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Make Sure He's Dead

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A doctor gets a phone call from his best friend, and the frantic voice at the other end says "God, oh God, my wife's dead! I shot her! What do I do!?" The doc tells his friend to calm down. "OK, now the first thing is, you have to be sure that she's really dead." He hears silence at the other end, then a single gunshot. "OK, that did it. What next?"
Old joke

When a character defies No One Could Survive That! by making sure the dead person stays dead. Can be done with bullets (sometimes lots of bullets or special types), fire, explosives (sometimes a volley of it, or rarely, a nuke), molecular disintegration, or a wooden stake, depending on what's available. This is the most effective way of dealing with a Zombie Apocalypse, assuming you can disable the victim in the first place and that you can find the body afterwards.

One of many calling cards for the No-Nonsense Nemesis. Justified version of Desecrating the Dead; related to There Is No Kill Like Overkill and Rasputinian Death (if it's only the subsequent attempts that work). Failure to do this causes a response similar to Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him? (in this case, Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him Again?). The Double Tap to the head is a common method of ensuring someone is really dead. A kill may be confirmed to someone else via Decapitation Presentation. In settings where resurrection is possible, this trope can overlap with Deader than Dead.

Very much a Truth in Television trope. It's common military doctrine in industrialized nations to aim for vital areas with techniques such as the Double Tap when shooting to kill. It's just as common in both the military and law enforcement for fallen opponents to be checked for signs of life before being officially declared KIA.

You know the drill: Death Trope = Spoilers Off.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Not satisfied filling Jotaro with knives and dropping him several stories, Dio Brando decides to make sure he's dead by cajoling a policeman into shooting him in the heart. Then he puts his ear to the ground to make sure Jotaro's heart has stopped. Then, just to be sure, he grabs a street sign and tries to decapitate Jotaro's body. Jotaro was still alive, having had Improvised Armor and his Stand to protect him from the knives and fall, using his Stand to stop the bullet and his heart, and finally using his Stand to punch Dio in the skull after wrecking the stop sign.
    • At the climax of the battle, Dio, Drunk on the Dark Side and basically padlocked to the Villain Ball, neglects to do this after seemingly killing Jotaro via dropped steamroller and instead commits to Evil Gloating, clearly not having learned his lesson from earlier. Jotaro uses this opportunity to fake out Dio and land a crippling hit. It doesn't go well for Dio from there.
  • Sometimes, this backfires badly. In Rurouni Kenshin, Makoto Shishio originally worked as a 'manslayer' during the rebellion, but for some reason, his employers decided to get rid of him. They knew just how tough he was, and sent a small army after him, including firearms. When he finally went down - after killing more than half of his assailants - they decided to make REALLY sure he was dead... They poured oil over him and set him on fire, essentially cremating him on the spot... SOMEHOW Shishio still survived, albeit with third-degree burns covering his entire body, and thus turns into a 'Bandaged up like a mummy' baddie.
  • Though it is not shown the Blonde in Gunjo is implied to have done this.
  • When Naruto attacked Kakuzu with an attack that quite literally tore him apart at the cellular level, Kakashi moved in afterward to ensure he was dead. It's a good thing he did because Kakuzu was still alive.
  • The bad guys in Ninja Scroll see the good guys trying to slip across a river, and The Dragon with electricity superpowers sends a massive electrical charge into the river, enough to basically blow it up and flash-fry everything in it, in an attempt to kill the protagonists. The other minions are immediately sure that it must have killed the heroes, but the Dragon, who's already seen the heroes defy death a few times, tells them to check the river and be sure. Naturally, it turns out the heroes lived, although how they survived is never explained.
  • The calling card for Vino, a Mafia assassin from Baccano!. His killings are said to be disturbingly messy, for the purpose of making sure he finished the job.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • After his first battle with Goku, during which he beats him into the ground with ease, King Piccolo makes sure to check Goku's pulse before he leaves, discovering that his heart has indeed stopped. Of course, he never anticipated that Goku's heart would restart itself shortly after he left.
    • Future Trunks' killing of Mecha-Frieza; in this order, he slices Frieza vertically in half with his sword, slices those two halves into little pieces, and then blasts those pieces into ash with a point-blank Ki blast. Considering the fact that Frieza had previously survived a brutal beatdown from Goku, being sliced in half by his own energy disc, and being on Planet Namek when it exploded, as well the fact that when he's revived in Resurrection 'F' with his body still in pieces, he's still alive and fully conscious, all of Trunks' measures seemed absolutely necessary to ensure Frieza wouldn't be coming back.
    • After blowing Super Buu to pieces with his Super Ghost Kamikaze Attack, Gotenks, along with Piccolo, attempt to prevent him from regenerating by burning said pieces to ash with Ki blasts. Unfortunately, this still isn't enough, and Buu regenerates from the smoke.
    • In the movie Cooler's Revenge, when Goku takes a direct hit from Cooler's Eye Beams and falls into a river, he orders his Armored Squadron to hunt him down. Even after they raze an entire landscape with Beam Spams, Cooler orders them to search every last inch of the area until they find Goku and finish him off.
  • Ryo Saeba from City Hunter often engages in this, especially with those who have been dosed with Angel Dust (as even after a lethal wound they will ignore all pain and come back for more until they've bled out unless they're completely incapacitated-or killed instantly), and when he starts teaching how to shoot to Kaori one of the first lessons is the Mozambique Drill-two shots in the center of the mass and then a headshot.
  • At his debut in Ranma ˝, Happosai calls out Genma and Soun for failing to do this to him when they decided to get rid of him. Considering that, after getting him so drunk he passed out, Genma and Soun had sealed him up in a barrel, chained it up, hurled it into a cave, tossed a sizable bundle of lit dynamite inside with him, then closed up the cave with a massive boulder wrapped in a shimenawa before it exploded, and then forgot about him for several years (during which he was still trapped in that cave, possibly without food or water) their oversight may be excusable as them not realizing Happosai was THAT tough.
  • The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious: Seiya is always worried that his slain foes will come back to life. As such, he spams his best skills and fire magic to ensure not a single cell remains, collateral damage be damned. After gaining earth magic, he starts sending his enemies to the planet's core to ensure their remains are incinerated.
  • Bleach has Yhwach do this after he kills Yamamoto by cutting him in half. Well aware of Orihime's absurdly broken healing powers, he uses a Quincy technique to destroy his foe's entire body to ensure there is nothing left of Yamamoto for her to bring back.
  • Pokémon Adventures: When Norman dies, Maxie says he'll make sure he doesn't come back and has his Houndoom torch Norman's body with Flamethrower. Norman is eventually brought back thanks to Celebi's Time Master powers.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman Vampire: Throughout Bloodstorm, Batman comes across vampire victims, and stakes them in the heart to prevent them from rising as vampires themselves. In Crimson Mist, he also beheads his Rogues Gallery to ensure they don't rise once more after he's drained their blood.
  • In the first issue of the comic book miniseries Black Orchid, this is done to the title character using fire, as a followup to lampshading Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? and shooting her. This is on the second page.
  • The Punisher MAX:
    • In Issue #6, the titular antihero finds himself fighting a mafia hitman who just seems to soak up everything he throws at him. Even after Frank gives the man a brutal beat down and throws him out the window of a seven-story building, impaling him on a wrought iron fence, the mafioso pursues Frank (with a piece of the fence still inside him as he walks). Only after Frank blows the man's head off with a shotgun blast does he finally go down for the count.
    • Frank needs to do this with some frequency when it comes to the few enemies of his that manage to recur. Barracuda is one of the biggest examples, as Frank goes out of his way to mangle the corpse with an axe, then an AK-47, and finally setting the pile of gore on fire before he could be sure.
      Frank: Barracuda was dead when you shot him to bits and shot the bits and burned them. Anything less just left that nagging doubt.
  • In one of Toyfare's "Big Shots" strips, an assassin justifies cutting a mark's head off to his partner as making absolutely sure the job is done. He then chalks his shooting of the body multiple times after decapitating it up to spite.
  • Batman: The Cult, Deacon Joseph Blackfire, the main villain, has a totem in his likeness that in hallucinations appears far taller than it is. However, after Blackfire dies, Batman does not take the chance of it being mystical and proceeds to douse the thing in gasoline and set fire to it to keep the Deacon dead.
  • Serenity: Those Left Behind: Lawrence Dobson, the Alliance agent from the TV pilot who was shot in the eye by Mal, returns with an optical implant replacing his lost eye. When they finally meet again, Mal shoots Dobson through the other eye... and then shoots him again "just to make sure."
  • In Superman storyline Starfire's Revenge, Supergirl is lying stil motionless after being gunned down, but Derek Ames knows his boss Starfire will want proof of her death; so he grasps her arm and prods her body for a bit. Since Supergirl does not show any signs of movement, he believes they have succeeded in murdering her. He is wrong.
  • Tex Willer has the habit to try this with Mefisto and Yama, but circumstances prevent Tex and his pards from finding the body even the one time Mefisto actually died (and, to be fair, he had survived the explosion of his fortress. What killed him was a horde of hungry rats).
  • Subverted in Uncanny X-Men, when Psylocke kills Magneto. She knows he's hard to kill and so, having stabbed him through the heart, she removes his helmet and uses her psychic powers to shut down his mind, and doesn't leave the area until she's verified complete brain death. However, she didn't plan on him calling in a favour from an Omega-level healer, who teleports in to resurrect him as soon as she leaves.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Godzilla's Titan allies take extra precautions when killing the Many to make sure they stay dead, since every last piece of their biomass is alive and infectious.
  • The Raven's Plan: After everyone is sent back in time, Jaime comes across Littlefinger. Unsure if he remembers (and knowing he's dangerous even if he doesn't), Jaime instantly runs him through, and after a brief hesitation, decapitates him just to make sure.
  • Sonic Mania: The Novelization: When the Flying Battery crashes in the Press Garden Zone, one of the Eggrobos initially assumes that Team Sonic simply perished in the crash. Eggman is smarter than that and orders his minions to find and bring back their bodies. When they find them unconscious in the snow, they also make sure to check Sonic's pulse first; indeed, Team Sonic survived, and they destroy the Eggrobos.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In Creepy Crawlers, when Ami attacks a giant spider:
    Just to make sure the spider was really dead, Ami walked up to the iced-over debris and kicked the head off the rump. There. This thing wouldn’t be feasting on any villagers.
  • Arrow: Rebirth: Why Oliver Queen decapitates Malcolm Merlyn after already impaling him with the man's own sword. He did not want to risk someone reviving Malcolm with the Lazarus Pit.
  • Son of the Sannin: Madara already managed to cheat death in the backstory with a time-delayed Izanagi that only worked because Tobirama left his corpse intact for a proper burial. Once the Konoha 15 manage to kill him again, Sasuke proceeds to incinerate his body with Amaterasu just to make absolutely sure that he doesn't come back for a third try.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Blood Diamond, Danny Archer shoots a pair of RUF soldiers at a checkpoint. A third soldier, surprised and unarmed, tries to flee. As Danny goes after the third one, he casually puts a bullet in the heads of both of the fallen soldiers he shot seconds ago as he walks past them.
  • In the movie adaptation of Bloodrayne, the protagonists decapitate fallen vampires to make sure they're really dead.
  • In Colossus: The Forbin Project, Colossus orders people to be first shot and then decapitated, while he is watching.
  • Enemy at the Gates has a scene where every German patrol passing a heap of Red Army corpses left over from a previous fight makes a point of machine-gunning it. This isn't done out of irrational hatred; it is insurance against living Russians getting in among the uncleared corpses, and using them as cover to snipe from. (And considering that Zaytsev and Danilov meet while using this exact tactic, their fear was well-founded).
  • Evil Dead: According to Professor Knowby, the only way to definitely kill those possessed by the Necronomicon is by completely dismembering their bodies.
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter: During the climax of the film, Tommy grabs Jason's machete and chops halfway into his head with it, destroying his left eye. As Tommy and Trish are hugging in relief, Jason seems about to pull off a Finger-Twitching Revival... and when Tommy sees, he freaks out, grabs the machete, and starts chopping away at Jason's body.
  • During the first battle scene in Fury (2014), the tank's driver, Gordo, tells his New Meat crewmate Norman to shoot a bunch of dead Germans. When Norman protests that they're already dead, Gordo caustically asks if Norman is a doctor to be able to tell that someone is dead just by looking at them through a tank's periscope, then points out that any one of the Germans could be pretending to be dead, all the while preparing to get back up and shoot them In the Back with a hidden anti-tank weapon. In the final battle, Bible gets surprised and nearly killed when he tries to grab a weapon from among a pile of dead bodies and it turns out one of the Germans was Playing Possum.
  • In Get Rich Or Die Tryin, a rival gang bursts into a recording studio and shoot half a dozen people. While the gang leader is relaying a message to the singer in the sound booth, his mooks are calmly walking amongst the bodies finishing them off.
  • In The Godfather, Sonny is killed by a small squad of mafia hitmen. One of these hitmen showers his corpse with bullets, spraying his body from top to bottom to make sure he died, then kicks him in the head.
  • Halloween Ends: When Laurie and Allyson finally kill Michael Myers, they hurl his body into an industrial shredder and watch him get gibbed to make sure he doesn't come back.
  • Said word-for-word in The Host (2006) by Nam-il after Hee-bong manages to shoot and down the monster. Nam-il shoots it again, and sure enough, the monster just Playing Possum and immediately gets up and tries to run away.
  • In Jeepers Creepers, when Trish and Darry are confronted on the highway Trish runs The Creeper over. When Darry asks if Trish thinks he's really dead, Trish then proceeds to run him over not twice but five times. Unfortunately, while this would definitely have been effective against a human Serial Killer, the Creeper is something else entirely and manages to recover fairly quickly.
    • In Jeepers Creepers 2, the protagonists manage to ground the Creeper and Jack Sr. goes to town on him with a spear, but the Creeper just goes into hibernation. Jack Sr. then nails the corpse to his barn and waits for the hibernation to end, just to be sure it stays dead.
  • In Olympus Has Fallen, the terrorists attacking the White House shoot all the Secret Service agents who appear dead in the head as they pass, to make sure they don't get up.
  • This is done in a kaiju fight in Pacific Rim by Raleigh Becket who lost his brother to a kaiju who hadn't really been dead years before and didn't want to repeat the mistake. "Let's check for a pulse to be sure." (BANG BANG BANG) "Yup, no pulse."
  • Scream:
    • Scream (1996), where the Final Girl Sydney, cold as ice, puts a bullet right between the eyes of the killer when he wakes up. "Not in my movie."
    • Done again in Scream 2, when after the killer is downed by a shot to the chest, Sidney puts a bullet in her forehead "just in case."
  • In The Shawshank Redemption, the man who killed Andy's wife and her lover technically did this, although the prosecutor's point when telling the court that the gun would have to have been emptied and reloaded several times was that the killer did so for sadistic rather than pragmatic reasons. Fair point; he just had the wrong man.
  • In Sin City, after Hartigan's bullet causes the assassin chasing them -Roark Junior- to crash, he tells Nancy to pull over so he can go back and confirm the kill.
  • Skyfall: After the titular manor explodes, the villain Silva says this to his henchmen regarding Bond, as he himself is still hell-bent on killing M.
  • Thir13en Ghosts: The Juggernaut's backstory in the special features reveals that he was a Serial Killer who, when being subdued by a dozen police officers, managed to kill three of them and only stopped rampaging after soaking up fifty rounds. Afterward, the cops unloaded another whole clip into his unmoving body just to make sure he wasn't getting back up again.
  • In Trick 'r Treat, Kreeg blasts Sam again with his gun after the latter finally goes down, and it still isn't enough.
  • Rule #2 of surviving in Zombieland: Double Tap.

  • One of the students in Battle Royale took advantage of being issued a bulletproof vest and getting a motorcycle helmet to trick opponents by pretending to have been shot and then taking them when their guard was down. Unfortunately, this trick failed when Kazuo Kiriyama made sure to put a bullet in his brain to be certain.
  • The Belgariad: In Belgarath the Sorcerer, after the defeat of Torak in the Battle of Vo Mimbre the Alorns proceed to slaughter the remains of the now-leaderless and disorganized Angarak army long into the night. After their torches burn out, the Ulgos make sure they're all dead.
  • Beware of Chicken: After Jin punches Zang Li over 500km away, the Shrouded Mountain disciples send several of their number to find the body and check for evidence of demonic possession. Even at cultivator speeds, it takes them days to get there and find the site, with the help of local guides who heard a recent avalanche, but once they do uncover Zang Li's very dead remains, they place them in a special seal and incinerate the pool of oil and blood (left by body-jacker Lu Ban) with lightning.
  • In Mage: The Ascension novel "The Road To Hell", the Technocracy soldiers sent after Seventeen are ordered to make sure he's dead. He's not, but with all the magi-tech modifications they did to Seventeen, he probably could have survived a few dozen rounds to the brain anyway.
  • This trope is invoked retroactively to make Hogfather antagonist Teatime's introduction even more creepy and badass. Summed up in this exchange from the TV movie:
    Teatime: I checked Sir George's breathing with a mirror, as instructed.
    Lord Downey: Apparently, his head was several feet from his body at that point.
  • The World War II novels by Sven Hassel frequently mention that veterans never pass an enemy corpse without putting a bullet through it.
  • Subverted in the Knight and Rogue Series. After Michael is tossed off a cliff, the mooks are ordered to go down and make that he didn't break his fall with anything on the way down. Not wanting to trek down a cliff and back up again, they pretend to go down and return saying he died.
  • After staking Vampire-Lucy in Dracula, Van Hellsing has her head removed and then filled with garlic. It appears, given later Vampire-deaths, that removing the head of a dead vampire removes their Immortal Inertia and they revert to a human corpse of appropriate age. Since Lucy's corpse was too fresh to immediately rot (as, for example, Dracula himself did), filling the mouth with garlic is probably a way of making sure it doesn't come back as something undead in the meantime.
    • In an example of Fridge Brilliance, he's actually combining several methods of vampire killing. He didn't know WHICH myth was true!
  • Journey to Chaos:
    • When Eric fights Tahart Ligo during A Mage's Power, his first target is Tahart's jugular vein. Then Eric stabs him several more times because orcs have "the tenacity of monsters" and Eric can't risk him recovering.
    • During Looming Shadow, Eric again stays behind to make sure that Mr.15 is truly dead. His teammates were unable to find Mr.15's body because Eric vaporized it.
    • It happens again in Mana Mutation Menace, where Eric must exert himself to overcome Gruffle's Healing Factor.
    Eric: Recover from that, troll.
  • In the fourth Survivor Dogs book it's implied that Lick attacked Terror after he was already fatally wounded. She was afraid that he'd somehow hurt her pack despite the fact he's missing his lower jaw. The other dogs consider this morally wrong because she killed another dog.
  • After running Aerys Targaryen through, Jaime of A Song of Ice and Fire made sure to slice his throat after the fact. Just in case the Mad King's proclamation that he'd be reborn as a dragon wasn't just mad raving.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Jack's Advice to Kim in the second season of 24
    Jack: Is he dead?
    Kim: I think so.
    Jack: Shoot him again.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
      • In a season 2 episode, Buffy furiously smashes the bones of the already dead The Master with a sledgehammer in order to make sure he can't be resurrected. "Make sure he's dead" and "make sure he stays dead" are basically the same thing in the Buffyverse.
      • An amusing variant occurs when Buffy knows Dracula will immediately reconstitute himself after being staked so she sticks around to stake him again. When he starts pulling himself together yet again, she points out that she's standing right there and he dissipates completely. In this case, she couldn't permanently kill him but she did make sure he knew she wouldn't tolerate him trying to come back.
    • In Angel season 4, Wesley decapitates Lilah to make sure she doesn't return as a vampire. There wasn't any danger of that, but he didn't know that at the time. Then she 'did' come back as one of Wolfram & Hart's Undead Employees.
  • BattleBots saw ROTATOR continually assault Predator, even though it had effectively crippled the bot at the start of the match by taking out its wheels. This was done because Predator kept lurching back into motion, and the operator of ROTATOR wanted to make sure they won the fight. Finally, the referee counted Predator out and ROTATOR ceased its assault.
  • Stargate SG-1: After taking down the genetically-altered Monster of the Week, Vala dumps another clip into it "just to be sure."
  • Stargate Atlantis: Subverted in "The Defiant One" when Sheppard seems to kill a Wraith, then puts a few more rounds into him for good measure, only for the Wraith to get back on his feet and start shooting back.
  • Supernatural: In Season 11, Lucifer kills Rowena by snapping her neck, but she still resurrects from this once he's left her body thanks to a sneaky spell. Therefore, when Lucifer kills Rowena again in "All Along the Watchtower", he sets her on fire and crushes her skull this time. Not that it stops her from resurrecting again anyway.
  • The comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? says this: "He tried to murder me. When you kill someone by chopping off their head, wrapping the body in a carpet and lighting it on fire, you better make sure they're dead."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the crime noir RPG Dog Town, player criminals are urged to put three bullets, called "to-be-sures," into the heads of those they kill.
  • Any experienced character in Deadlands will eventually act in line with this trope, as in Deadlands, literally *anyone* can potentially rise up from the dead.
  • This is simply sound practice in Dungeons & Dragons, considering how many ways there are for monsters and villains to heal themselves, shrug off dismemberment, negate or simply ignore damage, and otherwise feign lethal injury. At higher levels it becomes a matter of Making Sure He Stays Dead or Making Sure He's Dead Enough, and at even higher levels the matter of Making Sure We Were Even Fighting Him In The First Place.
    • One module that involved facing long-time villain Strahd had the motto, "This time, make sure he's dead dead!"


    Video Games 
  • Either bleed people out (ground headshot) in MAG or risk an enemy medic getting them back up again.
  • Mass Effect:
    • At the end of the first game, Shepard orders this on Saren after the latter either falls in battle with your squad or commits suicide. Depending on what companion does it, they'll interpret it as either "scan his vitals" or "put a bullet in him". Subverted when Sovereign reanimates Saren's corpse as a husk, even after one of your party members plugs him in the head one more time.
    • Harbinger in Mass Effect 2 takes it to the next level: even after killing and confirming the death of Commander Shepard in the opening sequence, Harbinger attempts to acquire the Commander's body just in case. It fails, and Shepard is resurrected by Cerberus. In hindsight, Harbinger probably knew that resurrection was possible, and wanted to get the body to ensure it wouldn't happen.
    • In the multiplayer of Mass Effect 3, the enemies get in on the action. Losing all your health only knocks you down, where you can be revived by an ally or by using medi-gel before bleeding out. However, any nearby first-tier enemies (Cerberus Troopers, Geth Troopers, and Cannibals), if left alone, will execute downed players, killing them off for the rest of the wave.
  • Company of Heroes has soldiers randomly be incapacitated and writhing on the ground, when "killed", potentially allowing allied medics to save them to eventually grant their player a free infantry squad. The player's enemies can put a stop to this by firing area-of-effect abilities and weapons at the helpless troops. The game's sequel removed medics saving incapacitated casualties, but additionally added incapacitated soldiers crawling around on the ground granting a good amount of line-of-sight around them for their commander while adding the feature for all armed units to be able to just shoot at dying casualties to prevent enemies getting a look at allied units' movements.
  • This is generally a good idea in Dead Space. If there's a body on the ground, put a round into it. If it moves, put a few more into it. Ammo's cheaper than medkits.
  • After the player defeats Jack Lupino in Max Payne, the next storyboard sequence begins with Max putting another full mag of rounds into Lupino's body. Whether it's an example of this trope (and a sensible precaution given that Lupino was high on something best described as "PCP meets LSD") or Max simply getting a bit carried away is left slightly unclear.
    When Lupino finally went down, I wanted to make real sure he'd stay that way. V was a bad monster, turned them into freaking zombie demons from outer space.
  • In EP6 of Umineko: When They Cry, Erika, unable to invoke detective's authority to determine that the "corpses" she investigated were dead or alive, decided to guarantee their death in a different way: by beheading them.
  • In evil biomes in Dwarf Fortress, this (via butchering) is an absolute necessity unless you want anything that dies (or the body parts of anything that dies) to reanimate and attack you again. Butchering can be problematic with sentient creatures, as dwarven ethics disallow the butchering of sentients. Plus, if you're not careful, necromancers can still revive butchered skins and bones. Dumping corpses into magma or crushing them with a Dwarven Atom Smasher is more reliable.
    • The update to v0.40 has slightly relaxed these requirements. "Pulping" body parts with blunt-force trauma is now possible, which makes them immune to Animate Dead.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas add-on Dead Money, the main enemies are the Ghost people, who get back up each time you down them... Until you cripple one of their limbs. There are alternatives, yes (Dog can teach you a Perk that kills them for good, and the Bloody Mess Perk will off them permanently if it triggers), but the easy way is to smack one of their limbs with a knife until it pops.
  • The Evil Within: You're going to find a LOT of enemies who look dead but are just sleeping or playing dead. Even enemies found hanging on a rope. Burning these bodies is a good way of ensuring that they're dead without wasting precious bullets AND looting their burning corpses! Just make sure you don't keep throwing matches on the ground when your enemy is hanged - wastes supplies. Also, most enemies whose heads have been completely blown off are usually dead.
    • In the sequel, you don't get matches, meaning you have to use bullets to shoot enemies who are playing dead. However, you do get an awesome finishing stomp for enemies who fake their deaths after getting shot.
  • During the hospital portion of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain there's a bit where Snake and Ishmael hide among the fallen bodies of those who've already been slaughtered. Except the troops storming the hospital are shooting the corpses too, just to make sure. You're saved mostly by the sudden appearance of the Man on Fire.
  • Batman: Arkham Series: At the end of Arkham City, The Joker dies as a result of his Titan poisoning. In the post-Arkham City comic series Arkham City: End Game, and the opening cinematic of Arkham Knight, Batman, taking into account such things as Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits, has the Joker's body cremated to ensure he'll never come back.
  • [PROTOTYPE 2]: After Colonel Rooks has the newly-Infected Heller burned alive, he orders some of his troops to gun down the body and make sure he's dead, as he "doesn't need another Mercer running around." It doesn't take, and Heller eats said troops and escapes.
  • Possible, but a bad idea, in Allegiance. Players whose ships are destroyed wind up in escape pods, limping their way back to base to get a new ship and rejoin the action. The enemy can shoot the escape pod... but that just respawns the player at the base immediately.
  • When killing an opponent in Brink! or Dirty Bomb, they're actually "incapacitated", left lying on the ground wounded and motionless but alive. Though they have the option to respawn from this position, Medics on their side in both games have means of reviving them, throwing them back in the fight on the spot. Enemies can take advantage of this and finish off their enemies with a few more shots or one well-placed melee whack, forcing a respawn.
  • At the very end of the last level of Modern Warfare 3, there's a small, nearly unnoticed detail showing Price is doing this to Makarov. At the beginning of the mission, the objective says "Kill Makarov". At the end when Makarov's left hanging, the "Objective Complete" message doesn't show up until after he stops twitching.
  • In the story mode for Tekken 7, Kazuya delivers a devil-powered strike to Heihachi's chest, killing him. Due to Heihachi's history of cheating death, Kazuya makes sure he's actually dead this time by dumping his corpse into a river of lava.
  • In Prince of Persia 2, Jaffar, the villain of the previous game, returns to cause trouble despite supposedly having been killed at the hero's hands by the end of that game. When the Prince manages to kill him again by frying him to a crisp, he orders Jaffar's ashes scattered to the winds specifically so he won't come back again.
  • Propagation: Paradise Hotel have this funny bit after the first zombie encounter. You and your partner Owen made it to another corridor with a rotting, bloody corpse in it, where you step over quietly... but Owen puts two bullets in said corpse, to "make sure it's really a corpse".
  • Amicia tries this with The Dragon Lord Nicholas in A Plague Tale: Innocence. He's been buried under rubble, and before Amicia addresses the matter of her brainwashed little brother she tells her companion Arthur this, word-for-word. Arthur even heaves up a chunk of masonry, but is distracted watching Amicia, allowing the knight to recover and run him through.

    Web Original 
  • Evil Overlord List Rule 13:
    All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.
  • From the "The List of Character Survival Techniques v1.5":
    31. Confirm your kills
    In gun games, ammo is rarely so scarce that you can't spare two bullets to splatter a body's head. If ammo is scarce, refer to fantasy rule below.
    Fantasy rule: Behead anything you think you've killed...Always confirm your kills if possible. If you didn't confirm the kill, don't be surprised when you see him/her/it walking down the street or crawling through your bedroom window.
  • The World's Funniest Joke:
    Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?". The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?"
  • In the Dragon Ball Z Abridged special The Revenge of Cooler, Cooler absolutely refuses to believe the heroes are dead without verifying it, even when they've been hit with multiple cases of No One Could Survive That!. This is one of several behaviors and traits that mark him as a much more serious and no-nonsense villain than his brother Freeza was.
  • In the three-part Season Four finale of The Most Popular Girls in School, Brittany deals out a single-handed Curb-Stomp Battle to four grown men attacking her, Shay, and Saison. By the end of it, their attackers are in bloody heaps on the ground, and, as they stand over the leader, a very freaked out Shay asks, "Is that guy fucking dead?!" Brittany, ever the pragmatist, says she'll check... and then shoots him in the skull.
    Brittany: Yeah, I think he's dead.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • In "The Worst Stan," to prevent Principal Lewis' "prison wife" Tracy from interfering with Lewis' upcoming wedding, Stan goes all out with this trope: in this order, he shoots Tracy four times, throws him off a cliff, runs him over in his SUV six times, and finally feeds the body to an alligator, which he proceeds to gun down and have made into boots, a belt, a handbag, and a tie. Much to his shock, when he gets back to Lewis' house, he finds Tracy alive and well:
    Stan: But I killed you!
    Tracy: You can't kill this love.
    • In "Steve and Snot's Test-Tubular Adventure", when Steve's cloned intended prom-date (whom he's developed parental feelings toward) expires before Stan can off her himself, he coldly fires several rounds into her corpse in front of a horrified Steve, "just to be sure", making it all the more cathartic when Stan promptly goes through the pain of watching Darren die.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003): In "Tales of Leo," the Foot attack April's apartment, which leads to the building burning down. Recalling that the Turtles had automatically assumed him dead without bothering to be sure, Shredder is unwilling to make the same mistake and sends Stockman to the remains of the building to find proof that the Turtles died in the blaze; Stockman is unable to find any evidence, since the Turtles managed to escape, but fearing the consequences of returning empty-handed, he forges some.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): In "The Super Shredder," Splinter and Shredder end up falling down the deep chasm in the Undercity. In the next episode, "Darkest Plight," Shredder climbs up and noting that Splinter is "a resilient old rat" doesn't dismiss the possibility that he survived the fall, and orders his men to scour every inch of the chasm and make sure Splinter is dead. As it turns out, Splinter is indeed still alive, and the Turtles find him first.
  • In Transformers: Animated, the first thing Megatron does when he gets his new Earth-mode body is to perform a Curb-Stomp Battle on the Autobots. The second thing he does is kill Starscream for betraying him. However Starscream returns and when Megatron puts him down this time, he orders confirmation. Lugnut finds that his Spark has been extinguished, thus he is actually technically dead. Except Starscream returns to life again, discovering that whilst he should be dead, a piece of the AllSpark had become lodged in his forehead, effectively making him immortal for as long as it remains there. Thus he's free to attempt more attacks against Megatron. Not that Megatron seems to mind having more opportunities to kill Starscream mind you.

    Real Life 
  • Maschalismos is the real-world zontanecrological practice of preparing a corpse so that it can't rise from the dead.
  • Soldiers engaged in urban combat will sometimes employ a technique called an 'Anchor Shot' when clearing buildings of enemies. Enemies that appear to be dead will be shot in the head in passing as a team of soldiers proceeds further into a building. This is to ensure that said enemies don't get up later and attack the team from behind.
  • Another technique is what's called the Mozambique Drill, designed for close-quarters combat. In the heat of the moment, put a pair of shots into your opponent's chest. Afterwards, when they're either dead, dying, or incapacitated, carefully aim and shoot them in the head to be sure of finishing them off. The big driver for this technique is the development of the Bulletproof Vest. A common variant on this drill is two rapid shots to the center of mass (easier shots to make) followed by a measured shot to the head (more likely to kill a target), without a delay to determine if your first shots did the job or not.
  • Although the exact details are disputed, there was a famous confrontation between Robert the Bruce (future King Robert I of Scotland) and his rival John Comyn, who at that point were the only two realistic choices for the throne of Scotland. The two had chosen to meet at a church, in the assumption that it would be truce ground and there could be no outbreak of violence, but nonetheless, things got violent between them and Robert stabbed Comyn. Robert then left the church, reportedly saying, perhaps in a My God, What Have I Done? mode, "I'm afraid I have killed Comyn!" His ally and distant cousin, Roger de Kirkpatrick, replied "I'll make sure" and went into the church, where he found Comyn wounded but alive. Kirkpatrick promptly finished the job. When Robert was crowned weeks afterward, he granted titles and lands to Kirkpatrick, who chose "I make sure" as his family motto.
  • A less bloody version than most: Shortly after the adventurer Thomas Blood died, the authorities had his body dug up to check that it was really him. He had a reputation for escaping the inescapable.
  • In naval warfare doctrine, very rarely will you want to fire just one missile or torpedo at a given target. There's too many things that can go wrong on the way; dud warhead, bad guidance system, enemy point defense, enemy decoys, and so on; that to ensure a kill you will need to use multiple weapons. In fact, against targets known to have strong point defense, the usual strategy is to go for a saturation attack and shoot so many missiles at a single target that the defense system gets overwhelmed.
  • The players in Roleplay Retcon's re-imagining of The Dark Tower film insist on making sure the BBEG is truly dead after some suspicions about the GM's choice of phrasing.