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The Death of Death

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"That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die."
— "The Nameless City" (first story of the Cthulhu Mythos) by H. P. Lovecraft

The Grim Reaper is always considered to be the embodiment of death. As such, it only makes sense that such a being would be considered immortal and unable to actually die. Can't die if you are death itself.

Not so much the case here. If this trope is in play, then death is just as capable of dying as everybody else. In some cases, the grim reaper getting killed off ends up coming with some serious consequences. In other cases, death is simply reborn and continues his business. If somebody is responsible for the reaper dying, they might be forced into taking up the role.

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Compare to Death Takes a Holiday, wherein Death is no longer doing his job. See also Kill the God. If a mere mortal manages to take down the big guy, see Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?

Spoilers will not be marked due to this being a Death Trope.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Secret Wars II: The Beyonder is a Reality Warper who wants to make good things for mankind, and does not think that mere superhero stuff is enough. An advisor convinces him to kill Death itself. Unlike most of his other feats, that one would not be possible to be reverted. After he does this, the cosmic entities show up and complain the way he upset the cosmic balance. The Molecule Man complains that, without death, life is meaningless. The advisor agrees, they made a mistake. But, as resurrecting Death is beyond the Beyonder's power, he turns his advisor into a new personification of death.
  • Nekron, the Embodiment of Death in The DCU is the Big Bad of the Zombie Apocalypse Crisis Crossover event Blackest Night. Being the Death himself, it's impossible to kill him, even with Sinestro taking The Entity and converting himself into a White Lantern. But he was eventually defeated when Hal Jordan and the rest of the superheroes that had been revived, included The DC Trinity take The Entity's power and all become White Lanterns and all of them aim Black Hand (Nekron's avatar and connection to the Earth) with their rings and revive him as a White Lantern too, causing Nekron to explode and finishing the Black Lanterns' menace once for all.
  • In The Thanos Imperative, we see an alternate universe called "The Cancerverse". In the Cancerverse, "life won" and Death was destroyed. This resulted in all life in the universe becoming a Cosmic Horror Story (almost all living beings in the Cancerverse worship the "Many Angled Ones") and almost all available space in the universe is filled by a truly horrifying organism, described as "a cancer attempting to metastasize into our reality" to find more space to occupy.
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    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played with in the Grand Finale of The Colbert Report. "Grimmy" attempts to strangle Stephen Colbert so Stephen shoots Grimmy dead, resulting in Stephen becoming immortal.
  • Played with in the Red Dwarf episode "Only the Good…". Rimmer is left to die on a rapidly disintegrating Red Dwarf. Death comes to claim him and Rimmer kicks him in the testicles. Rimmer says that "Only the good die young" and runs off, leaving Death to note that this has never happened before and collapse in pain.
  • In Supernatural, Death himself met his demise at Dean's hands after handing him the only thing in existence that could kill him, his scythe. Although the personification of death cease to exist, the concept of death did not and a different, friendlier reaper takes up the mantle.
  • The premise of Torchwood: Miracle Day is that one day everybody suddenly stopped dying. It turns out to be something to do with the immortal Jack Harkness's blood, and Torchwood successfully reverses it.

    Video Games 
  • In AdventureQuest Worlds, during the "AQW Zombies" Saga, Sepulchure pulls off one of the most impressive Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? examples ever. Sepulchure starts off by killing King Alteon, and since this was someone of importance Death arrived personally to guide his soul to the afterlife. Sepulchure then confronts Death who taunts him that he would reap Sepulchure's soul one day too, only for the DoomKnight to defiantly tell Death this would not happen. Death laughs and mockingly asks Sepulchure if he was going to "kill Death", to which he replies with a Flat "Yes" and slays the Grim Reaper then and there.
    Player Character: Did Sepulchure just kill Death?
  • Death appears as a boss in almost every game in the Castlevania franchise. Some games require you to fight him twice, but he always eventually returns to a corporeal form.
  • In Dante's Inferno, the game starts with the protagonist killing the Grim Reaper in an effort to avoid being Dragged Off to Hell. Spoilers, it doesn't work.
  • Ginormo Sword: Death is one of the bosses, but killing him has no consequence on the rest of the game.
  • In Grim Fandango, being a grim reaper is just another job one can receive in the afterlife, and it doesn't offer any sort of special protection from being sprouted or otherwise dying a second death.
  • Twisted Metal: A downplayed example in Twisted Metal: Head On. If Mr. Grimm wins the Twisted Metal tournament, he wishes for somebody else to take his role as the grim reaper. When Claypso grants his wish, a nearby girl is turned into the reaper while Mr. Grimm is turned into a mortal human being. Unfortunately for him, he is almost immediately killed by a truck.
  • In Gauntlet, use of a potion eliminates all Deaths on screen, earning the player from 1,000 to 8,000 points for each. Death also vanishes after taking 200 health points from a player.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 ends with the goddess of death, Etro, being killed. The sequel Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII shows the consequences that came after Etro's death, such as how no one can die of old age, nor can any new life be born into the world. However, people can still die by means outside aging, like sickness or being attacked by a monster.
  • Dragon's Crown subverts this with the boss of The Castle of the Dead's B route. The Wraith is normally immune to damage unless a Goddess Statue is lit. While you can fight back, the narrator will state that you can't destroy death, the opposite of life. The most you can do is either flee the stage or destroy its dream heart to send it back to the underworld.

    Web Animation 
  • CliffSide: Death Itself rides on the back of Yannis the pterodactyl during her attempt to kill Waylon and Cordie, only for Cordie to use her web to send them plummeting to the ground and their demise. Later revealed to be subverted when Cordie mentions that they actually can't kill Death.

    Webcomics 
  • Irregular Webcomic!: There are many different Deaths in Irregular Webcomic, so of course they're going to have their fair share of demises on their own. One especially notable instance: Death of Getting Wrestled To Death By Steve gets wrestled to death. By Steve.
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    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: In the End of Death Canon, during the research of SCP-3448 (Halfterlife), Foundation agents visit afterlife and accidentally kill Death. This causes an ΩK-Class ("End-of-Death") Scenario, which means "immortality is forced upon all life, without any other biological change".
    "We fucked up. We didn't contain death. We neutralized it."

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of Family Guy where Death is killed in a car accident, where a taller version of himself, Super Death, tells him that he's going to be born as a kid in China. He disappears for a second, then reappears; apparently Death was born as a girl.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: In "Night of the Living Grim", Grim ends up becoming sick with Encroaching Doom Syndrome, so he is brought to the doctors in the underworld. However, they are unable to save him, and he ends up passing away... in that he is now a living human being.
  • Mad Jack the Pirate: In "Of Zerzin, Fleebis, Queues and Cures", Mad Jack and Snuk are on a quest to find a cure for Mad Jack before he succumbs to Fleebis, and will be claimed by Mr. Death. They succeed just in time, and to get back at Mr. Death, they trick him into eating poisonous berries, killing him (which even Mr. Death himself thought was impossible).
  • The Simpsons: In the Treehouse of Horror segment "Reaper Madness", Death comes to the Simpsons house to claim Bart. As the family runs to keep Death from taking him away, Homer hits him with a bowling ball, killing him and creating a world without death until Homer puts on his cloak and becomes Death himself.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of South Park. When the kids are trapped inside their school bus, they pass the time by retelling past exploits with a slight twist that didn't happen in real life. Kenny's is him killing Death when it was the other way around.
  • In the Mary Shelley's Frankenhole episode "Edgar Allan Poe's Jesus!", Death finds Jesus's company so unbearable that it drives himself to drink, eventually dying of alcohol poisoning. This causes all attempts at death (whether they are regular humans or immortal monsters) impossible.

 
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Video Example(s):

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Mary Shelley's Frankenhole

Death dies of alcohol poisoning and it causes problems.

Example of:

Main / TheDeathOfDeath

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