The protagonists are walking down a hallway or simply just relaxing and minding their own business when suddenly out of nowhere one of them is killed in a horrific manner. This often can and does fall in the category of Gorn. This form of demise can lead to The Reveal and can often lead to the confrontation with the Big Bad. Typically includes or is accompanied by Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. Sometimes is foreshadowed very briefly by the killer being shown just before the character's death. Most commonly associated with Horror and typically the responsible party is of the monster variety. It can also be used to reveal any obstacles in the protagonist's way by killing a less important character or a Red Shirt, if there are any. Not limited to villains, however, as it can also be done as part of a Mook Horror Show.
Compare with Dropped a Bridge on Him. Can also be considered a subtrope of Harbinger of Impending Doom but is generally a plot twist. As in, up to this point everything has been going in the protagonist's favor up until this trope is invoked. Also compare with Dynamic Entry, which is usually nonfatal and portrayed in a lighter tone. In the Back may use this. Killed Mid-Sentence is a specific sub-trope, and Distracted from Death may overlap.
Contrast Dice Roll Death, where a character is killed by bad luck.
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
- Kaname Tousen from Bleach. When fighting Hisagi, he pulls out his Hollow form, and while busy laughing at how screwed the heroes are...is promptly stabbed in the head by Hisagi before he can show anything. This doesn't kill him though. As he lies dying, Tousen is filled with remorse. He asks Hisagi if he can show him his face, but is abruptly killed by Aizen, who explodes his body.
- Code Geass: Senba's Burai is sniped In the Back by Gino in Turn 6 of R2, exploding and killing him.
- Happens at the end of the second episode of Cross Ange when Coco is killed by a portal opening.
- Death Note had a particularly nasty one at the end of the anime, when Mikami, realizing that Kira and his cause are done for, drives his pen into his chest, puncturing his heart and spraying blood everywhere. He dies within the minute, while the surrounding police officers are running like headless chooks and trying to stabilise him.
- Elfen Lied is full of these, two of the most notable examples being the deaths of Kouta's sister and father: Lucy splits Kanae in half while she tearfully apologizes to Kouta, and then decapitates his father when he walks over a moment later. Both deaths happen within mere seconds of each other.
- Full Metal Panic!:
- When the Arbalest makes it's first appearance in Khanka, Sousuke plays a lethal variation of hide-and-seek with five Savages. As in, every time he appears from the dark, a Savage permanently goes off the radar via being stabbed, shot or hit by a tree.
- The entrance of Clouseau in The Second Raid. As a Savage is about to unleash some autocannon goodness on Sousuke and co. fleeing in a car, it takes a headshot from the side. Then Clouseau disengages ECS, throws one of his machetes into another Savage then expertly dodges incoming shots and stabs the third.
- Anderson attempts this with Seras and nearly succeeds, but misses her heart.
- When Seras and Alucard are ordered to chase down the vampire couple that are massacring houses. Alucard blasts the male vampire through the door when he goes to answer it, empties a entire clip into him, reaches into his chest and crushes his heart, killing him.
- Higurashi: When They Cry: uses this on occasion; during the Massacre Chapter, the club have just dispatched the men pursuing them, and decide to hijack their car to get Rika and Satoko to safety. The group run in to knock out the last few men, when a shot rings out, and Keiichi suddenly falls over. The manga completely averts this however, by having Hanyuu stop time before the bullet hits so everyone can contemplate what to do when it inevitably hits Keiichi (when she stops time, it's inches from his chest).
- Hunter × Hunter:
- Neferpitou, who was just introduced, jumps directly to the heroes and rips off Kite's right arm. After their off-screen battle, Neferpitou is shown sitting with Kite's severed head, having only received scratches from the battle.
- Sillva's deadly Dynamic Entry kills Cheetu (before he can show all his abilities).
- Phinks is undercover and arrives at the place where Uvogin is captured, where he impales Dallzollene.
- In Judge, this happens to Hiro. After he and Hikari have accomplished their goal, they talk about how they are finally free and can start a new life... only for Hiro to collapse and cause Hikari to admit that she poisoned him because she learned that he was indirectly responsible for Atsuya's death.
- Regius' death in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. One second he's being confronted by Zest over the death of his squad, then there's suddenly a set of claws stabbed through the back of his chest by that pink-haired girl in the background that you probably didn't even notice was there (who then reveals herself to be Due). He bleeds out before he even gets the chance to finish another sentence.
- One Piece:
- Seeing how the series had never killed any major characters outside of flashbacks until that point, and that the Marineford Arc was all about saving Ace, it was pretty sudden when they were finally free and running away that Ace suddenly threw himself between Akainu and Luffy, getting impaled and burned to death in the process.
- Orochi. One panel, he's realizing Kaido has his own plans for Wano that run contrary to his own, the next panel he's merely starting to voice his objections... and the panel after that his head's flying off his shoulders from a sword swipe from Kaido. The latter then continues his speech like he didn't just kill the shogun and one of his key pieces in the whole scheme.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Episode Three. Mami doesn't pay enough attention when fighting Charlotte, and promptly gets eaten headfirst.
- In Zombie Land Saga we meet Sakura Minamoto, an Ordinary High-School Student with dreams of becoming an Idol Singer. The first minute of the show is a typical morning, where she listens to the usual music, gets ready to start a perfectly normal day at school, and is killed by a speeding truck. Of course, that's only the beginning of her story...
- In the Left 4 Dead comic two guards just heard the alarm to evacuate their base, then they are killed by a Hunter and a Smoker before they could react.
- Agent 355 in Y: The Last Man dies this way shortly before the end of the story, just as she and Yorick have decided that they will.
- Shockingly, this is how Tommy Oliver dies in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) #25, ran through the back by his Evil Counterpart Lord Drakkon. What makes this so surprising is that this is Power Rangers, a series known to be Lighter and Softer than its Super Sentai counterparts.
- This is a regular occurrence in Strikeforce: Morituri. The Morituri Process which gives the protagonists their superpowers is guaranteed to kill them within a year, but no one knows when it occurs. Characters could (and did) die in the most unexpected and inconvenient times, such as the beginning of a stealth attack on a Horde fleet.
- Rei does this in Aeon Entelechy Evangelion as a variation of her first appearance. On the other hand it could been all in Shinji's head (looking at Cosmic Horrors from up close is not a good thing for your sanity) and what really happened was a Dynamic Entry by Misato's team.
- Fallout: Equestria: Steelhooves/Applesnack is on the wrong end of a Hellhound attack very early on in Chapter 39. This comes as a bit of a shock due to his status as a Canterlot ghoul, hence able to revive from most forms of damage. Turns out decapitation isn't something he can revive from.
- It happens to multiple characters in the Homestuck fancomic Alabaster: The Doomed Session, but mainly to this poor dog.
- Partway into Eugenesis, Autobot City is getting swarmed by Quintessons. Grimlock meets up with Ultra Magnus as the Autobots are trying to fight them off and the two start discussing what they should do. Than in midsentence a string of gunfire from a passing hovercraft blasts Grimlock in the chest and kills him. The narration even notes that as he fell over he looked more surprised than pained.
- A Diplomatic Visit: Chapter 2 of the sequel Diplomat at Large explains that this happened to Queen Scolopidia's mother, who was fatally injured by a Gmork (this story's name for the yeti-like thing that Pinkie met in "Party Pooped") near the border of Yakyakistan, leaving Scolopidia with no choice but to undergo her metamorphosis into a Queen as fast as she could to prevent her hive from dying.
- In Annals Of Darkness, Tom Marcinek takes a blow from a Neoshadow meant for Namine, when neither she nor Roxas noticed it because they couldn't stop fighting.
- Hellsister Trilogy: At the start of "The Apokolips Agenda", Brainiac is calmly addressing a gathering of super-villains when he gets abruptly blasted from behind by Darkseid, who has just teleported himself in the place to announce he's in charge of operations now. Every villain nervously agrees.
- A Cold Calculus: Following the Britannian loyalists' victory in the Battle of Pendragon, the entire Imperial family sans Euphie suddenly drops dead as though someone used a Death Note on them. And "entire" means everybody with a blood tie to the Imperial line, no matter how distant, resulting in people spontaneously dropping dead because one of their ancestors was the unacknowledged illegitimate child of the younger sibling of an Emperor who died centuries ago, or something equally remote.
- Alien series.
- Alien: The dinner scene. Kane, having been infected previously, eats dinner after recovering, appearing perfectly normal. He suddenly starts convulsing and is killed by a chestburster. Doubly so as even the actors had no clue that was going to happen and were told it was just a normal dinner scene: their reactions to Kane convulsing and having a thing tear from his chest were genuine.
- Aliens: The android Bishop is apologizing for scaring the heroine. At this moment, he is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice and you see the Alien Queen drop down from underneath the Dropship where it had stowed onto the ship and then rip Bishop in half with her claws. Subverted in that Bishop isn't dead — he's a robot, after all.
- Alien³: Dr. Clemens is built up as a main character, but then he suddenly gets grabbed by the Alien and killed off. The prison warden is killed while yelling at Ripley. In a room full of other people, no less.
- Used for comedy in The Boondock Saints. In the middle of a relatively serious scene of the main characters getting drunk and discussing plans, Rocco slams his fists down on the table. This sets off his gun, resulting in his girlfriend's cat getting blown all over the wall to the complete shock of everyone involved.
- The climax of Avengers: Infinity War ends with Thanos, having managed to don the Infinity Gauntlet with all 6 Stones equipped, performing a fingersnap that erases half of the universe's living population from existence. Included in that number are Peter Parker, Dr. Stephen Strange, King T'Challa, Wanda Maximoff, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, the (remaining) Guardians of the Galaxy, and Nick Fury.
- In Caché, after inviting Georges into his home, Majid slits his own throat. It's the fact that the death is self-inflicted that is shocking, as well as the apparent lack of motivation for doing so.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is on the verge of killing Batman, and suddenly gets Blown Across the Room by Catwoman without any preamble or any indication whatsoever of what's about to happen.
- As Michael in Death Warmed Up goes through a Heroic BSoD about winning over the bad guys in the film's ending, power lines near him suddenly break loose and electrocute him to death. His girlfriend Sandy then runs into the night, and credits roll.
- Deep Blue Sea, Samuel L. Jackson, when he gets snarfed down by a shark as he's giving his Rousing Speech.
- In The Departed, Billy Costigan is killed by a shot to the head instantly and with no warning whatsoever.
- Final Destination is now known for its drawn-out, overly complex and infeasible death sequences but the first movie has a notoriously simple and shocking death when Terri is hit by a bus immediately after a heated argument with her friends. Cue the rewind button on a lot of home videos to check if that really did just happen.
- A similar scene happens in Final Destination 4, when two characters leave a hospital deep in conversation and one gets run over by an ambulance.
- In Goodfellas, Samuel L. Jackson, again, is late for his own fucking funeral. We get a full second's warning before he gets a bullet in the head. His killer gets one himself, when he thinks he's about to be a made man, but is shot in the back of the head, not even completing his realization, "Oh, n—-!"
- The Hateful Eight: When Warren orders Daisy's brother to come out of the basement by holding Daisy hostage, the siblings share an "it's going to be okay" smile as they look at each other... then Warren blasts his head off.
- Jurassic Park, this happens with the programmer played by Samuel L. Jackson when he goes to reset the circuit breakers and is eaten alive by a Velociraptor offscreen. Ellie has to run from the very same Velociraptor when she enters the bunker to reset the breaker.
- In the film version of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, this is how Hama dies. He and Gamling are riding along, minding their own business, then their horses start freaking out and then, suddenly, warg attack!
- Mermaid has Alice and the car at the end which just barely misses her. And the second one which doesn't.
- Pacific Rim has Raleigh's brother Yancy, who's ripped from Gipsy Danger's cockpit and Killed Mid-Sentence with absolutely no forewarning.
- "Bikini Girl" from Planet of the Dinosaurs: It is less than thirty seconds from the time she starts to strip down to her bikini to the time she's eaten by a monster.
- One death scene in Psycho was filmed to invoke this, as focusing the camera on the man's feet would clue the audience in that something was about to happen.
- Pulp Fiction: The scene which is the Trope Namer for I Just Shot Marvin in the Face, is additionally also an example of this.
- In Red Dawn (2012) Jed is suddenly shot in the head when the Wolverine's base is ambushed.
- The first Resident Evil movie does this not only one, not twice, not even three times but four times.
- The first time is is when the Red Queen kills half the military team and the leader by using the lasers to kill them off one by one until the team leader avoids the deadly lasers and the Queen creates a laser net to kill him resulting in There Is No Kill Like Over Kill.
- The second time is when the remainder of the team is trying to escape and trying to open a code locked door. One of the members gets it open, and is dragged to the ground and devoured, complete with screams, to show exactly how much shit has just hit the fan.
- The third time is after Spence backstabs the group and traps them in the lab, he tries to get on the train. He stops to inject himself with the anti-virus, and is attacked by the
HunterLicker and killed, introducing another obstacle that later tries to attack them while still trapped in the lab when the Queen unleashes a plan.
- The fourth and final time is when the
HunterLicker attacks the group as they're fleeing on the train and rips open one of the doors and snatches Kaplan and eats him outside the train, after which he attacks the rest of the group.
- Serenity: The crew is being chased by a Reaver ship through a giant space battle. After some technical difficulties they manage to make a rough landing. Wash starts to repeat his signature line for the movie, congratulating himself on landing with no power to speak of, when a huge metal spike crashes through the cockpit window and takes Wash right through the heart, killing him instantly. Turns out he didn't lose the Reavers, which are still after them and the crew is still utterly screwed.
- At the start of Seven Psychopaths, two hitmen are discussing various topics. Suddenly, a man in a mask walks up and blows both of their heads off - introducing us to the first psychopath, the Jack of Diamonds.
- Parodied in Spaceballs (which even has John Hurt, who lampshades the entire event by muttering "Oh no, not again!")
- In Team America: World Police, Carson is the only member of the team to die- in the first scene, no less. He attempts to propose to Lisa, only for a terrorist who had been shot into a fountain to shoot him.
- In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Kirk has just entered the farmhouse when Leatherface suddenly appears next to him and kills him with a hammer. What set this apart from a standard jumpscare is the matter-of-factly way its done. No Scare Chord, no crazy angles, just... a quick death.
- The Thing (1982), when one of the members has an apparent heart attack and the doctor tries to revive him with a defibrillator. Turns out the team member was the titular Thing when the guy's chest splits open and literally disarms the doctor.
- In the film Spartan, Val Kilmer's character is having a quiet meeting in a grassy backyard with an information who clues him into the disappearance of an unnamed government official's daughter. It doesn't end well.
- Quite common in works by Derek Robinson. All part of his campaign to make sure his readers know that War Is Hell.
- Happens with regularity in the Dale Brown novels, where human error results in the Dreamland team getting snuck up on and taking a pounding. For example:
- In Flight of the Old Dog the Kavaznya laser cannon actually acts like a Real Life laser in being instantaneous, seemingly coming out of nowhere and effectively undodgeable to its various victims.
- In Shadow Command EB-1C Vampires have just successfully attacked a laser cannon when Russian missiles speed in and splash them before countermeasures can be taken.
- In Elijah of Buxton, Elijah and Mr. Leroy are riding to the Preacher's last known location when Mr. Leroy just falls off his horse. Elijah rushes back to him and discovers that he's dying. In his final moments, Mr. Leroy makes Elijah swear that he'll get his money back, and if he can't that he'll kill the Preacher.
- The Forever War, being a sci-fi war novel written by an actual Vietnam vet, takes this trope and runs with it. Causes of sudden, random death include: laser to the face, dropship crash, space suit malfunction, earthquake, surprise missile attack by your own superiors, dart to the chest, jumping too hard and leaving orbit, and slipping and falling on frozen helium.
- Starship Troopers has its share of very sudden deaths, compounded by rampant Anyone Can Die.
- This being a death trope, the Malazan Book of the Fallen series has multiple instances. One that stands out for being a rather egregious Diabolus ex Machina, even for this series, is the death of Trull Sengar at the end of Reapers' Gale. The Big Bad is dead, the war is over and Trull is taking a moment alone to catch his breath. Then he's stabbed in the back by the now-totally insane Evil Chancellor we haven't seen for the past 200 pages.
- When the party starts a-dwindling in Galaxy of Fear: The Doomsday Ship, each death is novel and rather sudden, each soon after the last - Evil Elevator, knocked down an empty elevator shaft, sucked into space through a hole in the ship, attacked by acid-spraying robots until falling. There's even a noncomedic example of The Door Slams You and a character being locked into a room with the air being pumped out, but those characters don't die.
- Harry Potter
- In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Sirius is killed unexpectedly when he falls through a veil that separates the living from the dead when struck be a stunning spell from Bellatrix right after Dumbledore arrives and Harry and Neville think they're all saved and the fighting is dying down.
- During the Battle of Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Fred Weasley is suddenly and unexpectedly killed in an explosion (it's never revealed who caused it). He's the last character anyone expected to die.
- Snapes death is also so sudden that even he probably didnt know why he died.
- Not uncommon in A Song of Ice and Fire. For instance, people can be forgiven for flipping back a few pages during the Red Wedding to determine when exactly the crossbows came out.
- Happens often enough in the Destroyermen series, which is unsurprising in gunnery duels between WWII warships. The best example is Seaman Ray Mertz, a messman aboard the USS Walker. The poor bastard is in the galley during the Battle of Baalkpan, making sandwiches for the crew, who have been fighting a numerically-superior Grik/Japanese fleet for hours. A 10-inch shell from the battlecruiser Amagi rips the galley right out of Walker's midship deckhouse. Mertz never knew what hit him, and there wasn't even enough left of him to bury when it was over.
- In book fourteen of The Dresden Files, Cold Days, Lily, the Summer Lady, gets shot in the head by Maeve with no warning. Bonus points for nobody, not even Mab, seeing it coming.
- In Codex Alera Rook gets killed by the Vord Queen in a shockingly offhanded way, with no drama and just a callous comment that barely relates to her at all, showing her total lack of significance to the Queen.
- In Zeus Is Dead, Jason is flung to his death by the Furies with little fanfare, and Hecate is unceremoniously offed by a flailing Titan.
- In Kill Decision, the team are planning their next move when Hoov gets killed by a sniper.
- Used bizarrely in Ciaphas Cain. In one story, one of the quotes at the beginning of a chapter is "Well that was unexpected" by a certain Varan the Undefeatable. When we actually meet him in a later story, it's actually a I Am Not Left-Handed moment as he screams the line while revealing his chaos mutations extend to a bulletproof carapace,and Cain has some diffficulty killing him.
- In The Dinosaur Lords, Pope Pío is in the climax of an impassioned call to arms when he drops dead from a cardiac arrest, to surprise of everyone.
- In The Wheel of Time, Rand's attempt to defeat the Card-Carrying Villain Sammael is shaping up to be a high-powered Wizard Duel between The Chosen One and someone who considered him his nemesis for 3000 years, right up until Sammael gets unceremoniously overrun by a horrifically lethal Fog of Doom. This caused much speculation since Rand Never Found the Body, only for Word of God to explain that Sammael was a "louse" who didn't deserve a more narratively fulfilling death.
In The Riseof Kyoshi Lek dies from an allergic reaction to a poison with no buildup or fanfare.
- True Blood loves doing this, especially in ways that you really didn't see it coming.
- Season 1 and two had Eddie (suddenly pierced with a wooden floorboard) and Gabe (Neck Snap courtesy of Godric).
- Season 3 had Alcide suddenly shooting Cooter through the head, as well as Jason's surprisingly swift murder of Franklin. Others include Lorena Krasiki and Talbot. And let's not forget the Magister.
- In season 4, Claudine (attacked by Eric), Sheriff Blackburn, Sheriff Kirsch, Nan Flanagan herself (taken off guard by Bill), Flanagan's guards, Luis Patino - all qualify.
- In season 5, almost everyone. Russell Edgington, Hayes (vampire guard from 5x01), General Cavanaugh, Don Bartolo, Rosalyn, Alexander Drew, Roman Zimojic, Dieter Braun, Kibwe Akinjide, Sheriff Elijah Stormer, Cat Ingerslev and the other Sanguinistas seen in 5x01, Chelsea, the unsavory vampire who was feeding off Hoyt, Gondry and Lambert (Bill's guards who Jessica and Jason killed), the escort guys Eric staked, the two male vampires that Alcide fought and of course the entire security staff of the Authority Headquarters.
- Lost: Arzt in Season 1, and Ilana in Season 6. The latter seems to have been a homage to the former, as they both die in the same manner - exploding mid-conversation while handling dynamite.
- British sitcom Ideal:
- Moz mentions to Cartoon Head (a hitman) that they should "take Craig out", meaning taking him out to a club. Cartoon Head, high on LSD at the time, misinterprets this and shoots Craig in the head.
- In a later series Craig's identical twin brother Steve suffers an equally sudden death, accidentally shooting himself with a gun Psycho Paul told him wasn't loaded while preparing to rescue Moz's dad.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- In the very first scene of "Welcome to the Hellmouth", the young guy sneaks his young female friend into the High School at night. It's dark and creepy and she's uncomfortable. It's clear he has dark and creepy [read: 'pointy teeth'] designs on her. She timidly asks if they're really all alone and when he verifies that they are, she's the one who grows teeth and puts the bite on him.
- Tara in "Seeing Red". Warren runs into Buffy's lawn, shoots a few times with a gun, and Buffy and Tara are both hit, which sends Willow on a revenge spree.
- A villain-on-villain example, when Simone kills The General.
- Toru surprises the gang by appearing out of nowhere and putting the pointy end of the Scythe through Renee's chest, killing her.
- In the second episode of the second season of Battlestar Galactica, "Valley of Darkness", some Viper pilots are relaxing after fighting off a Cylon basestar in the previous episode, "Scattered". Cue one of the Cylon Centurions who've boarded the Galactica looming out and slashing one of them across the chest.
- Bennet is killed this way. She has a conversation with Dr. Saunders who, as Topher walks into the room, just pulls out a gun and shoots her in the head. Also serves as The Reveal that Saunders is a Sleeper Agent.
- Paul in the final episode is killed instantly in the middle of a shootout, again through a sudden bullet to the head. It even happens mid-sentence with no buildup whatsoever.
- Used several times in 1000 Ways to Die. One notorious example is the Pam Caked segment: the Alpha Bitch Pamela causes the flyer of her cheerleader group, Amber, to fall to the ground in public due to petty jealousy, and when she stands in front of the girls to gloat... she is accidentally trampled to death by the whole football team, as they enter the sports grounds through a banner that blocks her from their view.
- Kate from NCIS dives in front of Gibbs in order to take the bullet intended for him. For a second everyone believes her dead, but she jumps right up, revealing her Bulletproof Vest. However, as they are all laughing in relief, Ari shoots her in the head and walks away.
- This is how it ended up with Claire Kincaid in Law & Order: In the the last few seconds of "Aftershock" (while driving a drunk Lenny home), her car is t-boned by a drunk driver. Claire was only supposed to be crippled by the accident, but since Jill Hennesey declined to come back to film a farewell scene, they wrote her off as having died.
- The Mentalist has His Red Right Hand in which Jane and Lisbon are lightheartedly joking with a secretary as they make their way to Bosco's office... where Bosco and his entire team are found massacred.
- The Missing - In series 2, the end of an episode ends on Jorn in the present day following a seemingly normal lead into one of the missing girls - turns out he'd accidentally found a prime suspect in the kidnap case. They both realise at the same time that the prospect-kidnapper has been caught out, and the man grabs Jorn in a headlock and grapples him to the ground, before grabbing a powerdrill and drilling Jorn IN THE FACE. It's a very sudden and brutal death that the episode ends on, and the character murdered was a fan favourite and one of the few characters in the show without any unlikable aspects to his personality.
- The X-Files:
- Scully's father was killed off this way. The first time we meet him, he's having dinner with his daughter at her home. An hour later, she gets a call saying he's died of a heart attack.
- Diana Fowley's death. After a season and a half of tormenting Mulder and Scully, she is murdered and we are only informed after the event.
- The Sopranos:
- Most of the deaths qualify, since mob hits generally take place when the victim isn't expecting it. Notable examples include Jackie Aprile Jr., Tony Blundetto, and Phil Leotardo in the final episode.
- Gigi Cestone, a fairly prominent regular, abruptly dies of a heart attack on the toilet midway through Season 3. Later in the first episode of Season 6, Ray Curto, who had been a captain in Tony's mob since the first season, randomly dies of an aneurysm in the car of an FBI agent.
- Two murders committed by Tony - Ralph Cifaretto and Chris Moltisanti - are not exactly "sudden", but are even more shocking than the other hits because Tony decides to kill them spontaneously, rather than by an arranged whacking.
- One of the interpretations of the final moments of the series is that it was a depiction of the murder of Tony Soprano — from his perspective.
- The fifth season opens with series mainstay David Palmer writing his memoirs while visiting his brother. He steps in front of an open window... and immediately gets struck dead by a sniper's bullet, less than three minutes into the episode.
- Usually members of the main cast are killed at the end of an episode, to make their deaths all the more surprising or shocking. Bill Buchanan dies close to the beginning of one in the seventh season, performing a very quick Heroic Sacrifice that causes an explosion, annihilating himself.
- Law & Order: UK:
- After the successful prosecution of a murderous drug dealer, DS Matt Devlin and CP Alesha Philips are escorting the chief witness to juvenile detention, praising him for his decision to testify in the face of threats and intimidation. It seems as though the episode will end on a high note, until a car pulls up and shots ring out. Devlin is fatally wounded pushing Alesha and the kid to safety.
- In the episode "Hard Stop", DI Wes Leyton celebrates his birthday at the police station with the other officers, leaves for a dinner with his wife—and is gunned down in the parking lot.
- The Walking Dead:
- In the episode "Nebraska", Rick, Glenn, and Hershel meet two guys in a bar. Rick kills them both in about five seconds flat when they imply they want to take the farm by force.
- Axel is having an amicable chat with Carol while they're both on watch duty, when he suddenly goes down to a Pretty Little Headshots courtesy of the Governor, presaging an assault on the prison.
- In the sixth season, Denise gives a monologue about overcoming her fears when she takes a crossbow bolt through the head mid-sentence.
- Beta. He's about to kill Negan when Daryl sneaks up behind him, slashes him across the arm, and drives his two knives into Beta's eyes the second he turns around. After that Beta simply accepts his demise and makes no last attempt to fight back before the walkers swarm him.
- Game of Thrones takes after the books in this regard. Then adds a few other rewind-worthy, surprising deaths of minor, background or adapted characters. As if the death count wasn't high enough as it is in the main plot.
- In season 6, Ramsay abruptly stabs Roose less than a minute after it is announced that Walda has given birth.
- In season 8, Daenerys is idyllically flying to Dragonstone when Rhaegal is taken out by scorpion bolts. Later on, Qyburn tries to stop the Mountain from picking a fight with Sandor and gets thrown headfirst into a rock for his troubles in a hilariously abrupt fashion.
- Casualty has the death of Paramedic Jeff Collier. He's still inside a tipped-over people-carrier that explodes after all of the victims-of-the-week (who are regular cast members themselves) have been pulled out of the wreckage alive.
- Doctor Who:
- Most of the Doctors died spectacular deaths while saving the Universe or a small part of it. Poor Seven: ten minutes into the film he steps out of the TARDIS door and is caught in crossfire.
- When the Tenth Doctor meets his next incarnation he expresses hope that his death won't be one of these. Like tripping over a brick. note
"That'd be embarrassing. Then again, painless. Well there are worse ways to go. Depends on the brick."
- True Detective:
- Reggie Ledoux getting unexpectedly shot execution-style by Hart. It's mostly surprising because he was the primary suspect for the murders, and most people were thinking he'd have a bigger role.
- Det. Teague Dixon from episode 4 of the second season is unceremoniously shot in the head near the beginning of a shootout.
- The Wire generally avoids this, except for the infamous case of Omar Little, the Ensemble Dark Horse and Memetic Badass drug dealer Robin Hood, who, after four seasons of constantly outsmarting and killing some of the biggest names in the show, is abruptly shot in the back of the head - by a child - while buying cigarettes.
- Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp: Greg and Jim Stansel are both shot in the head in quick succession by The Falcon while Jim is talking to the press. Despite the show being a goofy comedy, their deaths are pretty startling.
- L.A. Law: Rosalind Shays' infamous death via falling down an elevator shaft. Most viewers didn't realize the elevator wasn't there until Rosalind had already stepped in to her doom.
- In "CQB" of The Expanse, while the Donnager is in the middle of a battle with an unknown force, Alex Kamel suffers a panic attack. Shed Garvey does his best to calm him down, but as he does this, he's suddenly decapitated by the round of a rail gun which fires through the hull of their ship and into their room.
Shed: Trust me, we're all going to be just fi-
- Once the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town gets to the murder stage, players draw cards from the terror deck to guide the scene. If they draw the Joker, the victim dies, and this could easily happen within the first few draws. Like what happened when Jake was drawing for Olivia.
Jake: Olivia starts walking towards the symbol...*beat* And she dies.
*Cue laughter from everyone else*
- The Adventure Zone: Balance: In the last episode of the Stolen Century-arc, Lup opens up to her brother Taako about the guilt she feels over the creation of the Grand Relics, and the wars that ensued as a result. Taako cheers her up by playing and dancing to the Thong Song, prompting a heartfelt speech from Lup, in which she thanks him for being there for her whenever she needed him. That was the last conversation they had before Lup went missing.
Griffin: When someone leaves your life, those exits are not made equal. Some are beautiful and poetic and satisfying. Others are abrupt and unfair. But most are just unremarkable, unintentional, and clumsy. [...] From your perspective, Lup was there, and then the next day she wasn't. And you all searched for her, Barry tirelessly, painfully so, but she was nowhere to be found. All you had to go on was a note, that she left on that kitchen table. And its two-word message offered no clues to her whereabouts, but simply a promise that was left unfulfilled. "Back soon."
- In Murder Ballad: after building up to the murder for an hour and a half, the decision, preparation, and act clock in at 25 consecutive seconds.
- Can happen in a non-narrative way in almost any game that has kamikaze, shotgun, or otherwise one-hit-kill enemies if you're not paying attention. One of the most well-known examples of this are the Creepers in Minecraft.
- Dead Space introduces the necromorphs by having the player enter another room to shut down a security lock. A bio-hazard lock down is immediately triggered and both redshirts accompanying the player are ripped apart as the player watches.
- Dead Space 2 practically starts with one of these, as a man who wakes Isaac up out of a coma is suddenly impaled and turned into a necromorph.
- In Doom 3, you're introduced to the Lost Souls through the horrific death of a female scientist, whose head rips itself off her body to become the monster in question.
- First Encounter Assault Recon:
- In F.E.A.R. your first encounter with Alma, sorta, is after you open a gate and walk back to rejoin your squad you find that they have been skeletonized, you also get a replay of exactly what happened as well, and it's the first inkling you have that something is amiss. You spend the rest of the game being terrorized by her and almost getting killed by her.
- In F.E.A.R. 2, after Terry Halford gives you a nice little energy weapon, it looks like you're going to be saddled with an Escort Mission...that is, until a Replica Assassin uncloaks from behind and rips the guy's head off.
- In F.3.A.R. the first real look one gets at the Creep is when it manifests in the middle of a group of Armacham soldiers and rips them apart right in front of you.
- In Starcraft, a group of demolitions specialist marines and a Ghost have boarded a space station overrun by Zerg. In spite of the seriousness of the mission, the soldiers have brought a case of beer as they set the bomb. And, of course, as one is drinking his beer and laughing off the danger of the Zerg presence, he gets a Hydralisk talon right through the back of his skull and out his face, the first strike in the Zerg attack.
- inFAMOUS: One mission called "The Informant" has a citizen telling you they saw something they shouldn't have. Now most would come to the conclusion this is a cue for an escort mission. But instead a group of Mooks comes in and promptly shoots the citizen and you have to fight them off. Could be averted because occasionally, he won't be shot at all giving you time to 'save' him.
- At the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition's Trespasser, Solas and his enemy the Viddasala speak, after which Solas turns and walks away. The Viddasala prepares to throw a spear at him and without turning or reacting in any way, Solas' eyes glow and the Viddasala immediately turns to stone. Even though the player knew he was Fen'Harel and she had no chance, it's still an Oh, Crap! moment to see just how powerful he is. It's even moreso for the Inquisitor, who witnesses this unaware of Solas' identity or power.
- Solo Wing Pixy's return in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War is marked by shooting down PJ with his spiffy new "Morgan" superfighter's Tactical Laser System.
- In Fallout 3, just before entering GNR, Initiate Reddin gets this treatment courtesy of a Super Mutant Behemoth.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops:
- An E3 trailer shows the player character moving down a tunnel, a comrade in front of him. Your comrade turns to talk to you, but a second later someone appears from Behind the Black and kills him.
- Another one would be a guy reaching up over a railing on top of a mountain and pulling the nearby guard over the edge.
- Modern Warfare 2 mission "Just Like Old Times" has Soap and Price abseiling from a mountain road for some Death from Above on Shadow Company mooks.
- Resistance 2:
- Hawthorne and Warner are killed by Big Bad Daedalus surprising the characters in separate instances as they walk ahead of Hale in spacious corridors by impaling them with his tentacles in order to discourage Hale from advancing to him, a sort of Final Boss Preview.
- Subverted with Capelli, who's grabbed by the Mother Spinner and dragged off a massive tower. However, as a Half-Human Hybrid his regeneration saves him, and after the boss fight he says that his "regen kicked in just in time" and a team member jokingly comments that his video feed just made the highlights reel.
- Done a bit elaborately, but for the same dramatic effect, in the intro of Mass Effect 2. The very first thing that happens in the game is a huge alien ship coming out of nowhere, immediately shooting your trusty ship from the first game to pieces. There's nothing to do but abandon ship and watch the ship disintegrate around you while rescuing the pilot. Then they fire again, blowing it up and sending you flying down towards the planet in a leaking space suit, struggling to breathe and eventually stopping. It really works perfectly in establishing the new villains of the game and instantaneously wanting to destroy them, without any mention of who they actually are.
- Repeatedly in Spec Ops: The Line, especially the scene in which Lugo shoots the Radioman in the head.
- In Halo: Reach:
- Kat is shot in the head by a sniper midsentence, while you and the rest of your team are running to a safety bunker midway through what amounts to hyper-nuclear bombing. Funny thing is, another member of your fireteam noticed a few moments ago that all the Covenant aircraft were suddenly leaving the area (to avoid the nuclear death beam), so that one dropship with the sniper has no reason to be there.
- There's also Miranda Keyes in Halo 3, who out of nowhere is gunned down by the Prophet of Truth right in the middle of his comeuppance.
- Episode 1 of Telltale's Game of Thrones ends with Ramsay Bolton unceremoniously stabbing Ethan Forrester through the neck. He dies from blood loss in less than a minute.
- In The Walking Dead none of the characters are safe from being killed without warning.
- In Season 1 Episode 3 Carley/Doug gets unexpectedly shot by Lilly after a group argument and it was one of the most shocking and anger inducing moments in the game and in Season 1 Episode 4 a new character, named Brie, gets killed suddenly and quickly by incoming walkers while the other characters were distracted by another argument.
- In Season 2 Episode 1 you are given two sudden deaths to two important characters: one is Clementine's new parental substitute Omid, and the the other is a dog.
- Season 2 Episode 4 gives you another one with Rebecca, who dies a few days after giving birth to her baby from a mixture of cold and exhaustion.
- Season 3 Episode 2 gives you Javier's niece Mariana, who is shot in the head from behind by Badger, a New Frontier lieutenant, after Javier goes to rescue her and the rest of his family from the junkyard.
- The second Digital Devil Saga has a few of these. The first is Cuvier, who gets shot in the head by Angel while the E.G.G. is being overloaded. Then Angel and Gale kill each other, and Serph and Sera die while trying to communicate with God when the HAARP facility blows up.
- Batman: The Telltale Series has Carmine Falcone abruptly Killed Midsentence while Bruce is visiting him at the hospital midway through Episode 2.
- Undertale: Your first real fight of the game is against Toriel (if you choose and try to leave the Underground). Video Game logic says "keep fighting her until she gives up" or you defeat her and she relents. Instead, if you keep fighting her, one of your attacks will suddenly do an insane amount of damage. Mortal damage. A shocking way to set the stage for how fights (and deaths) work in this game. It can also happen to you from her perspective if you happen to die: she clearly begins making her attacks avoid you once you're low on health, to the point that it's practically impossible to be hit by one unless you swerve into it on purpose, so if that happens the look on her face is sheer horror.
- Red Dead Redemption 2: Almost every gang member death is one of these. To note:
- Happens to Sean as he and a few other members of the gang are walking down a suspiciously quiet Rhodes. The unfortunate poor bastard gets his brains blown out before he can even finish his line. Doubles as a Sacrificial Lamb moment, as his is the first on-screen gang member death of the game.
- Hosea is captured by the Pinkertons and shot in cold blood in front of the gang during the failed Saint Denis bank robbery. Doubles a Sacrificial Lion moment as his death is the first with major plot ramifications, being an father figure to Arthur and the voice of reason for Dutch. His death sends Dutch's Sanity Slippage into overdrive.
- During the escape following the failed Saint Denis robbery, Lenny is gunned down out of nowhere as he and Arthur escape via Roof Hopping. He's also the only member of the gang to not have a cutscene death.
- A big element of the fear in Alien: Isolation comes from how abrupt and unexpected the deaths can be, owing to how genuinely good of a hunter/killer the Xenomorph is. If you're not very alert to signs that it's nearby or make a little too much noise moving through the room, you might find yourself cutting a panel off of a door and BAM, the thing's tail is abruptly punched through Amanda's chest from behind, killing her instantly. It really keeps you on your toes.
- Conversed about in The Bird Feeder #8, "Death." Josh worries about his wing falling off suddenly while in flight. Later, in #323, "Balloons," he makes sure to have balloons handy for just such an emergency.
- In Girl Genius the Geisterdamen announce their presence in Paris and the fact that they've been alerted to Agatha's group by spearing Malek through the chest with some kind of hook on a rope and yanking him out of the carriage while he's talking to Violetta.
- Mac's death in Chapter One of Antlers Colorado happens unexpectedly just as her and Austin start to become friends, and it seems that she's becoming more of a main character.
- Klay World's death scenes are usually very predictable, and extremely common. However in the episode "Klay Camping", an unpredictable death happens when the Dilly-Dally Ghost finds an unfunny joke to be very funny.
Klay Man: Wait, wait, wait, give me a minute!
Dilly-Dally Ghost: What is it, dilly-dailier?
Klay Man: What did the robot say to the centipede?
Dilly-Dally Ghost: [beat] Get a new car?
Klay Man: No. "Stop being a centipede!"
Dilly-Dally Ghost: ...That's funny.
Klay Man 2: It is?
Dilly-Dally Ghost: Mhmmm. Yeah. It's the funniest thing I've ever heard. It's funny because the robot ain't got no arms. I'm not gonna kill you guys.
Klay Man 2: You're not?
Dilly-Dally Ghost: Mmm-mmm...I'm gonna kill myself. [Shoots himself in the head]
- Desti's death in the Anime Arc of SMG4 , where she's stabbed In the Back by a fake Sephiroth while she and the rest of the gang are celebrating over kicking another fake Sephiroth's ass, forgetting that the Big Bad could just make another. Adding to the shock is that her death is played completely seriously when nearly every other death in the show is done and undone for laughs.
- In Bojack Horseman, Sarah Lynn dies while cuddled up against BoJack, looking up at a shot of the stars in a planetarium. She'd been trying to get sober for nine months, but seeing BoJack again made her fall off the wagon again. Sarah Lynn openly acknowledged that her Hard-Drinking Party Girl lifestyle would eventually catch up with her, but just grew to accept it after a while. She was right.
- Subverted, as it turns out in Season 6 episode Xerox of a Xerox, Sarah Lynn didnt die at the planetarium (in fact, she was barely alive), but in the hospital, because Bojack waited 17 minutes to call an ambulance in order to create an alibi for himself.
- Beetle in Kubo and the Two Strings is abruptly stabbed In the Back by one of the Sisters. Even more painful because 1) he'd just saved Kubo and Monkey from her and 2) they'd just learned Beetle was Hanzo.
- The Scotsman in Samurai Jack is killed rather abruptly in the fifth episode of Season 5, while raining Aku with endless insults. As soon as Aku leaves however, The Scotsman comes Back from the Dead as a Celtic Ghost. We have the Celtic magic of his sword to thank for that.
- When Lars from Steven Universe jams a pointed rock into the "eye" of one of the Shattering Robonoids, it suddenly explodes. Problem, Lars was sitting on top of it. He takes shrapnel to the face, slams into a wall with an audible CRACK, then falls a good ways to the ground and doesn't get up... Until Steven accidentally brings him back with his tears.
- In the season 1 finale of Star Trek: Lower Decks, the recently-built USS Solvang (the captain refuses to peel off the protective film from the screens) is suddenly attacked by a powerful ship. The captain orders maximum warp, just as the attacker clamps down on a warp nacelle. The escaping ship erupts in a massive fireball. And all that happens in the first few minutes and is the largest loss of life shown so far on the show. In fact, the whole episode is significantly darker than the rest of the season and ends with the Heroic Sacrifice of Lieutenant Shaxs and Ensign Rutherford losing his memories.