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One of the most devastating Awful Truths a character can recieve.

"You caused the death of your friend/parent/mentor."

Often a Wham! Line, there is no more reliable way to send a heroic character spiralling into grief than to reveal that they were responsible for the death of someone close to them. The surprise element is the important part here; the character has hitherto been living perfectly happily and innocently, completely oblivious to what they've done. Common consolations include telling the character that obviously, its not their fault if they weren't even aware of the damage they were causing, but this is often of little comfort to the stunned recipient.

Telling someone this with the direct intention of hurting them is one of the cruelest things any character can do. Doubly so if they're Blatant Lies.

Subtrope of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero sometimes. See also Survivors Guilt, You Should Have Died Instead, and "Failure to Save" Murder, all of which can also be present.

This is a subtrope of The Reveal. Not to mention a Death Trope. Expect MASSIVE spoilers!!!

Examples of They Died Because of You include:

Anime and Manga

  • In episode 16 of Code Geass, Mao calls out Suzaku for the death of his own father, Genbu Kururugi.


Film - Animated

  • In The Lion King, right after murdering Mufasa, Scar tells Simba that he's responsible for Mufasa's "accidental" death. Much later, rescinding his lie was one of his last mistakes.
    • They did it again in The Lion King 2:Simba's Pride. Zira yells at Kovu. "Nuka is dead because of you. You killed your own brother!"


Film - Live Action

  • Not directly said, per se, but it seems in ~28 Weeks Later~ that the kids realized that they were a tiny bit responsible for the events that tossed the big pile of fecal matter into the air circulation device, leading to the death of just about everybody but them.
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith:

 Darth Vader: How is Padme? Is she safe? Is she alright?

Darth Sideous: It would appear that in your anger, you killed her.

  • In Memento, the main character eventually finds out from Tommy that his wife was a diabetic and that the story he made up about "Sammy Jenkis" killing his wife by giving her too much insulin was actually a self-protecting projection of what he did.


Literature

  • Harry Potter pulls this a number of different times.
    • It happens twice regarding Harry's parents; first when Harry discovers that Peter Pettigrew sold them out and second when he learns that Snape told Voldemort about the prophecy in the first place, not counting when Harry yells it at Sirius falsely believing him to be the traitor.
    • When Sirius is killed Harry blames himself for causing Sirius to put himself in danger and not listening to Hermione and forgetting Snape, Dumbledore for not explaining stuff to Harry and keeping Sirius cooped up, Snape for not being especially helpful and mocking Sirius about being useless, and Kreacher for locking Sirius in his room and lying.
    • At the end of the series, Harry blames himslef for everybody's deaths as they did, essentially, die in his name.


Live Action TV

  • Attempted by Rose in Doctor Who against the titular Dalek. Doesn't work, because, well, it's a Dalek.

 Rose: They're all dead because of you!

Dalek: THEY ARE DEAD BECAUSE OF US!


Video Games


Web Comics

  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Delivered in a devastating, defensive rant by Rey to Annie. The effect is instantaneous, and doubles as a Wham! Line.
  • In Universal Compass, Two's sadness parallel tells her she died because Two died. This trope has the potential to happen to every character because the empty parallel and emotional parallel's lives are linked.
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