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"A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises Honoring those who improve the species... by accidentally removing themselves from it!"
While I have common sense I rarely let it interfere with my actions, prefering to use it to analyse why I shouldn't have done what ever it is that I did to cause the most recent Darwin moment.
The Darwin Awards are a collection of stories of those that have given the best their DNA can offer to the gene pool. That is, they removed their DNA from the gene pool through actions (of their own devising) with such stupidity that the fact they can no longer breed is worth an award. It is worth noting that, although most of the winners remove themselves from the gene pool in a fatal manner, there are a precious few who manage to remove their ability to breed in a spectacularly stupid manner while still remaining alive (albeit... incomplete) afterwards.
Although internet-based, the Darwin Awards have released books detailing the "winners" of that year.
There are four categories:
- Darwin Award winners: Those killed or unable to reproduce. Further being classed as;
- Confirmed by Darwin: In reliable news sources.
- Unconfirmed by Darwin: Unable to find reliable sources however not proved to be false.
- Debunked by Darwin: A story previously thought to be true is found to be false.
Honorable MentionsAt Risk Survivors: Those that did their best to kill themselves yet somehow managed to survive.
- Urban Legends: Those stories believed to be true yet have no basis in reality.
- Personal Accounts: Members of the internet put forth their own personal stories with no other proof.
Finally, there was actually a film (The Darwin Awards) based off of some of the stories from this site. A few of the stories were also tested by the MythBusters (who, incidentally enough, made cameo appearances in the movie).
NOTE: People who take out innocents in the process of removing themselves from the gene pool are expressly disqualified from Darwin Awards consideration by the website. The same goes for people with mental disorders. Youths under the age of 16 are generally disqualified unless a majority of the youth's peers agree the action taken by the nominee was incredibly stupid.
- Acceptable Targets: Anyone who ends up on this website.
- Actually Pretty Funny: The main point of the Darwin Awards is that stupid self-induced accidental deaths and self-mutilations can be this. Yes, even for the mourning relatives and friends of the poor victims.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The excessive consumption of intoxicating beverages often plays a major role in these stories.
- A few of the books have had to include disclaimers explaining that this doesn't excuse you from winning a Darwin Award, since it was your decision to get drunk in the first place.
- Ballistic Discount: Subverted. The genius who decided to rob a gun store, H&J Leather & Firearms, fails miserably. The story was good enough that it also wound up on 1000 Ways to Die.
- This story has been embellished in some of the minor details, such as the number and calibre of bullets fired. The basic idea, that someone tried to rob a firearms store (with a marked police car parked outside and the officer - and other firearms customers - in the store) is true, as is this person's untimely demise at, predictably, gunpoint.
- Black Comedy, Cringe Comedy
- Black Comedy Rape: There are a few stories dealing with attempted rapes that went horribly, horribly wrong. Like the story of the woman who bit her assailant's balls off. And took off with them, and handed them in to the police, which meant her assailant was arrested when he checked into the hospital with a matching injury. The evidence proceedings for that case must have been interesting.
- Blue and Orange Morality: There is some internal controversy about how to deal with underage candidates and those with milder mental illness. This sometimes leads to selective disqualification of such candidates, even though their stupidity was entirely unexpected even taking into account their condition; anything else would upset the Moral Guardians too much. Which in turn can lead to Double Standards - e.g. adolescent girls appear to get more sympathy than adolescent boys. Not to talk about candidates who do have a mental illness, but where this is not known to the one who reports him/her.
- Bullying a Dragon
- But You Screw One Goat!: One of the winners who was left alive but unable to reproduce ended up that way by attempting to have sex with a porcupine.
- The Cameo: The Darwin Awards movie boasts cameos by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman as well as Metallica.
- Chainsaw Good: See Off with His Head and Testosterone Poisoning.
- Crosses The Line Twice: Normally, most people don't find others' deaths funny. Except in those cases where somebody managed to die in a really unusual and stupid way. That said, the winners managed to Cross The Line Twice in many people's heads... unintentionally.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Most accounts are this mixed with a healthy smattering of Undignified Death.
- Death as Comedy
- Didn't Think This Through: Obviously a common problem.
- Don't Try This At Home: Many Darwin Award winners have died attempting to re-enact things they saw on TV.
- Draft Dodging: Tales of those killed or crippled while attempting to inflict a minor injury to avoid military service include a farmhand kicked in the head by a draught horse, and a man who had his arm bitten off by a lion.
- Epic Fail
- Eskimos Aren't Real: "Real, live buffalo don't exist!"
- Everyone Has Standards: Children and individuals with obvious mental or neurologic disorders will get disqualified from the Award. (Usually.) Also anyone who kills (or sterilizes) uninvolved bystanders in the process.
- According to the creator, the Darwin Awards are open for all races, genders, sexual orientations, cultures and so on. (Fridge Horror: Why does she have to stress this?)
- Family-Unfriendly Death
- Forgot I Couldn't Swim
- Fridge Horror: Pretty much the whole website becomes this if you apply Poe's Law to it. Remember that some people are Sarcasm Blind, and some others have No Sense Of Humor at all. This may apply to winners themselves (if they survived), their friends, relatives and neighbors of all ages (except - or worse including - those who nominated them), and of course the omnipresent Moral Guardians...
- Ever caught yourself doing something utterly stupid? More than once? Or does this apply to someone you love? Well, you (or that other person) might be predestined to end up right here.
- Funny Aneurysm Moment: When you're a fan of this website, until one day someone you really love (or otherwise depend on) dies in a similarly stupid way...
- Gangsta Style
- Genius Ditz/Ditzy Genius: Even being a Ph.D. doesn't prevent some people from doing incredibly stupid things, as a few examples can illustrate.
- The website's founder might be considered this herself. See also Hoist By His Own Petard.
- Gone Horribly Right
- Grandfather Clause: Some of the earliest stories violate one or more of the rules quite openly, yet they have been grandfathered because of their high popularity among the community. In particular, some stories that were particularly weird and turned out to be completely fictional.
- Groin Attack: Self-inflicted attacks are the general cause of a person exiting the pool without exiting this mortal coil. However, they can also prove fatal. Here and here are just two of a fairly large number of examples.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: As well as many of the Award "winners", founder Wendy Northcutt considers herself a klutz and a "potential Darwin Award candidate", which would be this trope (and cruelly ironic) if it happens.
- I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: here, here and here.
- Insane Troll Logic: Involved in some cases.
- Karmic Death
- Kick the Dog/Villain Ball: Some of the less savory nominees and honorable mentions.
- Laser-Guided Karma: here.
- Macho Masochism
- Medal of Dishonor: The Darwin Award.
- Motorcycle Jousting
- No Sympathy
- Off with His Head: See Chainsaw Good and Testosterone Poisoning.
- Out with a Bang/Death by Sex: Considered textbook examples since the victims are stopped from procreating while making the attempt.
- Pants-Positive Safety: More than a few cases. None of 'em ended well.
- Poor Communication Kills: "Are you OK?" "Yes!"
- Refuge in Audacity: Some winners tried this, and it went horribly wrong...
- The creator of the website herself. Launching a website that humorously declares real-life people as evolutionary waste because they died in an unusual self-inflicted way? That's way more than Getting Crap Past the Radar, it is - depending on who you ask - either undiluted Awesome or undiluted crap.
- Rule of Funny
- Schmuck Bait
- Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Do not taunt lightning.
- Soft Glass: Some winners fatally avert this trope.
- Stupid Crooks: A few of the award's recipients. A chapter in one of the books is dedicated to them.
- Surprise Creepy: The website can be this, if you stumble over it unprepared.
- Testosterone Poisoning: The Most Macho Man In Europe.
- And a whole lot more. One of the chapters in one of the books is actually titled "Testosterone Poisoning".
- The Movie: A fictional film was made in 2006 about two investigators chasing Darwin Award-type stupidity, starring Joseph Fiennes and Winona Ryder. (Reviews were generally bad, according to The Other Wiki.)
- Too Dumb to Live: All of them. In fact, that's the entire point of the Darwin Awards, and, according to the creator, one of the biggest reasons why it's funny instead of morbid.
- A few "lucky" ones actually don't kill themselves, but still end up being unable to have children.
- Took a Level In Dumbass: Obviously everyone here.
- Tree Buchet: According to an Urban Legend, a heavy storm caused a tree to get bent over and wedged under the eaves of a house. The homeowner climbed up the tree to saw the top of tree off to free it from the eaves. Once he cut through, the tree sprung back, catapulting the owner to his death.
- Underside Ride: One Darwin Award winner tried this while attempting to diagnose a truck's engine, apparently to watch the engine while it worked. It seemed a fine idea until the moving parts caught his sleeve...
- Undignified Death: Pretty much all deaths that don't count as Cruel And Unusual Deaths.
- Unfortunate Implications: Take the definition of the Darwin Award a bit too literal, and you end up with the conclusion that some human beings were just born to be waste, evolutionary outtakes that fortunately corrected the mistake of their own existence.
- What an Idiot!
- Who Would Be Stupid Enough...?: Apparently, quite a lot of people.
- William Telling
- Women Are Wiser: This really seems to be the case, as the vast majority of winners are males. See this paper for more information. Interestingly, this paper, which comes to the conclusion that "men are idiots", has apparently been written by a group of men.
- Also occasionally includes people who are in jail for life or ridiculously long settings for similar reasons