Death is one of the main aspects of Happy Wheels. As like in real life, dead characters cannot move or make sounds (with the exception of breaking bones and splattering bodies). Death can be caused in a variety of ways:
- Decapitation or the head being destroyed or ripped off.
- Crushed by a meteor or any heavy object.
- Torn in half or the pelvis being destroyed. (characters bleed out for 5 seconds after being torn in half and they die afterwards)
- Falling from a great height.
- Shredded by Lawnmower Man's lawnmower & Helicopter Man's helicopter blades.
- Stabbed in the head by spikes, blades or shards of glass (glass shards have to be big to kill).
- Sometimes, when you go up off the screen with great speed, you die and you return in pieces.
- Being smashed into a wall or "ceiling" at excessive speeds.
- A blade weapon getting stuck through your torso putting on so much pressure that it tears you in half.
- Falling down off of the screen.
Hazards are what mainly cause death. The arrow gun, harpoon gun, and spike set kill the character if they get stabbed through the head. The landmine and homing mine blow the character to pieces. And the wrecking ball smashes the character to pieces when a huge amount of force is exerted.
Some miscellaneous items will also cause death, including the blade weapon and the glass panel, which can kill the character if they are stabbed in the head (if the level maker allows it). The van and the meteor can crush the character, even without falling from a great height. The smaller miscellaneous items can also cause death, but only when a lot are placed in a level and fall a long way, or are launched at an extremely high speed at the character.
Lawnmower Man and Helicopter Man are the only characters whose vehicles can cause death on purpose. The lawnmower can shred people up and might leave some body parts lying around, while the helicopter can cut and stab people with the propellers. Other vehicles can cause death, but only when a character gets their head crushed when they end up being stuck upside-down or when they crush an NPC after falling a long way. Some heavier vehicles can also crush the chest by simply driving over it.
- When a character falls from the bottom of the screen, they are not actually seen to die, but they simply disappear, as if they had fallen into a giant hole in the ground. It is hidden, but there is an invisible floor down there, that can be seen by playing Happy Green Hills as Irresponsible Dad and dropping the child under the bridge in the cave or Irresponsible Mom and dropping one of her kids. Sometimes, there is blood spurting on the map after you fall.
- NPCs don't die 5 seconds after being torn in half nor after losing their pelvis.
- It is rare to see an NPC's intestines.
- You can rarely survive under the screen but if you don't come up right away you die/disappear.
- In most levels, you must be alive to win, however, the primary and secondary characters' limbs can collect tokens.
- The character does not have to be alive to win when activating a victory trigger.
- Characters will often scream as they die, but their voice will immediately stop once dead.
- Unlike in most games, the level will not automatically end when the main character dies, instead the player must select the "exit game" option in the pause menu.
- Lawnmower Man doesn't actually kill an NPC when sucking one up into the lawnmower, unless you hear their head decapitate or explode when inside.