Due to the Dead

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Giving dues: Klingons howling to the afterlife to warn of a warrior's approach, Luke burning Vader's body on a pyre, a typical Christian burial service

And such were the funeral rites of Hector, tamer of horses.

One mark that distinguishes humans from nonhumans - aside from elephants - is that humans have funeral rites; they regard something as due to the dead and have for a long time. Indeed, since burials leave archaeological evidence, we know that they occurred as long as 300,000 years ago, as a practice among the Neanderthals.

Unsurprisingly, this has been incorporated in art as a trope, as a mark of character, and is Older Than Dirt. Evil characters will violate proper treatment of a corpse by mutilating, reanimating, or even eating the dead, though Due to the Dead is one of the most common standards villains maintain. Good characters will (rarely!) do the same to a dead Complete Monster or the like, but usually are marked by their proper respect for the dead, down to even letting Revenge end when the villain is dead; if they have to destroy bodies to contain a plague, or display it to prove that he is really dead, they will often find it Dirty Business.

Even when you put The Fun in Funeral, and Hilarity Ensues, the humor tends to be dark and the characters nasty.

A wide variety of practices are possible, as in Real Life. Cremation and burial are the most common, but such practices as exposing to the dead to vultures and other unusual methods can be done in fiction as in life. Even slicing up the body—usually regarded as mutilation and proof of evil—has been done in Real Life as a means to free the soul from the body and has featured so in fiction. Preserving parts (usually bones) of the dead can be the mark of a Necromancer or of respect, depending on how used; see the Sub-Trope of Dead Guy on Display.

One funeral practice, however, will put the characters on the evil side, no matter how respectfully they carry it out: Human Sacrifice.

Note that some dead are due more than others. The Heroic Sacrifice calls for a well-attended funeral, making The Hero Famed in Story, and perhaps even a monument. Sometimes to mitigate the effect of Dying Alone; What You Are in the Dark may threaten that the hero will die unmourned. Conversely, some are due less than most; the Complete Monster, the Dirty Coward, etc. may be dumped in an unmarked grave with minimal ceremony.

On the other hand, some of the living owe the dead more than others. Family and friends have a duty to carry this out, often through a Shrine to the Fallen. Strangers who perform such things for the dead are acting out of generosity; a Good Shepherd may perform such rites. Indeed, some ghosts manifest in order to properly reward a total stranger who arranged for the burial.

Other ways in which this trope might present itself: closing the eyes of someone who Dies Wide Open; sorting through the deceased's belongings (may result in Personal Effects Reveal); responding with Manly Tears or Tender Tears; a Meaningful Funeral, when most characters show due respect; a Lonely Funeral, when few; Libation for the Dead; Dead Guy, Junior; a Morality Chain continuing to bind postmortem; people wearing The Poppy; and Never Speak Ill of the Dead.

However, no matter how beloved the dead, excessive mourning may be decried. Ghosts may complain that it is keeping them from peace, or characters may be criticized for neglecting their duties to the living.

Observing this may be necessary to prevent ghosts or other forms of The Undead—which may take the form of an Indian Burial Ground.

Contrast Last Rites, which are performed in advance of death.

No real life examples, please; we'd be here all day.

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

Examples of Due to the Dead include:


Anime and Manga

  • In Girls' Last Tour After realizing that Yuu scavenging junk constituted as grave robbing, Chii-chan insists they put the stuff back where they found it. Yuu, while not out to disrespect the dead, would rather not go through the inconvenience. It's possible Chii-chan would have been less charitable to the dead if she thought the scavenged stuff would help them survive.
  • In Fruits Basket, Tohru and her friends visit her mother's grave, and find that her grandfather had also come to pay his respects.
  • The manga version of Chrono Crusade shows a crowd of mourners at Rosette Christopher's grave, and many years later a minor character states that flowers are placed on the grave every year, even though the grave's location wasn't revealed to the public. It's implied that Chrono is the one leaving flowers on her grave every year, showing that he still cares for her several decades after her death.
    • The anime also shows Satella's body laid out for viewing in a church, possibly after her funeral.
    • And both versions have Rosette and Joshua find Chrono sleeping in a tomb, that was sealed with holy magic and intricately carved. Flashbacks later reveal that its the grave of Mary Magdalene, and show her in her coffin laying on a bed of flowers before her tomb is sealed.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, the fact that Sousuke is respectful to the dead becomes a huge plot point in The Second Raid. It's eventually revealed that the reason for Gauron's obsession and Love At First Sight towards Sousuke stems from having seen the dignified way Sousuke serenely dragged and threw the corpses of all his fallen enemies into a makeshift burial. There was no compassion or great emotion found in Sousuke's eyes while he was doing that, and his reason for doing it was presumably because of his own internal set of morals.
    • And as for Gauron himself, he reveals that when he was around the same age as Sousuke, he was ordered to arrange the bodies of the victims of the Khmer Rouge his Pol Pot colleagues killed. The similarities in that aspect end there, however. Although he was forced to give proper burials to the people his superiors killed, he is shown to be sick and perverse, and is later shown to have wanted Kaname's body to be raped and brutally violated by the assassin he sent after her (along with photos to be taken of it). Of course, his reason for that might be based more on his want for revenge against the girl that is melting the heart of his "beautiful" Assassin Saint.
  • In Bleach, when fighting Ulquiorra for the last time, Ichigo's inner hollow takes him over more completely than ever before and he becomes a mindless killing machine, the only humanity left in him focused singularly on protecting Orihime, to the point of impaling his ally Ishida. Once Ulquiorra is down for the count and Ichigo has clearly won, he doesn't stop like he normally would, but makes a move to start mutilating his helpless enemy. Ishida calls him out on this, essentially telling him this would be a Moral Event Horizon if he doesn't stop. He stops. Technically, Ulquiorra wasn't dead yet when Ichigo went to carve him up, but the way it was played fits with this trope to the "t."
  • At the conclusion of Saint Seiya's Galaxian Wars arc, Phoenix Ikki performs a Heroic Sacrifice to redeem his evil deeds and save the Bronze Saints from an even bigger threat. Although he was buried beneath a mountain, the four remaining Bronzes erect a grave in his honor at that site.
  • The Sybillae in Simoun have a special ceremonial Ri Maajon (the Ri Maajon of the Fields) to honor their dead, which requires five Simouns (one less than a full choir, just like the missing man formation IRL). Chor Tempest performs it after Mamiina's death.
    • Even better. They mutiny during a state of emergency to perform it.
  • In Mai-Otome, there is a shrine to fallen Otome beneath Garderobe. Since an Otome's body dissolves after death, there are no earthly remains but what appears to be a copy of their GEM is inserted into a crystal pillar to serve as their monument. Miss Maria specifically kneels and apologizes to the deceased when a gaggle of aspiring Otome trespass in the shrine.
  • Played straight with L's funeral in the Death Note anime- at least, until Light is left alone, at which point one of the most disturbing scenes in the series begins.
  • Code Geass has cyborg Jeremiah Gottwald actively deciding to respect a dead commander of the Geass order because of the loyalty the man showed, which is the one trait Jeremiah values above all others.


  • In some variants of the Child Ballad The Famous Flower of Serving Men, the heroine must dig her husband and child's grave. When the magical ending is used, a milk-white hind leads the king to the grave, where a bird laments how his love had become a serving man, and explains to the king how they had been murdered by the heroine's mother.

They left me nought to dig his grave but the bloody sword that slew my babe
All alone the grave I made, and all alone the tears I shed
And all alone the bell I rang, and all alone the psalm I sang

  • In the Child Ballad The Unquiet Grave, the true love is mourned for a year and a day—though after that time, the dead have a new demand:

The twelvemonth and a day being up,
The dead began to speak:
"Oh who sits weeping on my grave,
And will not let me sleep?"

Comic Books

  • The Legion of Super-Heroes and Teen Titans have a hall of statues commemorating their dead.
  • In Star Wars Legacy, Evil Overlord Darth Krayt keeps the lightsaber of Jedi Master Kol Skywalker inside a case of transparisteel to pay respect to what he considers a Worthy Opponent.
  • In Identity Crisis, Sue Dibny's funeral was heavily attended.
  • Heroes, like Green Lantern and The Flash, tend to have well attended funerals and monuments. And then they come Back from the Dead...
    • When the Martian Manhunter died, the heroes of Earth built a pyramid for him in duplication of Martian burial traditions.
  • Done very well in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (original Mirage continuity) Volume 4 with the death of Splinter from old age. His funeral is very simple and his body is laid in a casket, drifted onto a lake and set alight.
  • Played with in one Wolverine story, in which a trio of generic bad guys hunt him down with dogs. First he runs then, when an Innocent Bystander is killed in the crossfire, he slaughters them. He then takes a while to dig graves before he moves on... and is shown placing the two dogs' collars and the bystander's hat on the three graves, and leaving the dead men for the scavengers. (Interesting side note, this particular story wasn't written by a Marvel writer, but rather by a fan who entered it in "Write an Issue of Wolverine" contest the company held.)
  • In Booster Gold, Booster's motive for pulling up his socks was to pay tribute to Blue Beetle. Later, in a scene where he returned to Blue Beetle's funeral, Booster got up to eulogize him, and was unable to speak. Tears of Remorse ensued: what sort of friend would be unable to pay his Due to the Dead?
  • In the Usagi Yojimbo story "Broken Ritual" (plot by Sergio Aragones), a village is haunted by the ghost of a general whose Seppuku attempt is interrupted by a squad of enemy soldiers. The ghost is exorcised when Usagi waits for its next appearance and helps complete the ritual.
  • A disturbing example happens in Sin City in which Kevin, the cannibal serial killer keeps his victims' heads mounted on the wall in his basement. At first, this could be seen as trophies but since his surrogate father mentioned he was filled with guilt, it may have different connotations.
  • The Marvel Universe has shown that even villains do give people proper. One example has several villains mourning the death of Stilt-Man. Even a few heroes showed up (even Spider-Man, who made fun of the guy while alive). There was also another example with The Hood, were he gives a eulogy for a fallen member of his gang, with the other members in attendance.
  • The Destine family of ClanDestine have a private graveyard for the bodies of Adam Destine's parents and children. One issue starts with Adam and the twins visiting the grave of Florence, who was really Rory and Pandora's sister but posed as their grandmother (it's complicated). Special mention goes to the family Black Sheep, Vincent, who despite evil deeds of an unknown nature was still laid to rest in the family cemetery in the proper way (complete with an extremely weird statue as part of the grave marker, courtesy of his younger sister Samantha).
  • "To Gru. We still miss you."
  • In Spider-Man comics, several months after Aunt May's death (before it was undone via Retcon) it is shown that Thomas Fireheart (aka the Puma, an on-and-off villain and always-rival of the hero) sent a dozen roses to her grave.

Fairy Tales

Fan Works

  • In White Devil of the Moon, during the heroines' expedition to the moon the present-day Sailor Mars builds a gigantic funeral pyre for the dead of the Moon Kingdom.
  • Night of the Seance, Frida opted to have a private funeral for Agnetha via, funeral pyre, which would've been chosen anyways. It was out of respect for the other families, who also were grieving their losses. Frida was still struggling over the lost, but she didn't want to cause a scene for the others and honor the final requests.
  • In The Teraverse tale Incubation Period, a police officer's funeral in South Boston is quite colorfully described.
  • How Can It This Be, Spice Girls were all buried together after a terrible bus accident claims all of the women, except for Victoria Beckham, who killed in a road accident while saving a random child.


  • The Star Wars films show us that Jedi respectfully burn the bodies of their dead. The Phantom Menace has Qui-Gon's funeral, and Return of the Jedi has Luke burn the body of Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker.
    • In contrast, Vader is fond of strangling people, dumping them on the floor, and storming off in a rage.
  • In 9, before the remaining Stitchpunks go after The Seamstress, to get 7 and 8, they give 2 a water burial, sending him off on a raft. Then, at the end of the film the survivors, 9, 7, and 3 + 4 build and light a funeral pyre for the deceased Stitchpunks.
  • The Magnificent Seven opens with a traveling salesmen arguing with the town undertaker over the burial of a Native American who died in the street: the salesman is willing to pay for the burial, but no one is willing to drive the hearse up to Boot Hill because a "certain element" in the town objects to having a non-white buried there and is threatening violence. The matter is resolved when Chris and Vin, the first two of the eponymous seven, volunteer to drive the hearse and engage in a brief gunfight with a group of racists who try to stop them from entering the cemetery. The villagers then approach them to ask for help, for men who do that are men who will help them.
  • At one point in U-571, the US Marines who've boarded a U-Boat to recover the Enigma decoder are attempting to convince a German warship that they've been sunk, firing the body of one of their fallen comrades out of a torpedo tube along with whatever junk they can get hold of. The private assigned this task regards it as extremely Dirty Business, and takes the time to recite the prayer used for burial at sea before doing so.
  • In Taking Chance, American military members who die while serving overseas are kept under a military escort for their entire trip back to their home town. The movie follows a Marine officer who volunteers to escort PFC Chance Phelps for the last few legs of the trip between Dover AFB and Chance's home town.
  • Zigzagged in Willy's Wonderland. In one scene late in the movie, the Janitor is shown gently placing the bodies of the animatronics' victims in a room and covering them with sheets (well, tablecloths, but he doesn't have any sheets) the way one should treat the body of any such victim. The animatronics however? Each time he kills one of them he stuffs the remains in a garbage bag and throws them in the dumpster. Not that these monsters really deserved anything better.


  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, people generally try to give the dead as adequate a funeral as possible with the means at hand, be it a burial, a cairn, or something else, and bemoan the fact if the dead had to go unburied. In The Lord of the Rings, having no other options, they put Boromir's body in a boat and send it down a waterfall, as the river would keep the orcs from it.
    • In the Appendices, Tolkien recounts the story of a battle after which the dwarves had to cremate their dead, being too numerous to bury them in the traditional stone tombs, and earth burials being unacceptable. As a consequence, to say of one's father that "He was a burned dwarf" came to be a boast that he had fought and died in this battle.
    • It's made very clear that in the eyes of Men, Orcs do not merit Due to the Dead: at one point the characters encounter a battlefield where the victorious Rohirrim have piled the vanquished Orcs' bodies up and burned them, leaving an Orc's severed head on a spike. (It's interesting to compare this to Tolkien's depiction of the siege at Minas Tirith, where the bombarding of the fortress with severed human heads is portrayed in very emotive terms as a particularly horrifying and barbaric act.)
      • And Orcs don't practise Due to the Dead either; as well as the example cited above, one reason why Saruman fails to beguile Theoden in the chapter "The Voice of Saruman" is that the King is irate about the mistreatment of doorwarden Hama's corpse in the Helm's Deep battle.
    • In The Silmarillion heroes like Tùrin Turambar are given great burial mounds. In "The Akallabêth" Númenórëans start to build great tombs for their dead after their decline and fall to pride.
  • In Ben Counter's Grey Knights, Alaric gets permission to go where Ligeia died in order to say a prayer commending her soul to the Emperor.
    • Earlier, his Rousing Speech said, "we may never be buried beneath Titan, so we will build our own memorial here."
  • In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, Tsu'gan fights fiercely to protect his dead captain's body; the next chapter features all his company attending his funeral.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Cedric's ghost asks Harry to retrieve his corpse, and Harry does so.
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, many students want to attend Dumbledore's funeral.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry sees fallen Moody's magical eye on Umbridge's office door and is so enraged that he steals it back, which ends up helping blow their cover. He later buries it under "the oldest, most gnarled and resilient-looking tree he could find", marking the spot with a cross on the trunk.
    • Later in the same book, he insists on digging Dobby's grave by hand, rather than using magic.
    • This is something even Voldemort respects allowing the schooll, besieged by his forces, time to mourn their dead.
  • In the medieval Chivalric Romance Sir Amadas, Sir Amadas pays a dead man's debts so that he can be buried. A White Knight appears to help him. After Sir Amadas has married a princess, the knight reveals that he is the ghost of the dead man, come to aid him as a reward for his deed.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's Ciaphas Cain novel Caves of Ice, Cain has to tell the troopers they cannot return with the body of a fallen soldier but must destroy it. Even Cain seems disturbed by the necessity; recording it, decades later, causes him to reflect sadly on the number of dead he knew, and whom no one else would remember as soon as he died.
    • In Death and Glory, Felicia Tayber carefully lays a vox communicator to rest—out of respect to its machine spirit.
  • In James Swallow's Blood Angels novels, Deus Encarmine begins on, and Deus Sanguinius ends on, shrine worlds that the Blood Angels have dedicated to the graves of their dead. In between, Rafen goes to personally pay his respects to the dead Koris; the chaplain permits it, because while he carries out the proper rites, he is aware that many wish to do such for their friends. Rafen, Talking to the Dead, has Koris's communicator fall to his hand. He uses it, though aware that using a dead man's equipment is forbidden except under the gravest of circumstances; when he confesses to this, his superiors are grave, even though they concede that it was the gravest of circumstances and they must put the question aside until those circumstances are dealt with. Later, he goes to the ship to personally write Koris's name in the Book of the Fallen, which is usually done by the Sanguinary Priests, but is sometimes done by friends—and it's done in their own blood.
    • In Red Fury, a Blood Angel whose forbidden experiments had unleashed mutants was executed, and at the suggestion that his geneseed be removed, Rafen orders him merely cremated, as part of his sentence; later, Rafen and his squad are awe-struck to be in the presence of Sanguinius's tomb and are willing to fight to the death to protect it from mutants, and afterward, one of them is troubled that their Chapter Master opened the doors to let the mutants in, though it was necessary; and votive rolls hang in the Blood Angels chapel for all who died in the defense of the tomb, regardless of chapter, and though no one but Blood Angels had received that honor in living memory, it is nonetheless regarded as fitting, because they all died in defense of their common primarch's tomb.
    • In Black Tide, Rafen and his companions must leave a body, having not a grenade to burn it. Rafen assured him, dying, that he would tell his brothers that he lived to see the death of his foe.
    • In "The Returned", Tarikus, who had wondered why he was forgotten, sees he was properly commerated with rites for the dead—which is a problem, since his Chapter holds that ghosts do not walk their citadel. Once declared free of taint, his first act is to break the memorial and use the knife there to cross out his name.
  • In Andre Norton's Witch World, when Simon Tregarth is told that Koris went to bury the two men who died in the shipwreck, he feels ashamed of himself for not realizing that Koris would do that.
    • In The Year of the Unicorn, the Were-Riders laid out Herrel and Gillian's bodies with all honor—except their spirits made it back and revived themselves. Herrel is unmoved; they never respected him like that when he was alive.
    • In 'Ware Hawk, the heroine nearly stops to bury the dead before going on because they had found one survivor who had to take precedence.
    • In Ice Crown, the heroine sees the queen and her attendants in full mourning. Her ability to describe this clinches the accuracy of the vision in question.
  • In William Shakespeare's The Phoenix and the Turtle, many birds are called to the Meaningful Funeral, to show this.

To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair;
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.

  • Discworld
    • In Terry Pratchett's Night Watch, we learn why some bodies in the cemetery are being treated with extra respect. And why they wear lilac. It was a badge used to distinguish Friend or Foe, originally.
    • The Discworld's Silver Horde have a word for those who rob the graves of fallen warriors. That word is "Die!"
    • A nonhuman version occurs in The Fifth Elephant when Gavin, a Big Badass Wolf went up against Angua's brother Ludwig, and died. Gaspode finds his corpse, and has a natural instinct overtake his magic Talking Animal behaviour and howls. The howl carries for miles, and all know.

"Shouldn't be like this. If you was a human, they'd put you in a big boat out on the tide and set fire to it, an' everyone'd see. Shouldn't just be you an' me down here in the cold."

  • In Johnny and the Dead, the novel revolves about the plan to dig up a cemetary to replace it with a high-rise.
  • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novels, Uriel goes to pay his respects before his primarch, Roboute Guilliman in stasis.
    • In Dead Sky, Black Sun, Uriel and Pasanius must restrain Leonid when he tries to prevent Ellard's body being eaten by the Unfleshed; they remind him that he swore to join their oath and that the dead man is before the Emperor and does not care about his body. Later, Uriel promises the dying Colonel Leonid that if he escapes, he will light a candle to help his soul wing its way to the Emperor. On the other hand, Uriel watches in complete indifference to the Unfleshed tearing apart the Iron Warriors and eating them; then, given the experiments that they had performed (and on the Unfleshed), he thought they deserved their fate.
    • In the short story Consequences Uriel spends five days inscribing the names of his fallen men into the stone pillars of the Temple of Correction. Afterwards, when he is arrested for breaking the Codex Astartes he thanks the Captain coming for him that he was allowed to finish writing the names. The Captain (who doesn't like Uriel) replies that it was not to do him a favour, but out of respect for the dead.
    • And in The Chapter's Due, after the renegade Vaanes died helping Uriel in a hopeless battle, Captain Shaan of the Raven Guard orders the apothecary to take Vaanes' gene seed, effectively acknowledging him as part of the Chapter for one last time, thus proving that Vaanes was not as alone as he thought.
  • In Plato's Phaedo, when Crito asks Socrates how they should bury him, Socrates jests that they will have to catch him to do that, and then explains that they can't bury him, but only his corpse.

Be of good cheer, then, my dear Crito, and say that you are burying my body only, and do with that whatever is usual, and what you think best.

  • In H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy, a human kills one of the Fuzzies and claims she was just an animal and attacked him. Then the other Fuzzies gather up her body, dig a grave, and gently bury her. A policeman who arrived in time to see the burial—and took off his beret in respect until it was over—takes this as evidence that the human should be arrested for murder.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Warrior's Apprentice, Miles Vorkosigan insists on burying Sergeant Bothari's body in a grave he dug himself. He explains to his mother that Bothari told him that "blood washes away sin," and he feels responsible for the death, so he literally works until his hands bleed.
    • Cordelia's relative silence is interesting, given that she was the one who told Bothari that, in a very different context--to help him recover after he'd saved her life by killing his sadistic commander.
      • This exchange also opened with Cordelia telling Miles that he could dig the hole in a few seconds with a plasma arc, something that Aral had told her when they dug the grave for her dead crewman, on the day they met.
    • Barrayaran culture also calls for burning offerings to the dead. They get mentioned a few times:
      • When Cordelia, in Barrayar, persuades a scientist to make one such offering to a dead colleague and moves him to a new lab;
      • In "Mountains of Mourning", after Miles had an infant disinterred to confirm that she'd been murdered, he realizes he doesn't have anything with him to burn. He thinks: Peace to you, small lady, after our rude invasions. I will give you a better sacrifice, I swear by my word as Vorkosigan. And the smoke of that burning will rise and be seen from one end of these mountains to the other.
      • When Miles burns an offering to his grandfather (with a bit of Rage Against the Heavens, as he's including his proof that he graduated the military academy, and yells "Are you happy now?");
      • An attempt to burn an offering to the same infant in Memory helps spark Miles's recovery from his life going off-kilter;
      • We hear in Komarr that prior to that book, Miles went with Duv Galeni to burn an offering at the site of the Solstice Massacre—where Duv's aunt died, and for which Miles's father was (mostly unjustly) blamed.
    • Cetaganda takes place during the funeral rites of the Empress Dowager of Cetaganda. Miles and Ivan were sent to pay proper respects.
    • In Civil Campaign, after some advice from Cordelia, Ekaterin gets Miles to agree to a small wedding: since she's a widow, they would have to wait for a large one.
    • Barrayarans also use funeral pyres for the most highly regarded of their dead: a young Gregor Vorbarra lights both his grandfather Ezar and his mother Kareen's funeral pyre.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Sabbat Martyr, Gaunt insists on a naalwood coffin for Corbec.
    • In Blood Pact, the planet's major industry is commerating the dead. Gaunt muses on why Ayatani Zweil is their chaplain; a big reason is his care for the dying and the dead. Later, Gaunt proves his identity by recounting how he had covered Sturm's face with a cloth after his death, as a mark of respect. Eyl contemplates how he must treat a dead man's mask with respect, to appease the ghost and the spirits. And at the end Dorden asks Gaunt to have his body brought back to a chapel and buried there.
  • In Dan Abnett's Malleus, Eisenhorn at the end recounts the funeral rites for all those who died at the climax—varied, because of their varied cultures.
    • Ranging from a vast library and institution dedicated to the name of one veteran inquisitor, to a single small headstone in a lonely, wind-swept mass grave for a Cadian Inquisitor. (It's a planet where ~90% of the population are in the military, and the graves are exhumed once the names are too weathered to read, to make room for more. Quite a depressing contrast.)
  • In Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air, after a tortured and murdered steam man was thrown into the river, his body was retrieved and given funeral rites before King Steam. Steam men's true names can be pronounced at these rites, though otherwise they remain unknown except to the bearer and King Steam. Thereafter they are recalled in the hymns of their people. When Slowstack laments that the steammen will not believe how the Hexamachina chose him, Molly promises to tell his story in penny dreadfuls to make them.
    • Commodore Black, lamenting his men's death on an island in the Backstory, recounts how difficult it was for him to bury them. (Though clearly it did not stop him.)
    • In Hunt's other book The Kingdom Beneath the Waves, a lashlite (a dragon-like humanoid) is exiled for dooming his clan to damnation by not giving them the proper last rites. He pleads that he couldn't, as lashlite death rites require the dead to be eaten by their clansfolk, leaving "nothing for the enemy". He was the last one left alive out of hundreds, so he couldn't possibly eat them all.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Long Watch, Interplanetary Patrol Lieutenant John Dahlquist, after a superior attempts to recruit him into a coup attempt, instead makes a Heroic Sacrifice by barricading himself in the nuclear armory and manually disabling all the nuclear weapons, taking a fatal dose of radiation in the process. He dies alone, sitting by the door he barricaded. It takes handling gear and a robotic piloted ship to bring his corpse to Earth for a hero's funeral.
    • Dalquist is referenced in the later story Space Cadet with a place of honor that every time the roll call for the patrol is read, his name is always read as on duty.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 novel Storm of Iron, Leonid cries at Vauban's funeral, not so much for the death as for the spontaneous attendance of his men. Vauban had said his men did not love him, but now he knows that to be false.
  • In Percy Jackson and The Olympians, they make shrouds for campers who go on quests. They use them too: for the corpses on the pyre, if recovered, and in place of the corpse, if it could not be.
  • In Dan Abnett's Brothers Of The Snake, the Iron Snakes reclaim their brothers' gene seed and bring their bodies back as ashes to pour into the ocean; when a sea serpent rises from the waves after that rite, they hail it as a good omen, reclaiming the dead. Priad brings back accounts of their deeds, and commends them.
  • In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 story "Words of Blood", when Valerian objects to retreating, Athellenas threatens him without not only execution, but striking his name from the book of honor, no mention at the Feast of the Departed, and not reclaiming his geneseed.
  • In Ben Counter's Soul Drinkers novel Chapter War, the Howling Griffins have the names of their dead engraved on the wall and carefully kept illuminated at all times.
  • In the Last Chancer novels, Colonel Schaeffer scrupulously pardons all the dead of his penal legion. Not only does it give their families succor, it frees their souls before the Golden Throne.
  • William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying—the entire plot
  • In Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novel The Spell Sword, Damon regrets the dead bodies left out on the road; Ellemir consoles him with a proverb to the effect that if they are in Heaven, they cannot be grieved by it, and if they are in Hell, they have too much else to grieve for.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, one damned woman grieved so excessively over her dead son -- keeping everything in his room the same, etc. -- that her husband and daughter revolted. She is convinced that this was merely proper mourning.
  • Jane Yolen's The Cards of Grief depicts a culture where commemorating the dead is the central practice. (The corpses of the dead are exposed, and eaten by vulture-like birds.)
  • In Animorphs, when the Andalites recover Rachel's body, they wrapped it up in a soft cloth as a gesture of respect, before bringing it back for Cassie and Naomi to identify. Compare to Visser Three, who killed his enemy, Elfangor, by EATING HIM.
    • The death ritual Ax and his father go through counts as well. Ax's father asks if Elfangor died well, and Ax responds that he died in battle. Dad then asks if his killer is dead, and Ax takes the vow to avenge his death. (Tobias could have gotten in on it too, as Elfangor's son, but you don't hear much of the vengeance vow by the time that's revealed to Tobias.)
  • In Wen Spencer's Endless Blue, Mikhail concludes, after their crash landing, that they will have to bury the dead at sea: they cannot leave them about to rot where they must live. He finds it rather hard.
  • In Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe books, Stormwings are half-human, half-steel-feathered-bird immortals who thrive on fear and carnage. They'll circle over a site where they expect a battle will be, and after it's over, they mix the remains of the dead with their own filth and roll around in it. (A running theme in the books is how this isn't evil, it's just their nature, no matter how distasteful it is to humans. They were made to make war more horrific.) Most victorious commanders will retrieve their own dead for a decent burial but leave the enemies to the Stormwings. Kel, the protagonist, generally disapproves of this and is careful to dispose of even the enemy dead respectfully, but in Lady Knight, after winning a battle against a necromancer who murders small children so he can use their souls to bring war machines to life and sell them to a militaristic king, she lets the Stormwings have him and his men (saying that someone should get some good out of it).
  • In At the Crossing-Places by Kevin Crossley-Holland, sequel to The Seeing Stone, a Jewish moneylender is murdered on the manor of an English lord, ca. 1200. The priest and most of the others want to leave him for the dogs, but the protagonist (the squire to the manor's lord) gets someone to help him move the body inside a building, and when the lord gets home he has the man buried just outside their own cemetery. A while later the man's young daughter comes looking to find out whether he's dead or alive. The squire shows her his grave, expecting her to be comforted that they gave him a semblance of a Christian burial, but of course she's dismayed because he should have had a Jewish burial by his family.
  • In the Imperial Guard novel Cadian Blood, the Imperial forces are supposed to pray for the dead they find, and see to it that the bodies are burned, in order to give them some chance at redemption; they do not like it because it interferes with fighting.
  • In James Swallow's Horus Heresy novel The Flight of the Eisenstein, Garro finds that the bolter given to him had belonged to his dead comrade Pyr Rahl; he reflects on how the Death Guard pass on their effects from one man to the next, to remember the dead. Then he sees the belongings of his dead housecarl Kaleb, which no one else would want to claim. Though tempted to throw it all out and so be free, that would be ignoble; he goes through it instead.
  • In Steve Parker's Imperial Guard novel Gunheads, when they find the murdered slaves, the Guardsmen stop to pray for them, and Bergen orders that their confessors see to the bodies, although they will have to be burned.
  • In Matt Farrer's "After Desh'ea" (in the Horus Heresy book Tales of Heresy), Angron is enraged that he cannot get dirt from where he lost to add to his "rope"—how can he properly commemorate the dead?
  • In C. S. Goto's Blood Ravens trilogy, Jonas characterizes the rite "Beacon Psykana" as an honor paid to the dead.
  • In Dune, the Fremen place the bodies of the dead into machines which render them down and recover their body's water, which is then added to the tribe's stockpiles. This is regarded as not only practical (since water is so scarce on Arrakis that to let the water in a corpse go to waste is pointlessly foolish) but also a way of honouring the fallen Fremen, since they get to continue to serve the tribe even in death. It is considered a particular honour to be allowed to take the water of a non-Fremen, and the Fremen often dishonour enemies by either slitting their throats (thus wasting their water) or otherwise not reclaiming it since it is their way of saying that a fallen foe's water is not worthy of being drunk by the Fremen.
    • When Paul Atreide attends the funeral of Jamis the Fremen are awed when he shows the highest level of respect for Jamis by "giving water to the dead." (A.K.A. crying at the funeral)
  • Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout:
    • When Nero's friend Marko is murdered at the beginning of "The Black Mountain", Wolfe asks the coroner for permission to honor an old promise he'd make Marko. When permission is given, Wolfe places two small coins on his friend's eyes. (He then heads off to Montenegro to hunt down the murderer, but that's a different trope.)
    • In Fer-de-lance when Maria Maffei goes to Wolfe to ask him to find her missing brother, she tells him that she has over a thousand dollars saved up, and that if he finds Carlo alive she will pay him all of it, but if Carlo is dead, she will pay less, because "First [she] will pay for the funeral." Wolfe not only considers this perfectly reasonable, he commends her for it and says she is "a woman of honor".
    • In the novella "Cordially Invited To Meet Death", (published in the Omnibus volume Black Orchids) Wolfe sends a spray of extremely rare [1] black orchids to the funeral of a client whose murder he could not prevent.
  • In Karl May's travel Story "Durchs Wilde Kurdistan" (Through the wild Kurdistan), a religious leader of zoroastric sect is killed and everybody helps in building a cairn, sort of, to bury him. This includes the very pious muslim Hadschi Halef Omar, the servant, protector and friend of Karl May.
  • In C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, Orual sets out to find her sacrificed sister's body, for a proper burial.
  • In Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, Katniss adorns her ally Rue's corpse in wildflowers. Considering the blasé way the tributes' deaths are usually treated, this also serves as a wicked Take That to the Capitol, humanizing the fallen competitor in the normally disconnected Games.
  • In John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos, Quentin insists on burying bodies properly.
    • In Fugitives of Chaos, Morpheus recounts how he has performed, over the eons, the rites for his knights who died in the war—and how an enemy tried to incite his vassals to revolt, even though it would result in the death of Morpheus's son, with the promise that the son would receive full honors.
    • In Count to a Trillion, this is the one element of religion that Menelaus admires.
  • In Dan Abnett's Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising, the planet Murder had trees on which the aliens threw dead bodies before they ate them. One Marine was so horrified by the desecration of the corpses that he blew up some trees.
  • In Andy Hoare's White Scars novel Hunt for Voldorius, the White Scar scouts find unburied bodies and are distressed by the lack of respect for the dead; one wishes to bury the dead—even hesitating over a direct order—and his sergeant admits they should, but they cannot.
  • In Homer's The Iliad, Patrocles's funeral—and Hector's, once Achilles gave it up.
    • Achilles abuses and mangles the corpse of Hector after killing him, in revenge for the death of his friend/lover Patroclus, making this Older Than Feudalism. Achilles' attempt to mutilate Hector's corpse by dragging it behind his chariot three laps around the city was stopped by the Greek Gods themselves, who used their powers to keep the body untouched. They don't agree on much else, but proper treatment of the honorable dead is very high on their standards of behavior.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows in The Moonlight", in Olivia's dream, the Physical God, arriving too late to save his son, retrieves his body.
  • Played with mercilessly by Brandon Sanderson in The Stormlight Archive, the Parshendi are a proud warrior race who leave their dead out on the battlefield because they apparently consider it sinful to move them. The Hero is in a crew that theoretically exists to transport bridges to get the army across chasms (of which there are a lot in the area) but is also The Bait, meant to draw arrow fire away from the real soldiers, and thus not allowed to wear armour because it would make them less tempting targets. Naturally The Hero is not pleased with this. So, he decides to get a hold of some Parshendi corpses strip the natural armour off them, and put it on top of regular armour, which really pisses off the Parshendi making them even better bait, but also protected from arrows.
  • In The Stand by Stephen King, Frannie Goldsmith buries her father, a victim of the superflu informally called "Captain Trips," in the garden he tended with utmost care in life. It's a painful ordeal in every way from physical to emotional.
  • Important in Malevil. A day after World War III Colin, Meyssonier, and Peyssou leave the shelter of the castle to investigate their homes and recover their loved ones. They return with the remains of three families that fill a two by one box. Afterwards, they make sure to properly bury the remains of their enemies for both health concerns and to practice better morals and respect than that of brigands. At the end, Gazel is being pressured not to give Fulbert a Christian burial. Emmanuel intervenes because he doesn't want a modern Antigone.
  • In the first Riftwar book, the only known truce between the Tsurani and Kingdom armies was during the Siege of Crydee. With all of the dead bodies piling up outside the walls, they need to dispose of the bodies before disease spreads. One squad of Kingdom soldiers goes outside the walls unarmed to erect funeral pyres. A few hours later, a squad of unarmed Tsurani soldiers leave their camp and help set up the pyres. After the bodies are burned, the soldiers exchanged salutes and returned to their own lines, at which point the battle resumed.
    • The bodies of the Nighthawks are always given a funeral pyre. This is not due to respect, though. Some Nighthawks are Black Slayers, and if you don't burn them, they'll come back from the dead and attack again.
  • In the second Green Rider book, Karigan learns of a ritual the original Riders used to honor their fallen while traveling through time. At the end of the book she restarts the tradition.
  • In Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next books, a wall carries the names of fallen Jurisfiction agents.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, after Tyrion arrives in King's Landing, he notes that the heads of those executed as part of Ned Stark's failed attempt to remove Joffrey, a bastard born of incest, and Queen Cersei from power are on display on the battlements. Tyrion makes a point of removing the heads, reuniting them with the bodies they had come from, and ordering the return all of the remains to their families, particularly the body of Ned Stark. He says, "Even in war, certain decencies have to be observed."
    • A Dance with Dragons has Stannis' army lost in the North as winter descends, and some of the men are driven to cannibalism. Even though it is clear to everyone that the cannibals had not actually killed the men (they were already dead from cold), and that they were literally starving to death themselves, this is considered such an abominable desecration that the cannibals are executed. The fact that the method of execution is a horrible one by burning brings up rather strikingly the hypocrisy of Stannis and Melisandre's notions of justice.
  • In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus reads a future without religion, and his only serious objection is how to conduct a proper funeral without someone to say something proper over the grave.
  • After Kurik's death at the end of The Elenium, Sephrenia uses her magic to prevent his body from decomposing prior to his funeral. Also, the week long mourning rites that the church goes through following the death of Archprelate Cluvonius.
    • Earlier in the Elenium, the knights find the body of a child killed by the Seeker. Kalten doesn't have a shovel, so he digs the girl's grave with his bare hands, and Bevier recites the Elene prayer for the dead.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe gives us a number of different funeral customs.
    • From the X Wing Series, the New Republic sometimes shoots dead servicemen into stars. Survivors of Alderaan often shoot their dead into the asteroid field that is all that remains of their home planet, while Corellians are known to cremate their dead, then press the ashes into diamonds.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere an Autumn Tale, Rachael and the others make arrangements for Pete's burial.
    • Later, Rachael talks of making a cairn for a dead woman, and then sending someone to retrieve her body. She does this for the dead woman's brother, not for the woman's own sake.
  • In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Father Simon prays for a dead Colonist.
  • In Warrior Cats, a vigil is held overnight for the family and friends of a fallen warrior to say their last goodbyes, and in the morning, the Clan elders bury the body. There have been occasions where enemy warriors have been returned to their own Clans for their Clan to mourn them, and at least one occasion where a rogue was killed, and it was decided that a couple of young warriors would bury the body, no elders need be present.
  • In Michael Scott Rohan's The Forge in the Forest, the main characters find the ruins of a city destroyed more than a thousand years before, and within it the huge tomb of three millennia of the city's kings. The last king, and two guardsmen, stayed and died in the crypt while the rest of the populace escaped. One of those who've found it now is the long-dead king's descendant. He lifts the loyal guardsmen's corpses from the floor where they lay down to die, and sets them upon biers that were meant for kings, saying that he, as king-to-be, judges they earned that honor.
  • One surviving work of the Roman poet Catullus records his journey from Rome to Anatolia to make sacrifices at his brother's grave. The description of how he feels at the tomb are heart-wrenching.

Live-Action TV

  • The Star Trek franchise shows many different funerary customs for the various races.
    • Spock's funeral has his body shot out of the torpedo tube, a sort of burial at sea.
    • Ferengi dice up and sell the bodies of their dead as a souvenir. From the perspective of a society motivated primarily by the acquisition of profit and the belief that absolutely everything worth having has monetary value, not selling off the deceased's body would be an admission that the person literally had no worth.
    • Klingons will hold open the eyes of a dying warrior and howl at the moment of death as a warning to the afterlife. After keeping watch over the body for a night (to protect it from predators), once the spirit has had time to make the trip to Stovakor, they then just dump the body, believing it to be an empty shell, but will celebrate the honorable dead with feasting, drinking and singing.
    • One species on Star Trek: Voyager reproduce by reanimating the dead as members of their own race. Harry Kim becomes angry when he discovers they did this to the body of his love interest; her alien "father" is equally angry that they would have just "abandoned" her into space.
    • The Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror" orders the dead Centurion's body dumped into space along with a bunch of debris to make it seem that his ship has been destroyed—but he is clearly distressed about it, and asks his late friend to forgive him.
  • Rome has several accurate representations of ancient Roman funeral customs. Niobe is cremated and her ashes buried. Caesar is, of course, burned on a huge pyre in the Forum. Eirene asks not to be burned, but buried with hers and Pullo's child, which he does. Pullo later strangles Gaia after she confesses to killing Eirene, and Pullo unceremoniously dumps her body in the river, thus condemning her spirit to unrest.
    • Also, after the conquered leader of the Gauls is finally executed during Caesar's Triumph, his body is unceremoniously dumped, but we see some Gauls living in Rome retrieve it, dress it and burn it on a pyre hidden in the woods somewhere.
  • The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica showed several funerals now and then. Since they are a Fleet, they did burial at space, complete with flags and medals if the dead were soldiers/crewmembers. Regular burials were also shown over the course of the series though.
    • Cylons also have funerals for one of their own that died permanently. It becomes distressingly common after the destruction of the resurrection hub. The fact that the "infinity" symbol is used in Cylon funerals sparked some Epileptic Trees after it was shown in Caprica that a monotheist group closely connected to the creation of Cylons also used the same symbol.
    • One of the moments near the final episodes was a large funeral attended by the three main groups of the Fleet (the polytheists, the human monotheists and the Cylon monotheists) which showed (and contrasted) each groups practice.
  • Subverted in Robin Hood in which a reformed Guy of Gisborne is killed in the secret tunnels of Nottingham Castle. The good guys leave his body behind.
  • Sing it with me, "I'M A FREE-BORN MAN OF THE USA"
  • After the Master dies, the Doctor builds him a pyre and cremates his body.
    • In "The Impossible Astronaut", Amy, Rory and River Song cremate the Doctor's body. It seems to be the Time Lord custom. It is, also, however necessary, because it's mentioned that Time Lord DNA can be dangerous Applied Phlebotinum if it falls into malicious hands.
      • And it conveniently erases the evidence that it's not actually his body.
  • Degrassi had J.T. go to Rick's funeral. But only after Manny reminded him that he could never be the bigger man.
  • In Merlin, Uther's body is dressed in formal royal robes and laid out on a stone next to the tomb of his queen. Arthur holds vigil by his father's body overnight.
  • In Highlander the Series, Duncan casts Darius's ashes into the Seine river, saying it will symbolically allow Darius to complete his unfinished journey to the sea.
  • In the Firefly episode "Bushwhacked", the crew encounter a ship that has had its crew and passengers slaughtered by Reavers. Shepherd Book prevails upon Mal to let him perform a funeral for them with this line:

Book: How we treat our dead is part of what makes us different from those did the slaughtering.

  • Subverted in that the only reason atheist Mal stuck around for said funeral is that he knows the Reavers will have booby-trapped the ghost ship and they need to disarm said bomb before they can leave.
  • Subverted hard in The Movie. See "Film" below.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myth and Legend

  • In Norse legends, Skald or Scef drifted ashore as a child and became king. When he died many years later, his people sent back to sea on a ship laden with treasure—described as not less than he had been sent with.

Tabletop Games

Board Games

  • Warhammer 40,000 Space Marines go to great lengths to recover their dead brothers, and the individual chapters have additional and often elaborate practices to remember their dead. However, the body itself is not really important, the important things are the progenoid glands, that generate and store the geneseed necessary to create new Space Marines, and the expensive and in some cases outright irreplacable weapons and armor.

Card Games

  • Magic: The Gathering gives us cards like Remember the Fallen, which grant the player either recursion or a bonus for each card in the graveyard. On the evil side, Phyrexian cards on these mechanics tend to be flavored as cannibalism or the like.

Game Books

  • Book 8 of the Lone Wolf series The Jungle of Horrors has a few examples. If you take the Barge to Tharro at the beginning of the book you get to witness both sides of this trope. The Complete Monster Necromancer that you fight and kill on the barge has his corpse weighted with rocks and tossed overboard like so much garbage. OTOH, the friendly NPC that was killed by that necromancer is laid to rest in a casket and given a respectful burial in the river. If you take the Great North Road, you might end up at an abbey. The monks of said abbey are actually undead Vordaks that murdered the real monks and took their place. After dealing with the Vordaks Lone Wolf discovers the bodies of the real monks and takes the time to bury them.

Tabletop RPG

  • Not a burial place, but the "San Angelo" setting for 4th edition Champions has the Liberty Square plaza. Memorials to several fallen heroes, including the WWII-era team the Liberty Corps, are placed here. Most supers in San Angelo, regardless of where they fall on the hero - villain scale, refuse to fight here out of respect to the dead.
  • Exalted presents a strong incentive to give proper Due to the Dead, since failure to provide proper rites will usually anger the corpse's Hungry Ghost (one of the person's souls that remains behind to protect the body) and send it on a rampage. In certain areas, it's also possible to encounter a person's other ghost, who will also likely be pissed off if they didn't receive a proper funeral.


  • Sophocles:
    • In Antigone: before the beginning of the play's action, Eteocles and Polyneices, two brothers leading opposite sides in Thebes' civil war, died fighting each other for the throne. Creon, the new ruler of Thebes, has declared that Eteocles will be honored and Polyneices disgraced. The rebel brother's body will not be sanctified by holy rites, and will lie unburied on the battlefield, prey for carrion animals like worms and vultures, the harshest punishment at the time. Antigone and Ismene are the sisters of the dead Polyneices. In the opening of the play, Antigone brings Ismene outside the palace gates late at night for a secret meeting: Antigone wants to bury Polyneices' body, in defiance of Creon's edict. Ismene refuses to help her, fearing the death penalty, but she is unable to dissuade Antigone from going to bury her brother herself. Tragedy ensues.
    • Despite being the man Ajax hates most and whom he attempted to torture and kill, Odysseus is determined to convince Agamemnon and Menelaus to allow him burial rites and not carry on their grudge in Ajax. Since the whole incident was proof of what happens when you make the gods angry, it's a rather wise decision on his part.
    • In Electra, obligations to the dead are omnipresent. Electra refuses to stop mourning her father until he is avenged. Clytemnestra sends grave offerings with Chrysothemis in hopes to appease Agamemnon's spirit, but Electra stops her because a false offering would be an even worse slight to her father. Chrysothemis takes locks of their hair instead, only to find Orestes had already done the same, despite the news of his death. Electra immediately begins ritual mourning once she hears her beloved brother has died in a chariot race. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus are not shown to get any "due" after Orestes murders them.
  • William Shakespeare:
    • In Romeo and Juliet, Paris goes to visit Juliet's grave. When Romeo comes calling for Juliet, Paris believes that he is coming to do the evil version of this and challenges him to a duel. After losing the duel, Paris's final request is that Romeo lay him alongside Juliet, a request that Romeo honors.
    • In Much Ado About Nothing, Claudio goes to mourn at Hero's apparent grave.
    • In Hamlet, the priest is annoyed that Ophelia is getting full funeral rites when she might have been a suicide. In the final scene, Fortinbras orders Hamlet be given a soldier's burial as a mark of honor, and possibly also to hold Hamlet out as having died in battle.
    • In Twelfth Night, Olivia is in deep mourning for her brother. The Duke is trying to convince her that a more suitable form would be to perpetuate his family line by marrying and having children. The Jester even calls her a fool for mourning her brother's soul being in Heaven, much to Olivia's shock.
    • Oswald in King Lear, after being mortally wounded by Edgar:

Slave, thou hast slain me: villain, take my purse:
If ever thou wilt thrive, bury my body;

  • Julius Caesar, after Brutus dies, his enemies, Antony and Octavian agree on giving him a respectful burial.

Octavius: According to his virtue let us use him
With all respect and rites of burial.
Within my tent his bones to-night shall lie,
Most like a soldier, order'd honorably.

  • The ending of Antony and Cleopatra has Caesar order respectful treatment of the titular characters' corpses after their mutual suicide.
  • Following the death of Roy Cohn in Angels In America, Belize calls upon Louis to recite the Jewish prayer for the dead at his bedside, in spite of the fact that both men find the deceased personally and politically despicable.
  • Euripides's Alcestis: When Admetus's wife Alcestis dies, and Hercules appears at his home, Admetus tries to hide that he is in mourning for his wife because they considered hospitality sacred. When Hercules learns of the death, he is really, really, really shocked to find that his host had hidden this from him and so his behavior has been really bad; he goes to wrestle with Death to reclaim her.

Video Games

  • Used as Character Development in Assassin's Creed II. When Ezio kills his first target after he completes his preliminary Assassin training (his first kill was before that training), he continues to shake the body over and over, shouting that it's not enough that he died (not least because he died unwilling to apologize or even explain his crimes). His uncle and mentor calmly explains that in death all things should be at peace, even those whose only purpose in life was evil. From then on, Ezio usually kills his target with a single stab of the Hidden Blade to their throat, followed by a parting line before almost lovingly saying, "Requiescat in pace" ("Rest in Peace"). At the end of the game, he doesn't kill Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander VI), instead telling him that doing so won't bring his father and brothers back. Ezio's happy to leave him with the knowledge that he wasn't the Prophet and that his entire life's work was for naught.
    • In Brotherhood after Rodrigo is killed by his son Cesare, Ezio performs the rite once more with no malice, and for all of the Templar Agents (the single-player counterparts of the multiplayer characters). Only Juan Borgia and Octavian, Baron de Valois survive long enough to actually talk back to him though.
    • In Revelations, passersby will scold Ezio if he loots dead bodies.
  • Mass Effect: Commander Shepard gets some sort of memorial (depending on his/her background) after his/her temporary death, which you get to hear news reports about. You also get to explore the crash site of the original Normandy and place a memorial there, as well as gathering all the dog tags of the fallen crew.
    • Also, in Mass Effect 3, a memorial wall is placed in front of the elevator on the crew deck, so that you can't avoid looking at it when you step out of the elevator. It lists the names of each lost crewmember from the Normandy, and as the game goes on, the list gets longer.
  • Funerals and memorials are sometimes given grave importance in Final Fantasy.
    • In Final Fantasy I, there's a grave in Elfland marked for either "Erdrick" in the original North American release, or "Link" in subsequent remakes.
    • At the end of Final Fantasy V, Krile visits the Elder Tree in memory of her grandfather, Galuf, who died there protecting everyone from Exdeath. The flowers then bloom all across the screen and the triumphant theme music roars as the party rides (or flies) across the world.
    • In Final Fantasy VI, General Leo, slain while trying to stop the Omnicidal Maniac clown from murdering the Espers, is given a memorial grave in the town of Thamasa.
      • Likewise, Setzer's lost love and rival, Darryl, was laid to rest in a sprawling (but derelict) catacomb that also houses her airship, the Falcon.
      • ...but on the other hand, Cid's body is never properly tended to. If you take that route, it just stays there on the bed for the remainder of the game.
    • In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith is entombed at the lake just outside the Forgotten Capital, symbolic of her body returning to join the Planet's Lifestream. (Though there is a small bit of Fridge Logic regarding the depth of that lake.)
    • Visiting the blasted ruins of Trabia Garden in Final Fantasy VIII can be a Tear Jerker if you take the time to visit the makeshift graveyard, and speak to the NPCs whose friends perished in the attack.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, Black Mages are typically mindless automatons crafted from the supernatural Mist. Thus, the few that have achieved sentience have no concept of death, only that their friends have "stopped moving." One of them buries his friend in the ground in hopes that he'll wake up soon, and thinks of washing him at the river when he does.
    • In Final Fantasy X, people killed in the midst of tragedy or negative emotions run the risk of becoming Fiends. Therefore, Summoners are entrusted with the task of the Sending—casting their souls to the Farplane to find peaceful rest. One of the most striking scenes in the game involves Yuna performing a Sending for the innocent victims of Sin's rampage on the little town of Kilika.
  • At the end of Halo 3, the game shows the Pelican wing that has been improvised into a memorial with the number "117" marked on it in tribute to the Master Chief (MIA).
  • In Jeanne D'Arc, the final scene post-credits is of Jeanne and Roger visiting Domremy's chapel to pray for Liane's soul.
  • Averted with the Star Wars Battlefront 2 AI, which has Rebel troopers stop to bombard Stormtrooper corpses with pistol shots.
    • Perhaps it's to make sure they're dead?
  • The funeral of Shinjiro Aragaki in Persona 3. Although the school's headmaster and a few schoolmates couldn't care less for the person (and get called out on it by the heroes,) Akihiko's visit to the memorial is one of the most poignant scenes in the franchise.
  • The Nobodies of Kingdom Hearts, pitiable creatures who vanish into nothingness upon death, erected monuments called "Proof of Existence" in the deepest sanctum of their fortress, simply so they could be remembered. The fact these monuments are shaped like gravestones and slabs, bearing their owner's description and Weapon of Choice, is no coincidence.
  • In a somewhat odd reversal of this trope Skies of Arcadia has the Big Bad Galcian killing off Worthy Opponent Gregorio after the latter performs a Heel Face Turn to let the heroes escape. Galcian orders the corpse preserved and shipped back to Valua—their homeland, which he just defected from—for a proper burial, stating to the soldier responsible that the corpse is more valuable than the man's own life.
  • In Ace Combat 5, an allied flight performs a missing man flyby over the November City after Chopper is shot down.
  • You can save two little orphan ghosts who died during a town's flood by getting their orphanage master to bury their bones in Jade Empire.
  • City of Heroes has the titular city literally riddled with monuments and statues to various heroes who died over the years in a heroic manner. There's at least one such massive statue in every single game zone, at least on the hero side.
  • Some Players in Left 4 Dead make sure to pay their respects to Bill with a 21-gun salute. Usually only in scavenger rounds. Otherwise the infected would keep interrupting.
  • In Conquests of the Longbow, Robin makes sure that Friar Tuck gives all of the men he kills in the forest/highway a proper burial. Except one - the would-be rapist.
  • After being killed by monsters, Briggs is buried at sea in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn.
  • Dwarves in Dwarf Fortress get unhappy thoughts if their dead pets or comrades are left to rot. In more recent updates, dwarves that didn't receive a proper burial or memorial now come back as ghosts to haunt the living.
  • An odd version of this appears in Dragon Age II. The Qunari don't have traditional funeral rites because they believe that once a person dies the body is just a piece of rotting flesh and nothing more—it isn't that person anymore. They treat the fallen's swords with much more respect since they believe that their swords are manifestations of their souls. In Act III after you foil the Qunari invasion a Qunari asks you to retrieve several lost Qunari blades so that he may return them to their homeland. Do this without asking for money in return and he thanks you by giving you your own personal Qunari weapon and tells you to treat it as your own soul.
  • In Darwinia, if you see a bunch of Darwinians get killed, chances are pretty good that you'll see a bunch of kites launched as the souls drift upwards off the playing field.
  • In No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle, Travis refuses to let Sylvia and company "clean up" the body of the third-ranked assassin, a cosmonaut who had returned to Earth for the first time in decades. Travis insists that he be left where he is, to be with the Earth he had so missed, finally with her once more in death.
  • In Might & Magic X: Legacy, Pirate King Crag Hack makes a Heroic Sacrifice to weaken the Big Bad so the player can slay him. At the epilogue of the main game, his funeral, where Governor Jon Morgan - his estranged son - gives the eulogy, is brief but sad:

Morgan: For some he was a pirate. A barbarian. A criminal. He was all of these things, but yet, he was so much more. To me, there's really only one word that fully captures who he was. Crag Hack was a hero. And a father.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In Beast Wars the Maximals "recycle" Dinobot's body, following the Predacon funeral traditions. In addition, Optimus, Cheetor, and Silverbolt fly overhead in the "missing man" formation.
  • In The Owl House episode "Thanks to Them", Hunter's palisman Flapjack dies protecting Hunter from Belos. Two episodes later - in the finale - Hunter and Willow are shown paying respects at a tombstone erected to honor poor Flapjack, while they, Luz, Gus, and Amity all have cardinal-shaped tattoos on their forearms as further homage.

Real Life


Anime and Manga

  • In the Chrono Crusade manga, when Aion kills Pandaemonium, he cuts off her head and then mercilessly hacks up her body. However, considering that Pandaemonium is the body of his human mother, Lilith, grafted onto the body of the demon's Hive Queen, Aion views it as "freeing" her, and probably also as revenge for the desecration the demons subjected his mother's body to. Also, throughout the series several demons are shown as being cruel, disgusting or evil because of their treatment of the bodies of their human victims.
  • The Berserk manga has Wyald establishing his monster credentials in a big way by not only raping and murdering a woman who helped the Hawks as well as the girls in her care, but also carrying their naked, dismembered bodies into battle with the Hawks.
  • From Mazinger Z: In the episode where Baron Ashura is killed, Dr. Hell and his army hold a rather poignant memorial service, complete with a statue of Ashura.


  • The painting of Albert Edelfelt: Duke Karl Insulting the Corpse of Klas Fleming. It is depicting a probably fictional episode of the Swedish Civil War when the Regent Karl burst into the room where the body of his enemy, Admiral Klas Fleming's body lay, pulled on his beard and insulted him in front of the widow.

Fairy Tales


  • In horror films, the classic reason why the Mummy stirred was to avenge itself on those who broke into the tomb.
  • In The Searchers, one of the big clues that Ethan Edwards is not John Wayne's usual role is the scene where he uncovers a dead Comanche warrior and shoots his eyes. As he explains, the Comanche believe that you need your eyes to enter the spirit world—by shooting the eyes out, he'd just condemned that warrior to wander the Earth as a ghost.
  • Charade plays this semi-humorously: Audrey Hepburn is attending the lying-in-state of her husband when three former associates show up, one by one. One begins sneezing violently, causing the widow's best friend to remark that he must've known the dead man very well: he's allergic to him. Another holds a mirror to the corpse's nostrils to check for breathing. And the third slams open the church door, strides in fiercely, and jabs a pin into the dead man's hand. Audrey's wide-eyed look is hilarious.
  • The eponymous Predator prizes the skulls of worthy prey as valuable trophies, honoring their prey/victim in a bizarre inversion of the trope.
    • It's not that much more unusual than a human game hunter mounting the heads of animals he's killed on his wall; you're more likely to show off a lion's skin more than that deer you shot from a tree.
  • In Robert Zemeckis' 2009 A Christmas Carol, we start off with Jacob Marley's death and his corpse being prepared for burial with two pennies covering his eyes to pay Charon. Scrooge pockets them for his own.
  • In 13 Assassins, Lord Naritsugu kicks the severed head of his own loyalest subject, who just gave out his life to defend Naritsugu. When the hero calls him out for it, Naritsugu shrugs it off.
  • In Serenity, the crew comes across the village where Book has been living peacefully having been completely slaughtered by The Operative's forces. Mal decides to use the bodies to camouflage Serenity to sneak past the Reavers orbiting the planet Miranda, which (naturally), his crew finds completely disgusting.


  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the siege of Gondor features heads, struck from the dead, being launched into the city via catapult to horrify the defenders.
    • In Two Towers when Theoden throws off Saruman's enchanting voice, he cites the mutilation of Hama's corpse (along with the dead children) as proof that Saruman does not deserve peace.
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel Ghostmaker, patrolling Ghosts find one of their number not only dead but mutilated.
    • In Blood Pact, Chaos forces unpack; they had used corpses and blood to seal up what they shipped—some of it inside the corpses. Later, Gaunt recounts how Slaydo's body had been mutilated after his death.
  • In L. M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon books, the founders of a family, a couple, were immigrating, until the woman declared that she would not get back on the ship: "Here I stay." When she died, her husband had it written on her gravestone. (His family have therefore made it a rule that you never hold grudges against the dead, and always attend the funeral and the like.)
  • In Andre Norton's The Time Traders, the prehistoric tribe is set to cremate their chief with great honor. Too great: they intend to kill Ross Murdock on it as a sacrifice.
    • In The Beast Master Hosteen Storm taunted a character he had realized was an alien: recounting all their funerary customs and how he won't get them, because no one will realize he died.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Pyramids, Pteppic is presented the case of a handmaiden who refused to be killed for the last king's funeral. When he asks if it was not voluntary, the priest agreed that yes, it was, and she didn't volunteer.
  • In "Sonnet 68" William Shakespeare laments the decline from the Good Old Ways; they did not use to take hair from corpses for wigs.
  • In Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air, steam men decry that humans loot their bodies. Silver Onestack is regarded as an abomination because humans cobbled him together from three steam men, whose souls are therefore held captive. King Steam and the steam men, while not willing to kill him, refuse to help him, and Silver Onestack thinks it's cowardice on his part not to free them by dying.
  • Harry Potter: During the Battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort tries to make himself into the good guy by pausing the battle, supposedly so the heroes could collect their dead. Really, though, he's just waiting for Harry to come face him---and then proceeds to desecrate Harry's corpse after killing him. Except that Harry's still alive...
  • As per history, Griboyedov's corpse is torn into pieces and mutilated in other fascinating ays while being paraded across Tehran by an angry mob in The Death of the Vazir Mukhtar.
  • In The Silence of the Lambs, after shooting his captive prey Buffalo Bill skins (and in one case scalps) their corpses and dumps them in a river, where they wash up on the muddy shores bloated, rotting and nude. Hannibal Lecter, the novel's other serial killer, butchered, cooked and ate parts of some of his victims, but he also did other things with their bodies, often with an artistic element. When he escapes he kills the two officers guarding him and uses a pocketknife to cut the face off one of them to use as a disguise to get himself carried out of the building. In the movie the other officer is partially skinned and strung up on the bars of Lecter's cage to resemble a butterfly. Not only is this a reference to two important elements of Buffalo Bill's M.O., it is also a reference to a Francis Bacon painting.
  • In The Iliad, Achilles secured Hector's body to his chariot after killing him, and circled the city thrice with the corpse in tow. For the era, this was regarded as crossing the Moral Event Horizon, and sealed his doom in the eyes of the gods. Now, Achilles is known more for how he died than how he didn't. However, after Priam, Hector's father came to him in person, Achilles regretted his actions, and gave Hector's body to him, so he did eventually have a proper funeral.
  • In The Odyssey, Agamemnon tells Odysseus:

As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades.

  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, after murdering Robb Stark in the Red Wedding, the Freys desecrate his corpse by decapitating it and sewing the head of his direwolf Grey Wind in its place.
  • In the last story of Michael Gilbert's Game Without Rules, an enemy spy with a grudge kills Mr. Calder's dog Rasselas, a highly pedigreed deerhound. Before he can kill Mr. Calder, though, Mr. Behrens shoots him dead. They bury the dog in a fit "resting place for a prince." As for the enemy agent...

Colonel Weinleben they buried later, with a good deal more haste and less ceremony, in the wood. He was the illegitimate son of a cobbler from Mainz and greatly inferior to the dog, both in birth and breeding.

Live-Action TV

  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, after killing Jenny Calendar, Angelus takes her body to Giles' apartment and places it in his bed before the latter arrives. Then, Angelus sets up his living room as if for "romantic evening" with champagne, roses, music and a note that says "upstairs." When Giles arrives he believes Jenny, with whom he has just reconciled, is expecting him.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Voyager had the crew get caught up in a conflict between two warring nations, at least one of whom brainwashes aliens to serve as grunt troops (in this case, Chakotay). During the brainwashing process, the "nemesis" desecrate fallen soldiers to enhance the brainwashing training.
  • In the Doctor Who serial Battlefield, Morgaine puts her invasion of the Earth on hold when she finds a war memorial. When The Brigadier finds them, they're in the middle of a ceremony to honour their enemy's dead; he agrees to a truce until the ceremony is over.

Newspaper Comics

Milo (typing): And thereby, our conclusion is that Councilman Hunzinker is a pin-headed old demagogue.
Opus: Excuse me, sir, I thought you'd like to know that Councilman Hunzinker just kicked the bucket.
(Beat Panel as Milo crosses out what he typed.)
Milo (typing again, having replaced the "Editorials" sign on his desk to "Obituaries"): Councilman Hunzinker was a sharp-witted elder statesman.

Tabletop Games


Horatio: My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
Hamlet: I prithee do not mock me, fellow-student.
I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
Horatio: Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.

    • Played humorously in the opening number of Hamlet, Cha-cha-cha!: "Boo-hoo! I do!"
  • Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus avenges the rape and mutilation of his daughter Lavinia by killing Queen Tamora's last two sons, and then, in a nod to the above fairy tales, bakes them into a giant meat pie which he then serves to Tamora before taking his final vengeance upon her.
  • The Greek play Agamemnon shows the importance of the fact that bodies of some Greek soldiers were left behind at Troy.

Video Games

  • "Return to Ostagar," a DLC mission for Dragon Age, has the protagonist find the body of King Cailan, which the darkspawn have stripped, crucified, and apparently used for target practice. The player may then decide whether to give the corpse a proper funeral pyre, cut it down, or simply leave it hanging there. Characters like Alistair, Wynne, Leliana, Oghren and Sten will support proper treatment of the dead. Characters like Morrigan, Zevran and Loghain will find it a waste of effort, and support cutting it down and giving it to the wolves or leaving it there.
    • Though Sten is an odd case since it was revealed that the Qunari don't do anything special with their dead.
    • He likely recognizes that it's how Fereldens honour their dead and believes that the respect should be given, regardless of how it's done.
  • Some of Harbinger's lines in Mass Effect 2 involve leaving the dead where they fall, in addition to yelling about how We Have Reserves.
    • He will also command his mooks to try to preserve Shepard's body. It is doubtful that he simply wants to give Shepard a proper burial.
  • Some Left 4 Dead players amount using Bill's gun off his dead body to this.
  • Played for Laughs with Duke Nukem, who even shits down a dead alien's neck.
  • Not necessarily evil, per se, but one of the songs in Red Dead Redemption is called "Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie". The second verse starts, "But we buried him there, on the lone prairie".
  • B.J. Blazkowicz, the protagonist of Wolfenstein 3D, does this with the body of Adolf Hitler in the finale of Episode 3, "Die Fuhrer Die," kicking his head off his remains and spitting on them.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • After the first battle of the Tower in We're Alive, those who were killed were given a funeral complete with the reading of their names.

Western Animation

  • The trope was also lampshaded and parodied in South Park: a shop owner suffering from an influx of evil pets explains how he selected the site of an Indian burial ground for his store, then dug up the bodies, pissed on them, and then reburied them the wrong way up. He was drunk at the time.
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