Drop-Dead Gorgeous

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Nothing says men's formal wear like strangled women in their underwear!

And now she's dead
Forever dead
Forever dead and lovely now.

Tom Waits, "Dead and Lovely"

There seems to be nothing more dramatic to crime stories than a dead, naked woman. Whether fully or partially nude, dead women are far more likely to be sexualized than males. Often this is justified by the murdered women being the victims of sexual crimes, while other times the purpose seems purely to titillate the audience. Feminist literature is stocked to bursting with analysis and condemnation of this trend.

Naked corpses might lead to I Love the Dead. Contrast Jacob Marley Apparel. See also Death by Sex, The Murder After, Disposable Sex Worker, and Interplay of Sex and Violence.

Not to be confused with the 1999 film Drop Dead Gorgeous.

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

Examples of Drop-Dead Gorgeous include:


  • The pictured ad apparently wants you to remember that Duncan Quinn's high-quality ties are also useful for strangling half-naked women on the hood of your European sportscar. Duncan Quinn: for the fashionable psychopath!
  • An ad series for the Hitman video games featured assassinated victims of the main character. The two female victims in the series are both sexualized, with one dressed in lingerie and the other naked in her bathtub.

Anime and Manga

  • My-HiME episode 11, where Orphans (mistakenly called "vampires" by some of the students) randomly searched young females for the mark of the HiME. The one girl at the beginning of the episode who was attacked lived through her injuries. Later in the episode, the same thing happens to Aoi, and everyone thinks Sister Yukariko was the one behind it, because she's spotted at the scene with her bow in her hand, and Aoi has a few arrows sticking out of her.
  • You can't throw an amputated ear without hitting one of these in Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.

Comic Books

  • The first Blacksad book begins with a murder scene: the victim is a woman, wearing vaporous night clothing, with one breast exposed.
  • In Sin City, it´s precisely this that sets Marv in his Roaring Rampage of Revenge.


  • Several James Bond films feature the trope:
    • One of cinema's most enduring images is the naked body of a murdered woman painted gold in Goldfinger. Of course, the murder method is pure pseudoscience.
    • Quantum of Solace has a Shout-Out to the Goldfinger body when: Agent Fields is discovered to have drowned in oil and her apparently naked body laid out across a bed.
    • In Casino Royale Vesper Lynd's corpse has a Wet Sari Scene.
  • Most slasher films are based around the concept of naked or partially clad girls getting killed.
  • The first victim in the first Lethal Weapon movie had on just a skimpy robe which was worn open and fluttered around her otherwise nude body.
  • The Alfred Hitchcock movie Frenzy.
  • In the Hitchcock classic Psycho, Janet Leigh's character is slashed to death while taking a shower. Camera angles and fast cutting give the impression of a naked body, though no actual nudity is shown.
  • Perfume features a lengthy montage of the naked corpses of virgin girls who have been dumped around the city by the Villain Protagonist, who kills them to steal their scent.
  • In The General's Daughter, the woman of the title is found naked, strangled, and bound to the earth. It turns out she was recreating a previous sexual assault when a psycho soldier found her and killed her.
  • In After Hours, the protagonist discovers Rosanna Arquette's naked body in her bed after she has committed suicide by sleeping pills. He had rejected her advances out of fears that she had terrible burn scars, so he pulls the blanket off of her and inspects her body, finding only a tattoo.
  • A gag in Bad Boys 2 involves the heroes discovering the corpse of a naked woman with gigantic breasts. Martin Lawrence's character hides underneath the sheet with the body and stares at her breasts while Mooks search the area. Negative reviews of the film made particular mention of this scene's poor taste.
  • In Interview With a Vampire, Kirsten Dunst's character hides the naked body of a woman with her dolls, reflecting her inability to ever grow into an adult. In another scene, a theatrical vampire troupe kills a naked woman onstage before an unwitting audience.
  • In Rivers Edge, a teenager leaves the naked body of his murdered girlfriend at the titular river's edge and shows it to his group of friends, who then swear to silence.
  • Whispers in the Dark: Deborah Kara Unger is killed by Alan Alda and her naked body is later discovered hanging from the ceiling.
  • In Angel Heart, Mickey Rourke discovers the naked body of Lisa Bonet, and it turns out he murdered her and suppressed the memory. The squicky sex and violence of the film caused quite a stir over Lisa Bonet's involvement, who was known at the time for her role in The Cosby Show.
  • In Underworld Evolution, Selene kills Andreas Tanis' vampire concubines. After she leaves, he dumps their naked bodies in the dungeon.
  • In a rare male example, the blind butler in Murder By Death is discovered sitting at a desk, naked. When Dora Charleston wonders aloud what anyone would want with a naked body, her husband whispers into her ear. She smirks incredulously and exclaims, "Oh, that's... tacky!"
  • This happens in Munich to Jeanette, the Dutch assassin. The protagonist even made a point of pushing aside the front of her bathrobe to expose her body; an act he later regrets.
  • The entire plot of the indie comedy Drop Dead Sexy revolves around the theft of the dead body of a beautiful blonde by two small-time crooks so they can hold it for ransom from her equally crooked husband who had her murdered in the first place. The blonde's body, originally clad in a nightgown when the protagonists remove it from its coffin, spends most of the movie stripped down to bra and panties. In a lengthy scene in a morgue, the nude body of another attractive woman, half-covered by a sheet, is prominently featured.
  • Joaquin Phoenix gets a little too excited by naked, dead Kate Winslet in Quills.
  • In The Secret in Their Eyes, Liliana Colotto is found naked on her bedroom floor after being brutally raped and murdered.
  • The Film of the Book of The Lovely Bones was accused by some critics of doing this with the fourteen-year-old protagonist.
  • The 2010 film Drop Dead Gorgeous (not the one in the Film namespace) features a model who dies part-way through a fashion shoot, so the crew completes the shoot with her corpse. The dead model's resulting popularity is a satire on the fashion industry for forcing models to lead unhealthy lifestyles and for presenting lifeless expressions and poses as sexy.
  • In Corpse Bride, Emily is a primary character with an active role in the movie, but she is still dead. Even after having been murdered by Lord Barkis, her fiance in life and decomposed over several years, she is genuinely pretty.
  • The title character in Frank Sinatra's "Tony Rome" sequel, Lady in Cement.


  • The Dresden Files Book One, Storm Front, begins with Harry called to a crime scene involving a naked dead woman—who died in intercourse with an equally naked man, for good measure. It's not particularly erotic, since both victims had their hearts exploded out of their chests with magic.
  • Edgar Allan Poe famously said, "There is nothing more poetic than the death of a beautiful woman."
  • The fully illustrated Who Killed Amanda Palmer by Neil Gaiman.

Live-Action TV

  • A number of episodes of Law & Order and its spin-offs. Of course, given that Law and Order Special Victims Unit partially involves sex crimes, there's a slight justification for it.
  • In Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer's body is found naked and wrapped in a sheet of plastic.
  • CSI episodes often feature young, attractive, female victims in very limited states of dress.
  • Dexter has done this multiple times, maybe most notably when the Trinity Killer murders a very attractive naked woman in a bathtub in the Season 4 premiere. This is paralleled in the season five premiere when the main characters see Rita's dead body in a bathtub, and Masuka says that he's often pictured her naked "but never like this."
  • The Wire:
    • Bunk and McNulty investigate the scene of an old crime where a woman was murdered, while delivering a Cluster F-Bomb. They reference crime scene photos showing the victim wearing only an open bathrobe at the scene. In another episode, drug dealers discover that a naked woman has overdosed at their party, so they dump her body in the trash.
    • In the fifth season, McNulty and another character have a conversation at the morgue regarding a male corpse, which is laying there completely uncovered the whole time.
  • In an early episode from The Shield, Detective Wagenbach can't help but stare at a naked dead woman's breasts. He justifies himself by saying something about how remarkably firm they are, to which detective Claudette Wyms sarcastically replies 'That's called rigor mortis'.
  • In a rare male example, the Poirot episode 'Five Little Pigs' features the very sexualised corpse of Amyas Crale. More than once.
  • An ill-advised episode of America's Next Top Model had the contestants made up as "sexy" corpses who had each been murdered in a different way "by a jealous model," complete with fake wounds, bruises, etc.


  • This is a recurring theme in Serbian artist Dead Body Collection's works. Heck, instances of such have shown up on his covers, such as "Throat," "Catoptrophobia," "She Is Like Winter" and "I Slice Her Body, Over And Over."
  • The video for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Last Dance With Mary Jane" features a morgue employee (Petty) taking a beautiful corpse (Kim Basinger) out for a night on the town.

Video Games

  • Castlevania: Dracula X opens with the sacrifice of a naked young woman (presumably a virgin).

Web Original

  • Perfection Girl is a series of photographs that circulated around the internet of an attractive blonde woman lying in a bed. A block of text linked with the photos claimed that the girl was actually dead, "tricking" people who see the photos into lustful thoughts about a corpse. It's highly dubious that the girl is actually dead, making it sort of an inverse prank.

Real Life

  • Evelyn McHale, photographed minutes after committing suicide by leaping from the Empire State Building in 1947. Called "the most beautiful suicide" by some.
  • This trope is mostly averted in Real Life. Austrian coroner and author of quite darkly humourous popular science books, Hans Bankl, stated once that he hardly ever had any cases in his long career. However, as a young doctor he was confronted with the body of a 16-year old trick shot performer, who had killed herself in an unbelievable manner. According to him she was extraordinarily beautiful, even in death.