Dead Hand Shot

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Buried in a salt field; a very bitter end.

This is a stock type of camera shot that is also popular for posters and cover art. The story typically has death or murder as a central element, but featuring a corpse front and center, especially a very maimed one, prominently on the box art is usually not considered a good way to sell. So a compromise is used, an artfully limp and bloody hand is shown, perhaps holding (or dropping) an important object. Of course, the hand may be separate from the body, or itself badly damaged.

Subtrope of Gory Discretion Shot. See also Empathy Doll Shot.

No real life examples, please; Real Life does not have Discretion Shots of any sort.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Dead Hand Shot include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Happens to a schoolgirl that Vampire Princess Miyu bit for blood and accidentally killed by fully draining her in the fourth OVA. First there's a Scream Discretion Shot to the school building and a bunch of students as another girl finds her, then a while later we see the girl's body from a long distance, and last but not least we're shown her hand and some strands of her long hair. Happens around 0:36
  • Happens in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conquer of Shamballa, mixed with an Empathy Doll Shot. We hear a scream, see a gust of wind, then cue a hand underneath a pile of debris right next to a teddy bear.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, as Vegeta draws his final breath on Namek, his tear-blurred vision fades from his point of view, and we next see a close-up of his gloved hand falling onto the ground, followed by a shot of his body shivering with his eyes closed before becoming still and lifeless, followed by a gust of wind blowing on his body.
  • In the School Days HQ-exclusive bad ending (seen here), Kotonoha is pushed by Sekai onto train tracks and is killed by the arriving train. Right after the train hits, the scene cuts to Makoto holding her torn-off hand
  • Happens to Nono Motoe in Blood C. Or better said, we see her legs after she and her twin sister Nene are horribly eaten alive in front of their friend Saya Kisaragi. And then it's subverted: it was all an act. They do get killed off again... and it's much worse.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The cover to Captain America (comics) #25 features Cap's gloved hand laying dead on the cover, amidst newspaper scraps. This was the issue that he (supposedly) died.

Film[edit | hide]

  • The image comes from the Mexican film Bajo la Sal (Under the Salt). The movie itself also uses this shot several times to depict the murdered women found this way.
  • Brick uses this on the poster and in the film for the protagonist's dead ex-girlfriend in the beginning.
  • Citizen Kane starts off with a shot of Kane's hand holding a snowglobe, then dropping it when he dies.
  • The George Romero Dawn of the Dead movie has a zombie hand too, and those are the living dead. The hand doesn't have the courtesy to lie there prettily though. It grasps.
  • The poster for the first Saw movie had this.
  • The horror movie House, starring William Katt.
  • The ending of the 1930 film version of All Quiet on the Western Front.
  • Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, complete with dropped apple. Of course, it's only "sleeping death".
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, a dying pirate captain's hand drops an apple.
  • William Wallace after his execution at the end of Braveheart.
  • After Neil kills himself in Dead Poets Society ... though the drama is ruined somewhat by the subsequent slo-mo shot.
  • Seen with Wilson's suicide by gunshot in The Great Gatsby.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • When the Doctor dies permanently in the Doctor Who episode "Turn Left", his body is covered with a sheet, but his limp hand falls into view and drops the sonic screwdriver.
  • The Plague Dogs: The scene where the dog shoots the hunter in the head.

Video Games[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 cartoon loved this trope. Standouts include Splinter (who in reality wasn't seriously hurt, although that didn't stop producers from using the shot to suggest it in the episode's promo), Tang Shen (who did).
  • Near the end of the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "Undersea Urgency", Jonny and other survivors of a doomed Underwater Base (overrun by C.H.U.D.-like creatures awakened by a a seaquake), one of surviving scientists tries to go back for one of the dead creatures (For Science!!). Turns out the creature (and it's inhuman maw full of razor-sharp teeth) is Not Quite Dead. Cue Dead Hand Shot.