Grave Humor

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Squidward's Hopes and Dreams.jpg
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"Here lies the body of Johnathan Blake,
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake"

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Gravestones are generally considered be somber or reflective, though it's also not out of place to put funny epitaphs on them or invent some for the purpose of a joke. It could be a poem, a record, or a suggestion of an ironic or strange death. The same extends to the fictional world, where Grave Humor can also be used as a Shout-Out or a Take That, with the latter often suggesting the fate of a character from another, rival work. This is especially common in video games, as the player may blindly ignore the graveyard, or be too busy fighting zombies. Naturally Truth in Television.

Related to Black Comedy. Compare The Fun in Funeral.

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

Examples of Grave Humor include:

Film

  • In The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, the MacManus Brothers, Connor and Murphy, visit the grave of their friend and partner, Rocco. As they silently pray, Murphy notices that the picture on the tomb is Rocco's mugshot, and that a painted-out police arm is holding his long hair up out of his face in a ridiculous fashion. All reverence quickly disappears.
  • In Rango, there's a brief shot of the town's cemetery, featuring a cluster of graves belonging to former sheriffs. Some of them have humorous epitaphs, including "Hold my beer and watch this" and "He's Dead, Jim".

Literature

  • Happens once in Messieurs les enfants by Daniel Pennac.
  • Ambrose Bierce has examples of humorous epitaphs in The Devil's Dictionary, such as "Sacred to the memory of Jeremiah Tree. Cut down May 9th, 1862, aged 27 yrs. 4 mos. and 12 ds. Indigenous." Some of these appear to be fictional, such as:
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Here lies the late Senator Vrooman
Whose head was as hard as the heart of a woman
Whose heart was as hard as the head of a hammer
Dame Fortune inspired him to eminence, damn her!

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Live Action TV

  • The Catherine Tate Show featured the extremely popular character of Lauren Cooper, a mouthy schoolgirl whose catchphrase is "Am I bovvered?" (bothered). In the 2007 Christmas special, she is kayaking and says this to a man who warns her to stay away from a particular stretch of water. She ignores his advice, and is killed when her boat goes over a waterfall. Her friends are then seen standing by her tombstone, which is inscribed with the words "I still ain't bovvered".
  • As always, there is an example from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Buffy dies at the end of season 5, her tombstone reads Buffy Anne Summers, beloved sister, devoted friend. She saved the world. A lot.
  • In Greg the Bunny, Count Blah (who has a Verbal Tic of saying "blah" after sentences) visited the grave of his wife, which reads, "Beloved Wife, Blah. R.I.P.B."
  • In the reunion movie The Wild Wild West Revisited, James West and Artemus Gordon are shown the grave of their arch-nemesis Migelito Loveless, as made by Migelito's son: A Rushmore-sized carving of the man's last name in the side of a mountain, with tiny little plots staked out for the two heroes in its shadow.
  • In Blackadder Goes Forth, Blackadder says he wishes his tombstone to be inscribed:
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Here lies Edmund Blackadder,
And he's bloody annoyed.

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  • In Friends, Phoebe once mentions that she wants her epitaph to be "Phoebe Buffay, Buried Alive".


Theme Parks

  • The tombstones outside of The Haunted Mansion ride at Disney Theme Parks.
    • The Lonesome Manor in Epic Mickey, which is based on this ride, has them as well.
  • The train ride at Six Flags over Atlanta in the late 1970s had a tombstone hidden among the weeds: "I Tole You I Wuz Sick!"


Video Games

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Dave F. Slain by 13 Gibberlings, 4 Kobolds, 6 Ogres and 2 Dire Wolves. Ne invoces expellere non possis. (Do not call up that you cannot put down)

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  • The city of Haven in Dragon Age: Origins has a graveyard filled with humorous tombstones, including some Shout Outs to others on the page. ("Sensal Gaheris: 775-798, 798-801, 801-805, 805-807, 807-809 (VERIFIED), 'BEST TAX EVADER EVER' -- CH")
    • Also in those graves, is "T.O. Hanoi". Anyone whose played cx or Mass Effect will know of Bioware's fondness for Tower of Hanoi puzzles. Anyone who has played "Knights of the Old Republic" or "Mass Effect" will breathe a sigh of relief upon viewing that tombstone.
    • It wasn't so bad in Mass Effect, but in Knights of the Old Republic the way it was implemented in game interface was most infuriating.[context?]
  • The Imperial City's graveyard in Jade Empire also has a few Mythology Gags and Shout Outs on the gravestones.
  • The Cartoon Network Web game Scooby Doo and the Hollywood Horror.[context?]
  • Used in Quest for Glory IV, with numerous "graveyard humor" jokes scattered beyond the tombstones.
    • And Quest for Glory I, for that matter.
    • Not to mention Igor, who is a veritable walking fountain of graveyard humor.
  • Also seen in King's Quest VII. Here's a video.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun has these.
  • Fable has many of these. Most using the rhyming pun. The deceased tend to be people who worked on the game.
  • Betrayal at Krondor had a mix of ordinary and humorous quips on the gravestones, and you were also able to dig up the graves. Most graves had nothing special, some had hidden items hinted at by the eulogy (for example, a gravestone reading "Drank his milk every day" hid a few vials of milk), and some had "The fiend beneath this stone is trapped by dirt, not by death": Zombies!
  • The Oregon Trail educational game, popular in schools in the late 1970s, allowed players to name their characters and send them westward to seemingly inevitably die of dysentery or cholera, be crushed under overturned wagons, drowned while crossing unbridged rivers and decimated by too many other perils to mention. Tombstone with custom inscriptions were available for deceased members of the party. Many students would name their 1843 Oregon land rush characters after classmates, only to leave profane epitaphs on their tombstones as soon as they were killed. A few kids put "pepperoni and cheese" on their tombstones – a reference to the "Tombstone" brand of frozen pizza.
  • The PC game Sacred does this, including such epitaphs as "And he said, 'How long will the flying spell last?'" and the fourth-wall breaking "For the ultimate cheat of void, enter DOS, type 'format C:\' and enter."
  • Nethack has randomly generated graves with these, and several places add more to the file; nethack.alt.org has a massive collection).
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"Og friend. Og good dude. Og died. Og now food."

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  • Ultima V, VI and VII had a number of puns on grave stones.
  • In Veil of Darkness, the graveyard is filled with these, including one G. Threepwood and how woefully he was under for 11 minutes.
  • Chapter 5 of StarTropics 2: Zoda's Revenge takes place in a Wild West setting, where you can find several humorous (and rhyming) epitaphs in a local mining town. "Here lies Lucky Larry. His luck ran out and now he's buried."
  • Sanitarium has plenty, mostly for developers. There's also the grave of Joseph Bruener, a character from War Wind II (a game which Sanitarium's developers had previously worked on).
    • "This one says Travis W. Nice Goddamn Cat..." Granted, this was on a level that's basically a mangled bunch of all the previous levels, so randomness like this is expected.
  • Mother 3 has a Hurricane of Puns of "grave" puns. Also, a "NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED" sign at the cemetery entrance.
  • Mortal Kombat 3 features tombstones of the game's developers, as well as one reading "Cage", presumably a reference to Johnny Cage, the character who died before the events of the game.
  • Neopets' first Video Game release, Neopets: The Darkest Faerie, lets you read the unusually jovial tombstones around crypts.
  • Shadow Warrior has a hidden tombstone that says "Chan — He Slipped in the Shower".
  • John Marston has "Blessed are the Peacemakers." As in Colt Peacemakers.
  • Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories' Staunton graveyard is chucked full of these. Hilariously, it becomes increasingly populated as your protagonist kills off selected characters throughout the storyline.
    • On a more minor note, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features "R.I.P. Opposition" tombstones at a San Fierro memorial, referring to the rivalry between Rockstar North and developers of "GTA clones".
  • In the Xbox Indie game Doom & Destiny, there are a bunch of these in the graveyard underneath Ben's house.

Webcomics

  • Eugene Greenhilt's tombstone in Order of the Stick, in addition to listing his many dates of death and resurrection, reads, "Master Wizard, Devoted Husband, Passable Father". (He was lucky to get that much. They probably averaged out his treatment of Roy and Julia) Other visible tombstones display similar humor ("Bloodmak the Unholy: Not coming back as a vampire. Honest.")
  • A staple of the webcomic Unlife Is Unfair, particularly the name puns like "Dustin Dewinn" and "Rick R. Mortis".
  • In Girl Genius, a visit to the Crypt of the Heterodynes reveals many amusing epitaphs. Perhaps most interesting is the tomb of Lazarus Heterodyne, with half a dozen dates crossed out.
    • As well as Iscariot Heterodyne, "Every Man's Friend". The pile of skulls next to the crypt has labels like "Friend #115".
  • Happens frequently in The Comic Adventures of Left & Right. The grave usually reads something pertinent to the last thing a character was doing.


Web Original

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I hope to God that when I die, my tombstone reads something like "Here Lies The Cinema Snob. He once reviewed Troll 4 with Phelous"

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Western Animation

  • Hey Arnold! did this with a Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion.
  • The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper did this in the credit sequence, with the tombstones featuring Just for Pun jokes. Sometimes they varied things with jokes like a tombstone reading "I'm with stupid" next to another tombstone reading, "I'm stupid".
  • The opening titles of several of The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episodes.
    • The last one to use them actually had a tombstone reading "Amusing Tombstones", signaling the retirement of the gag.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode where Mr. Krabs goes to a graveyard to dig up a million-dollar hat. Squidward was mourning at a tombstone and when Mr. Krabs came to see who it was, he sees that the engraving reads "Here lie Squidwards hopes and dreams." In the same graveyard, there's "Diver Dan", whose tombstone has carved scuba gear on it; "Stupid" next to "I'm With Stupid", complete with pointing hand, and most importantly, the "#1" shaped tombstone of Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen, whose name extends off the name plaque.
  • Beavis and Butthead in their parody of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol: 'Here lies Beavis, he never scored.'


Real Life