• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

So, you're cast in a brand new series, and there's something about your character that just screams, "Hey, major character here." It could be that you're a name performer, or the character plays a central role, or is just plain interesting. So why do you get guest star billing? Well, either your contract requires it, or the powers that be are out to kill you, if not in the premiere, then by the 2nd episode. Or it could just be that they don't have enough to pay your name performer salary for more than a few appearances.

Basically, a subversion of Contractual Immortality. This trope is occasionally used to effect (or affect) Anyone Can Die. In pilot episodes, it's also an early indicator of Sacrificial Lamb. It tends to be less surprising in television because it's generally assumed that Mel Gibson isn't going to be sticking around your family sitcom forever.

See also Billing Displacement, Death by Cameo and at times Decoy Protagonist.

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

Examples of Dead Star Walking include:

Anime and Manga

  • Prof. Heinz Schneider in El Cazador de la Bruja. And he is voiced by Shinichiro Miki, to boot.
  • Kisaragi is one of the first named characters to appear in Elfen Lied and gets a proper introduction. Name bar? Check. Clumsy but cute? Check. Works for another main character? Yeppers. Determined to overcome her shyness and make people proud of her one day? Double check. Twenty pages/five minutes later she has her head ripped off, the pens from her pocket repurposed as deadly projectiles, and her corpse used as a meat shield that gets shredded to pieces in a hail of bullets, only to be dumped in a corridor once everyone else is dead. This immediately sets the tone for the next 106 chapters.
  • Happens in Gantz a lot.
  • In Ga-Rei Zero the squad in the promotional posters and trailers, supposed to be the main characters of the series, after kicking some ass are surprisingly slaughtered at the end of first episode. The true main characters first appear in episode 2.
  • Extreme example: Genesis Climber Mospeada leaves just one survivor in episode 1, bumping off everyone else.
  • Two examples from the same series: In Gundam Seed and Gundam Seed Destiny, singer TM Revolution voices two short-lived characters. In SEED, Miguel is a Face Enemy who actually survives his first battle with the protagonist. However, he is promptly killed in the very next battle. This was telegraphed by the fact that he wasn't in the OP, though. However, in the sequel, its more played like a running gag, despite the depth of the character.
    • According to urban legend, Nami Tamaki, who sang the last two opening themes of SEED and the first of Destiny was offered a similar character, but turned down the offer. That character, Shiho Hannenfuss, became an Ensemble Darkhorse, with many suggesting that Tamaki's passing on the role saved Shiho from suffering the same fate as TMR's characters.
    • There's also a rumor that Takanori would've prefer to play a bigger role (especially in Destiny), but couldn't spare much time from his very tight touring and recording schedule, so he had to stick to this trope.
  • Amuria in Simoun.
  • Soukou no Strain kills the lead character's two love interests, best friends, enemy, most of the cast of the first episode... in the best example of Dead Star Walking, the series actually kills off Tanaka Rie's charactertwice.
  • Yet another anime example is Seki Ray Shiroe from Toward the Terra, played by Marina Inoue; it seems as though he might even become the protagonist's protege, and failing that, he begins to cultivate a relationship with the antihero as well — however, he is heartlessly (and, in the manga and original movie, a bit abruptly) snuffed out. (Savvy fans may predict this trope when they observe that Inoue is the only voice actor credited for Shiroe, indicating that he's not going to live long enough for his voice to change.)
  • In Baccano!, Masakazu Morita's character gets his face blown off during the closing of the very episode he first shows up in. Or did he?
    • For those of you who do not pay close attention to Japanese seiyuu, the character is Claire Stanfield.
  • Oh, look, an obvious love interest! Aw, look how that cute Chinese exchange student keeps rescuing her from all the evil people with superpowers chasing her! Wait a minute... did he just knock her out after getting information out of her? And... hold on, we saw that Badass Longcoat at the beginning of the last episode... Wait, she wasn't even the real person? And did she just jump in front of him so she dies from a rather nasty attack instead? Congratulations, you have just finished the second episode of Darker Than Black.
  • Kamina in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
  • Tomoe Mami in Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
  • Not a death, per se, but the Hashiratani Deer in Eyeshield 21 are hyped up as one of the best, most experienced team in the league, especially their leader Onihei. Before the Devil Bats can play them, they get a crushing defeat at the hands of the Kyoshin Poseidons.
  • Minami Takayama voices one of the four main leads of Senki Zesshou Symphogear. Or voiced, since her character got killed in the middle of the first episode.
    • But the character still appears in various flashback scenes. So it could be a subversion.
  • Mamoru Miyano voices Rei's boyfriend in Highschool of the Dead and gets turned into one of them and later killed at the end of the first episode.
  • Jun Fukuyama voices Suguru Aizawa in Area no Kishi. The soccer star is pronounced dead by the third episode. He still continues to play a significant role in the plot, though.


  • In the Marvel Comics series Exiles, Magnus was one of the six characters gathered in the first issue as a team of dimension-hoppers who must Set Right What Once Went Wrong. He was also clearly the most powerful of the six. In the second issue he dies, and it eventually became clear this was an inherent gimmick of the series to allow logical cast changes.
  • In the first issue of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred's run on the Marvel comic book X-Force, a new X-Force team is introduced with most of the focus put on the sympathetic team leader. Almost all of the team gets brutally killed off in the same issue, including aforementioned leader. This effects Anyone Can Die for the remainder of the book's run and its follow-up X-Statix.
  • The second team of X-Men included mainstays like Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Colossus. It also included Thunderbird, who died on the team's second mission.

Films — Live-Action

  • Even though Robert De Niro is billed as the main character in the 2001 police drama 15 Minutes, he is kidnapped and brutally killed less than halfway through the film, forcing another detective (played by Edward Burns) to avenge his death.
  • Ewan McGregor receives top billing in Alex Rider: Stormbreaker. His sole appearance in the film is in the first few minutes, where he is quickly killed off, and not even given a chance to interact with any of the other characters.
  • Traci Lords was given poster billing in Blade. She dies in the first battle scene, less than ten minutes in.
  • In the Canadian horror flick Cube, a character named Alderson (played by Julian Richings) is billed to be the major character of the film, had his visage pinned to all the promotional posters, and is killed brutally in the first five minutes of the movie by a wire trap before the focus shifts to the real group of protagonists.
  • In Deep Blue Sea, Samuel L. Jackson is killed by a rampaging shark that leaps out of a submarine bay to get him. His death is arguably the biggest shock in the entire film, possibly because it's so sudden. Stellan Skaarsgard is also one of the first to bite it.
  • Sean Bean in Equilibrium.
  • Steven Seagal in Executive Decision.
  • Liam Neeson has a few:
  • Christopher Lee in Honeymoon Academy.
  • Jennifer Lopez in Jersey Girl; not only does Lopez get second billing in promotional material, but upon first glance she appears to be the title character of the movie. Ten minutes in, she dies during childbirth—and we find out that her daughter is arguably the title character. After the "Bennifer" craze sprung up, the studio made Kevin Smith film more scenes so that they could push J-Lo's death to halfway through the film, which would have totally undone the whole point of the story. Fortunately the failure of Gigli combined with Ben Affleck and Lopez ending their relationship let Smith go back to his original idea. It also meant they had to spoil the death in the advertising to make it seem less like Gigli.
  • In the 1996 Mission Impossible movie, Tom Cruise's backup team includes Kristin Scott-Thomas, Emilio Estevez, Emmanuelle Béart and Jon Voight, all of whom are massacred early in the movie. Of course, the latter two turn out not to be dead after all, but are instead pulling a Xanatos Gambit.
    • The third movie does the same with Keri Russell, and Ghost Protocol does it with Tom Wilkinson and Josh Holloway.
    • Estevez isn't even credited.
  • Janet Leigh in Psycho (although she didn't go as quickly as Barrymore). This is one of the oldest examples.
  • In Scream, Drew Barrymore is killed off ten minutes into the movie. She came up with the idea, having been initially cast as Sidney.
    • Pffft, that's nothing. The Slayer bites it in the second film.
    • The fourth film kills off five characters—including Lucy Hale and Anna Paquin—before the title card.
  • In the 2005 action film Stealth, Jamie Foxx's character, Henry, is killed off suddenly while trying to pilot his aircraft through a canyon, less than halfway through the film. Although Stealth was made before Ray and Collateral (which was one of Foxx's breakout roles), the film was released afterwards, and shocked audiences who expected Foxx's character to survive.
  • Perhaps the most impressive occurrence is in the first Superman movie; Marlon Brando received top billing, and what was at the time the highest salary ever paid to a motion picture actor, to play a character with 8 minutes of screen time who dies before the end of the first act. Furthermore, Christopher Reeve was relegated to third billing even though he plays the lead character of the film. Fortunately, people caught on quickly to how much he was responsible for making the film so good.
    • The press coverage (as opposed to the studio publicity) at the time of the initial release talked extensively about Brando's big paycheck for so little screen time so the audience wasn't completely unprepared. This may have also tipped off late-70s movie-goers not to expect too much from his appearance in Apocalypse Now a few years later.
  • In U-571, a number of American submariners, including Bill Paxton (who's set up to be one of the main characters), are killed a quarter of the way through the film during a disastrous escape from a German U-boat.
  • Keenan Wynn in Piranha.
  • Charlie Sheen in Young Guns.
  • Ken Watanabe was cast (with much publicity) as Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins. Turns out he's an imposter who dies very early in the movie — an intentional deception to set up the twist to the mystery of exactly who the Big Bad was toward the end.
  • Morgan Freeman gets killed halfway through The Sum of All Fears.
    • And twice in Red. At the beginning, we think he has been killed, then he pops up again and shortly after performs a Heroic Sacrifice at around the halfway mark of the film.
  • Arguably Val Kilmer and Christian Slater in Mind Hunters.
  • Alien. Tom Skerritt is top-billed during a period in his career where audiences would naturally assume he was the main character. The Xenomorph (and the scriptwriters) disagreed.
    • The cast dies in reverse order of their credit billing. At the time, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton and Tom Skerritt were all relatively well-known actors, while Sigourney Weaver was a complete unknown.
  • Both Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes in The Hurt Locker.
  • Elijah Wood's character is hyped up from the very beginning of Spy Kids 3 and talked about by all of the major characters. Towards the end he shows up, gives an inspiring speech, and immediately loses as soon as it's time to prove his strength.
  • For the first half hour of The Blob remake, we follow the character Paul. He gets killed early on and is never mentioned again.
  • Sophia Loren got top billing for Operation Crossbow. She appeared for about 15 minutes and then was murdered by the Resistance because she could compromise the mission.
  • Franco Nero in Sacra Corona gets killed off in the first two minutes, after maybe two lines. Then he gets a second appearance as a ghost, with barely a few lines. He also happens to be one of the four characters on the cover, next to The Hero, The Lancer and the Big Bad, despite there being countless other characters who had a much greater impact on the plot.
  • Bruce Campbell in From Dusk till Dawn: Texas Blood Money. He received top billing, but not only does he die very quickly, his "death" is part of an in-film movie that a character is watching.
    • Likewise, in Congo, Campbell plays a researcher who is brutally killed by an ape in the first few minutes of the film. The main group of characters later stumble upon his body.
  • In Children of Men, Julianne Moore is the second-billed actress after the star Clive Owen (possibly misleading some viewers into thinking she is the last pregant woman who Theo has to escort to safety). She gets introduced early on, and being Theo's ex-wife, starts setting up a sub-plot about the two of them reconnecting their lost love. Then they try to drive a young girl out of the country and Julian gets shot through the throat. All this happens in the first 20 minutes, and the rest of the film is centered around Theo helping said young girl after discovering she is pregnant.
  • Tom Hanks in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. He is top-billed and yet the trailer reveals early on that he dies.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion, who is first introduced sneezing and coughing at an airport in Chicago, and, when she arrives home minutes into the film, she is rushed to a hospital, where she convulses and dies. The only footage seen of her afterwards is an autopsy scene (where doctors cut her skull open) and a flashback at the end of the film to how the virus was transmitted to her. Likewise, Kate Winslet appears for a few minutes as a CDC researcher working to investigate the cure, but she gets infected and is rushed to a quarantine zone, and is only seen some time later when she tries to give a patient a blanket before dying.
  • Angie Dickinson in Brian De Palma's Dressed To Kill. She's top-billed in the credits alongside Michael Caine, but gets brutally murdered less than halfway into the movie. It's appropriate, since Dressed To Kill is an overt homage to Hitchcock.
  • Aaron Eckhart plays the redneck boyfriend of the title character in the 2001 comedy Nurse Betty...for all of 20 minutes, until he gets half his scalp ripped off and is shot as he pitifully tries to run away from the contract killers played by Chris Rock and Morgan Freeman.
  • Zig-zagged in Red. Morgan Freeman's character is killed off very early on...: Then it turns out he's still alive. But he dies again about halfway through the film, this time for real.
  • Robert Patrick in Safe House.
  • Olivia Wilde in In Time.
  • Danny Trejo is one of the first victims in Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween.
  • In The Accountant Jeffrey Tambor appears for two scenes, one of which is his death in a flashback.
  • In G.I. Joe: Retaliation both Walton Goggins and Channing Tatum meet early ends, with the death of Tatum’s character doubling as Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome.
  • Walton Goggins’ Clueless Deputy character in House of 1000 Corpses is executed at gunpoint by Otis Firefly.
  • Mark Hamill in Kingsman: The Secret Service has his head blown up by Richard Valentine, who feels bad since they were friends.
  • Michael Caine in Dunkirk.
  • Jason Lee in Dreamcatcher.
  • Ben Affleck in Smokin Aces serves as a Mr. Exposition and dies quickly at the hands of assassin Lazlo Soot.
  • Danny Trejo’s character Trejo in Heat appears in only a few scenes before being killed by the film’s resident Hate Sink Waingro.
  • Cameron Mitchell in Without Warning is the film’s first casualty.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Halloween H20.
  • A more retroactive version occurs in Armageddon, with Owen Wilson being killed off in a shuttle crash halfway through the film.

Live-Action TV

  • The BBC has done this so often in its genre series in the 2000s that it's become predictable.
    • The first example, genuinely surprising and gruesome: Lisa Faulkner on Spooks was being set up as a major performer on the show, playing a Spooks employee moving from a desk job to field work. She got deep fried in the 2nd episode. Literally. Her head was shoved into a deep fryer. It worked for surprise on this show because of the lack of any kind of credits. It also established early on that any character could be killed at any time which made the program much more suspenseful. The spin-off Spooks: Code 9 also killed off the apparent team leader at the end of the first episode.
    • Freema Agyeman was heavily involved in the promotion of the remake of Survivors. She dies halfway through the first episode. To add to the impact, the character she played was, in the original, the only one to survive for the entire show.
      • The 1970s original did this as well, casting the well-known Peter Bowles as husband to Abby (played by relative unknown Carolyn Seymour) who stays healthy while she collapses with the plague. However, towards the end of the first episode, she is the one who wakes up, to find his dead body, after he succumbs off-screen. With no actors listed in the opening titles and some very careful scripting, it was probably a big shock to viewers at the time. This was repeated in the remake, with Abby's husband played by Shaun Dingwall, Rose's dad Pete from Doctor Who. Paul's death near the start of the second season is also a good one — half the Season 1 cast had just been written out after a big format change and the show seemed settled on a new direction, only to promptly kill off another first series star within a couple of episodes.
    • In Torchwood Suzie Costello, played by Indira Varma, is the second-in-command of Torchwood Three...for most of episode one. Then she explains how she can't live without the job but is going to get fired when they find out she's been killing people for Resurrection Gauntlet test subjects and puts a bullet in her skull. She comes back, though, and is revealed to have had a goddamn amazing Xanatos Gambit going which planned for her death and resurrection as a crucial stage, in the episode "They Keep Killing Suzie". She was also featured heavily in the promotional material. Torchwood is an odd example in that its leading man and star gets killed several times a season. He doesn't stay dead for long, though.
      • In Torchwood: Miracle Day, we get Dr. Juarez, who is killed off (as much as someone can die in Miracle Day, anyway) the very episode where she joins the Torchwood team.
    • Jamie Bamber's character Mitchell Hoban in Outcasts. All of the promotional material assures the viewer that Mitchell, why he's acting so irrationally, his Expeditionary Forces, and his conflict with President Tate are going to be vital parts of the show. Then, in the pilot, he commits Suicide by Cop via Fleur after beating his wife into a coma.
    • Jamie Bamber, period. Hoban is just one of many of his characters to be killed off, to the point where two of them (Archie Kennedy and Matt Devlin), died in an eerily similar fashion (Blood From the Mouth, Heroic Sacrifice), and two others (on Cold Case and Ghost Whisperer) bit the dust even faster than Hoban did, being killed off within the first few minutes of the show.
  • Tom Skeritt was the father in Brothers and Sisters. Although the father died in the pilot, he has appeared in flashbacks since.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Joss Whedon wanted to do this for Eric Balfour as Jesse in the first episode, but was denied permission by the network. He ultimately got his wish in Season 6, when after thirty-nine appearances as a guest star Amber Benson was finally promoted to the show's full credits — just in time for her character Tara to be shot dead.
  • Elias Koteas's character in Conviction appeared to be major, but when he was billed as a guest star in the first episode, it made it pretty obvious he was getting killed.
  • Naive Newcomer Holly hardly got to have any time to get to know her CSI buddies before getting offed.
  • Almost happened on Lost. The original plan was to have a reasonably well known movie actor, such as Michael Keaton, be cast as Jack. All the promotions, released information, cast photos, and interviews would indicate that Keaton (or whoever was cast as Jack) was a permanent part of the show and would be the main character throughout. Then, halfway through the pilot episode, he'd be killed by the monster, thus putting everyone on notice that Lost was a show where Anyone Can Die and where crazy stuff happens all the time. Kate (possibly played by Yunjin Kim) would then become the leader and the show's hero. The network vetoed the plan, believing the audience would feel manipulated and resentful. As a result, Matthew Fox was cast as Jack and the character of the pilot (played by Greg Grunberg) was created to die in Jack's place.
  • The General Hospital spinoff Night Shift had Pat Crawford Brown as a tapestry-sewing patient for the first 3 episodes, before having a Serial Killer off her via IV. Granted, Brown has rarely ever had a regular role on any TV show, but still...
  • John Goodman portrays the main character of Now and Again for about thirty seconds of the first episode before he's hit by a train and has his brain placed in an artificially engineered body, thus setting up the rest of the series.
  • Jon Seda's character on Oz, Dino Ortolani, was set up as the (or at least a) main character, only to be burned to death at the end of the 1st episode.
  • Parodied on Police Squad!: in each episode's Title Montage, a different celebrity Special Guest is killed off as they are being introduced.
  • Detective Terry Crowley in The Shield seems to be set up as one of the main characters of the series in the pilot episode when he's assigned to the Strike Team as a mole with the intention of exposing their corrupt activities, and gets more than his fair share of screen time in the process... until the final minute of the episode, where Vic Mackey and Shane Vendrell kill him and frame an also-deceased drug dealer as the killer. Crowley's death isn't brushed aside, though, as it haunts the Strike Team for the rest of the series and the character himself appears in flashback episodes.
  • An unusual variation: in the fourth season of Star Trek Voyager (Trek itself having numerous examples played straight), Jennifer Lien, cast regular for the first three seasons, is billed as a "special guest star." Her character violently evolved into an energy being and abruptly left the show in the second episode of that season, once her Suspiciously Similar Substitute was settled.
  • Like Spooks, FX Network's Thief had a 6-episode first season. Like Spooks, it bumped off a name performer by the 2nd episode: Linda "Terminator 1 and 2" Hamilton as the handler. Unlike Spooks, Hamilton was just the latest in a rather misogynistic streak. Including the handler, there were three surprising deaths in the first two eps—all women. Unlike Spooks, Thief was not renewed beyond its initial 6 ep run.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Robert Patrick plays Colonel Sumner in the pilot. He's supposed to be the head of the military unit attached to the Atlantis team, and naturally is killed off before the end of the second episode.
  • The Doctor Who TV Movie actually brought back Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor, just so he could be killed off to regenerate into Paul McGann's Eighth Doctor.
  • William Hurt gets top billing as Duke Leto Atreides in Sci Fi Channel's Dune miniseries, despite his character getting killed at the end of part one (of three). Similar thing for Susan Sarandon in the sequel, but they did elevate her character more from the books.
  • About 20 or so characters introduced in volume three of Heroes.
  • In Angel, Doyle was killed off after 9 episodes, and if it weren't for his visions Angel wouldn't have such an easy time finding (and killing) the baddies.
  • Ingo Fischer, one of the two top-billed stars in Alarm Fuer Cobra 11, died in the second episode.
  • For the first few seasons of Lost in Space, Doctor Smith (Jonathan Harris) got billed as a special guest star in the title credits. Word of God has it that he was supposed to escape the ship (or die) early on, but that never came about.
  • HBO gleefully marketed Sean Bean as the "main character" for the Game of Thrones adaptation. Then his head gets chopped off. Another example is Jason Momoa of Stargate Atlantis fame, who doesn't merit the opening credits despite being a major character. He gets killed off partway through.
    • Although, to be fair, Sean Bean does make it almost to the end of the first season before dying (episode 9 out of 10). Jason Mamoa's character, doesn't die until the last episode. Other cast members who are stars make it through the season.
  • Callum Keith Rennie as Don Morgan in Alphas: the team's original government liaison, who is present in the pilot episode, Put on a Bus for the second, and then violently killed off in the third.
  • Though he wasn't a big star at the time, it's amusing to see Jimmy Smits playing Don Johnson's partner only to get blown up within the first few minutes of the pilot episode of Miami Vice.

Video games

  • Clive Barker's Jericho: The squad leader, Devin Ross, is suddenly killed off at the end of the first time period. However, while his body may be dead, his spirit escapes into the body of one of his squadmates, and he is then able to jump into the consciousness of each of them.
  • In the fourth installment of The Elder Scrolls video game series, Oblivion, Patrick Stewart voices the Emperor Uriel Septim VII, who is assassinated by the end of the first tutorial mission.
    • On the other hand it's heavily foreshadowed, as he starts talking about his impending death in the actual opening credits sequence and continues right up until it happens.
  • In Lands of Lore, Patrick Stewart portrays the voice of the king, who gets frozen in the opening cinematic. His unfreezing becomes the player character's goal.
  • Even in videogames, Liam Neeson can't avoid this trope. In Fallout 3 he plays the dad of the main character, only to disappear as soon as the tutorial missions are over. When the player finally manages to track him down and he seems to become an active part of the story again, he dies right in front of your eyes. To keep Project Purity out of Enclave hands, he floods the chamber he's in with a radioactive toxin so he can take his enemies with him. Unfortunately The Dragon Colonel Autumn manages to survive regardless.
    • It's interesting to note that Fallout 3's developer Bethesda also made above mentioned Oblivion.
  • The character Mia Fey is killed off in the second chapter of the first Phoenix Wright game. Never mind the fact that her little sister is a channeler, making you wonder why they even bothered to have her killed.
    • While the game was being developed, the producers felt that Phoenix had too many partner/support characters. Thus they combined two of them into one by having Mia die and be channeled by Maya. By the time games 2 and 3 roll around, channeling's gone from a simple way to talk to Mia to an actual plot device anyway.
    • There's also a variation with Kristoph Gavin in Apollo Justice, who appears on the box, is set up to be the mentor of the game, and turns out to be the murderer in the first case.
      • He still ended up being a major character of a sort, though (and the culprit in the game's final case).
  • Near the start of Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars you meet Ling, an Action Girl who is featured prominently on the game's box art and is quite clearly set up to be the main character's love interest. Then she gets killed in the second mission, and the rest of the game features no more female characters — yep, not only is the main character pretty much a Butt Monkey for the rest of the Triads, the very game itself cockblocks him!
  • Eve in Dead to Rights gets offed immediately after your Escort Mission with her.
  • Arguably Phillipe Loren in Saints Row the Third who was billed as the Big Bad in all the advertisments only to be killed off in the first act of the game.
    • Johnny Gat also qualifies in the third.

Web Originals

  • Variation: In Survival of the Fittest, the character called Josh Goodman was built up in version three's pregame to be an unstoppable force, taking over the school within his first day there by blackmailing the principal and raping her, causing her to commit suicide, and later nearly cripples a star football player. He was killed off in one of the main game's first posts, electrocuted in a pool of blood. The student who killed him became one of the top killers on the island.

Western Animation