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Suicide Is Painless

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"'Cause suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please"

The knife is painless, but life hurts like a bitch.

The opposite of Driven to Suicide. A character is just tired of life, wants to see what death is like, or knows they only have a short time to live anyway, or is just plain crazy. So, usually while sporting a huge smile, they kill themselves, often by jumping off of a building. Either played straight for creepy effect to establish how out of touch a character is with reality, or alternately used in Black Comedy for laughs.

See also Nothing Left to Do but Die. Ironically, the Trope Namer, the 1970 film M*A*S*H, actually averts the trope by being featured in a scene in which the intent is to prevent a suicide.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Alive: The Final Evolution those infected by the suicide virus behave this way. This is complicated by the fact that two entities are dying every time this happens: the suicidal Energy Being that actually wants to die but can't because it previously chose to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, and the hapless human Meat Puppet who's been infected by this desire. So the people committing suicide have literally no reason for it. In fact, the people with the best internal motivations are the ones most likely to survive, because of the 'holes in their hearts.'
  • This is Maiza's reasoning for approaching Firo and asking the kid to kill him (more specifically, he's both Seen It All and finally received closure over his Dead Little Brother) at the end of the first arc of Baccano!. Firo's response is to nod, smile...and then give a number of entirely bullshit reasons for why he can't do that, Dave, before admitting that he really just doesn't want to lose his mentor.
  • Dazai Osamu from Bungo Stray Dogs was introduced as a suicide enthusiast, with no explained reason behind it, and this trait of him can be trace back to as young as 14 years old. This is a Shout-Out to the author he is named after, who attempted suicide numerous times in his life before he finally succeeded.
  • The first movie of The Garden of Sinners has to do with this, as half a dozen schoolgirls throw themselves off of an abandoned building seemingly without reason. In the end, the one who's been astrally projecting herself from her hospital bed and is responsible does the same thing.
  • One character in Martian Successor Nadesico, after going crazy and piloting his mech into a suicidal situation, sings the theme song from the Show Within a Show Gekiganger 3 in one of the most disturbing scenes in the show.
  • The Paranoia Agent episode "Happy Family Planning" features three characters who met online trying to kill themselves unsuccessfully. They eventually resort to chasing Shonen Bat/Lil' Slugger down, begging to die. By the end of the episode all three have died without realizing it, though exactly when this happens for all three is left intentionally ambiguous. The final scene shows them realizing their deaths, laughing in joy, and walking down the street as ghosts, singing a cheery tune.
  • In the first few minutes of the first episode of Serial Experiments Lain, Chisa Yomoda jumps to her death after dramatically taking off her glasses and hanging off the railing for a moment. It also succeeds in setting the tone for the rest of the series. When she shows up later in the series, she complains that dying really hurts. Yeah, it's that kind of show.
  • An example where the person doesn't quite go through with it is in the movie version of The Vision of Escaflowne where Hitomi contemplates killing herself at the beginning for no other apparent reason than being bored.
  • Shiba from Zombie Loan did the same thing just because he was bored with life, and wound up being the undead Big Bad of a Story Arc. Near the end of the manga it's revealed that he was the result of a fertility drug experiment that resulted in kids so apathetic about life that most of them committed suicide at an early age. Shuuji is another one of the kids (shown when he's attacked by a zombie and rescued by his future A-Loan comrades, and doesn't really seem to care,) as well as protagonist Michiru, as evident in one scene early in the manga when she talks about not caring whether she lives or dies.

    Comic Books 
  • The Crow: Eric lets Funboy, one of the thugs he returned from the dead to kill, die from a massive, self-inflicted drug overdose as a reward for being cooperative (Not so much in the movie.)
  • Great Lakes Avengers: Mr. Immortal has the power that grants him his name, and at least one plot was resolved by him blowing his brains out, knowing he'd shortly resurrect.
  • Lucifer: Lucifer, having rescued Elaine and Mona from a painful afterlife, gives them three hours on Earth to decide whether they wish to resume their lives where they'd left off or be reincarnated. While the now wiser Elaine uses her time to tie up matters with family and friends, the still immature Mona attempts to shoplift some CDs. A store security guard catches her, whereupon, as she has no desire to see her parents, she decides to play a waiting game with him in his office. Then, when Mona sees her time's almost up, she darts toward the window and, grinning mischieviously at the horrified guard, jumps out. She becomes a ghost (which she'd already been once) and brushes it off when she meets up with Elaine ("Didn't even hurt this time").
  • The Sandman (1989): Issue #20 featured an old DCU superhero, Element Girl (a supporting character for Metamorpho with the same appearance and powers as him), who has grown to loathe her life, but can't die because of the immortality her powers give her, and begs Death to kill her. Death simply points out that her powers were a gift from Sun God Ra, and if she wishes for them to go away, she needs to ask him for it. She does, and turns to dust as the sun rises.

    Films — Animated 
  • Rumpelstiltskin does this in Shrek Forever After and jumps off the balcony after getting cornered by ogres, but then subverts it and lands on his goose Fifi saying "So long!"

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Batman Forever, Edward Nygma hacks Wayne Industries' video feed to cover up his murdering his boss, and he edits the video to make it seem he commits suicide this way.
  • In Cas and Dylan, Dr. Cas Pepper is facing certain death from an inoperable brain tumor, and sets out on a cross-country trip to check himself out on his own terms. Despite the presence of Manic Pixie Dream Girl Dylan Morgan as a traveling companion, Cas still goes through with his suicide (also a literal example of this trope: he rigs a Jack Kevorkian-style IV drip to slowly, gently ease him into death).
  • The finale of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon appears to involve this in mimicry of a legend earlier told, except that it's been established that the character in question can fly, and she's seen again in a sequel.
  • In The Dark Knight, when the Joker is thrown off of a building, he starts laughing. Then when he is saved by Batman, he's actually incredibly disappointed. In a variation, his pleasure was due more to his desire to corrupt Batman by tempting him to break his no-kill rule, rather than wanting to die. Although it's pretty obvious that The Joker has no concern whatsoever about his own wellbeing, and genuinely doesn't care if he lives or dies.
  • The film The End is a dark dark dark comic take on this subject. Burt Reynolds plays a man who finds out he only has six months to live and wants to off himself before any serious pain sets in. Dom De Luise is the delusional mental patient who gleefully volunteers to help him. In the end Burt decides not to go through with his suicide, but Dom's character doesn't believe him and won't give up trying to kill him (even during the ending credits.)
  • The movie Flatliners is entirely based around this concept and the people who intentionally enter a death-like state.
  • In The Godfather Part II, Tom Hagen tells Frank Pentangeli the story about Petronius (see Real Life below) and advises him to imitate it rather than be violently murdered. However, the scene in the bathroom later is rather messier than the story implied.
  • Harold and Maude:
    • Harold is a teenager with morbid interests and his suicide stagings look incredibly real. Subverted again and again and again and again... and again.
    • Maude thinks that dying before eighty would be too early, but dying after eighty would be overstaying her welcome. She poisons herself on her eightieth birthday.
  • In Inception, Mal invokes this trope after she loses her mind in Limbo, and attempts to get Cobb to either do the same or be framed for her death.
  • In Ken Park, the movie opens with the titular character making his way to a skate park, setting up a camera and filming his own, smiling, suicide.
  • As noted above the trope-namer is the theme song to the original M*A*S*H film. However the context in which the song is featured averts the trope as it's performed during a scene in which "Painless" - the nickname for the 4077th dentist - contemplates suicide due to his fears of having become a homosexual, but his colleagues successfully prevent this by staging a mock suicide ritual/funeral (during which the song is sung; Altman ensured that the lyrics would have an appropriately mawkish tone by assigning the task to his fifteen-year old son) which leads to Painless spending a night with a nurse, restoring his faith in his "manhood."
  • The Odd Job, featuring a post-Monty Python Graham Chapman, has a similar plot to The End (though in this case he considers suicide due to a breakup with his wife— and then reconciles but can't find the man he hired to kill him). Interestingly, both were released the same year (1978).
  • In OtherLife, Ren's brother, Jared is in a coma due to a drowning experience. Ren is obsessed with using the eponymous technology to wake her brother up. Ultimately, he responds to the experience of having a choice to avoid his drowning by instead choosing to drown, putting him in cardiac arrest.
  • A black-comedy variant, 1990's Short Time, stars Dabney Coleman as a police officer who learns he has a terminal disease and attempts to get himself killed in the line of duty so his family can collect the life insurance. None of his attempts are successful, which turns out to be a good thing since the diagnosis turns out to have been erroneous.
  • The quintessential example is probably the Japanese movie Suicide Club which features, among other things, the image of fifty-four schoolgirls from eighteen schools linking hands and smiling before jumping onto train tracks to their deaths. In the first minutes of the movie. Its manga adaptation also starts with this same mass suicide, although its story then goes in its own direction.

  • Since everyone has Resurrective Immortality, "suiciding" is a frequently-used way to get a new body in Biting the Sun.
  • A common cause of death in The Culture: some people are immortal and almost everyone lives for hundreds of years.... but when they feel that they've seen it all, they typically decided to end their lives painlessly.
  • The Diviners (1974): Jules Tonnere overdoses on his pain pills, to avoid dying of cancer. It's especially tragic considering Margaret Laurence likely died the same way 13 years later.
  • In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel Interference, Fitz gets a severe case of Clone Angst: separated from the Doctor, he's had to take up with a group of people who, after their members die, will just make a new one. Later copies become more and more simplified, but he theorizes that they all have a significant part of the person's personality at the time they were first copied in them, and he doesn't live indefinitely with a personality he's developed after decades on a planet he doesn't much like. So he decides to jump off a building... but he decides to take advantage of the fact you can take it or leave it if you please and doesn't go through with it.
  • The reason why dragons jump Between without a destination in Dragonriders of Pern if their rider dies. Dragon-rider bonds are so strong that, once the rider has died (or even if the dragon thinks the rider is dead) then the dragon considers jumping into nothingness preferable to still living.
  • In Dream Science, a novel about people who have somehow become detached from normal reality into a fractured group of partial alternate reality scenes (some apparently-normal alternate worlds, but also things like an office in a square hallway that has no exit, or an endless department store), death only sends these people into a new reality. After a while, people who are bored with their current world or can't find another way out tend to just kill themselves.
  • Barrington J Bayley's The Fall Of Chronopolis. A hard-boiled timeship captain, facing the total collapse of the space-time continuum around him, jumps into "the strat" (which inescapably Drives Men Mad) after remarking that he has always wondered what it is like.
  • In Immortality, Inc., Thomas Blaine commits suicide willingly in order to allow the teenager he murdered 150 years ago to use his body to live life. Blaine notes he feels no pain in his death.
  • H. Beam Piper wrote a story titled "Last Enemy," about a culture that had accepted reincarnation as a scientifically proven fact. As a result, they'd developed a rather different attitude toward death — it was, at worst, a (temporary) inconvenience; often enough, it was a social event. "Evidently when the Akor-Neb people get tired of their current reincarnation they invite in their friends, throw a big party, and then do themselves in in an atmosphere of general conviviality."
  • In Richard Hooker's MASH, "Painless Pole" Waldowski decides to commit suicide during one of his frequent attacks of depression, and the rest of the camp pitches in to "assist" him. Subverted, in that he doesn't actually die.
  • Subverted in Dostoyevsky's The Possessed; sympathetic (if batshit insane) nihilist Kirillov, Well-Intentioned Extremist and Anti-Villain, wants to kill himself for his own philosophical reasons, and wants his suicide to be a serene, noble apotheosis. Everything is prepared, and he has been anxiously waiting for the right moment for years. However, when the time comes he hesitates. Petr Stepanovic, who needs his death for his own diabolical schemes, tries to kill him, and fails; Kirillov, humiliated and disgusted for his own cowardice, finally shoots himself. His death lets Petr Stepanovic pull a Karma Houdini.
  • Henryk Sienkiewicz's dramatization of Petronius' death who was forced to suicide by Nero, in his novel Quo Vadis, imagines a letter to Nero of equal parts wit and snark, almost savaging his ex-friend more for his artistic "skills" than his crimes.
    "Be well, but don't sing. Kill, but don't write verses. Poison, but don't dance. Burn cities, but don't play the lyre. This is the last friendly bit of guidance you will ever get from Petronius, the arbiter of elegance."
  • Defied, in a Black Comedy kind of way, in Dorothy Parker's poem "Resume":
    Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp;
    Guns aren't lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live.
  • Similarly, in Riverworld, riding "the Suicide Express" is a good way to travel rapidly (if randomly) along the River.
  • Subverted in Street Magic, when the villain poisons herself she takes great care to make it look like this, but Briar notes the foam around her mouth and realizes she did not die as painlessly or quickly as she'd have wanted.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica: Dualla, after the disappointing discovery of a ruined Earth, finds comfort with her ex-husband Lee, celebrates his big speech, goes back to her bunk, smiling and humming a little tune, admonishes Gaeta for trying to bring her down, then takes off her ring, hangs it up, and still humming and grinning, shoots herself in the head.
  • An episode of Farscape introduced a tribe of young hedonists who celebrate their 22nd birthdays by hurling themselves off a cliff- AKA "Taking The Stone". It's eventually revealed that the alternative is to spend the rest of their lives outcast and dying from cumulative radiation poisoning, so most of the tribes people hit the ground with a smile on their faces. Their friends still mourn for the dead, but it's such an ingrained part of their culture that they choose to keep "taking the stone" even when presented with an alternative.
  • In the House episode "97 Seconds", House sticks a knife in an electrical socket so he can have a near-death experience and prove there is no afterlife after one patient claims his experience was proof and mocks House's skepticism as a lack of a similar experience. Besides being just plain weird, it's also very out of character for a man who already has had two near-death experiences. At least he sent a page to a fellow doctor to make sure he'd be revived. Hell probably would have sent him back anyway.
  • The Last of Us (2023): Frank, who's dying of an illness, calmly decides to end his life before it gets even worse. Bill, his husband, chooses the same, not wishing to live without him. He ensures that they're in the bed they shared together as a couple when it happens. They die happily as they're together.
  • Life On Mars: The famous — and famously controversial — series finale had Sam waking up in the real world and going back to his old job... only to realize that the world of 2006/07 is lifeless compared to the 1973 of the mind, and then to calmly get up, excuse himself from a meeting, and take a flying leap from the roof of the police station in an attempt to get back. He seems to succeed.
  • In Lost season 4, Regina wraps herself in chains and casually jumps off the freighter. It is implied she's not the only freightie to commit suicide lately.
  • In Season 4 of Rescue Me, after Chief Reilly is taken off active duty following a heart attack, he ties up all his affairs, including making peace with his homosexual son, then puts on a nice shirt, combs his hair, and commits suicide by revolver.
  • Ted from Scrubs tries (and fails) several times to commit suicide by jumping off of the roof of the hospital. When he falls off accidentally, he laughs and smiles (which rarely happens), shouting "here comes sweet relief" as he's falling. He doesn't die though-instead he lands on a lower roof that is filled with garbage. The janitor tells him if he had fallen off the other side of the roof, he would have hit the ground and died.
  • Ax-Crazy Moriarty eats his gun with a laugh in "The Reichenbach Fall" episode of Sherlock as part of his Thanatos Gambit to bring down Sherlock.
  • In Season Two of True Blood, Godric tired of his existence and allowed himself to be captured by the anti-vampire fanatic group The Fellowship of the Sun, hoping that his death would help bring about reconciliation between humans and vampires. After he is rescued by Sookie and Eric, he tries briefly to hide his reasons for allowing his capture, but eventually confesses that he is tired of living. He later kills himself by "meeting the sun" on a rooftop, bursting into flame and crumbling into dust, while Eric begs him not to.

  • "The art of suicide" by Emilie Autumn is about feeling that life is tiring and meaningless, hence suicide is relieving and aesthetic:
    The art of suicide, pretty and clean
    Conveys a theatrical scene
    "Alas, I'm gone!" she cried
    Ankles displayed
    Melodramatically laid
  • A few examples by Cormorant, namely "The Emigrant's Wake", "Hanging Gardens" and "A Sovereign Act" (although the last falls closer with Face Death with Dignity).
  • "What The Water Gave Me" by Florence + the Machine is a happy song about suicide by drowning.
  • In Evil Food Eater Conchita by mothy, it's not clear whether Conchita was truly on the brink of starvation or if her appetite was just too hard to ignore, but she ends up eating herself because she's the last "edible" meal left in her castle. She actually seems rather pleased that she got to taste everything in the world.
  • Tori Amos: the narrator dreams about becoming the titular "Happy Phantom" and having fun after killing herself.
  • TUYU's "I'm Getting on the Bus to the Other World, See Ya!" features this as a running theme, with the singer expressing how much she thinks dying would be better for her and in the PV is depicted as cheerfully running off to the bus headed for the other side. However, it's subverted at the very end, where she does finally "get on that bus", but she quickly mentions that she "regretted it, cried, and screamed" on the way there.

    Print Media 
  • Played for Black Comedy in the MAD paperback Don Martin Drops 13 Stories! A businessman, depressed over his company's sinking profits, goes for a walk and spots a guy on the street bearing a sign reading "Brighten up your day! Buy a tie — $1.00." He immediately perks up and buys a tie from him, skips merrily up the stairs to his office... and uses the tie to hang himself, still wearing a huge grin.

    Video Games 
  • Due, again, to Resurrective Immortality, pilots in EVE Online may fast-travel by setting their clone to a location near their desired destination, then self-destructing their escape capsule to bask briefly in hard vacuum.
  • Heavily implied with Joshua in The World Ends with You, who could apparently see the Reapers' Game (a sort of active and battle-focused Chess with Death) when he was alive, and claims that life "was one giant bore." Later he even says "I'm here because I want to be," apparently sealing the matter, until it turns out he's the Composer, who runs the Game, and we don't know if he's alive or dead, or even if he was ever mortal in the first place.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: This is why Dracula tries to kill Ben Franklin II, and later Dr McNinja, in order to send them ahead in to the afterlife as scouts before trying it out himself.
  • Jack:
    • Bashful, in the side arcs: "I think that's why I'm [in Hell]. My parents didn't want me to have any fun, and I was gonna have to marry some boring snotty chick when we both turned eighteen. So I found a way out!" Apparently he drove a car off a cliff. He looks back on the incident fondly, as he merely considers it an adventure/extreme sport. Unfortunately, as he's recently revealed, he did this while his fiancée was also in the car, which is why he's in Hell. However, regardless of what he did he'd probably have ended up in Hell anyway; in Jack, suicide for any reason is a one-way ticket.
    • Lita kills herself knowing that suicide is a guaranteed ticket to Hell, for the sake of hunting down her father and killing him (again). She doesn't know he's now the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Sin of Lust.
  • In the Brie Meighsaton House arc of Sluggy Freelance, the house is haunted by several ghosts, including a former owner who was tormented by the other ghosts until driven to suicide. He didn't commit suicide to escape the ghosts - he did it so he could become a ghost himself, able to physically punish them for what they've done.
  • Tnemrot has Angel, who would rather be killed than return to her master.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Happens now and then in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, usually as a consequence of the show's Negative Continuity format.
    • In one instance, Master Shake overdoses on pills, inserts a hose leading from a running car's exhaust pipe into his mouth, and then jumps into an electrified swimming pool filled with piranhas - so that, as a ghost, he can haunt Meatwad through a Ouija game.
    • After learning that Meatwad recruited the Aqua Teens into the Marine Corps, Shake promptly blows his own head off with a shotgun so they can't take him, and they take him anyway. (He also shows up miraculously alive in the next shot, with his head taped back together.)
    • In "Dirtfoot", he slices his head off so he can see a woman without her clothes.
  • Drawn Together uses this multiple times for comedy, including one scene where the Link pastiche Xandir stabs himself multiple times to reduce his life count to zero, eventually getting the point where he sounds tired of being tired of life.
  • Futurama:
    • Bender, while trying to kill himself in a suicide booth in the first episode, seems very blasé about it. He's also the Robot Buddy, and considering what else he's survived (an ax to the back, being flattened like a pancake, and being buried for over 1,000 years, among other things) it might not have actually worked anyway...
    • Just the existence of suicide booths proves that a lot of people are into this in the future. Interestingly, suicide booths have a "Quick and Painless" setting, the other option being "Slow and Horrible."
  • In Moral Orel, after a near-death experience causes him to think God's trying to talk to him, Orel tries to kill himself to have another near-death experience. He and Doughy look so cheerful when Orel electrocutes himself.
    Doughy: [as Orel lies unconscious] That was easy!
  • One of the more disturbing episodes from Ren & Stimpy (and that's really saying something) features a ghost who tries to scare the title characters away from his house. When he fails miserably, he decides to stab himself to death. The protagonists stop him, only to convince him to drink poison instead. This actually leads to him being resurrected. As a black man with a completely different voice and personality.
  • South Park: In "Coon Vs Coon and Friends", Kenny kills himself several times. Once, in a desperate attempt to get his friends to remember his many deaths, another time, to escape from an alternate dimension, and yet another because he was just tired. As he reminds us in case we forgot after 100+ deaths throughout the show's history:
    Kenny: [Immortality] is not cool, Kyle. It fucking hurts!

    Real Life  
  • “No man ever threw away life while it was worth keeping.” ― David Hume, Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul.
  • The suicide note left by the actor George Sanders attributed his actions to simple boredom.
  • Hunter S. Thompson in his famous suicide note (titled "Football Season Is Over"). He was known to have painful, progressive health problems, and life had gotten boring because he wasn't able to do what he used to.
    "No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun - for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax - This won't hurt..."
  • Timothy Leary (although he didn't commit suicide) recommended suicide for boredom.
  • George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, had a suicide note that read, in total, "Dear friends: My work is done. Why wait?"
  • The Roman historian Tacitus describes the suicide of Petronius this way - although it was forced on him by Nero, he uses the opportunity to say "screw you" to the emperor:
    Yet he did not fling away life with precipitate haste, but having made an incision in his veins and then, according to his humor, bound them up, he again opened them, while he conversed with his friends, not in a serious strain or on topics that might win for him the glory of courage. And he listened to them as they repeated, not thoughts on the immortality of the soul or on the theories of philosophers, but light poetry and playful verses. To some of his slaves he gave liberal presents, a flogging to others. He dined, indulged himself in sleep, that death, though forced on him, might have a natural appearance. Even in his will he did not, as did many in their last moments, flatter Nero or Tigellinus or any other of the men in power. On the contrary, he described fully the prince's shameful excesses, with the names of his male and female companions and their novelties in debauchery, and sent the account under seal to Nero.
  • This married couple in their thirties seemed to have just seen it all. Obviously, there may be some other reason they didn't want to mention, but to take their note at face value, they'd lived wonderful, happy lives together, seen and done everything they wanted to, and were simply ready to leave. No hint of some source of angst in their note, or in anything their friends or families knew of their lives.

Alternative Title(s): Blissful Suicide, Peaceful Suicide