Too Good for This Sinful Earth

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.

Don McLean, "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)"

The good die young, or so authors would have us believe.

A popular and old (and perhaps outdated but overused) trope to justify Kill the Cutie. Basically, in this trope, if there is a child of extraordinary beauty, goodness and innocence in the story, he or she will invariably die in as Anvilicious a manner as possible. If practical, the death will be slow, torturous and lingering (tuberculosis or other disease was a particular favorite in the 19th Century), giving the child a chance to bid farewell to everyone she loved in a long, drawn-out death scene. Sometimes she gets to speak a few last words to hammer in An Aesop relevant to the larger plot at hand. After she's breathed her last, her loss is mourned by all who knew her—in particularly extreme cases even the Big Bad will take a moment to reflect on it—and may serve to re-energize tired or disillusioned heroes to fight on for her cause.

The trope name Too Good for This Sinful Earth comes from a frequent comment made at the subsequent funeral, that the poor departed child was too good for this sinful earth, and thus was called home to Heaven by a merciful God.

The child was almost certainly an Ill Girl, and frequently a Waif Prophet.

Often a form of Death by Newbery Medal (a major reason why this trope still lives on and in many people's minds why this trope has yet to be really discredited, or at least is still used). Needless to say, in the hands of an inexperienced author, this trope is prone to being used badly.

The Unfavorite is often the surviving child. Indeed, Parental Favoritism may not even really kick in until the Favorite is dead.

This trope often overlaps with What Measure Is a Non-Human?, I Just Want to Be Normal, Pinocchio Syndrome, and some variant of Gentle Giant, in characters that are created by Mad Science or even regular science. In this type of story, the artificial creature is too innocent for this sinful Earth, and is at risk of being corrupted by it. Sometimes, instead of dying, the "monster" chooses voluntary exile.

Compare with Dead Little Sister and Diabolus Ex Machina. Littlest Cancer Patient could be considered the modern take of this trope, but with a slight hope of healing and living for the affected kid (and also more likely to be played for comedy). Compare with Shoo Out the Clowns, in which the lighthearted and comic-relief characters are taken or killed off the story to show that things have gotten serious. Contrast Like You Would Really Do It.

See Purity Sue for the kind of character who most often gets this treatment. Also see Bury Your Gays to see how this is applied to homosexuals.

Not to be confused with the Knight Templar, who sees himself as "too good", and his duty as being to wipe away all the "sin" by any means possible.

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

Examples of Too Good for This Sinful Earth include:

Anime and Manga

  • AIR does this with both Misuzu Kamio and Michiru. And it does this very, very well.
  • Same in Clannad for Fuko, Nagisa and Ushio. Thankfully, they got better.
  • Some would argue for Neon Genesis Evangelion's Kaworu.
  • The Dauphin in Rose of Versailles died before the Revolution started.
  • Sayo aka Magdaria from Rurouni Kenshin.
  • Rubina from UFO Robo Grendizer -one of the Mazinger Z sequels-. All she ever wanted was people stopped killing each other and being happy with the man she loved. What she got for her efforts in stopping the war and try to convince everybody to forgive, forget and rebuild? She got killed.
  • Potentially Shirley from Code Geass, depending on how much you like her and what you make of the picture of her as an angel that appears in the last credits.
    • Or Euphemia. It was her naivete and goodwill that led her to do something that led to the political need to meet with the man who could control people's minds, which ultimately led to her death.
  • Susannah Julia Von Wincott from Kyo Kara Maoh falls under this trope. Can almost be called The Messiah. It is said that she was too pure for the Shoushu, the Big Bad of the show, to possess her. Thus, making Yuuri the last hope. She sacrificed her life trying to help injured soldiers.
  • Ace's death in One Piece. While not having a happy childhood, with nearly everyone unknowingly telling him that his father Gold Roger was a cruel, unsympathetic bastard and with the World Government claiming that a child of Gold Roger's didn't deserve to live, this character was a relatively friendly, polite and all-round nice person.
  • Haku of Naruto was incredibly selfless and kind. His death to protect Zabuza was what spurred the man into his Self-Destructive Charge and revealed the humanity he had long since buried. And then, as if the double-death scene wasn't poignant enough, it snowed.
  • Princess Iria from So Ra No Wo To. She brought hope to everyone who knew her, and died trying to save a kid.
  • Nina Tucker and Alexander from Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Android 16 from Dragonball Z. If he didn't have a soul when Dr. Gero built him, he would most likely have earned one by the time Cell brutally murdered him.
  • Hokuto is afraid something like this will happen to her brother Subaru in Tokyo Babylon. Given what happened, this trope might have been more merciful.
  • Menma from Ano Hana could be seen as this, having been a painfully-cute Genki Girl who always put others before herself when she one day drowned at the age of ten.
  • Enrica, Angelica, and now Henrietta have all met this fate by this point in Gunslinger Girl.
  • Played upon in Gestalt. Ohri, the resident Cute Mute and Manic Pixie Dream Girl starts as a slave girl, offered to Oliver, the main character. As Oliver flatly refuses to accept her (as he's staunchly opposed to slavery), Ohri, willing to follow him, describes this trope point-by-point, telling him that being too cute and helpless to thrive in a world so sinful to accept slavery, she would be eventually sold to someone else, without Oliver's morality, and die in the most Anvilicious manner possible. Oliver finally relents, and accepts her as one of the True Companions.
  • Hare in episode 15 of Guilty Crown. When a group of students fear they'll be allowed to die because their voids aren't useful enough, they go out to try and get more vaccine from a hospital and prove they aren't useless. Shu and Hare head out to stop them so they won't get killed pointlessly. Before Shu can get them to listen to reason, they are found and attacked by the Antibodies. Souta, having been among the group going to the hospital, asks Hare to use her void in order to "heal" a car so they can escape. She gets targeted by Daryl, Shu sees this, and he dives to save her. They both get caught in an explosion and get badly hurt. Hare chooses to use her void to heal Shu while she's bleeding out of her stomach and talks about a picture book she read once about a "kind king" who tries to make everyone happy, but his kindness ends up ruining his kingdom and angering his people. she says she liked him despite this, and loved Shu because he was similarly kind to a fault. she then dies and starts to crystallize, only completely disappearing after Shu wakes up to see her dead body. What helps prove how good she is is that the sight of her fading from existence causes Shu's worst Heroic BSOD yet, sends him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and quite possibly (at time of writing) led to a Start of Darkness in Shu as he seems to lose all hope and kindness.
  • Shouyo-sensei in Gintama is shown in flashbacks as an oasis of kindness, patience and wisdom for his students during the Amanto war. He is perhaps the only purely gentle and caring character without any bizarre personality defects in the series. His death is a driving motivation for the serious storylines, particularly how his students responded to it: Gintoki accepts the sinful earth that killed his teacher and protects it anyway; Takasugi thinks an earth so sinful should only be destroyed completely.

Comic Books

  • The storyline in the comic Lenore where the eponymous character dies (again) makes reference to this trope in its opening. This is intended to be ironic, as the title character has been dead for 100 years, has a wonky eye, is childish, has hair like straw, and tends to directly cause the deaths of nearly every person or animal she encounters—the closing in fact seems to indicate that her death is the opposite of this trope, with nature finally getting around to fixing a mistake.
  • Nate Morgan in Sonic the Hedgehog.

Fan Works

  • In Connecting the Dots, a Naruto/Justice League crossover, there's a benign, saintly old minister named Norman McCay who advises Hinata and consoles Sasuke. Guess what happens to him.


Johnny: Everyone betrayed me! I'm fed up with this wahruld!

  • The film Powder (not to be confused with the video game), in which the main character is the kind hearted, perfect, Ambiguously Gay, next step in human evolution that is Too Good for This Sinful Earth, so his friends cheer him on as he dies and leaves this awful place.
    • It's not entirely clear that he dies. He runs into a stormy field, gets struck by lightning, and disappears in a blinding flash of light.
  • Edward Scissorhands is an example of the "artificial being" variant.
  • As are many film depictions of Frankenstein's monster.
  • The title character in Starman is an alien who is Too Good for This Sinful Earth. Except that instead of dying, he leaves Earth on a spaceship.
  • Inverted Trope in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. The human world is sinful, but David, rather than dying, gets trapped and frozen underwater—and winds up outlasting the human world, eventually awakening to find it long gone.
  • Any one of the Billy Jack films will roll out a cartload of Anvilicious dead Native Americans, minorities, white hippies and disabled children. All victims of the horde of rednecks that inevitably end up surrounding their peaceful little commune.
  • Simon Birch
  • Sister Agnes in Agnes of God surmises that her immaculately-conceived (?) daughter is this.
  • Ofelia in Pans Labyrinth who refused to hurt her baby brother and decided to face the wrath of her evil stepfather who coldly shoots her in the stomach.
  • Subverted by Alice in Super 8. She's practically a saint compared to her troubled father, and she gets swept up by the alien just as the father tries to apologize to her for being cold to her. In the end, her friends save her from becoming an item on the alien's menu, and she lives to reconcile with her now-redeemed father, who had reconciled with Joey's father after her capture.
  • A Soviet film The Property of Republic (Достояние республики) has The Marquis (played by Andrei Mironov), a former fencing teacher for the nobility. He's adventurous, kind and witty, a hopeless romantic at heart and so out of place in the 1920s Soviet Russia that he inevitably ends sacrificing himself.
  • Neil Perry in Dead Poets Society.


  • One of the best-known examples is Evangeline St. Clare, alias Little Eva, of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • Elizabeth "Beth" March of Little Women is right behind.
    • Also from Alcott is Ed from Jack and Jill. He dies from typhoid because he's basically a male, less-known Beth and too good and pure for the world.
  • Simon from The Lord of the Flies is the purest of the boys, who is senselessly murdered by the others. Rather brutally subverted, however, in that Ralph is the only one of the group who actually cares... and aside from Piggy, seems to be the only one who notices, or at least, be willing to admit noticing.
    • Simon was a full-fledged Christ figure. Seriously, there have been professional literary critics who've written essays on this very point.
  • The Little Prince.
  • The title character of "The Little Match Girl" by Hans Christian Andersen.
  • Ill Girl Helen Burns, Jane's best friend in Jane Eyre, dies of tuberculosis at the same time a typhoid epidemic kills many girls in the Boarding School of Horrors.
  • John Coffey of the book and movie The Green Mile is a stellar example. Although not a child, he is a childlike Gentle Giant on death row for a crime he couldn't reasonably have committed, with magical healing powers and rather obvious significant initials.
  • The book and movie Pay It Forward, where the little boy at the story's center is killed while performing his third and final good deed... and is all but canonized by everyone else in the story.
  • Referenced in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, as a possible reason why the pequeninos are ritually killing the humans that did them most good.
  • Remedios "The Beauty" Buendia from One Hundred Years of Solitude.(from The Other Wiki: "She rejects clothing and beauty, sewing a cassock as her only clothing, and shaving her feet-long hair to not have to comb it. Ironically, it is her touch with base human instinct that perpetuates her as an object of lust for more men, whom she treats with complete innocence and no reservations. Too beautiful and, arguably, too wise for the world, Remedios ascends into the sky one morning, while folding laundry."... while Fernanda watches horrified as she is taking the clean sheets away with her.
  • Parodied in Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: when the eponymous character is believed to be dead, many in the funeral service use variations of the titular phrase... even though all of them had previously declared Tom to be a little devil.
    • From Twain's drafted-but-never-quite-finished Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy:
  • Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Except that, at the end of the story, Scrooge's knowledge of the future allows him to prevent Tniny Tim's death.
    • Played straight with Scrooge's Dead Little Sister Fan.
    • Also from Dickens, Little Nell Trent from The Old Curiosity Shop exemplifies the Victorian fascination with this trope. Oscar Wilde's opinion on the trope in general and Little Nell in particular was that "one must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing."
      • The Doctor agrees with Wilde; in "The Unquiet Dead", he tells Dickens that he found Little Nell's death hilarious.
      • Dickens probably did it on purpose as a Take That to his fans, who were almost fanatic about it—they arranged prayer groups for Little Nell, continuously sent of letters begging him not to kill her (allegedly going so far as to offer their own children to save her), etc. According to one source (a friend/colleague), Dickens was reading some of them, turned to him with the most malicious look on his face, and said (roughly) "I'm going to kill off Little Nell."
      • Simon Callow claims in his one-man stage show about Dickens that one fan, on first reading it on a train, threw his copy out of the window and shouted, "He should not have killed her!"
  • In the Casteel books by V. C. Andrews, Leigh (known as "Angel") suffers a tragic life and is eventually raped by her stepfather. She succumbs to Death by Childbirth at the tender age of just 14. By the same author, the saintly Laura Logan from Music in the Night, Gabriel(le) Landry in Tarnished Gold, and Ill Girl Eugenia Booth in Darkest Hour are also examples. Heaven and Dawn, who both die in tragic accidents in their early to mid-30s, may also count.
    • A variant in the Gemini series: the rather bratty and annoying Noble does not fit the usual image of this trope, but his mother certainly considers that he does, and when he dies suddenly she forces his twin sister, Celeste to dress as a boy and "replace" him.
  • David Eddings's Elenium series gave us a minor character named Sir Parasim, a young knight stated by the (male) main character to be beautiful, with a singing voice to match. The words "clear" and "pure" are used to describe him more than once. Turns out, he's the youngest of 12 knights destined to give their lives to help keep the Queen of the kingdom alive. You know the rest...
    • Heavily foreshadowed by Eddings, who has his characters actually discuss Parasim with language like "He's too good for this world" and "God will probably call him home very soon.". It's actually a comfort to Sparhawk when he finds out (after the fact) that Parasim's death was in a good cause.
  • In Eddings's Belgariad series there is mentioned (very briefly) to be a member of the good guy army who is a young, brain-damaged lad with a transcendent musical talent, playing songs of exquisite beauty. He sits and plays one of the most lovely songs the world had ever heard during a battle and is killed by an enemy ignoring it. This is presented as an indication of how cruel war is.
  • Georgiana, from Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birth-Mark had a birthmark on her cheek. When her Mad Scientist husband eventually removes it, she dies, going directly to heaven since she has no other flaws separating her from being an angel. Because Science Is Bad.
  • Deconstructed in The Scarlet Letter: The congregation believes this is the reason that Dimmesdale's health is declining, but the actual reason is his inner torment over his secret sin.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, for all its Black and Black Morality, is fond of this one, especially when it comes to the House of Stark. Poor Ned and Bran.
  • Subverted Trope in the Brother Cadfael novel A Morbid Taste for Bones. At the end, the monks assume that this is what has happened to the beautiful and saintly Brother Columbanus. In fact, Columbanus was a murderer, and after his Karmic Death Cadfael fakes his assumption into Heaven to stop the other monks asking awkward questions.
  • Melanie from Gone with the Wind is yet another example.
  • Yalith in Madeleine L'Engle's Many Waters is a possible example, when she is whisked away by God to avoid death by the Flood.
  • Diamond in George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind.
  • The "twist" death of Willow in Handle With Care has strong overtones of this - several reviews have mentioned that the character was so wise and saintly that the story felt unrealistic.
  • Subverted in Jerome's Three Men in a Boat with the narrator's dog Monmorancy. When the narrator first got the dog, he was sure it was so good and fragile it would die shortly... until he witnessed the fox-terrier's aggressive nature.
  • Briana in The Dead and The Gone, a book about an asteroid hitting the moon. She gets adult-onset asthma due to the ash in the air from volcanoes. She never stops believing that her parents are alive, despite Alex and Julie's warnings, and prays for everyone. One day, when the electricity comes back on, she goes down to their old basement apartment to write her parents a letter. As she is going back up, the power goes out and she dies in the elevator. Alex and Julie find her 3 days later.
  • The poem "Ye xu" ("Perhaps") by Chinese poet Wen Yi-duo, written as an elegy for his young son.

Perhaps you've tired from your cryings.
Perhaps, perhaps you need a sleep.
Perhaps, listening to the earthworms burrowing
The root-tips of young grass seeping water
Listening to the music of such
Is better than the curseful sound of humanity.

  • In Edith Pattou's East, the main character, Rose, was born to replace her dead older sister Elise, her mother's favorite child. In one of the sections Rose narrates: "Mother was always telling me about Elise--how good she was, how she always did as she was told, how she stayed close by, and what a great help she was to Mother in the kitchen."
  • John Grisham's The Testament: Rachel Lane, a beautiful, saintly missionary and long-lost daughter of tycoon Troy Phelan, dies of dengue fever and malaria in the penultimate chapter.
  • In Romantic literature there was a series of characters who committed suicide because they felt they were too sensitive or too idealistic for a crass, corrupt world—from Werther in 1774 to Delphine Gay de Girardin's Napoline in 1833, by which time it was just about a Discredited Trope.
  • Raamo in Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-Sky Trilogy. Even by Kindar standards, he is quiet, humble, and completely without a violent bone in his body. Snyder killed him off at the end of the trilogy...but then realized she made a mistake with that and inverted the trope with possibly the first canonical video game sequel to a book.
  • Joshua in Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels dies at the age of seven after a blow to the head during a vacation. He was not only a perfect little boy (incredibly intelligent, good at sports, insightful, said the darndest things, etc.) but didn't lose his cheerful disposition despite being kidnapped and almost murdered—his mother Jennifer was so desperate to prevent that that she asked a Mafia prince to do everything he could to rescue him, up to and including killing the kidnapper. Jennifer sees his ultimate demise as karmic payback for, during the aforementioned trip, spending a night with his father Adam (the boy was the product of an illicit affair).
  • The protagonists of The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas.
  • Invoked in In the Time of The Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (based on the true story of the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic). Mama says that she thought Patria was going to die at a young age because she was such a good child.
  • In the well known novel A Separate Peace, the main character Gene reflects on the death of his best friend Finny and comes to the conclusion that Finny had to die because he was too good hearted to be able to live during a war.
  • Almost literally played straight in Awakened in The House of Night series. Jack is killed by Darkness because Neferet needed to give Darkness a soul she could not taint (as a payment for trapping Kalona's soul). Later, when Nyx appears to the crowd at Jack's funeral, she tells his boyfriend Damien that he is one of the happiest souls she's known.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables series, Walter, the poetic, sensitive, whimsical second son of Anne and Gilbert is killed in action during World War I.
    • In Montgomery's other series, Emily of New Moon, there is a Murray cousin who died young. This trope is invoked, almost by name, and the young boy is described as being handsomer and more virtuous than anyone. Ever. So naturally, he had to die.
  • So many of the women from Poe's stories and poems. Poe himself wrote: "The death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world"-"The Philosophy of Composition" (published 1846)
  • Roy Meritt from Daemon. In Freedom Loki/Gragg muses that his idealism and nobility were too far at odds with the nature of the world.
  • Henry Darger's Story of the Vivian Girls includes a subplot about a turbulent, half-mad girl named Jenny, who is killed (in a weather disaster, naturally) at the very end of the story. She lingers for a time, saying lovely Little Eva-like goodbyes to everyone. Her final words (and the last words in the book) are Oh, I see God!...
  • In Death: Poor Marlena Kolchek. She was beautiful, innocent and pure. Unfortunately, a gambling syndicate that Roarke was in a rivalry with kidnapped her, and performed a torture murder on her that involved breaking her kneecaps and raping her. When they were done, they left her body on Roarke and Summerset's doorsteps. Her father Summerset wanted them punished, but the Inspector who was called in was a Dirty Cop in the syndicate's pocket, and he made sure the investigation led to nowhere. What a horrible thing to happen!
  • Clive Barker's Abarat: Princess Boa. Averted hard as of Absolute Midnight.
  • In The Castle in the Forest, Adolf Hitler's sweet youngest brother, Edmund, dies of an illness in childhood. His father takes it very hard.
  • In Someone Elses War, Otto is undeniably the kindest and most compassionate of the Child Soldiers. His offscreen death comes as a total shock later in the book.
  • Invoked in one of the stories (by Mercedes Lackey) of C. J. Cherryh's Merovingen Nights shared world—by someone who then set himself the task of averting it.

This boy--was good. That was the only way Wolfling could put it. Honest, and good. Small wonder Jane wanted him watched over. Wolfling had never known anyone he could have called good--
And--so Wolfling had often been told--the good die young.
Not this one, he swore angrily. Dammit, not this one!

Live-Action TV

Sir Humphrey: Bishops tend to lead long lives -- apparently the Lord isn't all that keen for them to join him.

  • In the Amazing Stories episode that apparently inspired The Green Mile, a death row inmate gains special healing powers, but is put to death anyway just so the episode can pack a dramatic punch. Said punch is somewhat lacking due to the inmate being played by Patrick Swayze.
  • In Heroes Season 3 Peter goes to the future and finds that Sylar is a waffle-making soccer dad with a four- or five-year-old son named Noah. As soon as you saw that sweet, innocent, and adorable kid, you knew he wouldn't make it to the end credits alive. Claire, Knox, and Daphne barge in, and Knox crushes Noah with furniture in a battle in Sylar's kitchen, after which Sylar literally explodes.
  • Deconstructed on an episode of Law and Order where a woman smothers her baby and then incinerates the body so the child won't have to live in this terrible world. Her defense lawyer then argues that it was the Will of God that she murder her baby.
  • Supernatural pokes fun at this trope in the episode "Tall Tales", with Dean exaggerating Sam's empathy in a recollection.

[to a guy Dean and Sam are interviewing about a case]
Sam: You brave little soldier. I acknowledge your pain. Come here. [hugs him] You're too precious for this world!

  • Chelsea Dawn Anderson, oldest sister of Deadliest Catch fisherman Jake Anderson:

Jake Anderson: She's in a better place, Mom. (chokes up) She's finally beautiful now. She can run.

  • Chris Miles from Skins fits this trope, although he's a rather odd choice for it: he does lots of drugs and has lots of sex. Not "sinless" by many people's standards. He's clearly meant as this by the show, though, when they take care to point out how he has so much more love in his heart than just about anyone and how he's an innocent Woobie who got repeatedly shit on by life. There's also his method of death; he dies due to an illness that has been plaguing him since childhood, and which previously claimed his brother's life.


  • The Priest has Nera, one of the fallen angels who serve Temozarela and the only genuinely good character in the entire series. She refuses to infect the village close to her caravan with the Dark Doctrine despite given the order to do so and in fact protects it from any harm. Nevertheless, the villagers mistake her as a witch, slaughter her friends, and hang her. Even then she refuses to spite people; when Temozarela himself appears to Nera as a vision and offers to free her if she declares her hatred against God, she tells him that despite everything Temozarela has done, deep down he still wants forgiveness from God and then camly accepts her fate.


Oh baby you're too pure
You're too pure for this wicked world
Your data's uncorrupted

And if you were with me tonight,
I'd sing to you just one more time.
A song for a heart so big,
God wouldn't let it live.

  • Very darkly played with in "Rum to Whiskey" by the Murder City Devils

She was the only decent thing
In a good for nothing town
She was the prettiest girl
In an ugly town
He must feel sorry I know
He hates sin
He switched from rum to whiskey
Bang, bang, he put her down

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Galahad of King Arthur's court. No sooner does this sinless, invincible young Christ figure achieve the Quest of the Grail than he is taken up to Heaven.
  • The Norse god Baldur already lived in heaven, but may be he was To Good For This Sinful Asgard. In any case, he was the best of the gods, so of course he died.
  • Older Than Feudalism: Kleobis and Biton in Greek Mythology.
  • In The Bible:
    • Enoch "walked with God, and was not, for God took him."
    • Jesus Christ Himself (He died for our sins, you know).
    • Elijah was too badass for this sinful earth. He was snatched up to heaven in a flaming chariot.
    • Numerous nameless individuals in Hebrews 11. "Of whom the world was not worthy..."
  • Ironically, (innocent children aside) anyone who was "too anything"—too beautiful, too wise, too wealthy—was sometimes thought to have made a Deal with the Devil.
  • Many a Christmas cantata performed in a church will, if not a specific example of an Ill Girl or Littlest Cancer Patient, somebody integral to the plot has to die for the sake of the plot.

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer 40,000, this is a common view of Sanguinius, Primarch of the Blood Angels. A man with a kind heart who genuinely believed in the goodness of others, he still tried to turn his brother Horus back from Chaos in their final battle and gave his life in a battle he knew he could not win, but still fought.
    • Though now non canon, the imperial guardsman Ollanius Pius was another such figure, standing between Horus and the Emperor with nothing more than a lasgun.


  • In Puccini's Opera Turandot, Liu does a Heroic Sacrifice, and everyone weeps for her, except for the titular ice princess (who hasn't had her "Shut Up" Kiss yet). Then the composer dies, leaving the ending to be written by Franco Alfano.
  • Rodrigo di Posa in Verdi's opera Don Carlo (not in Schiller's play) might be a male version of Liu, only with a different social status.
  • The Nurse's daughter in Romeo and Juliet: "Well, Susan is with God; /She was too good for me."
    • And, of course, Romeo and Juliet themselves.
  • From RENT: Angel Dumott Schunard. S/he is a talented, compassionate, cross-dressing (and homosexual) percussionist who wastes away from AIDS, which is depicted in the movie. Not only was s/he in a happy relationship with Collins, s/he is by far the most beloved person among characters and fans, despite a tendency towards paid dog-killing.
  • The Princes in the Tower, in Richard III. This is certainly justifiable from our point of view because Richard almost certainly had them killed, but in Richard's time there was no big outcry - people didn't sentimentalize childhood like they do now, and the average Englishman of Richard's time didn't care about the Princes' deaths as much as he did about the survival of his own children, which was more likely under the stable government Richard had set up.
    • IRL, he probably didn't do it. The evidence they've got at The Tower of London paints a pretty convincing case for Henry being the guy who did it.
      • That's a bit generous. He remains to most historians the most likely suspect, but there's nothing totally conclusive; Henry VII is a distant third as the most likely (#2 is Buckingham, to most people).
        • There are documents dealing with the princes' care dating after Richard died. This does seem to make him an unlikely suspect.
    • There is a contemporary diary from an Italian merchant living in London, who records that people were weeping because the princes had ceased to appear and they assumed they had been murdered.
  • Though it might fall more under Mentor Occupational Hazard, Abuela Claudia in In The Heights is probably the most selfless, good-hearted person in the entire barrio, and probably the most beloved person in the entire community. Guess what happens to her at the beginning of Act 2?
    • But she's not a completely straight example, in that she's an older woman to begin with (and what this means is that her death is more understandable than these other examples).
  • In Time and the Conways by JB Priestley, Act 2 is set nineteen years after the events of the first act and shows how the lives of all the Conways have completely fallen apart. Carol does not reappear, and we discover that she died of appendicitis at age eighteen - implied to be because she was too good and innocent to deserve the same fate as the rest of the family.

Video Games

  • In the Final Fantasy VII series, Aerith and Zack.
  • The Boss from MGS3. A warm hearted, kind and compassionate patriot through and through, but her country branded her as a traitor and left her to die on foreign soil just to save face.
  • Yumemi (or Reverie) in Planetarian, she better belongs to the heaven of robots... no, to the Heaven where Humans and Robots live together, since that's what she wished for.
  • Hinawa from Mother 3. It's all way too soon, and she barely got to be seen alive in a full chapter.
  • Leonhardt in Agarest Senki dies after three battles and is pretty much an all around Nice Guy. Of course, he gets better... technically...
  • Isara in Valkyria Chronicles, who then becomes Welkin's Dead Little Sister; unfailingly kind and forgiving, gentle and demure. Her death is more significant to the story and the development of the rest of the cast than her life.
  • Faize Sheifa Beleth from Star Ocean: The Last Hope, who actually becomes the Final Boss due to the amount of senseless death and destruction that he encounters throughout the course of the game.

Edge: "You were just too kind... kinder than anyone... anyone else. But... your kindness was too much for this universe..."

  • Lirum, Kaim and Sarah's daughter from Lost Odyssey. Thought to be dead by the main character for most of the first disc, then dies of a chronic illness roughly five minutes after he finds her and realises that this isn't the case - talk about a Player Punch...
  • Maria Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog. Her last wish to Shadow was to make sure that the inhibitants on Earth can have a chance to be happy.
  • The intelligent deathclaws of Vault 13, from Fallout 2. After visiting numerous places, most of which suck to varying degrees, you come upon a clan of what you've by then come to recognize as animals that are pretty much massive biological killing machines. Cue their leader greeting you in the entryway, and rather than charging you with a growl... he politely greets you and welcomes you. With words, of course. When you explore the vault, you see that amazingly there are humans living there, too. And they're all free to leave at any time[1] - yet choose not to, because they're quite happy there. The deathclaws see it as their duty to protect these people, in the same way that they would do so for any deathclaw of the clan. Oh, and once you do a fix on the Vault's computer, the above mentioned clan leader gratefully gives you the vault's G.E.C.K., which is the MacGuffin you've been searching for the whole game.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • Spoofed by The Simpsons when Smithers cradled an apparently dead Mr. Burns and cried he was too beautiful to die.
    • Even better, Smithers thought Burns drowned and screamed "Why do the good die so young?"
  • Also spoofed by Futurama, where Bender and every other robot on Earth is being tricked into getting deactivated. They are the cause of global warming, as it turns out. Bender, in a rare moment of altruism, is willing to die (for the turtles), and Fry claims that the world isn't good enough for him. Bender simply replies, "Not even close."
    • Not so rare. At least one other episode Bender explains his sympathy for turtles; just like the poor little reptiles, if he gets flipped on his back he can't get up. All those times Fry totally saw him get up when he was on his back? He was just enough on his side to manage.
    • That's from earlier in the same episode. His love of turtles doesn't come up before that.
  • King of the Hill when Buckley dies and causes Luanne to go a little crazy and lose faith in humanity's goodness.

Real Life

The following are people depicted in media (occasionally including news media) as this trope.

  • Wilt Chamberlain was the biggest and strongest basketball player of his generation, yet he never used his physical gifts to hurt other players. He supported women in the pursuit of athletic endeavours, donated millions to charity and had a lively, magnetic personality.
  • Alexander the Great, especially in the eyes of 19th century historians and academics
  • Martin Luther King Jr
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • This is the common image of Princess Diana. "Candle In The Wind" was rewritten for her.[2]
  • Karen Carpenter, considering her extremely unique vocal range, her battles with the media over her weight, and her heart failure.
  • Robert F. Kennedy (I shouted out, "Who killed the Kennedys?", When after all, It was you and me).
    • RFK said this about his brother John:

[famously quoted from Romeo and Juliet:]
[...] and when [he] shall die
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

  • Shiloh Jade Pepin: the -once- only person in the world living with mermaid syndrome. Mermaid syndrome occurs when a baby is born with the legs fused together like a mermaid's tail. Most such babies die within a few hours. There are two other girls besides Shiloh with this condition who survived infancy who were able to have their legs separated after very complex surgery. Shiloh's condition was so severe that surgery wasn't even an option. TLC ran a couple specials on her because of her remarkability and adorableness. She died at the age of ten of pneumonia. *Sniff*
  • Bumblebees. Really. They're incredibly nonaggressive, you can pat the things, and their biology is a marvel of nature. But they're becoming endangered for "unknown" reasons (probably largely due to declines of wildflower populations).
  • Ezekial Aikle's gravestone bears the epitaph "Only The Good Die Young." Ezekial Aikle was 102 years old when he died.
  • As a corollary, Nazi officers seem to live well into their eighties.
    • Case in point, Adolf Storms, who killed 58 forced laborers and died at age 90 before his trial.
  • Manatees and Seacows. These floating sacks of blubber are so docile that wild ones won't fight back if a scuba diver comes along and hugs them. They're also horribly vulnerable and at least one species of seacow has gone extinct from over-hunting.
  • American Revolution patriot Nathan Hale, who was hanged at the age of 21.
  • John Lennon
  • Beatrice Portinari believed by scholars to have been the inspiration for Beatrice a character in the Divine Comedy and in the game based off the book, The Other Wiki cites that Dante viewed her as the mortal representation of purity and virtue. She also died at age 24 where as Dante lived to be 54 so this may invoke Too Good for This Sinful Earth.
  • Bob Ross, painter and animal lover.
  • Judith Barsi
  • At least one whole website presents Michael Jackson as this.
  • Many people view Gandhi this way.
  • Heather O'Rourke
    • As well as her co-star in the first movie, Dominique Dunne, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend shortly after the release of the film.
  • Elisabeth Sladen
  • The Catholic Church has a slew of young saints who are this. St. Maria Goretti died in 1902 at age 12 fending off a rapist. She lived for a day or so, forgiving her attacker. Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two of the kids who saw the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, died of influenza compounded by self-imposed neglect ("sacrifices") at age ten (1919) and nine (1920) respectively. Jacinta was an especially good example of this; she lingered for over a year, quietly enduring Body Horror and preaching sermonettes to all and sundry.
  • Speaking of young saints, it's said that Oprah's favorite poet/prophet/inspirational figure Mattie Stepanek, who died at the age of 13 from cerebral palsy and was the only one of his equally-afflicted siblings to survive past the age of four, is on the path to sainthood.
  • This victim of the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels School fire.
  • Jim Henson
  • Whitney Houston
  1. except one man who openly wants to exterminate the deathclaws, despite all the obvious evidence that they are not evil (which he ignores)
  2. Whether or not this image is anything close to reality is widely open for debate.