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Sometimes when a character, especially a Sad Clown or Plucky Comic Relief type, is facing death, they find the whole experience laugh-out-loud funny. Or sometimes, the laughter itself is what kills them. Either way, that's where this trope comes in. Can also overlap with Laughing Mad.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Die Laughing include:

Anime & Manga

  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Jougan and Balinbow have their Crowning Moment of Awesome making a Heroic Sacrifice to save Gimmy and Darry, then they die laughing maniacally... and take out an Anti-Spiral fleet with their death.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Rena dies laughing in the Big Bad's face during one arc.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: When Shishio spontaneously combusts from his extreme body temperature, he dies, burning in flames, laughing to the end.
  • In Hellsing, the Captain dies laughing (which Seras described "like a child") when he is killed by Pip.
  • In the Dragonball Z OVA "Bardock, Father of Goku", Bardock goes out this way when he realizes the prophecy he had of a Saiyan vanquishing Frieza wasn't of him, but of his son, Goku.
  • After Jessie ends up being incapable of restraining her amusement of Haunter's antics when the platform she and the rest of Team Rocket were on and lets go, Meowth comments while she is laughing that she's going to die laughing. Knowing these characters, they survive, albeit at the end of the episode, they are encased in cement.


Comic Books

  • In Sin City, when Marv learns that his foe is Cardinal Roark, he realizes that it's going to kill him, whether he takes down Roark or not. Marv decides to press on: "Hell, dying will be nothing. I'll die laughing if I know I've done this one thing right." And so he does.
  • Joker venom, starting with the very first Batman vs. The Joker story. Victims literally die laughing with huge unnatural smiles on their faces.
    • The Joker himself, after being crippled by Batman in The Dark Knight Returns SNAPS HIS OWN NECK BY TWISTING IT AROUND to frame his nemesis, and then literally dies laughing.
    • A refined version of Joker venom causes victims to laugh up their own intestines.


Film

  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: All but one of the weasels die of laughing and become ghosts. Just like Doom warned them they would.
  • In Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, this is the fate of any who breathes in the gas in the Chasm of Death, though the furry heroes are saved by Ellie before they actually, you know, die.

 Ellie: They're just laughing. What's so bad about that?

Buck: (pointing at dinosaur skeletons) They died laughing!


Literature

  • In the backstory of The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, the comedian Ah Hoon was found murdered, with a laugh frozen on his face. As we find out at the very end, this was due to the great difficulty the killer had in reaching Ah Hoon: The killer looked ridiculous at the moment of the murder.
  • The Dark Tower: Cuthbert and Roland, the last gunslingers of Gilead, are pulling a Self-Destructive Charge to take out as many of the enemy as possible. Cuthbert loses first one eye, then the other, to enemy projectiles. And he still keeps laughing, right up to the moment he falls.
    • A shapeshifting emotion vampire tries to kill Roland this way in the final novel. It's mentioned that this was a particularly effective method as Roland is normally rather humorless.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Prak, near the end of the third novel, tells "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about the entire universe, and drives everyone who hears it mad. Prak himself dies after several days of uncontrollable laughter upon meeting Arthur Dent: he apparently found the "truth" about Arthur fatally hilarious.
  • In Holes, Kathleen Barlow ("Kissin' Kate Barlow") is taken in for arrest, to be tortured for information. Before they can do anything to her, however, a Yellow Spotted Lizard bites her on the ankle, which causes a slow, painful death; and Kate dies laughing, as "there was nothing more they could do to her now".
  • "Harry Potter", Sirius Black gets offed mid-laugh. His cousin and murderer, Bellatrix Lestrange, cops it exactly the same way from Molly Weasley.
  • In The Underland Chronicles, a certain type of carnivorous plant in the Vineyard of Eyes emits a euphoric gas that makes you laugh at everything, rendering you helpless to the attacking vines.
  • In The Hunger Games President Snow dies laughing after Katniss shoots Coin, having believed what he told her about Coin dropping the bombs that killed her little sister, Prim.
  • Hobsons Island has a pack of bio-weapon monkeys brought to the island that do this to people who touch them. Everyone on the island falls victim to them. Only one guy survives. He goes insane, as it happened it the middle of his comedy show and he believes that he is responsible.


Live Action TV


Theater

  • In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Big Daddy explains to his son Brick that he wants to leave behind all of his riches to him and the rest of the family because his own father was a worthless old hobo. His only tie to glory was a worthless old uniform from his time served in the Military which he gave to Big Daddy, but despite his terrible situation he died laughing with his son by his side. Brick thinks that he died laughing the way he did because he was happy that he had his son by his side, and that he left behind many happy memories and love for his son the best way he knew how, Big Daddy is deeply moved by this perspective.


Video Games

  • Silent Hill 4: Jasper laughing hysterically as he burns alive, glad to have met "the Devil", followed by carving 17/21 into his own chest with a candlestick right before he dies.
  • Father Grigori does this in Half-Life 2 if you allow him to be killed.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, while Ghirahim is violently converted back to his master Demise's sword, he laughs maniacally, then falls limp when Demise pulls his sword out of Ghirahim's body. It's debatable whether this is an actual "death", but it meets most qualifications.
  • In Batman: Arkham Asylum the Joker's toxin causes this to happen.
  • In one of the cut endings of Knights of the Old Republic 2, this is how Atton dies, after fighting a futile battle against Darth Sion. The audio still exists in the game file, and it may be... worth listening to.
  • Suprisingly, Kefka Palazzo of Final Fantasy VI didn't do this, instead dying in complete silence.[1] He did go out this way in Dissidia Final Fantasy, with a sad, remorseful laugh rather than his trademark roaring cackle after Terra points out he only fought because death is the only thing that could make him truly happy.
    • Gestahl does, however, refer to the trope when Kefka starts laughing for no apparent reason when Gestahl attempts to kill him to prevent him from having the Warring Triad unleash their true power and cause the apocalypse. Subverted in that his spells have absolutely no effect on Kefka due to being in the Warring Triad's energy field. It's even given a Continuity Nod in Dissidia Duodecim Final Fantasy, from Sephiroth says the trope name word for word when about to fight Kefka.

 Final Fantasy VI://

Gestahl: No hard feelings, now... I'm just going to use this power you've unleashed to put you to sleep...//

(Kefka starts laughing)//

Gestahl: What's so funny!? Very well... I suppose it's only fitting that you go out laughing.

Dissidia Duodecim//

Sephiroth: (to Kefka) Die laughing.


Web Comics


Western Animation

  • The Batman: The Joker's gas victims. They die with a smile on their faces. After laughing uncontrollably. In pain. To be precise, as in the comics version, it's the uncontrolled laughter that kills them.
  • In the Looney Tunes compilation movie Daffy Duck's Quackbusters, Daffy Duck goes on a quest to become a dying millionaire's companion. He winds up the millionaire's jester, and the millionaire winds up laughing uproariously as he pelts Daffy with pies, right up to his death.
  • In the South Park episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die", Kenny laughed himself to death after seeing Cartman's video. Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Kenny's spirit came out of his body, still laughing (shown in later broadcasts).
  • Joker venom is non-fatal in Batman: The Animated Series, but in both Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and the Superman: The Animated Series three-parter "World's Finest", the Joker finds his own supposedly certain death to be uproarously funny. Ironically, he doesn't laugh at all when he met his true end in the flashback in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.


Real Life

  • Alex Mitchell found The Goodies episode "Kung Fu Kapers" so funny he laughed non-stop for 25 minutes straight. The strain on his heart was such that he suffered a fatal heart attack. His widow sent The Goodies a letter thanking them for making his last moments so happy.
  • Rumor has it that somebody almost died laughing while watching the scene in A Fish Called Wanda where Kevin Kline puts chips up Michael Palin's nose.

Notes

  1. Probably the closest he can go to undergoing the trope is if the player is lucky enough to kill him either immediately after he starts charging Goner/Forsaken, since that's when his head with his laughing expresion is displayed, or when the fourth stanza of Dancing Mad starts to loop.
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