Logo that says, The Darwin Awards.

History & Rules

What Are The Darwin Awards?

In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution*, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival.

These individuals carry out disastrous plans that any average pre-teen knows are the result of a really bad idea. The single-minded purpose and self-sacrifice of the winners, and the spectacular means by which they snuff themselves, make them candidates for the honor of winning a Darwin Award. The terrorist who mails a letter bomb with insufficient postage deserves to win a Darwin Award when he blows himself up opening the returned package. As does the fisherman who throws a lit stick of dynamite for his faithful golden retriever to fetch and return to him. As do the surfers who celebrate a hurricane by throwing a beachfront party and getting washed out to sea.

Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards represent examples of evolution in action by showing what happens to people who are unable to cope with the basic dangers of the modern world. These ironic tales of fatal misadventure illustrate some of life's most important lessons.

Most of us know instinctively that the words "trust me" and "light this fuse" are a recipe for disaster. We assume that basic common sense eliminates the need for public service announcements such as, "Warning: Coffee is hot!" and "Superman cape does not enable wearer to fly." But the true stories you will read show that common sense is really not so common. No amount of overzealous caution would have helped the man who used household current to electrocute fish in a pond, then waded in to collect his catch without removing the wire. As you'll see, there are even people who need to be told not to peek inside a gas can using a cigarette lighter.

The Darwin Awards are macabre tales that make us laugh while instructing us in the laws of common sense. Consider the man who crawled under the roller coaster guardrail to retrieve his hat. When the next coaster came by, an unfortunate rider broke her leg on his skull. Ouch! From our point of view, the man who lost his head is a Darwin Award winner, and his story is just another episode in the saga of survival of the fittes.

The Darwin Awards can be considered a rusty chromosome award for those who douse the gene pool with chlorine.

The Rules

This is all in jest. but we do have five important rules to consider when deciding eligibility — Nominees improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from it in an obviously stupid way. They are self-selected accidental examples of a fatal lack of common sense. And their risky move is new and exciting.

All humans who meet the following criteria are eligible to win:

* Reproduction *
   Out of the gene pool: dead or sterile.
* Self-Selection *
   Cause one's own demise.
* Excellence *
   Sublimely idiotic misapplication of judgment.
* Maturity *
   Capable of sound judgment.
* Veracity *
   The event must be true.
 

Too Common To Win Rule

   All. Too. Common!
(unless more sensational than average!) * Whizzing on an electric wire
* Smoking in an oxygen tent
* Being hit by a train or automobile
* Aerosol cans, etc., in the oven
* Climbing into zoo cages
* Falling off precipice while posing or pissing
* Carbon monoxide poisoning
* Most autoerotic deaths
* all too common!

Innocent Bystander Rule

The death or serious injury innocent bystanders absolutely rules out a Darwin Award. We don't applaud those who remove others from the gene pool, accidentally or purposely. Especially if they share DNA — for instance a parent who is involved in their childrens' death is NOT funny and NOT a Darwin Award. in common.

Injuring bystanders is also frowned upon.
 

Science Of Evolution

In his seminal work, "The Origin of Species," Charles Darwin presented evidence that species evolve over time to fit their environment better. Do the Darwin Awards really represent examples of human evolution in action?

Consider that there are three (3) requirements for evolution to occur. First, a species must show diversity. For example, some people are taller than others. Second, there must be a selective pressure working on this trait. If tall people whack their heads on doorframes more frequently than their shorter fellows, then short people may have a survival advantage. Third, the trait must be inheritable. Because tall people have taller children on average, in this example evolution would favors short people genetics. Within a few generations, our species would become shorter, and better at evading low-hung doorframes!
 

The stories on this website, which range from sublimely ironic to pathetically stupid, display examples of trial and (fatal) error that vividly illustrate evolution in all its selective glory.

Internet History
1993 - Present

Wendy Northcutt (me) started collecting the stories that make up the Darwin Awards in 1993, while I was doing biochemistry research at Stanford University. I found dumb deaths in newspaper articles from around the world, rewrote them to bring out the humor, and sent them to a small email list of friends.

As people passed these emails around, I began to receive nominations from far and wide. At first no one cared about truth, but after awhile people started to agitate for "only the true ones" so I began to verified the legitimacy. Eventually the Stanford server became overloaded and the sysadmin Lee Kozar started to gripe. So I moved the pages to www.DarwinAwards.com, set up voting and submission mechanisms, and the super-popular Darwin Awards Philosophy Forum using UBB code. With all this work, my website became the primary source of, and repository for, the Darwin Awards.

Through word-of-mouth, as well as my email newsletter, the Darwin Awards (and my website) attracted a huge following. The dark humor, engaging stories, and mordant social commentary have made the Darwin Awards one of the most popular humor sites on the web.

Furthermore...

2021

Superman Stupor-man
A relatable Retro Darwin Award prank called 'Supermanning' gained popularity in the US Navy ten years before this 2005 fatality: Hold tight to a makeshift harness and leap from the rear-end of an airborne military helicopter, to fly like... Stupor-Man!! ...

Pretty Fly For A Dead Guy
A West Houston student pilot named Solomon was allowed to solo in a Cessna 172 a few weeks before the incident described below. After the solo flight, the exhilarated 23-year-old decided to buy a different plane ...

Struck Speechless
Roll a fat cigar of brainpower for two mental midges who climbed out of their vehicles on busy Interstate 80 to argue about who slammed into whom. In short order both argle bargle bots got slammed, this time withou ...

Rock Hound
Opus-40 is an ambitious stoneworks compared to Stonehenge: Six acres of stone ridges, bridges, and moats puzzled together tightly using no mortar by Mr. Harvey Fite. A magnificent landscape of Hudson Valley stoner madnesss! ...

2020

Pinnacle Of Stupidity
In the end, cold was not the culprit! 'Hands are numb...but must operate smart phone,' muttered 47-year-old Tedzu to his livestream audience as he skidded and stumbled up snow-covered Mt Fuji ...

A Slack-Robatic Effort
At midnight the phone rang for Police Inspector Campbell Hill. 'What? Someone fell into the sinkhole??? Bloody hell. Better ring up the Fire Department. We will need their Rope Rescue Rig for this one.' Cave ...

As Buried As The Treasure
Michael Sexson, 58, had read of a buried treasure from a book authored by an eccentric and controversial art dealer named Forrest Fenn. In 'The Thrill of the Chase,' Fenn claims that he himself buried two ...

2019

Pilot Patrick's In-Flight Shower
With 10,000 hours of flight time and an instructor certificate, when aviation fuel (AVGAS) entered the cockpit and sloshed around his feet Patrick's attitude was, 'What, Me Worry?' ...

Maine Man Boffed By Booby-Trap
Maine Man Boffed By Booby-Trap Ronald Cyr, 65, was shot dead on Thanksgiving evening in the rural town of Van Buren. Upon investigation, it was determined that the shooter was none other than Ron ...

Two Texans Die Trying
May their experiment be a warning to you, my friend. The Drawbridge on Black Bayou was evidentially an irresistible Friday Night challenge to Texas Man (32) and Texas Man Two (aged 23)... ...

Rhino Poacher Killed By Elephant
It makes a funny headline, but it's no laughing matter. The elephant-trampled and lion-digested poacher had illegally crept into a national park with murder in mind, for there is ...

Boomerang Drone Zone
An ISIS fighter in Iraq was killed by hxx own drone, launched to attack UK Troops based near Mosul. A security source reported, 'This idiot wired up a drone with explosives, but was killed when the batteries... ...

2018

The Missionary Position
John Allen Chau, a self proclaimed world explorer inspired by Livingston and Jesus, was killed by the very tribe of natives he was offering eternal life. ...

Wacky Welder
The tale of Howard Miller, 39, professional welder, illustrates the pitfalls of ignoring high school chemistry with a time-saving invention. Miller spent his last moments helping weld an exhaust pipe onto a classic Holden Kingswood sedan... ...

Mind The Cone Zone
A Wanaquer man died in a vehicle fire after he drove around barricade cones and onto live power wires in Franklin Lakes morning. A good son, Anthony G. was en-route to his father's house to shovel the driveway... ...

Focus On The Bear
While driving himself and some passengers back home from a wedding, Prabhu Bhatara parked the car on the roadside to relieve himself in the woods when he spied an INJURED bear. Instead of calling the authorities t ...

Dead On Valentines Day
A 19-year-old and his soon-to-be-ex were walking along the beautiful Havel River, quarreling. The frustrated man suddenly shoved the woman into the icy river! She could swim, he could not... ...

A Gun Named 'Lorena'
The Buckeye Police Department reports that a man accidentally shot his own sausage while shopping in the meat aisle at Walmart. Arizona law does not require a permit to carry a firearm, so o ...

Reticulated Python
Zaim Kosnan spotted a twelve-foot reticulated python dozing on the side of the road. 'That sizeable snake is worth money!' realized the 35-year-old, and he swung by his house for gloves and a sickle. Sweet succes ...

Abu Hamam
A sexagenarian was examining his personal weapon in his home when he inadvertently discharged it into his face! Twenty-one days after accidentally shooting himself, Abu Hamam, 62, succumbed to the self-inflicted head-bang... ...

GEOcaching Out!
On a pleasant afternoon, the Motolský Brook tunnel entrance is picturesque. Not ominous. But take a look at this image of the tunnel. In a rainstorm, would YOU walk down THAT surging creek and disappear into THAT dark drainage culvert?n ...

Road-Rage-Aholics
A Darwin Double! After a road collision near Stary Krzew, two men emerged from their damaged cars and began arguing over the incident. The argument grew into a physical fight that lurched from the verge into the ad ...

Booze Cruise Loser
Boston friends fondly confess that there ARE Boston Harbor Booze Cruises. It's a thing. But for Aaron D., it's a thing of the past. Join me in mourning the colossal misjudgment that doomed this 21-year-old spark of light. ...

Darwin Award Shorts - Old Folks Reunion
MARCH 2018, BIRMINGHAM ENGLAND || Man suffers a fatal heart attack after getting his head stuck beneath an electric footrest at the cinema while retrieving his cellphone from the floor: ...

Lovestruck Louis III
Blindly following lust, the world came crashing down upon the head of King Louis III, overzealous ruler of Francia. Despite great military success, great loss followed on its heels when a comely lady caught his eye... ...

Fumble Tumble
Like a plot out of Sherlock Holmes, officials found a dead body mysteriously crumpled at the bottom of an UP-escalator at an Amtrak station at the New Carrollton stop at 2AM. Perplexed... ...

Killer Whalebone
Historic Darwin Award! Statesman Gouverneur Morris, a signatory to the Articles of Confederation and U.S. Constitution, died in 1816 from an infection caused by shoving a whalebone into his urethra to clear a blockage. ...

Mammoth Morons
Today's Group Darwin Award is for the males of the Woolly Mammoth species, Mammuthus primigenius, an elephant species extinct for about 10,000 years... in part due to the males' penchant for fossilization... ...

Bag-atelle
The ban on shopping bags has taken a terrible toll! A 58-year-old woman was run over by her Mazda CX7 after she pulled over to check whether the grocery bags were in the trunk. The car, evidently not secured by the parki ...

Not A Darwin Winner
Dozed To Death: A deadly game of hide-and-seek with a bulldozer happened after a county maintenance worker discovered a dozen hidden pot plants and called police. Here's why this is NOT A DARWIN AWARD... ...

2017

Red Evolution
A Russian welder working in Tselinnoe noticed how well a fire extinguisher fits into a decommissioned artillery howitzer. Inspired, he stuffed the fire extingusher down the barrel... ...

Steamy Buns
A spiritual magician styled 'Black Dog' died while performing a ritual to cleanse body and soul. He seated himself inside an industrial wok, alongside sweet corn and vegetarian buns, and the steamer lid was lowered... ...

Forklift Around And Find Out
Logistics was uppermost in the mind of an employee of the Tanarumono Logistics Center when he needed to change a lightbulb ten meters overhead. The forklift could only lift him 2.5 meters, and that was clearly n ...

Amphetamines And Aerobatics
'Flying ICON-A5 low over the water is like flying a fighter jet!' tweeted Roy Halladay to numerous followers on the maiden flight of his brand-new Amphibious Sports Plane. One follower tweeted, 'Roy plea ...

Grim Roofer
What's that smell? A burglar removed a few roofing shingles and climbed into the roof of a pharmacy in Queensbury... ...

Snapchat Prat
In a new twist on, 'Hold my beer and watch this!' a teen handed Snapchat to a friend and with a whoop of glee he leapt over a foot-bridge railing, intending to land dramatically on a parapet below... ...

Backseat Drivers
Double Darwin Award winners redefine 'Backseat Driving.' In a tale of Russian intelligence--or lack thereof--an amorous couple died while procreating in the back seat of their Niva SUV situated near a lake... ...

Golf Cart + Garden Hose
Fun-loving Cody Horn's last act was to pilot a golf cart towed by garden hose behind a vehicle on State Highway 4, east of Angels Camp... ...

#ElephantsWantPrivacy
Three male humans, three male elephants, and a dream of a perfect wildlife selfie leads to the first 2017 Darwin Award! You don't have to outrun the elephant...you just have to outrun the other guy. ...

One Way Ticket
Blasting apart a ticketing machine at the train station was supposed to buy him a ticket to the good life, but instead the 31-year-old purchased passage in the opposite direction, losing his life in an explosion that ...

Air Strike Out
Standing on a truck on an airfield runway, our Double-Darwin Award Winners Nitzia and Clarissa chose a regrettable location for a cell phone selfie... ...

Pistol Of Justice
'Divine punishment,' said the judge, deciding not to impose jail time on a man who shot himself in the testicles while carrying an illegal weapon in his waistband... ...

Flat Hatting Pilots
Flying home from a week-long Naval event that included Low Altitude Awareness Training, two experienced military pilots traded off at the controls while 'flat hatting' at low altitude and high speed... ...

503 Server Overload
Locked in his bedroom by Mom, a French man leaves by climbing down the ethernet cable... ...

2016

Soaked To The Bone In Yellowstone
Colin Scott, 23, was enjoying a graduation vacation at Yellowstone when the beautiful hot springs reminded him that he could use a good soak! But 'hot-potting' is banned because you will die... ...

Masturbator Meets Hard End
He should have kept his hands on the wheel. Referred to as a 'distracted driver,' Clifford Ray Jones, 58, lost his life in the wee hours early Sunday morning when he rolled his Toyota while driving on the onramp ...

iPhone Shocker
Drop an iPhone into your bath, no biggie, all you get is a nasty repair bill. But drop a _charging_ iPhone into your bath water...and suddenly coroners are demanding warning labels. ...

Her Sleep Number Was Up
Sidney Zelaya, 20, was riding a mattress on top of a van when both of them slipped off the vehicle. She was nominated for the notorious Darwin Award when it became apparent she was not going to bounce back. ...