Body of the Week

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

A subtrope of Victim of the Week.

Some weekly TV shows revolve around dead people. A homicide unit is pretty boring without a dead guy to investigate. A coroner needs someone to cut open. A funeral parlor that has no corpse is just no fun at all. Thus, these shows feature a Body of the Week.

Most shows of these genres open with a living person who goes on to die early in the show. On most of these shows, the dead body is implicit. You don't actually need to see the corpse to know that it exists. On others, the body becomes an integral prop. A funeral home needs a casket and mourners to interrupt the family squabbles.

All these shows have in common is the need for a new corpse, every single week.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Examples of Body of the Week include:

Anime and Manga

Live-Action TV

  • Six Feet Under, the HBO series set in a funeral home, started every episode with an ordinary person going about their life and having it rudely interrupted in some disastrous way. In most episodes this was done to great comedic effect.
  • Waking the Dead did this, albeit with very old bodies.
  • Police Squad!, a one season comedy starring Leslie Nielson, hung a lampshade on this by opening every episode with a "special guest star" who died moments after appearing on camera.
  • Quincy, M.E. was a Forensic Drama about a medical examiner (Jack Klugman) who solved murders through forensic investigations. The show always opened with a person dying of seemingly ordinary causes.
  • Law & Order from at least season 3 on. With the exception of episodes that deal with cold cases, in which case it's a Skeleton of the Week.
  • NCIS lives and breathes on this trope. Even if the episode's A plot focuses on an arc, the body of the week will always occupy the accompanying B-plot.
  • Bones does this with freaky corpses.
  • Pushing Daisies is interesting in that the corpse is temporarily resurrected for one minute, so you can get some idea of what they were like in life.
  • On Castle, the vic is sometimes only shown after the corpse is discovered, but sometimes shown getting killed.
  • CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI New York each have this at the core of their plot.
  • Murder, She Wrote in which Jessica deduced the murderer (of the week).
  • Perry Mason in which Perry represented someone incorrectly accused of murder (of the week).
  • Monk, where the title character solves a murder in almost every episode. However, there are select episodes where no murder is committed although people do die, or Monk is solving a case that does not involve a murder.
  • Dexter is about a Serial Killer Killer, so the typical episode will have a Serial Killer or other Horrible Person of the Week murdered by the end.
  • Ghost Whisperer has a Ghost of the Week (occasionally, two in one episode) in every episode. The ghost's corresponding physical body is usually not seen. Each episode typically deals with the protagonist, Melinda Gordon (who is one of a handful of still living people who can see and interact with ghosts), assisting that week's ghost in dealing with some unresolved issue from their human life. This can range anywhere from discovering the details of how the person died to delivering a final message to their still living family members, oftentimes both.
  • Tru Calling had a corpse supernaturally call out to the title character each week, which sent her back in time to try to prevent his or her death.

Video Games

  • In the Ace Attorney series, the player character always seems to wind up solving a murder case, despite not specifically being a homicide lawyer. This is even lampshaded the one time they're dealing with a theft instead of a homicide. And that one gets a body pretty quick anyway.
  • Ghost Trick, by the same crew, has Sissel dealing with a dead body nearly every chapter. Of course, his job is to make sure they never become that dead body in the first place.