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We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future

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Unfortunately, there's no repeat business in the market.

Euthanasia is at present a controversial social issue. However, in science fiction, in many futuristic societies, it is a norm, and may be encouraged. This may be done as a form of population control, to reduce the use of scarce resources, or because living in this future is a Fate Worse than Death.

This is generally, but not always, the sign of a Dystopia, and at the very least demonstrates the divergence between the fictional world and the actual one. A handy rule of thumb is that the consensual nature of the euthanasia presented is inversely proportional to how dystopian the society presented is supposed to be.

Note that, in some countries and US states, consensual euthanasia is legal under certain guidelines, such as a person being terminally ill and in pain.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Suicide booths were featured in Battle Angel Alita.
  • Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045: In "Pie in the Sky", an elderly Japanese lady wants to go to Switzerland where euthanasia is legal because, after the death of her husband, she wants to die with dignity and at a time of her own choosing. No one tries to talk her out of this, and Batou even helps her get the money she needs for the trip, but we see her at the airport apologizing to her late husband because she's decided to use the money to take a vacation and enjoy herself before she dies.

    Comic Books 
  • The first volume of The Ballad of Halo Jones notes that the upper levels of the Hoop contain pleasant gardens that prospective euthanasiacs can visit before dying. The protagonists use them as a shortcut and plan to say the garden's beauty made them want to live again if they get caught.
  • A recurring plot point in Transformers: More than Meets the Eye involves Relinquishment Clinics, places active before the Great War where Transformers could go to donate their bodies for cash, being used as living organ donors or even swap bodies with people who wanted a different body. After the war starts, they lost the donation part and simply became a place where bots who wanted to die could go to be quietly killed. It's later revealed that Chromedome met Rewind at one such clinic; he was suffering from severe depression at the time and intended to commit suicide there, but meeting Rewind convinced him there was something worth living for.
  • One Jour J story has humanity advance in a very different direction after WW 2 doesn't happen. All humans are to be euthanized when they reach age 100, and to his credit, the man who signed that law has no intention of avoiding it. The dystopic aspect comes from the fact that much of Earth is oppressed by his brutal regime, and his obsession with hygiene has left humanity vulnerable to unknown diseases.

    Fan Works 
  • The War of the Masters: The Moabites are prone to a genetic ailment known as Degenerative Nervous Sheath Syndrome. Early-stage DNSS victims have heightened intellect, but as the illness progresses it causes seizures and eventually an extremely painful death, usually before the person turns 40. As such, euthanasia, preferably by means of an injection of fursnake venom (which makes death painless and mildly euphoric, and can give late-stage victims a few minutes of lucidity before they go), is common and accepted. When faced with a terminal-stage DNSS victim in Spiked, Kanril Eleya reminds her chief medical officer that compassionate euthanasia is legal in the Federation, too, even if it isn't liked.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in Soylent Green, as one solution to overpopulation and of course as an ingredient in food. In this case, people aren't forced to do it, but life is so bad there that the distinction isn't that important.
    • Detective Thorne in the ending, however, seems to think they will eventually start raising humans like cattle for pure food. The relatively serious apathy of the people around him implies that they already are.
  • Appears in Logan's Run in the form of "Carrousel", the ritual that everyone who hits the age of thirty has to go through in hopes of "Renewal" and which (unknown to everyone except the Master Computer) no one has ever survived.
  • Appears in Children of Men (where humanity has lost the ability to reproduce, causing widespread despair as people know they are going to die out) in the form of a highly successful pharmaceutical campaign selling what are essentially suicide pills. Parallels to antidepressants are not entirely subtle. Then again, it does lead to a tearjerker moment as Michael Caine euthanizes his vegetative wife when he knows that he will be performing a Heroic Sacrifice to cover the escape of the protagonists. One dark touch is that an advertisement mentions they're offered free to illegal immigrants, who are horribly persecuted in the film.
  • Freejack. An advertisement for Dial A Suicide can be seen at one stage.
  • One of the many signs of decadence of the great city in Barbarella is a nightclub-like place offering "unique and interesting ways to die." Which implies some overlap with another trope altogether.
  • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Bones is forced to relive the memory of his dying father begging him to pull the plug, which he does — shortly before a cure for his father's illness was found. Though it's not stated whether Bones was breaking the law in this case.
  • Death Race 2000. The first day of the race is Euthanasia Day, and the residents of a geriatrics home are trundled out in their wheelchairs to get run over by the racers, who score highest for running over children and invalids. The nurses get some Laser-Guided Karma when Frankenstein decides to run them over instead.
  • Escape from L.A. has in the deportation center an option to "repent your sins", leading deportees to be electrocuted on the spot.

  • Older Than Television: It is one of the themes of "The Repairer of Reputations", a short story by Robert Chambers which introduced The King in Yellow. The story, written in 1895, depicts society twenty-five years on, where "Government Lethal Chambers" have become widespread so that people can self-euthanize without hassle. Two years before, Scottish writer William Archer suggested that in the "Golden Age" of the future there would be "penny in the slot" machines which a person could kill themselves with. Then G. K. Chesterton critically mentioned Archer's idea in 1908 as part of his book Orthodoxy.
  • Crest of the Stars features a weird sort of hereditary euthanasia. The Abh's genetic modifications include a mechanism that causes them to die painlessly when their brain starts falling apart due to old age.
  • Utilized in From the New World as a precaution against potentially maladjusted individuals using their power to kill everyone.
  • In The Giver by Lois Lowry, everybody except the Receiver of Memories has the right to commit suicide whenever they want. Euthanasia is referred to as being "Released to Elsewhere," to the extent that children of the community draw no connection between Release and death. Lowry does play with the trope—- for an elderly person, being Released is a day of happiness, as the community holds a ceremony to honor the person's life before they "depart." The horror dawns later in the book, as the protagonist, Jonas, understands that Release is also applied to children, such as the smaller of newborn twin babies.
  • The Culture is basically a Utopia and has technology that can keep you alive and young forever, but there is kind of a thought that you should go peacefully at some point. This might entail dying of old age, but it can also be in the form of Nothing Left to Do but Die.
  • Appears in Time Enough for Love - "Death is Every Man's Privilege."
  • Happens in Kurt Vonnegut's short stories:
    • In "Welcome to the Monkey House", it's encouraged by the government in order to bring down the human population to manageable levels (and those who administer the drug are voluptuous babes who dress in transparent clothing to appeal to older men.)
    • In "2BR02B" (the zero is pronounced "naught"), aging has been cured. To keep the population of the United States from exceeding forty million people, the law of the land says that before anybody new can be born, somebody must volunteer to die. Anybody who feels like dying arranges to do so by calling the phone number which is the title of the story and making an appointment. The protagonist of the story is distraught because his wife is about to have triplets, but he's only found one person willing to die. He finally decides on the solution of shooting two proponents of population control and then shooting himself.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Pebble in the Sky: The natives of a backwater, slowly dying future Earth has a rule that citizens, when they reach "The Sixty"-their sixtieth birthday, must die. Anyone who is unable to work is also euthanized. People who try to cheat the system are almost universally reviled.
    • And in Prelude to Foundation, it is mentioned that there are no problems to legally commit suicide on Trantor.
  • The Tripods. In "The City of Gold and Lead", human slaves go to booths where they can be killed painlessly once they've become too worn out to serve their Masters. Given the high gravity of the city, this only takes a few years.
  • In the future of the Christ Clone Trilogy, "life completion clinics" become commonplace. In-story, they are noted as having a preternatural tendency to know when someone is going through a difficult, depressing time, and sending them bright and cheery brochures advertising their services (this being explained by the power of the Antichrist, who set them up).
  • In Oryx and Crake, people compete to feature on, in which their suicide is streamed live for entertainment.
  • In the short story "The Sooey Pill", everyone is issued a poison tablet so they can commit suicide whenever they feel like it. Someone commits murder by slipping someone else a "sooey" pill, and is punished by not being given a replacement tablet.
  • In Dreamsnake, it's likely that Jesse had a fatal aneurysm moments before Mist bit her. The fact remains that a quick death by cobra bite was deemed preferable to what could have been a far slower and more painful one by radiation poisoning.
  • The future society in The Color of Distance and Through Alien Eyes is overall trying to be utopian. An alien healer visiting a hospital is asked to treat someone in such a bad shape neither human nor alien treatments can help, determines that the man has no more desire to live, and euthanizes him before berating the staff for not giving this as an option before. In his species, anyone too badly wounded to heal completely kills themselves, though he comes to realize that that isn't as good a thing as he'd grown up assuming.
  • In "Spending a Day at the Lottery Fair," a short story by Frederik Pohl, an overpopulated U.S. where both abortion and contraception are outlawed implements a form of population control using euthanasia by chance. "Lottery fairs" are held periodically at which fairgoers "pay" for rides, concessions, raffles (including several for jobs), etc. by inserting their arms into a cuff that offers a small but real chance of delivering a lethal injection.
  • The Mesans practice euthanasia regularly in Honor Harrington; the euthanization of Dr. Herlander Simoes's adopted autistic vegetative daughter prompts him to defect to Manticore and Haven, inform them of the fact that Mesa is plotting against them, and convince them to ally against Mesa. It also prompts Simoes's superior, Jack McBryde, to realize that the Mesans have gone too far from their original aims of transhumanism, and he destroys their records so thoroughly that Public Enemy #1 could have walked into the government building without being recognized.
  • The Australian government in On the Beach is distributing free suicide pills/injections to those who prefer that option to the inevitable death of radiation sickness that's headed their way. Other options shown include lethal car racing or being aboard a sinking submarine.
  • Haunted (2005): The second story featuring Mr. Whittier, "Obsolete", deals with mandatory euthanasia of all humans so that everyone will move on to the next world (shown as a party on Venus) rather than continue to reincarnate on Earth.
  • In the Imperial Radch series, The Empire of the Radch makes physician-assisted suicide universally available, although that fact is only mentioned in passing to contrast with the unusual and embarrassing circumstance of someone killing herself. It's not a sign of dystopia — given that the Lord of the Radch can order summary executions on a whim, the pretense of euthanasia would hardly be necessary.
  • The Hit by Melvin Burgess is about a drug called Death that gives you the perfect high for a week then kills you. It was invented to give elderly dying people a happy ending but trickled into the illegal drug market.
  • Semiosis: Downplayed in that there's no indication of it being common, but the human colony on the planet Pax allows this, administered peacefully and painlessly by induced coma. Jersey chooses it when a serious brain infection drives her to murder.
  • Lord Of The World: Conspicuously juxtaposed with the Humanist cult's life worship. While simultaneously extolling the glory of the great font of life from which all men come and which unites all of them into the immanent divine Man, the regime's medical professionals forego actual medical treatment on those injured in accidents in favor of instant euthanasia, and consent is a mere formality that is done away with when convenient. They also have euthanasia homes where one can prepare for suicide if they so wish which Mabel takes full advantage of after Oliver signed the Test Act.
  • Sex Robots and Vegan Meat is partly about Exit International, one of the groups who want to bring that future closer. Founder Dr Philip Nitschke's dedication to promoting dignified death seems to be almost as great as his dedication to promoting Dr Philip Nitschke.
  • In Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, better medical technology and backup clone bodies have humanity basically immortal but suicide drugs can be brought pretty easily from a chemist.
  • In The Ship Who..., suicide is discouraged and people working for the Central Worlds Federation are given extensive conditioning meaning that even when they become suicidal, they're unable to fully commit to killing themselves. Indeed, Helva posits that it's not possible. There are a few member-worlds with local laws allowing people to legally seek self-euthanasia, but someone like Kira who's displayed suicidal tendencies can be barred from visiting them. Not that they actually help her, leading Helva to have to give her Epiphany Therapy in a rough moment instead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Downplayed in The Silent Sea. Due to a planetwide water shortage keeping pets is forbidden and there's mention of the government offering "euthanasia assistance", but few pet owners are willing to take the offer, preferring to hold onto their pets illegally.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • In "A Taste of Armageddon", this is used in lieu of nuclear warfare; computers select those who have been 'killed' in each attack, and the victims report voluntarily to the suicide booths, thus sparing their civilization the horrors of mass destruction. Things go well until Kirk and his crew are designated dead.
      • In "The Mark of Gideon", an extremely overpopulated world is trying to set up a voluntary suicide system, starting by infecting the leader's daughter with a disease.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • In "Half a Life", there is a society where everyone commits suicide at the age of 60. Originally to alleviate the strain of paying for keeping the elderly alive, it has become a way of honoring the individual and their family. Lwaxana Troi attempts to dissuade a man of this society from doing it, in part because they are developing feelings for each other and in part because he is perhaps the only scientist on the planet capable of stopping the planet's sun from burning out within a few decades. Ultimately, however, he goes off after being begged by his daughter (whose mother had already done so). Ultimately, while she doesn't approve of or condone his choice or the society's tradition, she decides to attend his farewell ceremony/celebration because it's meant to be celebration of his life with the people who love him, and she's one of them now.
      • Vulcans and Klingons both have practices where a sufficiently crippled or incapacitated individual may opt to die. Worf plans to do it in "Ethics" after being paralyzed, and Picard argues that Klingon tradition should be respected in a somewhat anvilicious way to Riker (whom Worf has asked to assist in the ritual, as direct suicide is still "dishonorable" for Klingons). Worf changes his mind in the end, partly because Riker does some investigating and discovers that it should in fact be Worf's son who assists (and Worf cannot bring himself to ask the child to do so), and partly because Picard is able to convince Dr Crusher to also respect Klingon values by authorizing an incredibly risky, experimental surgery to reverse the damage (despite her belief that Worf should receive futuristic physical therapy instead, which would still leave him basically crippled).
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • Worf himself reluctantly agrees to help his brother, Kurn, with a similar rite to the above in "Sons of Mogh" after their family house is dissolved and Kurn feels he has literally nothing to live for without honor or status in Klingon society, with the ritual suicide as his only hope for an honorable death and afterlife. They're interrupted just as Worf plunges the knife into his brother's chest and Kurn is saved despite his desire to die. A furious Captain Sisko takes any further attempts to "help" Kurn off the table and Worf spends the rest of the episode trying to help Kurn change his mind and find a way to live honorably outside of Klingon society. For his own part, Worf comes to see killing a family member like he tried to with Kurn the same way as humans do — as murder — and as a result feels unable to go through with it again.
      • While trying to cure a Dominion bioweapon in "The Quickening", Julian Bashir clashes with a local doctor who spends much of his time providing euthanasia drugs to terminal-stage victims. When Julian succeeds in developing a vaccine, the doctor leaps at the opportunity to provide that instead.
    • Star Trek: Voyager
      • Tuvok mentions that Vulcan society does allow euthanasia in certain cases. It's interesting in that Vulcan is never shown to be anything resembling a dystopia, it's just that for a society that runs entirely on cold logic, killing someone who will spend the rest of their lives in misery and will never improve makes perfect sense. When the Voyager crew comes across a member of the Q Continuum who wants to commit suicide, he enlists Tuvok to help him prepare his argument in favor of it to the other Q.
      • In "Emanations", Harry Kim encounters a Planet of Hats that practises this trope, with invalids being pressured to move on to the afterlife because they are a burden to their families and medical research stifled because of this easy option. If there's another side to the issue, we don't hear it.
  • Sliders:
    • An episode had the sliders travel into a world where kids had taken over, and it was illegal to live too long, as low as 50 in some states.
    • And one where there was a kind of weird lottery. Someone would draw money from a machine (no limit was stated). Later, several people who drew money would be selected to "Make Way", and be given a huge amount of money, plenty for one last hurrah and to take care of their families. The more money you took, the greater your chance of being selected (not that the person who drew the most would be automatically selected, it seemed to work more along the idea of having more tickets in a raffle). Of course one of the main characters are selected before they are aware of all the details...
  • In the Black Mirror episode "San Junipero", euthanasia of the terminally ill is legal, but in California, it requires signatures from the patient, a doctor, and the next-of-kin. And all shown cases have their brains uploaded to a simulated party town that they’d been allowed to visit for brief periods while still alive.
  • Foundation (2021): The ruling dynasty of clones of the Galactic Empire practices this as the ruling triad cycles through the aging process. Once every few decades, a new Brother Dawn is created, the preexisting Brothers Dawn and Day are promoted to Day and Dusk, and the old Brother Dusk is proclaimed Brother Darkness and then immediately euthanized by means of vaporization.

  • The Zeromancer song "Doctor Online" is about "1-800-Suicide," a service offering the impatient ways to end their lives.
  • The concept of a dystopian future is an overlying theme in many albums published by Arjen Anthony Lucassen, but his album "Lost in the New Real" in particular has a surprisingly upbeat song advertising a certain "Dr. Slumber’s Eternity Home".
  • Finnish rock musician Juice Leskinen's Ajan henki (Zeitgeist) plays this straight: In the old lotto democracy, four million people made one person happy. In the new lotto democracy, one person makes four million people happy. In the song, the whole Finnish population forms a raffle, of which one person to get euthanized is raffled off every weekend.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Mindjammer after discovering Rejuve Old Earth instituted the Mortality Statutes mandating euthanasia at the age of 500. Which was repealed after the invention of Planar drive and the Age of Expansion, though many Core Worlds keep it as a voluntary tradition.

    Video Games 
  • An email in Deus Ex advertises a suicide clinic, offering its users ten thousand credits to his or her survivors should they visit.
  • Hell MOO includes a suicide booth in Freedom City where those who are suffering from post-apocalyptic depression or just plain boredom can off themselves. Of course, the cloning centers still function perfectly and automatically shuffle your soul into a new body when you die, so as long as you have a clone available there's no way for anyone in Freedom City to ever die; it's established that many of the denizens of the city were around before the Collapse and have just kept living for centuries.
    • And since the bodies are taken naked to the recycling center across the street, all of their possessions are left in the booth prime for the taking.
  • Final Fantasy XIV shows several planets who chose to wipe themselves out this way as part of Meteon showing you their reasons for becoming an Omnicidal Maniac. The Ea were a race of science-minded perfectionists who transcended their mortal bodies into beings of pure magic, only to discover Universal Heat Death, which horrified them so much that most of their race exsanguinated their aether (basically destroyed their magical bodies) and the ones left only stayed alive looking for a way to get their bodies back to die "properly". The Plenty meanwhile, were a Utopia species who had created a genuine paradise, with no pain, no suffering, no adversity... and no pleasure, or aspirations, or as they eventually realized, reason to live. For that reason, they created Ra-La, a Sphinx-like creature who was made specifically to provide an instant, painless death which they all embraced with open arms as her golden light vaporized them all.

    Visual Novels 
  • Tokyo Necro features a rather morbid form of population control with the Elderly Disposal Zone. As you get older you are taxed more and more and once you are past sixty years of age, if you can't pay those taxes you are deemed illegal and thus taken to one of these zones where people can kill you freely for their own amusement. The whole thing is set up as an amusement park complete with a Repulsive Ringmaster and everything. There are even TV shows set up where people kill the elderly with their bare hands.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: Parodied with suicide booths. In DVD Commentary, the writers and cast of Futurama did note that they played down the suicide booth angle as the series went on, as it had lost its novelty and served its purpose of showing how different the future was.