"Stoutland isn't hurt, and it doesn't have any serious illness. It's just that Stout—" [door slams shut before she can finish her sentence]
Certain concepts considered "too sensitive" are only ever referred to by euphemisms.
The most common example is euphemisms for death in children's shows, even in cases where a character is killed and they are rendered dead, the script will never use those two words. Almost always, the writers don't even get very creative with poetic descriptions, and will apply basic synonyms of "destroyed" to living things that we usually associate with inanimate objects, or have the characters unable to finish their sentences ("Is he...?"). Hell is also constantly neutered; when the plot absolutely needs something similar, they often resort to calling them "Nether-something" (of course, except for the Netherlands, aka Holland) or even "Another Dimension".
Another frequent method is to hastily add dialogue that suggests the people we've just indirectly seen killed didn't really die, e.g. showing a city being destroyed, and having a character note: "Good thing everyone in that city evacuated at the last minute!"
For one reason or another, children's shows also shy away from using "God." Whenever religion comes into play, it is generally replaced with something along the lines of "the big guy". This one also has its roots in ancient tradition: in Judaism, it is considered blasphemous to use any of God's various actual names except in specific prayers, so His titles ("God" is considered a title; also "the Lord", "the Name", etc) are used instead. Jews don't say or write their God's real name, and this even extends to combinations of letters which spell out parts of it. Words such as Damn and Hell will likely be replaced by "Dang it!" while Hell is replaced by underworld or Hades and so on.
It should be noted that one likely reason for this trope is because the writers and producers seem to think that their target demographic is too immature to grasp the concept of somebody dying, or alternatively will be horribly traumatised - rationales that in fact cancel each other out. Some people reason that the belief that since children may not be able to understand death they should be subjected to a villain who plans to destroy them, insults and desensitizes everybody. Another point is that if death is too sensitive for children of a certain age, they probably ought not to be watching a show or movie in which people, you know, die. If you as a writer are aiming specifically at children that age, maybe write stories in which no one dies or is in danger of dying. This trope could be seen as the writers trying to have it both ways.
One major exception is the verboseness of a Big Bad usually makes the trope work for him.
Also note that just because a character didn't mention any variation of "dead", "die" or "death", that doesn't automatically make it an example of this trope. Saying something like "It's time to smash you into pieces!" isn't this trope. Saying "It's time to defeat you!" is, because "defeat" is directly used in replacement of "kill". "Smash you into pieces" is used for specific wording emphasis. This is not a trope for every single examples where a villain uses wording to do with something other than death when confronting the hero, or vice-versa.
It should be noted also, that this isn't for examples in which a show has a character being "taken away" instead of killed. If the character really was taken away, then it's not an example of this trope. If the character was obviously killed but instead they refer to their death with "they were taken away", of if a certain version of something changes a character's death scene so they never died, then it is an example. This isn't for complaining about scenes where a character was "killed off the show" in a way other than death, which is simply Put on a Bus.
Please note as well, that this also isn't for complaining about examples where a disaster of some kind resulted in no deaths. If said disaster is something where it's insane to think that no one got injured at all, then it's an example. If it's a disaster in which no one getting killed isn't an unreasonable occurrence, then it is not.
This is sometimes Played for Laughs when what seems to be a euphemism is in fact a Literal Metaphor — "Grandma's gone to a better place; I hope she enjoys her Caribbean cruise" — causing people to mistakenly believe the person died; in those cases they're No Longer with Us.
Usually a form of Executive Meddling. Compare with: Gosh Dang It to Heck!, Unusual Euphemism, Frothy Mugs of Water, The Disease That Shall Not Be Named, Conveniently Empty Building and No Endor Holocaust. Coming closer and closer to becoming a Discredited Trope. When used as an actual in-world element, it's Double Speak or a Deadly Euphemism. Contrast Try Not to Die. Often, but not always, foisted on the Badbutt, who will instead use words like "toast" or "beat." If they're allowed to say "kill" and "die" but aren't allowed to actually kill characters, then it's Nobody Can Die. If you're looking for a character who never says die — who never quits and won't back down even in the face of death — then it's Determinator.
Be sure to bear in mind that the above does not apply to the Western culture as a whole as not all of us really live in America or any other Anglo-Saxon country for that matter. In most of Europe, for instance, creators usually don't shy away from using words like "die" or "kill" (or those with religious connotations) as long as their shows are aimed at least at school-age kids.
But please note as well that just because 'defeated' or 'eliminated' is used in replace of "killed", or "they were...taken from us..." is used instead of "they were...killed", it doesn't make it an example of this trope either. Sometimes alternatives are used because they sound flashier, have a better impact, or because the enemies really do just get "defeated" and fade away. After all, the creators often don't want their characters coming off as cold-blooded killers. This is for examples in which it is obviously censored due to the fact that they don't want to mention death. Any other form of replacing death with anything else does NOT count as this trope.
- 4Kids Entertainment became synonymous with this trope in the anime fandom.
- Like DBZ, almost every mention of death is switched out for "sent to the Shadow Realm" in the 4Kids translation. Which makes it sound even worse if you know the concept of Heaven and Hell and think of "send to the shadow realm" as a euphemism for "condemn to Hell" body and soul. Sometimes they didn't use the Shadow Realm wording, though, when the story arcs being worked on didn't leave place to put it in. Namely, Pegasus's researchers "vanishing" after researching the God Cards, Noah getting "his body inutilized" (and later "saving himself in a backup file" when his Virtual World is destroyed), Amelda's little brother getting "captured" by the Kaiba Corp, Raphael's family being "saved" by lifeboats after a shipwreck, etc. This is because the network censors can't interfere with 4Kids's productions when they're not made for television. 4Kids's reputation for over-the-top censorship actually comes from the network censors.
- They did get away with one: Noah's five generals were said to be 'scattered throughout the virtual world' when Noah caused them to flicker out of existence in a fit of You Have Failed Me. Likely, in the Japanese version, they were deleted. However, as mentioned before, the whole virtual world was later destroyed! Noah was said to be saved to a backup file, but no such thing was said about them, so they're definitely Killed Off for Real.
- Averted in the first season, where all deaths, implied deaths, and attempted murders were actually retained. Also averted in the duel between Yugi and brainwashed Joey in Season 2..."death" isn't stated, but it's very clear that the loser of the duel will not end up in the Shadow Realm if they are dragged underwater by an anchor, nor will Tea end up there if a giant crate is dropped on her.
- Also averted in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light by Anubis. Quite ironic since the movie was made by 4Kids.
Anubis: It is no longer time to duel. Now it is time to die!
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: All mentions of death are replaced to being "sent to the stars", though death was still heavily implied. It became rather awkward when the Supreme King/Jaden's Superpowered Evil Side went on a genocidal rampage.
- One Piece: Death was avoided, to say the least. Kuina's death from falling down stairs was changed to having her be crippled by the friends of man she defeated (which is arguably worse), Belle-Mere was "imprisoned in a dungeon for the rest of her life", etc. When death wasn't changed to something else, it was very much toned down. Listening to Johnny and Yosaku talking about how they saw Nami "finishing Usopp off" was a nice source of Narm. There's also the guy who, in the manga, was shot in the head by one of Shanks' crew. In the anime, this scene still ran... with Shanks telling the 'dead' man's crewmates "When he wakes up, tell him it was a popgun". Earlier episodes were okay with threats of killing and euphemisms for death, though.
- Shaman King managed to replace all the "die"s for "destroy"s, which is quite an accomplishment on an anime about ghosts. And given the context, "destroy" can sometimes sound even more gruesome.
- Sonic X: The dub went out of its way to make sure nobody died; 4Kids didn't just replace instances of 'die' and 'kill', they also added dialogue to make sure viewers couldn't even interpret people as dead. For example, in the Sonic Adventure arc episode with Perfect Chaos, several fighter planes are downed while in combat with the monster. The camera shifts to a few people that are lamenting the condition of the city, and then, offscreen, you hear a voice that says "Don't worry! The pilots are okay!" What's even worse is that said people shouldn't even be in the city. They were all evacuated according to an earlier TV report. There is also the treatment regarding Maria. In the video games and the Archie comics, she was shot dead/fatally wounded by a G.U.N. soldier. This is canon, and plays a good part in Shadow's storyline. In the dub, Maria was instead 'taken away' (though from the dialogue and sloppy editing, one could argue that they meant 'take her BODY away'). Not only does this completely fuck up Shadow's motivation (Did Maria die of her NIDS off-screen? If Maria is still alive, why is he trying to help destroy the planet rather than trying to find her and where is she now?) it also ruins a particularly dramatic scene where we see the soldier who killed Maria and has serious mental issues from the experience. There's also Molly from season 3. In the original, she is given a touching Heroic Sacrifice, while in the dub, she just flies off in the middle of the battle, talking about how she won't stop fighting, and then never shows up again, for some reason. The editing is so jumpy, sloppy, and awkward it's hilarious. Seeing how it was carried out, it's still quite obvious that she died and that something was done to the footage.
- Despite being dubbed by 4Kids, Pokémon frequently averted this, especially in the movies and during Kanto. It also played it straight as many references to dying and death from the Japanese version were censored or replaced with euphemisms. In an early episode of the dubbed version, Brock's father straight up said Brock's mother passed away, but this turned into a Dub-Induced Plot Hole when Brock's mother showed up later.
- Kirby: Right Back at Ya! sometimes did this and sometimes didn't; one of the episodes ends with King Dedede thinking he'd caused Kirby's death and giving him a funeral, only to find out he's still alive. This scene remained unscathed. However, Knuckle Joe's first appearance was hit by this, with him saying his father was "destroyed" and he's going to find the one who did this and "do the same thing he did to my father". The episode was otherwise left mostly unedited.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- In Funimation's original 1996 dub, dialogue was arbitrarily changed to turn "kill" into "send to another dimension". This could get quite unwieldy: "My next attack is so powerful, it will destroy this planet and send everyone on it to another dimension!" or "Yeah, Frieza's attack sent me to another dimension, and I need you to wish me back with the Dragon Balls!" The censors initially didn't even allow the use of the next most common euphemism, "destroy". The afterlife was also referred to only as "another dimension" for a sizable chunk of the series. Since the series' uncancelling, the censorship was lessened. Often a good source of comedy in any case because the replacement words are so ridiculous. This got especially hilarious in the Garlic Jr. Movie, where they actually did defeat the bad guy by sending him to another dimension. In contrast, the name of both the movie (which aired on the same channel and often in a similar time slot as the tv series) and the dimension that said bad guy was sent to is The Dead Zone. Also, the word "die" is used in the commercial spots that aired during the tv series to advertise the movie, as well.
- The original dub of Dragon Ball Z changed "HELL" (which was on the T-shirts of the people who worked there) to "HFIL" — "Home For Infinite Losers." This resulted in an odd in-congruence later on, when the DVDs' subtitles and closed captioning often referred to Hell, while the dialogue did not. The censoring of the Hell staff's t-shirts resulted in the phrase "what the HFIL" among the Dragon Ball Z fandom.
- The beginning of the series had even more horrible mangling beyond "another dimension." Take, for example, when Nappa and Vegeta land on Earth for the first time in the middle of a bustling city. Nappa, just for the hell of it, destroys the entire city, and the last thing we see before it goes up in flames is a huge, bewildered crowd of people. The very next line is "They may have evacuated, but that'll teach them!". Yes, the entire town evacuated in two seconds. Talk about outrunning the fireball.
- They also destroyed a building, lamenting the fact that it was empty because it was Sunday. Yes, these aliens who just arrived from another planet know exactly how we keep track of time and that we take Sundays off in some cultures.
- Then came the scene where Nappa takes out a couple of news vehicles. One, a futuristic hover vehicle, is handwaved as a robot drone, but the second, a chopper, was explicitly shown to have people in it before it blew up. So they dubbed in Tienshinhan's voice saying "Look, I can see their parachutes! They're okay." despite the fact that there is clearly no indication of either a parachute, let alone any survivors in the first place.
- Parodied in the abridged series ("Oh my God! They blew up the cargo robot! And the cargo was people!"), and in the alternative reality series (Frieza, after destroying Planet Vegeta, says "There go all the Saiyans. Oh wait, it's OK, I can see their parachutes!"). It's also Parodied in the Trapped in TV Land episode of The Fairly OddParents!. Timmy tells Vicky in the DBZ parody that she can have the magic remote "over my cold, non-moving, limited-animation body!"
- When Chaozu blows himself up trying to take out Nappa, Tien recalls that Chaozu has already been wished back to life with the dragonballs once. He shakes his fist and screams, "Now it's gonna be a lot harder to wish him back!" As far as Tien knows, it's impossible to wish Chaozu back — the Namekian dragonballs are introduced later.
- The Namek Arc, with its high body count, forced some rather awkward censorship. For example, any time the camera showed the corpses of Namekians or Frieza's soldiers, they would dub in labored breathing or pained groaning to give the impression that they were still alive, just exhausted or badly hurt.
- They also pretend that Dende's brother Kargo is still alive and has successfully ran away from Dodoria's clutches by editing the footage of Dodoria's mouth blast from managing to blast Kargo to smithereens to somehow missing Moori in a point blank shot and have many characters repeatedly talk as if Kargo is still out there somewhere even though he never appeared due to his unfortunate fate in the original.
- The comic-relief character Mr. Satan alone has spanned a long history of censorship:
- The renaming to "Hercule" in the edited dub. Many fans consider it to be in the same class of replacements as "HFIL". On the other hand, to a Japanese audience, the name "Mr. Satan" would mostly just connote that he's trying to present himself as a gigantic badass, without any of the religious connotations. In that light, the original name simply wouldn't make sense to an American audience (Nor his adoring fans shouting that they love Satan).
- The French dub renamed him Hercule for different reasons: Since every instance of 'Ma' (demon) and 'Mao' (demon king) was conventionally translated as 'Satan', it would've left him the fourth character officially called Satan, one of whom (Piccolo) was already a main character, and the cast was already making an effort avoiding the name of Chichi's father (dubbed Satanirus) since Piccolo's introduction.
- Also parodied in Buttlord GT. Snowflake shouts, "Time to send you to ANOTHER DIMENSION!" then crushes his opponent's skull with one hand. And afterwards: "Ah, he's UNCONSCIOUS".
- After FUNimation moved the series from syndication to Cartoon Network's Toonami, all this fear of using these words ceased (presumably due to the more lenient standards of Cable Television). On the edited Toonami dub, references to death would remain intact, although the word "kill" was only used in the uncut dub and usually edited to "defeat" or "beat." Meanwhile in the UK, the Canadian actors from FUNimation's censored 1996 dub got hired to do an alternate English dub for Episode 108 onward. This dub aired on the UK's version of Toonami (and later Canada's YTV). In this case, the words "kill", "dead", and "die" are never mentioned, being replaced with "hurt" (which gets ridiculous in many situations, but "destroy" is used in some cases), "gone", and "leave". An exception to this was a figure of speech used by Krillin near the end of the World Tournament Saga. In Episode 236, when Gotenks races off to fight Buu, Piccolo says "If he gets killed now, all our efforts are in vain." From here, the words "kill", "die", "dead", and "death" are used as frequently as in the FUNimation dub, and are never replaced again.
- The CW4Kids version is playing this straight for the remake, Dragon Ball Kai. The Nicktoons version also seems to play it semi-straight — you can say "die", but you can't say "kill/murder/etc". It seems to be random in which it occurs, even kill has been used a few times. No murder, though, yet.
- The Toonami edit of Outlaw Star Zig Zagged this, some episodes they left "die" or "killed" alone, but in others they wouldn't even let a character say things like "Best to go on living" because it implies death.
- Played with in the Touhou manga Strange and Bright Nature Deity; according to canon, fairies instantly resurrect when killed. So it has the three protagonist-fairies looking at a tree which has been split in half by lightning, worried about the fairies that lived there. "They must have been ...!" Cut to a dazed-looking fairy floating along in the breeze. "Yeah, that must be them over there. They'll probably be out of commission for a while."
- Quite possibly the originator of the "send to another dimension" euphemism was Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs (an Americanization of Sei Juushi Bismarck) in which the villains were re-written as an extradimensional race whose members were teleported back to their own universe whenever shot. Then they came up with the even odder rule that if you shoot them in their own universe, they become human.
- The Sailor Scouts in the DiC Sailor Moon dub are "captured" by their enemies and disappearing from the series until Serena "frees" them. The entire point of that edit was destroyed in the first part's "Sailor Moon Says" segment, which showed Serena clearly talking to the ghosts of her "captured" teammates.
- After Nephrite (Neflite) is killed, there's a story where Naru (Molly) meets a priest at a cemetery. The dub censored out all use of the word "priest", even referring to him with the curiously non-specific term "person" in the preview for the episode, or in one instance as "a kindly man".
- Interestingly, Neflite's actual death scene in the dub is a rare aversion ‒ Molly says "please don't die" as she's weeping over him.
- Not even Beryl was allowed to die. The dub added dialog from Sailor Moon saying that Beryl was "banished back to the Negaverse" right after their final confrontation with her in which she is eradicated from skin to skeleton. Yeah, if she was sent back to the Negaverse, where she has been throughout the whole show, couldn't she just teleport back out? Yet we never see her again, except in flashbacks...
- In the third episode of Sailor Moon R, however, Artemis does say that Queen Beryl has been "completely destroyed".
- Sailor Moon R seems more relaxed about death, in general. Diamond quite literally says he would avenge the deaths of the two whom were killed. It also shows him being impaled by the Doom Phantom, despite Tuxedo Mask's similar impalements from Season 1 getting censored. Blood is also visible and Doom Phantom's declaration of ending all life on Earth is left intact. Wicked Lady is even warned that she won't survive the dark crystal passing through her, though they use the word destroyed when describing it. This may be partly because the second half of the Sailor Moon R dub was produced a few years later (and rather hastily), and was commissioned by the Canadian network YTV for a mostly Canadian audience (which is apparently less likely to be bothered by such things).
- This phrase is also used in Episode 4 when Sailor Moon destroys the Negamonster, Derela. She says "I banish you to the Negaverse!" Interestingly enough, when she throws her tiara, instead of saying "Moon Tiara Magic" as she usually does, she says "Moon Tiara Vaporize!" The Negaverse seems to be used as a euphemism death at least three times, though it is not the same as the next dimension or the Shadow Realm.
- This is subverted in the second half of the DiC dub as there are several times the characters say die or death, no kill though.
- Zig Zagged in the German dub, especially in season 2. Apparently it depended on the translator, whether the D-word was used or replaced by "vanish".
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing was released on Cartoon Network in two formats, one broadcast in the afterschool hours and one at midnight in CN's post-Watershed block. The former was censored, among other ways, by changing Duo's nickname from "God of Death" to "Great Destroyer." The latter, naturally, was not.
- Tons of fun when Relena repeatedly begs Heero to kill her throughout the first few episodes..
- This gets fantastically bad in the censored version of the movie Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz. There's a flashback where Duo is planning to kill everyone in a research facility and then himself with a handgun. They simply cut out the word "kill" and replace each instance with the word "destroy," leading to the ridiculous exchange: "Are you going to destroy me?" "I'm going to destroy everyone here, and then I'm going to destroy myself!" "Then go ahead and destroy me, Duo..."
- When Quatre compliments Zechs and Noin on managing to blow through an army of Mooks to get to their objective, he says "You've come so far without destroying one soldier!" This might seem like a straight example, but it's actually a plot pointnote , and immediately after Quatre's line we get shots of enemy soldiers abandoning their disabled mecha. Though, it still fits here because he couldn't say "kill" on the air.
- In one episode Trowa gives the captive Duo and Wu Fei something "to kill time"; the dub changed this to "pass the time". While it means the exact same thing, it's a particularly ludicrous example since the phrase "killing time" is generally not considered objectionable.
- In one episode, a pair of OZ pilots launch a sneak attack on an Alliance port base. When the base surrenders, one of the pilots launches missiles at the surrender party yelling "This isn't battle, it's an execution!". In the Cartoon Network dub, it's change to "I'm going to destroy you!". The fact wounded soldiers on foot are still being hit by weapons bigger than they are somehow stayed in.
- At first, fans were afraid that the English dub was going to suffer from this; in the first few episodes, most instances of a character using the words "death", "kill" etc. were replaced with "destroy" (though Naruto does threaten to kill Mizuki in the first episode). Thankfully, right around the beginning of the Wave Country arc (when the real killing starts), this practice was dropped.
- The German version however really looks like 4kids went crazy with it. It goes as far as editing corpses and blood out of a scene centered on said bodies. They're not even allowed to show swords. Zabuza's big entrance, ending with his sword sticking out of a tree and him standing on it, was edited so that only the handle is un-painted away, and Zabuza is standing perfectly straight on thin air. Sasuke's whole backstory doesn't make any sense, because nobody can know that his clan was killed. Instead, it was said they were "held captive". Also, the condition for unlocking the Mangekyo Sharingan was changed from "kill a friend" to "betray a friend". So Itachi never killed that one guy who went missing, he just made sure he would fall into the river ... and no further elaboration was provided. This makes Sasuke's lamenting about how he won't fulfill the condition after his fight with Naruto in the Valley of the End especially silly, considering that if betrayal is all it takes then he did fulfill that condition.
- The first Clash of Ninja Revolution game was pretty silly with this. Any death references are replaced with "defeat" or "destroy". It makes Sasuke sound like Itachi is his rival instead of wanting to kill him. And it's strange because the previous games were okay with mentioning death.
- The Naruto: Shippuden broadcast version briefly shown on Disney XD has shown that this is in full effect for the most part; for example, they changed Itachi's line in the first episode into "You must DEFEAT your best friend. You must DESTROY him."
- On the same note as the German dub, the less said about the infamous Jetix UK cut, the better. It was basically the already-edited dub that showed on Cartoon Network US, but edited in such a way that manages to outdo some of the stupidest 4Kids edits, almost on the same level as One Piece! Aside from all the cuts to violence and all, Never Say Die was in full effect, which resulted in some lines being mangled and cut (An example being in the first episode: "If you ever lay a hand on my sensei..."*Cut to next scene*). Amazingly though one or two lines slipped through (Like Sasuke's "I promised myself that I'd stay alive...until I killed him..." line in episode 16).
- In the Lion Version of Voltron, the main characters had a nearly clairvoyant ability to tell whether or not the citizens of a destroyed city or planet had evacuated, just by looking at the burned and blasted out remains of said city or planet. Just about every other Never Say Die rule was in effect for this series (although the censors did let at least one "peasants being eaten whole by monsters" scene slip past them.)
- Whenever possible, scenes that might have involved the killing of human beings are dubbed so that the destroyed creatures were actually robots.
- Early in GoLion, the original Blue Lion (Takashi Shirogane, who was renamed Sven in Voltron) is killed. Instead of saying Sven was killed, they say that he went to heal on Planet Ebb, and then went back to the evil planet to help with a rebellion. It was quite confusing with everyone standing over his grave, crying, and talking about how he was really hurt and then had to go away, but he wasn't dead, really.
- When the character (in the original, Shirogane's kid brother Ryou) reappeared in the story, his absence was explained by a bout of insanity. When this second character fell from a great height while grappling with the main villain, his death was dubbed away, to the point of the main cast (with shocked expressions and streaming tears) saying "He fell into the water..." A brief voice-over informs us that he was alive, but just really badly hurt.
- This eventually paid off in the Post-Script Season, where Sven came back as a supporting character and even got to pilot Blue Lion again, thus averting this trope via Spared by the Adaptation.
- The Vehicle Force Voltron also had this. (Example: one of the villains is actually killed in an early episode, but in his death scene, an image of him saying "I'll be back" is spliced in) Look up Voltron on Wikipedia and you'll see how different the American and Japanese versions really are.
- A specific example from Vehicle Force is when the Voltron team befriend a young bad guy, who's then attacked by the rest of the bad guys, and trapped in a burning fighter. The animation shows that Jeff is being restrained from a futile rescue attempt, but we cut to an unconvincing scene explaining that the bad guy had set off happily to another base...
- While it didn't always shy away from the topic of death, Battle of the Planets included a Robot Buddy, 7-Zark-7, whose primary function was to reassure viewers that each episode's high body count was Mecha-Mooks, unmanned aircraft, merely stunned, just pining for the fjords, and so forth. In one episode, for example, the team's mission is to rescue two captured astronauts; Zark informs us that they got away safely. But their escape is never shown on-screen, for the simple reason that in the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman original, they were killed and their corpses used as bait in a trap.
- Pokémon Adventures:
- The American English-translated version uses this. During the Yellow arc, for example, the Nerd (who moments earlier was trying to kill Yellow) says that the "defeat" of Misty, Erika, Brock, and Blaine will make everything much more fair. The four react as if he had said "deaths" because... he does. The Viz Kid's version seems to flip between using this trope and averting it. The next mention, where Agatha tries to kill the nerd because He Knows Too Much, they note that the nerd will die if it continues.
- Volume 5 has Lance vaporizing a city, followed by him only wanting to "hurt" Yellow. And then proceeds to nearly drown her, and leaves her as she is sinking into the sea.
- In Volume 1, the Arbok that is cut in half is referred to as a Zombie Pokemon immediately after; 5 Volumes later you find out that it lived anyways.
- Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl Adventure! plays this straight, to an extent. A character attempts suicide but they still refer to it as "going" (as in "We don't want you to go") rather than "die". It's not as apparent as other examples, as people often do use that euphemism, but it still counts.
- Zigzagged around by Digimon:
- Digimon Adventure starts with it being an ironclad rule: the first die-related word uttered is Myotismon saying of the Eighth Child, "and when we do find him, then he must die!" The fandom was in total shock at it. Each successive season gets a little more comfortable with it - by the last arc of Tamers and the first arc of Frontier, hearing death words (in an actual end-of-life context, not "Mom's gonna kill me if I don't get home in time for dinner!") ceases to be remarkable, only for it to return full force in Digimon: Data Squad.
- Note, however, that the Adventure dub does play it straight later on, when Myotismon starts killing off his own henchmen, with him stating that he's "banishing (them) to his dungeon in the Digital World."
- Data Squad plays the trope straight — the word "die" is used twice, maybe three times throughout the whole series, and only to say that Digimon-don't-die. Every other death, Digimon or human, is euphemisized. "Reconfigured" is the usual term for the temporary death that results in a digi-egg, but a weapon that corrupts the victim's data so they can never revive can render you "permanently deleted."
- As for "god," the dubbers have usually replaced it with "sovereign" or something like that. They also seem to be doing away with the word "lord," despite it also having a non-religious definition. In the first series' dub, every bad guy was referred to as "lord" at some point; there's even a scene where DemiDevimon insists the Digi-Destined call Myotismon "lord." And there's the VenomMyotismon arc where the brainwashed humans were chanting, "Myotismon, lord and master!" But in later seasons, the use declined to the point where a character named LordKnightmon had his name changed first to Crusadermon (due to his effeminacy) and then to LoadKnightmon. Now, "master" is more often used.
- The established dub name for him/her in Frontier was Crusadermon. It's said that Powers That Be in Japan told the American producers what name they wanted to use (whether katakana that amounted to Rhodo Knightmon was meant to mean Lord Knightmon or actually Rhodo Knightmon due to his/her coloration was quite debated in fandom) and landed in Narmville.
- Done to ridiculous lengths to all anime aired on German TV station RTL2, who were somewhat pioneers in terms of animes but have since pedaled back A LOT.
- This worsened over the time, beginning with simply cutting out all blood and death scenes and culminated in censored dialogue in Digimon Tamers. Right now, the censorship policy seems to be as follows: Death has to be changed to "being captured", "not feeling well" or "being asleep", with "Fight" being changed to - "Game!". One can imagine how ridiculous the typical Naruto episode sounds like with these changes.
- The same goes for Digimon Tamers, in which there's no resurrection and dead means dead. If having someone's hand driven through your body, whereupon you give a Final Speech and dissolve into bits of data that is absorbed by the enemy, and your death has a big hand in the rest of the series... there's no way to turn that into "asleep," and if it becomes "capture..." well, it's workable, but the killer does a HeelFace Turn eventually, and he'd be quite the Jerkass for not letting the "captured" character go. Digimon: Data Squad is a notable exception for this, though.
- There's also an Arabic Digimon dub that censors "evolution," rumored to be because of the "evolution-vs-intelligent-design-vs-why-not-both" thing - it can be a religiously-charged thing if you must make it one. The Digimon are said to switch out for their "big brothers," and there's even a (never-seen) base where the "big brothers" hang out. You'd think it would be easier to just change the word; "Agumon upgrade to Greymon!" can't offend anyone, can it?
- An interesting version of this occurs in the Mobile Fighter G Gundam dub (even Uncut). The dub does its very best to not use the word die, and instead uses a Hurricane of Euphemisms.
- The American dubbed version of Baldios - The Movie (renamed The Battle for Earth Station S1) goes to great pains to point out that a villain is only 'stunning' a group of guards. And then leaves in the bit where Earth's population is all but wiped out by a massive environmental disaster.
- Star Blazers is aggressive about removing deaths from the original Yamato series. The series was edited so that people "had time to evacuate", "were covered by avalanches", "were actually robots", "got out just behind you", ad nauseum, instead of being killed.
- Zatch Bell!:
- Zatch Bell had one strange example of this trope - in a certain episode telling us the events of Sherry's childhood, we learn that she had Abusive Parents and tried to commit suicide by throwing herself off a bridge on a stormy night. Viz's dub did something weird here - it edited the dialogue to Sherry "walking next to the river and almost falling", but edited very little of the footage. Most people who watched the dub version will still tell you that she tried to commit suicide. Maybe...
- The series in general averts the trope sometimes, other times play it straight. One filler character who had his parents dead in the original had them "sent to a hospital" in the dub.
- Interesting case in Studio Ghibli's My Neighbor Totoro. Some time after Mei goes missing, a sandal that looks a lot like hers is found floating on the surface of the lake, and everyone immediately suspects the worst. Satsuki runs to the lake without another word, the old woman next door is seen praying, several dozen people are searching the lake for a body... and yet no one says anything about what they think happened to Mei. No "death," "die," not even "drown." Absolutely nothing is said about it.
- In the first three chapters of Bakuman。, Moritaka (mistakenly) thinks that his uncle Nobuhiro, a mangaka who made one hit series, committed suicide after falling into debt trying to make another. The chapters that appeared in Shonen Jump have him using euphemisms, such as thinking that his death was "something worse" than overwork, or that he "end(ed) it all". As such, Moritaka's mother's shocked expression when he claims that was how his uncle died loses some of its impact.
- Inverted in Haiyore! Nyarko-san where Nyarko and Cuuko talk about how they killed the latter's Clingy Jealous Girl cousin Cuune, only for Mahiro to immediately point out that she's not dead, she literally is trapped in another dimensionnote .
- Played straight in the English dub of Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, though in a comedic fashion.
And now, I will take...a nap!
- In Guardian Fairy Michel, this is averted, but with a really odd twist. One episode features a gluttonous gourmand who collapses in the middle of a giant meal. The episode doesn't shy away from saying that he's dying, and in fact revolves around his dying request—but rather than give a realistic cause for his collapse, like heart disease or diabetes, he's said to be dying of an "overworked stomach."
- Early on in the English dub of Yo-Kai Watch, which airs on Disney XD and has stricter broadcasting standards than TV Tokyo, substitutes many of the death words with "demise" or "no longer alive". It still lets a few clear references to death slip though. Youkai are usually dead humans and animals, so it's hard to get around them being dead. Later on in the series, references to death start to slip in more often as well.
- Chess could be the Ur-Example of this section: despite it being a strategy game with allusions to battle, your pieces (excluding, played properly, the king) are said to be "captured" but never "killed". (Although since your pieces are only removed from the board to be played again next game, it could be a case of Nobody Can Die, depending upon perspective.)
- The Tarot de Marseille calls the number XIII (Death) "The nameless arcana".
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! Card Game, any card with the word "Death" in its name has it changed to the deliberate transliteration of "Des." So we have Des Koala and Des Frog instead of Death Koala and Death Frog. Additionally, cards with the word "Demon" in their name got it changed to "Archfiend," so "Red Demon Dragon" is "Red Dragon Archfiend" now. Unfortunately, some "Demon" cards had been released with various other renames before those names actually became gameplay-relevant, so an Obvious Rule Patch had to be put in play designating all those cards as "Archfiends" even though their names weren't changed. (Later, a type of rules text called an archetype condition was added to the game, allowing the cards to specifically name themselves as Archfiends, rather than players having to look up the list online to prove the cards were Archfiends.) The word "Hell" in some card names was changed to "Chthonian", or "Stygian".
- Magic: The Gathering:
- Reversed: since the Magic 2012 expansion, creatures are said to "die", not merely "be put into the graveyard from the battlefield". (The "graveyard" is the main general-purpose discard pile zone, the "battlefield" is the zone of cards in play.)
- Other grim terminology is older (an amount of damage that would kill a creature is "lethal"; effects that attempt to move permanents, including noncreature ones, from the battlefield to the graveyard "destroy" them) or discontinued (effects that tried to destroy a permanent without a chance of saving it with regeneration were said to "bury" it).
- However, players with no life left just "lose the game", and really gone cards are merely "exiled" (formerly "removed from the game").
- Two very similar abilities that make creature return from the graveyard are called "Persist" and "Undying".
- In general, well-defined and intuitive technical terms are more important than avoiding scary words; individual cards are far more creepy in any case.
- In Avengers: The Initiative, this is specifically mentioned. Cloud 9 is shocked when she blows up an enemy plane, saying that "I mean in cartoons when that happens you see the guy bail out with a parachute..." Also happened in regard to the word rape during the West Coast Avengers storyline, where Mockingbird was drugged and raped by the Phantom Rider. It was usually referred to as him having forced her to love him (which was something the drugs also did). Averted in Hawkeye & Mockingbird, though, as she flat out tells the Phantom Rider that he raped her.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
- The death threat on Twilight's friends and the CMC is heavily implied, but they never use the word "kill".
- Played straight with Applebloom with a Bowdlerised version of the "I'm Too Young to Die" stock phrase.
Apple Bloom: Ah can't "go" before I get mah cutie mark.
- In the W.I.T.C.H. comic book, the rather violent and quite graphic death of Big Bad Nerissa is described as her being "destroyed".
- In Marvel Adventures Super Heroes, Deadpool was never referred to by his code name. Instead he would be referred to as "Wade" or "Wade Wilson, better known as D—" before being interrupted by another character.
- Enforced in Spider-Verse when Morlun kills Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. He notes that the world is Lighter and Softer and they have absolutely no way of saying what he just did. They literally cannot say "die".
- Superboy 1994: The series itself has no problem saying "killed" or "die" but Superboy usually says "hearsed" instead, especially early on. He slowly grows out of this aversion but still tends to use hearsed when the situation isn't serious.
- The Facing the Future Series averts this as the characters often say words like "die" and "kill".
- Ace Combat: Equestria Chronicles zigzags this, in regards to Mooks. They're usually said to be "defeated" by the heroes, but it's often very clear said Mooks were killed: punches and kicks are often aimed at a foe's neck or head, and there's a general implication that if they aren't killed in mid-air, they fall to their dooms off-screen, due to their injuries leaving them unable to fly. Named antagonists, however, are often explicitly said to be killed.
- Despite being the Trope Namer for Disneyfication, the Disney Animated Canon isn't afraid to say die:
- "The Sleeping Death", "Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger, on the spindle of a spinning wheel - AND DIE!", "I'll KILL you for this!", "It won't hurt because they're dead", "Kill the Beast! Kill the Beast!", "How many times do I have to kill you, boy?", "Stay where you are, or the girl DIES!", "The King is dead. And if it weren't for you, he'd still be alive.", "Your sister is dead. Because of you!", we could go on.
- Played straight during the wizard duel in The Sword in the Stone, though, with 'destroy' substituted for 'kill'. Justified since, in the film, Merlyn merely incapacitates Madame Mim, although in the book he actually does kill her.
- The Jungle Book plays it straight once during Baloo's Disney Death.
Bagheera: You've got to be brave, like Baloo was.
Mowgli: You mean... oh no.
- They are also not quite as liberate with religious terms; the use of "Gosh" is very frequent, and at one point, the utterly hilarious line "Oh my gods!" Justified in that this is set in a polytheistic world.
- There are, however, cases of religious terms being used, most notably during the famous Hellfire sequence in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Frollo: Destroy Esmeralda/And let her taste the fires of hell!
- Sleeping Beauty had The '50s version of the Precision F-Strike (though it's partially drowned out by the explosion of the villain's mystical green fire):
Maleficent: Now, you shall deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of HELL!
- Played with in Big Hero 6. "Dead" and "die" are used once, but the rest of the time everyone uses "gone" to describe Tadashi's death, showing how uncomfortable everyone is about the subject. Hiro tells Baymax to destroy Callaghan after he callously denounced Tadashi's death as Tadashi's fault, a nice Call-Back to his earlier bot fight to ruthlessly destroy his opponent. In the aftermath, the rest of the team repeatedly said that they "never signed on" or "wasn't part of the plan" to kill Callaghan.
- Zootopia has these gems:
Hippo Child (to Judy in the sweetest, most innocent voice): My mommy says she wishes you were dead.
Judy: What are you going to do? Kill me?
Bellwether: No, of course not. He is. (shoots Nick with a Night Howler pellet)
- Averted in the Pixar film Coco. The film is about dead people after all. Also, a character having been murdered is an important part of the plot. The film doesn't sugarcoat the fact and characters outright say that he was murdered.
- This is used as a policy for the Latin American Spanish dubs produced by Disney Character Voices International. Disney censors "death" and its related words, "saint", "naked", "God", "holy", "sin", "heaven", "pray", "tragedy", "Christmas", "demon", "devil", "exorcism", "anointed water", "stupid", "idiot", "moron" and "fat". Examples include:
- In Frozen, Hans' line "Princess Anna is... dead. (...) She was killed by Queen Elsa" is changed to "The princess Anna has... left us. (...) [She] was attacked by the queen Elsa", however just a few lines later he notes that she "died in [my] arms". His dramatic line "Your sister is dead, because of you!" was changed to "She no longer exists, because of you!"
- In the Kung Fu Panda series, whenever someone mentions Tai Lung after Po uses the "Wuxi Finger Hold" on him, which seemingly causes him to blow up in a golden burst of chi, all we hear is that Po "defeated" him. During the holiday special, however, Tai Lung shows up in a dream and Po states, "I thought you were d—" before he gets clobbered, unable to finish his sentence; then again, the one having this dream didn't even witness Tai Lung's fate. Other than that, they aren't shy talking about death, especially in Kung Fu Panda 2, which outright states whenever characters are Killed Off for Real. Of course, there's not much of an excuse to use this trope when you have genocide as a major plot point.
- In Chicken Run, although the human characters are planning a mass slaughter of the chickens, they never, ever say they are going to kill them. The chickens, however, use not only "kill" but also "die," "death," and even "suicide." Lampshaded by Rocky after he tries and fails to keep such words out of conversation to avoid panic. Apparently Americans care more about this trope than British do.
- Parodied and lampshaded in Bartok the Magnificent: The wicked sorceress Ludmilla orders her Obliviously Evil Minion, Vol, to kill Prince Ivan, but phrases it "Get him out of the way", so he does just that, locking him at the top of the tallest tower in the palace. When she finds him, the exchange goes like this:
Ludmilla: The Prince?! I told you to get him out of the way!Vol: He's in the highest room in the tallest tower! How much more out of the way could he be?Ludmilla: DEAD!
- The Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Hobbit gives a puzzling version of this trope in the song "Fifteen Birds" sung by the goblins as they have Bilbo and his party trapped in burning trees. They list method upon method of graphically killing and eating the dwarves, but when it comes time to say "die..." See for yourself.
- The release of Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (the VHS version) had several small pieces cut out, one of which was part of the scene where Nemo gets the incantation to activate the Royal Scepter's Wave Motion Gun function. Specifically, the part where it's brought up that since Nemo is just a kid, firing the Scepter will kill him.
- In Return to Never Land, Tinker Bell apparently does this when telling Peter Pan that Jane's lack of belief in fairies is killing her, judging by when Peter informs the Lost Boys that "Tink's light's gonna go out" unless Jane starts believing in fairies again.*
- Inverted in The LEGO Movie with "Come with me if you want to not-die!".
SWAT Leader: SWAT team, stun guns at the ready!
- Played straight in The Lego Batman Movie but lampshaded relentlessly as a running gag. A pilot thrown out of an airplane opens a heretofore-invisible parachute the moment he leaves the plane, the Joker's doomsday device threatens to blow Gotham into... an infinite bottomless pit that it's apparently built over, and the police snipers, well:
SWAT Team: Non-lethal! YEAH! [high-five]
- Weirdly, however, they manage to sneak the name Suicide Squad in. Though, it may have gone unnoticed because it was in a long list of teams Batman was listing off as he was asking who he was working with.
- The Book of Life. Funnily enough, for a film about the Day of the Dead. Manolo doesn't die and the arena bulls aren't (in most lines) killed; they 'pass away' and are 'finished' respectively. The oddest example: Joaquin's father "passed away" fighting against Chakal.
- Averted in the 1986 Australian-animated version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hyde murders several people onscreen and commits various acts of mayhem and violence. (And while the camera may cut away from time to time, the acts themselves are not censored.) What makes it odd is that the film seems clearly aimed at children. About the only part of the film that might fall under this trope is when Mr. Hyde orders two beers at a bar and then smashes them before he can drink them. (Which, Phelous sarcastically notes in his review, makes him a Great Role Model for kids.)
- Completely averted in The Flight of Dragons which has all the highmarks of a high fantasy movie and features many deaths (including several of the main characters), some of them startlingly violent, but was still intended to be a film for the whole family.
- Muppet Treasure Island plays with the trope: Billy Bones' death after getting the Black Spot (a) is totally overblown for comedic effect, and (b) gets a reaction of "He's dead!? But this is supposed to be a kids' movie!" along with, "Guys... we are standing in a room with a dead guy!" There's also a "character" (a skeleton wearing a pirate hat) named Dead Tom, introduced in succession after Old Tom and Really Old Tom. Taken further when a pirate weeps over the recently shot Dead Tom until another pirate patiently explains he was already dead. That's why he's called Dead Tom. The bereaved pirate unceremoniously drops the skeleton and moves on.
- Spoofed in Looney Tunes: Back in Action, where the villainous Acme Chairman orders one of his henchmen to "Destroy the duck! And when I say destroy the duck, I mean KILL HIM! Messily and painfully!"
- The narrator of George of the Jungle takes the time to explain to the audience that no one in the film is allowed to die, they just get really big boo-boos.
- Bodily functions taboo lampshade: In Pleasantville, Jennifer is astonished to find the girls' room at Pleasantville High has no toilets. Apparently it exists only as a ceramic-tiled girls' chat-retreat with running water, as the Fire Department exists only to get cats out of trees. As for death... what's that?!
- In a variation on this trope, the film The Pope Must Die (about a newly elected Pope being plotted against) was forced by Catholic outrage to change its name to The Pope Must Diet (about a fat... newly elected Pope... being plotted against). The "t" was added to the cover art as if cut from a magazine. No dieting happens in the movie.
- In Drop Dead Gorgeous, one of the brainless bimbos talks about her previous dog, a German Shepherd who went to 'live on a farm' after attacking her. Naturally, she doesn't get that it's a euphemism.
- In the Victorian farce The Wrong Box, young idlers Morris and John (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) need to procure a death certificate to cover up an untimely demise; they get a lot of mileage out of the word 'thing':
Morris: Now you remember that chambermaid you got into, umm...
Morris: Thing. Who was the doctor who did the, umm...
John: Thing? Pratt, Doctor Pratt.
Morris: Was he a venal doctor?
John: I didn't think to ask.
Morris: Well, did he do the—
John: Thing? Yes.
John: But what's he got to do with it?
Morris: He's part of the plan! Now, you and I are the only two people in the world who know that Uncle Joseph is...
Morris: Dead. [and so forth and thing...]
- In Bugsy Malone, pie takes the place of guns and bullets. Characters who get pied are said to be "finished," and never show up again.
- In The Warriors, "waste" or "wasted" are always used instead of "kill" or "dead." This was probably done to make the violence seem casual to the characters, rather than soften it for the audience.
- Censors forced Anatomy of a Murder to replace the word "penetration" with "violation". "Penetration" is the word actually used in Michigan state law's definition of rape.
- An unusual in-universe example in X-Men: The Last Stand. When Wolverine is questioning Jean about what happened to Cyclops, she refuses to actually say he has died. How much of this is guilt or foreshadowing is up to interpretation.
- "Goonies never say die!"
- In Into the Woods, instead of saying Jack's Mother died, the Baker says "she didn't make it." Though they also zig-zag it.
- After the earthquake, Paddington is desperately looking for his Uncle Pastuzo and all he can find is his hat. Cue bearhug between Paddington and Aunt Lucy.
- Later when Aunt Lucy gets Paddington hidden a lifeboat on a ship to London, she said that she was going to stay at Home for Retired Bears. To first time viewers of this franchise, it seems like a comfortable lie she is telling Paddington when actually she more likely is going off some place to die. Only later, is it shown that she is entirely serious.
- Averted with Paddington saying his parents died when he was very young, and Millicent saying her father is dead.
- In The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima, the kids are told the Lady will come "soon" for the two little ones. Lucia is stricken and says softly "You're going to take them — you mean they're going to..." (And they did.)
- In I, Frankenstein, demons are not killed, they're "descended". Gargoyles are not killed, they're "ascended". Justified, since we're actually shown flames coming out of defeated demons which then head down somewhere, while defeated gargoyles turn into a bright light and lift up in a bright column towards the heavens.
- Lines in Mac and Me were redubbed prior to release, though the Japanese cut uses the original uncensored film. The lines "He's dead?" and "He's dead, Mom, he's dead" became "He's gone?" and "They can't help him. They can't".
- Subverted most notably in #22. Rachel initially wants to say she's going to 'destroy' Sixth Ranger Traitor David, but that's a 'weasel word' and she admits to herself (and the reader) that she wants to kill him. Badly. While Cassie comes up with the only safe alternative to killing David, Rachel is stuck struggling with her violent tendencies for the rest of the series.
- Again subverted when a family of campers gets caught up in a battle between Yeerks and free Hork-Bajir, who have, until this point, stubbornly refused to believe that the battle was real no matter what evidence they'd shown. They'd appeared to believe, but we find that they didn't really get it until this scene happens: (Paraphrased)
Jake: Try not to get killed.
Camper: When you say killed, you mean killed as in "captured" or "stunned," right?
Jake: Unfortunately, I mean killed as in dead.
- In other instances, this trope is played straight - the kids talk about how the Yeerks would "destroy" them and their families, and so on, also using "annihilate" as a euphemism. However, as the Yeerks are parasites, these vague euphemisms could be used to mean "killed or infested".
- Piers Anthony does this on purpose in his Xanth series. Instead of going to the bathroom or engaging in sexual activity, characters merely see ellipses.
- In The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, the Big Bad seeks to assassinate the title character. That this is rendered as making him "sleep forever" is especially ridiculous in a story which begins with a global nuclear war, though one might well question the suitability of the latter for a children's story.
- Assassins don't kill people. They are "inhumed".
- Deconstructed in Hogfather, where the Tooth Fairy's country is defined by the belief of children, looking like a children's drawing for instance, and death does not exist there because no-one tells children about it. People just disappear when fatally injured. And the molecular-thin blade of Death's sword cannot exist there.
You don't die here. You just get old... listening to the laughter.
- Warrior Cats:
- There are a few instances when main characters are dying where death is referred to as "going to hunt with StarClan" or something similar for poetic effect.
- The word "pregnant" is never used, regardless of how often characters have been pregnant throughout the series. They simply say "bearing kits" or something similar. This can be somewhat justified, because that could actually be how cats talk, similar to the series' use of Gosh Dang It to Heck!.
- There is also when Lionblaze is trying to threaten Ashfur and he says "I can beat you in a fight if I have to," even though it's somewhat obvious he's threatening to kill him.
- At one point, they refer to Scourge having "destroyed" Tigerstar, but they probably used that word because saying he "killed" him would have been a huge understatement.
- Subverted in Into the Wild:
Firepaw: He wants to get rid of Ravenpaw.
Graypaw: Get rid of him? You mean kill him?
- Because of the usual lack of squeamishness, when characters kept referring to Hollyleaf as having been "lost" instead of "killed" when a rockfall collapsed on her and they assumed No One Could Survive That!, fans figured she was alive since they made such a point of avoiding the word.
- Played for Drama in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, where Francie is made by her mother to cross out every instance of the word "drunk" (a frequent condition of her father) in her diary and replace it with "sick."
- The Green-Sky Trilogy doesn't have issues describing something as dead, but as pacifists, they replace the word "kill" with "dead", and stigmatize the usage as a verb.
- A culture described in Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures raised children with no concept of death so that they would be abnormally fearless.
- The novel The Impossible Bird plays this trope a bit more literally: only people who have killed someone are physically capable of saying the word "die." (It's never explained exactly why this is so, although all the killing does turn out to be important to the plot.)
- From Borges' "Narrative Art and Magic": «Saracen historians, whose works are the source of José Antonio Conde's Historia de la dominación de los árabes en España, do not write that a king of caliph died, but that "he was delivered into his final reward or prize" or that "he passed into the mercy of the All-Powerful," or that "he awaited his fate so many years, so many moons, and so many days."»
- Comes up in A Brother's Price. When she hears that her big brother is going to leave the family to be married, little Bunny Whistler wails "I don't want Jerin to go away like Papa did!". Immediately Jerin assures her, "Papa died, honey. I'm not going to die. I'm just going to live at someone else's house." It's a subversion, but one that initially looks like this trope.
- In Watership Down, characters mostly use the phrase "to stop running" as a euphemism for death. That said, the concept of death is not swept under the rug at all, and is an omnipresent threat throughout the story, and the word "kill" is frequently used with no hesitation or sugar-coating.
- In I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen's parents apparently employed this trope by letting little Stephen know that his dog, Shasta, had moved to a big farm upstate. He takes this at face value, thinking his beloved pet had abandoned him in favor of more space to run around and play with his grandfather, and insisting that even though his new dog was better than Shasta ever was, even if he was getting slower in his old age.
- Used by special operatives in Vladimir Vasilyev's Wolfish Nature duology. The reason for that is that the dog-humans of this Alternate Universe have mastered genetic engineering and have subjected all people on the planet to the Bio-Correction centuries prior, which removed everyone's "wolf gene" (i.e. the gene that allows a person to kill). Anyone who kills another person, even by accident, is usually driven insane by the act. In fact, any murders that happen are either the result of madmen or special operatives, who spend many years training to do so without going insane. Even then, the psychological toll of killing is such that they're afraid of even using the word "kill", lest the word itself push them over the edge. Instead, the word "fuse" (as in "dynamite fuse") is used, so an operative might be asked how many fuses he's had in his career (very few have anything even close to 10).
- In Clementine, Friend of the Week, when Clementine loses her pet kitten, Moisturizer, she blames herself, but her father tells her that she's not to blame, that he got out because he was curious; kittens are curious. At that, Clementine is reminded of "a certain terrible saying regarding curiosity and cats," which she says that she is not going to repeat in her narration. However, she sees her father seeing her remember it and tells her that "But satisfaction brought him back" is the end of the saying. She replies simply that she hopes so.
- The children's picture book Benny and Penny in How to Say Goodbye is about death and averts this in that right in the beginning scene, Benny is jumping on leaves and Penny tells him on to because he'll hurt them, but Benny says that he can't because they're already dead. Penny wonders how long the leaves will be dead and Benny tells her "a long time." In the very next scene, Penny discovers a dead salamander and says that she thinks he's dead. Children's books meant to teach kids how to deal with loss and death almost always avert this trope.
- Young Hercules: Ares says several times that he will 'destroy' Hercules, but never actually mentions killing him. In fact, throughout the whole run of the series, only two characters were actually shown being killed onscreen. The other two references of death occurred either between episodes or in the pilot movie.
- Sesame Street: Averted famously in the "Goodbye, Mr. Hooper" episode that opened the 16th season. Will Lee, who played longtime "Grandpa" figure and curmudgeonly storekeeper Harold Hooper, had died in December 1982, while filming for the 1982-1983 season was still ongoing. The remainder of his episodes were aired in early 1983, after which his character is absent and no mention is made of either that or why he is missing... the subject not dealt with until that fall. Several options on how to explain why Mr. Hooper was missing were debated, including him having retire and leave Sesame Street, before the definitive episode on explaining death to a child became the final product. The producers decided to make it part of the show that Mr. Hooper died and, on the advice of child psychologists, they pulled no punches. Big Bird is told that Mr. Hooper died (not "passed away," not "moved on") and will not be coming back. Big Bird is confused and angry, and the adults (with actors not attempting in the least to hide their tears - many holding hands throughout) tell Big Bird that it's okay to be sad and to miss him. See it yourself.
- In the The Big Comfy Couch episode "Full of Life", Loonette finds a live caterpillar in Granny Garbanzo's yard. She sets it down in her garden, only to find it dead a short time later. She picks it up and assumes it is sleeping. Granny tells her that the caterpillar is "gone", which Loonette takes literally and disputes, "It's not gone. It's right here." Granny elaborates that by "gone", she means that it's "not alive" and sings a sad song about the situation, all while avoiding the D word.
- The A-Team. As a de facto children's show, in it, the A-Team amass a arsenal of machine guns and other weaponry, faces off against a similarly armed force, exchange thousands of retorts of gunfire and no one dies. Man, their aim sucked. Parodied in Family Guy when Peter and company, dressed as the A-Team, try to stop a construction crew from demolishing a park using guns and ramming into things with their vans. They are surprised when the construction crew assume that they are trying to kill them.
- Webster: In early first-season episodes, the title character (played by pint-sized Emmanuel Lewis) was told that his parents were "away" (they had actually been killed in a car accident) and that he was merely staying with George and Katherine. George decides he can no longer put off telling Webster the truth ... and does in a truly heartbreaking scene.
- Power Rangers goes overboard with this, sometimes to (unintentionally) comic effect, speaking of people as having been "destroyed." In one particularly comedic example, a proverb becomes, "Those who live by the sword shall come to their end by the sword." Which made it all the more surprising when the Pink Ranger in Time Force screams that she would "not let [her fiance's] death be in vain," (though at other times, she says that he was "destroyed"). Of course, it turns out that he's Not Quite Destroyed.
- In Wild Force, the impostor Master Org gloats about how he killed Cole's parents using the most contrived death-word-aversions, never using the same one twice and really breaking the flow of a scene that would have been far more intense with one death word (and would have suffered less without it if they'd only stuck with the usual "destroy.") You forgive it because, after all, they have this unbreakable rule that decrees they must absolutely, positively never utter any die-related word come Shadow Realm or high water... and then in the very next scene, the new villain says that "the real Master Org died three thousand years ago and is never coming back!" before announcing himself the new Big Bad and tossing "Master Org" to his Not Quite Death, er, destruction. If they can use death words a few times, why not make one of them during the scene that needed it most?
- The most noticeable one: "I will destroy you or be destroyed trying!"
- In an episode of Power Rangers S.P.D., a monster goes so far as to announce "I hate empty buildings!" before smashing one to pieces, assuring the audience that no one was inside to be hurt. There are references to battles taking place in the "Abandoned Warehouse district", which just smacks of poor urban planning.
- No less than a season later in Power Rangers Mystic Force, we're told by the team's mentor that Plucky Comic Relief Clare's mother "depleted her life force" sealing the gate keeping the villains in the Underworld. Oddly, a later episode includes a Monster of the Week stealing people's life force, which seems to make them unconscious/zombified but quite alive, returning to normal once the monster was defeated and the life force was returned. You really have to wonder if Clare's mother is locked up somewhere in the base until she can get a life force infusion. A later episode averts this, with Daggeron declaring he would "rather die with honor than live without it."
- This actually becomes quite an impressive accomplishment in Power Rangers RPM, where they manage to kill off 99% of humanity without using the "d" word. Ranger Blue uses "die" twice, though... a record for actual life-threatening circumstances. When Ziggy becomes a target of several mob cartels, he fears being "ghosted", a Future Slang term used the selfsame mob and other criminals. (We did get repeated death words way back in Space, when Zhane was Mistaken for Dying). And two of the Ranger characters had backstories involving the deaths of people close to them, both of which were shown on-camera in flashbacks. (If you count a plane blowing up with its pilot not shown to be "on-camera.") And yet nobody actually says they're dead or were killed.
- Several series have references to ending someone's "existence" or will avoid saying "alive" with terms like "still with us." Apparently you can't even say "alive" because the opposite of alive is dead!
- It also extends to some forms of weaponry. Power Rangers villains almost never use "bombs." Rita and Zedd have used "implosion devices" that sure seemed to explode, Divatox used "detonators," and good guys and bad guys alike in RPM use "charges" when something needs to go kaboom.
- So it was quite surprising when, in the episode with Robogoat, Goldar said Tommy was going to die.
- Averted in "The Green Candle" two-parter. When Zach goes into Goldar's dimension to retrieve Jason, Jason argues that Tommy will lose his powers, and Zach had to tell Jason that if he doesn't leave to help Tommy, Tommy would lose his life. Fortunately, this is enough to get Jason to leave.
- The infamous "laser pellets" of Power Rangers S.P.D. that were just plain bullets in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger.
- You know how trailers sometimes have "clean" alternate takes of dirty dialogue? Well, in the trailer for Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie, Billy says that Zordon is "aging at an accelerated rate". In the actual movie he says, "He's dying."
- Power Rangers Ninja Steel has a character who is afraid of driving; when he falls off a bike, he says the crash "almost killed [him]" quite freely when discussing what might happen. However, in the same series, and even the same episode, "destroy" remains what Galvanax wants to do to the Rangers. Later in the same season, the this trope appears in an unintentionally comical manner: After defeating a cat-themed villain, the Rangers say that "curiosity destroyed the cat."
- Soap Operas are notorious for having couples "make love" rather than "have sex"; perhaps the most baffling example was when General Hospital's Laura Webber recalled her rape by Luke Spencer as "the first time we made love". Pregnant women also seem to be fond of referring to themselves not as "pregnant" but as "carrying [baby's father's name]'s child," although this is starting to change.
- Part of the "carrying [baby's father's name]'s child" might have come from the fact that soap operas can be so damn confusing, they might need to remind the audience who did what to whom and when.
- Squeamishness about sex does not seem to be the reason for the use of the term "making love" as soaps often show sex scenes.
- In-Universe example in the NCIS episode "Grace Period", where Ziva continually states that they will kill a terrorist they are hunting. It becomes a Running Gag in the episode.
Abby: But we only caught one of them. What if somebody else tries to stop it?
Ziva: We kill them, Abby.
Tony: We catch them. That's the preferred term.
Cassidy: I like hers better.
- Australian soap opera Home and Away was notorious for doing rape storylines without actually being allowed to use the word "raped", resorting to euphemisms like "attacked" or "assaulted" (or, on one occasion, "violated") which left some viewers thinking the girl had just been mugged or sexually assaulted but not actually raped. One of the worst instances was in late 2007 with the return of Michael, the adopted son of an insane cult leader who had brainwashed him with drugs and (apparently) forced him to rape Tasha, with the intention of getting her pregnant. Belle described his crime to Annie with the words "she had a baby with him when she didn't want to." Things have now relaxed somewhat, with the word being used during the storylines with Joey and Charlie in 2009 and Bianca in 2011. However, viewers still have to sit through scenes of it being described as an "attack", one of the worst examples being when Bianca discussed her rape with a counsellor without either of them once using the word.
- There was also a scene in 2007 where Peter mentions "date rape" when Belle tells him about the drugs she found in Kellie's bag. Ironically, this was not during a rape storyline, and it came before Michael's return.
- Neighbours has been guilty of the same thing leaving out the word "rape" during such storylines as Izzy lying to Karl that her baby with Gus was the result of rape, Rebecca admitting to Paul that Oliver and Declan's father raped her (conceiving Declan in the process) and Bridget accidentally killing a guy who was trying to rape her. Especially strange when you consider that back in 1993 they had no problem with the scene where Julie reveals to Philip that her conception was the result of rape. Or Scott sarcastically calling himself a rapist during the first week of the show back in 1985).
- Discussed in Lie to Me when an alleged rape victim said "he sexually assaulted me". Foster deduced that she was lying because actual rape victims don't shy away from saying "rape".
- Played with in Arrested Development, when a doctor appears to be doing this by saying "we lost him," but it turns out that George Sr. just climbed out the window to avoid going back to prison.
- Interestingly, The Dick Van Dyke Show never used the word with regard to Laura's pregnancy (which was visited repeatedly in flashbacks), but could use it freely regarding animals, as in the 1962 episode "Never Name a Duck."
- British children's Game Show Raven The Island used a lot of euphemisms for the contestants "dying". "Perished" was the closest they got.
- Speaking of British children's Game Show, the hard to win Knightmare uses "death" a lot.
- Occasionally subverted on MythBusters:
Jamie: "Genetic material?" It's sperm!
- This was an expression of frustration on Mr Hyneman's part that was allowed into the edit - the use of "genetic material" in the first place was at the Discovery Channel's specific request. The words "expression of frustration" and "Mr Hyneman" in the same sentence should give a clue as to how annoying this trope can get. Especially since they were allowed to say "sperm" several times in an earlier episode. (One of the myths about cola they tested in Season One was whether it would act as a spermicide).
- They did go an entire episode of "flatus" themed experiments without once using the word "fart". But this was only because they thought that it was classier to avoid it, not for censorship.
- There's also the episode of sayings where they had to shine poop. Adam provides the caveat that they can't use certain words by listing them while being bleeped. They didn't even say turd, despite the phrase they were testing being known to virtually everyone as "You can't polish a turd".
- When the Mythbusters Top 25 episode was done during the Discovery Channel's 25th Anniversary celebration, they played quite a few segments of older episodes where the Mythbusters crew exclaimed "Holy crap!" completely uncensored (in response to either the unexpected scale of destruction a particular test caused or when something failed to work properly), while the original episodes had the second word bleeped out.
- Despite being overwhelmingly the most-requested subject for Beakman's World to tackle, the show waited until the very last segment of the very last episode to tackle flatulence. (And they got away with saying "anal sphincter").
- In the Nickelodeon version of Robot Wars, Sir Killalot was re-named Sir K.
- The famous episode "The Contest", about the characters competing to see who can hold off from masturbating the longest, probably only made it to air because none of them actually say the M-word. Although it's really pretty well done, as the dialogue never seems forced to avoid the term.
- Also, the episode where Elaine tells Jerry her date "took it out" while they were in the car. The term it is repeated several times, not once explaining what exactly it means. It is the guy's penis. What really makes the moment is when Kramer enters halfway through the conversation and immediately knows exactly what they're talking about.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures, normally a show with a low body-count, has Sarah Jane encounter Oddbob, source of the Pied Piper myth. Naturally, when he disappears children, they don't "die", but are sent to another dimension. Since his powers have No Ontological Inertia, his defeat frees them. But as it would be a storytelling inconvenience to deal with the reappearance of the hundreds of children he's abducted over 700 years with only three minutes of show left. So this possibility is ruled out with the explanation that the abducted children do not die but "fade away" over time. Frankly, the idea of the abducted children "fading away" seems a bit more nightmarish than to just explain Oddbob as a prolific alien serial killer. Especially since it wasn't afraid of using the word die in Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? when Maria tells Andrea she was meant to die and Andrea repeats the line back to her in disgust.
- In an episode of iCarly, the kids have to find a bunch of newly-hatched chicks in four hours or "bad things happen".
- Kamen Rider Dragon Knight uses being "vented" to explain that the defeated riders are sent to the "Advent Void," the nexus point between the mirror world and the real one, and will not be able to ever return. This seems to be one more case of replacing death with a Fate Worse than Death.
- One episode is actually entitled "Vent Or Be Vented".
- The series actually runs with this idea, later revealing that the Advent Void wasn't meant to be a Fate Worse than Death, since the Riders' leader had the ability to retrieve them from the Void and thus it was more of a temporary break than a permanent banishment. Of course, at the start of the series he's not around, so it is a prison for a while.
- One episode is actually entitled "Vent Or Be Vented".
- From Buffy:
Buffy: If there were just a few good descriptions of what took out the other Slayers, maybe it would help me to understand my mistake, to keep it from happening again.
Giles: Yes, well, the problem is, after a final battle, it's difficult to get any... well, the Slayer's not... she's rather...
Buffy: It's okay to use the D word, Giles.
Giles: Dead. And hence not very forthcoming.
- The forgotten The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo never lets anyone die, which, for a grown-up, is jarring in a detective series. The closest the show ever got to show a character dying (or even saying the d-word, for that matter) was when a victim was attacked... and fell into a coma.
Angie: He was my mentor.. and now he... he is—
Detective Delancy: No! No, he isn't... yet.
- Charmed is very fond of the word "vanquished". Only for demons though. The words "death," "die", and "kill" are still used for humans, except for sarcastic expressions like "Somebody vanquish me!"
- Monty Python's Flying Circus:
- The famous "dead parrot sketch" provides an excellent parody of this, with the shop owner trying to explain the dead parrot is "pining for the fjords" or anything else but dead, as the customer insists; leading said customer to launch into a Hurricane of (Deadly) Euphemisms:
Shop Owner: 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile! This ... is an ex-parrot!
- Also subverted in the railway timetables sketch. After seeing the corpse:
Has he been... ?
Yes, after breakfast. That doesn't matter now, he's dead!
- The famous "dead parrot sketch" provides an excellent parody of this, with the shop owner trying to explain the dead parrot is "pining for the fjords" or anything else but dead, as the customer insists; leading said customer to launch into a Hurricane of (Deadly) Euphemisms:
- Scrubs: "We never say die! Except when a patient actually dies. Then, we're kind of forced to by law."
- There's a flashback at one point to when Elliot tried being the doctor-who-never-says-terminal. She had a very hard time explaining to a patient that his mother was in fact... terminal...
Man: Is it terminal?
Elliot: I wouldn't say that.
Man: So she still has a chance?
- J.D. has rattled off a quick list of variations on the word "die" that can be used while trying to teach intern Keith how to break news to a terminal patient including such gems as "deadsies" and "Deadwood" (did you know Cowboys used to curse?)
- There's a flashback at one point to when Elliot tried being the doctor-who-never-says-terminal. She had a very hard time explaining to a patient that his mother was in fact... terminal...
- In one episode of Happy Days, ABC's Standards and Practices department forbade a priest character from using the word "God" in a comedic context: instead he pointed ceilingward and spoke reverently of "Him".
- The '90s children's show Shining Time Station, in one of the later episodes where Billy's nephew Kit comes to visit. Billy asks Stacy if she'd heard about Kit's father, and she responds, mournfully, "Yes, I'm sorry."
- Played with in-universe on the Bones episode "The Body In The Bounty", when the host of a kids' science program wants Brennen to guest-star on his show. People dying on Bones is nothing new, but one of the characters expresses doubt as to whether Brennen can avoid talking about autopsies or grisly modes of death long enough to appear on a kiddie Show Within a Show.
- On That '70s Show, they rarely said exactly what it was they were smoking, calling it "the stash" instead. In some cases it wasn't too awkward, such as when they were around adults.
- The smoking itself was only implied. The only time characters are actually seen smoking anything in the circle is an episode where they're smoking cigars, causing one character to comment, "This is way worse than what we normally do in the circle. THIS should be illegal."
- In-universe, this was attempted but ultimately subverted to hell and back in an episode of Roseanne when Jackie tries to break some bad news to a relative that is hard of hearing.
- In one episode of Get Smart, KAOS is eliminating Control couriers during plane flights, by dropping them out of a trap door when they go to the bathroom. We later see Max avoid the trap. However, the 'bathroom' clearly doesn't have a toilet - apparently the airline just included a private room for passengers to go and wash their hands.
- Some of the more racier game shows on US TV in the 1970s substituted the word "whoopie" for sex. Notable examples include The Newlywed Game and Match Game.
- Though the series in general has no problem saying "kill" or "die", in Game of Thrones, when a Crow's life ends, it is referred to as, 'His watch has ended,' rather than stating that he died.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look lampshades the trope in one of its "evil genius" skits.
Alan: Oh, what are you talking about, Keith? This is going to be "Let's hope professor Ritson meets with a little accident" all over again. We spent nine months hoping that professor Ritson would meet with an accident before Leslie made it clear it was an accident we were supposed to make happen!
- The Hanzel und Gretyl track SS Deathstar Supergalaktik has this in its lyrics, probably as a reference to the lightheartedness of Star Wars.
- The Gothic Archies song "Freakshow" has the lines "real people ask you why/with a face like you've got, won't you just lie down and..." with the obvious missing word being "die".
- In Christian theology, "death" refers to being spiritually dead — that is, condemned to Hell. Thus, other terms may be used for death of the body.
- In his biblical epistles, Saint Paul would never refer to dead Christians as having died. He would say that they have "gone to sleep". Since Paul did not want to imply damnation by any means, he used a euphemism.
- Jesus also uses the term "fallen asleep" (in John 11:10) to refer to the soon-to-be-raised Lazarus. He actually has to explain what he means to his disciples, as they don't get it.
- In at least one translation of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) people don't die, they "pass from life into life". The reason is the same as Paul's.
- Older Than Dirt: The Ancient Egyptians believed that to record something in writing made it more real. Scribes usually did not speak of death, only of euphemisms such as passing west (towards the setting sun and The Underworld) or joining the sun god's barque in the sky. Set was never said to have killed or murdered his brother Osiris; instead he knocked him down.
- The Qur'an explicitly forbids to call martyrs dead because "they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision".
- In the Cool Kids Table game All I Want for Christmas. Since the game is themed as a family-friendly Christmas film, Alan says the characters can't say "kill" or "die".
- Rush Limbaugh often refers to the recently deceased as having "assumed room temperature".
- In the Mage Knight miniatures game, a critter is explicitly dead when its dial is turned and three skulls appear in its stat slot. In Hero Clix, by the same company, there are no skulls — instead, three big red 'KO's appear, and the rules specifically refer to such as state as being 'defeated'.
- Kissing up to 1980s action cartoons, Cartoon Action Hour follows this trope with a capital N—unless of course, you playing The Movie.
- Lycee TCG has an interesting take on this trope. Characters that left the field due to losing battle or hit by certain effects is said to be 'discarded', as though they are merely cards in your hands or decks. There is no clear border between 'a character' and 'a character card', unlike Magic or similar competitive card games. Which helps the players in not imagining what logically happens: it doesn't matter if your Ibuki Fuuko is knocked out by Shiina Mayuri, Serpent of Akasha, or Demonbane, she's only "discarded" into your "dustbox'"
- The word slipped through a couple of times, but the early years of BIONICLE mostly used "destroy" and "defeat". This changed later years, however. Its replacement, Hero Factory, being much Lighter and Softer, seems to play the trope straight again, though even it seems to be veering away from this slowly. The German release of the third BIONICLE Direct-To-DVD movie cut the bit when Roodaka expresses her need for the corpses of the Toa, even though it's the whole point of the rest of the scene, and the first movie's German said die.
- Deathstroke was planned to appear in Kenner's unmade fourth wave of The Super Powers Collection figures, with his name changed to Terminator. This is not quite as drastic as many of the other examples of this page, since he was originally called Deathstroke the Terminator in the comics anyway, before a certain movie series necessitated phasing out that portion of the name.
- ToyBiz's line of X-Men action figures changed the Orphan-Maker's name to "The Protector," likely because of this trope. Likewise, Holocaust's name was changed to Dark Nemesis, which also carried over to the later Hero Clix and Marvel Legends lines.
- Speaking of which, the first X-Men movie has a scene where Sabretooth sneaks up on a security guard and kills him from behind. ToyBiz did an action figure of Sabretooth that included the unfortunate victim, who was referred to as "knocked-out security guard" on the packaging.
- Along those same lines, the packaging for Hasbro's Mark I toy from the first Iron Man movie claimed that Tony Stark used the armor to chase off the terrorists who'd kidnapped him. In the actual film, Tony straight up kills many of his captors, and then blows up their base for good measure.
- The action figures for Hellboy II: The Golden Army shortened the film's title to HB II on the packaging, while Hellboy himself was referred to only as "Red."
- The same thing happened with Hasbro's action figure line for the Ghost Rider movie, which changed the name of the protagonist's motorcycle from the "Hell Cycle" to the "Flame Cycle."
- In Halo, Spartans in-universe are persistently rumored to be immortal as a form of psychological warfare against the Covenant, and to boost morale in the UNSC. Thus, even when they really do die, they are never listed as "KIA", only "MIA". After the war ends, the new generation of Spartans are officially allowed to be listed as KIA. Of course, the fact that supposedly dead Spartans have a tendency to show up again (e.g., Chief's entire fireteam in 5) sort of justifies it.note
- In SoulBlazer for SNES, the characters repeatedly say people "passed away".
- In Dynasty Warriors, there are "KO counts" instead of kill counts.
- In both Dynasty Warriors and sister series Samurai Warriors (and, by extension, the mash up series Warriors Orochi), this can be appropriate as many defeated characters are explicitly NOT killed and instead forced into retreat.
- The US version of Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage changed the KO count to "Kills", since claiming someone who just burst into bloody giblets or was sliced into confetti is only KOd is REALLY stretching the definition. The achievement icons involving a large number of kills were left unchanged and still read "KO" though.
- An egregious if little known example is Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors on the Game Boy Color. It appears that at some point the translators did a find/replace on the words 'die', 'died', 'death', 'kill' and 'killed' and switched them all for 'lost', regardless of sentence structure. So while things like "I can't believe Piccollo lost!" make sense, more or less, you also get dialogue like "Lost, Vegeta! Lost!", "The entire planet will lost!", and "I guess you DO want to lost!"
- Final Fantasy:
- The English translation of Final Fantasy VI was forced to avoid explicit mention of death. One dungeon is the tomb of Setzer's girlfriend, Daryl. In a flashback she states that Setzer can have her airship, the Falcon, if "anything happens to her". You even get to see Rachel's preserved corpse, and hear the story of her death, but again, no d-word - she's said to have been 'saved' using magic herbs and put into a sort of magic coma. The suicide attempt scene especially has any mention or notion of suicide removed and it was replaced with the notation of people jumping off a cliff if they were feeling down so that they could "perk up" again. The Instant Kill Death spells are renamed things like X-fer and X-Zone. Kefka spends Dalek-like amounts of time ordering his men to 'exterminate!'. Sabin and Cyan's brief accidental jaunt fighting ghosts on the Afterlife Express is framed in terms of a train that takes you to 'the other place'. One really painful moment is the scene where Sabin refers to the murder of his master as 'doing [him] in'. An exception occurs after Kefka gives Celes a sword on the Floating Continent, as he tells her: "Kill the others and we'll forgive your treachery! Take this sword! Kill them all!" The revised script in the GBA port uses concepts of killing and death much more liberally.
- Final Fantasy XI's flavor of blue magic involves "absorbing the essences" of foes who use the proper moves.
- Final Fantasy IV is a pretty egregious example, being bound by the same prohibition of d- and k-words.
- Most games would also avoid using words related to death early in the series when it came to your party's status after their HP hits zero, using words like Swoon, Disabled, Stun, etc. Final Fantasy VII referred to knocked out characters as Dead. However, using Dead led to confusion when one of your party members was killed off due to the plot and people wondered why a Phoenix Down wasn't used to bring them back to life. The series then use KO (knocked out) to describe defeated party members, dipping back into the trope.
- Final Fantasy IX has an in-universe example: most of the Black Mages who gained sentience actually don't know what death is, and as Vivi starts to work out what it means when they "stop moving", he starts to use the term himself—only to be told not to do so by the one Black Mage who actually does know what death is. Later, when Kuja explains (offscreen) what is really happening when the Mages "stop moving", they don't take it particularly well.
- The words "death", "dead" etc. were formally banned from all Nintendo games for many years as part of their policy for family-friendly content, back in the early days. Abandoned in later years, of course, though The Legend of Zelda series in particular still insists on describing enemies as being "defeated" after you slice the hell out of them. One of the bosses in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening even lampshades this. He sends a variety of minions at you, and after you're finished with them, he yells "You K-K-K-Beat my Brothers!!!" Ironically, two of Nintendo's own titles got away with it in the SNES era. F-Zero got to keep its Death Wind courses, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past retained Death Mountain even in the American version (likely thanks to the Grandfather Clause, since the name first appeared in the original The Legend of Zelda manual before the policy was strictly enforced). Some third-party games for the NES and SNES, like Friday the 13th, do use the D and K words. It's simply averted in the Zelda Phillips CD-i games licensed by Nintendo, though like the rest of the game it's simply subject to Memetic Mutation:
Ganon: Join me Link, and I will make your face the greatest in Koridai, or else you will DIE!
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles don't die, they "get caught". Justified at least in the NES version since they DO get caught if defeated and can be found tied up in a chair and rescued in later levels.
- The SNES port of Flashback renamed the Death Tower the Cyber Tower.
- City of Heroes:
- The game uses the ambiguous "arrest" or "defeat" to let the players decide whether their heroes use lethal force or not. This is subject to much Lampshade Hanging in fan works and sometimes the game itself. Yes, you can "arrest" people with a katana or giant lightning bolts, apparently.
- The manager of the Monkey Fight Club insists "The monkeys ain't kilt! That's de-feat-ed!"
- The developers seem to have become more lenient over the years, though - there are obvious instances of characters outright dying, and plenty more where it's left easy to assume. Although there is one character that some players seem to wish had died in the first appearance, considering the result when they returned.
- City of Villains uses this more classically a lot of the time, even when contacts are telling you to use lethal force. You are, after all, a Villain Protagonist.
- More specifically, all the game's system messages ever say is "defeated." What "defeated" means is subject to context if the particular story involving the "defeat" chooses to elaborate. Some elaborations involve capture and interrogation, some involve death and killing, and some involve the defeated character "teleporting away." There is no default stance given to what a generic "defeat" should mean, however.
- Parodied with a generic activist who describes War Witch (a ghost) as "breathing-challenged".
- Megaman Battle Network: Killerman.EXE, a shinigami-styled assassin Navi, cries, "Jigoku ni ochi na!" ("Fall into hell!") as he buries his scythe in his victims. The English adaptation switched this to whispering "Sweet dreams" in the victim's ear. Hell, the guy himself is an example; the translation changed his name to "EraseMan" (with his chips still in the "k" code). Yeah, we're buying that.
- Onmyōji's in-game filter in the chatroom and shikigami comment sections does not allow posts containing the kanji for "death" 死, making it difficult to talk about a skill of Hangan's where he writes said character in explosive ink, for one.
- In the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series, rated E for Extreme Technicality, this seems to be part of an overall pattern of very thinly veiling all manner of terrible, terrible things. This could actually make the game more disturbing, since it sometimes ends up reading like the characters are too innocent to come to terms with what's happening to them enough to talk about it straight-forwardly. And in Explorers, two of the characters seriously contemplate committing suicide without ever stating it out loud. Gates to Infinity substitutes the word for "disappear", "destroyed", and possibly "defeated" on multiple occasions (The context it's used in makes it unclear as to whether or not death was actually involved). It also uses the sentence cut short variation on one occasion where no other word could possibly have filled in for it.
- The Pokémon Stadium games mention how a Pokemon is "about to die" if you send it out while their HP is low.
- Several Pokédex entries do, however, use the word "die" in the context of "cessation of life" (Spoink for FireRed, Alakazam for Silver, Haunter for Silver/SoulSilver, Lampent for White). In general, the English Pokémon games tend to reduce the number of mentions of "killing" and "death", but don't eliminate them entirely.
- Likewise, in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, you see two sailors tossed off the S.S. Libra during Cipher's attack in the intro, and yet there's no word on the fate of the ship for three days. On top of that, the only guy onboard who isn't a criminal doesn't look like he's part of the ship's crew. The game does such a good job glossing over the fact that Cipher committed mass homicide on the ship's human crew that younger and/or more naive players may not understand just what kind of people they're dealing with.
- Pokemon Xand Y:
"The man's beloved Pokemon took part in the war. Several years passed. He was given a tiny box." note
- The game even keeps with Mr. Tajiri's ideals, as outlined above: while the game is far more involved with the concept of mortality, the heroes very much call out the main villain on his cavalier attitude toward killing, and much of the theme of the game, even the sidequests, is that life is worth living.
- Yveltal in Japan is a "Death Pokemon" and has a move called "Death Wing". In English, they are respectively changed to "Destruction Pokemon" and "Oblivion Wing"... which funnily enough sound significantly more threatening.
- Less of the "Never Say Die" sort, but still worth mentioning: The German Pokémon games refer to the Dark-type Pokémon and attacks as "Unlicht", which means not light in English. And even though the ban of "bad words" in video games has been lightened, the type is still named "Unlicht".
- The Generation V and VI games use the word "death" infrequently, even using it in a euphemism for the verb "kill" ("bring to death").
- Subverted in Pokémon Sun and Moon; "death" and similar terms are used freely, as are religious terms such as "god" and "demon" for the first time in the series (presumably because of their use in similar family-friendly games such as The Legend of Zelda), and Type:Null is even referred to as the "Beast Killer". The games feature numerous Pokédex entries discuss Pokémon hunting each other. Referring to Pokémon or humans being killed for reasons other than hunting, however, is worded delicately. For example, Bewear's Moon entry says "Many Trainers have left this world after their spines were squashed by its hug" and Sneasel's Moon entry says "Breeders consider it a scourge and will drive it away or eradicate it".
- Mega Man Star Force never uses the verb, neither to humans nor to aliens. They also never use destroy, but some really poetic terms ("not among us anymore" or "he/she is in Heaven") or the sentence is never completed ("If you keep doing this, she will..."). In a part of the game, "die" is replaced by "hurt", creating this very stupid dialogue:
Geo: "W-W-W-Wait a sec!! If you do that, you'll hurt the other guys, too!"Mega: "Then what do you suggest? Leave them be and let them cause an (car) accident and get hurt that way?"
- In the third game the translators really had no choice, as such a high number of characters die, though mostly not permanently, yet they still danced with euphemisms quite a bit. When Ace dies, "kill" and "die" are used freely, repeatedly in the mourning dialogue. When Luna dies though, it's Never Say "Die" to the rescue.
- X-Men Legends II turns all villains defeated (except for the giant bugs, which splatter) into a Non-Lethal K.O., which isn't always plausible (tossing someone into lava, for example.) Discussion of death isn't toned down, though. This is the Marvel Universe. It is a physical impossibility for a person to stay dead there, so it's not as lunatic as it might first seem.
- The Kingdom Hearts series uses this trope oddly:
- When in Disney worlds, the words "kill" and "death" can be used freely... by everybody EXCEPT the main characters. In the game's "real" storyline though, the words are completely forbidden, often being replaced by "destroyed", "finished", "defeated", and "sent to Oblivion".
- The main exception to this rule was in the handheld Chain of Memories. After battling Riku Replica in the "Reverse//Rebirth" mode (playing as Riku), he talks about his own death as he fades, even asking where his heart will go, or whether it will just disappear. Thanks to that the remake got a 10+ rating (surprisingly, the original GBA game didn't have trouble with that - possibly because that rating didn't exist then). Also, Vexen never actually said die - but Axel probably wasn't doing the game's rating any favors when he cut off "I don't want to [die]" by setting him ablaze. The remake also averts it, with Axel saying "don't you go off and die on me now" before fighting Sora the first time.
- The whole "Never Say Die" thing is even written into the story. Even if the world is consumed by darkness, the people living there don't die. Some of them become summon crystals, while the rest fall dormant until their world is restored. Even the people taken by the Heartless don't really die - when Sora "kills" a Heartless, its heart is cleansed and set free, and can return to its previous owner.
- It gets even worse once it's not clear what the characters are even saying any more. Consider this: In KH2, a major subplot is Sora trying to find Riku. He knows he's alive about 3/4s of the way through the game, but then the evidence dries up. Near the end, he fights with a vision of Roxas, who tells him he "defeated" Riku. Once the fight's over, this sends Sora almost into a paranoid attack. But wait: that was just a vision, and Roxas hasn't existed for most of the game. That means he can't possibly be using "defeated" to mean "killed" since Riku is still alive after that and even the player knows it. That means, in the Kingdom Hearts world, "defeated" isn't censorship, but worse: the word actually does mean both "killed" AND "defeated", and no can ever figure out which you mean without an explanation.
- Before one of his boss battles, Axel claims he'll "make it all stop". Larxene occasionally tells Sora to "Vanish!" during her boss battles. When Xemnas merges with Kingdom Hearts, he ask for the power to "erase" Sora and his friends.
- After saying that Axel's betrayal ruined her and Marluxia's plans, Larxene tells Sora, "Now, I'm left with no choice but to eliminate you!" when she's pretty clearly intending to kill him.
- One of Saix's lines during battle averts this trope, however, as he says "I want to see you die fighting," though the line was supposedly removed in the initial release but restored in the Final Mix releases.
- Vexen averts it after his first fight with Sora: "As I expected, you weren't one to die very easily!"
- The English version of Birth by Sleep actually uses the word on a semi-frequent basis, even when the usage of "die" and threats of murder could have easily replaced with something less hostile without it even sounding the least bit odd. Then again, it is a prequel that takes place before the Heartless were unleashed. The concept of death was likely much simpler before you could return to your normal self by having someone wielding a magic key kill your monster self. There are some instances where euphemisms are used, such as Aqua commenting on how Master Eraqus had been "struck down" and Ven asking his friends to "put an end" to him, though given the circumstances, it could be that the characters themselves (rather than the censors) want to avoid using the actual words.
- The first English localization of ActRaiser did this to the extreme. In a very obviously god simulation with world-changing whims and angels who report to you, the localization tried hard to completely erase all notions of this in the text. God became "Master", temples became "shrines", prophets/seers became "fortune tellers", and other thoroughly unconvincing euphemisms. The game itself, though, was one of the best god sims of its time, and remained this good in English, the transparent Executive Meddling notwithstanding.
- In the NES version of Dragon Quest IV. Psaro/Saro's nickname Death Pizzaro/Psaro the Manslayer is rendered as Necrosaro.
- Nobody dies in Kingdom of Loathing, they just get 'Beaten Up', a condition that lasts 3-4 gameplay turns. You can assume NPC's also suffer the same fate, since the end of combat is usually described as simply, "You win the fight!" But if the combat ends on a Disco Bandit's face stabbing combos, a "FATALITY!" is announced.
- Oddly inverted in the Kirby Super Star sub-game "The Revenge of Meta Knight"—Meta Knight clearly says "Prepare to Die!" before dueling Kirby, yet in the Video Game Remake, he says "Prepare to meet your doom!" Ironic how it says "die" when Nintendo didn't allow it, and then doesn't when they do allow it...
- Super Mario Bros.:
- While most games will go out of their way to never refer to death or killing in any way, the very first game's instruction manual had no problem with telling the player that being hit by an enemy makes Mario die and how beating some enemies will kill them. It even advises the reader that there are several ways to kill Bowser!
- Played for laughs in Super Paper Mario:
- Death is replaced by "game over" and kill by "end the game" (or, in one instance, "send to the next world"). And getting resurrected by Jaydes is called a "continue". The game, as well as the whole Paper Mario series, does not always play this straight, since Wracktail says "death" when Mario meets him. Peach also averts this near the end of the game in a very serious moment. Also, the first Paper Mario has Mario being accused of being a murderer.
- The kings of the Floro Sapiens, a race of plants, never die. They just "wilt".
- In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, seemingly every use of "die" or any of its derivative forms is replaced with "KO". Vaguely lampshaded at one point, where Starlow asks an enemy character if they've got a "KO wish". "Dying" is also substituted as "passing out".
- Played for laughs in Mario Super Sluggers, where a Magikoopa who Bowser charged with guarding a lighthouse confuses sayings each time you challenge it. (For example "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man angry and hungry for pies."). If you fail his challenge and talk to him he'll attempt to use the expressions "Never say die" and "live and let die" only replacing the word 'die' with 'bye.' When a Lakitu attempts to correct him, he interrupts the correction and the challenge begins.
- Super Mario Galaxy:
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii's instruction manual quite glaringly refers to "blunder" and "make a mistake" rather than death. It still says you "lose a life" though.
- Mario Party series with its "Dice Block".
- In the Mother series:
- Defeating enemies will render them to "become tame", "stop moving", "return to normal", "disappear", or "be defeated". Justification occurs though that some things such as moving records, lamps, and street signs would "stop moving" and return to normal, non-animated/living objects.
- Furthermore, the official translation of EarthBound removes all references to death from the in-game dialogues (see here or here for examples.)
- Though this is averted in Mother 3 where The main character's mother, Hinawa dies in the first chapter, and is given a funeral.
- EarthBound Beginnings both plays this trope straight and averts it. It's played straight with the Bowdlerisation to one of Loid's purchasable weapons, the Plasma Beam. Its name in the original? Death Beam. Likewise, the UltraBarbot and ManiacTruck are the Death Barbot and Death Truck in the Japanese version. It's averted when talking to the doctor in Merrysville, who tells the player to "die on their own" and that he'll call a mortician if his services are refused.
- In Star Wars: Battlefront II, the text bar that records important actions says "killed" or "died" for when an ordinary soldier is killed and "defeated" or "fled" for heroes. Furthermore, all of them kneel, rather than simply dropping over dead, so this may just be a case of Saved by Canon. Averted in the all-heroes/villains battle (Mos Eisley Assault), which treats them like normal mooks.
- Metal Gear: Ghost Babel for GBC. This is a game about terrorists trying to start a nuclear war. It contains a scene where a minor character is killed out of the blue by exploding handcuffs. It contains another where the Big Bad graphically discusses a rape-murder and avoids those specific words. Also, a character on Snake's support team who turned out to be a traitor is described as "having a bullet put through his head" during the ending cutscene. And Snake's cigarettes were replaced with a cigarette-shaped smoke-emitting device known as the "Fogger".
- The French version of Tales of Symphonia is a funny example of this when you understand English, because while the text is in French, the voice acting is still in English. So you hear "killed" and read "destroyed/eliminated/disposed of/badly hurt". They toned down some of the stuff Zelos says, too...
- In Tales of the Abyss At a certain point in the game, Luke is talking to Asch, telling him that he'll stop Van. Asch bluntly corrects him by saying: "Not 'stop'. Kill!"
- In the video game series Tales of... when the party is killed by monsters, the usual death screen message is "they were never heard from again..." paired with depressing or unsettling music.
- In Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Online, you are asked to "defeat" a certain type of enemy, even if "defeating" means whacking them with a cutlass, shooting them, throwing grenades at them, or what have you.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- And now it's gotten worse: Sonic Colors manual refers to "losing a try." The earliest Sonic games referred to Lives as Chances, though, so this may be a case of returning to its roots.
- The Sonic Advance manual referred to lives as "tries" as well. For example: "Gain an extra try".
- Averted in most games. Death gets referenced nonchalantly and several games discuss the ARC massacre that also involved Maria (who couldn't be older than thirteen) being killed. Sonic Heroes, one of the most kid-friendly titles, has at least three references to death in its dialogue.
- In Sonic Forces characters go out of their way to cut off before saying the 'd' word and use various euphemisms. The exception is the villain Infinite. He says the word "die" at least once.
- All references to House of the Dead in Sega Superstars Tennis and Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing are labelled "Curien Mansion" or acronymed as "HOTD". This is for three reasons: A) Sumo Digital aimed for the games to be as family-friendly as possiblenote , B) the House of the Dead series is banned in Germany, the application of this trope here serving as a form of sneaking past German censors, and C) They do not want to mention the name of an M-rated series in an E10+ game (however, they seem perfectly fine with mentioning T-rated franchises).
- The SNES port of Art of Fighting replaced the "Super Death Blow" (actually a literal translation of "Chou Hissatsu Waza", the Japanese term for Super Moves) with a "Super Fire Blow".
- The heavily bowdlerized SNES port of Mortal Kombat, aside for removing all the blood and gore from the arcade game, renamed the game's "Fatalities" into "Finishing Moves", with at least three of the characters' original Fatalities being replaced by so-called "new moves". However, variations of some of them did end up in newer games, like Sub-Zero's freeze-and-shatter.
- Some of the early Romance of the Three Kingdoms games on SNES(/PSX?). Whenever you captured an opposing officer in battle, you were offered the chance to "Hire/Recruit" them, release them, or "Capture" them. Judging by the fact that, once you "capture" them, they never show up in that particular playthrough again, it's fairly easy to decipher what happened.
- The later games (PS2-era on) definitely avert this trope, replacing the word "Capture" with "Execute" - complete with death quotes (usually pleas for mercy) and the telltale sound of a sword being unsheathed. Although it's usually a good idea to hire them first if they're skilled - then to check to see if they've got a large family. Executing someone with the family name Sun will make your life very difficult later.
- Countless instruction cards for early video games referred to vanquished player characters as "becoming tired" or similar; a big offender when you actually saw Pac-Man dissolve to nothing and *pop* as the ghost ate him.
- The manual for the Action Man game on Game Boy Color makes a big deal about the fact that all the enemies are robots and that your weapons are anti-robot only.
- In Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage! in one level you have to kill a Yeti, and while the character talking clearly says "Even though I am a vegetarian, I think you should kill that Yeti," in the subtitles, the game replaces "kill" with "torch".
- The 1992 Sega Genesis fighting game Deadly Moves (originally called Power Athlete in Japan), was retitled Power Moves when it was ported to the Super NES. It became Hilarious in Hindsight when Nintendo later published a certain game called Killer Instinct.
- Oddly inverted in Snoopy Flying Ace. As it is a Peanuts game, pilots whose planes are destroyed, no matter how violently, make it out alive and can be seen parachuting down safely. However, the game itself still refers to bringing other planes down and getting shot down yourself/crashing as "Kills" and "Deaths".
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban's GBA version, defeating an enemy results in the following quote: "(enemy) went away!", and the results screen says "The fleeing enemy dropped". Odd for a series that deals heavily with death.
- The early PC games describe in-game dying as "fainting". So when Harry falls down a Bottomless Pit, that caused him to "faint". At the same time, it's no problem when the storyline is discussed in cutscenes. Well, it would be rather hard to pretend Moaning Myrtle became a ghost as a result of "fainting", wouldn't it? However, the second game did censor the word "Muggle" (apparently someone decided that racial slurs still count even if they're Fantastic), changing it to "non-magical" or "non-magical folk". When the characters have to refer to Muggle-borns, it becomes especially awkward: "Those who are not wizard born will be purged from Hogwarts."
- Played straight in The World Ends with You, with the constant repetitions of "failure" in the Game leading to "erasure." Up until The Reveal, anyway. Erasure isn't a stand-in for death - you're already dead, and "erasure" refers to the destruction of one's soul.
- In DC Universe Online, when you die you are "knocked out". The game also usually refers to killing mobs for quests as "destroying" or "knocking out".
- The first Freddi Fish game very strangely averts this trope, though all of Humongous Entertainment's other games try to avoid using this trope. In the Junior Arcades, the manuals would never call it "death" if you lost a try.
- Strangely played straight in Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. The message that pops up after you successfully kill the world's host during an invasion is always "Target is Destroyed" instead of say, "Target Killed". Then again, all players are Undead in Dark Souls, with much of the lore revolving around how they are incapable of truly dying, so it does make sense in that regard.
- R. Scott Campbell of Interplay tells this story of how a SNES game based on The Lord of the Rings was originally rejected. Nintendo would not let them include the line "Nine for mortal men doomed to die". They seriously considered changing it to "Nine mortal men doomed to cry".
- Downplayed in the Monster Hunter games. Most of the missions involve "hunting" large monsters, which effectively means they at least have to be killed (the ideal option is to capture them alive). But the word "slay" does appear when the mission involves an ancient dragon, and it's also used to warn that a mission will fail if the objective is to capture the monster alive. So the specific terminology goes like this: "Capture" is trapping a monster alive, "Slay" means you're required to kill it,note and "Hunt" leaves it to your discretion.
- Fur Fighters: "You fluffed it."
- While A Witch's Tale generally averts this, defeated monsters are crushed into bits rather than killed.
- LEGO Adaptation Game:
- Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham had to call the Suicide Squad something else since the word "suicide" was deemed inappropriate for a children's game. They're just called "The Squad" instead.
- In Lego Marvel Super Heroes, you encounter M.O.D.O.K., but he says that he's designed only for conquest rather than for killing. He can't spell it, apparently.
- Zig-Zagged in LEGO Dimensions. GLaDOS never says "kill" or "die"note , but her dialogue is peppered with enough threats and implications for her to remain in character. The Gamer Kid, on the other hand, blatantly mentions Perma Death if he respawns.
- Used and subverted in-universe in Luminous Arc. From the start, the Garden Children talk about thier duty to "condemn" Witches. Combined with the bright aesthetic of the game, this looks like a textbook case... right up until it's said to a Witch's face. When she directly asks if Alph intends to kill her, he hesitates. It's the first sign that the Garden Children's training might have been intentionally undermined. After this point, it's averted, with off- and on-screen deaths being called just that.
- Averted in Harvest Moon, which has no issue with saying that your animals or even occasionally humans have died. In fact one of priest Carter's sermons in Harvest Moon Friends Of Mineral Town has a father trying to invoke this trope but failing. When his wife dies, a man tells his son that she is sleeping. This results in his son wishing to buy her an alarm clock. Carter questions if it was right for the father to lie about the topic of death.
- in X-COM Enemy Unknown Doctor Vahlen mentions after your first alien interogation that the alien "disappeared", despite the fact that the interogation obviously involves torture and you get an alien corpse after an interogation. This is especially weird since XCom features multiple graphical deaths of both humen and aliens.
- Averted in Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass. Despite using a very childish aesthetic reminiscent of Earthbound, there is frequent mention of death, alcohol, and drugs. Information Guy is even bloodily killed in the Wilted Lands!
- NARC is a strange case. Throughout the famously violent game you bloodily massacre hundreds of people, either gunning them down or blowing them up into bloody body parts... but dogs don't die. Nope. If shot or blown up, they merely turn into puppies (?!) and run off the screen.
- Master of the Monster Lair: Zig-Zagged.
- Played Straight: Enemies and players defeated in battle are KO'd, words like "destroy" are thrown around, and even the Devil Prince's letter threatening the mayor, actually written by Owen, stops short of saying the word die, instead threatening to "take [him] to Hell."
- Averted: There are times when the game does use unambiguous words like "kill" and "slay." Also, while it leaves the fate of some of the mooks ambiguous (on floor 2 you are told you're "capturing" hobgoblins, for example) it's abundantly clear that none of the boss enemies survive - some of them are even stuffed and put on display!
- Splatoon 2 generally uses vague synonyms instead of referring to death or killing ("splatting" being the most common example.) The sole exception occurs in the postgame when Callie appears after beating the singleplayer campaign and introduces herself as the one who tried to kill you during the final boss fight.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate changed Richter Belmont's iconic line from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night from "Die, monster! You do not belong in this world!" to something that removes the references to death.
Richter: Begone! You do not belong in this world, monster!
- In Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Klubba says, "Try that again an' it's Davey Jones Locker f' ye! A-harrh!" if you choose to fight him at any Klubba's Kiosk.
- Zigzagged in the Mega Man X and Zero series. Killing Reploids is referred to as "retirement", but the games aren't afraid of dropping the word "die" on occasion regardless. However, Mega Man X4, in which Double straight-up tells X to die in his pre-battle quote (and even has an uncensored FMV of Double bisecting reploids with visible blood,) also includes some more neutered lines from the same character like "Prepare to be recycled!" and "You're gonna get hurt, X!" The same game also has X telling Zero that if he ever goes Maverick, he wants Zero to "take care of him", which conjures up images of Zero literally taking care of a sick X more than the Mercy Kill it would actually be.
- Transistor does this for more artistic reasons than censorship-related ones. Death is always referred to as either being processed (when a character is assimilated by the Process,) or "going to the Country," with the Country being heavily implied to be a euphemism for the afterlife.
- A Bonus Stage episode in which Joel learns, from the book Do-It-Yourself Standards & Practices, how to retool the show for a child audience, we hear this exchange (words in brackets being obviously dubbed):
Phil: Wh—... what just happened?
Joel: It's been a week, dude. You came back from the [hurt] after I [destroyed] you and sent you to [Hades]. That stuff was, uh, cut... for, uh... time.
- In RWBY Chibi, Nora refuses Ruby to say this word when Team RWBY finds out Pyrrha Nikos, who was killed off at the end of the third volume of the main series, is alive and well.
- Erfworld: One of the oddities of language is the use of "croaked" instead of "dead" or "killed" (and "uncroaked" instead of "undead"). However, this is clearly done by the characters and not the author, because Parson does refer to it as death and takes note of how completely inappropriate death seems in this otherwise cute and cuddly setting. Erfworlders instinctively understand the meaning of such words (as they do most other Earth words), but they are revolted by them and never use them themselves.
- The Roleplay Rules of the LEGO Messageboards only permit a member to "defeat" another member, not kill or maim them.
- Death is depicted throughout Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and the Planeteers and other characters tell it like it is, especially when it comes to how pollution kills wildlife. The death of Boris, Linka's cousin, from a drug overdose is clearly depicted in the episode "Mind Pollution". However, while the villains attempt to kill the Planeteers and other characters, perhaps in the most brutal ways by kids' cartoon standards, almost never say to "kill them", finding other words to use instead.
- An episode has the Warners escaping from a boring man, exclaiming "Free at last, free at last, thank G-" at which point they are cut off by the man reappearing.
- Another episode featured Slappy Squirrel guarding the apple in the Garden of Eden. She claims she was given the job by "Mr. Big".
- In the first Rita and Runt cartoon, where the two are in the pound. Rita says "Ah what difference does it make, soon we'll be sleeping the 'big sleep'." Runt states that he could use a nap, to which Rita snaps "They're gonna gas us you buffoon. We'll be dead!"
- Parodied (and also a great comment on Disney's "for kids" movies) in one of the funniest Slappy the Squirrel shorts "Bumbie's Mom" where Slappy and Skippy see "Bumbie" and Skippy freaks out when Bumbie's mom is shot and killed. Throughout the entire episode Slappy tries to explain that no one dies in cartoons and that Bumbie's mom is alive. Skippy continuously replies "Bumbie's mom, she's...huuuuuuhuhuhoohoohoohoo!" Slappy finally takes Skippy to see the "actor" that played Bumbie's mom and he feels better...then on the plane ride back they show "Old Yellow" and Skippy starts crying when they shoot Old Yellow the dog. Slappy then just says "Ah, fade out already!"
- One high-risk episode has the Warners visiting Hell and annoying the devil. When it does come up, Hell is called "Hades." Though the Devil does outright refer to himself as "Satan", and Wakko even tests out the "snowball's chance in Hell" metaphor.
- "Meatballs or Consequences" is an odd one. It was supposed to be called "Death or Consequences", but Executive Meddling forced the change. Still, the words "death", "die" and "dead" are used throughout the episode (along with a euphemism: "living-impaired").
- A very strange example in the Slappy Squirrel short "Critical Condition." The stand-ins for Siskel & Ebert are reviewing a Looney Tunes laserdisc collection, among which is included What's Opera, Doc? Elmer Fudd's classic cry of "Kill da wabbit!" is shown, but as the critics are hysterically quoting the cartoons, they say "Capture the wabbit."
- G.I. Joe is infamous for having characters always parachute out after enemy aircraft are shot down, even from helicopters. A writer on the series has noted that the closest they could come to death was mentioning "casualties."
- Another infamous example is in G.I. Joe: The Movie, where Duke is mortally wounded by Serpentor. He was originally supposed to die (and taking the scene at face value, he does). But when the Executives found out about it, they decided to try it out in Transformers: The Movie. After the reaction to Optimus Prime's death, however, they backpedaled and made them insert dialogue about Duke only being in a coma, and a line about him recovering at the end. The theme song that appears in the movie actually says that the Joes "Never Say Die". Mind you, they don't have to, because nobody ever does.
- Averted in the Darker and Edgier/Bloodier and Gorier G.I. Joe: Resolute, where right off the bat we not only see two major characters die, but see their bodies.
- G.I. Joe: Renegades plays with this though, having numerous deaths (off-camera), but still managing to avoid the "d-word" itself, even when the Joes are eulogizing a fallen comrade.
- Kim Possible: Villains sometimes talk about "destroying" or "eliminating" Kim.
- Teen Titans:
- Every synonym in the book was used in the second season finale episode "Aftershock", which felt especially awkward with the dark dialogue and tone the episode set.
- The Big Bad in the series was only ever referred to as Slade; in the comics he's Deathstroke the Terminator. (It doesn't sound too out of place in the show; "Slade", without the "Wilson" sounds like just another codename.) "Killer Moth" and "Brother Blood" were kept, but the production crew had to fight for them.
- In season four finale "The End". Slade saying "I don't even expect you to live" is probably the closest the series ever came to an aversion of this trope. But he's not even able to directly address his own currently undead state, when his mask is knocked off to reveal a skeletal face. To be fair, he does mention that Terra's betrayal should have led to his 'demise'.
- Averted in "The Sum Of His Parts". Granted, Cyborg was talking about his batteries dying but he did say die and Starfire thought he meant actual dying. Also, his suit is life support, so wouldn't his batteries dying kill him?
- The effect this had on the show really varied a lot. Most of the euphemisms worked coming from Slade, because it fit with his Creepy Monotone and general clinical cruelty. In the abovementioned Terra scenes in "Aftershock", however, the dialogue felt jarringly Narmful precisely because the episode was so intense- nobody would use a euphemism in that situation! Unless, of course, Slade could continue to control Terra's lifeless corpse through the suit, so they would have to do more than kill her, they'd have to properly "destroy" her entire body...
- In the movie Trouble In Tokyo, when Robin appears to kill Saico-Tek, great lengths are taken to avoid saying "die", "kill", "murder", or any variation thereof. Most of the time, someone is about to say one of those words, but the scene abruptly shifts or something cuts them off.
- Teen Titans Go! on the other hand, given its comedic nature (along with it being TV-PG)...
Trigon: [to Raven] I'm so proud. The only thing left to do is kill all your friends.
Starfire: [cheerfully] Kill us! Kill us! You can, like, totally do it!
- Various examples in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, known for its particularly heavy censorship. Showrunner John Semper had to have Mary Jane and the Green Goblin fall through an interdimensional portal instead of to their deaths. It is stated that The Punisher's family, rather than being gunned down, was simply "caught in a crossfire between rival gangs," and the same applied to the wife of the Destroyer. Uncle Ben simply "tried to stop the burglar that broke into his house, but the burglar was armed." At one point, when the Goblin returns after seemingly perishing, Spider-Man says, "You?! But I thought you were—" and the Goblin cuts him off with, "I'm not... but you'll soon be!"
- The Punisher when appearing on the show was said to use "lethal force", but the words "death" and "kill" never appeared. He's also eventually talked into using non-lethal weaponry pretty quickly by his sidekick.
- Morbius the Living Vampire drank "plasma", not blood (he was also modified to use suckers in his hands rather than biting people). (But in the Swedish dub, it was "blood plasma", so he was sucking blood through suckers in his hands.)
- Interestingly enough, Venom constantly commenting to Spidey on how "We will destroy you" didn't lose any of its effectiveness, most likely due to the manner in which he delivered it. He eventually became a very popular character in the show despite his few appearances. It's still effective because it might actually be accurate. Venom hates Spider-Man to the point that simply killing him would never be enough. He wants Spider-Man alone, friendless, and broken before he dies. It also worked because Eddie Brock blamed Peter Parker and Spider-Man for destroying his career and making him a laughingstock. Finding out they were the same person drove Eddie to want to do the same to Peter, at one point he hangs an unmasked Peter over the side of building so that the press might catch a glimpse of his face, but ultimately pulls Peter back before the press can get a clear shot.
- The worst example, though, was Carnage, a particularly brutal serial killer who became popular in the comics as part of the Darker and Edgier late '80s/early '90s. It's stated that he was a vicious criminal before becoming super-powered, but the word "killer" is never used. After becoming super-powered, he is recruited by the alien-god-thing Dormammu to drain the life force from people to power him up, bringing him into this world. Draining people only leaves them near death, and naturally, when he's defeated, all this life energy is returned.
- Interestingly, there's less Bowdlerising in other areas compared to every other version. The 90s series wasn't even a little bit shy about the Death by Origin Story, and also had the clone Mary Jane and Hydro-Man die, as well as the real Mysterio (by choosing to stay behind in the Collapsing Lair with his lover, who deliberately initiated the collapse because, to her, death was preferable to remaining disfigured. Double suicide in a kids' show! Later, Mysterio was referred to as "no longer with us" - avoidance of the word, but a reminder of a censor-unfriendly moment you'd think Fox Kids would want swept under the rug.) On top of that, Jameson's wife was the victim of a 'caught in the crossfire' situation, his hatred of Spider-Man stemming from his not trusting "men in masks who think they're above the law." Instead of leaving him with no good reason to hate Spidey like in most versions — including the comic and the PG-13 films, this cartoon added a death to make it his motivation! It contained far more deaths than some shows that were braver when it came to using the D-word.
- Sometimes the aversion of the word death would take the dialogue into serious Narm territory. In the episode "Return of Hydro-Man Part 2" Mary Jane says, with all seriousness, "I just can't shake the feeling that when we find out what's wrong with me, it's going to lead to my destruction!" Serious intents or not, try saying that out loud and see what kind of reaction you get. This Mary Jane was later revealed to be a clone, and did indeed die shortly after.
- Not only did The Spectacular Spider-Man avert this, but they sometimes used even more colorful language concerning death. For example...
Doctor Octopus: [holding up a captured Spider-Man] Rhino, you won the coin toss. Will you crush his skull or simply impale his heart on your horn?
- As well as:
Green Goblin: Any minute now the creme de la creme of New York City is going to paint the town red! (low, ominous voice) Well the ballroom anyway...
- However, it had few references to actual deaths, and none ever happened within the timeline of the show. Even Gwen Stacy survives the series!
- Ultimate Spider-Man flip-flops on this.
Deadpool: We go into that compound, find Agent MacGuffin, snag the list, then un-alive Taskmaster and his acolytes, capiche?
- Some episodes do use "die" and "kill," but others don't. The worst example would be the episode where White Tiger tries to take revenge on Kraven, the man who killed her father. Awkward attempts to dance around the subject like "You destroyed my father!" and "He took my father's life!" are used, and Spidey even notes that Nick Fury and Phil Coulson refuse to talk about what happened to White Tiger's dad.
- The Deadpool episode parodies this:
Spider-Man: Wait, un-alive them?
Deadpool: Yeah, yeah, here's the thing, I can't really say the k-word out loud. It's a weird mental tic. But we're gonna destroy them, make them disappear, sleep them with the fishes. We'll k-word them.
Spider-Man: K-word? You mean you want to kill them?!
Deadpool: Whoa, yeah, that does sound bad when you say it out loud. And yes, we're going to un-alive them.
- "Game Over" plays it 100 percent straight. Arcade's Murderworld is changed to "Madland".
- During the "Spider-Verse" storyline, when Peter drops in on Miles Morales, Miles sputters and stammers "death", "dead", "killed" and others, though this is mostly because he's looking at Peter, who should be dead in his universe.
- The 1981 Spider-Man series (the one before Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends), while only referring to Uncle Ben's death as a "fatal accident", also had a flashback to Spider-Man confronting the burglar who shot Ben and Spidey calling him a "murderer".
- The 1967 Spider-Man series get away with this, despite this being, well, the late sixties, including, among other things, the word "hell" being spoken, plenty of references to death, and even someone being instructed to shoot to kill. Uncle Ben was indeed murdered, and Spidey, in his own words, laments that "in a sense, it's really I who killed him." In a way, this show was more progressive about this trope than its successors. Of course, this is the same show that also included quite a few sexist or racist characters by today's standards.
- In the Silver Surfer animated series, Thanos is the primary antagonist. In the comics, Thanos has a crush on (the embodiment of) Death, a plot which carries over into the show. Death, however, is called "Lady Chaos" for television purposes.
- The series plays this trope as straight-as-can-be throughout (especially in the second episode) but got to play with it quite tellingly in the first appearance of the Juggernaut. He is crushed under rubble and Jubilee cries out, with unmistakable delight, "You killed him!". Of course, Jugs is just fine, revealing that the word can be used if it doesn't actually refer to someone dying.
- Beast even once said "Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and..." in a manner very reminiscent of the Spider-Man series). Also, the series certainly broke some rules with Nightcrawler's introductory episode, in which the character would repeatedly refer to God by name and give deep, meaningful testimonies in regards to His works (ironically, Fox execs said they HAD to... lest people think Nightcrawler was a devil). In the "Phalanx Covenant" two-parter (well into the more heavily-censored part of the series), Magneto was even allowed to say "Thank God!" And Beast once got to refer to hell - as in, the really hot place that's the reason the word is controversial - by name at another point!
- Overall it wildly varies, villains often say "destroy them!", but Bishop regularly uses the words "die" or "killed" in the "Days of Future Past" two parter, and Magneto also uses the word "die" in the Season 1 finale. It seems there was a limit on how often they could say die or kill, but not a ban.
- When the Suicide Squad shows up in Justice League Unlimited, they are known by the name Task Force X (another name used for the group in the comics). This is because the censors wouldn't let the writers use the word "suicide" in a children's show.
- In the Bratz DVD "Genie Magic", Cloe (one of the 4 Bratz) is annoyed at two of the regular boys for scaring the girls during a slumber party and says, "I wish you would croak." Their new friend turns out to be a genie, and a Literal Genie at that, as she turns the boys into frogs. One of the other girls gets cut off while explaining what Cloe really meant.
- The series used the word "dead" in the episode when Chuckie's pet potato bug died — of course, the babies' grasp of death is only that it's "when you sleep for a long time... like forever." — but eventually shied away from it. For example, in the Passover special, the 10th plague on Egypt is called "taking away the first born" (and in any event, Pharaoh Angelica gets scared and frees the slaves before it happens).
- This is evident in the "Mother's Day Special", where the fate of Chuckie's mom is strongly hinted at, but never said outright. (Didi just about says it at one point, but Chaz cuts her off; later, when talking to Chuckie, he nervously mentions his mom being "in the hospital.") Her grave is seen in a later episode.
- The Spin Off All Grown Up! apparently had no qualms about saying the d-word, albeit not in the sense of literally dying. For example, one ep has Angelica say "I wouldn't be caught dead at her stupid party"... and then react to finding out that Tommy caught her saying that on tape, "Tommy Pickles is a dead man." (The same episode also has an instance of the k-word, of course, not in the sense of actual killing: "I'll kill you off in this movie, and bring you back as the alien robot in the sequel.")
- As far as other Nicktoons go...
- Played straight in "Doug's Christmas Story". Porckchop bit Beebe's leg (he was trying to save her from falling through thin ice) and is blamed for attacking her. He is sent to the pound and isolated in the Very Very Bad Dogs section. The Bluffs press charges and if he's not proven innocent, will be put to sleep. When Doug tries to get people to sign a petition about how Porkchop is a good dog, one woman says that Christmas is not the time for this and he should wait until after the holidays; Doug tells her it will be too late by then. The closest the episode comes though is when Doug remembers past Christmases with Porckchop and then saying, "But this Christmas..." with an image of Doug looking at Porkchop's tombstone in the rain.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show averted this as early as its pilot episode, "Big House Blues". When one of their fellow inmates at the pound is carried off to be euthanized, Stimpy asks Ren what "the big sleep" is. Ren responds with "It's... DEATH! DEATH, YOU IDIOT!! YOU KNOW WHAT DEAD IS?! IT'S WHAT WE'LL BE IF WE DON'T GET OUT OF HERE!!" The show even averts Nobody Can Die, as Ren and Stimpy die at the end of many of their episodes (although Snap Back and Negative Continuity cancel it out each time). "Terminal Stimpy" is even about Stimpy being on the last of his nine lives and learning how to accept death.
- Rocko's Modern Life also averts this in the episode where Rocko and Heffer take care of Filburt's pet bird. When Heffer sits on it, it dies. Rocko's response is "He's dead. We've killed him. We've killed Filburt's bird." This was also averted in many other episodes, such as when Heffer went "To Heck and Back."
- SpongeBob SquarePants averts this time and again. There's even an episode called "Dying For Pie."
- Subverted with the episode where they believe they've killed Squidward.
- Played straight for the sake of humor in "Bubble Buddy" where the "has to GO" variation is used. SpongeBob mistakes this for a euphemism for going the bathroom.
- As Told by Ginger:
- The series plays this straight in early episodes, especially in the second episode when an elderly woman dies on-camera at a dinner table. Everyone else simply stares in shock while Ginger asks her mother if she's "napping". The next scene has Ginger telling her friends about the woman's last words ("Oh, foo!") and her funeral. The ninth episode wouldn't even use the word metaphorically. Courtney used the popular "Who died and made you ______?" phrase, only "died" was substituted with "retired".
- Later episodes would usually avert the trope. Most notably, an episode from the second season titled "Losing Nana Bishop" revolves around Dodie and her family coping with the death of her grandmother, which motivates Ginger into wanting to learn more about her own late grandmother. Ginger and Macie also show their support for Dodie by attending the funeral, the latter trying to overcome her fear of "dead people".
- One episode, "And She Was Gone", has Ginger writing a dark poem about a girl who "disappears". After her teacher and classmates read the poem, they all suspect that Ginger is suicidal, but they only say that she might be "(clinically) depressed", with concern that she might "go away" or "disappear" someday.
- Played literally in "The Easter Ham", when Hoodsey tells Carl that his dream of his own karaoke den will "have to die", then quickly retracts it, saying "I didn't mean to say 'die'", as he was trying to avoid the word earlier when referring to his mother who was recovering from a (fake) heart attack.
- In one of the final episodes of the series (which didn't air in the United States), Ginger herself almost dies from a ruptured appendix. Ginger calls the whole thing a "near-death experience" and Dodie bluntly asks her "Did you almost die?". Meanwhile, her mother can't get rid of the thought that Ginger probably wouldn't have lived if she hadn't been home when she needed to be rushed to the hospital, although during her lament, she only says "She could've..." before her fiancee (also Ginger's surgeon) assures her that it's okay because she was home.
- Invader Zim plays Nobody Can Die straight often, as seen with Keef in "Bestest Friend", Iggins in "Game Slave II", and the various people crushed on-screen in "Hamstergeddon". However, the show will avert this trope as often is it plays it straight. For example, in "Hobo 13":
- Used in Breadwinners. In the original YouTube pilot, Buhdeuce says "Does this mean we're going to crash and burn and die a fiery death?", while in the remake of the short on Nick.com, he instead says "Does this mean we're going to crash and burn and end up roast meat?"
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has a weird relation with this trope:
- It mostly averts it, both in humorous and serious dialogue, but sometimes (especially in season 3) it would play it straight. Some defend that the times the word is not used is justified, since the characters who go for euphemisms wouldn't want to use the actual words, but there are occasions a little harder to justify ("The Southern Raiders" had a nigh complete avoidance of explicitly using the word, even though the episode's entire plot is about killing a person to get revenge for another person's murder).
- As far as "The Southern Raiders" goes, that's probably why. They could use the words in episodes where death wasn't the main focus, or when it was a villain attempting the killing, but an entire episode about a teenage girl main character setting out to kill a man for revenge? That's not something a parent can cover the kid's ears for, or justify by pointing out that it's a bad guy committing the violence. And they probably had to give up something in exchange for the infamous tent scene.
- Lampshaded in "The Ember Island Players" where the characters watch an abridged series of their own show performed by actors on stage. It includes the lines "Did Jet just die?" followed by "You know, it was really unclear." Jet being a character who did die earlier in the show in a manner ambiguous enough to make it seem like he might not have. To drive the point home harder when giving a recap of off screen play moments Sokka mentions how he thinks Combustion Man died.
- Averted in the Grand Finale. When Aang is missing, the Gaang turn to a bounty hunter, June, and her shirshu to find him, because shirshu have excellent senses of smell and can track someone from across the world, if given something belonging to that person. They give her Aang's glider, and the shirshu gets the scent, but then just walks around in a circle before lying down, having failed to find where it came from. June explains that if the shirshu can't track him, then he doesn't exist. Sokka asks her if she means that Aang is dead, and she replies that no, he's not. The shirshu could find him if he was dead. When she said nonexistant, she meant disappeared off the face of the world.
- The Legend of Korra, while generally not shying away from mature themes (and even explicitly showing two onscreen deaths in the 1st season finale!), still didn't use the actual word very often.
- Lin Beifong makes use of the ever-popular "toast" at least twice, while Amon's use of the phrase "untimely demise" when referring to Korra actually makes it hard to tell whether he's talking about killing or de-bending her. Furthermore, when the Equalist biplanes showed up in the two-part finale, virtually every single instance of one being shot down or crashing showed the pilots successfully bailing out and parachuting to safety in an almost GI Joe-like fashion, save for one or two exceptions.
- In season 3's "Long Live the Queen," Zaheer commits regicide by bending the air out of the Earth Queen's lungs. Though the scene itself is very graphic (particularly for Nick), even Zaheer's broadcast to Ba Sing Se's citizens uses a number of euphemisms to avoid any mention of "death." The closest anyone comes to saying it is describing the scene as "violent". Driven to almost parody during Zaheer's Breaking Lecture, the end of which suspiciously resembles a Last-Second Word Swap.
You think freedom is something you can give or take on a whim, but to your people, freedom is just as essential as... air. And without it, there is no life. There is only... darkness.
- El Tigre expresses the most common usage of the trope in current American cartoons. While they use the word kill passively, "I was nearly killed," they skirt away whenever it calls for directly: "Are you sure this isn't a part of some sinister plot to destroy me?/She tried to get close to me, to destroy me." Basically you're not generally going to hear the statement, "I kill you" in an American cartoon today.
- Making Fiends is all about a psychopathic little girl named Vendetta who creates demons and wants to kill another girl because she doesn't fear Vendetta and unwittingly thinks she's her best friend. Yet Vendetta almost always says "destroy" instead of kill. Being that she likes to be vague with her statements and has slightly broken English, she may be invoking this, though this trope was subverted in Nickelodeon's version of the fourth webisode when she exclaimed "You should be dead!".
- The World of David the Gnome did have a final episode where the gnome couple "pass over" in an enchanted meadow, but has only been shown one time on Nickelodeon.
Timmy (as Bond): Do you expect me to let you get away with this?Vicky (as Goldfinger): No, Mister Twerp; I expect you to CRY!
- Averted in the "Harvey Beaks" episode "Technoscare" - there is a sequence where Technobear repeats variations of the word "death" dozens of times.
- The Fairly OddParents! often inverts this, but like Danny Phantom, there are times when they play this straight:
- In the movie, Cosmo and Wanda's newborn son has been kidnapped by H.P. and Anti-Cosmo. Wanda tells them, "If you so much as lay a hand on our baby, I'll destroy both of you!" It did sound a bit forced, but was worth it to hear her threatening to single-handedly murder them.
- In one episode there was a Shout-Out to Goldfinger with a famous quote slightly altered.
- Surprisingly averted on Little Bear, where in the episode "Lucy's Okay", they pretend that Emily's doll Lucy dies from being sat on by Duck and have a "funeral" for her, using the word "dead" several times. Considering that this is a show for preschoolers, it was a little dark.
- The Little Prince had one episode jump through several hoops to avoid even considering the apparent death of a old man's pet bear, even though the man is clearly praying before the bear's grave in one scene. As this cartoon is from abroad the American edition has to hurriedly throw together awkward dialogue and editing in order to "resurrect" the little bear by the end.
- While the cast of Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light would do the whole "destroy" thing, they interestingly also commonly used the word "slay", which - given the neo-medieval basis of the story - is fairly appropriate.
- While most Cartoon Network shows often invert this, the same cannot be said with The Powerpuff Girls:
Blossom: Oh noooo! It's definitely not okay to squish a person!
- This trope is played straight even to cockroaches, which are not killed but "squished, smashed, stepped-on," etc. Only about five to six times did they ever use the word "die." In the same episode, a cockroach-based villain is thrown from his cockroach mecha to splat on the pavement below (fortunately, it was just a robot).
- In "The Rowdyruff Boys", the girls are given a near-fatal blow and fall to the ground with a silent, but huge explosion, after which Mojo Jojo and the Rowdyruff Boys laugh victoriously, thinking the girls are finished off for good. The girls are assumed dead by the crying citizens of Townsville, though the Narrator only says "Please don't say goodbye", and the Mayor says, "Powerpuff Girls, you're alive!" when they wake up. However, the falling girls are misinterpreted by one citizen as a "death ray".
- In "Ploys R Us", where the Professor sleepwalks and unknowingly steals toys from the toy store for the girls, the mayor and police ambush the professor towards the end, shooting at him with toy guns till he collapses. The girls assume he's dead, but all they can get out is "Now he's... gone!". That is, until the girls find out that the Professor was shot with "fake bullet suction thingies".
- In "Little Miss Interprets", the girls think the Professor and others are plotting to kill the girls in order to replace them with newer, better Powerpuff Girls. However, the girls only say that the adults will "do them in". Buttercup even suggests that the girls "do them in" first, but Blossom doesn't think they should stoop to their level. Instead, they destroy the Professor's lab before he can "destroy" them. Right after they do this, they discover that the adults were planning a surprise party for the girls, and the Professor was only referring to replacing a batch of cakes with drawings of the girls.
- The Brazilian dub of The Movie suffers from this. At one point when the girls are hiding behind a bus from a giant Mojo Jojo, Bubbles whispers "Is he dead?" when Mojo Jojo briefly ceases his attacks. Later, that scene was redubbed and Bubbles' line changed to "Is he finished off?".
- Since The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy literally has The Grim Reaper as it's main character, it's virtually impossible for them to avoid this, but executive meddling hasn't failed to ruin some things here and there.
- In "Major Cheese", the episode focuses on an old man named Mighty Moe, who thinks he can achieve eternal life, by exercising and using the right dietary plans. The goal of the episode was for Grim to [ahem] "reap", him and put a stop to this "eternal life" business. At the end of the episode, Moe got catapulted into the sun, and Grim called it a win. Of course, the last few seconds of the episode, showed that this wasn't a success because Moe logically burned to death. He survived, and was then thriving on the surface of the sun. Grim's success came from the idea that "at least now, he won't be spreading the secret of eternal life to anyone else on Earth."
- In one episode, Grim uses his scythe to open a hole in the ground, which a bunch of bunnies fall into. When they do, a bunch of ghostly puffs of smoke come out with skull and crossbones symbols, so that means they're dead, right? No, because right after that, they all crawl back out, only now, they've transformed into hideous, beast-like monster rabbits, still alive and well.
- Played with in My Gym Partner's a Monkey where Jake flushes live sea monkeys down the toilet, after hearing Adam did the same to his. Adam has trouble explaining the difference to him.
Adam: Jake! I didn't flush by sea simians because they were boring, I flushed them because they, you know, [whispering] expired.Jake: Zuh?Adam: You know, perished, ... departed, ... defunct, ... passed on, ... done in, went extinct, went stiff, belly up, took a dirt nap, met their maker, pushing up daisies, eternal slumber, worm food, flat lined, like really gone daddy?(Jake shrugs his shoulders, in stupid obliviousness)(Adam pretends to die, grabbing his neck and making "ack" noises, before falling backwards)Jake: Oh, you mean dead.
- Parodied in an episode of Family Guy where Meg says that her class is performing Death of a Salesman, but because they aren't allowed to say "death", the ending just has everyone dancing around with sparklers.
- From the Inhumanoids Five-Episode Pilot: "If his friends release him, we're ended." When the Inhumanoids themselves were making threats, they often used language that was downright poetic, such as when Metlar said "You shall dwell in eternal darkness!"
- A sad, sad example would be the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Off Balance," where agents of Talia al-Ghul's Society of Shadows quite clearly each use a gaseous Cyanide Pill—their dead eyes staring into nothingness—and in the very next scene Batman tells Gordon that they'd used the gas "to erase their own minds." Suuure they did.
Batman: Even if you have to kill everyone in that building?
- This was possibly a bit of a Take That! to the censors at Warner Bros. In the DVD commentaries, both Bruce Timm and Paul Dini state that since they were not allowed to kill off any humans, they frequently tried to come up with things that were inherently more disturbing than outright death. In this case, the bad guys essentially lobotomized themselves.
- They took advantage of the times they were allowed to do so indirectly, though; in "Mad Love", for instance, a newspaper headline reads: "Joker still at large; body count rises."
- The fact that the group itself was called the Society of Shadows rather than the League of Assassins was also probably due to this trope. Note that when they came back years later in Batman Beyond, they could now be referred to as the Society of Assassins.
- An example of Tropes Are Tools is the death of the Flying Graysons. They were not allowed to show their fall or death in any way, but that shot of the severed rope swinging back into view is all the more gruesome.
- Likewise with The Joker's laughing gas. Also a certified source of Nightmare Fuel.
- Reportedly, the production staff was able to get around this restriction in the case of the Scarface dummy, which did not qualify as alive; the animators were able to vent their "darker impulses" upon the dummy by destroying it in increasingly grisly ways (i.e., machine-gunning it, chewing it up in a grinder, etc.) in every episode in which it appeared.
- Assassins carrying pills for "erasing their minds" is later brought back up during Batman Beyond. At least they're consistent.
- One of the episodes focuses on a mysterious martial arts technique which translates to "big sleep" or, more specifically, "eternal sleep".
- Averted in the episode "Heart of Ice". Upon seeing the video tape showing Mister Freeze's origins, Batman says "My God". Freeze at one point says emotions have "frozen dead in me", although that could have been allowed since didn't refer to people dying. This dialogue however, is an aversion:
Freeze: Think of it, Batman. To never again walk on a summer's day with a hot wind in your face, and a warm hand to hold. Oh, yes. I'd kill for that.
- This was possibly a bit of a Take That! to the censors at Warner Bros. In the DVD commentaries, both Bruce Timm and Paul Dini state that since they were not allowed to kill off any humans, they frequently tried to come up with things that were inherently more disturbing than outright death. In this case, the bad guys essentially lobotomized themselves.
- This was frequently the case in the latter part of Batman Beyond.
- After freely being able to reference death and get more explicit with violence in the Kids WB! episodes of Batman, the pendulum turned the other way and the creators weren't even allow to so much as imply a revenge-seeking assassin was killing her former associates off-screen (instead she was poisoning them into comas, as referenced above). After the fact the creative team lamented their unintentional overuse of "ice" and "waste" in place of "kill" (changes best displayed in the original and edited versions of the animated feature Return of the Joker.
- In the episode "Rats!", Dana asks Ratboy what happened to the other kids he kidnapped. Before siccing his rats on her, he responds, "They don't make fun of me anymore".
- When discussing the Society of Assassins and Curare, it's asked what happens when one of them fails to take out their target. "She *becomes* the target."
- In The Batman, they never said die. Except during Mister Freeze's constant ice puns. This was actually averted in some cases, such as Robin's intro episode.
Bruce: The criminal responsible for my parents' death was never brought to justice, Alfred. That's a burden I won't let Dick carry.
- The Legend of Zelda animated series had an interesting one. Something like "One more blast and you'll be de-energized, Ganon!" Though there was one time where Ganon actually was defeated, with the same result as with his minions — he just gets transported into the Evil Jar, and will presumably free himself in the near future to wreak more havoc. On that note, another episode begins with Ganon attacking Hyrule Castle and trying to zap Link into the Evil Jar, though a convoluted series of events makes only his body go there, with his spirit left behind. As Zelda mourns the apparent loss of the hero, Link's spirit remarks "Gee, you'd think I was destroyed or something!" So apparently a fall in combat has different consequences for good and evil.
- Garfield and Friends:
- In the musical episode, "The Man Who Hated Cats", Garfield overhears the titular man singing about a cat he owned when he was young who ran away. He sings, "Foo-Foo had fled/I wished I was..." and starts sobbing.
- A U.S. Acres segment parodying the poem "Casey At the Bat" includes a quip about the fans chanting " 'Kill the Umpire!' long and low/But you cannot kill a person/On a TV cartoon show."
- Winx Club:
- An S2 episode shies away from explicitly saying that the Trix had killed one of the Specialists Prince Sky, settling for having one of the Winx check for a pulse and say he doesn't have one. The 4Kids dub takes things further, by having the Trix explicitly say a couple times that they've put the Specialist in a 100-year deep sleep (Not That There's Anything Wrong with That, because of what happens next), while strangely still keeping in the pulse bit.
- S4: Ep 24 kills off Nabu, Chekhov's Gift notwithstanding... or does it? When Morgana takes Nabu's body away, she promises to take care of him "until he wakes up". This has lead some of the fans to believe that Nabu is still alive, but in a coma, although the way the other characters act in the last two episodes seem to make it clear that Nabu really is dead.
- The ghost monsters in Pac-Man always talk about how they're going to chomp the eponymous character (this is justified by having them actually bite him whenever they have the opportunity to do so).
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has often Zig-zagged in and out of this trope:
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) has a slight variation. "Die" is sometimes said, otherwise replaced with "perish" or "pass away". However, this is rather "Never say kill" as they only use "destroy" or "slay."
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), for a while, didn't use any words referencing death, but "Panic In The Sewers" features Splinter, who is terrified that his sons will meet with the Shredder again after he handed their shells to them, says that the Shredder will not rest until "all of [the Turtles] are dead", and they use the words referring to death somewhat more often (Kraang Prime clearly and bluntly states their intention to kill the Turtles, as does Mutagen Man.).
- 10-year-old WordGirl is never "almost killed," since it's an educational kids show. Still, "Is this the end for WordGirl" is repeated a few times. A villain proclaims "Good-Bye, Word Girl!" as his robot is commanded to "Crush" her. She's almost "Done For," "Finished Off," "and Defeated." And since this is a show about vocabulary, I'm guessing they'll find other ways to carefully explain how she was almost killed.
- In Transformers: Generation 1:
Go News Network reporter: Amazing! Aero-Bot saved that rally driver from certain death.
- Death words are used frequently, but death happens infrequently (outside the movie, which is nearly a Kill 'em All so new toys can replace the old. The season following the movie didn't kill off any known characters, though one disastrous battle saw the destruction of several ships known to be manned.) Later series use them less, preferring 'scrapped,' 'taken offline,' etc but are more likely to have a death stick. Rattrap's Catch-Phrase is a sardonic "we're all gonna die," but when someone's actually believed to be dead, "scrapped" or "destroyed" is much more likely to be used when referring to their condition. However, when it comes to the presence of death, the Beast era takes Anyone Can Die to a higher level than even 24 or Torchwood.
- In "Five Faces of Darkness Part 3", Wheelie shoots down a mook. The mook begs Galvatron to save him, but Galvatron calls him a loser for not being able to Face Death with Dignity. Galvatron doesn't bat an eye as the mook explodes on impact.
- In Transformers Animated "offline" seems to be the primary euphemism for death, but it's still not exactly the same: the series Magnetic Plot Device is still able to bring you back from that.
- "Offline" is also preferred in Beast Machines, which, like Animated, was headed by Marty Isenberg.
- Then it's averted when it comes to a human in the premiere of the third season of Animated, when Prime tells Ratchet to get Sari out of her Superpower Meltdown with his EMP and Ratchet flat out says "...that could kill her!"
- Transformers Prime averts this right from the start (and does so gloriously, killing off Cliffjumper in the first five minutes. Then Megatron brings an army explicitly back from the dead... yeah, it's not going to ever play this straight, thank God. Death words and robot-ier equivalents both see use.
- Averted, shockingly enough in the pre-school series Transformers: Go-Bots - In "Racer-Bot Road Rally", one racer ends up falling of a cliff. He is saved though, prompting the commentator to say this:
- In "The Tower of Traps", Lion-O and WilyKit stumble across what is clearly a dead body. WilyKit's reaction... "He's not alive!"
- In "The Demolisher", Lion-O gets attacked by a warrior called the Demolisher. Having never met him before, Lion-O asks why he is attacking him. Demolisher replies, "I fight you because you exist! But soon... you will not exist!"
- Sonic the Hedgehogoften Zig-zagged this:
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog plays this trope literally; at one point, when Sonic and Tails are rushing toward a wall, Tails says "It's a dead end!" Sonic replies, "Hey, Sonic the Hedgehog never says dead!" In general, the show tended to avert this, but that was just a really weird incidence.
- Played straight in some of the other Sonic cartoons. Characters who are "roboticized" are functionally dead to (and mourned by) the heroes, although occasionally they get better.
- One episode of Sonic Sat AM sees Robotnik and Snively blasted over a mountain ledge, and Bunny says in shock "Robotnik's dead?!" Of course the show closes with them climbing to safety.
- Subverted in Sonic Boom, where Sticks outright tells Eggman's Robot of the Week "you can't kill me" in the first episode, right after she fails to say that it can't "obliterate" her. Because it's named the "Obliteratorbot".
- In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, M.O.D.O.K., the Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing becomes MODOC, the Mental Organism Designed Only For Chaos (or Conquest. Definitely not Killing, though). Odd, since the series makes no attempt to gloss over Howard Stark's death.
- Justified in ReBoot. Though in the third season and beyond they often would use the words 'kill' and 'death'. For the first two seasons, the reasonable substitute 'deleted' was frequently used in its place. The first two seasons used "erased" in place of death (still an appropriate term). The later seasons used "deleted" most of the time but would occasionally use "kill" and "death" when "deleted" wouldn't sound right. This is justified, because they are in a computer, and live there.
- Lampshaded in Metalocalypse where upon finding out that Pickles is dying, the band insists on using the term "Hamburger Time" when referring to death. Hilarity Ensues.
- The entire Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Gee-whiz" makes fun of this trope. A billboard for a gun show appears to show the face of Gee-whiz in the woodgrain of the gun stock. Frylock plays an informative video from "Standards and Practices" outlining what is and isn't allowed on the show so that Meatwad will understand why Frylock has to say "Gee-whiz." (Although in the end, it's not Gee-whiz, but Ted Nugent.)
- Mostly played straight in Inspector Gadget, except for a few instances such as "A killer piano", "I am offering you a life or death contract", or "When the clock strikes five, guess who won't be alive?".
- The Simpsons often parodies this:
- Parodied when a gangster expresses surprise at seeing disgraced actor Troy McClure, having believed him to be dead because his boss told him he 'sleeps with the fishes.' Turns out it wasn't a euphemism for death, but rather a euphemism for his alleged sexual fetish involving marine life.
- Ned Flanders has shown himself to be reluctant to just come out and tell Marge about Homer's "death" in the season 7 episode, "Mother Simpson":
Ned: Marge, we're here because of Homer's, you know, passing...
Ned: ...Into death...
- Also spoofed in the first act of an early Tracey Ullman Show-era short, "The Funeral." After the parents tell Bart and Lisa that their elderly uncle had passed away, Lisa asks what "passed away" means. Bart, taking sadistic glee in explaining what it means, uses various not-very-appropriate euphemisms such as "kicked the bucket," "pulled the croak chain," "had a meeting with ol' Mr. Grim," etc. When Homer scolds him for it, Bart glumly says, "That he died."
- In Baby Looney Tunes, Granny says her mom "lives a long way away now" in "Mother's Day Madness". Hmm.....
- Averted, though, in the Looney Tunes classic "What's Opera, Doc".
- Also averted in The Looney Tunes Show. Perhaps the most notable example is the episode "Muh-Muh-Muh-Murder," in which Daffy thinks Porky Pig is a serial killer and he's his next victim. There was also a scene in "Beauty School," in which Daffy thinks Tina killed her boss and admits he's considered murder to settle his disputes and offers help hiding the body.
- Deliberately averted with Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. Characters openly acknowledge corpses ("New Frontier," "Gift of Life"), fear for their lives ("One Million Emotions"), and make death threats.
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Eeyore: I'm grateful to ya' all, even if ya' almost killed me.
- When Rabbit disappears in one of Gopher's many dynamite explosions, the others look all over to see where (if anywhere) he landed and come up empty. Tigger's line: "We're just gonna have to face it. Bunny-Boy's gone." (Turned out he had grabbed onto a tree branch and was still hanging from it.)
- Averted in "Donkey for a Day".
- Anytime death would be a possibility in ¡Mucha Lucha!, the threat is instead to the removal of their mask. Fights where their masks are on the line being a big deal for luchadores is truth in television, but it gets ridiculous when the Mayincatec Slamazonians plan on sacrificing Buena Girl's mask to the gods.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! both plays it straight and averts it. MODOC is (like in an example above) changed from Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing to Mental Organism Designed Only for Conquest, and the phrase, "Destroy them all!" gets exclaimed often. But there are also several onscreen deaths (some quite brutal) and the words "kill" and "dead" are mentioned. The opening voiceover in Season 2 also calls Thor the "Prince of Thunder" rather than the God of Thunder.
- Avengers, Assemble! continues the Prince of Thunder trend, and also calls Ares the Prince of War rather than the God of War. Meanwhile, the M.O.D.O.K. situation is Lampshaded when he introduces his N.O.D.O.K.s, which he describes as:
M.O.D.O.K.: Network Operated Drones Optimized for...well, you'll find out.
- Averted in Star Trek: The Animated Series, which was not afraid to mention or show death. This became a rather large source of controversy in the episode "Yesteryear", which featured the death of Spock's childhood pet and the sadness that comes with it in a surprisingly realistic manner. What was even more shocking was that the pet was euthanized.
- In Go, Diego, Go! it's never quite said why certain animals are deathly afraid of their predators, most likely due to the show being targeted at toddlers and young children.
- Superfriends mostly played this straight:
- Subverted for one Wonder Twins story, "Drag Racing", when one boy responds to two guys who want to drag race on a city street that it's against the law and they could be killed doing it. It is also worth mentioning that Jim Craddock invokes the "land of the dead" in the story, "The Ghost."
- In "Conquerors of the Future", Superman, Green Lantern, and Flash get captured by a Giant Spider. Green Lantern's blasts and constructs just go right through the spider and its web, and he laments, "My Power Ring has no effect on this ghostly matter!" Superman goes, "If we don't think of something fast, we're going to become ghostly matter ourselves!"
- There's also a later episode (from 1985, when the show had changed its name to The Super Powers Team), flat-out titled "The Death of Superman", and, while they mostly used euphemisms like "lost" or "demise" or (most absurdly) "no longer with us", they managed to slip death-related words in a few times ("Ironic that he should die of Kryptonite while trying to find its antidote!" "From what you've told me of Superman's death, it could be very important.")
- Parodied in a Johnny Bravo episode; Johnny, as a superhero, saves a falling passenger plane... solely to eat the peanuts that fall out of it, then he tosses the plane beyond the mountains where it explodes in a fireball. Then the passengers' offscreen voices assure the viewer: "We're fine!"
- Parodied in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold adapting one of the "Bat-Manga!" comics. The short ends with villain Lord Death Man's helicopter crashing and the villain dying right there, but Robin makes mention of seeing a parachute. When the short ends, Bat-Mite mentions how silly American dubbers are.
- Parodied in the South Park episode "The Biggest Douche in the Universe." It opens with Eric Cartman being rushed to the hospital as his "condition" (Kenny's soul occupying his body) is apparently lethal. The doctor says that he's "running out of time" and, rather than mentioning any other specifics, simply runs with the concept, mentioning such things as a possible "time transplant". Subverted when Kyle and Stan go tell Chef about it and Stan says, "Cartman is in the hospital. They think he might die."
- Zig Zagged on Hey Arnold!:
- In some episodes such as "Eugene's Pet", they will go out of their way not to say "die" words, whereas in other episodes like "24 Hours to Live", they have no problem saying it loudly and often. They seem to be mostly okay with the word "kill", however, even in very serious situations like Big Bob saying "I almost killed my own daughter!" in "Arnold's Halloween".
- One interesting variation is the episode "Grandpa's Birthday." First, it's played straight when Grandpa thinks he will pass away upon turning 81 (due to an alleged family curse), using all the old euphemisms. But when learning he is okay (he made a mistake calculating the curse), he gleefully cries "I'm not going to die!"
- "Sally's Comet" has an odd instance of this at the end. The episode revolves around Gerald, Arnold, and Grandpa trying to see a comet that only passes Earth once every 70 years. Gerald mentions in 70 years he and Arnold will be viewing it again which causes Grandpa to say "Yes sir... 'Cause I won't be! I'll be, y'know". Gerald tells him "No you won't". The way Grandpa and Gerald discuss the obvious fact the former won't be around in 70 years is awkward.
- In The Jungle Movie, "died" is used exactly one time after La Sombra, the main villain, falls off a cliff to his death; several of his men are also implied to have died from booby traps, though their fate is not mentioned. One of the villains also threatens to "kill" Arnold and his group. However, like the original series, the word "dead" is avoided whenever referring to Arnold's long-lost parents, using the opposite word "alive" instead. When Arnold finally finds his parents lying motionless as victims of an ongoing sleeping sickness, he asks their friend Eduardo, "Are they...?" before he interrupts him and assures him that they are alive, just unable to wake up until they are given the cure.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, being rated TV-Y, tries to avoid mentioning death directly (although words like "dead" or "kill" are used metaphorically) and instead uses various euphemisms:
- Celestia's description of phoenix's rebirth cycle is "renew[ing] itself by shedding all its feathers and bursting into flames," not even mentioning that it requires the bird to die.
- Rarity, threatening teenage dragons that wanted to harm Spike: "I'll rip you to pieces."
- In the Book Within a Show, the villain to the protagonist, right before putting her in a Death Trap: "And now, you shall meet your doom!"
- Rainbow Dash, having her wing trapped under a boulder on the bottom of a gorge, worries aloud about being stuck there "forever."
- Rarity's character in a holiday pageant refers to freezing to death as a "horrible fate." (Although this may be justified, as it's implied that it's more of an And I Must Scream scenario.)
- Trixie, just before kicking Twilight out of town in "Magic Duel", invokes You Are Already Dead by saying "She's already gone".
- "Sleepless in Ponyville" straight-up parodies this. After hearing a Ghost Story about the Headless Horse, whose victims "were never heard from again," Scootaloo dreams she's being pursued by the Headless Horse and laments, "I'll never be heard from again! I want to be heard from!"
- In "Wonderbolts Academy", Rainbow Dash says her friends could have been "smashed to pieces" and "demolished" by a tornado caused by Lightning Dust.
- In "Ponyville Confidential", when Rarity sees Gabby Gums has written an embarrassing article about her in the school paper, she shouts "I'll DESTROY HER!"
- Rarity laments that they almost lost Pinkie Pie to her ridiculous rock pile in "Maud Pie".
- Played straight in "Princess Twilight Sparkle Part 2" when Luna says it is her duty to "destroy" Celestia. Subverted later when Fluttershy flat out says the Tree of Harmony looks like it's dying. Played straight again in the same episode, where Applejack refers to Celestia and Luna as "gone" and warns Twilight that if anything happened to her, Equestria couldn't risk "losing another princess". Rarity takes it further by not being sure that Celestia and Luna "would return" and refers to them as "absent". It's like they want to say it, but really can't.
- In "Power Ponies", the supervillain Mane-iac captures the heroes and monologues about her plan, commenting that they will live just long enough to see it come to fruition.
- Zecora tells the children to offer Nightmare Moon candy so that, "She might let us live."
- In "The Cutie Re-Mark Part 1", Twilight and Spike stumble upon Zecora, Fluttershy and Pinkie (who are fighting a guerilla war against Chrysalis' changelings in this Alternate Universe), who mistake them for for changelings in disguise, waggle spears in their faces, and grimly declare that they are to be "destroyed". The deadly implications of the euphemism are entirely obvious here.
- In "The Cutie Re-Mark Part 2", in the very same alternate reality, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack stumble into the guerilla base camp site, with Rainbow Dash claiming to have barely escaped the Changeling Attack "with their lives" They are really Changeling impostors, with "Applejack" being Queen Chrysalis herself.
- In the Season 7 episode "The Perfect Pear", we learn more about the backstory of Applejack's parents. As with all allusions to the Apple parents in the series thus far, their death is heavily implied but still never directly or explicitly confirmed. In other words, it's still an attempt at ambiguity, but fans get the general idea (and in some cases, already knew this).
- The Season 7 episode "A Health of Information" seems to be playing this straight with Mage Meadowbrook's fate, only saying she "disappeared" or "vanished without a trace", but we later find out in the series finale that this is literally what happened: she and the rest of the Pillars of Old Equestria sealed themselves along with the Pony of Shadows. The episode does play this trope straight with the effects of Swamp Fever: even though the final symptom is being turned into a tree, no-one ever says the d-word.
- In-universe example: Clay's mother Angela Puppington on Moral Orel hates words like "die" or "death" and prefers the term "passing" because she miscarried 10 times before Clay was born.
- In the Motorcity episode "Vega", after capturing Mike, Kane tells him that his "termination" is imminent.
- In Generator Rex, this usually isn't a problem. As a Cartoon Network original that isn't afraid to come up to TV-PG, "kill" and "dead" and guns that shoot bullets are A-OK. However, in "Dead Zone," there's a classic parachute moment. The bad guys (on this occasion, that's Providence Mooks under the command of a Knight Templar) are mostly on air vehicles, and apparently every single staff member on these airships wear parachutes at all times, because whenever one is destroyed, parachuted personnel can be seen dropping from it. This mostly serves to keep Rex from killing fellow good guys who just have a boss who sometimes goes too far.
- Generally averted in Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Perhaps most heart enchantingly when Razer tries to use this trope:
Hal: Where is Aia?
Razer: She's gone.
Hal: Where is she?
Razer: She's gone.
Hal: What do you mean she's gone?
Razer: She's dead! That thing killed her!
- Contrary to the film series it's based off of, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness makes frequent use of this trope, most commonly using "destroy" to replace "kill":
- An example is the episode "Master and the Panda" where the show goes to ridiculous extremes to avoid saying that Po "killed" Tai Lung, instead using the (admittedly funny) euphemism "skadooshed".
- There's a scene when Shifu's dad is being held captive by bad guys, Po says that if they don't rescue him "they're gonna hurt him until he stops breathing".
- DuckTales (1987), "Hero for Hire": Two examples from the Beagle Boys; on one occasion, one tells Launchpad that he must "be at the studio in ten minutes or [Doofus] is gonna be a pancake!" and the second time, the same one tells Doofus to "keep [his] mouth shut, or [Launchpad] gets it!". Averted in "Allowance Day", though, where Scrooge and Fenton are about to be executed by a corrupt dictator and Fenton bemoans that he's too young to die. The 2017 reboot averts this trope, as the villains always make their murderous intentions known and the main characters aren't afraid to use "die", "death", and "dead" in their conversations.
- Averted by Gravity Falls, where "die" and "dead" are almost never danced around:
- One example of many is Stan's Badass Boast in "Scaryoke":
Stan: All right, you undead jerks, you ready to die twice?!?"
- And then there's "Not What He Seems".
"Mabel, are you crazy?! We're all gonna-"
- Every so often, the show does avoid saying die... by saying something worse.
Bill: You two wait here, I've got some children I need to make into corpses!
- The Latino Spanish version of Gravity Falls is this trope, thanks to the Animation Age Ghetto in LA. Disney Channel Latin America dubbed the series changing every word for death or die using instead "end".
- One example of many is Stan's Badass Boast in "Scaryoke":
- The main characters in Toad Patrol skirt around any mention of death by having the toadlets adopt the term "toad splat", officially defined in the dvd's toadspeak dictionary as "to be crushed/fall". They even made more specific terms for other horrible fates, like "toad toast" or "boiled toad". However, it seems that the Toad Patrol themselves are the only ones really using this term; other characters more often just state the bad things that could happen, without outright stating that such bad things would result in death. Notably, there is one aversion: in "The Fairy Ring", Earth Star states that Erebus is dead, right after it is established to the audience that Erebus is just faking it to lure them over.
- This is done in Archie's Weird Mysteries when a blob monster made of tapiocca pudding is devouring everyone it can throughout Riverdale. Without ever using the d-word the episode treats it as if the victims actually are dead and the survivors prepare to blast the thing with an experimental laser. They learn just in time the victims are only trapped (but running out of air) meaning they need to quickly find a non-lethal way to dispatch it.
- Averted in Young Justice, both in comedic and serious dialogue- when characters die (or appear to), characters make it perfectly explicit in the dialogue. Online, creator Greg Wiesman actually discussed how he was able to get around this trope, specifically in the case of the episode "Failsafe", which is about an alien invasion of the Earth killing off 99% of the main-cast. He was just barely able to the get the use of the word (and the plot itself) past the censors due to a) characters in universe maintaining, for the majority of the episode, that it simply looked as though their friends had been killed, and b) it turning out to have been All Just a Dream.
- In The Super Hero Squad Show, the Executioner is known only by his real name, Skurge.
- Steven Universe has a strange history with this trope:
- In the earlier episodes, they were perfectly willing to refer to death directly, such as in the season 1 episode "Warp Tour" where Steven reflects upon his impending doom seconds before freezing to death. Sometimes it's done comedically, such as when Steven sings a cheery rock song about having watched alternate versions of himself die before his very eyes at the end of "Steven and the Stevens".
- Nobody ever describes his Missing Mom, Rose Quartz, as "dead," though they'll say she's "gone." It could be justified because she's not exactly dead - the situation is a tad more complicated. She gave up her physical form, but her gem isn't damaged, so she is technically unharmed.
- Played straight involving the word "kill" with gems in later episodes. They always use the word "shatter" instead, which is fitting since that's whats literally happening with gems to kill them. Note that in early episodes, the words "kill", "death", and "died" were used even to refer to the gems. Compare this to the 100th episode special, "Bismuth", which gives heavy focus to the morality of shattering with no use of the word "kill" in sight. It eventually turns out shattered gems aren't dead, each shard containing a fragment of consciousness. Being shattered could be considered worse than actual death, because the shards will be looking for each other and trying to put themselves back together, possibly forever.
- In later episodes, death-related terms tend to be avoided, even with the human characters. By season 3, they usually weren't even saying it as a joke, such as when Vidalia said to Greg "I WILL destroy you". In season 1, Amethyst jokingly said to Greg "I'm gonna have to KILL YOU".
- In season 5, Lars (a human, so "shattering" cannot be used to describe his fate) actually dies on-screen, and is then accidentally raised from the dead with Steven's healing powers. When this gives Lars similar traits to Lion, Steven muses that Lion must also have died and been resurrected. And yet, the entire episode contrives the dialogue to have not one character utter the words "die" or "dead". They go as far as having Lars literally say he was "away from life" when he realizes that he was resurrected. However, in his next appearance, Lars gripes out about how he "died out here" when he worries that Sadie has forgotten him.
- However, there ARE exceptions to the later episodes' general avoidance of death-related terms. The word "die" is used three times in the season 3 episode "Bubbled". But note that also in "Bubbled", when a Ruby is literally about to cut Steven's gem out with a knife, the Hurricane of Euphemisms kicks up again - "Please don't take my gem!"
- Pendleton Ward has confirmed that Finn's Hurricane of Euphemisms when discussing the mysterious death of Ghost Princess, in the Adventure Time episode "Ghost Princess", was because he wasn't allowed to use the word "murder" in the script, even though it had been used in the earlier "mystery" episodes "Mystery Train" and "The Creeps." Note that, in those episodes, no murder actually happened, while Ghost Princess is, in fact, dead. In other episodes the trope is averted.
Finn: I'LL KILL YOU!
- Arthur typically averts this trope. Most of the time the word is used metaphorically, but an early episode, "So Long, Spanky", revolved around D.W. coping with the death of her pet parakeet Spanky, and pulled absolutely no punches:
D.W.: Dad, why won't Spanky wake up?
Mr. Read: Um... I think he's dead, honey.
- Defenders of the Earth is another series which regularly uses the word "destroy" when it's clear from the context that the character using it actually means "kill". There are also a few instances of "history" being used as a euphemism for "dead".
- Averted in an episode of Caillou where Caillou and his father notice a dead bird in the backyard. It is explained to Caillou that the bird probably died because it got "too old", which results in Caillou being worried any time his family or friends make comments about getting older. The episode became one of several to be banned by PBS.
- This was averted on Dragon Tales. In "Goodbye, Little Caterpoozle," Cassie states quite clearly "She's dead!" regarding her pet, Poozie. Then, Emmy tells Quetzal that Cassie's Pooozie died. Though Poozie wasn't dead. Caterpoozle is equivalent to caterpillar— Poozie just made a cocoon and was growing into a butterfairy.
- Zigzagged in The Lion Guard. In the pilot film the former Lion Guard members are referred to as "defeated". Later the word "dead" is used when describing the gazelles the hyenas are hunting. The series itself tends to have little issue with death. One episode was even about a funeral.
- In the pilot of Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends, Miss Spider mentions that her birth mother "didn't stick around long enough to meet each other".
- Rainbow Brite used many euphemisms. Despite the characters constantly being in life-or-death situations no one used "dead", "died", etc. The closest we get is Murky saying "if she (Rainbow) wants to see them alive". The Darker and Edgier movie subverts this trope though:
"Don't you understand? Spring will never come again if something happens to Spectra. I've never been there, but it's part of me. It's part of the colors and the joy that we bring, and if Spectra dies, happiness everywhere will die. Without the light of life, we'll all... all of us will die."
- The children's educational safety video Sly Fox and Birdie averts this trope. Notably, after Sly Fox is ran over by a train, this happens:
Sly Fox: (dazed and covered in debris) If I weren't a cartoon character, I'd be dead as a doornail...
- Constantly averted in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. For instance, in one episode they openly admit that the Evil Emperor Zurg has a death ray, and aren't afraid to admit that it could kill someone. Which leads to this amusing exchange regarding said death ray.
LGM: Not death ray. Hyper death ray.
Commander Nebula: What's the difference?
LGM: More death.
Nebula: It's firing! What do we do?
- Wander over Yonder: The Big Bad Lord Hater almost always goes on about wanting to "destroy" Wander. It's presumably used because he would come off as a psychopath, rather than a Psychopathic Man Child, if he used the word "kill" or "murder". This trope is, however, otherwise averted for the most part in the series.
- Averted with regards to natural animal deaths on Wild Kratts, or at least those of insects. With accidental death or predation in the wild, references to animals avoiding death are given a pass, but if a predator successfully kills its quarry, the fate of the latter is downplayed with "got one!" or praise for its hunting powers. Played straight for human characters in danger or villains' actions against animals; in the latter case, two of the series' main villains are explicitly shown to paralyze or roboticize wildlife rather than killing anything.
- Characters on Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats commonly used euphemisms such as "pulverize" and "mertilize" in place of "kill". Cleo did provide one aversion in "The Merry Pranksters". When Leroy's assistant gets her covered in ink, she yells, "I'm gonna kill you!"
- In Elena of Avalor, Elena mentions her parents were "attacked" by Shuriki. The fact they're not present anywhere makes it clear that they were really killed. Justified in this being a Disney Junior show. Also, ghosts are called spirits and Day Of The Dead is never said in English
- Voltron: Legendary Defender: In season 1 creatures that are obviously intended to be "slaves" are only ever called "prisoners" by the script. Later seasons avert this, but there are still times when it seems like the characters are going out of their way to avoid saying anyone is "dead," or that they're planning to "kill" the enemy. They usually talk about defeating or destroying them instead. However, this also sets up one of the first twists in the series; Allura says that the black beyard was "lost with the Black Paladin," and it's only in the season finale that we find out the previous Black Paladin wasn't killed by Zarkon—he is the previous Black Paladin, he still has his beyard, and he wants his lion back.
- Since Jem averts this in its very premise, it being partially based on the death of Jerrica Benton's (of whom the title character is an alter-ego) father, presumably the writers figured they might as well not be shy about it, and freely mention death throughout the series whenever they feel it's necessary.
- Code Lyoko wavers back and forth on this trope depending on the situation and/or who's speaking, with the humans either subverting this trope or cutting themselves off and the computer virus XANA using alternate terms save for one instance, the only one where the heroes were face-to-face with him where he loudly announced "YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!" before attempting to murder them, likely messily.
- Bonkers usually avoided this trope, even going so far as to mention homicide in "The Good, The Bad, and The Kanifky", but it is played straight in "Toon for a Day" when Miranda Wright explains to Bonkers why it's a bad thing that Sergeant Grating thinks he's a toon.
Miranda: He could get hurt...permanently!
- This is usually averted in Men in Black. Some characters occasionally die (off-screen); and the words "dead", "death", and "kill" are used very often.
- Averted in Milo Murphy's Law. One notable example is when the disaster-prone title character is stuck in the Brulees' RV.
Mr. Brulee: We're going to die!
Milo: Only eventually.
- Usually averted on Kaeloo, where words like "die" and "kill" are used regularly.
- On Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, this is averted in an upcoming story, since the series tries to tackle material as honestly as possible. The upcoming television story and book Remembering Blue Fish tackles the topic of the death of a pet, specifically Daniel's favorite fish, Blue Fish. Preview images of the book show Dad Tiger telling Daniel that "I think Blue Fish is dead" and Daniel also expressing "I'm mad. I didn't want Margaret to take my picture and I didn't want Blue Fish to die."
- As mentioned above, Big Hero 6 used this trope intentionally due to the character's not wanting to discuss Tadashi's death. Its cartoon spinoff, Big Hero 6: The Series, however uses it in the traditional manner. In the pilot, they use the term "get rid of". It is ultimately Zig-Zagged a bit as the show goes on, as death words are used in casual conversation on occasion (with one episode's title also being known as "Killer App"), but very rarely in life-threatening situations.
- Played straight in the Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "Protecto 5000". The beginning of the short shows the titular robot bodyguard living through the eons with his owner, who is eventually implied to be killed when an atomic bomb goes off while the two are vacationing on an island. When Protecto 5000 later tells his story to a little girl he befriends, he states that his owner "had an accident".
- Bunnicula: The word "die" is rarely used. The ghosts on the show use other words to describe it, like a monkey astronaut who died in space saying he "failed his mission" and another ghost saying he "became a ghost".
- Averted in Ruby Gloom. The first episode has multiple instances of the word in a comedic context, as everyone is under the mistaken belief that Ruby is dead.
- According to APA Style, you NEVER use any euphemisms for death, whether while reporting general news or writing an obituary/death notice.
- This quote is popular among some computer programmers:
"C programmers never die. They are just cast into void."
- This is based on the quote, "Old soldiers don't die, they just fade away."
- This actually comes from the C language itself. When you cast off a variable, it disappears.
- There's also a variant for BASIC programmers, coupled with a subtle Take That! against the language itself:
"BASIC programmers never die. They GOSUB and don't RETURN." note
- Some gamers invert this by referring to everything that takes something out of the game as death. Even in pen-and-paper roleplaying games, it's not uncommon to hear "unconscious" referred to as "dead". This also applies to conversations regarding video games and collectible card games where defeated characters are not killed and could be revived later, such as in Pokémon (where they are consistently called "fainted" or "knocked out" and can indeed return to consciousness with ease). Even if the player is controlling a drone or other unliving object In-Universe, they're still likely to say "I died" when the thing they're controlling is wrecked.
- Poison safety information directed to children will state the side-effects of poison as being sick, as death is pretty harsh for a child. This is mostly effective, as children generally do not like being sick.
- Paul Erdos, a very famous and highly eccentric mathematician, had a very unique vocabulary, where people who stopped doing math had "died", and people who actually died had "left".
- All cadets except seniors in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets are not allowed to say the words "die" or "death." If they do and are caught doing so, they are typically forced to do push-up. However, most people are too lazy to punish anyone but a freshman.
- Real Life EMT/Paramedic training averts this. You're not supposed to use euphemisms like "passed away" or "no longer with us" when delivering the bad news to family members, as it raises stress by equivocating and hedging around the reality of a loved one's death.note
- Similarly, the children's picture book A Terrible Thing Happened notes in its Parents and Caregivers section that it's really best to avoid the use of euphemisms in real life when speaking with a child who has witnessed death or any type of traumatic event. Though it might seem comforting to adults, it's only likely to confuse the child that may already be having trouble processing their feelings about what they witnessed. Helping Children Cope With Grief, by Rosemary Wells, also specifically advises against the use of euphemisms.
- Subverted in the case of crime scene investigators, whose notes and reports are not supposed to out-and-out say "dead" in reference to a victim's body—not out of any squeamishness or sensitivities, but due to legal technicalities. Only a trained medical authority—usually the medical examiner—can legally declare death, and saying "dead body" or "corpse" or the like will result in a defense attorney challenging these statements in court as signs that you're overstepping your authority or unduly prejudiced towards the case in question (i.e. "Did you believe this case was a homicide before you could objectively determine what happened?"), putting a dent in the reliability of your testimony. Referring to someone as being deceased is therefore avoided in these contexts, unless someone with the authority to do so has already declared death, or the body is decapitated, heavily mutilated, or in an advanced enough state of decomposition that there's clearly no reason to believe the person can still be alive. Even then crime scene investigators may tend not to say "dead", to avoid forming bad habits that may lead to future slip-ups.
- Inverted in Unix/BSD/Linux operating systems: processes may be merely sleeping, defunct (aka zombies) and may be killed. For the curious, a process becomes a zombie because its parent process hasn't destroyed it properly. That's the reason why lectures about * nixes should be behind closed doors. As someone overhearing killing childs, zombies etc. might interpret it differently than the people inside (an exclusive group of people not dressing like the rest of world speaking in their language and mentioning zombies and killing children).
- When a Roman consul announced an execution, he said Vixerunt ("They have lived") or some grammatical variation on that to avoid directly mentioning death. In Latin, the perfect tense indicates that an action is now complete, so to say "Marcus Tullius Iucundus has lived" would be the equivalent of saying "Marcus Tullius Iucundus has finished his life."
- Roman Emperors were often declared gods after the end of their lives, which according to some stories led to the dying Vespasian saying "I think I am becoming a god".
- Not only are they not allowed to look at corpses, but traditional Navajos will not say dead or died. If someone died of natural causes, they "took up their living elsewhere." If they died otherwise, they "stopped moving." And it doesn't actually matter whether they're talking Navajo, English, or Spanish; this can apparently cause confusion if, say, Navajo motorists call 911 after witnessing accidents.
- The German language tends to avoid any active usage of "töten" (to kill), especially in present and future tense. Instead, the less ... determined word "umbringen" (lit. to bring down) is used (both of them are equivalents of English "to kill"). Therefore, if someone does actually use "töten" instead of "umbringen", he's damned serious - and you should better run.
- Then of course, there is a somewhat milder, less formal slang term for "umbringen", "um die Ecke bringen" ("bring someone around the corner").
- An Urban Legend regarding Disney Theme Parks is that, to protect their family-friendly image, they will not allow people to declare anyone who dies on Disney property as dead, making them take the bodies off property before they do so. This myth stems from standard medical procedures: since a person isn't usually considered dead until they're officially pronounced dead by someone who can legally do so, that means that a person won't encounter a doctor, medical examiner, etc., until they're off park grounds and in a hospital, so they won't be legally dead until then. It isn't true, though; a small number of people have in fact been declared dead on Disney property.
- A similar urban legend exists for Las Vegas casinos. They're declared dead wherever they died (and the larger Strip casinos have 10-15 deaths on property per year). It's just generally not discussed with guests and rarely receives major coverage in the news so it doesn't impact tourism.
- Yet another similar urban legend claims that nobody is allowed to be declared dead in the British Houses of Parliament, supposedly because under an ancient law anyone who was would be entitled to a state funeral. In fact, at least four people are known to have died there with no such issue: Guy Fawkes (executed), Sir Walter Raleigh (executed), Spencer Perceval (only UK Prime Minister to be assassinated in office), and Sir Alfred Billson (natural causes).
- In the most polite scenarios the Japanese word to use is "takaisuru", literally 'other-worlding'.
- On the Moth Radio Hour, an airline stewardess told an anecdote about her airline's policy on people dying during flight. Stewardesses are expected to treat them as if they're simply not feeling well because the flight will continue to its destination anyway. When the plane lands, paramedics continue the charade of removing the corpse as if it's in need of medical assistance.
- In attempt to sound more compassionate, some Czech policemen or emergency officers tend to use the phrase the person suffered (many large-scope) wounds which didn't add up with living.Czech You couldn't use a bigger pile of stiff words to say he died even if you wanted to.
- Appears to have served as a coping mechanism for most soldiers especially during 20th and 21st century wars. Diaries and poems by these soldiers will refer to their comrades as having been "zapped" or "popped" but never "killed." This ties into other coping mechanisms such as during WWI when the hands and arms of soldiers buried in trenches would continually slip out of their shallow graves during rain storms. Soldiers would often shake the dead hands or give them high fives when passing by them. All these methods served to help the soldiers mentally ignore the fact that their best friends all just died.
- "Take No Prisoners" is a euphemism for "Leave No Survivors".