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Web Animation / Dumb Ways to Die

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"Dumb ways to die, so many dumb ways to die..."

Dumb Ways To Die is a Public Service Announcement by Metro Trains of Melbourne, Australia to promote railway safety. It clearly shows what some of the dumbest ways to die are. After its original upload, it instantly went viral. It can be watched here. An instrumental version also exists for use in parodies. The Valentine's Day themed sequel video, Dumb Ways to Valentine, can be found here.


The campaign later expanded to the Regional Transit District in Denver, Colorado, using the same characters and video (which retains the original audio).

The video has been adapted into two games: Dumb Ways to Die and Dumb Ways to Die 2: The Games.

These videos show examples of:

  • Ambiguous Gender: Most of the characters' genders are unknown, but:
    • The "set fire to your hair" guy (Numpty) is referred to as a dad in the April Fools Ways to Die advert.
    • Of note is the one who sings "I wonder: What's this red button do?" (Ninny); the voice is clearly female, but the kidney guy's (Dunce) girlfriend uses the same model as Ninny except with eyelashes, retroactively implying that Ninny is male because he lacks those eyelashes.
    • One update to the first app game changed the description of the glue-eater's minigame to "Don't let her fall", confirming her as female at least in the app canon—whether or not this carries over to the original video isn't 100% clear, but there's no evidence against it.
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    • Another update to the first app game changed the description of the astronaut (Numskull)'s minigame to "Guide the astronaut back to her helmet."
  • An Aesop: The song has two morals:
  • Anyone Can Die: A very large use, unless the chorus is any indication of the exact opposite— everybody dies during the song, which exaggerates the trope for the verses, but during the chorus it's averted, or perhaps inverted, as the supposedly-dead characters are dancing.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: After all the improbable ways to die, the last few involve plausible accidents involving train crossings. After all, it is a railway safety PSA.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: "Eat medicine that's out of date". Out of date medicine isn't directly harmful, just inactive for the large majority. Consuming some won't heal you, but won't poison you either except in rare cases. Eating an unnecessary amount of medicine that's out of date probably isn't recommended, though, as with non-expired medicine.
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  • Artistic License – Physics: Recycles the old myth that you explode if exposed to space. Not that being exposed to space is a pleasant experience, but no, you don't explode.
  • Ax-Crazy: "Invite a psycho killer inside". With A Meat Cleaver To Grind. The psycho killer kills the unseen person with said meat cleaver, and is clearly insane if the "psycho" part is to be believed.
  • Batter Up!: The unseen drug dealer uses a baseball bat.
  • Bears Are Bad News: "Poke a stick at a grizzly bear" is stated as one of the dumb ways to die.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: In the follow-up video Dumb Ways 2 Valentine, Dunce who sold his kidneys on the Internet gives Ninny his heart — and then dies.
  • Big Red Button: One of the dumb ways to die is pressing a large, red button because you don't know what it does, and then it produces a massive explosion.
  • Black Comedy: The characters' deaths are portrayed in a rather comical manner, plus the whole thing is accompanied by a catchy and upbeat song.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Poking a grizzly bear won't end well. Neither will disturbing a nest of wasps.
  • Cool Pet: Subverted, keeping a pet rattlesnake is one way to die.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Who makes a pie with tomatoes and corn in it?
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • One of the characters got whacked by a drug dealer for scratching his new ride.
    • In "Dumb Ways to Die - Melbourne International Film Festival", Hapless, the character who poked a grizzly bear, gets his head bitten off (again) for talking on his phone during a movie.
    • The wasps sting Doofus to death just for disturbing them, although they are wasps, and that behaviour is to be expected from them.
  • Doom It Yourself:
    • "Do your own electrical work". When Dimwit pulls on the light switch, his entire house is engulfed in flames.
    • "Teach yourself how to fly". The pilot, Stupe, loses control of the plane as soon as it's off the ground.
  • Eat the Camera: In the train montage, attempting to retrieve a trinket that landed on the track bed.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a list of, well, dumb ways to die.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Deconstructed. Attempts at eating expired pie, expired medicine, and superglue don't end well.
  • Eye Scream: "Keep a rattlesnake as a pet": Mishap is bitten in the eye by his pet snake.
  • Failure Montage: A series of examples of people failing to be safe.
  • Faux Affably Evil:
    • The Psycho Killer gives a friendly wave in the chorus, but he still, y'know, killed someone.
    • In the game, if you win the minigame "Bushwhacked!" Clod will give you a bunch of flowers.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: Played for drama— Lax eats expired pie, throws up, and dies.
  • The Ghost:
    • We never see the Psycho Killer's victim in the lyric "Invite a Psycho Killer inside". He doesn't even turn up in the chorus.
    • The hunters who shoot the moose dresser, Botch, are also never seen.
    • Neither is the drug dealer who hit the garbage bag creature, Doomed.
  • Groin Attack:
    • "Use your private parts as piranha bait".
    • "Disturb a nest of wasps for no good reason": If you look closely, the beehive bounces off the Doofus's crotch.
  • Grotesque Cute: Friendly blobs with noodle arms die in horribly funny ways.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: "Poke a stick at a grizzly bear". Notably, it counts as both this and Off with His Head!, as his head is the top half of his body.
  • Hockeymask And Chainsaw: "Invite a psycho killer inside." The video depicts a door opening to a sprite wearing a hockey mask and armed with a chainsaw and Freddy Krueger glove.
  • Karma Houdini: Clod is the only character in the original video who isn't seen dying, consequently meaning he doesn't get punished for killing his victim. This may include Ninny, presuming that he may have survived the explosion, or the explosion wasn't where he was.
  • Licensed Game: An iOS game based on the video was released in 2013, with an Android version released a few months later. It seems to be based on the WarioWare series.
  • Lighter and Softer: The video is referenced on the Scare 'Em Straight page but, compared to most examples of that trope, Dumb Ways To Die is a colorful, upbeat and catchy music video that still manages to talk about graphic and violent deaths.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: It's an upbeat, cheery, almost lullaby-like song about, well, dumb ways to die.
  • Meaningful Name: The characters' names often mean "stupid" or "unlucky", which fits. Averted for the psycho killer though, whose name is Clod despite him being the only one not to be dumb.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • "Poke a stick at a grizzly bear": Then Hapless has his head eaten by the bear.
    • "Teach yourself how to fly": Stupe is beheaded when the plane crashes. He then dances during the chorus part while throwing his head in the air a couple of times.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Apparently "Dressing up as a moose during hunting season" means wearing a hat with antlers on it. It still fools the hunters and gets the guy shot repeatedly.
  • Reality Ensues: Hits very hard on those who thinks about being an Idiot Houdini, showing idiocy can result in consequences, even death.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: The entire song, save the end, is in rhyme.
  • Running Gag: The campaign also includes several smaller PSAs themed around various events, most of which end on a reminder to:
    Be safe around [topic of PSA]*
    *and trains
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: "Disturb a nest of wasps for no good reason", which results in them stinging someone to death.
  • Scary Stitches: Dunce has a horizontal line of stitches on each side of his body from where he got his kidneys removed so he could sell them on the Internet. In "Dumb Ways to Valentine", he gets another one on his chest after removing his heart to give to his girlfriend as a Valentine's Day gift.
  • Serial Killer: The "psycho killer" kills the victim and, judging by his title, has killed others before.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Psycho Killer has traits from a total of three horror movie villains (specifically, he has Freddy Krueger's claw, Jason Voorhees's mask, and Leatherface's chainsaw).
    • The character who "stood on the edge of a train station platform" has a haircut exactly like Numbuh Four (who, incidentally, is also Australian).
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: The train-related deaths don't rhyme, lampshaded on the last verse.
    "Run across the tracks between the platforms. They may not rhyme, but they're quite possibly..."
  • Theme Naming: All of the characters' names are synonyms of "dumb", "idiot", or "misfortune".
  • Title Drop: Repeated many times in the chorus. Almost a Title-Only Chorus.
  • Too Dumb to Live: There's a reason it's called "Dumb Ways to Die".
  • What Does This Button Do?: One of them asks, "I wonder, what's this red button do?", before pressing it. It blows up.
  • Worth It: Dunce apparently feels this way about selling both his kidneys on the Internet, doing a Happy Dance while waving around a stack of cash.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: "Eat a two-week old unrefrigerated pie" is illustrated with Lax throwing up onscreen.
  • Your Head Asplode: "Take your helmet off in outer space" shows Numskull’s head exploding.

The games provide examples of:

  • Aliens Steal Cattle: One of the minigames in DWTD2's "Area Fifty-Dumb" segment has the player saving cows from UFOs attempting to abduct them.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The first game's plane game requires a working microphone, as you're told to blow into your phone(though any sufficiently loud noise will do the job). Playing on a device without one or somewhere where you don't want to make noise? You can turn it off in the options menu so you won't run into it as you're playing.
  • Aside Glance: At the end of the "jump the shark" level, your Fonzie-esque character does one of these as a Laugh Track and studio applause are heard.
  • Call-Back: In the second game; if you beat the "swim away from piranhas" level, we see the swimmer exit the water and walk up to the "privates as piranha bait" guy. Both of them have their lower halves stripped to bone with piranhas clinging on.
  • Death by Falling Over: If you lose at the pie level, the character will slip on his puke and die, and if you lose on the superglue level, the character will fall over and die.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • In the song, Lax dies from food poisoning. In the game, he dies by slipping on his puke.
    • In the song, Calamity dies from eating superglue, but in the game, she dies from falling over.
  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear: In the first game, one of the levels, if won, results in the garbage bag guy getting chased off the screen by a large truck.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: If you lose your 3 lives in the sequel, you're subjected to spin the Wheel of Misfortune. You don't actually get something by landing on a certain part of the wheel — you get a knife to the head before you can stop spinning.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: One of the first game's main mechanics was collecting X amount of points to unlock one of the characters in the video.
  • Irony: The "drive around the boom gates at a level crossing" level has you spelling the word "PATIENCE" on a constricting time limit.
  • Jumping the Shark: The Trope Namer (Happy Days) gets parodied In-Universe with a level in the second game where you play as a character dressed like Fonzie jumping over several sharks.
  • Kaizo Trap: Averted in the second game. If you do not trace correctly in one scene, even under one millisecond, you die.
  • One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other: In the first game, there's a level where there are three doors with one having a panda and two having killers. After they briefly appear onscreen behind the door, you must choose which one you think has the panda in it.
  • Recurring Element: Many levels between the two games have the same playing mechanics (tapping, tilting, rubbing, etc), and the sequel reuses mechanics from the original.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Most of the sequel victory screens shows this for surviving (ex. a guy avoids getting kicked in the face only to break his leg or another one jump across the river only to end in the most dangerous area)
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • In the first game: the level with the Big Red Button. What do you need to do? Just don't press it.
    • In the second game: there's a level that asks that you don't lick a pole.
  • Sequel Escalation: Without a doubt. While the first game only had a small number of levels, second game has been reworked so that its user interface is based around a Hub World where you can go to various places that offer different levels.
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • The first game has quite some fun taunting you in the quick intervals between levels. Even if you complete the level, the game may still take points away from you. In some instances if you lose a level, the game will give you a measly amount of points as a consolation prize. Not to mention the captions ("watch your language", "bad luck", etc.)
    • An inversion occurs in the case that the game acts in the complete opposite way, rewarding you with captions like "because you deserve it" and "nice weather today".
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: A level in the second game asks you not to lick a pole.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The second game's menu music consists of a rather badass orchestral rendition of the song.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In the first game, you win one level by picking the door with a panda bear waiting at it instead of a serial killer. In reality, opening the door to any kind of bear is just another dumb way to die.

Be safe around TV Tropes*
*and trains

Alternative Title(s): Dumb Ways To Die


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