When someone is on the hunt for a missing person, only to find out that said person is no longer alive--either recently deceased or long dead. This usually comes as a surprise, but if someone has been missing for a very long time, there may be doubts whether they are still alive, and finding the corpse merely proves those suspicions.
- The first issue of Mouse Guard has Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam searching for a missing grain merchant. They find him in the belly of the serpent that Lieam kills.
- Dragonslayer. After Princess Elspeth enters the dragon's cave, Galen follows her in order to rescue her. He finds the dragon's hatchlings feeding on her corpse.
- The Searchers. Ethan Edwards and Martin Pawley ride out to find Martin's two sisters, who were kidnapped by Comanche raiders. They soon find the older sister's body. (The younger sister lives, and the search for her takes the majority of the film.)
- In Rakkety Tam, Gulo the Savage is seeking revenge on his brother Askor, who stole The Walking Stone and fled. Unbeknownst to him, Askor had a tree fall on him and died of his injuries before Gulo reached Mossflower. Rakkety Tam finally tells Gulo, "Thou art looking for a deadbeast," and claims to have killed Askor.
- In an episode of NYPD Blue they're looking for a missing child, and Andy has a bad feeling about it. Sure enough they find the body in an empty lot not far from his apartment complex. "He died looking at his house!"
- Inverted in an episode of Bones, "The Elephant in the Room." After the gang identifies a corpse as not a newsworthy missing child but actually another, non-newsworthy child, Booth says "why do we only care about dead bodies?" and proceeds to find the missing child in about 5 minutes.
- The first book of the Morpheus Road trilogy ends this way.
- Dragon Age 2 contains a heartbreaking variation of this. Hawke's mother is taken captive by a serial kidnapper/killer that you'd been chasing. By the time you reach her, she's dead. Well, close enough.
- There have been at least a couple of inversions in Special Victims Unit that the detectives have looked for a dead person only to find that she was missing for all those years, staying with or waiting for her kidnapper.
- This is the Downer Ending for a few Without a Trace episodes. Most of the time the team is able to locate the missing person but sometimes all they can do is locate the body and give the person's next of kin some closure. The show often lampshades the fact that the longer someone is missing the smaller the chance of finding him/her alive.
- In CSI: New York, Mac's wife's grown-up son (who she gave up for adoption before meeting Mac) shows up. Mac has to explan that she died in 9/11.
- A slight variation in the eighth season of 24 in which CTU is searching for the president of another country that was kidnapped while the beginning of his execution is being broadcast, only to find that the broadcast was a recording and that the president was already dead.
- Many, many side missions in the Mass Effect 3 end like this: you find more people dead or dying than ones still able to fight.
- IIRC, Resistance 2 has an example of this, when Shepherd has ben sent to locate a team of scientists and their guard only to find them dead. could be wrong though, it's been a while.
- In Mordecai's backstory in Borderlands he apparently came to Pandora looking for someone who turned out to be dead and decided to join the other vault hunters in looking for the vault.
- There have been numerous cases of people searching for long-lost relatives, only to learn of their whereabouts via an obituary, gravestone, etc.
- Inverted shortly after World War II, when two friends were reunited while seeking each other's gravestone.
Hello, Unknown Troper. You'll need to get known to lend a hand here.