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Darwin Awards

Named in honor of Charles Darwin, a Darwin Award is a manifestation of Internet humor, a dubious/sarcastic honor awarded to those members of the species Homo sapiens who have improved the human gene pool by removing themselves from it in a spectacularly stupid fashion. The more imbecilic the cause of premature demise, the better the chances of an individual scooping the prize, i.e. by killing or sterilizing himself, thereby removing an inept set of genes from the gene pool. One must behave in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, such as juggling hand grenades (Croatia, 2001), jumping out of a plane to film skydivers while not wearing a parachute yourself (North Carolina, 1987), or using a lighter to illuminate a fuel tank to make sure it contains no inflammable vapors (São Paulo, 2002).

Honorable Mentions can go to those who did not completely succeed in removing themselves from the gene pool, by no fault of their own. Their foolish and dangerous acts are worth mentioning, if only to keep others from standing near them during their next attempt.

Although some of the better-known Darwin Award recipients have proven to be fictitious, such as the JATO Rocket Car, the exploits of the majority of Award winners have been independently verified from original source material.

While most Darwin winners receive the award posthumously, death is not required as the awardee has only to remove himself from the gene pool. In some cases, the winners have rendered themselves unable to procreate, but are still alive.

The whole process is overseen by the project's creator, Wendy Northcutt, a.k.a. Darwin.

Table of contents
1 Rules
2 Urban Legends
3 Mottos
4 History
5 Books
6 External link



The 5 requirements for a Darwin are

A disputed issue, due to cloning and donation of cells and celibacy. Should the elderly be allowed to win, their death having no impact on the gene pool? The general rule of thumb is that if the candidate no longer has the physical werewithal to breed with a mate on a deserted island, they are out of the gene pool.

The candidate's idiocy must be extremely unique. Someone who goes to bed with a lit cigarette in their mouth is not eligible. Someone who asks their friend to shoot them with cigarette butts (Woodbine, NJ, 2002) is.

A hapless bystander being hit by an anvil dropped from a skyscraper has suffered from bad luck. If you are hit by the anvil you rigged above your balcony to kill those squawking pigeons, you are eligible for a Darwin Award. The death of innocent bystanders rules one out for a Darwin Award. There is no award for taking someone else out of the gene pool in an extraordinarily stupid manner, even if the bystander did have some genes in common with the idiot. They rarely do anyway. Thus, the Camden, NJ man who ran over a nun while trying to smoke crack and drive with his feet at the same time will NEVER be given an award. However, the Virginia murderer who wrote a gloating letter of confession to the prosecutor's office "to show you how stupid y'all are" after his acquittal is, because the letter was not the cause of the girl's death.

The nominee must be at least 16 years of age and free of mental handicaps.

The story must be backed up by reputable newspaper articles, confirmed television reports, and/or responsible eyewitnesses.

Also, the nominee must have been discovered this year. The clock has just started for last year's hide and seek winner whose skeleton was just found in a narrow well.

Not Darwins

Urban Legends

If a story is found to be untrue, it is disqualified and placed in a special section of the archives entitled "Urban Legends".


Mottos include, among many others:


Northcutt began collecting the stories in 1993 when she was studying at Stanford University. She began a short mailing list of her friends, and as they forwarded these e-mails around, she started getting nominations from far and wide. When the Stanford server became overloaded, she moved the project from to, where they remain to this day.


Three books of the best stories have been published.

External link

See also: schadenfreude.