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Stuffed into the Fridge

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"Well, there goes my appetite."

"...If my enemies knew I had someone special, they wouldn't rest until they had gotten to me through her."

A character is killed off in a particularly gruesome manner and left to be found just to offend or insult someone, or to cause someone serious anguish. The usual victims are those who matter to the hero, specifically best buddies, love interests, and sidekicks. In some cases, the doomed character may be killed by natural forces or by a character who doesn't have the intent to cause someone else angst—in this case, the intent comes solely from the writer, who wants to rouse strong emotions in another character. If the said character was killed by a villain, this guarantees to become a motivation for a Revenge plot or an immediate Roaring Rampage of Revenge.

The name of the trope comes from a storyline in Green Lantern, in which the villain Major Force leaves the corpse of Kyle Rayner's girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, literally stuffed into a refrigerator for him to find. Years later, Major Force repeated the gimmick with Kyle's mother in an oven. It was just a trick with a mannequin that time, though.


The term (sometimes formed as "fridging") was popularized by comic book writer Gail Simone through her website "Women in Refrigerators." On that site, Simone compiled a list of instances of female comic book characters who were killed off as a plot device. The term came to be used more broadly, over time, to refer to any character who is targeted by an antagonist who has them killed off, abused, raped, incapacitated, de-powered, or brainwashed for the sole purpose of affecting another character, motivating them to take action.

While it is strictly true that Tropes Are Not Bad, this one, especially as a catchphrase, is often given a very negative connotation as it is all too often a hallmark of supremely lazy writing—using the death of a character as "cheap anger" for the protagonist, and devaluing the life of that character in the process, instead of giving the villain something actually interesting to do that can involve all three characters and more emotions than simple anger and angst.


This trope appears in many media. The Throw-Away Country is an extreme example, and the Doomed Hometown is in many ways the RPG Video Game equivalent. See also Disposable Woman, I Let Gwen Stacy Die, and Finger in the Mail. Compare What Measure Is a Mook?. If it happens to multiple love interests of the same character, said character likely suffers from the Cartwright Curse. The intended effect is very much akin to Cheap Heat.

Compare Collateral Angst, a more general case where bad things happening to Character A are primarily important for their effect on Character B. Also compare Death by Origin Story. Depending on how useful/interesting the character is, and whether their death was pointless or not, can overlap with Dropped a Bridge on Him. Not to be confused with being Put on a Bus as a Human Popsicle. Also not related to Fridge Logic, Fridge Horror, or Fridge Brilliance. Also don't confuse with Locked in a Freezer or It Came from the Fridge. See Body in a Breadbox and Dead Man's Chest for other types of storing a dead body. Also compare The Murder After, when the corpse is discovered in bed.

If the love interest who gets Stuffed Into the Fridge remains relevant to the ongoing story, continuing to be loved and missed by living characters, sometimes to the point of appearing in flashbacks and dream sequences, and is the standard by which any subsequent love interests are measured by, she "graduates" to being a Lost Lenore—in quotation marks as the trope still needs to be handled with care to avoid being tasteless. The aforementioned scenario also guarantees to have the survivor becoming a Crusading Widower. Related to Men Are the Expendable Gender as that trope is part of the reason this trope applies more to women.

It should be noted that while the term most commonly applies to a male character's female love interest, it can actually be used in numerous different scenarios of both sexes and different relations from romantic, platonic and familial. The core part is that one character is killed (or at least, has something very bad happen to them) for the sake of causing emotional trauma for the target, with said victim often acting as a plot device more than a real character in the worst-case scenarios. As such, the trope is not Always Female as some would think, despite the sexist ramifications, but rather can apply to just about anyone.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: Sosuke Aizen planned to specifically invoke this, killing Ichigo's friends and leaving the corpses for Ichigo to discover. Ichigo appeared in Big Damn Heroes fashion and forcibly moved Aizen out of town.
  • Mao in Code Geass attempts a layered version of this — he goes after Shirley and Nunnally to get at Lelouch, and he's only going after Lelouch to get at C.C. (making it an example of going after a male character to get at a female character). Subverted in that he fails on all accounts, but his mind-reading powers end up revealing a rather intense secret about a different character Lelouch cares for a lot (also male), making it a lot more emotionally resonant.
    • Euphemia's death at the hands of Zero/Lelouch looks like this from Suzaku's point of view, with an extra layer of betrayal on top. In case you were wondering why he's so upset in season two. Again, this show is better than that and the truth is a lot more complicated.
    • Rolo's killing of Shirley, at least from a plot point of view serves primarily to distress Lelouch, and drive him to work towards eliminating the Geass altogether.
  • From Darker Than Black: Towards the end of the second season, Yoko, The Team Normal for the Quirky Miniboss Squad, is found horribly murdered, prompting her girlfriend Mina Hazuki to make an It's Personal-induced attempt on the life of the person they believed responsible. Thing is? She thought it was Hei. She was wrong.
  • May have happened in the movie of Neon Genesis Evangelion. After all, Shinji emerging from the ruins of NERV HQ and seeing the brutally gored and eviscerated remains of Unit 02 is part of what pushed him over the Despair Event Horizon to start Third Impact.
  • In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, a killer appears who skins women alive while recording it. This was actually a case of the trope being weaponized. The killer was a soldier who had been mentally conditioned and trained to go behind enemy lines and commit these atrocities to break the enemy's will to fight. Unfortunately, the mental damage was so great he never stopped.
  • Gundam tend to use this into varying degrees. But again, Tropes Are Tools and Yoshiyuki Tomino had a Creator Breakdown while working on several of the series he's in charge of. A very bad example which is not directed by Tomino is Mobile Suit Gundam AGE where Yurin's death in the hands of Desil Galette caused Flit into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Unknown Enemy/Vagan for the next generations.
  • Hellsing has a rare male example with Pip Bernadotte, who dies after Zorin Blitz stabs him while he's trying to carry a blind and mutilated Seras to safety. Seras breaks down in tears, and is pushed over the edge when Zorin mocks Pip's death, calling him 'a mere insect'. Seras responds by drinking his blood and becoming a fully-fledged vampire, and going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, culminating in her painting the wall with Zorin's face.
  • Subverted in Higurashi: When They Cry. After Rena beats Rina/Ritsuko to death with a metal pipe in self-defense, she's seen stuffing Rina's body into a refrigerator in the junkyard. It's subverted in that Rina's boyfriend/partner in crime Teppei never discovers her; Rena lures him out to the junkyard and hacks him to death with her billhook before that can happen.
  • Kamui Den: The rape and subsequent death for the peasant girl Mine early in the first series becomes an inciting incident for two of the major male characters to fight the oppressive powers of their feudal domain.
  • Mayonaka no X Giten Kamiya did this to his own sister, after she was murdered by someone wearing his body.
  • In the manga MPD Psycho, Amamiya Kazuhiko's multiple personality disorder is triggered when the serial killer he's tracking mutilates his girlfriend and delivers her limbless but barely alive body to the police station in an ice chest.
  • Naruto:
    • Pain attempted to invoke this trope by killing Hinata in order to anger Naruto, but it was subverted when Hinata survived (and even if she hadn't, everyone killed during the arc was revived several chapters later anyway).
    • Rin's death is what would directly motivate Obito into becoming the masked man known as Tobi. Her capture is what would inevitably lead to his "death" and land him into the clutches of Madara. Made even worse with The Reveal that the trope was deliberately invoked by Madara. He was the real mastermind behind Rin's capture and death (Kakashi being the one to actually finish her off was a bonus). The sole reason he targeted Rin was so he could drive Obito into despair and make him his pawn.
  • In Psycho-Pass:
    • Shinya Kougami's Start of Darkness and demotion to Enforcer started when he found the corpse of his Enforcer partner, Mitsuru Sasayama, dismembered and arranged in the most gruesome way.
    • After making a short cameo in Season 1, Unit 2 Inspector Risa Aoyonagi seemed to be a prominent character for Season 2. being an Action Girl and having a Sugar-and-Ice Personality most especially when she's with Ginoza. Then, she's brutally killed in Episode 4 by her own Enforcer, Teppei Sugo, who unknowningly shot her with the Assault Dominator. Her death caused Sugo to feel guilty for shooting his boss and Ginoza refuses to talk to him afterwards. But the problem is that she's only mentioned as an afterthought in the second half.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Kaoru is stabbed through the heart by Enishi and has an X-shaped scar carved onto her left cheek just as Kenshin's, and is left nailed to the dojo wall, slumped in a pool of her own blood. The gruesome display was meant to send Kenshin over the edge with grief, knowing that he failed to save his second love. It works really well. She ain't dead after all.
  • In Silent Möbius, Ganossa Maximillian takes an interest in Katsumi Liqueur, the daughter of his former master Gigelf. So he puts her and her lover Roy through hell by siccing the Lucifer Hawk Damia on Roy. Against all odds, the lovers prevail against their inhuman foe. They celebrate by making love the next morning. While Katsumi is taking a shower, Ganossa suddenly appears and disembowels Roy in an instant. Katsumi returns too late to save Roy who spends his last moments holding her hand. Through it all, Ganossa laughs and urges her to hate him with all her might. Cue massive explosion.
  • The Gung-Ho guns of Trigun are usually finished by one of their own after Vash claims a (usually circumstantial) victory. For example, this occurs in episode 16 where E.G. Mine nails two of his defeated former comrades atop a building, which Vash only notices once the blood drips onto the back of his head while walking. Mine then proceeds to refer to them as "decorations", making it obvious they were put there to set as examples for the Gung-Ho Guns' intolerance for failure.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, Rize, whose existence has no purpose other than this, as the circumstances of their disappearance sets off the entire plot and their return does nothing more than give Kaneki a necessary moment of closure which allows him to justify his pursuit of power.
  • Subverted by Shoko in Valvrave the Liberator who survives. Played Straight with Aina.
  • X/1999 has Kotori killed or beheaded (in the manga) by her own brother, Fuuma, who became a member of the Dragons of Earth after Kamui made his choice to join the Dragons of Heaven. This caused Kamui to go into Heroic BSoD until Subaru comforts him and as Kakyou and Hinoto predicted that no matter what happens, Kotori is destined to die by the time Kamui decided the fate of the world.
  • There are several instances of fridging in Yu Yu Hakusho, but one notable case is when, in a battle against Shinobu Sensui, Yusuke deliberately provokes Sensui into killing him while Kuwabara, Hiei, and Kurama watch on helplessly, with the intention that his death will cause his friends enough rage that they will be able to defeat Sensui. Later on, Yusuke is resurrected in an exponentially more powerful form. This scenario also falls under the Came Back Strong and Unstoppable Rage tropes.
  • Aika in Zetsuen no Tempest: killed off before the series begins to spur Mahiro onto his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Sort of a deconstruction; he goes to ridiculous lengths to find her killer, and is compared to Hamlet in terms of insane, violent determination. He eventually gives up on vengeance when he learns that she killed herself, even though it was partly Hakaze's fault for telling Aika about it and accidentally making her decide to set up a Stable Time Loop via suicide.
  • Gender-flipped, debatable example in Bakugan Battle Brawlers. Princess Fabia’s Fiancée was killed prior to the series by Emperor Barodius’ scientist Kazarina. This left her feeling Fantastic Racism to their entire species.

    Audio Plays 
  • Samantha from We're Alive is killed on the floor of the Arena by a sadistic zombie who "likes to play with his food." We never actually hear her dying but can only imagine how gruesome it was and it leaves Datu scarred from then on.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man provides one of the earlier examples before it was termed "fridging" — and the Trope Namer of I Let Gwen Stacy Die — is The Night Gwen Stacy Died.
    • This came about as a consequence of the Green Goblin unmasking Spider-Man (this was before Peter and Gwen even became an Official Couple) and later taking revenge for his defeats at his hands by murdering his girlfriend. It's usually seen nowadays as an Unbuilt Trope owing to the fact that it did it when it was new and unprecedented at a time when comics had really low stakes and little teeth, and because her death led to the character development of Mary Jane Watson, as it initiated her change from a seemingly superficial "party girl" to Peter's confidante and soul-mate. The long period of depression that followed proved much more enduring and one can say that Spider-Man is no longer as optimistic and self-confident as he was before Amazing Spider-Man #121.
    • In either case, Gwen is herself a Satellite Character in the story of her death, the most important woman in the story being MJ. She simply gets killed because the resurgent Goblin wanting to hurt Peter found her in his apartment and knew it would hurt him. She gets no last lines, no last words, and no closure to her own character arcs (the death of her father who she blamed Spider-Man for, the double-life of her boyfriend), and Peter keeps referring to her as "my woman" throughout the comic. So it's still essentially a classic case of fridging as was recognized and condemned even in its own time, especially when Marvel in its letters columns claimed that Gwen's death was the only way out to stop Peter and her from marrying and settling down:
    "Since they couldn’t marry Peter and Gwen, they say it was 'inescapable' — Gwen had to die. Not only is this a glaring and desperate attempt to absolve themselves of creative responsibility in the eyes of fans, it brings up an even more disturbing question: Was the writing staff so unable to think of any other potential avenues for the character’s fate? Couldn't Gwen simply have left town, met someone else, gotten a job? Since when is a brutal demise the only alternative for a female character besides marriage? The misogynistic implications of this thinking are staggering."
    Arnold T. Blumberg "Comic Book Market Place", one year after the story's publication, anticipating the common criticism about Disposable Woman.
  • Parodied in the new Ambush Bug series. Ambush Bug is shopping:
    Ambush Bug: Do you have any major appliances that don't come with a dead body in it?
    Saleslady: It's a standard feature. Have you checked out our compact fridge with built-in pygmy?
  • She's not dead, but in Batman, Hush cut out Catwoman's heart. She was somehow gotten to a machine in time. An example of an Invoked Trope, as Hush was deliberately looking for the most traumatic thing he could do to Batman. It was then subsequently subverted as when she recovered, Selina was the one who went for revenge, not Bruce. She ruined Hush, to boot.
  • Jason Todd was a prime early example of this (before they brought him back.) The joker brutally tortured and murdered him specifically to hurt Batman. Bruce installed a shrine containing Jason's costume into the batcave. With any other hero they would have eventually "gotten over it," and the shrine would have become a footnote. Bruce's entire schtick is that he can't move past tragedy to heal because it is his driving motivation. The costume sat in the cave for actual real-life decades (even after Jason's return!) as a permanent symbol of Bruce's pain and failure. This may have been more offensive if Jason Todd had been a beloved character at the time of his death.
  • Batwoman: Kate's sidekick and cousin Bette "Flamebird" Kane is brutally mauled by The Hook and left in a coma. Not only does this cause Kate more angst, it also allows the DEO to find Bette and figure out Kate's identity. Though following this incident, Bette does get an arc about her road to recovery, her subsequent training, getting her back into the fight and personally defeating The Hook herself; in the end, the maiming motivated her more than Kate.
  • Black Canary: In The Longbow Hunters, Black Canary is captured, tortured and depowered solely for the purpose of giving Green Arrow a story-arc where he angsts over killing the men who were torturing her. Interestingly, though it was to serve Green Arrow's angst, Dinah's recovery from the ordeal is given just as much focus, and one detail often forgotten is that some time after, Ollie himself ended up being kidnapped and tortured, in the same warehouse, and Dinah had to save him.
  • Since Blackest Night was about the dead returning as intelligent but soulless zombies with the intent of overwhelming and feeding on various emotional reactions, ripping each victim's heart out in the process, it was conceptually predisposed to this trope from the beginning. Several characters, both male and female, were killed just to get a rise out of other characters. The textbook example of this trope, though, was Gen, the girlfriend of Jason Rusch, who was turned to salt and had her heart ripped out (simultaneously) while Jason got a front row seat inside her killer's — a revived and powered Ronnie Raymond, a.k.a. the original Firestorm — head. On the topic of Blackest Night, Alex, the Trope Codifier as shown above, came back to life. In a fridge. A fridge with a Black Lantern Corps magnet. Alex came out of it, and Kyle found the moment a considerable step down. She also pulls Kyle and Soranik, his current girlfriend, into the fridge in an attempt to kill them.
  • During Brightest Day: Deathstroke killed Ryan Choi, the Chinese Atom. This was basically done to make Deathstroke seem more "hardcore" and provide angst and motivation for Ray Palmer, Choi's white mentor (the incident also got Giganta, whom Choi was kinda-sorta dating at the time, quite PO'ed). The resulting racial controversy was huge, and even got coverage on non-comic sites, which lead to DC retconning the incident during the New 52. Prior to the retcon, some fans had proposed the term "Minorities in Matchboxes" for this type of situation, where a character of color is killed off to provide angst for a white character.
  • In Death of the Family, Raya Vestri, one of the chessmasters during Nightwing's first story arc, ends up getting shot up full of Joker Venom and dies. Nightwing now has one more reason to be upset with Joker.
  • In the Death of the New Gods series, this happened in the first few pages to freaking Big Barda. Granted, the assassin was targeting all of the New Gods, but her death is what motivates her husband Mr. Miracle's actions, such as using the Anti-life Equation — something he once swore he would never do in the past. To add insult to injury, she was killed off-panel and left with no signs of a struggle and her body was found in — you guessed it — the kitchen.
  • Golden Glider from The Flash is a supervillain version of this; she's killed off mainly so that her brother Captain Cold can angst about it.
    • One Flash villain actually adopted this as his ethos. Hunter Zolomon, the second Zoom, came to believe that great men are defined by adversity and tragedy, and started targeting Wally West because of it. He actually caused his wife Linda to miscarry, causing Wally to give up on being The Flash for a while.
    • The first Zoom, Eobard Thawne, does this as well to Wally's predecessor, Barry Allen, by killing his wife (though she got better). He's about to do this again to his fiancee, Fiona Webb, until Barry snaps his neck. After Barry returns from the dead in Final Crisis which was orchestrated by Thawne, it's revealed in 'The Flash: Rebirth that Thawne retconned Barry's past by killing his mother and framing his father for it. And this is all because he wants to make Barry's life more miserable and to see him suffer.
  • Fray: Melaka Fray's friend, Loo, was killed by Fray's mentor, Urkonn, to give her the push to truly embrace the role of the Slayer. This is outright stated by Urkonn when she discovers this and sets him up for killing in turn, acknowledged by Fray herself just before she kills him.
  • The original incident was fueled by Executive Meddling: The scene, as originally drawn, showed Kyle Rayner's girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, completely intact, but still dead. DC editors thought this was too gruesome, so mandated a redraw, that showed the partially open door with the arm sticking out of it, suggesting dismemberment.
    • During the end of the same third volume, Kyle Rayner had a re-match with the same villain who had mutilated aforementioned girlfriend, Major Force. This villain decided to top himself by stuffing Rayner's mother into the oven. Believe it or not Major Force later played this for laughs by pointing out it was a dummy and that he 'never repeats the same trick'.
    • Sadly, Kyle's mother did not escape the metaphorical fridge in the end. Sinestro had the living virus Despotellis kill her in retaliation for Kyle branding him with a Green Lantern symbol during Green Lantern: Rebirth. Then he revealed this to Kyle to make him vulnerable to Parallax possession.
    • While this time it didn't involve actual kitchen appliances, Major Force got to do this again, killing off Arisia, former Lantern, former girlfriend of Hal Jordan and current friend of Guy Gardner, suffocating her in order to bait Gardner into a fight. The scene in which he did so earned some disgust from readers, since because of the way the panel was drawn and the powers he had, it was impossible to tell whether he'd done it just by covering her nose and mouth, or by pouring his arm down her throat. When they cross paths during the "Battle for Bludhaven" miniseries, Hal Jordan (having learned of Alexandra's fate beforehand) gives Force a taste of his own medicine by slamming an energy construct of a refrigerator onto him. Thankfully, this one got retconned into that she hadn't died but instead fell into a coma to recover as part of her race's biology.
    • Kyle even has this happen with friends. Terry Berg, his assistant, was horribly gay-bashed and beaten into a coma. Like in your standard story line of the kind, the story focused more on Kyle's angst that someone could do this to a friend of his, rather than Terry dealing with the trauma himself. He terrorizes the thugs responsible, then takes a leave of absence from Earth because he's despairing for the state of humanity, while his friend is still bedridden.
  • Green Lantern seems to be made of this:
    • John Stewart's first wife Katma Tui is killed in gruesome fashion by Star Sapphire to prove a point to Hal Jordan while she is depowered and in her kitchen!
    Katma Tui: Star Sapphire? What are you doing here?
    Star Sapphire: You're not Hal Jordan, but you were a Green Lantern. You'll do.
    • Nearly every Red Lantern seen so far had people close to them brutally murdered — the rage they felt over these deaths is what draws the red power rings to them in the first place. Among them are Vice, whose mate was eaten by Sinestro Corp member Arkillo, and Dex-Starr, a housecat from Earth whose owner was murdered by a burglar. Their leader Atrocitus has the worst case — his entire space sector, including his family, was killed by the Guardians' rogue Manhunters. His entire reason for living is to kill the Guardians. The rage that Mera felt over losing her husband (Aquaman) and her son in addition to the rest of the crap she's had to deal with over the years and her own rather short temper was strong enough to make her a deputy Red Lantern during Blackest Night. Guy Gardner briefly became a Red Lantern when Kyle Rayner was killed (he got better).
    • Notably averted by Bleez, whose entire family was killed by the Sinestro Corps. When she regained her intelligence and returned home it's revealed the reason a red ring was drawn to Bleez is because of what the Sinestros did to her, not her family, whom she actually blames for the whole ordeal in the first place.
  • The final arc of the Conner-Palmiotti Harley Quinn run has Mason Macabre, one of Harley's various love interests in the series, get his brains shot out in front of her (over a smartphone video connection) by a vengeful bad guy. This ends up eventually driving her to abandon the connections she'd made with the Coney Island community due to the painful memories.
  • As if his life wasn't terrible enough, any female close to the Incredible Hulk dies horribly or suffers some traumatic events.
    • His original love interest and later wife Betty Ross Banner had her blood tainted by the Hulk's enemy, the Abomination (she got better though) and died painfully from Gamma radiation poisoning. To twist the knife even further, she returned only to subsequently return to the grave soon after the fact. She returned again, however she has been turned into the Red She Hulk and gained an entirely new set of problems.
    • Marlo, one-time girlfriend of Hulk's 'Mr. Fixit' personality and the wife of the Hulk's erstwhile sidekick, Rick Jones was killed by a crazy woman who believed herself to be Rick's mother and then brought back to life as a mindless vegetable. She got better, though.
    • There was also Caiera from Planet Hulk, whose death fuels his rage for World War Hulk.
    • Hulk's second major love interest, Jarella (after Betty but before Caiera), likewise died by being crushed beneath a collapsing building during a fight the Hulk had with a robot drone.
  • Identity Crisis is an extended discussion of this trope.
    • It examines the emotional impact of heroes' families being at risk and getting killed. Jean's attack on Sue is expressly done to induce this reaction. And those heroes who vote to lobotomize Dr. Light are those who lost loved ones:
    • Poor Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man, got a lot of this, both in-story and out. Her mysterious murder was 1) the impetus of a company-wide Crisis Crossover in which it was revealed that she was 2) murdered by Jean Loring in a convoluted attempt to make her ex-husband The Atom/Ray Palmer love her again, and it was revealed that she was 3) raped years ago, which had provoked a number of retconned events from the DC universe's past, which were 4) used to fuel future drama and storylines in the other DC titles.
    • Tim Drake's father is a paternal example. His death is largely about making Tim an orphan, like Bruce.
  • Invincible:
    • Atom Eve appears to get fridged, but in the next issue she not only survives, but saves Invincible's life. We also have villain Powerplex who essentially does this to himself. He accidentally kills his own family while fighting Invincible.
    • Played straight with Omni-man and the bug people he settled down with after leaving Earth. His fellow Viltrumites slaughtered thousands of them to, in their own words, piss him off. To Omni-man's own surprise, it worked.
  • Iron Man: Obadiah Stane revealed that he once won a school chess tournament by killing his rival's dog and putting the corpse in the rival's school locker, so that he would be too upset to concentrate on their final match. This was the first major example of Stane's psychological warfare ... to win a chess tournament, and Stane was a child at the time.
  • In Judge Dredd, the first-shown female Judge is killed off in a few frames by a Judge-murdering gang, just to provide motivation for a male Judge (who loved her) to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and get killed. Neither were established characters. (For a long time, Judges were prohibited from having relationships for just this reason.)
  • Justice League: Cry for Justice:
    • Much like any other big event DC comic, has people dropping like flies offscreen, but the stuffee was not a woman, but a girl. Lian Harper, daughter of Roy.
    • Starman's African-American boyfriend Tony was killed (offscreen!) in the first issue, just to give him some motivation.
  • The Alan Moore story The Killing Joke, where The Joker shoots and cripples Barbara Gordon in an effort (which includes photographs of her lying naked and wounded) to drive her father insane. Moore has stated that he regrets including this, mainly because he didn't give any focus to Barbara and how she was affected.
    • Whilst The Killing Joke plays it straight as a story, this was ultimately subverted in the series as a whole as there were consequences for Barbara and the entire Bat family. Barbara's paralysis became a major part of her character and led to her becoming Oracle, and Batgirl became a Legacy Character like Robin had earlier in the decade.
  • About ten years later (real-time), the Joker repeated this in Batman: No Man's Land, with Commissioner Gordon's wife Sarah being the sacrificial lamb this time, complete with an array of cheap callbacks to The Killing Joke. Unlike with Barbara, there was no real attempt to build a legacy here, and pretty much all the writers (and characters) forget about her by the time of Infinite Crisis.
  • Continuing the tradition in the DCnU series Earth 2:
    • Alan Scott's boyfriend note  was killed in an explosion quickly after being introduced.
    • Lois Lane was killed in the backstory to the backstory, in order to give Clark some angst in his final moments (the E2 Trinity being dead by the time the new heroes emerge). This was later given an Author's Saving Throw when Tom Taylor took over as writer, and quickly revealed Lois had a Body Backup Drive as the new Red Tornado. Just to drive the point home, the Tornado body was kept in cryogenic storage, so when Lois came back to life, she stepped out of the fridge.
  • Karen Smith, the partner of the Martian Manhunter in his guise as detective John Jones, was murdered by his evil brother Malefic as part of his ongoing campaign to destroy J'onn's life. J'onn responded by throwing Malefic into the sun.
  • Mockingbird, on four occasions now. Firstly, when she's raped by Phantom Rider, which acts as something of a subversion as its her who gets the most affected by it, resulting in her killing the Phantom Rider; Hawkeye angsts about this, but only because he can't understand how he could kill someone. Later, she's killed by Mephisto, resulting in Clint falling into a downwards spiral for a while and eventually breaking up the West Coast team. After she's revived, she gets shot while on a mission with the New Avengers, all just to make the team, and Hawkeye, more angry at the villain. And then after that, she's left behind on a mission with the Secret Avengers without her memories, where she goes through Mind Rape, then gets lost during the failed rescue mission.
  • In Proposition Player, Archangel Michael arranges the gruesome deaths of several people who sold their souls to the protagonist, Andy (which forced him into said big boys' game), resulting in them materialising in his makeshift afterlife (his apartment) in the state they were killed (a pile of ashes, a guy with rebar through his head, a mangled corpse, and a pile of alligator dung — it's essentially the "default setting" for an afterlife until specified otherwise) — all as a message telling him how out of his depth he really is and how he should get out of the game while he still can. Michael and his angel-goon Bill then kidnap Andy's girlfriend (whose soul is also his property), violate and mutilate her, and then present her to him, barely still alive, with a final offer: sell the souls to them and she'll get a free ticket to Heaven with her original appearance intact, or refuse and the girl spends the rest of eternity as a mutilated freak. Andy promptly slits her throat and tells them that he intends to step up the game instead and kick them from the table. As it turns out, he had earlier changed his "afterlife presets" — people now come back looking as good as they ever did in life, although it doesn't help the already deceased — so she was perfectly okay, and safer than ever. And with a reserved spot in his new pantheon.
  • Just as the 2099 version of the Punisher was starting to get his life back together, thanks to his girlfriend Kerry, Fearmaster decided to send a message to him and turned her to glass.
  • The Malibu comics adaptation of Street Fighter has Sagat brutally kill Ken Masters and mail his bloody scalp to Ryu.
  • Superboy's first love, Tana Moon, got this treatment. To make matters even worse, the woman who killed Tana did it because she felt Superboy, as a clone of her father Cadmus director Paul Westfield, was a huge disappointment. Recent retcons show, however, that Superboy is not Westfield's clone at all, but a joint DNA clone of Supes and Lex. So Tana's death was not only nasty, brutal and ugly, but the very reason she was targeted was just dead wrong!
  • What Ever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow: A male variant with Pete Ross, stuffed in a box by The Prankster and Toyman.
  • Gail Simone, who coined the phrase (and has stated that the term has been distorted and over-applied since then) played with the trope in Wonder Woman, where Wonder Woman's best friend Etta was captured and tortured into catatonia by Genocide. She was deliberately targeted as one of Diana's loved ones, she was tortured to make the reader hate the villain even more, and she was left for Diana to find with a mocking note...all the hallmarks of a fridging except for the fact that she didn't die. Etta however, got better and was shown to be none worse for the wear in the long run, even telling Wondy not to feel guilty for what happened.
  • Played straight in Batgirl: Future's End one-shot written by Simone. Barbara Gordon's new husband is introduced and quickly killed off, spurring Barbara to go on a mission to wipe out seemingly every crime organization in the next 5 years.
  • For a gender flip, Mystique killed Ms. Marvel's boyfriend while disguised as her, in a matter that was particularly gruesome for a 70's comic (Mystique was originally a Ms. Marvel villain and was intended to be her archenemy). Due to the cancellation of Ms. Marvel's book, the issue showing that murder was only printed in the 1980s in the anthology title Marvel Super Heroes.
  • The trope is invoked, deconstructed and played straight in Y: The Last Man. In the finale, Altar murders Agent 355 because she wanted to die by a man's hands. Agent 355 is killed off unceremoniously right in front of Yorick in an attempt to motivate him to do the deed.
  • Subverted in Captain America; Sharon Carter is apparently killed stopping Arnim Zola's fortress from attacking Earth, only for it to turn out 10 issues later that she's actually been taken hostage by Zola.
  • This has happened to Wolverine a lot for a single reason; his Arch-Enemy Sabertooth. Almost every time he finds something or someone that makes him happy, Sabertooth goes out of his way to try and destroy it. Sabertooth is perfectly willing to murder people just to make Logan miserable and hurting Wolverine is the one thing that Sabertooth cares about. Part of the reason Logan tries to avoid serious romantic relationships is because of how often they end tragically. Another foe from Wolverine's Dark and Troubled Past told him that every woman Wolverine falls in love with will always be killed, either to keep him under control or drive him out of control. So basically, Wolverine is only ever given a new love interest in order to inflict this trope again.
  • Parodied/referenced in The Superior Foes of Spider-Man when Bullseye attacks Boomerang. Fred attempts to escape by convincing Bullseye it would be more dramatic to kill his girlfriend and leave him to angst about it. This attempt fails. Miserably.
  • Discussed in The Just #1, where Kyle Rayner has a traumatic flashback of his girlfriend's death at the hands of Major Disaster (Major Force in the main DC Universe). The issue even begins with Sapphire Mason, a.k.a. Megamorpho, committing suicide.
  • In A Death in the Family, Jason Todd was killed by the Joker in order to show how dangerous being a sidekick is. Batman spent the next twenty years angsting over his death. Jason later returned from the dead, furious that Batman never did anything about his murder except angst about it and replace him with another underaged human target wearing red and green.
  • Black Moon Chronicles: Feydriva, Wismerhill's first Love Interest, meets a Fate Worse than Death thanks to two demons, for no real reason save giving him a fight scene and a bout of angst. Wis gets over it pretty quickly though, and she is never mentioned again.
  • Howard Chaykin in The Shadow, Blood and Judgment begins by having the Shadow called out of retirement when his old friends are murdered one by one in lovingly detailed gruesome fashion — Mr. Marsland is dismembered and stuffed into a water cooler, Shrevvie gets his head blown off, etc. Granted that The Shadow included sadistic elements back in the old pulp magazine days, Chaykin, as Harlan Ellison points out, really enjoys jamming .45s into the mouths of terrified women, and when called out on this and other over-the-top elements in an interview, Chaykin revealed that he was trolling the fans,note  didn't give a shit about them or The Shadow, and had only done it for the money.
  • Daredevil: Guardian Devil is controversially known as the arc where Kevin Smith had Matt's longtime girlfriend Karen Page fridged because he had no idea what to do with her. Karen gets a false diagnosis of HIV, and then dies in the crossfire of a fight in a church between Matt and Bullseye. This arc is controversial enough that Deborah Ann Woll has never been subtle about giving Smith shade about his decision with Karen. Incidentally, when the Netflix show adapted this fight into season 3's storyline, it was changed to spare Karen and instead kill Father Lantom.
  • Jonathan Hickman's X-Men has the first issue of the Powers of X storyline, where in the Bad Future, the de facto protagonist Rasputin fails to save her sister Cylobel despite coming so close, making a Heroic Sacrifice by letting herself get captured. She's then hauled off to the Man-Machine Ascendancy base where she is given a very disturbing death — Cylobel is ground into femtofluid, with her organs, body and other matter will be ground into raw fluid and all her genetic data and the information in it will be uploaded via database. And she's conscious during the process. This all happens in the span of their first appearance, with this giving Rasputin more motivation to overthrow the Ascendancy.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Diana starts dating the civil rights activist Trevor Barnes the man ended up having the Shattered God sealed within him and after suffering when the thing tried to escape was killed by Zeus in order to break up the Shattered God once more, and from a narrative perspective to allow Diana some angst while grieving.

    Fan Works 
  • A Growing Affection: Itachi's wife is killed by Madara, who leaves her out for Itachi to see, claiming she was an intruder. Both of them know that is not true and the real reason Madara killed her.
  • In Circles of Power, a Harry Potter fanfic, Draco defects to the light side. In retaliation, the Death Eaters kill Draco's good friend Pansy and then break into the house where Draco has been taken in by Harry and his friends for protection, just to leave Pansy's mutilated body on Draco's bed.
  • It's kind of a Memetic Mutation in the Fire Emblem Awakening fandom to have Lon'qu fridged via being shot with arrows, in fanworks related to the Bad Future. This is because of the massive popularity of the Lon'qu x Lissa pairing, how in their supports Lon'qu does get (non-fatally) shot to protect her, and the canon fact that Lissa's husband canonly died protecting their kid Owain from arrows. Discussed here.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality:
    • Alleged to happen with Narcissa Malfoy. According to Draco, Dumbledore burned her alive as a warning to the rest of the Voldemort-supporting Malfoy family. Unreliable Narrator is in full force here.
    • Happened more directly with Hermione Granger, leading to complaints of anti-feminism on fan sites. And the narrator is reliable this time.
  • In keeping with many canon films, the James Bond Fan Film "Property of a Lady" had this happen to Bond's girlfriend as she is specifically targeted to have an effect on him. However, Bond is wise enough to call an ambulance and it’s implied she survives.
  • A rare male example in the Pokémon fanfic Symbiosis; Atsushi and her young apprentice Brittany are killed when when they get mind-controlled by a Rocket psychic to destroy Saffron. Sabrina (Atsushi's lover) swears revenge on the psychic that did this to her.
  • In Ultimate Sleepwalker: The New Dreams, Rick Sheridan's friend Cyrus is Driven to Suicide after he suffers a brutal Mind Rape at the hands of the demon Cobweb. What makes this even worse is that it becomes a twofer, as Sleepwalker is eventually forced to kill his brother N'ogskak as a result of the same plot.
  • In Straight Edge, Jack Slash killed Kiritsugu's wife just to get a reaction out of him during the Holy Grail War.
  • See the "Ode to Aeris." Also known as "Patron Saint of wannabe girlfriends that get dumped The Hard Way."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Audrey in Barton Fink. "Charlie" claims he did it because "You don't listen!"
  • In Blade: Trinity, when Sommerfield is killed by Drake and her defaced corpse is left for Abigail and Blade to find.
  • In the 1972 version of Bluebeard, the titular character (played by Richard Burton) stores the bodies of his beautiful but unfortunate previous wives in a large walk-in freezer, posing them in more or less lifelike positions.
  • In Gran Torino, Sue Lor is beaten and gang-raped, motivating Walt's Heroic Sacrifice. While she isn't killed, the previously engaging, gregarious Sue spends the rest of the film as a silent, shell-shocked victim.
  • In Hellraiser: Inferno, Detective Joseph Thorne's wife and daughter are both strung up and frozen to death by the serial killer in his home while Joseph was away. He rushes home to find their dead bodies and the killer present to taunt him.
  • Heroic Trio and its sequel suffers from the Spear Counterpart of this trope as the characters' boyfriends/husbands either get beaten up or killed.
  • Deja's death in Higher Learning is mostly about her boyfriend Malik’s reaction. After Deja is shot, Malik suffers a Heroic BSoD and runs off after her killer. Deja then dies off-screen. Her ultimate death is later confirmed by a professor … in order to once again highlight Malik's emotions.
  • James Bond:
    Darling I'm killed/ I'm in a puddle on the floor/ Waiting for you to return
  • In Kick-Ass 2, there’s both a male and female example as Colonel Stars and Stripes gets his head cut off, while the Night Bitch is almost raped and beaten up severely enough to end up in a hospital., all specifically to hurt Kick-Ass himself and other members of the Justice Forever.
    • It actually was downplayed when compared to the comic, given that the latter had Katie, who was Dave’s girlfriend instead of Night Bitch, actually raped for real and Colonel had his dog killed as well.
  • Kill Bill, the Bride severs Sofie Fatale's second arm (she lost the first earlier) and then shoves her down a hill to leave a warning for Bill.
  • One of the many, many tropes parodied in Last Action Hero.
    • This was actually criticized by the character found in such a position, and he made implications about the writers being murderers, as his Universe was as real as ours. Oddly enough, he didn't think of thanking them for creating him and his world (or not?) in the first place.
    • "So you're telling me that the only reason the love of my life was brutally murdered is because it's good storytelling?" "Psshh, you're welcome, Mr. Ungrateful Face."
  • In The Mask of Zorro, Alejandro witnesses the sacrifice and beheading of his own brother, Joaquin, by Captain Love, and later (after being trained by the elder Zorro and now disguised as a nobleman) the murder of his friend Three-Fingered Jack. Captain Love suspects that Alejandro is Joaquin's brother despite passing as a nobleman- so he displays Joaquin's severed head and Jack's mutilated hand to Alejandro to get a reaction. Alejandro calmly responds to Captain Love's prodding, but it's clear by the end of it that he's itching to kill him.
  • In one of the Dean Martin Matt Helm films, Murderer's Row, Martin, as the titular character, goes to a beautiful female agent's apartment for a rendezvous, examines the place and opens the refrigerator to find the woman's body literally stuffed into it, falling limply into his arms.
  • The end of The Public Enemy from 1931. While Tommy's family has been led to believe he's coming home, his brother answers the door face to face with his corpse, propped up like he's standing. Then it falls over the threshold, face-foreward.
  • The 2004 film version of The Punisher features a cyclical series of examples: the Big Bad blames FBI agent Frank Castle for the death of his son during one of Frank's operations, and at the urging of his hysterical wife has Frank's entire family murdered in retaliation. This motivates Frank to become the Punisher and go on a retaliatory Roaring Rampage of Revenge, during which, among other things, he kills the villain's other son and manipulates him into murdering his own wife.
  • In Road House, most badass opponent goon has his throat ripped out and is floated across the river for Big Bad to find. Best bud/mentor is killed and left on the bar for hero to find.
  • In the behind-the-scenes featurette of Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone explains that Adrian is killed off prior to the movie, because he believed that if Rocky were too content, then there would be little motivation for him to get back in the ring. Adrian’s death provides sufficient grief and rage to motivate his Hero's Journey.
  • Happens literally to Monster in Sabotage (2014).
  • In the film Se7en, the climax is an example.
  • In Shocker, the protagonist's foster family gets killed early in the movie and later his girlfriend gets killed too.
  • Star Wars:
    • In Attack of the Clones, Anakin gets to find his mother Shmi tortured to death.
    • Padme dies at the end of Revenge of the Sith, giving Anakin a lot to angst about (not helped by the fact that he killed her himself). Complaints about the nature of her death aside, the actual death didn't get many complaints, since no one expected her to survive the prequel trilogy.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: The Dark World: Frigga is murdered in order to make the stakes personal for Thor and Loki.
    • Avengers: Infinity War:
      • As a Rare Male Example, Loki himself is murdered within the first ten minutes to fuel Thor's pain and anger for the rest of the story.
      • Gamora is sacrificed for the Soul Stone by Thanos. Her death looms over Thanos, and is used as a plot point for Star-Lord when he learns of this, and enraged, hits Thanos enough to break him free before the others could secure the Gauntlet. Thanos also sees a vision of Gamora when all is said and done, asking if if it was worth it. Furthermore, she's Killed Off for Real, with the Gamora appearing in Endgame afterwards being an Alternate Self.
      • Vision is another Rare Male Example, and to a female character no less. He dies at the hands of Thanos in the end, and becomes a Forgotten Fallen Friend by Endgame. The only one who mentions him (and not even by name) is his lover, Scarlet Witch, who is enraged that Thanos took everything she loves.
  • Something like this occurred in 300, in which the main heroes discover a village pinned to a tree (or possibly nailed together in the shape of a tree) due to the ruthless and barbaric nature of the opposing army. The Spartans return the favor.
  • In the film Tombstone, the villain Johnny Ringo tempts the heroes into a duel by torturing and killing one of the protagonists and sending his body to the heroes.
  • Gisele in Fast & Furious 6, since they decided to use the character of Han, who died in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, in later films, they needed a reason for him to move to Tokyo.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Invoked when Victor kills Kayla Silverfox and leaves her for Logan to find; as Stryker hoped, her death inspires Logan to go through the adamantium-bonding process. It's later revealed that Victor didn't actually kill her, and Silverfox herself was in on it all along because Stryker had her sister. By the time she actually does die at the end of the film, any impact of her death is rendered moot when Logan loses his memories.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Except for Havok, all of the mutants introduced in X-Men: First Class are dead — killed and studied by Trask at some point between films.
      • A case of Shoo Out the Clowns as well. While not exactly humorous, First Class is still the most lighthearted X-Men movie and the characters killed — Emma Frost, Angel Salvatore, Banshee, and Azazel — represent its campier tone. Seeing their autopsy photos drives the point home with a sledgehammer, especially since Banshee was most likely still a teenager.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: In a Rare Male Example, Alex Summers dies to kick-start his younger brother's Scott Character Development.
    • Deadpool 2: Vanessa is killed early on in the film by one of Deadpool's targets, who had managed to escape previously. It's played uncharacteristically seriously, and the opening credits yell at the writers for doing it. It is then full-on subverted by the end of the film, where Deadpool gets his hands on a time travel device, and he then uses it to go back in time and undo Vanessa's death by the movie's mid-credits scenes.
  • Lenore in the opening sequence of Taken 3, thanks to her new husband getting mixed up with some very bad people. What's especially nasty is that, given the series' role as an escapist fantasy for grumpy middle-aged men whose wives left them, it can easily come off as being what she "deserved" for not hooking back up with Bryan.
  • In The Dark Knight, Rachel is tied to a chair and blown up. Rachel's death serves to drive angst from Bruce AND Harvey Dent, and the last act of the film largely revolves around the different directions they take under the circumstances.
  • A heroic (and fraternal) version in Die Hard. The first terrorist that McClane kills is Tony, who is the younger brother of Karl, The Dragon. This informs the nature of their conflict for the rest of the film.
  • In Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die, the beautiful and voluptuous Mira Svodova (Barbara Bach) is killed via drugs in an occult club and later stuffed naked in the fridge by them in his boyfriend's house.
  • In Cop, the LAPD detective protagonist has been visiting an ex-actress turned prostitute who is connected to a murder case he was working on. Later, after it's become clear that he's dealing with a serial killer who knows that he's on to him, the latter murders the prostitute and leaves her mutilated corpse behind for him to find.
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising: Despite being one of the leads of the first movie with her own arc and identity, Mako Mori is killed off early in the sequel just to provide motivation for the new protagonist, Jake Pentecost, to rejoin the PPDC.

  • In the ninth Alex Rider book, Scorpia Rising — which, when it was written, was intended to be the last book in the series — Alex and Jack are both captured by the Big Bad, Razim, a sociopathic ex-terrorist who has become a member of the series' recurring Nebulous Evil Organisation Scorpia. Razim is fascinated by pain, and conducts extensive experiments in the hope of developing a precise measurement for it. To this end, he subjects Alex and Jack to such an experiment: he gives Jack a stage-managed opportunity to escape that actually leads her into a deathtrap whilst Alex is forced to watch. It has nothing to do with his Evil Plan at all, he simply wants to see how much it hurts Alex. (When Horowitz decided to revive the series a few years later, he decided to retcon in Jack's survival, although it is absolutely clear that at the time her death was meant to be real.)
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The first book has a rare example of the sexes being switched for this one — Khal Drogo's fatal injury and subsequent death are all to motivate Daenerys to take her next level in badass.
    • Later on, Lady Hornwood was married to Ramsay Bolton for politics, then promptly shut in a tower and left to die. She was found with her own fingers gnawed off in hunger and desperation. Her cousin Wyman Manderley was not pleased and is now plotting his revenge against House Bolton. Manderley is also taking revenge against House Frey, who had allied with House Bolton, to take down the Starks, the banner-lords for Houses Bolton and Manderley. Also, Wyman's son Wendel was killed at The Red Wedding.
    • Both Eddard and Septa Mordane's heads are displayed on the Red Keep's walls by Joffrey to traumatize Sansa.
    • In Tyrion's backstory, Tysha is an example of this, especially after he finds out she really did love him. Shae is also an example, except instead of her being killed to cause Tyrion angst, Tyrion kills her to show that he's fallen off the deep end.
  • The entire plot of The Count of Monte Cristo is Edmond Dantes doing this to the people who betrayed him and had him imprisoned, culminating in an Aesop about how revenge ultimately corrupts one's soul.
  • Charlie Parker's wife and child are murdered by a serial killer and left in the kitchen of his house for him to find in John Connolly's Every Dead Thing.
    • Connolly tends to use women like that. In Dark Hollow, Charlie Parker is motivated by the gory death of Billy Purdue's wife and son.
    • In The Killing Kind, Charlie Parker's ex-girlfriend is found killed and he is hired to find out what happened. He is later effectively fired but ultimately chooses to continue the job so he can bring some justice to Grace Peltier and the rest of the Aroostok Baptists.
  • In Leon Uris' Exodus, a story about the founding of Israel, the lover of a main character is kidnapped, raped dozens of times, and dumped in pieces near her home.
  • In Firestarter, Vicky is murdered and stuffed behind the ironing board.
  • A rare "heroic" example occurs in the Guardians of the Flame series. The heroes adopt the habit of mutilating the bodies of slavers they kill in humiliating ways, then leaving them for other slavers to find as a warning.
    • There's also the backstory about Barons Nerahan and Arondael during the Holtun-Bieme war: Nerahan captured Arondael's son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren during his siege of Arondael's castle, had them all gang-raped by his soldiers in sight of the castle, then catapulted them over the walls one at a time, in a failed effort to goad Arondael's garrison into a suicidal sortie against the much larger besieging force. Due to the general amnesty that ended the war, Nerahan is still alive and ruling his barony years later; Emperor Karl reflects that he'd love an excuse to depose and execute the baron, but that Nerahan is too canny ever to give him one.
  • In Leo Tolstoy's novelette Hadji Murat, the reader is first aware of the death of Hadji Murat when someone shows off his head in a sack. This rather brilliantly makes a death that for the history savvy reader is inevitable something rather shocking and horrifying, just as it is to the characters in the story, who do not have the benefit of hindsight.
  • Tim Rackley's young daughter, Ginny, is raped and cut up, leading to the Deputy Sheriff to go on a mad rampage in Gregg Hurwitz's The Kill Clause.
  • Quite early on in the first book of The Last Werewolf trilogy, the title character finds his long-time human companion's severed head in a bag in the boot of his car.
  • In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Capa Barsavi's daughter was killed by the Grey King and sent back to him in a barrel of horse urine.
  • In the climax of Lord of the Clans, Blackmoore hurls the head of Thrall's human surrogate sister at his feet when the Orcs besiege his castle, trying to break his spirit. Unfortunately for him, Orcs do not work that way.
  • In Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp series about an elite counterterrorism agent, the protagonist's backstory includes a tale of his high school sweetheart dying in a terrorist bombing as the impetus for his career. Aside from a couple of prequel books, her character is rarely mentioned outside her death and the role it played in enlisting the protagonist into the murky world of espionage and black ops.
  • In Masques, there is a little girl the only little girl who is named, the other kids are all boys whose sole purpose in the narrative is to do something so incredibly stupid that it is not even believable considering that she's little more than a toddler, and, as direct result, get slaughtered by the monsters just so that the protagonist can ride after her, endanger herself, and be taken prisoner by the bad guys.
  • In the backstory of Sword of Truth, this happens to Zedd's wife. She's viciously beaten and raped by D'Haran soldiers, and just to twist the knife in further, she's left for Zedd to find. Zedd, being a Wizard of the First Order, naturally attempts to heal her, only to find that doing so sets off a trap spell designed to kill her painfully in response to any magical healing. Ouch.
    • Richard finds Kahlan like this. People stop him from healing her for that reason. It takes her months to get better.
    • Richard does this with Brother Narev for Jagang to find, and then later has this done with all of the Fellowship
  • In Twilight, James attempted this trope, videotaping him torturing and killing Bella to make Edward seek revenge and start a "game" with him. Lucky for Bella, Edward was fast enough to avert it.
  • In Villains Inc. (sequel to Wearing the Cape), this is played with. Early on, Astra is presented with a superhuman murder where the victim was reduced to soup-in-a-box. Then she learns that Blackstone, one of her teammates and mentors, was killed in the same fashion in a potential future. The threat is very motivating.
  • In Without Remorse, Pamela escaped from a gang of drug traffickers/pimps and becomes Kelly's girlfriend. Her brutal rape/torture/murder when she is recaptured inspires Kelly to use his SEAL training to coldly murder the entire gang over the course of the novel.
  • In a rare example from Council Wars, Dionys McCanock decides against slitting Daneh's throat post-rape, just so she can go tell Edmund what was done to her.
  • Gender-Flipped in Frostbite. Mason Ashford suffers a Neck Snap from Isaiah the Strigoi, sending Rose into a Heroic BSoD.

  • Cover art for a reprint of Richard Brautigan's noir fantasy Dreaming Of Babylon has detective C. Card discovering a refrigerator from which a woman's shapely foot is protruding.
  • Deconstructed and parodied in The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente, which focuses on the afterlife of six women who were (thinly disguised) famous female characters from superhero comics who have all suffered in gender-stereotypical ways. (Paige Embry is Gwen Stacy, etc.) The final story directly deals with this trope, parodying the trope-naming Alexandra De Witt example from Green Lantern.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 19-2: In the English version, Amelie's death's sole purpose is to create angst and sow a rift between her lover, Ben, and her brother, Nick.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • Skye's mother, Jiaying, was brutally vivisected and tossed aside like trash for her husband, Cal, to find. This got very few accusations of sexism, likely because it was a backstory event; we already knew the man was crazy, this just helped explain why. Subverted further when she turns up alive (Cal stitched her back together and let her Healing Factor do the rest), and subverted even further when she turns into the Big Bad of the season, and has to be killed by Cal while she's draining the life from their daughter. Cal says that she always had a kind and compassionate heart. Unfortunately, it wasn't fixed when he stitched her back up.
    • Rosalind Price is a straight example, killed off unceremoniously just one episode after she was finally confirmed to be one of the good guys. She was killed partly to keep her from spying on the villains, but also to motivate Coulson to take risks to get revenge on her killer. It was a case of Real Life Writes the Plot as Constance Zimmer no longer had time for the show, but many fans argued she could have at least done a Heroic Sacrifice rather than being randomly taken out by a sniper.
  • Airwolf: Done by Moffat in the pilot episode. Whether pissing off Stringfellow Hawke was the intent or not, it certainly had that effect, leaving Moffat with a life expectancy only slightly longer than the series Theme Tune.
  • Altered Carbon: The entire Garcia family and other members of Kovacs' "pack" are massacred by the Ghostwalker because Rei was a sociopath that didn't liked her brother having anybody but her in their lives (sure, there's also an "eye for an eye" element because Garcia is investigating her actions, but this is her primary reason. Even when Kovacs actually tries to ask her to stop and bargain that he will stay with her if she doesn't, she invokes "They Were Holding You Back" to carry on). Kovacs and the rest get pissed as a result.
  • While Steve Rogers was previously refrigerated to further his own plot, Agent Carter takes that set-up and runs with it, with love interest and usual fridge target Peggy Carter becoming the hero of her own story. From her perspective, Steve was absolutely fridged, and she feels guilty for not saving him. But just to be safe, Peggy's roommate is also fridged in her second scene, shot in the head by an assassin while Peggy was trying to defuse a bomb. Her death causes Peggy to distance herself from Jarvis and Angie, believing she can only get the people she loves killed, a thought backed up by the fact her brother died in the war after attempting to recruit her into intelligence.
  • Alias: Male example: Sydney Bristow's original fiancé. She found him in the tub with his throat slit, after which she turned on her evil employers.
  • Arrow:
    • Shado is killed off when Oliver jumps in front of Sara during a sadistic choice by Ivo, sending both him and Slade into an emotional spiral. note 
    • Slade Wilson offs Moira Queen, Oliver's mother, in much the same way Shado was killed, thereby upholding his promise to make Oliver suffer.
    • In "Eleven Fifty-Nine" Damien Darhk fatally stabs Laurel Lance because he made a promise to her father that if he had betrayed him, he would kill his daughter. This then leads Oliver to kill Damien in "Schism".
  • Bitten:
    • A male example occurs in the season one finale. The episode concludes with the Daniel Santos's Mutt rebellion threat supposedly neutralized, only to reveal that Daniel Santos was not actually the mastermind of the uprisings—the real mastermind, Malcolm Danvers, is still at large, and has sent Elena Michaels a "declaration of war" in the form of her human lover Philip's severed head, left sitting on her bed in the Danvers mansion. In this case, Philip's gruesome death serves as a motivator for the pack to hunt down Malcolm, particularly Elena—for whom the fight turns very personal.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • In the first season, Jimmy Darmody gets embroiled in a war with Irish mobsters. One of them scars the face of his mistress as a means of getting back at him. This would be a non-fatal example of the trope, but she eventually commits suicide, so it's an indirectly fatal example.
    • Nucky sends Owen to kill Joe Masseria, and we don't see him again until Masseria mails his bloodied body back to Nucky in a crate. The hit was already doomed to fail since Masseria didn't die until 1931. The twist comes in the fact that Nucky's relationship with Owen was merely professional, so he is not nearly as devastated as his wife, Margaret, who was having an affair and planning to run away with Owen.
    • Jimmy's wife Angela AND her girlfriend Louise are murdered by Manny Horowitz, though the latter was an accident; he was looking for Jimmy and was shocked to find Angela with someone else. He then deliberately kills Angela, however, telling her that "[her] husband did this to [her]." A somewhat odd example in that Word of God stated that it did indeed serve to further Jimmy's plotline: it was a large part of his motivation to basically admit defeat and allow Nucky to kill him, which he did just a few episodes later.
    • Season three keeps it up when Billie Kent is killed in an explosion planned by Gyp Rosetti as part of his ongoing feud with Nucky. And it's never really confirmed in-universe, but it seems that Babette also died in that same incident.
    • Season 4: Chalky's daughter Maybelle is accidentally killed by Richard, of all people, during his One Last Job before escaping Atlantic City for good to be with his family. Much like with Angela and Jimmy, this leads to Richard being shot and dying as well.
  • In Season 5 of Breaking Bad, Jesse's love interest, Andrea, is shot in the back of the head by Todd as punishment for Jesse trying to escape his slavery at the meth lab. Andrea also has a son, and Todd's group threaten to kill him as well if Jesse tries to escape again.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Angelus, the demonic alter ego of Angel, kills Rupert Giles's girlfriend, Jenny Calendar, and leaves her in her lover's bedroom, complete with a trail of rose petals and champagne to make the character believe he's in for a romantic rendezvous. However, it is not a straight example of this trope. Although the circumstances behind the way her body is discovered draw from it, she was actually killed because she was researching a magic spell that could stop Angelus's plans.
      • The straight example happens earlier in the episode as Angelus killed Willow's fish and deliberately left them in an envelope for her to find, just to let her know that he was in her bedroom.
    • Drusilla was deliberately driven mad by Angel's torture and murder of her family and friends. He also leaves Buffy a sketch he made of Joyce in her sleep, telling Buffy that he planned to stuff her into a fridge as well (she stopped this). And then at some point in the past there was the puppy...
    • Tara in Season 6, her death occuring for the sole purpose of pushing Willow over the edge and transforming her into Dark Willow, the season's Big Bad.
  • Burn Notice: Michael sometimes invokes this trope when he needs to convince the target that his persona of the week gets off on this sort of thing. Since it's an illusion and the "victim" is either Fiona or his current client, the dirty deed is merely implied rather than shown explicitly.
  • Chicago Fire: Shay's death seems only serve as emotional pain/drama for Severide and Dawson.
  • In another MCU example, Cloak & Dagger (2018) plays the trope as literally straight as one could imagine (most likely a Shout-Out to the trope's origin in comics), but flips the gender, when Detective O'Reilly's boyfriend Officer Fuchs is brutally killed and shoved in his refrigerator, apparently in retaliation for putting away the crooked Detective Conners. Naturally, O'Reilly finds him when she shows up to his apartment expecting "girlfriend pancakes."
  • Criminal Minds has an especially dark example in which a man gets Forced to Watch as thugs murder his pregnant fiancé before beating him and leaving him for dead. Instead of making him just more motivated or somewhat darker, it causes an outright psychotic break, resulting in him running around killing the perps in horrendously violent ways. The victim was also a relatively famous up-and-coming comic book artist/writer; after his break, he switched to a Darker and Edgier new comic depicting his violent revenge on the thugs.
    • It also has another example in "100", when the Reaper/George Foyet kills Haley Hotchner. Foyet, after stabbing Hotch and spending months stalking him and his family, lures Haley and Jack out from protective custody, and forces her to say goodbye to Hotch over the phone. He draws it out, taunting Hotch and telling him he's going to kill his son as soon as he's done with Haley. He shoots Haley, leaving her body on the floor of the Hotchner's old bedroom. Hotch goes off the rails, beating Foyet to death with his bare hands. Haley's death is absolutely a fridging, done explicitly to cause Hotch pain and further used within the narrative to provide more angst for Hotch's decision about whether or not to leave the BAU.
    • Season 7 has a particularly blatant example of this when Rossi's first ex-wife reappears in one episode, and commits suicide at the end of the next episode in order to avoid the painful degeneration and death she would have faced from ALS. Her second episode ends on a shot of her grave and, for added angst, she's buried next to her and Rossi's stillborn son. Though she did ask him to help her if it got to the point where she couldn't do it herself.
    • Season 8 takes it even further, when the first on-screen appearance of Reid's long-distance girlfriend — and for them — their first meeting in the flesh — is also their last, as she is kidnapped and killed by her female stalker in a murder-suicide while Reid watches. Particularly irritating as she seemed like she could have developed into a fantastic character in her own right, and only served to provide more emotional angst for Reid. Another almost comical example is the murder of Section Chief Erin Strauss, comical because it happens in the same episode she and Rossi are revealed to have developed a romantic relationship... and his grief and self-blame for not saving her are given much focus. Made more egregious by the fact that her replacement in the BAU is male.
  • In CSI: NY, the team found their former colleague Aiden as a charred body, though they only knew it was her after reconstruction.
  • In Damages, a similar thing happened in the first season to David, Ellen's boyfriend. And guess what Ellen did against her boss Patty Hewes in Season 2…
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Wilson Fisk is having troubles with Matt interfering in his partnerships with the Hand and the Russians. In the midst of a falling out with Nobu, Fisk decides to take two birds out in one stone: he has a junkie kill Elena Cardenas, an elderly woman who Matt and Foggy are representing in a tenency dispute against Fisk. As he predicts, Matt will be outraged enough to come for him, just like the Russians had earlier kidnapped a young boy to use as bait for Matt. Meanwhile, Nobu wants to get rid of Matt because of his and Stick's interference at the docks, so he ambushes Matt when Matt arrives at the dockhouse looking for Fisk. The fight ends with Nobu burning alive, and Matt taking a second beating from Fisk, and then escaping as James Wesley and Francis shoot at him. This sidelines Matt temporarily, while with Elena dead, Fisk is able to give her tenement to the Hand so they can construct Midland Circle Financial.
    • In a subversion, season 3 of the show features the "Guardian Devil" church fight between Matt and Bullseye from the comics. But the moment where it looks like Karen is going to die like she dies in the comics is the subversion as when Dex throws the baton, it instead hits and kills Father Lantom. Instead, Karen survives the fight, even giving the finishing move against Dex to stop him from finishing off an overpowered Matt, and the scene ends with her crying over an unconscious Matt. The camera is positioned so that the shot is framed exactly like the panel where Karen takes her last breath, only with Matt and Karen being switched.
    • There's also a straight example in season 3. Fisk has Julie killed to destabilize Dex and firm up his loyalty to Fisk. A particularly blatant example given her brief screen presence and Dex later finding her body in an actual walk-in freezer, as well as those of the two hitmen that had killed her.
  • Dexter:
    • Season 1 is a play on this trope. The "Ice Truck Killer" tries to get the interest of Dexter by brutally murdering people, knowing that he will not get mad about it. He puts most of his victims "on ice" and puts a dismembered doll into Dexter's fridge as a clue. It turns out both Dexter and the killer (his brother) were turned into what they are by witnessing the brutal murder of their mother and being left in the container in inch-deep blood for days. In the final episode the trope is inverted when the killer tries to kill Dexter's adoptive sister, which he thinks would reunite the brothers for good.
    • In the fourth season, Dexter comes home after killing the Trinity Killer only to find his wife, Rita, another victim of Arthur's. Unlike most examples, this is, to a great extent, Dexter's own fault rather than a misfortune to turn him into a woobie. While Arthur killed her, he was only able to do so because Dexter deliberately protected him from arrest to have the satisfaction of playing with him a bit more.
    • In season seven, Dexter becomes the perpetrator of this trope when he kills Viktor, a Russian gangster who murdered a stripper and a police officer. Viktor was the lover of Isaac Sirko and Isaac vows revenge. Isaac is particularly enraged by the casual way Dexter killed Viktor and then disposed of his body.
  • Diagnosis: Murder: This was done very frequently. Any time some relative or old friend of Dr Sloan turned up, odds were that that person would be the victim of the week (unless he/she turned out to be the villain of the week). In one episode, Dr Sloan's son-in-law was murdered offscreen and stuffed in his car. It later turned out the entire town was involved, to some degree, in the murder or the cover-up.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Terror of the Autons", the Master kills a scientist by shrinking him, and then makes a point of stuffing the tiny body in the scientist's lunchbox for the Doctor to find later.
    • Peri in "Mindwarp", the first time a female companion had been killed off since the William Hartnell era. After several serials of her being objectified and abused in a kinky sort of way by every villain, she gets a Traumatic Haircut, a Mind Rape and is murdered, her brain is physically removed and replaced with that of a foul sluglike anarcho-capitalist baddie. Then her possessed body is killed by a warrior king who had fallen in love with her. ...Well, apart from that nonsensical last-minute ending that reveals this was actually a fabrication and she decided to stay and get married to the king, which was added at the last minute when the producer got cold feet about killing her off.
    • In "Death in Heaven" Osgood was killed by the Master purely because a) The Doctor liked her and b) Steven Moffat wanted to show that The Master was still evil even though she was a woman. He admitted saying “Osgood was the one we flung on the fire to make the Master burn brighter.” Luckily, it was later revealed that either the original Osgood or her Zygon double was still alive, and she refused on principle to explain which one she was. The same story ends with another Osgood duplicate being created, as well.
    • The Cliffhanger of "World Enough and Time". Bill Potts is converted into a Mondasian Cyberman thanks to the Harold Saxon Master stepping in just before the Doctor was arriving to rescue them. This is specifically done by Harold Saxon Master in order to not only enrage and anguish the Doctor but also to encourage Saxon's future self, Missy, not to go through with her Heel–Face Turn, since the Doctor will resent her for this even if she doesn't remember doing it. However, the episode that follows, "The Doctor Falls", puts a major twist on the matter to stand the trope on its head: Bill still has her identity and the episode focuses more on her struggle than the Doctor's guilt; she and he end up making a Last Stand against the other Cybermen. And thanks to her now-partially alien soulmate returning to her afterward, Bill is freed of her Cyber-body and goes on to Ascend To A Higher Plane of Existence — free and happy.
    • Kira's death in "Kerblam!" is a rare instance of this being done to provoke the villain, by the Kerblam! computer system in order to disssuade him from the similar murders he is committing. It doesn't work, though. This drew some criticism from those less favourably inclined to the episode.
  • Dollhouse:
    • Subverted Trope. It looks like Adelle's going to do this to Paul's new girlfriend, Mellie, when she sends Hearns (who's also a serial rapist) to kill her. Except it turns out Mellie is a Doll programmed as an assassin, who kills Hearns instead. Sends the same message and gets rid of a rather nasty employee, too.
  • Elementary: Sets this up and makes it a Deconstructed Trope. Early in the series, we learn that Sherlock's dead love interest Irene was murdered by Moriarty, causing him to spiral into drugs, overdose, and land himself in rehab. In the finale, Irene is Moriarty, and was deliberately exploiting this for all it was worth. Sherlock had foiled several of her plans in London, so Moriarty became Irene and set up a Honey Trap. Then she then faked her own murder so that Sherlock's guilt would incapacitate him and distract him from her actual business. It works.
  • The Escape Artist: Kate, Will's wife, is killed in the first episode to set up the rest of the plot.
  • The Flash:
    • The third season invokes this. The Bad Future is created when Savitar stabs Iris West in front of her boyfriend Barry Allen/The Flash. What follows are years of fruitless attempts to kill Savitar as his family and social life falls to ruins. However, Iris manages to subvert this by shooting Savitar dead after his first attempt on her life is foiled.
    • In Season 4, a metahuman character named Izzy Bowin is introduced, and she appears to be a potential love interest for Elongated Man. In the same episode she is introduced, Clifford DeVoe gets to her and erases her mind, taking over her body and effectively killing her, all while Elongated Man and The Flash are Forced to Watch. Some people accused the show of sexism due to the horrific brutality and pointlessness of the character's death, and expressed hope for the character's eventual revival, and others have taken it as a sign of the show's Seasonal Rot.
  • Game of Thrones plays with this trope a lot.
    • Played straight with (in the traditional "woman dies for man's angst" sense) in the cases of Ygritte for Jon Snow, and in the back story Tywin Lannister's wife Johanna, who, while not brutally murdered, seems to be dead for the sole purpose of justifying Tywin hating his son, Tyrion.
    • Inverted (Man dies for woman) with Khal Drogo and Daenerys since his death inspires her to get revenge not only on the woman who killed him but to also conquer the known world. Also the death of Ned Stark pretty much tips off a whole world of character development for his wife and all his children.
    • Subverted with The Red Wedding. To those unfamiliar with the books, the brutal murder of the newly pregnant Talisa Stark would seem to be this for her husband Robb, except he too is brutally murdered minutes later. Which itself could have looked like this for his mother Catelyn but she doesn't survive the attack either. One other subversion, before Catelyn is killed, she threatens the young wife of Walder Frey (one of the orchestrators of the massacre. Unfortunately for Walder's young wife, Walder doesn't really care about her, even after Cat kills her.
    • Played with again in the sixth season finale. The explosion of the sept kills Margaery, which would devastate Tommen for years to come — oops, he crossed the Despair Event Horizon instead and walked out his window. Thus, Tommen's death is played ramrod straight for Cersei, shattering her emotionally, which is shown when she sits on the Iron throne as Queen at the end. At the moment of her greatest triumph and the height of her power, she looks absolutely dead inside.
    • Prior to Jon and Ramsay's battle over Winterfell, Ramsay releases Rickon and plays a "game" with him. He tells Rickon to run across the battlefield to his brother Jon, who rushes forward to save Rickon, and as Rickon flees, Ramsay fires arrows at him. He misses deliberately until Rickon is mere feet from Jon, at which point Ramsay kills him. Rickon's death ends up serving no purpose but to cause Jon pain and give him another reason to hate Ramsay. Indeed, he has no lines at all in Season 6.
    • In the middle of Season 8, Daenerys is set to conquer King's Landing from Cersei except she and her forces are ambushed by the Iron Fleet and Euron Greyjoy slays one of her two surviving dragons, Rhaegal. Then, her best friend, Missandei, gets captured by Euron and Cersei uses her as a hostage to force Daenerys down. After negotiations failed, Cersei has Gregor Clegane behead Missandei in front of her best friend and her love interest, Grey Worm. Missandei's death seems to serve in making Daenerys and Grey Worm become more ruthless by burning down King's Landing and slaughtering the citizens.
  • Hannibal: Beverly Katz, with insult added to injury by her being killed thanks to acting quite uncharacteristically stupid and not leaving Hannibal's house with the evidence she found while the getting was good.
  • The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries: The third-season episodeLast Kiss of Summer. We're introduced to Jamie, the love of Joe's life who he's willing to marry and throw over his entire life for — a woman who hasn't been mentioned throughout the entire series to this point — and 10 minutes into the episode, right after the wedding rehearsal where we're shown Joe and Jamie pledging vows, Jamie's killed by a random drunk driver, as Joe is driving, followed by Joe weeping over her bloody body. Jamie only existed to die and to fuel Joe's Roaring Rampage of Revenge for the rest of the episode.
  • Hell on Wheels: At the end of Season 2, this is the fate of Lily Bell: strangled by The Swede.
  • Near the end of the series finale of How I Met Your Mother the titular Mother actually died of a Soap Opera Disease 6 years prior to Ted telling the story to his kids. This revelation became very controversial among the fans and critics because after being a Plot Device for eight seasons, the Mother was given a Character Development for the viewers to see why she deserved to be Ted's wife and then, she's killed off in the final episode just to give Ted more angst and the motivation to ask his kids permission to date Robin by telling them the story in the first place despite that some issues which resulted to their break-up remained unresolved. It doesn't help that the ending is written 6 or 7 years ago and most viewers see this move as a Die for Our Ship in the writers' part.
  • Kamen Rider is rather fond of doing this:
    • Kamen Rider V3 started it all, with Shiro Kazami losing his parents and little sister to Destron, which prompts him to become V3 in the first place.
    • Kamen Rider Agito: Not one, but two of Ashihara's girlfriends (Risa and Aki) are killed off to provide him with angst and/or added motivation.
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Ren Akiyama's girlfriend is deliberately targeted and rendered comatose to force him into the Rider War. In the "Episode Final" movie, Miho is killed off by Shinji's evil counterpart to provoke him into existential angst.
    • Kamen Rider Faiz: Yuka dies in order to ultimately drive Kiba over the edge of a Face–Heel Turn.
    • Kamen Rider Blade: The murder of Tachibana's girlfriend gives him the drive to defeat the Peacock Undead. In addition, the murder of Haruka's husband/Amane's father drives their plot in helping Hajime discover his humanity.
    • Kamen Rider Kabuto: In the God Speed Love movie, an AU to the TV series, Hiyori is Kagami's wife and the impact upon him and Tendou of her death is used to kick off the climactic ending to the film.
    • Kamen Rider Kiva: Mio is ultimately killed off to resolve the struggle for dominance between Wataru and Taiga.
    • Kamen Rider Decade: Various things happen to Natsumi and/or Yuusuke solely to provoke Tsukasa into action. The death of Yuusuke's love interest Ai Yashiro spurred him on to fight as Kuuga.
    • The Commander Dopant tries this in Kamen Rider Double during the Accel spin-off movie; he believes that by killing Akiko, Terui will be consumed with vengeance and "cleanse" the city of its evil. However, Terui has been redeemed by Akiko's love, and defeats the Dopant instead.
    • Subverted Trope in Kamen Rider OOO. Shintaro Goto is able to become Kamen Rider Birth for the first time to avenge the "death" of his beloved mentor Date, but then it turns out Date was just unconscious. (Word of God had it that the original plan for the show was for Date to be killed off, so this trope would have been played straight.)
    • Kamen Rider Fourze: This is largely the reason for Nadeshiko Misaki Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence and Jiro Iseki ending up in a coma through misuse of a Switch.
    • Kamen Rider Wizard: Koyomi (or rather the revived shell of Koyomi) being destroyed by Gremlin in order to take the Philosopher's Stone from within her drives Haruto's motivation and ultimately allows him to take Gremlin down.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim: Rare male example. Sid, as Kamen Rider Sigurd, deliberately kills Hase (who had turned into in an Inves) in front of Kota, who is screaming and begging for him not to because Hase is Kota's friend. Hase's death then becomes Kota's motivation to save others.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: In the show's backstory, Hiiro's girlfriend Saki was killed off by the Bugster Virus, which not only motivates him in general but gives him a specific hatred of Graphite, the Bugster born from her death. Tragically, he has to go through it again later in the series, when Big Bad Masamune Dan dangles the possibility of Saki being brought back to life under Hiiro's nose. He spends several episodes in the throes of a Face–Heel Turnnote , but eventually realizes that it's wrong to betray his Hippocratic Oath just for the sake of his own happiness and turns on Dan, who erases Saki's data out of spite.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Subverted: The Entrance to Build's base is hidden inside a mini fridge and anyone who enters or leaves said base has to enter the fridge. Played straight with Ryuga's girlfriend Kasumi who was forcefully converted into a Smash by Faust and later killed; it was a Mercy Kill requested by Ryuga himself to Sento since there is no way to save her. Her essence was used as a Full Bottle by Banjou and is one reason why Banjou fights as a Rider.
    • Kamen Rider Amazons: Litteral example. The Queen Ant Amazon puts her victims' remains in one this way and the Crab Amazon also does this to serve human meat to unawakened Amazons. Yep.
  • The Killing In Season 3, Holder discovers the savagely murdered body of Bullet, a homeless girl he had befriended stuffed into a car trunk (left deliberately for he and Linden to find). He spirals into a depression for much of the rest of the season as a result.
  • MacGyver (1985): Early episodes would often introduce an old friend of the title character, who would be killed off in close proximity to him by the bad guys. This would set the stage for the rest of the episode, where MacGyver will then foil the greater plan that necessitated the killing. These characters were almost never mentioned or alluded to ever again.
  • MacGyver (2016): The character of Jill is randomly murdered by Murdoc at the end of the first episode of season 3. She had been a background character built up throughout the series. The killing is used as Macgyver's motivation to come back to the Phoenix Foundation, on the proviso that he is given the full resources of the agency to hunt down Murdoc.
  • The Mentalist:
    • Jane's wife and child are this. They don't even have names.
    • In episode 3.02 (Cackle-Bladder Blood) we find out that their names are Angela Ruskin Jane and Charlotte Anne Jane.
    [Big Bad's note on Jane's bedroom door]: If you were really psychic, you wouldn't need to open this door to find out what I've done to your lovely wife and daughter....
  • Miami Vice: Ricardo Tubbs' love interest (and the mother of his child) Angelina. After disappearing for almost two seasons, she returns to rekindle her relationship with Tubbs — as well as introduce him to his son (which she gave birth to after he left Cuba in "Calderone's Return, Part II"). Soon after she returns, she's kidnapped by her brother (the new drug kingpin in Cuba), is tied to the steering wheel of a limousine that's rigged to blow if she escapes, and forced to watch as her child is taken from her and replaced with a fake one to fool Tubbs. Then, just as it looks like Crockett and Tubbs have defeated the Calderone's, Angelina accidentally(?) triggers the bomb in the limo, killing her and leaving Tubbs grief-stricken.
  • Misfits: The death of Alisha. Completely random to a Dropped a Bridge on Her degree, and solely to drive Simon to go back in time to his death. Particularly annoying as it's exactly the kind of regressive superhero comic plot cliche the show usually mocks.
  • MrRobot: Shayla is killed and stuffed into the trunk of a car so Elliot can learn a valuable lesson about being a sucker.
    • Male Example: Cisco is shot down by the Dark Army, which serves as a catalyst for Darlene's deep depression.
  • NCIS:
    • Kate's death had this effect on Gibbs. Even though Ari had a bead on Gibbs, he killed one of his team instead because it would cause Gibbs more pain. He learned the hard way that you do not mess with team Gibbs.
    • Ari originally was going to shoot McGee, but when someone else fired at McGee Ari ended up missing; McGee went for cover and out of Ari's line of sight, so he decided to shoot Kate instead. Gibbs was never intended to be the target that time. It is later stated that Ari had researched Gibbs and deliberately went after the women Gibbs worked with to remind him of the deaths of his first wife Shannon and his daughter Kelly.
    • He then tries to go after Abby, barely missing (it is debatable on whether missing was intentional).
    • In "Broken Bird", in a series of flashback moments, an interrogator uses Cold-Blooded Torture on an innocent young man just to break Ducky's spirit. And there's bonus guilt because Ducky resorted to Mercy Killing to free the innocent man from torture.
    • Ziva's death. She was killed off three years after the actress left, solely so Tony could be left responsible for their daughter and be written out of the show.
  • Nikita:
    • Nikita's civilian boyfriend, a male example.
    • Thom. He is one of Division's recruits who grows close to Alex, until she has to kill him to protect her cover and frame him as Nikita's mole.
  • One West Waikiki: In one episode, a mobster's girlfriend was accidentally shot by his ex-mistress (who then got killed herself in a hit-and-run accident with an unmarked police car). Later, the mobster's henchman, trying to frighten another character into compliance, shows him the dead body of the first woman stuffed inside a refrigerator in the mobster's mansion.
  • Prison Break: This is a common occurrence on this FOX series. Whether it's Veronica Donovan being stuffed into multiple Hefty bags, L.J.'s mother and her husband being killed by government agents, or Sara Tancredi's head getting sent to Michael in prison, there aren't many happy endings on the series. Sara got better, though.
  • Revenge: In the season 3 finale Victoria drugs Aiden with a paralyzing agent she snuck in his tea then smothers him with a pillow. Later in the episode Emily returns home to find him propped up on the couch due to the effects of rigor mortis with the final look of terror and sorrow forever etched on his face Victoria is then shown smiling on her balcony when she hears Emily's hysterical wailing and sobbing.
  • Revolution: In the episode "Home", Sebastian Monroe intends to do this to Emma Bennett, Miles Matheson's highschool fiance, to get to Miles. She gets killed off by the Georgian soldier Dixon in front of Miles and Monroe, traumatizing the two greatly. Miles, because he worked so hard to save her life, and Monroe, because he just found out that she gave birth to his son and she got killed off before she could tell him where the son is.
  • This happens to Yolande in Salamander. Secretary to an influential judge, she disturbs the hit-men sent to assassinate him. She is not only murdered, her corpse is then left in an undignified sexual position for the police to find. The photos also get leaked to a salacious newspaper.
  • Skins: Did this in a notable fashion in Series 4. Freddie, one of the principal characters, was brutally murdered by Effy's crazed psychiatrist John Foster, and his bloody clothes were bagged and found by best mate Cook in Foster's house. This being Cook, he did not take the news well, and his response was more than appropriate.
  • Smallville:
    • This is the occupational hazard of being involved with Clark Kent.
    • Skinwalker: Kyla was stabbed to death with glass (although that is sort of an accident).
    • Pariah: Alicia was hung on a noose.
    • Reckoning: Lana died in a gruesome car crash. Blame the Reset Button.
    • Vessel: Subverted with Chloe, who just had The Big Damn Kiss with Clark but was dragged away by the mob after he left to battle Zod. Many fans apparently panicked and thought she is going to be gang-raped then killed to heap more angst on Clark as well as clear the way for Lana. Thankfully, that didn't happen.
  • The Society: Just as she is made the official mayor of New Ham, Cassandra is murdered early on by Greg Dewey. This is what makes Allie more cynical and takes charge of being the leader.
  • Supernatural:
    • The pilot begins with Mary Winchester being killed by the yellow-eyed demon, and ends with Jessica Moore dying in the same way. Both deaths serve textbook "Stuffed Into the Fridge" functions.
    • Episode 9x20, a (failed) Poorly Disguised Pilot, has main character Ennis' girlfriend brutally murdered seconds after he proposed to her.
    • It's such a ubiquitous backstory for Hunters that it serves as a SubvertedTrope in the rare cases when it doesn't apply. e.g. When Dean is sent back in time and finds out that Eliot Ness is also a hunter, he asks what horrible event happened in his past. An outraged Ness replies that there wasn't one, he fights monsters because it's the right thing to do, and something is seriously wrong with Dean for assuming such a thing.
    • Charlie Bradbury's death in episode 10x21 was a textbook case: committed off-screen, gratuitously gory, and written for the sole purpose (from a Doylist perspective) of evoking rage and despair in the male main characters who discovered her mutilated body. Fans, and even several Powers That Be, lambasted the unnecessary slaughter and the Idiot Plot leading up to it. Additional Unfortunate Implications from multiple Holocaust-related elements in the murder of the show's only recurring openly LGBT character (see: Bury Your Gays).
  • True Blood: Has an instance of this when Eggs is killed by Jason at the end of the second season. With very little development, Eggs seems to have been created mostly to develop Tara, and be killed later to leave her emotionally broken.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Julie Plec, the creator of the series, outright states that Ensemble Dark Horse character Anna was created to be killed for the sole purpose of causing Damon and Jeremy angst. As if they didn't have enough. Damon didn't even seem affected past the season finale.
  • Veronica Mars: In the revival, In an episode aptly named "Years, Continents, Bloodshed", Veronica's love interest and Ensemble Dark Horse Logan Echolls is killed off-screen by the bomb left in Veronica's car by the Neptune Bomber Penn Epner, mere hours after Logan and Veronica had married. Creator Rob Thomas has since said that he had done that because Veronica works best as an underdog and she was getting to be too happy with Logan, so he had to go. To add insult to injury, they didn't even show his funeral or Veronica mourning, just a quick voicemail from the day of the wedding, in which Logan explains that he wants to marry Veronica because she is the strongest person he knows, a few tears from Veronica And the Adventure Continues. Suffice to say, Fanon Discontinuty was in full swing after that finale - many fans consider last ten minutes of the episode non-canon and for them the series has ended after the Logan and Veronica wedding.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: Uses it that way quite often. Many episodes open off with an "old friend" showing up. By the end of the episode, you can guess they'll end up dead, and in the rare cases they don't, something bad will happen to them if they ever show up again (which is itself incredibly rare, normally they're never mentioned again). Most of these deaths take place when the friend stumbles upon the villain's plot, and get intercepted by them on the way to telling the Rangers. It also makes it seem like Walker and company are "good friends" with everyone in the city with the frequency it happens, but that's another story.
  • Warehouse 13: Pulls this trope at the end of season 3, when one of the characters goes undercover but is killed by the people he was infiltrating and left for the rest of the team to find, one of which was his best friend. Thankfully, Death Is Cheap
  • War of the Worlds: The opening episode of season 2 of this show. The military general who has been giving the team missions throughout the first season has been kidnapped and presumably killed by alien beings. The military lieutenant leading the main characters is kidnapped, cloned, found by his former comrade (who swears vengeance), then shoots himself in the head out of desperation to save a little girl (who is being held hostage by the clone). The wheelchair-bound tech support character is shot multiple times, then shot 'again' when he activates a panic button. And then they both get blown to bits in an exploding mansion. Only the wheelchair-bound character is ever mentioned again. Also, the brutal execution of the Advocacy (the villains from season one).
  • The Season 2 finale of Westworld killed off Elise Hughes by Charlotte Hale because She Knows Too Much about Delos' goal of extracting data from the guests and laxs the moral flexibility to keep it a secret. While her death is meant to prove that Ford is right about humanity's failing, it actually serves to awaken Bernard's consciousness.
  • The Wire:
    • Season one has Omar's boyfriend Brandon Wright displayed on the hood of a car in the projects.
      McNulty: Jesus, they must have killed this kid four or five times.
      Edward Norris: Cut him in a dozen places. Burned him with cigarettes. God-damned torture-fest is what it was.
    • And this isn't even the full reckoning of his injuries: he's also left with only one eye, two cracked forearms and several broken fingers, according to later exposition.

  • Music writer Tom Ewing accused Kenny Rogers's "Coward of the County" of this.
  • The traditional folk song and child ballad "Lamkin" or Long Lankin".

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In the Book of Job, this happened to Job's first family, who were killed off as part of Job's suffering.
  • Enkidu was killed by the gods in The Epic of Gilgamesh in order to punish Gilgamesh, making this trope Older Than Dirt.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Literalized at CHIKARA Hour of Power 7, April 23, 2017. Merlok, a big piranha character, abandoned his match with Ashley Vox to brutalize her sidekick Jawsolyn, throwing her around garbage cans and finally throwing her into a refrigerator. Director of Fun Mike Quackenbush announced he was cutting the feed, with the match being ruled a no-contest. (Jawsolyn never returned to CHIKARA.) This led to Ashley's Roaring Rampage of Revenge, culminating in her following Obariyon (formerly of The Batiri)'s advice and channeling the darkness within her to become Oceanea, and finally defeating Merlok at the Season Finale Closing Time on December 2nd.

  • This occurs in Survival of the Fittest with the death of Adam Dodd's girlfriend, Amanda Jones, at the hands of Cody Jenson. It was overshadowed by the simultaneous death (and rape) of Madelaine Shirohara.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Aleena the Cleric's fatenote  in the "red box" version of Dungeons & Dragons was some 1980s gamers' first introduction to fridge-stuffing.
  • A character with the Signature Move "Sacrificial Buddy" from Hong Kong Action Theatre has an Extra in every one of their movies who is a friend or relative of the role they play, whose main purpose is to get killed by the bad guys (usually in this fashion) and give the role some serious motivation for revenge.
  • Omi Kurita, the daughter of the ruler of the Draconis Combine in BattleTech was assassinated by Kathrine Steiner-Davion, leader of the Federated Commonwealth, specifically because she was the lover of Kathrine's brother Victor and Victor had thwarted one of her political schemes. The revelation that she was dead sent Victor into a deep depression right as he and Kathrine were in the middle of a civil war and nearly cost him the war.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio is driven by the death of his father and two brothers orchestrated by the Templars.
  • Castlevania games loved this trope in the mid-2000's.
    • In Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, vampire Walter Bernhard specifically kidnapped Leon Belmont's love interest Sara Tantroul to motivate him to fight for her, as he desires a challenging battle. By the time Leon sees her again, Walter has already bitten her, forcing him to put her out of her misery. This was also Mathias Cronqvist's plan, with intent to motivate Leon to kill Walter and thus grant him access to his vampiric qualities and alchemic items.
    • In Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, Isaac arranges for Hector's girlfriend Rosaly to be killed in a witch hunt specifically so that he will seek revenge, reawaken his devil forgemaster powers, and contribute to the resurrection of Dracula and his castle. Rosaly is sufficiently a Disposable Woman that we never actually get to see her, and the game's female lead Julia is practically declared to be a replacement for her.
    • And in Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, Celia kills Mina right in front of Soma's eyes just to piss him off and make him become Dracula. It's a doppelganger. Also, if Soma is sufficiently fooled, he kills Celia less than a minute later without even a fight scene.
  • In Dante's Inferno the hero returns home to a scene right out of the aforementioned film Gladiator, thus setting up the entire rest of the game.
  • The death of Hildi towards the end of Dead to Rights. Stuffed through a window, to be precise. In fact, this happens with nearly every female character Jack encounters, save for one in the Retribution reboot.
  • The original Double Dragon was about Billy and Jimmy Lee's quest to save their lady-friend Marian from the clutches of the Black Warriors gang. In the sequel, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, the same girl is brutally gunned down by the gang's leader, leaving our heroes with the duty of avenging her death instead.
  • The City Elf Origin in Dragon Age: Origins is a textbook example of this trope, especially if you choose a Male City Elf. The psychopathic, racist son of the local lord along with his gang and entourage of guards, descend upon your wedding, and kidnap several random women, including your cousin, and if you are female, yourself (in this version, the Damsel in Distress trope is inverted by having you mostly save yourself). Ultimately, your cousin is raped by the nobles as you either rescue her, or leave her to her fate for fear of retribution towards your people. Since neither your cousins' character nor the story is affected by her rape in almost any way, it seems to only exist in the game to show how evil the bad guys are and so that you can avenge her.
  • The death of Lucien Lachance in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
  • In the Civilization 4 mod Fall from Heaven, Einion Logos' flavor text describes him returning from making a truce with the demon civilization, only to find his wife brutally murdered — a ploy by the demons to incite him into breaking the truce right out of the gate. Even worse, Word of Kael says that it was another human civ (the Amurites) that did it, not the Infernals. It only looked like the demons did it so that Einion would take the Amurites' side against the infernals.
  • Fire Emblem
    • Before the first mission on the Dread Isle in Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame, Matthew's love interest, Leila, who is spying on the enemy organization is not only found dead, but is left in such a way that the main characters don't realize this and try talking to her before realizing what has happened. An interesting use in this case as Matthew is the one most affected by this rather than one of the three main characters, and asks the next mission off to pay her proper respects. You are not forced to, but conversation elements would be different based on whether you brought him along on the next mission or not, having a similar effect to Player Punch only more indirect. You can also make Matthew get support conversations with her killer Jaffar, where he brutally calls him out.
    • In the same game, Limstella, The Dragon kills whichever Reed brother you defeated by sucking the life out of him. The Reed brother you didn't fight finds their corpse and blames Eliwood and pals for killing his brother.
    • Discussed in Fire Emblem Awakening. In Owain and Cynthia's supports, as they they discuss their approaches to heroic deeds, we find out that he has come up with a story about Cynthia and himself as heroes... in which Cynthia gets killed off. She is very unhappy, and in their S Support she asks Owain to not do such things anymore — and then accepts his declaration of love.
  • In Galerians, the protagonist Rion is initally just trying to get away to somewhere safe after waking up Strapped to an Operating Table in a very unethical hospital. He gets motivated to answer the call when he discovers that the group that abducted him also rituallistically murdered his parents. His mother's corpse is, of course, literally stuffed in the fridge, while his father has a pocketwatch stuffed in his mouth.
  • In The Godfather, Aldo's Love Interest Frankie Malone gets abducted and killed by Tattaglia goons, complete with a Hope Spot when we briefly think she's okay... Nope.
  • Anton in Guild Wars gave information to the Charr in exchange for the safety of his wife and his village. It worked out exactly like you think it did, and the quests to gain him as a hero in Eye of the North have you helping him track down the Charr he made the deal with.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Appears in zigzagged varieties a few times.
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Goofy is knocked unconscious by a boulder right when he meets up with Mickey again. Even though he doesn't die, Mickey and Sora's reactions give off the impression of this trope.
      Mickey: They'll pay for this!
    • In Kingdom Hearts III, Sora and Kairi take turns in the refrigerator at the very end of the game. First, Xehanort invokes this trope by shattering Kairi right when Sora is about to rescue her from a kidnapping, to in his words, give Sora "motivation". Then Sora resurrects her after Xehanort dies, but he ends up fading away during the ending due to the resurrection, to much sorrow for Kairi and anyone witnessing.
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • Discussed in II. According to Atton and HK-47, Revan finds this method a preferable way to deal with Jedi. By harming a Jedi's Padawan or allies first, the Force bond can cause disturbance to the Jedi, thus it would be easier to turn the Jedi to the Dark Side.
    • Sadly, the Exile herself suffers this fate in the tie-in novel Revan and the Old Republic MMO. Specifically, she was killed by Lord Scourge, and then her Force ghost stays for 300 years just to keep Revan alive.
  • In The Last of Us, Sarah, the daughter of the main protagonist, is seriously wounded by a gunshot and dies in Joel's arms, which tuns him into a broken man only focused on surviving, and prompts his initital indifference and Stay in the Kitchen-ish mentality towards the young and capable Ellie.
  • Amie's death in the prologue of Neverwinter Nights 2 is to piss the player character off.
  • The plot of the freeware platformer Ninja Senki begins with the hero's girlfriend Kinuhime killed, sending him on the path of revenge.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle:
    • In the beginning, some goons kill Travis' best friend, Bishop Sidax, and toss his head in a paper bag through Travis' window into his bedroom.
    • Subverted in the cutscene before the Final Boss. Travis is presented with what appears to be the severed heads of his girlfriend Sylvia, his half-brother Henry, and fellow assassin/spurned love interest Shinobu in an attempt to demoralize him before the fight. Halfway through the first phase of the fight, Henry bursts through the window and saves Travis's life before explaining him that the heads are just replicas. Sylvia makes a reappearance at the end of the fight, when she saves Travis from falling to his death in the aftermath of the struggle. Shinobu doesn't make an reappearance or get even a passing mention in the epilogue, but considering Henry's and Sylvia's deaths were faked, it's safe to assume that hers was as well. Especially because originally there was going to be a final fight with Shinobu after killing the original final boss, sorta like the fight with Henry in the first game. Sadly it was cut due to constraints.
  • In the first Phantasy Star, Nero dies, which spurs Alis on her adventure to begin with. Alys' death in the fourth game is very obviously for the development of Chaz's character more than anything else, but was handled extremely well, substituting gruesome violence for a slow, suffering demise, and punctuated with a huge Tear Jerker death scene. What's interesting about Nero's case is his brutal murder was done publicly to try to prevent anyone else from opposing Lassic.
  • Planescape: Torment:
    • Your entire party. In the best ending, though, the Nameless One resurrects them.
    • Deionarra was killed specifically to become a ghost so she could provide inside information. The one who made her that way is YOU.
  • In Police Quest: Open Season, a severed head is found in the Big Bad's fridge.
  • A quite literal example in Prey (2017): Abigail Foy is literally found murdered, with her body dumped in an industrial freezer.
  • In the second chapter of Return to Krondor, William's girlfriend Talia is lying on the floor bleeding in her father's bar. She dies surrounded by James, Jazhara and William. Apparently, Big Bad Bear raped her and then fatally wounded her.
  • Saints Row
    • Several examples in Saints Row 2. Firstly, your friend Carlos Mendoza is tied to a car and dragged across the streets at high speeds by the Brotherhood after the first three missions to punish you. The Boss, being the Villain Protagonist that they are, responds in kind by arranging the murder of Brotherhood’s leader girlfriend, Jessica in a similarly gruesome way - locking her in the trunk of her own car, then leaving it to be crushed by Maero in a monster truck rally he's taking part in.
    The Boss: Ya know, up until this point we've been toying with Maero...kill his bitch here... steal his money there. But I'm through playing.
    • Aisha's death is done purely to motivate Johnny Gat and the Boss to take down the Ronin, along with starting the latter's Sanity Slippage. This is further emphasized in the third and fourth games by the Boss and their Evil Twin.
    • In The Third, Killbane decides to kill one of his old boss' secretaries, and then politely invites her sister to Murderbrawl while she's grieving over the body to cheer her up. Not surprisingly, the surviving sister almost immediately starts feeding you information before ultimately defecting.
    • Five years later in Saints Row IV, Zinyak blows up the entire planet. Just to insult everyone who was 'accepted' into becoming mind-slaves. Also, Johnny is forced to watch a simulation of his sort-of wife getting 'stuffed' over and over. For five years.
  • Silent Hill
    • The murder of Harry Mason in Silent Hill 3, motivating Heather to seek revenge against Claudia. Also done to "fill her heart with hatred" to nurture the demon god she is pregnant with. And then there's Vincent's death near the end of the game, which nearly pushes her over the edge into birthing the God.
    • In Silent Hill: Homecoming, Alex Shepherd’s mother and father are both murdered by the Order late in the game.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, the player character's live-in ghoul, a sweet young woman named Heather, is kidnapped and brutally murdered by the Sabbat, with the PC arriving just in time to witness her death, triggering a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In WildStar, a big part of the Exile tutorial revolves around Sadie Brighthand, the sick and pregnant wife of "Deadeye" Brighthand. In the Northern Wilds zone story, she and the child are killed off just to inspire a Roaring Rampageof Revenge for her husband.
  • Wing Commander
    • Spirit in Wing Commander II gets a Stupid Sacrifice when her fighter is damaged and rather than eject, she kamikazes into the Heaven's Gate station. Her death is not brought up afterward, except in a passing reference by Jazz, who wanted revenge on the Tiger's Claw crew for the death of his brother, and her death seems to exist to facilitate Maverick and Angel getting together. In Wing Commander III, Angel gets killed off as soon as she's introduced, although the player doesn't learn of her death until much later, and this sets up the last mission as being one for revenge.
    • The tradition carries on into Wing Commander Prophecy, albeit retroactively, when Hawk reveals to Lance Casey that this happened to Iceman sometime after Wing I. Replace "fridge" with "his own jet".
  • In Sleeping Dogs, Wei Shen's best friend Jackie Ma is captured by the rival 18K triad and buried alive on an island off the shore. Wei hops into a boat and races to the island to find he's alive. Although he's having serious thoughts about continuing his Triad lifestyle at that point, at least he looks like he'll make it through to the ending...until the second-to-last mission where he's eviscerated and used as bait to lure Wei to his own death by Mr. Tong and Big Smile Lee. Upon his escape from his imprisonment, the Roaring Rampage of Revenge ensues for Wei.
  • ''Tales of Symphonia had something of a problem with this trope. A few examples are:
    • Lloyd's mother Anna died in his backstory and is used as fuel for his hatred of the Desians, who were responsible for her death and it's Anna who also turned Kratos away from Cruxis, so when he finds their son fourteen years later, he starts a secret Heel–Face Turn to feed Lloyd and co information in hopes they can take down Cruxis for good.
    • Marble, an old lady Genis befriends before the game starts, is subsequently turned into a monster for Lloyd and Genis to fight, thus giving Genis a personal hatred for Desians too, Marble's old exsphere ends up in his possession and it's the impetus to getting them both kicked out of the village to follow Colette on her journey.
    • Alicia is mostly used to give Regal angst and also a tenuous reason to travel with the group, as well as provide a little Foreshadowing in regards to the Angelus Project. Her relationship with Presea, her sister and only remaining family are never really explored and Presea's feelings about her death are swept aside until very late on in the game.
    • Zelos watching his mother murdered right in front of him is his Cynicism Catalyst about being the Chosen and the reason his little sister is basically under house arrest for the rest of her life until post-game.
  • Watch_Dogs
    • The hero's motivation is that a hit was ordered on him and the assassin killed his niece instead, sending him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • Later on, Clara is murdered in a Stupid Sacrifice just to drive home the point how dangerous Aidan has become to people close to him because of his crusade.
  • Xenoblade: Fiora being impaled with extreme prejudice by Metal Face is what motivates Shulk to set out across the Bionis and destroy every last Mechon. Later, when he finds that the antagonists have revived her and rebuilt her as a cyborg, his goal changes from revenge to getting her back. And when he does, all of his motivation to fight the enemy, despite the ongoing war and the implications that there's something bigger at stake, goes right out the window. It's Fiora herself who decides she'd rather continue fighting and uncovering the secrets of the Bionis. Shulk only follows her because he doesn't want to lose her again.
  • Toward the end game of Duck Season, the dog from the game stabs the boy's mother to death, with her body and blood on display behind him in the kitchen. This is used to goad the boy into fighting the dog itself in the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Saya no Uta sees several characters dismembered and stuffed into a fridge with the purpose to preserve them and eating their flesh later. This happens to both men and women though, which is less usual for the trope. When Koji finds the remains of his girlfriend, the player decides how he reacts about it. Neither variant ends in a good way.
  • In the first chapter of New Danganronpa V 3, Kaede Akamatsu is revealed to be the murderer and then killed off, thus giving her Love Interest Shuichi Saihara something to angst about for the rest of the game, and catalyze his Character Development. In fact, it's revealed toward the end of the game that since Danganronpa is an in-universe TV show with real people being brainwashed into fictional characters (and dying real deaths), that those responsible deliberately made Kaede and Shuichi fall in love, thereby invoking this trope.
    • Peko Pekoyama in Super Danganronpa 2 basically exists to kickstart Fuyuhiko's Character Development upon her death - half the reason he was even made into a survivor over Hiyoko is because the developers realised that if he died, her sacrifice would be completely pointless.

    Web Animation 
  • In Broken Saints, Shandala's mother, then later, pet cat are fridged by Lear as part of his plan to drive her across the Despair Event Horizon so she can become a living component of his Kill Sat weapon system. This is an interesting case in that it involves the planning of two identically similar deaths, done several years apart, with the second death providing the victim with final push towards insanity.
  • Subverted in RWBY. Cinder attempts to spite Jaune when he gets a lucky hit on her by impaling Weiss in a similar manner to how she had previously killed Pyrrha. However, doing so gave Jaune the necessary trauma to unlock his Semblance, which allowed him to heal Weiss' injuries.

    Web Comics 
  • Blur the Lines subverts this trope. [1]
  • The B-Movie Comic: Mopey pulls this to provide encouragement to Biff here.
  • One humorous scene from 8-Bit Theater:
    Ranger: Honey, I'm home. Apparently. Hmm, a note... covered in blood, hair, and brain.
    "Dinner is in the fridge. Your Wife."
    Ranger: How strange that she would not use her name or handwriting. Oh well! [looks in the fridge] O.J., '''purple stuff''', my brutally murdered wife...
    [a hail of arrows sprays from the fridge, turning Ranger into a fine mist]
    Sarda: He went home. Forever.
  • Darths & Droids: Padme dies at the end of episode 3 in order to provide angst for Anakin, turned Darth Vader. This of course is exactly the same as the source material, and like in the original, it gets away with it due to the fact that we knew it was coming the entire time. Subverted when it turns out that Palpatine failed to save Anakin on the banks of the lava river, and instead revived Padme (with an infusion of midi-chlorians to give her Force powers) to act as Darth Vader instead.
    Luke: You killed Padmé, the woman you loved. My mother!
    Darth Vader: No.
    Luke: You are my father!
    Darth Vader: No, Luke. I am your mother.
  • This Exterminatus Now comic combines this trope with Goldilocks, when their boss (an anthropomorphic bear) is royally pissed with the protagonists' latest screwup.
  • Lampshaded in the superhero-deconstruction, when a retired superhero tells his wife who was just attacked to stay 'home', because he thinks the attack was meant to get at him. His wife furiously replies that she won't be his private "Woman in the fridge".
  • Homestuck has several Ensemble Dark Horse characters killed off rather suddenly to show the stakes of Sburb, as well as a few just plain Dropped a Bridge on Him deaths to clear out the massive Cast Herd. Hussie has lampshaded both.
  • In the Joyce and Walky finale Rachel was revealed to be a robot double possessed by the Head Alien. David Willis, however, realized he had done this trope (by specifically doing it to give Joe pathos, and not to finish their character arc like he had to Ruth and Dina) and wrote a storyline in Shortpacked! specifically to avert this trope by revealing Rachel had been trapped in an alternate dimension.
  • Octopus Pie heavily exaggerates this, although non-canonically in their 2010 Halloween story arc: Greg is cut apart and his body parts self-reportedly stuffed into multiple cupboards throughout the house. Hannah eventually comes across this sight, and has such a violent physical reaction to it she ends up dying as well... It's a comedy arc. Link
  • Subverted twice in Sluggy Freelance.
  • Completely subverted, with a lampshade thrown in for good measure in this Super Stupor strip.
  • Happens to Socks (who by the way was promoted to Kid Hero from Adorable Evil Minion for this reason) in the Kings War arc of Roommates. His death served the narrative purpose of motivating James to end a war (in one way or another). This even got a person shaped lampshade in the form of the representation of the narrative, who arranged this. The thing was literally made out of an Ironic Nursery Rhyme when it guided the spear that killed the kid.

    Web Original 
  • In Ash & Cinders Cinder and Azoc's mother was killed before the story even starts. As if being orphaned wasn't bad enough, Cinder later discovers her mother, a Nymph, was going to be used for firewood. Her death breeds animosity between Cinder/Azoc and their Wicked Stepmother Phira.
  • The Hangman does this to Aelia, Gaven's guide, during the Third Night of The Tale Of The Exile by yanking her up a building and strangling her while Gaven is speaking to her, solely to spook Gaven into running into a trap set by Despair.
  • This fueled the creation of Women in Refrigerators, a protest site by comic-fan-turned-writer Gail Simone, who pointed out that these roles are not only almost always applied to female characters but to lead characters who happen to be female. A healthy amount of debate has risen up about whether the list is good evidence or not, but the meme, at least, lives on. By the way, if you an opinion on the topic, please keep it to the discussion page.
  • In the SCP Foundation tale Senescence, Consumption, Persecution, which is set in the Rat’s Nest canon, SCP-590 is killed by the Chaos Insurgency to strike a personal wound against Dr. Bright, who becomes a member of the O5 Council in this timeline. He disappears and is implied to commit suicide shortly after this happens. Not that it would mean much to him anyways.

    Web Videos 
  • In Demo Reel, the two main women are Rebecca Stone (who has a Rape as Backstory that she's dealing with) and the memory of Elissa Hoffman (Donnie's mom who committed suicide). "The Review Must Go On" ass pulls that Demo Reel was a purgatory punishment for The Nostalgia Critic, and all the characters were never-alive-to-begin-with constructs to help him along.
  • Anita Sarkeesian discusses this trope in the Feminist Frequency video Women in Refrigerators. She also mentions its overwhelming use in video games as well, in her "Tropes vs Women — Damsel-in-Distress" series, along with it being combined with Distressed Damsel in "The Damsel in the Refrigerator".
    "Writers are using the Women in Refrigerators trope to literally trade the female characters' life for the benefit of a male hero's story arc. They are making clear that women, even powerful female superheroes, are basically disposable."
  • Parodied in The Nostalgia Chick's Dark Nella Saga. Dark Nella captures Chick in parts 1 and 2 and stuffs her (alive) in a conveniently empty fridge. She gets out both times. It helps that said fridge is Bigger on the Inside. Mara Wilson also quite casually mentions that she'd been planning to kill Chick to make The Nostalgia Critic suffer before he died in To Boldly Flee.
  • In Vigilant, Rita, a fully-fleshed character with a plot line, is (presumably) killed to cause Wayne anguish (and promote character growth). We're not sure she's dead yet, though.

    Western Animation 
  • Archer: Near the end of season three, Nikolai Jackov, (former) head of the KGB and one of the candidates for Archer's father, is brutally murdered by Barry Dillon to spite Archer. The method — being blown up by a crude time bomb — was to deliberately leave as little DNA for a paternity test. On learning of his death, Archer kind of frowns, then seemingly forgets Jackov ever existed as he is not mentioned once in any subsequent episodes, not even when Barry reappears two episodes later, or again in season four or in season six. The only character to mention him at all is Cheryl, when she admits to the FBI it was her fault for leading Barry to the safe house, in the Continuity Cavalcade in the season five premiere.
  • Exaggerated and parodied 3 times in The Boondocks episode "It's Goin Down". Jack Flowers's 3 successive girlfriends are decapitated, pushed off a skyscraper and then exploded in midair, and tied to and fired from a cross-town rocket then blown up. All three are lampshaded, ending with "what kind of fucked up, Wile E Coyote shit is that?".
  • In an episode of Samurai Jack assassin robots destroy several villages and kill their inhabitants (surprisingly unsettling, considering the only onscreen victims are robots) solely to draw the title character to them. Probably the horrific brutality with which it's done, which had they been human would have bumped up the rating two or three notches.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) Karai has attempted to invoke this trope several times in her attempts to hurt Splinter (whom she believes killed her mother) by targeting the guys, and hurt the guys by targeting April.
  • This has happened at least twice in Transformers Animated, first to Ratchet—while Arcee didn't actually die, having your memory completely wiped is still pretty bad. Next episode we find out that Optimus' friend (and Sentinel's implied girlfriend) Elita was eaten alive by giant spiders. Or so they thought. But as Blackarachnia, she fared little better, being a Faux Action Girl who wound up the Damsel in Distress every time she appeared.
  • In the Wakfu special "Goultard the Barbarian", the villain Katar kidnapped and murdered Goultard's wife and children just to piss him off. Katar wanted to make Goultard look like a more appetizing host for the parasitic rage eating demon inside him. It worked, but Katar only got to enjoy a few seconds of freedom before Goultard finished him off.
  • The second season of Young Justice has been doing this after a five-year Time Skip.
    • Beast Boy is now on the Young Justice team after getting his superhero origin last season. But the episode "Earthlings" reveals through flashbacks and dialogue that his mother, who shared his original spotlight episode, was killed in an accident that was really orchestrated by supervillains. This traumatized Beast Boy deeply. But he is an orphan in the comics, so his mom was sadly Doomed by Canon. Also, Beast Boy wasn't even the hero Queen Bee was getting revenge on. That would be Miss Martian, who grew up idolizing Beast Boy's mother on her short-lived television show and wormed her way out of being blackmailed by Queen Bee. Queen Bee tells Marie Logan point-blank that she's only killing her for revenge, and the time stamp shows it was less than a month after the first season ended. So Marie is both murdered to hurt Miss Martian and Death by Origin Story to enable her son to become a superhero.
    • Aqualad has gone through a Face–Heel Turn after being driven mad by the death of his former girlfriend, Tula. This turns out to be a ruse to that Aqualad could infiltrate the enemy's cadre. Tula certainly is dead though.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stuffed In The Fridge


The Hero Requires Motivation

Played straight. The Love Interest is killed by the Big Bad to motivate The Hero for the Final Battle, all in one scene.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / StuffedIntoTheFridge

Media sources:

Main / StuffedIntoTheFridge