Doomed by Canon

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Yoda: Kill you, I cannot, but kill me, you cannot!
Palpatine: Because we are just on opposite and equal sides of the same almighty Force?
Yoda: No, because this is a prequel, and in the later movies we both survive!

A story or series of stories have established a core group of heroes, villains, and a supporting cast. In order to add more depth to one or more of these things, the creator(s) put(s) out fully-developed back stories and prequels, or even interquels. While such efforts may produce many great things, they also doom characters and plots to inevitable failure or success. Why? Because the first story or stories established de facto canon.

Does the prequel involve a dastardly plot to kill one of the heroes of the original story? Too bad for the one doing the plotting—the readers already know that character will escape. Does the back story have a villain from the original story facing certain death in the face of failure? Great for him, he gets to stick around to at least make an appearance later on in the original.

When it comes to prequels and back stories, most readers familiar with the original plot will already know what the outcome will be. They are not so much tempted to participate in the story to see how it ends, but how it gets there. And as the Ancient Greeks discovered, if the audience already knows the ending, there is a huge potential for Dramatic Irony.

This is also true of most works Based on a True Story, particularly Historical Fiction - if the rebels hold Bunker Hill successfully or that trench messenger with a funny mustache dies, it's another genre entirely.

A subtrope of Foregone Conclusion and Anthropic Principle. Compare Death by Origin Story. Related to You Can't Thwart Stage One, which relates to prequel plots instead of characters. Contrast Plot Armor and Saved by Canon. Unrelated, despite similar-sounding names, to Doomed Protagonist. Different from Death by Adaptation.

This trope is not about someone who met his or her demise by cannons (regular or otherwise), you want There Is No Kill Like Overkill for that.

No real life examples, please; Real Life is not scripted.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of Doomed by Canon include:

Anime and Manga

  • Any of the Gundam Midquel or Sidestory manga and games are doomed to suffer from this. Because the continuity has been set in stone for thirty-some years, it's a Foregone Conclusion that, for example, Zeon will lose the One Year War in Gundam IGLOO, or that the Titans will form in Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, and that the major characters in whatever story will either die or fade into obscurity and whatever superweapon the enemy have will be destroyed.
    • Sometimes this gets toyed with by having the characters (typically from video games) survive and go on to participate in in later conflicts. For example, Jack Bayard from Gundam the Ride: A Baoa Qu becomes an AEUG pilot in the IMAX movie Green Divers and the manga Ecole Du Ciel. Yuu Kajima from Blue Destiny and Robin Bradshaw and Kurt Roswell from Dual Stars of Carnage fight for their respective sides in Chars Counterattack.
  • The Legend of Galactic Heroes Gaiden OAVs fall neatly under here. Instead of Anyone Can Die, you get "that character there who doesn't appear in the main series will almost certainly die."
  • Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden. The story of the first girl who was sucked into the book to become the priestess. Though it's not over, it's stated in Fushigi Yugi that her father killed her, presumably so that she wouldn't be consumed by Genbu after granting the third wish.
    • Though recent chapters are implying that Takiko really died of tuberculosis, since the legend dictates that the priestess will be consumed if she has a weak heart, which this prequel is telling us that she had anything but.
  • Considering the main Saiyuki stars the reincarnations of the Saiyuki Gaiden characters... yeah.
    • Also certain characters in the prequel Saiyuki Ibun which details how Houmei will become the Koumyou Sanzo. Who dies before the beginning of the series. We know in the Burial chapters, his friend Toudai (the future Gudai Sanzo) will die at the hands of his pupil. Their youkai friend Tenkai will hold the Maten sultra but will die and Koumyou will inherit the Maten sultra.
  • The Mai-Otome prequel Sifr features a whole cast of main characters (Lena, Sifr, Bruce) who you know, as part of the back story for the main series, will survive the current events but become corpsicles in 15 years.
  • It's almost impossible to spoil Axis Powers Hetalia because you know from history that, say, the Axis Powers lose and America won the Revolution. On the other hand, plot points relating specifically to character interactions aren't foregone conclusions.
  • The Naruto anime gives us Utakata, the 6 Tails Host. He was shown in a manga spread and even given a name but was captured and killed by Akatsuki off-panel; readers never get to actually meet him until he is resurrected (Along with Yugito, Han, Roshi, Fuu, and Yagura). The anime expanded his role into a new filler arc, but sadly he was not Spared by the Adaptation. Pain meets Utakata and takes him down. We did not see him in the manga, so many readers were thinking "This is not going to end well..."
    • Same goes for the 3-tails arc, and for the same reason. Anyone who had read the manga would know that neither Orochimaru's unit nor Konoha were ever going to get the Sanbi, and that Deidara was going to show up at some point to take it away.
  • Right of Left, anyone who doesn't die in the OVA dies in the first episode
  • Legends of the Dark King, a prequel spinoff to Fist of the North Star, centers around Raoh's quest to achieve supremacy as the conqueror of the post-apocalyptic world. One of Raoh's rivals in the spinoff is the Holy Emperor of Nanto himself, Souther. Since Souther ends up being defeated by Kenshiro, and not Raoh, in the original manga and anime, Raoh does not get to defeat Souther in his own series, as their battle ends in a stalemate instead.
  • Dragon Ball gave us two TV specials, Bardock: Father of Goku and History of Trunks. Anyone who knows the storyline of the original manga will know these specials do not have happy endings. Although, they do fall on the bittersweet side since they do end with a note of hope.
  • The first episode appearance of Beyond The Grave is no spoiler to anyone who played the Gungrave video game. But the show isn't about how Brandon Heat is doomed—it's about how his friendship is doomed, his romance, his career and his relationship with his father figure boss are all doomed.
  • In Peacemaker Kurogane the entire Shinsengumi is Doomed By History. Particularly heartbreaking in the case of Okita Souji who historically dies of tuberculosis. So when he began coughing...
    • Similarly, Rurouni Kenshin invokes this in regards to the historical figures that get roles there. Particularly: Souzou Sagara fails in his rebellion and dies, with his head being shown in public; Okubo is killed by Soujirou and then rebels claim that they did it; Kogoro Katsura loses his bid with the Ishinshishi; Shinsaku Takasugi, already in the last stages of tuberculosis, dies of it; Okita's own fate isn't revealed, but it's fair to assume he died of his illness too.
  • Yomi from Ga-Rei Zero, prequel to the manga Ga-Rei. This is in contrast to Kagura who has Plot Armor as thick as wall of concrete.
  • Messed around with in Puella Magi Oriko Magica, which takes place before Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Well, kind of. It's an Alternate Timeline that's part of the anime's Groundhog Day Loop, occurring before the anime's main timeline. Madoka's death is a Foregone Conclusion, but it's subverted for Mami, Kyouko, and Sayaka, all of whom survive - and Sayaka doesn't even contract. Yuma might also be a subversion if we had any idea what happened to her in the anime's timeline. It's inverted with Kazuko, who survives in the anime, but actually dies in this timeline. Her death is REALLY ugly, too.
  • Several chapters of the A Certain Scientific Railgun manga depict Misaka's attempt to stop the Level 6 Shift Program, the reader already knows the program is only stopped by the grace of Touma's intervention, and that by the end Misaka will be driven so far as to be ready to give up her life to end the Sisters torment. (At least they keep the reader's interest by showing the events from her viewpoint instead of his.)

Comic Books

  • There is a series coming out currently[when?] about a young man named Max. He is a likable Jewish child in Nazi Germany. We all know that his entire family will be killed in concentration camps, and his mutant powers will later manifest, and he will become Magneto, always caught in the Heel Face Revolving Door because although sometimes he'd like to live in peaceful coexistence with humans, he doesn't think it can happen.
  • Before Mr. Magnus had Magneto's testament, a certain Latvarian Doctor had the title "Books of Doom" which told his story from the start. Whilst most of the story follows the general history of Victor von Doom with some extra padding on the sides which hadn't been explored, and some implications are made that the machine he built didn't even malfunction, it was... ahem, "the Demon" who blew it up, the part where he takes over Latvaria by forceful military conquest totally goes against the way he explained it in Fantastic Four Annual #2, where he wined and dined Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl. Given that the story is told by a Doombot who thinks he's the real thing, however, Unreliable Narrator may apply.
  • Marvel seems to enjoy this trope. Case in point: Born. Frank Castle has a family in Born.
  • There have been a number of stories about Jor-El and Lara, the parents of Superman, some of which chronicle their attempts to save Krypton from its inevitable destruction. Unfortunately, anyone with a passing knowledge of Superman knows their efforts will all be for nothing in the end, as Krypton is destroyed and their son ends up being sent to Earth.
  • Played with in the Green Lantern arc, "Emerald Knights", in which then-current GL Kyle Rayner meets a younger Hal Jordan. When the Parallax shows up and confronts the younger Hal Jordan, Kyle realizes that the younger Hal has to become Parallax in order for The Final Night to happen.
    • In the final arc of Peter David's Supergirl, called "Many Happy Returns", Hal Jordan (then known as The Spectre) informs the Pre-Crisis Supergirl that she has to return to her own timeline for the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths to happen (namely, her Heroic Sacrifice). Then-current Supergirl, Linda Danvers, tried to switch places with her Pre-Crisis counterpart, but it failed.
  • Both Star Wars and Star Trek had monthly comics published between movies. No matter what happened in the comics, all characters end up pretty much where they were at the end of the previous film and/or where they need to be for the start of the next. The Star Wars cast were never going to rescue Han Solo between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Likewise the comics had Spock completely restored between III & IV. A storyline was created to wipe his mind and make the main cast fugitives and back on Vulcan.
  • Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales of Spider-Man series takes place during the first few years of original Amazing Spider-Man comic. Thus any characters and status quo from comic has to be kept during Untold Tales. For example, in one issue where Peter reveals that he's the one who takes Spider-Man photos for the Daily Bugle, an impressed Flash Thompson actually drops his dislike of Peter and actually wants to become friends with him. But since Peter and Flash didn't really become friends until after high school, you know this new relationship between the two isn't going to last long, and indeed by the end of the issue let's just say Flash goes back to disliking Peter.

Fan Works

  • Happens a lot in fan works due to writers' opportunity to focus on side characters or off screen adventures.
    • Especially notable is the Harry Potter fics, because so many side characters are killed off screen - including fan favorites like Lupin.
      • Wormtail should also be mentioned. If you write a story set during the Marauders' Era, you have to portray Wormtail being BFFs with the others when everyone reading it knows he will grow up to join Lord Voldemort and betray everyone. This has led to the much reviled cliché of portraying Marauders' Era Wormtail as an Obviously Evil Devil in Plain Sight.
  • Subverted in Renegade, where Nihlus survives due to timely intervention on Shepard's part; thanks to GDI's jetpack technology, she's able to get to him faster and shoot Saren before he can kill Nihlus.
  • Played straight in Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns by King Endrin Aeducan, Duncan and King Cailan Theirin, although the latter two get a Dying Moment of Awesome and an arguable Alas, Poor Scrappy, respectively. Nevertheless, it is subverted more often than not. Not only do all potential player characters survive to become wardens, but Trian Aeducan lives and actually turns into a Wise Prince later on.
  • In Touhou Tonari you know what will happen to Yuyuko since it takes place in her past while she was still alive.
  • Go ahead and find a fanfic about the first generation characters in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War... there's a reason why most of those are short.


  • All historical documentaries, especially if they focus on a war.
  • The entire Star Wars prequel trilogy (and by extension, nearly everything in the Star Wars Expanded Universe set before A New Hope) is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Everyone that isn't in the original doesn't live through Revenge of the Sith, and everyone that is does. So what does that tell us about little Ahsoka??
    • The Expanded Universe includes several Jedi that survived, but none of them were named (or even appeared) in the films.
      • And any match against Vader or the Empire in comics usually ends in defeat unless you are Boba Fett. There was a reason why the Battle Of Yavin was seen as a major victory in the films. The Star Wars Video Games however mostly avert this trope.
      • At least two Jedi who are mentioned and/or appear in the prequel trilogy but do not appear in the original trilogy do survive the Order 66. Quinlan Voss (mentioned in the movies but not shown on screen) is shown to have survived in the comics. Shak-Ti is shown to have survived in a video game (though she doesn't necessarily survive the game).
      • A Supermegatopia cartoon (apparently before the game came out) has Shaak-Ti Breaking the Fourth Wall to call for Fanon Discontinuity: "Ignore the deleted scenes from Episode III and I could still be alive and hot in the Star Wars universe."
  • Aversion: the 2009 Star Trek movie consciously avoids this. The writers of the film have explained in interviews that one reason for setting it (and subsequent?) movies in an Alternate Universe is so that they were free to write whatever they want to, without having to fit any of it within the canon. Broadly speaking this means the stakes are higher, because things don't necessarily have to turn out the way they did before. The film then kills Kirk's dad on the day Kirk is born (turning Kirk into an angrier young man with an even more intense drive to prove himself and sending Starfleet on a more militaristic path), introduces a lot of technology before it should exist, and then puts an exclamation point on it by destroying the planet Vulcan. Yeah, that's new.
  • No matter if the war is won or lost, in Terminator Salvation, John Connor must send Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor (and have sex with her so John is conceived), Skynet must send a T-800 back in time to kill her, John must send a reprogrammed T-800 back in time to protect his younger self, Skynet must send a T-1000 back in time to kill John's younger self, John must send another reprogrammed T-800 back in time to protect his past self, and Skynet must send a T-X Terminatrix to kill John's past self.
  • In Hannibal Rising, Hannibal Lecter has to go insane, and survive the movie. In Red Dragon, Hannibal has to stay in the asylum. (It's not really a prequel—the original book was written and published before The Silence of the Lambs—but most people see/read The Silence of the Lambs first so the trope pretty much applies.)
  • In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Wolverine has to lose his memories and rename himself "Logan", Sabretooth has to distance himself from Wolverine to the point of giving him the silent treatment, William Stryker has to survive and so does Cyclops. Silver Fox has to either die or board a bus (since Wolverine doesn't have a girlfriend in the original movie).
    • In X-Men: First Class, Charles Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, Beast and Moira MacTaggert have to survive, and Magneto and Mystique have to turn evil, leave the X-Men and create the Brotherhood of Mutants. Xavier also has to become wheelchair bound (although he's also walking in Wolverine and the flashback in X-Men 3).
  • In Along Came a Spider, Ben Cross has to survive.
  • At the end of the Alien vs. Predator movies, the Weyland-Yutani Company has to exist, and the public at large has to remain unaware of the existence of the Xenomorphs.
  • In Butch and Sundance: The Early Years, Butch and Sundance have to survive.
  • In Dumb and Dumberer, Harry and Lloyd must still remain friends, and have no love interest.
  • In From Dusk till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, Domenica Santanico has to become the evil vampìre Santanico Pandemonium.
  • In the prequel for Carlitos Way, Carlito's Way: Rise to Power, Carlito Brigante has to survive.
  • In Ringu 0, Sadako Yamamura has to die and her spirit has to remain bound to the videotape.
  • In Amityville 2: The Possession, the family has to die, and the spirits in the house have to remain active.
  • In Vacancy 2: The First Cut, the killers have to survive.
  • In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, the Hewitts have to survive.
  • In the Tsui Hark movie A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon, the prequel to the first two movies by John Woo, Mark Gor has to survive and have no love interest.
  • Similarly, in The Cat's Meow, Thomas Ince has to die mysteriously, and the death must remain unsolved (or at least unpunished).
  • Like most films based on Operation Valkyrie (such as... Valkyrie), Inglourious Basterds is set up with the audience knowing the plot to kill Hitler will fail. Except it doesn't.
  • The third Underworld movie is mostly all the stuff they spent most of the first movie finding out had happened.
    • Except Victor's daughter looks different than how Lucian remembers her (she's blonde in his memories and brunette in the prequel).
      • Give the guy a break it's been roughly 600–700 years.
  • In Killing Bono, the Bono assassination plot will not succeed, and Shook Up! will not become the most successful band of all time.
  • The Obi-Wan of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Han, is killed in a car explosion but reemerges during the following two prequel films, Fast & Furious and Fast Five.
  • Death Race starts with the death of Frankenstein, whose mantle is then reluctantly taken by Jason Statham's character. There is a direct-to-DVD prequel showing how Frankenstein became a top racer in his goal to get out of prison.
  • The 2011 prequel to The Thing depicts the events that went down in the Norwegian base. Anyone who's seen the John Carpenter film knows that there were no survivors when MacReady arrives. Furthermore, they'll also know that the attempts by the two surviving Norwegians to stop the Thing from escaping will fail due to the actions of Gary.
    • Possibly averted by Kate, depending on how you interpret the ending.
  • Seemed to be a major point with the Planet of the Apes franchise, though the final film, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, was edited in its theatrical release to try and avoid it. The unedited DVD release makes it more clear that the film is setting up the "humans will be wild men, apes will rule and everything will explode
  • Final Destination 5: This is combined with a Cruel Twist Ending. The film's antagonist has been killed and the three remaining characters have (at least by their interpretation of Bludworth's words) cheated death successfully. Then two of them get on a plane. Where six teenagers and a teacher are kicked off.
  • The Flinstones: Viva Rock Vegas; unless you've never heard of the popular cartoon, you know that the villain's plan to marry Wilma and steal her (he assumes) large inheritance is going to fail.


  • Star Wars novels:
    • Prince Xizor plots to kill Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker during his first appearance in Shadows of the Empire. Little is he aware that both characters are slated to appear in Return of the Jedi, which occurs in the future. In this instance, Prince Xizor was doomed by canon to failure. It was inevitable.
    • The Thrawn Trilogy, first epic of the Star Wars Expanded Universe and taking place five years after Return of the Jedi, established several hundred things, including that the Empire's capital planet was called Imperial Center, then got captured by the New Republic and restored to its Old Republic name, Coruscant. The first books of the X Wing Series, set three or four years after the movie, detail the New Republic's efforts to capture the Empire's capital world. Unexpected things certainly happen, of course, some of them very dramatic, but we know how it ends. Similarly, Aaron Allston's run on that series deals with the New Republic's fight against Warlord Zsinj, who dies in The Courtship of Princess Leia. And Courtship itself was largely about Han competing with Space Fabio in wooing Leia, when from The Thrawn Trilogy we know that not only did Han and Leia marry, they had twins.
    • Darth Plagueis; if you've seen Revenge of the Sith you know that Plageius is killed at the end and have a pretty good idea who the murderer is. In fact, the prologue of the novel is a Flash Forward showing the aftermath of his death. Plageius' death or how it happens is not supposed to be a the story's twist, it's when it happens.
  • The whole of the Horus Heresy series, with the Backstory of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
    • In Graham McNeill's False Gods, Magnus the Red is not going to persuade Horus not to betray the Emperor.
    • In Ben Counter's Galaxy In Flames, the loyalist Space Marines are not going to survive.
  • Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Armour of Contempt takes place centuries before the "current day". As a consequence, we know that the Inquisition is not going to find the treatment against Chaos they think might be on Gereon: it would have changed history and acted as a Game Breaker.
  • Similarly, Abnett's Eisenhorn has to end with Eisenhorn and Cherubael alive, although mostly the question is whether Eisenhorn will slip into heresy, rather than die. And it's only "whether" because it doesn't have to happen in this prequel. (Or in the Ravenor one, either. But it's coming, we know, because it's in the Gaunt's Ghosts series.)
  • Honor Harrington before it goes Off the Rails is Horatio Hornblower In Space. There's several character with rather obvious names on whose an expy of whom, especially Rob S. Pierre being an expy of Robspierre. Knowing history it's easy to see how things will progress up until it goes Off the Rails and Napolean gets killed.
    • A new Doomed by Canon is forming in regards to Oyster Bay, the equivalent of Pearl Harbor, despite side stories that promise the potential to stop it before it officially comes out, they all fail because the Author needs it to make the story more interesting.
  • In the Heralds of Valdemar series, the Last Herald-Mage trilogy tells the story of Herald-Mage Vanyel, and Brightly Burning tells the story of Lavan Firestorm. The deaths of both characters were first described in the very first book of the entire series, well before the books featuring them were published. (Additionally, the title "Last Herald-Mage" made the fate of all the other Herald-Mages in Vanyel's story pretty clear.)
    • Similarly, in the Mage Wars trilogy, we already know that the Cataclysm happens, and to a certain extent why. We know that the Kaled'a'in split off into the Shin'a'in and Tayledras. If you've read Mage Winds, you also know the fate of Big Good Urtho and Big Bad Ma'ar.
  • Fate/Zero goes the "everyone who wasn't in the original is likely to die" route.
  • In Stephenie Meyer's novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Bree has to stay with the vampire army, fight the Cullens at the end, and die by the hands of the Volturi. Although it's arguable as to whether or not it counts as canon, she also has to fall in love and lose said love interest, since Meyer said before the book was published that Bree "found and lost love".
  • Elphaba has to melt at the end of Wicked. This isn't the case in the musical adaptation.
  • Donna Tartt's The Secret History opens with the murder of one of the characters, then proceeds to show how they got there.
  • Animal Farm has to end with Napoleon winning and the pigs becoming indistinguishable from the humans, since it was explicitly modeled on the Russian Revolution and the Soviet Union, which, when the novel was written during World War II, was under Stalin's iron rule.
  • From the Star Trek Enterprise Relaunch: The TV Series included Coridan as a member of the fledgling Coalition of Planets. However, it had previously confirmed that the United Federation of Planets which grew out of the Coalition was founded by Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites - no Coridanites. Hence, while the first novel in the relaunch has Coridan as part of the alliance, it also has them withdraw before the Coalition Compact is signed. This of course is no surprise to readers familiar with Trek lore. The Rigellians and Denobulans were also part of the initial Coalition talks, but their absence is explained as their having been frightened off by Terra Prime in the series' penultimate episode.
    • To underline just how doomed Coridan's membership was, the very episode that introduced the Andorians and Tellarites to Star Trek centred around a conference about admitting Coridan to the Federation, with Coridan established as underpopulated. That episode took place over a century after the events of Enterprise.
  • In Star Trek: Stargazer, the Ubarrak Primacy is shown as a powerful rival to the Federation and Cardassians (at least in one particular sector). However, their lack of appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine means they obviously can't become the major power they're aiming to be.
  • One Star Trek: The Next Generation novel has an Alternate Universe Jack Crusher discover that he is the only him in the multiverse, as he bites it in every other timeline. He doesn't take it well.
  • The last book in most V. C. Andrews series are prequels told by the heroine's mother or grandmother, fleshing out how the drama and doom said heroine endures comes about. Thanks, Mom.
  • The BioShock (series) novelization details the attempts of Bill McDonagh and Roland Wallace to deal with/kill Ryan and escape Rapture with his family. As we find McDonagh's corpse during the game, and hear an Audio Diary of Wallace's death, we already know that this isn't going to work.
  • Sergey Lukyanenko's Dances on the Snow takes place about 100 prior to the events of Genome. While none of the characters from the prequel are present in the first novel (the stories are simply set in the same 'verse), the main event that defines the prequel is an attempt by a coalition of planets to take over The Empire from within, and it appears to be succeeding rather well by brainwashing entire planetary populations. Since the Empire is alive and well in Genome, it is easy to figure out that the Big Bad's plan will fail. Additionally, the main character's childhood female friend laments that FTL Travel is lethal to women who are not in a Human Popsicle state. This is never mentioned in Genome, which is all about genetic engineering, meaning the problem will be resolved by the end of the prequel via gene therapy.
  • In the Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, a spinoff novel of the manga Death Note, we know from the beginning that Naomi and L will solve the case thanks to a comment made in the original series.
  • Pretty much any Doctor Who Expanded Universe media featuring a past Doctor is constrained by this. Lawrence Miles did attempt to change this with his book Interference, which had the Third Doctor die in a completely different way thanks to the meddling of Faction Paradox, a Temporal Paradox-obsessed Cult. It was Miles' hope that other writers would follow his example and no longer hold the Doctor's past sacrosanct. However the alternate timeline was never explored (by editorial decree; it's not known if any writers aside from Miles had intended to write books set in it).
  • Warrior Cats:
    • In the prequels, we never heard about characters like Snowfur, so they have to die.
    • The leaders have to die so they can be replaced.
    • Willowbreeze, a cat who the author explained would appear, be in an Official Couple with a main character, and then die.
  • Those familiar with the comic know that Penny in The Walking Dead Rise of the Governor is set to become a zombie.
  • In the two prequels to David Eddings The Belgariad written after the series and its sequel, readers know that the duchy of Vo Wacune and (almost) the entire population of Maragor are gonna eat it at some point since Vo Wacune no longer exists in the main series and Maragor is filled with the ghosts of the dead.
  • The Amelia Peabody series book A River in the Sky, set in 1910, involved a secret group called "The Sons of Abraham," working to find common ground and prevent violence between Arabs and Jews. If only they'd succeeded....

Live-Action TV

  • Two examples from Season 5 of Lost, during the time-travel saga:
    • Jin meets Danielle Rousseau's science expedition. You know, the same team we know all died?
    • The time-shifting islanders come to join The Dharma Initiative when they're stranded in the 70s. We already know that there will be both an "Incident" and a Purge, the latter wiping out almost every remaining member of Dharma.
  • Babylon 5: In The Beginning is a prequel film detailing the events of the Earth Minbari War (by way of a Clip Show summing up a large chunk of Backstory for new viewers after the show changed networks). Mostly we have characters that we see from the show, doing whatever they were doing before the war broke out, with three notable exceptions: Captain Jankowski, Captain Sterns, and Lenonn. In the movie, two of the three don't survive (one of the Captains, notably gets part of the bridge dropped on him during a brief battle). In the novelization, it is mentioned in passing the the other character, upon realizing what his actions had brought forth put a gun to his head.
  • The Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica. It's clear at least Willie and Joseph Adama cannot die. Willie since he's in Battlestar Galactica and Joseph because both Lee and Lampkin state they knew Joseph personally, whereas both won't be born for at least a couple decades. Everyone else, however, was neither seen or mentioned in the series-so their eventual fate is unknown, meaning they're all fair game...
    • Subverted: Willie does die. It turns out he wasn't Commander Adama after all, but rather an older brother who the commander himself was named after.
    • In the main series, there's also Hot Amazon Kendra Shaw, who appears in a extended-episode set in the 2nd season's continuity. However, since the show itself was in the 4th season at the time, and despite her high rank and prominent position we'd never seen her in all of the intervening episodes...
  • Doctor Who is an interesting example: while it doesn't involve prequels in the sense that it moves forward in the Doctor's personal time line, we think we know River Song won't die in any of her subsequent appearances, since we already saw her final fate. In an attempt to counterbalance this, the Doctor makes a point of mentioning every time River Song shows up that history can be changed and that she could die some other way instead.
    • An example from the Classic series could also be Genesis of the Daleks, where The Doctor is sent back in time to destroy the Daleks before they can even be created. However, because of the number of adventures involving the Daleks, this is clearly not possible.
    • Most of the episodes that take place in the past fall under this trope, as the writers don't want to rewrite history too much. Donna can't allow the people of Pompeii to escape Vesuvius, the Doctor and Amy can't save Vincent van Gogh, Barbara can't convince the Aztecs to give up human sacrifice, etc.
  • Smallville: Somebody save her! Some comics writer are trying hard to make Chloe Sullivan a Canon Immigrant. But there is a strong feeling that her death will be the I Let Gwen Stacy Die event which will turn Clark into Superman.
    • Jonathan and Martha Kent never have a biological child, which concludes a plot point from Season 2 very early for anyone familiar with the comics.
      • Everyone knew that the romance between Clark and Lana wasn't going to last, especially after Lois Lane was introduced, and sadly Chloe's crush would never be fully requited.
    • Lex in the first couple of seasons makes sincere efforts not to be the Corrupt Corporate Executive his father is, or if he must be one of those, to at least work towards noble goals and help his friend Clark. It is even implied that the Power of Friendship could have saved him had they trusted him in the beginning.
  • How I Met Your Mother loves to reveal bits of the future in advance, usually through Future Ted's narration (but sometimes by standard flash-forwards). As a result, while Ted has to marry someone, most of his steady girlfriends are ruled out for us viewers before the relationship actually ends. The most extreme case was Robin, who was his love interest for two whole seasons; we knew from the PILOT that she wasn't the Mother.
  • Everyone knows how things are ultimately going to end for the Merlin characters, once they hit the legendary era.



  • Speaking of doom, The Bible has Revelation 20:7-10 : "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

Tabletop Games


  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, being a Perspective Flip of Hamlet, has its titular characters helplessly postponing their inevitable death between scenes in the original parent canon.
  • Most Greek Tragedies were based on well-known myths, so the ancient Greeks watching Oedipus Rex, for example, would already know the ending. The Greek dramatists played with this by using Dramatic Irony.
    • A particular instance of this occuring within a playwright's own continuity is the ending of Oedipus at Colonus as Antigone and Ismene head to Thebes to try and dissuade their brothers from civil war. Sophocles had already treated their fate in his Antigone over thirty years previous to writing Oedipus at Colonus.
  • Rent, despite being a modern version of La bohème, is actually a subversion. Angel dies of AIDS, despite her counterpart (Schaunard) surviving the opera. Mimi appears to die at the end (as her La bohème counterpart), but is revived by The Power of Love (or The Power of Rock, your call).

Video Games

  • Halo: Reach, being a prequel to the original Halo trilogy, was pretty much doomed to end in a Bolivian Army Ending or some other depressing scenario in which all of Noble Team die. How can we be sure? Because the first Halo took place a few hours after Reach was obliterated. Many of the character a new to the series, but given the overall theme of the game, death is pretty much guaranteed. Halsey is the only one confirmed to survive, which indicates that Jun peobably did as well, as he was last seen escorting Halsey to safety.
  • The DS remake of Chrono Trigger adds an extra ending where the party and Anti-Villain try to rescue Schala from the Devourer. The sequel, Chrono Cross, is also about a different party trying to rescue Schala from the Devourer. If you didn't play Chrono Cross, prepare for epic disappointment.
  • Zigzagged by Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, which is a prequel to the first game. There's a Disc One Final Dungeon that Maxim makes it through unscathed... but the first scene of Lufia I, in which we see some legendary and ancient hero named "Maxim" making a Heroic Sacrifice, turns out to also be the closing scene of Lufia II.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core has the difficult task of working Zack, Aerith and Sephiroth into an interesting plot despite the player knowing how it has to end. It does pretty well.
    • Likewise, Before Crisis introduces a large team of unnamed Turks as the player characters. All but Shuriken Female aren't seen in other media and the end of the game has all Turks except the big 4 (Reno, Rude, Elena and Tseng) go into hiding. The one member who does appear in other media? Cissnei who appears in Crisis Core, which is in the MIDDLE of Before Crisis.
  • Ditto Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2, which stars the Big Bad group whose members all die by the end of the next chronological game.
    • You never heard of Xion during Roxas' flashbacks in Kingdom Hearts II, despite her important role. So that helps guessing she was Ret-Gone.
  • Considering the above examples, by now it seems that Square Enix has learnt the "don't-make-handheld-prequels-if-they-don't-end-well" lesson with their latest title, "Dissidia [Duodecim] 012 Final Fantasy", where, while narrating the second-to-last war cycle prior to the first Dissidia and therefore being somewhat of a Foregone Conclusion, after completing that war cycle there's another - namely, the 13th seen in the first Dissidia, as a redone version, promptly subverting the Downer Ending.
  • In Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, there's the flashback mission with Captain MacMillan where the objective is to assassinate the Big Bad Zakhaev. Naturally, you fail, you "only" take his arm off.
  • Ace Attorney: All of the flashback cases in some way or another have this by virtue of what characters are involved.
    • Case 3 of Investigations 2 is a big offender. You know that no matter how hard Gregory tries, he can't get a Not Guilty verdict for Tenkai. And that exposing von Karma's forgery isn't going to end well for him... Fortunately, you get to solve the case for real as Miles in the present.
    • Apollo Justice is especially cruel about this. You, as the player, are forced to make Phoenix present evidence that you know will ruin his career.
  • Fire Emblem: Sword of Flame gives us Canas, who's heavily implied to have been literally Doomed by Canon. Sword of Flame is the prequel to the previous Fire Emblem game, Sword of Seal, in which both his own mother and her grandson (implied to be Canas' son) are playable characters. Several characters from Sword of Flame had appeared in Sword of Seal, but, among many others, Canas did not. As such, his epilogue in Sword of Flame, regardless of support conversations, will invariably inform you that he and his wife die in a snowstorm, thus leaving his son in the care of his mother for the events of Sword of Seal.
    • This actually happens a lot in Sword of Flame, although it probably had a lesser impact on westerners because Sword of Seals was never released outside of Japan. Hector meets his demise in Sword of Seals, the entire Black Fang is killed, Athos doesn't appear in Sword of Seals because he literally keels over right after the final chapter, Brammimond appeared to have fallen into a Plot Hole and died offscreen, Nino is heavily implied to have been chased by bounty hunters and depending on her supports, so is Erk (and in any event, Nino's sons grew up in an orphanage), Rebecca's son appears but not her... While Barte and Karel appear, as well as Barte and Karla's daughter, Supports between Karla and Karel suggest this, and oh yeah, need I mention that Roy's mother is not seen, and depending on who you see as the canonical pairing, this is either Ninian, Fiora, or LYNDIS? (However there is hope for the latter; as it's possible Sue is also Lyn's daughter.)
  • Ray Crisis, the prequel to Ray Force. Despite your efforts, Con-Human succeeds in taking over the planet, according to the story of the first game. Makes the prequel a Shoot the Shaggy Dog story too.
  • Portal: Prelude, the unofficial 3rd party mod. GLaDOS goes berserk and kills everyone. Apparently, even the main character. Mike and the main character (Abby) MAY have survived, but even if they did, they hastily abandoned Aperture.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, a prequel to the entire Metal Gear series, having Snake or Ocelot killed will result in a Time Paradox due to their roles in previous games. Likewise, killing off EVA will result in a game over too, since she's needed for the story to progress. On the other hand, the game forces the player to kill off The Boss after defeating her, since her death is necessary for Big Boss' descent into villainy. After a certain time, if the player doesn't pull the trigger when prompted, Snake will do it automatically anyway.
    • Also, you play as the young Big Boss, who in the other games appeared as an old man with an eyepatch. So when he gets tortured and Volgin orders one of his eyes to be torn out, it's clear the he won't be saved in the very last moment. Thankfully, Ocelot accidentally fires one of his guns right next to his face, only permanently blinding his eye with the burning gunpowder, but in the resulting chaos Volgin is satisfied with the outcome and leaves it at that.
    • In Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, we're introduced to Huey (Otacon's father) and Kaz (aka Master Miller), both minor but rather pivotal background characters in Solid Snake's timeline. Both of them are doomed to die in the chronological later games; Huey kills himself and attempts to take his step-daughter with him sometime when Otacon was still a teenager (as we find out in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty), while Miller is murdered and has his identity stolen by Liquid Snake in Metal Gear Solid.
  • The Dead Space Wii prequel Dead Space Extraction. Anyone who has seen just the first ten minutes of the original should know what to expect...So yeah...
  • Because Guile's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in Street Fighter II calls for Charlie to die, this means Charlie had to die in every ending of the prequel Alpha games to maintain continuity. Note that the series provides a subversion to this trope in Gouken: His death was set in stone for almost 20 years and made up the back story of no less than three characters... then Street Fighter IV brings him back via a convenient Only Mostly Dead.
    • Street Fighter IV provides hints that Charlie might be alive. When Guile confronts Abel, he´s doing a Sonic Boom. Abel goes and tells him he´s seen that move somewhere. Guile asks where, Abel answers "I´m not gonna say anything to a possible Shadaloo spy", then the fight begins.
  • Mega Man X has a Ten-Minute Retirement at the beginning of X7, getting tired of the more unscrupulous methods of the Maverick Hunters and trying to find a better solution to peace...and the Mega Man Zero series, set a hundred years later, shows that the war never even ended; in fact, the situation had gotten even worse!
    • Well, not exactly. The war they were fighting ended. Then a new war that nearly wiped out all life began. Then, when that was was done, another war began, this time because of scapegoating due to an energy crisis. At least after the Zero series, the wars actually stop. For a while. With Legends being in the main canon, you can only wonder what the hell went wrong even later when you learn certain details about the world...
  • In Phantasy Star Portable (which takes place between the first Phantasy Star Universe game and Ambition of the Illuminus, Vivienne is introduced as a new type of CAST who ends up performing a heroic sacrifice. She doesn't make any future appearances within the time line, thus making her fate somewhat of a Foregone Conclusion. ...That is until the last chapter of Episode 3, where she remembers the player character (after, as a side story indicated, her memory of you would be erased) when she possesses Lou's body. But even then it's implied that she'll forget the player character afterward.
  • The goal of Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume is to kill the Valkyrie Lenneth. This is a prequel to the original Valkyrie Profile, which starred Lenneth. The best you can do is not get anyone sent to hell who wasn't already from it.
    • Strictly speaking it doesn't state anywhere in the opening that it's a prequel, so it's it's not a foregone conclusion when you start... although I suppose Fridge Logic states that it couldn't very well be a sequel, now could it?
    • Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria is -also- set up as a prequel to the first game but averts this trope anyway. Due to time travelling shenanigans, it ends entirely differently.
  • Ninja Gaiden III for the NES is actually an Interquel set after the events of the first game, but before II. This fact is vaguely implied in the instruction manual, but not outright stated, which helps hide the fact that Irene Lew, who is supposedly killed in the intro, isn't really dead at all since she returns in II. One big giveaway that III is set before II is the fact that Ryu still has the Dragon Sword, which he loses at the end of II.
  • Averted in Fear Effect 2. This game is a prequel to the original and introduces Rain, Hana's love interest. She's in danger a lot and you'd think she'd be killed since she isn't in the original game. She's not killed and apparently was just off-screen then.
  • In a Multimedia example, The Web of Arachnos tells the story of Marcus Cole and Stefan Richter; best friends who grew up in the same household and later became soldiers of fortune. Marcus's brother Ezra and Stefan's sister Monica also make appearances. Anyone who has actually played the game (or looked at the cover of the book) knows that Marcus Cole becomes Statesman and Stefan Richter becomes Lord Recluse after achieving their goal of reaching the Well of the Furies. Monica goes on to marry Marcus, but Ezra was never mentioned before the novel's release.
    • MMO time creates some wacky examples in City of Heroes. Any arc where the goal is to prevent the Second Rikti Invasion is doomed to fail, because that storyline has to begin when you reach level 35. Praetor Duncan's plan to kill Diabolique fails because Diabolique's One-Winged Angel form from her Incarnate Trial was used in the promotional material for the issue that arc appeared in. Most importantly, no matter what you do in Praetoria Tyrant will still blow up it's capital out of spite.
  • In Metroid: Other M, a prequel to Metroid Fusion, Adam has to die (as he becomes Samus' computer guide) and two bosses, Ridley and Nightmare, will at least leave corpses which will be brought to the BSL and copied by the X Parasites.
  • Dr. Caroll dies in Perfect Dark Zero. He was a personality uploaded into a floating laptop in the original.
  • Starkiller, in The Force Unleashed. A stupidly powerful Sith apprentice just running around pell-mell, slaughtering stormtroopers and rebel soldiers alike, before A New Hope? There was never any doubt that he was going to kick it.
    • The sequel brought him Back from the Dead in a technicality of cloning, however it is Darker and Edgier so someone else will have to die...
    • May yet be subverted. With the rumors of the third game being canceled and the second game canonically ending with both Juno and Starkiller walking away alive and together without the anyone but Kota and Juno knowing that Starkiller has come back, the series may never get the chance to Shoot the Shaggy Dog. For all we know Juno and Galen may live happily ever after.
  • The GameCube version of Resident Evil added the option to rescue Richard Aiken by healing his poisonous snake wound on time. However, since the sequels require the deaths of all the Bravo Team members (except for Rebbecca) for the storyline to make sense, Richard will simply die at a later point of the game.
  • Left 4 Dead, The Sacrifice DLC. Since Bill was already dead in The Passing, you know that he will always be the one to die by canon, even if the player sacrifices a different survivor in The Sacrifice.
  • A somewhat ineteresting example in Okami as it happens over the course of the same installment. The start of the game tells the legend of Nagi and Shiranui, a warrior and white wolf respectively who slay the evil Orochi... at the cost of Shiranui's life. Then the game starts proper, you play a depowered Shiranui (actually the sun goddess Amaterasu), and later in the game you're thrust into the original battle with Orochi via Time Travel (need I remind you you're depowered?)... A Downer Ending seems inevitable. But you live, and the legend still manages to play out as normal. No Timey-Wimey Ball here!
    • In Okamiden, there's more Time Travel. The instant you go back in time, you realize that you're in mid-air over an ocean. Luckily, a ship called the Goryeo comes and its friendly crew take you on board. You explore the ship, and find that it's the sunken ship from the first game. The one loaded with evil and bad stuff. This trope possibly makes it even scarier.
  • You may not know this the first time you play through Tactics Ogre The Knight of Lodis, but you have two routes to take in the game. The canonical option is Path "A", wherein Alphonse kills his best friend and commander, Rictor, as well as his second in command Orson, and his love interest Eleanor sacrifices herself, making them Doomed by Canon, and the official ending is the Downer Ending / Bittersweet Ending
    • Say, you know those two from Ogre Battle? Holy knight Lans and Warren? They make it to episode seven, along with Canopus, except They don't wind up making it out - Warren sacrifices himself to save everyone from being sucked into a Chaos gate, whereas Lans was driven insane by torture. The remake implies otherwise though.
  • The prequel to Dragon Age, The Stolen Throne, is absolutely loaded with this. Like the anti-heroic badass Teyrn Loghain? He's the villain of the main game. Boy, Maric really came into his own as King! His rule is pretty darn short. Look at adorable little Prince Cailan in the epilogue! Aww! He dies young at the beginning of the game, and is hinted to be a mediocre king at best. Dragon Age taking place in a Crapsack World, this isn't entirely unexpected.
    • Played in-universe in Dragon Age 2, however. The game is a story-within-a-story concerning Hawke's rise to power, and his/her role in events that have torn the Chantry apart and flung Thedas (the setting) into war. Played with in that the storyteller and listener know the ultimate outcome, but the player has a lot less information.
    • Also, The Calling prequel. The two people who will definitely survive will be King Maric and Duncan (he dies pretty early in the game).
  • In Super Robot Wars Z 2: Destruction Chapter, there is nothing you can do to prevent the deaths of Euphemia li Britannia, Neil Dylandy/the first Lockon Stratos, or Kamina, in defiance of SRW's tradition of letting the player prevent plotline deaths. However, this is a special case in two different ways, firstly because there will be a direct sequel (Rebirth Chapter), which hints at a possible Not Quite Dead scenario for these characters and because those characters' deaths are arguably so plot-critical to their home series that they have to happen. However, they do get some concessions: Neil actually gets to use Trans Am and Kamina gets access to some attacks that Gurren Lagann didn't get until after his death like the Giga Drill Break.
    • Partly subverted with Z2.2's release. In the secret route while Kamina and Neil remain dead it is revealed that Euphemia was alive all along!
  • In Suikoden II, if you had Georg Prime investigated, you would find out that he killed the queen of Falena, Queen Arshtat. Suikoden V, set a few years before Suikoden II, highlights the entire events.
  • Considering the state Max Payne is in in the trailers for the third game, the alternate ending in which Mona lives is not canon.
  • In Ys Origin, the demons can't be defeated permanently. We know this because Adol did that in the first two games, which take place 700 years later.
  • Persona 3: FES contains a sidequest that lets you save Chidori, but "The Answer," a canonical epilogue added to the FES version, mentions the character's Plotline Death.
  • In The Quest of Ki, the prequel to The Tower of Druaga, Ki climbs the tower to the 60th floor, finds the Blue Crystal Rod... and then Druaga appears and turns her to stone, which is why Gilgamesh had to rescue her in the original game.
  • In Baten Kaitos Origins, if you've played more than ten minutes of Eternal Wings, you can probably guess Verus and Baelheit are going to be killed off, simply based on the fact that Geldoblame is in power in Eternal Wings, twenty years later. Sharp-eyed players will pick up on a few others.
  • In Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (a sequel of sorts to Blood Covered), we are introduced to Kai Shimada and Naho Saenoki's friend Sayaka Ooue. Shimada is part of the same group of friends at Byakudan High School, where he has a one-sided rivalry with Yuuya Kizami, and Sayaka is mentioned in Naho's Notes. You find their bodies in Chapters 2 and 5 of Blood Covered, respectively.
  • In Sonic and The Black Knight, Merlina pulls a Xanatos Gambit and a Face Heel Turn in order to prevent Camelot to go through this, to keep it alive eternally. Sonic doesn't like the idea and knows Camelot must fall, thus he has to smack her around to get her back to normal and see their folly.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: In twenty-five years, we've never known of Fi's existence, despite her being the spirit of the series' iconic weapon, the Master Sword. You can probably fill in the blanks for yourself.
  • Vic Vance, the protagonist of prequel game Grand Theft Auto Vice City Stories, is unceremoniously gunned down in the introduction of Grand Theft Auto Vice City, set two years later. He is the only playable protagonist to canonically die during the series.
  • Yakuza 0 is a prequel released after five chronologically later games in the series. It is safe to assume that almost anyone introduced in it that doesn't get a mention in later instalments is going to be dead, in prison, or otherwise out of the picture by the end. Averted with Makoto, though, as Kiwami 2 adds new content absent from the original 2 in order to sew things up.

Web Comics

  • The Last Days of Foxhound tells the story of the Quirky Miniboss Squad you fight in Metal Gear Solid, starting several years before the events of said game and with the end of the comic coinciding with the game. Given that you killed the entire squad over the course of the game, their fate in the comic is a Foregone Conclusion. Not that this subtracted at all from the second to last page.
  • In the The Order of the Stick prequel Start of Darkness, several characters try to kill the lich Xykon, including one who is hinted at having disappeared off the face of the earth in the main comic. Needless to say, their attempts failed.
    • It's also a foregone conclusion that Redcloak will not betray Xykon and will continue working for him, Xykon will become a lich, and the Monster in the Darkness will be recruited by Xykon.
  • Bob and George, a Mega Man webcomic, a cataclysm is constantly referred to, in which Zero is awakened early and kills off the main cast, explaining why almost none of the original Mega Man characters appear in the Mega Man X games. However, Wily learns of the cataclysm and does not activate Zero. But to avoid a temporal paradox, has everyone fake their deaths and move to Acapulco.
    • Also, in the adaptation of Mega Man 6, Wily is looking for a volunteer in the group to stop a rampaging Mega Man. When he asks Bass (called Bass Man, who did not really appear in 6) to slow down Mega Man, Bass says "Screw you, old man. I'm in the next game!" Making sure he survived until Mega Man 7, which was not adapted.
  • Jeneviv from the Dreamkeepers Prelude series is seen as having a rather grisly end in the first few pages of the graphic novelers
  • Due to a lot of Weird Time Shit in Homestuck, very many events are foretold before they happen. For example, the troll's session ends badly, and Aradia's soulbot explodes.
    • Inverted with the recent deaths of John, Karkat and Terezi. All three have been shown to be alive and active at future points shown earlier in the story as flash-forwards or other instances of weird time shit. At this stage only John is a definite, having been explicitly confirmed to have survived shortly after the fact owing to his God Tier-derived immortality; this being Homestuck, there's room to be incorrect in the case of Karkat and Terezi.

Doc Scratch: What sort of story would this be, with our [human Hero of Breath / Knight and Seer] made to stay a cadaver(s)? Definitely not one the alpha timeline would allow.

Web Original

  • One Whateley Universe tale set in the near future hints strongly that Phobos will die this year (Whateley school year 2006-2007). Which means everyone is waiting to see what happens in the rest of the school year...
  • Arguably, any character in The Slender Man Mythos. The Slender Man can't be killed or harmed; the best result is delaying him long enough to go on the run and then staying on the run for the rest of your life, and most Runners still suffer horribly at his hands or eventually get caught. Pretty much as soon as the man shows up, insanity, enslavement, or death are on the cards—no exceptions.
  • In Little Lenny Penguin And The Great Red Flood, the entire Multiverse is pretty much screwed, as JIM is telling the story after the events of the vast majority of it. Although it ends up being a Happy Ending, JIM and the other characters coming back to life and killing the Eldritch Abominations with the Power of Friendship.
  • Season Nine of Red vs. Blue is half prequel, showing the Freelancers, most of whom have appeared before.
    • Agent North Dakota is betrayed by his sister South and killed by the Meta.
    • Agent Washington is implanted with the Epsilon AI, which breaks down while still in his head.
    • Agent Maine is implanted with the Sigma AI and begins killing fellow Freelancers and stealing their AI and equipment.
    • Agent Carolina receives two AI and is driven insane. Subverted, though, in that she is not dead as was previously stated, showing up in the final scene of the present half of the season.
    • Agent York is killed by Wyoming after leaving the program.
    • Agent Wyoming is killed by Tucker while attempting to abduct an alien child.
  • Hanzo Hasashi's family and Hasashi himself have to die in Mortal Kombat: Legacy in order for Hasashi to be reborn as Scorpion and swear revenge against their killer Sub-Zero. The twist here is that Sub-Zero didn't kill them; Quan Chi and Shang Tsung did and framed Sub-Zero.
  • Ink City saw an unusual case of this when Thrasher became aware of his status as a character from the show Robotomy. Specifically, he learned that it got Screwed by the Network, and due to this, his universe was completely destroyed when the creators disposed of all their show-related materials. He took that about as well as you'd expect.

Western Animation

  • In The Little Mermaid TV series and The Little Mermaid 3: Ariel's Beginning, Ariel has to be unaware of Eric's existence, and all the major characters present in the first movie, including her, must survive.
  • In Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Belle and Beast have to survive, and the curse must still be in place.
  • In Tarzan 2, Tarzan, Terk and Tantor have to survive.
  • In Hercules: The Series, Hercules has to remain unaware of Megara's existence. Philoctetes has to survive.
    • Never mind that the series completely screwed up the REST of Hercules movie canon by having Hades know Hercules is alive before he finds out through Meg.
      • Not to mention frequently interacting with him when in the movie Hercules is initially unaware of who Hades is.
    • The series does find ways to have Megara and Hercules interact, but they have to have their memories erased afterwards.
  • In the Powerpuff Girls movie, the Powerpuff Girls and Mojo Jojo have to survive, the former must become Townsville's protectors, and they have to keep their powers. Mojo Jojo's evil plan, of course, has to fail.
    • And of course, Jojo has to get his supergenius, accidentally create the girls, and leave his home with the Professor.
    • Towards the end of the movie, Professor Utonium creates Antidote X to remove Mojo's One-Winged Angel transformation, and the girls consider using it on themselves to get themselves Brought Down to Normal, but of course they can't.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars has some leeway with this trope, because the Moral Event Horizon takes place in Revenge of the Sith, after the series. Still, the Big Bad must stay undiscovered and the faux Big Bad as well as The Dragon cannot be permanently caught.
  • Also, since they are prequels or remakes of well established tales, we have to include those doomed mothers. Athena, Lady Greystroke, and Mommy Modo. None of whom make it past the opening number.
  • Because of the existence and continuity connection of Batman Beyond, moments in the DCAU that chronologically take place before Beyond sometimes fall into this trope.
  • All the flashbacks of Jason Todd as Robin in Batman: Under the Red Hood were this.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures has this in Tony's attempts to stop Ghost from stealing and selling his armor specs. Since it's the start of the Armor Wars Failure Is the Only Option.