"They tell me your son squealed like a girl when they nailed him to the cross. And your wife moaned like a whore when they ravished her... again... and again... and again."
A character is killed off in a particularly gruesome manner and left to be found just to offend or insult someone, or to cause someone serious anguish. The usual victims are those who matter to the hero, specifically best buddies, love interests, and sidekicks.
The name of the trope comes from a storyline in Green Lantern, in which the minor villain Major Force leaves the corpse of Kyle Rayner's girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, literally stuffed into a refrigerator for him to find. Years later, Major Force repeated the gimmick with Kyle's mother in an oven. (It was just a trick with a mannequin that time.)
If the love interest who gets Stuffed Into the Fridge remains relevant to the ongoing story, continuing to be loved and missed by living characters, sometimes to the point of appearing in flashbacks and dream sequences, and is the standard by which any subsequent love interests are measured by, she is also a Lost Lenore.
The term was popularized by comic book writer Gail Simone through her website "Women in Refrigerators." On that site, Simone compiled a list of instances of female comic book characters who were killed off as a plot device. The term came to be used more broadly, over time, to refer to any character who is killed off, abused, raped, incapacitated, de-powered, or brainwashed for the sole purpose of lending impetus to another (usually male) character. Unfortunate Implications may come into play if the killed-off character is female or nonwhite and used to further the journey of a white male character. (Less Egregious if a male white character is killed for the same reason, because a North American work is likely to have a large cast of white males, but a small amount of women or people of color.)
This trope appears in many media. The Throwaway Country is an extreme example, and the Doomed Hometown is in many ways the RPG Video Game equivalent. See also Disposable Woman, I Let Gwen Stacy Die, and Finger in the Mail. Compare What Measure Is a Mook?. If it happens to multiple love interests of the same character, said character likely suffers from the Cartwright Curse.
Compare Collateral Angst, a more general case where bad things happening to Character A are primarily important for their effect on Character B. Contrast Dropped a Bridge on Him, when a relatively important character is killed off just to clear the decks and not for motivational purposes. Not to be confused with being Put on a Bus as a Human Popsicle. Also not related to Fridge Logic, Fridge Horror, or Fridge Brilliance. Or It Came From the Fridge.
Anime and Manga
- In the manga MPD Psycho, Amamiya Kazuhiko's multiple personality disorder is triggered when the serial killer he's tracking mutilates his girlfriend and delivers her limbless but barely alive body to the police station in an ice chest.
- In Naruto, Pain attempted to invoke this trope by killing Hinata in order to anger Naruto, but it was Subverted Trope when Hinata survived.
- In Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, Batou and Togusa visit the crime scene of a Yakuza murder. All the corpse's organs are missing and there are a lot of bloody kitchen knives in the sink. As they hand over to the crime scene investigators and leave, one man shouts from the off that he found the organs packed in jars in the fridge.
- Also, in Stand Alone Complex a killer appears who skins women alive while recording it. This was actually a case of the trope being weaponized. The killer was a soldier who had been mentally conditioned and trained to go behind enemy lines and commit these atrocities to break the enemy's will to fight. Unfortunately, the mental damage was so great he never stopped.
- A slightly odd example from Darker than Black: Towards the end of the second season, Yoko, The Team Normal for the Quirky Miniboss Squad, is found horribly murdered, prompting her girlfriend Mina Hazuki to make an It's Personal-induced attempt on the life of the person they believed responsible. Thing is? She thought it was Hei. She was wrong.
- Genre Savvy Complete Monster that he is, Big Bad Sosuke Aizen planned to specifically invoke this in Bleach, killing Ichigo's friends and leaving the corpses for Ichigo to discover. Ichigo appeared in Big Damn Heroes fashion and punched Aizen out of town.
- Happens in Silent Möbius, with Katsumi's lover Roy.
- May have happened in End of Evangelion. After all, Shinji emerging from the ruins of NERV HQ and seeing the brutally gored and eviscerated remains of Unit 02 is what pushed him over the Despair Event Horizon SEELE needed to start Third Impact.
- The Gung-Ho guns of Trigun are usually finished by one of their own after Vash claims a (usually circumstantial) victory. For example, this occurs in episode 16 where E.G. Mine nails two of his defeated former comrades atop a building, which Vash only notices once the blood drips onto the back of his head while walking. Mine then proceeds to refer to them as "decorations", making it obvious they were put there to set as examples for the Gung-Ho Guns' intolerance for failure.
- Urotsukidouji: Niki stuffs the corpse of his mother into a microwave.
- Berserk serves a rare example where the victim actually survives. Casca is horrifically raped to insanity by Femto just to spite her lover and his former friend Guts. This forces Guts into a blind rage that involves him hacking off his arm in order to free himself from a demon that is holding him back from saving her. Unfortunately, he's pinned down mere feet away from Femto and Casca and is Forced to Watch the act proceed while he gets ³his eye clawed out. By the time Femto is finished with her, Guts is exhausted from the blood loss and passes out on the spot along with a broken Casca. Though she didn't die, the experience drove her insane.
- In Rurouni Kenshin, Kaoru is stabbed through the heart by Enishi and has an X-shaped scar carved onto her left cheek just as Kenshin's, and is left nailed to the dojo wall, slumped in a pool of her own blood. The gruesome display was meant to send Kenshin over the edge with grief, knowing that he failed to save his second love. It works really well. Of course, she ain't dead after all.
- Hellsing has a rare male example with Pip Bernadotte, who dies after Zorin Blitz stabs him while he's trying to carry a blind and mutilated Seras to safety. Seras breaks down in tears, and is pushed over the edge when Zorin mocks Pip's death, calling him 'a mere insect'. Seras responds by drinking his blood and becoming a fully-fledged vampire, and going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, culminating in her painting the wall with Zorin's face.
- Gundam loves this trope. Did the hero meet a strange girl? Does she have strange abilities or a job with the enemy? Don't get attached.
- A particularly Egregious application occurs in Gundam AGE, when Yurin L'Ciel is forced into a Vagan mobile suit and killed in battle. Previously, she had about twenty minutes of screentime, all of which is Ship Tease with Flit. Her fiery death is the most significant thing about her character, serving to make Flit hate Vagan for the rest of his life.
- Kamui Den: The rape and subsequent death fo the peasant girl Mine early in the first series becomes an inciting incident for two of the major male characters to fight the oppresive powers of their feudal domain.
- The original Stuffed Into the Fridge incident was fueled by Executive Meddling: The scene, as originally drawn, showed Kyle Rayner's girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, completely intact, but still dead. DC editors thought this was too gruesome, so mandated a redraw, that showed the partially open door with the arm sticking out of it, suggesting dismemberment.
- During the end of the same third volume, Kyle Rayner had a re-match with the same villain who had mutilated aforementioned girlfriend, Major Force. This villain decided to top himself by stuffing Rayner's mother into the oven. Believe it or not Major Force later played this for laughs by pointing out it was a dummy and that he 'never repeats the same trick'.
- Sadly, Kyle's mother did not escape the metaphorical fridge in the end. Sinestro had the living virus Despotellis kill her in retaliation for Kyle branding him with a Green Lantern symbol during Green Lantern: Rebirth. Then he revealed this to Kyle to make him vulnerable to Parallax possession.
- While this time it didn't involve actual kitchen appliances, Major Force got to do this again, killing off Arisia, former Lantern, former girlfriend of Hal Jordan and current friend of Guy Gardner, suffocating her in order to bait Gardner into a fight. The scene in which he did so earned some disgust from readers, since because of the way the panel was drawn and the powers he had, it was impossible to tell whether he'd done it just by covering her nose and mouth, or by pouring his arm down her throat.
- Kyle even has this happen with friends. Terry Berg, his assistant (who happened to be gay), was horribly gay-bashed and beaten into a coma. Like in your standard Stuffed Into the Fridge story line, the story focused more on Kyle's angst that someone could do this to a friend of his, rather than Terry dealing with the trauma himself. He terrorizes the thugs responsible, then takes a leave of absence from Earth because he's despairing for the state of humanity. While his friend is still bedridden.
- Green Lantern seems to be made of this. John Stewart's first wife Katma Tui is killed in gruesome fashion by Star Sapphire to prove a point to Hal Jordan while she is depowered and in her kitchen!
Katma Tui: Star Sapphire? What are you doing here?
Ambush Bug: Do you have any major appliances that don't come with a dead body in it?
- Superboy's first love, Tana Moon, got this treatment.
- To make matters even worse, the woman who killed Tana did it because she felt Superboy, as a clone of her father, Cadmus Director Paul Westfield, was a huge disappointment. Recent retcons show, however, that Superboy is not Westfield's clone at all, but a joint DNA clone of Supes and Lex. So Tana's death was not only nasty brutal and ugly, but the very reason she was targeted was just dead wrong!
- She's not dead, but in Batman, Hush cut out Catwoman's heart. She was somehow gotten to a machine in time. An example of an Invoked Trope, as Hush was deliberately looking for the most traumatic thing he could do to Batman. It was then subsequently subverted as when she recovered, Selina was the one who went for revenge, not Bruce. She pretty much ruined Hush, to boot.
- The Alan Moore story The Killing Joke, where The Joker shoots and cripples Barbara Gordon in an effort (which includes photographs of her lying naked and wounded) to drive her father insane. Even Evil Has Standards Alan Moore regrets its brutality.
- The fact that Babs survived and developed greatly as a character doesn't matter, because at the time, DC was essentially trying to remove her altogether. When Moore asked his editors if it was okay to include the shooting, their response was "Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch."
- Golden Glider from The Flash is a supervillain version of this; she's killed off mainly so that her brother Captain Cold can angst about it.
- Gail Simone, who coined the phrase (and has stated that the term has been distorted and over-applied since then) played with the trope in Wonder Woman, where Wonder Woman's best friend Etta was captured and tortured into catatonia by Genocide. She was deliberately targeted as one of Diana's loved ones, she was tortured to make us hate the villain even more, and she was left for Diana to find with a mocking note...all the hallmarks of a fridging except for the fact that she didn't die. Etta however, got better and was shown to be none worse for the wear in the long run, even telling Wondy not to feel guilty for what happened.
- Since Blackest Night was about the dead returning as intelligent but soulless zombies with the intent of overwhelming and feeding on various emotional reactions, literally ripping each victim's heart out in the process, it was conceptually predisposed to this trope from the beginning. Several characters, both male and female, were killed just to get a rise out of other characters. The textbook example of this trope, though, was Gen, the girlfriend of Jason Rusch, who was turned to salt and had her heart ripped out (simultaneously) while Jason got a front row seat inside her killer's head.
- In the Death of the New Gods series, this happened in the first few pages to freaking Big Barda. Granted, the assassin was targeting all of the New Gods, but her death is what motivates her husband Mr. Miracle's actions, such as using the Anti-life Equation—something he once swore he would never do in the past. To add insult to injury, she was killed with no signs of a struggle and her body was found in—you guessed it—the kitchen.
- Every Red Lantern seen so far except Lobo who has a ring but isn't officially a Red Lantern - his entire race was brutally murdered, but since Lobo himself did that as a child, it may not count had people close to them brutally murdered—the rage they felt over these deaths is what draws the red power rings to them in the first place. Among them are an alien whose mate was eaten by Sinestro Corp member Arkillo, a Winged Humanoid woman who was kidnapped, repeatedly raped, and had her wings torn off by the Sinestro Corp member who murdered her mother (other Sinestro Corp members also abused her, so she hates the entire Corp as a result) and a housecat from Earth whose owner was murdered by a burglar. Their leader Atrocitus has the worst case -- his entire space sector, including his family, was killed by the Guardians' rogue Manhunters. His entire reason for living is to kill the Guardians. The rage that Mera felt over losing her husband (Aquaman) and her son in addition to the rest of the crap she's had to deal with over the years and her own rather short temper was strong enough to make her a deputy Red Lantern during Blackest Night. Guy Gardner briefly became a Red Lantern when Kyle Rayner was killed (he got better). Yes, the guy whose girlfriend was the Trope Namer got stuffed in the fridge himself.
- Karen Smith, the partner of the Martian Manhunter in his guise as detective John Jones, was murdered by his evil brother Malefic as part of his ongoing campaign to destroy J'onn's life. J'onn responded by throwing Malefic into the sun.
- Cry for Justice, much like any other big event DC comic, has people dropping like flies offscreen, but the stuffee was not a woman, but a girl. Lian Harper, daughter of Roy. Linkara was not amused.
- Poor Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man, got a quadruple whammy of this in Identity Crisis, both in-story and out. Her mysterious murder was 1) the impetus of a company-wide Crisis Crossover in which it was revealed that she was 2) murdered by Jean Loring in a convoluted attempt to make her ex-husband The Atom/Ray Palmer love her again, and it was revealed that she was 3) raped years ago, which had provoked a number of retconned events from the DC universe's past, which were 4) used to fuel future drama and storylines in the other DC titles.
- As if his life wasn't terrible enough, just about any female close to the Incredible Hulk dies horribly or suffers some traumatic events. His original love interest and later wife Betty Ross Banner had her blood tainted by the Hulk's enemy, the Abomination (She got better though) and died painfully from Gamma radiation poisoning. To twist the knife even further, she returned only to subsequently return to the grave soon after the fact. Though now she's back again.
- Marlo, one-time call girl of Hulk's 'Mr. Fixit' personality and the wife of the Hulk's erstwhile sidekick, Rick Jones was killed by a crazy woman who believed herself to be Rick's mother and then brought back to life as a mindless vegetable.
- There was also Caiera from Planet Hulk. Though at least she left Bruce two sons.
- Hulk's second major love interest, Jarella (after Betty but before Caiera), likewise died by being crushed beneath a collapsing building during a Hulk/Abomination fight.
- For a gender flip, Mystique killed Ms. Marvel's boyfriend while disguised as her, in a matter that was particularly gruesome for a 70's comic (Mystique was originally a Ms. Marvel villain and was intended to be her archenemy).
- In an issue of New Avengers, it happened to the entire team of Alpha Flight. The whole team. They were shown in one panel facing an oncoming enemy, and the next lying dead in the snow. That enemy then joined the legacy team, wearing the leader's costume.
- The Punisher 2099 was starting to get his life back together, thanks to his girlfriend Kerry. Then Fearmaster decided to send a message to him, and turned her to glass.
- Subverted twice in Invincible. Atom Eve appears to get fridged, but in the next issue she not only survives, but saves Invincible's life. We also have villain Powerplex who essentially does this to himself. He accidentally kills his own family while fighting Invincible.
- Played straight with Omni-man and the bug people he settled down with after leaving Earth. His fellow Viltrumites slaughtered thousands of them to, in their own words, piss him off. To Omni-man's own surprise, it worked.
- In Judge Dredd, the first-shown female Judge is killed off in a few frames by a Judge-murdering gang, just to provide motivation for a male Judge (who loved her) to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge and get killed. Neither were established characters. (For a long time, Judges were prohibited from having relationships for just this reason.)
- The trope is invoked, deconstructed and played straight in Y: The Last Man. In the finale, Altar murders Agent 355 because she wanted to die by a man's hands. Agent 355 is killed off unceremoniously right in front of Yorick in an attempt to motivate him to do the deed.
- Alleged to happen with Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. According to Draco, Dumbledore burned her alive as a warning to the rest of the Voldemort-supporting Malfoy family. Of course, Unreliable Narrator is in full force here.
- The narrator in Case of The Missing Technology finds Melanie Jayne in one of these. To make matters worse, she had been sliced into pieces, with each body part being converted. The narrator had to alert the others who came along with her in order to inform them about the find.
- Something like this occurred in 300, in which the main heroes discover an entire village pinned to a tree (or possibly nailed together in the shape of a tree) due to the ruthless and barbaric nature of the opposing army.
- The climax of the film Se7en is an example.
- In the film Tombstone, the villain Johnny Ringo tempts the heroes into a duel by torturing and killing one of the protagonists and sending his body to the heroes.
- Road House.
- Most badass opponent goon has his throat ripped out and is floated across the river for Big Bad to find.
- Best mentor S is killed and left on the bar for hero to find.
- Maximus' family in Gladiator, as seen in the page quote.
- One of the many, many tropes parodied in Last Action Hero.
- This was actually criticized by the character found in such a position, and he made implications about the writers being murderers, as his Universe was as real as ours. Oddly enough, he didn't think of thanking them for creating him and his world (or not?) in the first place.
- "So you're telling me that the only reason the love of my life was brutally murdered is because it's good storytelling?" "Psshh, you're welcome, Mr. Ungrateful Face."
- The Punisher features a double stuffing - Frank Castle was a FBI agent whose family was brutally killed by the Big Bad because he blames Frank for the death of his son. This is the trigger for Frank to become The Punisher and he in turn causes the Big Bad to stuff his own wife into the fridge by convincing him that she is having an affair with his right-hand man (which was unlikely since he was gay).
- In Shocker, the protagonist's foster family gets killed early in the movie and later his girlfriend gets killed too.
- In Blade: Trinity, when Sommerfield is killed by Drake and her defaced corpse is left for Abigail and Blade to find.
- Literally in Dark Blue
- In The Godfather, Don Vito Corleone attempts to convince studio head Jack Woltz to cast singer Johnny Fontane, Vito's godson, in a film. Woltz refuses, so the Don arranges for the head of Woltz's prized $600,000 racehorse to be severed and placed in Woltz's bed for him to wake up to.
- Happens to a number of Bond Girls who are victims of the Cartwright Curse - most prominently Jill Masterson (who died via skin suffocation by being completely covered in gold paint) and Agent Strawberry Fields (who was drowned in crude oil).
"He disagreed with something that ate him."
- Also happens in Tomorrow Never Dies. Added bonus: the theme song for the movie is written from the perspective of the Bond Girl that gets fridged.
Darling I'm killed/ I'm in a puddle on the floor/ Waiting for you to return
- Heroic Trio and its sequel suffers from the Spear Counterpart of this trope as the characters' boyfriends/husbands either get beaten up or killed.
- In Outland, Sgt. Montone is stuffed into a locker after informing on the Big Bad's smuggling operation. O'Neil finds him hanging at the end of a garrotte, with a racquetball stuffed into his mouth, after telling O'Neil about the drugs during a racquetball game.
- The end of The Public Enemy from 1931. While Tommy's family has been led to believe he's coming home, his brother answers the door face to face with his corpse, propped up like he's standing. Then it falls over the threshold, face-foreward.
- In "Murderers' Row", one of the Matt Helm 1960's spy-spoof movies, Helm (Dean Martin) finds the dead body of a beautiful blonde (a friendly spy whom he was supposed to contact as part of his current mission) in the refrigerator of her apartment.
- In Leo Tolstoy's novelette Hadji Murat, the reader is first aware of the death of Hadji Murat when someone shows off his head in a sack. This rather brilliantly makes a death that for the history savvy reader is inevitable something rather shocking and horrifying, just as it is to the characters in the story, who do not have the benefit of hindsight.
- Firestarter -Vicky is murdered and stuffed behind the ironing board.
- In Leon Uris' Exodus, a story about the founding of Israel, the lover of a main character is kidnapped, raped dozens of times, and dumped in pieces near her home.
- In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Capa Barsavi's daughter was killed by the Grey King and sent back to him in a barrel of horse urine.
- In Twilight, James attempted this trope, videotaping him torturing and killing Bella to make Edward seek revenge and start a "game" with him. Lucky for Bella, Edward was fast enough to avert it.
- In the climax of Warcraft: Lord of the Clans Blackmoore hurls the head of Thrall's human surrogate sister at his feet when the Orcs besiege his castle, trying to break his spirit. Unfortunately for him, Orcs do not work that way.
- Worst Case, one of the latest books by James Patterson, has the villain use this to taunt the police and families of his teenage victims. His second victim, a 17-year-old girl, was tortured with hypothermia and shot in the head, then literally stuffed in a fridge so the serial killer could dump her corpse somewhere public without arousing too much suspicion. Her neck and limbs were broken to get her body to fit, and the forensic team had to cut the top of the fridge off just to get her out.
- The entire plot of The Count of Monte Cristo is Edmond Dantes doing this to the people who betrayed him and had him imprisoned, culminating in an Aesop about how revenge ultimately corrupts one's soul.
- In The Iliad, Hector accidentally does this to Patroclus. Naturally, things end poorly for poor Hector.
- In The Aeneid, this arguably happens to Dido (to get Aeneas to finally leave Carthage) and to Troy (to get Aeneas sailing westward).
- A Song of Ice and Fire has a rare example of the sexes being switched for this one - Khal Drogo's fatal injury and subsequent death are all to motivate Daenerys to take her next level in badass.
- Later on, Lady Hornwood was married to Ramsay Bolton for politics, then promptly shut in a tower and left to die. She was found with her own fingers gnawed off in hunger and desperation. Her cousin Wyman Manderley was not pleased and is now plotting his revenge against House Bolton.
- In the backstory of Sword of Truth, Zedd's wife has this done to her. She's viciously beaten and raped by D'Haran soldiers, and just to twist the knife in further, she's left for Zedd to find. Zedd, being a Wizard of the First Order, naturally attempts to heal her, only to find that doing so sets off a trap spell designed to kill her painfully in response to any magical healing. Ouch.
- Richard finds Kahlan like this. People stop him from healing her for that reason. It takes her months to get better.
- Richard does this with Brother Narev, for Jagang to find, and then later has this done with all of the Fellowship.
- Charlie Parker's wife and child are murdered by a serial killer and left in the kitchen of his house for him to find in John Connolly's Every Dead Thing.
- M*A*S*H. When a nurse Hawkeye was going to have sex with dies offscreen, Hawkeye is chosen to eulogize her - and the entire episode is about what Hawkeye feels about it. That's fine, but he spends the entire eulogy talking about himself.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jenny Calendar is killed by Angelus and left in her lover Rupert Giles' bedroom, along with a number of things to make the latter initially believe that she has arrived in his home for a romantic rendezvous. It is debatable whether this is a case of schlock or effective writing in line with Whedon's usual tropes, as her planned death had been merely delayed due to fan popularity.
- In this case one must give Whedon some credit for continuing to reference her throughout the season and then obliquely in the next. The murder of Ms. Calendar is a significant point of contention between the members of the Scooby Gang, one that threatens to destroy Buffy's friendship with Xander and relationship with Giles, particularly when it is revealed that Angel is alive and back on Earth. The First Evil, the Buffyverse's equivalent of Satan, also took the form of Ms. Calendar.
- It's also noteworthy that while Angelus went out of his way to make Jenny's death as painful as possible for the other heroes, he actually didn't kill her solely for the purpose of doing so. She had been trying to restore his soul, which would have turned him back into the guilt-ridden Angel.
- Played straight:
- In an early episode where one of Buffy's favorite teachers is found beheaded and stuffed into a fridge. And never mentioned again.
- In a third season episode where a sympathetic counselor, Mr. Platt is found dead in his office. And never mentioned again.
- In a seventh season episode with a Potential that the First Evil convinces to hang herself in Buffy's living room. And never mentioned again.
- Subverted on Joss Whedon's other show, Dollhouse. It looks like Adelle's going to do this to Paul's new girlfriend, Mellie, when she sends Hearns (who's also a serial rapist) to kill her. Except it turns out Mellie is a Doll programmed as an assassin, who kills Hearns instead. Sends the same message and gets rid of a rather nasty employee, too.
- In the first episode, a little girl is literally stuffed into a fridge, and another character speaks of it being done to her when she was young.
- The whole first season of Dexter is a play on this trope. The Big Bad The Ice Truck Killer tries to get the interest of The Hero/Anti-Hero Dexter by brutally murdering people, knowing that he will not get mad about it. He puts most of his victims "on ice", and (as a clue to him) a dismembered doll into Dexter's fridge. It turns out both Dexter and the killer (his brother) were turned into what they are by witnessing the brutal murder of their mother and being left in the container in inch-deep blood for days. In the final episode the trope is inverted when the killer tries to kill Dexter's adoptive sister, which he thinks would reunite the brothers for good. In the fourth season, where Dexter comes home after killing the Trinity Killer only to find his wife, Rita, another victim of Arthur's.
- The death of Rita is a massive deconstruction of this trope: while Arthur killed her he was only able to do so because Dexter deliberately protected him from arrest to have the satisfaction of playing with him a bit more, so Rita's death is to a great extent Dexter's own fault rather than a misfortune to turn him into a woobie.
- This was done very frequently in Diagnosis: Murder. Any time some relative or old friend of Dr. Sloan turned up, odds were that that person would be the victim of the week (unless, of course, he/she turned out to be the villain of the week). In one episode, Dr. Sloan's daughter and her new husband were murdered offscreen and stuffed in their car. It later turned out the entire town was involved, to some degree, in the murder or the cover-up.
- Early episodes of MacGyver would often introduce an old friend of the title character, who would be killed off in close proximity to him by the bad guys. This would set the stage for the rest of the episode, where MacGyver will then foil the greater plan that necessitated the killing. These characters were almost never mentioned or alluded to ever again.
- Walker, Texas Ranger uses it that way quite often. Many episodes open off with an "old friend" showing up. By the end of the episode, you can guess they'll end up dead, and in the rare cases they don't, something bad will happen to them if they ever show up again (which is itself incredibly rare, normally they're never mentioned again). Most of these deaths take place when the friend stumbles upon the villain's plot, and get intercepted by them on the way to telling the Rangers. It also makes it seem like Walker and company are "good friends" with pretty much everyone in the city with the frequency it happens, but that's another story.
- This is a common occurrence on the FOX series Prison Break. Whether it's Veronica Donovan being stuffed (literally) into multiple Hefty bags, L.J.'s mother and her husband being killed by government agents, or Sara Tancredi's head getting sent to Michael in prison, there aren't many happy endings on the series.
- Sara got better, though.
- Skins did this in a notable fashion in Series 4. Freddie, one of the principal characters, was brutally murdered by Effy's crazed psychiatrist John Foster, and his bloody clothes were bagged and found by best mate Cook in Foster's house. This being Cook, he did not take the news well, and his response was more than appropriate.
- The writers' stated purpose for Shannon being "gut-shot" and killed on Lost was to create tension between the original cast and the tailsection survivors. They later acknowledged in a podcast the large number of female characters who've been "gut-shot."
- The opening episode of the second season of War of the Worlds. The military general who has been giving the team missions throughout the first season has been kidnapped and presumably killed by alien beings. The military lieutenant leading the main characters is kidnapped, cloned, found by his former comrade (who swears vengeance), then shoots himself in the head out of desperation to save a little girl (who is being held hostage by the clone). The wheelchair-bound tech support character is shot multiple times, then shot AGAIN when he activates a panic button. And then they both get blown to bits in an exploding mansion. Only the wheelchair-bound character is ever mentioned again.
- And don't forget the brutal execution of the Advocacy (the villains from season one).
- Male example from Alias: Sydney Bristow's original fiancé. She found him in the tub with his throat slit, after which she turned on her evil employers.
- Kate's death on NCIS had this effect on Gibbs. Even though Ari had a bead on Gibbs, he killed one of his team instead because it would cause Gibbs more pain. He learned the hard way that you do not mess with team Gibbs.
- Ari originally was going to shoot McGee, but when someone else fired at McGee Ari ended up missing; McGee went for cover and out of Ari's line of sight, so he decided to shoot Kate instead. Gibbs was never intended to be the target that time. It is later stated that Ari had researched Gibbs, and deliberately went after the women Gibbs worked with to remind him of the deaths of his first wife, Shannon, and his daughter, Kelly.
- He then tries to go after Abby, barely missing (it is debatable on whether missing was intentional).
- Supernatural: The killing of Jessica by the yellow-eyed demon is this all over. And their Mum. As it turns out, Azazel did this with several kids, in order to make them more likely to open a gate to Hell.
- It's yet to be seen whether the revenge part is going to apply to Ellen and Jo Harvelle. Slacktivist has weighed in on the subject.
- Half the male characters in Supernatural have had a woman Stuffed In The Fridge at some point. And no, Ellen and Jo didn't even come up when they finally took the devil down. But given the circumstances, this is perfectly understandable.
- It's yet to be seen whether the revenge part is going to apply to Ellen and Jo Harvelle. Slacktivist has weighed in on the subject.
- Done by Moffat in the pilot of Airwolf. Whether pissing off Stringfellow Hawke was the intent or not, it certainly had that effect, leaving Moffat with a life expectancy only slightly longer than the series Theme Tune.
- The Wire season one brings us Omar's boyfriend Brandon Wright displayed on the hood of a car in the projects.
McNulty: Jesus, they must have killed this kid four or five times.
- And this isn't even the full reckoning of his injuries: he's also left with only one eye, two cracked forearms and several broken fingers, according to later exposition.
- In Burn Notice, Michael sometimes invokes this trope when he needs to convince the target that his persona of the week is a Complete Monster who gets off on this sort of thing. Since it's an illusion and the "victim" is either Fiona or his current client, the dirty deed is merely implied rather than shown explicitly.
- In The Mentalist, Jane's wife and child are this. They don't even have names.
- In episode 3.02 (Cackle-Bladder Blood) we find out that their names are Angela Ruskin Jane and Charlotte Anne Jane.
[Big Bad's note on Jane's bedroom door]: If you were really psychic, you wouldn't need to open this door to find out what I've done to your lovely wife and daughter . . .
- Literally, on an episode of the obscure 1990's series One West Waikiki, starring Cheryl Ladd. In this instance, a mobster's girlfriend was accidentally shot by his ex-mistress (who then got killed herself in a hit-and-run accident with an unmarked police car). Later on in the episode, the mobster's henchman, trying to frighten another character into compliance, shows him the dead body of the first woman, stuffed inside a refrigerator in the mobster's mansion.
- Criminal Minds had an especially dark example, where a man gets Forced to Watch as thugs murder his pregnant fiancé, before beating him and leaving him for dead. Instead of making him just more motivated or somewhat darker, it causes an outright psychotic break, resulting in him running around killing the perps in horrendously violent ways.
- In this case the man was also a relatively famous up and coming comic book artist/writer and after his break he switched to a Darker and Edgier new comic depicting his violent revenge on the thugs.
- It also has another example in "100", when the Reaper/George Foyet kills Haley Hotchner. Foyet, after stabbing Hotch and spending months stalking him and his family, lures Haley and Jack out from protective custody, and forces her to say goodbye to Hotch over the phone. He draws it out, taunting Hotch and telling him he's going to kill his son as soon as he's done with Haley. He shoots Haley, leaving her body on the floor of the Hotchner's old bedroom. Hotch goes off the rails, beating Foyet to death with his bare hands. Haley's death is absolutely a fridging, done explicitly to cause Hotch pain and further used within the narrative to provide more angst for Hotch's decision about whether or not to leave the BAU.
- Season 7 has a particularly blatant example of this when Rossi's first ex-wife reappears in one episode, and commits suicide at the end of the next episode in order to avoid the painful degeneration and death she would have faced from ALS. Her second episode ends on a shot of her grave and, for added angst, she's buried next to her and Rossi's stillborn son.
- True Blood has an instance of this when Eggs is killed by Jason at the end of the second season. With very little development, Eggs seems to have been created mostly to develop Tara, and be killed later to leave her emotionally broken.
- Ricardo Tubbs' love interest (and the mother of his child) Angelina on Miami Vice. After disappearing for almost two seasons, she returns to rekindle her relationship with Tubbs - as well as introduce him to his son (which she gave birth to after he left Cuba in "Calderone's Return, Part II"). Soon after she returns, she's kidnapped by her brother (the new drug kingpin in Cuba), is tied to the steering wheel of a limousine that's rigged to blow if she escapes, and forced to watch as her child is taken from her and replaced with a fake one to fool Tubbs. Then, just as it looks like Crockett and Tubbs have defeated the Calderone's, Angelina accidentally(?) triggers the bomb in the limo, killing her and leaving Tubbs grief-stricken.
- Warehouse 13 pulls this trope At the end of season 3,when one of the characters goes undercover but is killed by the people he was infiltrating and left for the rest of the team to find ,one of which was his best friend.
- Boardwalk Empire: Manny shows up at Jimmy's home to kill him in revenge for attempting to have him murdered, but instead ends up shooting Angela's lover, Louise. He is at first stunned, but then seeing the opportunity to Break the Haughty in the cruelest way ever, he shoots Angela as well, despite her protests that she has a child, telling her "your husband did this to you."
- CSI: NY, where the team found their former colleague Aiden as a charred body, though they only knew it was her after reconstruction.
- The death of Alisha in Misfits. Completely random to a Dropped a Bridge On Her degree, and solely to drive Simon to go back in time to his death. Particularly annoying as it's exactly the kind of regressive superhero comic plot cliche the show usually mocks.
- Punky Brewster: Subverted, "Cherie Lifesaver", a game of hide and seek goes wrong when Cherie hides in the old-refrigerator that was meant for the Salvation Army. Punky had learned CPR that day and uses the training to save Cherie.
- Music writer Tom Ewing accused Kenny Rogers's "Coward of the County" of this.
Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends
- This trope is Older Than Feudalism, appearing in the oldest book of The Bible. The book of Job starts off with Satan killing Job's children in order to get a response out of Job.
- A character with the Signature Move "Sacrificial Buddy" from Hong Kong Action Theatre has an Extra in every one of their movies who is a friend or relative of the role they play, whose main purpose is to get killed by the bad guys (usually in this fashion) and give the role some serious motivation for revenge.
- Aleena the Cleric's fate in the "red box" version of Dungeons & Dragons was some 1980s gamers' first introduction to fridge-stuffing.
- In the Civilization 4 mod Fall From Heaven, Einion Logos' flavor text describes him returning from making a truce with the demon civilization, only to find his wife brutally murdered - a ploy by the demons to incite him into breaking the truce right out of the gate. Even worse, Word of Kael says that it was another human civ (the Amurites) that did it, not the Infernals. It only looked like the demons did it so that Einion would take the Amurites' side against the infernals.
- The death of Hildi towards the end of Dead to Rights. Stuffed through a window, to be precise. In fact, this happens with nearly every female character Jack encounters, save for one in the Retribution reboot.
- The death of Lucien Lachance in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.
- Before your first mission on the Dread Isle in Fire Emblem: The Sword of Flame, Matthew's love interest Leila, whom is spying on the enemy organization is not only found dead, but is left in such a way that the main characters don't realize this and try talking to her before realizing what has happened.
- An interesting use in this case as Matthew is the one most affected by this rather than one of the three main characters, and asks the next mission off to pay her proper respects. You are not forced to, but conversation elements would be different based on whether you brought him along on the next mission or not, having a similar effect to Player Punch only more indirect.
- Not only that, but you can make Matthew get support conversations with Jaffar, where he brutally calls him out. With very sad results.
- In the same game, Limstella, The Dragon kills whichever Reed brother you defeated by sucking the life out of him. The Reed brother you didn't fight finds their corpse, and blames Eliwood and pals for killing his brother.
- In Evil Dead, the ladies in Ash's life never fared too well in the movies, but hey; at least one of 'em survived those. They get it much, much worse in the games.
- Your entire party in Planescape: Torment. In the best ending, though, the Nameless One resurrects them.
- Deionarra was killed specifically to become a ghost so she could provide inside information. The one who made her that way? YOU.
- The murder of Harry Mason in Silent Hill 3, motivating Heather to seek revenge against Claudia. Also done to "fill her heart with hatred" to nurture the demon god she is pregnant with. And then there's Vincent's death near the end of the game, which nearly pushes her over the edge into birthing the God.
- One of the hauntings in The Room is a dead cat in Henry's fridge.
- Spirit in Wing Commander II gets a Stupid Sacrifice when her fighter is damaged and rather than eject, she kamikazes into the Heaven's Gate station. Her death is not brought up afterward, except in a passing reference by Jazz, who wanted revenge on the Tiger's Claw crew for the death of his brother, and her death seems to exist to facilitate Maverick and Angel getting together. In Wing Commander III, Angel gets killed off as soon as she's introduced, although the player doesn't learn of her death until much later, and this sets up the last mission as being one for revenge.
- In the first Phantasy Star game, Nero dies, which spurs Alis on her adventure to begin with. Alys' death in the fourth game is very obviously for the development of Chaz's character more than anything else, but was handled extremely well, substituting gruesome violence for a slow, suffering demise, and punctuated with a huge Tear Jerker death scene.
- The original Double Dragon was about Billy and Jimmy Lee's quest to save their lady-friend Marian from the clutches of the Black Warriors gang. In the sequel, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, the same girl is brutally gunned down by the gang's leader, leaving our heroes with the duty of avenging her death instead.
- Anton in Guild Wars gave information to the Charr in exchange for the safety of his wife and his village. It worked out exactly like you think it did, and the quests to gain him as a hero in Eye of the North have you helping him track down the Charr he made the deal with.
- In The Godfather, Aldo's Love Interest Frankie Malone gets abducted and killed by Tattaglia goons, complete with a Hope Spot when we briefly think she's okay... Nope.
- In Dantes Inferno the hero returns home to a scene right out of the aforementioned film Gladiator, thus setting up the entire rest of the game.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, a gang member was literally stuffed in a fridge.
- And either Roman or Kate at the end.
- Jenny in game based on The Darkness.
- Amie's death in the prologue of Neverwinter Nights 2 is arguably there just to piss the player character off.
- Galerians Rion's parents. Actually most of his life. But specifically his mother, who he literally finds in the fridge.
- In the beginning of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle some goons kill Travis' best friend, Bishop Sidax, and toss his head in a paper bag through Travis' window into his bedroom.
- Subverted in the cutscene before the Final Boss. Travis is presented with what appears to be the severed heads of his girlfriend Sylvia, his half-brother Henry, and fellow assassin/spurned love interest Shinobu in an attempt to demoralize him before the fight. Halfway through the first phase of the fight, Henry bursts through the window and saves Travis's life before explaining to a surprised Travis that the heads were just replicas. Sylvia makes a reappearance at the end of the fight, when she saves Travis from falling to his death in the aftermath of the struggle. Shinobu doesn't make an reappearance or get even a passing mention in the epilogue, but considering Henry's and Sylvia's deaths were faked, it's safe to assume that her's was as well.
- In the second chapter of Return to Krondor, William's girlfriend Talia is lying on the floor bleeding in her father's bar. She dies surrounded by James, Jazhara and William. Apparently, Big Bad Bear raped her and then fatally wounded her.
- The death of Leandra Hawke, the player character's mother in Dragon Age II in the middle of the second act of the game is one.
- In Police Quest: Open Season, a severed head is found in the Big Bad's fridge.
- In Hatoful Boyfriend, this can happen to the player character.
- Final Fantasy VII has Aerith. Interviews with the developers claimed that Cloud, Barrett and Aerith (the first three main characters that were created before the rest were added) were all candidates to be killed off. Since Cloud was the main character and it would be "too obvious" if it were Barrett to make the last stand, they decided to have Aerith murdered so that her death could offend players and motivate Cloud, which seemed "more natural and realistic."
- Completely subverted, with a Lampshade Hanging thrown in for good measure in this Super Stupor strip.
- The Green Lantern case was lampshaded in this Cass Toons strip.
- Almost everyone in the Ciem trilogy. But Erin Flippo is especially Egregious. Doesn't help it's made with The Sims, and keeping characters alive too long encourages file corruption when they're moved from set to set.
- One humorous scene from Eight Bit Theater:
Ranger: Honey, I'm home. Apparently. Hmm, a note... covered in blood, hair, and brain.
—Sarda: He went home. Forever.
- Homestuck has several Ensemble Darkhorse characters killed off rather suddenly to show the stakes of Sburb, as well as a few just plain Dropped a Bridge on Him deaths to clear out the massive Cast Herd. Hussie has lampshaded both.
- Subverted twice in Sluggy Freelance.
- First there was when Horribus killed Alt-Zoe. Torg is all geared up to strike Horribus down, but in the end chooses to pass on revenge in order to Save the World instead.
- Then there was when Dr. Schlock ordered Feng's death. Everyone expected Oasis to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge after that, not stopping until she killed Doc Schlock and everyone who worked for him. Instead she giggles and runs off to get married. Oasis is not a well person.
- Lampshaded in the superhero-Deconstruction Heroes.inc, when a retired superhero tells his wife who was just attacked to stay 'home', because he thinks the attack was meant to get at him. His wife furiously replies that she won't be his 'private "Woman in the fridge".
- The B Movie Comic: Mopey pulls this to provide encouragement to Biff here.
- Blur the Lines subverts this trope. 
- This Exterminatus Now comic combines this trope with Goldilocks, when their boss (an anthropomorphic bear) is royally pissed with the protagonists' latest screwup.
- Octopus Pie heavily exaggerates this, although non-canonically in their 2010 Halloween story arc: Greg is cut apart and his body parts self-reportedly stuffed into multiple cupboards throughout the house. Hannah eventually comes across this sight, and has such a violent physical reaction to it she ends up dying as well... It's a comedy arc. Link
- Jane, a fairly minor character from Our Little Adventure was unceremoniously stuffed naked and bloody in a tree trunk by Umbria/Zaedalkaah. It would be terrible for Jason and Trevoricus if they ever found her like that.
- This occurs in Survival of the Fittest with the death of Adam Dodd's girlfriend, Amanda Jones, at the hands of Cody Jenson. Arguably, it was overshadowed by the simultaneous death (and rape) of Madelaine Shirohara.
- This fueled the creation of Women in Refrigerators, a protest site by comic-fan-turned-writer Gail Simone, who pointed out that these roles are not only almost always applied to female characters but to lead characters who happen to be female. A healthy amount of debate has risen up about whether the list is good evidence or not, but the meme, at least, lives on. BTW, if you have an opinion on the topic, please keep it to the discussion page.
- See the "Ode to Aeris." Also known as "Patron Saint of wannabe girlfriends that get dumped The Hard Way."
- This on LJ fanficrants.
- Parodied in The Nostalgia Chick's Dark Nella Saga. Dark Nella captures Lindsay in parts 1 and 2 and stuffs her (alive) in a conveniently empty fridge. She manages to get out both times, of course.
- The Hangman does this to Aelia, Gaven's guide, during the Third Night of The Tale of the Exile by yanking her up a building and strangling her while Gaven is speaking to her, solely to spook Gaven into running into a trap set by Despair.
- Samantha from We're Alive is killed on the floor of the Arena by a sadistic zombie who "likes to play with his food." We never actually hear her dying but can only imagine how gruesome it was and it leaves Datu scarred from then on.
- In an episode of Samurai Jack assassin robots destroy several villages and kill their inhabitants (surprisingly unsettling, considering the only onscreen victims are robots) solely to draw the title character to them. Probably the horrific brutality with which it's done, which had they been human would have bumped up the rating two or three notches.
- This has happened at least twice in Transformers Animated, first to Ratchet—while Arcee didn't actually die, having your memory completely wiped is still pretty bad. Next episode we find out that Optimus' friend (and Sentinel's implied girlfriend) Elita was eaten alive by giant spiders. Or so they thought. But as Blackarachnia, she fared little better, being a Faux Action Girl who wound up the Damsel in Distress every time she appeared.
- Futurama did a jokingly literal version of this in "Jurassic Bark". When Fry's dog is annoying the hung-over cryogenicist, he turns to his partner and tells him to freeze the dog until the owner arrives. The partner claims that he can't solve all his problems by freezing him, to which the cryogenicist points out the company motto: "You can solve all your problems by freezing them." The camera then pans to a housewife stuck in one of the tubes, frozen in mid-nag.
- The second season of Young Justice has been doing this after a five-year Time Skip.
- Beast Boy is now on the Young Justice team after getting his superhero origin last season. But the episode "Earthlings" reveals through flashbacks and dialogue that his mother, who shared his original spotlight episode, was killed in an accident that was really orchestrated by supervillains. This traumatized Beast Boy deeply. But he is an orphan in the comics, so his mom was sadly Doomed by Canon.
- In the episode "Alienated", we learn that Aqualad now works for the bad guys partly because of the death of Aquagirl. She previously appeared in the first season as a close friend he had unrequited love for. (The other reason was discovering his real father was a supervillain and feeling betrayed by everyone.) Unlike with Beast Boy's flashback, this has only been conveyed through dialogue (so far, with only three season 2 episodes). The show's version of Aqualad was also created for the show so there's no comics canon to fall back to. (Except perhaps that Aquagirl did die during the Crisis on Infinite Earths in the Eighties.)
- In the Wakfu special "Goultard the Barbarian", the villain Katar kidnapped and murdered Goultard's wife and children just to piss him off. Katar wanted to make Goultard look like a more appetizing host for the parasitic rage eating demon inside him. It worked, but Katar only got to enjoy a few seconds of freedom before Goultard finished him off.
- Exaggerated and parodied 3 times in The Boondocks episode "It's Goin Down". Jack Flowers's 3 successive girlfriends are decapitated, pushed off a skyscraper and then exploded in midair, and tied to and fired from a cross-town rocket then blown up. All three are lampshaded, ending with "what kind of fucked up, Wile E Coyote and The Road Runner shit is that?".