RIP, bro. I hope heaven is a swamp. Recently beloved TV personality Steve Irwin passed away at the hands of a stingray. Steve was renowned for his lengthy career that mostly consisted of picking up wild animals, poking them, laughing at them, and generally behaving like a jerk to them. In his non-televised spare time he did a lot to help them out, I guess buying them beer or whatever, which is what endeared him to so many millions. Steve's on-air antics molesting crocodiles like some kind of lunatic was just a small part of his life. True, he was one of the most adored conservationists and documentarians in the world, bringing people and murderous animals closer together through the medium of television. Although he is now dead, he at least died doing what he loved - pestering animals in their native habitat. In this regard we should not look at his passing as being tragic, for he has likely ascended to a higher plane of metaphysical animal molestation.
Steve's stingray-induced demise is nothing new in the realm of celebrity deaths. Many famous stars have lost their lives to vicious beasts - directly or indirectly - over the years. To illustrate that Steve's death was in no way unusual, I have compiled the following list of celebrities and the animals that killed them.
- Christopher Reeve, the most memorable of men to play Superman, was crippled and eventually died from complications resulting from a horse riding accident.
- John Lennon, popular musician and British person, was suffocated to death by a swan's neck.
- Princess Dianna lost her life when her driver swerved to avoid a lobster, causing the vehicle to crash into the thirteenth pillar of the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris.
- Comic actor Phil Hartman was tragically trampled to death by an elephant that, even more tragically, was piloted by his friend and NewsRadio co-star Andy Dick.
- Grammy winner Karen Carpenter was defeated in glorious battle by a tapeworm.
- R&B singer Aaliyah's life was cut short when her private jet crashed into a flock of seagulls and exploded violently over the Bermuda Triangle.
- While coroners ruled it a suicide, Ray Combs' death using a live snake as a noose would not have been possible without the assistance of the snake. Assisted suicides are still illegal in most states, making this a clear-cut case of death by animal.
- Baseball player and famed hunter of rare birds Kirby Puckett died on his attempt to find and capture the elusive Lord God Bird. Though his recovered journal indicates he found the near-extinct woodpecker, the fact that his body was recovered with its eyes poked out suggests he did not succeed in its capture.
- Frank Sinatra passed away after boasting that he could fit an entire squirrel into his mouth. He succeeded in doing so, but was unable to remove it fast enough and choked to death.
- Gene Siskel was famously mauled to death during a taping of Siskel & Ebert by the dog from Beethoven after he gave the film's sequel a negative review.
- Legendary actor Bob Hope was gored to death by a rhinoceros that, experts now agree, mistook him for a mummy.
- Nipsey Russell, venerated African American comedian and actor, lost his life fending off an army of exceptionally smart rats after he became lost in the New York City sewer system.
- Famous religious person Pope John Paul II ended his papal reign in gruesome fashion. A large swarm of bees made their way into Vatican City and stung the pontiff to death.
- Dana Plato from TV's Diff'rent Strokes was impaled by a mounted marlin, causing her slow and painful exsanguination.
- After crashing his personal plane, a wounded John Denver was stalked by marmots for two days before they finally killed and ate him.
- Racing superstar Dale Earnhardt was killed when his vehicle ran over a turtle, launched into the air, and smashed into a wall. The turtle eventually made it to the finish line.
- Television heartthrob Norman Fell, a firm opponent of medicine and hygiene, succumbed to wounds resulting from a raccoon attack, which witnesses say he initiated.
- Like many Americans, John Ritter was killed on September 11. However, he was killed when beavers dammed a river and flooded the valley he lived in.
- Don Knotts' death brought the number of surviving male Three's Company cast members down to one (You're a dead man, Richard Kline!). Knotts was apparently not a fan favorite of the hundreds of owls that descended upon his frail, elderly form. His horrifying death and the ensuing public outcry led Tootsie Roll Industries to stage a mock public execution of its famed "Mr. Owl" character, as well as his removal from all of their advertisements.
- Johnny Carson, strong in his old age, was able to withstand the crushing strength of a fully-grown boa constrictor. However, he was not able to withstand that of a second. His eyeballs literally popped from his head.
- A cenotaph is the only memorial there is for Ernest Borgnine. A highly organized army of ants carried him off some time ago, and his body has yet to be recovered.
- Komodo dragons viciously killed a frightened and confused Ray Charles. Sadly, he was unaware that he was wearing white socks or that his white socks would resemble rats to the reptiles, which wasted no time knocking him to the ground and devouring him. He was also unaware that he was in a Komodo dragon pen at the local zoo.
- James Doohan and DeForest Kelly, stars of Star Trek, both died from contact with poison-skinned frogs, though not at the same time. Fans of Star Trek are no doubt well aware that most of the actors used frog and toad poisons as recreational hallucinogens on the set of the groundbreaking 1960s sci-fi series.
All of these deaths teach us two things. It is neither safe nor healthy to be famous and near animals. However, if you are not famous, animals are generally harmless and loveable creatures, eager to be your friend. Do not be afraid to approach or pet them, no matter how scary they look. In fact, most animals love it when you scream at them and yank on their tails. Get the most out of nature, it is there for your personal entertainment.
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