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Exactly What It Says on the Tin - this is when someone attempts to kill themself, and fails. This may lead to them trying to kill themselves again, or maybe they'll see it as a sign and go their merry way. It's not Interrupted Suicide; they go through with it... they just don't die, for whatever reason. It may be because of some kind of immortality, or maybe the means they used weren't effective enough. People who are physically not able to die for some reason usually cannot kill themselves no matter how hard they try. If done well, this can be either touching or tearjerking... and if done badly, it can just seem like the writers didn't have the guts to kill a character off. Occasionally Played for Laughs.
This is Truth in Television. In order to behave in a mature and sensitive fashion we should only include Real Life examples if they are of historical interest or hilarious enough. Ate His Gun is a frequent source.
Compare Interrupted Suicide.
Anime and Manga Edit
- Paranoia Agent has an episode dealing with 3 people who had made a suicide pact over the internet. Over the course of the episode, all of their attempts to kill themselves (jumping in the path of a subway train, hanging) are thwarted, and it's all Played for Laughs. Subverted in that at the end it's revealed that they're Dead All Along.
- Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei has this happen repeatedly.
- Played for drama in Rurouni Kenshin - It's evident in the scars on Megumi's wrists that she'd attempted suicide multiple times before meeting (and joining) the Kenshin-gumi.
- The second chapter of Gunjo has a woman who tries to kill herself after the death of her son and fails. She succeeds after another try.
- Parodied in One Piece by Kumadori's inability to commit Seppuku
- Kaze Hikaru has two: Okita's first love and the 10th unit's captain Sanosuke Harada's historical attempted seppuku. The latter is Played for Laughs, as it was years before the story starts and Sanosuke only did to prove he could. He brags about the scar (as he did in Real Life).
- Ogiue in Genshiken joins the group after hurling herself out a window (and breaking her arm) following an altercation with the Manga Club. Later it's revealed she jumped off the roof of her old school after her "friends" ruined her life. It's not stated how she survived or what injuries she incurred.
- Poor Sayaka. She doesn't purify her Soul Gem (which she needs to in order to stay alive), thinking that this will put her out of her misery. This being Puella Magi Madoka Magica, however, this suicide is bungled in a rather horrifying way.
- In Hoshi wa Utau, this is what happened to Chihiro's previous love Sakura. Her attempt left her comatose in the hospital.
- It's implied in Neon Genesis Evangelion that Asuka cut her wrists in episode 24, and is seen in a bathtub with water that looks like it's stained red. It's also implied that she was starving herself. She survived only because Section 2 found her before she bled out and she was too weak to resist being taken into custody.
- Rei subverts the trope. She's a confirmed Death Seeker and in episode 23, she pulled off a Taking You with Me and succeeded... only to be brought Back From the Dead against her will.
- The first scene of End of Evangelion heavily implies that Shinji tried to drown himself but failed. After watching the rest of the movie, everyone will agree that it would've been better for everyone if he succeeded.
- Berserk provides a particularly depressing example with Griffith. After enduring a year of Cold-Blooded Torture that left him permanently crippled, seeing all his dreams and ambitions go up in smoke, and finding out that both his Love Interests hooked up with each other, he tries to kill himself, only to find that he can't even do that right. Unfortunately for the entire cast, this sends him over the mother of all Moral Event Horizons.
- One of the characters in Life attempts to kill herself by jumping from a school balcony, but only ends up fracturing her foot and hurting herself.
- In the very beginning of the Manhwa My Lovable Fatty the protagonist tries to hang herself but ends up breaking the rope.
- Persona 4: The Animation has Adachi attempt this, only to have the shadows knock the gun out of his hand just in time. Then he gets possessed by them. He's found to be alive after the final confrontation, though.
Comic Books Edit
- Arseface from Preacher (Comic Book)-- he was trying to imitate the suicide of his hero Kurt Cobain, but failed in a particularly grotesque fashion (thus the name.)
- In Alpha Flight, Jerry Jaxon tried to hang himself. He survived but did enough damage to leave himself paralyzed.
- This pops up in Ultimate Fantastic Four as part of deconstructing the Thing's Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome powers. He's a huge, freakish rock monster, stands out anywhere, has to be careful about crushing anything he touches, has almost no sense of touch. In the 616 Marvel Universe, this is played for drama now and then but sometimes falls into Wangst territory. In the Ultimate Marvel universe, which is both Darker and Edgier and is earlier in the characters' timelines, he tried to kill himself several times but has not found anything that can break his skin.
- The movie Better Off Dead features multiple attempts by the central character to kill himself, all of which fail spectacularly (and hilariously).
- In The Man in the Iron Mask, Porthos gets depressed and believes he has nothing to go on living for. He kisses the tavern girls goodbye and goes into the barn to hang himself. Naked. We hear a big thud, and Porthos swearing. Aramis knew he'd try to commit suicide and sawed through the beam.
- Then the barn collapses on him, since Aramis sawed the wrong beam.
Aramis: I'm genius, not an engineer!
- Happens once in Final Destination 2. Eugene tries to shoot himself in the head, but all the bullets fail because it wasn't his time to die yet. He dies later in the film of an explosion after mass equipment failure and bad luck at the hospital.
- Happens again in The Final Destination, George tries to off himself multiple times later in the movie, but fails for the same reason. He gets killed by an ambulance exiting a hospital.
- Norma from Sunset Boulevard
- Groundhog Day: Phil kills himself on a few occasions during his Groundhog Day Loop, but he keeps waking up in that damn bed and breakfast.
- The Narrator in Fight Club. Although it could be argued that this was less a Bungled Suicide and more a successful murder.
- Jude Law's character in Gattaca attempted suicide after the "accident" (which may or may not have been attempted suicide in itself) that crippled him. But he eventually did succeed after the main character, who had taken over his identity, finally got to go into space.
- Franz Liebkind in The Producers at one point breaks down and attempts to shoot himself. His gun doesn't fire, and he figures it's out of bullets. Then he drops the gun... and it goes off.
- In the fratboy comedy Bachelor Party, a supporting character, despondent over his girlfriend dumping him, tries to slash his wrists...with an electric shaver.
- Harold in Harold and Maude repeatedly attempts (apparently fake) suicide attempts, usually involving Rube Goldberg-style complicated processes.
- Stanley Moon in Bedazzled, feeling like a failure, unable to even talk to the woman he pines for, puts a noose around his neck, steps off a chair - and the pipe he's tied it to promptly snaps, dribbling water over him and making him out to be a total failure.
- Steve Carell's character in Little Miss Sunshine comes into the fill fresh out of one of these.
"So that's when you tried to kill yourself?"
"Yep. And I failed at that as well."
- Subverted in the film The Quiet Earth. Zac Hobson did go through with his suicide attempt and did end up walking away from it at the start of the film. The subversion lies in the fact that he walked away because his suicide attempt was successful; he was at the moment of death, which protected him from the Event that wiped out most of humanity.
- At the end of the film, the exact same thing happens when he attempts to make a Heroic Sacrifice to avert a second Event. He fails.
- Woody Allen's character in Hannah and Her Sisters, despairing over the meaninglessness of life, tries to shoot himself with a rifle, but is so nervous and sweaty, he slips and misfires. He later finds a reason to go on watching a Marx Brothers movie.
- In Taxi Driver, after the final shootout, Travis tries to shoot himself, but all of his weapons are out of ammunition.
- Nick tries to kill himself in The Invisible, but it fails because of his ghostly state.
- In the Saw films, it is revealed that John Kramer, having been diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor, attempts to commit suicide by driving off an embankment. His car is trashed, but he survives, the incident having given him more appreciation for the time he has left. On the downside, this same incident also inspires him to become Jigsaw.
- The first movie also contains a subversion: Jigsaw's first victim was a man who appeared to have attempted suicide, but Jigsaw argues that he never intended to kill himself and was merely seeking some attention.
- In the Harold Lloyd short Never Weaken, the main character tries to kill himself by tying a rock to himself and jumping off a bridge into a river. He lands in the river, only to discover that the water is ankle deep.
- Herbie the Volkswagen in The Love Bug actually tries to leap off the Golden Gate Bridge. He's partially saved by the fact that his wheels won't let him climb the railing very easily, giving his owner time to reach him, so this is also something of a Interrupted Suicide.
- Richie in The Royal Tenenbaums cuts his wrists after learning the romantic history of Margot, with whom he is in love. Complete with Important Haircut and some great music.
- In Bringing Out The Dead, the main character -- a paramedic -- responds to a suicide attempt where the victim has sliced his veins horizontally rather than vertically, thus ensuring that he's got plenty of time to be healed. Since the main character is going through something of a nervous breakdown at that point, he merely uses this as the starting off point for a rant in which he instructs the surprised and now-terrified victim how to do it correctly next time.
- Averted in Valkyrie: in Real Life General Beck botched his suicide rather painfully, and had to be finished off by a sergeant. Removed from the film to prevent the touching final scene becoming comical.
- In S.O.B., Felix Farmer makes multiple attempts to kill himself only to have each of them unintentionally thwarted. He ultimately ends up committing Suicide by Cop almost accidentally.
- Chuck of Cast Away tries to commit suicide when stranded on an island by hanging himself but the rope snapped.
- There is an failed attempt of suicide (by jumping off a cliff) at the beginning of Agatha Christie's Towards Zero.
- Ethan and Mattie in the novella Ethan Frome
- In the novel Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, the "Bag Man" is a guy who tried to commit suicide but ended up shooting most of his face off. He wears some kind of covering over his face, hence the name.
- In Spenser's The Faerie Queene, the character Despair tries to kill himself over and over and it never works. Believe it or not, this is really creepy.
- Vanyel tries to kill himself in the chapel where his dead love Tylendel is laid out pre-burial. Yfandes raises the alarm in time for rescuers to save Vanyel's life, aided by the fact that Vanyel "didn't know the right way to slit his wrists".
- In Sometimes A Great Notion, Leland is introduced with one of these. As he explains later, he was lying in bed waiting for his house to fill with the gas he'd turned on in the kitchen, when he suddenly decides to have a cigarette. The house explodes, but Leland is miraculously unharmed, and he finds a letter from his brother (along with an understandably confused postman) on what's left of his front porch and decides that he might as well return home and help his family fill their logging quota.
- In Duma Key, this is Wireman's story. After his wife and daughter died, he decided to shoot himself in the head and actually went through with it. Instead of killing him, the bullet lodged in his brain, causing him trouble later.
- In another of Stephen King's stories, Hearts in Atlantis, a college student who is freaking out about the possibility of flunking out and getting drafted tries to OD on baby aspirin.
- In A Scanner Darkly, Charles Freck tried to commit suicide by taking a bunch of downers with some wine. He failed and only hallucinated. It's arguable, however, that the hallucination is a Dying Dream - Freck never appears in the story again either way.
- Played straight in the film version as Freck shows up later in one of the group therapy sessions at New Path
- In a very ridiculous scene in Petronius' Satyrica, widely considered to be the first modern novel (written in ancient Rome), one character tries to hang himself off of a bedpost. The post being so low, he fails, but another character comes in and sees him lying there, thinks he's dead, and tries to kill himself with the first knife he grabs, which turns out to be a prop. Hilarity Ensues.
- In The Idiot, Ippolit Terentyev attempts to shoot himself in the head, but his gun doesn't fire. Although other characters speculate that he was just Attention Whoring, and that he had deliberately loaded his gun incorrectly.
Live Action TV Edit
- The Twilight Zone Classic episode "Escape Clause". A man makes a Deal with the Devil for immortality, and tests the pact by trying to commit suicide. Eventually he starts doing so for money by threatening to sue companies for accidents he caused.
- My Name Is Earl episode "Something to Live For:" the person Earl's helping this week, Earl had regularly stolen the gasoline out of his car. Problem was, the guy was trying to kill himself by running his car engine and piping the exhaust into the passenger compartment every night, but since Earl kept stealing his gas he kept running out of gas before he died.
- Battlestar Galactica - Boomer has her suicide attempt interrupted by Baltar, who actually encourages her to do it. He leaves, then she bungles it anyway.
- Discussed in The Wire: Omar's brother "No Heart" Anthony got his nickname from bungling his suicide attempt when he was sentenced to several years in prison. He attempted to shoot himself in the chest, but came away with only "a contact wound and a new nickname".
- Neil's hapless attempt in The Young Ones.
- Pretty much the entire premise of the show Gravity, a drama/comedy about a support group for people who have made failed suicide attempts. The main character is widely known as the "Suicide Dummy" for driving his car off of a cliff - and accidentally landing it in the swimming pool of a passing cruise ship.
- The short lived TV News Show Drama Live Shot had a character about to shoot himself in the head. We get a Gory Discretion Shot of a bullet cracking the glass on a picture on his wall, followed by the attempted suicide lamenting that "I missed. How did I miss?"
- In the Superman The Musical TV Special, Superman was depressed after Metropolis shunned him. So, he tried to kill himself by tying an anchor to himself and jumping off of a bridge. Did I mention that this is the 'Man of Steel'?
- In an episode of ER, a patient once came in after he Ate His Gun, but his aim was off, and instead of going through his brain, the bullet went out the back of his neck and left him alive.
- After Phoebe shunned him in Charmed, Cole tried to kill himself. He even tried to goad the sisters into vanquishing him. But, he's too powerful.
- Charles Logan in the 24 series finale.
- The US version of Wilfred opens with Ryan attempting suicide with what turn out to be sugar pills.
- Karofsky in the Glee episode "On My Way."
- Depeche Mode's Blasphemous Rumours:
Girl of sixteen, whole life ahead of her
Slashed her wrists, bored with life
Didn't succeed, thank the Lord
For small mercies
- Neutral Milk Hotel's Three Peaches, in a similar vein:
You're in the bathroom carving holiday designs
Into yourself, hoping no one will find
You, but they found you, and they took you
And you somehow survived
- Dave Mustaine once introduced Megadeth's "Skin o' My Teeth" in concert with "This is a song about how many times I tried to kill myself and just couldn't get the fucking job done."
- The Monkees did "Going Down" where Mickey Dolenz sings of trying to drown himself in the river over a spurned love. When he gets over his anxiety he decides he's better off without her and takes the river out of town.
Tabletop Games Edit
- Gamma World adventure GW 6 Alpha Factor. The Rakees are flying squirrels with the mutation of being almost unkillable. Going crazy because they've lived so long, they constantly attack any creature they can in the hope that the opponent will put them out of their misery by killing them.
- The play Spared by Israel Horovitz is all about this trope. The protagonist has been trying to kill himself for years, but somehow he's been unlucky enough to live.
- Konstantin in The Seagull attempts to shoot himself in the head in Act Two and survives, then succeeds in Act Four.
- In the stage version of Amadeus Salieri attempted to commit suicide by slitting his throat, but survived.
- In Wolfgang Borchert's play The Man Outside, a Shell-Shocked Veteran returns home to Germany after World War II only to find that everyone wants to pretend Those Wacky Nazis never happened and refuse to have anything to do with him. Eventually, he tries to jump in the river, but even the river won't take him.
- Warbot from Warbot in Accounting... though he's also a robot.
- Happens several times in the early strips of the "Suicide Girl" storyline of the extremely NSFW comic Sexy Losers, though she eventually does end up offing herself when she mistakes a handgun that she bought to protect herself from the lecherous Shiunji (who wants to have sex with her dead body) for a hairdryer. Things get worse from there.
Western Animation Edit
- In South Park, the episode where the homeless are like zombies, a man tries shooting him self in the head several times, each one (except the last) destroying his head a little more without killing him. By the end, he is wrything on the floor disgustingly, gargling and bleeding. Brrr...
- Another South Park example: in one episode, Cartman tries to commit suicide (over High School Musical's popularity) by sitting in his mom's car in the garage with the engine running. This doesn't work since his mom drives a hybrid.
- In the Coon and Friends story arc, Kenny, aware of his immortality, sometimes shoots himself in front of his friends in the frustration of them not being able to remember his deaths. At the end of part II, he says "good night" by shooting himself in the head, knowing that he'll just wake up in his bed the next morning.
- A running gag with chronically depressed Moe Szyslak of The Simpsons.
- In "We're on the Road to D'ohwhere," he relates how he tried to hang himself, but the rope broke. So he sued the rope manufacturer, who gave him a huge cash settlement...and a new rope, which is already tied into a noose.
- In "Simpsons Christmas Stories," Moe makes three consecutive attempts: he hangs himself with a popcorn string that snaps under his weight, rides a sleigh into heavy traffic only for every single vehicle to miss him, and shoots himself in the ear, only for the gun to send a "Merry Christmas" flag out the other ear. Finally, he asks Barney to kill him as a Christmas present; however, Barney has already bought him a hat, so the heartwarmed Moe decides to live for the time being, making this an Interrupted Suicide of sorts. At the very end of the episode, however, he tries the sleigh-through-traffic method again, heading towards a loaded tractor-trailer, which of course misses him ("All eighteen wheels," as he notes bitterly).
- Moe apparently succeeded once in a Treehouse of Horror special. Unfortunately, Homer had just killed the grim Reaper so no one could die. Moe's left hanging there. "If I had known it would've taken this long, I would've put on the TV"
- Homer's attempted suicide in "No Loan Again, Naturally" is also played for laughs.
- Another one played for laughs is Mr. Burns' in "The Fool Monty", where he survives an airplane hitting him, then slamming against pine tree branches and whacked away by a bear.
- An Eastern European cartoon humorously showed a despondent man trying suicide and failing repeatedly...until he's held up at gunpoint, and abruptly fearing death, gives away his money as well as all his clothes. It ends with him naked and loving life.
- There is a story about a high schooler who tried to kill himself by jumping off of the Golden Gate Bridge. He survived, and after police recovered him from the water, he is supposed to have told them, "dammit, I can't do anything right!"
- An English botanist in Australia tried to kill himself by eating a poisonous root. Being English, however, he boiled the root first, robbing it of its poisonous qualities - thereby inventing Tapioca. Tapioca - starch made from cassava root - has been a staple in South America for centuries. It's true that it needs to be boiled for detoxification.
Video Games Edit
- Siren. Akira Shimura shoots himself with his hunting rifle after having just too much of the Cosmic Horror that the village of Hanuda became. Unfortunately being that Hanuda has become Cosmic Horror, instead of dying he revives as one of the many Shibito and cracks up when he realizes that he's still there.
- If you fail to save Cid in Final Fantasy VI, Celes will throw herself off a cliff in despair, only to survive landing at the bottom. It's mentioned that dozens of other people threw themselves off and did die; when she realizes she survived, she concludes something wants her to survive. On returning to Cid's body, she finds a note directing her to his raft, and the game proper resumes.
- The Nameless One can actually stage these as a means to at least two ends, thanks to his immortality. First to knock a suicidal Dustman back on his rails in the Hive, then to discredit a lecturer's claims of afterlife during your stay at the Civic Festhall.
- .hack//G.U. has Atoli's player Chigusa, who bears several marks on her left wrists from failed suicide attempts. She has stopped trying to end her life after meeting Haseo.
- Subverted in the opening scene of Persona 3: Yukari is shown pointing a gun at her throat and trying to pull the trigger with shaking hands, then dropping it and crying, but it turns out she was only trying to summon her Persona, not kill herself.
Visual Novels Edit
- Yaginuma's sister in Kara no Shoujo attempted suicide and failed, but there was too long of a time without air getting to the brain and she was left brain damaged.
- What happens to Aeka in Yume Miru Kusuri if you aren't on her path (or if you get her bad ending). She survives, and spends the rest of her life comatose in the hospital.
Real Life Edit
- Mithridates, the king best known for taking minimal doses of poison every day to avoid being poisoned, also faced defeat, so he... poisoned himself. Astoundingly enough, this failed to work, so he got one of his retainers to kill him with a sword.
- Mark Antony, upon hearing of his fleet's defeat, tried to throw himself on his sword. Didn't work. Or rather, it worked, but not as speedily as he probably hoped.
- Maximilien Robespierre; most sources agree that he tried to shoot himself during The Thermidorian Reaction , but missed and hit his jaw.
- Stalin's son Yakov Dzhugashvili also attempted suicide. Stalin, who didn't like him, noted that he couldn't even get suicide right.
- The Darwin Awards have a whole Honorable Mention section for this. A particularly interesting one: a guy who took poison holding a loaded gun while his neck was in a noose on a tree overlooking a sheer drop into the sea. He drank the poison, jumped off, and shot himself. Except he missed, hitting the rope instead. He survived the drop into the water, but swallowing seawater made him vomit the poison. A boat picked him up and took him to a hospital, where he later died of hypothermia. (Source: Darwin Award Urban Legend (sadly enough).)
- Napoleon Bonaparte carried a vial of poison with him after the retreat from Moscow in 1812. He drank it in 1814 after surrendering to the Allied armies, but after two years it had lost most of its toxicity and he survived.
- It's possible, though unpleasant, to survive gunshot wounds to important body parts. The skull, especially the face, is surprisingly good at protecting the brain, and it's not always clear to a layperson what parts of the brain are necessary for life rather than less vital functions like conscious thought, memory, or motor control.
- In one notorious case, a man shot himself in the head five times. The first four shots all missed the brain. (Sadly, the last one was dead-on... though it took two hours for him to die.)
- Ricky Ray Rector, after killing a police officer, shot himself in the forehead and severed three inches of his left frontal lobe, effectively giving himself a lobotomy.
- An English botanist in Australia tried to kill himself by eating a poisonous root. Being English, however, he boiled the root first, robbing it of its poisonous qualities - thereby inventing Tapioca.
- Another Urban Legend. Tapioca - starch made from cassava root - has been a staple in South America for centuries. It's true that it needs to be boiled for detoxification, though.
- Rotten.com's "Motorcycle" guy, who blew his face off with a shotgun and apparently survived, giving himself a Fate Worse Than Death. The wrong way to eat your gun.
- Two guys attempted suicide after allegedly hearing subliminal messages in Judas Priest's Stained Class album. One succeeded, the other failed, but blew out his maxilla.
- Herbert Sobel, the universally hated captain portrayed by David Schwimmer in Band of Brothers became greatly depressed and resentful after the war and finally shot himself in the head in the '60s--except it failed to kill him and rendered him blind. He lived for seventeen more years in an assisted living facility and eventually died of malnutrition. He may have been terrible to his men, but that's still depressing as fuck.
- Kirk Douglas attempted suicide once, but when he stuck the barrel of the gun in his mouth, he hit his front teeth and it hurt so much that he forgot all about the suicide. Then he decided that if he was so worried about some aching teeth, he probably did not have enough reason to kill himself.
- On one episode of Stan Lee's Superhumans, one of the people interviewed attempted to kill himself by grabbing the coils of a power station at a younger age. He was unharmed due to the superhuman level of electrical resistance his body has.
- Nedeljko Cabrinovic, a would-be assassin of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, had a spectacularly Bungled Suicide to go with his Bungled Assassination. After accidentally blowing up the car behind Franz Ferdinand's vehicle, Cabrinovic tried to kill himself by jumping in the nearby river -- which was only three foot deep. Then he tried to shoot himself, only to discover that his gun had gotten wet and wouldn't fire. Finally, he took a cyanide pill, which turned out to be old, and only succeeded in making Cabrinovic throw up. Then he nearly got killed by the angry mob who had witnessed his attempt on Franz Ferdinand's life, before the local police intervened and saved him.
- For an encore, Gavrilo Princip, the assassin who actually ended up killing Franz Ferdinand later that day, tried two out of the three suicide methods that Cabrinovic had used -- and also failed to kill himself, as his cyanide pill was from the same batch, and the assassins' pistols were of such crappy quality that they tended to misfire even when they weren't wet (though unfortunately for Franz Ferdinand and his wife, it did work when Princip shot them). Both men subsequently died of natural causes in a Serbian prison during the course of World War I.
- Hideki Tojo (Prime Minister of Japan during World War Two) shot himself, but was revived by the Americans. Who then hanged him for war crimes. For more details about his execution, see the Real Life section of Crowning Moment of Awesome.