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They Killed Kenny Again
aka: They Killed Kenny

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Stan: Oh my god, they killed Kenny!
Kyle: You bastards!
Almost every episode in the first five seasons of South Park.

A recurring Red Shirt, as impossible as it sounds. This character is (and sometimes only exists to be) killed off repeatedly and inexplicably come back to life by the next episode, as a Running Gag.

Usually found in shows with Negative Continuity, particularly Sadist Shows - in more realistic shows, the character may be a robot who can be rebuilt or replaced between episodes, or immortal in some way, unless there's a "Groundhog Day" Loop going on. The character does not need to die permanently as long as he appears to die in the narrative.

A subtrope of Negative Continuity and Comedic Sociopathy. A ritualized form of Staying Alive. Could overlap with The Chew Toy and Cosmic Plaything. Often a by-product of Death Is Cheap. Chronically Crashed Car is a variant that refers to vehicles, and Chronically Killed Actor one that refers to actors whose characters usually die.


Although similar to Death Is Cheap, wherein a character may 'die' and come back to life at least once, this trope refers to when a character is killed many times and usually as a Running Gag.

As this is a Death Trope, Expect spoilers!

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Other examples

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  • Louie the Fly, in the Mortein insect spray commercials. For the character's 50th anniversary, Mortein had a public poll on whether to kill him off permanently. Luckily, he was spared.
  • A common theme of commercials for Wilkins Coffee, created by Jim Henson, which involves a character named Wontkins who continuously keeps getting killed for refusing to drink the advertised product.
  • Pizza Hut's The Pizza Head Show campaign had the eponymous Pizza Head who, if not killed each time, was at least in critical condition, often at the hands of Pizza Cutter Steve.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • It features a handful of cards whose Flavor Text references the various deaths of a hapless goblin named Furt. See several examples.
    • There's Squee, who eventually proved to be so popular he got his own card, complete with a returning-to-play mechanic.
      "He is Yawgmoth's reward to me. I shall kill him a hundred times a day."
    • The card Reassembling Skeleton lampshades a lesser-known rule regarding creature cards; if a non-token creature leaves play for any reason but returns at some point, the game state considers it a different creature. To sum up, same card does not equal same creature.
  • Chaotic has similar flavor text for some cards involving Bodal.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bill the Cat in Bloom County was a frequent example of this in his earlier days in the strip. Notably when he's electrocuted by his tongue being wired into an amplifier while rehearsing with Deathtongue...
    Steve Dallas: ...AW, FERCRISSAKES, he isn't dead AGAIN, is he?
    Portnoy: ...Naw, naw...I'll get the Bactine.
  • Brewster Rockit play this one for laughs with pretty much everyone, especially Winky, Dr. Mel's unfortunate assistant, who seems to be able to lose his spleen many, many times. The comic at least used to have an Ensign Kenny, but Winky basically fills in for him.
  • Show Within a Show version: In Pearls Before Swine, Rat's "Angry Bob" stories tend to have the titular character die in all sorts of absurd and gruesomely comic ways, only to be alive at the start of the next story with no explanation (though in a few occasions Rat did write that Bob "undied")
  • Generic Ted in Dilbert is fired frequently, and has actually died more than once. The cartoon suggested that the company has several identical looking guys named Ted.
  • Liō has been skeletonized from time to time, only to appear fine the next day. The comic has also included at least one explosion of Earth.

  • Vocaloid's Len Kagamine has a reputation for getting killed off in many of his songs and music videos. Also overlaps with Chronically Killed Actor, as the Vocaloids are often interpreted as Animated Actors. Though some will come back with the claim that Rin Kagamine dies almost as much. Since they're the youngest Krypton Vocaloids, they're probably invoking Death of a Child.
  • "But the cat came back, the very next day. They thought he was a goner but the cat came back 'cause he wouldn't stay away!"
  • Devo's mascot, Booji Boy, has met many a gruesome end, getting stabbed at the end of the video that marked his first on-camera appearance, and then moving on to getting electrocuted, having his head crushed, and being beheaded by Osama Bin Laden.
  • Alice Cooper "dies" at the end of his concerts.
  • Most of Rammstein's videos end with keyboardist Christian "Flake" Lorenz into some sort of death or harm.

  • Mission To Zyxx uses guest character Papa Derf in a few episodes. At the end of each he orchestrates his own death (apparently).

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    Tabletop Games 
  • A major part of Paranoia. Every player character has a set of auxiliary clones that are sent in to replace them when they die, meaning any player can find plenty of ways to die during a session without having to create a new character.
  • It's also possible in Eclipse Phase but resleeving is more often played seriously given the nature of the setting.
  • It's not uncommon for adaptations of Dungeons & Dragons to parody the relative ease in which dead PCs can be resurrected.

  • At the New York Renaissance Faire, Sheriff of Nottingham Philip De Marque has been killed off a number of times at the end of many years' story lines.

Alternative Title(s): They Killed Kenny


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