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Need to have a character buy the farm? It's easy! Just:

  1. Put them in red clothes: For throwaway characters and warriors and young girls a fatal choice of fashion.
  2. Inflict them with Genre Blindness.
  3. Or with too much Genre Savviness
  4. Get 'em laid.
  5. ...preferably by the main character.
  6. Put them on "point".
  7. Let them be completely happy for a minute.
  8. Hire Tim Minear. Or Joss Whedon. Or both.
  9. Make them do something -- anything -- noble.
  10. Make them more interesting than the lead.
  11. Have a Ratings slump.
  12. Convince the actor to argue with the executive producer.
  13. Make it very plain that the character can not die.
  14. Announce that they are retiring from a life of public service in two weeks.
  15. Let them goof up when they're working for the Big Bad.
  16. Alternatively, let the Big Bad decide that they have outlived their usefulness.
  17. Let them have a change of heart and switch sides to fight with the heroes.
  18. Send them out of doors on a partly cloudy day, especially near sunrise or sunset.
  19. Let them show a picture of their sweetheart (or their baby) to the rest of The Squad.
  20. Flash forward to their deathbed, years later.
  21. Cast a very old or infirm actor, and wait for them to die.
  22. Give them critical information to deliver to the main characters.
  23. Offer them some Schmuck Bait.
  24. Have them chase the heroes across a Rope Bridge.
  25. Get them a job at a Dangerous Workplace with No OSHA Compliance.
  26. Let the hero come and visit their boss.
  27. Assign them to operate the Explosive Instrumentation.
  28. Protect them with lots of safety equipment.
  29. Introduce them to the Bolivian army.
  30. Throw a sixteenth birthday party for them.
  31. Cue up a Really Dead Montage.
  32. Relocate them to Tokyo...
  33. ... or to a town where nothing exciting ever happens.
  34. Have them go out of their way to be mean to everyone.
  35. Cast them as the villain in a Disney film.
  36. Give them that secret potion, the one that turns you into a monster. Because What Measure Is a Non-Human?, really?
  37. Let them fall below the Bishonen Line.
  38. Enlist them in the armed forces in a monster/disaster movie.
  39. Draw them a Candlelit Bath.
  40. Send them down a river.
  41. Make them the Sacrificial Lamb used to establish a unique reputation for your show.
  42. Chase them into the street without giving them time to Look Both Ways.
  43. Have another character curse their existence.
  44. Write when you're having a bad day.
  45. Hire Ron Marz. (Though this is hit-or-miss. You might just end up with the hero's girlfriend stuffed in a refrigerator.)
  46. Have them uncover the Masquerade or discover the hero's Secret Identity when the plot doesn't make it convenient for them to do so.
  47. Make them a main character's double from an alternate universe.
  48. Cast them as the main character's pilot or chauffer.
  49. Make them a mentor who is more powerful than the hero.
  50. Have them visit the hero's hometown after the hero refuses the Call.
  51. Become a writer for the franchise, and write that character's death.
  52. Become an executive for that franchise, and order that character killed off.
  53. Make them reveal their homosexuality.
  54. Sign them up for the sequel.
  55. Assign them the job of mentoring a hero.
  56. Put them "in the way" of your One True Pairing.
  57. Stop selling their toy.
  58. Hire Yoshiyuki Tomino.
  1. Send them to a place that gets snow.
  2. Hit them with everything from every direction.
  3. Hire R.A. Salvatore. With Troy Denning and Karen Traviss on backing vocals.
  4. Have them say "I'll be right back." Might not kill them, but it will make a liar out of them at least.
  5. Have someone say words to the effect of "We couldn't do without him."
  6. Have them be the hero's best friend.
  7. Or even better, a love interest.
  8. Make them be a Mook. Especially one without a name or wearing a mask.
  9. Write them as such a Mary Sue that the audience demands they be killed off as a pointless annoyance.
  10. Have them kidnap someone's kids.
  11. Have them betray the hero. They won't survive that, right?

...but really, Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?

Disclaimers may apply.[1]


  1. The above examples are provided for educational purposes only. Any resemblance to works of fiction past, current, or future is purely coincidental. All The Tropes and its contributors cannot be held responsible for bulletproof skin, bulletproof pocket-sized mementos, conveniently placed pools of water, Healing Factors, insufficiently thorough deaths, Joker Immunity, vengeful offspring, Legacy Immortality, shirts that turn out to be slightly more lilac-colored than red, Gypsy Curses, angry ghosts, Expendable Clones, vastly more powerful final forms, Backup Twins, inexplicable acts of resurrection, or other means by which a character can thwart certain death, return to life, strike back from beyond the grave, or otherwise continue to influence the story following his or her intended demise. All liability for fan backlash, alignment shifts, and horrified self-examination resulting from killing off a character belongs solely to the creator of the fictional work in question. All The Tropes and its contributors do not condone causing nonfictional deaths, as such acts are evil and therefore wrong regardless of how cool, sexy, and fun they may be.
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