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"These things are nothing for kids..."

But it did happen to you.

You're a kid,

And yet here you are,

And suddenly you have no grandma.
Chorus, Allegro

Death is a difficult enough matter for adults to deal with. It's no surprise, then, that children find it especially painful when they meet death for the first time. It's easy to imagine how upset they'll feel if, when one of their grandparents or a beloved family pet dies, even the grown-ups cry.

Different from Death by Newbery Medal in that the elderly relative or animal who dies has not been treated as a major character, so it plays out more like a Very Special Episode than a Downer Ending.

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

Examples of Death Is a Sad Thing include:

Anime and Manga

  • The manga Bunny Drop opens with the death of six-year-old Rin's father. By the chapter's end, Rin is able to acknowledge that the man won't wake up ever again. Though a later chapter touches on Rin becoming afraid of dying herself, and of her new guardian dying.
  • In Gundam 0080, 11-year-old Alfred has to come to terms with death when his friend Bernard, a Zaku pilot and Zeon soldier, is killed by another one of his friends, Christina (whom is a Earth Federation gundam test pilot). He also has to come to terms with the realities of war, in which he previously had over-romanticized notions of.
  • In Lady, when 5-year-old Lynn's mother Misuzu dies in an accident, the girl's father Sir George decides not to tell her at first because he believes she won't understand. This blows up on everyone's face when George's potential new wife and local Gold Digger, Countess Madeleine, carelessly drops the bomb on Lynn when he's not there, under the belief that she already knew: her kids Thomas and Mary start bullying Lynn over it, and her half-sister Sarah has to explain it to her.

Comic Books

  • As a child, Julie Winters was marked by the maiming and eventual death of a rabbit (although she was equally troubled by the callous way her mother put it out of its misery.)
  • At one point in Transmetropolitan, Spider recalls when he first learned about death - when his grandfather died. This being Transmetropolitan, he first has to be told that Grandpa's never coming back, and no, it's not like that time he beat up Grandma and then declared he wasn't coming home; once it sank in, instead of being sad, little Spider got angry.
  • In a short sequence from Gahan Wilson's Nuts, the Kid is puzzled that he can't cry when a favorite uncle dies. Then he imagines how he would feel if his dog died, and completely loses it. (Meanwhile the dog is very much alive, and straining at the leash because it wants to pee.)


  • Avatar: Princess Neytiri and Dr. Grace Augustine have a good relationship, for Neytiri was one of Grace's many students to learn English. When Grace passed away, Neytiri felt a great sense of loss.
  • B.B, the daughter of The Bride and Bill from Kill Bill, first finds out what death is when her fish dies.
    • And in perfect Tarantino style, Bill explained this in one of the most awesome monologues in movie history.
  • Shadowlands. C.S. Lewis and his stepson deal with the death of Joy Grisham.
  • In Finding Neverland, the fictionalized Llewelyn Davies boys are introduced after having lost their father, which caused severe disillusionment especially in Peter, who continues to act like an adult through much of the film.

Live Action TV

  • Mr. Hooper's death in Sesame Street.
    • Not quite the same, as Mr. Hooper was a major character and Will Lee's death (from a heart attack) was a case of Real Life Writes the Plot for the episode in which his death was addressed. It was also a case of Enforced Method Acting as the tears you see on camera are real.
  • An episode of Full House dealt with the grandfather's death.
  • An early episode of The Cosby Show featured Rudy dealing with the death of her goldfish.
  • Growing Pains had Mike traumatized by the death of his favorite uncle, whom we'd never seen before.
  • Family Ties had Mallory traumatized by the death of her favorite aunt, whom we'd never seen before.
    • Also, Alex was traumatized by the death of his best friend, whom we'd never seen before.
  • In the first episode of Freaks and Geeks, Lindsay's new rebelliousness and questioning of her life is linked to the recent death of her grandmother.
  • A Kenan and Kel episode centered around Keenan's dad leaving him and Kel in charge of looking after his prized pet cockatoo and the bird dying in their care.
  • In an early Dick Van Dyke Show episode "Never Love a Duck" this happened (partially Off Screen). Rob brought home two baby ducks that were used in an "Alan Brady Show" sketch and Richie raised them. Cut to a few months later - one is dead and the other is dying. Rob explains to Richie that no matter how much he loves it, it's not enough for it to survive. They have to release it into the wild. (How a duck raised by humans will cope in the wild isn't discussed.)
  • A Star Trek: The Next Generation episode focused around the young son of a Red Shirt reacting to his mother's death. Of course, this being Star Trek, he was promptly kidnapped by an alien who posed as his mother.


  • The Trope Namer is the lesser-known Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Allegro. Joseph Taylor, Jr.'s grandmother dies early in the show, but stays with him as a Spirit Advisor, even after he grows up.

Newspaper Comics


  • In Pippin, Theo has a pet duck named Otto who gets sick and dies, despite Pippin doing all he can for it (which isn't very much). After the duck dies, Pippin tries repeatedly to cheer Theo up, to no avail.

Video Games

  • Nanako Dojima of Persona 4 is deeply affected by the passing of her mother prior to the time the story takes place. If you build your social links with her enough she'll ask the protagonist questions about death. Also, her stage in the game resembles Nanako's idea of what heaven should be like, and is borne of her deep-down desire to see her mother again - either on this plane or the next.
  • Rather harshly subverted in Ace Attorney - Regina Berri discusses when she first encountered death... and makes it clear she has no idea what it is.
  • Ellie's grandmother in Harvest Moon 64.
  • Lucidity. The entire game is a little girl coming to terms with the death of her Grandmother.

Web Comics

  • The Penny and Aggie Flash Back arc "What You Can't Teach" shows Aggie, as a young girl, coming upon a dead bird and asking her mother Melody (since deceased herself) how God can let that happen. Melody's answer provides an important clue to the present-day Aggie's personality and motivation.

Western Animation

  • In the Rugrats episode "I Remember Melville", not only does Chuckie's pet pillbug die but the babies have a funeral for it. This may not entirely count as a Death Is a Sad Thing because Chuckie's mother has already died. Then again, this was never actually shown in the series, and Chuckie honestly had no idea who his mother was, just remembering her in dreams.
  • In the French series Il était une fois (Once upon a Time... Man), the Neanderthal episode has the Neanderthal incarnation of Maestro dying in his sleep of old age. The others don't seem to really understand that he's dead at first, until one of them says they should put him under the Earth. A Meaningful Funeral follows.