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Killed Off for Real

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"As Coroner, I must aver
I've thoroughly examined her
And she's not only merely dead
She's really most sincerely dead."

Krusty: Poochie's dead! 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!



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    Professional 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.

    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.
    • Additionally, while not killed off per se, no spell can raise anything that died of old age from the dead.
  • 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.


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Alternative Title(s): Dead For Real



Bertrand is dead. Time to celebrate.

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