Shrine to the Fallen

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Whether it's your Dead Little Sister, your child that passed on after an illness, your lost love or just that one person you couldn't save, some characters are so attached to a deceased loved one that they have a hard time letting go. A shrine to the dearly departed is often a good way to inform the viewers of this connection, especially if the shrine is to someone who kicked the bucket before the show even started. In fiction, showing a child or bereaved spouse praying at such a shrine is a visual shorthand for the Disappeared Dad or Missing Mom.

These are typically created with a photograph and a number of votive candles or incense, but traditions vary from culture to culture. In Asian cultures, shrines to the dead are a traditional part of the mourning ritual and are placed either in a prominent position in the home or, if the household is wealthy, a place can be purchased/rented at the local temple. There are even shrines for the anonymous dead or women who died unmarried (so they don't come back as a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl).

The main Western variant of the "shrine" is for the family of a deceased person (especially parents for children) to keep the deceased's bedroom exactly how it was when they were alive, and not using it for anything else because it would be the final admittance that the deceased is never coming back.

Compare and contrast Stalker Shrine in which this idea takes on a much more sinister note, and Shrine to Self when you just love yourself that much. Compare The Dead Have Names, another way to commemorate the fallen.

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

Examples of Shrine to the Fallen include:

Anime and Manga

  • Bleach has Daddy Kurosaki keep a wall-sized poster of his deceased wife and often makes a show of crying to her over his children.
    • Byakuya also has one for his dead wife, Hisana.
    • Don't forget the one for Orihime's brother, unconventional as it may be.
  • Played for Laughs in Ranma ½, where a seemingly crazy widow treats a shrine to her dead husband almost like an imaginary friend.
  • In one mystery on Case Closed, Conan deduces that the name placard of such a shrine is the hiding place of a valuable stamp.
    • In another, Heiji and Kazuha almost fall to their deaths investigating a memorial rock that has incense placed on it.
    • In yet another, a similar rock commemorating the drowning of a young boy is the plot point to the mystery.
  • Sano finds out about what happened to his mother this way in Rurouni Kenshin (he prays to it under the guise of wanting to eat dinner faster)
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files, the body of one of the victims is found under such a memorial, and Kindaichi takes that to be a sign that the murderer wasn't the Complete Monster he claimed to be.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, the "Yagami Family" keeps a small shrine to the first Reinforce in their house, shown with a picture and a food offering.
  • Pegasus from Yu-Gi-Oh! has a tower room and portrait dedicated to his dead fiancée.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, the Fujioka family has a photo of Haruhi's mother in their living room.

Comic Books

Film - Live Action


Somewhere in heaven above me,
I know that my mama's proud of me!


Film - Western Animation

  • In Mulan the Fa family shrine is the home of the ancestral spirits.
  • In An American Tail the Mousekewitz family keep a shrine to Fievel, whom they believe is dead.

Live Action TV

Video Games

  • In The World Ends With You, there's one for Beat and Rhyme, after they died in a car accident.
  • In World of Warcraft there are a couple of in-game places that commemorate deceased Blizzard employees or their relatives. One of them is even called similarly to this trope's name.
  • An Easter Egg in Max Payne 2 is a hidden shrine for a deceased programmer, consisting of a room with just a photo, his name, and birth and death dates. As well as some creepy music.
  • The space MMORPG Earth and Beyond had a sector with space monuments to space exploration. There were monuments to the dead astronauts of Apollo 1 and Challenger. When the shuttle Columbia was destroyed on reentry a new monument was added to the game to honor the astronauts who died in the disaster.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God, Club 41 becomes a shrine to Guybrush, whose Martyrdom Culture is due to his Heroic (or rather Stupid) Sacrifice for saving the entire Gulf of Melange from the Pox of LeChuck. The Club even has barrels of Grog, Banang, and root beer, along with votive candles, Guybrush's commemorative photo, and a wreath to be used as kindling next to Guybrush's corpse for cremation... unless his spirit can repossess his body in time, that is.
  • In Mass Effect 3, a memorial is built onto the refitted Normandy SR-2 to honor the twenty-three crew members who were killed in action on the original Normandy, plus anyone who was lost during the Suicide Mission in ME2. Any current or former crew members who die throughout the game have their names added to it. The refugee camp in the Citadel docks also has an ad-hoc memorial wall made of photos and keepsakes.
  • In Dragon Age 2, after Leandra's murder, Hawke refuses to touch anything in their mother's room.

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, when Iroh returns to Ba Sing Se incognito six years after failing to conquer it, he creates a shrine to his son, with a picture, incense, and food, at the place where he fell in the battle.

Real Life

  • Celebrities often get massive shrines outside their homes (or somewhere associated with them) after they pass on. Princess Diana and Michael Jackson are two pretty good examples; the shrine outside Buckingham's gates was so massive that it actually started to block foot traffic.
  • This also seems to happen for victims of drive-by shootings and car accidents, especially if the victim was very young.
  • The fictional character Ianto Jones from Torchwood received this in the real world after he died in Children of Earth.
  • Like the above example, after the final episode of One Foot in the Grave, many people left flowers and tributes at the filming location where the fictional protagonist, Victor Meldrew, was killed in a hit and run.
  • Can often happen at the sites of major disasters or terrorist attacks, where people leave ad hoc collections of notes and mementos to remember the dead.
  • When Audie Murphy, a highly decorated WWII veteran and former movie star, died in a plane crash in 1971, near the top of a mountain in Virginia, the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars decided to build a memorial as close to the site as they could. They cleared and expanded the nearest mountain trail, and built a small stone monument with a plaque in 1974. Over the years, hikers have built a small wall or cairn around it, just by adding one stone per person to the existing pile. They occasionally leave other items as well. The informal addons are more impressive when you realize that most hikers tackle this trail because it is a relatively easy one, and have only vaguely heard of Murphy before they reach the monument.