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So you're a character in a genre where Anyone Can Die -- but somehow, you've managed to survive the big confrontation. Once the Sequel rolls around, everything should be fine, right?

Hey, that Bridge over there looks a bit unsteady. Wait, what's that? It looks like the Bridge is....falling...Oh shi --

CRASH!!!

Guess Anyone Can Die after all. In fact, you're likely to bite it in the first few minutes if you appear in the sequel at all. And if you're a Final Girl who's in more than one installment of a slasher movie series, your life expectancy drops dramatically.

This can happen for several reasons: Maybe a character needs to stay single and the other character is in the way, maybe the actor died or can only make a cameo, or maybe the character was only popular enough for a token appearance. Whatever the case, Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome often comes off as more than a little mean-spirited, to the point that it can be compared to Fridging or Bridging if handled especially badly.

In movies, this can happen for two additional reasons: A character may die on-screen because his actor accepted to play the part, or he may die off-screen because the actor refused or died themselves between films.

This generally has the effect of making the previous work a Shoot the Shaggy Dog; however the main character will quickly move on with their life. Doing this is a great way to cause a rebellion in the fanbase over what is going to be without a doubt a Contested Sequel. The Snicket Warning Label may be applied here in cases where this strikes characters who got a Happy Ending in the previous work.

Compare Not Quite Saved Enough, Sequel Reset, Back for the Dead (where a long-absent series character is brought back only to get killed off), Bus Crash, Sequel Non Entity. Contrast with Doomed by Canon, where a character in a prequel gets killed off because his or her death is necessary for the preceding work's plot.

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

Examples of Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome include:

Anime andManga

  • Astonage, one of the mechanics who survives Zeta Gundam and Gundam ZZ is killed off in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment in ~Char's Counterattack~ by a missile that impacts the hanger bay. This is probably because he picked up a love interest sometime before the movie. You didn't honestly think that Kill 'em all Tomino would let him get away with that did you?
  • For most of Hell Girl's second season, the main human characters of the first season are AWOL. Finally Tsugumi appears; she seems fine, but it sounds like something has happened to her father Hajime. We don't know for sure yet, but the similarity to The Ring is suggestive.
  • Many of the remaining characters from Fafner: Right of Left OVA end up dead in the first one-and-a-half episodes of the tv series.
  • April from Darker Than Black suffered a few serious injuries in the middle of the first season, but ultimately survived and appeared in the second season... only to be killed at the end of the first episode by Hei.
  • JC, the main supporting character of the 1998 video game SiN dies just minutes into its anime sequel counterpart, SiN: The Movie. He goes through a particularly gruesome transformation and has to be put down by his boss, John Blade. This clears the way for JC's younger, hotter sister to join Blade's police force.


Comic Books

  • In the graphic novel Batman: The Long Halloween, Sofia Gigante barely survives the final confrontation. In the sequel, Sofia becomes the Big Bad, murders ten people, and is anticlimactically killed off by Two-Face.
    • While we're on the subject of The Long Halloween, Holiday fits this trope. Alberto Falcone was simply smothered to death by his own sister in Dark Victory while begging to be spared.
  • Raymond Briggs created the characters of Jim and Hilda Bloggs, a charming but simple elderly couple, for his graphic novel Gentleman Jim. They proved so popular he brought them back - for When the Wind Blows, in which they die horribly from radiation poisoning after a nuclear war. Oh dear.
  • Wonder Man, a key member of the West Coast Avengers who was a major member of the team throughout its run, was shockingly killed in the first issue of the sequel series Force Works.
    • Which had the accidental effect of cancelling his own comic series while it was still going!

Fan Works

Film - Animation

  • King Harold in Shrek 2 has a good example of a non-death Heroic Sacrifice, as he throws himself in the path of the Fairy Godmother's wand to save Shrek. The result is that his previous 'happy ending' is removed and he is turned back to the frog he was. But he's still alive at the end of the movie, and his wife doesn't mind his being a frog at all. Unfortunately, within the first act of Shrek the Third, King Harold, well, croaks.
  • If you want to count All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, in the beginning, Charlie's friend Itchy gets sent to Heaven after he died by choking on a chicken drumstick and both are reunited. Of course, since the films star dead dogs, this doesn't really put Itchy out of commission at all.
  • At the very beginning of Cars 2, we find out that Doc Hudson's medical clinic has been converted into a memorial museum dedicated to him due to the death of actor Paul Newman. Also, the trophy Lightning McQueen won prior to the events of that film is called the "Hudson Hornet Memorial Piston Cup."


Film - Live-Action

  • Iron Man, Black Widow and Thanos in Avengers: Endgame.
  • Dr. Ishiro Serizawa in 2019's Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
  • Cotton Weary, a non-main character from the Scream series who helped Sidney in the second movie (despite the fact that she mistakenly sent him to jail about a year before the first) and killed the Big Bad, died in the first 5 minutes of the third movie. Randy, the horror movie buff who identified all the tropes in the first Scream, gets killed halfway through Scream 2, though he is Genre Savvy enough to make a Video Will to dispense some final advice for Scream 3.
  • As this is very common in horror movies, Scary Movie makes fun of this by having Charlie Sheen's character from the third movie die in the first scene of the fourth via giant erection. Brenda from the first two Scary Movies also dies in the first and early in the third, but since she seems to die a lot and come back it doesn't really count.
  • The 1980s version of the second The Hills Have Eyes movie did this to Ruby, the mutant girl who survived the first film, by smashing her head in with a rock.
  • The third X-Men film possibly did this in regards to Cyclops, because James Marsden had to go work on Superman Returns.
    • Mystique, one of the few characters not shown during the "present day" (Deadpool, Deadpool 2, The New Mutants, and the ending scene of X-Men: Days of Future Past) of the new universe, dies in Dark Phoenix.
  • Final Destination's final shot before the credits made it quite clear that the three survivors were going to be down to two. We never saw the freak accident that took out the hero of the first movie. We only got to hear Clear describe it in the sequel who herself almost, but not quite, survived to the credits.
    • The protagonists of the second and third movies are also implied to be dead by newspaper clippings. With the three survivors of the fourth movie being killed in the end, it's clear that whoever survives in the movie will die eventually.
  • At the beginning of Alien³, the Sulaco launches an escape pod which lands on a planet. Newt and Hicks are both killed in gruesome ways (the gory aftermath is shown), while Bishop has one scene in which he asks to be turned off.
    • Interestingly, the Comic Canon (quite a lot of which was written before 3) sees Hicks and Newt survive, and quite a few fans consider it superior for that reason.
    • Shaw too, as of Alien: Covenant.
  • Alice, the Final Girl of the first Friday the 13th, becomes Jason's very first victim at the beginning of Part 2. The next person to die, Crazy Ralph, also survived the first movie.
  • The Final Girl of Halloween 4 was Michael Meyer's first victim in the fifth movie.
    • Likewise for Halloween 6 .
      • And don't forget Laurie Strode's death in Halloween Resurrection.
  • The Nightmare On Elm Street movies famously had heroines return in sequels only to have them killed off after passing the torch to a new heroine. Part 1's Nancy was killed in Part 3. Part 3's Kristen was killed in Part 4 (along with the rest of her Dream Warriors team). Subverted with "Dream Master" Alice, Freddy's strongest adversary, who survived not one but two films (Parts 4 and 5).
  • In Damien the Omen II, the old archaeologist from the first movie (played by Leo McKern) who was the only character to know the truth about Damien to survive from the first movie is killed in the opening minutes. In this case, it actually served to wrap up a loose end from the first film.
    • But how did he get his daggers back? They should have been in an evidence vault somewhere in London, surely.
  • The main character from Iron Eagle, Doug Masters, is literally killed off in the first 5 minutes in Iron Eagle II.
    • The character of Doug Masters returns, having not really been dead after all, in Iron Eagle IV. Different actor, though.
  • In The Godfather Part II, we learn that Peter Clemenza has allegedly died of a heart attack (with Willi Cicci implying he was actually murdered by the Rosato Brothers). Then again, that never caught anyone as a surprise.
    • In the second video game, the player character, Aldo, dies at the start.
    • In The Godfather Part III, we are told that Tom Hagen died shortly before the beginning of the film. This was done because Robert Duvall refused to reprise the role unless he was paid the same as, or marginally close to, what Al Pacino was getting paid.
  • Johnny Cage's death in the opening of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
  • The surviving protagonist of The Hidden, whose life was actually saved by the other protagonist transferring his essence into him, looks like he has alien cancer at the beginning of the sequel.
  • The hero of The Arrival dies off-screen sometime between it and the sequel.
  • In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku can fight both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to a standstill, effortlessly disarms Anakin one-on-one, and he forces Yoda to save Anakin and Obi-Wan so he can run away.. In the next movie, he's killed in a duel with Anakin with little fanfare before the introductory action sequence ends to show how much more powerful (and closer to the Dark Side) Anakin has become in the intervening years.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar survived The Grudge and was soon killed off in the sequel, to be replaced by her sister Amber Tamblyn.
  • A What Could Have Been almost-example from the James Bond movies: Tracy Bond originally was intended to survive On Her Majesty's Secret Service and not get killed (a common fate for Bond's love interests) until the opening of the next movie, Diamonds Are Forever. Lazenby's departure forced things to be shortened.
    • Keep in mind that this is also her fate in the books.
    • Mathis from Casino Royale fare a little better than the norm, making it about halfway through Quantum of Solace before being gunned down and tossed into a dumpster.
    • Valentin Zukovsky survives Goldeneye and appears again in The World Is Not Enough where he dies near the end.
  • In Austin Powers 2, Austin's love interest in the first movie, Vanessa, is revealed to be a fembot and is quickly destroyed. To make the revelation even more absurd, Basil admits that they'd known all along. Austin mourns her death for all of three seconds before realizing he's single again, which makes him so happy it leads to a choreographed dance number.
  • Hostel Part II: Paxton, the Final Guy from the first film, is decapitated early on.
  • The character Jake from Rings, a short film that bridges The Ring and The Ring Two, spends the majority of the (surprisingly well-written) story hallucinating and freaking out over the influence of the Cursed Tape. At the end of the horrible seven day-long mind screw, he calls up a girlfriend to pass the curse on to her... He dies in the opening scene of The Ring Two, as the girl refuses to watch the tape and he's pulled into a cheesy special effect.
    • There's an even better example in the original Japanese works. The protagonist of the first book dies in the sequel, Rasen, and in both the movie sequels (an adaptation of Rasen and an original sequel, Ring 2). In all cases, the cause of death is not being the protagonist anymore.
  • The Chinese man who originally owned Gizmo returned to reclaim him at the end of the original Gremlins, and dies about ten minutes into the sequel. This, of course, ensures that he is out of the way so Gizmo could end up being reunited with Billy. It's possible that actor Keye Luke was in too poor of health to have an extended role in the film, as he died a year after the film's release.
  • Welcome to The Dollhouse, which was very depressing as it was, had a small shred of hope for the tragic main character at the end of the film...until Palindromes was released as a loose sequel. It was revealed that the same main character has committed suicide from depression straight up in the beginning of the sequel.
  • Whistler dies in the beginning of Blade 3 to make room for Blade's super cool new sidekicks, despite the fact that Blade 2 went to the trouble of resurrecting him after he died in the first film. At least he got a last stand this time.
  • Saw II revealed that Adam, one of the main characters from the original, had died, showing us his corpse. In Saw III not only showed his death scene (in a flashback) but it also killed off Amanda (a former test subject, then apprentice), Detective Kerry, who had been investigating the Jigsaw case since the beginning and Jigsaw himself. Saw IV saw the death of two characters who were introduced in Saw II, Det. Eric Matthews and SWAT Sergeant Daniel Rigg. The main character of III, Jeff Denlon, was also quickly dispatched. Special Agents Peter Strahm and Lindsay Perez were introduced in IV and died in the second Saw film they appeared, respectively V and VI, the second one after having been declared dead in V, in which also their boss, Agent Erickson, who first appears in V, ended up dying. Detective David Tapp, whose fate is unclear in I, is revealed to be dead in V and his fate is shown in the canonical ending of The Video Game, while the saga could possibly avert the trope with the return of the 'possibly' lone survivor of I, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, for the last sequel, VII, and/or playing it straight with the return of some survivors of other movies who will be in VII (it's been confirmed that Simone and Emily from VI will be back too). Even the Jigsaw's get it. Hell, John bites it in movie three.
  • Vin Diesel's character is mentioned in passing as having been killed by a guerrilla ambush in the beginning of xXx: State of the Union, to make way for Ice Cube as the new xXx. Ice Cube is Genre Savvy enough not to stick around for his turn, and retires at the end of the film so a new xXx can appear in the sequel without requiring his death.
    • The Director's Cut DVD actually includes a short movie showing the death itself...sort of. Xander is played by Vin Diesel's stunt double, never showing his face, and with dubbed lines from the first film. There's an explosion that apparently leaves behind only a tattooed flap of skin slaps down.
    • What's really interesting is that Vin Diesel is going to be returning as Xander Cage in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. The title seems to make it clear that the film will not be a Continuity Reboot. It looks to treat Xander's death as Canon Dis Continuity or a Rewrite in which he survives.
  • Brenda Wyatt, Connor MacLeod's romantic interest in the original Highlander film, has been killed off in every single different sequel which followed on from the original film:
    • In Highlander II the Quickening Brenda is shown in flashback to have died in 1995 as a result of environmental catastrophe.
    • In Highlander III the Sorcerer Brenda is said to have died in 1987 after both she and MacLeod are run over by a car.
    • An alternate cut of Highlander Endgame shows Brenda being hit by a car thanks to the Big Bad of the film, possibly in reference to The Sorcerer.
      • Wow, Brenda just can't catch a break. Everyone just keeps killing her! No wonder MacLeod always looks so pissed throughout the series.
    • Connor himself bites it in Highlander Endgame, when he asks Duncan to behead him and take his power to help defeat the Big Bad. He probably got tired of having Brenda die every time.
    • Ramirez, Connor's Mentor in the first movie dies halfway through the movie. He's revived in the second, only to die again.
  • Several major characters have died in the Rocky sequels. Rocky's coach Mickey died of a heart attack in part 3, his formal rival turned best friend Apollo Creed is beaten to death by Ivan Drago in part 4, and his wife Adrian dies of breast cancer prior to part 6. Pauley is revealed to be dead in Creed.
  • Once Upon a Time in Mexico killed off Carolina, the Love Interest from Desperado, in a backstory event that didn't get revealed until the end of the second act of the film. She and Mariachi had a kid before it all went down, which made things extra tragic, since the little girl wasn't spared either. Marquez, the killer and the Dragon for the movie's Big Bad, is Mariachi's main target for revenge during the movie.
  • A very straight example of this trope is the Bourne Supremacy. Marie, Jason's love interest and a main character in The Bourne Identity, is quickly dispatched during the opening chase.
  • Kirsty Cotton from the Hellraiser series consistently averts this, after appearing as a character in three movies and as cameos in others. Every time, she gets a little bit craftier at dealing with Hell.
  • Dimon the Burnt in the sequel to the Russian film Bumer, which is kind of strange considering that his survival is part of what gave the ending to the first film impact.
  • Bruce Campbell's protagonist in Maniac Cop gets one scene to catch his bearings in Maniac Cop 2 before being killed by the still-living monster cop while reading about himself in the newspaper.
  • Nancy Allen, who played Officer Ann Lewis in the RoboCop trilogy, is dispatched less than halfway through the third film, largely due to her own incompetence (she goes to a suspected resistance hideout, which leads to her being gutshot). However, this is because Allen asked the producers to write her character out of the franchise.
  • Although Tank seemed to be quite fine by the end of The Matrix, the actor's refusal to reprise the role (or leaking details of the plot, according to some) made the Only a Flesh Wound fatal after all.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indy's dad is revealed to have died offscreen prior to the events of the movie, thanks to Connery declining to appear in the film. Henry Jones was already old in The Last Crusade and the fourth film takes place eighteen years later, so many viewers probably saw his death coming anyway.
    • Marcus also dies between Crusade and Crystal Skull, due to the death of actor Denholm Elliot.
  • Kraven, the Manipulative Bastard who survived all the reversals and betrayals of Underworld, dies barely 10 minutes into Underworld: Evolution when Marcus, the new big bad, learns of his treachery and gruesomely slaughters him.
    • He also slaughters everyone else in the mansion, albeit off-screen, including Erika.
  • In the 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill, the only survivors were Eddie and Sara. At the beginning of the 2007 sequel, Return to House on Haunted Hill, Sara's sister Ariel gets a phone call telling her that Sara has committed suicide. (We never learn what happened to Eddie.)
  • The two final survivors in The House of the Dead film are revealed in The House of the Dead 2 to have died in the interrim. This is something of an unusual example in that the ending of the first film had the guy bring the girl back to life as a semi-zombie using the Big Bad's formula, so even back then you knew things weren't going to end well for the two of them. This, in turn, Josses the common fan theory that Rudy is supposed to be Roy Curien (Rudy is actually Daniel Curien, Roy's Lost Lenore son from the games)
  • In Lake Placid Delores Bitterman, who has been raising hand feeding a mated pair of crocodiles and their babies, dies prior to the second film. Her sister takes over the role.
  • Transformers has many examples:
    • Ironhide in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Plus, Starscream, Soundwave, and Megatron are all killed. Supplementary materials say Jolt died too.
    • In Age of Extinction Ratchet serves as a Sacrificial Lamb, and Topjack gets killed too. Supplementary materials say Sideswipe is dead. And the Arcees are confirmed to have died.
    • In the Last Knight Sam Witwicky is implied to be dead.
  • Played with in Mission:Impossible--Ghost Protocol where it first appears that Ethan Hunt's wife Julia from the third film fell victim to this trope. Later it is completely subverted when it is revealed he faked her death to protect her and she is alive and well. She even makes a brief appearance.
  • Irene Adler dies within the first few minutes of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
  • Duke is quickly dispatched in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Forgotten Fallen Friend is averted, fortunately, as Roadblock is shown to have sever survivor’s guilt over his death. The original team was either killed or dismissed between films, and Ripcord‘s actor has (jokingly) said he died from friendly fire between films.
  • Io in Wrath of the Titans. Then again, that's the least of the film's problems...
  • Pitch Black survivors Jack/Kyra and :Imam fare much worse in the sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.
  • In Jaws Sean Brody, Martin's son, played a minor role in the first film and a major role in the second and third. In the opening minutes of Jaws: the Revenge Sean becomes the shark's first victim while he tries to do police work out on the bay.
  • In the Child's Play franchise Sullivan, the Good Guys company CEO, is introduced in the second film and becomes victim #1 in the third film.
  • In Hatchet II Jack Cracker is Victor Crowley’s first victim.
  • In the Star Wars Sequel trilogy Admriral Ackbar is killed before the end of the first act in the Last Jedi.
  • Planet of the Apes
    • Dr. Milo is killed by an angry Killer Gorilla pretty quickly into Escape.
    • In Conquest Armando commits suicide so he will not be forced to tell the truth about Caesar.
    • In Battle Governor Breck, the Big Bad of Conquest, has died of radiation poisoning.
    • In War Cornelia and Blue Eyes are killed by the Colonel, and a deleted scene reveals that the Colonel had killed Malcolm too.
  • In U.S. Marshals Noah Newman, after making it through the entirety of The Fugitive, is shot and killed by corrupt DSS Agent John Royce.

Literature

  • 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 (though he appears in flashback form in the Extended Cut of movies two and three).
  • 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.
  • In the first Jurassic Park 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.
  • 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.
  • The last book of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has the main character, Arthur's, newfound love interest from the fourth book, Fenchurch, not just die, but suddenly disappear. 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Julius Root has a bridge dropped on him at the opening of the fourth Artemis Fowl book.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly, almost inverted in Warrior Cats. Even though Anyone Can Die (big time), the majority of the characters who survived until the second series (with only five or so exceptions) are still alive 12 books later.
    • ...and then played straight in the fourth series, where (so far) almost all of the deaths are those of characters who have been alive since early in the series.
    • Played very straight when Firestar, the Hero of the first series, dies in the fourth series,.
  • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows plays this trope masterfully. With one major character dying in the climax of every book since the fourth, Rowling had settled major character death into a predictable, albeit terrifying pattern. Cue Deathly Hallows, and Harry's faithful owl Hedwig dies. In chapter four. Soon followed by the off-screen death of Mad-Eye Moody. Ok, Rowling, we get it now: shit just got real, son.
    • It Got Worse. For those who thought losing Hedwig and Mad-Eye was bad enough, the fans certainly did not expect 10+ more major characters to die. Though this is probably justified since J.K. Rowling may be trying to set a dismal, almost dystopian tone for her seventh and final book.
      • Word of God confirms it. She said after book five that, since it was a war, characters would get killed, and that some characters wouldn't be protected just by being major characters.
  • In the first chapter of Eldest (Book 2 of the Inheritance Cycle), Murtagh (supposedly) and Ajihad are killed by Urgals.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Caspian subsequently dies, right on the page, in the final chapter of The Silver Chair.
    • 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 Magicians 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.
  • 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.
  • A rare example of this happening to a vehicle, but the Red October is seen in the prologue of The Cardinal of the Kremlin, having been stripped of it’s equipment by technicians, leaving it only a bare hull, having it’s sinking being overviewed by Marko Ramius and Jack Ryan.
  • Happens in both sequels to Beggars in Spain.
  • the Giver Quartet:
  • In Cujo Sheriff George T. Bannerman, a character introduced in The Dead Zone, is mauled to death by the titular rabid dog.

Live Action TV

  • In the first episode of the 80's V sequel series, Martin (a prominent supporting character and fifth-columnist alien) gets dispatched by the Big Bad, Diana, halfway through the first episode. Other resistance members from the miniseries (including Robin Maxwell's father and Elias) are anticlimactically killed off within the first few episodes of the series.
  • Ewoks the Battle For Endor, the sequel to the TV movie The Ewok Adventure, has a perfect example of this trope. The original movie concerned the efforts of a teenage boy named Mace and his young sister Cindel to rescue their parents from a Big Bad monster that has kidnapped them. With the help of the Ewoks, they succeed and the first movie ends on a happy note. Barely 10 minutes into the second film, however, Mace is killed, and so are both parents. Cindel is the only human protagonist from the first film to survive the second one. Considering how the goal of the first movie was to save the parents, it's a good example of a sequel making the previous work seem like a Shoot the Shaggy Dog.
  • Season five of 24 opened with the deaths of Michelle Dessler and President Palmer.
    • Another example would be Curtis Manning only four episodes into season six (the fact that he was billed as a guest star, as opposed to a regular was a painfully obvious indicator that Curtis wouldn't be around for the long haul that season).
  • In the fourth season of Prison Break, the character whose escape from prison had been what the entire previous season's plot centered around was quickly retconned into a different role and shot in the head to clear the decks for an entirely new plot that had little to do with that of the previous season.
    • A more climactic example is Veronica Donovan, who was killed at the end of the Season 2 premiere.
    • Another example is James Whistler, who was a major character in Season 3, but. like Veronica, got a bullet between the eyes care of a Company agent in the first episode of the following season.
  • Kawalsky, one of the main characters from the Stargate movie, gets infested by a Goa'uld and is killed when Teal'c administers a Portal Cut to his head in the second episode of Stargate SG-1. However, the character continues to recur in hallucinations, illusions, and alternate realities, existing only to die again each time. Except for one time: the alternate-reality Kawalsky in the episode "Point of View" survives.
  • Volume 3 of Heroes dropped bridges on or otherwise wrote out most of the new characters from season 2.
    • One other notable example is Emile Danko, Big Bad of volume 4. After living though the entirety of volume 4, despite every single hero out to kill him, he makes it a whole thirty minutes into volume 5 before he's sliced and diced to death by a guy who doesn't even really know him all that well, just to get a key hidden in his stomach. They even started to build up a story for him for the volume before they, well, Dropped a Bridge on Him.
  • Hale gets run over by a van at the end of the Season 3 premiere of Sons of Anarchy.
    • And in the very next episode, Cameron Hayes gets killed off.
  • Mr. Eko from Lost, who was a major character in season 2 but killed off just a few episodes into season 3.
  • Edith Bunker made it to the Spin-Off Archie Bunker's Place, but died of a stroke in between the first and second seasons.
  • The wildly popular guest-star Carter from Robin Hood was brought back in the season two finale and saves all the outlaws' lives, only to get the bridge when the Sheriff stabs him to death in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment.
  • A version of this happens in the Doctor Who TV Movie, where the 7th Doctor makes a brief appearance only to get shot and then die on an operating table. However, being the Doctor, he gets better.
  • Captain Barbell's love interest from the 2007 series bites it in the first episode of the new 2011 series.
  • In Nightman, Johnny's father dies in the first episode of the second season. This is due to the fact they moved production to Canada.
  • In Scream Jake, Quinn, and Benson get killed by the new Ghostface. Than that Ghostface, Kieran, gets killed in the Halloween special.

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Theatre

  • Falstaff, the Ensemble Darkhorse of Shakespeare's Henry IV plays, has apparently died early on in Henry V, and there's a scene where Falstaff's friends are discussing it. While not quite as sudden as many of the other examples on this page, and seen as sort of a consequence of Prince Hal (Henry V) disassociating himself from Falstaff, it seems as if this trope is older than film, and in fact Older Than Steam.
    • Some adaptations of this, such as Olivier's 1944 film version, play the announcement of Falstaff's death as a giant audience tease, with the bishop first bringing up Falstaff and pausing, enough to get the audience anticipating the arrival of the fan-favourite clown, before relating that he is in fact banished.
      • Some critics believe Falstaff was originally slated to appear in Henry V but Shakespeare decided it would distract people from the hero, so he wrote Falstaff out and gave the lines to Pistol, a very minor character in the prequel.


Video Games

  • Kaileena from Prince of Persia Warrior Within (second game in the Sands of Time series arc) plays a pivotal character and the main antagonist in the game who is spared by the Prince at the end of the true (hidden) ending... only to be killed off within the first 15 to 20 minutes of the third game in the series, The Two Thrones.
    • Subverted in that she continues to narrate the game after her "death", and is ultimately restored to her true form once the Prince defeats the Vizier.
  • Simone Taylor was one of three characters to survive 5 Days a Stranger, the first game of the Chzo Mythos. (The second character would come down with a case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome shortly afterward, and the third was the player.) The second game, 7 Days a Skeptic, is set in the distant future, and the player finds a letter that mentions, among other things, that Simone was killed very shortly after the events of 5 Days. The third game, Trilby's Notes, goes back and actually is set very shortly after the events of 5 Days and the prologue/tutorial ends with the discovery of Simone's body.
  • Johnny Cage is killed off off-screen prior to the events of Mortal Kombat 3, then brought Back From the Dead in 4, Liu Kang is killed off at the start of Deadly Alliance before being brought back as a zombie later, and a large number of the Earthrealm warriors are killed at the beginning of Deception. They are all brought Back From the Dead for Armageddon, though.
  • Vic Vance is killed in a gun battle mere minutes into Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but later appears in its prequel, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories as the protagonist. This trope only works, however, if one plays the games in chronological order.
  • Bottles in Banjo-Kazooie serves to teach Banjo and Kazooie new moves. In the opening cutscene of Banjo-Tooie, he gets killed off by Gruntilda. He comes back to life, though.

 Kazooie: He wasn't the favorite character in Banjo-Kazooie anyway...

  • Liam Spencer from The Getaway. You don't even know he survived the events of the first dame until you find his corpse in the second level of the second game.
  • Harry, the protagonist of the first Silent Hill game, is killed in the third after being ambushed in his home by a boss-type mook, without his weapons.
  • Instead of attempting to Road Cone which girl ends up with the Protagonist from the first Sentimental Graffiti, the second game opens up with the new protagonist meeting all of the girls at the first's funeral (he died of a car accident).
  • In Killzone 2, the heroes of the original Killzone all appear as Older and Wiser NPCs helping the new player character Sev, until they all end up getting killed over the course of the game.
    • Rico possibly survived, but we don't know if the entirety of the ISA forces on the ground were wiped out after the surprise attack following the death of Scolar Visari.
  • Brad Vickers survives the events of the first Resident Evil, only to make a hidden cameo in Resident Evil 2 as an overpowered zombie who carries with him the key to the wardrobe locker. In the beginning of Resident Evil 3 Nemesis, it turns out that Brad was hunted down and killed by the Nemesis a day before the events of the previous game.
  • 16 possible party members from the first Baldur's Gate game who make an appearance of sorts as NPCs in the sequel. Five are party-joinable members: of the rest, over half end up dead. Of particular note are Dynaheir and Khalid, who are killed off shortly before the game even begins - this being of import because the sequel assumes they were in your party at the end of the first game (which is highly likely assuming you played a Good alignment and met them early on in the main questline: the "canonical" party includes them and their respective partners Minsc and Jaheira, both party-joinable but newly single in the sequel, and Imoen who turns out to be your sister, and makes major plot points out of all of these events.) Of the rest: Faldorn ends up as an evil sidequest boss you have to kill, Montaron and Xzar both die (one onstage, one offstage) as a result of Harper/Zhentarim factional bickering, Ajantis is killed by your own party while both of you are under an illusion spell and you don't even get to learn his identity unless you have a paladin or knight in your own party, Tiax dies in a battle in the asylum, Safana is killed by werewolves in a battle which Coran will probably also die unless the players win the fight fast enough. With Viconia and Edwin also being party-joinable, only Quayle and Garrick actually survive their appearance as non-joinable NPCs
  • Alice Elliot dies in the Bad Ending of Shadow Hearts, opening Karin's spot in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Subverted in the Good Ending of Covenant when Yuri allows himself to die then travels back in time to beginning of Shadow Hearts, implied with his memories in tact, this time ready to save Alice.
  • Naomi made it through Metal Gear Solid relatively intact, and was just about the only villainous character to be redeemed instead of killed or arrested. In Metal Gear Solid 4, she dies of spontaneous magical nanocancer from nowhere for no real plot reason other than to make Otacon cry. Overlaps with Strangled by the Red String, since Otacon had never even met her until this game.
  • The plot of Double Dragon II is all about the Lee brothers avenging the murder of Marian, who was merely kidnapped in the first game. In the NES version, she does return to life.
  • Irene Lew falls seemingly to her death from a cliff after being chased by Ryu Hayabusa's evil doppelganger in the opening sequence of Ninja Gaiden III. However, it later turns out that she survived her fall and was really hiding from her adversaries.
    • Irene's survival was actually a bit more obvious to Japanese players, since the manual for that version established that the third NES game took place between the first two ones.
  • After surviving the events of Obs Cure, Kenny gets killed in the sequel -- in the most drawn-out, painful way possible, involving a Face Heel Turn into a Complete Monster. Oh, and the other two heroes who don't return are eventually implied to have been horribly killed off-screen.
  • Chrono Cross introduces a computer AI, reveals it to be Robo's AI transplanted into a computer by Lucca, and then unceremoniously deletes the AI in a single text dump, accomplishing nothing except shock value.
    • Most of the cast in Chrono Trigger were killed offscreen, missing in action, or retconned out of existence before its sequel Chrono Cross even begins.
      • Crono and Marle presumably died when Guardia fell, Lucca is killed by Lynx and Harle, Frog/the original Glenn probably dies a natural death, Ayla isn't even born yet, (as you can play as her implied mother when she was a child, sent to the present through a gate), and Robo is killed onscreen. The only character who is still alive is Magus, who is heavily implied to be Guile who erased his memories.
  • Wing Commander loves these:
    • Wing Commander II - The Tiger's Claw is destroyed in the intro sequence, killing many of the characters from the first game (eg. Halcyon, Shotglass).
    • Wing Commander III - Similar to the above, the Concordia from Wing Commander II is seen crashed on a planet. Also, Angel is executed by the Kilrathi as part of the opening sequence, though the full scene isn't shown until later.
    • Wing Commander IV - Vagabond is killed a short way into the game.
      • Averted, however, with the TCS Victory, which is said by Maniac to have been made into a museum.
    • Wing Commander Prophecy - Christopher Blair is missing in action/presumed dead by the end of the first act, but then recovered, only to be missing in action/presumed dead again by the end of the game.
      • And Hawk is killed, a little after halfway through.
  • Fire Emblem has an amusing inversion of this trope. In The Sword of Flame, the seventh game, a character called Canas exists and is said to be the son of the semi-legendary mountain hermit as well as the father of her grandson. Sword of Flame is a prequel to the sixth, The Sword of Seal, and Canas does not appear. To explain this Canas's ending has him die in a blizzard, resulting in the meme that "Canas was killed by continuity errors".
    • Hector suffers from this, as a character who is captured and killed early in Sword of Seals. His and Eliwood's wife are both said to be dead. Nino and/or Jaffar were likely killed while on the run. Karla is dead as well. Lucius goes on to run a small orphanage... only to be killed by the invading Bern army, Sue only has concern if her grandfather is alive, not her father (Rath). Sheesh.
    • Lorenz in Mystery of the Emblem's book 2 wasn't just killed off near the start. He was chapter 1's boss.
  • In Diablo II, the helpful townsfolk from the first game are skeletal scenery when you return to Tristram... except for Cain, of course, and poor Griswold, who is now the zombie Level Boss. On the plus side, Peg-Leg Wert's body yields a buttload of coin and a surprising magic item.
    • Even better example? The Rogue becomes Blood Raven, the Sorceror becomes the imposter sub-boss of Act 2, and the Warrior becomes the Wanderer/Diablo.
  • Mujari and possibly Teresa and Logan die in Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow. Since Sony has officially abandoned the series, we will never see it resolved. Alima Haddad, the chopper pilot who first appeared in Omega Strain, also dies.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, between the Original Campaign and Mask Of The Betrayer, many of the main character's companions are killed off when they seemed to be in sight of safety. All characters who weren't killed in the final battle were making their escape, but most of them are killed. The ones that survive are decided by how the player answers certain questions in the expansion.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Navigator Pressly is killed during the opening sequence when the Normandy is attacked by the Collectors. Commander Shepard also dies, but is revived two years later.
    • Inverted with Wrex, The Council, Kaidan or Ashley, all of whom were significant characters in #1. Since their deaths are optional, they're written into much smaller roles in #2.
    • The third game promises to allow you to resolve all those story arcs continuing them from wherever you left them in the first, their lack of interactive progression in the second game is to keep the amount of possibilities in the 4 digit range. Expect the rest of the first game as well as the returning Mass Effect 2 cast to once again be susceptible to Anyone Can Die.
      • And indeed, there's exactly one main character who is completely without a potential Plotline Death in the entire series, and therefore not susceptible to this trope: Liara.
    • Executor Pallin (the top cop of C-Sec) was absent in the second game, with his role mostly taken by newcomer Captain Bailey. Pallin is later killed off in a comic book sidestory...by Captain Bailey.
    • Of course don't forget the Normandy herself.
  • The downloadable content for Left 4 Dead 2 ("The Passing") reveals that Bill sacrificed himself to save the survivors of the original Left 4 Dead before they met the cast of the sequel.
  • The normal ending of Fatal Frame 3 heavily implies that Mio from the second game fell victim to the curse.
  • Samantha Clarke in Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. She dies in the opening cinematic before you can even create your profile.
  • Orthopox-13 in Destroy All Humans! 2. To be fair, he didn't confront much of the action in the first game, but it says something that he was nuked in space in the intro to the sequel; in fact, the crashing debris of the mothership is what creates the setting for the prologue. He does get better fairly quickly, though.
  • In Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Ezio's Uncle Mario is killed off in the first half hour.
    • Also known as the opening scene.
  • Johnny Gat is offed before the end of the second mission, in Saints Row: The Third.
  • In Modern Warfare 3, Griffin (the sergeant who assisted you in the MW1 mission "Crew Expendable"), Russian loyalist Sgt. Kamarov and former main character 'Soap' MacTavish die.
  • Most of the Servants' backgrounds and ambitions were explored in the first two routes of Fate/stay night, so come the third, Heavens Feel, almost everyone is killed off quickly in the first few few days. To be particularly egregious, most of the deaths are also rather unceremonious. Lancer, Caster and Assassin get killed off almost immediately and with little to no resistance; Gilgamesh barely gets a word in edgewise; Archer and Berserker are killed/absorbed in their first fights; Saber (though not killed) is beaten early by sheer plot device.


Webcomics


Web Original

  • Adam Dodd, the survivor of Survival of the Fittest v1, was tossed in a second time in v3. Partway through, he mysteriously disappears, and is presumed dead, along with a bunch of other characters. However, subverted by a later reveal that they all had managed to remove their collars and were Faking the Dead, including Adam himself.
    • An in-universe example occurs with Sydney Morvran. The winner of v0 (the prequel to v1), he is put into the next version as punishment for not actively killing anyone, and then becomes one of the first fatalities.

Western Animation

  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars Ponds, previously seen (unnamed) in Attack of the Clones, is killed by Boba Fett as a warning for Mace Windu.
    • Fives, one of the series recurring clone troopers, is killed in Season 6 during the Conspiracy storyline.
    • Denal, introduced in Season One, has a Kill and Replace pulled on him by Cad Bane in Season 2's "Cargo of Doom".
    • Waxer and Hardcase both are killed in the Umbara storyline.
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