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Uncertain Doom

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Zuko: Did Jet just...die?
Sokka: You know, it was really unclear.

As an audience, we know that a doomed character can be saved at the last minute. There's always an 11th-Hour Superpower, Deus ex Machina, or Big Damn Heroes moment to rescue them. Other times, we get an on-screen death, or even a Fate Worse than Death. Very rarely, though, characters can be left in limbo; there's still a last minute, but we never see what happens after that.


This trope is the fate of any character who possibly didn't make it, but is never actually proven dead. This can happen at any point in a story, but happens so frequently at the end that we have tropes devoted specifically for that situation. Rule of thumb: if Uncertain Doom occurs at the ending of an entire work, it's probably a Bolivian Army Ending. If Uncertain Doom happens at the end of an installment of the work (like a novel or season), it's probably a Bolivian Army Cliffhanger.

Asking the creators for clarity usually will get you nowhere, as they often aren't entirely sure themselves. If they do confirm the character's death, the ambiguity of this trope allows them to get away with bringing the character back anyway should they change their minds.

When the audience doesn't even know if the characters are in danger, see Chuck Cunningham Syndrome and What Happened to the Mouse?. If Fridge Logic leads fans to assume this happened to one of the good guys, it can result in an Inferred Holocaust.


A Super-Trope to:


However, these subtropes tend to resolve the uncertainty of who's actually dead and who's still alive, as long as the next installment is made.

Compare He's Just Hiding!, where the character is almost definitely dead. Compare and contrast Killed Offscreen, which can be a subversion of this trope. For characters that are literally between life and death, see Mortality Grey Area.


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  • The official Cap'n Crunch Twitter had a storyline where Jean LaFoote, wounded, was last seen jumping into the sea and never posted again.

    Anime and Manga 
  • After War Gundam X gives us one with the pirate villain Dorza Baroy in Episode 17. Witz manages to defeat the pirate by firing shots on his ship at the end of the episode. The room of the ship Dorza is in takes damage, looking like it is about to explode. One crew member panics and says that they won't make it, while Dorza say "Damn, is this the end?!" The shot cuts away to Garrod destroying three of their mobile suit soldiers that were hiding in the water, and then we see that Dorza's ship has been wrecked, but not completely destroyed and is floating in the ocean. We don't see any rescue boats sailing away, but there is no way to tell is Dorza died or not, and he is never seen again for the rest of the anime.
  • Arachnid had an open ending involving the use of a Rape Zombie Apocalypse on Japan as a Depopulation Bomb after a Carnival of Killers Gone Horribly Right. Several characters were abruptly written off towards the end, leaving the Blattodea sequel to elaborate on their fates 5 years later.
    • Imomushi, the protagonist of Caterpillar, participates in the Arachnid Hunt but is suddenly backstabbed and knocked unconscious by Suzumebachi. She wasn't seen again until her spinoff confirmed Hanakamakiri took her back home; and Blattodea shows she's survived the zombie apocalypse through the following year.
    • Dinoponera is tossed to the rape zombies while paralyzed and isn't seen again for the rest of the story... until Blattodea actually brings her back to great effect by establishing its protagonist Chiyuri as Dinoponera's Only Friend and having Dino overcome the infection to help Chiyuri.
    • Like Dinoponera, both Kamadouma and Geji were lost offscreen in the zombie outbreak and Gokiburi assumes in a offhanded scene that they probably were raped and infected as well. By the second volume of Blattodea their status hasn't been confirmed.
    • Characters like Riokku and Amenbo were just forgotten about before the zombie outbreak even started. Minor villain Jigabachi actually comes back in Blattodea to save Sasori after he was blown high off Shouran High by Kabutomushi, handily explaining his pupil Anabachi also didn't die when Kabuto smashed his head against the floor.
    • Arachnid ended with Alice facing a horde of rape zombies on her own and, an unspecified amount of time later, Kabutomushi and Gokiburi looking for her. Blattodea confirms Alice's survival and reintroduces Gokiburi sometime later but conspicuously doesn't show Kabuto together with her.
    • In Blattodea, Yamato gets overwhelmed by the zombies while trying to keep them from rushing towards Chiyuri and Dinoponera. She is forced to leave him behind, but his fate is left unclear.
  • In the grand finale of Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, the crew destroys NME's fortress with the NME Salesman still inside and, upon being informed of this, he makes a run for it. In the original Japanese version, he can be heard screaming just before the fortress is entirely destroyed but what makes it qualify for this trope is the English version, which doesn't dub his scream at all and leaves him silent. In both versions, King Dedede attempts to contact him and only gets a static screen in return.
  • In Berserk a few of the characters who are only in one arc and who didn't join Gut's party or go the Griffith's Falconia are classified as this.
    • Theresia from the Black Swordsmen arc swore revenge on Guts for getting her monster father killed — but she has never been seen again. More tragically, Jill in the Lost Children arc has to return to her abusive home life as Guts refused to let her go with him as she would be in danger, but since the entire world of Berserk is now dangerous if she didn't travel to Falconia she'd likely be killed by the numerous creatures that roam wild.
    • Nina and Joachim from the Conviction arc they survived the destruction of Albion and went off alone together to make themselves better people, unfortunately we don't see them in Falconia and as said above there are monsters everywhere so their chances of survival are minimal (especially as Nina was already dying).
  • Black Jack: In the anime, Nadare the deer survives being shot by his human friend and limps his way back to the forest. The episode ends with the other characters wondering whether Nadare was Killed Offscreen.
  • Bleach:
    • Harribel gets captured when the Wandenreich invades Hueco Mundo, and is never seen again, even after they are defeated. It was only in the light novels released later that would reveal she was rescued and assumed leadership of Hueco Mundo.
    • Cang Du and BG9 receive punishment from Jugram for losing in their fights. Jugram is able to No-Sell Cang's abilities and kill or at least badly injure him, but the scene cuts away before we see what happens to BG9. Neither are mentioned again following this.
    • At the end of their fight with Askin, Urahara and Yoruichi are apparently unable to escape when their opponent unleashes a final "Gift Ball" on them. While Nel is seen trying to rescue them, they are never mentioned in the ending. Like the Harribel example, it was up to the light novels to reveal Nel rescued them.
  • Burst Angel: Jo's body wasn't found by Meg in the rubble at the end of the anime.
  • Cowboy Bebop ends with Spike collapsing from his injuries, but it's left unclear whether he died or simply passed out.
  • Cyborg Kurochan often uses this for minor one-off villains. For major characters, Never Found the Body is used instead.
  • Dragon Ball: Monster Carrot and the Rabbit mob, after defeating them Goku takes them to the moon via Power Pole and forces them to make Mochi for the kids of Earth for a whole year and then he promises he come up and bring them down. However Master Roshi destroyed the moon in the World Martial Arts Tournament to revert Goku from Great Ape. So some fans assumed they were killed, but then Toriyama (when asked) stated that Monster Carrot and his henchmen are drifting through space.
  • In E's Otherwise, Kai Kudo is not seen alive or dead after the explosion in the final episode.
  • In GaoGaiGar FINAL, The entire crew, minus Mamoru and Kaido, is left in a collapsing universe, sacrificing their only (known) way out to save the kids.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 3 does this with some of the Stand users. While some are confirmed dead (including Gray Fly, Fake Capatin Tennille, Forever, Devo, J. Geil, N'Doul, Pet Shop, and Vanilla Ice), some are confirmed alive (Mannish Boy, Boingo and Oingo, Mariah, and Hol Horse), and there are some whose fate are uncomfirmed. Among those whose fates are uncomfirmed, there are two of them who are highly implied to be dead as they don't get up. They are Steely Dan (whose been punched even more times than Forever and did not get up) and Rubber Soul.
  • A lot of villains from Kaiketsu Zorro get this treatment because there's no doubt that Zorro won't hesitate to cut down the villains who attack him. But whether or not he outright kills them or just wounds them badly enough to incapacitate them is left in the air. In some episodes, Zorro does explicitly kill his enemies, such as the time he slew an Indian assassin who murdered his friend Teo and had found out about his secret identity earlier. At other times Zorro will cut down enemies but either ties them up or drags their prone bodies away from impending explosions, implying that he hasn't killed them and will more than likely leave them to the authorities to imprison. More than often, though, Zorro will usually cut down a villain and their deaths will be neither confirmed nor denied, making the situation much more ambiguous.
  • KanColle: Shouhou is last seen in a great fire, with her final fate never laid out clearly.
  • One Piece: This happens a lot to villains in the East Blue arc and a few times afterwards, it's a better alternative than having the Straw Hats (the heroes) outright murder the bad guys, which goes against their lifestyle. Though Oda did show certain antagonists (like Baroque Works and CP9) surviving through cover stories, plus many former villains return in the Impel Down arc to help Luffy free Ace and fight the Marines.
    • Axe-Hand Morgan, the former Marine captain, was thought to be killed by Zoro by one fan until Oda corrected him by saying he was arrested. Morgan appeared in Coby's cover story where he escaped and then he was never seen again.
    • Kuro and the Black Cat Pirates (with the exception of Jango) are also nowhere to be seen after Luffy defeats Kuro and they flee Usopp's village. The anime shows Kuro having returned to his pirate life and reacting dispassionately to Luffy's first bounty poster.
    • Don Krieg, Gin, and the other Krieg Pirates don't appear again after the Baratie arc. The arc involved Gin breathing in a lethal dose of poisonous gas and telling Sanji he might have not have long to live but he hoped to see him again on the Grand Line... which didn't happen.
    • The Arlong Pirates' fate is left very ambiguous. The anime mistakenly has Arlong accuse Zoro and Sanji of "killing his brethren" after they defeat Hatchan and Kuroobi. A cover story shows Hatchan escaping from the Marine ship that had arrested the Fishmen but the others on the other hand haven't been seen again outside flash backs nor did they show up in Impel Down with the rest of the incarcerated villains.
    • The fate of the Priests in Skypeia is very obscure: Gedatsu fell back to the Blue Sea and opened up a hot springs resort but the other three weren't so lucky. Satori took Sanji's Concasse (axe kick) to the skull and is never seen getting up again, in the Funimation dub Sotori and Kotori (Satori's brothers) even say that he was killed and want revenge which further confuses the issue. Shura was blasted by Wiper's Reject Dial to the chest and Ohm was sliced down by Zoro's Pound Cannon and (like Satori) didn't get up again. Even if they survived that, the Shandians banished them and the rest of Eneru's forces to a drifting cloud, which means they will stay on this cloud until they all die or the cloud dissolves and they fall down into Blue Sea (which would kill them as well).
    • Yorki, Brook's friend and captain was not killed along with the rest of the Rumbar Pirates as he had fallen ill prior and was last reported traveling across the Calm Belt (which is filled with Sea Kings) but even if he crossed safely, that was 90 years ago. So, if Yorki didn't die of his sickness or wasn't eaten by a Sea King, he'd be a very old man.
    • Shiki and the Golden Lion Pirates from Strong World have a status of "unknown", but since they fell unconscious from their collapsing island and Shiki at least had a Devil Fruit... they're likely dead.
    • Little Oars Jr. gets subjected to a brutal Curb-Stomp Battle against Doflamingo, Kuma, and Moria at Marineford, and collapses, seemingly dead. It later turns out that he's still alive, and helps the Whitebeard Pirates advance, but his final fate is never conclusively revealed. The only two named characters who are explicitly stated to have died at Marineford are Ace and Whitebeard.
    • Charlotte Opera in Whole Cake Island arc had years of his life ripped out by his mother Big Mom for lying about Luffy and Nami's deaths. It's unclear whether he’s still alive or not, Charlotte Moscato was thought to be dead when Big Mom did the same thing to him when on a hunger rampage but was revealed to be alive later. No such luck for Opera though, whose fate is unknown.
    • From the same arc the Vinsmoke Family (Judge, Reiju, Ichiji, Niji, and Yonji) Sanji's father, sister, and brothers) were last seen fighting off Big Mom’s forces giving the Straw Hats time to escape and were shot down with special bullets from a Gatling Gun. It's possible they managed to escape like Jimbei did, but it remains inconclusive.
  • Tokyo Ghoul concludes with considerable ambiguity concerning the fates of several characters. Hide is considering a missing person, and last seen with a hallucinating Kaneki who may or may not have eaten him. Aogiri has kidnapped numerous wounded Investigators and will be experimenting on them. Finally, Koma and Irimi were last seen headed to V14, where Arima later slaughters a large number of Ghouls. It is unknown whether or not they were among the dead.

    Comic Books 
  • Astro City: Plenty of characters simply vanish from the timeline with no obvious cause. Given the difficult line of work they live in and the lack of Comic-Book Time, it's not quite clear if they've died in battle or simply retired.
  • Batman: In Legends of the Dark Knight, Cavalier chooses a Bolivian Army-esque Suicide by Cop as an honorable end.
  • Beast Wars: Uprising: After Scylla's killed in the Battle of Yuss, Cybershark is put in charge of the forces remaining there. Later on, the fleet falls to the Vehicons, and Cybershark goes missing, presumed dead or assimilated.
  • Dean Tightbill from Darkwing Duck. We don't know if Steelbeak actually opened the "alligator briefcase" or if he just used the threat of it to frighten Tightbill into handing over the money.
  • Dark Times: The Fire Carrier arc features a sympathetic Imperial officer who eventually starts bringing supplies to a group of Order 66 survivors every year. One year, he doesn't show up. The Jedi suspect that he died in the Galactic Civil War but acknowledge he may have only been transferred off-world or gotten married (with his new family needing the credits he'd previously used to buy them supplies).
  • Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness ends with Ash escaping the zombie-infested dimension via Dr. Doom's portal only to end up in a dimension inhabited by werewolf superheroes, and the last frame is a shot of them running after him. Qualifies as a Bolivian Army Ending for Ash, but the crossover is a prequel for the entire Marvel Zombies universe.
  • Night of the Owls: There's a montage of several Gothamites being attacked by the Court of Owls. A few, such as Judge Jan Spitz (who is jogging when attacked), Public Advocate John Lee (who's driving his car) and City Councilman Michael Guadalupe (who tries to fight off his attacker with a pistol) aren't killed onscreen and might have been able to avoid the assassins long enough for Batman's allies to save them.
  • Shazam! (2012): The Wizard is last seen collapsed on the floor of the Rock of Eternity, weak and dying. The story never answers whether he actually is dead.
  • Superman:
    • Superboy-Prime: At the end of Adventure Comics #5, after Superboy-Prime's battle with the Black Lanterns and admitting to himself that he hates what he has become and only wanting a happy ending. Laurie Lemmon enters the basement, sporting a broken arm. She comforts Prime, telling him that "they" heard him, and that they sent her to tell him that they are sorry for what they did to him, and are going to leave him alone — "they" being previously mentioned as being the writers at DC Comics. As they embrace, a Black Lantern ring is shown on Laurie's hand detects the hope within Prime's heart, implying she is really a Black Lantern and is manipulating him into feeling hope before she kills him. However, a flashback in Prime's last appearance shows him reconnection with Laurie and them to be happy, implying she is the real Laurie Lemmon and that they are happy.
    • The demon Ordox in Supergirl (1972), who chooses to bring his mountain down rather than letting himself be captured by Supergirl and Zatanna. Both heroines theorize that Ordox possibly died with his mountain, but his fate is never revealed.
    • In The Third Kryptonian, villain Amalak smashes the Bottle City of Kandor — not the genuine article but a bottle-shaped interface between an alien ghetto trapped in a dimensional warp and the real world. Superman can't reach Kandor and find out if its inhabitants are still alive, dead or wounded... and he never finds out, because the whole matter was forgotten when the real Kandor was found a few months later.
    • The Krypton Chronicles: While investigating the life of his ancestor Val-El, Superman learns that, after reaching the continent of Lurvan and founding Argo City, Val-El and his men went to explore the interior. Eventually, they reached the Valley of Juru... and they disappeared from the face of the planet. Nobody knows what happens to them because no one who ever entered Juru afterwards returned.
    • In Crucible, it's unclear what happens to villain Rendll after getting defeated by Maxima. On the one hand, Maxima runs an energy dagger through Rendll's neck as shouting she'll kill her if Maxima's teammate Comet dies at hands of Rendll's partners. On the another hand, Maxima had shortly before driven an energy dagger into Rendll's neck, and it barely inconvenienced her. Did she get killed or merely knocked out? Either way, Rendll isn't seen or talked about again.
    • The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor: Villain Mad Bomber seems to become disintegrated after getting caught by his own telekinetic blast. In the aftermath of the battle, though, Supergirl and her friend Lena notice neither of them saw him exploding, so they wonder if he merely caused an explosion to conceal his escape. The truth is never revealed, whatever it may be.
  • Transformers:
    • Transformers Armada: In the comic series, the Destruction Mini-con team, who've been a thorn in Megatron's side, are absent when all the mini-cons are gathered together. When asked, Megatron says that they're "better off without them." The author, Simon Furman, mentions that Megatron strapped them to a rocket and shot them into the sun, which was an empty threat he made to Cyclonus earlier in the cartoon, leaving their fates ambiguous.
    • Transformers/G.I. Joe: Flint ends up captured and tortured into revealing intel to Cobra by Zartan, who then impersonates Flint before Scarlett recognizes him as an imposter and kills him. The fate of the real Flint remains unclear, even when the cancelled continuation Divided Front establishes a successor.
    • The Transformers: Unicron: A lot of supporting characters from Robots in Disguise and Till All Are One (Rattrap, the Combaticons, Airachnid) are unaccounted for when Cybertron gets destroyed. Given they aren't seen on Earth, they're probably dead.
  • Hooded Justice from Watchmen simply vanished from public view. Ozymandias theorizes that the Comedian killed him, but he could have simply retired, and the truth may never be known. Hooded Justice does appear alive in Watchmen (2019) and is revealed to be black, but the TV show is not strictly canonical to Moore’s original work so must be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Byrna Brilyant's mind is said to have "crashed" when Diana took down her mecha since she was wired to it in order to make it a more effective Motion Capture Mecha. Byrna is not seen thereafter and it's unknown whether this means she died or was left in a coma or vegetative state.
  • X-Men: During the End of the Grey's story arc some of Rachel's relatives (notably recurring character the Bailey twins) aren't shown being killed, or lying on the ground dead, but the ending of the story indicates that everyone else at the house was killed.
  • X-Men: Blue:
    • At the end of "Cross-Time Capers", Magneto confronts the Future Brotherhood, and ominously looks like he's about to kill them for their actions... before the issue ends, without confirming whether he actually did or not.
    • Similarly, the Ultimate X-Men are taken out by Ms. Sinister, and never spoken of or seen afterwards, presumably in case any other writer wishes to use them later.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Maid Maleen": When Maleen gets out of the tower where she spent seven years imprisoned, she finds her father's royal castle and town lay in empty, burned ruins. It is unknown whether her father was slain together with all his subjects by the enemy army or he was merely driven away.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): The fate of Vivienne Graham's elderly mother Susan — it's ambiguous for a while whether Susan is still alive in the present, or she died during the time inbetween Vivienne's Only Mostly Dead and her and San's escape from captivity (either from old age or during the global Titan rampage depicted in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)). Subverted when Susan's status is finally revealed in Chapter 11.
  • Children of Remnant: Marcus Black gets an appearance in the midpoint of the story, but there's no mention of Mercury. Considering that they got in a fight to the death before he met Cinder in canon, it's not clear if Mercury is still alive or something happened to make him lose the fight. He's later revealed to still be alive, and is only upset that he didn't get to kill Marcus himself.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 12 of the sequel Diplomat at Large, when asked about Starswirl's fate, Luna informs Aria that he and his companions disappeared over a thousand years ago; while he isn't dead, they don't know what actually happened to him.
  • In A Far Green Country, chapter 12, orcs surround and trap Surad and Durus, but Elden does not see their deaths. The orcs have orders to kill, so they probably do kill Surad and Durus, but their deaths are not certain.
  • In A Force of Four, Mars disappears after getting struck by the Amazons' Purple Ray. Mars was blasted into oblivion or he merely teleported away? Neither the Amazons nor Power Girl know.
  • In Higher Learning, Kaoru revealed that his father was sealed inside the Geofront in punishment for killing his own mother. Kaoru assumes his father eventually died down there but he can't know for sure since they never checked back on him.
  • Kara of Rokyn: Barry Allen disappears during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and nobody knows whether he died or survived by time-travelling to the far future.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: In the last scene involving him, Lorenz Keel dismisses the rest of Seele and is left alone with a minion who he believes to be loyal. However, Doctor Hideki Nakayima has a firearm and a very good reason to want Lorenz dead. The scene concludes with Doctor Nakayima reaching into his pocket for his gun while Lorenz's back is turned. Lorenz's fate remains unrevealed in the epilogue.
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Ash's Squirtle declares himself the Sole Survivor of the Squirtle Squad. A sidestory reveals that he was separated from them by a cave in during an ambush in an underground route, and believes they were all buried alive. However, The Stinger of that sidestory reveals that at least one of them survived.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: In Nightmares Yet to Come, one chapter ends with Duke Greengrass being beaten up by the story's main villains, with their leader explaining that he's a Wild Card who needs to be taken out of the picture. Then Greengrass recognizes him... the chapter ends with him being knocked out, but confirmation on just what these villains ultimately did.
  • At the beginning of To Hell and Back (Arrowverse), Kara hurls one thug into a tree hard enough to break the trunk in half. It's never revealed that happens to him and the narration states he might or might not be dead.
    Kara struggled in her captor’s hold, writhing as his arms tightened, until she screamed and, completely on instinct, hitched up her back, lifting the man up and throwing him over her body to one of the trees. His body had been thrown with such force that it broke through the tree trunk, ripping it in half. He continued to skid across the ground before his back hit another tree, and remained there motionless, either unconscious or dead.'
  • At the end of Trustworthy (part 2 here), a fanfic of The Loud House, it's left uncertain as to whether Lana's snake El Diablo and her lizard Izzy died in the House Fire or if they ran away.

    Film — Animated 
  • Battle for Terra: General Hemners terraforming operators are seen running from the control room before the kanikazie attack hits it but given the size of the explosion it’s doubtful (although not impossible) they could have gotten clear in time.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs ends with the mayor stranded on his mostly-eaten boat made of food. We never find out if he drowns or not; while the credits show him surviving and being arrested, they may not be canon, and he's never mentioned in the sequel.
  • Drago Bludvist from How to Train Your Dragon 2 was originally supposed to come back in the third film but his role was written out, leaving his fate in the second movie unknown. However, since he has been stated to be "defeated" and The Remnant of his army still fight Hiccup, it is likely that he drowned when his Bewilderbeast submerged in the water. This is even more likely because he had only one arm, thus making it much harder for him to swim.
  • Captain Gutt in Ice Age: Continental Drift is last seen being attacked by a siren-like lungfish, with more coming to join in. While one can assume they kill him, there are comedic noises during their attack and Gutt's noises of pain sound more like he just stepped into a really hot bath with cold feet, so it is unclear or not if they really did kill him. However, with no more ships or crewmen, we can assume Gutt’s days of piracy are over regardless of his fate.
  • Madame Medusa from The Rescuers is last seen hanging for dear life and with crocodiles chomping at her, but the scene ends before showing if her willpower ran out before theirs did.
  • Justice League Dark: Apokolips War:
    • Wonder Girl appears briefly at Titans Tower during the opening. Unlike the other Titans, we never learn her fate, as she isn't among the bodies shown during the Paradooms' attack on the Tower, yet unlike Robin, Superboy, and Raven, she also doesn't appear after it.
    • We also aren't shown for sure if Swamp Thing, Batwoman, and Batwing do die. We see Swamp Thing swarmed by the Paradooms, Batwoman tackled off one of the towers, and Batwing shot out of the sky, but we aren't shown anything that indicates they died.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A Wedding (1978): At the end of the movie, Briggs steals Dino's car and dies when it crashes into an oil tanker. It is speculated that Tracy left and died with him due to her own absence, but it's also possible that she is fine and left separately or is merely somewhere else in the large mansion.
  • Abominable: Karen is found alive in a cave by Zeigler but with part of her stomach gone, looking like it was bitten off and eaten. She is dragged deeper into the cave with a scream, where she presumably (although not explicitly) is finished off or dies of her wounds.
  • Alexander Nevsky does not ultimately show the fate of the German Bishop. He is last seen lying down on the ice before it breaking and drowning the Teutonic Knights. As he is not seen with the arrested leaders afterwards, it can be assumed he drowned along with the majority of the knights.
  • Often played with Barnaby in the Babes in Toyland films. In the live action Disney film, he is stabbed by Tom and falls from a great height into an open toybox, from which he never emerges. The only reason this is debated is because publicity stills show him being forced into a birdcage and imprisoned in it, however, this happens in place of the stabbing in this version so it is an alternate ending. In the animated film, Barnaby Crookedman is last seen being chased by goblins as revenge for insulting their king shortly after his death.
  • Big Game: Some of the Air Force One crew members. Several bodies are with the plane in the lake, but it's possible that some of them survive and just swam ashore before Moore and Oskari arrived, given the amount of time between the crash and them reaching the wreck.
  • Blade Runner 2049 ends with K bringing Deckard to Dr. Ana Stelline's lab after rescuing him from Wallace's men as led by Luv, having sustained numerous stab wounds during his fight with the gynoid. As Deckard enters the lab, K lies down on the snow-covered steps, noting that he in fact is bleeding out. The movie ends before anything further is seen of his fate, but it should be noted that "Tears in Rain" plays during the last shots we see of K.
  • Carrie (1976): most of the Mauve Shirt classmates of Carrie such as George and The Wilson sisters aren’t seen dying on screen in the chaos at the gym but would have a hard time escaping from the burning gym after she blocked the door.
  • Carrie (2002): Some of various electrocuted prom goers, who include Helen, Roy and Principal Morton could have survived, given how it's later mentioned that about elven people survived and only five or so were seen escaping through the vents before the floor was electrocuted.
  • Casino Royale (2006): Kratt, Valencia and a couple other of Le Chiffre’s henchmen wait outside while he tortures Bond and vesper. A few minutes later there’s some shots and a scream from outside before Mr. White barges in to kill Le Chiffre but no bodies are shown.
  • Circle: Practically the whole cast, as the movie has the dwindling cast be subjected to seemingly fatal electric shocks one by one every few minutes but then dragged from the room before their bodies can be examined.
  • The Dark Knight:
    • As far as The Joker is concerned due to Heath Ledger's premature death: Is The Joker doing time in a federal prison for his infamous crimes, or did that guy on the SWAT team that cornered him decide they'd had enough of his antics and put a bullet between his eyes? It'll remain unanswered.
    • Averted with the novels; the novelization of The Dark Knight Rises includes a passing mention the Joker and implies he's either serving life sentence in a padded cell at Arkham or has broken out and slipped off the radar, though not even Selina Kyle knows where he really is.
    • This is Maroni's fate after Harvey Dent shot his driver, causing the car to crash in the yards outside Chicago Union Station. Even the novelization doesn't mention anyone's death except for the driver's, meaning Maroni probably could've survived but was knocked into a coma.
  • Drive (2011): The lead character is stabbed in the chest and nearly disemboweled by the Big Bad near the end of the film. The last time we see the Driver, he stirs (after initially appearing to be dead) and drives off, but it is left unclear whether he'll survive his injuries or not.
  • The main character of Event Horizon gets sucked into a Hell dimension along with the titular haunted spaceship as part of it is exploding.
  • The ending of Ex Machina sees Caleb trapped inside of Nathan's facility as Ava escapes without him, the ultimate test of her abilities. While the film doesn't show anything one way or the other, Caleb's hundreds of miles from help with no one coming to look for him, in a facility without any power. The most the audience gets to see is Caleb trying and failing to break down a window with a chair.
  • In Flash Gordon, Ming the Merciless is impaled, and disintegrates himself with his ring. However, the final scene shows a hand picking up the ring, with an evil laugh. It is unclear whether this is Ming or someone else entirely; however, it does not look like Ming's hand.
  • Friday the 13th (2009): Despite being impaled, Jenna is still alive, with her eyes open and making sounds before dropping to the ground as Jason steps over the body and Clay and Whitney have to flee.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): The canonical fate of Admiral Stenz. He disappears from the finished film after Colonel Foster plans the Washington DC attack on King Ghidorah, but an extra scene in the novelization hints at his death, when the Argo crew receiving a transmission from his submarine which shows it's flooding and is on fire before the transmission cuts out. This is based on a more explicit Deleted Scene from the film, where Stenz confirms his sub is going down and is apparently Killed Mid-Sentence by an explosion.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after Barty Crouch Jr. is captured, his final fate is never revealed. Dumblodore implies that he will be sent back to Azkaban, but Crouch Jr. never appears alongside other Death Eaters in subsequent films. It is assumed by most fans that he suffered Fate Worse than Death, like in the books. Alternatively, he could be killed offscreen in some other way. It should be noted that Cornelius Fudge wanted anybody who claimed Voldemort was back eliminated, thus making Barty's death even more possible. That said, his final fate is never revealed in the films.
    • It's never been stated what happened to the real Percival Graves in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Given that it was Grindelwald who was impersonating him and he did it by using transfiguration and not polyjuice potion, it’s hard to imagine he’s alive somewhere.
  • Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II: Kelly, who is stabbed in the stomach by a falling decoration during the prom, but still seems to be stirring a little as the film cuts away from her, and might not have been stabbed too deeply. During the final scene, after the police and ambulances arrive, there's only one bodybag in the background, which isn't hers due to the body inside lacking breast curves.
  • Holidays: It's unclear what Carol's fate in Father's Day is. She most probably was killed, but nothing is seen exactly.
  • Jack Frost (1997):
    • Jill is last seen having been raped with a mutant snowman's carrot and lying on the ground, bleeding from the mouth.
    • Joe and Marla in the sequel, who hide from Jack inside a freezer, with the ending scene showing that no one has found them to let them out yet, but with a little ambiguity about whether they're dead.
  • Justice League (2017): Steppenwolf's Parademons turn on and start feasting on him, but a Boom Tube teleports him and them away so he may have survived, albeit likely badly injured. That said, Darkseid tends not to take failure well.
  • Key Largo: Ralph is knocked off the boat in the climax and is last heard screaming for help as it speeds away. He probably drowns afterward, but there's a slight chance he might have swam to safety.
  • Kill Bill: In Volume 2, after having her remaining eye ripped out by the Bride, Elle Driver is left screaming and thrashing in a trailer in a middle of a desert....with a loose, aggressive, and deadly venomous black mamba snake presumably slithering around somewhere inside. The film's end credits depict the names of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad as being crossed off a hit list, with the exception of Elle's, which displays a question mark, leaving her ultimate fate unknown.
  • Kingdom of Heaven: The Grand Master of the Templar Order, who often accompanied Raynald de Chatillon during his massacres of Muslim caravans, is last seen marching with other crusaders against Saladin and his army. Because all the crusaders start dying of thirst and exhaustion, their army is annihilated and Raynald and Guy de Lusignan are taken captive. It is unclear if the Grand Master died with crusaders, as he was not seen being taken captive as well. According to historical facts, the Grand Master was Gerard de Rideford and he did survive the battle and was simply taken prisoner.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: The Watcher in the Water after it goes after the fellowship. We see that it tears down the gates, trapping the fellowship in Moria. It isn't clear if the stones crushed it or if it merely stayed in the lake after trapping the fellowship.
    • The theatrical cut of The Return of the King does not show Gothmog's ultimate fate. He is last seen at the front of his army as the Riders of Rohan charge them, which heavily implies he did not survive their charge. The Extended Edition shows his ultimate fate (though it was much later than theatrical version made us believe).
    • The Hobbit: Thráin, as mentioned in the page quote. Averted in a deleted scene from The Desolation of Smaug, where we learn Thráin was captured by Sauron; Gandalf finds him shortly before he dies.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Avengers: Infinity War may have the most expansive example of this trope ever for the franchise. Thanks to Thanos' Badass Fingersnap, half of the universe is dead. While a few characters in both this movie and Ant-Man and the Wasp have been seen disintegrating and Word of God has confirmed several characters who either survived or got killed by the snap, the fates of the rest of the MCU cast are uncertain. One year later, with the release of Avengers: Endgame, the half of the universe that Thanos snapped away were brought back, making the most expansive aversion.
    • Ant-Man and the Wasp has a single example that's even more uncertain. Ghost, the movie's Anti-Villain. It was never confirmed or denied if she was snapped away by Thanos, but there's another factor to her uncertainty. Her very existence is unstable on the quantum level, and while the heroes can supply her with the quantum healing energy to stabilize her, everyone qualified to get that was either killed by Thanos or left stranded in the quantum realm for five years. If she was spared by Thanos's fingersnap, it's unknown if she could last five years without the quantum healing energy needed to stabilize her.
  • In Navajo Joe, the title character is shot twice by the villain, Duncan, during the final confrontation. While he does kill Duncan (with a well-timed tomahawk to the head), the last we see of Joe is him sitting on a hill, grimacing in pain and looking at all the death that's been caused in the burial ground. The final scene of the film has Estella send Joe's horse (who has returned with the missing money) back into the frontier to find him, with his final fate left ambiguous.
  • Near the end of Night of the Living Dead (1968), Barbara is dragged out of the house by a group of zombies which includes her brother, Johnny, presumably to be Devoured by the Horde, but she is never actually seen dying or even being bitten (which in the Romero-verse is always fatal). Various non-canon spin-offs have thus had her survive the event through various means; in one Johnny himself was not actually a zombie and rescued her, while in another the zombified Johnny showed a hint of remembering his old life and pulled her to safety away from the rest of the horde.
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock deliberately leaves the ultimate fate of the missing schoolgirls and their teacher a mystery, with only few and contradictory clues. Although one of them is found bruised but alive after a week in the wild, she has no memory of what happened to her or the others.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End has this with some crewmembers of the Flying Dutchman. While the majority of the crew regains their humanity and perform a Heel–Face Turn once Davy Jones is dead, there were some who fell into the Maelstrom (examples are Clanker, Hadras, and at least two others) and one (Morey) who got decapitated by Barbossa. But knowing the nature of the Flying Dutchman crew, there is a chance they survived. It should be noted though, that none of them were seen when Will Turner was being made into a new Captain.
  • The HBO movie Rasputin Dark Servant Of Destiny (the one starring Alan Rickman) ends with the Romanov family massacred by the Bolshevik uprising. However, the movie ends just before Alexei and Anastasia are shot, leaving their fates ambiguous. This is a reference not just to the Did Anastasia Survive? conspiracy theory, but also to the fact that Alexei and at least one of his sisters were indeed missing from the mass grave shared by the rest of the family, and it was thought that they might have escaped somehow. Years after the movie came out, their bodies would be found not far from where the rest of the Romanovs were buried.
  • Red Dawn: Jed and Matt Eckert are both suffering from gunshot wounds to the chest, and just sit down on a park bench, unable to go any further at the end. It is implied (although not completely explicit) that they die from their wounds, and even if they didn't, they're in the middle of Soviet Territory and facing possible execution if captured.
  • The Rock: Mook Lieutenant Captain Hendrix is dropped into a pool of water from a height that probably wasn't enough to avert Soft Water to fatal degrees, and while he does seem to be floating in it dead or unconscious, it was just a few seconds after the drop and he might have recovered from that.
  • Runaway Jury: Jacob's secretary is last seen hiding near him, trying to call the police. While the gunman almost certainly shoots her right after Jacob, it's unclear if she's one of the eleven fatalities or is only wounded.
  • Scream 3: Jennifer. Ghostface striking a killing blow isn't shown (she was alive and fighting back just a couple seconds earlier), and she seems to scream right as he throws her through the mirror. Afterwards she's seen lying on the ground, apparently dead, with some blood on her face, but she might have just been cut and knocked unconscious from being tossed through the glass door and the others don't explicitly refer to her as being dead in the aftermath.
  • Scream 4: Kirby who is stabbed in the stomach and left to bleed out, but is still alive and conscious when last seen, causing many fans to theorize that she might have managed to crawl away and survive. Scream (2022) confirms that she did, in fact, survive.
  • The Slumber Party Massacre: Linda is attacked in the school by Thorne and takes refuge in a closet. Thorne starts drilling through the door, causing Linda to scream in terror before the camera cuts away to Thorne running outside. It seems doubtful that Thorne would have been unable to get in and kill Linda, but his clothes don't have any blood splatter and he looks flustered and urgent to get away rather than pleased and in control.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): The last Sonic and the audience see of Longclaw is her bracing for an attack by the warriors of the Echidna tribe. Since the portal ring closes before what happened next can be seen, it's not clear if she survived or not.
  • Stalingrad (1993): Most of the German protagonists die, except for two soldiers who are seen surrendering to the Soviets. Their odds aren't great though. These survivors were sent to the Gulag in Siberia, and very few returned home after the war.
  • Tell Me How I Die: In the climax, the male lead is stabbed through the chest by the killer, but the female lead helps him up and tries to get him to a doctor. The film ends before we can see if she succeeds or not.
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: Elizabeth Anderson. T-X arrives at their house and shoots her brother, right before heading upstairs looking for Elizabeth. While she likely would have been killed by T-X, the large number of people at the party and the likely police response time might have made identification difficult. It's never explicitly stated that TX was able to find the right girl and kill her before moving on to the next name on the list (Kate).
  • This trope is the ending of John Carpenter's The Thing, MacReady has just exploded the Antarctic base in a final confrontation with the titular monster. Exhausted, he rests by the burning building content with freezing to death, only to encounter Childs, who is also still alive. Both MacReady and Childs are suspicious that other one may be the shapeshifting alien but as both are too tired they just share a drink and "wait to see what happens". Debate rages to this day about whether one, neither or both are the Thing. The TV edit ending (not done or approved by John Carpenter) on the other hand threw out all ambiguity and clearly showed the Thing escaping disguised as a Husky. Needless to say, this ending is not popular.
    • This also applies to Nauls, who — toward the end of the movie — is seen wandering off down a hallway to investigate a strange noise, and never comes back. Reportedly, there was a now-lost deleted scene where the Thing killed him, but the filmmakers weren't happy with the special effects and decided it would be more interesting to leave Nauls' fate ambiguous. In the finished movie, it's still possible that the Thing got him, but it's also possible he was killed in the explosion or even that he's still alive somewhere at the end of the movie.
  • Tunnel Rats: The shockwave from a bombing run traps Harris and Vo Mai in the tunnel at the end of the movie. They abandon their Mexican Standoff to try to dig their way out, but don’t seem optimistic about their chances when they see how much of the tunnel has collapsed.
  • Utøya: July 22, a reenactment of the Breivik Massacre (which happened on the island Utøya on 22. July 2011) from the perspective of the victims. Near the end we see Kaja, the main heroine, going down after the shot, apparently dead, but we don't stay to see if she died or was merely wounded. In reality, most of those with a single wound (not to the head) survived. The man in the boat is also wounded and we do not know if he makes it.

  • A variation, in that we know what happened to the character physically but not spiritually: in Animorphs, the Drode, The Dragon to Crayak, makes Rachel an offer on its master's behalf — "Your cousin's life is your key to salvation in the arms of Crayak." This is read by the Animorphs as a request for her to kill Jake. At the end of the series, Rachel is sent on a mission to assassinate Tom. Tom is Jake's brother, which would make him Rachel's cousin as well. Rachel kills Tom and is subsequently killed herself. What happens to her after that is never said.
  • Ciaphas Cain: Happens sometimes with minor characters unique to a single book.
    • Grenbow in Death and Glory A unit he's commanding is swarmed and butchered (presumably but not explicitly to the last man) by the orks but Grenbow himself isn't specifically shown being killed, unlike other named characters who were with him.
    • Sergeant Freel in Cain's Last Stand is this twice. Freel's last seen alive but panicked over a vox in the middle of a fight with Tyrannids and while his death isn't confirmed, Cain doubts that anyone could have survived long enough to make it back to where reinforcements were waiting. If Freel somehow did make it back to his own lines alive it's mentioned that most (although not all) of his unit was killed anyway in another engagement a couple days later.
  • Cold Mountain:
    • In the book, although not in the film, when Teague and his men encounter Stobrod and Pangle on their way to hunt down another group of deserters hiding in the nearby caves. When they reappear for the final battle, one of the deserters is accompanying his group, having apparently undergone a Face–Heel Turn. It is unclear if the others were wiped out, but it's likely that at least some fell to the Home Guard's guns.
    • In the film, although not the book, Ingram spots a large group of escaped slaves in a field. They go down a road and a few seconds later there's shooting and screaming and Ingram has to run himself to avoid some Home Guard men riding that way. It's unclear all of the escaped slaves were killed, some were shot and others just recaptured, or some of them might have managed to escape while the others were being shot and/or recaptured.
  • Discworld played with this in Thief of Time; on the Disc, characters know what awaits them after death. But in this story, the Glass Clock will kill you if you get near, but what will happen to you afterwards is uncertain. One of the characters gets too near...
  • Dresden Files: In Battle Ground no one is sure what the hell happened to Chandler. He was hit by a teleport spell no one recognized and doesn't show up again even when everything is over. Additionally, Gregori Cristos of the Senior Council does not have his survival confirmed after the Final Battle and was last mentioned being badly wounded.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Lavender is last seen on the ground with Fenrir Greyback, despite being in human form, trying to eat her. Hermione fights him off of her, but we never find out if Lavender is dead or merely injured, as she's not mentioned with the other fatalities. For what it's worth, she's clearly dead in the movie.
    • One of Harry's visions about Voldemort cuts off as he's forcing his way into Gregorovich's old house, quite possibly but not definitively killing the family that now lives there.
  • In H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man, Colonel Adye is being held at gunpoint by Griffin. An attempt by Adye to grab the gun ends in either it going off or Griffin just flat out shooting him (Wells is unclear). He is described as falling down and not getting up. Kemp later tells Adye's men, "He's killed Adye. Shot him anyhow." So even Kemp, who witnessed the actual shooting, is uncertain if Adye is dead or not. He's never brought up again after this, until the epilogue involving Thomas Marvel; Adye is mentioned as having questioned him about the whereabouts of Griffin's notebooks, but Wells isn't clear if this happened before or after the shooting.
  • At the end of I Sit Behind The Eyes, the eponymous Entity takes Emily over completely and destroys her soul. It is left ambiguous what happens to someone when this happens. All that is known is that she can no longer interrupt her possessor's sentences by calling out for help. There are three possibilities; she is either dead, erased or trapped forever inside her own mind and body. Luckily, she was a nasty piece of work, and the few people who are aware that she is now under new management could not care less what happened to her.
  • Johnny Catbiscuit: The first book does this with Philip, the Retired Superhero formerly known as Animal Protection Man. The villains note that he "told us where [a potion] was just before he 'went'", yet at the end, a man who looks suspiciously like him congratulates Wayne and says, "I knew you could do it!" even though Philip is apparently the only good guy who knows that Wayne is Johnny.
  • Shel Silverstein's Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back ends with a battle between a group of lions, led by the elderly lion who warned Lafcadio about humanity, and a group of hunters, led by the circus owner Finchfinger, who made Lafcadio a Civilized Animal. Lafcadio has an identity crisis and leaves, and the outcome of the battle is unknown. Fridge Logic dictates that at least one of the hunters had to have survived the battle in order to tell Shelby (The Narrator) what happened, since he explicitly says he never saw Lafcadio again.
  • The Last Days of Krypton:
    • The surviving mooks and aristocratic younger sons from Zod's army are last mentioned as being kept under guard after his defeat. Whether any of them are confined to the Phantom Zone between Zod's trial and Krypton's destruction is unknown.
    • Gal-Eth and Or-Om are last mentioned as having joined No-Ton's failed Homeworld Evacuation efforts. However, they aren't mentioned in No-Ton's last scene, leaving a slight possibility that they may have gone to Argo City to seek the protection of its forcefield.
  • The original book The Last Valley was based on has a couple examples:
    • Stoffel the bugler (one of the men the Captain leaves at the village in the book) just disappears one day. Presumably he was murdered, but since the villagers didn't bother to hide the body of the other man left behind once he was killed (and because Stoffel had married a local girl) they may have just left him tied up some place.
    • The mercenaries in general in the book. The Captain returns to the valley at the end saying mortally wounded in battle and saying everyone who left with him was killed but given the likely chaos of the battlefield it’s easy to question how he could have known that for sure, especially given his own need to quickly get out of there.
  • Heavily downplayed in Love You Forever: The book ends with the mother in the hospital either dead or very close to death; the only ambiguity is if she's still alive right now.
  • In the Harry Turtledove short story "Must and Shall," the villains burn down the strip club where Lucy (one of the protagonist's informants) works, killing almost everyone inside. The protagonist feels certain that she must have died in the fire, but her body isn't specifically identified.
  • The Power of Five: Several of Holly's fellow villagers, such as Sir Ian Ingram and the Flint's, aren't killed onscreen during the massacre, although it's heavily implied she was the only survivor.
  • At the end of the final Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry sequel, Jeremy Simms, the only white child to be friends with the Logan’s, leaves to fight in World War II and it is mentioned that they never saw him again. This seems to imply that he died in the war but could just mean Jeremy chose to stay up north after his time in the service given how his family had recently disowned him and he felt out of place in Mississippi.
  • RWBY: Fairy Tales of Remnant: In The Warrior in the Woods, when the hero finds the Warrior's home has been destroyed, he can't tell if it was destroyed by Grimm or humans. Her weapon has been left behind, but there's no sign of her. He never finds out what happened to her, and doesn't know if she's alive or dead.
  • In the prologue of The Secret Runners of New York by Matthew Reilly, Pursued Protagonist Becky is trapped in the Bad Future and left terrified that her pursuers are about to kill her. Still, she isn't killed onscreen, and other characters survive in the post-apocalyptic world for long periods.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events:
    • The Penultimate Peril ends with just about every single supporting character left in the Hotel Denouement, which has just been set on fire. Every single character is blindfolded at the time, and the majority of them can't decide whether or not to believe the Baudelaires when they say there's a fire. All the book says is that some of them will escape, and some of them will die.
    • In The End, the islanders are last seen infected by a deadly mushroom and Kit Snicket reveals that the Quagmire triplets, Hector, Captain Widdershins, Fernald and Fiona were caught by "The Great Unknown" but given its mysterious nature, it's unclear what happened to them. At the end, the Baudelaires themselves decide to leave the island with Kit's baby but Lemony Snicket lost track of them afterward and doesn't know for sure if they reached the mainland or died at sea.
  • Shadow Children: Jen's chatroom pals Yolanda, Pat and Sean all showed a little reluctance at attending Jen's rally and it's unknown if they did attend and die with everyone else or just kept their heads down afterwards, although the fact that none of them answered when Luke checked Jen's chatroom afterwards implies the former.
  • The Silmarillion:
    • Eluréd and Elurín were abandoned in the forest. Maedhros tried to find them but couldn't. No one knows what happened to them, but since they were only about six years old their chances of survival don't look good. note 
    • Maglor and Daeron, two of the greatest Elven minstrels, independently wandered off, Walking the Earth and singing laments. It's unknown what happened to them after the First Age; neither ever appears again. Some fans conjecture that they met (and possibly got together) during their wanderings.
    • Thuringwethil is a odd case. She herself never appears; Lúthien steals her skin to follow Beren. Whether this means she's dead, or whether she's still around somewhere is uncertain.
    • Mablung, one of Thingol's captains. He may have died in when the Dwarves attacked Doriath, or he may have survived that and the Second Kinslaying only to die in the Third Kinslaying, or he may have survived all of the above; we just don't know. Even if he did survive both Kinslayings, there's a little thing called the War of Wrath ahead...
  • The Sister Verse and the Talons of Ruin implies this throughout the story. The villain has essentially become a god at the end, and you get the sense that there's very little hope that Singer's plan will actually work, given that the reader knows they're all trapped inside the Sister Verse.
  • The ultimate fate of Major Len Creighton in The Stand is never revealed. His last "appearance" in the book is being heard over the radio talking to one of his officers as the United States starts collapsing due to the spread of The Virus. In the television mini-series adaptation his fate is less enigmatic as one of the soldiers at the base is obviously ill with the superflu... but even here Creighton is not sick the last time he is onscreen, raising the possibility he was one of the 0.5% immune to Captain Trips.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: From a Certain Point of View short story "Laina" is about a Rebel soldier, stationed on Yavin 4, who decides to send his young daughter, the titular character, away from the moon with her aunts for her own safety. Their destination? Alderaan. The story ends with no confirmation as to whether or not the three actually made it to the planet before the Death Star or not.
  • In Warrior Cats, there are a couple times when a character is mentioned as "lying motionless" during a battle, one of the most notable being Cloudtail in The Last Hope — a somewhat major character. There's also the case of the elders who stayed behind instead of going to their new home. Did they eke out a life in RiverClan territory, accept food from humans, or die from starvation or the humans' machines?
  • Wet Desert: Tracking Down a Terrorist on the Colorado River:
    • As the Crawfords travel down the draining Lake Powell, they encounter a capsized boat with an empty life jacket. There is nobody to be seen and Julie is sure the boat's passengers are dead.
    • When David, Afram and Judy can no longer hold on their raft, it and the other passengers are swept off the cliff where it had stranded and down the Colorado river towards Granite Narrows where the flood has probably formed a large waterfall. Keller and the others try to control the raft for some moments more before he is thrown off in a waterfall. The text ends with a mention of how he falls into the water and loses his senses. It is later revealed that their bodies and life jackets were found beneath Granite Narrows.
  • When Worlds Collide: In addition to the four rockets confirmed to have made it to Bronson Beta and the doomed French rocket, the first book mentions that China, South Africa, Australia, Argentina, and Italy are all working on evacuation rockets. Dr. Hendron estimates that a total of five rockets would probably survive, but none of the others appear on Bronson Beta. While the heroes speculate they were all destroyed, some of them might have made it and simply landed too far away to be immediately detected.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 is infamous for leaving the fate of some of its characters unanswered.
    • In Season 2, Lynn Kresge fell down a flight of stairs, and was last seen being wheeled away in an ambulance after suffering significant injury.
    • In Season 4, Behrooz Araz is last seen being taken away by terrorists during a hostage swap.note  This led to anyone who suffered a similarly ambiguous fate to be said to be "Behroozed".
    • Also in the fourth season, John Keeler barely survived a plane crash and was last seen in the hospital. His fate was left open-ended, supposedly because the production team didn't want to show the death of a sitting President in a television series.
    • Season 7 has long-time character (and sitting President) Wayne Palmer collapsing due to injuries sustained after a bomb blast, with his prognosis left up in the air. His fate was never addressed, though there is some debate whether a prop newspaper seen in the Redemption TV movie (which mentions that the character is dead) is canon or not.
  • Black Mirror: From the episode "Hated in the Nation" It's unclear if Scholes' plan killed everyone targeted, given that, if warned, some people may have been able to hide their faces or try and get somewhere the bees wouldn't pursue them. This is especially true of Nick, who, from working on the case, may have had the knowledge and context to do both.
    • Also applies to Scholes himself, who is last seen being followed by Coulson, who sends Parkes a message reading "Got him" — however it's unclear if she intends to kill him or bring him in, although the former is more likely.
    • Matt in "White Christmas" may or may not have been killed by that guy at the end who looked like he was about to attack him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the finale, Amanda falls to the ground a moment after a snapping sound is heard in the background, but it isn't clear whether that sound is her neck snapping or if she's only been momentarily knocked out (some blood on her face could indicate the latter).
    • When the Watchers Council headquarters is blown up, it is a bit ambiguous if this takes place right after Travers' Rousing Speech or a little later, when some of his people might have had time to leave the building.
  • Doctor Who: "Midnight" uses this to add just a bit more Nightmare Fuel to the ending, because while Sky, the woman possessed by the entity, was thrown out into the killing rays of Midnight's sun, the entity itself could clearly already survive on the surface somehow, so it's unclear if this actually destroyed it. Even the Doctor isn't sure, and taking no chances, he convinces the authorities to seal the entire planet off to prevent anything like this from happening again.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Unlike his book counterpart, Prince Viserys Targaryen (who later became King Viserys II) disappeared during the Dance of the Dragons as his ship fled to the Free Cities.
    • Syrio Forel. The last we see of him is when he is about to fight Ser Meryn Trant with a broken practice sword. We hear his battle cry and the sounds of a fight before the scene cuts away. Trant appears later, unscathed, but Syrio's fate is never addressed.
  • Harper's Island: Lucy is last seen still alive, thrashing around while on fire, but isn't engulfed to the point where she couldn't have put out the flames by stopping, dropping and rolling. Even if she did survive the initial fire though, she would have spent days exposed, suffering from her burns, days in which no one found her, making her survival unlikely.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In "The Ghost of Queen's Park," Lorraine probably won't face the noose (or any charges) because the deaths she caused were unforeseeable. But due to her exposure to radium, she's suffering from some Ominous Hair Loss, although it's unclear just how sick she is.
  • Person of Interest. It's not certain if Reese killed Andrew Benton, Peter Arndt or the bounty hunter responsible for a man he was protecting in Season 2 dying. In each case, Reese is last seen confronting the man, alone, with some frightening and threatening dialogue, and Peter at least is said to have disappeared afterwards. However one episode implies that Reese may have sent at least one of them to be locked in up in a Mexican prison while Impersonating an Officer.
  • Princess Agents: The series ends with Chu Qiao and Yuwen Yue falling through the ice and sinking in a frozen lake. Yuwen Yue pushes Chu Qiao away and sinks deeper while Chu Qiao floats closer to the surface. It's possible both of them survive, but there's no official confirmation either way.
  • Red Dwarf: With Word of God confirming that the Rimmer seen from "Back To Earth" onwards is the one who left to become Ace in Series VII, this makes the nanobot-created Rimmer (introduced in Series VIII) an example of this, since he's last seen trapped on a self-destructing Red Dwarf and hallucinating Death itself. This also extends to the nanobot-created crew introduced that series as well, since they're last seen fleeing the ship in Blue Midgets and Starbugs.
  • Rome. Pompey is murdered in front of his family. God knows what happened to them.
  • The last time Doug Murphy is seen in Scrubs is being locked in a morgue drawer. After this, he disappears and no mention is made of it.
  • Seven Star Fighting God Guyferd: Masato is last seen holding up a pillar so Gou can pass through, and Gou is last seen destroying the Gaia Net. We don't see what happens to the explosion, and Gou's friends choose to cling to the possibility he survived, but the last shot in the series is of Gou and Masato walking towards the sun and looking back.
  • Infamously, the final scene of The Sopranos ended with a mysterious Smash to Black. Many fans believe this, along with various other contextual clues, was meant to imply Tony's death, but it's unclear from the canon material, and debate among the fans has raged on over the years.
  • Stargate Atlantis; Lt Ford, who went rogue during Season 2 and was last seen on an exploding Wraith ship. He was never explicitly confirmed to be dead, and Shepherd even lampshades that such scenarios are survivable (with many characters on the show having survived similar incidents multiple times), but he never appeared in the series again.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Geordi's mother. She was last seen on a ship called the Hera, which disappeared, but there were no bodies or debris found. In "Interface", in which she disappears, Geordi thinks he's seen her, but it turns out to be an alien, so he gives up. While the books explain what happened to her, they're non-canon, so it's still a mystery.
  • In Supernatural, Archangel Gabriel is believed to be killed by Lucifer in "Hammer of the Gods" (S05, Ep19), but seemingly returns to aid Castiel in "Meta Fiction" (S09, Ep18). However, Castiel realizes that Gabriel is only an illusion. Castiel asks this Gabriel if he is really dead, but he only receives an eyebrow raise with a smirk as an answer. A definitive answer is finally provided in Season 11, when his death is confirmed by God.
    • Even the literal word of God is shown to be wrong in Season 13 when Gabriel is shown to be alive and well, having faked his death in Season 5. Then a few episodes later, he's killed AGAIN. It seems to be the real deal this time, but given that he's already cheated death at least once, who knows if he's still out there?
  • True Detective: In Season 1, Hart and Cohle watch a video of the evil cult doing something to a 10-year-old girl named Marie Fontenot. It's never directly stated whether the tape shows Marie being raped, killed, tortured, or some combination of the three, but whatever was on the tape horrifies both detectives.
  • The end of Season 2 of X Company finds Mirri is acting as a sniper, picking off German soldiers from a nearby tower. The last shot of her has her facing down the barrel of a rifle, looking rather sheepish. However, since Mirri is pretty much an all around badass Action Girl, it's not unreasonable to wonder if she got away.

    Tabletop Games 
  • BattleTech: The Trial of Annhilation against Clan Wolverine. In-universe, all that is known is that A) after the Trial was complete, comparing casualty lists to the rolls of Wolverines showed a large discrepancy, B) much of Clan Wolverine's warriors were descended from the Star League's 331st Royal BattleMech division, whose unit patch bore an icon of the state of Minnesota, C) about a year after the Annhilation, a mysterious group called "The Minnesota Tribe" raided through Draconis Combine territory before just as mysteriously vanishing into parts unknown. How much of Clan Wolverine survived, what happened to them after the events of the Annhilation, if they really are connected to the Minnesota Tribe, and where they ultimately went is the source of much speculation in-universe. Out-of-universe, it's been pretty well confirmed that the Minnesota Tribe are Wolverine surivivors, but there is still no canon information about what happened to them afterwards.
  • Gith, the legendary hero and liberator of the Githyanki species in Dungeons & Dragons was adviced by her trusted advisor Vlaakith to seek out aid in their war against the Mind Flayers from the dragon goddess Tiamat. Vlaakith and Gith went together to Tiamat's lair in the nine hells, but only Vlaakith returned. She told the githyanki that Tiamat had pledged some of her dragons to their cause, and that Gith had declared Vlaakith her regent until she returned from some mystical quest. The obvious implication is that Vlaakith fed Gith to Tiamat, but nothing has ever been stated for certain.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, at one point, Roboute Guilliman (Primarch of the Ultramarines) duelled and killed his brother Alpharius (Primarch of the Alpha Legion). However, since every single Space Marine of the Alpha Legion claims to be Alpharius, it's not known if the "Alpharius" killed by Guilliman was the real Alpharius, his twin Omegon or just a high-ranking Marine of the Alpha Legion.

    Video Games 
  • Davis in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin vanishes following the events of Salvation, with his last words on screen being him panicking about not wanting to die (as he had contracted symptoms of the Creeper).
  • Bendy and the Ink Machine has Henry visiting the studio he used to work at, on request of his old friend Joey Drew. Game play ends with the player activating the cut scene that begins by him killing Bendy, but it's unclear of whether he actually made it out of the studio — especially with the Gainax Ending.
  • Call of Duty is a violent series where Anyone Can Die, which makes it all the more conspicuous when characters disappear without explanation. Weaver, Nevski, Brooks, and Crosby from the Black Ops subseries are notable examples.
  • Dead Rising 2: In Ending A, Chuck Greene, the protagonist, ends up trapped in an elevator surrounded by zombies, with the last shot of him lying on the ground as one of the horde goes in for the kill. The follow-up, Case West, actually opens immediately after that shot: Frank West suddenly shows up and saves him.
  • Deltarune: At the end of Chapter 2, when returning to the Light World after having completed the Weird Route, Berdly doesn't wake up, and exactly why this is isn't made clear. On the one hand, the Snowgrave spell is explicitly described as "Fatal", but on the other hand, examining the graveyard in the Light World implies that monsters still turn to dust when they die, and that hasn't happened in this case. Either way, the character in question isn't seen or mentioned again for the remainder of the chapter.
  • Ecco the Dolphin, reboot, Defender of Future has Ecco escape from a giant morey eel. Once Ecco manages to escape, the rocks are shown falling. It isn't clear if they directly killed an eel but even if they didn't, the eel could be presumed to be trapped there and starve.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series backstory, Emperor of Tamriel Uriel Septim V launched an invasion of Akavir. Despite initial successes, he would fail to conquer Akavir, and was reported dead after he personally led the tenth legion in covering the retreat of the rest of his forces. His death was reported by Imperial soldiers who weren't close enough to the scene to see if the arrow barrage actually killed him. Besides which, the Imperial soldiers were Unreliable Narrators given that they only told their stories much later in life and were in the middle of a panicked rout when they supposedly saw him fall. If he did survive, it could mean the Septim bloodline might still exist in Akavir and his line would have a better claim to the throne than the Mede dynasty in Tamriel.
  • A lot of the hunters in Evolve fall victim to this. Markov, Hank, and Val may or may not die facing the Phantom Wraith, Parnell, Sunny, Emet, and Bucket might die or remain trapped in the monsters' dimension after the final battle, and Torvald, Jack, Lazarus, Slim, and Crow never had their roles in the story finalized and may have died anywhere from their time on Shear to the final battle.
  • The fate of Sigurd's army in the end of the first generation of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, as they were ambushed by Arvis and his forces in an event known as the Belhalla Massacre. The only directly stated fate of his forces are Sigurd himself (who was executed by Arvis), Quan and Ethlyn (who left the army earlier and was later killed in the Yied Massacre), Finn (who also left with Quan and Ethlyn and was left behind in Leonster where he became the mentor of their son, Leif), the women (who at least survived to have children after the Massacre though Ayra is implied to be a casualty herself), Claud (who was confirmed killed in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776), and Lewyn (killed by Manfroy, but got better).
  • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, major villain Sonia Reed survives her encounter with the party but is badly wounded. This is followed by a scene where she's found by her immediate superior Limstella, who rather than help her, insults her for her failure and then leaves. We never learn Sonia's exact fate, but she's never seen or mentioned again. If you skip Sonia's sidequest, Limstella explicitly confesses to killing her in a cutscene.
  • On the Conquest route of Fire Emblem Fates, Orochi and Reina are defeated during Chapter 13, and the enemy forces are massacred by Hans after the battle ends. It's never confirmed if they were among the dead, but neither is mentioned again and as the survival of other named characters tends to be made more explicit, it's easy to assume they died.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
    • Students who run out of HP in Classic Mode during Part I are written off in such a way that they don't die, but suffer a Game-Breaking Injury that puts them out of action for the duration of the game. During the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, any student taken out during Part I is given a description of why they weren't able to reunite at the beginning of Part II. While most of these epilogues for casualties explains that they had died between Parts I and II, others are more ambiguous. Some examples: Dorothea is last seen going into hiding with her opera troupe, Mercedes is forced into an arranged marriage, Marianne disappears with a single horse (with the implication that she was Driven to Suicide), Bernadetta falls ill and isolates herself, Petra returns to Brigid, and a handful of other students go missing.
    • This is the fate of Gilbert, Rodrigue and most of the Blue Lions after Chapter 17 on the Golden Deer and Silver Snow routes. Dimitri is explicitly Killed Offscreen in the former and heavily implied to be dead in the latter, but the fate of the others is unknown, although as their army lost that battle badly and they're never mentioned again, it's unlikely they survived.
  • In Half-Life 2:
    • At the end of the game, Gordon Freeman destroys the dark-energy teleporter Dr. Breen intended to use to teleport himself out of Earth, the platform that was lifting Dr. Breen then collapses and thus seems to fall to his death. However, in the sequel Episode One, a recorded conversation between Dr. Breen and one of the Combine's Advisors (which is also briefly seen before the Final Boss fight in the previous game) implies he transfered his mind into an Advisor.
    • At the end of the chapter "We Don't Go To Ravenholm", Father Grigori disappears into a crypt behind a wall of flames while shooting at zombies. Whether he survives or not is left ambiguous.
  • Biker in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. The game ends in nuclear fire, but his location is not shown being nuked.
  • Volga in Hyrule Warriors. While he does collapse after his final defeat, he doesn't have a unique death cutscene like Wizzro and Cia have, nor does the game ever outright say he's dead, leaving his ultimate fate up in the air.
  • The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon: At the end, Malefor is pulled into a crystal core by spirits of ancient dragons, rays of light are shown shining from the core as it breaks apart, and he is never seen again. Was Malefor sealed inside the core forever or was he destroyed inside it? Or was he simply Dragged Off to Hell? No mention is made as to whether Malefor appeared or didn't appear in the book that gets a page for every dragon that dies.
  • Grand Theft Auto III: It is unknown if Claude killed Maria in the final scene of the game.
  • The "grandchildren" level of Life: the Game has the kids get electrocuted, poisoned, and set on fire if you lose, but they're never confirmed to have lived or died.
  • Kingdom Hearts at one point had an example from the original Chain of Memories before it got conclusively confirmed in its remake years later. Organization member Zexion gets attacked by Riku in a cutscene, but unlike his cohorts, he’s too much of a coward to engage in an actual battle and flees. When he returns to his base, Axel is there to greet him with the Riku Replica. Wanting to finish off the rest of the Castle Oblivion crew at this point, Axel orders the Riku Replica to kill Zexion and steal his power. The screen fades to black as Zexion pleads for his life and then slashing sounds are heard. No mention is made of him after this, but oddly enough the Riku Replica displays none of Zexion's abilities when he’s fought later. In the follow-up, Kingdom Hearts II, Sora visits the graves of the Organization. The red graves signify the dead members and the blue graves signify the living ones, but Zexion's is purple and broken — likely because the developers hadn’t thought of a weapon for him at the time (since the graves prominently show each member’s weapon). This looked highly suspicious and made some fans question whether he had actually died or not. The remake dispelled any ambiguity including the nature of why the Replica ends up with some of Zexion's powers, when he's very explicitly shown going limp and fading away in the Riku Replica’s hands.
  • In Nemesis 3: The Eve of Destruction, if the player fails to pick up an important shielding item during the game, the bad ending will commence. David Burton is attacked by Venom while trying to time-travel back to the present. However he can't use his ship's built-in shield while warping at the same time (whereas the shield item can be used in conjunction with warping), so he drops out of warp in hopes of defending himself. What happens to him next is not made clear; instead the game cuts back to black and shows an event log stating that David is missing in action. The last shot of the game is of Venom laughing at the player.
  • The Parkour Assassin, Celeste in Mirror's Edge vanishes after their confrontation with Faith when the latter blows up a gas canister between them. Since they are never seen nor mentionned again, it's unclear whether or not they could have escaped like Faith did. Cut dialogues from the Big Bad would confirm their demise in the explosion but the canonicity is dubious.
  • The third entry of Orcs Must Die! has an ancient rival of Master Cygnus reappearing with the ability to summon rifts... an ability that, explicitly, only the oldest living war mage is able to use and which previously belonged to Cygnus. Since Cygnus would have been incredibly old at the time the game began, the protagonists assume that he must have passed away. However, this is never confirmed in-game, and the Big Bad talks as though he is certain that Cygnus is still alive. Then again, the years have not been kind to him.
  • In Persona 5, Black Mask isn't definitively showing dying, but their fate is left very up in the air. After saving the Phantom Thieves from his cognitive self in Shido's palace, Goro Akechi is never seen again. Futaba claims she cannot detect his presence anymore, the police has labeled him as "missing" and the general public has pretty much forgotten about him. Royal has Black Mask come back in the Third Semester, but Maruki claims that this is a result of his reality, which has resulted in people who were confirmed dead (Wakaba, Okumura, the Niijima sisters' father and one NPC's dog), and that if the world were to go back to normal, Akechi would disappear. Akechi is never seen again after Maruki's defeat, and is assumed dead, but the player character catches sight of someone wearing Akechi's uniform at the end of the game.
  • James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2. There's no canon ending to the game and thus his ultimate fate is left ambiguous at best. Following entries in the series only gives us passing mentions of what could have happened to him note  but nothing truly concrete.
  • Near the end of Sonic Forces, Eggman drags Infinite back to base and relieves him of his Phantom Ruby after he loses to the heroes for the last time, which is the last we see of him. Given the Ruby was embedded in his chest, it's unclear if removing it would kill him or not.
  • Tarzan: Untamed: Oswald and his crew are last seen being caught in a rush of collapsing elephant bones. It's unknown if they survived or were crushed to death.
  • Both Luke fon Fabre and Asch the Bloody in Tales of the Abyss. Both of them end up in situations requiring them to perform a Heroic Sacrifice — Asch is mortally wounded while holding off an army of soldiers, while Luke releases Lorelei, a process that will result in him ceasing to be — but one of them returns to Tear in the epilogue. Fandom still debates to this day about which one of them is dead.
  • Medomai in Telepath Tactics. Emma can't find her in the end, and Tarion heavily implied he planned to kill her in an earlier scene. But they Never Found the Body, so it is possible she survived.
  • We Happy Few: The final DLC, "We All Fall Down", culminates in Victoria blowing up Haworth Labs. Dr. Verloc repeatedly shouts at her through the PA system as she plants bombs, and is last heard lamenting the impending destruction. It is never shown if Verloc escapes Haworth Labs before its destruction, but it is noteworthy that he has an escape pod in his office and he has ample time to get out after the bombs are planted.
  • At the end of Wandersong, Audrey Redheart disappears completely after she is seen delivering the final blow to the Nightmare King. She's not even seen after that in the Playable Epilogue. When fans asked A Shell In The Pit about her fate, they responded they didn't know what happened to her either, but told fans that originally in development, Audrey was confirmedly going to die, but the amount of effects on the screen made it hard to tell what was happening. Also, the team felt like her dying would be out of place in a game like Wandersong.

    Visual Novels 
  • Invoked by the protagonist of Double Homework when Mr. Adler questions him about what happened to Dr. Mosely/Zeta. However, Mr. Adler isn’t buying it.

    Web Animation 
  • Meta Runner: Dr. Sheridan and Lucinia were both caught up in a explosion while working on Project Blue. Come the end of Season 1, both their fates are still up in the air. Both are revealed to be Not Quite Dead in Season 2, with Sheridan even being revealed to be the Greater-Scope Villain of the series and seemingly the Big Bad of Season 3.
  • In the Star Trek Logical Thinking video about the Appeal to Emotions, some colonists are missing and nobody knows if they're dead or alive. Nurse Chapel says they have to be alive as three of them are/were kids and the Death of a Child is too horrible to think about. Spock points out that this is a logical fallacy, but he still hopes they're alive. We never find out.
  • RWBY:
    • After thrashing Weiss in battle, the White Fang Lieutenant is never seen again. The villains confirm that a lot of Faunus died in the tunnels after the train crashed, but it's never confirmed if the lieutenant is one of them. He is simply never seen again.
    • Shay D. Mann is last seen guarding the entrance to the tribe's camp with two companions when Cinder, Watts, Mercury, and Emerald arrive; the scene ends with Emerald drawing her weapons. When the four arrive in the camp, two of the guards are seen in the background watching the confrontation with Raven but Shay is nowhere to be seen. It's unclear if he was just incapacitated or if he was killed.
    • Maria and Pietro have minor roles in Volume 8 that limit them to dealing with Amity. Once the second half of this volume moves on to deal with Atlas and Mantle, the pair are left behind on Amity having indicated that the Colosseum might even have to land north of the kingdom, but this is never confirmed. After Team RWBY create the evacuation portals with the Relic of Creation, portals open all over Mantle and Atlas, but nowhere else. Even after Atlas and Mantle are obliterated, Pietro and Maria's fates are left uncertain.
    • After Team FNKI is conscripted to fight Salem, they're only seen once on the battlefield. Afterwards, they aren't seen again; the heroes' evacuation plan is only ever shown to cover the civilians and not the military, and no military is shown among the refugees in Vacuo. Like the rest of the military, Team FNKI's fate is therefore unknown. And, with Atlas having crashed into Mantle and both subsequently flooded, their chances of survival aren't good.
  • Sunset Paradise: Shadow Meggy, the physical embodiment of Meggy’s negative emotions, dissipates at the end of the series once Meggy finds out what she wants to do with life. Despite this, we don’t know if she’ll return next time Meggy feels doubtful about herself.
  • SMG4:
    • Heavily downplayed with Francis in the Anime Arc. While we know he’s dead, we don’t know how exactly he died, as it’s possible that the Ink Zuccer may have killed him before the island exploded.
    • Played straight with Zero in the Genesis Arc. While it appears he got completely wiped from existence after Axol’s death, James Bailey (SMG3’s voice actor) confirmed that Zero’s story isn’t over yet, though he couldn’t go further in due to NDAs, so it’s possible either Zero is still alive and is plotting revenge, or that he is truly dead and we may just learn more about him in the future.

  • Girl Genius:
    • Princess Zulenna. The last the reader hears of her, Baron Wulfenbach orders her to be revived after being stabbed by Bangladesh DuPree. In-universe, that was somewhere around three years ago; out of universe, she died in August 2004. Tarvek brings up her death as one of his failings in trying to protect people he cares about in a 2019 strip, but it's unclear if she'd been revived or not as her family would consider her good as dead and her titles and inheritance would be forfeit.
    • Agatha's father and uncle, who disappeared at separate times years before the comic starts.
    • Gottmurg Snarlantz, the spark who created the slaver wasp capable of infecting sparks, is from a town that was entirely overrun by Revenants of his own making, but three other Order members were able to safely recover things from his lab so while it's implied he's dead it's unclear what really happened to him.
  • Magick Chicks: The fates of Faith, Jacqui, and the student council are unknown following the teleportation incident, since Cerise claims to have transported them all into a volcano. Whether there's any truth to what Cerise said, or not, Tandy believes they're all dead. We do find out their fate out later: Cerise did teleport them into a live volcano. But she overdid the spell, so she also teleported a large enough chunk of the ground underneath their feet that it allowed them to escape.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Thog is last seen when Roy defeats him and collapses the stadium on him. Afterwards, Tarquin says that they won't be sure if he survived until he's dug out of the wreckage. Later dialogue to Nale implies he survived, but Tarquin might just have not wanted to let on that he got Thog killed.
    • It's never resolved whether Miron and Laurin managed to escape the Snarl, although it's not likely.
  • Sleepless Domain: The fate of Cassidy Tailor remains unknown following her apparent death at the hands of the Purple One's monsters, as destroying both of her clones at once caused her to simply vanish without leaving a trace. Anemone, the comic's almost-omniscient narrator, offered some cryptic clarification shortly afterwords, remarking that she "[doesn't] see her anywhere anymore."

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation: Due to the site's philosophy of "the only canon is that there is no canon", a lot of characters are subject to this trope. For example, SCP-096, a monster that kills anyone who sees its face, be it in person or in a photograph/video feed, is slated for immediate termination due to an incident wherein it escaped and destroyed a small population center. However, it is not listed as a terminated SCP, leaving its status unknown.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender examples:
    • Princess Yue's jerkass fiancé Hahn is last seen being thrown into the freezing ocean by Admiral Zhao after a failed Assassination Attempt against Zhao. It's unclear if he survived.
    • Because of the network the show aired on, they couldn't be as blatant as they'd have liked about Jet's death (they implied pretty heavily, though). This is referenced in the lampshade-filled episode "The Ember Island Players", when the characters see a play of their lives:
      Zuko: Did Jet just...die?
      Sokka: Y'know, it was really unclear.
    • Along the same lines are Longshot and Smellerbee, who are left alone with him. They are never seen or mentioned again after this scene, where they're left in an enemy base that was later destroyed. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise shows that they survived.
  • Batman Beyond: The fate of the Terrific Trio from "Heroes". 2D Man and Freon were sucked into a ventilation system (the latter notably coming apart due to her body being vapor) while Magma was hit by water and solidified. Considering there were plans for 2D Man and Magma to return in the comic tie-in to restore Freon, the implication, despite how horrifying it is, is that they did not die.
  • In Season 3 of Carmen Sandiego, two different V.I.L.E. operatives end up caught by the police and then taken away by the Cleaners: Neal the Eel and Roundabout. While V.I.L.E.'s protocols for dealing with this seem to be to just mind-wiping the captured operative and returning them to a normal life, we don't see what ends up happening to them or if there's a different protocol in place for members of V.I.L.E.'s inner circle, in the latter's case. Season 4 reveals their fates: since the mind-wipe technology was on the fritz, they're sent out on another mission to see if they can make up for their failures. Naturally, Carmen ends up defeating them; Neal the Eel realizes what's going to happen and flees on a fishing boat, while Roundabout is locked up in the dungeons of V.I.L.E.'s new base until A.C.M.E. raids the place in the series finale.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: In the Grand Finale "Operation: I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S.", the villains Knightbrace and Potty Mouth are last seen at the mercy of a Queen Tie, but it's not clear whether the Queen Tie killed them or simply turned them into accountants like it did to Vin Moosk and Froggy MacDougal in "Operation: K.N.O.T."
  • Danny Phantom: The finale fate of Vlad Plasmius. He's last seen hit by the Disasteroid, which was made of an anti-ghost material that would hurt him on touch. Word of God claims he survived and was taken by aliens.
  • Famous Fred: While in the book, Fred is confirmed to be dead, in the cartoon short, it's a little more ambiguous. He still got the cat flu, and he appeared dead, and was even apparently buried, yet Kenneth is under the impression that Cats Have Nine Lives and Fred still has one left. At the end of the short, a ginger and white cat is seen walking away, though that may have been a different one.
  • Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes: The penultimate episode, "Doom's Word is Law", ends with Doctor Doom getting caught in an explosion. It isn't clear whether or not he survived. While Johnny does mention Doom as if he were still alive in the final episode "Scavenger Hunt", one can make the argument that Johnny simply wasn't aware that Doom was killed.
  • Final Space:
    • The Gatekeeper of Bolo's mind. What happens to him following Bolo's death in Season 3 is unclear.
    • Mooncake in the cliffhanger ending of Season 3. He's violently drained of his powers by a corrupted Ash whilst the rest of the Team Squad reluctantly escape, and it's unknown as of this edit whether he's dead or he's merely de-powered and marooned in Final Space.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero: The Five-Episode Pilot of the DiC Entertainment continuation had Serpentor turned into an iguana and chased by the Dreadnok Gnawgahyde when Cobra Commander regained control over Cobra. Because it was mentioned that Serpentor's transformation was temporary and he is never seen or heard from again in the series, it isn't clarified whether Gnawgahyde had killed Serpentor or if Serpentor managed to evade the Dreadnok and merely never returned because of the experience giving him shame and disgrace.
  • Justice League Unlimited: Invoked at the end:
    Batman: I doubt that either of themnote  died.
    Superman: We saw it this time.
    Flash: You saw it last time, too.
  • Looney Tunes: Invoked in the Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon Gee Whiz-zzzzzz; as Wile E. Coyote falls for the last time, he holds up a sign asking that the cartoon end before he hits. As the screen begins to Iris Out, he holds up a second sign saying "Thank you."
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends:
    • In "The End of Flutter Valley, Part 10", the witches last seen being blown away by the Flutter Ponies, but it's never specified where to or what was done with them.
    • In "The Ghost of Paradise Estate, Part 4", it's unclear what actually happens to Squirk and Crank — the receding floodwaters drag them away into a maelstrom and down a hole, but their actual fate after that is unclear. It's not shown if they died, but they don't return to bother Dream Valley ever again.
    • In "The Revolt of Paradise Estate, Part 2", Beezen is last seen being chased down by his angry and animated wand, and it's not shown what happens to him afterwards.
  • South Park Season 14 ends with Cartman pulling a You Have Failed Me moment by slowly approaching a helpless Butters with a deadly allergen. At the time, many fans seemed to legitimately believe that Butters was Killed Off for Real, though Season 15 quickly disproves that.
    • "Dead Kids" ends by revealing, in a deliberately anticlimactic way, that Stan got shot off-screen. Again, you had fans either seriously or jokingly talking about his death, though one week later we see he just has his arm in a sling.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • "Through Imperial Eyes": Lieutenant Lyste is framed as being Fulcrum by the real The Mole, Agent Kallus. He is last seen being dragged away while protesting his innocence. Kallus says that treason by an Imperial officer is punishable by death. At the end of the episode, Thrawn deduces from other evidence that Kallus is actually Fulcrum, but he and Yularen keep this a secret in order to Feed the Mole, leaving the unfortunate Lyste's ultimate fate uncertain.
    • "Family Reunion -- and Farewell": Thrawn himself suffers this when Ezra has a fleet of Purrgil forcibly drag his Star Destroyer into hyperspace, destination unknown. Ezra was onboard as well and is implied to have survived, but there is no word on Thrawn's status and whether or not he's still around for rescue.
  • Star Wars Resistance: The last time we see Commander Pyre in the Grand Finale, he's been knocked out and left in a burning hanger on a Star Destroyer. Said ship blows up not long after, but we're not shown if Pyre was still onboard or woke up and evacuated offscreen. The other half of the Big Bad Duumvirate, Agent Tierny, is quite explicitly shown to die, while Pyre's fate is left more ambiguous (albeit leaning towards dead).
  • Superman: The Animated Series: The boat Mannheim is fleeing in gets swamped, but not destroyed, by the explosion, leaving his fate unclear (although it's generally believed that he died).
  • Super Mario World: The second-to-last episode, "A Little Learning", ends with King Koopa trapped in his bedroom which is rapidly flooding with lava. His only appearances in the finale, "Mama Luigi", are in flashbacks. Since this was the last Animated Adaptation based on Super Mario Bros., this makes Koopa's ultimate fate unknown.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003):
    • In "Sons of the Silent Age," the flashback scene shows over a dozen merpeople revolting against the Y'Lyntians, but only five journeyed to Manhattan. It's unclear whether the other merpeople all died or if they went elsewhere in their own small groups. The merwoman speaks as if her race's survival depends on her eggs hatching, but she could have just meant her specific tribe.
    • The ultimate fate of the Utrom Shredder's Foot Elite is left in the air. They manage to live far longer past the "City At War" story where they originally died in the source material but by the fifth season, they're taken down by the Tengu Shredder during the "New World Order" two-parter and are never seen again, not even during Fast Forward or Back to the Sewers. Whether they died or not is never adequately answered.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): During the Season 4 finale, Baxter Stockman is demutated by the Turtles, and last seen knocked out by Mikey before the Shredder sets his mansion on fire with a Molotov cocktail. He's not shown amongst the surviving members of the Foot in the next season, but his death remains unconfirmed.
  • Total Drama World Tour ends with the characters fleeing from Chekhov's Volcano, with Heather in particular about to be crushed by a rock. A lot of fans hated this, especially since a new cast had been announced for the next season, though The Cameo in the first episode proves that the Gen 1 cast survived. However, this trope happens again at the end of Total Drama All-Stars, and this time we really don't know what happened to about half of that season's contestants.
  • In The Venture Bros., Red Death leaves minor villain (but major Jerkass) Blind Rage in a situation like this after giving his history lesson on the "gentleman villain" — he's left tied to a train track that a train may or may not be coming down.
  • In Winx Club, three of the Season 4 antagonists, Ogron, Anagan, and Gantlos, are frozen, and then fall into a crevice. It is unclear whether they suffered a Disney Villain Death or simply remain frozen forever at the bottom of the abyss.

    Real Life 
  • Some missing person reports end this way — in most cases, if the missing individual is never found, they're assumed to be dead, but it's not always clear, and the issue is not exactly helped by the fact that history has shown that some missing people can turn up alive (though not necessarily well) years after their initial disappearances.
  • The buffalo calf in the famous "Battle at Kruger" viral video is a downplayed example; it is attacked by both a pride of lionesses and a crocodile, who each play a deadly game of tug o' war with the poor thing. Despite this, the calf escapes with its life, but it almost certainly suffered a lot of severe injuries from the claws of the lionesses and the jaws of the crocodile. Many are unsure if the calf survived to adulthood or eventually succumbed to its injuries.