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You Are Already Dead

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Nani? *screech* HIDEBU! *splat*

"He hits you with his fingertips at five different pressure points on your body. And then he lets you walk away. But once you've taken five steps, your heart explodes in your body, and you fall to the floor, dead."
Bill, Kill Bill, describing Pai Mei's legendary Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique

The Final Battle has begun. You and your opponent square off, and your opponent hits you with a series of mighty blows that would fell a mountain. But what's this? Nothing seems to be happening! That's when your opponent tells you that You Are Already Dead, right before your head explodes, your body separates in two, or you disintegrate into a fine mist. If you're unlucky, only one of those happens. Sometimes, you may also discover that you were Made of Explodium.

A common trope in works featuring martial arts, this involves some form of Finishing Move that does not take effect immediately. When used with martial arts, it may involve Pressure Point attacks or some form of Ki Manipulation. Assassins may use Universal Poison to achieve a similar effect. In video games, Damage Over Time abilities often have this effect.

When used with swords there are a number of common variations, often shown with a Diagonal Cut that doesn't seem to have cut through the object until an outside force reveals the cut was so surgically neat that at first, you didn't see it. In the Single-Stroke Battle, the two sides charge each other and attack. There will be a pause as the two hold their finishing pose, then one (or both) will fall down. One of the most stylish versions is for a Master Swordsman to perform a series of lightning-fast slashes, and then slowly and dramatically sheath their sword until you hear a *click*, upon which their opponent bursts out bleeding or literally falls into pieces.

This trope is not necessarily limited to close combat, either. In more modern settings, gunshot wounds can often have this effect, since getting shot typically feels like getting punched hard and it is not uncommon for victims to take some time to realize it. This can be exploited for dramatic effect in war movies, where fatally wounded soldiers wander the battlefield before succumbing.

Compare and closely related to Touch of Death and Delayed Reaction, to give the victim a split-second to realize what just happened and what's about to happen to them as a result of it. Exactly What I Aimed At has a similarly delayed effectiveness but is usually less fatal. May lead to Died Standing Up. See Determinator or Heroic Second Wind for when it doesn't work, and also beware of Normally, I Would Be Dead Now. May be invoked with a Diagonal Cut, as previously stated. Can overlap with Badass Boast. A subtrope of Time-Delayed Death. Not to be confused with Dead All Along or Dead to Begin With.

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Fist of the North Star is the Trope Namer.
    • Kenshiro, the protagonist, used this as his Catchphrase (お前はもう死んでいる "Omae wa mou shindeiru") when he made his opponent's head or entire body explode with superpowered Pressure Point martial arts. To elaborate, he uses pressure points in the opponent's body so that said pressure points communicate with the brain in such a way that over time, the body will be commanded to bend unnaturally, disable parts of itself, or most commonly, become so overtaxed that the head and everything else explodes.
    • Subverted a couple of times. One time a mook attempts to do this to Kenshiro, only for his own head to explode.note  And Bat claims to be able to do this to a mook, only he was lying so he could use the mook's horrified reaction to retreat.
    • A non-lethal version occurs during Ken's short-lived duel with Shin at the beginning of the series. Countering Shin's Nanto Gokuto Ken with his own Hokuto Hiei Ken in a memorable instance of Air Jousting, Ken lands, slowly rises, and turns around to face his rival, only to realize Shin's attack has incapacitated him by cutting the tendons in his limbs. Ken repays the favor in his rematch with Shin. Once Shin starts panicking, Ken tells him to relax, he had missed his vitals.
    • Also happens to Kenshiro in his first duel with Souther. Kenshiro strikes one of Souther's fatal pressure points and tells him he's dead in three seconds. Souther responds by counting down himself... At which point he reveals he's not only immune to Kenshiro's style (it turns out that Souther has dextrocardia situs inversus totalis, a medical condition in which all of the internal organs and blood vessels are reversed compared to normal humans, and thus his pressure points are on the opposite side of his body from where Kenshiro hit him) but used a delayed attack on Kenshiro, opening a series of wounds on Kenshiro's body. Things rapidly go downhill for Kenshiro.
    • Fist of the Blue Sky's protagonist does much the same thing, only the Catchphrase he uses is Chinese (你已经死了 "Nǐ yǐ jīng sǐ le") instead of Japanese.
  • Shows up in Baccano!, when Ladd Russo slits the throat of an underling in his uncle's office. He has time to turn away and close his switchblade before the High-Pressure Blood kicks in.
  • A wordless non-lethal version happens during the Raitai tournament in Baki the Grappler. Boxing Battler Alai Jr. is facing a martial artist opponent, lands a couple of solid blows that knocks the martial artist down, then starts to walk out of the arena, hands held high in victory. The martial artist jumps back to his feet, saying the fight isn't over yet. Alai walks back towards his opponent and gets in a fighting stance... then he takes a closer look at the martial artist and starts walking away again. Enraged, the martial artist tries to chase him, and immediately does a Face Plant. It turns out that while the martial artist could (barely) stand, his body and brain were not up for any kind of movement, and Alai had correctly picked up on this.
  • Battle Angel Alita:
    • Vershlag, a technique from Panzer Kunst anti-cyborg martial arts, basically works like this. Instead of manipulating Ki, however, it sets up inside a metal body a large number of Solitary Waves (from several hundreds to tens of thousands if the Kunstler using it is good enough) that are set to converge in one point after a certain amount of time, blowing up the victim's head (and sometimes a good part of his/her surroundings). Bonus points for the fact that the delay set on this technique allows it to kill its victim even a month after it was set up, effectively making them live with an unavoidable death sentence.
    • In the Sechs vs Zekka fight. The first major blow Zekka does to Sechs' side is what kills or destroys his body. Everything afterward was Zekka toying with Sechs.
  • In Beet the Vandel Buster, Slade is able to do this thanks to his invisible Saiga, since his opponents don't know they've already been hit until it's too late.
  • In Black Bullet, Kisara Tendo faces her treacherous brother in a duel. When she slashes his leg off, he panics, begs for mercy, and confesses that he was the one who arranged their parents' deaths. Satisfied, she walks away. Rentaro commends her for showing mercy. She asks what he is talking about, as behind them, her brother suddenly splits in half vertically.
  • Bleach:
    • There's a lampshaded Shout-Out to this trope when Love quotes it while reading manga.
    • Sui-Feng's shikai guarantees death in two hits, which combined with her high speed, leads to this trope. The target won't even notice they've been stabbed once half the time, let alone stabbed twice. When she uses it on Ggio Vega, she even has enough time to explain to the horrified Arrancar what she just did before he dies.
    • Byakuya has a special technique called Senka that is based around this trope. He stabs the target in two very specific places on the body that guarantees both the destruction of their powers and their death without them even being aware they've been hit until they're already dying. The main difference between his technique and Sui-Feng's shikai is that Sui-Feng can hit anywhere on the body whereas Byakuya's technique is based around the two parts of the body that generate both life and power in an individual, so he has to hit a very specific location twice for his technique to work at all. Only the main character has survived being hit with this technique; even he couldn't tell he'd even been hit once, let alone twice until he was actually falling, and even he lost his powers. Sort of. Being the main character, Loophole Abuse occurred. Rather pragmatically, Byakuya prefers to use this as his opening move to a fight. If his opponent is fast enough to block or dodge it, he moves on to the rest of his arsenal of moves. If they're not...why should he have wasted any more time on a weakling that he can dispose of in less than a second?
  • Said almost verbatim in Burning Hell - a Villain Protagonist Deadly Doctor can use this trope with his sword... for Flaying Alive his opponent. Same Mad Scientist also created a serum that, when injected into the bloodstream, speeds up your senses so much that the world around you moves to the point of time almost standing still. By the time you feel the blade piercing your heart and killing you, the rest of your body has already been shut down for a few years or so.
  • This actually happens a lot in Claymore, due to the main characters being sword-wielders who can move at incredible speeds. The Quicksword technique is probably the best example of this; at one point, Clare "dodges" past three monsters, and then has a conversation with them that lasts a good thirty seconds before they collapse in pieces. A minor variation occurs in most non-human cases, though; most realize they're already dead, and there's a moment of horror before the laws of physics decide to pay attention.
  • Death Note:
    • If your true name is written in the eponymous Artifact of Doom and the writer had your face in mind, you are dead; most likely, you will have a lethal heart attack in 40 seconds.
    • Light literally says "He's already dead" in episode 24, at 10:30.
  • Digimon Adventure: At the climax of the 49th episode, Agumon warp evolves to WarGreymon, slices up Machinedramon, makes a Three-Point Landing and reverts to Koromon before Machinedramon falls to pieces. It only happens after a brief debate over the effectiveness of WarGreymon's assault, where Koromon reminds Machinedramon of the special power of WarGreymon's claws. This trope is dub-only - in the original, Koromon instead responds to Mugendramon with a touching speech.
    Machinedramon: "Now I will finish you once and for all!"
    Koromon: "I don't think so. You missed what I did as WarGreymon. I sliced you like an onion!!!"
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Future Trunks' first battle with Freeza's henchmen is actually a Subversion of this: Trunks charges through Frieza's henchmen with his sword. He leaves one henchman standing... whose armor and scouter proceed to fall apart after several seconds, having been cut into pieces in a fraction of a second, and yet the henchman actually survives.
    • In the seventh movie Future Trunks battles Android 14. Their fight comes to an end when their blows collide, 14's fists against Trunks' sword. Android 14 comes out seemingly unscathed, but as he runs at Trunks his body splits in half just before he reaches him.
    • Parodied at one Martial Arts Tournament, when Mr. Satan and Android 18 are fighting. 18 says she'll throw the match if he agrees to pay her double the prize money. He does and throws a heavy punch to knock her out of the ring. 18 just takes the punch to the face without moving, asks if that was really the best finishing move Mr. Satan could come up with... then throws herself backward out of the ring. Mr. Satan then tries to pass off this bizarre chain of events as this trope to the confused audience: a "delayed reaction" punch.
    • In the dub of Dragon Ball Z Kai, Future Trunks says "You're already dead." to Cyborg Frieza just before their fight. If you can call it a fight. This very fight involves Trunks dicing Frieza into several pieces.
    • Gohan does a non-lethal variant to a group of Freeza's soldiers in Resurrection F; he attacks various vital points in a matter of seconds to knock them all out at the same time.
  • Excel♡Saga parodies this in their Fist of the North Star episode by having victims turn into Dejiko from Di Gi Charat (with one victim turning into Puchiko).
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) anime, Kimblee's favourite trick is to use alchemy to turn people into delayed time bombs by transmuting their bodies' sulphur and phosphorous into a slow-oxidising explosive. He eventually does this to Al.
  • Goblin Slayer: Wizard, from Priestess's first party, was stabbed once in the gut with a dagger by a goblin. While gut wounds could usually be healed, the dagger was poisoned, and trying to heal her without an antidote would have only prolonged her suffering. When Goblin Slayer arrived, the poison had already spread too far through her body for an antidote to be effective, leaving him with no other alternative but to give her a Mercy Kill.
  • In Godzilla: The Planet Eater, this version of King Ghidorah is an extra-dimensional creature that warps spacetime and gravity around him, creating instances of time dilation among other effects. The crew aboard the Aratrum realise Ghidorah's already killed them because the computer's sensors can't detect any life signs in the very room they're in, as well as the fact that the ship's engine room was destroyed 40 seconds ago. Sure enough, the Aratrum erupts in a massive explosion a few seconds later within Ghidorah's coils.
  • In one of the tests in Hunter × Hunter, Killua was faced off against a hulking mass murderer from a high-security prison. Killua took three steps, then held out the killer's still-beating heart in his hand.
  • In The Irregular at Magic High School main character Tatsuya's decomposition magic instantly renders anything he wants to, including humans, into pure elements. You get to see a hazy outline of the person's shape before their now unbound atoms bond together.
  • Parodied in I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, when Falfa, while she and Shalsha discuss the differences between good and bad slimes, demonstrates the weak point of the lighter-colored bad slimes while saying "Omae wa mo shindeiru".
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • In Part 2, Lisa Lisa dispatches a vampire mook in this manner. She brushes him with her Ripple-infused scarf and moves forward, not waiting for him to catch on and melt.
    • Played with in Part 3. When DIO uses The World to stop time and circumvent Kakyoin's 20-Meter Emerald Splash trap, he has The World punch a hole through his torso, then casually comments on how, as a result of time having stopped, he didn't realize yet that he was dead.
    • In Part 4, the Third Bomb of Yoshikage Kira's Killer Queen Stand, aptly named Bites the Dust, runs off this trope. Once somebody tries to find out Kira's identity through the person that Bites the Dust is implanted on, in this case being Hayato Kawajiri, Killer Queen appears and enters the pupil of whoever just asked Hayato for the information, with no way to be counterattacked. From there, the Stand sets off the bomb, causing the person to explode from the inside out. Also, because Bites the Dust runs off a "Groundhog Day" Loop, rewinding time by one hour after a new person dies, it exaggerates this trope by causing anybody who died in the previous loop to explode again without Bites the Dust even needing to be activated, and the loop won't restart following their death.
  • In the final episode of Katanagatari Shichika hits an opponent who is wielding a sword that is meant to keep people from dying with an attack that kills him several times saying "You've now died 272 times" before said opponent collapses to the ground.
  • In Kekkaishi, Kaguro cuts down the remaining group of Ayakaishi that he brought with him for "negotiations" with the Kekkaishi, stating that it goes against his sense of esthetics to take a woman hostage and that they lack any, right before they fall to pieces.
  • Parodied in Lucky Star when Soujirou tenses up his arm muscles to demonstrate how to get a mosquito stuck:
    Soujirou: (pointing at the mosquito) You are already dead.
  • In Lupin III, Goemon does this frequently, though usually not against actual people. Nevertheless, most things he cuts only fall apart after he has sheathed his sword.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Kuu Fei and Mana's fight in the fighting tournament ends with one of these (in a non-lethal way). Kuu's palm is on Mana's abdomen as Mana believes she has bested Kuu, but that Kuu put up a remarkable fight. And they have a brief exchange before Kuu informs Mana that that wasn't all. Then the back of Mana's shirt explodes from the attack. Even if the attack was released after the exchange, Kuu clearly landed the strike at the start of the conversation. This is the first time Kuu ever uses a ki technique.
  • One Piece:
    • This is Brook's preferred method of fighting, his trademark and one of his catchphrases. He is able to slowly walk ten feet, and then put his sword away with enough time to say "I already cut you" and the name of the attack before his slash takes effect. His original attack would "merely" cut the opponent, while his improved attack with his sharpened sword Soul Solid harnesses the full potential of his Devil Fruit powers, channeling the underworld's energies to freeze all the blood in the opponent as they are cut.
    • Zoro's Shishi Sonson (translation: Lion's Song), which he used to finish off Mr. 1, also fits this trope.
    • Jimbei's Arabesque Brick Fist attack fits as well. He'll strike the air, and the water manipulation that comes with Fishman Karate will carry the blow over to the targets a couple of seconds later through the air's humidity and the target's own bodily water. From an outside perspective, all you see is him punching the air, and a few seconds later everyone goes flying like the punch had struck dead on.
  • An episode of Pokémon the Series: Black & White did one of these (by Pokémon battle standards) in the finale of a tournament. A recurring Trainer's Sawk fights a smug Trainer's Throh, but after landing a powerful attack on Throh, Sawk starts walking away as Throh gets up. Don George explains that Sawk already knows when the battle's over, and Throh falls, signaling the attack knocked it out.
  • Ranma ½:
    • Subverted, where Ranma spends half an episode dodging Ryoga's Bakusai Tenketsu, which can supposedly shatter anything by exploiting natural weakpoints. When Ranma finally beats Ryoga, he is casually hit with the technique by Cologne. A look of horror spreads across his face... only for Cologne to reveal its true nature - a mining technique designed for use against rocks (which it had been used on every other time) and inert against humans.
    • A more literal example happened earlier in the fight. Ranma had been unable to deal any damage to Ryoga during the fight, so he tries launching a punch using the recoil from a tree branch to add to the damage. Ryoga immediately shouts, "You punch like a baby!" while delivering a counterattack. A second later, though, Ryoga begins to double over in pain.
  • Very common in Saint Seiya, to the point where people can receive an attack, wax philosophical, and suddenly get flung across the room, usually through some pillars.
  • Happens at least once in Samurai Champloo, when Jin is stabbed in the back by Kariya, only for Kariya to wince in pain and have the camera pull back to reveal that Jin left himself open so he could fatally wound Kariya.
  • Done on a fairly regular basis in Samurai Deeper Kyo, especially during the beginning chapters and/ or when a new enemy is introduced. As the series progresses, however, this becomes rather rare as the Mooks and Red Shirt Armies are gradually replaced with Quirky Miniboss Squads, various Dragons and the Big Bad, whose power levels range from Charles Atlas to Made of Iron to Physical God.
  • In Slayers, Gourry rushes between two rows of would-be bounty hunters. Reaching the end, he clicks his sword in his scabbard. Cue the bodies dropping to the ground. (Amelia: "Make that eleven...")
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann does this with mechs. Simon does this with Lordgenome.
  • Toriko:
  • Umineko: When They Cry has this happen during a fight between Virgilia and Beatrice. One of the combatants makes an illegal move which means that she lost the fight automatically, as she did not successfully counter all attacks.The soon-to-be loser is about to kill her opponent when she informs her of this. This causes all attacks made after that point to be illusory because she was already dead. The previously checkmated opponent is therefore left completely unharmed
  • The World's Finest Assassin: Lugh uses a combination of magical spells to send a tungsten spear flying into the air while accepting a duel challenge, and begins counting down internally. Lugh talks to his duel opponent to buy time until the end of the countdown, telling his opponent that he'll be dead before he’ll get a chance to strike. Sure enough, the moment the coin falls signifying the duel’s start, the spear comes in from orbit at terminal velocity engulfing Lugh’s opponent in a mushroom cloud.
  • Happens to Seiryu in YuYu Hakusho. Sliced 16 times by Hiei, and he wonders what happened before the camera (meaning he) starts dropping to the ground in pieces. Happens again (though not a killing blow this time) against Makintaro in the Dark Tournament. Hiei flashes his sword, Makintaro tells him to bring it on—and Hiei pulls out his severed arm, saying he already did.

    Comic Books 
  • This happens to assassin Evelyn Cream in Miracleman when he's decapitated by a monster dog but doesn't realize it until the end of the issue.
  • Lobo uses his special attack "Five-Second Delayed Special Whaperoo" in Lobo: Infanticide
  • A nonlethal example happened in one Spider-Man comic where the hero fought Tombstone. Spidey put all he had into one punch to the villain's face. Tombstone didn't seem hurt at first (even though his nose was bleeding), he threatened Spidey, then lifted his fist to hit him... Then he got dizzy, and finally collapsed, out cold. Spidey quipped, "Well what do you know? Like a dinosaur. Took a few seconds to reach his brain."
  • During a fight with a mystical ninja with similar physiology (though not as strong) to the Thing, Logan strikes a weakpoint, then turns around and walks away as his opponent crumbles.
  • Moon Knight-sorry, Mr. Knight-pulls this on a body part-stealing Serial Killer. After tracking him down and hearing out his Motive Rant, Knight reveals he threw a crescent into the slasher's stomach the second he walked into the room. The slasher tries to take Knight down, but ultimately bleeds out without getting a single hit in.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Awakening of a Magus, as Pettigrew awaits interrogation in his cell, Malfoy's agent comes in with some potion and says it's meant to counteract Veritaserum. When Peter is skeptical, the agent assures him he drank a dose himself to no ill effect. Peter takes his own dose... and then, right as the Minister arrives, the agent screams and drops dead. That's when Wormtail realizes Voldemort intended to ensure his silence through more radical means, and the only thing he can do is reward Tom for his treachery by naming as many Death Eaters as possible.
  • A Certain Duelist's Dream 2: The Nightmare of GREMLIN: Útgarða-Loki and Touma Kamijou fight and Loki disappears from view. When he reappears, Touma angrily says he is going down. Loki points down and replies, "On the contrary, you are down, as in dead." Touma looks down and finds he has a gaping hole in his stomach before screaming in pain and falling over dead.
  • In Fate/Long Night, after Nymeria stabs Arturia in the arm, she starts walking away. Arturia calls her a coward, but she chuckles and says she already won. Arturia didn't notice the stab infected her with Greyscale, and the infection was slowly traveling up her arm and would have reached her body if Brandon hadn't stepped in and chopped it off.
  • Fates Collide:
    • A non-lethal variant when Blake Belladonna and Okita Souji have a friendly duel with wooden swords. After a few exchanges, Okita Flash Steps past Blake and Okita's sword is now warped out of shape. Blake wonders what just happened, then falls over in pain from having been hit by Okita's Three Stage Thrust.
    • Li Shuwen punches Ren Alter once with his No Second Strike technique, then nonchalantly walks away. Confused and offended, his opponent tries to attack him, only to explode and be reduced to ashes.
  • In Harry Potter and Future's Past Harry cleaves Gregory Goyle Sr. in two with an overpowered cutting curse aimed at Goyle's wand arm.
    The Death Eater watched his arm that held his wand separate at the elbow and fall to the ground while at the same time he felt movement and he knew in a moment of surprising clarity that he was already dead and his brain just hadn't figured it out yet.
  • In Harry Potter the Warlord Prince Harry goes up against several Death Eaters.
    Auror: I see two still breathing, though that one is turning blue.
    Harry: No, he's dead; his body just doesn't know it yet. That's his heart on the floor next to him.
  • In Like a Phoenix from the Ashes Harry cast an overpowered Reducto that hit several Death Eaters and "all three fell to the ground dead, even though their bodies weren't aware of this fact yet."
  • In the Ruby and Nora story Atlas Jacques Schnee gave Nicholas poisoned wine once he was set to inherit the Schnee Dust Company, and is able to tell Nicholas how he set Willow up as a hedonist so that he would get the SDC before Nicholas dies. This is ironically repeated in Cold after Jacques' dictatorship over Atlas has fallen when Willow gives him poisoned wine. In this case, it only paralyzed Jacques, but Willow tells him that he'll be killed by the resistance before the poison wears off, which is what happens next.
  • In Speed Ron accidentally acquires super-speed and uses kinetic energy to send a mess of splinters at a couple of giants shortly before the Final Battle while thinking "They're dead, they just haven't noticed yet."
  • In Troll, Troll in the Dungeon the troll in the bathroom continues to fight for a minute or two after Harry vanishes its brain.
  • Trichromatic:
    Just as the front doors opened, revealing a panting Amelia Bones and a small squad of rather exhausted-looking Aurors, two-foot-long metal spikes hit the troll, one in its throat and the other in its left eye. The troll roared in pain, stumbling toward its attacker. It took the troll a full ten seconds to realize that, yes, in fact, it was dead, and fall forward, driving the spikes further into its body as it collapsed with a ground-shaking thud onto the flagstones.
  • What If I Know Too Many Reasons I Can Be Strong?: The Hand Demon gloats about having eaten Urokodaki's mentees, only for Tanjiro to reveal that he's already been decapitated.
  • In Zero Context: Taking Out the Trash, Callista gets to her feet after taking a serious gut punch from a man in Powered Armor, seeming to stumble just a little. She tells herself that it's over, takes the time to put her weapon away and heal her wounds, give a short speech about her emotional issues, and even grab a brownie off the dessert table. When her opponent loses his patience and sends his Armor rocketing towards her, Callista repeats that it's over... and the Armor loses all cohesion and blows away on the wind, having already been sliced through as soon as she had gotten up.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the final duel of the first Azumi film, Azumi manage to slice Bijoumaru through the neck with her katana. Bijoumaru continues lunging at her, just as Azumi proceeds to walk away - and Bijoumaru's head rolls off his shoulders mid-lunge.
  • The ridiculous, nigh over-the-top 90s wuxia film Butterfly and Sword has this happening in the battle between Yip Cheung (Donnie Yen) and The Dragon. After a fierce swordfight, Yen managed to hit a bunch of pulse points on his enemy, before getting his sword knocked out of his hands. Yen's opponent smirks, thinking he gained the upper hand in battle... and suddenly gushes blood from every vein of his body, and then collapsing lifelessly to the floor.
  • Kill Bill has this with the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, which is delivered to Bill himself by the Bride at the end of the film. In a subtle Dying Moment of Awesome Bill manages to take six steps before collapsing.
  • Used for dramatic effect in Saving Private Ryan during the Normandy scene, where severely injured soldiers in the throes of shell-shock wander the battlefield before succumbing.
    • Jackson in particular endures this. As he snipes enemy forces, he then catches sight...of a tank, aiming right at his position. He barely has the time to warn Parker of the incoming missile, which inevitably blows them both to dust.
  • In Ghost Ship, a thin wire rips through everyone on the dance-floor of the ship, instantly cutting them all in half; and yet they remain standing perfectly upright... and slowly all fall apart (when in actuality they'd obviously fall immediately).
  • Something similar happened in Underworld (2003) where Selene decapitates Victor. And it takes several seconds for his head to fall off.
  • The wuxia movie The Imperial Swordsman has a fight scene where the titular hero fights half a dozen black-clad Elite Mooks. Suddenly drawing his sword, he made a bunch of flashy moves, all the mooks suddenly stop moving and remain standing, and the hero sheathes his weapon, walking away. Ten seconds later, every mook drop their weapons and collapses, dead.
  • In one of the The Pink Panther movies, a ninja-master gives a demonstration where he strikes a rock, and nothing happens; then he leaves, and the entire room collapses.
  • Wagons East!: During the gunfight at the end of the movie, Julian and Slade have a standoff during which Slade is shot but doesn't notice until Julian points it out to him.
  • Darth Maul takes a second to realize he's been cut in half at the end of the climactic fight scene in The Phantom Menace. Subverted when subsequent canon materials reveal that he actually survives through sheer hatred of Obi-Wan, even having a cameo in Solo.
  • V for Vendetta: A more peaceful version than usual. Of those who ran Larkhill, Dr. Delia Surridge is the only one to express genuine remorse for her actions, so V grants her a quick, painless death via an injection of poison while she's asleep. He then wakes her and they have a conversation where she apologizes to him before dying.
    Delia: Are you going to kill me now?
    V: (holds up empty syringe) I killed you ten minutes ago, while you slept.
    Delia: (fearfully) Is there any pain?
    V: No.
    Delia: Thank you. ... Is it meaningless to apologize?
    V: Never.
    Delia: I'm so sorry... (dies quietly)
  • In Kiss of the Dragon, Jet Li hits the bad guy with the titular attack, paralyzing him. Jet Li then has time to describe what is about to happen, right before starting the process of death by yanking the needle out and walking out of the room. The bad guy then starts to have extreme pain and blood starts leaking out of every possible opening until he dies.
  • In the obscure horror film Skinned Deep, the Surgeon General takes a swing at a kid with his knife. Nothing seems to happen, and the kid remarks that he missed. Cue kid splitting in half.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: Barbossa takes a few moments to realize that Jack didn't waste that last shot.
  • The guy who challenged Kyuzo to a duel first with sticks, then with swords in The Seven Samurai. Kikuchiyo's death could also qualify.
  • Spock's Heroic Sacrifice to repair the Enterprise in Wrath of Khan.
    McCoy: No! You'll flood the whole compartment!
    Kirk: He'll die!
    Scotty: Sir, he's dead already.
    McCoy: It's too late.
  • The titular character of the Rambo series describes the death of one of his fellow soldiers in First Blood this way to his commanding officer, after learning that exposure to Agent Orange gave him cancer. "Got himself killed in 'Nam, didn't even know it."
  • The Men Who Stare at Goats parodies this with the Dim-Mak, a technique which can supposedly kill a person with a simple touch... 20 years after it's been executed. At least, Lyn believes this
  • In D.O.A. (1950) Edmond O'Brien goes to a doctor when he feels ill, only to be told he's been poisoned, and that it's too late to do anything, leaving him a day or two to live. When he tells the doctor he has no idea how he was exposed the doctor tells him "I don't think you fully understand, Bigelow. You've been murdered."
  • A variation of this occurs in The World Is Not Enough. The anarchist Renard survived being shot in the head, but the bullet couldn't be removed, so it's only a matter of time before it kills him. The bullet also destroyed his ability to feel pain. The upshot is that he's impossible to intimidate, since he can't be hurt, and knows he's going to die anyway.
  • A variation that is actually used as a strategic ploy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015). Napoleon Solo entices the Big Bad, Victoria Vinciguerra into answering her ship's radio by telling her that he killed her husband and said husband died very ignominiously. She retaliates by explaining in detail how she's going to kill him and everyone he knows slowly and painfully. Solo replies by that simply by answering the radio signal and thus giving away her position, she inadvertently set every last piece of action into play and that a warhead that homed in on the signal will be with her before she can make it to shore. She looks up, and BOOM!
  • The Wolf of Wall Street uses a nonfatal variant when Jordan Belfort and Donnie Azoff take some years-old "Lemmon 714" Quaaludes and keep popping pills because they don't initially feel any effects. An hour and a half after taking the drugs, Jordan realises too late that he was Already Intoxicated — and since he took so many pills, the effects are so extreme that he abruptly starts losing control of his speech and motion.
    After fifteen years in storage, the Lemmons had developed a delayed fuse. It took ninety minutes for these little fuckers to kick in, but once they did, pow! I mean, I had skipped the tingle phase and went straight to the drool phase. These little bastards were so strong, I discovered a whole new phase: the cerebral palsy phase.
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: Exaggerated for laughs when the title character is shot through the head. He hears the shot, takes a full ten seconds to stare at the gunman, slowly takes his hat off, looks at the entry and exit holes, cheerfully says "Well, that ain't good", looks at his forehead in a hand mirror to confirm, and then finally drops.
  • In The Matrix, Agent Smith uses this trope to lampshade how bad-ass Trinity is supposed to be.
    Lieutenant: I think we can handle one little girl. I sent two units, they're bringing her down now.
    Agent Smith: No lieutenant, your men are already dead.
  • Cellular: Jessica stabs Mad Dog in the arm, which barely even hurts, and he mocks her. She informs him that she cut his brachial artery, and he bleeds to death in less than a minute.
  • The Sting: There's a variation when the crew is setting up their space as a phony horse track parlor. Kid Twist asks the man who's supplying the furniture to outfit the operation whether he'd rather take a flat rate or receive a share of the con's take. The supplier asks who the target of the con is, and when he's informed that it's Doyle Lonnigan, he looks Kid Twist in the eye and says "Flat. Rate."

  • In the Iranian tale of "What the Rose Did to the Cypress" Prince Almās-ruh-baksh cuts a man in two at the waist. He mutters something unintelligible, reaches for the prince and then collapses.

  • In Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium, this is the favorite tactic of the Bulrathi when fighting humans during the Vague War. They would strike the liver with a special move then let the prisoner go. The victim would feel perfectly fine for several days before the liver would suddenly fail, and the person would die. The main character ends up on the receiving end of this strike at the beginning, during his Training from Hell, but gets better. He later accidentally hits a guy the same way during an interrogation, but reasons that the guy probably deserves it. Several such attacks are described in the book against aliens. The Bulrathi themselves have a gland that, when punched hard, causes them to die of intense pleasure. There are also the unexplained "reflexive points" that can also be used to kill within seconds. The Bulrathi, being obsessed with hand-to-hand combat, also develop a technique for taking down a Silicoid (a hovering column of rock) with singing and a single punch. The main character is the first human to use this technique.
  • Gar Quithnick from Roger Zelazny's Forever After practices Tian-shi-sheqi, a martial art that demands that death be a summation of life, rather than a mere cessation. To that end, he employs the kuo-tak strike to set up a sort of psychic resonance that kills the victim upon experiencing a certain stimulus. With it, he causes a predator to die the instant it pounces, tells a deposed despot that he will die the moment he considers himself greater than another man (though he can still live a long life of humility), and even turns one enemy into a MacGuffin Delivery Service.
  • David Langford's fractal basilisks infect the human mind with an image it cannot process, producing this effect. In the short story "BLIT", a vandal is Hoist by His Own Petard when he accidentally looks at a stencil of "The Parrot" while using protective goggles (the cops who arrest him die instantly). The effect doesn't kick in until later, and can only be countered with strong drink to ensure short-term memory loss.
  • Jack Vance's The Demon Princes series has cluthe, a microbiological agent delivered by needle (usually fitted to a protective glove) which has a progressive paralytic effect. Essentially an extremely accelerated case of tetanus, except that you're dead in minutes instead of hours to days. The onset seems to be able to be varied, from instantaneous to something like twelve or more hours later.
  • In The Wheel of Time, the Death World of the Aiel Waste has a number of creatures that can inflict this, such as the "Two Step", an innocuous snake named for the time its venom takes to kill a human. Many of those same creatures are popular as snacks, which says something about the Aiel.
  • In the Humanx Commonwealth novel Mid-Flinx, Teal concludes her contemptuous tirade at the mercenaries' inability to survive the jungle by announcing that one of their party is already dead. Within moments, the native woman's words are proven true as the tuft of flowers one of the group has been wearing in her hair sprouts parasitic tendrils that spread rapidly throughout the wearer's body and reduce her to a lump of nurturing compost.
  • In The Clocks by Agatha Christie, Detective Inspector Hardcastle describes a fatal stabbing: "Don't suppose she even knew she'd been stabbed. People don't, you know. Remember that case of Barton in the Levitti Gang robbery? Walked the length of a street before he fell down dead. Just a sudden sharp pain—then you think you're all right again. But you're not. You're dead on your feet although you don't know it."
  • Discworld:
    • In The Colour of Magic, Rincewind stabs a troll. The troll realizes it's been stabbed, but doesn't realize it's been killed for a good fifteen seconds.
    • Referenced in Interesting Times, where The Dreaded Evil Chancellor Lord Hong is rumoured to keep his sword sharp enough to deliver a Clean Cut that a victim doesn't notice until they walk out of the room and their head falls off. A messenger has to deliver bad news, hears a rustle of movement, and spends a horrified moment checking his neck.
  • The Hedge Knight by George R. R. Martin. Prince Baelor feels strange after helping the protagonist win his Trial by Combat, and asks his fellow knights to help remove his helmet. That's when they discover that the back of his skull has been crushed, and the helmet was basically the only thing holding it together.
  • Midway through the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy, some Hirogen attack a Starfleet vessel that's searching for the Borg invasion route. The Alpha kills a Chelon with his bare hands, and another member of the security team promptly starts talking to his subordinate instead. When the Alpha protests, she explains that Chelons secrete a lethal contact poison in times of danger.
  • Roald Dahl's The Witches features a nonlethal version in the form of the witches' delayed-action mouse transformation potion. There's a chilling scene in the middle of the book when the Grand High Witch demonstrates the potion on an unwitting boy. Earlier in the day, she gave him a candy bar laced with the potion and promised to give him more candy if he met up with her at a specified time — which just so happens to be the time that the potion is to take effect. He arrives in the room full of witches, expecting more candy, but then he sees the strange women's excitement and slowly realizes that they're anticipating something he doesn't know about. Then the potion kicks in...
  • In the Lord Darcy novel Too Many Magicians, Sir James Zwinge is stabbed in the chest deeply enough to slice partway through the wall of his pulmonary artery. He collapses from the injury but doesn't actually die until Sean knocks on his door, at which time Zwinge's cry for help and attempt to unlock the door strain the artery wall until it ruptures.
  • Nibelungenlied: In some versions, Hildebrand slashes Kriemhild once with his sword. Nothing seems to happen, and she mocks him. He drops something on the floor and asks her to pick it up. When she bends over to do so, she splits in half at the waist.
  • In Ward, the villain March has a superpower that works this way. She can empower a blade (usually a rapier she carries), and whenever she slashes or stabs someone with it, the cuts explode violently after a short delay. Since her powers also include enhanced timing and precision, the explosion is nearly always in something vital and kills the victim in gory fashion.
  • Luke Skywalker sees a Noghri fighting a group of men in Specter Of The Past, by slapping each one on the chest and using that to propel himself to the next one. The slap initially doesn't seem to do much, which baffles both Luke and the gang, but about the time the Noghri reaches his third target, the first one collapses to the ground. The Noghri does switch to more recognisable attacks afterward, but the initial assault was so odd that it bought him several extra seconds while everyone tried to work out what was happening.
  • In Harry Potter, this was the point of the Bothrops-asper-venom-emulating curse Voldemort put on his uncle's ring. Even Snape's potion and countercurse work could only contain the necrosis for less than a year.
  • In The Heroes of Olympus, Nico says this verbatim to Bryce Lawrence before turning him into a ghost and banishing him to the underworld.
    Nico: You're already dead. You're a ghost with no tongue, no memory. You won't be sharing any secrets.
    Bryce: No! No, I am Bryce Lawrence! I'm alive!
    Nico: Who are you?

    Live-Action Television 
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the Season 2 episode "All Alone in the Night", Sheridan and a couple of Red Shirts are out flying in their Starfuries when they're attacked by an unknown alien ship. One of the Red Shirt Starfuries is destroyed, the other is damaged, and Sheridan is captured. After the aliens leave, Ramirez, the surviving Red Shirt, asks his onboard computer for a damage report, and learns that his ship's reactor is leaking radiation. He asks how long before it reaches lethal exposure, and the computer replies, "Radiation already at terminal levels." He's just barely able to fly back to the station and warn them before he expires.
    • In the series finale, "Sleeping in Light", Sheridan reaches the end of the 20 years of life that Lorien was able to give back to him after he died at Z'ha'dum. Sheridan feels his remaining time beginning to run out while he still has a few days left, so he meets with several of his surviving friends to say his goodbyes, then heads off into space one last time.
  • Blake's 7 has an example of this in the form of a gun which causes some sort of molecular instability or something. Victims are shot, but they will not die until the instability is triggered. At one point, a huge beast of some sort is shot and someone asks why it isn't dying. The scientist replies that he hasn't told it that it's dead yet.
  • In one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Scoobies (minus Buffy) are fighting a vampire. Spike gets in a few blows, then pulls back and lights up a cigarette. Giles, currently pinned to a fence by the vampire, calls out for help. Spike replies "I already did." We then see that Spike lit the vampire on fire already, and it just took a few seconds for the flames to grow. The vampire screams and turns to dust.
  • Chernobyl:
    • As a rule, anyone who receives radiation burns, especially on their face, is doomed to die shortly afterward from Acute Radiation Syndrome.
    • Shcherbina protests evacuating Pripyat because both he and Legasov are staying there themselves. Legasov bluntly says that yes they are, and they'll be dead in five years as a result. This floors Shcherbina, who had assumed that Legasov's willingness to stay meant that it was safe to, not that Legasov had already accepted an early death out of a sense of duty, and suddenly has to grapple with the notion himself.
  • Doctor Who: This happens to the victims of the Weeping Angels if they're sent far enough into the past. Subverted in that the victim lives out the remainder of their natural life; victims "live to death" in the past while the Angels feed on the days never lived in the present.
  • Season 3 of Eagleheart features an episode involving "lagging", the art of slicing a person in half in such a way that they don't immediately fall apart. In the final episode, Chris reveals that he had been lagging Brett/Satan for almost a year.
  • In Game of Thrones, Khal Drogo delivers this to Mago during their fight and giving a Badass Boast about what will happen after Mago is dead, just before cutting his throat open with his own weapon, reaching into the wound, and ripping his tongue out.
    Mago: First you have to kill me!
    Drogo: I already have.
  • In the Homicide: Life on the Street episode "Subway", a man is pushed into the path of a subway train and winds up lodged beneath the car from the waist down. Medics rush to the scene, but quickly realize there's nothing they can do to prevent him from bleeding out internally as soon as the train's weight is removed. Needless to say, the pinned man is not pleased with this prognosis.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Den-O I'm Born: Den-O Sword form and Kamen Rider Gaoh have one final showdown. After the two have an exchange of slashes, Gaoh suddenly starts being reduced to sand after a few moments.
    • Kamen Rider OOO: Three out of the six Greeed get this kind of death due to the Core Medal that gives them life only being cracked instead of immediately broken. The cracked Medal can't be fixed and always eventually shatters, but they can last anywhere from a few minutes to a day or so before that happens.
    • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: The title character's Hyper Mutekinote  form has a Finishing Move that strikes the opponent multiple times, seemingly with no effect... and then a few seconds later all those hits catch up with them and they get launched into the air like a rag doll. Ex-Aid even paraphrases the Trope Namer's catchphrase at one point.
      Ex-Aid: [after landing a Finishing Move] The game is already over.
    • Kamen Rider Build: A number of characters get this kind of death due to absorbing more Nebula Gas than their body can handle, meaning the shock of transforming or being knocked out of a transformation leads them to disintegrate after a minute or so.
    • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Geiz tries using a kick like Ex-Aid's above to defeat an opponent who reflects all attacks, hoping it won't register as an attack to the reflector. It doesn't work.
    • Kamen Rider Zero-One: The final showdown between Zero-One and Jin ends with the pair exchanging aerial Rider Kicks. They have just enough time for both to land and stand up before Jin's costume shatters and reveals that he's been fatally injured from the clash.
  • Used as a boast by a hitman in an episode of Kojak: The hitman says his target doesn't die when he pulls the trigger, but when he accepts the contract. Which makes things go awry when he misses a particular target: The attempted murder scared the victim into paying his debt to the contractor, who now wants to cancel the contract. In response, hitman mentions his boast and refuses to "resurrect" the victim for a personal reason he doesn't disclose. When the contractor threatens to ruin his reputation over it, the hitman kills him and sets out to complete the contract.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Light Brigade", a human fleet makes a last-ditch effort to destroy the reptilians against who they are waging a desperate (and losing) war. However, one of the crewmen aboard the flagship is The Mole, and the enemy ambushes the fleet, destroying all ships but the flagship. Only a few crewmen are left alive on the flagship. Each crewman has a patch on the chest that displays a color indicator, which detects the levels of radiation. The crewmembers are horrified to discover that the indicator is black, which signifies a lethal dose of radiation. They don't have long.
  • In Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, Kamdor, one of several major Big Bads, and Black Ranger Will charge at each other, and strike in passing. Will falls, and Kamdor, thinking he's won, turns to leave... and then goes kaflooey. Will pulls himself to his feet a little later.
  • An episode of Quincy, M.E. hinges on the killer using the "Dim Mak" quivering-palm technique — he can "program" his victim to die at a specific later time just by setting up vibrations in the victim's body.
  • In the Sherlock episode "The Sign of Three", Sherlock realises that someone in the building intends to commit murder, but once he figures out whom they intend to kill and how, he regretfully informs the living victim that they’ve already been murdered. Due to the method of murder, however (a thin blade unobtrusively inserted into the victim's torso through a tight belt), all the man has to do is not take his belt off to prevent bleeding out and to seek medical attention. He survives.
  • Stargate-verse:
    • One of Daniel Jackson's many, many deaths in Stargate SG-1 involves this. Pulling from the Real Life example of radiation poisoning below, Daniel is exposed to a very lethal dose of really bad radiation, and the rest of the episode is about knowing that he will die, basically no matter what anyone does.
    • Early on in the Stargate Universe episode "Alliances", Wray and Greer seek out the crashed Lucian Alliance ship in order to disarm the naquadria bomb set to destroy Washington D.C. The bodies they're in take a massive dose of radiation, so Senator Michaels and Dr. Covel, the owners of the bodies, are already dead. Once Senator Michaels learns that she is dead, she devotes her remaining time to learning to disarm the bomb so she can save the city.
  • The Tales from the Crypt episode "Forever Ambergris" centers on two combat photographers sent out to a Central American country hit with a weaponized virus, with one photographer ending up contracting it (as the other planned, as he wanted to kill the other out of jealousy over his photography skills and his smoking hot wife). Here's a free piece of advice if you ever come across that village like he does and the other photographer does courtesy of the dead man's wife getting payback: if you contract that virus, just say goodbye and shoot yourself then and there. There is no saving you.
  • Ultra Series:
    • In Ultraman Tiga, Tiga and Evil Tiga have a midair attack exchange. Tiga falls to his knees, causing Evil Tiga to turn and laugh before suddenly clutching his chest in pain and falling to the ground. While it doesn't kill him in the series, it gives Tiga the opportunity to finish him. In Ultraman Fighting Evolution 3, this is how he kills him, due to Tiga actually winning their Beam-O-War (and depleting Evil Tiga's remaining health) here, unlike in the show.
    • Ultraman X has a nonverbal example when Ultraman Zero has a clash between his Miracle Zero Sluggers and Alien Nackle Bandero's gun. Bandero gets cocky because he landed a blow on Zero, until he notices that there are openings in his shadow.
    • Ultraman Taiga sees a Single-Stroke Battle between Ultraman Fuma's Trenchant-Star Light Wave Shuriken and a sword used by an Alien Babalou. A couple seconds after their clash, Fuma says, "You were too slow!" as the alien dies to his attack.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: Xena has a move where she could cut off blood flow to a person's brain. It required precise strikes to the underside of the chin and could be reversed with a different series of nerve strikes. She mainly used it for interrogating Mooks, though, before her Heel–Face Turn, she used it more like this trope.
    Xena: I've cut off blood flow to your brain. You'll be dead in two minutes.
    Mook: ...What... do you want to know?
    Xena: Nothing. I just thought I'd tell you.

  • Claus "Leaether Strip" Larsen says this at the end of the vocal version of Decoded Feedback's Soultaker: "If you look into his eyes, you're already dead!"
  • Punk band Crass has a song titled You Are Already Dead.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • This can happen regularly in pro wrestling matches. The most common use is the "AJPW sell," wherein Wrestler B no-sells an attack, delivers one of his own to Wrestler A, and then sells the initial attack.
  • Three days after Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker's Casket Match at Royal Rumble '98, during which he landed back-first on a corner of the casket, Michaels couldn't get out of bed. That sparked his first retirement and contributed to his final retirement.
  • Receiving this became one of Ric Flair's signatures in the later parts of his career: he'd be backed into a corner and receive some sort of pummeling/squashing, only for his opponent to back away. He'd let out a WOOOO, take a couple of steps (usually strutting) as if nothing happened, then fall flat on his face. It's since become known as the "Flair Flop."

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • On David Cross's CD, Shut Up You (lift flap for dirty word) Baby! he launches into a long tirade mimicking the puffed-up threats rednecks make when they're about to start a fight:
    "I just take my eyelash, man, and then you fuckin' put it in your eye, and you're fuckin' dead, man, you're dead for an hour, you don't even know it, man. You'll be walkin' around, thinkin' you alive, but you been dead for an hour, man."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Chess and related games:
    • There are situations where no matter what you play, you cannot avoid being checkmated (or in Shatranj, having your King bared). There are also situations where you can only parry the immediate checkmate threat by allowing ruinous loss of material that will almost certainly leave you helpless against checkmate threats later on. This is where Know When to Fold 'Em comes into play; if you can see no way to salvage a draw, let alone a win, it is both sounder Metagame policy and better manners to simply resign and try to learn from your mistakes.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 1st, 3rd, & 5th Edition, this is basically what the monk's Quivering Palm does. Once per week, a high-level monk can declare an unarmed strike to be a Quivering Palm attack. Any time within the next several (at least fifteen) days, the monk can simply will the target to drop dead (although he gets a saving throw to survive). In 5e, they can use it whenever, but it costs 3 Ki, can only be used by Open Palm Monks, and they need to wait until the next turn to trigger it. However, even if the target makes the Constitution save, they still take 10d10 damage, which is absurdly powerful for an ability that only costs 3 ki.
    • In the Ravenloft setting, Ivan Dilisnya is a master poisoner who takes pride in his ability to secretly dose dinner guests with a toxin that won't kill them until after they've headed home and think they've gotten away from his mansion safely.
  • Pathfinder has a monster based on the Kamaitachi which resembles a flying weasel with sickle blades on its limbs. It has an ability called Delayed Doom which allows it to delay all the effects of a successful attack, including damage, bleeding and excruciating pain, until a time of its choosing within two weeks. It can set up and trigger any number of these delayed attacks at once, which can potentially result in a victim who appeared unharmed suddenly falling to pieces.
  • In the Feng Shui fan supplement Out For Blood, the fu power "Harmonious Fist" from the Path of the Harmonious Chord, a fu path for those adept in both Martial Arts and Sorcery, allows its user to launch a Martial Arts attack that doesn't deliver its damage until you make a Sorcery check, and among other things can be used to deliver many strikes that only take effect when the Sorcery check is made to activate them all. Omae wa mou shindeiru indeed.
  • The Ninjas And Super-Spies RPG from Palladium Books contains the dreaded Dim Mak technique. Only a few Martial arts allow you to learn it and one must be of the most evil (Diabolic) of alignment. A successful infliction of this technique destroys one's ability to recover the positive chi required for healing, leading to one slowly wasting away and dying from the incurable breakdown of the body over the following weeks. It can even be delivered with a finger poke where the victim never knows what happened, and an advanced version can even work (with more difficulty) through phone lines!
  • In Exalted, one of the iconic powers of the Solar Exalted is exactly this: Your attack connected but damage will only happen when you will it. It's learned as a thrown combat technique, but may be used with all other arts.
  • Magic: The Gathering's Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty set, which is based on Japanese history and culture, has a card literally named "You Are Already Dead." To invoke the trope, it kills one creature that has already taken non-lethal damage. The Japanese name of the card is indeed "Omae Wa Mou Shindeiru," a Shout-Out to the Trope Namer.
    • Before Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, and potentially combining this with Taking You with Me is the Deathtouch keyword, which makes it such that any creature that is dealt damage by a creature with this keyword will always take enough damage to die unless they have the Indestructible keyword.
  • A particularly time-extended version of this occurs in Warhammer 40,000 lore, when an Inquisitor inadvertently tries to speak to the bound daemon Cherubael. Cherubael's very first words to the Inquisitor are, "In my world, you are already dead," before explaining that he had fourteen more years to live until he would be shot by a traitor with his own gun.
  • Controlled Effect, a Stop Sign advantage to any attack power in Champions.

  • Older Than Steam: In Hamlet, Act V, Scene 2, Laertes pulls this on Hamlet:
    Laertes: Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good. In thee there is not half an hour of life. The treacherous instrument is in thy hand, unbated and envenom'd.

    Video Games 

  • In Anarchy Reigns, Zero's mutant execution attack involves slicing through a mutant's body, causing the arms to fall off: usually non-fatal, considering mutants can regenerate arms. Then Zero turns his back to the mutant, and the second he sheaths his swords, the mutant is cut in half and dies.
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney has the fourth case's victim die of atroquinine poisoning. When atroquinine is ingested, particularly in a lethal dose, it takes fifteen minutes for the effects to kick in and kill the victim. Another person in the same case ingests it, and this time it's the defendant, who collapses in the courtroom because throughout the court session she had been chewing on her nails; her nail polish, unbeknownst to her, had been laced with atroquinine. Fortunately, in the good ending, she subverts this trope because she didn't ingest enough to kill her, and she fully recovers the next day.
  • In the Battletech strategy RPG, you'll sometimes hear one of your pilots declare, "Target eliminated", even though the target is still standing. Then a second later, the targeted mech's ammo will cook off and the resulting explosion will finish the job. A rare unintentional example.
  • In BlazBlue, Taokaka's Astral Heat has her (intending) to finish the opponent after saying this, word for word. Considering the nature of the series, it is very likely that it's a Shout-Out.
    • Hakumen even has an achievement named this in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. Its objective is to deal 10,000 damage in one combo, which is such an absurdly high amount that if you're not dead, you're probably one good poke from dead (unless the opponent is also Hakumen or Tager, who are the only characters that can withstand such a combo at whopping 12,000 and 13,000 health respectively).
    • Makoto Nanaya's Astral Heat Planet Crusher is legit a Shout-Out in itself. She propels her forward with a dashing gut punch, followed by some Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs that would make Kenshiro and Jotaro proud, and finally uppercutting her opponent all the way to the Moon causing it to break apart into several pieces all while saying the trope word for word.
  • Bloons Tower Defense:
    • 4: Any glue gunner with the Corrosive glue upgrade will cause every bloon up to rainbow to eventually pop. Both 5 and 6 increase the Damage Over Time effect to be able to affect Ceramic and MOAB-class Bloons respectively.
    • 6:
      • Any Druid with the Druid of the Jungle upgrade will be able to ensnare any non-MOAB bloon with vines, destroying them completely.
      • The hero Psi use their mind to destroy the bloon from inside. Leveling them up will allow them to destroy more bloons a lot faster and destroy even MOAB class bloons apart from BADs and boss bloons.
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!: Athena possesses a skill that allows her to inflict a bleeding effect on enemies through melee damage, causing Damage Over Time. She also has another skill that causes enemies that die while bleeding to explode into red chunks, much like the Trope Namer. An Athena player could simply walk away from the poor schmuck and let the bleeding do its work for them.
  • Breakbar RPG: If you lose your regular ball but still have a ghost ball or a few left, if there are more lines of bricks than you have balls or if it's clear they have too much HP to be broken, face it, you've lost.
  • In Darkest Dungeon, this is a common tactic with Blight/Bleed heroes, by hitting an enemy with enough bleed or blight damage that it will kill the enemy in the next couple of turns, then moving on to the next target. Bleed and Blight can do the same thing to a hero on Death's Door, since it causes a Death Blow check like any other source of damage.
  • In Diablo III, the Monk class's skill Exploding Palm causes the target to explode if it is killed by Damage Over Time. Given that Diablo III is chock full of Shout Outs, the reference to Fist of the North Star was no doubt intentional. There is a Legendary item called "Gungdo Gear" that causes this explosion to apply Exploding Palm to every enemy in the wake of the first, which can if applied carefully, can lead to "You all are already dead".
  • Dragon Age: Origins has the Walking Bomb spell, which causes whatever it is cast on to explode after a set amount of time. Its upgrade, Virulent Walking Bomb, turns anyone else in the blast radius into bombs themselves.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has the Assassin's Mark of Death skill, which adds up all the damage the victim takes during a short period then deals an equal amount in one hit. The flavor text invokes this trope: "Trigger your mark when you are ready, and watch them fall from injuries they never even noticed."
  • Inverted in Dragonsphere, it was the one who announced it dies instead. It doesn't really help that you have an amulet which can only be invoked by a person who's already dead.
    "You don't even know how to hold a sword. You Are Already Dead!"
  • DotA has Zharvakko the Witch Doctor and his spell Maledict. It deals delayed damage based on how much hp the enemy has lost since the spell was cast and escaping from heavy damage becomes nigh-impossible. In DotA 2 he even has special responses when the enemy dies to the spell's last damage tick.
    Witch Doctor (finishing off an enemy with Maledict): "Wait for it… waaaait for it… "
    • In general, damage over time spells are like this if the victim cannot heal themselves in time. Special mention goes to Ancient Apparition and his ultimate, Ice Blast, which prevents all source of healing and immediately shatters the enemy if their health is below a certain percentage. If the affected target's health is low enough and they have no magic immunity or death-preventing effects like Dazzle's Shallow Grave, then they are truly already dead.
  • At least in cutscenes, Vergil's Signature Move in Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening involves Diagonal Cutting his opponent, then waiting several seconds before sheathing his katana (with an audible "click!") and only then, the enemy goes asunder. Three victims are subjected to this trick, but to slightly varying degrees:
    • When the Hell Vanguard that attacked Dante in Mission 2 retreated near Vergil on top of the tower, he impales the demon behind him without looking back, it froze in place, and then explodes after Vergil sheathed his katana.
    • Due to the delay, Beowulf actually managed to speak to Vergil before his head went in pieces.
    • Vergil also impales Arkham and pulls his sword out, but Arkham doesn't seem to react and starts yelling at him while Vergil slowly sheathes his sword. It's only when his sword is completely sheathed with a "click!" that Arkham screams in pain and falls over.
  • Devil May Cry 4: Continuing a trend from DMC3, Vergil performs a Diagonal Cut against the first Scarecrow that attacks him in his opening cutscene from the Special Edition. There doesn't seem to be any contact made with that Scarecrow because Vergil just performed a blinding-fast dash, but the moment he sheathes his katana and made a "click" sound, that Scarecrow promptly explodes.
  • One of the Nekomata's attacks in Disgaea 4 is a dead ringer for the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken. After delivering multiple blows, the opponent becomes irate and walks up. Cue the explosion about halfway there.
    • Made more obvious in Disgaea D2 where they rip health bars straight out of the Fist of the North Star fighting game whenever the attack is used.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Some syndromes can act like this; the game doesn't have generic poison, instead simulating various symptoms and effects depending on the toxin applied, and in many cases the effects are unstoppable. The most consistent examples are Giant Cave Spider bites if you're anything relatively small and alive (paralysis will set in and suffocate you), and Giant Desert Scorpions if you're anything with a nervous system (which will be subjected to unstoppable necrosis no matter the creature's size, and has little to no effect until it all rots off completely and the creature instantly dies about a day later). Procedurally-generated creatures can, of course, have any of these and more, and when killer effects are involved the dwarf in question will usually die with no chance of saving some time later.
  • EarthBound did this in an odd way. The heroes' health is tracked by an odometer-style rolling display that scrolls downward when damage is taken. Even if you take lethal damage, you won't die until it rolls down to zero, making it possible to survive if you get off a healing effect or finish the battle in time.
  • Reiji and Xiaomu in Endless Frontier when they perform their Shinra Banshou overdrive. After Reiji wails on the enemy with his guns and swords, Xiaomu finishes with a slash from her sword staff. As soon as she clicks it into her staff, the enemy gushes out blood in the air.
  • Fallout 3 features the Mole Rat Repellent Stick developed by Moira. A Mole Rat hit with this will start to smoke for a few seconds and then...POP. Moira's less than pleased with this outcome: she meant to make it non-lethal.
  • Fallout: New Vegas:
    • Stung by a Cazador. Started to feel woozy? Down some antidote, and fast. Out of antidote? Spam healing items, low on stimpacks? Say goodbye, the poison lasts half a minute... and stacks with each sting.
    • The GRA DLC exclusive Power Fist weapon "Two Step Goodbye" behaves in a manner very similar to Kenshiro, and not just because they're both in a post-apocalyptic setting. If you score a critical the enemy will explode a few seconds later. Oddly, there's also a weapon that's named for the aforementioned series, the Fist of the North Rawr, that sadly lacks this effect (it's a unique Deathclaw gauntlet that's otherwise called the "Fist of Rawr" if you don't have the Wild Wasteland trait).
    • Mr. House himself too, assuming that you just disconnected him from the New Vegas network, rather than killing him. This is due to the fact that even briefly exposing him to the outside air causes infections that will kill him in a year.
      • Additionally, non-lethally disconnecting Mr. House on behalf of Colonel Moore will also make him this trope, as Moore says she'll send someone to "finish the job" later.
  • In Fallout 4, if you're playing on Survival Mode, where Stimpaks heal much slower, and you get hit by a Mirelurk Queen's acid spray, even when in Power Armor, you're as good as dead, as it will drain your health to zero faster than the healing items can counteract it.
  • Doctrine Dark from Fighting EX Layernote , like just about everyone in the game, retains his Super Combos from the EX games. The Dark Shackle now has him saying "The... end!" in time with the deployment of the EXplosive which marks the attack's final hit.
  • The Final Fantasy series has the various spells and attacks that inflict the Doom or Condemned status effect. This places a countdown timer above the victim's head. When the timer hits zero, the character dies. Usually, the only way to avoid this fate is to win the battle before the timer hits zero.
    • Some enemies have a doom-like ability that is un-dispellable. Essentially, you're already dead, you've just been given a short grace period. This also appears in the Kingdom Hearts series.
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • The Air Anchor is a guaranteed hit that does no damage, but the next action the target takes - any action, including healing itself or just waiting - kills it instantly. It's also not a standard status effect, so it can't be dispelled. It's ineffective against zombie-type enemies though, as it's considered an instant-death attack (which zombies are immune to).
      • One boss has a move called "Cloudy Heaven", which inflicts a doom counter on all party members. Except this comes with a twist, it turns the character into a zombie (which is effectively dead). You can't dispel it if the character dies anyway they turn, and Reraise won't work.
    • Final Fantasy IX has a status effect known as Heat, which can be inflicted through Quina's Blue Magic attack "Mustard Bomb." How this works is that the afflicted will automatically KO if they take any action due to the intense heat surrounding them. If a character has already chosen their next move when they get inflicted with this status, they are pretty much doomed.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV, most primals have a phase consisting primarily of a DPS check. Be it Ifrit's nails, or Titan's heart - they all have in common that at the end of the phase, the primals become unattackable and unleash their ultimate attacks. Normally they only result in high, but survivable damage, however, the party failed to do sufficient damage, the attack will always prove fatal, giving you a few more seconds to live after Ifrit's nails disappeared, during which you can attack normally, even though in reality you are about to die.
    • The AI in Final Fantasy Tactics takes this trope literally. It will not attack a character with the doom status since they're going to die of it anyway.
  • Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage:
    • True to the series it's based on, Kenshiro can do this to mooks he performs a special maneuver on. Several such maneuvers can be performed on multiple mooks or even a mass of mooks at once, leading to much carnage among the enemy.
    • The equippable "Hokuto Wisdom" Skill can give this to any other character, including Mamiya, who uses weapons instead of the Hokuto and Nanto kung fu arts.
  • Fist of the North Star: Twin Blue Stars of Judgment gives Kenshiro two attacks with "the line." One is his Fatal KO, the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken. The other attack is the Zankai Ken, a Super that gives the opponent three seconds before being defeated. Just like in the original series, however, this attack doesn't work on Souther.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's:
    • In the first Five Nights at Freddy's game:
      • This applies to the door/light switches being disabled by Bonnie or Chica and you have the monitor up (keeping it down runs the risk of Foxy getting to you), or the power going out, unless you are near the end of your shift and luck is on your side.
      • If you have your camera screen up, and start hearing a sound like a dying man wheezing, don't lower that screen. Or do, at least you'll see it coming. On that note, if you hear a sound like the clopping of a horse's hooves sped up in your office, you are also very dead — it means Bonnie or Chica is inside your office, waiting to kill you next time you check your monitors.
      • If you run out of power, you might as well just take off your headphones and stop doing anything; you can still move around, and might win the night if you're really close to 6 AM and the RNG is being merciful, but for the most part you're just waiting for Freddy to stop playing Les Toreadors and jumpscare you already.
    • In Five Nights at Freddy's 2, the three above have been neutralized, but several, worse ones have been added.
      • Pop Goes the Weasel is the new You Done Messed Up anthem; if you're hearing it, that means you neglected to wind the Music Box for too long, and now the Puppet is loose and coming for you, and once it's out of its box, there's no way to stop it except to be right on the verge of 6 AM when it happens.
      • If Mangle makes it into your office, it becomes a matter of not if, but when you die. They hang around on the ceiling, watching for just the right moment to swoop in for the kill.
      • Keep an eye out for Balloon Boy. If he makes it in, he won't kill you, but he will render your flashlight useless. After that, it's only a matter of time before Foxy dives into your face (if the other animatronics don't get their hands on you, first).
      • If you see Toy Freddy or one of the old animatronics after lowering your camera screen (or if one of them yanks down said screen) and you don't put on your Freddy mask immediately, the next time you use either the mask or the camera will spell your doom. Unlike in the first game, there are no audio cues to notify you that an animatronic is about to kill you, so you may not even realize you reacted too late until you are dead.
    • In Five Nights at Freddy's 3, if you see Springtrap lurking just outside your office doorway, there's precious little you can do except keep your eye on him and pray that the ventilation system holds out until the end of your shift, because if it fails and you suffer a hallucination, no force on this green earth will save you. If you see Springtrap run past you while you have either control panel up, don't put them down...or do. As with the wheezing breathing in the first game, at least you'll see it coming. It can be averted if you see him staring at you through your office window. You can call up the camera and play an audio cue in a nearby room, and there's a chance he'll leave to follow it, as shown in Markiplier's Let's Play.
    • There are lots in Ultimate Custom Night, to go with the large cast. Toy Freddy's screen showing 'Game Over', Withered Chica being stuck in the vent, Mangle being on the ceiling, all of Foxy's parts being in your office, and Rockstar Foxy saying 'you win some, you lose some' all mean that a jumpscare is most definitely incoming.
    • Five Nights At Freddys VR Help Wanted: If Grimm Foxy escapes from Pirate's Cove during Night 2 and Night 3 of the "Danger! Keep Out!" levels, you're pretty much screwed since he runs extremely quickly towards the left door, completely ignores the barricades blocking it, and jumpscares you right away. While it IS technically possible to stop him with the hall light just before he reaches the door, the window to do so is incredibly small, making this method practically impossible for anybody who doesn't have godly reflexes.
  • In GoldenEye (1997), Perfect Dark, and Perfect Dark Zero, enemies killed with grenades or other explosives may stand still for a second before being Blown Across the Room.
  • Halo:
    • Sticking an enemy with any of the various sticky grenades in the games is a guaranteed kill, albeit not immediate. Some players will attempt to rush the grenade thrower to go out together in the explosion, while others will panic and run back towards their team in a futile search for assistance, resulting in the occasional Total Party Kill and a lot of swearing over comms.
    • Sticking enough needles on an enemy with the Needler will have the same effect. The needles themselves deal little damage, but they explode after a while. The damage of exploding needles is cumulative. Have enough needles on you and the explosion will be equivalent to a sticky grenade's one.
  • In Hitman (2016), the player can invoke this trope for the game's final mission. The target needs a heart transplant, and due to a rare medical condition, can only receive a heart from someone else with that medical condition. If you destroy the donor heart prepared for him, the hospital will be unable to find another in time, leading him to slowly wait for his heart to fail.
  • Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: Played with in the Reckoning state. During the Reckoning, the player character gives destiny the middle finger and tears apart his enemies' fates. Completing a command kill on a defeated enemy causes all defeated enemies to die spectacularly as their fates are literally shredded. To an outsider, it probably looks like the Fateless just killed a handful of creatures in the blink of an eye. Failing the command kill before Reckoning ends allows Fate to reassert itself and the enemies regain a bit of health (Fate has a lot of power in the KoA setting, but not enough to undo grievous bodily harm from a Fateless attacker).
  • League of Legends:
    • Zed's Death Mark ultimate has a debuff attached that triggers three seconds after the ult was cast, dealing damage based on how much damage Zed inflicted during those three seconds. If timed right, Zed can rush in, burst an enemy down, then let the Death Mark proc while he escapes to safety and they explode.
    • Similar to Zed, Vladimir throws a blast of virulent blood that will make enemies more vulnerable to all incoming damage, which will detonate after a while and healing Vlad accordingly.
    • Depending on how long the fight has gone on, Darius is perfectly capable of inflicting this as well via his passive Hemorrhage, which makes it such that every hit scored on an opponent will cause them to bleed, dealing damage over five seconds. Even worse news is that this passive stacks up to five times, increasing the amount of bleed damage done to the opponent over time, and if he maxes out the number of Hemorrhage stacks on the same opponent, his second passive Noxian Might will activate, giving him an attack buff and making it such that for the next five seconds, the next champion he hits will get five stacks of Hemorrhage, and the duration will be refreshed by another five seconds as long as he's hitting champions while under the effects of Noxian Might. This ties in with his Ultimate Noxian Guillotine, which does more damage for each Hemorrhage stack on an opponent; if he successfully executes an enemy champion with it, not only will he be temporarily able to re-cast Noxian Guillotine for free (unless he's already maxed it out, then in which case he'll be able to re-cast it without waiting for the lengthy cooldown so long as he successfully executes champions with it), he'll automatically enter Noxian Might if he hasn't already.
    • Just like Darius, Talon has a similar passive that makes enemy champions bleed after being marked three times with his damaging skills and then hitting them with a basic attack.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild:
    • Hitting an enemy with a fatal Ice Arrow shot won't kill it immediately. Instead, the enemy will be frozen and intangible until it thaws, at which point it will collapse and die.
    • An enemy under the effect of Stasis+ won't take damage as it is attacked. Rather, it takes all of the accumulated damage in quick succession after the effect wears off.
  • In LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, Gambit's superpower allows him to defeat enemies this way.
  • Loopmancer has the penultimate battle between the hero, Xiang Zixu, and the Cyber Ninja boss Hiroyuki Ogata ending in this manner; you deplete Hiroyuki's health, and the ending cutscene sees you slashing each other at the same time. Both of you holds a pose for several seconds, but then a trickle of red appears on Hiroyuki.
  • One of the Metal Gear Solid comics shows a High Frequency Blade-d guard's head slowly sliding apart in mid-sentence.
  • Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae has a gameplay mechanic where sheathing your katana makes glowing enemies bleed in fountains. This doesn't always kill them.
  • In Monster Hunter, if you get knocked into the air by an attack and lose your remaining HP as a result of the attack or while in the air (such as due to Fireblight or poison), you won't faint just yet; only when you try to get back up will it suddenly happen. If you can get someone else to heal you in the meantime, however, you'll get back up just fine.
  • Mortal Kombat: Deception: One of Li-Mei's fatalities involves this.
  • NetHack lets you do this accidentally to yourself. If you use a scroll of genocide on your normal race while polymorphed into something else, "you feel dead inside" and will die should you change back. If you quit, the death message is "quit while already on Charon's boat".
  • In New Horizons:
    • Captains can find themself fighting a whole group of people alone, without being able to run away or force them into chokepoints. They might as well save themself some time and reload.
    • Once ship has less than five percent of its HP left, it will begin to sink, automatically losing HP until they hit zero. Better finish the fight quickly or run away, or else...
    • To attack a town or board a ship, then seeing that crewmen are getting slaughtered like pigs, and an angry mob of defenders is now running towards, a simple reload of the last save should take players away from the trap.
  • Ninja Gaiden for the NES opened with this happening to Ryu Hayabusa's father in a removed Cut Scene.
  • Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and its North American counterpart Elite Beat Agents: On Insane difficulty, the lifebar drains very rapidly; if there is a lull in notes and your lifebar is in the "!" and especially the "!!" section, you're already toast.
  • Papers, Please, where it's more like You Are Already Arrested (but since arrest means a Game Over, it's the same thing in principle):
    • Early on in the game, EZIC gives you a massive gift of credits in hopes of winning over your loyalty. If you choose to accept it, then at the end of the next day, all of your money is confiscated due to your neighbor snitching on your suspicious spike in wealth. The day after that, EZIC then orders you to admit one of their agents if you want to have this matter cleared up. Refuse entry, and the game will let you play to the end of the game...and you'll be arrested on order from the Ministry of Information at the start of the next day, ending the game.
    • Later on in the game, your supervisior Dimitri orders you to admit Shae, an entrant who has incorrect paperwork, more specifically a diplomatic authorization that does not include authorization to enter Arstotzka. If you point this out when processing her paperwork, the Detain button shows up...and she warns that "I wouldn't do that." If you admit her or simply refuse entry, the game carries on as usual. If you detain her, the game will let you play to the end of the day...and the next day, an angry Dimitri makes up charges and has you arrested, ending the game.
  • Persona 5:
    • When using an All-Out Attack that wipes out the enemy party, the victims will freeze in place for a few seconds while the initiator of the attack begins performing a Victory Pose. When the pose is in place, a Gory Discretion Shot ensues that shows the enemies' silhouettes erupting into a spray of blood.
    • For Yusuke's follow-up attack, he unsheathes his sword and slices through the foe. He then turns his back to the target and sheathes his blade, the target immediately expiring when the sword audibly clicks into place.
    • Okumura's death reveals this is the case for mental shutdowns. If someone's Shadow is destroyed, that's it: a short time later, the recipient lapses into a vegetative state for which there's no known cure, or even dies if the shock is too great.
  • Pokémon:
    • The franchise has a variation of this in the move "Perish Song". Once it's used, both the user and the target will faint after three turns. Unlike a lot of examples of this trope, there is a way out for the hapless victims of the move: switching them out for another Pokémon. But if you can't do that for some reason (last remaining Pokémon or under the Arena Trap/Shadow Tag ability), you're screwed.
      • In Sword and Shield, an ability was introduced called Perish Body, which triggers the effect of Perish Song on the user and another Pokemon when they make contact with the user. Mercifully, it can be avoided by using non-contact moves (or the Protective Pads Item or the Rowlet Line's signature ability Long Reach) and is exclusive to Cursola.
    • Pokémon has a number of timed-delayed attacks, and they're usually quite powerful to compensate. Doom Desire, Future Sight, Phantom Force and its big brother Shadow Force, and Sky Attack all take a turn to actually inflict damage, but they're almost all unblockable by the likes of Protect/Detect, and the recipient WILL feel it. "Badly Poisoned" does progressively more Damage Over Time as it stays applied: pretty soon, it'll outrun any attempts at healing. A non-lethal variant appears in the move Yawn: on the turn it's used, it does nothing. At the end of the following turn, however, the recipient dozes off, leaving it at the mercy of its foe.
    • In Pokemon Emerald and Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, it's possible to reduce your last Pokémon's HP to 0 outside of battle using an item that reduces its max-HP stat. Nothing will happen at first, but once you get into a battle, you'll white out after one round unless you revive the fainted mon.
  • This regularly happens in Puyo Puyo matches. You have those big scary symbols at the top representing tens or hundreds of garbage Puyo that will come down after you place the next piece, and no chain of your own ready to offset it with. All you can do is hold down on the joystick/D-pad/keyboard and accept your loss.
  • Getting bitten by a zombie in Project Zomboid will infect you, causing various nasty symptoms and a steady loss of health. There is no cure; your character will die and rise again as a new zombie after a few in-game days at maximum. Getting scrached by a zombie only has a small chance of resulting in the same, but if you start showing symptoms of the infection a few hours after fighting one, then this trope still applies.
  • In a really wrong way, [PROTOTYPE] makes it impossible to let someone go after grabbing them without killing them. So they are pretty much dead once you get your hands on them.
    • In [PROTOTYPE 2] has the BioBomb. Where you insert into a victim a variation of the virus that incubates for a short time, enough to leave the scene, before exploding them into a mass of tentacles impaling everything near him.
  • The NoMoment sword tech and Fist fighting tech in Sa Ga Frontier.
  • Ukyo Tachibana from the Samurai Shodown series inflicts something like this as his special and his finisher. He runs up to his opponent, walks "through" him or her a few times, stops behind him or her, twirls and sheaths his sword... and one torso is no longer attached to its legs.
  • At the beginning of Shadow's story in Sonic '06, Shadow briefly pulls this with several robots by simply running through/by them.
  • In Shinobi (2002) and its sequel Nightshade (2003), Hotsuma and Hibana, respectively, can attack multiple enemies in a chain, and after the chain attack is completed, they all fall to pieces. This is actually a gameplay mechanic: Each successive kill in the chain boosts the damage of your attacks while it's active, and ending an enemy encounter with a sufficiently long chain attack rewards you with a mini cutscene and double yin orbs.
  • Spore:
    • Creature Stage. If the other creature is down to five or fewer hit points and you hit it with +5 spit (you need the "Porcupain" part to do this) or have all of your pack target the creature with Spit, the other creature fights on a few seconds before the poison takes effect.
    • If you kill the specified amount of creatures to "Extinct" them, all surviving members will float up and evaporate in a cloud of sparkles, even if they were still fighting.
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, Dr. M is introduced by speaking cordially with a lackey named Richards, asking about his family. He then reveals, in the same casual tone, that he poisoned Richards' drink during lunch for failing to update the security code when they installed the new systems.
    Richards: I'll improve! I swear!
    Dr. M: No, you'll die. Any second now...
    Richards: [Gasps before keeling over dead.]
  • Gen from Street Fighter Alpha 2, whose martial art style is classified as an "assassination fist" like Kenshiro's, has a Super Combo called Shitenshuu or the "Death Point Attack". When Gen performs the Lv. 3 version on his opponent, it will cause a timer to appear above their head, which will cause an instant K.O. Unlike other examples, the effect can be canceled if the opponent manages to strike Gen before the countdown reaches zero. His other Super Combo, Zan Ei is a lesser version of this. He dashes forward hitting his opponent once, but after the pass, the opponent receives multiple mysterious hits. His Zetsumei Ultra Combo in Street Fighter IV is a more elaborate Zan Ei, with four quick silhouetted strikes, a Badass Boast, and then his opponent gets hit a bunch of times.
  • Touhou Project:
    • In the fighting game spin-offs, one of Reimu's ultimate spellcards requires you to hit the opponent six times, and a few seconds after you did that, she will release a huge wave of Ofuda strong enough to finish the round in one hit. The name of the spellcard? Musou Tensei, translated as Fantasy Heaven. And if you use it in the final round of a fight, a remix of Mystic Oriental Love Consultation will play, which sounds awfully familiar...Explanation
    • Youmu can also literally dodge it AND take down Reimu with precise timing of one of her ultimates. Nearly impossible to pull off, but it can be done.
  • The Oracles of Tree of Savior have a skill called Death Sentence which will instantly kill a target after a period of time.
  • Trove: The Ice Sage's ultimate "The Big Chill" inflicts a unique status that, in addition to rendering enemies completely unable to move or act, delays all damage dealt to them until the effect expires. This means you can "kill" an enemy many times over while they're frozen, then walk away, and they'll spontaneously explode when they thaw.
  • A common tactic among feral druids in World of Warcraft is to land your bleed attacks when the opponent is fairly low on health (40%) and instantly move to another target, knowing your original foe will die in seconds.
    • Independent of player attacks, there's a comical version of this in the death animation of the Tenders (small walking trees inhabiting the Eversong Woods). When defeated, a tender looks briefly confused, then glances down to find that its body has been sliced clean through on a diagonal. It looks up in disbelief as its top half slides sideways off the bottom half, and collapses.
    • An interesting example was the now removed Curse of Doom warlocks could use, as a reference to the Doom spell from Warcraft 3, below. Curse of Doom was a unique damage over time effect, instead of many weak hits over time, it would inflict a single, very powerful (but not necessarily a One-Hit KO) hit... after a whole minute. It also had a chance (sadly small) to summon a powerful Doomguard for the Warlock to enslave and control. The spell was firmly Awesome, but Impractical, as the Doomguard would not spawn unless the victim died from the Curse's damage and not before, which required waiting a whole minute (most enemies die in seconds, and for the ones that don't, you usually needed to cast something more practical than Curse of Doom anyways). Even in the unlikely event the demon was summoned, it was still hard to control (as it could turn on its master at a moment's notice) and was not powerful enough to be worth it. The new Doom is a more standard damage over time spell (although there are still more gaps in it than in most spells of the sort, it only damages every fifteen seconds) and summons imps instead of a Doomguard (which has become summonable with its own separate spell).
    • With the advent of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, and the inclusion of the Monk class, comes the Touch of Death skill exclusive to Windwalker monks. The victim suffers half the attacker's health pool in damage following a short period after a single animated strike; timed correctly, the monk can use this skill, cease attacking, and walk away in true Fist Of The North Star fashion before the victim keels over dead.
    • WarCraft III has the Pit Lord hero's ultimate spell, appropriately titled Doom. Doom deals severe damage over time to a unit and cannot be dispelled or canceled in any way - if a unit is afflicted with Doom, it will inevitably die. To add insult to injury, a powerful demon spawns from its corpse when it dies, under the Pit Lord's command.
  • This was added to the already-significant selection of anime-tropes in the fourth Way of the Samurai game.
    • A Super Mode, poetically dubbed 'Spring Harvest', allows you to slice rapidly through surrounding enemies for a few seconds, leaving them staggering in your wake... until you end the massacre by dramatically sheathing your sword, and they all collapse in fountains of High-Pressure Blood the moment the guard clicks against the sheath.
    • You can also do it with unarmed attacks, in which case you just finish with a dramatic flourish - though sadly, this does NOT make your enemies explode instead...
    • Used for the death-scenes of some major characters - when killed, they simply drop to one knee and then get a final scene where they stagger to their feet and keep going for a few seconds before collapsing with a dramatic line on their lips.
  • Name-dropped in Unreal Tournament. When you select the Inhuman difficulty level for the Practice Session, the text under the difficulty level combo box literally reads this.
  • Evie's Drain attacks in Vindictus have this effect, particularly the Mark of Death and Bloody Thread attacks. You can hit an enemy with a smash and then hit them with the Drain attack, which you can then explode later for extra damage.
  • SCP: Secret Laboratory: Take more than two pieces of candy from SCP-330, and your hands will be severed. This makes you unable to use items or access your inventory, and slowly draining your health. At most, you will have 15 seconds to live.

    Web Animation 
  • This animation by Adan, which shows this technique being used by a Dungeons & Dragons monk class character through a high-five.
    • The battle between Jotaro Kujo and Kenshiro ends this way. Partway through the fight, Kenshiro manages to tag Jotaro in a pressure point... and right at the end, he tells Jotaro the trope-naming line. This is followed by a "Nani?" by Jotaro who then explodes.
    • In Batman vs Iron Man, at the tail end of the fight Tony Stark reveals that he snuck the Model 58 Nano Armor into Bruce Wayne's bloodstream back in the Watchtower, when Tony's suit attacked and grabbed Bruce by the face. Tony commands the suit that had formed around Bruce to self-destruct, stripping Bruce to the bone.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja used this trope along with Diagonal Cut against ninja mooks in the first Franz Rayner arc.
    Dr. McNinja: Aaaaand the split...
  • EarthBound webcomic The Chosen Four subverted this in a very funny way, doing a Shout-Out to Fist of the North Star. The Hero Ness is lost inside a dungeon and getting angrier, more upset and more frustrated every second. A Mook tries to harass him, and he replies by telling "No. YOU listen. You are already dead", suddenly looking right like Kenshiro. It is subverted because Ness had not actually done anything -yet-, but the Mook got so scared -wondering if he was dead and he was now a ghost- that he answered Ness' question.
  • Aldran does this in this anti-HEROES comic by magically force-feeding an opponent some "berries".
    Evil Druid: While I appreciate the snack [cough], you didn't have to shove 'em down my throat!
    Aldran: Actually, I did. See if I had given you the time to actually taste them, you might have noticed that not all of them were, in fact, berries.
    Evil Druid: ...What the hell did you just feed me?
    Aldran: Are you familiar with the spell "Delayed Blast Fireball"?
    Evil Druid: ...Oh Gods.
    Aldran: And sadly, I don't think you get a reflex save in this kind of situation.
  • Given the author's tendency to use and abuse shout outs for fun and profit, MS Paint Masterpieces uses this as a deliberate reference to Fist of the North Star.
  • Parodied in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things with a cameo appearance by Kenshiro himself. "You are already fed."
    Assessor: I'm not sure how I'm supposed to score that.
  • Played for laughs in this Nerf NOW!! comic, where Kenshiro performs his technique on a Left 4 Dead zombie.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Inverted in the "Sister" arc: When Ellen, convinced she'll die within a month, faces down the Goo, she tells it she isn't scared because you can't scare the dead.
    • In a much later arc, Melissa plants herself between a monster and a downed Elliot and screams for Noah's help. A few seconds later, she tells the monster "You were dead the moment I screamed."

    Web Original 
  • Episode 18 of Yu Yu Hakusho Abridged has this example:
    Seiryu: Hm. Seems you're pretty fast... but not fast enough.
    Hiei: Oh really? You have no idea how fast I am.
    Seiryu: Oh yeah, smartass? Then how fast are you?
    Hiei: You really want to know?
    Seiryu: Enlighten me.
    Hiei: You sure you want to know?
    Seiryu: Yes I'm sure!
    Hiei: Positive?
    Seiryu: Positive!
    Hiei: Absolutely sure?
    Seiryu: Yes, goddammit!
    Hiei: You've been dead for twenty seconds.
    Seiryu: AhhhhAHHHHHH!!!
  • This happens twice to Axem Yellow in Super Mario Bros. Z, first it took him several seconds to realize that, after an attempted attack on Mecha Sonic, his axe had fallen apart. Later, Mecha Sonic spin-dashes him. Five seconds later, he splits in half. Both halves explode.
  • Avatar: The Abridged Series did a Fist of the North Star parody, complete with the line.
  • Atop the Fourth Wall gave us Pollo's Heroic Sacrifice to repair Comicron-1's engines after Mechakara's latest attempt at domination. This was a direct Shout-Out to Spock's death in Wrath of Khan.
  • SCP Foundation: SCP-023, the Black Shuck. Looking at it in the eye, or any other eyes it spawns elsewhere, will cause your innards to be completely incinerated exactly one year after you break eye contact, if it doesn't kill someone in your family instead.
    • There's also SCP-096. It's usually docile, unless someone looks at its face, at which point it freaks out and kills them. It cannot be stopped from doing so, meaning that the poor victim is instantly doomed. Photographs count. One time, the Foundation had someone look at a photo of it while in a submarine at the bottom of an oceanic trench. It bought the guy about forty minutes.
  • In one episode of Tales From My D&D Campaign, Angel is listening to a mysterious possible enemy discussing the situation with his comrades, and hears them determine that should the "raj" engage the party, he will die, but will in return kill 1.5 party members. Not precisely an example of this trope, but the effects it had on the PCs were quite similar.
  • Jojo's Dank Adventures did a Jojo meme compilation, where Joseph predicts what Kenshiro is going to say next ("Omae wa mou shinderu") before defeating him. Starting about 1:13 or so.
  • The Animutation ''HOLY SHIT! NINJAS!!!!! has this among the ninja tropes in the video. The scrolling text at the end can't hide how awesome he found that move.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged brings the Trope Namer to the #CellGames to fight Perfect Cell so he... can see if he's made out of bug meat. He then proceeds to deliver the Hokuto Hyakuretsu Ken, deliver the line... and cause Cell to explode. Of course, it's a Good Thing He Can Heal, because we get this wonderful sequence.
    Cell: [regenerating] AH! CHRIST! Did anyone ever tell you you're already an asshole!?
    Kenshiro: [pointing at Cell's severed arm on the ground] Are you going to... eat that?
    Cell: No! No, I am not!
    Kenshiro: Well, may I?
    Cell: [seething with anger] Sure. Make it your last meal. Because after that, you're dead!
    Kenshiro: No, You are. Already. Again. [Cell blows up again]
  • Episode 9 of Hellsing Ultimate Abridged has Yumi slash Walter several times with her katana, like in canon. Unfortunately, like in canon, she winds up dying instead.
    Yumi: Omae wa mou shinderu. (You are already dead.)
    Walter: Hai, omae da... de mo watashi wa? (I know you are... but what am I?)
  • The Trope Namer is parodied by this Crapshot.

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons: Parodied in "Yosemite Samurai" with Bugs disguised as a samurai pretends to do the delayed slash technique against Yosemite Sam and has him believe that he has already died.

    Real Life 
  • The whole "a cockroach can live for a week without a head" trivia. Technically, decapitating the insect doesn't kill it, as it has a decentralized nervous system, breathes with holes in its abdomen, and no blood pressure to bleed to death. However, without a mouth, it can't eat or drink, and thus eventually dies of hunger and thirst.
  • A tactic of some predators for taking down large prey is to pounce on their victim, severely wound a vital region, and then let the prey escape. The prey animal manages to run away from the predator but succumbs to its injuries much later, and the predator simply follows the scent trail left by the wounded victim in order to find its dinner. Such a tactic is most commonly employed by some venomous snakes, who bite small animals, such as rodents, then release the victims (which is a wise choice for the snakes, as struggling prey can try to fight back and injure them). As the venom takes a while to take effect, the animals are still able to run for a good distance before collapsing: fortunately for the snakes, their well-developed senses of smell help them track down their downed prey.
    • This includes humans (prior to the advent of firearms), as they would inflict injuries - sometimes grievous ones - on prey and then utilize our status as a Super-Persistent Predator to keep pushing the prey to the point of exhaustion or outright death.
  • Frequently in boxing and kickboxing, a strike to the point of the liver has a delayed reaction. The struck fighter often feels nothing at all for two or three seconds - and then collapses. An example from Mirko CroCop.
  • Also a common response to a Groin Attack when in a pressure situation; In the right circumstances, you won't realize you have been hit there by a kick hard until some time has passed. Typically, it's just a few seconds, but sometimes it can stretch to a full minute before the opponent falls to the ground, writhing in pain.
  • A lighter example is smashing your toe. You'll feel the impact, but the real pain hits you in a wave a second or two later.
    • Similarly, a severe cut with a sharp enough blade will often be painless initially because it cleanly severs the nerve endings. The pain doesn't come until a while later as the cut starts to heal. Microtome blades for taking microscopic samples (one of the closest things reality has to a blade Sharpened to a Single Atom) are infamous for this kind of cut, going straight through the glove and only being noticed by the thin trail of blood. This can also often be observed with ordinary papercuts; the pain comes later, when salt from the environment or your own sweat gets into the cut, or after your immune system moves in to inflame the area to help it get rid of any pesky bacteria that might have slipped in.
    • Same if you're scratched by a cat. Its clawing may be painless or nearly so at first… until seconds later, when you see blood where it cut you accompanied by pain.
  • Though not necessarily a fatal instance, an adrenaline rush running as a result of or alongside some physical incident can have the side effect of deferring pain. As a result, one could be experiencing anything from a sprained ankle to much worse and not realize it, carry out various tasks, and only experience the intense pain of the incident itself much later. Often happens with car or motorcycle accident victims, who may even walk out of the wreck and then collapse to the ground, or be calm when they're taken over by paramedics, only to howl in pain later, when the shock of the accident wears off and pain begins. It's sometimes consciously exploited by soldiers on the battlefield or in similar instances (firefighters in a disaster) when the man involved may still do his job deferring pain, to collapse afterwards.
  • Crush Syndrome. Caused by myoglobin getting into the bloodstream from muscle breakdown due to trauma and playing merry hell with the kidneys, it's experienced by people who are rescued after being crushed or buried under a heavy weight; they appear completely normal at first, but start losing renal function over the next days; it can be severe enough to mean a complete loss of renal function.
  • Can happen with heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest victims. If the heart somehow goes into an arrythmia that effectively causes blood circulation to cease, like ventricular fibrillation, it could take up to 30 seconds for hypoxia of the brain to cause the victim to lose consciousness. (And that's 30 less seconds of time to try to save them. Since, when it comes to CPR and ACLS, every second counts.)
  • Secondary drowning, which is pulmonary edema (the lungs getting filled with liquid) sometime after the inhalation of fluid. Over time, fluids in the lungs can impair their ability to breath, and can be fatal if left untreated.
  • Acute Radiation Syndrome: Take a high enough dose of hard radiation and you're guaranteed to die rather suddenly... in about three days. There's even what's known as the "walking ghost" phase; after the exposure, there are no direct symptoms and you feel fine for up to a day. What is happening is it takes time for things to die, and they're normally replaced, but those replacements aren't happening now, as your bone marrow is dead. And if you see critical fissionable material, such as the molten reactor core in the ruins of Chernobyl, you've already received a lethal dose of gamma rays.
    • The Demon Core took the lives of Harry Daghlian and Louis Slotin in seperate incidents. Those witnessing the incident involving Slotin who were in the room with him at the time reported a blue flash of light and a wave of heat, after which he said, "Well, that does it." He died 9 days later.
  • Ricin, one of the deadliest non-radioactive poisons (it prevents protein synthesis), has a similar delayed sudden death effect of about two to five days.
  • Dimethyl mercury. Exposure to a drop the size of the head of a pin on a gloved hand for a matter of seconds is inevitably fatal... but only months later and after further months of agonizing pain and debilitating neurological symptoms. You don't want to be anywhere near the stuff.
  • Being fatally shot doesn't always kill people outright. Considering being shot feels a lot like being punched really hard, it's entirely possible you wouldn't realize you're dying until it all goes black.
  • Shallow water blackout. Don't hyperventilate before breath-hold diving. Hyperventilating increases the rate where the body takes in oxygen, and someone who stops it immediately/abruptly by holding their breath can cause the person to pass-out. After this, the body reacts and tries to breath, which when underwater will cause drowning.
  • If your hard drive starts clicking, it's already dead.
  • Cerebral edema, which sometimes develops in the wake of a head injury, can cause compression of the medulla oblongata and abrupt cessation of breathing. This is why doctors don't let patients who've suffered a blow to the head leave the ER and go home by themselves, as undetected brain swelling can cause the victim to drop in their tracks without warning.
  • Epidural hemorrhage: You get hit in the head, get confused for a few minutes, recover completely, and then six to eight hours later, you collapse.
  • Acetaminophen (aka Paracetamol and Tylenol) overdose, which works by causing large amounts of a toxic metabolite called N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI) to build up in the liver. Normally, the liver should be able to immediately detoxify this compound by metabolising it again, but if the liver is overwhelmed by an overdose of acetaminophen, it is unable to carry out this process, and the accumulating NAPQI eventually results in critical liver damage that enters acute liver failure. A sizeable number of suicide victims have attempted to kill themselves by overdosing on Paracetamol/Tylenol tablets, only to find that instead of dying quickly, they are subject to an extremely painful death that takes several days to finally take them. This horrific experience can, ironically enough, save lives, as depending on the size of the overdose, this delay enables victims who reconsidered their actions to make it to hospital and be treated. The only treatment if the poisoning is caught too late is to receive a liver transplant, though many people who would have survived have unfortunately died because no transplant was available for them.
  • Burn victims are sometimes this. They are still "alive", but if burned bad enough over too great an area, they're basically roasted humans and there is nothing that can be done for them (the amount of skin/flesh grafting that has to be done quickly would kill them anyway). They feel no pain (nerves are burned/gone), they can't move, speak or do anything (muscles melted) but, still conscious, wait for the end.
  • Irukandji syndrome. According to The Other Wiki the initial sting may go unnoticed, or feel like little more than a mosquito bite. Some 20-30 minutes later, though... well, it won't kill you most of the time, but the sheer amount of pain will make you beg for death.
  • Any form of Aortic Rupture is this the majority of the time. The Aorta is the largest artery in the body, where nearly all blood flows through from the heart. As such, rupturing this artery, whether through illness, injury, or trauma (e.g. a stab or bullet wound), is highly fatal and will cause death within minutes. And because the aorta’s blood pressure is naturally higher than the rest of the body, it's nigh-impossible to stop the bleeding, much less if it's internal. Victims rarely survive this injury, even if they make it to the hospital alive, with a fatality rate of 90%. Relatedly, there is a serious and potentially fatal condition known as an aortic dissection, which started garnering attention in 2003 when one claimed the life of actor John Ritter and, a little less than two decades later, from the death of mangaka Kentaro Miura in 2021. The symptoms can be confused with other more common events like a heart attack or stroke, meaning the correct diagnosis may come too late. As described by the Mayo Clinic:
    An aortic dissection is a serious condition in which the inner layer of the aorta, the large blood vessel branching off the heart, tears. Blood surges through the tear, causing the inner and middle layers of the aorta to separate.
  • As mentioned in the Homicide: Life on the Street example, people caught between trains and the platform like that can survive as long as the train is keeping them in place. The train is keeping all of their bodily organs in their upper body. They can live for several hours and stay alive long enough to have full conversations with their loved ones. The second the train moves, all their internal organs come spilling out, killing them.
  • Prolonged starvation can leave a body so fragile that eating food can, in itself, be fatal. Filling the stomach only causes blood flow to shift to the digestive tract, denying it to other organs too weak to endure the loss. Only intravenous nutrition and tiny mouthfuls of liquids can ease such a person back from the brink; if neither option is possible, they're Already Dead. Additionally, food has a thermogenic effect; it requires energy to process food before the food can be used as energy. Overfeeding a starving person whose body has shut down a lot of digestive functions puts an enormous energy strain on them.
    • This actually happened to some Holocaust victims shortly after being released from concentration camps. Doctors treating the survivors found that those who restrained the amount of food they ate after being freed, starting off with very small amounts and increasing their intake over time, fared better than those who ate to excess. Through studying the biochemistry of the survivors (as well as those unfortunate enough to die afterwards), it was found that rapidly refeeding oneself triggers a condition called refeeding syndrome, a metabolic disturbance that serves as a further risk to people who have gone without food for a long time, as during starvation, the body uses up most of its electrolytes - particularly potassium, magnesium and phosphate - though the amounts in the blood stay relatively normal. As the body has adjusted itself to chronically low nutrient levels by using up its fat and protein reserves, it can't cope with such a huge amount of nutrients added all at once, and the body's typical response of using insulin to store sugar also causes massive quantities of the remaining electrolytes to be pulled out of the bloodstream and shoved into the body's cells. Without enough electrolytes to go around, the nervous system begins to fail, and death typically occurs as a result of the heart undergoing lethal arrhythmias, with heart failure, convulsions, and coma also being potential ways of meeting one's end. Fortunately, prompt administering of electrolytes and a reduction, then gradual increase of calorific intake can save victims of this condition if it is caught fast enough.
  • SIRS (systemic inflammatory response syndrome) and its big brother MODS (multiple organ dysfunction syndrome) describe a state where a stress (sepsis, blood loss, hypoxia, etc) causes extensive tissue damage to multiple organ systems. The heart and brain may be alive and might survive the inciting incident, but if the tissue damage to those other organs is irreparable, the death spiral begins. Because the body has a stereotyped inflammatory reaction to these stresses, the pathophysiology is the same regardless of the cause. More at The Other Wiki.
  • A ruptured spleen can feel like nothing worse than a bellyache, at least until you've bled out so severely that you turn gray and keel over.
  • One of several potentially lethal species of Cone snails, Conus geographicus, is known as the "cigarette snail"- those unfortunate enough to pick up one of these pretty shells with an occupant are said to have just enough time left to smoke a cigarette before the snail's cocktail of toxins turns off their entire nervous system. There is no antidote, but some victims have survived by being placed on heart-surgery level life support until the toxin wears off.
  • Rabies. By the time one starts showing any symptoms at all, the virus has already made it to the brain, at which point there is next to no chance of survival. Only a handful of people have ever reached that stage and lived to speak of it, and only after receiving an experimental treatment called the Milwaukee Protocol, which involves an induced coma. Even then the survival rate was only 4 out of a little over 30 attempted cases, 3 of whom came out with permanent brain damage.note 
  • The "Destroying Angel" mushrooms in the genus Amanita. It prevents RNA replication, and like radiation poisoning, there is a "walking ghost" phase (after gastrointestinal symptoms) where you feel fine as it turns off your liver and kidneys. Treatment is possible if it's caught in time, but Amanitas are responsible for most mushroom deaths.
  • Something resembling a "five-point palm exploding heart technique" is theoretically possible. A strong blow to the area of the chest in front of the heart (precordium) during the small period in which the heart is highly sensitive to mechanical or electrical disruption can induce ventricular fibrillation, which produces light-headedness followed quickly by unconsciousness and shortly thereafter death unless immediate medical attention is provided. This is called Commotio cordis and does happen on occasion to young athletes, especially children, such as when they are struck in the chest by baseballs; this is also the condition that caused American football player Damar Hamlin to suffer a cardiac arrest mid-gamenote . An elevated heart rate provides more opportunities for a fatal disruption to occur. However, the window of vulnerability is so fleeting (on the order of a few tens of milliseconds) that doing this intentionally to a person without them being hooked up to a heart monitor (and knowing precisely when during the cardiac cycle to time the blow) would be functionally impossible unless they just happened to hit it perfectly by sheer dumb luck (which is why every documented case in history has been accidental).
    • Ironically, one way to stop the heart from beating in a dangerous rhythm is the precordial thump; like commotio cordis, it relies on the chest being struck at the right point and time to jolt the heart back to a regular beat; as this treatment risks causing commotio cordis itself (if not being used as a method to actually treat the former), it should only be performed by medical professionals.
  • Leaving an injury untreated could result in an embolism later.
  • The whole point of murder by poison is that the victim dies sometime after the deed is technically done.
  • Similar but not always deadly: certain psychoactive drugs don't immediately take effect, in which case You Are Already Intoxicated and should probably just wait. Users who keep consuming more and more are often in for a nasty shock once all those drugs do kick in. For example, cannabis edibles are infamous for this, and a scene in The Wolf of Wall Street (mentioned above under Film) uses expired Quaaludes to such an effect.
  • Any number of terminal conditions or diseases such as Huntingdon's Disease, ALS, and certain forms/levels of cancer are this. There is nothing that can be done, and all you can do is wait for the end.
  • Likewise, Fatal Familial Insomnia. It's a much, much rarer genetic disorder that causes progressively worse insomnia. Once this starts, the victim will be able to sleep less and less, resulting in hallucinations, delirium, dementia, and death, usually within 18 months.
  • If your microwave oven makes a loud humming or buzzing noise it may already be dead. This often indicates a failing or failed magnetron.
  • Invoked in a legal variation of this trope in jurisdictions where the death penalty exists or existed; people sentenced to death are already considered legally dead. This is meant to further punish convicted criminals by stripping them of any remaining rights, privileges and dignity. A specific example of this was the case of infamous serial killer Amelia Dyer. Just before being executed on June 10, 1896, authorities wanted her to testify in another criminal case but this was denied. Besides not wanting to delay her hanging, the courts ruled that her death sentence meant she was already legally dead and any of her testimony was automatically invalid. Life convicts were also submitted to this civil death, as they weren't planned to reenter society.
  • A species-wide variant of this trope is known as "extinction debt" or "dead clade walking". Basically, it describes individuals of a species or a group of contemporary species which have become endangered beyond the point of return, their gene pool is too small to be viable anymore or their habitat has dwindled so much their populations can't survive much longer. For example, although most Cretaceous ammonites are believed to have wiped out during the K-Pg extinction event, there's fossil evidence that some species survived slightly beyond that, but still ended up dying out completely another one or two million years later.
  • During the 1291 siege of Saint-Jean d'Acre, Grand master of the knight Templars Guillaume de Beaujeu led the defence of the city. At one point, he dropped his sword and walked away from the walls. When his knights objurgated him to stay, Beaujeu replied: "Je ne m'enfuis pas; je suis mort. Voici le coup." ("I'm not running away; I am dead. See the blow.") and then raised his arm to show the mortal wound he had received.
  • An electric shock that sends the heart into ventricular fibrillation may initially seem minor, until the person drops dead a few seconds later. Some victims have even had enough time to light up a cigarette before dying.
  • On a much less lethal note, in Hold 'Em poker if one or more players are all-in (wagered all their remaining chips) on a hand and is called, all players show the cards they hold because there's no more room to bluff or raise or do any other action besides see the remaining community cards that are to be dealt by the dealer. If this happens before all the community cards have been shown, it's entirely possible that one player has won the hand even before all of the cards have been dealt because there's no possible card in the deck that could make the other player have the better hand — the second player is said to be "drawing dead" at this point.
  • Getting infected with a prion disease such as variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), for example by ingesting a protein from a cow infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (or Mad Cow Disease) note  can leave you fine for even decades, depending on how the infection was contracted, but once its symptoms manifest it is followed by rapid deterioration of mental faculties and unavoidable death in 1 or 2 years.
  • In computer security, so-called zero day exploits could be considered this depending on how severe the malware payload is. A zero day exploit is a vulnerability that is not known that some hacker takes advantage of, often using malware to launch its payload on a specified day (the "zero day"). Since nobody is aware of this and malware that takes advantage of this often do innocuous things that anti-malware programs don't find suspicious, people can install and run this malware piggy backed on something innocent and they wouldn't know they have a ticking timebomb until it's too late.
  • Small but fatal doses of phosgene gas are notorious for causing this, as the type of subtle but irreparable lung damage that they cause can take several hours if not days before symptoms appear.
  • The star Betelgeuse, the left shoulder of the constellation Orion, is a red supergiant star which is near the end of its 10 million year life span. Although speculation has varied widely over the years on how close it is to going supernova, given its distance of 650 light-years from Earth, if it does go supernova within the next 650 years, then that would mean that presently it is already dead.

"I have pushed a pressure point to bring you to the end of this article. You are already dead."

Alternative Title(s): Delayed Instadeath


Your Head Isn't Connected

Rin kills Nickel by somehow cutting off his head without him noticing.

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5 (6 votes)

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Main / YouAreAlreadyDead

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