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Never Say "Die"

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Deadpool: We go into that compound, find Agent McGuffin, snag the list, then unalive Taskmaster and his acolytes. Capice?
Spider-Man: Wait... "unalive" them?
Deadpool: Yeah... yeah, here's the thing. I can't really say the K-word out loud. It's a weird mental tic. (laughs) But we're going to destroy them, make them disappear, sleep with the fishes, WE'LL K-WORD THEM!
Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), "Ultimate Deadpool"

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 thusly 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 "underworlds" 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!" Doctor characters also tend to say, when a patient is dead and they're delivering the bad news, that they're "sorry" or "did all [they] could", despite the fact that in real life, doctors are required to address patients' death directly.

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." Similarly to the die and kill examples below, if a situation is serious enough in cartoons aimed at slightly older children, God's name may be used as a suitably f-bomb level expression of shock or horror. If a character is actually discussing religion in a cartoon, God's name is used with a similar level of gravitas, but may be much more frequent, or used in a genuinely cheerful context.

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.

Occasionally, shows that usually follow this rule may break it, usually to highlight the seriousness of the situation shown or discussed. Sometimes, this is used to prevent imitatable acts, in this case, a character, or a character's parent, will remark on the dangerousness of a situation a character has (just barely) extricated themselves from, often saying something like, "I'll never do that again! I could have been killed!"

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", or 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 or Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.

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, The Body Parts That Must Not Be Named, Nipple and Dimed, Nobody Poops, No Periods, Period, 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. If it involves outright Lies to Children about what really happened to Tropey, that's Dog Got Sent to a Farm.

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 place 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.

Oh, and since it's a death trope, SPOILERS AHEAD!

If you're looking for the album Never Say Die, go here.

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  • Parodied and subverted in the Rema 1000 commercial "Doffen har daua" ("Doffen has died"). When a little boy finds his goldfish Doffen dead, his mother awkwardly tries to comfort him by saying that Doffen is "a little tired", so she has to get a cup and "take him to the country" where he can learn to "take care of himself". Then the boy's older sister asks what's up, and he just says, "Doffen has died".

    Comic Books 
  • 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 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.
  • Mostly averted in Monica's Gang, especially in Bug-a-Boo stories, especially when Lady MacDeath appears. When "die" is not said, it is often for stylistically reasons, or when a more funny way to say it fits better the story. Sometimes even "kill" is said, when someone thinks a character caused the death of somebody after a catastrophic big bump or Monica hits somebody with a plush rabbit throw.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Superman:
    • 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.
    • In Supergirl story arc Starfire's Revenge, the titular queenpin mentions her conman Derek Ames, who she ordered killed, "is no longer part of our organization".
  • In the W.I.T.C.H. comic book, the rather violent death of Big Bad Nerissa is described as her being "destroyed".

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • Chapter 24 of Cellar Secrets justifies this because Satsuki wasn't sure how to explain death to Ryuuko, so she tells the latter that their dad "went up to where the stars are", keeping the point that their father is gone and won't come back. The chapter after that has her using a variant of that ("going to the sky") to explain the situation of Shiro passing away, to which Ryuuko understands and protests. Earlier, this is played with as Nui reminds Ryuuko that Ragyo is gone but she says "she passed away" instead of "she died".
  • In the Junior Officers chapter "A Pirate's Tail", it's said that the Octonauts "lost" their previous lieutenant in an accident.
  • In Lost Latte it's heavily implied the precures think Latte is dead but the words are never said.
  • In Spade of Spells (based upon The Loud House), the villain, Malcolm Hex, is teleported through a flaming portal to what is presumably Hell, but it's never mentioned directly. Lucy says that she will send Malcolm to "a place where [he] can spend the rest of eternity suffering," and he says, "You don't mean...", to which she replies, "Oh, I mean!".

    Films — Animation 
  • Averted to the 10th degree in The Bad Guys (2022) where Professor Rubert reveals himself to be the true bad guy to both a captured Mr. Wolf and Diane Foxington:
    Mr. Wolf: You little pouchy-cheaked RAT! I'LL KILL YOU! DO YOU HEAR ME?! YOU'RE DEAD!
  • In Barbie in the Pink Shoes, Kristyn's new footwear transports her into the stories of Giselle and Swan Lake as the lead characters. Her more level-headed friend Hailey reminds her she needs to return to reality lest she succumb to Odette and Giselle's fates — without cluing the kids in on the fact that both heroines typically kill themselves in most stagings.
    Hailey: If this is Giselle, you know how this story ends. Mad scene, dance dance, sword in the heart. You've got some ghosts there... wooooo. And... grave!
  • 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!
  • In Beauty and the Beast, during the scene where Gaston and Beast are fighting on the roof of the castle, the line where Gaston says "Belle is mine!" originally said "Time to die!" but was changed to the former because Disney decided the latter was too dark (even though they say, "dead" a few times and "kill" many times during the mob song). However, Gaston still can be seen mouthing the original line.
  • Though the Disney Animated Canon generally averts this trope, Big Hero 6 is one of their few films to (mostly) play it straight. However, it's played with; "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.
  • 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.
  • A Bug's Life: It is never used when the good guys are referred to (Flik asked Dim to "squish" him after he found out about the truth of the circus bugs and the grasshoppers deciding to "squish" the Queen), but the words "kill" and "die" are used in humorous contexts.
  • 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. Even Ginger brutally tells every chicken they are being set up for slaughter, Rocky takes her to a private room and calls her out for using the word. Apparently Americans care more about this trope than British do.
    Rocky: (to Ginger) Over in America, we have this rule, if you want to motivate someone: Don't mention Death.
  • 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!"
    • Averted with the Spanish dub of Coco, which is based on the Day of the Dead ("Día de Muertos"), and death is mentioned throughout the movie.
  • Initially played straight in The Incredibles as Syndrome's computer lists his test subjects as "TERMINATED". Powerfully subverted when Helen makes it very clear to her children that the bad guys will kill them if given a chance.
  • 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.
  • Laika apparently has some kind of vendetta against this trope, out of any major Western animation company in the business, they're quite possibly the least shy about dropping in references to death and murder, both for comedy and as a plot point. About the only major time the word "kill" is avoided in a Laika movie is in Coraline, where the substituted euphemism ("ate up our lives") is quite possibly worse than using "killed" (and the trope is averted later when Coraline refers to them as "the dead children").
  • The LEGO Movie:
    • Inverted in the first movie with "Come with me if you want to not-die!".
    • 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 Leader: SWAT team, stun guns at the ready!
      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.
  • In Lilo & Stitch when Stitch shows Lilo the family photo, she says to him, "That's us before it was rainy and they went for a drive." In other words, she lost her parents in a car crash when it was raining.
  • 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.
  • Moshi Monsters the Movie: When the two Team Pets are in danger of dying from hypothermia, Poppet expresses fear about them "not making it". Then, when one of them, Mr. Snoodle, falls to his apparent death, she sings sadly that he's "gone", Luvli says, "Maybe he's in a better place", and later, Poppet seems like she's going to say the D-word but backs out of it when she says, "Mr. Snoodle is ... is gone!".
  • In Return To Neverland, 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.
  • Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back: Although the de-particle-izer is a deadly weapon, the closest thing to mentioning death is Zartog threatening to "blast all the scientists into oblivion".
  • The True Story Of Humpty Dumpty has the villain Glitch the witch crash into the ground on her broom and disappear in an explosion that leaves a large hole behind. Her pet cat Scratch climbs back out during nightfall, without her, and stares back down the hole as his narration claims that she "wouldn't be around for a long long time".
  • In The Wizard of Oz, the Wizard tells Dorothy to "get rid of" and "destroy" the Wicked Witch of the West. Despite this, Dorothy is told that she "killed the Wicked Witch of the East", probably because it's accidental.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: Averted in the original as King Candy uses both "kill" and "die" in the climax. However in some dubs, like the Norwegian, his lines were changed from "'d be more fun to kill you" and "Let's watch her die together, shall we?" to "'d be more fun to get rid of you" and "Let's watch her disappear together."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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".
  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • In Paddington (2014), 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.
  • 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 Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Nuclear Man threatens Superman by saying he will hurt people if Superman doesn't tell him where Lois Lane is.
  • 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.
  • 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...
    John: ...thing?
    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.
    Morris: Good.
    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...
    John: Thing?
    Morris: Dead. [and so forth and thing...]
  • 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.

  • In "Head Above Water," Avril Lavigne says, "I'm too young to fall asleep." She started writing this song while bedridden with Lyme Disease and thought she was going to die.
  • In "United State of Pop 2012 (Shine Bright)", DJ Earworm rearranges the lyrics of Kesha's "Die Young" to avoid the mention of death:
    Let's make the most of the night
    Dancing to the beat of the drums in the sky
  • 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".
  • The Hanzel und Gretyl track SS Deathstar Supergalaktik has this in its lyrics, probably as a reference to the lightheartedness of Star Wars.
  • The heavy censorship for any lyrics relating to violence, drugs/alcohol, sex, etc. on Nickelodeon's music video channel NickMusic have led to some hilarious examples of this, including a refrain of Cloe Wilder's "I Wanna Be Alone With You" being left as "If looks could kill then I'd die".
  • The original "Baby Shark" campfire song ends with the shark eating a swimmer, who goes to heaven in some variations. Most recent renditions, including the most popular one by Pinkfong, has the sharks pursuing a school of fish who swim away and find safety.
  • Songdrops: Played with. "Die" and related words are not censored if it's played for laughs (e.g. "I Won't Give Up 'Til I Win Your Heart" has the lyric "It's too bad an ugly rat died right where the fruit was at."), but are sometimes avoided if played seriously (for instance, "Now You're Gone" implies that someone's friend is dead but they're only referred to as "gone"). "For Dad" avoids the word "Hell" via a Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion (despite referring to the place and not as an expletive), but "The Cubs Won" manages to use the phrase "Hell's frozen over".
  • The original novel that YOASOBI's "Yoru ni Kakeru" is based on is very explicit that the main character(s) committed suicide at the end of the story. "Yoru ni Kakeru" is much more covert about it, and the lyrics made no use of "die".

    Myths & Religion 
  • 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".

    Professional Wrestling 
  • At WWE Extreme Rules 2011, when John Cena announced to the crowd that Osama bin Laden had been killed, he stated that he had been "captured and compromised to a permanent end." This from a man who used to say "bitch" frequently. When he was the hero.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Kissing up to 1980s action cartoons, Cartoon Action Hour follows this trope with a capital N—unless of course, you playing The Movie.
  • 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.)
  • In an odd outlierGames Workshop is notorious for using the term "dice" instead of "die" in its Warhammer 40,000, Age of Sigmar, and all other games. However, they are fine with saying "die" in the context of death.
  • 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'"
  • 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'.
  • 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.
  • 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".

    Theme Parks 
  • Disney Theme Parks:
    • At Disney theme parks, it's mentioned that "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad" is haunted because it's built on a "sacred place" to natives. Obviously, an Indian Burial Ground.
    • In Disneyland's stage show Snow White: An Enchanting Musical, which ran at the Fantasyland Theatre from 2004 to 2006, the words "kill" and "death" were avoided as much as possible when the Queen's evil intention toward Snow White was described. Instead, terms such as "dispose of her" and "get rid of [her] once and for all" were used, in sharp contrast to the original 1937 film, where "kill" and "death" are spoken freely. Only the term "sleeping death" for the poisoned apple's effect was retained.

    • 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.
    • Justified in one particular instance when Makuta declares that he will destroy the Toa Mata while speaking to them, as he was following up on the Matoran being builders that also had the power to destroy, and then proceeding to proclaim himself as being the power of destruction incarnate.
    • 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.
  • The same thing happened with Hasbro's action figure line for Ghost Rider (2007), which changed the name of the protagonist's motorcycle from the "Hell Cycle" to the "Flame Cycle."
  • 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."
  • Tamagotchi do not die in the international versions (they do in the Japanese releases, excluding a few color-screen ones). They return to their homeworld after a time, and may leave sooner if they are not well cared for.note 
  • 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.

    Web Animation 
  • 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.
  • hololive: One of Calliope's streams reveals that she doesn't like to say "kill" and often uses "human erasure" as a substitute, though that doesn't stop her from frequently disregarding that when letting loose in a video game or particularly emotional moment.
  • 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.
  • The main RWBY show plays with this trope in a very specific way. For the most part characters won't use euphemisms, with 'die' and 'kill' being used whenever a character dies or is killed. However, whenever Summer Rose, Ruby's Missing Mom, is brought up, she's only ever described as 'gone' or 'taken'. Even though she went MIA on a mission—something all Huntresses face—this is noted as unusual by the fans. It becomes increasingly implied that she's not dead, but that the Big Bad did something to her...

  • 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.
  • Invoked in Little Robot, Big Scary World, as adorable robot BIP is in denial about death and refers to it as being asleep.

    Web Original 
  • Bored Panda censors "die" and related words, even in posts about death.
  • Casual Geographic, due to site restrictions, makes use of a wide variety of Deadly Euphemisms. Highlights include "getting a 404 on your birth certificate", "canceling your life subscription", "becoming past tense", "co-sign your obituary", "take off the census", "soul filing for divorce", "connecting to God's WiFi", and "going to the cookout in the clouds".
  • The Roleplay Rules of the LEGO Messageboards only permit a member to "defeat" another member, not kill or maim them.
  • Lampshaded in Phelous‘s review of Beauty and the Beast (Golden 1999), which has an angry mob shouting, “get the Beast” at the climax.
    Phelous: (pretending to be from the perspective of the mob) Yeah, that’s right, we’ll get him. We wouldn’t want to kill him. Save that for the hardcore Disney version.
  • The SCP Foundation is fond of various euphemisms. Terminated is the most common. The only group within the Foundation to avert this is the Ethics Committee, who never use euphemisms. The GOC, who deal with dangerous anomalies much more harshly, prefer to use "liquidated" instead, which makes them sound even colder.
  • Restrictions on TikTok have caused the verb "unalive" to enter popular slang.
  • After the Adpocalypse on YouTube, the site started to demonitize videos that did not meet their "family friendly" regulations, much to people's annoyance. This meant that their video could get demonitized just for having words in the video such as profanity or yes, words that address death such as "death" "die" or "kill". This extends to not being allowed to say the names of certain viruses and diseases. This has forced videos to not use words addressing death, rape, or similar things and find ways to work around it.


One Piece (4Kids version)

Johnny has seen Usopp's apparent death, but kids TV rules prevent the "d" word being used.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (22 votes)

Example of:

Main / NeverSayDie

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