Kiss of Death
There are two main selling points to any good story—sex and death. All the more to you if you can somehow combine the two. We're not talking about Death by Sex of Interplay of Sex and Violence right now, though.
Though not exactly graphic, the Kiss of Death is still sensual, seductive, and very, very deadly. While a character may be anxious about administering the Kiss of Life, nobody is ever shy about giving the Kiss of Death. This may generally be because Evil Is Sexy or for a more practical reason—once somebody catches onto what the kisser is going to do, he'd run for the hills. This is a favorite weapon of The Vamp.
The Kiss of Death comes in many varieties, including: hypnosis, narcotic effect, and sucking out the soul of the victim, which may or may not result in death, depending on the story.
In addition, the Kiss of Death can also be a symbolic gesture—the kiss itself does not bring death or harm, but the person who receives it knows that his days are numbered. The trope is named for the kiss from The Bible with which Judas Iscariot identified Jesus among his apostles and thus betrayed him to the Romans, making this Older Than Feudalism.
See also Kiss of the Vampire, where a vampire's bite is both pleasurable and deadly.
Anime and Manga
- Kyoko Kirisaki from Black Cat is able to burn people alive by kissing them.
- Fuka from Naruto Shippuden has a technique that can literally kill the victim with a kiss (she asks if the victim wants French or soft) by sucking out their soul and their life force. She uses this to steal techniques and elemental affinities (Fire, Wind, Lightning, Water, Earth).
- Yuufa from Ragnarok the Animation kissed Roan and slipped a cursed ruby in his mouth, French style. Really. Subverted Sleight of Tongue.
- The entire amazon tribe from Ranma ½. After defeating them in combat they give you a kiss. If your a man its a proposal, if your a woman its a vow to hunt you until one of you dies.
- Ran from Urusei Yatsura has the power to suck the youth from someone by kissing them. She usually tries to use the power on an unsuspecting Ataru, who just thinks she liked him. She can also reverse the process with another kiss. Later in the manga, her "youth-stealing kiss" gets nerfed by the Rule of Funny, as all it does is essentialy making the victims act like stereotypical, senior Japanese people.
- Used in Read or Die against Yomiko by Nancy, when it turns out she was The Mole for I-Jin leader Ikkyu (specifically, the lipstick mark it left had something that can affect her when activated by a remote). It doesn't kill her, but she does get knocked out for quite a while.
- Kagura "Divine Goddess" Tennouzou's kiss in Speed Grapher is lethal to anyone not infused with the Euphoria virus. And if you do have it, well, you get tremendous powers...that can be also pretty deadly.
- High school student Ooshima in Emerging throws caution to the wind and shares a first kiss with his girlfriend, who is infected with a fatal virus...making this example a kind of Suicide-by-Kiss.
- In Yaiba, we have Princess Kaguya, whose kiss allows her to suck the Youth out of her victims. And it only works on girls.
- From Basilisk, this is Kagero's primary ability. Whenever she gets aroused, she starts breathing out a deadly poison, thus, whoever she kisses, she kills. And, in fact, this is how she kills Koushirou Chikuma. Later, only Oboro's Mystic Eyes could stop her from poisoning Gennosuke after Tenzen had driven her insane through torture.
- Love Hina: Naru Narusegawa, when possessed by a demon sealed within a sword, was also implied to have gained the ability to sap people's life force by kissing them.
- "Kiss of Death" is the term for a move in chess. It means a moment where a Queen is right next to the opposite King, protected by a Mook (or the King) of her own army.
- The Joker uses toxic lipstick in The Dark Knight Returns.
- Rogue's power in X-Men is stealing other people's life force and abilities by touching them. Mutants usually manifest their powers for the first time around adolescence, and she discovered hers when kissing her boyfriend. While kissing is not a prerequisite for using her powers, she often prefers to do so -- it saves her the trouble of having to take her gloves off first.
- Poison Ivy of Batman, during a period of high emotion. Guess how she found out about her power.
- The original X-Factor (which was actually made up of the original roster of the X-Men) dealt with a one-shot mutant villain called Infectia who could mutate humans and turn them into monstrous slaves (who eventually died) by kissing them, and it seemed kissing may have been a prerequisite. (She used her power on plants, and tried to use it on their living, sentient Ship, each time using her kiss.) Curiously, trying to use it on Beast had an unexpected effect (most likely because he was another mutant), restoring his intelligence and furry form that had been stripped of him by Apocalypse. Much later, he tended to her as she was dying from the Legacy Virus, seeing as he kind of owed her one.
Films -- Live-Action
- Catwoman from Batman Returns stuffs a taser into her mouth (non-shocky end in), grabs the power cables of a generator, and gives a kiss to Corrupt Corporate Executive Max Shreck. This, naturally, does not end well for Shreck.
- In Lifeforce, a naked space vampire woman killed (and zombified) a man with a kiss by sucking out his lifeforce...therefore, the name of the movie.
- In Elektra, Typhoid gives the eponymous character a lesbian Kiss of Death which infects her with a deadly virus, complete with slow motion falling over and a sickly CG effect moving over her skin. She gets better.
- Kill Bill has a very graphic version of this in the Dude, She's Like, in a Coma scene: the guy who's going to rape the Bride gets his tongue ripped out when he tries to kiss her.
- In the movie Shinobi: Heart Under Blade, one of the female ninja has this as her ability, as a result of having been fed poison her entire life. She uses this ability to kill off a wild-man shinobi early in the movie. Later, it is revealed that this poison is apparently powerful enough to kill another near-immortal, regenerating ninja who had perfected his art of "being bad at dying" over the course of three hundred years.
- In Species, Sil kills someone while kissing him by sticking her tongue out through the back of his head.
- In the Hong Kong action movie Naked Killer, the lesbian assassin kills her former mentor/lover with the poisoned lipstick trick.
- Subverted rather creepily in The Mummy Trilogy when Imhotep, who is mostly regenerated at this point, happens upon Evey while she is sleeping and kisses her. While they kiss, his face rots away until his whole mouth is in it's former state. She wakes up while this happens. Sort of like a reverse kiss of undeath.
- Starship Troopers 2. One of the Puppeteer Parasite-like aliens is transferred this way, from a female soldier who was walking around stark naked.
- In X Men, Rogue's powers allow her to kill someone with a kiss. In the first film, she put a boy into a coma for three weeks; in the second, she starts to absorb Bobby's life force, but they end the kiss before any real harm comes to him.
- In Kull the Conqueror the Red Witch gives such a kiss to Kull, though taking a liking to him, she does not give him the fatal version. (Apparently she could have if she wished.)
- At the end of the movie, she beckons to him with a promise of a kiss and Kull gives her his own kiss of death, forcing the Breath of Valka into her body.
- Most forms of the "Vampire's Kiss".
- A Polish folksong known as 'The Kiss' tells the story of a young girl who gets kissed thrice by an unknown man (strongly hinted to be some form of a demon). She dies later that day, after relating the event to her mother.
- The Draghkar in The Wheel of Time kiss their victims, consuming their souls the first time and their lives the second.
- The Harry Potter series had the Dementor's Kiss, in which the victim's soul is consumed. Unusually for this trope, though, this particular example was never portrayed as being sexy at all. The victim technically lives, but only in a braindead state.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, Bane's sometime helper Githany attempts to kill him by means of poisons applied to her lips. Upon kissing him - more than once, which ups the dosage, she gets out of sight to take the required antidotes. Bane detects and counters the poison with the Force...except there were two poisons, an easier one to lull him into thinking he was now safe, and a harder to detect one that nearly kills him.
- Though she doesn't give it, the eponymous villain of The Snow Queen can kill with three kisses; the first two mess up your head.
- After Mina from Dragonlance allies with Chemosh, the god of death, he gives her the power to kiss people and turn them into a more good-looking type of zombie. They don't look dead, but technically, the kiss does kill them.
- In the Michael Crichton novel Prey, Julia kills multiple people with a kiss that transfers the deadly nanobots into them, almost killing her husband, Jack, once. She later begs Jack to "save [her] babies" with MRIs (the magnets kill the nanobots), telling him she kissed them too. It's not quite sexy, but it does still kill.
- In Neverwhere, Richard narrowly escapes having all his body heat siphoned away by the Velvet named Lamia.
- The Dragon of Jennifer Morgue, by Charles Stross, has a soul-eating daemon bound to her. The means of operation is more of a bite than a kiss, however.
- In The Dresden Files, the current king of the White Court vampires, Lord Raith, has this ability, while the rest of the court require a much more extensive contact to drain someone's life force completely.
- He had it. Harry Dresden's mother, Margaret LeFay McCoy, neutered his ability to recharge the "batteries" he'd drawn on to do this.
- In addition, the Red Court vampires have narcotic saliva which they use to keep their victims from struggling before they feed.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Pappaccini's Daughter".
- Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's Undine, bound by the rules of her mermaid people, has to kill her cheating husband, but since she still loves him, she is happy to oblige as he asks her if she could do it with a kiss.
- Lex had a fiancée whose exposure to kryptonite while she and her boyfriend were in coitus gave her the power to hypnotize men (for the duration of one command) with a kiss.
- Also, Maxima's kiss in this verse is highly toxic. Her main motivation is to find a man who can survive it. It ends up being Clark Kent.
- In Firefly, Saffron knocked out Mal with a poisonous kiss. Inara was also temporarily paralyzed from the soporific lipstic left on his lips, when she, relieved that he was only unconscious, impulsively kissed him. Of course, after he wakes up, Mal assumes what any guy would assume and thinks Saffron also seduced Inara, who is too embarrassed by the whole thing to correct him.
- In "Inca Mummy Girl" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the mummy steals the life of various men in order to keep herself alive.
- In Torchwood, Captain John Hart has "paralyzing lipgloss". It's a kiss of death because if you aren't treated for it within two hours, your major organs shut down.
- In the Doctor Who episode Let's Kill Hitler", River has one of these for the Doctor. She later has a change of heart and resurrects him.
- The Dresden Files
- Vampire saliva contains a narcotic that's powerfully addictive when absorbed through the skin (or ingested). Preferred delivery method? A kiss. And that's just for the blood-drinking Red Court vampires, who are trying to use their addictive saliva to recruit willing blood donors.
- The White Court vampires, who feed on the energy created by human emotions (most commonly lust), can LITERALLY kill with a kiss if they take too much energy at one time. On the plus side, the person being killed will at least die happy. Unless, of course, the vampire is one of the ones that eats fear or despair, instead of lust...
- Thomas Raith has stated that Lord Raith, Thomas' father and the most powerful White Court vampire currently alive, is the one who invented the Kiss of Death. Whether or not any other White Court vampires can do this remains to be seen.
"[...]That whole kiss-of-death thing in The Godfather? He was where that phrase originated, only for him it was literal."
- In The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Catharine Weaver, disguised as a different beautiful woman, seduces a victim, then sends a liquid-metal tentacle down his throat to strangle his heart through his esophagus and kill him.
- Gilligan's Island episode "The Invasion". During a dream sequence where Gilligan is a secret agent, Ginger (as an enemy agent) tries to kill him with poison lipstick.
- Get Smart: A KAOS femme fatale uses poisoned lipstick to kill Max, but he's wise to her and uses...fake lips.
- Big Wolf on Campus takes its usual sober, low-key approach to the subject: Sloane the assassin blows a storm of projectile Kisses of Death at our heroes. Tommy disposes of her by throwing one back.
- The X-Files: "2Shy"'s Monster of the Week uses kissing as a pretense to regurgitate acid into his victims, pre-digesting their flesh so he could suck out their fat.
- In Dark Angel, Diamond kissed the man who had her infected with a terminal disease, passing it onto him. Since she's a lesbian, he's also the first man she's ever kissed.
- The Nine Lives of Chloe King feature a race called the Mai. The Mai are only allowed to be intimate with other Mai and the results can be deadly for humans. Unfortunately, Chloe doesn't find this out until after she's kissed a human.
- H₂O: Just Add Water had a one off. Rikki lost control of her heat powers and nearly boiled Zane alive the first time they kissed. He was knocked unconscious and left with red skin for a few days, but it's implied how dangerous the situation could have been.
- Almost a decade before The Sarah Connor Chronicles example above, in the music video for "The World is not Enough" by Garbage, a robotic Shirley Manson (who would go on to play Catharine Weaver) kills a test subject by burning him to death through kissing him. "She" then kills the original Shirley Manson the same way, and then explodes during a packed concert.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Succubi/Incubi in D&D (all the way to the 1st Edition) have an energy drain attack delivered though either a kiss or a hug. It takes more than one to kill someone (frequently, eight or nine by the time the players are high enough level to encounter one), though.
- One of the darklords in the Ravenloft campaign setting possesses this ability (due to various types of poisons applied to her lips). She is explicitly so toxic that she can kill even creatures immune to normal poisons.
- GURPS: Ultratech advises using the Ripsnake (a mechanical weapon that shoots out of your mouth) while kissing.
- And the "Weasel" in Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams, which may have inspired it.
- Warhammer Fantasy Battle has the Dogs of War character Lucrezia Bor- I mean Lucrezzia Belladonna, an expert with poisons and toxins, including poisoned lipstick. One story has her kiss the tip of a knight's lance, and his unhorsed opponent dying within seconds. When asked if the lance was poisoned, she replied that she had just kissed it and she didn't feel at all unwell...
- In Kander and Ebb's musical version of Manuel Puig's Kiss of the Spider Woman, the titular (imaginary) character kills with a kiss. The hero, a prisoner in a hellish Argentine jail, sees her whenever someone around him is poisoned or tortured, and worries that she will come for him next.
- In the Austrian musical Elisabeth, Death is a major character. He is made of this trope.
- Planescape: Torment features a succubus character named Fall-From-Grace, who (as is normal for her species in Dungeons & Dragons canon) can drain the life from her victims by kissing them. However, as a reformed succubus, she is reluctant to do this except in a dire situation (though the definition of a "dire situation" is whenever the player directs her to, considering she has the kiss as one of her attack commands).
- Karim in Eternal Darkness Sanity's Requiem suffers from this fate. Interestingly, it's something he needs to do in order to be able to protect the artifact.
- Mortal Kombat is probably the biggest Trope Codifier here, where several characters use this as a Fatality. Sonya Blade blows her kisses and they either burn or eviscerate the enemy, depending on the game. Kitana and Tanya directly kiss the enemy on the head or the lips, causing them to either swell up and explode or twist in several painful ways...then explode, though it would have been arguably more gruesome if the opponent just fell to the floor a twisted, screaming mess.
- This is Tira's Finishing Move in Soul Calibur IV. Nope, I'm serious.
- Pokémon. Lovely Kiss (which puts the opposing Pokémon to sleep), Sweet Kiss (which confuses the opposing Pokémon), and probably a few others. Though they're not really Kisses of Death.
- In Devil May Cry 3, the vampire Nevan does this if you don't run away quick enough, making some fangirls commit suicide in order to see Dante kiss someone.
- Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 3, when EVA/Tatyana threatens the always-nervous Sokolov with a tube of lipstick, who thinks she's trying to kill him. She then turns the lipstick around, puts it on, and walks away.
- Karst's "Heat Kiss" attack in Golden Sun: The Lost Age, a powerful debuff in the form of a blown kiss.
- In Pandect, all Servant Aces have a body part which is poisonous to anyone who touches it. For one character, it's his lips.
- The Codename: Kids Next Door Made for TV Movie: a zombified Kuki gives Wally The Virus by kissing him. A virus that, mind you, turns people into "Senior Citizombies"—that's right, zombie old people. Number 362 and the other kids find this as Squicky as the audience does.
- Transformers Animated. Blackarachnia usually does a non-deadly version of this—and it's a spidery kiss, not a kiss on the lips: she stabs her victim with the legs that stick up over her shoulders and temporarily drains whatever special power they have. However, as proved by her attack on Prowl and Bumblebee in "Black Friday", she can give a deadly one by adding an extra dose of venom, giving the victim two hours to have the antidote administered before they die. Don't worry, while she never actually hands Optimus the antidote, when he goes to see Prowl and Bee and apologize for being unable to save them, he finds the antidote on the ground by them and muses that there may still be some good left in her.
- Played for laughs in The Simpsons episode "The Mansion Family"; when Springfield's oldest resident - a guy named Cornelius Chapman - is given an award for this achievement, he gets a kiss from Britney Spears - the award show's host - and drops dead as a result. The award is thus given to Mr. Burns, who wisely tells Britney not to kiss him.
Anime and Manga
- The Chinese Amazon kiss of death delivered by Shampoo in Ranma ½: a promise to hunt the recipient down to the ends of the earth and kill them.
- Mireille Bouquet from Noir receives one of these from a girl named Silvana Gleone. And she tries to punch her afterwards (episode 9, 11:25).
- Princess Tutu: Rue kisses Mytho as she literally yanks his ability to love out of his chest.
- In Prétear episode 11, Takako kisses Mawata after successfully driving her into despair, in order to use her soul as a power source for what turns out to be a huge evil tree.
- In the anime of Chrono Crusade, at the end of giving Rosette a Mind Raping Hannibal Lecture, Aion kisses her. Chrono does not approve.
- Yoko of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann shares a kiss with two separate characters, Kamina and Kittan, immediately preceding their deaths. To be fair, Kittan kissed her, knowing he'd die.
- In Berserk, it is debatable whether Femto/Griffith doing this to Casca counts; he was just about to brutally rape her, and so a Forceful Kiss is not exactly out of place. However, since Casca had already been marked for death by the demon brand, and did not realise yet that Griffith was the one causing all hell to break loose, the kiss served a similar purpose to this trope by making it clear just how much trouble she was in.
Films -- Live-Action
- A big joke (almost to the point of Running Gag) in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels is that every guy Elizabeth kisses dies. Jack in Dead Man's Chest, Norrington, Sao Feng, and Will in At World's End. Even her father (who she probably kissed a few times, considering how big of a Daddy's Girl she is) dies. Lampshaded in the third movie by Jack, who tells her that "Once was quite enough" when she runs up to him to embrace him.
- Michael Corleone's kiss of death to the person who betrayed him in The Godfather Part II. "You broke my heart. You broke my heart."
- Blade Runner. Roy Batty kisses Eldon Tyrell just before squashing Tyrell's eyeballs into their sockets and crushing his skull, killing him.
- Just barely averted in American Gangster. When he sees one of his brothers in a flashy suit that might draw the attention of the cops, Frank Lucas sits him down to remind him that potentially drawing attention and notice is a bad thing for major drug dealers. When, during that conversation, the brother also lets it slip that he talked about Frank with one of his rival drug lords (and thus, in his naivete, possibly gave information to this other drug lord), Lucas, who has dealt extensively with the Mafia, gives his brother an enormous kiss and says "You know, if you weren't my brother, I'd have to kill you." They both laugh. Much later in the film, when the brother screws up again, however, Frank beats him viciously for it. And it's all the scarier for coming out of nowhere and with no warning.
- Black Widow (1987). The kiss Catherine Petersen (murderess) gives to Alex Barnes (Justice Department investigator). Aside from providing some Les Yay, it also shows that Catherine intends to mess Alex over by framing her for Paul's death.
- Averted in the theatrical version of Marvel's Daredevil and done in the Director's Cut. After killing Elektra's father, unintentionally framing her boyfriend, beating her while hitting on her, mockingly treating her revenge like a date, and instantly developing an attraction to her, Bullseye cuts her neck and, intending to use her own sai against her, tries to give Elektra her last kiss. In the Director's Cut, he manages to give her the kiss while she is gutted in the air.
- Sort of in The House of the Spirits, when Esteban is moving Rosa's body to another tomb and opens up the coffin to have one last look at her. She is completely preserved until he kisses her, after which she degrades very rapidly (keep in mind this is occurring years after she died).
- The trademark of Kissin' Kate Barlow in Holes, who only kissed the men she killed.
- In the Tomb Raider novel The Man of Bronze, Lara Croft mentions that she once killed a man while kissing him.
- The Godfather's Kiss of Death is also parodied in The Executioner series by Don Pendleton: "Nick told me to kiss you first -- I told him you were too damn ugly."
- Oz. When Chucky Pancamo kisses Peter Schibetta in a prison corridor, the latter realises instantly what it means and starts shouting "No! No!" Chucky kills him seconds later.
- One of the most poignant moments in Xena: Warrior Princess is when she has to kill her undead lover Marcus (long story). She stabs him with his sword, and then passionately kisses him as he dies in her arms.
- In Supernatural, when a person sells their soul to a demon, they seal it with a kiss, and then they die ten years later. Note that this applies to all demons -- Crowley has made himself quite the master of Ho Yay and Foe Yay due to his insistance on following this particular rule.
- On That '70s Show, Kelso is breaking off his cheating relationship with Laurie. Laurie sees Jackie, Kelso's cuckolded girlfriend, over Kelso's shoulder and asks for "one last kiss", thus ensuring that Jackie will see them kissing and break up with Kelso. The episode is actually titled "Kiss of Death."
Myths & Religion
- The Simpsons:
- The Godfather's kiss of death gets parodied with the mobsters. "The kiss of death. That can't be good."
- Parodied again during Homer's stint as Mayor Quimby's bodyguard. Fat Tony tells Homer to give Quimby this and he obliges. When Quimby tells him, "You moron, that's the kiss of death!" Homer worries that he did it wrong and goes in for another.
- And in Futurama:
"I know Big Vinnie said he was giving me the kiss of death, but I still think he was gay."
- There are instances when an individual tempts fate, such as declaring failure impossible in a sporting event, that is jokingly referred to as the "Kiss of Death", especially if said person is notorious for bad judgement.
- Lampshaded, then subverted, in this skit from Anime Boston 2011.
- This is because she also carries a lipstick-shaped gun that's often used by the KGB, which, incidentally, is called the Kiss of Death.