Birth-Death Juxtaposition

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Within an episode (or chapter or scene), someone is born or a pregnancy is revealed and someone else dies, emphasizing the cycle of life. A supertrope of Death by Childbirth, but includes all the cases where the death is not the mother. Compare Babies Ever After, Dead Guy, Junior, Someone to Remember Him By. The Phoenix is a symbol of the motif.

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

Examples of Birth-Death Juxtaposition include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Ben and Cross's puppies are born right after a bloody battle in Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin. Notably, Kisaragi's own puppies were killed by the bears during it.
  • When a Digimon dies, their data is recycled into a new Digiegg.
  • When it depicts the bombing of Hiroshima itself, Barefoot Gen features Gen helping his mother give birth to his sister Tomoko within pages of the rest of the immediate family burning to death in the ruins of their home.
  • In Millennium Actress, Chiyoko is born in a great earthquake that took her father's life. Chiyoko expresses the belief that he died so she could be born.
  • In Bokurano, Maki Anou's battle happens around the time her baby brother is born. With the power of Zearth, she's able to witness it before she dies, even getting to briefly hold the newborn in her arms.
  • The end of Romeo X Juliet mixes this with Babies Ever After, as Romeo and Juliet die but the Where Are They Now? Epilogue shows the Beta Couple of Benvolio and Cordelia with their firstborn.
  • This technically happened in Dragonball Z, where Goku got Chi Chi pregnant just before dying in the Cell games, but it's not shown that Chi Chi had a son until several episodes later (seven years in the storyline).
  • In the fast-paced anime movie Dead Leaves, one of the focuses is on the conception, birth, aging and death of the main characters' baby, all in one day!
  • In Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Akasaka's wife dies (from falling downstairs while pregnant, so it's not exactly Death by Childbirth) but the baby survives.
  • In Ayashi no Ceres, it is revealed the Aya is pregnant just as Toya, the father, is being killed by Mikagi.
  • In Mawaru Penguindrum, Momoka Oginome dies the same day when her baby sister Ringo and the Takakura boys are born.
  • In Barefoot Gen, Kimie gives birth to Tomoe prematurely as a result of stress amid the death and destruction from the atomic bomb. Sadly, baby Tomoe does not survive, because Kimie is starving and her milk dries up as a result.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Lifedeath II(X-Men #198. Famous Windsor-Smith 1980's story.)
  • Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader: Batman's spirit is guided to whatever awaits by a vision of his mother Martha, before the final splash page shows the birth of Bruce Wayne, emphasizing the theme that Batman is something of a permanent fixture in Gotham City.
  • Lampshaded in The Maxx - the Leopard Queen dies, but baby leopards appear in Julie's Outback, leading her to comment, "laying it on a little thick, aren't we?"
  • There are several examples in Elf Quest comics.
    • There's a moment in The Rebels where the gang is led to believe that the funeral over the death of one colonist will include the sacrifice of a boy as well. Turns out it's just his coming-of-age ceremony... but the ceremony developed from a time when they did kill someone to "accompany" the dead, in part to ease a situation of overcrowding and low resources.
    • In Shards, Krim and Skot declare before a battle that they kind of want to die this time, as they think they lived long enough for ones of their tribe. After Skot manages just that, Krim is all the more determined to die of her wounds until she's told that she's pregnant. After that she wants to live to protect the child and she does.
      • There's also a Recognition (inducing pregnancy) at the beginning of that storyline, as well as the death of another elf during the fights, so it evens out perfectly across the arc, for the elves at least.
    • In the story Rogue's Challenge, the Wolfrider elders discuss this cycle of life, making the lack of death, or at least danger, responsible for a lack of births. [1]
  • The final issue of the (supposedly) final Love and Capes mini-series deals with the death of Windstar, a member of the Liberty League, and also Mark and Abby's Real Estate Agent, in which role he has been prominent throughout the previous four issues. After the League's memorial gathering, Amazonia tells Abby that the tradition on her world is for mourners to undertake "life-affirming" activities. Abby thinks this is a good idea and suggests it to Mark once they're at home again. The issue (and series) ends with Abby announcing that she's pregnant.
  • The last page of the Squadron Supreme miniseries features the surviving Squadron members mourning the loss of their dead members in the morgue, as well as Arcanna successfully giving birth to her fourth child as the very last panel.

Fanfic[edit | hide]

Film - Animated[edit | hide]

  • The Lion King, definitely. Simba is born and baptized (for lack of a better word) at the beginning, Mufasa dies towards the middle of the movie, and then Simba has a new daughter who is baptized at the end of the movie.

Film - Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • The dramatic climax of Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. Padme dies immediately after Luke and Leia are born, and Darth Vader is "reborn" as Anakin Skywalker "dies". Darth Vader's first breath is juxtaposed against Padme's last.
  • The baptism/execution sequence from the end of The Godfather where Michael became the Godfather in both senses of the term. OK. Not quite a birth, but close enough.
  • Alien 3: Dillon gives the speech about rebirth as Newt and Hicks are cremated just as the new Alien is reborn.
  • Steel Magnolias
  • Turner And Hooch
  • In the 2009 Star Trek movie, James Kirk is born in the opening sequence seconds before his father dies.
    • Previously, Star Trek II the Wrath of Khan did a variation where the shots of Kirk racing to get to Spock before he dies are intercut with the birth of the Genesis planet.
  • Referenced in The Addams Family Values:

Morticia: Children, do you believe that when a new child is born, one of the older children must die?
Wednesday and Pugsley: Yes.
Morticia: That's just not true.
Grandmama: (sigh) Not anymore.

  • In the 2009 remake of Children Of The Corn, the main character stumbles around a cornfield, finding the dead bodies of all the evil cult members he'd killed. Interspliced with this scene is another of a creepy ceremony where the cult gathers around to watch one of their members knock up the obligatory horror-flick naked babe. Technically more a Conception/Death Juxtaposition than Birth/Death, but close enough.
  • At the end of The Big Lebowski the Dude's annoying friend Donny dies of cardiac infarction and the narrator later tells us that Maude is pregnant.
  • In the beginning of the 2009 film Evil Angel (with Ving Rhames), a crazed man haunted by Lilith commits suicide by jumping off of a building. Inside of that building, a woman gives birth at the exact time the man dies.
  • Om Shanti Om: when Om dies in the hospital, a mother gives birth in the next room. The baby turns out to be Om reincarnated.
  • Species builds to it's climax with the sexy alien getting pregnant and killing the father immediately afterwards. We even get to see her nasty alien spikes growing out of her back, getting ready for the kill, while she tells her sperm donor he's gonna be a daddy.

(Sil and Arden have just finished having sex. Sil suddenly looks extatic)
Sil: I felt it. It's started!
Arden: What's started?
Sil: Life!
Arden: (Laughing) Oh my darling girl! I know in some cultures women claim they know the exact moment of conception, but really...
Sil: Don't you believe me? Here, feel! (Places Arden's hand on her belly)
Arden: Holy shit... (Sil kills him)

    • Species II shows this connection even more directly, where we get to see women impregnated by an alien dying giving birth to their gruesome offspring. Other scenes simply show the alien baby sitting beside it's mother's bloody corpse.
  • Kuch Kuch Hota Hai starts with the birth of Anjali and the death of her mother Tina.
  • The Tear Jerker Cleansing of the House montage from the end of the first Children of Dune film (which, incidentally, combines this trope with Death by Childbirth), all set to the tune of a One-Woman Wail.
    • The cleansing includes the executions of Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam and Guild Navigator Edric.
  • In the movie Angus, the titular character's father died as his mother gave birth to him.

Angus Bethune: My mother was in labor with me for two days, but it was my father who died during childbirth. He had a heart attack waiting for her to deliver.

  • After Sandra Bullock's character's husband dies in Premonition, the ending shows her pregnant a few months later, with the child that she conceived with her husband the night before he died.
  • Not exactly to the trope, but the alternative(original) ending of John Q fits. In this ending, the titular character dies, but his heart is given to his son, who needs a transplant.
  • Similarly to the above post about John Q, Terminator Salvation, while technically not ending in a "birth", per se, ends with Marcus giving his heart to a fatally wounded John Connor.
  • A twisted subversion occurs in the remake of Dawn of the Dead, wherein one of the refugees was hugely pregnant when she was bitten by a zombie. She turns into a zombie, and her husband just keeps her tied up in a back room until she gives birth... to an infant who is also a zombie.

Folk Lore[edit | hide]

  • There's a legend that when someone is born under the sign of Scorpio, someone in the family has just died or is about to die, and when a Scorpio dies there is a birth in the family.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Culture have a custom of doing this whenever somebody dies of old age. Of course, being The Culture, they don't really have to die. It's just social expectation for them to die of old age after a long life. And it isn't necessarily a birth; it could be somebody being resurrected from long-term electronic storage.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Alvin Maker series, Alvin has six older brothers, making him the seventh son of a seventh son ... but the eldest brother, Vigor, dies moments after Alvin's birth.
    • In fact, the only reason he didn't die before Alvin was born was because he clung to life out of sheer determination to make sure Alvin would be born as a seventh son of a seventh son, and thus have the Knack of Making.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil, this happens to the bent protagonist at the end as s/he dies in giving birth.
  • In The Stand, one of the survivors of the superflu is a pregnant woman who gives birth after most of the human population is wiped out.
  • In Lois Lowry's Anastasia Krupnik, the titular character's grandmother died on the same day as her baby brother is born.
  • In the beginning of Nora Roberts' Born in Shame, Shannon's mother dies in New York as Brianna gives birth in Ireland.
  • Used in the first book of The Dark Elf Trilogy. While his family was in the midst of a stealth attack on a rival house, Drizzt was born minutes before his eldest brother, Nalfein, was stabbed from behind by middle brother Dinin. The tenets of drow society cause the two parts of this trope to be linked, as the only reason Drizzt was not sacrificed moments later was because his brother had died: if a newborn male child would result in three or more living male children, then every third such birth must be sacrificed. Nalfein's death put the Do'Urden family under the limit, and Drizzt lived to see another day.
  • This is the story behind Miracle, the protagonist of the novel Dancing on the Edge, whose mother was hit by an ambulance, but Miracle survived. Later we find out that her mother was attempting to commit suicide and stepped in front of the ambulance on purpose.
  • In the Adrian Mole series, elderly Queenie dies shortly after Adrian's sister is born, and at the funeral he reflects that Queenie must have died so as to "make way" for the baby.
  • Harry Potter (of course) has a symbolic 'rebirth' (surviving the first attempt on his life, and being adopted) the same night his parents are murdered. Later on, Cedric Diggory is killed before Voldemort's resurrection (which involves nearly killing Harry, again). There's also Trelawney's prophecy, connecting Harry and Voldemort in birth and death. And just to make sure the symbolism is clear, the two of them also are linked by phoenix feathers in their wands. Also, the birth of Teddy Lupin followed closely by the deaths of his parents.
  • In Dean Koontz' Life Expectancy, protagonist Jimmy is born at the same minute his grandfather dies.
  • Not birth exactly, but similar: in The Grapes of Wrath, Rose of Sharon (who's pregnant) and her husband have sex as the family arrives in California. When they get there they discover the grandmother is dead, and Rose of Sharon is horrified as she considers the juxtaposition.
  • In N. Perumow's "Hierward Chronicles", there are Elemental Mages, which are personalized powers. Those powers can only belong to one generation, so if one of the mages has children, they all begin to loose their powers and die (unless they can secure some auxiliary magic source, but even they they are vulnerable, whereas before they just re-spawned if killed). Conversely, if all Mage are wiped out, new are spawned by magic.
  • Song Of Solomon begins with a man named Robert Smith on the roof of the hospital, falling to his death as he attempts to fly with a suit he has created. One of the women in the crowd of onlookers goes into labor, and the next day gives birth to the protagonist, Milkman, becomes the first black child born in that same hospital. He then grows up and learns to fly himself. Sort of/maybe.
  • Enforced out of necessity, due to limited resources, at the beginning of Robert Silverberg's At Winter's End. Almost no one's allowed to conceive a child to begin with; the few who are allowed to procreate are required to wait until someone's committed ritual suicide at the allotted age.
  • Warrior Cats: Cinderpelt dies shortly before Cinderkit is born.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Done in the Farscape series finale. D'Argo dies right after Aeryn gives birth during a battle. They decide to name the kid after him.
  • The first episode (33) of the series proper of the new Battlestar Galactica has people dying left and right throughout, and in the very last scene the characters get word that a baby was born in the fleet.
  • In Charmed, Kid From the Future Chris dies while he is born. (It makes sense in context.)
  • In the final episode of Desperate Housewives there is a montage that intercuts the final moments of Mrs. Mccluskey with the birth of Julie's daughter.
  • Friends: when Phoebe's grandmother dies, Monica rushes in and tells the group that a couple is having sex in a car outside. The rest of the gang tries to tell her that now isn't the time; but Phoebe isn't that disappointed. "It's kinda cool. 'Cause it's like, you know, one life ends and another begins." Monica leans down and whispers to the others, "Not the way they're doing it."
  • Community In the episode where the story is about the death of Pierce's Mother, Abed's story in the background is about a Greendale student going into labor.
  • Growing Pains: in the episode in which Chrissy is born, Ben befriends an elderly patient, Chris, who dies.
  • Holby City did this one just recently.
  • Home and Away - Kitt's baby is born, but then she finds out Beth (her mother) has just been hit by a truck.
  • In House, a pregnant woman was ill but they got the baby out. For a minute, it looks like they're both going to die but the baby cries on its own. At exactly the same time, the mother dies. It's seriously depressing.
  • Lost: "Do No Harm." Boone dies, and Aaron is born.
  • NCIS: In "Newborn King." The poor woman gives birth in the backseat of a broken down car, parked in a gas station garage, in a blizzard, on Christmas, during a shootout with Russian mercenaries who want to kill her and kidnap her child, with Gibbs as the midwife. This is interspersed with a desperately outnumbered and outgunned Ziva singlehandedly defending them against an onslaught of Russian mercenaries.
  • Toyed with in Scrubs: Dr. Cox doesn't want his daughter's birth to be announced until later, over concern that her birth will forever be associated with Laverne's death.
    • JD explicitly states that this is one of the beautiful things about working in a hospital in the episode "My Philosophy", such as patients receiving life-saving donor organs from someone who just died or (unfortunately) the possible death of either a mother or child to save the other's life. He refers to it as the "circle of life" (he likes that lion cub)
  • In the same episode of Sesame Street where Big Bird finds out Mr. Hooper died, there's also a segment where Big Bird (after hanging his drawing of Mr. Hooper on his wall as a memorial to him) is introduced to a friend's new baby.
  • Mad Men: One episode after the death of her father Eugene, Betty Draper gives birth to a son (all the while seeing hallucinations of her recently-deceased dad). She decides to call him Eugene.
  • Among the guest stars on Robin Hood was a mother and daughter; as the daughter is giving birth to her own child, her mother (having been accused of witchcraft) is being dunked in the lake. Averted considering the mother is saved, but her near-execution is inter-cut with scenes of her daughter in labour.
  • The final episode of Six Feet Under begins with a birth, while every previous episode began with a death. Played with by having the baby barely live through birth, though he turns out fine in the end.
  • In the infamous "Love's Labor Lost" episode of ER, a woman dies in childbirth. Later, in the episode "Great Expectations", as Carol gives birth, an elderly woman in the room next door dies of renal failure. Additionally, a character's daughter starts her period.
  • In the third season finale of Private Practice Maya (who is pregnant) and her midwife, Dell, are hit by a drunk driver. The baby is born prematurely and survives, Dell dies.
  • In the third season of Angel, Darla, a vampire, is pregnant with a living baby. When it is time to give birth, she realizes she'll lose her ability to feel empathy and compassion because she only feels those emotions through her unborn child's soul. She chooses to stake herself and turns to dust, leaving behind a crying baby.
  • Barney Miller had a New Year's Eve episode like this. An extremely pregnant lady is brought into the station house as Fish goes out to talk a suicidal man from jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. The pregnant lady gives birth in Barney's office, helped by Liz and Wojo, who's had experience in Vietnam. Fish returns, looking haggard. Greeted with "Hey, we had a baby!" he replies "You win one, you lose one."
  • In CSI, Nick and Doc Robbins are on their way somewhere else when they're alerted by a passerby to a dead girl in a house. They break in and find her hanging in her closet, beyond saving, and then Robbins realizes she's eight and half months pregnant and the baby is still moving. He does an impromptu Caesarian and manages to get the baby breathing, and she lives.
  • Law and Order UK: DS Ronnie Brooks gushes to partner DS Matt Devlin about the birth of his grandson. Within minutes, Devlin is gunned down in a drive-by shooting.
  • Designing Women does this. There's a baby being born and an older lady dying, and a teary scene with Dolly Parton as an angel.
  • In the Dutch drama series Dokter Deen, this is done very, very blatantly. The titular doctor is asked by the former principal of the orphanage she was in to "help her die" before the cancer does. After consulting another doctor about this, she is given the green light to euthanise the old woman and doctor Deen talks to her for a few moments before administering the medication... only to be interrupted in their talk by a phone call about another of her patients, who is going into labor.
  • On The X-Files episode "Existence," the scene where Scully gives birth is cut with scenes of a high-speed chase that ends with Alex Krycek's death.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto" chronicles a guy's life from birth to his murder, and as he dies, another baby is born, with the suggestion that his fate will be the same.
  • The main theme of Live's "Lightning Crashes"
  • Edwin's "Alive" explicitly evokes the trope in one line.
  • "And When I Die", by Blood, Sweat, and Tears
  • Not quite the same, but Bruce Springsteen's "Reason to Believe" has a verse that begins with a baby being baptized, and ends with a man being buried.
  • A similar theme in "The Weight She Fell Under" by Parenthetical Girls. After describing the girl's death,

strange, this would come at the same age
that your mother took his name
and labor pains would collapse her fragile frame

  • Going along with the Lost entry above, Michael Giacchino even named the music that plays during the montage "Life and Death"
  • Done in "The Breath You Take" by George Strait. The narrator's father takes his last breath in the same day that the narrator's son is born.
  • Dave Matthews Band's song "Funny the Way it Is," includes a reference to this among other things.

Music Videos[edit | hide]

  • Embrace's Music Video for "All You Good Good People" does this with the execution of a condemned murderer followed by the birth of a baby.
  • "Everytime" by Britney Spears. She got better.

Mythology[edit | hide]

  • Many mythological creatures exist - namely The Phoenix. In fact, a lot of the references you have are references to the cycle. Including anything that has a phoenix in it.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Shining Force III it is referenced that Gracia was born at the moment that Julian's father died.
  • Unicorns in Tales of Symphonia apparently work like this. The instant one dies, another is born.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • In DMFA, there are always 2,438,165 Fae. When one dies, their relatives get to auction the rights to have a kid, or a random Fae becomes a parent all of the sudden.
  • In Anders Loves Maria, the titular Maria gives birth and dies, while one of the other characters is busy catapulting herself off a bridge.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, a human with fire-elemental blood passes their life force onto their first child. They grow weaker as the child grows older, and die when the child is about 12 years old. Surma Carver was one such person; her daughter Antimony only learns of these facts, and that she'll go through the same thing as well, three year after Surma's death.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, we see Avatar Roku's death a hundred years ago, followed by a scene of the birth of Aang. More generally, whenever an Avatar dies the next Avatar is born within a week.
  • In Thundercats 2011, the Petalars are introduced as a new baby is born. A wizened elder welcomes him into the world with a philosophic Final Speech, then peacefully collapses and withers away moments later.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A real life example - this man once wrote into a magazine about how his wife suffered a fatal injury during a motorcycling accident. She died, but their son was born prematurely.
  • In superb Real Life Nightmare Fuel, at least two or three women near the end of pregnancy have been murdered by other women (usually the killer has medical training) in order to cut out and steal their children.
  • A young British man was murdered at a bus stop while going to see his new baby in hospital.
  • In a less tragic example, two of the earliest users of the internet itself were the military... and the porn industry.
  • As a child, Surrealist artist Max Ernst's pet bird died just before his sister was born. He thereafter associated himself with a bird.
  • A story from a Pakistan Earthquake. A woman was found dead in the rubble, but her newborn in her arms was safe.