Sometimes, in a series, there is an episode where everyone ends up dead. This is often due to a Bad Future where the heroes have perished, or some kind of apocalypse has occurred. However, this trope refers to when this is only temporary: everyone somehow killed off, but only within an episode, chapter, movie, etc. In the end, everyone, or next to everyone will be fine for the most part.
Commonly, the heroes try to save everyone from perishing, fail that objective, but ultimately save the day, either by resurrecting them or reversing/undoing the events, up to activating a Reset Button (or the story just Snap Backs in the next episode; common in Negative Continuity stories). Another example is someone arriving in a future where everyone is already dead and must work to prevent the catastrophe that occurred. Yet another possibility is that it happens in an Alternate Timeline or Alternate Universe, possibly with someone from the original universe witnessing it somehow. It is also a possibility one of the deaths will end up being permanent for one reason or the other.
If this is a frequent event, it's a sign that Death Is Cheap. If the characters stay dead, it's a case of Killed Off for Real. If everyone dies at or near the end of the series, that's Kill 'Em All. Often overlaps with Reset Button.
This trope is not in effect if everyone dies and stays dead.
As this is a Death Trope, prepare for unmarked spoilers ahead.
- Has happened several times in Dragon Ball:
- In the Majin Buu arc, Buu thus far proves to be the first villain to succeed in causing genocide on the human race. Over the course of a few days he slaughters Earth's entire population (mostly by turning whole cities of people into candy and devouring them. Then it's down to only the heroes remaining along with a patch of survivors, to which Buu either eats them, kills them, or absorbs them. If there's any that he missed in the initial slaughter (Gohan, Piccolo, Goten, Trunks, Tien, and Chiaotzu) then they all would have perished when he blows up the entire planet. Of course, given the Death Is Cheap premise of the series, everyone gets revived by way of the Dragon Balls. By the end of the arc, the only two Earth inhabitants to have never died once is Mr. Satan, and Uranai Baba. Mr. Satan, by virtue of Goku teleported both him and Dende off world just before Buu blew the world up. Mr. Satan has not died prior to the events of the Buu Arc. Meanwhile, Uranai Baba has the ability to teleport herself between the Lower World (living) and the Other World (afterlife). Once she drops off Vegeta to fight Super Buu, she teleports back to the Other World, meaning that she did not die when the Earth blew up.
- In the Golden Frieza arc, Goku and later Vegeta have managed to overcome Frieza's new Golden Super Mode. Finally knowing his end is near, Frieza pulls a Taking You with Me and proceeds to blow up the planet rather than admit defeat, which kills everyone but those standing around Beerus and Whis who had cast a forcefield, which includes Goku, Gohan, Krillin, Bulma, Piccolo (only in Resurrection F, not in Super), Master Roshi, Tenshinhan, and Jaco. It then takes Whis rewinding time for Goku to amend this and kill Frieza before he can take out the Earth.
- The Future Trunks arc pulls this on an entire timeline. Trunks' Bad Future reaches rock bottom when Zamasu now Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, proceeds to Kill 'Em All for everyone on Earth (and possibly the universe). In order to get rid of Zamasu, Goku summons Zeno to take Zamasu out, who ends up taking out the entire timeline with him. The heroes just barely manage to go back to the Main timeline and avoid getting erased. Later Whis does however time travel once again to create a Close-Enough Timeline and prevent the Bad Future from existing in the first place for Future Trunks and Mai to reside in.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Near the climax, Father activates his transmutation circle and forcibly removes the souls from everyone in Amestris, absorbing enough power to contain 'God' and kill everyone save his five sacrifices. However, Hohenheim's own transmutation circle, created from the shadow of the eclipse activates not long after, returning everyone to normal.
- Gintama: The "Feigned Illness" arc of the anime ends with the main characters being incinerated.
- Naruto: In the middle of Pain Invasion arc, Pain uses a souped-up Shinra Tensei to destroy the Konoha village and kill a lot of the villagers before Naruto goes back to the village. After Naruto fights Pain and confronts Pain's true body, Nagato, Naruto convinces him as fellow disciples of Jiraiya that he'll find a better way to create peace. Nagato then decides to revive back the people that died in the invasion, at the cost of his life.
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: "Of The Dead" ends with everybody zombified, including Panty and Stocking, with no explanation as to their recovery in the following episode.
- Space Dandy: Half the episodes ends with the protagonist trio or some of them dead (including an Episode of the Dead where the whole universe is zombified), always beginning the next episode alive as if nothing happened. It's later revealed that all the episodes really happened, since the narrator is God and makes a Cosmic Retcon at the end of every episode.
- Wolf's Rain: Played with. In the finale, everyone and everything on the planet has died except for Kiba. While he is able to finally enter Paradise, Kiba turns away and drowns, knowing that with everyone dead he has no reason to go there anymore. However, during the end-credits scene of the same episode, it appears that thousands of years later, the main characters, save Blue, have all been reincarnated in the new world.
- The Authority: Kev starts with every member of the Authority killed, being taken completely by surprise by Kev being teleported aboard the Carrier with a special handgun. Then Kev's boss, who gave him the order, reveals herself to be part of an alien invasion wheo used him to eliminate the biggest obstacle in their way. The ship then reveals that it's sentient and turns back time to before Kev killed everyone.
- DC Comics usually do this during their Crisis Crossover events since 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths, killing a lot of important characters, usually to be replaced later by Legacy Characters or counterparts from other universes. Apart of COIE, other events when everyone can die are Infinite Crisis (direct continuation of the former) and Blackest Night (DCU's Episode of the Dead).
- The Infinity Gauntlet: Thanos kills half the universe's population, then kills all the heroes who gathered to fight him, but it was all undone when Nebula got ahold of the Infinity Gauntlet and reversed everything aside from her ownership of the Gauntlet to the way it was 24 hours before.
- The comic Les Petits Hommes had one story where the entire cast is brutally massacred in an unusually violent plot, only for the epilogue to reveal it was merely a staged movie with the characters very displeased about being murdered onscreen.
- Occasionally occurs in Marvel's What If? series. Turns out, the smallest change to events can result in the destruction of the entire Marvel Universe.
- The X-Men storyline Days of Future Past even advertised itself with the tagline "This issue: everybody dies!" The story depicts a Bad Future where Sentinels have taken over the world and the X-Men all die gruesomely before Kitty Pryde manages to change the past and undo it all.
- Avengers: Infinity War: Played with. At the end, half the universe's population is killed by Thanos as the heroes fail to stop him, though all the snap-induced deaths are undone during Avengers: Endgame.
- In the climax of Galaxy Quest, bad guy Sarris sneaks onto the heroes' ship disguised as one of their team, and murders every one of them in quick order until the Omega 13 sets back time just long enough for Jason Nesmith to tackle him and avoid this outcome.
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: Wolverine's mind is sent to the past to prevent the current present where mutants have been hunted down by sentinels to the point of near complete eradication. During the climax, the remaining mutants are killed off when the sentinels find them, though at the same time, Wolverine completes his mission, undoing all the damage.
- In the Arrowverse Crisis Crossover Heroes Join Forces, the initial aftermath was Vandal Savage succeeds in disintegrating all of Central City, along with all of Team Arrow and Team Flash along with it. Only Barry survives as he runs so fast he breaks time time barrier and travels back to one day before the explosion, whereby Barry learns from their past mistakes and succeeds in saving everyone.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cordelia wishes that Buffy never came to Sunnydale to the demon, Anyanka, who creates a warped reality where vampires rule over the town. Over the course of the episode, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Angel and Buffy all die. However, all is well again when Giles destroys Anyanka's amulet.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Space Museum": In the first episode, the TARDIS "jumps a time track", giving the crew a sneak preview of a future in which their corpses are preserved exhibits in an imperialistic culture's trophy museum. The rest of the story revolves around trying to avert this.
- "Turn Left", to a staggering degree. Donna winds up in a Crapsack World Alternate Universe where she never met the Doctor during the events of "The Runaway Bride", resulting in his death under the River Thames. As a result of the Doctor being dead, various other alien incursions on present-day Earth happen with much higher death tolls, and the deaths of many of the Doctor's friends and companions trying to stop them, including Martha Jones (whom he never met in this timeline), Sarah Jane Smith, her son Luke, and his friends Clyde and Maria, and the Torchwood Three team (with the exception of the immortal Captain Jack, who winds up a prisoner of the Sontarans). In order to press the Reset Button and fix things, even Donna herself dies.
- Inverted by the third season of The Good Place. As an experiment, the Judge sends the four characters back to Earth to see if they can become better people before they die. It ends when they have to return to the afterlife and die in the process.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Played for Laughs and Downplayed. In "Guide to Vampires, Ghosts, Werewolves, and Zombies", we're taken to an Alternate Universe where everyone is a monster going to a monster school, with Moze as the only ghost, looking for a new ghostly friend. At the very end, Gordy's attempts to catch the vampire weasel ends up with the entire school blowing up, making everyone in the school a ghost- as in, they all died in the explosion. This entire episode, though, was All Just a Dream, anyway.
- NewsRadio: The episode "Sinking Ship" parodied Titanic. Naturally, this means that most of the cast ends up dying when the titular ship sinks. The episode ends with the cast addressing the camera, reminding the audience that no one really died. Tragically, this was the last episode with Phil Hartman.
- Series VI of Red Dwarf ends with the crew being killed by their future selves. By the beginning of Series VII, they've been brought back by a time paradox that this created.
- Stargate SG-1: In "2010", the Earth has been partnered for a decade with a seemingly benevolent alien species called the Aschen bringing all sorts of scientific and medical advancements. However, it is discovered that the Aschen are actually sterilizing humanity to take over the planet without a fight. SG-1 uses the Stargate to send a message back through time to their past selves telling them not to make First Contact with the Aschen. This results in all of them dying in a Heroic Sacrifice, but the message makes it back to the SGC in 2000.
- Stargate Atlantis: "The Last Man" deals with John Sheppard arriving in a Bad Future where Michael took over the Pegasus galaxy 48,000 years ago. John himself was declared KIA, Teyla was killed by Michael when he extracted her baby, Carter died when her ship was ambushed in a space battle, and Ronon and Todd died in a raid on one of Michael's bunkers. Even Keller died after the war was already lost from earlier exposure to the Artificial Plague that cemented Michael's victory. Rodney, as the only survivor of the main team, spent the rest of his life trying to find Sheppard so he could Set Right What Once Went Wrong by saving Teyla and avoiding the entire chain of events.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Cause and Effect", the Enterprise crew is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop that ends in a collision that destroys the ship with all aboard, then starts over several days before the accident.
- The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Timeless" opens 15 years in the future and reveals everyone on Voyager was killed in a crash landing except for Chakotay and Harry Kim (who were aboard the Delta Flyer). The rest of the episode is spent trying to undo the events that led to the fatal accident before Starfleet catches up to them for violating the Temporal Prime Directive.
- In Dragalia Lost, over the course of Audric's Adventurer Story, which takes place in a Bad Future, the future version of every major charcter seen either ends up dead or is implied to be Killed Offscreen. This includes Raemond, Erik, Sinoa, Cassandra, Ranzal, and even Notte. The allies not seen are also implied to have died or fled before this point. The only survivors are Audric himself and the version of his dragon Zodiark from that timeline, who manage to return to the main timeline.
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, if you do the rebel mages' main quest, you will find yourself transported a year into the future. It turns out that in your absence, the Big Bad has either killed or captured every other member of the Inquisition, torturing those he spared to near-insanity. You do find a way to return back to your time and undo all of it, but in the process, your surviving companions in this timeline give their lives to get you there.
- Ending D of Drakengard is this. The Watchers have been brought into the world with Manah's death and no matter how much Caim and Angelus fight them, they just keep coming. Arioch, bloodied from battle, welcomes her impending death in what she calls "The greatest of feasts." Leonard then sacrifices himself, taking as many as he can. That's when Seere's plan is to have Caim fly him to the Mother Grotesquerie where he can freeze her for all time. Since the Mother is a Reality Warper, it ends up creating a Negative Space Wedgie.
- The "Future Past" DLC chapters in Fire Emblem Awakening are this. It takes place before the main game, during Lucina's future where Grima has killed the Shepherds and destroyed everything. The DLC ends with Lucina making her trip to the past to stop Grima, and it is known in the main game she succeeds and everyone survives.
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Turns out to be the entire premise of the killing game. Over the course of the game, the majority of the class are murdered as part of a killing game. However, Hajime discovers the students are actually inside a simulation that was meant to rehabilitate them until a malicious AI hijacked the program. This meant none of the deaths in the game were real, and (as revealed in Danganronpa 3) fifteen out of the sixteen students survived.
- Nearly every episode of Teen Girl Squad ends with three of the four teen girls dead or soon-to-be-dead (for example, falling down a bottomless pit, or swallowed whole by a lion but not yet digested). The few exceptions are the episodes where all four girls die. Thanks to Negative Continuity, they're always fine by the next episode.
Cheerleader: [singing] It's over! It's over! Everybody died 'cept me!!
[a chomping sound is heard as a shark eats her]
Cheerleader: Aw, crap!
- Danny Phantom: In the Bad Future discovered in "Ultimate Enemy", all of Danny's friends, family, and his principal have been dead for years. The very thing that killed them was an explosion at the Nasty Burger, which was the result of Danny using his ghost powers; ergo, Danny killed his loved ones, which was the first step toward the Bad Future and his FaceHeel Turn. However, by the end of the film, he manages to prevent the explosion from happening, saving everyone.
- Phineas and Ferb: In a Halloween special, Buford pours grape juice on Perry, creating an evil clone which proceeds to multiply itself and rampage. After several attempts to get rid of the monsters, the kids wind up in a factory where the clones finally kill them. It then cuts to Phineas telling story while his friends complain about the ending, prompting him to give it a 'Hollywood ending' so everyone lives.
- Miraculous Ladybug: "Cat Blanc" has a Bad Future where Hawk Moth akumatizes his son into Cat Blanc. This backfires and Adrien accidentally blows up Paris, killing everyone including his father and Marinette. Bunnyx then goes back in time to get a past version of Marinette to de-evilize Cat Noir and prevent the mistake that started it all, ensuring this future never comes to pass.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "The Cutie Re-Mark" is a variant of this. Of the timelines Twilight and Spike visit, two are flat out stated that a majority of the main characters are likely dead: The Chrysalis one in which most of the ponies are forced into the Everfree to escape her and the Changelings. When Twilight and Spike have to flee back to the map, they leave that timeline just as the Changelings raid the last pony hold out with the ponies engaging in a woefully hopeless battle (we see Zicora try to fight Chrysalis herself and quickly defeated with Chrysalis preparing another shot to finish her off) and the Total Destruction timeline when Twilight pulls Starlight into the future with her and there's virtually no sign of life anywhere.
- During the finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, many people are consumed by the Entity as it devours Crystal Cove. However, this is all undone via Cosmic Retcon.
- Many episodes of Sealab 2021 end with the Sealab exploding often due to the cast's own stupidity killing the entire crew.
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: After Catra activates a faulty portal, reality begins collapsing in on itself, resulting in people, places and even time itself sporadically vanishing. Eventually, only Adora and Queen Angella remain, the latter sacrificing herself to shut the portal off and save everyone.
- Steven Universe: Downplayed in "Winter Forecast": Steven relives the same few hours where he and his dad try to take Connie home before a snowstorm; one has them get in a car accident and another has Steven and Connie in the crossfire of a exploding Gem artifact, both of which are implied to be fatal. However, it turns out these were only possible futures Garnet was showing Steven in an effort to stop his procrastinating.
- The last two episodes of The Challenge of The Superfriends (the 1978 run of the Superfriends series) are both this type. In "Superfriends: Rest In Peace", the Legion of Doom uses a noxium crystal to take out the heroes, but at the end it turns out the Superfriends were aware of their attempt all along, and had used robot doubles to fool the Legion. Then, in "History of Doom", three space travellers come upon a lifeless, devastated Earth, decipher how that state of affairs came to be, and set things to right via Time Travel.
- A fairly weird example in Xiaolin Showdown. Omi decides to visit his future self by freezing himself for several decades. When he awakens, he learns that in his absence, Jack Spicer was able to conquer the world, creating a horrible dystopia. Omi tries to stop Jack with the help of his now elderly team, and one by one each are killed off, though Omi manages to avert this future in the end.
- In Young Justice episode "Failsafe", the Team is put through an intense simulation where the Justice League has been annihilated and everyone is expected to die. In a deconstruction of the Deadly Training Area, this leaves everyone on the team with significant psychological trauma, resulting in an aversion of There Are No Therapists as they're all sent to counseling sessions with Black Canary.