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Playing With / Death by Secret Identity

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Basic Trope: A character who finds out the superhero's secret identity is promptly killed or otherwise permanently prevented from revealing their secret identity to the public.

  • Played Straight: Emperor Evulz finds out that Lady Valor and Captain Awesome are actually Alice and Bob. Before he has the chance to act on this information, he ends up getting killed, whether at the hands of Lady Valor and Captain Awesome, another villain who doesn't want to have the fun of defeating the heroes taken from him, or even by sheer coincidence.
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  • Exaggerated: Everyone who finds out Lady Valor and Captain Awesome's secret identities ends up getting killed, even if it's unlikely they'd use the information against them.
  • Downplayed: Rather than get killed, Emperor Evulz is prevented from outing the secret identities of Lady Valor and Captain Awesome because he suffers a concussion that makes him forget.
  • Justified: Whoever decided to kill Evulz after he found out the heroes' secret identities knew that he couldn't let the foe cause any serious damage with the information and felt that killing Evulz before he had the chance to do anything with the knowledge was the best course of action.
  • Subverted: Emperor Evulz suffers a seemingly fatal accident after he finds out the secret identities of Lady Valor and Captain Awesome, but he manages to survive it and still plans to out their secret identities.
  • Double Subverted: Lady Valor and Captain Awesome's somewhat unscrupulous ally Lord Darkness finds out about Emperor Evulz' survival and intentions and decides to kill Evulz before his plan to out their secret identities comes to fruition.
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  • Parodied: Whenever anyone finds out any of the heroes' secret identities, the Token Evil Teammate begs to be allowed to kill them on the grounds that their knowing the hero's secret identity is a large security risk.
  • Zig-Zagged: Evulz finds out Lady Valor and Captain Awesome's secret identities and ends up supposedly killed. He turns out to survive the accident, but ends up forgetting the heroes' secret identities. After he finds their secret identities out again, Evulz is manipulated into believing that he is mistaken. He ends up dying before he ever has a chance to find out for sure.
  • Averted: Either nobody finds out the heroes' secret identities or no one who learns their secret identities has any intention or is in any position to cause harm toward the heroes.
  • Enforced: The writers kill off Emperor Evulz after he learns the secret identities of Lady Valor and Captain Awesome so that it would be easier to maintain the status quo.
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  • Lampshaded: "Too bad my moral code prevents me from killing my enemies. It'd be really convenient if I could do away with Baron Demise should he learn about my secret identity and use the information to target my loved ones."
  • Invoked: An Anti-Hero or a rival villain decides to murder Emperor Evulz to prevent him from outing the heroes' secret identities.
  • Exploited: If Evulz ends up killed by the heroes whose secret identities he discovered, then another villain can use their act against them by convincing the public that Captain Awesome and Lady Valor are sociopathic murderers.
  • Defied:
    • Emperor Evulz refuses to find out Captain Awesome and Lady Valor's secret identities, certain that knowing their secret identities will somehow lead to his death.
    • The heroes stick with non-lethal methods of dealing with criminals who know their real identities.
  • Discussed: "I can understand why people would find it reprehensible to kill the bad guys, but would it be considered an acceptable exception if the villain learned the hero's secret identity and the only way the hero could keep his secret safe would be if he took the villain's life?"
  • Conversed: "Well, he can't just hope that every unsavory character who discovers his secret identity ends up suffering a Karmic Death before he's able to do anything with the knowledge."
  • Deconstructed: Lady Valor and Captain Awesome kill Emperor Evulz to prevent him from outing their secret identities. Their decision to take a life causes their popularity to take a nosedive.
  • Reconstructed: Lady Valor and Captain Awesome save face by stating that while they aren't proud of their decision, there was no conceivable alternative to stopping Emperor Evulz from doing something really heinous.
  • Played for Laughs: Emperor Evulz sees Lady Valor and Captain Awesome unmasked and completely gets their true identities wrong. Not wanting to take any risks, Lady Valor and Captain Awesome kill him anyway.
  • Played for Drama: The decision to kill Emperor Evulz results in Lady Valor and Captain Awesome developing a habit of killing any criminal who becomes even a smidgen close to finding out their secret identities, eventually becoming unreasonably distrustful of their allies and other people who wouldn't dream of using the knowledge of their secret identities against them.

Better keep your lips sealed if you wish to avoid Death by Secret Identity.

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