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Killed Off for Real

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Krusty: Poochie's dead! [kids cheer] Now, kids, we all know that sometimes when cartoon characters die, they're back again the very next week. That's why I'm presenting this sworn affidavit that Poochie will never, ever, ever return!
Blue-Haired Lawyer: This document conforms to all applicable laws and statutes. [kids cheer]

In some kinds of stories, Character Death doesn't carry much weight. Maybe resurrection is commonplace or some sort of magical alternate universe has a spare copy to borrow. Maybe the format of the show makes any sort of death meaningless and temporary. Maybe for some reason people never die when they should. Sometimes, even in these stories, a character dies and they stay dead. No magical return from the dead, no rebuild, no retcon and no copout. They're dead and they're staying that way.


For a dead character to be considered Killed Off for Real it cannot be simply any death; it must be one that under normal circumstances for the setting and genre could have been reversed, undone or revealed to be some sort of trick. If it's a setting with All Deaths Final, this never comes into play — remember that permanent death is Like Reality Unless Noted. Consequently, most realistic or mundane works do not provide examples of this trope.

Note that (theoretically) there might still be other ways to revert a death, like declaring it All Just a Dream or retconning the victim as Actually a Doombot — see the First Law of Resurrection.

May lead into Personal Effects Reveal, Meaningful Funeral, To Absent Friends, and Dead Guy Junior. See also Tonight, Someone Dies, Not-So-Small Role, Really Dead Montage. The Video Game version would be Final Death.


Contrast Disney Death, Back from the Dead, and Death Is Cheap. Compare Deader Than Dead.

Naturally, as a Death Trope all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. You Have Been Warned.

People die in real life, so No Real Life Examples, Please!

Example subpages

Other examples:

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    Films — Animation 
  • In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, the titular villain is killed when his lamp is kicked into lava by Iago, an act that cements that Iago really is sincere about his Heel–Face Turn. Jafar explodes in a ball of light, and disappears forever. The cartoon series that followed, which Return of Jafar was meant to introduce, kept Jafar permanently gone outside of a few mentions of his name, ensuring he truly was dead. The Grand Finale The King of Thieves also insists that the events will happen "without Jafar and all of his malice," and sticks to it. Ultimately zigzagged, since Jafar does make a reappearance as a main antagonist in a later crossover episode with Hercules: The Animated Series.
  • Gallaxhar in Monsters vs. Aliens; he makes no reappearances in the following cartoon series.
  • An in-universe example: any video game character who dies outside of their game in Wreck-It Ralph is dead for good, as opposed to just respawning a moment later. True to Disney tradition, the only ones who actually do are the Big Bad, Turbo, and several thousand Cy-Bugs.
  • Because Justice League Dark: Apokolips War was the Grand Finale for the DC Animated Movie Universe and ended with a Cosmic Retcon to reboot the universe, many of the people who died in that film and earlier ones, including Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Darkseid, Trigon, Ra's al Ghul, the Riddler, and much of the Justice League, Teen Titans, Suidice Squad are going to stay dead.

  • Red Panda Adventures:
    • The heroes have enough experience dealing with supervillains that they never assume one is truly dead unless they can absolutely confirm it. One story arc begins with the Big Bad acting with the M.O. of the Golden Claw, a villainess with a tendency towards Body Surfing and Brain Uploading to cheat death and avoid justice. Despite this and the Flying Squirrel's insistence it has to be her, the Red Panda insists both the Claw and a clone of the Claw were both dead and he'd examined the bodies. Indeed, the Big Bad of that arc is not the Golden Claw but rather Professor Zombie, who learned the Claw's tricks during their time as cellmates.
    • Nazi scientist Friedrich von Schlitz has survived numerous things that should have killed him, including assassination attempts and being left to rot in a bubble dimension. He doesn't truly meet his end until near the end of the series when he's forcibly taken to ground zero of the A-Bomb testing site at Trinity, New Mexico.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Kaiju Big Battel is an atypical wrestling fed, if it can be even called such, and this trope is only of the reasons why, though a few of the fallen Kaiju have come back to life, their roster has a graveyard section for a reason.
  • Fighting Opera HUSTLE saw Monster Bono accidentally kill his mother, Yin Ling the Erotic Terrorist.
  • The Urban Wrestling Federation was infamous for killing off several members of its roster, up to and including a freshly crowned champion, Rasche Brown.
  • Lucha Underground has killed off characters throughout its run. The first person killed was Bael, who was fed to Dario Cueto's "monster" brother Matanza. In the season 2 premiere, three more "underground fight club enthusiasts" got fed to Matanza.
  • During Impact Wrestling's "Undead Realm" storyline, they haven't been afraid to outright kill off their more supernatural characters to further the storyline. First there was Allie, who was headed to AEW at the end of her contract, and then James Mitchell.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons: Various throughout the course of the first season. And aside from Su Huan-chen who has a several episode resurrection arc, when a character dies, they stay dead.

  • In The Gamer's Alliance, a bunch of notable characters die off in a blaze of glory or rather unceremoneously, including major protagonists and antagonists. In the verse, Anyone Can Die, and this includes even the gods themselves.
  • Survival of the Fittest: Everybody except the winners of the game and Burton Harris, due to some Body Double antics in Burton's case. He ends up dying anyway. Also. some handlers are fond of putting fake 'Student deceased' messages in their posts when it seems as if the characters have died but are actually alive. (very uncommon though, and it's invariably revealed to not be the case). Also: Maxie Dasai To escape in V3
  • Rather difficult to pull off in Ruby Quest, since the Cure resurrects anyone who dies with it still in their body, but Red managed it by avoiding Ace (who administers the Cure to everyone in the facility) until he was free of it and then killing himself and obliterating his body with a bomb. Bella's death is also permanent given that she's the only one never exposed to the Cure.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is a popular trope in Legend of the Five Rings, although the body count is significantly higher for recently introduced characters than it is for those who have been around for years.
  • Valten in Warhammer Fantasy, at the end of the Storm of Chaos campaign, by Death Master Snicht.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Horus would be an example of this happening to someone who isn't a Red Shirt and had access to ways of cheating death (though he evidently, at the end of his life, didn't want to). He was Killed Off for Real by a psychic attack from the Emperor that obliterated his soul.
    • Captain Tycho of the Blood Angels was killed off in the Armageddon worldwide campaign.
    • Sanguinius was slain by Horus so hard that the Marines descended from his gene-seed felt it. That's not an exaggeration — the Black Rage that haunts the Blood Angels nearly ten thousand years after their Primarch's end is the psychic trauma from the moment of his death.
  • Dungeons & Dragons is where Death Is Cheap, but an epic intraplanar Assassin's guild called The Garrote makes this their modus operandi. Long story short, they're known for getting the job done and making it stay done. Not even Divine Intervention nor Reality Warping can bring back a person thoroughly disposed by The Garrote.
  • Rocket Age uses the Vortex system, which generally allows both player characters and Non Player Characters to dodge death using their pool of story points, even if they are dropped into a volcano or last seen falling into space with a hole in their chest. However, if a character is all out of points or has the Slow Death trait, they are gone for good. Occasionally major NPCs die in story moments too.
  • This is one of the functions of "exiling" in Magic: The Gathering. While there are lots of ways to bring back cards from the graveyard (to the point that whole strategies are built around it), it is essentially impossible for anything to get something out of the exile zone except for the card that put it there (there are a number of cards that temporarily stick something in the exile zone as a way to make their effect work within the rules, or that exile something and specify some specific way of getting it back).

  • Angels in America — Roy Cohn, mere seconds after faking his own death as a trick.

  • Although BIONICLE has a tendency to bring deceased characters back to life in various ways, especially with the revelation that the Red Star is a Respawn Point for the Matoran Universe, there are a few characters who are confirmed to be dead. Specifically, the Red Star can only respawn those in the Matoran Universe who have a corpse and it's in good enough condition to salvage; anyone else is Killed Off For Real. These include Matoro, "Ancient", Carapar, Icarax, Mutran, Gorast, Bitil, Chirox, Antroz, Krika, Vamprah, Nidhiki, Krekka, Sidorak, Kojol, and Teridax.

    Visual Novels 
  • Any non main spirits that fall in battle in Eien no Aselia are killed off. Main spirits result in a game over. On the first playthrough, Kouin and Kyouko are killed off and can be in later playthroughs as well if you don't do the third chapter exactly right.
  • In Monster Prom Miranda Vanderbilt can be killed in an assassination plot if you fail too many events during her Christmas route. How to know if you're on this route 

    Web Animation 
  • There are two deaths that are played completely straight in The Frollo Show:
    • In one scene of Frollo Gets Flashed by a Gothic Lolita, Lefou's mangled corpse can be seen. Later in Hell, he's shown falling into the Sea of Darkness, which states that if anyone falls into it, he or she is finished off for real.
    • The later scene also shows Hans Frollo having a chance to escape death. As he flies up, however, shadowy hands grab him and devour his soul, leaving his body to rot. These hands are revealed to be the Hell Guards in Leet Fighters episode 6, where Kneesocks states that "consuming those who dare death is their rule!"
  • Red vs. Blue:.
    • Church and Tex both fall victim to this thrice. The original Church and Tex, also known as Artificial Intelligence Programs Alpha and Beta, were destroyed when Washington activated the EMP at the end of season 6. Both returned in different forms: Church as Epsilon, the fragment of Alpha that contained his memories, and Tex as the memories of her that Epsilon removed from his head. Epsilon-Tex was "forgotten" by Epsilon at the end of season 9 and was erased from existence. Epsilon-Church destroyed himself at the end of season 13, fragmenting himself into the memories of the other A.I. that once formed the Alpha in order to be able to power the modified Meta suit worn by Tucker. Finally, to really put the nail in the coffin Doctor Leonard Church, the base for the Alpha and Beta (the latter as a by-product of the memories of his deceased wife Allison) committed suicide with his daughter's pistol at the end of season 10. Church and Tex are both effectively Deader Than Dead.
    • The Meta, formerly Agent Maine, was long presumed to have survived his fall at the end of Revelation. He was later confirmed to be deceased, having drowned in his suit due to the four piercing wounds dealt to him by Tucker.
    • Isaac Gates, alias "Felix", first evaded death after having a spaceship dropped on top of him. However, he was killed and confirmed to be deceased shortly after being blown off the top of Chorus' Communication Temple in the next episode when his partner Samuel Ortez, alias "Locus", picked up and activated his sword, a feat that can only be done when the sword's previous holder is dead.
  • In the finale of Battle for Dream Island, Flower destroys the Master Recovery Center and dooms everyone to a permanent death, including herself. Those who died in the finale don't return to Battle For Dream Island Again. Subverted when a Hand-Powered Recovery Center is created and everyone starts reviving their dead friends. Woody is the last contestant to remain dead until Battle for BFDI.
  • In the finale of Inanimate Insanity, MePhone5, MePhone4, and Bow fall off the Crappy Cliff into a river, which permanently shuts down the former two and electrocutes the latter. MePhone4S downgrades himself to bring MePhone4 back, getting rid of his own personality in the process. In the second season, MePhone shows that he can't revive Bow because she died while he was dead, so he never got the notification to recover her. In that same episode, Dough is introduced and killed, and MePhone can't bring him back because he never created a Life Icon for him.
  • In Confinement, while SCP-2200-1's fate is left ambiguous, SCP-2200-2 is blown apart by the shadowy force.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Hero House has a a shocking example, being one of the very few interpretations where Superman is killed off for real. In the first episode, no less!
  • Achievement Hunter:
    • Invoked in the "Heist" episodes of Let's Play Grand Theft Auto V series. Once a heist has officially started, if any member of the Fake AH Crew gets killed, he does not get to continue on with the Heist and gets no payment. This is further set up by having the crew member's audio muted and the footage focused on the remaining crew members for the remainder of the Heist.
    • The Minecraft Let's Play series "Ya Dead Ya Dead" uses the same principle. The series starts out with nine Achievement Hunters in a new Minecraft world, playing on Hardcore Survival mode. If someone dies, they're out - for the rest of the series.
  • In Suburban Knights, there's actually a funeral pyre and Really Dead Montage to let the viewer know that Ma-Ti definitely will NOT be coming back.
  • The Nostalgia Critic: Dr. Bitch Spasms, lampshaded in Nostalgia Critic's Top 11 Fuckups Part III.
    Critic: I bet you thought he'd come in here and do something funny, but nope! I shot him! He's still lying there on my living room floor... I really should do something about that.
  • Vinesauce Tomodachi Life has a lot of this.
    • Those who are unambiguously dead include HOTDOG, Ghoul Cunt, Lolly, Toad, Levi, CD-i Link, Big Face, Balegdah, Jack & Jill, and Bub Skebulba (who are assimilated by the Jahns and subsequently driven away), as well as Wii Fit Trainer (who is evicted by Vinny under the Jahns' control; she's said to have been killed).
    • The fate of several other islanders depend on whether or not you think "eviction" (Tomodachi Life's term for deleting an islander) is a codeword for death (as implied by Wii Fit Trainer being "killed" by eviction, and Two-Faced being threatened with death during Survivor Edition). If you do, then the count expands to include Bonzi, Dolan, Skelorita, Skeleton, Dheerse, Birdo, Broccoli, Two Faced, and Seabiscuit. This is notably averted with David Bowie; his Mii was definitely "released" after the real man died of cancer.
  • Zigzagged in Critical Role with Mollymauk Tealeaf. With no cleric available, and a relatively low level party at the time of his death, it was widely assumed that he was permanently dead, in spite of the suspicious circumstances surrounding his backstory. However, when the party returned to his grave almost ninety episodes later, they found it empty, and learned that he had been revived by his previous companions. After the Mighty Nein caught up with him though, it immediately became clear that it was Lucien, not Molly, who was brought back, and that Molly as they knew him is truly dead - a sentiment which was repeated multiple times by Lucien himself.
  • In Dream SMP, Death Is Cheap for the most part, but during the final battle of the L'Manburg Civil War, Jschlatt dies of a heart attack and Wilbur has Philza kill him to complete his destiny, and neither of them come Back from the Dead. However Wilbur did wind up coming back as an amnesiac ghost.
  • Monster Island Buddies generally has Death Is Cheap and countless characters come Back from the Dead, making it more surprising when this happens.
    • King Kong is beaten to death by an enraged Gorosaurus when he finally pushes him to far at the end of Season 6, and he stays dead for the rest of the series.
    • Thanks to the Darker and Edgier tone, Season 7 and Season 8 see a ton of characters bite it permanently. Season 7 sees Zilla, Gypsy Danger, Cloverfield, and the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man be killed off and stay dead in the Monster Island War, and the following season has Gojira, King Ghidorah, Keizer Ghidorah, Kumonga, Kamarucas, and Grand King Ghidorah join them.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Dead For Real


Poochie's Dead!

Krusty, well aware that cartoon characters bounce back from fatal injuries, uses the legal system to seal Poochie's fate.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / KilledOffForReal

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Main / KilledOffForReal