Created By: aschwartz07901 on September 13, 2011 Last Edited By: aschwartz07901 on February 4, 2016

Corpse Consuming Cleanup Crew

When a group/race of corpse eaters sell their services as waste disposal crews

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Got an inconvenient dead body, call in the flesh eaters. Just killed a demon, and don't know what do do with the Literally Unholy mess? Call in the Flesh Eaters! They simply chow down, and Hey presto, no smelly carcass stinking up the place. They tend to be ghouls, but this trope can include any sentient being who consumes corpses on demand, or for a fee.

They will usually work as street cleaners in magically aware communities, or as an evidence disposal service to help maintain The Masquerade. May have relation to the M.I.B..

Subtrope of Cleanup Crew.

Examples

Anime & Manga
  • Naruto: Zetsu does this for the Akatsuki organization. Specifically, he would devour the Akatsuki's victims (at least when they don't want the corpse to be found out) or a dead Akatsuki member's body.

Literature
  • Iron Druid Chronicles: Atticus' attorney has a whole ghoul clan on speed dial, and he pays them to come in a refrigerated truck and dispose of the corpses of nine 8 foot tall giants! Also, when he needed to dispose of a demon corpse,he had it liquified and put into a keg. He says that "Demon-Juice is like Jaegermister to those Guys"
  • Nightside: Gouls do this for the nightside
  • Ghouls play this role in Discworld.
  • Arcia Chronicles: After conquering the world, the Gods of Light have fed the bodies of The Old Gods they slaughtered to a minor Eldritch Abomination named "Nicrophorus", because they knew first hand that gods tend to come back to life a lot.
  • Ringworld: ghouls are a Pak-descended species adapted to eat carrion, they provide funeral services for the various other sapient species of the Ringworld and are quite friendly really.
  • In Alan Garner's fantasy novels, which take place in recently modern (1960's)northern England, both The Moon Of Gomrath and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen culminate in pitched battles between creatures of Faerie. The problem is, the action takes place within five miles of the Greater Manchester urban conurbation - so somebody might notice all those humanoid but clearly non-human corpses lying around. The fact a battle takes place at all in T Wo B and nobody notices is explained by it taking place in an unseasonal blizzard. Corpse disposal is neatly done by Deus ex Machina - the sky-wolf Fenris is unleashed by a displeased Lord of Evil and devours all those yummy goblins and things, both living and dead, to leave the battlefield a gleaming pristine white.

Live-Action TV

Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • September 13, 2011
    shimaspawn
    Ghouls aren't always what you're describing. In fact, that don't tend to be what you're describing as ghouls.
  • September 13, 2011
    Ryuuma
    Ghouls as in flesh-eating, shapeshifting desert demons? Or ghouls as human who drunk vampire blood? or ghouls as canine-headed fiends? Or Ghouls as cannibalistic undeads? Or ghouls as ugly and noisy wraiths who lives nearby magical families? Or ghouls as palette-swapped zombies? As you can see, you need to be a lot more specific. Frankly this sounds like you could just put these examples and add them to the Our Ghouls Are Creepier page.
  • September 14, 2011
    Lavalyte
    Ringworld has them.
  • September 14, 2011
    Ryusui
  • September 14, 2011
    Koveras
    Devour The Bodies?

  • September 14, 2011
    aurora369
  • September 14, 2011
    SharleeD
    I agree, this shouldn't be ghoul-specific. I like Corpse Eater Cleanup Crew.

    That way, you could add an incident in the Mercy Thompson series, when a fae is killed and her body slated for disposal by her troll ex-minion. It's implied that he'll take care of the remains by eating them.

    Not a sentient corpse, but gnolls in Discworld are strongly implied to be scavengers who dispose of dead animal carcasses on the Ankh-Morpork streets in this manner.
  • September 14, 2011
    Earnest
    ^^ I like Corpse Eater Cleanup Crew. But just because it's so close to full alliteration... Corpse Consuming Cleanup Crew?
  • September 14, 2011
    Koveras
  • September 14, 2011
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Live Action Television / Real Life:
    • In the documentary Planet Earth, Cockroaches serve in this role in the cave. However, they rarely bother to wait until the body is rotting, and attack the mortally wounded, so maybe Not An Example.
  • September 15, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    Most of the examples of this trope apply to the Cannabalistic undead variety

    and I still beleive this trope should only apply to ghouls since they are the only beings I can think of that eat rotting or unnatural things, and are sentient. as in, you can communicate with them and pay them. For example you cant talk to a giant horde of flesh eating insects
  • September 15, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^^ Cockroaches are the tip of the iceberg. Fungi, Vultures, and all manner of insects and other species fill this vital role in the ecosystem. [1], [2], [3].

    ^ Seconded.
  • September 15, 2011
    SharleeD
    Possibly split the difference? This trope for sentient corpse-eaters (ghouls or otherwise) who are recruited for this service, and maybe a different trope for feeding dead bodies to non-sentient animals?
  • September 15, 2011
    nitrokitty
    Kobolds serve this function in Discworld.
  • September 15, 2011
    KingZeal
    • Rudobon, the Captain of the Exequias (actually, the only member, as he is a Mook Maker), "harvests" intruders, defeated enemies, and defeated comrades who have Outlived Their Usefulness. How he does this is unknown, but considering that he's a Hollow, and they're all predatory and cannibalistic...
  • September 15, 2011
    Damr1990
    may or not be contracted by the MIB
  • September 15, 2011
    JonnyB
    The pak'ma'ra are this in the Babylon 5 universe.
  • September 16, 2011
    Chabal2
    Gnolls carry this role in Ankh-Morpork, though usually disposing of bodies is left to the fishes.

  • September 16, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Zetsu in Naruto
  • September 19, 2011
    aschwartz07901
    Given some of the examples that are coming in, I will amend this trope to include any and all sentient carrion eaters, as long as they are intelligent, and offer their services as a buisness and/or a public service
  • March 16, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump, sounds tropable, might wanna grab this but I wanna hear comments first
  • March 16, 2015
    zarpaulus
    I would suggest formatting it properly first.

    • On the Ringworld ghouls are a Pak-descended species adapted to eat carrion, they provide funeral services for the various other sapient species of the Ringworld and are quite friendly really.
  • March 16, 2015
    DAN004
  • March 17, 2015
    AgProv
    • In Alan Garner's fantasy novels, which take place in recently modern (1960's)northern England, both The Moon Of Gomrath and The Weirdstone Of Brisingamen culminate in pitched battles between creatures of Faerie. The problem is, the action takes place within five miles of the Greater Manchester urban conurbation - so somebody might notice all those humanoid but clearly non-human corpses lying around. The fact a battle takes place at all in T Wo B and nobody notices is explained by it taking place in an unseasonal blizzard. Corpse disposal is neatly done by Deus Ex Machina - the sky-wolf Fenris is unleashed by a displeased Lord of Evil and devours all those yummy goblins and things, both living and dead, to leave the battlefield a gleaming pristine white.
  • March 17, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    This one's iffy, but since they eradicate corpses as a public service, I'll field it:

    Film
    • The film adaptation of Logans Run showed the ruthless social enforcers, known colloquially as "sandmen," gun down renegades who refuse to participate in Carousel. Once all the renegades are executed, sanitation workers in flying booths appear, and these spray the bodies with Hollywood Acid that dissolves the remains completely, leaving not so much as a wet spot. The people emerge from the Carousel arena unaware that anything like a massacre has occurred.
  • March 17, 2015
    robinjohnson
    There are no ghouls or kobolds in Discworld - unless maybe 'kobolds' is a translation of 'gnolls' into non-English-language editions? Gnolls work as street cleaners and sewage carters in Ankh-Morpork, and it's implied that they eat at least some of the pickings, though nobody really wants to ask.
  • April 25, 2015
    DAN004
    Maybe I can find more examples @ Cleanup Crew? Will do later (unless someone's kind enough to copy and paste here...)
  • April 26, 2015
    shimaspawn
    • In Lost Girl the Aswang are a group of fae carrion feeders that eat bodies of diseased humans serving the purpose of keeping diseased flesh from infecting anyone else. They're credited with stopping several plagues, and keeping more under control.
  • April 26, 2015
    randomsurfer
    Does This Count
    • On Bones "bug guy" Dr. Hodgins uses a variety of bugs, beetles, etc. to quickly clean bones from crime scenes by pouring them over a corpse, letting them eat the flesh away.
  • April 26, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ I don't think they count. They would in Cleanup Crew or Eat The Evidence, maybe.
  • April 27, 2015
    shimaspawn
    ^ They wouldn't fit those either. Hodgins has them eat the organics to reveal the evidence. Not to clean it up or hide it.
  • April 27, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ well that's what I understand from the example...
  • January 12, 2016
    Arutema
  • January 12, 2016
    Chabal2
    Gelatinous cubes in Dungeons And Dragons pick up corpses and treasure as they wander the dungeons, dissolving the bodies but usually leaving the items and gold intact, making them good sources of both.

  • January 12, 2016
    DAN004
    So the OP has come back eh?
  • February 4, 2016
    weirdfantasy
    I question the validity of the Babylon Five suggestion. When it comes to the pak'ma'ra, characters tend to mention that they eat anything, placing them among Extreme Omnivore. As I recall, the couple of instances of a pak'ma'ra eating a body was simply by accident.
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