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Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome / Literature

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  • Agent Pendergast:
    • William Smithback Jr. survives numerous life-threatening elements in six different books. Then Cemetery Dance comes in and he gets stabbed through the heart in less than ten pages.
    • In Two Graves, Pendergast's son Alban was one of the key antagonists of the book, and escaped to cause trouble for Pendergast another day. In Blue Labyrinth his corpse is literally dropped off on Pendergast's front doorstep in the very first chapter, kicking off the entire plot.
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  • Assassin (Alex Hawke Series #2) by Ted Bell - Victoria Sweet, the love interest from Book 1, more or less literally bites the bullet by the end of Chapter 1 Book 2.
  • Julius Root has a bridge dropped on him at the opening of the fourth Artemis Fowl book.
  • The Cat in the Stacks Mysteries: Peter Vanderkeller, Athena College's library director (and Charlie's boss) in the first six books, abruptly sent in a resignation letter in book 7; he is later discovered to have been murdered, and the letter was sent by his killers to delay the discovery of their crime.
  • Empress Nerissa and her entire family die offscreen in a bloody assassination just before the opening scenes of the second book of Patricia Bray's Chronicles of Josan trilogy. Considering her importance in the first book, this comes as a bit of an immediate shock, but it isn't done wastefully or for no reason. Her death shapes the circumstances surrounding Josan's life for the entire rest of the trilogy.
  • Thanks to Narnia Time, this happens repeatedly in The Chronicles of Narnia, albeit it's usually caused by old age:
    • C.S. Lewis kills off Tumnus, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, and all the other supporting characters from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by setting the sequel Prince Caspian hundreds of years into the future in Narnian time.
    • Then in The Last Battle, Eustace and Jill learn that their friend from the last book, Rilian, "has been dead for over two hundred years." Presumably Puddleglum has, too. In fact, that book begins with the deaths of everyone from our world who ever visited Narnia, except Susan, in a train crash. But due to Narnia doubling as some kind of entrance to the afterlife, nobody actually notices they're dead until the end.
    • And if you read the series in chronological order instead of order of publication, then all the Narnians from prequel The Magician's Nephew are dead before the start of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and all characters in interquel The Horse and His Boy (except Susan and Edmund) are dead before the start of Prince Caspian.
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  • In the Dragons of Requiem prequel trilogy Dawn of Dragons, Prince Sena Seran is set up to be a main character in Requiem's Song. Two chapters into the sequel, Requiem's Hope, he hangs himself.
  • In the third book of The Elric Saga by Michael Moorcock, Count Smiorgan Baldhead, who had traveled with Elric in the last book, gets unceremoniously abandoned by Elric and left to his death during the battle with Melnibone. However, Elric does get called out on it. It also turns out that this is actually an inversion, since Smiorgan's death occurred in the very first Elric story ever published. However, that story was relatively far into Elric's continuity, so he got brought back later for another story set earlier. Later collections published the stories in their order in continuity, rather than the order they were originally published.
  • A hallmark of the Erast Fandorin novel series. If a character from a previous Fandorin book pops up in a new one, there's a pretty good chance that character is gonna die.
    • The first is Count Zurov, a pivotal character in Fandorin #1, The Winter Queen (at one point he saves Fandorin from being murdered by the bad guys). Zurov pops up again in Fandorin #2, The Turkish Gambit, only to be murdered by the bad guy as part of the bad guy's espionage plot against Russia.
  • Jenny, Forrest Gump's ditzy, slutty childhood sweetheart was alive and well in the original book's Mega Happy Ending. But since the movie had her contract a terminal illness, she's already dead at the beginning of Gump & Co.
  • A lot of characters in the Gone series. Chunk, the Coates Academy toadie gets killed (albeit unintentionally) by Caine when he gets thrown into a wall in Hunger.
  • The Hardy Boys Casefiles: Iola Morton, Joe's girlfriend, a regularly recurring character from the original series, gets blown up in the very first chapter of the Casefiles series.
  • In Harry Potter with one major character dying in the climax of every book since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Rowling had settled major character death into a predictable, albeit terrifying pattern. Cue Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Harry's faithful owl Hedwig dies. In chapter four. Soon followed by the off-screen death of Mad-Eye Moody. For those who thought losing Hedwig and Mad-Eye was bad enough, the fans certainly did not expect 10+ more major characters to die. J.K. Rowling was trying to set a dismal, almost dystopian tone for her seventh and final book; she said after book five that, since it was a war, characters would get killed, even major ones.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy had Arthur Dent's newfound love interest from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Fenchurch, not just die, but suddenly disappear by the events of Mostly Harmless. It was technically her fault because they went on a ship which has problems with people from Plural sectors, such as Earth (Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha).
  • In the first chapter of Eldest (Book 2 of the Inheritance Cycle), Ajihad is killed by Urgals, and Murtagh is presumed dead as well (although he isn't really). Also, the Razac are killed early in Brisingr.
  • Jurassic Park:
    • In the first book, the character Genarro actually lives, and isn't ignominiously eaten while on the toilet like he was in the movie. He even gets to beat up a raptor. By the second book, he's died of dysentery.
    • Accidental inversion in that Ian Malcolm, the main character of the second book, dies at the end of the first one. He gets better, though.
  • An interesting case happens in the Stephen King novels Desperation and The Regulators, which are not actually sequels to each other but twinners (2 books that feature the same characters, but are set in separate fictional universes). In Desperation, Mary Jackson and David Carver are two of the only four people who make it all the way to the end of the story. In The Regulators however, they are among the first three (four if you include Hannibal the dog) victims to fall to Tak's creations before the end of the fourth chapter.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Boromir survives all through The Fellowship Of The Ring only to die in the very first chapter of The Two Towers after an off-screen skirmish (that arguably started at the end of the first book). Subverted in the movie adaptation, where he is killed at the end of the first movie, possibly to hype up The Climax.
  • The main character of Raymond E Feist's Mistress of the Empire series spends the first two books in various political machinations to secure her title and lands. The triumph of her goal is to have a son, who dies in a faked accident two pages into the third book.
  • Uncle Press, the uncle of Bobby Pendragon, is killed off in the second book of the The Pendragon Adventure series, so that Bobby can take his role as head Traveler in the fight against Saint Dane.
  • In the fifth Percy Jackson and the Olympians book, Beckendorf dies in the first chapter.
  • Precious dies in the first chapter of the sequel to Push, The Kid, when her son Abdul is 9. Justified Trope because Precious was diagnosed with HIV shortly after he was born.
  • Between books 11 and 12 of Ranger's Apprentice, Alyss and Crowley have both died, and King Duncan is on his deathbed. Also, Halt is retired.
  • In Redwall, Friar Hugo survives the entire first book, even being held hostage by one of the entire series’ most dangerous villains in the climactic battle. In the third book (chronologically, the next after the first one), he is killed off-screen in one of the first chapters.
  • Shadow Moon, a sequel to the movie Willow, kills off Madmartigan and Sorsha in the first chapter.
  • Shattered Realms, the Sequel Series to The Seven Realms Series, kicks off with the assassination of Han Alister in the first couple chapters of the first book. This, unsurprisingly, has a major impact on the events that follow.
  • They survive the events of The Shining, but by the time Daniel Torrance has to deal with a new threat in Doctor Sleep, both Wendy Torrance and Dick Hallorann are long dead (only to be expected, since it's more than 30 years later).


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