
    • Tolkien's Celebrimbor is killed during Sauron's destruction of Eregion.
    • Numenor is not going to last into the Third Age.
  • Two examples from Season 5 of Lost, during the time-travel saga:
    • Jin meets Danielle Rousseau's science expedition. You know, the same team we know all died?
    • The time-shifting islanders come to join The Dharma Initiative when they're stranded in the 70s. We already know that there will be both an "Incident" and a Purge, the latter wiping out almost every remaining member of Dharma.
  • Everyone knows how things are ultimately going to end for the Merlin characters, once they hit the legendary era. Lancelot returned from the dead briefly, but in the end, the inevitable did happen.
  • Joanie Trotter was Dead to Begin With in Only Fools and Horses, so it's not hard to work out where the story arc in prequel Rock and Chips was going had it not been cut short when John Sullivan Died During Production.
  • In a similar vein, Quantico has two simultaneous story arcs, one taking place during the training and one in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack in New York some time after the training. The show does a good job at keeping key revelations to a minimum, but certain events become obvious, including who will be cut from the program and whose relationship will fail.
  • Smallville:
    • If you are an original character, you have a very high mortality rate. Not even being a main character could save you. Chloe Sullivan is the only original character from the main cast to survive the entire series as Whitney Fordman, Jason Teague, Davis Bloome and Tess Mercer all died.
    • Jonathan and Martha Kent never have a biological child, which concludes a plot point from Season 2 very early for anyone familiar with the comics.
    • Everyone knew that the romance between Clark and Lana wasn't going to lastnote  and that any advances by Chloe towards Clark were ultimately going to be ineffective (eventually, Chloe outgrows her teenaged crush and matures). Especially after the one and only Lois Lane was introduced, and Clark gradually began moving towards his relationship with her.
    • Lex in the first couple of seasons makes sincere efforts not to be the Corrupt Corporate Executive his father is, or if he must be one of those, to at least work towards noble goals and help his friend Clark. It is even implied that The Power of Friendship could have saved him if only Lex had been willing to let go of his obsessions.
  • When Captain Christopher Pike was introduced in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, fans of Star Trek: The Original Series knew he was destined to be crippled by delta radiation, eventually choosing to live an illusory life on Talos IV instead of remaining paralysed, as per "The Menagerie". The Discovery writers decided to lean into this however by having Pike be given a vision of his future fate and his foreknowledge of that fate playing a big part of his character development, both on Discovery and on the later spinoff series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
    • Speaking of Strange New Worlds, we know that Pike, Spock, Uhura, the Kirk brothers, Chapel and M'Benga make it through to their futures, leaving other characters up in the air. M'Benga's daughter and Chief Engineer Hemmer are removed by the first season's finale.
      • The same applies to Spock and Chapel's relationship. It was doomed from the start because there's no hint of it in TOS, plus Chapel is supposed to be engaged to Roger Korby. This actually ends up happening because Boimler tells Chapel that there's nothing in the records about Spock exploring his emotional side, which she takes to mean that nothing will come of their romance.
  • While this trope - retitled "Doomed by History" - can apply to every single production depicting real-life events and the lives of historical figures (for example, we all know how the story of President John F. Kennedy ends), there have been occasions where fans have hoped for an aversion. An example is Victoria, which depicts an implied May–December Romance (with varying degrees of Truth in Television) between Queen Victoria and her prime minister, Lord Melbourne. However, regardless what the show did with the two, history shows that Victoria subsequently fell in love with Prince Albert and "Lord M" withdrew from her life soon after.
  • Young Sheldon, which is a prequel Spin-Off of The Big Bang Theory falls under this.
    • The Big Bang Theory explains that Sheldon's father, George Cooper, Sr., died when Sheldon was 14, so if the show lasts long enough, George will have to be Killed Off for Real (foreshadowed as he already had a heart attack in the third episode followed by a second bout of heart trouble in the season five premeire). He dies offscreen of another heart attack in the third-to-last episode "A New Home and a Traditional Texas Torture".
      • It's also mentioned that George and Mary's marriage was in such turmoil before this that George had an affair. Their marriage on the show is no where near as bad as The Big Bang Theory claims. George and Mary begin fighting a lot more often as the series progresses, and after a particularly nasty fight in the season 4 finale, George runs into recently-divorced neighbor Brenda Sparks at a bar, implying that she is the other woman. note 
    • Sheldon has a friend in high school named Tam that was never seen or mentioned in TBBT until season twelve episode "The Tam Turbulence" which explains that Tam and Sheldon stopped talking after Tam chose to stay in Texas with his girlfriend rather than moving to California with Sheldon. The season two finale "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast" implies that Sheldon and Tam's friendship is already starting to suffer, as Tam did not attend Sheldon's Nobel Party and he was Demoted to Extra starting in season three.
    • Sheldon's Meemaw begins dating Sheldon's professor, Dr. John Sturgis. But since Meemaw is still alive in The Big Bang Theory and John is never seen nor mentioned, it means that John is either dead by that point, or he and Meemaw ended their relationship. Dr. Sturgis broke things off in the third season as he didn't want to saddle Meemaw with his progressing dementia (he had gone to a psychiatric facility in the final episode of the previous season). The same applies to Meemaw's next boyfriend Dale Ballard, who breaks up with her in the fifth season.
    • Georgie Cooper's Ship Tease with Veronica Duncan is this, seeing as how Georgie in The Big Bang is mentioned to have been married and divorced twice. Though it's possible that Veronica might have been his first wife, since it happened when Georgie was 19, which, if true, it means they won't stay together in the long run. He eventually gives up on Veronica right when she's starting to develop feelings for him. and begins dating Jana Boggs with this relationship also falling apart after Georgie dropped out of high school.
    • "Albert Einstein and the Story of Another Mary" deals with Mary suspecting that she's pregnant and getting a positive from a home pregnancy test to seemingly confirm it. However, The Big Bang Theory established that she only had three children and having a previously unmentioned fourth child showing up on either show would be too ridiculous, so it was obviously going to be either a false positive or a Convenient Miscarriage. It turned out to be the latter.
    • "A Swedish Science Thing and the Equation for Toast" revolves around Sheldon trying to win a Nobel Prize for his discovery of neutrinos. Given that his life goal throughout The Big Bang Theory was to win a Nobel Prize, he was doomed to lose, especially when you consider the series finale of TBBT, in which he finally won it for his discovery of super-asymmetry, aired before the Young Sheldon episode in question.
    • "A Musty Crypt and a Stick to Pee On" is similar to "Albert Einstein and the Story of Another Mary". Georgie's girlfriend Jana thinks that she may be pregnant. While Georgie is mentioned to have been twice divorced in his adulthood, there was never any sign or mention of him having any children during his appearances in The Big Bang Theory. Jana takes a pregnancy test and it came back negative.
    • In "An Existential Crisis and a Bear That Makes Bubbles", Sheldon's worldview is shaken by his philosophy professor and he decides to switch his college major to philosophy. Since Sheldon is a theoretical physicist in The Big Bang Theory, he can't go through with it and decides at the last moment to stick to science.
    • In "A Second Prodigy and the Hottest Tips for Pouty Lips", Sheldon and his academic rival Paige acknowledge that they have mutual crushes on each other and they decide to kiss. Anyone who has watched The Big Bang Theory knows that Sheldon never had sex, had never went on a date and had never even kissed a girl before meeting his girlfriend and eventual wife Amy Farrah Fowler. When Sheldon closes his eyes, Paige draws a mustache on him.
    • Yet another pregnacy storyline shows up in season five's "A Solo Peanut, a Social Butterfly and the Truth", this time involving Georgie and Mandy. Mandy tells Georgie that she's pregnant, but again, Georgie doesn't seem to have any children in The Big Bang Theory. So either it's a retcon (It was never outright stated that Georgie didn't have kids), a false positive, someone else is the father, she decides to raise the kid by herself or the child is miscarried/aborted/put up for adoption. The following episode jossed many of these options. She took multiple pregnancy tests, confirms that she didn't cheat on him and wants to keep the child.

  • A saying in the Hong Kong comic The Ravages of Time goes, "Those who are fated to die, will die. Those who are fated to live, will live." That is to say, every character is going to die at the time that they did in the source material, even if the circumstances vary quite widely, while at least two original characters were created/centered around specific story arcs and thus were doomed to go when that arc was upnote .

    Myths & Religion 
  • Speaking of doom, Rev 20:7-10—>"When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
  • Ragnarok. In fact, end-of-the-world prophecies in general.



  • The Metru Nui saga in BIONICLE was a two year-long (2004-2005) flashback, so fans already knew that: Vakama and his team would have to give up their Toa powers and turn into weaker Turaga elders, their mutation into animal-like Toa Hordika would be undone, Vakama's Face–Heel Turn would be temporary (these last two were no-brainers even for new fans because 2005's story was an interquel to the already concluded 2004 plot), they would fail at stopping Makuta from putting Mata Nui into a coma, also that Makuta's defeat at their hands would not last, and that the city of Metru Nui would be abandoned with the knowledge of having lived there wiped from the islanders' memory.

    Web Animation 
  • The Project Freelancer Saga, seasons 9 and 10 of Red vs. Blue, is half prequel, showing the Freelancers, most of whom have appeared (or have been mentioned) before.
    • Alpha will be tortured by the Director, and eventually become Private Church. He will then sacrifice himself to stop the Meta, dying in the EMP that Wash sets off.
    • The other AI Fragments (sans Epsilon) will be collected by the Meta, and die in the EMP.
    • Agent North Dakota will be betrayed by his sister, South, and killed by the Meta.
    • Agent South Dakota will betray her brother and Washington to escape the Meta, only to later be shot in the head by Washington.
    • 479er will be grounded and become Recovery Command.
    • Agent Washington will be implanted with the Epsilon AI, which will break down inside his head. He'll survive, but his Endearingly Dorky nature will be long gone, and he will remember everything Epsilon knew, which will eventually drive him to destroy Project Freelancer himself.
    • Agent Maine will become mute and later be driven insane, becoming the Meta. He will then hunt down other Freelancers for their A.I. Fragments and armor enhancements, eventually losing said A.I. Fragments in the EMP, and will die himself after a confrontation with the Reds and Blues.
    • Agent Carolina receives two AI and is driven insane. It's subverted, since she survived both that and the Meta attacking her for her AI (Which was thought to have killed her), and shows up in the present in the end of Season 9.
    • Agent York leaves the program, but is killed by Wyoming while trying to help Tex.
    • Agent Wyoming will become one of the villains of The Blood Gulch Chronicles, and will be killed by the Blood Gulch Crew.
    • Agent CT is killed by Epsilon using an alien artifact laser. It's subverted when she later dies in the prequel segments, and we find out that the CT seen in Recreation was actually the Insurrectionist Leader, who took up her armor and name after her death.
    • Agent Florida is an odd case, since we only learn the role that he's been playing all along at the end of season 10, so his fate is still spoilery. He is assigned to Blood Gulch to watch over the Alpha, and he's the Blue Team's former leader, Captain Butch Flowers. He will inadvertently kick off the plot by tripping over one of Vic's cables (causing Caboose, Donut and later Sister to be sent to Blood Gulch) before dying prior to Season 1 (which may or may not have been caused by Church). He'll then be resurrected by the Alien, only to be killed for good shortly afterward by a mysterious sniper (actually a time-travelling Tucker by accident when he's looking through the sniper's scope).

  • Beyond the End: We're given some chapters dedicated to Eremiel and Abel, two characters who are long dead. Eremiel died when Lucifer revolted, being the first killed and a martyr among the angels; Abel was the first killed when his squad was wiped out by a fellow angel.
  • Bob and George:
    • In this Mega Man (Classic) webcomic, a "Cataclysm" is constantly referred to, in which Zero is awakened early and kills off the main cast, explaining why almost none of the original Mega Man characters appear in the Mega Man X games. However, Wily learns of the Cataclysm and does not activate Zero. But to avoid a temporal paradox, everyone fakes their deaths and moves to Acapulco.
    • Also, in the adaptation of Mega Man 6, Wily is looking for a volunteer in the group to stop a rampaging Mega Man. When he asks Bass (who did not really appear in 6 and is called Bass Man) to slow down Mega Man, Bass says "Screw you, old man. I'm in the next game!", thus making sure he survives until Mega Man 7... which was not adapted.
  • Burning Stickman Presents... Something!, based on the Mega Man X series, featured Iris, who gets killed off in the fourth game of the series. One of the genre savvy protagonists, knowing this is supposed to happen, subverts this by taking steps to prevent it from happening. This led to a rare inversion of Like You Would Really Do It, as after that, the comic's readers kept expecting her to die for the timeline to "correct" itself.
  • Jeneviv from the Dreamkeepers series is seen as having a rather grisly end in the first few pages of the graphic novels, which makes her appearance as a childhood friend of Lilith in the prequel webcomic rather bittersweet with that in mind.
  • Final Fantasy VII: The Sevening: Aerith is of course going to die. This is acknowledged and lampshaded from time to time.
  • Due to a lot of Weird Time Shit in Homestuck, very many events are foretold before they happen. For example, the troll's session ends badly, and Aradia's soulbot explodes.
    • Inverted with the deaths of John, Karkat and Terezi. All three have been shown to be alive and active at future points shown earlier in the story as flash-forwards or other instances of weird time shit. At this stage only John is a definite, having been explicitly confirmed to have survived shortly after the fact owing to his God Tier-derived immortality; this being Homestuck, there's room to be incorrect in the case of Karkat and Terezi.
      Doc Scratch: What sort of story would this be, with our [human Hero of Breath / Knight and Seer] made to stay a cadaver(s)? Definitely not one the alpha timeline would allow.
  • The Last Days of FOXHOUND tells the story of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad you fight in Metal Gear Solid, starting several years before the events of said game and with the end of the comic coinciding with the game. Given that you killed the entire squad over the course of the game, their fate in the comic is a Foregone Conclusion. Not that this subtracted at all from the second to last page.
  • A Little Hint of Blue shows Skara dating Fled (the boy who asked her out to Grom) during the timeline of the original show, but other comics by the author that came out beforehand establish that she eventually goes on to marry Viney instead, so no matter what her and Fled aren't going to stay together in the long term.
  • Magellan, the "Families/Cемьи" side story/incentive comics tell the tale of Soviet heroes Red Vlad and Comrade Katyanote . The comic's prologue, "History", tells us that Vlad and Katya were among the first to fall during the Q'Arth invasion.
  • In The Order of the Stick prequel Start of Darkness, several characters try to kill the lich Xykon, including one who is hinted at having disappeared off the face of the earth in the main comic. Given that Xykon is the Big Bad of the main story, their attempts necessarily failed. It's also a foregone conclusion that Redcloak will not betray Xykon and will continue working for him, Xykon will become a lich, and the Monster in the Darkness will be recruited by Xykon.
  • Since Prequel takes place one week before the events of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, it is safe to assume that every named character living in Kvatch that is not present in the game died when the Daedra attacked.
  • The Unsounded side story Vienne of Seferpine stars a character who is dead by the events of the main comic, but opens with her trying and failing to sew Matty's stuffed animal Chitz. Chitz is complete in the present day, so we know she can't die until she finishes it. Her construct Uaid is also in a much earlier state than it is in the comic, so she has to survive long enough to complete those upgrades too. The first requirement is eventually completed, but not the second. She actually survives to the end of the short story, despite what some readers might have been expecting.

    Web Original 
  • In Little Lenny Penguin And The Great Red Flood, the entire Multiverse is pretty much screwed, as JIM is telling the story after the events of the vast majority of it. Although it ends up being a Happy Ending, JIM and the other characters coming back to life and killing the Eldritch Abominations with The Power of Friendship.
  • Arguably, any character in The Slender Man Mythos. The Slender Man can't be killed or harmed; the best result is delaying him long enough to go on the run and then staying on the run for the rest of your life, and most Runners still suffer horribly at his hands or eventually get caught. Pretty much as soon as the man shows up, insanity, enslavement, or death are on the cards—no exceptions.
  • One Whateley Universe tale set in the near future hints strongly that Phobos will die this year (Whateley school year 2006-2007). Which means everyone is waiting to see what happens in the rest of the school year...

    Web Videos 
  • Hanzo Hasashi's family and Hasashi himself have to die in Mortal Kombat: Legacy in order for Hasashi to be reborn as Scorpion and swear revenge against their killer Sub-Zero. The twist here is that Sub-Zero didn't kill them; Quan Chi and Shang Tsung did and framed Sub-Zero.

    Western Animation 
  • All Hail King Julien is set before the Madagascar movies, which introduces the royal bodyguard Clover, who is so good at her job, fossa start staying away from the kingdom in fear of her. Given that the fossa are once again a major threat in Madagascar 1, it's safe to say she fails to keep up the good work. To say nothing of any friendships Julien forges that he will simply abandon at the beginning on Madagascar 2. The series Finale has Clover marry her love interest Sage, resulting in her having to leave the kingdom to live with him, and the fossa immediately beginning to attack the kingdom again as a result.
  • Because Arcane is a prequel to League of Legends, any character in the series whose survival would contradict later events is pretty much guaranteed to die. This is especially notable for Vander, whose status as Jinx and Vi's father figure pretty much guarantees he won't make it out of the series alive. This gets somewhat zig-zagged, however, with the final episode implying that Vander will end up becoming Warwick.
  • Dawn of the Croods is a prequel to The Croods set in a large caveman community. Other families are briefly mentioned in the movie as having been killed off, so the fate of every non-Crood between the cartoon and the movie probably isn't good. The series finale plays with this, but simply has their community fall apart in the finale, leaving the fate of the other families vague (although chances that they survive The End are probably still low).
  • Because of the existence and continuity connection of Batman Beyond, moments in the DC Animated Universe that chronologically take place before Batman Beyond sometimes fall into this trope.
    • The big ones come from the entire premise of Batman Beyond, which is that Bruce Wayne becomes an elderly recluse and Gotham goes to hell without a vigilante to keep criminals in check. No matter what the shippers say, Bruce has to end up old and alone. There is no happy ending for him in regards to any romance which takes place before Batman Beyond. Similarly, his relationship with the Justice League has to sour to the point where they lose contact. Finally, he must lose contact with all members of the Bat-family, who also have to quit crime fighting, and they can't have anyone else take over for them.
    • An example that doesn't involve Batman Beyond is the Superman: The Animated Series episode "New Kids in Town". The episode establishes that Brainiac will survive at least as far as the 30th century, and this future incarnation of Brainiac goes back to when Kal-El was a teenager to try and kill him before he became Superman. By the end of the episode, Brainiac is apparently destroyed for good when he is hurled into the sun. Brainiac's appearances in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited take place before the events of "New Kids in Town", meaning that even if a fragment of Brainiac remained after he, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid ended up in the Source Wall during the Grand Finale of Unlimited, he'll still be permanently destroyed in the long run.
  • In Hercules: The Animated Series, because most of the series takes place before they meet in the film, Hercules has to remain unaware of Megara's existence. The show does find a way to have Megara and Hercules interact, but they had to have their memories erased afterwards.
  • The Lion Guard is set between Kiara's first interaction with Kovu as a cub and her first hunt as a teenager. The fact that she had a little brother leading a team to protect the Pride Lands who did not appear in any of that is rather suspiciousnote . This means that Kiara cannot meet Kovu again until she's a teenager, and her younger brother Kion cannot defeat Zira during the series proper.
  • In The Little Mermaid (1992) and The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, Ariel has to be unaware of Eric's existence. Conversely, Ariel's Beginning is the earliest-set installment of the franchise - and the only one to feature Ariel's mother. Mom's totally doomed, isn't she? Yes, she is. Also, Marina's goal in Ariel's Beginning is to steal Sebastian's job as King Triton's advisor. Sebastian is seen holding the job in the other installments.
  • Curiously, this Trope was averted in the 90s Spider-Man cartoon. The creators felt it'd be insulting to the comics if they included Gwen Stacy and didn't kill her off, but at the same time felt uneasy about the idea of including her in the story knowing she'd eventually have to die. They instead just didn't feature her in the cartoon at all, using Felicia Hardy to fill her slot in the Peter-MJ-Gwen Love Triangle. She did cameo in an episode toward the end, when Spidey was visiting another universe where she was his fiancée.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has some leeway with this trope due to the fact that it is set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith in addition to the fact that a Moral Event Horizon occurs in Revenge of the Sith (which is set after The Clone Wars). The show (and others like it) remain interesting to watch either through Dramatic Irony or the way the foregone conclusions transpire (as anyone who watched all of Season 7 can attest to). Still...
    • The true Big Bad must stay undiscovered and the faux Big Bad as well as The Dragon cannot be permanently caught. Any mission that has Grievous and Dooku, and Anakin and Obi-Wan has to ultimately end in a stalemate.
      • Anakin also cannot come face to face with Grievous due to one throwaway line in ROTS indicating that their first encounter was in the film. There is, however, an episode where both characters are exchanged in a Prisoner Exchange, but Anakin is unconscious during the exchange. Another episode has them pass by each other, but Anakin doesn't notice and Grievous is too far away to get a good reading on his age.
      "General're shorter than I expected."
    • Something has to happen to take Ahsoka out of action so that she's nowhere to be seen as of Revenge of the Sith and doesn't do anything of significance afterwards, although they have quite a bit of leeway in how that happens. At the end of season 5, we find out what happens to Ahsoka: She is framed for treason against the Republic and expelled from the Jedi Order, and though Anakin finds the real culprit, Ahsoka's faith in them is shaken enough that she quits. Triple Subverted in the series true finale: She was involved in the events of Revenge of the Sith, just offscreen in another part of the galaxy (a couple of scenes are added showing her appearing or being addressed seconds after a scene in ROTS ended). She still survives, though Saved by Canon by prior-animated appearances in Rebels, invoking the inverse of this trope.
    • The worst part is whenever the clone troopers are involved. Every episode dedicated to them explores them as individual characters and not as an army of faceless mooks; we see defections, questioning of the moral integrity of their duty and commanders, and moments where it's shown that the reason they're better than droids is because they're human (or at least, close to humans). Exemplified with the episodes focusing on Domino Squad, who over the course of the series show that they're more than just soldiers, but compassionate beings with a benevolent sense of honor and morals. If you know what happens in the Revenge Of The Sith, you know the horrible fate the clone troopers are doomed to and how they eventually inherit the mindless obedience of the droids they once so hated due to the inhibitor chips that the Kaminoans implanted into their brains (which override their personalities in order to force them to be programmed to kill any Jedi that they see). As for Domino Squad, they are all slowly but surely killed over the course of The Clone Wars, usually in the line of duty suffering indignant deaths. Fortunately, with storytelling leeway, some clones like Rex would get wind of the conspiracy and successfully take measures to avoid this fate.
    • In the Order 66 arc, the audience knows Fives won't be able to reveal the truth behind Order 66, because it remains unknown in Revenge of the Sith. Most of the tension comes from the fact that even though he can't succeed in his quest, there's still hope he'll at least survive, though ultimately, he doesn't.
    • Notably, due to The Clone Wars having a higher canonicity than most of the old expanded universe material, certain things actually managed to blindside the more dedicated fandom audience simply by retconning some of the "less hard" stuff and averting this trope. Namely, in the aforementioned Ahsoka's framing, no one saw it coming that it was Barriss Offee who did the deed, as she was suppose to die during Order 66, and even more jaws were dropped when Darth Maul of all people came back, robot legs and all.
  • Likewise, Star Wars Rebels has to be consistent with the original film trilogy, so the protagonists can't overthrow the Empire (unlikely as that may be), prevent the Death Star from being built, or defeat Vader or Palpatine. Even if they do defeat Vader, expect it to be temporary. It's also a safe bet that any Jedi associated with the nascent rebellion won't make it through the series alive, since this would raise the question of why they couldn't help out with Luke's training, though the pre-Disney canon held quite a few surviving Jedi, including at least one former member of the Jedi Council. Word of God has stated their intention to defy this trope, however. Though Kanan and Ezra are technically still under the knife (as is Ahsoka, once again), they have stated that they have not been obligated to kill anyone yet. However, a Jedi's "death" can take another meaning by having them fall to the Dark Side. By the end, Kanan makes a Heroic Sacrifice, but the writers took a kinder route with Ezra and made him disappear without a trace. As for the Death Star, some of the Ghost crew will at least be part of the efforts towards its destruction in Rogue One.
    • This is explicitly subverted with Rex, Sabine, Chopper and Hera. All are canonically established to have survived into the Original Trilogy era, and at least in Sabine's case, beyond.
    • Played for full drama with the second season finale, in which Ahsoka gets into a one-on-one duel with Darth Vader. Then subverted in the final season, in which we see that she survived that, and even lives past the events of the Original Trilogy, arriving on Lothal post-Endor to pick up Sabine so they can search for Ezra.
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch also runs with this when it features Depa Billaba in the series premiere. As she was established to be killed while her padawan Caleb Dume aka Kanan Jarrus survives, Order 66 is issued and a squad of clones kill Billaba. The show itself also is set around the time of the Empire's birth, meaning the titular Batch cannot stop the Emperor.
    • This is also shown in Devil's Deal and Rescue on Ryloth, where Imperial Senator Orn Free Taa warns the Empire about Cham's plans to overthrow him and everyone associated with him, including Hera, must be dealt with as soon as possible. otherwise they would ruin Palpatine's hard work of establishing peace through Imperial might. Despite the Empire only focusing on Gobi and the others, such as the Batch who find a mining plant under guard, and later rescue Cham after he is framed of Taa's murder by Crosshair, Hera and Chopper slip through the Empire's radar, where they would become two of the greatest threats to aid a bigger threat: the Rebellion.
  • TRON: Uprising: The audience knows from the start Beck's rebellion against Clu is not going to do a pixel's worth of good, since TRON: Legacy takes place about 20 years later, and the Grid is even more of a totalitarian nightmare (though there is a passing mention of a "resistance" in the film). The season (series?) finale being a Bolivian Army Ending certainly points to most or all of the cast ending up de-rezzed or worse.

Alternative Title(s): Death By Sequel