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Life Will Kill You

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"He was around all the time, he monitored all the checkpoints between the mortal and the eternal. Dirty needles, poison beetles, downed live wires, forest fires. Whirling roller skates that shot nerdy little kids into busy intersections. When you got into the bathtub to take a shower, Oz got right in there too—Shower With A Friend. When you got on an airplane, Oz took your boarding pass. He was in the water you drank, the food you ate. Who's out there? you howled in the dark when you were all frightened and all alone, and it was his answer that came back: Don't be afraid, it's just me."
Pet Sematary, description of "Oz the Gweat and Tewwible"

In stories, characters are usually protected from dying. They tend to live Happily Ever After. If they do die, it's in a murder or disaster or big disease or something. Whatever, as long as it's something spectacular or dramatic or at least surreal, something that we don't have to worry so much that it could happen to ourselves.

These are the exceptions.

Sometimes death is sudden and mundane and comes for no reason. A sudden brain aneurysm, stroke, or heart attack, quietly drowning or suffocating while unconscious; any simple accident. While a Life Will Kill You death is very undramatic in itself, it's always very dramatic on an emotional level.

Sometimes this is contrasted to the character having lived through much worse before something mundane got dangerous to a fatal level. The character does NOT have to be heroic or powerful in any way. It's enough that the character lived in a setting that wasn't clearly marked as Anyone Can Die. Since the trope is about how death is portrayed, it can in special cases (see the The Onion example) also cover deaths caused by aging or whatever.

Truth in Television. Many people who live to the age of 90 (or even 100 and beyond) remain in astoundingly good health, to the point that their friends and family members may jokingly call them "immortal"...before suddenly dying of old age/natural causes. Even animals who live much longer than usual often die of old age.

Sometimes played as An Aesop about appreciating your loved ones while you still have them.

Contrast Death Is Dramatic, Surprisingly Sudden Death, and Death Is Cheap. Contrast Dropped a Bridge on Him, which usually is violent and/or takes death lightly. Compare Deadly Distant Finale, Shoot the Shaggy Dog, You Can't Fight Fate, and We All Die Someday.

For literal element of life with lethal effects, see Holy Hand Grenade and Revive Kills Zombie.


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


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk has no end of horrible ways to die, and no shyness about deploying them. So how does Godo, the blacksmith who made Guts' Dragon Slayer, meet his end? He dies peacefully in bed of old age. Considering the Crapsack World he once lived in, at least he's freed.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the most legendary person in the story, the singular slayer who left his mark etched in Demon Slayer Corps historical records due his contributions in battle, and being the one behind their main combat discipline: Breathing Styles. Despite being the strongest demon slayer ever born, Yoriichi Tsugikuni never met his end in some heroic, grandiose way. Rather, he died of old age in his duel against his brother, Michikatsu/Kokushibo, passing away just before giving him the killing blow.
  • Fairy Tail is an action series where people fight and cause potential property damage using magical powers, and while Death Is Cheap, the deaths that do occur are often fantastical or dramatized in nature. Thus the offscreen death of Lucy's Workaholic father stands out for being the result of overworking himself.
  • Magical × Miracle reveals that Sylthfarn, the most powerful wizard in the land, and the person Mel is impersonating has already died after being hit by a random, passing wagon while visiting his homeland.
  • One Piece has a setting revolving around super-powers, swordsman, beasts and other threats to be found on a vast pirate based world at war with the Navy. However Zoro's childhood friend and rival Kuina (who happens to be introduced as a budding swordswoman) dies offscreen after falling down a flight of stairs.
  • Tiger Mask: At the very end, Tiger Mask is walking to his next match when a car swerves unexpectedly and hits him, killing him on the spot.
  • Wish: The setting has angels and devils attacking each other and talks of war between heaven and hell. One of the two main characters, Shuichiro, ends up collapsing and dying on the street while buying cigarettes.
  • The story of YuYu Hakusho opens up by having Yusuke Urameshi die by getting hit by a car as he attempts to push a child out of its path. Ironically he did more to injure the child than the car would have, as Koenma revealed it would have stopped just shy of hitting the boy.

    Comic Books 
  • The original Captain Marvel died from cancer, which while the result of a mildly fantastic carcinogenic phenomenon, was treated very realistically as in the mundane world.
  • In ElfQuest, The Hero dies to a spider bite, which is weird because, on top of the healing magic and interstellar technology his clan have access to, he's lived a tribal life in that forest for centuries. You'd think that if elves were susceptible to spider venom, he would've died that way a long time ago, or it would have been mentioned somewhere in the tribe's extensive Backstory. Fans were divided on whether this twist was tragically realistic or contrived.
  • A major subplot of the Sam Humphries run on Harley Quinn is the death of Harley's mother from cancer, which sets Harley off on various frenzied attempts to deny or "fix" it.
  • One issue of Queen and Country opens with Ed Kittering lying dead in bed. Since Ed is a Minder, a British secret agent, foul play is immediately suspected since (as multiple characters point out) James Bond does not just die in his bed. The story ultimately reveals that he died of a brain aneurysm; there were no spies or foreign agents at work, and no plot was involved, it was just a normal death by natural causes.
  • The Question: Vic Sage died from lung cancer due to his lifelong smoking.
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • As something of a Day in the Life episode for Death, "The Sound of Her Wings" features many, many minor characters who all meet mundane ends, like electrocution, car accidents, and even Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
    • At the beginning of Brief Lives, Death comes for an Ageless man who expresses disappointment at the mundanity of his death; after surviving 15 millennia he was killed by a freak accident that could've happened to anyone. He's told he got the same as everyone else: one lifetime, no more, no less. Later subverted, as it's strongly implied that the "accident" was caused by the mystical security system Destruction set up to hamper anyone trying to track him down.
  • At the end of The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye (set far in the future), Ratchet dies of age-related Spark burnout.
  • Watchmen: Captain Metropolis dies, albeit gruesomely, in a car accident in 1974, long before the book's present day of 1985.

    Comic Strips 
  • In a few strips of Dilbert, Dogbert tried a stint as a fortuneteller. In an attempt to give an infallible prediction, he told Dilbert that he will eventually die.

    Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Aunt May succumbs to a heart attack and hits her head on the desk while Peter was out stopping Screwball. He regrets not being there for her to this day.
  • The premise of the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic Crash and Burn is that Hawk Moth is unexpectedly and anticlimactically killed in a car crash.
  • Kei Midoriya, Hawks' father, dies from an illness that was caught too late in Crimson and Emerald. Not due to his wife's vigilantism, not through a villain attack. Just a disease and plain bad luck.
  • The Golden Boy's Last Temptation: As recounting the life of late ex-President Prez, Supergirl tells that nobody knows how Prez died. Some rumormongers believe he got assassinated (he had survived several attempts on his life, after all), but other people suggests he simply got sick and died as a normal person.
    Most of the legends say somebody shot him. Some say he died of malnutrition and pneumonia as a street person. Some say he just figured his job was done on Earth, and he quietly lay back and gave up the ghost.
  • In the Discworld works of A.A. Pessimal, Johanna Smith-Rhodes has temporarily retired from active Assassination to raise a family. In her career as an Assassin she has survived, for instance, a leopard wanting to chew her arm off.note . In a more sedate life as a working mother, a new peril confronts her. Her witch daughter has learnt that her mother's aunt survived three days of intense fighting only to drop dead of heart failure shortly afterwards. By unorthodox means - she can talk to the dead - Rebecka the witch discovers Smith-Rhodes women are prone to heart conditions and complications leading to early death. She then persuades her mother to get it checked out. Matron Igorina discovers alarming signs that Johanna has been trying to tough out, and subjects her to life-saving surgery. With. No. Arguing. Johanna.
  • In the backstory of One Hell of a Ride, Rhodey died in the aftermath of the Avengers' civil war because of a hospital borne infection.
  • one day at a time (Nyame):
    • Peggy Sue protagonist Jason Todd's second death was a result of lung cancer at age fifty. The first chapter lampshaded how un-heroic this death was, but Jason was okay with it. He used what time he had to settle his affairs and died in his sleep, surrounded by friends and family, which is a much better way to go than his first death.
    • In Jason's backstory, Alfred Pennyworth died of old age. Both of the remaining Waynes at the time (Jason and Cassandra Cain) knew it was coming for a while, which did not help either of them in trying to recover from their younger brother Damian Wayne's death.
    • Carrie Kelley's parents died in a random car accident completely unrelated to any super-crime.
  • A Scotsman in Egypt: What with all the enemies Scotland makes over the centuries, you'd think every important character would die in battle. Domnall's twin Nevan dies of the plague out of nowhere, taking the story into a new direction as Aodh takes over Spymaster duties.
  • In The Teacher of All Things after Tai's adventures in V-Tamer his partner, Zeromaru dies in a rather mundane way. Zeromaru's V-Pet dies like any other toy. Many of Tai's V-Tamer friends like Lord HolyAngemon, Gabu died of old age due to the difference in the passage of time between the Digital World and the Real World. This causes him a lot of grief.
  • What Tomorrow Brings: After spending over 30 Earth years involved in an interplanetary war (and being possessed by a Puppeteer Parasite for two-thirds of it), the original timeline's Alloran dies peacefully of old age, surrounded by his family.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Rango after the mariachi owl drops many ominous hints about Rango's eventual death, the epilogue reveals Rango meets his end in a strange household accident many years after the story ends.
    • Also used by Rango during his recount of the time he killed seven bandits brothers with a single bullet. Once Rango finish explaining how each brother was killed by the chain of events initiated by his shot, someone points that it only described six deaths, Rango promptly explains that the seventh brother died from an infection.
  • In Tokyo Godfathers, Mother asks Hana in a whisper if her (Hana's) lover died of AIDS. Hana replies that he just slipped on the soap in the bath, prompting Mother to muse that Death truly is around every corner.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Big Lebowski hits its climax with a fight scene between the protagonists and the nihilist would-be kidnappers. One of the protagonists does not walk away.
    The Dude: Oh man, they shot him!
    Walter: No, Dude, there were no shots fired.
    The Dude: Huh?
    Walter: It's a heart attack.
  • In Bumblebee, Charlie’s father died before the movie’s events - not from Decepticon activity, but from a simple heart attack.
  • In Defending Your Life romantic lead Julia mentions dying by tripping over a lounge chair and drowning in the pool. After not only having been a very accomplished swimmer, but also lived adventurously and risked her life heroically more than once (she's shown rescuing her kids from a burning building, only to run back inside to get the dog). She finds the irony frustrating.
  • In a Mexican movie called El Estudiante, the main character's wife dies in her sleep just when the movie seemed to be about to end. Saying it was something to cry about would be an understatement...
  • A special content in Final Destination 3 DVD revolved around various causes of death, from the most unlikely to the most probable. The ending was simply "Chances of dying - 1:1".
  • In the film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, the old consigliere who dies of a sudden heart attack when Ghost Dog bursts into the room, Guns Akimbo drawn.
    Consigliere: Jesus, IT'S THE FUCKING BIRD MAN! Ough, Jesus-...! [clutches his chest and falls down dead]
  • In The Godfather, after surviving a dramatic attempt on his life that put him in the hospital for months, in which he was shot five times by a member of a rival mafia family, Don Vito Corleone quietly dies of a heart attack while playing with his grandson in his garden. His grandson doesn't even notice anything amiss at first.
  • The Hand of God: Fabrietto's life is turned upside down when he's 16 years old, when his parents are both killed in a carbon monoxide leak.
  • In In Time, this is played straight in the story while subverted by the setting. Within the story, characters die from the smallest mistakes, such as only keeping enough cash for the bus ride home (without knowing that the fee has been increased), or getting so absorbed in your duty that you don't take the time to refill your clock when you have the chance. On the political level, however, it is made clear that the system has been engineered for these kinds of mistakes to occur. The government is murdering their citizens on a genocidal level, while building in an element of randomization as an excuse to pretend that it's the victim's own fault.
  • In Last Action Hero, The Grim Reaper from the Seventh Seal movie appears in the real world and does what the Grim Reaper tends to do. When he confronts the protagonist he tells him that he will die. For one moment, the kid thinks he is going to be reaped, but the Grim Reaper just tells him he'll die as a grandfather.
  • Lawrence of Arabia portrayed the protagonist as a great brave hero. After all his dangerous adventures however, he died in a road accident on his motorcycle. At the beginning of the film, no less. However, this was a Deadly Distant Finale, occurring many years after he retired.
  • In More American Graffiti, John Milner spends the movie drag racing, only to be killed by a drunk driver as he is driving home.
  • Never Let Me Go: The film version ends with the protagonist thinking about how ordinary people aren't so different after all, how we are all living our lives on death row.
  • Discussed in Patton. At the end of the movie the eponymous general nearly has a car accident, and he mentions how ironic it would be for someone to live through the worst of World War II only to die in a random car accident. This is an allusion to how the Real Life Patton died.
  • After 900 years of adventures, fighting bad guys, and leading the Jedi Order through war and peace, what finally gets Master Yoda in Return of the Jedi is just old age.
    "Now, will I rest. Yes, forever sleep. Earned it, I have."
  • In A Single Man, the main character is a gay college professor, who decides to commit suicide after his partner dies in a car accident. At the end, he decides that life is worth living after all - and promptly dies from a heart attack.
  • In Sliding Doors, one version for the main character is just standing there, having what would have perhaps been the most important conversation in a long and happy life. Suddenly a car runs over her, giving one of the twin timelines a sudden Downer Ending.

  • In The Belgariad by David Eddings, Rhodar is a tactical genius who is eventually killed not in battle or heroically, but from a general organ failure brought about from years of overeating.
  • Another Stephen King series, The Dark Tower, has the idiot-savant psychic Sheemie, one of Roland's oldest friends (though they were separated for a long time), die in the last book of an infected wound on his foot.
  • A character in one of Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels survives numerous conflicts and then dies after slipping on a stone staircase. One of his disbelieving friends cries "death should be more difficult."
  • Discworld:
    • One of the seven barbarian heroes chronicled in Interesting Times dies from... choking on a concubine (err... cucumber). This is what urges the rest of the group to seek a more glorious death for themselves (even though they have effectively settled down at the end of the previous book) in The Last Hero.
    • Death is stated to believe that everyone is dying, and everyone will die, because of this trope, which makes asking him whether or not your current prognosis is terminal a moot point.
    • We see this happening to Auditors who start developing traits associated with being alive. This is justified in universe in that Auditors, not being alive, can exist for ever, but being alive implies that you will one day be dead and thus have a finite existence. Because any finite number compared to infinity is indistinguishable from zero, any Auditor that appears to have begun to live will instantly die.
    • Hogfather plays with this by having several Auditors turn into vicious dogs in order to interfere directly with events. They are horrified to discover that life is addictive and that they can't turn back, and because they are now alive they are now also no longer immune from Death (who is, by this point in the story, royally pissed off at them...)
      Death: it gets under your skin, life. metaphorically speaking of course. and the more you struggle for the next moment the more alive you become... which is where I come in, as a matter of fact.
  • In Stephen King's novel Duma Key, protagonist Edgar defeats an evil force with the help of his new best friend, Jerome Wireman, who has previously survived a Bungled Suicide where he shot himself in the head and lived. They both survive the encounter, but Wireman suddenly dies of a heart attack a few months later.
  • Discussed in Mikhail Lermontov's A Hero of Our Time. The final chapter concerns an army officer who shot himself in the head on a bet to prove that he was destined not to die (the pistol jammed)... and then was killed by a drunk Cossack a few hours later. It's left unclear whether this event confirms that he was destined to die that very day (which is the protagonist's belief), or if it's a straight example of this trope (as a minor character thinks).
  • Assassinations are common enough in the Honor Harrington books, both for strictly political and for conspiratorial reasons. In the People's Republic of Haven, a popular method used by the government was to arrange an aircar accident, and in later books, the villains would use nanites to either fake death by natural causes or cause people to go on brief suicidal courses of action, to include committing assassinations themselves. So when Arnold Giancola, a Havenite politician interfering in attempts of the new restored Republic of Haven government to negotiate a peace with the Star Kingdom of Manticore, meets a very natural very untimely death in an aircar accident, the government officials are at a loss for how to avoid looking like they had him assassinated.
    • It gets better: Once the Havenites learn about the greater conspiracy they have been a victim of, they officially accuse the Mesans of Giancola's murder, long after the readers would have stopped caring about the guy. Albrecht Detweiler is shocked and dumbfounded at the accusation, as that was one of the few important deaths he didn't have anything to do with at this point.
  • The novel for Kamen Rider Ghost reveals that Takeru Tenkuji ended up dying of a heart attack at 33.
  • This trope is discussed and given the name "Oz the Gweat and Tewwible" in Stephen King's Pet Sematary.
  • In Warrior Cats, Leopardstar is an ambitious and occasionally antagonistic cat who first appears in the second book and is one of the more prominent RiverClan characters, especially after becoming its leader. She ends up living long (more than 10 years, which is amazing for the setting) and dying of diabetes.
  • In The Winter Queen, Count Zurov tells the protagonist about a friend he had once, an army officer who participated in the most brutal fights but died in peacetime of accidental alcohol poisoning.
  • Flint Fireforge, one of the founding heroes of the Dragonlance novels, adventures, and setting, expires of a heart attack while striving to keep up the pace of travel set by his far younger adventuring companions.
  • In The Witcher, Geralt of Rivia spends his life fighting monsters, spirits, cursed humans and all manner of dangerous and supernatural foes…only to meet his end being stabbed unawares by a scared peasant with a pitchfork. (This is subverted in the video games, where he is revived)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in Angel where one of the prophesies concerning the eponymous vampire is that he will "save the world, then die." Eventually it's revealed that a more accurate translation would be "save the world, then eventually die in the sense that you will become a mortal human again, which is kind of what you've been hoping for ever since you got your soul back."
    • A similar thing was done later in the series with Eve. She spends an entire episode hiding from Hamilton, claiming that if he finds her he'll kill her. When he catches up to her, he just severs her contract. When asked why she said she would die if he caught her, Eve answers that now that she's mortal, some day she will.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's mother is simply dead one day. While the audience shouldn't be surprised by a death (in the Buffy-verse, at any rate), it was totally unexpected that she died the way she did. "I Was Made to Love You" ends with Buffy coming home, and her mother is dead on the floor. The next episode is called "The Body", and quickly reveals that it was a simple aneurysm — caused by complications from a procedure she underwent earlier in the series to remove a brain tumor.
    • Bonus points that everyone was so surprised and unsettled that it wasn't anything extraordinary. Xander, especially, is shaken, saying things like this don't just happen. Anya, who usually has a very matter-of-fact attitude towards supernaturally related death and violence, is completely at a loss and in tears.
    • Played With in "Help". Buffy, while working as a school counselor, meets a student named Cassie who has predicted her own death. The Scoobies spend the episode trying to find out who might be after her, and learn of a cult that intends to sacrifice Cassie. Buffy saves Cassie from the cult, then saves her from a booby-trap by catching a crossbow bolt inches from Cassie's head. Cassie dies soon after of a heart attack.
  • In Choujin Sentai Jetman, Gai/Black Condor cheats death by Vyram many times and finally defeats them with the rest of the team ... then dies in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue after being stabbed by a random mugger on the way to his friends' wedding. At least supplementary material explains that he and his teammates had given up their Birdonic Waves after the defeat of Vyram to avoid the deadly secondary effects of their augmentations, which meant that what Gai could've once survived now could kill him.
  • CSI-verse
    • CSI:
      • "Ending Happy" consists of a guy who suffered a Rasputinian Death. After surviving being poisoned (by seafood to which he was allergic), shot in the throat by a crossbow, beaten with a crowbar and poisoned again (this time by snake venom) he sits down by a pool, then falls in and drowns when the chair (which he refused to repair earlier in the flashback) collapses. Made all the more frustrating for the team as four people confess to killing the man, only to find out that wasn't what had actually done him in. Whether or not they're charged for attempted murder isn't addressed.
      • A college girl found dead in a dumpster behind her residence hall turns out to have fallen into the dormitory garbage chute head-first while trying to retrieve a wastebasket she'd accidentally dropped into it. Even in the CSI franchise, it's not Always Murder.
      • In another episode, a US Marine survived several tours in Iraq only to break his neck falling off a ladder his first week back home. (The reason CSI got involved was because somebody broke into the funeral home to steal his brain.note )
    • CSI: Miami: One victim who was just walking down the street died when another man fell off a third-floor balcony and landed on him. Not only was he crushed, his neck was sliced by a cd the other man was holding when he fell.
    • CSI: NY:
      • "The Fall" has someone who appeared to have been pushed off a balcony. Not only was he an Asshole Victim, it happened at a party so a lot of suspects were present. His actual cause of death was drinking so much he lost his balance when he tried to reach up for something hidden in a gargoyle's mouth on the balcony.
      • "Right Next Door" has a woman whose high heel gets caught in a sidewalk grate causing her to trip, fall through a store-front window, and bleed to death on the spot. Her case was solved during the Cold Open.
  • Common in Dead Like Me. Since the main characters work in the External Influence department, old-age deaths are still rare, but their clients' causes of death include auto accidents, diving-board mishaps, aggravation of an existing spinal injury, and falling space-station shrapnel (more interesting, but still sudden and pointless). The best example is when they're in a bank waiting on a death to occur. As the time gets closer, a bunch of armed bank robbers rush in, while at the same time, a wife catches her husband having an affair with a coworker. With all this tension going on, murder or an accidental shooting seems imminent... but no, the whole situation manages to resolve itself peacefully. So who dies? The guy who walks in ten seconds later to cash his paycheck, slips on the floor and breaks his neck in the revolving door.
  • Derry Girls: Sister Declan dies at her desk while the Girls are in detention in episode 1, and in the episode "the Curse", Erin's Aunt dies of a sudden medical episode after being cursed out by her sister, Erin's mother Mary.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The deaths of the Doctor's incarnations are usually very dramatic and noble (especially Two, Three, Five, and all of the new series Doctors) but have been this in a few cases. The First and War Doctors simply die quietly of old age between adventures (unlike the Eleventh, who died of old age but in the rather more dramatic context that he'd aged to death due to stranding himself on a single planet for hundreds of years). The Fourth Doctor died from the fall after slipping off a radio tower he was climbing — though the fact that he (and the audience) knows from the moment he first sees the Watcher that he's not getting out of that story alive makes it a bit less sudden. The Sixth Doctor originally slipped and bashed his head on the TARDIS console and died (though latter stories, such as Big Finish's "The Last Adventure", retconned his demise as happening under somewhat less undramatic circumstances). The Seventh Doctor got hit with a stray bullet by happening to be in the vicinity of a gang incident, and then died in a medical accident when the surgeon trying to resuscitate him got confused by his Bizarre Alien Biology and killed him on the operating table.
    • "Tooth and Claw" references it: Queen Victoria mentions the legend that anyone who owns the Koh-i-Noor will die, and the Doctor responds that that's true of anything if you wait long enough.
    • The Weeping Angels' victims. The Angels won't (usually) kill you, instead they'll send you back in time and you end up dead in present time simply from living out what was left of your life. This is why the Tenth Doctor calls them "the only psychopaths in the universe who kill you nicely".
    • It's heavily implied that, after all the times they died, the one thing that permanently killed off both Captain Jack Harkness and Rory Williams is old age. Assuming Jack actually does become the Face of Boe, then he passes away after about five billion years.
    • The death from old age of the Brigadier in "The Wedding of River Song", which forces the Eleventh Doctor to go and confront his own death.
    • Danny Pink gets run over by a car, due to carelessly stepping out into the road while using his mobile phone, in "Dark Water". Clara even complains about how ordinary a death it is.
  • Doom Patrol (2019): In the episode "Frances Patrol", Larry Trainor, who has not aged since becoming Negative Man, reunites with his aged lover John Bowers, who ends up passing away peacefully before Larry decides it's time to leave.
  • Referenced in the Firefly episode "The Message", in which the eponymous message from one of Mal's old war buddies includes the declaration that "We went to war never looking to come back, but it's the real world I couldn't survive." Subverted somewhat in that he's not actually dead, and while he does get himself killed by the end of the episode, it's not a mundane death.
  • Maester Aemon dies of old age, in his bed, on Game of Thrones, just about the only character to die a completely natural death in the show.
  • Given a nod in the episode of The Golden Girls where Dorothy has what is ultimately diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome. After being told by a number of doctors that there's nothing really wrong with her and even told by one that it's all in her head, she gets an examination by her neighbor, Harry Weston (a pediatrician), because he's the only doctor she knows she can trust.
    Dorothy: Am I going to die, Harry?
    Harry: I'm afraid so.
    Dorothy: Really?
    Harry: Sooner or later, I guarantee it.
  • In the Jonathan Creek episode "The Reconstituted Corpse", the mundane manner of the victim's death proves a stumbling block for solving the mystery. The victim died from a brain aneurysm after being struck on the head by a piece of pipe that rolled off a scaffold by accident. The aneurysm took several hours to take effect and she simply died where she stood.
  • In the backstory of Lexx, Kai is sentenced to death by his fellow Brunnan-G. Since they're a race of The Ageless, this just means that he is cut off from whatever keeps them that way.
  • In the final episode of the second season of Prehistoric Planet, North America, the introductory scene features an Alamosaurus dying of old age. This is actually used to emphasize just how powerful the creature is - it's the only animal in the series that dies of natural causes, with not even Tyrannosaurus trying to take a live one (indeed, the highlight of this segment is a rex scavenging the carcass, only to be challenged by a pair of Quetzalcoatlus).
  • This was the reason behind Tasha Yar getting a Red Shirt death instead of an "Our hero saves the universe and goes out with a final quip" sort of death when her actress left Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was intended as a realistic moment - the point was that it was pointless. However, fans don't like it that realistic when it comes to their character getting bridge'd. She returns in an Alternate Universe episode, and gets a much better ending (though most likely still won't survive.)
    • Against all odds she actually does survive, as related by a character literally born of that alternate continuity, then dies again pointlessly years before she dies the first time. Ah, Negative Space Wedgies.
    • Invoked by Q in Tapestry. Picard asks if being spared being stabbed in the heart means he won't die. Q retorts, "Of course you'll die! Just at a later date."
  • The point of the Supernatural episode "Mystery Spot". Dean Winchester, a guy who's survived witches, ghosts, vampires, demons, urban legends, and really angry humans, is killed over and over again by things like slipping in the shower, eating bad burritos, getting hit by a car, and having a piano fall on him. It's widely regarded as one of the series's funniest episodes.
    • By the time the series ends, both brothers have survived pissing off pretty much every primal force in the universe, including God. Then Dean dies after accidentally impaling himself on some metal while fighting a bunch of vampires, monsters who have not been a problem for the brothers since season 1. Sam then goes on to live a full live and dies of old age.
  • In the Welcome Back, Kotter episode "Goodbye, Mr. Kripps", an unpopular teacher has a heart attack while yelling at Vinnie, who mistakenly believes that he killed the teacher and turns himself in to the police as a result.
  • Detective Ray Cole from The Wire dies suddenly off screen, apparently on a stairmaster. This is because the actor playing him really Died During Production.
  • The X-Files: In "Beyond the Sea", Scully's father dies of a heart attack, probably the most normal death in the whole series. Ironically, by the time Scully has accepted the fact that nobody can escape death ("Tithonus"), it's implied she has become immortal.

  • Played for laughs in Alestorm's "Swashbuckled". Admiral Nobeard was so fat he was invulnerable to both sword and gun. He ended up choking to death on a pretzel.
  • "The Last Gunfighter Ballad" by Johnny Cash ends with the eponymous gunfighter—now elderly and suffering from dementia—run down by a car while standing in the street.
  • Type O Negative's song "Life is Killing Me".
  • Hank Williams's song: "I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive". Interestingly, Hank Williams Jr and Hank Williams III also recorded or contributed to recordings of this song.
  • Life'll Kill Ya was the title of one of Warren Zevon's last albums, although in a sad irony it was released before his terminal cancer diagnosis.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica has rules for aging. Every winter after a character turns 35, they must make a roll (with penalties for poor living conditions and advanced age, or bonuses for good living conditions and longevity rituals); failure means they either acquire an aging-related affliction (like weakening eyesight or poor hearing) or a Decrepitude point. If they have too many afflictions already, they must take the Decrepitude point. Once they have enough Decrepitude points (depending on edition - 10 in 4th, 5 in 5th), they die of old age at some point in the following year. The book notes that, since this is the 13th century, dying of old age is an accomplishment worthy of praise all its own.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, no form of magic or other means can undo death by old age.
  • In Exalted, even the most glorious Solar Exalt will die if he lives long enough. The discovery of this rule led to great dismay/sobering amongst the first generation of post-Primordial War Solars. Attempting to avert this is the reason the Scarlet Empress fell into the Ebon Dragon's claws. Doesn't apply to Abyssals who suffer from Eternal Death, as well as Infernals who become Primordial 2.0.
    • The above is only true as a baseline; aside from Abyssals and Alchemicals (who will naturally never age or die - Abyssals are already dead and Alchemicals are closer to superhuman golems than living beings - although they eventually stop being the sort of person who walks around talking to people and start being things like living cities once they get old and powerful enough), methods of biological immortality (though not total invulnerability, even the most powerful, biologically-immortal Celestial Exalt can still die violently) exist for almost every type of Exalt. While in their natural state a Terrestrial Exalt will live up to about 500-700 years at the most, and a Solar or Lunar Exalt will make it to 2500-3000 years old before dying of old age, there are workarounds available The above-mentioned Scarlet Empress is the only Terrestrial Exalt who's figured out a trick to live forever, but Solars have access to things like Hearthstones that can grant eternal life (or they can always try to finagle their way into repeatedly getting to eat peaches of immortality which undoes a century of aging with a single bite, or a full milennium of aging with an entire fruit - and plenty of Solars are clever and resourceful enough to be able to pull off a heavenly peach heist within a thousand-year timespan, even repeatedly), Lunars can learn esoteric charms allowing them to age *backwards* (and then forwards for a while, and then backwards again, repeating this process ad infinitum)... the above-mentioned case for Infernals is also technically a similar workaround - in their natural state they have the *shortest* lifespan of any type of Exalt, expiring even before a Terrestrial would (it's just *expected* that they'll get around this if they grow powerful enough). The one absolute and total exception to this rule is the Sidereal Exalted - as the Chosen of the Maidens they serve as guardians of fate and destiny, and one of the five cornerstones of fate is "everything ends, eventually". On the upside, they live for up to 5000 years in their natural state (as opposed to the 2500-3000 that a Solar or Lunar manages before dying of old age, if they haven't employed workarounds). On the downside, even if a Sidereal *does* employ a workaround that would function for, say, a Solar Exalt, Saturn herself ensures that no Sidereal makes it past 5000 years old (if they've eaten peaches of immortality often enough that they're still biologically in their 20s, or even if they've found some way to become totally incapable of dying of old age, something will happen that will kill them before they reach 5001, etc.)
    • On a more specific note, there are cases like Chejop Kejak (the lead Sidereal who fears what will become of his faction when he succumbs to old age), the fact that several potential candidates to the Scarlet Throne are discounted on the basis that they're too close to the end of their lives, and Ingosh Silverclaws (an extremely prominent Lunar) having passed away shortly before the start of the game's introduction point.

    Video Games 
  • Ezio Auditore de Firenze, a much-feared assassin who comes to controlling the entire Mediterranean region throughout Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations, dies of a heart attack at an advanced age after years of idleness. Which is just the way he wanted it as he had chosen to give up the life of being an assassin years ago.
    • However, there are theories that he was, in fact, poisoned by a man he talked to moments before dying, as seen in Embers.
    • Similarly, Altair is about ninety or so when his story finally ends. The last command the player gives him is "Sit a moment and rest..."
  • Crusader Kings takes place with a very mortal cast, in a very turbulent and disease-ridden era, over several centuries. It can be rest assured that while some will fall in glorious battle, many, if not most, of your dynasty will meet a less-than-glorious end by disease, old age, or misfortune. In the second game, Norse rulers get bonus prestige if they raise a runestone to an ancestor who didn't die a mundane death.
  • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: If you do Sakura's free time events, you'll find that there's one person she could never defeat in a fight- her boyfriend, Kenichiro. She only took the Ultimate Martial Artist title because Kenichiro contracted a terminal illness and probably won't live to see her graduate. Ironically, according to Another Episode, he ultimately outlives her due to her Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, it's mentioned that King Krichevskoy, the previous Overlord and Laharl's father, an incredibly powerful demon who'd taken on the worst that Heaven and Hell could throw at him and won, died... from choking on a pretzel. Or not. He actually died sealing away Baal.
  • Dwarf Fortress: There's a pretty damn big chance your legendary axedwarf won't die in an epic battle worthy of history, but rather will get caught in a cave-in, drown/burn in a badly engineered cistern/magma reservoir, get caught in an accident with a minecart or ill-placed machinery, die of dwarven stupidity. Your dwarves can also die of old age, which is rarely seen because a)people usually retire their forts before then, and b) as seen above, there are a lot of other ways for your dwarves to die.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout: The "bad ending" for Junktown has town villain Gizmo taking charge and becoming an untouchable crime boss, until he chokes to death on a iguana-on-a-stick.
    • Fallout: New Vegas:
      • Invoked when Caesar offers the Courier the chance to determine how Benny will die. When asked, Benny chooses to die of old age, in his bed, preferably after a marathon session of sex with a pair of prostitutes. Whether or not this works is up to the player.
      • While it doesn't happen during the games story, Caesar is headed this way. If the player, at least temporarily, sides with the Legion that he has a brain tumor that is causing him headaches and mood swings. The player can choose to try and operate him themselves, but a successful attempt requires either high medicine skill, or a high enough luck. Or they can go on a fetch quest to get auto-doc parts needed for a diagnosis. The Courier can also use this as an opportunity to assassinate Caesar and make it look like an accident or otherwise natural. With high enough Speech or Medicine skill, it's possible to remain on friendly terms with the faction afterwards.
  • Ghostbusters: The Video Game: The Spirit Guide entries for some of the ghosts and Cursed Artifacts use this as Black Comedy. For example, Pappy Sargassi—the Fisherman Ghost which you encounter in the Sedgewick Hotel—survived a terrible shipwreck, but shortly thereafter he choked to death on a fish-stick while on land.
  • Many of the notable shades of the dead in Hades died in fierce battle or by earning the ire of the gods themselves. Eurydice remarks that her own death was very sudden and mundane for a semi-divine nymph, having been bitten by a venomous snake.
  • In Icewind Dale, one boss states that the world is dying. Why? Because it is living.
  • Shadow Hearts series:
    • In Koudelka titular character Koudelka - a medium and Jerkass team-mate James - an Vatican agent, both wind up at a curse-soaked manor in the middle of the Welsh country side - Koudelka to investigate a troubled spirit broadcasting anguish for miles, and James to recover a stolen artifact implied to be in the manor - a manor owned by his old-friend Patrick Heyworth and his former love-interest Elaine Heyworth. Fairly early in it's revealed that the ghost in torment and James's former love-interest are the same person and the psychotically depressed Patrick may have stolen said cursed artifact to try to bring her back... with predictable results. Elaine's death drives the entire game and along with the villain's and two of the three main-character's motivations and... it turns out she died due to a random senseless break-in that had turned violent while her husband was out getting groceries. The entire game, and by extension the entire series, happens because of an utterly random benign nominal life-tragedy, that the survivors just could not accept and so took absurd and desperate actions to undo.
    • Further in the series in Shadow Hearts: From The New World the game's main-character, Johnny Garland, waking up after several years, Johnny apparently having survived a random accident, but awaking to find his father and twin-sister did not. Daddy Garland may have died due to to something other than said accident, and it may have something to do with that artifact Patrick Heyworth had stolen years prior.
  • At the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Snake meets with his father Big Boss at Arlington National Cemetery where they make up for lost time. At this point Snake is going to die within a year's time, at best, due to preprogrammed Clone Degeneration that has accelerated his aging, and Big Boss is going to die because of a virus that is programmed to kill him. Naturally one of the questions that Snake asks of his father is, "Am I going to die?" Big Boss' response is a simple one, "Everyone dies. There is nothing you can do to stop it. Nothing you can do to run away from it. All that's important is that you don't waste the time you have left."
  • In the first level of Mischief Makers, you meet the Elder Clancer, who gets you started on your adventure. Later, during the planet's version of the Olympics, you meet some Clancers from the Elder's village, who tell you that he passed away off screen in the intervening time.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice features legendary Isshin Ashina, the ninety year old patriarch of the Ashina Clan, whose lands are being slowly invaded by the Interior Ministry. When the Ministry launches a full-fledged assault on Ashina Castle late in the game, he picks up his sword and sets off to defend his castle...only to keel over and die in the next room. This is later defied when Genichiro Ashina sacrifices himself to resurrect Isshin at the peak of his strength.
  • In Stellaris, even an Immortal Ruler isn't... Quite immortal. Self-inflicted gravitational irregularity, neglecting proper maintenance protocols... Even mortal leaders often die in reasonably mundane ways, with such mundane causes as "old age"...
  • Subverted in World of Warcraft with Lei-Shen the Thunder King. Legends and semi-official in-game history says he simply died of old age. World of Warcraft: Chronicle later revealed he was killed by the Forge of Origination, which also wiped out his army and turned Uldum into a desert.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 3, one of the side characters from Colony Lambda ends up reaching the natural end of his life off-screen a few chapters into the game. A somewhat harsher example than most, since people from the Colonies only live for a maximum of ten years, dying at the physical equivalent of 20.
    • When the party is taken captive by N at the end of Chapter 5, he decides to weaponise this by just keeping them captive for a month until Mio reaches the end of her tenth year, and forces the rest of them to watch her Homecoming. Unfortunately for him, she'd pulled a "Freaky Friday" Flip with M, who after centuries being forced to be an immortal Moebius was relieved at the chance.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY
    • Ozma was known as an Invincible Hero and a One-Man Army who could plow through hordes of Grimm through his mastery of combat and magic. In the end, he's killed by a simple illness. His lover Salem's inability to accept his death is her Start of Darkness towards becoming the Big Bad. The consequences of her actions ultimately lead to the God of Light resurrecting Ozma to save humanity, becoming the Big Good and her Arch-Nemesis in the process. Now the world is secretly trapped in a Forever War between two immortals over the fate of humanity.
    • Fria is the Winter Maiden, who is one of the most powerful people in the world because of her abilities. However, she is a elderly dementia patient who is on her deathbed — dying from old age. In the Volume 8 climax, Cinder's attempt to steal her magic rouses Fria into a swansong explosion of ice and freezing wind so incredibly powerful that Cinder's own magic cannot counter it. The effort kills her after a few minutes, but buys her just enough time to pass the magic on to a hero instead of a villain.

    Web Original 
  • In this article in The Onion, all death is treated as totally unexpected, with people being surprised and horrified that people actually can die from aging.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: One episode revolves around the survivors of Woodhouse's World War 1 battalion dying off, with newspaper clippings talking about foul play being suspected, and since the group created a tontine shortly before the war, which by now is worth about 1 £Million, it seems like one of them is killing the others. Nope, as it turns out, the deaths occurring so close to each other was genuinely just because of old age and accidents, since most of them were pushing 90, and the newspapers were just trying to drum up sales.
  • Bojack Horseman: Bojack's neglectful father Butterscotch Horseman spent his whole life working on a novel which ended up flopping when it was finally published, and Butterscotch publically challenged any of his critics to a duel. One man took him up on it, and the two met in Golden Gate Park with revolvers, prepared for a classic 10-step duel...and at the count of 5, Buttersotch turned around to ask him exactly what he thought about the novel, tripped on a tree root, and busted his head open on a rock.
  • One of the Hitler Ate Sugar tactics used on the Justice League by "Glorious Godfrey" was as follows: "Since the Justice League has been around, 50% of marriages ended in divorce, the other 50%... in death!" Of course, to him, it was just business, nothing else.
  • Rick and Morty: The alien arcade game Roy: A Life Well Lived, which simulates the life of a human named Roy from childhood and lets the player live however they want, has this happen when Morty plays it. In middle-age, Roy has a dramatic brush with cancer, survives it after a heroic struggle... then promptly dies a few years later at age 55 after falling off the step-ladder in the carpet store he works at and breaking his spine.
    Rick: (reviewing Morty's performance) Look at this. You beat cancer and then you went back to work at the carpet store?! Boo!


Video Example(s):


"You Are Going To Die..."

"...And there is nothing you can do to stop it."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / CessationOfExistence

Media sources: