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Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die.
Come on, admit it. We've all seen it. Some hapless loser or faceless redshirt bites it in a strange and unusual way. Maybe he had an anvil dropped on him, or better yet a bridge. Maybe he keeps getting killed every week by some monster, only to come back to be killed off again. Perhaps he's small, furry, and cute, yet the death is depicted as gory and defined as possible. Any way it happens, someone is going to chuckle... unless you happen to be a Moral Guardian or easy offended, in which case it's Dude, Not Funny.
In Real Life, this can be a coping strategy for those close to death and/or the dying.
Often a form of Black Comedy or Dead Baby Comedy and a Sister Trope to Gallows Humor. Usually played as a Refuge in Audacity. They Killed Kenny is a subtrope of this if it's Played for Laughs. Compare Black Comedy Rape.
Anime and Manga
- Bludgeoning Angel Dokurochan has titular character Dokuro, an angelic assassin, play this straight with the unfortunate Sakura, who gets an explicitly animated horrible club to the wherever whenever he does something Dokuro finds vaguely inappropriate. Of course, she also possesses the ability to bring him back, which leads to a vicious cycle.
- Angel Beats features a universe where no one can die, so obviously this trope is used frequently. It's made even funnier when there are "instant replays" with the sad, dramatic ending theme in the background.
- One of the most well-known examples is from Pulp Fiction:
Vincent: "I Just Shot Marvin in the Face!"
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street gets loads of this, be it in film or stage production. Killing people to a tune or with camp makes it funny, apparently. Or maybe it was the pork pies...
- Head Office kills off two characters within 20 minutes. The first one is Rick Moranis's character, who dies of a heart attack after his blood pressure went too high from stress. The other one is Danny DeVito's character, who jumps to his death from the building into the fountain.
- Weekend at Bernies and its sequel, along with any film that uses the same schtick.
- Tropic Thunder is violent and runs on Refuge in Audacity. So much that the only death on the movie is this: Damien has just finished giving a Rousing Speech, and then gets blown to bits by a landmine.
- Final Destination movies can be interpreted as rather dark comedies.
- Hot Fuzz: every death in this film is done in a weirdly twisted, but comical way.
- Mob Boss Momo from Get Shorty keels over with a Hollywood Heart Attack on recieving a Shock Party.
- Running Theme in Tucker and Dale Versus Evil. With just about every single character who dies.
- Mystery Team. "Someone stole that man's face." Rather unusual in that the characters usually react very seriously to death otherwise (although the line "Two dead bodies, that's my limit!" certainly qualifies as a joke).
- "Dadadadada! I.Am.Your singing telegram!" BANG! *Thud*
- In The Mummy Returns has this:
Jonathan: Look! There's a burial ground. We're safe! We're safe! See those sacred stones? They'll never cross those.
Shafek: You are sure?
Jonathan: Yes, of course I'm sure.
[a pygmy runs past and stabs Shafek. Jonathan screams]
Jonathan: Sorry. My mistake.
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the entire planet gets blown up in the first part of the book... because it was in the way of a intergalactic freeway. Later averted when they replaced Earth. Then un-averted when it was blown up again.
Live Action TV
- In the Friends episode "The One Where Heckles Dies", there is a bit of this. Mr. Heckles dies rapping a broom on the ceiling in an attempt to get the friends in the apartment above him to quieten down.
- Monica Mancuso from Las Vegas flies off the roof of the casino when a gust of wind catches the "winged-style" dress she was wearing. She flies around for about five minutes before crashing into a shoe store more than a mile away. Characters spend the episode debating the impossibility of it, and buying shoes from the store.
- Arnold J. Rimmer. Twice.
- Dean from Supernatural gets a whole series of funny deaths because of a Time Loop.
- Dead Like Me features a lot of these.
- A SBTB: The College Years episode featured the death of a professor followed by the usual wacky humor.
- In The Vampire Diaries, Elijah knocking off Trevor's head? Harsh, but hilarious. Elijah forcing Slater to stake himself? Awful, but hilarious. Elijah ripping out two people's hearts at THE SAME TIME? Evil, but epic.
- The sudden death (at her desk) of Don's ancient secretary Miss Blankenship on Mad Men (in episode 4.09, "The Beautiful Girls") is played for some of the most ridiculous laughs the series has ever seen from start of the subplot (the discovery that she's dead) to the shunting around of her body in a rolling chair to avoid being seen by the clients. The subplot ends, however, on a very heartwarming moment from her former lover Bert Cooper: "She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She's an astronaut."
- The IT Crowd has Denholm Reynholm walk to a high-story window and casually commit suicide when confronted by the authorities for accounting irregularies and it's hilarious.
- Firefly features the villain of the week, Crow, being kicked into Serenity's engine intake by Mal. It's clearly played for comedy, and it is pretty funny.
- Numerous times  on Whose Line Is It Anyway has this trope been acted out by one of the performers.
- The Darwin Awards
- A major factor in Jewish humor, medical humor, military humor... in fact, just humor.
- Evil Dead: Regeneration does this with Sam, Ash's half deadite sidekick. He gets better each time, but he still doesn't like dying. Killing him is actually a gameplay mechanic as well as something Ash does in the cutscenes.
- Most sand box crime games like Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row play off the deaths of whoever is on the street while you shoot them in the face this way, usually occurring elsewhere in the game's plot because of the less than serious tone much of the games have.
- People die so many times in Ghost Trick that even they can find their own deaths amusing if they're ludicrous enough. It helps that we know the deaths won't stick.
- Hyperdimension Neptunia has this following exchange:
Jade: I'm a member of the Guild. I live on Leanbox, but I don't follow Lady Green Heart...
Neptune: ...Why're you telling me now? What's up with this?
Jade: I... I'm into girls... like... Lady White Heart.
IF: ...And that's that. You finished him off.
Neptune: Oops. Well, that was for ruining the moment.
- The crowner was that Compa can heal his wounds, but cannot undo his death flag.
- In Temple Run, your deaths are often played for laughs. Whenever you die, you get a laconic text message. For example, when you die from falling into a pit, this message may be "I knew I should have learned how to fly" or "temple slippery when wet". These two messages have a double irony, since you can use "wings of resurrection" and since you can slide without problem over even the roughest surfaces.
- The whole point of Happy Tree Friends.
- Also the whole point of the Department of Mary Sues in the PPC.
- "You know what's funny?"
- Played straight nearly constantly on South Park, be it with Kenny or anyone who happens to get hit with the biggest Idiot Ball at the time.
- Happens to many, many, many Mooks on The Venture Brothers, most often by the hand of utter badass Brock Samson.
- Those poor interns.
- Some episodes of the French comedy shortcom Avez-Vous Déjà Vu ?... (Have You Already Seen...) definitely fall under this trope. An example involves three houses that play a game to see how far they can spit their inhabitants out. One of them launches a guy through the chimney, who then lands right onto the road. The poor dude is run over by a bus, after which the house happily says "Yay, a bus ! That's 1000 points !".
- Every single episode of Metalocalypse. Sudden, gruesome deaths account for about a third of the show's humor.
- ↑ too many to list here