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Time-Delayed Death

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This happens in crime dramas a lot. Basically, it involves a death exhibiting a standard pattern:

  1. Someone is injured.
  2. Unbeknown to the victim, some vital organ or other's been damaged and they're slowly dying of internal bleeding (alternatively, a careless surgeon may have left something in them after operating on them).
  3. The victim dies in an unrelated situation and Hilarity Ensues for the investigators.
  4. Double points if the place of death by coincidence happens to be the home of a sympathetic character with "prior convictions" or an enemy in high places, the victim gets into an argument before dying, or someone steals from them when he collapses.

When done properly, this can be a reasonable solution to a Locked Room Mystery. If it makes someone innocent look guilty, it can lead to Clear My Name for a protagonist or even a Vigilante Execution for a passerby or Redshirt. The latter is more common if the series focuses on the investigators. Note that being fatally wounded and not dying immediately isn't this trope. Parts 2 and 3 as mentioned above are necessary to count as this trope.

In Real Life, acute stress reaction shock is often responsible for this; a person may not realize that he has a serious wound until it is too late. Another way this may happen is when a person suffers from head trauma causing bleeding in the brain. The victim may feel fine initially, only to deteriorate and possibly die due to the buildup in pressure due to bleeding in the skull.note 

Not to be confused with Whodunnit to Me?, in which the victim knows they're dying and tries to find the murderer before they go.

See also You Are Already Dead for a form of killing technique in martial arts and other stories that work like this; Diagonal Cut, for a blade-themed trope that often exists in tandem with this one; and Secretly Dying for when someone is intentionally hiding that they're doomed. The Last Dance and The Dying Walk are related tropes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Another anime, Junta Nakao was apparently fine after falling down the stairs of his house and hitting his head... but in reality he developed a brain aneurysm, which first caused him to vomit... and much later, it burst when he was swimming, killing him. To make things worse, Junta's corpse is then chopped up by a boat's propeller, making his friends think that is what killed him until some days later. The time delay is significant since the fatal injury was suffered while the victim was still in the town of Yomiyamanote .
  • In Dragon Knights, Nadil's curse on Lykouleon causes a slow, but inevitable bleed-out that can't even be treated because his blood is poisonous and kills on contact.
  • Variation: In Hajime no Ippo, the original Randy Boy fought against Ichiro Miyata's father and broke his jaw, ending Miyata Sr.'s boxing career. However, Randy Sr. sustained serious brain damage from that fight, and it killed him sometime later. His son Randy Jr. also becomes a boxer and, despite not hating the Miyatas for the fatal incident (this is, after all, a danger that all boxers can potentially suffer), is determined to fight Miyata Jr. so they can settle the score.
  • In Kaleido Star, Marion's mother Cynthia fell off during her Kaleido Stage act and, as she was taken to the hospital, was conscious enough to talk to her little daughter. She died the same day of her internal injuries, which probably included brain damage.
  • Major: Goro's father Shigeharu Honda receives a dead ball to the head, hard enough to crack his helmet, yet continues to play just fine and return home. However, when he wakes up the next early morning, the damage manifests, and his son finds him dead when he wakes up a few hours later.
  • Another variation occurs in Umineko: When They Cry during the fourth arc, in which Jessica phones Battler, claiming that she's already dead/dying by half her head being smashed, letting Battler know that George died as well, and telling him to accept that the murderers are using magic. She's later found locked in her room next to the phone with half her head smashed. The anti-mystery explanation is that she died when she was teleported into a Mutual Kill scenario with George, was teleported back to her room, where Ronove revived her for three minutes, during which she made the call.
    • Subverted in the mystery explanation...She was simply following a script.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live Action 
  • The American: When Jack (George Clooney) does not realize he was wounded in the abdomen by the sniper he had just killed until he has already driven quite a ways away. He manages to keep driving to the spot where his girlfriend is waiting for him before he collapses over the steering wheel, presumably dead.
  • Apaches: Sharon unintentionally drinks weed killer, and decides to walk it off. The effects don't kick in until hours later, when she wakes up screaming hysterically in agony in the middle of the night.
  • In The Cheap Detective, one of the villains has been bleeding to death for 40 years.
  • The Kennel Murder Case is a Locked Room Mystery in which the solution is that the victim had been stabbed elsewhere but hadn't noticed, and went to his room to go to sleep and locked himself in before dying there.
  • Kill Bill: Pai Mai's legendary Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique guarantees this. Once it's performed on the victim, their heart will explode after they take five steps.
  • Short Cuts: Casey gets hit by a car early in the movie and appears to be fine but they then slip into a coma. And just when their condition seems to be improving, they die.
  • In We're No Angels, the three convicts are trying to think of ways to kill off the villainous Paul, but without their pet viper Adolfe - which appears to have disappeared after killing Paul's equally-evil father - they don't have a reliable method. Cue Paul entering and saying that he was bitten by a snake hiding in his dead father's pocket. The convicts instantly congratulate themselves in front of the oblivious victim.
  • Wild at Heart has a scene where Sailor and Lula come upon the aftermath of a car crash. One girl who survived the crash is stumbling around in the wreckage, seemingly OK but in shock, rambling about needing to find her purse... after a few minutes she rapidly becomes more disoriented, keels over and dies while our heroes can do nothing but watch helplessly.

  • Shogo Kawada in Battle Royale took a fatal shot from another student late in the story. He would survive long enough to help the protagonists escape off the island in a boat.
  • Used (in combination with a few other things that complicate it) in the classic Dr. Gideon Fell Locked Room Mystery The Hollow Man (US title: The Three Coffins) by John Dickson Carr.
    • John Dickson Carr used this in a number of ways in other stories since he wrote dozens of locked room mysteries.
  • Halo: Ghosts of Onyx: Dante. "Sir... I think I got nicked..."
  • Lord Peter Wimsey:
    • This is what happens to the murdered man in Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers.
    • Subverted in Have His Carcase. The death merely looked like it had been delayed in that case, but it was still enough to get the police looking for an alibi for the completely wrong time.
  • Used in one of the earliest examples of the Locked Room Mystery, Gaston Leroux's The Mystery of the Yellow Room.
  • In a story by John T Sladek, parodying the locked room genre, a writer describes (among others) a murder mystery plot in which the victim is surreptitiously stabbed with a long, very thin, needle. The victim suffers only minor discomfort until he dies of internal bleeding in his locked room some hours later.
  • Done as well in Randall Garrett's Too Many Magicians. Gets the argument bonus points, too.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of 1000 Ways to Die features a Nazi soldier named Dieter getting shot in the head during the final months of World War 2. He survives, but the bullet remains lodged in his brain. Fast forward 50 years and Dieter is now living in secrecy in New York. One morning, he goes to get milk from his fridge and bumps his head on the freezer door. This causes the bullet in his head to become dislodged and sever a major blood vessel, and he suffers a fatal cerebral hemorrhage.
  • The firefighters in Chernobyl experience the "walking ghost" version of time-delayed death, typical of death by radiation poisoning. When Vasily's wife Lyudmilla visits him in the hospital, Vasily and all his buddies are sitting up in the hospital, joking around, and generally feeling much better after the initial symptoms of dizziness and nausea have passed. Then their bone marrow dies and their intestinal lining breaks down and their white blood cell counts go to zero, and they more or less die by rotting from the inside.
  • One episode of Cold Case had the team take on the case of a woman who had just died, which is unusual for them since they usually take on cold cases. The reason this one falls to them? The victim had been shot in the head in 1989, but had only just succumbed to the injury after 18 years in a coma.
  • In Columbo episode "Uneasy Lies The Crown", a dentist kills a patient of his by placing a crown in his teeth that contained a poison that was coated in a time-release gel. The gel dissolves and the poison seeps out and kills the guy...right when he was with the dentist's wife.
  • CSI, its spinoffs and 'verse-mates love this trope:
    • CSI:
      • A man who was punched in the back of the head in a bar fight, who later died of a brain hemorrhage in the bath.
      • A boy who was stabbed trying to prevent his little brother from murdering their mother's boyfriend tries to walk home, but collapses and dies... right under the tires of a cab. The cabbie then gets beaten to death by a mob who thinks he ran the boy over.
      • A weird one: A gambler slowly dying of lead poisoning from the chocolate he consumed every night at the table was accelerated to right now by a stinger of eye drops left in his drink. (Quip to Black: "Literally, death by chocolate.")
      • There was an episode where a bull rider cracked a vertebra after getting kicked in the head, only to die after getting decked in the face by someone, breaking his neck fully.
      • Another episode was based on the case of Peter Porco mentioned in the Real Life section. The victim was a sports coach who was struck over the head with one of his own trophies by a member of his team he was keeping on the bench for having been involved in an accidental shooting.
      • Serial Killer "Dr. Jekyll" had this as a modus operandi, by giving his victims operations without them knowing that subjected their bodies to various conditions (such implanting a septic organ in a man, tying the entrails of another into a bow-tie knot, implanting a radioactive isotope in another man's brain, etc) that would eventually kill them.
    • CSI: NY:
      • A woman who was in a car accident and died (from bleeding out due to lacerations on her spleen) in an apartment while feeding a friend's fish (coincidentally before a fire broke out).
      • Variation: A man who had a pair of forceps left in him after surgery to change his appearance after working as a con man went insane from the toxic shock, but this didn't kill him directly. Instead, he was shot by his partner in crime after he accidentally paid her share of their loot with counterfeit money.
      • In the episode "Communication Breakdown," the Victim of the Week (a Native American chieftain) slowly died from sepsis after the killer (another member of his tribe) sneak-fed him a piece of whale baleennote  which caused multiple small lacerations along the victim's small intestine.
    • CSI: Miami:
      • A woman who appeared to have died in a car accident actually died of toxic shock (from a sponge which was left in her after surgery) while driving.
      • An attorney in one episode is found to have been poisoned by someone, later revealed to be an infatuated co-worker, via lacing her orange juice with enough chemotherapy radiation isotopes to literally leave her with one week left to live, or as she put it, not even enough time for her hair to start falling out. The episode, appropriately titled "Dead Woman Walking", centers on the attempt to find her killer while she languishes away one day at a time.
      • It happens to Paul Gasol's character in the CSI: Miami episode where he guest-stars. He is involved in a car collision where a woman in another car dies, and while in custody he collapses and dies from an unknown brain hemorrhage sustained in the crash.
      • A roller derby girl gets ambushed after a match by her roommate and the attack causes a rib fracture that punctures her internal organs. It is later discovered that the girl had previously suffered trauma to that same rib from her physically abusive boyfriend and Caine makes a point of noting that had it not been for that, she might have survived the attack from her roommate.
  • In the pilot episode of Deadwood, a man is shot in the head with a small-caliber gun and surprises everybody when he wakes up and continues talking and walking for 21 minutes before finally dying. In the real-life event that inspired this scene, the victim actually lived for 67 days after being shot.
  • Death in Paradise:
    • In "The Impossible Murder", the Victim of the Week is stabbed by their killer in the kitchen of a hotel. Not wanting their killer to go to prison for their murder, the victim staunches the bleeding and walks upstairs in full view of the guests (who mistake his slight stumbling for him being drunk). Once in his room, he locks the door and stages the room to make it look like there had been a break-in. After hiding the blood-soaked scarf he had used to stem the bleeding, he expires on the floor.
    • In the final episode of Series 8, the Victim of the Week is discovered rather conspicuously on the floor of the police station, despite the fact it was locked from the inside. A crucial part of the solution is that the murderer had not actually killed him with his attack, even though he thought he had (the attack was committed in a fit of rage rather than being premeditated); the murder attempt later triggered an underlying medical condition that caused a fatal stroke.
  • Grey's Anatomy: In an episode, a train crashed, killing and injuring hundreds, sending several to Seattle Grace. A young woman arrives slightly injured, while her best friend is seemingly uninjured because she continuously talks on the phone and informing everyone that they're fine. A couple of hours later, when the woman attempted to wake up her friend, she falls to the floor and is soon pronounced dead. The doctors later estimate that she was bleeding internally for hours before her death, which is sadly Truth in Television, as people could go for hours without any noticeable damage from seemingly minor injuries before collapsing.
  • Growing Pains: In the episode "Second Chance", Carol's boyfriend, Sandy is seriously injured in a car accident, having driven under the influence. After paying him a visit in the hospital, during which he seemed okay, Carol is later told Sandy died due to his injuries.
  • Inspector George Gently: In "Gently Between the Lines", a prisoner who died in the cells actually succumbed to liver damage sustained in a beating he received before he was arrested.
  • Jonathan Creek:
    • In one episode, this trope is responsible for a dead woman ending up in a wardrobe: a pipe from some construction work fell on her head. Trying to avoid being seen by someone, she hid inside a wardrobe that was being delivered to Maddie's flat and died of a slow bleed to the brain while inside.
    • In "The Letters of Septimus Noone," this how an actress is seemingly stabbed in a locked dressing room just minutes after a witness had seen her apparently hale and hearty.
  • Law & Order:
    • A homeless man was hit by a high-end automobile, only to have it turn out he was already dying from a head wound he got earlier that night in a "bum fight".
    • In "Conduct Unbecoming," a female naval officer is found dead after a wild party and video from the party shows her staggering around looking inebriated. At first, the detectives think someone at the party was responsible for her death. It turns out she was involved in an altercation before the party and received a blow to the head. She wasn't drunk, she was slowly bleeding to death from a brain injury.
    • In "The Dead Wives Club", the suspect had been married to one of the firefighters at Ground Zero. Their neighbor also had been a firefighter. While he survived 9/11, cleaning up in the aftermath had left him with leukemia from his exposure to the mercury in busted light bulbs. By the time the detectives talk to his wife, the man's death is imminent and he has a hospital bed in the middle of his living room.
  • Motive: In "Chronology of Pain", a makeshift explosive rigged to a judge's barbecue goes off but does not seem to do any major harm to the judge. However, the shockwave had damaged her lungs, causing a slow build-up of fluid, and she painfully asphyxiates several hours later.
  • My Life Is Murder: The Victim of the Week in "Another Bloody Podcast" dies after being punched and falling and hitting his head on a paving stone. He stood up again and the killer left, assuming he was fine, only for him to expire shortly afterward from a bleed on the brain. By then, circumstance had occurred to make it initially look like he was the victim of a hate crime.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Final Appeal, Part 1", Justice Oliver Harbison mentions that it took six months for his daughter to die from the radiation poisoning that she suffered in the War of 2059.
  • There is a particularly harsh example in the German crime series Polizeiruf 110 when a bomb explosion in a crowded Munich pedestrian underpass throws a brick against the back of the head of a young woman. In the minutes following the detonation, she wanders around among the dead and dying, nonchalantly looking for her purse. She is seen much later, lying on the floor next to her purse, getting zipped up in a body bag. One can only assume she succumbed to her head trauma while paramedics were busy aiding much more obviously injured people.
  • The Professionals:
    • In "The Rack", Doyle is accused of killing a suspect in CI5 custody. The fatal blow was actually delivered some hours earlier by the victim's brother.
    • In "Dead Reckoning", a recently spy-swapped agent dies while under CI5 protection, using a poison that kills within twenty minutes of entering the bloodstream. The only outsider in contact with the man in that time was his own daughter. She's cleared of suspicion when an autopsy reveals a capsule was implanted under the skin before he was swapped, set to activate by a chemical trigger after four days.
  • In Psych episode "Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion", a fashion mogul is poisoned by her husband, but her death was delayed for some time due to her bulimia. She finally succumbs to the poison at his funeral... after she killed him.
  • This was the subject of An Aesop on an episode of Quincy, M.E. - a young woman is in a car accident and didn't seem to be too badly injured, then suddenly died, because she wasn't examined by a qualified trauma center team.
  • Though it doesn't actually get so far as the final word of this trope (both victims were saved), the "The Sign of Three" episode of Sherlock features this — victims stabbed with a fine blade (fine enough that they do not notice it), and kept from bleeding out by their tight belts. Once the belts were loosened, the victims would begin to bleed out — several hours after the actual stabbing occurred.
  • Squid Game: Sae-byeok completes the fifth game but ends up with an Agonizing Stomach Wound after getting impaled with a shard of glass. This results in Sae-byeok being unable to eat the final meal of the game and a slow death of internal bleeding during the night.
  • The Ultra Series enjoys the use of this trope quite a lot, what with it being a Tokusatsu series. Perhaps the most iconic example comes from Ultraseven, in which the titular Ultra Crusader manages to pull off an excellent kill against Eleking with his Eye Slugger. Eleking has just enough time to briefly convulse before his body falls apart neatly into segments, gushing some purple High-Pressure Blood as he does so.
  • Vera: In "On Harbour Street," a woman is stabbed on a train station platform with a thin, sharp blade. Subcutaneous fat seals the wound, and the woman boards the train without noticing. She dies on the train from internal bleeding, and the police are left with the mystery of a woman who was seemingly stabbed in the back while seated with her back to the carriage wall.
    • Also happens in "Dirty," when the Victim of the Week dies from a head injury several hours after receiving it in a fight.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney features a killer who sent a poisoned stamp to their intended victim so that they would die when they licked it. Said poison, however, is slow-acting, so after sealing his fate with the lick he went on to have an interview with a journalist. During this interview he took a swig of the coffee his daughter made for him, only to drop down dead from the earlier poisoning straight after (as well as getting the poison that was already on his tongue onto the rim of the cup) making it seem like he died from a poisoned mug of coffee.
    • The defendant herself (the murder victim's daughter) also suffers from this, as her nail polish contains the same poison (also put there by the killer). When she bites her nails due to the stress of the trial (she is a VERY sheltered girl), she collapses on the stand. Should the player pick the wrong option at the trial's end, her condition worsens and she dies in her hospital bed that night, her verdict being postponed for eternity.
  • In Bioshock, the phrase "Code Yellow" is supposed to make Jack's heart stop beating, but as Fontaine notes, the heart is a "stubborn muscle", giving Jack enough time to find and consume two doses of Lot 192, ridding himself of Fontaine's control completely.
  • Final Fantasy has Countdown or Condemned or Doom or Slow-Death. Basically it consists of a countdown over a character's head; in real-time games, this is usually done by time, though in turn-based games, it's always done by turn. There's also sometimes a "turn to stone" variant.
  • In the Golden Sun series, the Curse status effect will kill its victim 7 turns after being applied. It's primarily inflicted with the Curse spell, but the unleash from Lachesis' Rule and the Djinn Gasp and Hemlock can also inflict it.
  • Chicken from Nuclear Throne has this as an ability. When she loses all of her health, she gets decapitated and can move around for five seconds without her head before dying. Picking up health grows her head back with 2 less max HP.
  • Occurs in Persona 3 when the protagonist mysteriously dies at the end of the game. The Answer eventually reveals the reason why: during the final battle, he used his soul to create a seal around Nyx, preventing The End of the World as We Know It. The protagonist then managed to survive an entire month without his soul (though the epilogue of the core game continuously mentions how tired he is) before he succumbs to the inevitable and finally dies.
  • Pokémon has Perish Song, which causes all Pokémon to faint three turns later if they didn't switch out in time.
  • The doomed status condition in Temtem knocks out the afflicted tem after a certain number of turns.
  • In World of Warcraft, fire mages have the Cauterize talent, which heals a mage by burning a fatal wound. The downside is that the burning itself will kill the mage if they don't get proper healing within the next 6 seconds.
    • Warlocks also have Dark Bargain, which gives them six seconds of complete immunity before they take 50% of all they suffered when it expires, depending on the severity of the absorbed damage, they may die from it without healing.

    Real Life 
There are many examples of this trope known to medical science:
  • Many poisonings, especially mushroom poisonings, will take several days to develop. Death cap poisoning takes one week. Death by botulism usually takes three days.
    • Deadly parasites can lie dormant for months before internal conditions in the body they've infected are just right for it to become active and begin destroying vital systems from the inside out.
    • What makes Death cap poisoning so dangerous is the fact that the poison does not kill by itself, but instead destroys the liver. The first symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea) are the early symptoms of acute liver failure. The victim will die from a buildup of toxins in the bloodstream. Even worse, by the time they realize they have a life-threatening illness, it's usually too late to save the liver, and their only hope for survival is a prompt liver transplant, which probably won't come fast enough to save them unless a close friend or family member donates.
    • Victims of paracetamol overdose can appear perfectly healthy for several hours despite suffering irreversible liver damage.
    • Acute liver failure in general can be a bit like this. It's almost always caused by viral infection or poisoning (usually overdoses of acetaminophen or magic mushrooms, especially if combined with alcohol). The early symptoms are seemingly benign: nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pains, loss of appetite, and fatigue, which even taken together can be easily mistaken for food poisoning or a stomach virus. It's only after it progresses that the more obvious symptoms appear: jaundice, agony, abdominal swelling, and coma. It can be treated, but it generally requires a liver transplant, and someone who isn't paying attention may not get to the hospital in time.
    • Fatal injury to the spleen tends to play out this way, as it's a highly-vascular, notoriously-delicate organ which can slowly bleed out into a person's abdominal cavity over several hours.
    • Radiation poisoning. A high (but not too high☠ ) radiation dose can kill the cells of the bone marrow and gut while leaving the rest of the body relatively intact. After a brief (1-2 days) period of illness, the victim will seem to recover in what's called the "walking ghost phase". During the Walking Ghost Phase, a person may feel completely fine, as the body has just enough of the essential proteins and chemicals circulating around their body to keep it in some semblance of normality. Once that runs out, soon afterwards they're hit with a double whammy as their intestinal lining sloughs off (which keeps them from absorbing nutrients from food, causes fluid loss, and opens pathways to infection) and their white blood cells (average lifespan: 5 days) die off and aren't replaced. The result: a weeks-long, drawn-out death.
      • Lesser doses of radiation can draw this out further, causing death years or even decades down the line, with radiation-induced cancer being the most common culprit. The most widespread instance of this was linked to the 1945 atomic bombings of Japan, as the areas around Hiroshima and Nagasaki began to see substantially increased numbers of aggressive cancers and other radiation-related ailments in the 1950s.
    • Ingestion of ethylene glycol (antifreeze) initially produces symptoms very much like plain old alcohol intoxication. But the body then proceeds to break ethylene glycol down into toxic chemicals, and death ensues probably within 12 to 36 hours after consumption.
    • Organomercury exposure. While regular mercury is toxic enough, Organomercury is much more insidious. Karen Wetterhahn spilled a few drops of it on her glove and proceeded to follow the safety procedures at the time. However, the amount that leaked through the glove and entered her skin slowly killed her over the course of months, that by the time she showed signs of the poisonings, her nervous system was already breaking down.
  • Harry Houdini died of a ruptured appendix shortly after one of his shows. Before that show, someone came backstage and tried to test Houdini's "abs of steel" by punching Houdini in the abdomen several times. This led to the well-known (but false) Urban Legend that the person's punches caused Houdini's burst appendix.
  • In an especially creepy Real Life example, murder victim Peter Porco, after taking several blows from an axe to his head, woke up, went about his daily routine of making coffee and fetching the morning paper, then finally collapsed back into unconsciousness and died, apparently unaware the entire time that he was bleeding to death, or even injured, due to brain damage. Note  The entire scenario, as well as the subsequent murder trial, made 48 Hours Mystery and Forensic Files.
  • In 1963 boxer Davey Moore was punched in the face during a fight. Falling, he struck the base of his neck on a ringside rope and lost by a knockout, but shortly recovered and was well enough to give a ringside interview to the press. He subsequently passed out in his dressing room and died some hours later.
  • Stiv Bators, lead singer of the punk band The Dead Boys, was struck by a vehicle (accounts differ on whether it was a taxi, bus, or private car) while crossing a street in Paris. He was taken to the hospital, but after waiting for several hours without a doctor seeing him he assumed that he was uninjured and went home. He died in his sleep from complications from a concussion overnight.
  • Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary was stabbed through the heart with a sharpened nail file in 1898 while walking down a pier to board a ship—but the nail file was very thin and made a very narrow wound, and no one saw any external bleeding because of the tight corset the Empress was wearing. She actually got up after her assailant ran away, continued walking down the pier, and boarded the ship. After boarding the ship she whispered "What has happened to me?" and collapsed into unconsciousness, dying of internal bleeding shortly thereafter.
  • Depressed skull fractures. They can often cause a hemorrhage into the brain, causing this trope.
  • Events like this happened so often in England when dueling was still legal that, until 1996 when it was finally abolished, one particularly interesting law was on the books, dubbed the 'Year and a day rule': it's not murder if your victim took more than a year to die.
  • Grigori Rasputin, kind of goes with the territory of being the trope namer for Rasputinian Death.
    • Subverted: the legend of Rasputin taking so much to kill is pure myth; in reality, although he took some damage beforehand that was meant to kill him but failed to be enough, the final blow was a point-blank pistol shot to the forehead that basically killed him instantly.
  • Trotsky as well. Guy took an ice pick to the head, turned around and bit his assassin until he could be detained, before falling unconscious and dying 24 hours later.
  • Depending on your views, people rendered into a vegetative state are arguably this.
  • David Lunt, the man that inspired the Deadwood example, was accidentally shot in the forehead during a bar brawl between two other men. He remained lucid, perfectly capable and suffered no pain for more than two months until he suddenly felt a bad headache and died. The coroner determined that Lunt's choroid plexus had been pierced by the bullet and caused his death by slowly filling his brain with excessive cerebroespinal fluid, but could not determine why Lunt had not died of other causes before there was enough fluid to kill him.
  • In a non-human, non-animate example (time-delayed destruction rather than death), the USS O'Brien was hit by a torpedo fired by a Japanese submarine on 15 September 1942. The ship went for temporary repairs and sat at anchor for the better part of a month before sailing for San Francisco, still leaking. On 19 October 1942, more than a month after the initial torpedoing and after travelling a good 3,500 miles across the Pacific, the ship suddenly broke apart and sank from structural failure caused by the initial hit.
  • The Boeing 747 that was later involved in Japan Airlines Flight 123 suffered a tailstrike at Osaka Airport 7 years before the accident happened. It turned out that the damage to the plane's rear bulkhead had been improperly repaired, slowly causing the structural integrity of the empennage to become compromised. On August 12, 1985, the rear bulkhead ruptured, blowing off much of the tail and severing hydraulic lines, initiating the events that ultimately led to the 747 crashing into a mountain north of Tokyo.
  • This sometimes happens to people shot with small-caliber firearms. Because the wounds are smaller and less painful than those caused by bigger calibers, the wounded person may not realize that the bullet has hit a vital organ or blood vessel, and decide not to seek medical attention, dying hours or days later from internal bleeding.
  • Former NASA astronaut Pete Conrad fell off a motorcycle in 1999 and landed on his chest. He had some visible abrasions and was short of breath, but he could still walk around and speak. An ambulance was summoned and the paramedics took him to an emergency room, thinking he had a few broken ribs. He actually had serious internal injuries and died later that day.
  • Perhaps the most extreme example is General Joshua Chamberlain, who was severely wounded at the Battle of Quaker Road in the American Civil War. He died 49 years later, and medical examination confirmed that it was the bullet wound, from which he had never fully recovered, that killed him.
  • James Garfield was shot on July 2nd, 1881 by Charles Guiteau, but didn't actually die until September 19th, easily the longest time for an assassinated President to die from a fatal wound. In fact, John F. Kennedy was the only assassinated President to die the day of being shot, as he was the only President killed with a rifle. Abraham Lincoln lived until the next morning, and William McKinley lived for another week.
  • Former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes fell and hit his head on May, 10, 2017, and died eight days later of a subdural hematoma.
  • Gary Kildall, Digital Research founder and inventor of CP/M, one of the earliest microcomputer operating systems, died days after suffering a head injury in a bar in 1994, though sources are unclear if it was because of an altercation or Kildall merely fell.
  • Bob Saget was found dead in his hotel room on January 9, 2022, with no sign of trauma or foul play. His autopsy showed that he died from severe head trauma. The coroner concluded, judging by the circumstances of his death and the nature of the injury, that Saget injured his head, decided it wasn't a severe injury, went to sleep, and died without regaining consciousness.
  • Spanish racing driver María de Villota suffered a major crash while doing test driver work in a Formula 1 car, in which she tried to stop the car at the end of a test run, which activated the car's anti-stall system and caused her to drive into a truck. She suffered neurological damage in the incident, including the loss of her sense of taste and smell, but was seemingly able to continue living a mostly normal life until she suddenly died from a cardiac arrest just over a year later, caused by the crash.


Video Example(s):


Kazuki Instant Blade - Mist

In the tenth episode, as Kazuki tries to take the Vassal Katana from Raphtalia, who was restored to her older form by the weapon, she easily defeats him by immobilizing him with the move "Instant Blade - Mist", which will decapitate him if he takes a step. In the proceeding episode, as Kyo berates Kazuki for failing to have Raphtalia stay imprisoned and acquiring the Katana Vassl Weapon, which Kyo was aware of Kazuki's plan to use it to kill him, Kazuki ignores his underlings and moves before they could diffuse Raphtalia's time-delayed death attack and winds up getting decapitated from the shoulder up.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TooDumbToLive

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