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Never Say Die / Western Animation

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Avoiding the topic of death in western animation.

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  • As far as Nicktoons go...
    • In "Doug's Christmas Story", Porkchop bit Beebe's leg (he was trying to save her from falling through thin ice) and is blamed for attacking her. He is sent to the pound and isolated in the Very Very Bad Dogs section. The Bluffs press charges and if he's not proven innocent, will be put to sleep. When Doug tries to get people to sign a petition about how Porkchop is a good dog, one woman says that Christmas is not the time for this and he should wait until after the holidays; Doug tells her it will be too late by then. The closest the episode comes tough is when Doug remembers past Christmases with Porkchop and then saying, "But this Christmas..." with an image of Doug looking at Porkchop's tombstone in the rain.
    • SpongeBob SquarePants:
      • Subverted with the episode where they believe they've killed Squidward.
        SpongeBob: I don't know how to tell you this, Pat, but Squidward...he's...he's pushing up daisies!
        Patrick: Oh, I thought he was dead.
      • Played straight for the sake of humor in "Bubble Buddy" where the "has to GO" variation is used. SpongeBob mistakes this for an euphemism for going the bathroom.
      • In "The Lost Mattress", Squidward threatens to murder SpongeBob if he does not get Mr. Krabs' old mattress (which has all his money in it) back, but the officer stops him right before he says "murder". Justified, as making death threats would've gotten him in even more trouble.
      • In "That Sinking Feeling", Squidward threatens SpongeBob and Patrick if they don't dig out his house on the count of three, he will "grind them into chum." Note that chum is fish guts, and this is an underwater show.
      • Played straight for drama in "Shellback Shenanigans":
        SpongeBob: You're- you're saying that he's... that he might... oh... Nurse? Nurse?! Oh, well, Gary, this looks like it might be... the end.
      • Played straight again in "Demolition Doofus"; the reason Mrs. Puff enters SpongeBob in the demolition derby is because she wants him killed and maimed for all he's done to her, she even has an imagine spot where SpongeBob is smashed from all sides by thugs and replaced by a gravestone. Despite all this, she never actually says she wants him dead or killed, and the closest she comes to such when he doesn't get hurt is "Why...are you still...alive?!?"
    • As Told by Ginger:
      • The series plays this straight in early episodes, especially in the second episode when an elderly woman dies on-camera at a dinner table. Everyone else simply stares in shock while Ginger asks her mother if she's "napping". The next scene has Ginger telling her friends about the woman's last words ("Oh, foo!") and her funeral. The ninth episode wouldn't even use the word metaphorically. Courtney used the popular "Who died and made you ______?" phrase, only "died" was substituted with "retired".
      • Later episodes would usually avert the trope. Most notably, an episode from the second season titled "Losing Nana Bishop" revolves around Dodie and her family coping with the death of her grandmother, which motivates Ginger into wanting to learn more about her own late grandmother. Ginger and Macie also show their support for Dodie by attending the funeral, the latter trying to overcome her fear of "dead people".
      • One episode, "And She Was Gone", has Ginger writing a dark poem about a girl who "disappears". After her teacher and classmates read the poem, they all suspect that Ginger is suicidal, but they only say that she might be "(clinically) depressed", with concern that she might "go away" or "disappear" someday.
      • Played literally in "The Easter Ham", when Hoodsey tells Carl that his dream of his own karaoke den will "have to die", then quickly retracts it, saying "I didn't mean to say 'die'", as he was trying to avoid the word earlier when referring to his mother who was recovering from a (fake) heart attack.
      • In one of the final episodes of the series (which didn't air in the United States), Ginger herself almost dies from a ruptured appendix. Ginger calls the whole thing a "near-death experience" and Dodie bluntly asks her "Did you almost die?". Meanwhile, her mother can't get rid of the thought that Ginger probably wouldn't have lived if she hadn't been home when she needed to be rushed to the hospital, although during her lament, she only says "She could've..." before her fiancee (also Ginger's surgeon) assures her that it's okay because she was home.
    • Invader Zim plays Nobody Can Die straight often, as seen with Keef in "Bestest Friend", Iggins in "Game Slave II", and the various people crushed on-screen in "Hamstergeddon". However, the show will avert this trope as often is it plays it straight. For example, in "Hobo 13":
      Zim: * upon seeing Invader Skooge* Skooge?! But I thought The Tallest killed you!
      Skooge: Yeah... but I'm okay now!
    • Used in Breadwinners. In the original YouTube pilot, Buhdeuce says "Does this mean we're going to crash and burn and die a fiery death?", while in the remake of the short on, he instead says "Does this mean we're going to crash and burn and end up roast meat?"
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a weird relation with this trope:
      • It mostly averts it, both in humorous and serious dialogue, but sometimes (especially in season 3) it would play it straight. Some defend that the times the word is not used is justified, since the characters who go for euphemisms wouldn't want to use the actual words, but there are occasions a little harder to justify ("The Southern Raiders" had a nigh complete avoidance of explicitly using the word, even though the episode's entire plot is about killing a person to get revenge for another person's murder).
      • As far as "The Southern Raiders" goes, that's probably why. They could use the words in episodes where death wasn't the main focus, or when it was a villain attempting the killing, but an entire episode about a teenage girl main character setting out to kill a man for revenge? That's not something a parent can cover the kid's ears for, or justify by pointing out that it's a bad guy committing the violence. And they probably had to give up ''something'' in exchange for the infamous tent scene.
      • Lampshaded in "The Ember Island Players" where the characters watch an abridged series of their own show performed by actors on stage. It includes the lines "Did Jet just die?" followed by "You know, it was really unclear." Jet being a character who did die earlier in the show in a manner ambiguous enough to make it seem like he might not have. To drive the point home harder when giving a recap of off screen play moments Sokka mentions how he thinks Combustion Man died.
      • Averted in the Grand Finale. When Aang is missing, the Gaang turn to a bounty hunter, June, and her shirshu to find him, because shirshu have excellent senses of smell and can track someone from across the world, if given something belonging to that person. They give her Aang's glider, and the shirshu gets the scent, but then just walks around in a circle before lying down, having failed to find where it came from. June explains that if the shirshu can't track him, then he doesn't exist. Sokka asks her if she means that Aang is dead, and she replies that no, he's not. The shirshu could find him if he was dead. When she said nonexistent, she meant disappeared off the face of the world.
      • On the other hand, throughout all of Aang's moral wrestling over whether or not he might have to kill Fire Lord Ozai, the dialogue almost exclusively and conspicuously relies on the more awkward phrasing "take his life" (and variations thereof). This is presumably for reasons similar to the situation in "The Southern Raiders" - the heavy focus on the subject required softer wording, whether or not it makes much sense for people to actually talk that way.
      • Though Aang does eventually say the words "I have to kill the Fire Lord", and the avoidance of the word up to this point makes it land even harder.
    • The Legend of Korra, while generally not shying away from mature themes (and even explicitly showing two onscreen deaths in the first season finale!), still didn't use the actual word very often.
      • Lin Beifong makes use of the ever-popular "toast" at least twice, while Amon's use of the phrase "untimely demise" when referring to Korra actually makes it hard to tell whether he's talking about killing or de-bending her. Furthermore, when the Equalist biplanes showed up in the two-part finale, virtually every single instance of one being shot down or crashing showed the pilots successfully bailing out and parachuting to safety in an almost GI Joe-like fashion, save for one or two exceptions.
      • In season 3's "Long Live the Queen," Zaheer commits regicide by bending the air out of the Earth Queen's lungs. Though the scene itself is very graphic (particularly for Nick), even Zaheer's broadcast to Ba Sing Se's citizens uses a number of euphemisms to avoid any mention of "death." The closest anyone comes to saying it is describing the scene as "violent". Driven to almost parody during Zaheer's Breaking Lecture, the end of which suspiciously resembles a Last-Second Word Swap.
        You think freedom is something you can give or take on a whim, but to your people, freedom is just as essential as... air. And without it, there is no life. There is only... darkness.
      • Lin gets away with telling Bolin, "it's suicide" in season 4 which is the only time the word has been used in the franchise.
    • El Tigre expresses the most common usage of the trope in current American cartoons. While they use the word kill passively, "I was nearly killed," they skirt away whenever it calls for directly: "Are you sure this isn't a part of some sinister plot to destroy me?/She tried to get close to me, to destroy me." Basically you're not generally going to hear the statement, "I kill you" in an American cartoon today.
    • Making Fiends is all about a psychopathic little girl named Vendetta who creates demons and wants to kill another girl because she doesn't fear Vendetta and unwittingly thinks she's her best friend. Yet Vendetta almost always says "destroy" instead of kill. Being that she likes to be vague with her statements and has slightly broken English, she may be invoking this, though this trope was subverted in Nickelodeon's version of the fourth webisode when she exclaimed "You should be dead!".
    • Rugrats:
      • The series used the word "dead" in "I Remember Melville", the episode when Chuckie's pet potato bug died — of course, the babies' grasp of death is only that it's "when you sleep for a long time... like forever." — but eventually shied away from it. For example, in the Passover special, the 10th plague on Egypt is called "taking away the first born" (and in any event, Pharaoh Angelica gets scared and frees the slaves before it happens).
      • This is evident in the "Mother's Day" special, where the fate of Chuckie's mom is strongly hinted at, but never said outright. (Didi just about says it at one point, but Chaz cuts her off; later, when talking to Chuckie, he nervously mentions his mom being "in the hospital.") Her grave is later seen in the "Acorn Nuts and Diapey Butts" saga.
      • The Spin Off All Grown Up! apparently had no qualms about saying the d-word, albeit not in the sense of literally dying. For example, one ep has Angelica say "I wouldn't be caught dead at her stupid party"... and then react to finding out that Tommy caught her saying that on tape, "Tommy Pickles is a dead man." The same episode also has an instance of the k-word, of course, not in the sense of actual killing: "I'll kill you off in this movie, and bring you back as the alien robot in the sequel."
    • Rocko's Modern Life typically averted this, in such episodes as "To Heck and Back" (when Heffer chokes to death on a chicken bone and goes down to Heck where he meets the devil "Peaches") and "Bye Bye, Birdie" (when Heffer accidentally kills Filburt's pet bird that he and Rocko were pet-sitting). But by the fourth (and final) season this trope began to often be played straight, such as in "Hypno Puppy-Love" after Heffer hypnotized Rocko into thinking he's a dog and he escapes, Heffer and Filburt find Rocko's shirt with tire treads on it (Rocko ended up shaking it off and leaving it on the street to get run over), and Heffer wails that Rocko is "a road waffle."
    • Zig Zagged on Hey Arnold!:
      • In some episodes such as "Eugene's Pet", they will go out of their way not to say "die" words, whereas in other episodes like "24 Hours to Live", they have no problem saying it loudly and often. They seem to be mostly okay with the word "kill", however, even in very serious situations like Big Bob saying "I almost killed my own daughter!" in "Arnold's Halloween".
      • One interesting variation is the episode "Grandpa's Birthday." First, it's played straight when Grandpa thinks he will pass away upon turning 81 (due to an alleged family curse), using all the old euphemisms. But when learning he is okay (he made a mistake calculating the curse), he gleefully cries "I'm not going to die!"
      • "Sally's Comet" has an odd instance of this at the end. The episode revolves around Gerald, Arnold, and Grandpa trying to see a comet that only passes Earth once every 70 years. Gerald mentions in 70 years he and Arnold will be viewing it again which causes Grandpa to say "Yes sir... 'Cause I won't be! I'll be, y'know". Gerald tells him "No you won't". The way Grandpa and Gerald discuss the obvious fact the former won't be around in 70 years is awkward.
      • In The Jungle Movie, "died" is used exactly one time after La Sombra, the main villain, falls off a cliff to his death; several of his men are also implied to have died from booby traps, though their fate is not mentioned. One of the villains also threatens to "kill" Arnold and his group. However, like the original series, the word "dead" is avoided whenever referring to Arnold's long-lost parents, using the opposite word "alive" instead. When Arnold finally finds his parents lying motionless as victims of an ongoing sleeping sickness, he asks their friend Eduardo, "Are they...?" before he interrupts him and assures him that they are alive, just unable to wake up until they are given the cure.

  • Pendleton Ward has confirmed that Finn's Hurricane of Euphemisms when discussing the mysterious death of Ghost Princess, in the Adventure Time episode "Ghost Princess", was because he wasn't allowed to use the word "murder" in the script, even though it had been used in the earlier "mystery" episodes "Mystery Train" and "The Creeps". Note that, in those episodes, no murder actually happened, while Ghost Princess is, in fact, dead. In other episodes the trope is averted.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball has something of a tenuous relationship with this Trope. For the most part, the characters do refer to death, but don't directly describe it as such. Gumball and Darwin seem to prefer the term "iced" instead, whereas in "The Origins" two-parter, all of the fish that came before the current Darwin all die, but again, they aren't explicitly said to be such, instead making use of euphemisms. This practice continues in other episodes, too, where someone describing their past mentions "the day [his creator] never woke up". But in later episodes, they start to explicitly say the d-word, along with referring to killing on occasion.
    Sarah: I'm an otaku. Light could kill me.
    • Especially where Carrie (a ghost) is concerned. She mentions her "afterlife" and having a body in the past, but it's never explicitly mentioned that she's dead.
  • Animaniacs:
    • An episode has the Warners escaping from a boring man, exclaiming "Free at last, free at last, thank G-" at which point they are cut off by the man reappearing.
    • Another episode featured Slappy Squirrel guarding the apple in the Garden of Eden. She claims she was given the job by "Mr. Big".
    • In the first Rita and Runt cartoon, where the two are in the pound. Rita says "Ah what difference does it make, soon we'll be sleeping the 'big sleep'." Runt states that he could use a nap, to which Rita snaps "They're gonna gas us you buffoon. We'll be dead!"
    • Parodied (and also a great comment on Disney's "for kids" movies) in one of the funniest Slappy the Squirrel shorts "Bumbie's Mom" where Slappy and Skippy see "Bumbie" and Skippy freaks out when Bumbie's mom is shot and killed. Throughout the entire episode Slappy tries to explain that no one dies in cartoons and that Bumbie's mom is alive. Skippy continuously replies "Bumbie's mom, she's...huuuuuuhuhuhoohoohoohoo!" Slappy finally takes Skippy to see the "actor" that played Bumbie's mom and he feels better...then on the plane ride back they show "Old Yellow" and Skippy starts crying when they shoot Old Yellow the dog. Slappy then just says "Ah, fade out already!"
    • One high-risk episode has the Warners visiting Hell and annoying the devil. When it does come up, Hell is called "Hades." Though the Devil does outright refer to himself as "Satan", and Wakko even tests out the "snowball's chance in Hell" metaphor.
    • "Meatballs or Consequences" is an odd one. It was supposed to be called "Death or Consequences", but Executive Meddling forced the change. Still, the words "death", "die" and "dead" are used throughout the episode (along with a euphemism: "living-impaired").
    • A very strange example in the Slappy Squirrel short "Critical Condition." The stand-ins for Siskel & Ebert are reviewing a Looney Tunes laserdisc collection, among which is included What's Opera, Doc? Elmer Fudd's classic cry of "Kill da wabbit!" is shown, but as the critics are hysterically quoting the cartoons, they say "Capture the wabbit."
  • The entire Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Gee-whiz" makes fun of this trope. A billboard for a gun show appears to show the face of Gee-whiz in the woodgrain of the gun stock. Frylock plays an informative video from "Standards and Practices" outlining what is and isn't allowed on the show so that Meatwad will understand why Frylock has to say "Gee-whiz." (Although in the end, it's not Gee-whiz, but Ted Nugent.)
  • This is done in Archie's Weird Mysteries when a blob monster made of tapiocca pudding is devouring everyone it can throughout Riverdale. Without ever using the d-word the episode treats it as if the victims actually are dead and the survivors prepare to blast the thing with an experimental laser. They learn just in time the victims are only trapped (but running out of air) meaning they need to quickly find a non-lethal way to dispatch it.
  • Arthur typically averts this trope. Most of the time the word is used metaphorically, but an early episode, "So Long, Spanky", revolved around D.W. coping with the death of her pet parakeet Spanky, and pulled absolutely no punches:
    D.W.: Dad, why won't Spanky wake up?
    Mr. Read: Um... I think he's dead, honey.
  • Avengers, Assemble! continues the Prince of Thunder trend, and also calls Ares the Prince of War rather than the God of War. Meanwhile, the M.O.D.O.K. situation is Lampshaded when he introduces his N.O.D.O.K.s, which he describes as:
    M.O.D.O.K.: Network Operated Drones Optimized for... well, you'll find out.
  • The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! both plays it straight and averts it. MODOC is (like in an example above) changed from Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing to Mental Organism Designed Only for Conquest, and the phrase, "Destroy them all!" gets exclaimed often. But there are also several onscreen deaths (some quite brutal) and the words "kill" and "dead" are mentioned. The opening voiceover in Season 2 also calls Thor the "Prince of Thunder" rather than the God of Thunder.

  • Batman: The Animated Series uses this to great effect:
    • In the episode "Off Balance", where agents of Talia al-Ghul's Society of Shadows quite clearly each use a gaseous Cyanide Pill—their dead eyes staring into nothingness—and in the very next scene Batman tells Gordon that they'd used the gas "to erase their own minds." This was possibly a bit of a Take That! to the censors at Warner Bros.. In the DVD commentaries, both Bruce Timm and Paul Dini state that since they were not allowed to kill off any humans, they frequently tried to come up with things that were inherently more disturbing than outright death. In this case, the bad guys essentially lobotomized themselves. Assassins carrying pills for "erasing their minds" is later brought back up during Batman Beyond.
      • The fact that the group itself was called the Society of Shadows rather than the League of Assassins was also probably due to this trope. Note that when they came back years later in Batman Beyond, they could now be referred to as the Society of Assassins.
    • The death of the Flying Graysons. They were not allowed to show their fall or death in any way, but the shot of the severed rope swinging back into view is all the more gruesome. Likewise with The Joker's laughing gas.
    • Reportedly, the production staff was able to get around this restriction in the case of the Scarface dummy, which did not qualify as alive; the animators were able to vent their "darker impulses" upon the dummy by destroying it in increasingly grisly ways (i.e., machine-gunning it, chewing it up in a grinder, etc.) in every episode in which it appeared.
    • One of the episodes focuses on a mysterious martial arts technique which translates to "big sleep" or, more specifically, "eternal sleep".
    • The studio took advantage of the times they were allowed to show death indirectly; in "Mad Love", for instance, a newspaper headline reads: "Joker still at large; body count rises."
  • This was frequently the case in the latter part of Batman Beyond.
    • After freely being able to reference death and get more explicit with violence in the Kids WB! episodes of Batman, the pendulum turned the other way and the creators weren't even allow to so much as imply a revenge-seeking assassin was killing her former associates off-screen (instead she was poisoning them into comas, as referenced above). After the fact the creative team lamented their unintentional overuse of "ice" and "waste" in place of "kill" (changes best displayed in the original and edited versions of the animated feature Return of the Joker).
    • In the episode "Rats!", Dana asks Ratboy what happened to the other kids he kidnapped. Before siccing his rats on her, he responds, "They don't make fun of me anymore".
    • When discussing the Society of Assassins and Curare, it's asked what happens when one of them fails to take out their target. "She *becomes* the target."
  • Parodied in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold adapting one of the "Bat-Manga!" comics. The short ends with villain Lord Death Man's helicopter crashing and the villain dying right there, but Robin makes mention of seeing a parachute. When the short ends, Bat-Mite mentions how silly American dubbers are.
  • Big City Greens:
    • In "Mansion Madness" when Tilly encounters the Remingtons' next door neighbors, she thinks of an excuse why they're not here. At first she mentions they died, but then she quickly rephrases that as "moved to Antarctica."
    • Twice in "Chipwrecked". First, Cricket sees Tilly mopping and says "How's the mopping" but rephrases himself and continues with "water drawing", because he is secretly using his family to do his job for him and does not want them to find out. A similar treatment is given to Chip Whistler when he gets a call from his father and tells him he was skipping work because he was busy trying to destroy the Greens because of it, but stops before he finishes the word "Greens" and replaces it with "a work problem".
  • Big Hero 6 used this trope intentionally due to the characters not wanting to discuss Tadashi's death. Its cartoon spinoff, Big Hero 6: The Series, however uses it in the traditional manner. In the pilot, they use the term "get rid of". It is ultimately Zig-Zagged a bit as the show goes on, as death words are used in casual conversation on occasion (with one episode's title also being known as "Killer App"), but very rarely in life-threatening situations.
  • Played for Laughs in BoJack Horseman as, after BoJack's mother died, Mr. Peanutbutter reveals he'd never had a loved one pass away - his mom just moved to a big farm upstate. He's devastated when Gina and BoJack reveal the truth to him, getting better from the attention paid by fellow cast and crew... until the arc ends with his realization that his father had gone there as well.
  • Bonkers usually avoided this trope, even going so far as to mention homicide in "The Good, The Bad, and The Kanifky", but it is played straight in "Toon for a Day" when Miranda Wright explains to Bonkers why it's a bad thing that Sergeant Grating thinks he's a toon.
    Miranda: He could get hurt... permanently!
  • In the Bratz DVD "Genie Magic", Cloe (one of the 4 Bratz) is annoyed at two of the regular boys for scaring the girls during a slumber party and says, "I wish you would croak." Their new friend turns out to be a genie, and a Literal Genie at that, as she turns the boys into frogs. One of the other girls gets cut off while explaining what Cloe really meant.
  • Bunnicula: The word "die" is rarely used. The ghosts on the show use other words to describe it, like a monkey astronaut who died in space saying he "failed his mission" and another ghost saying he "became a ghost".

  • Death is depicted throughout Captain Planet and the Planeteers, and the Planeteers and other characters tell it like it is, especially when it comes to how pollution kills wildlife. The death of Boris, Linka's cousin, from a drug overdose is clearly depicted in the episode "Mind Pollution". However, while the villains attempt to kill the Planeteers and other characters, perhaps in the most brutal ways by kids' cartoon standards, almost never say to "kill them", finding other words to use instead.
  • Carmen Sandiego favors the euphemism "steal/take their life" over "kill," which works sometimes, considering the main character is a thief, after all. ("You sent him there to steal something." "Sure we did. We sent him to steal your daddy's life.") Other times, the awkwardness of it draws attention to the substitution. The last episode of season two has Player casually discussing a police shooting that resulted in a man's death, which lacks euphemisms, but also doesn't bring up the actual death. He just states that one agent took responsibility for the incident.
  • Code Lyoko wavers back and forth on this trope depending on the situation and/or who's speaking, with the humans either subverting this trope or cutting themselves off and the computer virus XANA using alternate terms save for one instance, the only one where the heroes were face-to-face with him where he loudly announced "YOU ARE GOING TO DIE!" before attempting to murder them, likely messily.

  • Darkstalkers: Hsien-Ko's spotlight episode reveals that she hunts Darkstalkers because her family was attacked by Demitri when she was a child. It's pretty clear that Demitri killed her father and sister, but the words "killed" or "dead" are never used. Surprisingly, the writers were able to get away with a scene where Demitri later taunts Hsien-Ko by saying that her sister tasted "delectable," an unambiguous onscreen admission that he murdered and drank the blood of a little girl.
  • In DC Super Hero Girls, the worst neighborhood in Metropolis is renamed from "Suicide Slum" to "Sinister Slum."
  • Defenders of the Earth is another series which regularly uses the word "destroy" when it's clear from the context that the character using it actually means "kill". There are also a few instances of "history" being used as a euphemism for "dead".
  • The Dragon Prince: The show is usually good about averting this, but adults often try to soften the blow by tiptoing around words like "kill," "death," and "assassinated in revenge for when he assassinated someone else." The kids are rarely in the mood to be talked down to.
    Ezran: He didn't fall, Rayla! He didn't trip and land on the ground, he got killed!
    • Heartbreakingly averted in the season three finale.
    Callum: But you can’t take on an entire army by yourself! You’ll...
    Rayla: Die? Probably. But if I die, I’ll just be paying the price they should have payed.
  • DuckTales (1987), "Hero for Hire": Two examples from the Beagle Boys; on one occasion, one tells Launchpad that he must "be at the studio in ten minutes or [Doofus] is gonna be a pancake!" and the second time, the same one tells Doofus to "keep [his] mouth shut, or [Launchpad] gets it!".
    • While the original series did have many moments of this, the reboot heavily averts this, even seeing either the bones or ghosts of people Scrooge interacted with in the past. "We're all gonna die!" is a very common sentence from paranoid characters like Donald and Louie.

  • In Elena of Avalor, Elena mentions her parents were "attacked" by Shuriki. The fact they're not present anywhere makes it clear that they were really killed. Justified in this being a Disney Junior show. Also, ghosts are called spirits and Day of the Dead is never said in English.
    • "Song Of The Sirenas" averts this with Elena flat out telling Marisa that Shuriki is the sorceress that killed her parents.

  • The Fairly OddParents often inverts this, but like Danny Phantom, there are times when they play this straight:
    • In the movie, Cosmo and Wanda's newborn son has been kidnapped by H.P. and Anti-Cosmo. Wanda tells them, "If you so much as lay a hand on our baby, I'll destroy both of you!" It did sound a bit forced, but was worth it to hear her threatening to single-handedly murder them.
    • In one episode there was a Shout-Out to Goldfinger with a famous quote slightly altered.
      Timmy (as Bond): Do you expect me to let you get away with this?
      Vicky (as Goldfinger): No, Mister Twerp; I expect you to CRY!
  • Averted in A Family Circus Christmas where Billy tells Jeffy that their grandfather is dead despite Jeffy being too young to understand the concept of death.
  • Parodied in an episode of Family Guy where Meg says that her class is performing Death of a Salesman, but because they aren't allowed to say "death", the ending just has everyone dancing around with sparklers.
  • The Fancy Nancy episode "Au Revoir Jean Claude" plays this straight and averts it in the same episode. Nancy's fish Jean Claude dies, and she doesn't want to tell Jojo about it, notably dancing around the subject. She finds out anyway, and they use the word freely.

  • Garfield and Friends:
    • In the musical episode, "The Man Who Hated Cats", Garfield overhears the titular man singing about a cat he owned when he was young who ran away. He sings, "Foo-Foo had fled/I wished I was..." and starts sobbing.
    • A U.S. Acres segment parodying the poem "Casey At the Bat" includes a quip about the fans chanting "'Kill the Umpire!' long and low/But you cannot kill a person/On a TV cartoon show."
  • In Generator Rex, this usually isn't a problem. As a Cartoon Network original that isn't afraid to come up to TV-PG, "kill" and "dead" and guns that shoot bullets are A-OK. However, in "Dead Zone", there's a classic parachute moment. The bad guys (on this occasion, that's Providence Mooks under the command of a Knight Templar) are mostly on air vehicles, and apparently every single staff member on these airships wear parachutes at all times, because whenever one is destroyed, parachuted personnel can be seen dropping from it. This mostly serves to keep Rex from killing fellow good guys who just have a boss who sometimes goes too far.
  • G.I. Joe is infamous for having characters always parachute out after enemy aircraft are shot down, even from helicopters. A writer on the series has noted that the closest they could come to death was mentioning "casualties."
    • Another infamous example is in G.I. Joe: The Movie, where Duke is mortally wounded by Serpentor. He was originally supposed to die (and taking the scene at face value, he does). But when the Executives found out about it, they decided to try it out in Transformers: The Movie. After the reaction to Optimus Prime's death, however, they backpedaled and made them insert dialogue about Duke only being in a coma, and a line about him recovering at the end. The theme song that appears in the movie actually says that the Joes "Never Say Die". Mind you, they don't have to, because nobody ever does.
    • G.I. Joe: Renegades plays with this though, having numerous deaths (off-camera), but still managing to avoid the "d-word" itself, even when the Joes are eulogizing a fallen comrade.
  • In Go, Diego, Go! it's never quite said why certain animals are deathly afraid of their predators, most likely due to the show being targeted at toddlers and young children.
  • The Latino Spanish version of Gravity Falls is this trope, thanks to the Animation Age Ghetto in LA. Disney Channel Latin America dubbed the series changing every word for death or die using instead "end".
  • Subverted in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, when Razer tries to use this trope:
    Hal: Where is Aia?
    Razer: She's gone.
    Hal: Where is she?
    Razer: She's gone.
    Hal: What do you mean she's gone?
    Razer: She's dead! That thing killed her!
  • Since The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy literally has The Grim Reaper as its main character, it's virtually impossible for them to avoid this, but executive meddling hasn't failed to ruin some things here and there.
    • In "Major Cheese", the episode focuses on an old man named Mighty Moe, who thinks he can achieve eternal life, by exercising and using the right dietary plans. The goal of the episode was for Grim to [ahem] "reap", him and put a stop to this "eternal life" business. At the end of the episode, Moe got catapulted into the sun, and Grim called it a win. Of course, the last few seconds of the episode, showed that this wasn't a success because Moe logically burned to death. He survived, and was then thriving on the surface of the sun. Grim's success came from the idea that "at least now, he won't be spreading the secret of eternal life to anyone else on Earth."
    • In one episode, Grim uses his scythe to open a hole in the ground, which a bunch of bunnies fall into. When they do, a bunch of ghostly puffs of smoke come out with skull and crossbones symbols, so that means they're dead, right? No, because right after that, they all crawl back out, only now, they've transformed into hideous, beast-like monster rabbits, still alive and well.

  • Characters on Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats commonly used euphemisms such as "pulverize" and "mertilize" in place of "kill". Cleo did provide one aversion in "The Merry Pranksters". When Leroy's assistant gets her covered in ink, she yells, "I'm gonna kill you!"
  • Horseland plays it straight, being aimed at kids aged under 13. The most extreme example would be the episode "Mosey" where the eponymous barn cat is growing old and tired. It is all but stated that he passed away when he took a stroll in the winter blizzard in his final moments while Sarah was still asleep, because he didn't want her to see the body, and when Sarah found his disappearing footprints, she announced to Scarlet that he's "gone, and not coming back", which disguises said statement with the fact he also literally disappeared.

  • From the Inhumanoids Five-Episode Pilot: "If his friends release him, we're ended." When the Inhumanoids themselves were making threats, they often used language that was downright poetic, such as when Metlar said "You shall dwell in eternal darkness!"
  • In Iron Man, Dreadknight's steed has its name changed from "Hellhorse" to "Nightwing." Averted for the most part, though, especially in the Darker and Edgier second season, where characters were allowed to say "dead" and "killed" without much issue. This is because the show was created for syndication rather than Fox Kids, meaning it was allowed to get away with more violent content than other Marvel cartoons of the time (especially Spider-Man: The Animated Series and X-Men). Played straight in at least one episode, where it was heavily implied Tony's friends were worried that he'd committed suicide. Despite the strong implications, Spider-Woman was cut off before she could actually use the words "killed himself."
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, M.O.D.O.K., the Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing becomes MODOC, the Mental Organism Designed Only For Chaos (or Conquest. Definitely not Killing, though). Odd, since the series makes no attempt to gloss over Howard Stark's death.

  • Parodied in a Johnny Bravo episode; Johnny, as a superhero, saves a falling passenger plane... solely to eat the peanuts that fall out of it, then he tosses the plane beyond the mountains where it explodes in a fireball. Then the passengers' offscreen voices assure the viewer: "We're fine!"
  • When the Suicide Squad shows up in Justice League Unlimited, they are known by the name Task Force X (another name used for the group in the comics). This is because the censors wouldn't let the writers use the word "suicide" in a children's show.

  • Kim Possible: Zig-zagged. Villains sometimes talk about "destroying" or "eliminating" Kim. However, Duff Killigan says that Kim will have to pry his golf clubs out of his "cold, dead hands".
  • Contrary to the film series it's based off of, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness makes frequent use of this trope, most commonly using "destroy" to replace "kill":
    • An example is the episode "Master and the Panda" where the show goes to ridiculous extremes to avoid saying that Po "killed" Tai Lung, instead using the (admittedly funny) euphemism "skadooshed". Granted, this is what Po said when he used the Wuxi Finger Hold on Tai Lung...
    • There's a scene when Shifu's dad is being held captive by bad guys, Po says that if they don't rescue him "they're gonna hurt him until he stops breathing".

  • The Legend of Zelda animated series had an interesting one. Something like "One more blast and you'll be de-energized, Ganon!" Though there was one time where Ganon actually was defeated, with the same result as with his minions — he just gets transported into the Evil Jar, and will presumably free himself in the near future to wreak more havoc. On that note, another episode begins with Ganon attacking Hyrule Castle and trying to zap Link into the Evil Jar, though a convoluted series of events makes only his body go there, with his spirit left behind. As Zelda mourns the apparent loss of the hero, Link's spirit remarks "Gee, you'd think I was destroyed or something!" So apparently a fall in combat has different consequences for good and evil.
  • Zigzagged in The Lion Guard. In the pilot film the former Lion Guard members are referred to as "defeated". Later the word "dead" is used when describing the gazelles the hyenas are hunting. The series itself tends to have little issue with death. One episode was even about a funeral.
  • The Little Prince had one episode jump through several hoops to avoid even considering the apparent death of a old man's pet bear, even though the man is clearly praying before the bear's grave in one scene. As this cartoon is from abroad the American edition has to hurriedly throw together awkward dialogue and editing in order to "resurrect" the little bear by the end.
    • In Baby Looney Tunes, Granny says her mom "lives a long way away now" in "Mother's Day Madness". Hmm...

  • Lampshaded in Metalocalypse where upon finding out that Pickles is dying, the band insists on using the term "Hamburger Time" when referring to death. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, multiple Akumas commit the moral equivalent of first-degree murder, such as turning victims into inanimate objects or energy (Glaciator turns people into ice cream, Befana turns them into coal, Gamer turns them into XP, Timebreaker retgones people for 'temporal energy', and so on), or have it heavily implied (Syren floods Paris), but it's never acknowledged as murder. The show gets away with it with Ladybug's Miraculous Cure fixing everything, including returning Akuma victims.
  • In the pilot of Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends, Miss Spider mentions that her birth mother "didn't stick around long enough to meet each other".
  • In-universe example: Clay's mother Angela Puppington on Moral Orel hates words like "die" or "death" and prefers the term "passing" because she miscarried 10 times before Clay was born.
  • In the Motorcity episode "Vega", after capturing Mike, Kane tells him that his "termination" is imminent.
  • Anytime death would be a possibility in ¡Mucha Lucha!, the threat is instead to the removal of their mask. Fights where their masks are on the line being a big deal for luchadores is truth in television, but it gets ridiculous when the Mayincatec Slamazonians plan on sacrificing Buena Girl's mask to the gods.
  • Mrs. Munger's Class: In the short "Gerald the Gerbil", Mrs. Munger announces that their class pet "passed away". The two Georges are unfamiliar with the phrase, so the other students mess with him as to what the term means. Mrs. Munger finally averts the trope by explaining that "passed away" means "dead".
  • Played with in My Gym Partner's a Monkey where Jake flushes live sea monkeys down the toilet, after hearing Adam did the same to his. Adam has trouble explaining the difference to him.
    Adam: Jake! I didn't flush my sea simians because they were boring, I flushed them because they, you know, [whispering] expired.
    Jake: Zuh?
    Adam: You know, perished, ... departed, ... defunct, ... passed on, ... done in, went extinct, went stiff, belly up, took a dirt nap, met their maker, pushing up daisies, eternal slumber, worm food, flat lined, like really gone daddy?
    (Jake shrugs his shoulders, in stupid obliviousness)
    (Adam pretends to die, grabbing his neck and making "ack" noises, before falling backwards)
    Jake: Oh, you mean dead.
    • Again, in "A Whole Zoo World", they make a bit of a "Take That!" joke, when Adam plummeted from the sky and crash landed into the cement floor. Jake then asked him, "Adam, you you okay? Remember, this is a kid's show."
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, being rated TV-Y, tries to avoid mentioning death directly (although words like "dead" or "kill" are used metaphorically) and instead uses various euphemisms:
    • Celestia's description of phoenix's rebirth cycle is "renew[ing] itself by shedding all its feathers and bursting into flames," not even mentioning that it requires the bird to die.
    • Rarity, threatening teenage dragons that wanted to harm Spike: "I'll rip you to pieces."
    • In the Book Within a Show, the villain to the protagonist, right before putting her in a Death Trap: "And now, you shall meet your doom!"
    • Rainbow Dash, having her wing trapped under a boulder on the bottom of a gorge, worries aloud about being stuck there "forever."
    • Rarity's character in a holiday pageant refers to freezing to death as a "horrible fate." (Although this may be justified, as it's implied that it's more of an And I Must Scream scenario.)
    • Trixie, just before kicking Twilight out of town in "Magic Duel", invokes You Are Already Dead by saying "She's already gone".
    • "Sleepless in Ponyville" straight-up parodies this. After hearing a Ghost Story about the Headless Horse, whose victims "were never heard from again," Scootaloo dreams she's being pursued by the Headless Horse and laments, "I'll never be heard from again! I want to be heard from!"
    • In "Wonderbolts Academy", Rainbow Dash says her friends could have been "smashed to pieces" and "demolished" by a tornado caused by Lightning Dust.
    • In "Ponyville Confidential", when Rarity sees Gabby Gums has written an embarrassing article about her in the school paper, she shouts "I'll DESTROY HER!"
    • Rarity laments that they almost lost Pinkie Pie to her ridiculous rock pile in "Maud Pie".
    • Played straight in "Princess Twilight Sparkle – Part 2" when Luna says it is her duty to "destroy" Celestia. Subverted later when Fluttershy flat out says the Tree of Harmony looks like it's dying. Played straight again in the same episode, where Applejack refers to Celestia and Luna as "gone" and warns Twilight that if anything happened to her, Equestria couldn't risk "losing another princess". Rarity takes it further by not being sure that Celestia and Luna "would return" and refers to them as "absent". It's like they want to say it, but really can't.
    • In "Power Ponies", the supervillain Mane-iac captures the heroes and monologues about her plan, commenting that they will live just long enough to see it come to fruition.
    • In "Luna Eclipsed", Zecora tells the children to offer Nightmare Moon candy so that, "She might let us live."
    • In "The Cutie Re-Mark – Part 1", Twilight and Spike stumble upon Zecora, Fluttershy and Pinkie (who are fighting a guerilla war against Chrysalis' changelings in this Alternate Universe), who mistake them for for changelings in disguise, waggle spears in their faces, and grimly declare that they are to be "destroyed". The deadly implications of the euphemism are entirely obvious here.
    • In "The Cutie Re-Mark – Part 2", in the very same alternate reality, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack stumble into the guerilla base camp site, with Rainbow Dash claiming to have barely escaped the Changeling Attack "with their lives" They are really Changeling impostors, with "Applejack" being Queen Chrysalis herself.
    • "Tanks for the Memories" uses Tank's hibernation as a metaphor for death, using Rainbow Dash's reactions to illustrate the grieving process without having anyone actually die.
    • In "The Perfect Pear", we learn more about the backstory of Applejack's parents. As with all allusions to the Apple parents in the series thus far, their death is heavily implied but still never directly or explicitly confirmed. In other words, it's still an attempt at ambiguity, but fans get the general idea (and in some cases, already knew this). Only after the series ended did they confirm they were deceased.
    • In "A Royal Problem", Nightmare Moon and Daybreaker are clearly trying to murder each other, yet never directly say it— Daybreaker says she should have "destroyed" Luna when she had the chance, and Nightmare Moon shoots back by saying that Daybreaker could only ever hope to "smile [her] to smithereens".
    • "A Health of Information" subverts this with Mage Meadowbrook's fate, saying she "disappeared" or "vanished without a trace" which we later find out in the season 7 finale is literally what happened: she and the rest of the Pillars of Old Equestria sealed themselves along with the Pony of Shadows. The episode does play this trope straight with the effects of Swamp Fever: even though the final symptom is being turned into a tree, no-one ever says the d-word.
    • "The Ending of the End, Part 2" has Cozy Glow threaten her captives with "complete destruction." Chrysalis shoots this down because that would be "too permanent."

  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: When Rabbit disappears in one of Gopher's many dynamite explosions, the others look all over to see where (if anywhere) he landed and come up empty. Tigger's line: "We're just gonna have to face it. Bunny-Boy's gone." (Turned out he had grabbed onto a tree branch and was still hanging from it.)
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies: In "Guess Who's Knott Coming To Dinner" (with Ink-Suit Actor Don Knotts), the gang rings the doorbell of Moody Manor which resonates like Big Ben.
    Velma: Ring it again, Freddy. Maybe they didn't hear it.
    Shaggy: You gotta be kidding. Like, that bell's loud enough to wake the dead. (gulps, then whiny) I wish I hadn't said that!

  • Played straight in the Oh Yeah! Cartoons short "Protecto 5000". The beginning of the short shows the titular robot bodyguard living through the eons with his owner, who is eventually implied to be killed when an atomic bomb goes off while the two are vacationing on an island. When Protecto 5000 later tells his story to a little girl he befriends, he states that his owner "had an accident".

  • The ghost monsters in Pac-Man always talk about how they're going to chomp the eponymous character (this is justified by having them actually bite him whenever they have the opportunity to do so).
  • While most Cartoon Network shows often invert this, the same cannot be said with The Powerpuff Girls:
    • This trope is played straight even to cockroaches, which are not killed but "squished, smashed, stepped-on," etc. Only about five to six times did they ever use the word "die." In the same episode, a cockroach-based villain is thrown from his cockroach mecha to splat on the pavement below (fortunately, it was just a robot).
      Blossom: Oh noooo! It's definitely not okay to squish a person!
    • In "The Rowdyruff Boys", the girls are given a near-fatal blow and fall to the ground with a silent, but huge explosion, after which Mojo Jojo and the Rowdyruff Boys laugh victoriously, thinking the girls are finished off for good. The girls are assumed dead by the crying citizens of Townsville, though the Narrator only says "Please don't say goodbye", and the Mayor says, "Powerpuff Girls, you're alive!" when they wake up. However, the falling girls are misinterpreted by one citizen as a "death ray".
    • In "Ploys R Us", where the Professor sleepwalks and unknowingly steals toys from the toy store for the girls, the mayor and police ambush the professor towards the end, shooting at him with toy guns till he collapses. The girls assume he's dead, but all they can get out is "Now he's... gone!". That is, until the girls find out that the Professor was shot with "fake bullet suction thingies".
    • In "Little Miss Interprets", the girls think the Professor and others are plotting to kill the girls in order to replace them with newer, better Powerpuff Girls. However, the girls only say that the adults will "do them in". Buttercup even suggests that the girls "do them in" first, but Blossom doesn't think they should stoop to their level. Instead, they destroy the Professor's lab before he can "destroy" them. Right after they do this, they discover that the adults were planning a surprise party for the girls, and the Professor was only referring to replacing a batch of cakes with drawings of the girls.
    • The Brazilian dub of The Movie suffers from this. At one point when the girls are hiding behind a bus from a giant Mojo Jojo, Bubbles whispers "Is he dead?" when Mojo Jojo briefly ceases his attacks. Later, that scene was redubbed and Bubbles' line changed to "Is he finished off?".

  • Rainbow Brite used many euphemisms. Despite the characters constantly being in life-or-death situations no one used "dead", "died", etc. The closest we get is Murky saying "if she (Rainbow) wants to see them alive". The Darker and Edgier movie subverts this trope though:
    "Don't you understand? Spring will never come again if something happens to Spectra. I've never been there, but it's part of me. It's part of the colors and the joy that we bring, and if Spectra dies, happiness everywhere will die. Without the light of life, we'll all... all of us will die."
  • In the Ready Jet Go! episode "How We Found Your Sun", Sydney tells the story of Icarus to Sean, but instead of saying that he died, she instead says that he "fell to Earth".
  • Very notably averted in The Real Ghostbusters where, in as early as the second episode, they establish they're not afraid of saying "die" by saying it no less than three times right at the camera. Presumably this was done to test the waters and see what they could and couldn't get away with, as later episodes would involve morgues, dying curses, zombies, the vengeful ghosts of murder victims...
    Egon: Gentlemen? Don't take this the wrong way, but in fifty seconds? We die.
    Kilawatt: And now... you DIE!!!
    Kilawatt: Dead bodies are my specialty!
  • Justified in ReBoot. Though in the third season and beyond they often would use the words 'kill' and 'death'. For the first two seasons, the reasonable substitute 'deleted' was frequently used in its place. The first two seasons used "erased" in place of death (still an appropriate term). The later seasons used "deleted" most of the time but would occasionally use "kill" and "death" when "deleted" wouldn't sound right. This is justified, because they are in a computer, and live there.
  • This is played completely straight in the Rotten Ralph animated series episode "Ralph's Royal Treatment", where Ralph tricks his owner Sarah and her parents into catering to his whims by pretending to be afflicted with a fatal illness and claiming he only has a few weeks left, only for his plan to backfire when his cousin Percy reveals to Sarah and her parents that they were duped and they get back at Ralph by acting like he's really going to die even as he confesses that he lied. Not once does anyone say "die" or "death", only describing Ralph's situation as him being "gone".


  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Played with. The characters use "kill" and "die" quite often, but only when no one is actually dying. When Entrapta is seemingly killed, everyone talks about how they've "lost her." Then when the audience (but not the characters) discover that she's still alive, the characters start explicitly saying that she's dead.
  • In the Silver Surfer animated series, Thanos is the primary antagonist. In the comics, Thanos has a crush on (the embodiment of) Death, a plot which carries over into the show. Death, however, is called "Lady Chaos" for television purposes.
  • Averted in the Silverwing cartoon, with the word "kill" used liberally.
  • The Simpsons often parodies this:
    • Parodied when a gangster expresses surprise at seeing disgraced actor Troy McClure, having believed him to be dead because his boss told him he 'sleeps with the fishes.' Turns out it wasn't a euphemism for death, but rather a euphemism for his alleged sexual fetish involving marine life.
    • Ned Flanders has shown himself to be reluctant to just come out and tell Marge about Homer's "death" in the season 7 episode, "Mother Simpson":
      Ned: Marge, we're here because of Homer's, you know, passing...
      Marge: (beat)
      Ned: Away...
      Marge: (beat)
      Ned: ...Into death...
    • Also spoofed in the first act of an early Tracey Ullman Show-era short, "The Funeral". After the parents tell Bart and Lisa that their elderly uncle had passed away, Lisa asks what "passed away" means. Bart, taking sadistic glee in explaining what it means, uses various not-very-appropriate euphemisms such as "kicked the bucket", "pulled the croak chain", "had a meeting with ol' Mr. Grim", etc. When Homer scolds him for it, Bart glumly says, "That he died."
  • The children's educational safety video Sly Fox and Birdie averts this trope. Notably, after Sly Fox is ran over by a train, this happens:
  • Being a Disney Junior show, Sofia the First naturally uses this. There are two noticeable instances in the series finale, "Forever Royal":
    • In a flashback, it's revealed that Sofia's father was a sailor who died at sea while Amber and James' mother died due to King Roland's wish for children going wrong. The dialogue just says that he was lost at sea while her body couldn't make it.
    • When Vor dies and Sofia and Prisma are freed from the amulet , Sofia says that she's gone and won't come back.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog:
      • Played literally; at one point, when Sonic and Tails are rushing toward a wall, Tails says "It's a dead end!" Sonic replies, "Hey, Sonic the Hedgehog never says dead!" In general, the show tended to avert this, but that was just a really weird incidence.
      • The Sonic Says short on child molestation discusses the concept in the vaguest terms possible to appease the network censors, never getting more specific than "[when] someone tries to touch you in a place or in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable".
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and Sonic Underground, characters who are "roboticized" are functionally dead to (and mourned by) the heroes, although some get better.
    • One episode of Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) sees Robotnik and Snively blasted over a mountain ledge, and Bunnie says in shock "Robotnik's dead?!" Of course the show closes with them climbing to safety.
    • Subverted in Sonic Boom, where Sticks outright tells Eggman's Robot of the Week "you can't kill me" in the first episode, right after she fails to say that it can't "obliterate" her. Because it's named the "Obliteratorbot".
  • Parodied in the South Park episode "The Biggest Douche in the Universe". It opens with Eric Cartman being rushed to the hospital as his "condition" (Kenny's soul occupying his body) is apparently lethal. The doctor says that he's "running out of time" and, rather than mentioning any other specifics, simply runs with the concept, mentioning such things as a possible "time transplant". Subverted when Kyle and Stan go tell Chef about it and Stan says, "Cartman is in the hospital. They think he might die."
  • Various examples in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, known for its particularly heavy censorship. Showrunner John Semper had to have Mary Jane and the Green Goblin fall through an interdimensional portal instead of to their deaths. It is stated that The Punisher's family, rather than being gunned down, was simply "caught in a crossfire between rival gangs," and the same applied to the wife of the Destroyer. Uncle Ben simply "tried to stop the burglar that broke into his house, but the burglar was armed." At one point, when the Goblin returns after seemingly perishing, Spider-Man says, "You?! But I thought you were—" and the Goblin cuts him off with, "I'm not... but you'll soon be!"
    • The Punisher when appearing on the show was said to use "lethal force", but the words "death" and "kill" never appeared. He's also eventually talked into using non-lethal weaponry pretty quickly by his sidekick.
    • Morbius the Living Vampire drank "plasma", not blood (he was also modified to use suckers in his hands rather than biting people). (But in the Swedish dub, it was "blood plasma", so he was sucking blood through suckers in his hands.)
    • Likewise, Blade is said to be a vampire hunter, but words like "catch" and "destroy" are used to describe what he does to them, never "kill."
    Blade: He must be destroyed. . . and so must you! I won't make the mistake of letting you live this time!
    • Interestingly enough, Venom constantly commenting to Spidey on how "We will destroy you" didn't lose any of its effectiveness, most likely due to the manner in which he delivered it. He eventually became a very popular character in the show despite his few appearances. It's still effective because it might actually be accurate. Venom hates Spider-Man to the point that simply killing him would never be enough. He wants Spider-Man alone, friendless, and broken before he dies. It also worked because Eddie Brock blamed Peter Parker and Spider-Man for destroying his career and making him a laughingstock. Finding out they were the same person drove Eddie to want to do the same to Peter, at one point he hangs an unmasked Peter over the side of building so that the press might catch a glimpse of his face, but ultimately pulls Peter back before the press can get a clear shot.
    • The worst example, though, was Carnage, a particularly brutal serial killer who became popular in the comics as part of the Darker and Edgier late '80s/early '90s. It's stated that he was a vicious criminal before becoming super-powered, but the word "killer" is never used. After becoming super-powered, he is recruited by the alien-god-thing Dormammu to drain the life force from people to power him up, bringing him into this world. Draining people only leaves them near death, and naturally, when he's defeated, all this life energy is returned.
    • Interestingly, there's less Bowdlerising in other areas compared to every other version. The 90s series wasn't even a little bit shy about the Death by Origin Story, and also had the clone Mary Jane and Hydro-Man die, as well as the real Mysterio (by choosing to stay behind in the Collapsing Lair with his lover, who deliberately initiated the collapse because, to her, death was preferable to remaining disfigured. Double suicide in a kids' show! Later, Mysterio was referred to as "no longer with us" - avoidance of the word, but a reminder of a censor-unfriendly moment you'd think Fox Kids would want swept under the rug.) On top of that, Jameson's wife was the victim of a 'caught in the crossfire' situation, his hatred of Spider-Man stemming from his not trusting "men in masks who think they're above the law." Instead of leaving him with no good reason to hate Spidey like in most versions — including the comic and the PG-13 films, this cartoon added a death to make it his motivation! It contained far more deaths than some shows that were braver when it came to using the D-word.
    • Sometimes the aversion of the word death would take the dialogue into serious Narm territory. In the episode "Return of Hydro-Man Part 2" Mary Jane says, with all seriousness, "I just can't shake the feeling that when we find out what's wrong with me, it's going to lead to my destruction!" Serious intents or not, try saying that out loud and see what kind of reaction you get. This Mary Jane was later revealed to be a clone, and did indeed die shortly after.
    • Not only did The Spectacular Spider Man avert this, but they sometimes used even more colorful language concerning death. For example...
      Doctor Octopus: [holding up a captured Spider-Man] Rhino, you won the coin toss. Will you crush his skull or simply impale his heart on your horn?
    • As well as:
      Green Goblin: Any minute now the creme de la creme of New York City is going to paint the town red! (low, ominous voice) Well the ballroom anyway...
    • However, it had few references to actual deaths, and none ever happened within the timeline of the show. Even Gwen Stacy survives the series!
    • Ultimate Spider-Man flip-flops on this.
      • Some episodes do use "die" and "kill," but others don't. The worst example would be the episode where White Tiger tries to take revenge on Kraven, the man who killed her father. Awkward attempts to dance around the subject like "You destroyed my father!" and "He took my father's life!" are used, and Spidey even notes that Nick Fury and Phil Coulson refuse to talk about what happened to White Tiger's dad.
      • The Deadpool episode parodies this:
        Deadpool: We go into that compound, find Agent MacGuffin, snag the list, then un-alive Taskmaster and his acolytes, capiche?
        Spider-Man: Wait, un-alive them?
        Deadpool: Yeah, yeah, here's the thing, I can't really say the k-word out loud. It's a weird mental tic. But we're gonna destroy them, make them disappear, sleep them with the fishes. We'll k-word them.
        Spider-Man: K-word? You mean you want to kill them?!
        Deadpool: Whoa, yeah, that does sound bad when you say it out loud. And yes, we're going to un-alive them.
      • "Game Over" plays it 100 percent straight. Arcade's Murderworld is changed to "Madland".
      • During the "Spider-Verse" storyline, when Peter drops in on Miles Morales, Miles sputters and stammers "death", "dead", "killed" and others, though this is mostly because he's looking at Peter, who should be dead in his universe.
    • The 1981 Spider-Man series (the one before Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends), while only referring to Uncle Ben's death as a "fatal accident", also had a flashback to Spider-Man confronting the burglar who shot Ben and Spidey calling him a "murderer".
    • The 1967 Spider-Man series get away with this, despite this being, well, the late sixties, including, among other things, the word "hell" being spoken, plenty of references to death, and even someone being instructed to shoot to kill. Uncle Ben was indeed murdered, and Spidey, in his own words, laments that "in a sense, it's really I who killed him." In a way, this show was more progressive about this trope than its successors. Of course, this is the same show that also included quite a few sexist or racist characters by today's standards.
  • Steven Universe has a strange history with this trope:
    • In the earlier episodes, they were perfectly willing to refer to death directly, such as in the season 1 episode "Warp Tour", where Steven reflects upon his impending doom seconds before freezing to death. Sometimes it's done comedically, such as when Steven sings a cheery rock song about having watched alternate versions of himself die before his very eyes at the end of "Steven and the Stevens". There is, however, a very notable aversion when Rose Quartz is describing the consequences of the Gem War in "Rose's Scabbard": "If we lose, we'll be killed; and if we win, we can never go home."
    • Nobody ever describes Steven's Missing Mom, Rose Quartz, as "dead", though they'll say she's "gone" (at ground-shattering volume in one instance). It could be justified because the way she transferred her Heart Drive to Steven at birth resulted in her Death of Personality rather than physically killing her; several characters, at various points, are also clearly reluctant to accept that she's gone for good in ways that might explain why they'd be cautious with their language.
    • Played straight involving the word "kill" with gems in later episodes. They always use the word "shatter" instead, which is fitting since that's what's literally happening with gems to kill them. Note that in early episodes, the words "kill", "death", and "died" were used even to refer to the gems. Compare this to the 100th episode special, "Bismuth", which gives heavy focus to the morality of shattering with no use of the word "kill" in sight. It eventually turns out shattered gems aren't dead, each shard containing a fragment of consciousness. Being shattered could be considered worse than actual death, because the shards will be looking for each other and trying to put themselves back together, possibly forever.
    • In later episodes, death-related terms tend to be avoided, even with the human characters. By season 3, they usually weren't even saying it as a joke, such as when Vidalia said to Greg "I WILL destroy you". In season 1, Amethyst jokingly said to Greg "I'm gonna have to KILL YOU!"
    • In season 5, Lars (a human, so "shattering" cannot be used to describe his fate) actually dies on-screen, and is then accidentally raised from the dead with Steven's healing powers. When this gives Lars similar traits to Lion, Steven muses that Lion must also have died and been resurrected. And yet, the entire episode contrives the dialogue to have not one character utter the words "die" or "dead". They go as far as having Lars literally say he was "away from life" when he realizes that he was resurrected. However, in his next appearance, Lars gripes about how he "died out here" when he worries that Sadie has forgotten him.
    • There ARE exceptions to the later episodes' general avoidance of death-related terms. The word "die" is used three times in the season 3 episode "Bubbled". But note that also in "Bubbled", when a Ruby is literally about to cut Steven's gem out with a knife, the Hurricane of Euphemisms kicks up again — "Please don't take my gem!"
    • Zigzagged when Sadie forms a band named "Sadie Killer and the Suspects". There is even an entire episode called "Sadie Killer". In one of the band's songs, they include a line about "killing the crowd". However, in the VERY SAME EPISODE, another song is played where the word "dead" is simply missed out.
      Sadie: [Singing] But suddenly I'm up and out of bed. You'd never believe I was almost... why can't you see me?
    • Averted in Steven Universe: The Movie. Steven outright says that the main villain plans to kill him. Death terms are used throughout the movie, but it usually refers to the humans and the Earth in general. For Gems, "shattered" is still the go-to term.
    • Also averted in Steven Universe: Future. In the episode "Rose Buds", one of the Rose Quartzes excitedly announces "This is so great! I'm dying! I'm dying! I am dead! I am dead Rose Quartz!" when Steven invites her and the other Roses to stay the night at his house. In a later episode, when discussing Steven's various traumas, Steven uses the word "die" multiple times, even using it to refer to the temporary dissipation of Pearl's physical form, an act that is normally referred to in-series as "poofing".
  • Superfriends mostly played this straight:
    • Subverted for one Wonder Twins story, "Drag Racing", when one boy responds to two guys who want to drag race on a city street that it's against the law and they could be killed doing it. It is also worth mentioning that Jim Craddock invokes the "land of the dead" in the story, "The Ghost."
    • In "Conquerors of the Future", Superman, Green Lantern, and Flash get captured by a Giant Spider. Green Lantern's blasts and constructs just go right through the spider and its web, and he laments, "My Power Ring has no effect on this ghostly matter!" Superman goes, "If we don't think of something fast, we're going to become ghostly matter ourselves!"
    • There's also a later episode (from 1985, when the show had changed its name to The Super Powers Team), flat-out titled "The Death of Superman", and, while they mostly used euphemisms like "lost" or "demise" or (most absurdly) "no longer with us", they managed to slip death-related words in a few times ("Ironic that he should die of Kryptonite while trying to find its antidote!" "From what you've told me of Superman's death, it could be very important.")
  • In The Super Hero Squad Show, the Executioner is known only by his real name, Skurge.
    • This is parodied at one point where Iron Man is told about Dracula and immediately guesses that he sucks people's blood before being told that that's gross and he actually sucks plasma.

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has often Zig-zagged in and out of this trope:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) has a slight variation. "Die" is sometimes said, otherwise replaced with "perish" or "pass away". However, this is rather "Never say kill" as they only use "destroy" or "slay".
    • Season 4's "Scion of the Shredder" is likely the most egregious example of this trope in the entire show, as it features Karai and the Foot using every euphemism in the book, while Mikey, his cat Klunk, Donnie, Ralph and Splinter all get handed Disney Deaths (in each instance they Never Found the Body) for one episode before we see them alive and well. Karai says to destroy them, and that they cannot leave alive (a Call-Back to Shredder's catch phrase), while the foot say "destroyed" "is finished" and lastly "has been terminated". The only exception is Splinter saying his Master Yoshi was "murdered", a character who was already dead before the start of the show. Between that, the various euphemisms and Karai responding to every single one with "Excellent." the writers may very well have been lampshading this.
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), for a while, didn't use any words referencing death, but "Panic In The Sewers" features Splinter, who is terrified that his sons will meet with the Shredder again after he handed their shells to them, says that the Shredder will not rest until "all of [the Turtles] are dead", and they use the words referring to death somewhat more often (Kraang Prime clearly and bluntly states their intention to kill the Turtles, as does Mutagen Man.).
  • Teen Titans:
    • Every synonym in the book was used in the second season finale episode "Aftershock", which felt especially awkward with the dark dialogue and tone the episode set.
    • The Big Bad in the series was only ever referred to as Slade; in the comics he's Deathstroke the Terminator. (It doesn't sound too out of place in the show; "Slade", without the "Wilson" sounds like just another codename.) "Killer Moth" and "Brother Blood" were kept, but the production crew had to fight for them.
    • In season four finale "The End," Slade saying "I don't even expect you to live" is probably the closest the series ever came to an aversion of this trope. But he's not even able to directly address his own currently undead state, when his mask is knocked off to reveal a skeletal face. To be fair, he does mention that Terra's betrayal should have led to his 'demise'.
    • The effect this had on the show really varied a lot. Most of the euphemisms worked coming from Slade, because it fit with his Creepy Monotone and general clinical cruelty. In the abovementioned Terra scenes in "Aftershock", however, the dialogue felt jarringly Narmful precisely because the episode was so intense- nobody would use a euphemism in that situation! Unless, of course, Slade could continue to control Terra's lifeless corpse through the suit, so they would have to do more than kill her, they'd have to properly "destroy" her entire body...
    • In the movie Trouble In Tokyo, when Robin appears to kill Saico-Tek, great lengths are taken to avoid saying "die", "kill", "murder", or any variation thereof. Most of the time, someone is about to say one of those words, but the scene abruptly shifts or something cuts them off.
  • Teen Titans Go! on the other hand, given its comedic nature (along with it being TV-PG)...
    Trigon: [to Raven] I'm so proud. The only thing left to do is kill all your friends.
    Starfire: [cheerfully] Kill us! Kill us! You can, like, totally do it!
  • ThunderCats:
    • In "The Tower of Traps", Lion-O and WilyKit stumble across what is clearly a dead body. WilyKit's reaction... "He's not alive!"
    • In "The Demolisher", Lion-O gets attacked by a warrior called the Demolisher. Having never met him before, Lion-O asks why he is attacking him. Demolisher replies, "I fight you because you exist! But soon... you will not exist!"
  • The main characters in Toad Patrol skirt around any mention of death by having the toadlets adopt the term "toad splat", officially defined in the dvd's toadspeak dictionary as "to be crushed/fall". They even made more specific terms for other horrible fates, like "toad toast" or "boiled toad". However, it seems that the Toad Patrol themselves are the only ones really using this term; other characters more often just state the bad things that could happen, without outright stating that such bad things would result in death. Notably, there is one aversion: in "The Fairy Ring", Earth Star states that Erebus is dead, right after it is established to the audience that Erebus is just faking it to lure them over.
  • In Transformers: Generation 1:
    • Death words are used frequently, but death happens infrequently (outside the movie, which is nearly a Kill 'Em All so new toys can replace the old. The season following the movie didn't kill off any known characters, though one disastrous battle saw the destruction of several ships known to be manned.) Later series use them less, preferring 'scrapped,' 'taken offline,' etc but are more likely to have a death stick. Rattrap's Catch Phrase is a sardonic "we're all gonna die," but when someone's actually believed to be dead, "scrapped" or "destroyed" is much more likely to be used when referring to their condition. However, when it comes to the presence of death, the Beast era takes Anyone Can Die to a higher level than even 24 or Torchwood.
    • In "Five Faces of Darkness Part 3", Wheelie shoots down a mook. The mook begs Galvatron to save him, but Galvatron calls him a loser for not being able to Face Death with Dignity. Galvatron doesn't bat an eye as the mook explodes on impact.
    • In Transformers Animated "offline" seems to be the primary euphemism for death, but it's still not exactly the same: the series Magnetic Plot Device is still able to bring you back from that.
      • "Offline" is also preferred in Beast Machines, which, like Animated, was headed by Marty Isenberg.
      • Transformers: Prime averts this right from the start (and does so gloriously, killing off Cliffjumper in the first five minutes. Then Megatron brings an army explicitly back from the dead... yeah, it's not going to ever play this straight, thank God. Death words and robot-ier equivalents both see use.
  • Trollhunters: Parodied. Various characters (most often Blinky) will awkwardly dance around the topic of death, only to bluntly clarify whenever Jim hopes that they really aren't talking about death.

  • While the cast of Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light would do the whole "destroy" thing, they interestingly also commonly used the word "slay", which - given the neo-medieval basis of the story - is fairly appropriate.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: In season 1, creatures that are obviously intended to be slaves are only ever called "prisoners" by the script. Later seasons avert this, but there are still times when it seems like the characters are going out of their way to avoid saying anyone is "dead", or that they're planning to "kill" the enemy. They usually talk about defeating or destroying them instead. However, this also sets up one of the first twists in the series; Allura says that the black beyard was "lost with the Black Paladin", and it's only in the season finale that we find out the previous Black Paladin wasn't killed by Zarkon—he is the previous Black Paladin, he still has his beyard, and he wants his lion back.

  • Wander over Yonder: The Big Bad Lord Hater almost always goes on about wanting to "destroy" Wander. It's presumably used because he would come off as a psychopath, rather than a Psychopathic Man Child, if he used the word "kill" or "murder". This trope is, however, otherwise averted for the most part in the series.
  • Averted with regards to natural animal deaths on Wild Kratts, or at least those of animals that aren't the focus of the episode. With accidental death or predation in the wild, references to animals avoiding death are given a pass, but if a predator successfully kills its quarry, the fate of the latter is downplayed with "got one!" or praise for its hunting powers. Played straight for human characters in danger or villains' actions against animals; in the latter case, two of the series' main villains are explicitly shown to paralyze or roboticize wildlife rather than killing anything.
  • Winx Club:
    • An S2 episode shies away from explicitly saying that the Trix had killed one of the Specialists Prince Sky, settling for having one of the Winx check for a pulse and say he doesn't have one. The 4Kids dub takes things further, by having the Trix explicitly say a couple times that they've put the Specialist in a 100-year deep sleep (Not That There's Anything Wrong with That, because of what happens next), while strangely still keeping in the pulse bit.
    • S4: Ep 24 kills off Nabu, Chekhov's Gift notwithstanding... or does it? When Morgana takes Nabu's body away, she promises to take care of him "until he wakes up". This has lead some of the fans to believe that Nabu is still alive, but in a coma, although the way the other characters act in the last two episodes seem to make it clear that Nabu really is dead.
  • 10-year-old WordGirl is never "almost killed", since it's an educational kids show. Still, "Is this the end for WordGirl" is repeated a few times. A villain proclaims "Good-Bye, Word Girl!" as his robot is commanded to "Crush" her. She's almost "Done For", "Finished Off", "and Defeated". And since this is a show about vocabulary, they'll likely find other ways to carefully explain how she was almost killed.
  • The World of David the Gnome did have a final episode where the gnome couple "pass over" in an enchanted meadow, but has only been shown one time on Nickelodeon.

  • X-Men:
    • The series plays this trope as straight-as-can-be throughout (especially in the second episode) but got to play with it quite tellingly in the first appearance of the Juggernaut. He is crushed under rubble and Jubilee cries out, with unmistakable delight, "You killed him!". Of course, Jugs is just fine, revealing that the word can be used if it doesn't actually refer to someone dying.
    • Beast even once said "Ours is not to question why, ours is but to do and..." in a manner very reminiscent of the Spider-Man series). Also, the series certainly broke some rules with Nightcrawler's introductory episode, in which the character would repeatedly refer to God by name and give deep, meaningful testimonies in regards to His works (ironically, Fox execs said they HAD to... lest people think Nightcrawler was a devil). In the "Phalanx Covenant" two-parter (well into the more heavily-censored part of the series), Magneto was even allowed to say "Thank God!" And Beast once got to refer to hell - as in, the really hot place that's the reason the word is controversial - by name at another point!
    • Overall it wildly varies, villains often say "destroy them!", but Bishop regularly uses the words "die" or "killed" in the "Days of Future Past" two parter, and Magneto also uses the word "die" in the Season 1 finale. It seems there was a limit on how often they could say die or kill, but not a ban.
      • Lending credence to that, something similar happened in the second season. Morph was killed off in the first season as a Sacrificial Lamb, though the show tiptoed around it by simply saying he was gone and having the characters look sad. When Morph proved unexpectedly popular, the writers brought him back for Season 2 and revealed Mister Sinister healed him. While other episodes that season would play this trope straight for other occasions, the show did not avoid using the actual word to describe what almost happened to Morph; Sinister even twice tells him in a fit of anger, "I should've let you die!"


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