Karmic Death

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"If I am dangling over a precipice and the hero reaches his hand down to me, I will not attempt to pull him down with me. I will allow him to rescue me, thank him properly, then return to the safety of my fortress and order his execution."

No matter how evil the villain is... the good guys can't just kill them. They're supposed to be pure and noble (or innocent). Having blood on their hands means they'd have to change genres and become Anti Heroes.

Having the villains just be arrested isn't as satisfying, either. Besides, they have the tendency to escape. Often, the villains are just too evil for such mundane measures. Plus, some part of the viewer wants Justice to be administered, but we don't trust human hands to administer it.

... so, the writers arrange for the villain to die in a manner that is completely their own fault. Or at least, not the hero's. Usually right in the act of attempting to kill the hero, for that extra karmic zing.

Note that this only applies if the villain is clearly human, or the show universe's nearest equivalent. If they change into some kind of monster, they are no longer protected by this trope.

More common in Western markets, as a result of heavy censorship and the general reluctance among writers to feature their character (usually in a show with a younger Demographic) doing such acts as killing, especially if they're underage. Occasionally known by the older demographic as "getting one's comeuppance."

Karmic Death is an example of Death by Irony. Disney Villain Death and The Dog Bites Back are subtropes.

Compare Hoist by His Own Petard. See also Cruel Mercy. The Dog Shot First usually involves this. The Killer Becomes the Killed is a Crime and Punishment Series variant.

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

Examples of Karmic Death include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The villain in The Castleof Cagliostro is crushed (possibly decapitated) by the moving hands of a giant clock. The camera cuts to a long Gory Discretion Shot but you hear a nasty crunching sound.
  • Drifting Classroom: Sekiya.
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Big Bad Gargoyle suffers one of these in a big way when he enters a space intended solely for Atlanteans and is promptly turned into salt, revealing that he, who has been fighting for years to subjugate the human race under Atlantean rule, is himself a human adopted by the Atlanteans.
  • Often, a villain will be conveniently killed off by another villain. A majority of Sailor Moon's humanoid villains were killed by their superiors for failing once too often, or by other, envious members of the same Quirky Miniboss Squad. Said superiors usually changed into monsters for the season finale and thus could be blown to bits.
    • Subverted in the manga, where the Senshi themselves killed the minor villains (Sailor Moon herself got a few too.)
  • In Black Lagoon, Chaka is rude, obnoxious, and such a Jerkass that even his Yakuza family dislike him. After he attempts to take over the family and sell Yukio, the rightful heir, into sexual slavery after raping her, he is beaten, decapitated, and drowned - and his tormenters say he got off lightly.
  • Although not in the anime, in the manga of Elfen Lied you can see a small variant, Lucy (which can only be partially considered a villain, but not the Big Bad) ends dooming herself due the overuse of her own telekinetic powers, while she was agonizing as the result of utilizing her vectors to shoot down some bomber-fighters she asks Kouta to kill her, Kouta reluctantly agrees and executes Lucy to put an end to her misery.
  • Shishio Makoto of Rurouni Kenshin suffers a Karmic Death, succumbing to a fatal condition that does not allow him to fight for more than 15 minutes at a time without overheating (and in this case, causing his body fats and oils to catch fire), just as his opponent Kenshin is lying exhausted and helpless on the floor. This is made even more karmic due to his wealth of fire-based attacks, and the series implies that his death is almost literally karmic; "The man does not choose the age: the age chooses the man."
    • Fighting on a platform surrounded by fire-spewing smokestacks (did those do anything, by the way?) probably wasn't a very wise idea either.
  • Although it's not quite the same thing, Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix masterpiece is rife with examples of karmic retribution. Consider the one in Strange Beings / Life: A woman, raised by her evil father as a warrior, learns that her father is dying but might yet be saved by a mysterious nun who lives on a remote island. She travels to the island to kill the nun. After killing the nun, she finds she can't leave the island, and circumstances cause her to pretend to be the nun for some travelers. She finally works out that time is flowing backward, and not only is she the nun, but she can look forward to a day when she gets killed by her own hand. Which will of course continue the cycle indefinitely, unless she can work off her sins through healing those who come to visit the nun. In other words, this is Karmic Death, or dying through one's own actions, a little more directly than most, and with a delay of over ten years between act and payback. Also notable in that by the time of death, the woman had learned her lesson and was no longer a villain type in the slightest.
  • Standard way of tying up stories with murderers, con artists, etc. in Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service if they're not caught by the police. Insurance salesman killed by an unlikely probability, cryopreservation scammer trapped in a glacier—whatever your sin, Narrative Causality has a death to suit.
  • In School Days, the main character is a Casanova who has spent 90% of the series playing with the hearts and interests of several girls, becoming more and more of a Jerkass as the story advances. In the end, though, a girl who is supposedly expecting his baby snaps violently after he suggests she should have an abortion, and stabs him with a knife. And the Fandom Rejoiced.
    • That was only in the anime however. In the game's ending that was closest to that scene, she stabbed him because he decided to simply abandon her and go back to his old girlfriend. Of course, as he's crawling across the ground and bleeding to death, he becomes The Atoner and realizes the error of his ways, then dies.
  • In Narutaru, one of the main character's best friends is bullied to truly monstrous extents by the local Alpha Bitch Aki Honda and her Girl Posse. The peak of it is when Aki rapes the poor girl with a test tube. What does the victim do when she gets a shadow dragon? Well... she uses said dragon to kill all but one of them - and even the sole survivor gets her leg ripped off. Oh, and she kills other people too. And the one who gets the worst death of all is Aki herself, who gets the shadow dragon raping her with its clawed finger and then ripping her body in half. And then it gets worse. Much worse. The fact that this is even considered Karmic Death at all speaks volumes on just how completely messed up the world of Narutaru is.
  • Dragonball Z is another prime example. Protagonist Goku seldom kills anyone. Many bad guys throughout the series are either killed by a superior bad guy, or reform and join Team Good, or end up killing themselves through Karmic Death.
    • He's a lot less reserved in Dragonball, killing Old Piccolo by punching his way through his chest, and other choice actions.
      • Yeah, in Dragonball two Mooks were creepily hitting on Bulma (probably with intent to rape); Goku showed up and killed them. When Bulma felt sorry for them and said they were only doing their jobs, Goku just laughed it off. He was 12.
      • Some of them he did on purpose like when the remaining Red Ribbon Army soldiers ambush him he kills them because they are in his way he even vaporizes two of them with a point blank Kamehameha, and he was really pissed at Tambourine for murdering Krillen and taking pleasure in killing innocent people.
      • He stops killing his opponents starting with Piccolo Jr. who later becomes his ally.
        • Probably because he spent three years with Kami, the first civilized role model of his life. Gohan was only around long enough to teach some basic values that probably applied more to the jungle than civilization, Roshi explicitly taught him that if he encounters an evildoer it is his responsibility to decimate them, and after wiping out an entire army (at age 12) he travelled around the world for three years without guidance.
    • Keep in mind with the examples of the Red Ribbon Army, Goku did not know how to pull his punches, and from his perspective evil deeds make you an evil person. He actually explained his straightforward reasoning to Bulma (after he killed those Red Ribbon Army soldiers). If you survive, well at least you're not moving, so Goku would leave you alone. Basically, if you're a bad guy, Kami must have a good reason to keep you alive when facing Goku (possibly for more punishment). Goku notably mellowed out when he was 18-19, with the years spending with Kami. After that, he couldn't stop sparing the bad guys (Ironically, to his friend's surprise, even Bulma).
    • A sort of twisting of this trope comes with Freeza. It follows the trope at first, with Goku refusing to kill Freeza and Freeza lashing out at him behind his back, but the Karmic Death occurs when Goku turns around and destroys Freeza in his rage, no remorse. Though he doesn't actually die. He later returns as a cyborg, and goes to Earth to kill Goku's friends in vengeance. It is then where he meets his actual death, in the form of Trunks. A rather expanded Karmic Death.
    • Such a brutal departure from more merciful kills by Dragon Ball characters. Trunks slices Frieza in half, then proceeds to slice those halves into even tinier bits, and he blows him to ashes with a ki blast.
    • This trope actually fits Frieza more than one would be led to believe. Think about it. He does all he can to destroy the Saiyan race for fear that one day a Super Saiyan will emerge and destroy him. So what happens? He kills Krillin and threatens to kill an already defeated and injured Gohan, causing Goku to finally transform into a Super Saiyan before tearing Frieza a new hole. That's right. Frieza created the very being he spent such a long time trying to destroy.
    • Commander Red's end also qualifies in regard to this trope: Basically, he was the person who ordered the Red Ribbon Army around, so any atrocities that they committed were ultimately traced back to him (and it was heavily implied that several of the soldiers feared Red as failure or disobedience=death.). He either killed or arranged for the deaths of both innocent people and his own personnel just so he could gain the dragon balls. Did I mention that Red also lied to the personnel as to exactly what he was going to wish to the dragon balls? Well, when Black, after narrowly surviving inevitable doom both times (from falling and from being crushed to oblivion) overheard what Commander Red's true wish was (It's definitely not World Domination, or even conquest, period. His wish was probably the most trivial of wishes which was to get taller.), he was appalled by the desire, especially how said wish nearly resulted in the Red Ribbon Army's demise, especially after Goku's attack on the Red Ribbon Headquarters, and after Red not only ignored this, but even said that his soldiers are expendable, and even hinting that he'll kill Black due to outliving his usefulness, he himself is killed by Black by a gunshot to the head.
  • This is the point of almost EVERY story in Pet Shop of Horrors.
    • Those that aren't, however, tend to be the brighter side of Laser-Guided Karma , like the little girl and the Doberman.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, a weakened Pride decides to eat Gluttony.
    • Nearly all of the ways that the Homunculi are killed are either clearly ironic or a reference to Dante (Alighieri, don't confuse with the character of the same name from the 2003 anime version) who made punishments that were more subtly or symbolically ironic.
      • To date: the first Greed was impaled face down (as per Dante) then melted down for his most valuable part, Lust was incinerated (as per Dante), Gluttony was eaten alive, Envy pulled out his own heart rather than live as a Homunculus, Wrath was beaten to death by Scar, the most rage filled person in the series, Pride was stripped of his power. Only Sloth's death isn't particularly ironic.
      • In a way Sloth's job before his death battle was similar to the Slothful's punishment in Dante. They are trapped in the river Styx, and between the giant dark circle and the red water Hohenhiem crosses on his little visit to the tunnel, one could definitely compare the Styx to the nation-wide transmutation circle in a number of ways.
      • Also, despite his desire to do nothing but sleep, Sloth had to go through one of the most physically brutal and long-lasting fights in the series before dying.
    • In the 2003 anime adaptation, Dante is presumed eaten alive by the mindless monster she turned Gluttony into.
      • Also from the 2003 anime, Sloth, the Homunculus which could turn herself into water, was killed by being literally evaporated.
        • Which doesn't technically fall under the trope's definition, as it was a direct result of the hero's actions. Metaphorically appropriate, however.
  • In Gundam Seed Destiny, Jona Roma Saran goes to war with Zaft forces and later dies in the battle he callously started - and in a manner completely bereft of dignity.
  • Nena Trinity gets hit with it in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, killed by Louise, the sole survivor of the family Nena had callously murdered a long time ago. Louise herself, who committed atrocities in order to get to the point of killing Nena, gets the INVERSION of this trope: she ends up so messed-up that she would rather die, but instead lives in the end and must continue to struggle as The Atoner.
    • Ali Al-Saachez dies at the hands of Lyle "Lockon Stratos" Dylandy, the twin younger brother of the original Lockon (Neil), whom he killed four years ago. Lyle (somewhat less revenge-driven than his brother) even tried to give him a Last Second Chance, but when Ali refused, he killed him.
      • Let's not forget that he was the one who ordered the bombing that killed the two Lockons' family as well. He also murdered the parents of Soran Ibrahim (now Setsuna F. Seiei) indirectly. Murdered Saji's sister... too many crimes to count!!!!!
  • In Code Geass, after confessing to being at war just so he could publicly kill people, Luciano Bradley dies. His killer, an Action Girl whom he threatened with rape and torture, even tossed his own sadistic Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner back in his face right before doing him in. Oh yeah!
    • Or V. V., after stooping to any possible low imaginable, including being the one behind the murder of Marianne and lying to Charles about it, and giving Lelouch hell throughout the series from afar, is finally defeated by Lelouch (with an assist from Cornelia). Now bleeding and crawling towards Charles, he hopes for the latter's help. However, noticing that V. V. has been acting behind his back once again, Charles declares he has had enough, and takes away his code, leaving the now once-immortal to die.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Episode 37, when Divine sends Carly falling to her death. He immediately regrets it.
    • It wasn't permanent, but after being tricked into revealing that he killed Misty's little brother (she had blamed that on Aki), he pisses her off even further and gets devoured by her Jibakushin.
  • Shion Sonozaki in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (more exactly, the Meakashi-hen arc), after killing most of the cast disguised as Mion, her twin sister, falls to her death when the air gun holster that Mion always wears snags on the wall while Shion's scaling a building.
    • It was more so a suicide in the sound novels. Played straight with Rina (every world and Teppei (at least three).
  • In Death Note, users of the titular notes have a nasty tendency to end up killed by one. Ryuk even states in the very first episode that he will write Light's name into his Death Note one day, which he does when Light is defeated in the very end of the series.
    • Especially considering all the evil that Yagami Light has done to the people around him.
    • Technically, it's not proven whether Mikami died by Death Note, but the rest follows true (indirectly, in Misa's case).
    • Demegawa, meanwhile, gets eliminated for declaring himself the spokesman for Kira so he can collect millions in donations for "Kira's Temple."
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure loves this:
    • Part 2: Cars is granted immortality in every sense of the word; he uses his newfound evolution powers to transform himself into stone to avoid a volcanic eruption, but the force of the blast launches him into space, where he is unable to change back or stop himself from moving. He eventually shuts down mentally, now a hunk of stone travelling endlessly.
    • Part 3: Dio is killed thanks to Jotaro's time stop ability, which Dio had been using against others to intimidate and kill.
    • Part 4: Yoshikage Kira's good luck finally runs out as he is struck and killed by an ambulance hich a bystander had called to help him. When he tries to drag the spirit of one of his murder victims to hell with him, he is stopped by a group of otherworldly hands...which is the body part what Kira had taken from his victims.
    • Part 5 Diavolo unintentionally helps Giornio get the Requiem arrow, which upgrades his stand into one that can negate any action taken by an opponent...an ability almost identical to Diavolo's own King Crimson stand, which can erase a section of time and allows limited precognative abilities. When Diavolo is killed by the new stand, he is forced to experience death for eternity, unable to see when it's coming, each and every time.
    • Part 6: Pucci's own Whitesnake stand allowed Emporio to gain Weather Report's stand, allowing him to finally defeat Pucci and save the new universe.
  • Folken Lacour de Fanel in Vision of Escaflowne. After his Heel Face Turn, Folken tries to attack his ex-boss Dornkirk, but the sword he uses breaks in two and the tip injures Folken fatally by impaling him in the chest. It doesn't help that the Zaibach has a machine that actually uses Karma and destiny as its fuel.
    • There's also a subversion here, as Folken went to battle fully knowing that his days were numbered due to all the experiments Dornkirk had perfomed on him through the years.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Suboshi tries to kill Tamahome and Miaka, but his own weapon rebounds and plunges through his chest while the ghosts of Tamahome's family hold him in place. Suboshi had brutally murdered the family earlier in the series, making this doubly karmic.
  • In Romeo X Juliet, Lord Montague kills one of his allies and friends in front of his son, for no real reason at all. Said son goes insane and later stabs Montague to death.
  • Gendo's death in End of Evangelion fits this: It's confirmed to be a hallucination, but what we see is that Eva-01, which has his dead wife Yui's soul in it, picks Gendo up and bites his head off. Yui was the reason he was trying to initiate Instrumentality, and why he treated others (especially their child, Shinji) like shit. Gendo is even said by Word of God to have wanted this to happen:

"So, this is my retribution? I'm sorry, Shinji." * Crunch*

  • Played straight at the final showdown between Johan and Tenma in Monster, during which Tenma is presented with a choice of shooting the former or watching him kill a small boy, when Johan is instead shot down by the child's drunken, raving father who just happened to stumble upon the scene. Promptly subverted when the paramedics discover that Johan is still alive, and Tenma decides to try to save his life once again.
    • The last part can count as even worse than Karmic Death for Johan since by saving Johan's life once again, Tenma proves Johan utterly wrong.
  • Hokuto no Ken—Souther suffers this in the hands of Kenshiro as a retribution to his crimes against children and his brutal murder of Shuu, having him bear the tip of the pyramid with his injured knees and then killed in sight. Although Kenshiro uses a humane finisher to allow Souther to die without pain, it still counts as a Karmic Death.
  • Kurata meets his demise this way in Digimon Savers as the climax of a very well deserved Humiliation Conga. His final plan to destroy the Digimon sets off a chain reaction, triggering an energy blast that vaporizes him.
  • Of all series, Pokémon did this with Complete Monster Bounty Hunter Hunter J. After capturing one of the Lake Trio (Azelf), Mesprit and Uxie arrive and during a battle with her, use Future Sight on her ship. After capturing them and handing them to Team Galactic (and collecting her payment), her ignoring/forgetting about Future Sight leads to the pixies' attack stiking her ship and sending it sinking into Lake Valor, followed by the glass breaking and flooding the chamber, and the ship marvellously exploding, killing J and all her henchmen. Shows what you get for trying to capture three super-powered pixies almost as old as time itself... Of course, given the show's track record (and J's cunning) some fans assume she might have survived.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Comic/film example: Spider-Man. Spidey, infuriated over his girlfriend's death/near-death (depending on which version you're reading/watching), has the Green Goblin on the ropes when the villain reveals that he is Spider-Man's friend's father. As the Green Goblin apologizes, he sets up his glider behind our hero. Spidey jumps out of the way at the last second and the blade on the glider's tip impales the Goblin, killing him. For now.
  • The Governor from The Walking Dead suffers one of these at the conclusion of the "Made to Suffer" arc. After the remainder of his troops have finally broken into the good guys' sanctuary, scattering them to the wind and killing over half of them, one of his soldiers, at his urging, shoots a fleeing survivor... the main characters' wife and infant daughter. Upon discovering the Governor made her kill a baby, she empties her shotgun into the back of his head. The entire squad of soldiers get Karmic Deaths as well, as they're implied to be overwhelmed by zombies a moment later.
  • Long-running newspaper comic Dick Tracy makes karmic deaths of villains one of its defining features. But as of late, the strip has become a surreal series of storylines that are basically long, Rube Goldberg-like marches to see what gruesome end awaits the villain of the story. To the point where Dick and crew will abandon police procedure and common sense (and occasionally, the laws of physics) to facilitate said karmic fate. As in the current storyline, where the Big Bad Evil Guy gets torn apart by his own attack dogs after losing his protective whistle; all the while, it never occurs to Dick or his crew to shoot the damn dogs until LONG after the villain is a literal dog's dinner.
  • In the final issue of Atomic Robo And the Dogs of War, the second half takes a time skip to the 70's when Robo finally finds Otto Skorzeny after looking for him since WWII. He goads Robo, claiming that he had personally killed Nikola Tesla, Robo's creator, and stolen his ideas. Robo takes a gun, aims it at him, and... points it away, and tells Skorzeny that he already knows he's dying of cancer, and instead of giving him a quick soldier's death, he'll leave Skorzeny to die alone and painfully from his cancer.
  • In the DC Comics miniseries "Final Crisis: Revelations", after Libra kills the Martian Manhunter by means of lighting him on fire to show the assorted villains in his Secret Society that he could make their wishes come true, The Spectre goes after the people who wished it to happen. He turns Dr. Light into a human candle and turns Effigy into a melted puddle of a man by boiling him alive. Sadly, it doesn't work for Libra, but The Spectre does kill all the other villains in the room who tried to stop him instead.
    • Said villains, the Hangmen, are also an example. Spectre hanged them.
    • Speaking of Final Crisis, in the mini-series Legion of Three Worlds a couple discovers Superboy-Prime after he arrives in the future and he vaporizes them in passing. What makes this a Karmic Death? In an earlier storyline, the same couple discovered an alien child, Last of His Kind, in their yard... and vaporized it, burying its remains in their farm.
  • In one Batman story, Batman finds and confronts the man who killed his parents, Joe Chill, but can't find any evidence against him. taking a risk, he confronts Chill and accuses him of murdering the Waynes, and reveals that he, Bruce Wayne, became Batman because of what happened. He then goes on to tell Chill that he will always be watching, waiting to collar Chill for good. Terrified, Chill runs to some fellow crooks and begs for their help, claiming that Batman is after him because he killed his parents. However, the crooks are furious that because of what Chill did, Batman came to be and ruined their schemes time and again. In hot-blooded rage they gun Chill down, but before they can get him to spill who Batman is, the 'man himself comes in.

Batman: Still with us, Chill?
Chill: Not...for long! Funny...because I started you off as Batman, the boys...plugged me! Yeah...I guess you got me...after all! Ahhhh... (Dies)

  • In "Ultimate Iron Man", Howard Stark makes a point of preventing Tony from killing Loni (which is a little odd, since Tony has killed dozens of people by this point, but perhaps this is different since she's helpless and it would be cold-blooded murder rather than combat), only for Loni's son Obadiah to come do the deed himself. Countlessly averted in the same series, where Tony saves Obadiah from multiple near death experiences, to Obadiah's amazement. It's a case of Laser-Guided Karma too—Obadiah killed his mother because she was willing to leave him to die for her own gain. He also felt genuinely grateful to Tony for all of the times Tony saved his life despite everything Obadiah had done to Tony and his father.
  • In Greg Pak's "Planet Hulk", Hulk beats the tar out of the Red Emperor, but the baddie's actual demise comes at the hands of the rampaging Wildebots, after the Emperor habitually failed to do anything to mitigate the threat they posed to his citizens. The animated film adaptation of the story features a different, but equally ironic, end for the villain.
    • The Wildebots later rebuilt him and made him realize the scope of his crimes. He is now a cyborg shell of his former self trying to redeem himself while facing scorn and disbelief from his past victims—including his own daughter.
  • In one Star Wars comic, Mako Spince, an old smuggling friend of Han Solo's, sells him and his wife Leia out to bounty hunters hired by Hutts for the death of Jabba. They manage to escape, and later on in the series the same man sells them out to Imperial forces. Han retaliates by flying right next to Spince's flight control tower, causing it to become caught in the Star Destroyer's tractor beam. The Imperials, rather than cut the power, increase it, and the traffic control tower, with Spince cursing Han, is torn up and impales the SD, killing all of them.
  • Superboy Prime has many deaths to his name (even though Countdown to Final Crisis, when he destroyed multiple Earths and vaporized a pregnant woman, is non-canon his bodycount is still pretty high). He even beat his own girlfriend Laurie to death when he got back to his own universe after she rejected him because of his past actions. At the end of his Blackest Night tie-in, it's heavily implied that Black Lantern Laurie rips his heart out.
    • That's not what happens though. It's revealed that he didn't kill Laurie, he simply broke her arm, and the two do find some measure of happiness. Prime later goes on another rampage after accidentally being teleported away from his own dimension, and ends up being trapped in the Source Wall, seemingly forever.
  • Another Batman example ; in Batman #414, Bats is investigating the mysterious "Dumpster Killer", who leaves women's mutilated corpses in dumpsters (and it becomes personal when one of the people killed is a friend of Bruce Wayne). Several issues later, in #421, Batman discovers the killer is a pair of misogynist douchebags, Karl Branneck & Vito Procaccini, and vows to take them down. In the next issue, Branneck kills Vito because he views him as a liability; later, Batman arrests him and he goes to trial, but is set free because a bloody knife Batman found at his house was found illegally. After making sure Batman isn't around, Branneck then sets out to target another woman...who promptly slits his throat with a straight razor (and was revealed to be the sister of his second victim, who had been personally hounding him so he'd choose to kill her). Fittingly, the name of the last issue was "Just Deserts (sic)"
  • In Sin City the cannibal Serial Killer, Kevin is eaten alive by his pet wolf.
  • A third Batman example comes from the mini-series The Cult: having been freed from his imprisonment and recovering from his mental and physical trauma, Batman and the Jason Todd Robin storm into Gotham to take back Gotham from Deacon Blackfire, who has taken it over with his army of similarly kidnapped and broken army. Batman finally confronts Blackfire and proceeds to beat him within an inch of his life before stopping; he couldn't arrest him nor, even if he didn't have his code, kill him - they'd just make him a martyr. Instead, he leaves Blackfire, broken and beaten, in front of his followers who literally tear him apart because his broken and pathetic self spat in the face of everything he drilled into their heads.


Fan Works[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • James Bond films do this a lot, and often accompanied by a Bond One-Liner, of course.
    • A rare serious example was in Licence to Kill, in which Bond asked Sanchez, "Don't you want to know why?", showing him the silver lighter wedding gift that Bond had given to Leiter and his wife before Sanchez had her killed and Leiter maimed by a shark. Bond then set the oil-soaked Sanchez on fire with their wedding present.
  • Disney movies do this a lot. They've done it enough to get their own subtrope. To name a few examples:
    • The Evil Queen in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs fell off a cliff after being struck by lightning while trying to push a rock onto the Seven Dwarfs. Not only did she fall to her death, but the rock falls on her. And for good measure, vultures eat her body.
    • Gaston of Beauty and the Beast fell off of the castle after one final attack on the Beast. (This coming after the Beast spared his life.)
    • Tarzan's Clayton fell off a tree while attacking Tarzan with a knife, and was strangled by vines despite Tarzan's attempt to warn him (also an Ironic Death after saying "Africa was made for me...!").
    • McLeech, the villainous poacher in The Rescuers Down Under, seemed to avoid his karmic death by escaping a pack of crocodiles, only to be swept over the Inevitable Waterfall seconds later.
    • Scar from The Lion King is killed by the hyenas that he threw under the bus while pleading for his life to be spared.
      • Zira died because of her own stuborness and refuse the help from Kiara to save her life.
    • At the climax of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Judge Claude Frollo raises his sword to strike the defenseless heroes, bellowing, "And He shall smite the wicked, and plunge them into the fiery pit!!" Three guesses what happens next...
    • After his attempt to use his army of undead soldiers reanimated by the titular Black Cauldron is thwarted, the Horned King is sucked into the Cauldron himself (and horrifically stripped to the bone in the process).
    • In Ella Enchanted, after Edgar's treachery is revealed, he gives his villain's rant, and then proceeds to place the crown that he poisoned on his own head. He has a half-second to realize his mistake before the poison takes effect.
    • In The Black Hole, The movie's main villain is crushed to death by debris as the ship is drawn into the eponymous black hole (hypermass), as his souless, evil robotic bodyguard Maximillian simply leaves the room despite his repeated pleas.
    • In The Great Mouse Detective, Ratigan uses a hand-bell as a summons for his hungry cat to eat any mouse that displeases him. At the climax, Basil swipes the bell and rings it just before Big Ben chimes, shaking Ratigan off to his death.
    • In The Princess and the Frog, when Dr. Facilier's demonic amulet gets shattered, that's considered to his Friends on the Other Side as breaking their contract, causing the shadowy demons that once worked for him to drag him into a gaping mouth to the Other Side, all the while happily chanting the exact same song that he was singing when he was cursing Naveen.
    • At the end of Bambi, the hunter that supposedly killed the titular character's mother is actually implied to have been burned alive in his own forest fire.
      • Walt had at one point planned to show the guy's body, but after an animator cheekily asked "Well-done or medium rare?" shelved the idea as tasteless.
    • Toward the end of Treasure Planet, the villain Scroop is literally thrown out of an airlock and into outer space by the heroes as revenge for killing a character named Mr. Arrow (who was literally tossed into outer space by Scroop) earlier in the film.
  • In Masters of the Universe, He-Man finally destroyed Skeletor's source of power, his troops are beaten, etc. Because he's such a good guy, he tells Skeletor that it's over, and He-Man turns his back to Skeletor. Skeletor replies, "...yes... for you!", pulls out a hidden sword and attempts to run He-Man through. He-Man dodges in the nick of time, and Skeletor falls down a handy bottomless pit.
  • The Mummy 1999 hung a lampshade on this: Evie tells Beni that people like him always meet an unfortunate end. He does.
  • The demise of the crime boss Komtuan in Ong Bak possibly epitomizes the concept of karmic death, as he is crushed under the falling head of a giant Buddha statue, which he was trying to remove and sell. You don't get much more karmic than that.
  • Carl, the villain of Ghost, dies after he swings a hanging hook at the hero, in a massively futile attempt to halt Patrick Swayze's ghostly offensive, smashes the window behind him, and ultimately winds up impaled on the very un-soft glass.
  • Averted in Anastasia, not only does the titular heroine get to save herself and her Dude in Distress boyfriend, she does so by actually killing the villain. No she doesn't shoot or stab him, but she crushes the reliquary which is keeping Rasputin alive and knows exactly what she's doing as she does it.
    • Considering he was already a decaying corpse at the time (albeit one that could talk, feel pain, and sing a nifty musical number), this really isn't all that bold.
      • The fact that the villain murdered her entire family might have helped in that respect too.
  • Averted in The Incredibles (along with many other superhero / family movie tropes), where Mr. Incredible chucks a car at Syndrome with full intent to kill. Syndrome dodges the car, but as a result gets sucked into the air intake of a jet engine.
    • Although this is also something of Hoist by His Own Petard, as Syndrome's death was caused by his insistence on wearing a cape, despite the well-known impracticality of such a costume choice (it tends to snag on fast-moving objects).
    • In addition, Syndrome initially did get away, but he chose to return and kidnap Jack-Jack, thereby making himself a target. He should have learned to never threaten Mr. Incredible's family.
    • Also many henchmen chasing Dash got themselves killed by collisions.
  • The B-Movie The Sadist goes to rather extreme lengths for this. Out of nowhere, the villain falls into an abandoned well which is quickly revealed to be inhabited by dozens of poisonous snakes.
  • In Killing Zoe, Eric fucks up the heist, murders numerous civilians, and takes glee in spreading his AIDS. As he's about to murder his childhood friend, his gun jams. French police show up seconds later. At least six cops empty entire magazines from their machine guns into him, causing him to dance for nearly half a minute as he's torn apart by bullets. His infected blood is sprayed all over the place.
  • Subverted in No Country for Old Men. Near the end of the movie, "ultimate badass" Anton Chigurh is leaving his last victim's house when he gets hit by a car. But he just stands back up again, treats his broken arm and walks into the proverbial sunset as if nothing happened.
    • With a broken arm of course. You know, the kind where the bone sticks out through the skin. And he's clearly in pain, just trying not to show it. Still, he got off lightly.
  • In the film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the deranged and abusive asylum owner Mr. Fogg is left to the care of his "children", who quickly turn upon him and tear him to pieces. It's much more poetic (if much less awesome) than the stage play, where Johanna shoots him.
    • And in both the film and stage versions, Sweeney Todd himself is killed by a minor character—a young boy Mrs. Lovett took in, who goes insane after discovering what the meat pies are really made of. And he's killed using the very same razor that Sweeney used to kill so many people.
  • In Ip Man, the cruel Japanese Colonel Sato, who had shot Master Liu to death earlier for losing against Japanese fighters, eventually gets killed by a shot from his own gun after it is wrestled away from him.
  • This seems to be the preferred method of dispatching villains in The City of Lost Children. The Octopus kill each other—they're conjoined twins, despite the singular name—due to mind control by the ringmaster they used to try to kill Miette. Krank dies after his attempt to steal Miette's dreams goes wrong, and he sees himself as the children he abducts do—a nightmarish, arbitrarily cruel monster of a man. He wakes screaming from his dream, and the shock kills him. And the inventor, after going murderously insane and deciding to violently correct the problems he's set in motion... ties himself to Krank's oil ring and lashes explosives to his body. He recovers his senses too late, and the explosives are detonated by a seagull.
  • Push. Nick's final battle with Victor, The Dragon. He gets a chance to kill him but doesn't, for unknown reasons. Victor is killed seconds later by a Bleeder though.
  • The Shawshank Redemption 's Warden Norton has what can be considered a Karmic Death. Once Andy rats him out, we see a close-up of one of the Warden's wall decorations, it says "His Judgment Cometh, and that right soon." Moments later he shoots himself through the head rather than be arrested. Red later gives us the all-satisfying line; "I like to think the last thing that went through Norton's head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the HELL Andy ever got the best of him."
  • In The Frighteners, the two main villains (one of which is already dead) are dragged into Hell by a giant worm. Awesome.
  • A voiceover at the end of Picnic at Hanging Rock tells us that Mrs. Appleyard dies while attempting to climb the rock.
    • Even more karmic in Joan Lindsay's novel: Mrs. Appleyard falls and smashes her skull open when she sees a horrific vision of a gruesomely disfigured Sara.
  • Not sure if it qualifies, but Return of the Jedi fits this trope. Vader kills Palpatine while Palpatine is trying to kill his son.
    • Also, Anakin's transition to Darth Vader is marked by Palpatine using Force Lightning to make Mace Windu fall to his death, while Vader's return to the light side/being Anakin is marked by Vader sending Palpatine to fall to his death.
      • Even better: Palpatine was using Force Lightning to kill Luke, and Vader's act stops him.
  • In The Avengers 1998, Father and Mrs. Peel's clone were killed when their balloon exploded after it ran into the Wonderland Weather sign.
  • One of the most blatant and cringe-worthy uses of this trope occurs in The Postman, where near the end of the film, Kevin Costner's character has already defeated the villain, has the option to kill him, but refuses because he's just too damned nice. Naturally, the villain draws a hidden gun and is blown away by his former trusted lieutenant and his own stupidity.
  • The Ghost Rider movie. After taking the San Verganza contract, Blackheart dies after Ghost Rider uses the penance stare. It didn't work the first time because Blackheart had no soul.
  • In the first Spider-Man film, Peter discovers that Norman Osborn is the Green Goblin and hesitates. Osborn takes advantage of the momentary weakness to try and kill him, but Peter dodges the attack and Osborn ends up getting stabbed by his own glider.
  • In the film adaptation of Clive Cussler's Sahara, the villain responsible for contaminating much of Mali's drinking water with toxic waste appears to have slipped away from punishment, until it is implied that the CIA has secretly replaced his bottled water with the very same contaminated water.
    • This happens in the book too.
  • Raising Arizona: Leonard Smalls puts Hi in a bear hug to weaken him up before shooting him. Hi spends this time gripping at Smalls' jacket, where Smalls keeps his grenades. Smalls knocks Hi to the ground, pulls out his twin twin-barreled shotguns, and cocks all four triggers. Hi holds up his hand in a "have mercy" gesture. That's when Smalls notices the hand grenade pin around Hi's finger. You can figure out the rest.
  • Carl's death in Fargo could be seen as this.
    • Wade's death even more so.
  • In Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009), Lord Blackwood dies by hanging (from a chain from the top of the unfinished Tower Bridge; of course he'd attempted to kill Holmes after Holmes had spared his life from almost certain death seconds before).
    • Furthermore, the plot hinges on him cheating death at the gallows and escaping his much-deserved execution for murder at the beginning. Guess Karma wasn't too thrilled at him for that...
  • The Book of Eli. Gary Oldman's character escapes with the book and a leg injury, only to learn that it's a Braille Bible and thus useless to him. He tries to get his blind concubine to translate, but she refuses also noting that he is feeling feverish and likely is suffering from a gangrene infection. With most of his men dead he witnesses the anarchy below and it is heavily implied his end comes from either the riots or his infection.
  • Almost the whole point of the British World War I horror movie Deathwatch. Every character who aids in torturing the lone German prisoner dies in a suitably horrible fashion (suffice to say, one can become very creative when it comes to barbed wire). The only character to survive the movie (and even then it's fairly ambiguous) is Charlie (because he tried to help the prisoner). Other characters get killed in a more traditional sense of karmic death, for instance, the Upper Class Twit officer being murdered by a particularly disgruntled (possibly deranged) trooper.
  • In the 1959 Journey to the Center of the Earth film, Count Saknussem tries to mislead and kill the heroes, but is eventually caught and sentenced to death. However, no one wants to kill him, so they take him along. Sometime after they reach the center of the earth, however, Saknussem eats Gertrude, Hans's duck. Shortly afterward, he falls against a boulder and is killed when several heavy rocks fall upon him.
  • Though not technically the main villain, Dr. Worley from Return to Oz uses an electro therapy machine to damage his patients' minds, and he will then lock them in the cellar. He nearly does this to Dorothy, but the power goes out at the last second. Later, Ozma helps Dorothy escape, resulting in Dorothy getting back to the Land of Oz. While she is away, Dr. Worley's clinic is hit by lightning and burns to the ground. Everyone is rescued, but Dr. Worley runs back into the fire to rescue his machines...
  • This trope is pandemic in the Indiana Jones films. Three of the four movies end with the primary villain being undone by their own ambition when the artifact they've been searching for destroys them. Although not the best example of the trope in action, since in every movie Indy has few compunctions about killing bad guys left and right.
  • Hilariously subverted in Punisher: War Zone, in a scene where the cops are careful and diligent about arresting and restraining a captured mobster, only for the Punisher to unceremoniously execute him half a second later.
  • Aliens: Weyland-Yutani Project Developer Carter J. Burke. Essentially got killed by the hell he indirectly unleashed on the colonists on the LV-426 Hadley's Hope Colony.
  • While he didn't die, Steele begins the movie Balto as the town hero but is rotten to the core inside while the hero of the film, Balto, is the town outcast with a heart of gold. At the end of the movie, due to Steele's refusal to let Balto have the glory that he craves for saving the town, Balto ends up the town hero with the girl Steele spent the whole movie trying to get while Steele's lies are revealed, resulting in him being a hated outcast by the town dogs. Further irony comes from the fact Steele would've gotten greater fame if he'd let Balto help him in the first place.
  • In Saw 3D, Hoffman is captured by Dr. Gordon and left to die as punishment for killing Jill Tuck. "Game over."
  • (Unintentionally?) inverted in the Korean movie The Last Day. In the final scenes, about everyone who displays some kind of altruism dies, often horribly, for having tried to save lives. Most of those who were only concerned with their own survival, well, survive. Family-Unfriendly Aesop much?
  • The Mind Screw movie 11:14, displayed in Anachronic Order, features among the many characters a teenage girl who is sleeping with two different young men without their knowledge. She pretends to be pregnant and tells each of them that she needs $500 to get an abortion. In reality, she intends to take their money and leave with a third man. Near the end of the movie, she's speaking to this person on her cellphone when one of the two young men calls for her attention, telling her that he got the money. She immediately crosses the street, only to stop in the middle of it to answer a call on her phone. Moments later, she's hit and killed by a speeding van filled with several of the film's other protagonists.
  • Speaking of the aforementioned Patrick Swayze, in his other classic, Road House, the evil Brad Wesley basically runs the town the movie is set in, forcing the local businessmen to pay him and trashing their shops if they refuse. In the final showdown with Dalton, it's not Swayze who kills him (as the latter did, graphically, to his Dragon Jimmy), but the aforementioned business owners, filling him with enough lead to take down a bear. Can also overlap with The Dog Bites Back or The Dog Shot First.
  • Done figuratively in Cars. At the end of the movie, Chick Hicks wins the Piston Cup, but in doing so his Pride, Wrath, and Ambition have revealed him to be a poor sport to the rest of the world. His career dies a metaphoric—yet very karmic—death as a result.
  • Sebastian Shaw/Dr. Klaus Schmidt in X Men First Class ends up being killed via Magneto telekinetically pushing the very same concentration camp-coin through his head and out that Shaw/Schmidt attempted to have Magneto move under the threat, and action, of murdering his mother back in 1944.
  • At the end of the dark comedy Miss Nobody, the Villain Protagonist lampshades this after realizing she's just taken a fatal dose of the poisoned water she had intended to use earlier on a colleague whom she'd suspected of being the person blackmailing her over murdering her way up the corporate ladder. She had poisoned one of the jugs in his personal supply, but never got around to disposing of it after the blackmailer turned out to be someone else. So in the end, when the jug in the water cooler in the office which she has as a result of her murders runs out and her assistant raids the colleague's supply for a replacement, he unknowingly selects the poisoned jug.
  • In The Assassination of Jesse James, Wood Hite, a violent bully who threatens and insults Bob, laughs off His threats of a bullet in the head. Later He is shot in the head by Bob.
  • The designated antagonist Jonas in Twister.
  • Harvey in The Lovely Bones.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Judge Doom is killed by the same 'Dip' that he is using to kill all the other cartoons. While Eddie has no qualms about killing the guy responsible for the death of his brother, the death that Doom suffers is a total accident that would have never happened if he had not invented 'dip' to begin with, nor if he had sidestepped the punching glove thrown at him which accidentally hit the 'dip' release valve which subsequently melted Doom.
  • Dylan Gould's fate in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. He reactivates the Control Pillar of the Decepticons' Space Bridge --- despite Sam trying to reason with him --- in order to bring Cybertron near Earth (he was promised that he would be spared after the rest of humanity was enslaved, and also possibly be given the role of humanity's "CEO"). Later on, Sam hits him with a metal bar, causing him to lose his balance. He eventually collides with the Pillar's energy beam, and is ultimately electrocuted to death, all the while screaming in pain.
    • Earlier, Sentinel wounds Ironhide and then executes him point blank despite his plea for him not to. At the end, a wounded Sentinel is excuted point blank by Optimus despite his plea for him not to.
  • In Crank 2: High Voltage, Poon Dong, an elderly Triad boss who uses Organ Theft to prolong his own life, gets captured and has his heart extracted.

Doc Miles: Confucius say: Karma's a bitch!

  • In Machete, Senator MacLaughlin is a racist bastard who encourages vigilantes to kill illegal immigrants and plans to build an electric fence on the U.S./Mexico border. In the end, some vigilantes mistake him for an immigrant (he was wearing tattered clothes and was trying to sneak away from people trying to kill him) and open fire on him. Wounded, he staggers into an electric fence.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Lord of the Rings, Saruman is killed by much-abused servant Wormtongue, and Gollum falls into the volcano by dancing too exuberantly. In The Film of the Book, the former was entirely cut from the film and only viewable on the extended DVD.
    • Used straight by the film adaptation. Gollum goes over the edge while struggling with Frodo for the Ring rather than simply a misstep.
    • The Witch King stabbed Frodo with a Morgul blade and the same is done to him by Merry allowing him to be killed by Eowyn.
  • Harry Potter
  • The villains in the NUMA Series (the National Underwater and Marine Agency) of books written by Clive Cussler tend to die this way. The person who wanted immortality and nearly flooded the oceans with a very hard to kill Gorgonweed ended up killing herself by taking the potion meant to make her immortal because someone she had killed had messed with it making sure that anyone that drank all three of the shots needed for immortality would die from it. One person who wanted to destroy the world's fish trade with mutant fish was eaten by his own creations. A third person wanted to control the world's water and ended up dying by drowning, but the place where she was ended up blowing up so that may have killed her instead.
  • In Jack London's The Sea Wolf, Wolf Larsen is struck by a migraine while trying to steal the protagonist's lady love. The migraine is a symptom of the brain injury that leaves him paralyzed and eventually kills him, while the protagonist and lady love stay at his bedside and spoon-feed him.
  • Bertha Mason's death in Jane Eyre by fire is very karmic since she started it in the first place and Mr. Rochester went back in to get her as well.
    • Similarly, we have Jane's cousin John who had always bullied her and gotten away with it many times. Even when he was an adult, his mother helped him twice get out of jail, paying off his debts, and he still returned to his ways. For the third time, his mother finally refused to help him and it was suspected he committed suicide to escape his debts.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, Briar Cudgeon is attacked by Opal Koboi after the latter learned he was planning to kill her off after taking over. She then rammed him into plasma, where he was fried.
  • In Charles Dickens' Dombey and Son, Carker dies by accidentally stepping back into the path of an onrushing (and symbolic) train—right in front of a horrified Mr. Dombey.
  • Near the end of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, the appalling Mr. Grandcourt finally meets his end when he falls off a boat and, unable to swim, asks his wife to throw him a rope. She hesitates just a moment too long...
  • Brother Cadfael novels:
    • Ellis Peters manages to wrap up a judicial duel with a Karmic Death in One Corpse Too Many. Hugh dropped his sword after disarming Adam, choosing to continue the fight dagger-against-dagger. When Adam went for Hugh's sword, Hugh tackled him. In the ensuing wrestling match, Adam rolled onto his own dagger and died.
    • In The Raven in the Foregate, the new priest lacks the critical virtues of charity and humility. He pronounces a naïve penitent irredeemable and refuses her absolution, and she drowns herself in the millpond. Later, he slips on a patch of ice near the same millpond, hits his head on a stump as he falls, and goes into the water unconscious. The one person who saw it happen doesn't feel any compunction about not helping him—extra points for irony because he viewed the Holier Than Thou priest's fate as divine judgment—the measure the priest gave was the measure he received, just as Jesus said.
  • In The Belgariad, the Grolim Chamdar attempted to kill the last descendants of the Rivan King by burning their house down. Years later, the sole survivor's first conscious act of magic is to set him on fire.
    • Made even better by the fact that Garion is horrified by this sudden use of magic and watching someone burn so he decides to put out the fire. However, his aunt tell him Chamdar killed his family so he makes the fire HOTTER and burns him to ash.
  • The titular character of H.P. Lovecraft's short story Herbert West - Reanimator is in the end killed when a horde of the more or less insane (mostly the former) victims of his experiments swoops into his laboratory and brutally rips him apart.
  • Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park (not to be confused with The Film of the Book) has Hammond blaming everyone else (except Nedry) for the mess he's created, pausing to admire how pretty the Compsognathi slowly surrounding him are, and then admiring the respect they show him as he slowly dies of their poisoned bite. It's really quite a moving scene for a Karmic Death
  • In the Dale Brown novel Plan of Attack, the Jerkass General Gary Houser, who had obstructed Patrick McLanahan and steadfastly denied the possibility of a Russian attack on the American mainland, dies when he is caught in the attack.
  • In The Sword of Truth karma appears to be squarely on Richard's side, since practically everyone who disagrees with him dies unpleasantly. This may be because he or someone who works for him killed them, but if they don't then fate will see to it for them.
  • A regular occurrence in the Florida Roadkill novels. The most notable example being an insurance claims worker whose job it is to deny medical coverage, especially if said coverage is an official part of the claimant's policy. He gets shot and taken to the emergency room. The calls to his insurance company (the one he works at) get routed to his desk, which, since he is at the hospital instead of at work, he can't answer. So he is denied coverage, the bullet remains in his body, and he dies of lead poisoning.
  • In Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, John Clark organizes one of these for the book's main villains; a monstrously fanatical environmental group that attempted to use a modified Ebola virus to wipe out everyone on Earth except themselves. The Rainbow Team tracks them to their headquarters in the Amazon Rainforest, destroys everything useful, and then leaves them to "live in harmony with nature." Clark speculates they might last a week if they're lucky.
  • Invidia, of the Codex Alera is pretty much a poster child for Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. So much so that the Big Bad can't even bring herself to be angry at her sudden but inevitable betrayal because that's what Invidia does. This gives it a significant amount of irony when her death results from being stabbed from behind.
  • The Red King from the Dresden Files prepares a ritual to target the Dresden bloodline by harnessing the lifeforce from hundreds of human sacrifices. Unfortunately for him, because all red vampires share his blood, they are as vulnerable to the curse as Harry Dresden is. As a result, when Harry kills the youngest Red Vampire on the altar, the Red King and his whole Court are destroyed by the energy of all the hundreds of people they murdered.
  • In Salamander, Maridon convinces Coelus that he, Maridon, needs to be the subject of the Cascade ritual because if something goes wrong and the subject dies, he's expendable and Coelus isn't. Naturally, his attempt to Take Over the World is interrupted when something goes wrong with the ritual and the subject dies.
  • In A Game of Thrones Viserys Targaryen marries off his sister Danaerys to the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo in return for the latter's assistance in regaining the throne of the Seven Kingdoms. When he loses his patience, he ignores his adviser's comment that Drogo will offer assistance when he is good and ready, gets drunk, and publicly insults Drogo, Danaerys, and the entire Dothraki people, and demands Drogo gives him the crown he "paid" for with his sister. Drogo agrees to give Viserys a crown, melts down the gold from his belt, and "crowns" Viserys by pouring the pot of molten gold onto Viserys' head. This kills him.
  • In Death: Memory In Death has Trudy Lombard, a greedy Manipulative Bitch, get killed off by clubbed very hard in the back of her head by her own sap, which happened to be a sock stuffed with coins. New York To Dallas has Eve's mother kill a cop by slicing across his throat with a laser scalpel, and later her own partner Isaac McQueen kills her by slicing across her throat with a knife. The irony and poetic justice of her mother's death was not lost on Eve Dallas.
  • This happens in the Sherlock Holmes stories wherein several criminals get killed by the murder weapons and methods which they used to kill others. ( The Speckled Band, "The Devil's Foot, etc.)
  • In the Spider-Man Sinister Six Trilogy, The Gentleman, who always put wealth above anything else, is killed by The Chameleon and has all of his fortune stolen from him. To rub salt in the wound, a detective whose life The Gentleman ruined confronts him as he lays dying. He thinks he has the final laugh until the detective points out he'll die a pauper. The detective then lays a penny on the opposite end of the room and leaves knowing The Gentleman will crawl for it.
  • Diogenes Pendergast from the Agent Pendergast novels spends two books trying to ruin his brother's life by getting him arrested and destroying his loved ones while he's set up for their murders, use the same device that robbed him of his own sanity on hundreds of people, and additionally trying to drive his brother's ward Constance to suicide first by seducing her and then revealing the truth behind her extended life in hopes the despair will crush her. This last tactic harshly proceeds to bite him back in the ass. Constance instead becomes so rage-driven at the way she was used that she winds up chasing him halfway across the world all the way to his remote home, every time he attempts to kill her she completely outsmarts him, and it all culminates with her causing him to fall down a volcano. He could have avoided all the trouble that inevitably lead up to his death and got away scot free after his "drive innocent people mad" failed if he hadn't have been such a cocky bastard and not tried to eff with her mind.
  • In Caro King's Shadoiw Spell, Strood, while trying to kill the heroes, accidently triggers the Curse Escape Clause of his Complete Immortality, causing all his previous "deaths" to catch up with him. His end is rather gruesome.
    • And shortly before that Strood subjects Ava Vespilio, the most evil of the Seven Sorcerers, who also is responcible for making Strood what he is now, to a Fate Worse Than Death, by killing his current Host, then throwing his Heart Drive Ring into a literally Bottomless Pit, making sure he can never possess a human again and will remain locked in the ring forever
    • Earlier, Mrs Dunvice, a brutal, remorseless werewolf in Strood's employ, is killed by the Skinkin which she was transporting for killing Nin

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Babylon 5, Lord Antono Refa, a racist Centauri noble, responsible for the bombing of the Narn homeworld with Weapons of Mass Destruction and the mastermind of death camps and genetic cleansing programs, is handed over to a mob of Narn insurgents led by G'Kar and beaten to death.
    • All to the tune of "And the Rock Cried Out No Hiding Place".
  • In the second-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Go Fish", the coach who has been dosing the swim team with steroids that are turning them into Gill Monsters. He attempts to have them gang rape Buffy, however when she escapes he is devoured by his own creations—convenient, given Buffy's reluctance to kill normal humans.
    • A less Hoist by His Own Petard-esque example happens in Xander's Day in The Limelight episode, to the Zombie Jock who swears cold-served revenge... before abruptly getting eaten by a werewolf.
    • Mentioned but avoided in the finale of Season 5, where Giles points out that since Buffy is a hero, she could never kill in cold blood, but he is not a hero, and proceeds to suffocate the Big Bad, while she is trapped inside her mortal and innocent shell.
    • Not-technically-death-example: Catherine Madison, who tried to curse her daughter into being stuck in a cheerleading trophy, and accidentally cursed herself there instead.
  • Hilariously done in the Doctor Who spoof "The Curse of Fatal Death", where the Master falls down a pit into a vast and disgusting sewer network. Three times. He doesn't exactly die, but it's still pretty bad.
    • Numerous Doctor Who villains are finished off by this trope, most likely due to the Doctor being a Technical Pacifist. Notable examples include Davros killed by his newly-created Daleks in Genesis of the Daleks (extra points for Davros pleading to his creations in the same way that the Doctor was pleading to Davros earlier), and the Master killed by his physically and mentally abused wife in "Last of the Time Lords".
  • Subverted in Stargate Atlantis episode, "The Prodigal." At the climax of the episode, the half-Wraith Big Bad Michael is hanging by his fingers from a very high point on Atlantis. Teyla kicks his hands loose and he falls to his death. He had threatened her son and the entire city with the self-destruct.
  • Although many victims in CSI suffer karmic deaths, a particular favourite was in "Ending Happy" where the abusive bouncer Lorenzo "Happy" Morales survived being hit over the head with a club, poisoned (twice) and shot (all arguably deserved) - but ultimately died from falling off the chair (and into a swimming pool) that he had failed to fix.
    • Another episode dealt with an investigation of the death of a body builder. As the case developed, it was discovered that the body builder was using steroids and had murdered a woman he had slept with the night before. Ultimately, they found out that the bullet from the gun he used to kill her traveled into a wall and just happened to lodge itself under a leaky pipe. Over time, mold started to grow off of the water and residue blood from the bullet and eventually infested the house. Because of long term steroid abuse, the killer's immune system had weakened to the point where his body couldn't fight off the mold spores and he died of fungal infection. The characters even remarked at the end of the episode that this was a case of poetic justice.
      • The man who killed the HIV positive porn star in the snuff film, only to become infected with her HIV. Lampshaded by Catherine and Sara who note that "You killed her. I guess she killed you back."
  • Sanford Harris on Fringe. Gloriously.
    • Or Bob Dunn at the beginning of Midnight. Spends his time cheating on his girlfriend at local nightclubs. But then he picks up the wrong girl and ends up getting his cerebrospinal fluid sucked from a chewed-up hole in what remained of his neck.
  • Phil on Lost punched Juliet in an attempt to make Sawyer talk during an interrogation. Later, as all hell breaks lose during an electromagnetic incident, he gets impaled by a flying metal bar.
  • Several in all seasons of Primeval, the most notable pair being Season 3, where Christine gets chomped by a future predator after getting into a pissing match with Helen over who is the bigger Jerkass (unfortunately Helen is not only a Jerkass, but a Complete Monster as well), and Helen herself finds the punishment for trying to Ret-Gone humanity is death by Dromaeosaurus.
  • In the Merlin episode "Lancelot and Guinevere", Hengist is eaten alive by his own pet monster after the heroes escape. However, this is unusual for the series - most of the villains are killed a little more directly.
  • In the third season The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The It's All Greek to Me Affair", the estranged husband of the innocent-of-the-week is a convicted criminal who's escaped from prison, and who spends most of the episode threatening to kill his estranged wife's meek, milquetoast schoolteacher boyfriend. In the climactic fight scene, the estranged husband (who is fighting with his estranged wife's boyfriend) winds up accidentally stabbed to death by the THRUSH Central representative to whom he had hoped to sell a valuable U.N.C.L.E. code he'd stolen earlier in the episode.
  • One episode of Criminal Minds had a killer that would kill couples and then stage their bodies in cars at blind intersections so that they would get hit by tractor trailers and have the deaths blamed on an accident. When the team finally catches up with said killer, he runs away, only to get hit by a tractor trailer. Carma.
    • In another episode, a hitman manages to elude capture by the BAU (and probably would have walked anyway, since they had no hard evidence against him). In the last scene, he is shot to death by the protege of a mobster he killed for trying to rat him out earlier in the episode.
    • Many episodes of Criminal Minds, if they're not portraying the criminal as The Woobie or as an Every Man with issues, but rather as a completely demonic killing machine, end with one of these. Usually a member of the team will point a gun at them and give them a Reason You Suck Speech, then the guy will pull a gun or other weapon and be shot on sight, dying instantly. When this trope is Subverted and the guy actually lives, it's often even more satisfying.
  • Dexter is a walking instrument of Karmic Death, but he usually makes sure the victims really get the karma. When he's got a drunk driver who gets out of convictions by feigning regret on his table, he plays the video of his last victim that was played at his trial. When he's working on a guy who breaks legs for a bookkeeper to pay off his gambling debts, he uses a room with disused casino equipment. And in the pilot, he forces a pedophilic serial killer to look at the bodies of his victims before going to work.
  • The Outer Limits Revival uses this a lot:
    • In the episode "Tribunal", an elderly, but unrepentant and still evil Nazi is brought back into the past and stranded in the concentration camp where he used to work. His past self casually executes him, not realizing who he was, and dismissing the corpse as "Just another worthless Jew".
    • In "The Vaccine", the Jerkass Social Darwinists force the nurse main character to mix up the titular vaccine for them at gunpoint, and even after they promise to save one dose for the little boy, they take it and give it to one of their own when the nurse's back is turned. They then go into anaphylactic shock, because they were already exposed and immune to the virus; the vaccine itself killed them and they inadvertently saved the lives of more sympathetic characters.
    • In "Deja Vu", a character suffers a Karmic Fate Worse Than Death; the general who secretly tried to weaponize a teleportation experiment ends up trapped in an endless loop of the second before his death when the experiment goes awry.
    • In "Last Supper", a Mad Scientist tortures an immortal woman while trying to figure out the secret to her immortality and eternal youth. Eventually, he injects himself with a syringe of her blood. It makes him younger... and younger... and younger until he's reduced to a puddle of raw cells.
  • Burn Notice does this a lot. It's rare that Michael actually kills anyone directly, despite his colleagues urging him to do so on many occasions. He often leaves the bad guys to be dispatched by angry fellow bad guys after he's done sabotaging their plans.
  • The Wild Wild West used this early and often to kill off the Villain of the Week.
  • Numerous 1000 Ways to Die victims, including "Booty Trapped".
  • The X-Files episode "Aubrey" had a former serial killer die at the hands of his estranged grand-daughter who was channeling his "genetic memory" and had essentially become him.
  • Charlie Harper in Two and A Half Men was a frequent womanizer who cheats on various ladies. According to Ashton Kutcher, the reason the character died was because he went to Paris, cheated on a woman there, and she decided to make sure he paid for it by pushing him into a bus.
  • In Medium a suspect has killed his wife and staged her death to make it look like she fell of a boat, Allison had a dream on how he really did it, as he killed her up in a mountain and chopped her hand off. When the police and her father discovered her remains, the father brought him in the woods and killed him the same manner the suspect killed his daughter.
  • Nikita: In the season 2 finale, series-long Big Bad Percy is finally killed by Nikita just as he was on the verge of becoming a Karma Houdini. (Un)fortunately, he chose that exact moment to shift into a Smug Snake, and rather than walking away tries one last time to kill her, which ends up resulting in him being dropped down a missile silo. For bonus points, he ends up falling smack into the prison cell he spent the first half of the season locked up in.
    • Earlier in the season, there's the former Division scientist who was turning people into Manchurian Agents, and ends up killed by one.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Terran Empire setting for Star Hero isn't a no-kill setting, but manages to sneak this in anyway. One of the later Emperors spent a good chunk of his reign giving people a reason to want him dead. He knows this, so among other precautions his bedroom is heavily armored and has a voiceprint lock on the only door. He also changes the door code daily, to keep assassins from using a recording to get in.

In 2663 he forgot the code overnight and could not get out of his bedroom. His guardian robots refused to allow anyone to approach the door with drills or cutting torches, and the Emperor died of thirst and starvation in his own room.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, the entire game has the PC running around Los Angeles searching for a Sarcophagus that supposedly contains an ancient and unbelievably powerful vampire. This is done on the orders of Prince LaCroix, who desires to diablerize the slumbering Ancient and effectively nick all its awesome, god-like powers. In the end, it turns out that the sarcophagus he had lied, cheated, back-stabbed and manipulated to get does not contain an Ancient vampire, but half a ton of C4. Your imagination can probably draw an accurate picture of what happens next.
  • In Fallout 2, a teenage scientist, Myron, invents and spreads Jet, a very addictive and dangerous drugs that ruins many lives and absolutely destroys the economies of several communities (such as The Den and Redding). Said drug makes him and the Mordino crime family a fortune and establishes him as the wealthiest drug baron in the land. About a year after the defeat of the Enclave, he meets his demise in The Den at the hands of... a crazed Jet addict.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas when you start the game your on your knees with hands tied while Benny gives you a speech before shooting you in the head. if you choose to not kill him in his own casino and take him with you to legions camp he'll get caught because he doesnt fit in. they tie him up on his knees. you can free him or give him his speech back and then shoot him in the head.
    • There is a mod that allows the player to craft a bullet "with Benny's name on it" out of the remains of the bullet he fired at the beginning of the game.
    • In the Fallout: New Vegas add-on Dead Money the insane former elder of the Brotherhood of Steel, Elijah, kills dozens of people, brutally tortures Christine, enslaves a mentally handicapped Super Mutant, and forces you to fight your way through dozens of Ghost People to penetrate the Sierra Madre Casino under the threat of death, all so he can access the treasures inside the Casino's vault. In the final confrontation with him, an option for dealing with him is to just let him have the treasure while you waltz away. He'll walk into the vault and trigger a trap, locking himself inside forever.
  • In Fallout 3 after you've visited most of the rusty abandoned vaults and Vault-Tek headquarters and discovered the true purpose of the vaults and why they went horribly wrong, you have the chance to find a voice recording on an alien spaceship of the Vault-Tek CEO who masterminded the vault system and their true purpose; the recording shows the aliens kidnapped him and performed experiments on him, despite his snivelling attempts to be diplomatic.
  • In BioShock (series), Doctor Suchong suffers a remarkably appropriate death. While pondering how to further improve the imprinting of the Big Daddies' programming to protect the Little Sisters, he gets annoyed by one of the little girls. Eventually, he loses his temper and slaps her. Jack finds his corpse, impaled on his own desk by a Big Daddy's drill.
    • The sequel makes it even more satisfying by revealing that the Big Daddy was Delta (that is to say, you), protecting Eleanor.
    • Though his death isn't Karmic, what you can do to Sander Cohan after is. After killing him, you can take his picture like how he made you do so to his underlings. The trophy you get from doing so is even titled Irony.
  • Valkyria Chronicles delivers satisfying ends to the morally corrupt characters of the story. Even Squad 7 is subject to it. The closer a character is to the moral high ground, the better their epilogue is.
  • The final boss of Disaster: Day of Crisis, Evans, meets his end... At the hands of his own colonel, who actually survived being shot by Evans. Awesome.
  • In Resident Evil 5, Corrupt Corporate Executive and Evilutionary Biologist, Excella Gione is exposed by Albert Wesker to the very virus she had planned to spread across the world. No more genetically compatible than her own experimental test subjects, Excella erupts into a hideous morass of mindless maggot-like creatures.
  • In Dead Space, Kendra, after crossing the Moral Event Horizon several times and revealing that Isaac is going insane, steals the ersatz Artifact of Doom that was stopping the Cosmic Horror from its base, thereby nullifying its power. Not five minutes later, said Cosmic Horror smashes her into paste.
  • In God of War, Ares is killed by the very man he hoped to make into his Ultimate Warrior, Kratos, who was tricked into killing his own wife and daughter, the only two people he ever loved, by Ares.

Ares: I was trying to make you a great warrior!
Kratos: You succeeded.

  • A variation is present in Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight. Kyle disarms Jerek, but can't kill him in cold blood. So, he gives him back his saber, and when Jerek charges, cuts him down in self defense.
  • A sweet one comes to the Obstructive Bureaucrat in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. The mayor of a group of civilian refugees has been unimaginably unhelpful at every turn, acting horrendously ungrateful to the protagonists every time they save his life and actively hampering their efforts, even though he comes whining to them whenever he's in trouble. In the latter part of the game he attempts to sell out the heroes to the Big Bad to get a vaccine against a looming disease; he's told that there's only one vial and he can either use it on himself or wait for more to be produced from it to help his community. Thinking only of himself, he grabs it and injects it into himself. It was poison; the Big Bad just wanted to see if the guy would really sell out his community.
    • Greyfield/Sigismundo gets one as well. He attempts to surrender to Lin to avoid being killed. Lin shoots him anyways. This is karmic on 2 counts, 1:The player is fighting Greyfield because he himself executed prisoners 2: He attempts to say Lin's former CO wouldn't kill a prisoner, too bad for him Lin is not Brenner and the only reason he is dealing with Lin instead of him is because he killed Brenner.
  • In Final Fantasy VI, Emperor Gestahl meets his demise at the hands of his Court Mage scapegoat, falling from the floating island he has long sought to resurrect.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the one and only Big Bad : Colonel Yevgeny Borisovich Volgin. Carrying 10 million volts of electricity in his body he utters the phrase "Kuwabara" whenever it begins to rain, he believes in an Asian myth where chanting that phrase supposedly has the power to stop lightning during a rain storm, which in his superstition he believes will prevent him from becoming a lightning rod and not be fried by lightning. He has also some "somewhat questionnable tendencies". Throughout the story Volgin has a tendency to survive through quite a bit of punishment, Naked Snake challenges him to a one on one fight where his CQC tactics and gun fighting skills outmaneuver Volgin, Snake leaves the defeated Volgin to die in the Shagohad hanger as it is about to explode, Volgin escapes in the Shagohad which surprisingly isn't destroyed in the explosion and pursues Snake quite a distance as he escapes on bike, while piloting the Shagohod he falls into a riverbed below after Snake blew up a bridge only to use the monstrous tank's rocket boosters to drive UP the collapsed bridge to continue his pursuit, having said Shagohod heavily damaged with rockets from Snake's RPG-7 AND being shot a gazillion times by Snake when using the electricity in his body to power the Shagohod while a storm begins during the fight. Ultimately Volgin is exhausted from the climatic chase and battle and falls over, only to get back up a few moments later and screams Snake's name in frustration and boldly claims the battle is not over yet. However his attempts to restart the fight are cut short as he notices the downpour of rain in the area and instead of his usual superstition starts to laugh at it saying, "Whose afraid of a little thunder?", ironically moments later a bolt of lightning strikes Volgin setting him on fire and igniting the ammo belt he had draped over his chest causing his bullets to go off and tear him to shreds. The irony that the fate that Volgin had wanted to avoid is how he dies is not lost on our protagonist and Naked Snake seeing this remarks, "Killed by a bolt of lightning... A fitting end.".
  • In the finale of The Witcher the video game, the main villain Jacques De Aldersberg knocks Geralt's steel sword, which is better suited for killing humans, out of Geralt's hands. Geralt simply proceeds to take out his silver sword, which is better suited for killing monsters, and runs Jacques through with it. Although Jacques De Aldersberg is shocked that Geralt would use his monster-slaying sword to kill him, it's pretty obvious that Jacques De Aldersberg is just as bad as, if not worse than, mindless monsters Geralt usually slays.
  • The "kidnapper" in Alan Wake meets an unpleasant and terrified ending at the hands of the forces of darkness, presumably for getting in the way of their plans by fucking with Alan. The revelation that all of his threats regarding Alan's wife were empty makes him slightly more sympathetic as he's being mind raped by a supernatural entity of indescribable horror, but he was a Jerkass.
    • The man's Boss, Dr. Hartman, fits this trope better. He was aware of the Dark Presence in the lake and wanted to control it so he could bend the world into his own image, and sought to "acquire" Wake due to how the Prescience seemed to be drawn to those with talents in creativity (such as writing, art, or music). He was the one who convinced Wake's wife to bring Alan to Bright Falls (under the pretense of helping him with his writer's block), set up the whole "Kidnapper" scheme, and later tried to make Alan think that he was a delusional patient under Hartman's care. His ultimate fate? Alan locks him in a room with the same Darkness the "Good Doctor" sought to control, and does so with a rather palpable degree of satisfaction
  • The Big Bad of Uncharted 2 is a Complete Monster who lives by a creed of "No Compassion, No Mercy". When he mocks the main character Nathan Drake for not having the guts to finish him off after kicking his ass, Nathan dismisses him and points out that he might not be willing to do it, but they are. "They" being the mob of merciless compassionless Guardians that immediately tear apart the Big Bad.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has the Chancellor Cole who killed Zelda with the only purpose to revive his king, and he did it, but at the price of his own body.
  • Heavy Rain. The origami killer in one scenario can meet his ultimate fate by drowning in rainwater. In another he is shot by the mother of one of his victims that he himself saved.
  • In the "Undead Nightmare" expansion of Red Dead Redemption, a cutscene involves John Marston listening with obvious distaste to the racist, sexist, bigotted ranting of Herbert Moon. Then Herbert goes outside and meets three zombies, while in the background Marston calmly smoke a cigarette and watches. When the cutscene ends, the player then gets to pop zombie-Moon in the head to put him out of humanity's misery.
  • In Alice: Madness Returns, Dr. Bumby tries to erase Alice's memories and destroy Wonderland with the Infernal Train. After defeating him in the Wonderland, Alice takes revenge for everything he did (including raping her sister and setting her house on fire) by pushing him in front of an incoming train.
  • In Startopia, the mindblowingly rich and lazy Gem Slugs have their own private, personalized bar and bathhouse; the contents are so horrendously vile to non-Gem Slugs that the stench can fill half a space station. They only reason they exist is because the bars make them very happy, and Very Happy Gem Slugs make Solid Gold Poop. Every once in a while, a Gem Slug will become so enamored with how much richer and superior they look to the other races when in these baths that they'll forget to take care of their health, eventually dying/drowning. The developers caught it early... but didn't really feel like fixing it because of this trope.
  • After spending Mass Effect 3 stabbing people in the gut, at least one of whom was Shepard's friend/love interest, after being beaten and broken by Shepard, Kai Leng attempts to stab him/her in the back while s/he's perusing the Illusive Man's files. Shepard realizes at the last second what is happening and dodges his stab or, if the Renegade interrupt is taken, shatters his sword for bonus points and proceeds to stab him in the gut.

Shepard: That was for Thane/Miranda/Kirrahe, you son of a bitch!

  • In the beginning of Skyrim, there's an Imperial captain who sends you to your death, even though it was said that you were not on the execution list. If you escape with Ralof, she's the first NPC you kill. It's karmic because it's now you sending her to her death.
  • Curtis Blackburn of Killer7, an unrepentant rapist, kidnapper, and organ harvester gets mutilated by his own organ harvesting machine after resident Badass Dan refuses to let him have a peaceful, stylish death.


Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • Manfred Von Karma of Phoenix Wright of course, though it's debatable whether he was sent to life in prison or was given capital punishment. Phoenix does a turnabout and proves that Von Karma shot and killed Edgeworth's father when Edgeworth threw a gun and triggered the bullet to hit him. Von Karma goes through a long series of events to get Edgeworth guilty of either that murder, or the murder of another man. Why he didn't just wait a few days after the Statute of Limitations to frame Edgeworth for this other murder so that he couldn't be proved guilty is a bit boggling.
    • He wanted Edgeworth to believe he had murdered his own father (not just to get found guilty for another murder), which he wouldn't have been able to bring up in court unless he brought the case before the statue of limitations expired. Which means, surprise, his desire for a very specific sort of revenge helped lead to his downfall.
    • In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, one killer fled the country for a few years after successfully testifying in a trial against the man he was framing. Eighteen years later he admits his crime happily now that the statute of limitations is up - but by fleeing the country while still technically a suspect all those years ago, he wound up extending the statute on the case, giving him a one-way ticket to prison once he confessed.
    • Ace Attorney Investigations features Manny Choachen getting murdered by the leader of a smuggling ring. Said leader ordered Choachen too kill a witness to the ring 10 years prior and the motive as too why said ringleader murdered choachen? Because he was he was a witness too his smuggling crimes. Well, technically there were multiple motives but this is one of the main ones.
  • Fate/stay night has this happen oh-so-satisfyingly to Shinji Matou in two of the three routes. In Fate it takes the form of fleeing the scene of Rider's annihilation at the hands of Saber and Excalibur only to run into Ilya and Berserker. In Heaven's Feel he meets his end at the hands of his own sister Sakura of all people when he tries to blackmail her into a position where he can rape her. For practically the millionth time.
  • Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: 9 years ago, Ace threw Akane into the incinerator. For Science!. In the "Safe" ending, he gets his comeuppance in the very same room and burns.
  • During Arcueid's route in Tsukihime, a combination of factors make Shiki go briefly insane and sexually assault a drastically-weakened Arcueid. The player can choose whether Shiki gets a hold of himself, or gives in to his desire and rapes her. The correct choice, naturally, is to stop; the next night, Arcueid has another spasm and tries to drink Shiki's blood...and hesitates, long enough for Ciel to come to Shiki's rescue. If Shiki gave in to his dark side and raped her, on the other hand, Arcueid doesn't hold back, either...


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • In anti-HEROES, the lich Finx, lampshades this moments before his demise.
  • The Fat Guard at the claws and beak of Fluffles in Goblins. His plan was to, through months of agonizing torture, turn it into a killing machine that would fight for Brassmoon. Well, he got the first part right...
  • The Wotch: Natasha Dahlet of DOLLY is turned into a dolly.
  • In Sam and Fuzzy, this trope is double subverted. Mr. Blank looks like he'll be setting it up when he is dangling from the side of a flying skyscraper and proclaims that Sam doesn't have it in him to let him fall—only to be proven wrong when Sam steps aside and lets Fuzzy unceremoniously kick him off. As it turns out, this didn't take and Blank is later seen climbing up the side of the skyscraper—only to be hit by the corpse of a man he murdered in cold blood earlier on in the arc, loose his footing, and fall off the building to his death together with the corpse.
  • The titular business of Suicide for Hire runs on helping people bring karmic deaths onto themselves.
  • In The Kenny Chronicles Kenny and Funky's feud started when Funky made a porno of Kenny and his girlfriend having sex in a dumpster. A year later Funky fell six stories into a dumpster (a complete accident, though his friends think Kenny is somehow responsible).
  • Homestuck: After making his Face Heel Turn, Eridan kills Kanaya with the magic wand she made for him. That's not the karmic death. That comes when after Kanaya comes back as a vampire, she snaps said wand in half, then tears her killer a new one with a chainsaw.
  • In the space arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space the False Guenevere's mysterious illness is clone degradation. The karmic bit is that it is excerbated by the spells she casts to prevent Arthur realising she's not the real Guenevere.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Tsukiko is a necromancer who believes that Humans Are the Real Monsters, and that inversely, the undead are misunderstood people who are better than them. However, in the end, Redcloak proves her wrong by taking control of her wights—while describing the undead as mere "tools" and "weapons"—and having them drain her to death and eat the body.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Jack O'Connor of Survival of the Fittest cheats in a Ten Paces and Turn duel, only to find his opponent (Adam Dodd) had been walking down a slope (something of a Deus Ex Machina). Jack shooting early allows Adam time to find his aim and fatally wound Jack to win the fight and v1. This also apparently makes the fact that Adam was planning on cheating okay simply because Jack tried it earlier.
    • Laeil Burbank's first kill (and, in fact, first scene in V3,) involves her torturing her helpless cousin, leaving him begging for mercy before killing. Of course, it's only fitting that her death involves a helpless Laeil getting horribly tortured and left to die, also begging for mercy.
      • It's also a rare case of a Karmic Death where one can feel sympathy for the victim, mostly because her cousin was a dickweed, she had something of a temporary Morality Pet in both Jimmy Trejo and Eddie Sullivan, and the guy who tortured her, JR Rizzolo, was a Complete Monster. And there's also her tragic Backstory...
    • In another example, rapist and literal lady-killer Adam Reeves has a two-for-one when he gets his nuts blown off right before his death at the hands of Alexis Machina.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • My Little Pony, In "The Glass Princess", the Raptorians get turned into glass.
  • The Powerpuff Girls, "Knock It Off" features one-shot villain Dick Hardly, who mass-produces shoddy clones of the Girls for financial gain. When confronted by the girls, he literally swallows an entire bottle of Chemical X, turning him into a monster. He is soon afterward killed when his clones turn against him and his factory falls on top of him.
  • In Justice League, during a battle with his brother Orm in the aquatic underground, Aquaman has Orm hanging off a frozen cliff, begging his brother to have mercy. After he said "You're weak! You're not fit to...(slips)" (Had the sentenced have been finished, he would have likely said "rule"). Aquaman stares, walks up to Orm while he hanging on the cliff, extends his hand and... picks up his trident, leaving Orm to fall to this death.

Aquaman: I believe this is mine.

      • It's worth considering that Orm threatened Aquaman's son earlier. Clearly, that's one heck of a Berserk Button.
    • Another example (although Superman didn't know it at the time), was in "Twilight of the Gods", with Darkseid dying when Brainiac's home-base overloaded in his aim to search for the Anti-Life Equation. Superman probably wouldn't have thought this was fitting death given what he did to him in their last encounter. Darkseid, who took a received end of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge seemed to find Karma's decision quite funny since Superman didn't finish him off, and spited him in his last word(s):

Darkseid: Loser.

  • Metalocalypse features a slimy PR lady-slash-cult leader get squished by the very comet she tried to kill everyone with.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang actually sits down and discusses this trope with Avatar Kyoshi, no doubt hoping his upcoming battle with Fire Lord Ozai could end the same way as her battle with Chin the Conqueror.

Aang: But you didn't really kill Chin. Technically, he fell to his own doom because he was too stubborn to get out of the way.
Kyoshi: Personally, I don't really see the difference. But I assure you, I would have done whatever it took to stop Chin.

  • After turning out to be Not Quite Dead toward the end of Barbie and the Diamond Castle, Lydia attempts to turn the heroines to stone with a magic spell, only for the spell to be turned on her instead.
  • Most episodes of Jonny Quest TOS in which a Villain died.
    • All of the examples in Hoist by His Own Petard except "Arctic Splashdown", "Mystery of the Lizard Men" and "Pirates from Below."
    • "Arctic Splashdown". While trying to murder Dr. Quest, the Big Bad is blown up by the Self-Destruct Mechanism of the rocket whose guidance control he was trying to steal.
    • "Riddle of the Gold".
      • An assassin named Ali is killed by a tiger released by the villains while trying to assassinate Dr. Quest.
      • The Villain working for Dr. Zin is killed by the leopard pet of the man he murdered earlier.
    • "Calcutta Adventure". The enemy Mook pilot strafing the Quests is killed when his plane runs into some trees, has its wings ripped off and crashes.
    • "Shadow of the Condor". The Big Bad likes to shoot condors who live near his castle in the Andes. As he's trying to shoot down and kill Race Bannon in an aerial duel, a condor attacks his plane in revenge and causes him to crash into a mountainside.
    • "Turu the Terrible". The Big Bad is killed while trying to save the titular pteranodon he used to terrorize and enslave native workers.
    • "Monster in the Monastery". A group of Mooks masquerading as yeti (who tried to murder Jonny and Hadji) are killed by a real yeti who's angry about the impersonation.
    • "The Fraudulent Volcano". A group of enemy Mooks flying in hover platforms ram into a cliff and blow up while trying to kill the Quests.
    • "House of the Seven Gargoyles". Dietrich (the dwarf masquerading as a gargoyle) is murdered by his boss Ivar.
  • Played straight in the unedited version of Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker, in which the Joker is fatally shot by a young Tim Drake, temporarily unhinged by the Joker's mental and physical tortures. Largely averted in the edited-for-kiddies version, where his death is a not-very-ironic accident.
    • Joker ends up suffering this twice, after using a small device on Tim's neck to inject his own DNA and turn Tim into the new Joker. The new Batman puts a permanent stop to him by destroying the device with one of the Joker's own electrocuting buzzers.
  • Corpse Bride. Barkis Bittern, who lured Emily to her doom so many years ago for her money and then attempted to do the same to Victoria, makes a sneering toast to her at her and Victor's interrupted wedding ceremony and downs the goblet of poisoned wine that Victor was going to (willingly) drink. Once dead, he is left at the mercy of enraged corpses.
  • In Batman the Brave And The Bold, Joe Chill, killer of Bruce's parents, dies this way. It's lampshaded and justified soon afterwards:

Phantom Stranger: Ultimately it was karma that delivered the final blow to Joe Chill. ...Funny how Chill just happened to be under that crumbling ceiling when it came down.
Spectre: I wouldn't know anything about that...

  • Megabyte in Re Boot had this happen to him in season 3, though he ended up Not Quite Dead in season 4. After being spared by Matrix Megabyte tries to escape to the Supercomputer, but Mouse changes the portal's destination to the Web, which is supposed to be fatal to viruses. Megabyte had previously sent Bob to the Web back in season 2, so being sent to the Web himself is an ironic end, had he not survived via Retcon.
  • Slightly subverted in Tangled (2010). During the climax, Mother Gothel starts aging to death when the hero cuts Rapunzel's hair; however, it's Pascal, the chameleon, who actually sets up her fall out of the tower's window. As Gothel is backpedaling and covering her face, Pascal pulls the same hair that had been cut to create a trip wire near the window. Gothel then trips over it while wearing the very lace-up boots she had used to kick Pascal across the room moments earlier. She can't maintain her balance because of the heels and she falls to her death below.
    • Pascal's set up might not count as Goethel aged to dust before the impact.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Marcus Licinius Crassus, the richest man in Ancient Rome,[2] acquired his vast fortune through various underhanded and downright sinister methods. During Sulla's dictatorship, Crassus would use his connections to have people executed simply so he could seize their property. Another favored method of his was to send out his private fire brigade to burning houses, and negotiate with the homeowners the price of putting out the fire as the flames consumed the houses. The homeowners usually were forced to sell their houses to Crassus in order to pay off their debts. He was also involved in the slave trade, and brutally put down Spartacus' revolt. His undoing came when he led an invasion into Parthia due to his desire to obtain more wealth and personal glory. After a disastrous defeat at Carrhae, the Parthians captured him and killed him by pouring molten gold down his throat.
    • That Other Wiki says while he was killed in battle, a story later emerged that after Crassus' death the Parthians poured molten gold into his mouth as a symbol of his thirst for wealth. This implies the story was made up.
  • In 1599, the Jivaro tribe arranged one on the Spanish governor who worked them to death mining gold: after their uprising they took him captive and poured molten gold down his throat with enough care that he reportedly died from ruptured stomach rather than burns. After this episode it took 250 years before Europeans dared to make new contact with them, and were far more courteous the second time round.
  • World War II examples:
    • Oskar Dirlewanger, German officer during World War II, led a unit which was one of the most brutal and barbarous of the Eastern Front (especially during the fights in 1944 when the Red Army "freed" Poland). Immediatly after the end of the war, he was emprisoned and died in his jail, beaten slowly to death by his Polish wardens throughout 5 days.
    • Roland Friesler, who was presiding judge of the Nazi "People's Court" in World War II. He presided over Nazi show trials and was responsible for ordering the execution of the July plotters. As he was trying one of the plotters, a USAF bombing raid caused one of the columns of the People's Court building to fall and crush him. When what was left of him was brought into hospital, a worker remarked: "it is God's verdict". To add to the irony, the man he was about to sentence to death later became the presiding judge of the Federal Republic of Germany's Constitutional Court.
    • The poison used by Hitler and other top Nazis to commit suicide was Hydrogen Cyanide. This was the same chemical agent used to exterminate eleven million Jews, homosexuals, Romany, Slavs and other "untermenschen" in the death camps.
  • Check out this news story. A man tried to turn his pet goat Snowball into a guard-dog, and resorted to beating the goat with a stick to make it more aggressive. Guess who the goat's first victim was?
  • In a similar manner to Steele from Balto, while he didn't die, Chris Matthews frequently mocked those he felt were stupid and implied that they would bomb at Jeporady. On May 14, Chris Matthews ended up invited onto Jeporady, where he not only lost, he absolutely bombed the questions at Jeopardy. Bonus points for the specific Jeopardy game being Celebrity Jeopardy, which is well known for asking simple questions, making his bombing of the questions also an Epic Fail.
  1. (He had spent the last hour of the game framing you for a popular vampire's death, sending mercs after you, and the entire game before then sending you on SuicideMissions because he was forced to spare you for political reasons)
  2. some say he was the richest person in all of history