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Not all protagonist are trained killers with a casual, even irreverent relationship with death. They don’t serve as Death’s right hand or God’s appointed Angel of Retribution. To them death is something to be feared, something that happens to someone else and certainly not something they would cause.
Until they do.
Then they realize that These Hands Have Killed.
This trope centers around the trauma of taking a life. Often those characters who fall into this trope are people unaccustomed to death. This trope might serve as rite of passage not only for the character but also for the work, showing that things just got darker and grittier. Even if the character is in a line of work that requires them to deal death at a moment’s notice, a certain death might stick in their mind, the death of a friend, love one or innocent. Or the collective weight of all the lives taken might trigger this trope as well. The lack of this trope might signify that the character is a sociopath who intended to kill all along and might even enjoy being the Ripper’s assistant.